The House met at 1330.
PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION PLANS
Mr Farnan: The teachers of Ontario and members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union are justifiably angry with this Liberal government’s handling of their pension concerns. The government has unilaterally decided that teachers and public servants should pay an additional one per cent of their salaries into their pension funds. These employees already pay 7.9 per cent of gross income towards their pensions, some $4,000 per year on average.
They are angry over how surpluses have been invested in the past and over government borrowing, by both Conservatives and Liberals, of pension fund revenue over the years. They argue that diversifying the investment portfolio and not having to serve as private banker to the government would have generated sufficient funds to have made increased contributions unnecessary.
All teachers and OPSEU are requesting is a partnership with the government in the administration of their pension funds and binding arbitration to settle disputes. Surely decisions affecting a pension plan should be made jointly by the employer and members of the plan, rather than unilaterally by the employer.
The Premier (Mr Peterson), referring to a group of demonstrating teachers as “silly,” and the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), ramming through this heavy-handed legislation, represent an insult to Ontario’s teachers and public servants.
New Democrats believe that pension funds are deferred wages and belong to employees, and do not constitute a capital pool to be used by the employer at every opportunity. I call on the government to scrap its draconian legislation and enter into a real partnership with Ontario’s teachers and public servants.
Mr Cousens: l am pleased to table today in the Legislature a resolution calling for a new courthouse and facilities from the Ministry of the Attorney General to service the people of the Markham area. There is no doubt the residents of York region are increasingly frustrated by the amount of time that is required for them to commute to Newmarket where the county courthouse is now held. You are talking about a backlog that is increasingly frustrating to municipal council. You are talking about a service delivery that is unacceptable.
I have placed before the House a resolution, “That in the opinion of this House, recognizing that all sittings of the district and provincial courts within the judicial district of York region take place in Newmarket; and that considerable time, expense and inconvenience is incurred by the residents of the town of Markham and south York region since numerous matters are heard in provincial offences court on an ongoing basis; the Attorney General should take immediate steps to have a regular sitting of the provincial offences court and the provincial court (criminal division) at a location in the town of Markham.”
I place this as a resolution in the House. I see it as a matter of delivery of a service to an area that is growing and growing and yet the province does not commit those services to the people who are residents there, now when they are needed. I do not know what it is going to take to do it, but I hope this resolution helps.
The Speaker: Before I recognize the next member -- now I can hear. I was having a little difficulty hearing. Thank you. The member for Lambton.
WORLD FOOD DAY
Mr D. W. Smith: I am pleased today to rise and join with the members and people across Ontario and Canada in the recognition of World Food Day. World Food Day is an international event established by the United Nations to commemorate the foundation of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Today, 16 October, is observed annually to focus attention on world food issues. The theme of 1989-90 is “Food and our Environment.” It is reassuring to learn of a worldwide network of organizations and individuals whose unified efforts across the world will attempt to feed the hungry. At the same time, this year’s theme acts as a reminder that wise management of our environment will help to alleviate the depletion of our good quality and safe food supply.
The Ontario World Food Day Committee has been working very hard to co-ordinate events across the province to ensure that attention is directed to this issue. It is important to realize that one’s weekly visit to the grocery store often masks the serious and complex question of quality food supply in our own communities.
It is my hope that today everyone will take a moment to reflect on the issue of world hunger and take this opportunity to increase their awareness of the help which is needed by less fortunate countries, as well as our own unfortunate people. Here in Ontario, both consumers and producers must unite to actively participate in the search for solutions. We must all do our part.
Mr Kormos: A jail break by three prisoners last week focused attention on the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold. The last of the three escapees I am told is now back in custody and the ministry’s investigation branch is doing, well, just that, an investigation.
But the minister knew long before last Thursday that there was going to be trouble in the correctional system. As recently as last Monday, Ontario correctional officers sat in this Legislature to draw attention to a serious state of overcrowding and understaffing in Ontario’s jails. Down in Welland-Thorold, people like Bernie Marchio, the health and safety chairman of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Local 252, has been telling anyone who would listen that the Niagara Detention Centre was headed for trouble, the very kind of trouble it found when three prisoners, considered dangerous by the police, effected an escape.
In the minimum security wing, where the breakout took place, one correctional officer is required to supervise the six separate dorms, sometimes containing as many as 25 or 26 prisoners each, Regular inspections of these dorms require that the officer enter them alone and without backup. Maximum security is certainly no better. Single correctional officers are required to enter locked cell blocks containing in excess of 20 prisoners each. That correctional officer then becomes the proverbial sitting duck.
Niagara Detention Centre is not alone. The same scenario is repeated in jails and detention facilities across Ontario. The ministry must act immediately or else it continues to risk real tragedy.
Mr McCague: An article appeared in the Barrie Examiner last week regarding bingo troubles in Coldwater. It seems that the Royal Canadian Legion in Coldwater is obliged to pay to the municipality $1,296 in order to get a licence to conduct its bingos. I am not sure whether this is an edict from the ministry or what it is, but it also says in the article that the municipality can decide to give the money back to the legion. I just hope the minister will see fit to get this straightened out, and very, very promptly.
GRAPE AND WINE FESTIVAL
Mr Dietsch: September saw the celebration of the 38th annual Grape and Wine Festival kicked off in St Catharines for 10 days, comprising over 200 events. The festival is sponsored by the city of St Catharines, the Ontario Grape Growers’ Marketing Board and the Wine Council of Ontario, and features the grand parade, outdoor wine gardens, vineyard and winery tours, food fairs, dances and much more.
Amongst these traditions is the important crowning of the grape king, prince, princess and queen to represent the industry throughout the year. This year’s grape king, selected for the superior quality of his vineyard, is John Watson of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Mr Watson represents Bescaby Lane Vineyards where he has 28 acres that produce a variety of hybrid grapes, including Chardonnay, Riesling and Videl.
The grape queen, chosen for her knowledge of grapes, wine and tourism in Niagara and for her ability to be an ambassadress for the Niagara region is Janice Gardner. Janice is a 21 year-old who represents the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24, in St Catharines and is a third-year university student at Brock University.
Rob Lockey, a 15-year-old resident from St Catharines, was selected for this year’s 4-H prince. He has been a member of the 4-H Club for the past three years and was crowned on his completion of a best written project.
Finally, five-year-old Victoria Rudd --
The Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr Dietsch: -- was selected as the grape princess for her personality, poise and charm --
The Speaker: Thank you.
GENERAL MOTORS VAN PLANT
Mr K. F. Johnston: Last Wednesday, my party put in its first request for an opposition day, as the rules under section 41 say. Unfortunately, the next day the van plant in my riding announced that it was going to be closing, one of the most significant economic losses we have as yet had to face, including the total of plant shutdowns during the recessionary period.
Today, I am going to ask the House for acceptance of a motion to have an emergency debate on that closing to discuss the effects of free trade on this matter. It was, after all, the Premier (Mr Peterson) who said that if the auto pact were gutted in any way by free trade, he would stop this thing. This government has had a chance to bring in legislation around prior notification and justification for the closure of plants, as we suggested as a whole, as a group, in 1981.
It has not yet done so and as a result 2,500 workers and their families in Scarborough are now going to be without work and a major resource to that community is gone. I will ask that this House give unanimous consent because we were unable to file, as we would have otherwise, that we have that debate now on the first chance I have been able to be in the House.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE
Mr Harris: The temper tantrum of the Premier (Mr Peterson) after the VIA Rail cutbacks last week flies in the face of his own failure to release and respond to passenger rail recommendations. It was revealed on the weekend that a report on passenger rail service, commissioned by the Peterson Liberals, has been in their hands since the end of August. The task force was established to review the existing level of service provided by the Ontario Northland Railway and it is generally understood in the north that the night train from Kapuskasing to Toronto has been targeted by the Peterson Liberals for cancellation.
Now, after sitting on the report for nearly two months, the Peterson Liberals have an opportunity to blame VIA for any cutbacks. It is a shame that Ontario’s only response to the VIA announcement should be one of political posturing instead of taking advantage of this situation to maintain and indeed expand what most would agree is a provincially significant transportation network.
The ONR has been anxious to assume control of the trackage from North Bay to Toronto for years. Why has the Premier not initiated immediate talks with CN?
Schedules and inconvenience have hampered efforts to develop regular service to tourists, cottage and ski destinations. Why has the Premier not taken the lead on identifying and developing required infrastructures? We have private sector additions to consider. We have had several expressions of interest from private companies with respect to the Windsor-Montreal corridor. Why has the Premier ignored these interested parties?
Money alone will not build a modern and efficient passenger rail network. It is a question of leadership and the will to implement a game plan for the future. Where is our Premier on any game plan for the future?
CARE FOR THE ELDERLY
Mr McGuinty: A vicious crime occurred in Ottawa South a few days ago. Two elderly people, aged 92 and 86, living alone nearby, were viciously assaulted and robbed. Incidents of this kind are becoming too common.
The Ottawa Police Force, referred to recently in a hearing of the standing committee on administration of justice as the finest in the province, has acted admirably in this regard. Police officers visit the elderly to advise them about protective measures. Follow-up assistance is provided to victims by a policeman and a psychologist.
This is in keeping with other strategies our government has taken to provide for the needs of our seniors: health services, housing and transportation. This concern for the elderly is imperative.
The degree to which a society is caring and compassionate and the measure of a society’s morality is surely reflected in its attitudes towards the most vulnerable. We cannot tolerate a situation wherein older people are intimidated and fearful of living alone, for they are stimulated by the freedom and independence they enjoy.
To this, the elderly have a right and the rights of all are diminished if the rights of any one, or any group, are endangered.
I would enjoin the Solicitor General (Mr Offer) to encourage and to offer financial support, where required, to Ontario police forces, all of which I am sure are concerned.
The Speaker: That completes the time allotted for members’ statements.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, I seek unanimous consent for a statement regarding the appointment of a new Ombudsman.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am prepared on behalf of our caucus to grant unanimous consent, but I might suggest that when there is an item in Orders and Notices at which point this matter will be debated, it would be nice once in a while for the Premier to stick around and join in the debate with the rest of the ordinary members instead of having to do it before we get to orders of the day because it is beneath his dignity to participate in a regular session of the Legislature.
The Speaker: There has been a request for unanimous consent. Is it agreed?
APPOINTMENT OF OMBUDSMAN / NOMINATION D’UN NOUVEL OMBUDSMAN
Hon Mr Peterson: I am pleased to recommend to the Legislature of Ontario the appointment of Roberta Jamieson as the Ombudsman of Ontario,
Ms Jamieson, the fourth Ombudsman in the history of our province, succeeds Dr Daniel Hill, who served the office and the people of this province for five years with great distinction and dedication. On behalf of the people of this province as well as the members of this Legislature, I want to thank Dr Hill for the great service he has provided and to formally record the high standard of performance he has set. His achievement is a standard against which others who assume this important duty will want to measure themselves.
Our new Ombudsman, Roberta Jamieson, was born a member of the Mohawk tribe at the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario. She was educated at schools on the reserve and at the University of Western Ontario. When she graduated from the faculty of law at Western, she was the first Indian woman in Canada to earn a bachelor of law degree and the first Indian woman in Canada to be called to the bar.
Since her graduation from the University of Western Ontario, Ms Jamieson has carved out a career of public service not only to her own Mohawk people and to the first nations of Ontario but to the entire province. Her whole career has been a series of firsts.
In September 1982, on the recommendation of the Assembly of First Nations, she was appointed an ex officio member of the committee of the Parliament of Canada, commissioned by the House of Commons and the Senate to study the issue of Indian self-government. She thus became the first non-parliamentarian to serve on a committee of the House of Commons or the Senate.
In October 1985, she was appointed by the government of Canada, the government of Ontario and the first nations of Ontario to serve as the second commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario. The Indian Commission of Ontario is an institution unique to this province. Under the leadership of the commissioner, it provides a forum for tripartite discussions on issues that are presented to it for resolution by the parties. As chief commissioner and chief executive officer of the commission, Ms Jamieson worked with enthusiasm and diligence on issues of great complexity and historic importance.
Je sais que les membres de cette Assemblée se réjouiront de la nomination de notre nouvelle protectrice du citoyen, dont l’intelligence, la compassion et l’habileté sont les traits marquants.
Elle sait au départ ce que veut dire « être désavantagé ». J’ai confiance que la fermeté, la détermination et la compréhension qu’elle a manifestées dans le passé lui seront d’une grande utilité dans ses nouvelles fonctions.
In the great tradition of this office, the duties of Ombudsman were carried out since March of this year by Eleanor Meslin, for many years the executive director of the Ombudsman staff. Eleanor Meslin is a distinguished public servant and all of us want to join in thanking her for the determined and conscientious way she discharged her obligations in the interim period.
If I might be permitted, I would like to record the support for this appointment that has come from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae), the leader of the Conservative Party and their respective caucuses.
All of us in this House wish Ms Jamieson well as she enters upon her new public responsibilities. Ms Jamieson and Eleanor Meslin, the executive director of the Ombudsman’s office, are present in the Speaker’s gallery and I would ask the House to welcome them warmly.
Mr Philip: I would like to respond to the Premier’s statement as our party’s critic on human rights and Ombudsman issues and as a member of the standing committee on the Ombudsman.
I would like to wish Roberta Jamieson our best wishes and support as she takes on the onerous and important responsibilities of Ombudsman of Ontario. I have reviewed her impressive resumé and trust that her extensive education and community experience have provided her with the kind of qualifications and empathy which are so badly needed in this office. I have not personally met with her, but my colleagues in the New Democratic Party who have met with her have been most impressed by her.
Having said that, and with no disrespect for Ms Jamieson, I want to say to the Premier (Mr Peterson) and the Attorney General (Mr Scott) that the manner in which this appointment has been made shows a disrespect for the standing committee on the Ombudsman and members of this Legislature. We found out about the appointment and the motion which will follow today by reading the weekend newspapers.
On numerous occasions, members of the standing committee on the Ombudsman have asked to be consulted on the appointment of a new Ombudsman. In other provinces there is a competitive process and the final decision is made through consensus reached by an all-party agreement. One need only read the advertisements in our newspapers to see how Alberta appoints an Ombudsman: in an open fashion and in consultation. Simply asking the leaders of the two opposition parties about whether or not they will support a particular candidate, no matter how qualified that person may well be, is in no way --
Hon Mr Peterson: Embarrassing.
Hon Mr Scott: Embarrassing.
Mr Philip: The Attorney General does not even have the respect to listen to my comments to him.
Hon Mr Scott: Well, it’s false.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Philip: Simply announcing to the leaders of the opposition and asking their support for one particular candidate is not a consultative process. Even in the highly polarized province of British Columbia the Ombudsman is appointed through a parliamentary consensus.
In assuring the newly appointed Ombudsman of our support, I do so on the realization that she is facing a government which has taken various initiatives to undermine this important office. For years, Dr Dan Hill and his successor, Eleanor Meslin. have called for specific amendments to the Ombudsman Act, which he and she considered essential for the operation of this office. These were not radical proposals but rather can be found in the acts of various other provinces.
The Attorney General and the Peterson government have turned their backs on these proposals.
The most heinous of all the acts on the Office of the Ombudsman was the challenge by this Attorney General in deciding that any actions and decisions of public servants acting under orders in council would be excluded from investigation by the Ombudsman. Even the Social Credit government in British Columbia, in its most outrageous attacks on the Ombudsman in that province, has not stooped to that level of attack. Indeed, what this ruling means is that 50 per cent of the Ombudsman’s current complaints cannot be investigated, including decisions made by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal. It is no wonder that Dr Hill and the temporary Ombudsman, Eleanor Meslin, were forced to initiate a court action to retrieve the authority which has been challenged. I say to the new Ombudsman that she has our support, the support of New Democrats in this House, in her court challenge and her continuation of this challenge started by her predecessor. I trust that she will continue to pursue this matter in the Supreme Court of Canada.
The citizens of Ontario owe a great deal to the initiatives taken by Dr Hill and Mrs Meslin. Mrs Meslin was doing an outstanding job as Ombudsman in this province. It therefore came as a surprise when on 8 September she received a letter from the Attorney General informing her that as of 20 September she could no longer continue acting as temporary Ombudsman. In order to justify this, the Attorney General made a unique interpretation of section 7 of the Ombudsman Act. One must ask, if it was not the intention of the Attorney General to undermine the Office of the Ombudsman, why did he not appoint a full-time Ombudsman earlier.
Assuming that it takes eight weeks for a new Ombudsman to become oriented to the position, we are faced with a situation where there will be a delay of a minimum of three months for an Ombudsman to sign decisions. Complainants, who have been waiting so long for justice, deserve more than this from the Liberal government.
More recently --
Hon Mr Scott: That’s probably enough.
Mr Philip: “That’s probably enough,” the Attorney General says --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Philip: -- and that shows how contemptuous he is of the parliament of this province.
Hon Mr Scott: Because this is completely out of line and you know it. This is offensive --
The Speaker: Order, order.
Hon Mr Scott: You have no style at all, none.
The Speaker: Order. Respect the member.
Mr Philip: The Liberal members on the standing committee on the Ombudsman more recently voted in a bloc to stop the expansion of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. For more than three years members of the standing committee on the Ombudsman have been considering a report introduced by Dr Hill and reintroduced by his successor, Eleanor Meslin.
This report called for expansion of jurisdiction of the office of the Ombudsman. After extensive hearings, it was clear that some members, including Liberal government members, were in favour of providing some expansion. However, they sheepishly voted in a bloc to restrict any expansion of this office.
In complimenting and welcoming the new Ombudsman, I must say she has her job cut out in dealing with this government. Once again, I compliment the excellent job which has been done by the temporary Ombudsman, Mrs Meslin, who is in the gallery.
Mr Cousens: Before I comment on the appointment itself, which is a happy moment, I would like to just take a moment and say how unhappy I am at reading the announcement headlined in the weekend paper, “Native Woman to be Named Ombudsman.” It is the process by which this government makes its announcements. It has a Legislature in which it can come and share and announce these things, and I think we would all have a moment of real excitement about what is going on, but by virtue of having their own process, which is to give it to a Toronto newspaper first --
Hon R. F. Nixon: Well, you two wet blankets are going to stop that.
Mr Cousens: I am sorry. What did the honourable Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) have to say?
Hon R. F. Nixon: A wet blanket.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Cousens: I make that as my first point, Mr Speaker, and separate it from my comments that I want to make following it. But when I listen to the honourable member from the opposition commenting, and having the Attorney General yell across at him, “False,” and you do not interrupt, I have to say I am concerned about the dialogue and processes of this Legislature, that they are not at a higher level.
Let’s put that behind. Let’s look at this opportunity and say, “Congratulations.” But there are things going on here that the public should know about. It is showing a contempt of the processes of this House and I would be most grateful if the government would have that kind of openness that it talked about four years ago in this House, so that we who are members of the Ontario Legislature are able to learn first and be involved in this process. We have not been until now, and at this point, with the interjections from the Treasurer and the Attorney General, who are obviously upset by the truth. I obviously have hit a nerve. Maybe it is time they understood that those of us who care would appreciate being involved,
There is a great tradition in the Ombudsman’s office in our province that will be continued, l am sure, with the appointment of Ms Jamieson. Our party would like to go on record and share in the compliments that go to her today, to her family and to all that she represents for this very important appointment. As the critic for the Ombudsman in our party and as a member of the standing committee on the Ombudsman, I happen to believe in the important role that Ms Jamieson will be able to play for all the people of the province of Ontario.
I think she will have a special role that goes beyond that of her predecessors, starting with Arthur Maloney and more recently with Dr Hill and Eleanor Meslin, but she will have a youthful attachment to it. She will have the interests of her own background, which will again give it a very special touch. I think our native Canadians, especially in Ontario, have a need to identify with someone who will understand their needs without a lot of explanations. I think, so often, when we are in government and we come from one part of the community or another, we would like to be able to go right away to someone who understands. With her background, I have little doubt that she will have that kind of empathy that is so important.
