The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF TUE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
NATIVE POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Mr Hampton moved resolution 21:
That in the opinion of this House, the government of Canada should be condemned for its recent policies regarding native education, and its failure to restore the funding of native education to a level which will ensure that all native persons who want to enrol in a post-secondary program of education will have the financial resources to do so; and calls upon the government of Canada to open negotiations with first nations representatives to establish a process which will provide adequate funding for native post-secondary education in the future.
Mr Hampton: I have put this motion before the House because despite the fact