When I saw something of the credentials of Ms Jamieson, she has received awards in her short lifetime -- a recognition award from the National Indian Brotherhood to honour outstanding and continuing contributions to the betterment of Indian people, the recognition award presented on behalf of the Anishnabai people of Ontario to honour individual initiative and courage, the recognition award presented on behalf of all of the chiefs of Ontario for exceptional leadership and contribution during tenure as the ex officio member of the special committee on Indian self-government.
I think it is through that area that our own member the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) had come to know Ms Jamieson. She received in 1984, the recognition award presented on behalf of the chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations and in 1984 the Ontario Bicentennial Medal. This lady is undoubtedly qualified, and I am very proud for her and for all of us that she has accepted this appointment. I look forward to working with her, and I know the people of Ontario will as well.
I think it is worth while to acknowledge the tremendous contribution that has been made by her predecessors. Dr Hill has left an indelible mark. He was a fighter and he fought for people’s needs and he did so in the best interests of all; and his temporary replacement, Eleanor Meslin, I too would like to congratulate on her marvellous way of getting along with everybody, yet having a sense of purpose. It is good to see people like this serving the people of Ontario.
Hon Mr Scott: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The act requires consultation, and I want the House to know that I wrote to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Rae) for the support of his --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Sit down and join the debate this afternoon.
Hon R. F. Nixon: He doesn’t want to talk to Philip.
Hon Mr Scott: He didn’t talk to Philip, we understand.
The Speaker: Order. It is not a point of order. It is a point of view.
Mr Philip: The minister is so rarely here for a debate, it might be a new experience.
Hon Mr Scott: If you are typical of it, I am certainly not going to stay much longer.
Mr Mackenzie: Good job.
Mr D.S. Cooke: Leave now. Do us a favour.
The Speaker: Order. Are you finished yet? Statements by the ministry. The Minister of Education, etc.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES WEEK
Hon Mr Conway: It is good to return to some levity, Mr Speaker, after all of that serious business.
National Universities Week provides all of us with an annual reminder of the many significant contributions universities have made to our province and to our nation and of the continuing role they will play as we move into the learning society of the 1990s.
Our universities, as members well know, are the centre of our intellectual life. Today, as in the past, our universities respond to social and economic change and indeed they help shape that change in a fundamental way. They not only play a major role in enriching and transmitting our culture from one generation to the next but they help keep Ontario vibrant and competitive in the world economy. Our universities are centres of both practical and pure research. They are the training grounds for the development of tomorrow’s researchers who are so vital to the continuing social and economic wellbeing of our province.
This year more than 300,000 full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students will attend our 22 university-level institutions pursuing knowledge in a wide variety of areas such as the arts, engineering and science. This unparalleled enrolment is a direct response to the joint efforts of the Ontario government and of the universities in Ontario to open up our post-secondary institutions to all residents in this province. Throughout this week our universities will open their doors to the community inviting parents, students, educators and others in the community to view the wide array of ongoing activities and to see at first hand the important role universities play in our day-to-day lives.
As Minister of Colleges and Universities, l am proud of the achievements made by all those involved in Ontario universities and I am confident that these institutions will continue to play a vital role in preparing this province and the nation for the challenges which lie ahead.
NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES WEEK
Mr R. F. Johnston: One is used to a great deal of pomp and pap signifying nothing or very little; and I think that is what we have got today. It is difficult looking up from the bottom of the heap, I guess, when it comes to the various provinces in the country and where they stand on university funding; but when you are the bottom and are giving the least per capita, the least per thousand dollars earned in the province, the least per student, you have to basically come up with, I guess, a bunch of pap about the value of universities, to our system of education because surely the bucks are not being put there. In fact. this government has done as much as any in this province to undervalue our universities by significantly cutting back the dollars they require to meet the needs that are out there.
You just have to go across the way here, Mr Speaker, to the University of Toronto to see what overcrowding is all about at our post-secondary institutions at this point. You just have to go across there to see what deteriorating buildings and library stock are all about in this province. Thousands and thousands of hooks in the John P. Robarts Research Library are disintegrating as you pick them up -- valuable resources at the heart of our universities not being renewed as they should be and yet we get up and celebrate National Universities Week, and Ontario is last in the land in terms of what it is giving.
We can talk about the wonderful access that has been made available, but statistically you just look -- there has been very little change in who goes to university, especially in socio-economic terms in the province. Yes, there have been gains by women, there is little doubt about that. Yes, more rural students are going than previously went, but our francophone community is still underrepresented. Most of our new immigrant community is still underrepresented and certainly the poor and the economically disadvantaged do not make it to our post-secondary education, which most assuredly as we move into this next century will be the fundamental education that will be required for people to be able to handle what we are going to be facing.
This government can be proud and stand up today again about education knowing that students are leaving university with $12,000 in debts on average -- people in specialities with many many thousands of dollars in debts, greater than that before they launch their careers of one sort or another in Ontario. I suppose that is why the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) gets up today and gives us a bit of pap and flour, and very little in terms of substance because he knows exactly what the record of this government is.
Mr Cousens: We should have something to celebrate: the fact that we have so many young people and so many dedicated people within our universities who are coping and trying to succeed, in spite of some of the disadvantages that are placed upon them by funding problems and by problems that are really outside of their making. I think that this is one time which we in this House should stop and say that we still have a chance in this country to continue to develop one of the very best educational systems that the world has ever seen. If there is any resource that counts for this country now and in the future, it is our young people.
It is the capability of our people to go out into the world and carry the skills and the training that they have been able to obtain from us and our forbears and qualify them to make a contribution that takes them somewhere into the world that we see today suffering for the lack of education. So, National Universities Week has to be something that is seen as a positive move and our caucus is very pleased to see attention drawn to the high standards of teaching, research and scholastic achievement that is provided by our universities.
On the other hand, when the government stands up and claims things that it really should not be claiming, I think a few things should go on the record that just help to put things in balance. The Ontario government has reduced its spending as a percentage of the provincial budget in each year since 1985. How can a government stand up and say, “Oh, aren’t we doing a great job,” when what it is doing, in fact, is giving false hopes to people when it says it is putting an emphasis on it.
How can they say that when this very government has reduced its spending as a percentage of the total provincial budget in each year since 1985 when it came to office? It has done that and yet it does not want recognize it, so it is my pleasure on behalf of the opposition to ask it, “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?”
Number 2: The Tripartite Committee on Interprovincial Comparisons found in August 1989, just a few months ago, that Ontario ranks 10th in provincial operating grants per student.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Cousens: Ontario does not rank first, second or third. Ontario ranks 10th in provincial operating grants per student. I do not see that in the minister’s press release. Why does the minister not tell everybody that he is not at the top of the ladder in spending and operating grants for the students during universities week? Why does he not? No, because that is not the kind of thing you are going to find in Liberal propaganda.
You are not going to find it in the minister’s press release when he is trying to celebrate something. We are just reminding the honourable minister that the tripartite committee has looked at him and they rate Ontario number 10 in that area. I thought he was going to be number one in everything. The only thing he is number one in is in his own self-publicity.
The next thing is the implication of the lack of funding both to the universities and to the students at their own level, in that we are seeing fewer books, outdated equipment, deteriorating teaching and research standards. If this country is going to be first, as we are capable of being first, why do we not put the money in where it counts with our young people? We have to be making that investment. That is an investment for the future, and this government is not making it. They are talking a good story but they are not making the contribution where it counts.
Why is it that universities are mortgaging their future to pay for the present? Why is that St Michael’s College is selling land to Tridel? Why is that Victoria College of the University of Toronto has leased land to Huang and Danczkay for a luxury motel? Why is it that the universities are being forced to do this? It has to do with funding and support where it counts, and this government is not putting that money where it should be.
My last point has to touch on the whole business of the Ontario student assistance program, OSAP. If we are going to celebrate National Universities Week, why can we not be doing something more to make funding available for those young people who want to go to school whose parents are not backing them and who are just not able to do it? They are ending up having to go to other places because there is not any way they can go to the bank, their parents or anyone else; and the government, through the Ontario student assistance program, is failing large numbers of students because it is not putting the money where those kids can get a hold of it.
We have reason to be proud. We have something there to be built upon, not to allow it to be eroded and wear down because of the lack of commitment and investment by this government. Unfortunately, there is more to cry about than there is to celebrate in this announcement.
The Speaker: Order.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Minister of Labour concerning Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act. In his remarks on second reading last Thursday, the minister acknowledged the fact that there were 360 work-related deaths in Ontario last year and over 400,000 accidents, The minister will know as well that when Bill 208 was given first reading in January of this year, earlier this year, there was very clearly a principle in that bill that gave an inspector on a job the right to shut down an unsafe operation.
Perhaps the minister could explain to us why is it now that he has completely pulled the rug from underneath that provision, that basic principle in that bill.
Hon Mr Phillips: I think it is very important that I remind the members that we have not pulled the rug on that. We are proceeding with Bill 208. We are proceeding with the essential elements of Bill 208. It is a bill that will be the most progressive piece of occupational health and safety legislation in North America.
The one element of the bill -- and the honour-able member has to read carefully my remarks -- I said very clearly that I would like the committee in public hearings. Because all of the discussions to date, frankly, have taken place with consultations in private, I want broad, public consultation on that whole issue to see if there is a better way of handling the right to stop work. Perhaps in the end we will stay exactly as it was proposed in Bill 208, but I want broad, public consultations on that important issue.
Mr Laughren: Yes, indeed. The minister claims that he has not made any changes, but his remarks state otherwise, He says quite clearly in his remarks on second reading that the status quo would remain the workplace, namely, the internal responsibility system, unless the health and safety record of the employer was really bad, when some alternative method would have to be examined.
Could the minister tell us why he needs more safeguards on the stop-work? The existing legislation has not been abused. I am sure the minister would agree with that. Already in Bill 208, before it has been amended, the provisions are very clear: Before a workplace can be shut down the act or the regulations must be contravened, the contravention poses a danger or a hazard to the worker and the danger or hazard is such that any delay in controlling it will cause serious risk to a worker. Finally, if there is a frivolous dislocation or stopping of work, that worker, that inspector would be decertified by the health and safety agency. What more could you ask in the way of safeguards against any kind of frivolous stoppage of work?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think it is extremely important to say what I said earlier, and that is that we are dedicated in this bill to finding the best possible way to stop those 400,000 plus accidents each year in the workplace. What I said in my remarks was very clear, that we want to have broad public consultation on that. I said that is one possible solution -- one possible solution.
It may very well be that the best solution is the one that we have currently in the bill. But underlining the whole bill is a partnership, how we can get management and labour, the workers and the employers to work closely together to solve that issue. If the best route is the one that is currently in the bill, then so be it; but if there is a better way to do it, and surely the best way to find that out is through broad public consultations, I think we, should avail ourselves of that opportunity.
Mr Laughren: That sounds reasonable.
Mr Mackenzie: I think the minister just gave us the “in” with his final comments. The minister says in his opening statement that the internal responsibility system is the cornerstone of health and safety legislation in Ontario and has been for the last 10 years, a position supported by the standing committee for resources development in its report on mining, which we supported.
If that is true, why is he now changing that cornerstone by changing the makeup or suggesting the changing of the makeup from a bipartite control of the safety and health organization in Ontario to a tripartite, which has given us the problems with the third-party chairman?
Hon Mr Phillips: That is the reason I guess I got a little impatient on Thursday. I would ask the member to read my statement very carefully. I say “the essential ... bipartite nature of joint accountability and trust in this agency would be threatened if the bill did not require the chair to be selected by the parties and be accountable to them.”
That is why I asked on Thursday to read very carefully my statement, because I think it is important that we keep the bipartite nature of the agency, we find a way that the two parties are responsible for the entire operation of this agency. That is why I said that statement very clearly on Thursday and why I would hope that the members opposite would read it carefully.
Mr Reville: My question is for the Premier. Last week we were shocked to hear the story of a doctor’s frantic search to save a woman’s life. The government at first declined to comment, and then both the Premier and the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) suggested that if only the doctor had called the hotline, all would have been well.
My question for the Premier is, why would the Premier try to shift the blame on to the doctor, or was he just acting on the basis of incorrect information that he got from one of the Minister of Health’s cue cards?
Hon Mr Peterson: It is not a question of shifting blame anywhere. These are the facts as best we have determined them.
Mr Reville: I have talked to a lot of doctors who have been angry at this government’s activity before, and over the last few days I have talked to doctors who are absolutely livid. They said either there is no hotline, that such a hotline is so poorly publicized as to be useless or that this hotline cannot provide the information that the Premier alleges it can: both a bed and a specialist.
I ask again, which of those facts are correct, or is the Premier trying to shift the blame for a failure of the system on to a doctor?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think I told the member the facts as we understand them.
Mr Reville: The facts are that this hotline, so-called, is a consultative service that talks about what kind of treatment might be appropriate, not where such treatment could be gained, according to the information I have been able to get.
Maybe the Premier can do better at this in terms of the failure of his system. Does he think it is appropriate to transfer people who have been burned over 50 per cent of their body, third-degree burns, from hospital to hospital because his government will not put in place enough nursing staff to take care of such people?
Hon Mr Peterson: The member is referring to the incident at Wellesley, and I gather the patients were taken care of at Scarborough. There was an internal problem there with respect to staff but, as I understand it, that situation was handled appropriately and the patient got the appropriate treatment.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Nipissing.
Mr Harris: To the Premier as well. I would like to follow up on this whole issue and see if we can determine what the strategy is and why there even needs to be a strategy.
When we first raised this issue with both the Premier and the Minister of Health, the Minister of Health told the House “No comment. I cannot comment on that. I have been given advice not to comment on it.” I think the Attorney General (Mr Scott) at the time sat there and nodded yes, that was good advice because of a possible coroner’s inquest.
The next day, the Premier and the minister were both quick to comment and to blame Dr Nesdoly, that somehow he had overlooked a hotline number that they claimed was there. Today, the Minister of Health is giving the media interviews claiming to have letters from the hospitals that Dr Nesdoly said he contacted and now she is busy trying to drum up a whole bunch of letters from somebody in those hospitals, I guess, saying that he did not contact them.
I guess really what I want to ask the Premier is, does he agree with the original strategy for damage control, I suppose, which was that there is going to be coroner’s inquest and there should be no comment, or does he agree with this latest strategy, which is to get all the information out there he can to discredit Dr Nesdoly and shuffle the blame off somehow on somebody else, instead of looking at what indeed is the health care system and the problems that are there?
Hon Mr Peterson: Unlike my honourable friend, I have no desire to discredit anybody. All we want to do is get at the facts of the situation and make sure that these kind of things do not happen again, if in fact they are preventable. The situation was explained to the member, that the letter from Dr Stoughton explaining the system is there. There is a system there in place if people want to take advantage of it.
Now the question is, why was it not taken advantage of? I am not casting aspersions on anyone. I am not casting blame the way the member is. He is very quick to stand up and cast blame every single day in this House, and that is fair enough. The coroner’s inquest has been called and the coroner will get to look at all of these facts and come up with his independent judgements.
Mr Harris: Both the Premier and the Minister of Health have taken great pains to say that there is this hotline and Dr Nesdoly was somehow -- they have certainly inferred -- neglectful in not using the hotline. We contacted the integrated trauma program at Sunnybrook, which tried to help Dr Nesdoly find a bed. They have never heard of the hotline. A spokesman for the Ontario Medical Association has never heard of the hotline. The Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto has never heard of the hotline.
I would ask the Premier, rather than himself, the minister, perhaps the mayor of Gotham City and Bruce Wayne, can he tell us why nobody else all across this province in the medical community has ever heard of this mysterious hotline?
Hon Mr Peterson: Perhaps the hotline is designed to assist smaller hospitals locate patients in areas where they do not have the confidence or the expertise to deal with it. This hotline was set up some 10 years ago to assist the smaller hospitals. It is an initiative of the Toronto General Hospital. Posters and publicity have been distributed several times, I am told, in the last few years. Probably it was even started by the member’s government. Maybe I should ask the question, why did they not publicize better then, 10 years ago, when they started it?
Mr Harris: Listen. I am delighted to answer questions. I think we did publicize it for what it was to be used for.
Here in my hand, dated June 1989, is a copy of the Ministry of Health Guidelines for Hospital Emergency Units in Ontario. That is the title of it. These are guidelines, the document states, developed to ensure that hospitals are capable of handling emergency patients properly, including arrangements for the rapid transfer to another facility if need be, and the last page of the document lists the essential phone numbers for the emergency units. They include central air ambulance, the control centre, the provincial poison information centre, the hazardous goods information --
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Harris: -- the hyperbaric oxygen chambers and the organ retrieval program.
But lo and behold, these guidelines do not contain the mystery number that the Premier says should have been used. I would ask the Premier. if these guidelines have been in place as he says for 10 years. why, in the June 1989 guidelines, does that number not appear there for use by doctors and emergency units across this province?
Hon Mr Peterson: As I understand it, this is a service for the smaller hospitals that do not have the complete facilities that some of the larger hospitals have. The line is used. I gather there were some 800 calls last year. Obviously, some people are availing themselves of the services of this particular hotline and perhaps could have been a help in these circumstances.
The member and I will never know for sure about that, given the nature of the particular case. But let me say, a coroner’s inquest will look into all of this, and if the member has views, l am sure the coroner will be delighted to hear them.
RAPE CRISIS CENTRES
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Solicitor General. It has to do with another crisis, the crisis line in Simcoe county which is being used more frequently and in a desperate sort of way as a response to government underfunding. I speak of the Barrie and District Rape Crisis Centre line which the minister will be aware is in jeopardy as a result of the insufficient funding that is flowing to that centre.
The statistics are clear. The clients served have increased by 32 per cent in the last year. The clients who have contacted the centre but not necessarily received services have increased by almost 70 per cent and the percentage of victims who have reported, which has led to police charges, is now 75 per cent, one of the highest in the province, and it has grown by threefold in just one year.
How can the minister expect centres like the Barrie and District Rape Crisis Centre to meet the needs of sexual assault victims in this province when he continues to look at funding at a less than adequate level?
Hon Mr Offer: With respect to the question, I would like to inform the member that, currently, this Solicitor General is a member of a ministerial committee chaired by the Ontario women’s directorate. The purpose of this committee is to look at a wide range of issues, all surrounding rape crisis centres and sexual assault centres.
Some of the issues we are going to be looking at and are currently looking at are the whole question of education, the whole question of outreach, the whole question of how best to serve the particular areas which have to be served and the whole question of financing both short term and long term.
I would like to make it very clear that not only that centre but all of the other centres, 20 I believe in total, are providing an important and critical role to many people in this province and we are currently assessing all of these centres with a view to how we can best provide the most effective service.
Mr Jackson: Every centre in this province would like to tell the Solicitor General that that is a copout, that is a delay, that is a stalling tactic. There are serious, tragic, human repercussions to the fact that when they call his office for assistance he replays this same statement he has made in the House. “Well, you have to give us time. My hands are tied” was the line he used on the phone. I am surprised he did not bring it up here in the House.
The fact still remains that the Barrie centre has done everything it can to reduce the size of its accommodation. Its part-time staff are in jeopardy of leaving. The centre is in jeopardy of closing. But if the Solicitor General says he is assessing the need, how come they have had to cancel their training of the doctor program because the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) did not provide funding? How can he say he is helpful if the self-help groups in Simcoe county have all been cancelled? I can inform the minister that the court support program, a most critical program of support to victims before they go to court, is in jeopardy of being cancelled.
I ask the minister if he agrees with the position and the statement made by his own member for Simcoe Centre (Mr Owen) who said that the problem with the centre is that it has got to be more innovative with its funding approaches? Does the minister agree that is the solution?
The Speaker: Order. It is not speech time.
Hon Mr Offer: The programs which the member has alluded to are just some of a number of programs. We have pilot projects dealing with victim crisis centres. We have a whole range of outreach to provide effective, immediate care to those who have suffered spousal sexual assault and we are continuing to address these particular needs.
I would like to indicate that in the past year we have been increasing the funding to the centres across the province. We are continuing to look at this particular area, but I would like to make it very clear that in the past year we have been increasing funding so that those centres, designed for a very specific purpose, are able to provide that particular service in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Mr Jackson: The Barrie and District Rape Crisis Centre is now dealing with victims and client lists as young as two years of age and as old as 76 years of age. When the phone rings, they are having to tell people, “I’m sorry, but the program has been cancelled.” Then they are asked what they can then do and they are told, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do.” The consequences of these waiting lists are very tragic in proportion to what is going on with these victims. For the minister to say that he is doing something, that he is studying something, is little comfort to the people who are now phoning in increasing numbers.
My question is simply this: The person responsible for running this centre is very qualified. She is a registered nurse. She is considered an expert in her field both in the courts and in the medical community. She is earning $20,000 a year and she may, even by reducing her salary that far, have to close the centre.
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Jackson: I ask the minister, is this the position of his government, is this his sense of priority, when we discover through a question in Orders and Notices that his predecessor responsible for women’s issues was paying his personal chauffeur $30,000 a year? Does the minister think that is fair, that this kind of inequity as it existed within his own government in terms of the value he puts on the personnel who run our rape --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Offer: Let me reiterate that these centres are providing an important and critical service and function for many people across this province. There is also the point to be made that they are dealing with a wide range of issues. They are dealing with issues not only with respect to sexual assault; they are dealing with counselling, long-term and short-term.
We are looking at and reviewing some of the areas in which they are currently functioning and some of the services which they are currently providing, but I would like to indicate that there is right now an interministerial committee which is designed and is continuing to look at some of those very important issues, such as long-term and short-term funding, education and outreach programs.
We are committed to continue to allow the centres to provide that particular service so necessary in this province. This government has reiterated time and time again, and has shown through its programs, that these centres perform an important and critical role, and through a concerted and co-ordinated effort, we expect that will continue in the future.
GENERAL MOTORS VAN PLANT
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Premier. During the recession of the early 1980s, our riding lost the SKF plant. The CGE plant and a number of other smaller plants, but last Thursday’s announcement almost doubled the total number of layoffs we experienced during those very hard times.
Even during those very bad years, General Motors guaranteed us that Canada would keep van production: a portion of the van production would be maintained here no matter what they did in Flint, Michigan. Now that we have had the free trade agreement, we have this major rationalization taking place in the United States and we are losing the van plant, the major employer in my riding and in most of Scarborough.
I would like to ask the Premier today, since we have no plant closure justification policies in this government yet, even though it was proposed in 1981, even though the Premier made the promise he would stop the trade deal if they gutted the auto pact --
The Speaker: Question?
Mr R. F. Johnston: -- what are the Premier’s plans to help these workers and to stop the unfair closure of a very efficient plant?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think, if I may, I will refer to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, who can assist my honourable friend in the discussions that have been ongoing with General Motors.
Hon Mr Kwinter: Members will know that General Motors gave notice last week that it will be terminating van production in its Scarborough plant at some indefinite period in the future. Having said that, they have acknowledged that it is a very productive workforce and that because of rationalization in the industry across, North America, they had to make that move.
We are very concerned about the 2,700 employees; there are 2,500 hourly rated employees and 200 salaried employees. We are meeting with GM officials and the other stakeholders to make sure we can come up with another solution. I think it is only fair to say that, although they said in their announcement that the van plant would be closed, they are looking at other production abilities in that plant and a way to keep those jobs going. We are monitoring it very closely, and we will be working with on it.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It sounds to me as if the minister is being hoodwinked. I hope the government is not being hoodwinked.
This morning at the mayor’s meeting, the GM people put forward the same position, but the Canadian Auto Workers people are telling me that the plan to close the plant is definite for the summer of 1992 -- and it has been established as such in Detroit -- and that Flint, Michigan, started retooling last summer to prepare for this very prospect. It is part of a plan to use multiplant complexes, not single-plant complexes. Therefore, that does not fit into their overall plans.
They are doing this for political reasons. They have closed several plants in the United States, and they do not feel they can close another. It is easy to close here in Ontario.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr R. F. Johnston: It comes down to that. I want to ask the minister, what political pressure is he going to put on to make sure we do not lose this plant, which it was promised just a few years ago would stay, rather than accepting their word on this, when it clearly is not necessarily the case at all?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I think in all fairness, if the member would look at the record, 17 plants have been closed by General Motors in the United States since 1980 --
Mr R. F. Johnston: That’s their line.
Hon Mr Kwinter: It is not their line; it is a fact.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Kwinter: In the same period of time, $8 billion has been invested by General Motors in the Canadian automobile industry. We have to take them at face value. We are very concerned about those jobs that are located in Scarborough. We are working with the company to make sure we can help facilitate --
Mr R. F. Johnston: You’re working with the company. That’s your approach.
Hon Mr Kwinter: I will tell my friend, if you do not work with the company, those jobs will be gone. If they are going to stay, it is only --
Mr R. F. Johnston: You’re just swallowing their line, like you always do -- hook, line and sinker.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Scarborough West asked the question --
The Speaker: Order. New question. The member for Carleton.
CAPITAL FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of Education. A few years ago, when the province helped build schools, it provided 75 per cent of the capital funding. In recent years, that has dropped to 60 per cent of the capital funding. If a board is forced into a situation, as is the case for the Carleton Board of Education and the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board, to buy portables each year to make up for the deficiency in capital funding which the minister’s government is providing to them, what is a fair percentage for the government to pay for those portable classrooms?
Hon Mr Conway: My friend the member for Carleton invites us over here to remember the old days and, for my friends over here, I want to remember the old days. I will never forget, as my friend the Premier (Mr Peterson) will never forget, the pathetic spectacle in 1984 when the poor member for Carleton, then a minister of the crown, went begging up and down that hallway trying to get some money to build a badly needed school in Barrhaven. Poor old Bette Stephenson slapped him six ways to Sunday.
To his credit, the member for Carleton was able to come away from that unhappy exchange, from his point of view, with something, but l will tell the members that the something which the niggardly Tories were prepared to offer the member for Carleton and his colleagues was very little, as compared to, for example, what my friend the Premier, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the former Minister of Education announced earlier this year -- fully $900 million worth of provincial capital, which we expect will generate over $1.3 billion worth of school projects, new and renewed across the province.
Against that benchmark, I want to say, the member for Carleton is right: Those old days were bad days, bad days in Barrhaven, and we are happy to provide much better levels of assistance.
Mr Sterling: I am sorry the minister has responded in that fashion. I find it --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Sterling: He can play games, but we are talking about children and space for children and schools.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Sterling: The Carleton Board of Education, in addition to the number of students it was expecting this year, had 318 additional students show up for school on 1 September. That required an additional 14 portable classrooms. The total number of portable classrooms added for the Carleton Board of Education this year is 64.
According to the calculations I have been provided with, the province is providing $500,000 of some $3 million spent for 64 portable classrooms. Does the minister think it is fair that the province is willing to pick up only 16 per cent of the cost of providing portable classrooms? I would ask him to answer seriously this time.
Hon Mr Conway: I always answer my friend seriously because he would not expect me to behave in any other fashion. He invited the discussion about the old days, and I thought it would be useful for the House to know something about the context.
My friend talks about what the Carleton boards, public and separate, have received. I well remember, when I was Minister of Education last time, receiving delegations from the Carleton board about the need for the multimillion-dollar West Carleton facility. We built that school with the Carleton board, one of the most beautiful new schools anywhere in Ontario.
The Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board and my friend the member for Ottawa-Rideau (Mrs O’Neill) and others from the national capital area -- in this caucus, the member for Nepean (Mr Daigeler), the member for Ottawa West (Mr Chiarelli), the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr Patten), and all the other ridings in the national capital area -- have come to me, and the Carleton Roman Catholic Separate School Board has received very substantial allocations.
There are two things furthermore. We do not suggest we have done all that has to be done, but we have done a lot more than the Tories did before us. My friend the member for Carleton knows that one of the reasons we are debating Bill 20 in this House is that we want to give fast-growth boards, like the Carleton boards, additional instruments so they can find other ways of dealing with some of the very heavy growth pressures.
I repeat, $900 million was announced earlier this year by the Treasurer, and we think that is putting a lot of resources in an important area, not just in Carleton but elsewhere in Ontario.
Ms Poole: My question was for the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley). In his absence, I will direct it to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
A recent Angus Reid poll of 3,000 Canadians showed that a new green generation of environmentally conscious Canadians is emerging: people who are willing and ready to change both their habits and their attitudes in order to protect the environment. At the same time, it has become obvious that business too is very aware of environmental concerns.
I have two products here, both common baking soda. One has “green environment-friendly product” on it. The other has “a product friendly to the environment.” While I applaud such initiatives from business, I am concerned. I would like to ask the minister if the government plans to regulate the use of the words “green” and “environment-friendly product,” so that we do not see these words on products that are not friendly to the environment.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I think it is a very important question. What my friend the member for Eglinton points out, although the members of the New Democratic Party obviously do not want to listen to it because they are screaming across the floor --
Mr Breaugh: We haven’t heard anything yet.
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend opposite could have listened to the question.
What my friend the member for Eglinton points out is the dramatic change that is taking place among consumers, among business people, among retailers, among really the entire population. I think programs like the one the Minister of the Environment has launched for recycling in this province will not only do a marvellous job of recycling but also will teach all of us, in particular our children, the importance of doing things that help, not hurt the environment.
Just on the question of the use of words like “environmentally friendly products” or “green,” I want to tell my friend the member for Eglinton two things. The first is that although businesses want in general to start being far more sensitive to the environment than they may have been in the past, there is some danger of the possibility that there would be some misuse of those terms. That matter would be regulated by the federal government, but our consumer protection offices work directly with them to assure that the customers are not misled.
Ms Poole: I would ask the minister if he would be prepared to work with both the Minister of the Environment and the federal government to try to ensure that these words are regulated so that we can protect Canadians from being exploited in the future.
Hon Mr Sorbara: It is a very interesting suggestion. I want to tell my friend the member for Eglinton that I am going to speak with the Minister of the Environment about how we might be sure that consumers, in their desire to be helpers of the environment, can be satisfied when they do their shopping that they are making choices that do just that. I will take her suggestion to him and to the federal government.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer, who will know that the public accounts for the fiscal year ended 31 March 1989, which were tabled last week, show that provincial income tax revenues were over $1 billion more than he had forecast. Since that represents an increase of about $4.5 billion from the time his government took power in 1985, could the Treasurer tell us why he has not introduced a higher degree of progressivity into the tax system? Also, when he is responding, would he please not use the answer that he has abolished OHIP premiums, because 70 per cent of those were already paid for by employers, and there is OHIP premium assistance in place anyway?
Hon R. F. Nixon: In answer to the honourable member, I draw to his attention that we have announced the abolition of OHIP premiums and that in fact this will mean about $500 million will be left in the pockets of the individuals in the province who pay their own premiums or for their families, and for the rest of us who get our premiums paid by our employers it will really mean that our personal income tax payable will be reduced by that value, We think in large measure this does increase the progressivity of the whole tax base by returning essentially $1 billion to the pockets of the individuals in the province. We feel in many respects we have not had sufficient credit for that initiative.
Mr Laughren: It is obvious that the Treasurer has no other reason for not increasing progressivity. He should know that today in Ontario a family of four with an income of about $14,500 -- $10,000 below the poverty line -- still pays provincial income tax. For $150 million out of that $1 billion more than he had forecast, the Treasurer could have eliminated provincial income taxes for everyone below the poverty line in Ontario. Why has he not done that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member knows that in the budgets that have been presented to the House in the last four years, the tax reduction program of the government has been strengthened year by year. I would have liked it to have been strengthened by another $150 million, but the decisions were made that the allocations for hospitals, education and roads had to also take their place. The honourable member has suggested previously that more money be allocated in this program, and it will continue to be given careful consideration as we make early plans for next year’s budget.
ST LAWRENCE SQUARE/ATARATIRI
Mr Harris: My question is to the Minister of Housing. Last Thursday I asked the minister about Metro Toronto council’s decision to allocate 2,500 units of the St Lawrence Square development for a media village for the 1996 Olympics. The minister indicated that he was not aware of that proposal and that indeed, as far as he knew, that was not the case. Given the fact that the province’s allocated $215 million in support to this project, I am sure by now the minister has read the 31st page of this fairly thick document, which is the Report on City of Toronto’s Bid on 1996 Olympic Games. I will ask the minister again, does he agree with Metro’s decision in this document to designate one third of the units of the St Lawrence Square project for the Olympics in 1996?
Hon Mr Sweeney: My honourable friend will perhaps realize from my response to his question last week that I was indicating that there are two objectives of Metro council, and that is to provide some housing units for the Olympic athletes themselves on the Spadina Avenue site across from the dome, and given the additional information he made available to me later on Thursday, it is also looking at providing some housing sites for the media on the St Lawrence site.
I doublechecked that background information and discovered, in light of the question that was asked of me, that the 1996 date he referred to had no bearing at all on what else was going to be happening at the St Lawrence site, that in fact the proposal to go ahead with the units on that site is still slated for the 1990-91 year, give or take a few months. The particular reference to the media people on that, would be that when that particular group of units would come up around about 1996, then they could be made available to the media for a short period of time, and immediately converted for a more public use in a variety of ways.
It was also drawn to my attention that where the original intent was to spread this out over 12 years --
The Speaker: Thank you. Perhaps we should keep a little in case there is a supplementary.
Mr Harris: Indeed, there is a supplementary. Nowhere in the original press release, the great fanfare of 14 months ago, does it say anything about 10 or 12 years. In fact, it says the units would begin to be made available in 1990. According to that press release, 60 per cent of the housing would be developed under nonprofit housing programs and for ownership and rental by low- to moderate-income households.
Does the Olympic bid proposal mean the market value units are the ones then that will come on stream, obviously not in 1990 but in 1991-92-93, and that we will have to wait now until 1996, eight years after the announcement, before we get to the affordable units, those units the government will be involved in and in fact will be made available to the media for the Olympics and then to the public afterwards? Is that really what it says, that eight years after the announcement the affordable government-sponsored units will finally be available for low-income Torontonians?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The answer to the honourable member’s question is no. There will be during the process, beginning in 1990-91, roughly about 1,000 units per year coming on. The member should not hold me to those figures exactly, but roughly in that area. In some years it is going to be more than a thousand and in some years it is going to be slightly less than a thousand, but that is about the average.
There will be a mix during those years of affordable units for sale. There will be units that will be market rentals. There will be units that will be subsidized rentals and there will be completely nonprofit units. It is all part of that complex. They are all being done during that staging from approximately 1990-91 through to about 1996.
Let me come back with a point I made earlier. The figures I was shown originally did indicate that the whole project was intended to be spread out over about a 12-year period, in other words to about the year 2000. It has now been contracted so that the entire project will be finished by 1996, not just half of it. The particular units the member is talking about certainly will not be restricted to the affordable units.
Mr Mahoney: My question is to the Treasurer. In the 1989 Ontario budget the Treasurer announced that provincial spending for the operation of hospitals and the Ontario Trillium Foundation would be made eligible for lottery funding. As a result, the existing lottery dedication consisting of recreation, culture and fitness would be expanded to include these new purposes and Bill 119 was introduced to address the issue. During the summer, public hearings were held in connection with this bill and many recreational groups around the province as well as the city of Mississauga have expressed concern over redistribution of lottery profits.
My question is, can the Treasurer assure this House that the redistribution of lottery profits to include hospitals and the Ontario Trillium Foundation will not jeopardize provincial spending on recreation and cultural programs?
Hon R.F. Nixon: I can give that assurance to the honourable member. I think probably the best guarantee of that is that the budget and the specific spending proposals are presented to the Legislature year by year. The honourable members have expressed their views, not only to the committee but to me in the House and personally in such a way that I am sure they would not permit a budget or an allocation procedure to go forward without adequate allocation for cultural and recreational purposes. Although the amount allocated has varied, it has usually been in the range of about $100 million up to about $130 million maximum. I can give the assurance to the honourable member that as long as it is my responsibility to assist in that allocation, they will not be disadvantaged.
Mr Mahoney: I would like to point out to the Treasurer that on 14 September 1989 my city, the city of Mississauga, made a presentation to the standing committee on general government. I would like to quote briefly from that presentation:
“Recreation is not just about arenas, gym shirts and whistles. Recreation truly is an essential component of the fabric which makes Ontario communities what they are. The provincial government has recognized this fact in its community recreation policy statement. Continued good leadership is further required to ensure that appropriate funding, indexed to inflation, is always in place so that the quality of life experienced by Ontario and Mississauga residents is second to none.”
My community has a lot of concern that this leadership will continue to be shown.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Mahoney: Will the Treasurer assure us that appropriate funding will be in place to assist in the continuation of programs that provide all our residents with such a high quality of life?
Hon R.F. Nixon: As usual, the city of Mississauga made an excellent presentation. I had an opportunity to attend the committee just last week to respond to some of the questions and to offer an amendment that was necessary before the bill was brought back to this House. At that time, in response to questions from the honourable members, I have a personal assurance that the allocation for the next three years would not fall below $120 million a year. This might not be seen to be sufficient by everyone, but it does leave considerable leeway for the inclusion of hospital financing, at least in part, in the general funding that comes from the Ontario Lottery Corp.
Most members know, I am sure, that we are expecting in the coming year about $500 million in net revenue from the corporation, and of that about $120 million minimum would be allocated for the purposes the honourable member refers to.
CHARGE UNDER ABANDONED ORCHARDS ACT
Mr Allen: A question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In June of this year, a constituent of mine by the name of Leo Welkowics was taken to court by the ministry and charged under the Abandoned Orchards Act. There are two requirements for proceeding under the act, one of which, I underline, is a necessity. The orchard must be “an orchard, the fruit of which has not been produced for sale for human consumption for two consecutive growing seasons.” I am sending across with one of the pages to the minister of agriculture contracts which will demonstrate that they are contracts Mr Welkowics has had for each of the past three years. He continues to sell commercially.
Would the minister please explain to me why he has proceeded against Mr Welkowics when it is improper under the terms of the act, and how he ever secured a conviction when he has continued to sell fruit in considerable quantity in recent years and continues to do so?
Hon Mr Ramsay: It would give me great pleasure to be able to give my colleague across the way an answer, but I cannot because I am not aware of this particular case. I would like to thank the member for bringing this to my attention and I will endeavour to get back an answer to his inquiry in the next few days.
Mr Allen: I would certainly appreciate it if the minister did. I called it to the attention of his staff, I believe two weeks ago, and had some discussion with them and no change was made in their intent to proceed again against Mr Welkowics in November. He will see from the documents that there is indeed continual commercial use of the orchard. This man has also continued to sell pears on the commercial market from a stand, from his farm.
The minister has no ground, his ministry has no ground to proceed against this man and I would like him to get his officials off his back and to cease and desist until he has reason to proceed.
Hon Mr Ramsay: This case appears to be in litigation. As I have said to the member, I would be pleased to find out the information and get back to him in a couple of days.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. I know the minister is very well aware of a very serious financial problem with the recent installation of a sewer and water system in the Purcell subdivision, Charlottenburgh township, in the county of Glengarry, an area I very proudly represented until the 1987 election.
The cost of the system went from $2.6 million in 1984 to somewhere around $7 million upon recent completion, almost three times more than originally estimated. Residents of the Purcell subdivision are facing tax increases of from 300 to 500 per cent. These costs include a per-household operating cost of about $1,000 a year. When can the residents of this subdivision expect assistance on the advice from his ministry?
Hon Mr Bradley: I know the member is aware of the many needs that exist in all of the province of Ontario, and specifically in his area. He has been pleased to share with me on a number of occasions some of the items that are of concern to him and I share those concerns.
I would say, however, that I know he would want us to address on a priority basis those projects that have the greatest environmental and health related components. I suppose that everybody who makes a proposal to us indicates that, but what we have tried to do -- there have been a number of projects in eastern Ontario that have been funded on this basis, not as many as he and I would like, but a number have been funded -- is to have our ministry officials look, on a technical and scientific and totally objective basis, on those projects that should proceed with funding in the particular year and others that would wait to a subsequent year.
If we are talking about areas where it is simply a matter of growth in a specific area, then of course the concern is that this is not going to be as high on the list. The member for Cornwall (Mr Cleary) has shared his concerns about this matter with me. The member for Cornwall has on a number of occasions brought to my attention the concern of the citizens in the area and certainly we are --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Villeneuve: On Wednesday 23 August, pursuant to questions from myself in the public accounts committee, the deputy minister, and I quote, said the following: “I take your point that there is a program for northern Ontario and not one for eastern Ontario, that there is no special program for any region of the province other than the north. But in the kind of circumstances you are mentioning our advice to a municipality would be to sit down at a meeting with ourselves and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to consider its situation.”
This is a system that is now in place. It is all done. It went from $2.6 million in anticipated costs to $7 million. We have a major financial crisis. We have 28 per cent of the residents who are now in tax arrears, before the tax increases and they are getting from 300 to 400 per cent annual increases. Many homes are for sale; no buyers. There is a major financial crisis. We were given advice by the minister’s deputy minister that if we met with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs there would be assistance forthcoming. We are in dire straits. We need confirmation of that assistance now.
Hon Mr Bradley: Our officials would be pleased to discuss with officials of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs the specific concerns of the people, as has been requested by the member for Cornwall on a number of occasions. I know that the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry shares the member for Cornwall’s concerns and he has in fact suggested that there may be assistance from other ministries, other than the Ministry of the Environment.
One of the problems we encounter of course -- the auditor does not view this with very much enthusiasm -- is that when you go retroactively and begin funding projects retroactively, then his critic in public accounts I think could justifiably say that it is not the appropriate financial way of dealing with things, when they ask that you go retroactively.
Right across the province I get asked by people who want us to fund retroactively. In fairness to many of the people the member has brought to my attention, many of his own municipalities and others are looking for funding for various projects. If we are going back to fund others retroactively that did not receive specific approval, then it bumps them back on the list, so it is a real dilemma for somebody like me. But I would be pleased, as the member for Cornwall and yourself have both suggested, that we discuss this with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney) is here today and I would be happy to do that on behalf of those people.
Mr Tatham: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Again and again it would appear that Ontario’s agricultural sector is under attack by our friends to the south. The other day I raised in the House the issue of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade panel ruling against Canadian ice cream and yoghurt. Today, I would like to bring to the attention of the House the recent action by the United States International Trade Commission to impose a countervail duty on Canadian fresh, chilled and frozen pork. What are the ramifications of this move upon Ontario’s pork producers and processors.
Hon Mr Ramsay: I share the member’s concern about the effect that the American countervailing duties against Canadian pork entering the United States market is going to have on Canada and Ontario, especially hog producers. I really believe that the International Trade Commission has erred in its judgement against the Canadian product. Again, I think it is going to put our people in jeopardy.
In particular, I am concerned about the perception the Americans have that the Canadian tripartite meat stabilization plan is seen as a subsidy to our processors. I think this is wrong and that the Americans are somehow seeing that assistance given to our producers is a subsidy to our processors and we think there is a very distinct division between those two groups. So this is not acceptable and I share the concern of the honourable member.
Mr Tatham: In light of the potential adverse effects that may result in the Ontario pork industry, can the Minister of Agriculture and Food tell us what steps the Ontario government has taken to fight for the interests of Ontario’s pork industry?
Hon Mr Ramsay: In travelling around the province and talking to our processors and producers, it seems apparent to me that our participants in this industry are asking for some leadership from Ontario. Last week, I decided that Ontario will be a participant in the committee that is looking after the chapter 19 panel ruling on this, as well as the Canadian and the Ontario hog producers, and Alberta. I think it is very important that Ontario have a voice at these proceedings. I think it is very important that we do everything we can in this country to explain to the Americans the Canadian system of agriculture.
Mr Kormos: A question to the Deputy Premier: With respect to the Niagara Detention Centre, the government and the minister persistently deny that there is overcrowding and understaffing. The six minimum security dorms there were designed to hold 12 prisoners each. Cots are jammed into each dorm so that often over 20 prisoners are in each dorm. Sometimes there are as many as 25 or 26 prisoners literally sleeping on the floor.
When I toured the Niagara Detention Centre on Saturday, I saw maximum security cells designed for one prisoner and these cells had second cots bolted into them. Even then, I saw third occupants being forced to sleep on the floors of those cells. This is the norm once again, not the exception. Correctional officers are being put at risk. Last Saturday, one lone officer had to supervise the 101 prisoners in six separate dorms. Why will the government not act quickly to properly staff the Niagara Detention Centre and others like it?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think it would be appropriate if I brought that to the attention of the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr Patten). He will be able to respond to the honourable member in a more knowledgeable way than I could.
Mr Kormos: Of course we speak of the Niagara Detention Centre because it has had the focus of most of Ontario on it after three prisoners broke out last Thursday. I am advised that the last of those three escapees is now back in custody. The government had been warned time and time again of the dangers inherent in the overcrowding and understaffing of jails and detention centres such as Niagara. Because of that understaffing, a breakout was inevitable. Correctional officers are daily putting their lives and safety at risk,
The Speaker: And the supplementary?
Mr Kormos: The minister denied last week that Niagara was overcapacity. That is news to the correctional officers down there. There were 162 adult inmates in Niagara last Thursday --
The Speaker: The supplementary?
Mr Kormos: -- and the minister’s own report for 1988 tells that capacity to be 146. How does the Deputy Premier explain that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I will bring the member’s concern to the attention of the minister.
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE
Mr McCague: I have a question for the Chairman of Management Board. Is he here? Is he up and around? He should be.
The Speaker: If he is not present, do you have a question for any other minister?
Mr McCague: I will call on the Deputy Premier.
There are many people in my riding who are concerned about the more than 15 per cent growth in the number of civil servants. Is the Deputy Premier concerned?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable member is aware that over the last four years the ambit of the provincial government service has extended quite remarkably and in order to properly serve the people there have been some additions to the public service.
If the honourable member wants me to, I can probably give him some ratios that show that for the size of the budget, which has grown by a relatively small amount also, and that also for the population of the province, which has grown substantially since the word got out that we have a progressive government here, that in fact the growth of the public service is not inordinate, but that compared to the population growth it is reasonable and for the new programs that the honourable member has, on occasion, urged on us -- at least some of his colleagues have; he is a little more conservative and thoughtful in this matter -- that in fact we are giving good service and quality service to the taxpayers of the province.
Mr McCague: The Deputy Minister has done nothing to alleviate the concerns of my constituents, nor mine, nor those of anybody else on this side of the House I am sure.
Given the Deputy Minister’s penchant for dumping his programs, which were programs of this government in years past, on to the municipalities, how can he say that the government has taken on a plethora of programs that justify the need for 15 per cent more civil servants?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I see the time-limit clock is blinking at me. Otherwise, I would give the honourable member a very full answer.
GENERAL MOTORS VAN PLANT
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would request unanimous consent of the House that a motion be accepted that the regular business of the day beset aside so that the House might debate the pending closing of the General Motors van plant in Scarborough.
The Speaker: There is a request for unanimous consent.
Hon Mr Ward: If the member could clarify if he is seeking consent under standing order 41 to waive the provisions for notice for a debate that the opposition is entitled to, we would be more than willing to change tomorrow’s subject matter from that put forward by the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr D. S. Cooke) to that put forward by the member for Scarborough West.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The government House leader knows very well that when these new rules were being debated we contemplated the possibility that there would be emergencies about which all members of the Legislature would like to participate in debate. This is such an emergency and we seek unanimous consent. If the House leader does not care about the 2,500 layoffs in Scarborough, then stand up and say it but do not play the kinds of games he is trying to play.
The Speaker: Order.
There was a request made by a member for unanimous consent. The unanimous consent has not been given. Therefore, I will call the next order of business.
Hon Mr Ward: I move government notice of motion 21 on behalf of Mr Peterson.
The Speaker: Order. I do not believe we are quite to that stage yet.
Ms Bryden: I have a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which came in before the new rules went into effect, but I believe it is in the spirit of petitions which will be allowed under the new rules. It has 190 names on it and deals with the subject of naturopathy. It simply asks that legislation be introduced that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment. I support this petition and have signed it.
Mr Eakins: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It bears some 23 signatures and refers to the French Language Services Act.
Mr Velshi: I have a petition here addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, requesting the government to guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science. It is signed by 26 people and I have attached my signature to it.
Ms Bryden: My second petition has 23 names. It is also on the subject of naturopathy and has the same request, that legislation be introduced to guarantee the right to practise their art and science by naturopaths. I support this petition and have signed it.
Mr Sterling: I have a petition to the Honour-able 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 my constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of my preference;
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee natural healers the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment. And to guarantee the manufacturers and sales people of organic vitamins, herbal and botanical remedies in their regular place of production and sales without prejudice or harassment.”
That is signed by about 250 people from across the province of Ontario and I have signed my name thereto.
Mr Kanter: I too have a petition on the subject of naturopathy, addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. it has approximately 60 names, and the petition is asking 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 Ballinger: I have a petition as well with 58 signatures. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“To introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
Mrs E. J. Smith: I have two petitions on behalf of 17 citizens from Mississauga North and seven citizens from Wilson Heights. Both petitions present the position of naturopaths in wishing permission to practise their profession. I have signed them on behalf of the petitioners.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I too have had a series of petitions forwarded to me through the Lieutenant Governor’s office concerning naturopathy. I will affix my signature and table them.
Miss Nicholas: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is petitioning to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment, and I have signed it.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I have two petitions on a new and original subject. Each of these two are addressed to the subject of the Teachers’ Superannuation Act and the management of the pension fund therein. One petition with roughly 15 signatures is from the Kitchener-Wilmot area; a second petition from Renfrew North bears two signatures. I wish to present these and have signed them on behalf of the petitioners.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I have one petition I would like to present on behalf of the citizens of Quinte. They wish to present a petition on the subject of the French Language Services Act.
“Therefore, to preserve patience and goodwill, in the name of justice and for the love of harmony, we implore this House to refrain from further implementation of the French Language Services Act.”
I have signed this on behalf of the petitioners although it does not reflect my point of view.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EAST YORK-SCARBOROUGH READING ASSOCIATION INC ACT, 1989
Mr Polsinelli moves first reading of Bill Pr48, An Act to revive East York-Scarborough Reading Association Inc.
Motion agreed to.
ASTCAM CO LIMITED ACT, 1989
Mr Sterling moved first reading of Bill Pr5 I, An Act to revive Astcam Co Limited.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
APPOINTMENT OF OMBUDSMAN
Mr Ward moved, on behalf of Mr Peterson, that an humble address be presented to the Lieutenant Governor in Council as follows:
To the Lieutenant Governor in Council:
We, Her Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, now assembled, request the appointment of Roberta Louise Jamieson as Ombudsman for the Province of Ontario, as provided in section 3 of the Ombudsman Act, R S O 1980, chapter 325, to hold office under the terms and conditions of the said act;
And that the address be engrossed and presented to the Lieutenant Governor in Council by the Speaker.
Mr Cousens: Is the government not going to make any introductory remarks at all of any kind?
Mr Kerrio: The Premier (Mr Peterson) did.
Mr Cousens: I heard what the Premier had to say.
The Speaker: I looked around. Does the government House leader wish to make any opening comments?
Hon Mr Ward: No. I believe all three parties had an opportunity to make statements earlier in the day.
The Speaker: The member for Markham on this resolution.
Mr Cousens: We have a great tradition of the Ombudsman in Ontario that dates back to the late Arthur Maloney. It was through his services that the people who had been ill served by the province had an opportunity then to take those concerns to a body of concerned people under the Office of the Ombudsman in order that their concerns or grievances could be heard. That is a very important function that has developed out of the Swedish tradition and now you will find it in many parts of the world.
Ontario has been a leader for many years now by having an Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman is made all the better by the quality of the person who sits in that chair and is therefore able to listen and respond to the needs of the people who come to that particular person -- I was going to say “him” -- and the fact is that the appointment now is again, hopefully, on that great tradition where the people of Ontario will have someone they can turn to.
In my earlier remarks in the House this afternoon, I was especially pleased to comment on the Roberta Jamieson’s own personal background. Although I had not met her before, in talking with the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling), who has met her and knows her personally -- when he was in cabinet and responsible for native affairs, he had a chance to get to know her and he respects her greatly for her ability -- her curriculum vitae also points to someone who is highly qualified to assume this office. I think that again is fitting, that we have a person who comes out of a native Canadian background, whose education in the law will be very helpful in trying to interpret some of those difficult decisions that have to be made.
Sitting on the standing committee on the Ombudsman, I have a great opportunity to see how the system works and so many cases never have to reach the standing committee on the Ombudsman because the Ombudsman himself or herself has been able through his staff to work with the person and satisfy his concerns. It means that the various ministries of the government for whom someone has had a grievance have had that chance to clarify their concerns, get them resolved and then get on to the next stage.
Those that are not easily resolved end up going to the standing committee on the Ombudsman and we wrestle with them. It is one of those committees on which I have not seen the evidence of partisan politics. I think there is a conscientious objective on the part of all members in that committee to do the right thing for the people of Ontario. That is the kind of objectivity that we have to continue to maintain, so that there is not room for this partisan playing of games that sometimes becomes part of the process.
I have to make comment, and I see the Attorney General (Mr Scott) is here in the House, I just wish there was a better way in which the appointment process could be made, rather than through a statement that appears in a local paper. Again, that statement does not begin to describe the person who has that office. The headline in the Globe and Mail on 14 October says, “Native Woman to be Named Ombudsman,” and it goes along and makes a few comments. Had they received the proper introduction, had they been given that insight that is available through the comments of the Premier today, had they had a chance to read the curriculum vitae, they would begin to have a far more embellished story and give the people of Ontario a chance to really know who their Ombudsman is.
She is the people’s person when they have difficulty that is outside the realm of politics, our riding offices and out of the ministries, and they go to her as a court of last resort. It does not cost them anything and if she is able to help them, she does.
All I wish is that, out of this, we can separate the two things; one, her appointment, which I see as a good appointment, and had the Attorney General come and discussed it with me and I had seen who was being presented and her background, how could you help? That was done with our leader and obviously he felt much the way I am now saying it. He had not discussed it with me, so again, the communication goes on. I just really wish that we in this House could deal with the process of dealing with each other on matters that affect the public will, that affect the legislative process, so that we are not surprised by just picking it up in the newspaper or having someone whisper it around and saying, “This is how it is being done.”
That is not the way to gain trust and goodwill, when we are here, whose job it is to make sure we are working together. It seems to undermine, it does undermine, that sense of sharing and participation in the process. There are so many appointments that are made by the Premier and the Lieutenant Governor in Council and when you know many of those have a partisan flavour to them, which means they are Liberals, ex-Liberals, members of riding associations and are now being rewarded because of their efforts in coming to serve the province of Ontario -- there was one who is now before the Houlden commission as a special inquiry; there is a special inquiry into the way the Premier has made his appointments. I am trying to think of who that is. It had to do with someone who was appointed chairman of Ontario Place and when she was appointed to Ontario Place, and then -- it was Patti Starr, was it not? That was an appointment that was made. I wonder what kind of fanfare there was around her appointment when it was made.
That, to me, is why, when you are making any kind of appointment, and you have a government whose history in appointment-making stinks, then you would think that when it has a chance to do something right, such as the appointment of the Ombudsman --
Mr Kerrio: And you’re talking about Mulroney. You’re talking about your kissing cousins in Ottawa.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Cousens: Then you would be inclined to believe they would try to keep it on an upper level, on a higher level, and they did not do it. All I am saying, and we have to separate the two, the appointment I am happy with and I will support the Ombudsman. I look forward to being on committee and listening to her guidance and hopefully we can help make up for some of the mistakes that have happened in the last while, because we have not had an appointment since 20 September and there is a backlog of things to be done. There is a learning curve to go through.
Why then, if he has a chance to comment on it, may I ask the honourable Attorney General to give some comment on how these appointments can be made so that they do not just come out of the blue, out of the newspaper, without the kind of partisan affiliation as part of it? Because when that happens, it removes something of the beauty of a very special occasion.
When someone such as Ms Jamieson is brought to the House, I think we want to give her wholehearted support. I do that, so in my comments I want very much to make it known to the Attorney General, to the Premier, to the Speaker and to the people of Ontario, that we will do everything we can to support the Ombudsman’s office.
Our government at one time, when the Conservatives were in power, helped to set that up with the support of all parties in this House, so now today the tradition lives on. May we find some new traditions, and that is how we go about having the members of this Legislature involved in that process. That is what I am asking for, that is what is missing.
What we are dealing with is not the David Peterson government that he talked about in 1985 where he said, “I’m going to have an open government.” It is not open. He opens the door, throws something out and then closes it again. We do not really know what is going on, how it is going on, when it is going to happen, and I say if the government is going to be as open as it said it was going to be, why is that process not cleaned up so that we are all part of it?
In the meantime, we are very fortunate in Ontario to have Roberta Louise Jamieson appointed today. Our caucus is supportive of her. I know she will do something great for everybody. I think with her own personal background as a member of the Six Nations reserve, as someone with a legal background, as a woman, as someone as young as she is, she brings qualities and characteristics and personal charisma to an office that has to be seen as one of the very most important to the people of Ontario.
I trust that it will continue in the nonpartisan nature it has been, that she will be blessed by good health and good support from all members of our Legislature and that she will find this one of the most rewarding appointments she has had in her lifetime.
Mr Philip: I offer my best wishes, as I have had an opportunity to do earlier with my colleague the member for Markham (Mr Cousens) in the gallery, to Ms Jamieson. I have read her resumé. Some of the members of my caucus, including the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston), have met with her and been most impressed by her. We will be working closely with her as members of the standing committee on the Ombudsman and offer her our wholehearted support in her very important new post.
I think that when it comes to positions, this has to be seen as one of the most, if not the most, important position in Ontario. It is a tradition which stems from Sweden, where many years ago the Parliament of Sweden decided that in order to protect the civil liberties of individuals, a nonpartisan, impartial court of the people, if you like, should be established. It allows any citizen who has a grievance against the government, with certain restrictions, having undergone all other processes open to them, to have an independent investigation and adjudication.
It was with considerable seriousness that members of this House established the Ombudsman some time ago. Since then we have had a number of ombudsmen, a number of outstanding people, and one of the interesting characteristics of our legislation is that in establishing it, having looked at other jurisdictions, it was decided that an all-party committee should be established to emphasize the nonpartisan role of the Ombudsman and of the Legislature’s relationship with that office.
That was a well-thought-out, well-considered decision on the part of my colleagues and I at the time that we voted for that. My colleague Pat Lawlor did an outstanding job in his research and in his deliberations on that particular matter, and I think we all owe him a great deal of credit.
On numerous occasions the Ombudsman’s committee, which is the voice of parliament to the Ombudsman and indeed the body that deals with the policy of the Ombudsman -- we are not there to second-guess the Ombudsman on individual decisions but to deal with the patterns, the thrust and the direction in which the Ombudsman’s office is operating -- this nonpartisan committee has asked that we have a say in the selection of the Ombudsman.
If we look at other jurisdictions, including jurisdictions in Canada, we see that in parliaments that are even more highly partisan than our own, such as the British Columbia Legislature, you have a consultative process with parliament in the appointment. Indeed, if you look at how the Ombudsman is appointed in British Columbia, you see that it has to be by consensus and not by majority vote.
There is an opportunity for parliamentarians to interview a series of qualified people, having been selected by the government, having created a short list of 10 or 12 able people, and to arrive at a consensus, having questioned those people in an open forum publicly. It seems to me that when you are dealing with as important and as sensitive a role as the office of the Ombudsman, the defender of civil liberties of the individual against the state, then I think that kind of open process would serve us well.
That is why the Ombudsman’s committee, on numerous occasions in our reports, has expressed our concern about the need to be consulted in all matters stemming from the Attorney General’s office vis-à-vis the operation of the Ombudsman and indeed the choice of the Ombudsman.
Mr Speaker, you will be aware that a letter was sent -- I believe on two occasions, not just on one occasion; but at least on one occasion that I recall -- by the chair of the Ombudsman’s committee to the Speaker and the Premier, saying that we wished to be consulted in the appointment of the Ombudsman. Unfortunately, that has not taken place.
Consultation is more than the government, be it the Premier or the Attorney General, going to the leaders of the official opposition and of the Conservative Party and saying: “I have an excellent appointment. Do you have any objections or do you support this appointment?” There is more to parliament than just the leaders of the three parties, or indeed than just the cabinet and the leaders of the three parties.
I was fortunate that the leader of my party came to me and said, “I understand that the Attorney General is proposing Roberta Louise Jamieson.” Of course, in looking over her resumé and in looking at her qualifications, one has to admit that she is a person who is quite well qualified and indeed will probably be an excellent Ombudsman.
At the same time, I think it would have been so much cleaner, so much more democratic, so much more open, and indeed she might well have been the one who would have been chosen by the all-party committee if we had been consulted. No one questions that this a highly talented and qualified person, but I think that the process was wrong.
If the government wants to have a nonpartisan committee, if it wants to have this marriage between the office of the Ombudsman and parliament, then it seems to me the government has to follow the processes which have been set out in other parliaments and that seem to work so well, and that from the very start makes members of the Legislature feel this is our Ombudsman, this is the people’s Ombudsman and this is the person that we have chosen, having gone over at least a series of excellent potential candidates.
I wish the Ombudsman well and I must say that I hope that she will continue in the excellent traditions of Dr Hill and Mrs Meslin. What we have seen with Dr Hill I think was an important step forward in the role of the Ombudsman in this province. Dr Hill saw his role as not just adjudicating the individual merits of a case by a complainant against a government ministry or agency. Dr Hill saw his role, as did Mrs Meslin, as examining the systemic problems within the government and pointing them out so that these problems could be corrected.
It is a little bit analogous to the person who is -- it is important to stick your finger in the dike if you are going to have a flood, but it is also important to examine whether the dike is structurally sound or whether some changes are made, so that you are not always sticking your finger in the dike or putting out the brush fires or dealing with a whole series of individual problems.
That was one of the great contributions that Dr Hill had made and that his successor, Eleanor Meslin, had carried on. That is why I think members of the committee, without exception, were very pleased at the job that Mrs Meslin was doing in Dr Hill’s footsteps.
We have seen an important matter, which I think is a very serious matter, caused by this government, a serious matter that is so important that Eleanor Meslin, the temporary Ombudsman, dealt with it in her opening remarks in her latest report, as well as in her various reports to the standing committee on the Ombudsman, and that is that this Attorney General has made a decision which no previous Attorney General had ever contemplated. No other province, no other Attorney General had contemplated it, even in the worst situation where the Ombudsman in British Columbia and the BC Attorney General and the Premier were at great odds with each other, both with the present incumbent Ombudsman and the previous Ombudsman.
No one ever contemplated that the Attorney General would challenge the Ombudsman’s authority to investigate actions and decisions of public servants acting pursuant to orders in council. It has been accepted when the Ombudsman was first started that that would be his responsibility. Ombudsmen over the years have exercised that responsibility, and now we have the unfortunate situation where 50 per cent of the Ombudsman’s current complaints cannot be investigated if this Attorney General remains steadfast in his resolution.
What it means is that someone who has gone through all of the processes of the appeal under the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal and still feels that he has a legitimate case cannot get that adjudicated. We have a situation then where Dr Hill and Mrs Meslin felt so compelled by this attack on the authority of the office of the Ombudsman that they resorted, much to their regret, to an action in the Supreme Court of Ontario. We understand that the court proceedings will be handled some time before Christmas.
This act gives the Ombudsman an independence. It also gives tenure for a certain period of time, under which time the Ombudsman cannot be removed except under extreme circumstances. I am not going to get into the elaborate technicalities of how that might be done if an Ombudsman were found to be grossly incompetent or doing something illegal or something like that. We have never had an Ombudsman who lacked the confidence of parliament in such a way as to ever contemplate such an action. But the fact is that there is a certain independence built in and the tenure allows that independence.
I would hope that the new Ombudsman, whom we are congratulating and saluting today, will accept that in taking over the mantle of Dr Hill and Mrs Meslin, she must also take over the responsibility of continuing the pursuit of protecting the rights that historically have been held by the Ombudsman in this province and that she will pursue this court case with vigour.
I say to the Attorney General that the best gift he could give to the incoming Ombudsman would be to change his mind, to make this court case unnecessary. To accept that Mr McMurtry, who served as well as Attorney General, in dealing with matters like this -- and I can say this as someone who is not a member of that party -- that the kinds of decisions that Mr McMurtry made in that office were sound decisions and that the authority given to the Ombudsman was well founded.
The other thing that the Attorney General can do is to accept that members of the standing committee on the Ombudsman, and the last two ombudsmen at least, have asked for certain specific changes to the act, changes which are necessary in order to see that justice is done in this province: allowing the Ombudsman to comment publicly when the Ombudsman believes that it is in the public interest, mandating the Ombudsman to conduct public education programs and, one that we have dealt with so often, permitting the government agencies to pay money to complainants, ex gratia payments, where no other legal authority is available but where an injustice has been found to have been committed.
The Ombudsman Act has not been amended since 1975. Ombudsmen have asked time and again, and indeed the chairman of the standing committee on the Ombudsman has had, I am told, private conversations with the Attorney General saying, “When are the amendments coming in?” and all to no avail. So if this Attorney General and if this government want to celebrate the appointment of a new Ombudsman, they can best do it by introducing a new act, which is long overdue.
Let me say this also: if this government wants to respect the office of the Ombudsman, it can also operate in a nonpartisan manner towards the way in which that committee operates. We have had some three years of study over and over again in which the Ombudsman, Dr Hill, and the temporary Ombudsman, Eleanor Meslin, asked for expanded jurisdiction in three areas. It was fairly obvious in consulting with members of the committee, including government members, that there was some sympathy, some empathy I should say rather than sympathy, with the Ombudsman’s recommendation in two of those three requests.
When it came time to voting on that, the government members asked for an adjournment for one day in order that they could contemplate. It was fairly clear by their questions and comments that some of them at least had some support, and being democratic and being nonpartisan, of course, members of the opposition felt:
“That is fine. The Liberals are obviously split on this issue. They want to discuss it among themselves. They want to perhaps discuss it with the Ombudsman. They want to think about it and in fairness to them, we should allow such a discussion -- such a recess, if you want -- of the decision.”
What we found was that the next day the committee met, it was fairly obvious that the Liberal members of the committee had been given marching orders. The government whip marched in. One Liberal member asked if there was a way of abstaining and out of respect for him we found a way of doing it, because we did not want to have him personally embarrassed in a matter that was a matter to him of conscience, I think, and he is a person whom I have a great deal of respect for. He is a colleague of mine to the south of my riding and he represents his people with some integrity, but to see the difficulty with which members of the Liberal caucus on that committee had to face the fact that they had received marching orders was, to me, a rather painful experience.
I say to members that if they want the Ombudsman’s office to operate in a way that is nonpartisan, the government has to leave the members of the committee alone. That has been done in the past. Even at the worst of the 42 years of Tory government, I do not recall one occasion when the Tory members tried to manipulate the standing committee on the Ombudsman in order to save the hide of some deputy minister. Already in this Liberal government’s short term in office we see that kind of thing happening.
We welcome the appointment of the new Ombudsman. We ask that this government reconsider the recommendations made by its own members as well as by members of the Conservative and New Democratic parties, by members of the standing committee on the Ombudsman, that it adopt some of the procedures that have been adopted in other provinces and that seem to work so well.
We say to Eleanor Meslin, we hope she will stay on in the service of the office of the new Ombudsman, and we say to Roberta Louise Jamieson, good luck in her new post. We will be co-operating with her. We congratulate her on this important appointment, and we wish her well in her protection of the human rights of the citizens of Ontario against some of the excesses which might occur from time to time at the hands of the government and its agencies.
Hon Mr Scott: I would like to thank the honourable member for Markham for the remarks he has made and to assure him that they will be conveyed to Ms Jamieson, who regrettably is not present here today.
I also want to assure him, as best I can, that the appearance of the notice of this appointment which was in the Globe and Mail on Saturday was completely inadvertent. I have received assurance from both the Premier’s office and my own office that no press release was issued and that indeed an effort had been made to preserve the traditional rule that appointments of this type should be made first in the House. We are as embarrassed as my friend is at the way this has occurred, and I hope he will accept my assurance that it was not intended; in fact, it was one of those accidents that happen.
As the honourable members know, it is usual to consult the leaders and the members of the House before an appointment is brought into the House by resolution. That has been done in the case of the Ombudsman, historically, in the case of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, in the case of the Clerk, by consulting the House leader or the leader of each of the parties and asking them to obtain the views of their caucus. That technique is utilized because it is not sufficient to get the view of one committee with simply the members of that committee. It is necessary to get the sense of the whole House whose appointment this is.
Regrettably this afternoon when the announcement was made and was responded to by my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip), the record confirms the impression made that an objection was taken to the appointment of Ms Jamieson because there had not been proper consultation prior to her appointment.
This was a very considerable embarrassment to me because it was not true. The traditional method of consultation had been used. I had written and spoken to the leader of the New Democratic Party, as I had to the leader of the Conservative Party, not only about other possible contenders for the nomination but about this particular contender.
I had been asked by the leader of the New Democratic Party for some detail with respect to the appointment, which I went away to obtain, and I was ultimately advised by him, by letter, that he had the support of both himself as leader and the caucus of his party. The honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale confirms today that this support was given.
This has been one of the most unfortunate days I have had here, because it should have been one of the happiest. A distinguished Canadian woman, a member of the Mohawk band and a long-time servant not only of her own people but of all the people of Ontario, was here on what must have been one of the happiest and most important days of her life, because she was about to assume one of the great offices of state, probably the highest office that a member of an Indian band has ever received in Ontario. She brought with her her aged mother, her husband and her young daughter.
The sense was created that one of the parties had not been properly consulted. I have assured Ms Jamieson that this is not correct, that the leader of the New Democratic Party and his caucus were fully consulted and fully support the appointment that was made. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) said to me in the letter that he believed her appointment was just the ticket. I have assured her of that in order that there will be no sense of discomfort.
Frankly, I think this afternoon was as tasteless an experience as I have had in sometime. I do not blame anybody. I simply think it was a misfortune that this woman, who is about to assume an important office, had to be exposed to this kind of behaviour, especially in the absence of the leader of the New Democratic Party, who had made very plain his support for this appointment.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate?
Mr Philip: Am I allowed to speak? I do not think I am.
The Deputy Speaker: No, not a second time. Sorry. The member for Cambridge.
Mr Farnan: I find the comments of the Attorney General in this regard extraordinarily objectionable. I listened to the debate this afternoon surrounding the appointment, and the most vocal individual during the time when my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale was making his remarks was the Attorney General, who consistently was shouting interjections and not allowing the honourable member to put forward his views.
What kind of example is that from the Attorney General of Ontario when we are making what is a significant appointment and when a representative of the official opposition, speaking on behalf of the official opposition, is presenting his remarks -- remarks, I would add, that were totally misinterpreted and have been just presently misrepresented by the Attorney General?
The most important contribution the Attorney General could have made to this debate would have been the courtesy to listen to the remarks of the opposition and not simply to lead a shouting gallery, which was actually what took place. Anyone who wishes to check the record of Hansard will see that the Attorney General, not only when my colleague was speaking but also when the third party representative was speaking --
Mr Farnan: I believe my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale represented very admirably the concerns we have vis-à-vis the process, not the person. Our party, the official opposition, did not object to the appointment, but we actually did object in a most profound way to the process.
This government -- there is no question about it -- is very secretive. But it is also superior in its actions. It feels that consultation is not part of the process. It is aloof. Indeed, it believes there is no need for opposition, there is no need for the House, there is no need for hearings. We can go through time and again, whether it is Sunday shopping or the lottery bill, Bill 119, where we can have consultation, the entire province speaks in opposition to a piece of legislation and the government just ignores it.
It is not surprising to me that the government has abused the process. Abuse of the process is now the norm and not the exception. That is a tragedy for the province.
Mr Pollock: I join the member for Markham, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, the Attorney General and the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan) in congratulating Roberta Jamieson on being the new Ombudsman for Ontario and wish her all the best. I was not here when the announcement was made. Apparently, it was nothing to be proud of, by all reports. I am not going to get into that debate. As I say, I would like to wish her all the best.
I understand she is a Mohawk from the Six Nations Reserve. I have never worked with that group, but I did represent the Mohawks from the Bay of Quinte for over six years, and I had the best of working relationships with that reserve. Actually the proper name for the reserve is the Tyendinaga Indian Reserve. I am sure Roberta Jamieson will represent not only the Mohawks but all people in Ontario.
I have served on the subcommittee and on the committee of the Ombudsman, and I know the contribution that Eleanor Meslin has made to the Office of the Ombudsman and I am sure she will be a tower of strength and support for the new Ombudsman. I would like to thank Eleanor for her contribution over the last six months and Dr Hill for his contribution over the last five years.
I had an invitation to speak at a gathering of a men’s club, and I chose to talk just on the Office of the Ombudsman. In some of the research that I came up with, I found out that since the Office of the Ombudsman was created, 100,000 complaints have come into that office. I am sure they endeavoured to handle them the best way they knew how.
I just want to close by saying once again that I congratulate Roberta Jamieson on her new position.
Mr Kerrio: This is the sort of day that I am not too proud of as a legislator. We had elevated ourselves to place a person of Roberta’s stature in a very important job. I am pleased to say I had a personal involvement with Roberta when she sat on the Indian Commission of Ontario; I watched her chair tripartite meetings in a way that was responsible and had feeling, and she was dealing with issues that were very difficult to deal with. But the single point I would like to make today is that it does not bother me when we differ on process, but there is a place to discuss and debate process. It is not on the day when the lady is here with her family to be given this high honour.
Mr Cousens: Then clean up your act.
Mr Kerrio: The members can shout all they want, but they will not shout me down.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr Kerrio: I listened when they spoke. Now they should listen when I speak and close their big mouths.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kerrio: The fact of the matter is that I want to put this on the record. I really feel there is a time to debate this issue, and it was not today. The timing was wrong, and the place was wrong. I would be the first person in this Legislature to apologize to Roberta Jamieson for what happened here today and tell her that I for one feel she is an excellent person for the job. We as legislators can debate the way we use the process in the future in the proper place and at the proper time. It was very disgusting today to see the exposure that this person was put to by the opposition parties. I am very disappointed.
Mr Laughren: I was not intending to get into this debate this afternoon, but I must say I have been provoked by the Attorney General in particular. What happened today is not on our head; it is on the government’s head, quite frankly. I do not blame the member for being angry and upset about what transpired this afternoon. I think he should be upset by what happened this afternoon.
He must keep in mind that the Ombudsman’s committee did recommend a different way of having this whole thing happen: by hearings and by a much more open process. As I recall – my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale will correct me if I am wrong; he certainly has never hesitated to do so in the past -- the Liberal members on that committee supported that kind of process. I understand why some members of the Liberal caucus are upset by the process; they do not like it either, nor should they like it.
If we are going to have a process for the appointment of the Ombudsman, surely to goodness it should be nonpartisan. I regret very much that the government, by the way it handled it, turned this into a very partisan process this afternoon. I regret that. It would not have happened if the process had happened the way the Ombudsman’s committee recommended it. But, as it has turned out, it did.
I have an enormous amount of respect for Roberta Jamieson. Members will notice that it perhaps needs to be said again that all parties heartily endorsed Roberta Jamieson’s selection as the Ombudsman for Ontario; that is not an issue. If that is not an issue -- the question of who that person should be -- what is at issue? It is the process. I do not think we have embarrassed the new Ombudsman by the mishandling of the process. That is not her fault. She had absolutely nothing to do with that process. The government did. With its massive majority, it still managed to screw it up when it comes to making a nonpartisan appointment.
Hon Mr Ward: Your leader didn’t talk to you, Floyd. You had no idea.
Mr Laughren: I know that my leader was spoken to by the government leader, presumably, or by the Attorney General, but the point is --
Mr Dietsch: If your leader doesn’t tell you what is going on --
Mr Laughren: Yes, he did.
Mr Callahan: He was too busy on the road.
Mr Dietsch: He was deciding whether he wanted to be the federal member.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Philip: You don’t understand, do you? Are you so dense that you can’t understand the point he is making?
Mr Laughren: The point is, it is not appropriate -- surely to goodness it is not appropriate --
Mr Kerrio: We are only talking about the time.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One member at a time, and each member who speaks, when it is his turn, will address his remarks to the Speaker.
Mr Laughren: It is my time. Surely to goodness, members can understand that if we are all in agreement that the selection of the Ombudsman is a nonpartisan process, then the government can walk up to the leaders of the two opposition parties and say, “Here’s our selection.” That is not what I would call a nonpartisan appointment. That is not the way you do it. That is the way you did it, but it is not the way you are supposed to do it.
The Deputy Speaker: Please address all remarks to the Speaker.
Mr Laughren: I am.
The Deputy Speaker: No, you are addressing your remarks directly to the other members.
Mr Laughren: No, I am addressing them to you, Mr Speaker. I just happen to be looking over there, but I am speaking to the Speaker.
I really do hope that a lesson has been learned today, that if we are going to engage in a process that the government really wants to make nonpartisan, then the process has to be nonpartisan as does the appointment. That is the point that needs to be made. I believe the government handled that very badly and was surprised, offended and frustrated when the opposition reacted to that.
The opposition has no problem with the appointment. I do not know how often we have to keep telling the government that. Therefore, we are only talking about the process and the process is unacceptable. That is all we have tried to say to the government this afternoon. They should stop being so precious about the process and understand that there are some things in a huge majority government that the opposition has some rights to do. One of them is to engage in a meaningful discussion on the appointment of the Ombudsman.
Mr Callahan: I had the privilege to serve on the Ombudsman’s committee after I was first elected in 1985, and I have to say it is a committee that is of very great importance to me and should be to each and every member of this House. Very often it becomes the court of last resort to citizens of this province. As a result of that, it was always my understanding, certainly during the days I served on it, that it was a nonpartisan committee. I have to say today that I was slightly embarrassed by the comments that were made by the official opposition and the third party, particularly when we had school children sitting in the gallery and we were honouring a new appointee to that position.
I had to think to myself and wonder what those school children thought was going on down on the floor of this chamber. I think that reducing it to the level of partisanship, which is obviously what took place when the honourable member for Etobicoke-Rexdale stood up and spoke, and perhaps in a less caustic vein the member for Markham, reduced a very sacrosanct position, a very sacrosanct committee, a court of last resort, to an area of being almost buffoonery.
I can say that if I were sitting in the Speaker’s gallery and being appointed to this particularly sensitive and important office and listened to the elected representatives from the opposition and the third party address their concerns in the way they did, I might very well have left the Speaker’s gallery and decided not to take the job, because quite frankly I would wonder what I was serving and what effect I was going to have when people take on that type of attitude.
I remind members of the opposition and of the third party, and perhaps even all members of the House, that the Ombudsman committee is one that is particularly sensitive and particularly significant in this House. When we appoint someone who is to take over that position and to look after the court of last resort for the citizens of this province, we should certainly greet her appointment with something less than the partisan barbs I have heard this afternoon.
Ms Bryden: I am very disappointed that the previous speaker has brought partisan politics into this, because the Ombudsman is above politics and that is why he or she is appointed by the Legislature. What we have been objecting to is the lack of process, whereby the Legislature is fully involved in the selection. They have to be notified of the choice in the House. They have to then consider it and vote on it. That is how you keep the Ombudsman separated from partisan politics.
I think the process that was gone through today and yesterday when the Premier leaked this to the press in some way and then, when we came in today, had nothing on the order paper about this job we have of making this appointment was an insult to this House. That is where the partisanship is coming in, from that side of the House.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the minister want to wind up?
Hon Mr Ward: Just very briefly. There has been much said about the process that is utilized in the appointment of the Ombudsman. I think it has been clearly put time and time again that the Ombudsman is indeed a servant of this House, a servant of all of the members of this House. To that end, I believe that in putting forward the name of Roberta Jamieson, as well as the efforts that were undertaken to communicate that nomination to both opposition caucuses, I frankly do not know what more could have been done in terms of process.
There is no question that there was a lack of communication throughout this. Clearly, the members of both opposition caucuses were not aware of the discussions that their leaders had entered into, and frankly if there has been any abuse of process, I would say that is it.
Mr Philip: Point of order, Mr Speaker: It is fairly clear from the statements by both the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party that we were consulted by our leaders.
The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Mr Philip: That was not the issue, and the --
The Deputy Speaker: It is not a point of order. The minister may resume.
Hon Mr Ward: In conclusion, I would just like to point out that I believe Roberta Jamieson has been noted by all members of this House as an excellent choice and will no doubt serve the people of this province well. It gives me great pride to move notice of motion 21.
Motion agreed to.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Miller moved, on behalf of Mr Wrye, third reading of Bill 219, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr Miller: I believe that it has been debated a week ago and that all parties are in support of it. Therefore, I think we will just move forward with the bill.
Mr Morin-Strom: I am pleased to be able to address a few comments to this bill that has been long awaited in the Legislature. Bill 219, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act, was introduced by the former Minister of Transportation way back in February of this year and the government did not proceed with it during the spring term, obviously giving an indication of how high a priority highway safety has in this government’s mind.
This bill, however, does make some significant steps forward with respect to highway safety and our party is in support of the types of policy changes that have been included in the bill to this point. They cover a range of areas such as bicycles. seatbelts, tow trucks and school buses. In addition, there are some amendments that will improve the regulation of disabled persons’ parking permits. I think that for the disabled community, the initiative in this area probably is the one that is most significant within this bill.
The replacing of current disabled-symbol licence plates with a portable permit that will provide greater flexibility for disabled persons is a step in the right direction, There are, of course, many other areas, many of them housekeeping matters, that are included in this bill. However, there are initiatives that we would still like to see come forward from this government with respect to highway safety. I would mention in particular initiatives covering the areas of school buses and the need for seatbelts in school buses. While this bill does take some steps in the right direction with respect to school buses, the most important initiative that is required, I believe, for our young people is the mandatory use and provision of seatbelts in school buses in the province.
There are a number of other areas that are awaiting a bill from the new Minister of Transportation (Mr Wrye). In particular, I would refer to some of the initiatives that have been announced in the government’s announcement this summer on the Ontario motorist protection plan. At the time, the Minister of Transportation announced that he was going to come forward with initiatives to improve beyond this particular bill in the area of accident prevention and providing some other areas that were not the focus of this bill.
I would hope that the Minister of Transportation will move forward on that bill during this fall session so that we can see some of the initiatives he had announced at that time, initiatives including higher fines for speeding and traffic offences, campaigns to increase the use of seatbelts and daytime running lights, considertion of licence restrictions on new drivers, better identification and treatment of high-risk drivers including mandatory treatment of repeat drinking-driving offenders, increased funding for highway median barriers and paved shoulders, and improved freeway traffic management. These are initiatives that go, I think, in an appropriate direction towards making our highways safer places and hopefully reducing the risk of injury and accident to drivers across the province.
This legislation is being awaited by the opposition parties and we hope the minister will act quickly on it. For now, of course, we are supportive of this bill, Bill 219, but do wish that the minister would press more diligently and more effectively in the future to bring forward improved highway safety improvements beyond those covered in this bill today.
Ms Bryden: I spoke in the debate on this bill when it came into committee again in this present sitting and I recognize that there are a lot of good things in the bill, many of them long overdue, since the bill was introduced in February. We are glad we are getting those things implemented.
I mentioned several other things that the minister was asked to consider whenever he has to bring in new legislation, and I hope it will be very soon. Among items he should be looking at is the whole question of the size of transport trailers operating on our highways, particularly on our major throughways. There have been all sorts of jackknife accidents and some fatal accidents because either these freight trains, as I call them, on the highways are not properly maintained or are too large for the kind of operation that they are engaged in, mixing with regular motorists on the same highway. I think we have to bring the size of those freight trains under control in the interest of public safety.
I also agree with my colleague that we have to look more carefully at school buses and how they can be made safer. I know there are problems with seatbelts in school buses, but I think the engineers should be able to make some sort of device or some sort of design for school buses that will make them safer. They are the last group in the province that does not seem to be restrained in the case of an accident.
I welcome the new rules for bicyclists. I am a bicyclist myself on the weekends. I do not usually ride it downtown. I believe bicyclists should, like other people, like other motorists and other users of the road, obey the rules and have to give their names and identities if they are stopped because of a suspected violation. But I also think that there should be much more attempt to recognize that both cars and bicyclists share the right of way and have a right to be there, and that bicycling is becoming a much more important means of transportation, partly because of the high costs and partly because they do not use fossil fuels. Also, they are certainly being used by students, low-income people, people on sporting excursions and they should certainly have their right to the road protected.
I do not see anything in the act that really stops motorists from pushing bicyclists over to the edge or looking to see if there are bicyclists in the right-turn lane when they attempt to make a right turn, because they do share that right-turn lane. We need more recognition that bicyclists are people and that they have a right to share that road.
We should, of course, develop more bicycle paths, bicycle routes and special bicycle lanes, as they do in Europe, in Asia and in other countries. We have to address this problem and see that bicyclists have a right to share that road. I would also like to see some movement in the direction of stopping motorists who enter intersections after the yellow light has gone on and they may not complete it. That is also very hazardous to bicyclists. There is far too much of that going on and not enough to stop that kind of abusing of their rights.
I welcome the new rules for helping disabled persons get their parking permits recognized. I think it is long overdue as well.
With those comments, we will vote for the bill, but it is only a step in the right direction.
Mr Laughren: It will be very brief. I just want to commend the new parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation. I know how much work he has done on this bill. I had a lot of calls from his constituents concerned about the previous Highway Traffic Act and expressing great pleasure that the member for Norfolk (Mr Miller) had been promoted to parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Transportation. There is only one unanswered question and that is how come the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) is not a parliamentary assistant?
Mr Sterling: I would like to congratulate the member for Norfolk for being appointed as a parliamentary assistant as well. I just want to point out to him that I want him to know it is dangerous to smoke around places where gasoline is located. I know where the member comes from,
Mr Miller: I’m getting out my peace pipe.
Mr Sterling: He is taking out his peace pipe now. I wish him well and we will be supporting Bill 219.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Miller: I would just like to wind up and indicate that I have --
The Deputy Speaker: We will check around first. If not, then the parliamentary assistant would like to wind up.
Mr Miller: I just want to say that we have been listening carefully to the comments from the opposition side. Safety is an important factor, particularly for the disabled and for our young people. There are the safety belts and the bicycle riders. I would like to indicate to our friend the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden) that my son, when he comes to Toronto to work at Bell Telephone, brings his bike and he does his travelling around Toronto on a bicycle, so it is a safe place to ride. I really do not know how he makes the mileage he does. I like to drive in a car, but the bicycle does play an important role.
Again, we will be moving ahead. I think the minister indicated that in his remarks last week. With the safety legislation, it will make it much safer for all people who use the highways.
Motion agreed to.
FUNERAL DIRECTORS AND ESTABLISHMENTS ACT, 1989
CEMETERIES ACT, 1989
Mr Haggerty, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, moved third reading of Bill 30, An Act respecting Funeral Directors and Establishments.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the parliamentary assistant have an opening statement?
Mr Haggerty: Perhaps we should have the other companion bill introduced at the same time. If there are any discussions with the opposition members or any member of the Legislature, then we will follow that train, if we have consent, I guess.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there consent to introduce both of them at the same time?
Mr Haggerty, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, moved third reading of Bill 31, An Act to revise the Cemeteries Act.
The Deputy Speaker: Do you have any opening statements for both?
Mr Haggerty: The honourable members may want to make a few comments and perhaps I can answer some questions for them.
Mr Farnan: I shall be very brief. I have just a very few comments to make.
These bills were carried by my colleague the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel) through committee and through clause-by-clause. Quite a number of amendments were made by the official opposition representatives on the committee. My colleague will be dealing with these in her remarks.
I do want to just make a couple of points.
First of all, I believe that contained in this bill is a considerable amount of positive consumer legislation. Obviously, New Democrats are always pleased when there is positive, constructive consumer legislation. We are even more pleased when this legislation actually reflects the position that New Democrats have taken over the years.
There is not a shadow of a doubt, I believe, in anybody’s mind who is prepared to honestly ask themselves the question, “Where did these positive proposals emanate from?”
I think those who are honest will recognize the fact that my predecessor as critic of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Mel Swart, the former member for Welland-Thorold, was a member who dedicated himself in a most extraordinary way to consumer protection. He was a member who took a particular interest in the bereavement industry, abuses that existed within the bereavement industry and, certainly, in putting forward constructive recommendations to improve consumer protection.
I believe the passage of these bills does not do all that Mel would have wanted us to do but I suppose we cannot expect everything all at once. Therefore, I want to express I suppose a limited commendation to the government in response to the needs of consumer protection within this area.
Over all, there remains a concern of separation between the sectors in the bereavement industry. The sectors we are talking about are funeral directors, cemeteries and monument builders. I am not going to go into a great deal of detail, I am not going to go into any detail here, because I think we have very clearly expressed our position at second reading and in committee. Suffice it to say that separation, we believe, would be a constructive deterrent to corporate concentration, to monopoly and, in the long run, constructive for consumer protection.
We have clearly identified the inadequacies of the legislation and we believe that what has happened in other jurisdictions, particularly in British Columbia, may well indeed be the result in Ontario. We will be coming back, I suggest, to the government with our concerns as we see the concentrations emerge and we see the small players squeezed and we see the protection of the consumer exposed to abuse.
We will be pointing out that although the government did not get it all right the first time, there will be further opportunities in the coming months and perhaps years for the government to come back to this issue and perhaps to get it right on another occasion.
I do want to say this though. Before this bill goes through, I hope someone on the government benches has the good grace to recognize the contribution of our former colleague, Mel Swart. I have attempted on innumerable occasions to the minister -- I should correct that; I believe it is to the former minister -- and certainly throughout the committee process as well to say there is a need to have a generosity of spirit that recognizes the contribution of members other than those of the government.
For example, the member for Niagara Falls (Mr Kerrio) today talked about a nonpartisan approach or the necessity for raising the quality and the tone of the debates. I think that can happen when the government recognizes the important role of opposition. I would defy anybody to look at the history of this legislation and to deny the important contribution, the fundamental contribution, that was made by Mel Swart, former member for Welland-Thorold.
So the last opportunity in the passage of these two bills comes today with the parliamentary assistant’s response to this bill. I am going to put it very clearly to the parliamentary assistant:
“Demonstrate a generosity of spirit, demonstrate an honesty. We agree that the legislation is good in terms of consumer protection and we commend the government on bringing forward the legislation. I think we had a good process. I personally and my caucus are not totally happy with the whole package, but have the decency to demonstrate on this last occasion the contribution made by my predecessor.”
Miss Martel: I want to say that I was pleased to participate in the public hearings and the amendment-making process on this bill. Members who were not around for those two weeks before the House sat should know that the former Minister of Labour and I were together once again in the standing committee on resources development dealing with this particular bill. I must say, however, that the tone, the attitude and the whole process was a far better one than that which came out of Bill 162, and it was a pleasure to actually participate, for a change.
I will deal with some of the amendments that we proposed, some of the concerns that were raised during the course of the public hearings, in particular the concerns of heritage organizations. Given that I am also the critic for the Ministry of Culture and Communications, I would like to put on record now some of the concerns that those groups in particular had with the process, firstly, and secondly, with some of the implications in this bill for heritage concerns and heritage values in this province.
First of all, dealing strictly with Bill 30, my colleague has talked about separation and how important we in the New Democratic Party think that is and how important it is that the government will have to look at the increased concentration in this market. I should also say that as a consequence, we moved a provision for full separation, which was voted down, and of course we expected that.
The second thing I moved in the context of Bill 30, which is An Act respecting Funeral Directors and Establishments, had to do with an advisory committee. Members of the House may or may not know that in March, when the discussion papers concerning these two bills were released by the former minister, he stated in his press release that the government would establish an advisory committee. The purpose of that advisory committee and its mandate would be to advise the minister on issues affecting the bereavement industry in this province. We think that is a very important principle. We think it is a very good idea. The former member for Welland-Thorold also promoted that idea in some of the discussions in which he was involved in this Legislature.
We felt it was not enough that the government should only talk about establishing an advisory committee but that in fact we should enshrine that important principle in this particular piece of legislation. We believe that a broad group representing the Consumers’ Association of Canada, native bands, historical societies, the industry itself, the seniors of Ontario and other groups and the memorial societies as well should play an important role in determining issues of concern in this sector and how they can best be resolved through consultation among those various players. So I moved in committee that we establish an advisory committee, that we enshrine it in the legislation and that we ensure that it will be established and carry on to do the very good work that is needed in this sector.
The Liberal members of the committee did not agree to the establishment. They felt that the minister’s comments and commitments in this regard were enough. I can only say that I hope the whim of the minister and the ministry do not change in this regard because it would be easy for the ministry to say that it no longer wants to consult, that the advisory committee is not a good thing and that when these bills are passed, the legislation is going to be much better and we are going to see improvement in the industry and in fact would not proceed to the next point, which would be to set up this particular committee. I am sorry that the Liberal members would not go that extra step to agree to enshrine the principle of that committee in the legislation and to actually ensure that that committee would be established and would start to do some very important work in the province.
Second, I would like to deal with some of our concerns about Bill 31, An Act to revise the Cemeteries Act. I mention again that the concerns I am going to raise in this context are concerns from the historical societies in particular. There were a number of concerns raised by various groups about the trust provisions inherent in this legislation as well as some of the consumer protection provisions. During the course of the hearings and the clause-by-clause, we raised our concerns with the ministry staff and we were assured that some of our concerns would in fact be implemented during the regulation-making process.
However, I do want to raise the heritage concerns because this appeared to be the only group in the province that was not involved in this particular process. They had in fact no input into the legislation, bills 30 and 31, which this government and this House is dealing with at the present time. I think a very telling tale came from Mrs Dorothy Duncan who is the executive director of the Ontario Historical Society. She came before the committee and talked about the total lack of input by heritage and historical organizations. She said that their society, the Ontario Historical Society, learned about this bill quite by accident in mid-July 1989.
From there, they contacted the minister, made representation and asked to be involved in the regulation-making process etc, but she also pointed out another significant fact. That was that once they found out about the bill, that society then contacted approximately 300 other heritage organizations in northern and southern Ontario. They found that only one organization knew of its existence.
“We have learned this week that there appears to have been a discussion paper circulated. Unfortunately, the community I represent did not receive it.... There appears to have been no public consultation about heritage components, and there are representatives of many historical groups who are here today,” that is, at the public hearings. “They would have liked to have made presentations” to the committee if we had the time, but we had a full agenda in our committee and only a few of those organizations could be heard in that week of public hearings.
I think it is important that I raise that point because there did seem to be a fairly broad consensus and discussion among other participants in the industry. I cannot fathom why this particular group and others like it were not part of that process. That is why I want to raise their concerns here today and get them on record.
It is important as well that we do recognize as a Legislature, and that the ministry recognizes, when it drafts regulations for these bills and this bill in particular, that there is a real heritage value that we must consider and preserve in this province. The heritage societies say it best when they say: “We, the heritage community in Ontario, recognize cemeteries as a source of historical and cultural information that cannot be found or duplicated from any other source. For that reason, the maintenance and preservation of existing cemeteries and the preservation and interpretation of the many unknown burials and cemeteries that we know will be uncovered in the future is of primary concern to us.”
That is the reason why some of these groups in particular came and made representation to impact upon the standing committee, but also upon this government, that these concerns have to be protected and these values have to be protected for future generations.
I would like to go through some of the concerns they raised in comparison with what is actually appearing in the bill and point out again to the government why the concerns exist and why there is a real need to ensure, and I stress, ensure if not guarantee, that these particular groups be involved in the regulation-making process.
First, there was a concern with many of the definitions that are arising out of a particular bill. definitions concerning burial sites, for example. Is that a single bone, a complete body or parts thereof? What does the ministry mean when it talks about discovering a burial site and what kind of protection do we provide to not only an entire skeleton, but pieces of bones and bones that are scattered in a particular area that may well be a First Nations’ burial site?
Second, the definition of cemetery; again, does that mean one body? Does it mean more than one body? What are the parameters for what a cemetery actually is and how we are going to define it for heritage concerns? The question of human remains; again, does this mean a complete body or only various parts of the skeleton? Do various parts constitute a human body or human remains that we would be more familiar with? The question of interment rights-holders, people who have a plot and are maintaining a plot. Does that pass on to their heirs? What happens in the case where there are no heirs who are present to either maintain, upkeep or repair that particular plot?
Finally, there is the question of markers. Does that include mounds for the purposes, in particular, of the First Nations? How do we define these? Do we ensure that, when we define these, we are taking into consideration the broadest possible groups who have a specific concern in this regard?
So there was the question of definitions which has to be dealt with by the ministry. Although we put forward amendments in almost each of the sections that I am going to deal with, in fact we were told again and again that these would be dealt with in the regulations. I guess I am a little bit negative about that whole aspect, because I would rather see some of those things right in the legislation, enshrined completely, so there will be no backtracking and so that MPPs will have every opportunity to participate in that.
In viewing some of the proposed regulations that I see now for Bill 162, if I thought the bill was bad I found out the regulations were even worse and I do not want that to happen with this particular piece of legislation in front of us.
The next section I want to deal with concerns the closing of a cemetery. Under the bill, the registrar, who will be appointed under this particular bill, can “(a) declare a cemetery” -- a whole cemetery or a part thereof -- ”closed.”
That registrar can further “(b) require the owner to disinter all human remains therein and specify the manner of disinterment and the manner and place of reinterring or dealing with the remains.”
The registrar can also “(c) require the owner to remove any markers and relocate them to a specified place.”
The concern the groups had is that in fact people who were totally unqualified to go in and to remove interred human remains would in fact go in and destroy everything in that cemetery, not only bodies and caskets thereof, but also markers and monuments that were related to those particular sites. They also questioned the fact that even if a cemetery were closed, why was it necessary for the registrar to turn around and order that all those bodies be reinterred somewhere else? Surely the point had to be made that we could be declaring that cemetery a historical site or of heritage value, in which case it would remain intact and it would be maintained by historical societies in this province, if not the municipalities, as well, in conjunction with the historical societies.
So there are some legitimate questions about why a cemetery, when being closed, should have everything removed from it and why it should not be kept intact. Second, if you were going to insist upon removing both bodies, tombstones and markers in the process, that you have some extremely qualified people present to do that, not only from archaeological societies, but from heritage societies and from first nations peoples as well, so that all of these groups have a chance to ensure that damage is not done and these things are removed in the safest and most effective manner possible.
The next section I want to deal with concerns section 33. There is a real concern about what happens when a cemetery is, in effect, declared abandoned. What happens both to the lots and markers that are there and to some of the gravesites that are intact as well? The problem we see in this section in fact is that, “If a marker has been erected on a lot that is the subject-matter of a declaration of abandonment, the cemetery owner shall remove and store it at the owner’s expense for at least 20 years.”
The problem we see is that the cemetery owner, whether it be a municipality or a private cemetery owner or a nonprofit group, as we heard during the course of the hearings, may not have any expertise at all to do this properly. We heard from many heritage groups that people who were unqualified could go in and destroy all of the heritage value in a particular cemetery because they removed markers improperly or they repaired them improperly.
These people just did not and would not have the expertise to know how to do that carefully and with the skill that was required. So the groups have suggested and we suggested to the ministry that when it is dealing with some of the regulations on how this is to be done, those very groups who have expertise and skills in this area must be consulted by the ministry and must be present to participate in drafting regulations which affect these particular sections.
The next section I want to deal with is section 44, which talks about cemetery and crematorium operations. In particular I want to deal with the question of cemeteries, that “Every cemetery owner shall maintain...the grounds of the cemetery, including all lots, structures and markers, to ensure the safety of the public and to preserve the dignity of the cemetery.”
There was a great deal of discussion on this particular section that came up as a result of a coroner’s report that looked into the death of a young girl in a cemetery in southern Ontario. There were some specific recommendations there concerning public safety, which I think have prompted the government to move a little bit farther beyond what was necessary in terms of guaranteeing public safety in a cemetery where you have large monuments that are perhaps old and in need of repair or are a little bit unstable.
We heard from many groups who deal with restoration of markers and stones in particular that in fact the safety of the public could be ensured. There was no need to have a cemetery owner go in and make all kinds of repairs which he was unfamiliar with, destroy the marker, probably cause it to topple and break, and in fact destroy some of the value of those markers and the whole cemetery itself in terms of historical content.
The heritage groups suggested in here that there were a number of organizations, in particular an international organization which is a nongovernmental group that deals with this very issue, and in fact sets standards for stabilization and for conservation of markers and stones. They said that it would be very much in the best interests of this ministry to sit down with some of those people and take a look at what their suggestions were in this regard.
The people who were most qualified should be involved in the process of determining what standards were necessary, how cemetery owners could comply with those and what standards were necessary for conservation, who should be contacted in the case that you were closing a cemetery or had to go in and repair monuments in a cemetery and how best we can deal with public safety without a lot of hysteria, without going far beyond what is necessary to ensure that public safety.
I just say to the parliamentary assistant who is here today that I trust that those people who are very qualified will be involved, because they would probably be of great benefit to the ministry insetting some of those standards. They are very much concerned with public safety as well, but there are probably better ways to go about determining public safety than to have everyone helter-skelter trying to repair monuments they know nothing about or how to fix.
In the same vein, in section 48, we are dealing with almost the same particular problem. If a marker in a cemetery is a risk because it is unstable, there should be some kind of mechanism in place that all of the public has to follow in terms of repairing and resetting or laying down the marker. Again they suggested that those same groups that I referred to just earlier in my comments should be contacted to determine the most efficient way of ensuring that the public is advised of what the safety concerns are and that the public is involved in the process of being notified, having the other groups who are concerned also being notified and bringing in some of those very capable people who can repair properly the monuments, so that we are not doing more damage than anything else in the cemetery and not even causing further concerns for public safety as a consequence.
Along the same vein, there was a concern noted that if you were going to go in and stabilize both monuments and markers with qualified people, you give some thought to the time in the year that you are going about doing that. The concern was raised that if you had a municipality that was ordered by the registrar to go in and repair and replace monuments, that municipality may not choose the most opportune time of the season to do that.
If they went in when the ground was frozen or snow was about to fall, they again, just by the fact that they are in at a bad time in the season, would do a great deal of damage that would not be justified and that might be avoided if we were dealing with it in the spring or summer. So I raise again the concern that not only do we need qualified people, but we have got to be thinking seriously about when some of these repairs are going to take place so we are not doing more damage than good.
There was a great deal of discussion about the regulations. The ministry, when we raised the concerns of the historical organizations, said again and again that many of the concerns we were raising would make their way into the regulations and that all these groups would be contacted and their participation would be requested so that the valid concerns they were raising would be incorporated. I am extremely concerned when I go through the regulations to see just how much power we are giving the ministry to put forward regulations which will act as a proviso to this bill.
I say again that I am extremely concerned that we could not have put more of these right into the bill so there would be no question as to whose responsibility was what; what people were expected to do when and where; where the funding was going to come from in order to protect some of these sites, and soon. I say to the parliamentary assistant that the process of regulations is an extremely important one in the context of this bill, given that there are so many areas that are left to regulations to be decided, and I trust that the ministry will involve as broad a group as possible when it starts to undertake this process.
There are questions in the regulations that concern inspectors, that talk about prescribed people, that talk about definitions etc, and those all have to be very carefully considered when we are dealing with this particular bill.
If I can just back up for one moment and deal with section 66, it talks about the ability of the director to freeze the assets of a cemetery owner if he thinks the cemetery owner is about to do something which is not in the public interest or which will jeopardize the public interest. The problem, of course, is that public interest is not defined in the legislation; that has been left to the regulations.
I point out to the parliamentary assistant that I hope in the course of defining public interest the ministry will also take into account the public interest that must be served by the preservation and heritage conservation of the cemetery; that if in fact a cemetery owner or municipality for whatever reason is going to do something in that cemetery, those concerns be taken into account as part of the overall concern of public interest.
There is a section on vandalism which unfortunately I was not party to, having had to leave the committee early that day, but there was certainly under section 70 a question as to why under this bill we are not fining those people who destroy in a cemetery, go in and dig up things, take things and disturb the whole burial site or cemetery. I know under the particular act we have in place now there is a fairly large fine for people who are convicted of vandalism in a cemetery.
I think, and the heritage organizations expressed the same concern, that vandalism still must remain a criminal offence under the new act. There should be fines, and those fines should be hefty. We have to provide a deterrent for people not to go and do all kinds of damage in cemeteries in this province. I am not sure why the ministry has moved to weaken the law. Under the new bill the only consideration that is taken into account is that the cemetery owner try and recover what the value of damage was from the liable person.
In my opinion, if they cannot find the liable person, you are not going to get things any better in that regard. But certainly if there is someone who is liable for damage and destruction done, not only should they repay for all the damage that was done but they should be punished in some form or another. I think that there must be a criminal offence attached to vandalism in a cemetery, and second, there should be a fine so that it says seriously to people, “We will not tolerate, as a government, these kinds of acts in cemeteries or burial sites in this province.”
I dealt with most of the concerns from the Ontario Historical Society. There were a number of other concerns raised by the groups which were able to get standing as they relate to heritage values. I have another brief from the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and it is this particular council that in fact has been dealing with developing standards for both cemetery and marker conservation and preservation.
They said quite clearly to the committee that they were a group of experts, and they are in every sense of the word. They were professionals in the area of conservation and preservation of monuments and sites, and in 1988 they had sat as a committee to address these very issues and would be, they felt, of enormous benefit to the ministry in working with the ministry to develop standards and guidelines in this regard. So I would hope that the ministry will contact some of these people during the regulation-making process.
We had similar concerns about heritage raised by the Association of Heritage Consultants, by the Ontario Council of Professional Osteologists and by the Ontario Archaeological Society.
Finally, my last concern, which is an overwhelming one, is the manner in which Bill 31, the Cemeteries Act, will impact upon the Ontario Heritage Act. Under an amendment that was moved by the Liberal members on the committee, this act will override section 6 of the Ontario Heritage Act. The problem I have is that the Ontario Heritage Act is now under review, and this Legislature and many historical and heritage groups in the province are awaiting the results of that particular review.
I am left to wonder that if section 6 of the Ontario Heritage Act is changed in any way, what type of implications that will have in bearing upon the Cemeteries Act. There was a sense that we should be leaving out that whole question of the heritage act until such time as that review was complete and we would see as a House whether there were any changes in that act which would impact upon cemeteries, markers, abandonments, monuments, etc.
I think it is unfortunate and regrettable that in fact we will continue to deal with the heritage act in association with this particular bill because it was of prime concern to many of those groups. They were concerned about the issues I have mentioned, but they certainly were tremendously concerned about the impact of this bill in conjunction with the heritage act, especially for the fact that the heritage act policy review was not complete.
Finally, just in summing up what the concerns were of the heritage groups in this regard -- and my colleague has dealt with our overwhelming concern of separation -- I do want to point out that their concerns are very valid. They are even more valid when we recognize that in fact only one of all of those groups was actually contacted about the bill and had some input.
I think it is incumbent upon both the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Sorbara) and the Minister of Culture and Communications (Ms Hart) that they ensure that those groups are involved in the regulation-making process around this bill. We asked the minister if the regulations were developed yet and he told us they were not. I trust that that is the case, because it would be extremely bad on the part of this government and for us to discover inadvertently that the regulations are in fact drafted and that the statement and the commitment to input is not very sound.
There are a number of groups and they should be listened to. They represent and their concerns represent a very important factor arising out of this bill, that is, how we best guarantee and protect heritage values and heritage concerns. So I say to the parliamentary assistant I certainly hope that he can ensure on the part of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations that those groups will be involved, that the regulations are not yet drafted and that their concerns will be taken seriously.
Finally, it was an enjoyable proceeding otherwise. It certainly was different from the last encounter we had in the resources development committee. As my colleague the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan) has already indicated, the New Democratic Party will be supporting these bills. I can only ask again that during the regulation-making process these very valid concerns should be taken into account and the necessary changes should be made at that time.
The Acting Speaker (Mr D. W. Smith): Thank you. Are there any questions or comments on that?
Mr Fleet: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I might just say congratulations to your elevation to that position, temporarily at least.
I wanted to make a particular reference to the comments about the Ontario Historical Society. In fact. I recently received correspondence from Joan Miles, who is very active in my riding with the West Toronto Junction Historical Society, of which I am also a member. I read through the Hansard of the committee when it dealt with the lack of notice to historical groups and I made some further investigation.
I am advised by members of my committee that in fact there was a subsequent amendment to one of the provisions of the act to deal with some of the concerns, but also there were some assurances given that the historical groups would be involved with the regulation-making part of the process. I think that all are acknowledging that the lack of complete notice in what was otherwise a very full process of consultation was regrettable.
I would like to take this opportunity to draw to the attention of all members that with the process that we are now relying on about giving consultation, the regulatory reform report, which is now about a year and a half old and which I chaired with the assistance of members from all parties, very much goes to the heart of this process of consultation to make sure that we take into account all groups that are out there.
I urge all members to take into consideration, in particular those who were on the committee and who saw this inadvertent flaw in the consultation process arise, that we want to avoid this happening again. I think that the historical groups. whom I support very strongly, have an excellent role in developing legislation and the forthcoming development of the Ontario Heritage Act and should not be inadvertently overlooked. I support very strongly the correction of that process and urge other members to look to improve it in the future.
The Acting Speaker: Any more questions or comments? The member for Sudbury East.
Miss Martel: I only want to respond by saying that I am sorry that the former Minister of Labour did not have time to read the report before he introduced Bill 162 because the process around that bill might have been a heck of a lot better in this House had he done that.
I do want to say, though, in fairness to the former Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations that it was evident to all of us that in fact the process around these two bills had been very wide. Almost all of the groups, with the exception of this whole sector, had been widely consulted and the process had been an ongoing one, in which the participation and the comments and concerns raised had been taken into account by the ministry.
I would only point out again my overwhelming concern with so much of this being left in regulations. The minister did try to guarantee that in fact the regulations were not developed, and I hope that is the case. For the benefit of the parliamentary assistant, I have advised those groups in particular that they should immediately write to both the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and the Minister of Culture and Communications, reinforcing again their desire to participate and asking both of those ministries when this process will begin and when they can come down to Queen’s Park and participate as equal partners in that process.
I look forward to hearing the responses back from both ministers in that regard and I look forward to finding out that those groups will in fact participate and that that participation will begin very soon.
Le Vice-Président: Merci. Est-ce qu’il y a d’autres députés qui veulent participer au débat ? Other members? If not, does the parliamentary assistant wish to wind up?
Mr Haggerty: Yes. The government appreciates the concerns raised by the honourable members, particularly from Cambridge and Sudbury East. The main purpose of these bills is to increase the level of consumer protection offered to the public and create a fairer marketplace for all participants. The bereavement sector is a unique marketplace and the bills reflect this in their provisions.
As mentioned by the member for Cambridge, the ban on the operational connections will serve the objectives of the separation of the bill and by further regulations. I am sure we assured in committee that regulations would follow in detail. For example, due to the great possibility of contacting consumers who are recently bereaved or in other equally sensitive circumstances, telephone and door-to-door solicitation would be banned from this sector.
I suppose I can stand here and say that yes, much of the credit in this particular area should be given to the former member for Welland-Thorold, Mel Swart. I have had the pleasure of sitting on county government with Mel Swart for seven years. We have worked very well together on county government, and I am sure members can see the same results here.
Mel has been dedicated in the area of municipal affairs, municipal government, county government, regional government and as a representative in the Ontario Legislature. I think his dedication and concern in the interests of the public of Ontario is appreciated by all members, I am sure, of the Legislature and the public at large.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mel the other day. I did not attend the annual wardens’ banquet that we hold between the two former counties of Lincoln and Welland. Mel attended that, I think, last Friday night. For the first time I did not get there, but it is a kind of a family reunion of elected representatives in the Niagara region. Perhaps one of these days I will be able to participate in that more fully.
Bills 30 and 31 are the product of a lengthy, intensive consultation process with a wide array of interested groups. Industry participants, consumer groups, religious groups, natives, the archaeological and scientific community are only a few of those whose input has been received and appreciated.
The bills have recently been reviewed by the standing committee on resources development. I would like to thank the 31 groups that appeared and commented and the members of the House who contributed to refining the bills through this process. I would also like to thank the opposition members who have expressed their support for the bills in general.
Significant amendments were made during the committee hearings regarding a number of points, such as protection of cemeteries designated as historical sites under the Ontario Heritage Act, simplifying the complaints process under Bill 30 and extending the time period to prosecute persons who disturb burial sites.
The government believes these bills represent a balanced approach to increasing consumer protection, encouraging a fair and competitive marketplace for funeral, cemetery and monument sector participants.
Development of the regulations under these bills is now proceeding. This process will continue the consultation which has gone into the formation of the bills themselves. As soon as the regulations have been developed, the proclamation date for implementation of this new legislation will be announced.
I am sure that answers some of the concerns the member for Sudbury East had raised here this afternoon. In committee, I understand, staff said the advisory committee would be available when required. We are going to have continual consultation bases here to improve upon the bereavement industry in Ontario.
Members talked about the Ontario Heritage Act, and Dorothy Duncan was mentioned. The executive director of the historical society did appear before the standing committee on resources development to voice these concerns and its dissatisfaction with the lack of consultation on this issue.
The bill has two amendments relating to these concerns. An amendment to section 87 clarified the relationship between the new Cemeteries Act and the Ontario Heritage Act by restricting the Cemeteries Act to prevailing only over part VI of the heritage act. This will avoid interfering with the protection of designated historical sites.
An amendment to section 76(1)(37) was a direct result of the consultation with Miss Duncan and the Ministry of Culture and Communications. This amendment clarifies the ability to make regulations regarding the stabilization and the preservation of monuments,
Further meetings have been arranged with the historical society and other interested heritage groups in early November to obtain input into the drafting of regulations. Many of their concerns with this legislation are related to the notice provisions and technical standards which are matters for regulations not for the act. The emphasis they desire to place on heritage issues would be inappropriate in a regulatory statute, and any comprehensive treatment should be carried out under the Ontario Heritage Act.
While the minister recognizes that there are heritage and archaeological concerns regarding cemeteries, these interests are secondary in the context of the act to the primary interests of consumer protection. The minister believes that the concerns of these groups can be dealt with in regulation and has committed to developing these regulations in consultation with them.
I think that may ease some of the concerns in this particular area, about some form of international standardization of monuments, etc. Perhaps we are not ready yet, as I said in committee, for free trade in this area. I think we do perhaps have stronger regulations in this area than there would be on an international basis. Hopefully, that will be fulfilled.
The other areas that were talked about, section 33, the heritage act, section 44 and section 48 and section 66, care and maintenance, will be thoroughly covered in regulations with still further input by particular parties who are interested in the bereavement sector.
The Deputy Speaker: We shall deal with these two bills separately.
Mr Haggerty, on behalf of Mr Sorbara, has moved third reading of Bill 30, An Act respecting Funeral Directors and Establishments.
Motion agreed to.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Haggerty. on behalf of Mr Sorbara, has moved third reading of Bill 31, An Act to revise the Cemeteries Act.
Motion agreed to.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LABOUR DISPUTES SETRLEMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Phillips moved third reading of Bill 58. An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes.
The Deputy Speaker: Does the minister have an opening statement?
Hon Mr Phillips: No, I think I will respond after the other comments.
The Deputy Speaker: Do members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr D. S. Cooke: It’s an irrelevant bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Minister.
Hon Mr Phillips: I moved third reading, as I said earlier, of the bill. I think it is a bill that accomplishes two fundamental objectives; it ends the inconvenience to the people of Metropolitan Toronto, and it does the very best to protect collective bargaining. So I would now like to deal with the bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Phillips has moved third reading of Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
POWER CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Lipsett, on behalf of Mrs McLeod, moved third reading of Bill 204, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act.
Motion agreed to.
TOWNSHIP OF SOUTH DUMFRIES ACT, 1989
Mr Ward, on behalf of Mr Sweeney. moved third reading of Bill 55, An Act respecting the Township of South Dumfries.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) had the floor last and had completed his presentation.
Mr Laughren: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The member for Algoma had adjourned the debate, but I do not believe he had completed his remarks. I would ask if there is consent by the House for me to complete those remarks and perhaps make a few of my own.
The Deputy Speaker: Is there consent in the House for this?
Hon Mr Ward: The understanding is that he is making his own remarks, as I understand it.
The Deputy Speaker: Regardless, is there unanimous consent in the House for this?
Mr Laughren: I appreciate the fact that members of the House recognize the fact that these are my remarks and not those of the member for Algoma.
Mr D. S. Cooke: It’s not the first time you’ve spoken for Bud Wildman.
Mr Laughren: The first person to object if I were to pretend to be him would be the member for Algoma, I assure the member.
Mr Fleet: Understandably.
Mr Laughren: “Understandably” is correct.
Here we go again with a piece of labour legislation with which we profoundly disagree. The last piece of legislation, of course, was the Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act, Bill 162. This party felt very strongly, when that was introduced, when it was being debated and during the public hearings, that it was not in the best interests of injured workers in the province. I felt it then, I felt it during the hearings and I feel it now.
When that was happening, there was a perception by many of us, which the former Minister of Labour did nothing to alter, that while Bill 162 was bad -- and I have no doubt in my mind that history will prove that -- at least the government was going to proceed with the bill known as Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act, and that it would be favourable to workers in the province. Why not? We had every reason to believe that this bill was a good one and that we would have no trouble supporting it, nor would workers all across the province. As a matter of fact, there was some enthusiasm for this bill.
From the moment this bill was introduced earlier this year, on 24 January 1989, the lobby started from the business community. Those of us who are members received numerous mailings from the business community objecting to the provisions of Bill 208. As that persisted and as the lobby persisted, rumours started swirling about that the government was going to water down the provisions of the bill that would make Ontario a healthier and safer place to work. The Minister of Labour at that point, now the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Sorbara), denied them and said no, he had a commitment to Bill 208, it would proceed and, as I recall, he would not do anything like that.
But when a cabinet shuffle occurred in August, guess what? The member for York Centre (Mr Sorbara) was moved out of the Ministry of Labour and in came the member for Scarborough- Agincourt (Mr Phillips). The rumours --
Mrs E. J. Smith: A good choice.
Mr Laughren: Perhaps it was a good choice. That is not the point. I am not demeaning the Minister of Labour. What I am criticizing once again is the process.
Very clearly, the Premier (Mr Peterson) and in particular the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) were getting a lot of flak from their friends in the business community, and perhaps even from the friends of the government whip; I would not know that. Nevertheless, they were getting flak, and the Minister of Labour was dropped because he had made commitments he simply could not back down on.
The new Minister of Labour comes in. He has made no commitments because he was not the Minister of Labour before August. He can start with a fresh slate. He can start by saying, “I’m listening to people out there, and we’ll take a good look at it.”
It is a discouraging process when things are done in good faith -- and we as an opposition party responded in good faith, thinking that Bill 208 would be a good thing. We went out and said so publicly: “Bill 208 is a good bill and we will support it.” The government got a lot of accolades and a lot of good public relations and, I am sure, headlines, as I recall, out of the introduction of Bill 208 in its original form. The government got what it wanted; it got the right kind of public relations out there, especially from among the labour movement and others who are sympathetic to the cause of working people in the province.
To have that process occur in such a way that what made people feel good about it was changed is really unforgivable on the part of the government. Even if there were not as significant changes as there are, I would feel betrayed by what has happened, by what the government has done. As I go through making a few remarks, I intend to point out this afternoon just why I feel that way.
We really were pleased with the original bill. Why would we not be pleased? It did some things we liked. I do not mind pointing out those things. The amendments that were introduced back then meant the training of people on the job would lead to certification and at least one worker representative and one management representative on every joint health and safety committee that would certified. The joint health and safety committees would be able to issue binding cleanup orders, as the Ministry of Labour inspector now does under the existing legislation. If the company did not follow the order, the certified worker or representative could shut down that unsafe work area.
Just for those who are not that familiar with the health and safety legislation at the present time, a worker can refuse to do unsafe work, but the worker cannot shut down that operation under the existing legislation. That is not in it. When Bill 208 was introduced, everybody thought: “Here we go. We now put legislation in place that will give the worker-inspector the right not just to refuse to work in that dangerous location or to do that dangerous operation but actually to shut down the particular operation that was dangerous.” Not only that, but a bipartite health and safety agency was to be established consisting of the two chairs from management and from labour. There was a good feeling about that.
The amendments really were going to give workers more control over their working conditions, particularly through better training and the right to shut down an unsafe operation. Two very important principles are embodied in that. Also, the bipartite health and safety agency was a long-standing demand by the labour movement and, I think, a very positive one as well.
The workers argued that these kinds of changes would be good for management as well, because in the long haul, the only way to reduce workers’ compensation costs is through a healthier, safer workplace. Everybody makes the right noises when you say that, and there is the nodding of heads in a very friendly way, just the way the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) is doing, but when it comes time to doing something about it, there are screams of bloody murder, and that is indeed unfortunate.
The amendments proposed in the original Bill 208 were not revolutionary. They did not give workers control over the workplace. It was not what we democratic socialists used to call, in our more radical days perhaps, worker control. It did not give workers control over anything in the workplace except their own safety and health. The minister seemed to think that was controlling the workplace. The business community seemed to think that was controlling the workplace. We were giving the workers control over the workplace. Since when is control over your own safety control over the entire workplace? I think it was a downright silly objection.
Anyway, we supported the original set of amendments -- and the minister will agree with this intellectually, I think -- because we felt very strongly that the status quo is unacceptable in terms of the number of deaths and accidents in the workplace. Last year, according to the minister’s own figures, I believe he said there were 360 work-related deaths in Ontario and close to 500,000 accidents on the job. That truly is unacceptable, and I think everyone would agree with that.
Does the minister really think he is going to solve the problem by wishing it would go away? Surely the government has to do something more dramatic than that, but it has not. They had a chance to do it, and they did not do it. They blew it. They blew a really good chance to make some major improvements, and I regret that very much.
The business community would agree that those numbers are not acceptable. I chaired the standing committee on resources development. It as an all-party committee, as all the standing committees arc. We travelled the province. It was to investigate the dangers in the mines and to try to make improvements in health and safety in our mines because they are a very dangerous part of working in Ontario. The committee members from all three parties worked extremely hard in that committee and came up with a unanimous report, and that is not easy to do in this place. The committee came up with a unanimous set of recommendations that it thought would improve the health and safety of miners.
Wherever we went, management of the mines said: “We want to make improvements. We find unacceptable the number of deaths and the number of injuries, and finally, we think the compensation costs are too high as well.” There is nothing wrong with saying that as long as they are prepared to do something about it, but just to think they can wave a wand and make things better is downright silly.
When the minister responds at some point this month or next to this debate, I would sure be interested that he tell us specifically how what he is doing here is going to make Ontario workplaces safer and healthier, because I do not think this bill has anything in it that will do that. I do not think it is strong enough. I think it has backed down on all the key areas.
As I said, the members of the government party will argue that they want a safer workplace. They would not agree that the status quo, the number of deaths and injuries, is acceptable but they will argue, as will the business community, that our competitive position is endangered. That is what the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology argued, that is what the business community argued and apparently that is what the present Minister of Labour has accepted, that if we put this bill in, that if we pass this bill in its present form, the competitive position of industry in Ontario will be in danger.
If he does not believe that, why did he not proceed with the original bill? He must have bought some argument that led him to conclude that the bill should be changed; he must have. He did not change the bill just on a whim. Surely there was a reason, some logic that led him to change the original bill. There had to be some reason. If it was not fear that this bill would make our industry less competitive, then I do not know what it was.
I cannot imagine how, for example, health and safety committees on construction sites make our industry less competitive. How does that make our industry less competitive in the number of workers on the committees and so forth? I cannot imagine how a truly bipartite health and safety agency, rather than tripartite, makes Ontario less competitive. I have no idea.
I do not know what kind of process, what kind of thinking is in the minister’s head to say that having a tripartite committee, a health and safety agency, makes us more competitive than having a bipartite health and safety agency. I did not hear the minister say that, but as I say, I do not know why else he would feel he had to change and draw back from a commitment made to the labour movement and to us that it should be bipartite, management and labour, rather than management, labour and another chair, a third-party chair. I do not know how; I do not understand that. How does that affect control over the workplace or Ontario’s competitive position? I have no idea where the minister is coming from on that.
For example, I do not know how -- here, I guess, is where you really get down to the crunch -- I do not understand how giving a worker rep, or for that matter a management rep, if members read carefully Bill 208, the original bill, how giving a safety rep on the job the right to shut down an unsafe operation endangers our competitive position as laid out by business and industry and by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.
I sure want to hear from the minister how that makes Ontario less competitive or endangers our competitive position. That is clearly the message that was coming through. That is what the Liberals are saying -- by implication they are -- and that is what the business community is saying. Let me tell members what --
Hon Mr Phillips: Joint health and safety committees on construction sites with over 20 people; 5,000 joint health and safety committees.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Laughren: I agree. Let me tell you --
The Deputy Speaker: Through the Speaker, of course.
Mr Laughren: Through the Speaker, of course. Ross Dunsmore is chairman of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto, a business organization. He said that after -- this was dated back in September, 28 September to be exact. “Ross Dunsmore, chairman of the Metro Toronto Board of Trade labour relations committee, said after recent meetings with ministry officials he’s convinced ‘they’re sensitive to a number of criticisms the business community has brought to bear.’” Then the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology said, “‘I’ve not seen an issue that’s drawn concerted opposition from the business community as has Bill 208.’” That is the minister’s friend Mr Kwinter acknowledging that. Then Mr Dunsmore goes back and says, “With free trade, we have to compare the cost of doing business here with Buffalo or Georgia.”
Now, is that not wonderful? We are now in a situation where we are worried about our labour laws vis-à-vis the labour laws in Georgia. Alabama is next.
Hon Mr Phillips: That is Dunsmore.
Mr Laughren: Well, that is Mr Dunsmore, right, and through Mr Dunsmore, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, because he is the mouthpiece of industry. I do not mind the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology being the mouthpiece of industry if only this minister were the mouthpiece for labour, but that is not the case.
As a matter of fact, the line that is going around out there in Ontario now is: “How come Mr Kwinter has such a heavy workload? He is Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and Minister of Labour as well.” What does that leave for the Minister of Labour? It is not fair and if I were him I would object. I would not accept that kind of demeaning attitude by the Premier either.
I quote the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology again. This was in the Legislature on 4 July of this year in response to a question from my friend the member for Sault Ste Marie (Mr Morn-Strom). He said: “This is a bill, as I said earlier, that cuts across the total economy. As the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I make no apology for being the champion of business. I make no apology for that at all
I do not think he needs to, but surely if that is the case, if he is sitting at the cabinet table championing the cause of business -- quite proudly he does it, I am sure -- then why is the Minister of Labour not sitting at that same cabinet table championing the cause of labour.
Hon Mr Phillips: This bill does it.
Mr Laughren: If that was the case, why did you amend the bill then?
The Deputy Speaker: Through the Speaker, please.
Mr Laughren: Of course, through the Speaker. Why would the minister amend the bill? Is the minister saying that all the labour movement is wrong that the original bill was better than this; that my colleague the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie), who has spent a lifetime in the labour movement, is wrong; that we as a party collectively with well-known ties to the labour movement in the province, and quite proudly so, are wrong and we do not know what we are talking about, and that this minister knows best and that he, Ross Dunsmore and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology know best what is safe on the job? Is that what he is saying, that he knows better than these other people who have spent a lifetime trying to improve health and safety conditions? Well, that is what the minister is saying.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Is he going to try to tell us that his amendments are going to strengthen the legislation?
Mr Laughren: I will spend some time on those proposed amendments before I sit down because I do not want to make some blanket accusations. I have read the bill and I have read the minister’s statements, so I am not just flailing away in a rhetorical fashion, I hope. I am quite serious that I think the minister is fundamentally wrong in his assertion that this bill will do the job that the original Bill 208 set out to do. I think what the minister is trying to tell us is. He is proposing changes but: “Don’t worry. It will still accomplish what 208 was set up to do.”
Hon Mr Phillips: It may do it better.
Mr Laughren: It may do it better, says the minister. Well, I would be very interested to know the logic behind that.
I remember when, 10 years ago exactly, the original health and safety bill was introduced. For the first time, it gave workers the right to refuse to work in an unsafe location. The workers themselves could say, “I won’t do that job because it is unsafe.” It did not mean that unsafe operation was discontinued. It could keep going and the management could send in somebody else to do that unsafe job. No question that was it. That was the way it was.
When that was introduced, the hue and cry by the business community was almost exactly like the hue and cry over Bill 208. But guess what, Mr Speaker, because I know you would be interested in this because you were first elected in 1985, I believe? Was it 1984? I am sorry.
In 1979, if members will just think back a bit, it was a minority government era. There was a minority government between 1977 and 1981, a Conservative minority government. Despite the hue and cry from the business community we persisted with that original bill that gave workers the right to refuse to work in an unsafe location or do an unsafe job.
There was a majority government, between 1981 and 1985. In 1985, eureka, another minority government. The New Democrats said:
“Well, as part of an arrangement for supporting the Liberals after 42 years of Conservative rule, we want improved conditions on the job. We want improved health and safety legislation.” What we got -- I guess 1986 was the year -- was the right-to-know legislation which gave workers an absolute right to know the materials they were working with and so forth. That was a minority government and we got that. We felt good about that and we gave credit to the government for doing that as well.
It was 1987, I guess, when the right-to-know legislation came in. Now, in 1989, heading for 1990, it is time to make further improvements, but guess what? It is now a majority Liberal government. Does anybody really think that we would be having this difficulty with this bill if it were a minority Liberal government? Not a chance. If this were a minority government, they would be falling all over themselves over there to bring this bill in its original form; no question.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Unless they decided to go with the Tories.
Mr Laughren: That is right, unless they hooked up with the Tories to gut the bill.
I just wish that people out in Ontario would reflect occasionally on the values of minority government, because that is when we get progressive legislation. I know there are people out there who do not want progressive legislation. If the members do not believe me, just ask Mr Dunsmore and he will tell them.
After the original legislation in 1979, which gave workers the right to refuse to work in an unsafe location, that right was not abused. I am sure the minister, in all fairness, would be prepared to stand on his feet and say that right to refuse to do unsafe work has not been abused by workers in Ontario. Anybody who has examined this issue will tell the members the same thing. It has not been abused; it really has not.
Therefore, what in the world makes the minister think that the original Bill 208, which allowed a worker inspector, or a management inspector for that matter, to shut down an unsafe place would be abused? What makes him think that would be abused? He has no reason whatsoever to believe that. If he has a reason to believe that, I would sure like to hear it. I look forward to hearing the minister tell us why it was necessary to take away the right of workers to shut down an unsafe operation.
I will get into more details of the minister’s statement in a few minutes. There is no question that is what the minister is all about. There is no question that is what the business community wants from this government. It is to take away that right to shut down an unsafe operation. I do not think it is even in dispute that this is what these proposed changes are all about.
I think the minister should understand that we are not talking about, under the original 208 before these proposed amendments, the right of anybody who happens to stumble on to a job that morning to shut the place down. We are talking about the right of certified people to shut the operation down, certified people certified by the health and safety agency, which we thought was going to be bipartite, but now the minister says is tripartite.
It is not as though this were something frivolous. This would have to be by someone certified. Can the minister imagine the pressure on a certified worker inspector who shut down an operation frivolously? There would be as much anger from the workers as there would be from management. That is why the existing legislation has not been abused either. Workers do not want to shut down a place unless it truly is unsafe. Then they have an obligation to shut it down. But is the minister going to let them do that? Not bloody likely.
We know that every time there is new legislation on workers’ compensation or on health and safety, the class system rears its ugly head in the province without a doubt. If anybody out there thinks we have done away with the class system in Ontario, I ask that person to examine the workers’ compensation legislation and the health and safety legislation. Nowhere is it clearer than that. This is what we are seeing again. Just when working people think they are going to gain an inch or get a few more crumbs from the table, this government or the previous government pulls the rug on them -- or pulls the table away, if you will.
If you were to ask anybody, “Do you think it is right that people on the job should be able to shut down a place that is unsafe?” I will bet you there are not very many people would disagree with that as a principle. I do not think many people would -- unless, of course, they have a sense that it is a threat to the power structure in the province. Obviously the business community has convinced the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology that this kind of right is a threat to the right of management to manage. I believe that is where the crunch comes in. I regret that very much because I do not believe it for a minute. There are censures in the original act to prevent that from happening frivolously, but the minister is changing that too. I am telling you, Mr Speaker, it is a sad day.
I remind the minister that we talked about the internal responsibility system today in the Legislature, and my colleague the member for Hamilton East talked about it in a question to the minister. Now for those people who do not know about the internal responsibility system, what that means is that management and labour through health and safety committees in the workplace manage the workplace in terms of health and safety; they do not rely on the Ministry of Labour to resolve all the problems or to investigate every problem.
When the standing committee on resources development, and I am glad there are some members here who were on that, travelled the province and talked to the mining companies and the workers about the internal responsibility system, all members supported it. Some of them had some reservations. We as a committee had to make a recommendation on that. At least we felt we did. We as a committee recommended that the internal responsibility system be kept in place, be maintained, because -- and I think I speak for all members who were on that committee; I am sure they will rise in their place if I do not -- what we said was that the alternative to the internal responsibility system is an army of government inspectors to monitor and enforce the health and safety laws in the province. That is what it implies at least. If you take away the internal responsibility system, you have got real problems in the workplace.
What this bill does is undermine the internal responsibility system in Ontario because -- and this is why I am surprised at the minister’s buying it -- you do away with the internal responsibility system, not by legislating it away but because you betray the people who thought they were going to get something better than this, or because you set up a tripartite health and safety agency, or because you play games with the right to shut down an unsafe operation. If you do that and, through that, convince the labour movement that you are not to be trusted, and if they start pulling out of all the joint committees, for example, or other health and safety organizations in the provinces you are going to create an adversarial system in the workplace that you do not want, and you will regret for a very long time that you have done to Bill 208 what I think you are doing.
If I am wrong, then we will see, but I need to be convinced that there was any need to change Bill 208 this way. As a matter of fact, there were one or two changes that I thought should have been made to Bill 208 that would have strengthened it, but the minister has done exactly the opposite. I am not even sure why he is proceeding with the bill, quite frankly. I guess he had no choice but to proceed; he had too many commitments on that. But I wonder about proceeding with it in this form.
I wonder if the minister has really thought this through, the whole question of what happens if the internal responsibility system starts to unravel. If he thinks about that, I think he will come to the conclusion that we are in for a very difficult period in industrial relations.
I am not trying to claim that the sky is falling and that it is the end of the world, but I do think that people on the job out there have every right to feel they have been betrayed with the proposals the minister is making.
The Minister of Labour has been protesting either from his seat or out in the corridor that our objections to his proposed changes to Bill 208 are unfounded and that we are being alarmists; we should relax because these are going to make it a better bill. That is basically what he says, but I am sorry I do not believe him.
I will choose my words carefully, but I think the minister knows that is not the case. I think he knows why he is the Minister of Labour and why the previous minister is not still there. I believe he knows that. If that is the case, I wish he would choose his words more carefully.
When the minister made his opening remarks last Thursday, he said on page 2 that the act “was founded on the central idea that it is the people in the workplace who are in the best position to identify and minimize health and safety risks.” That is what the minister said. I am going to come back to that statement, because he says that on page 2 of his statement and then contradicts himself all the rest of the way through the statement,
Why does the minister say something like that? I hope he was not intending just to mail out the first half of his speech to all his friends. That would really be reprehensible. I would not accuse the minister of doing that. But I sure hope he would not do that.
I understand the government wants to take a break now and do royal assents.
On motion by Mr Laughren, the debate was adjourned.
Hon Mr Ward: I understand His Honour is awaiting to give royal assent to certain bills.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario entered the chamber of the Legislative Assembly and took his seat upon the throne.
Hon Mr Alexander: Pray be seated.
The Speaker: May it please Your Honour, the Legislative Assembly of the province has, at its present sittings thereof, passed certain bills to which, in the name of and on behalf of the said Legislative Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour’s assent.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Journals: The following are the titles of the bills to which Your Honour’s assent is prayed:
Bill 30, An Act respecting Funeral Directors and Establishments;
Bill 31, An Act to revise the Cemeteries Act;
Bill 55, An Act respecting the Township of South Dumfries;
Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes;
Bill 204, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act;
Bill 219, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Clerk of the House: In Her Majesty’s name, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor doth assent to these bills.
His Honour the Lieutenant Governor was pleased to retire from the chamber.
The House adjourned at 1758.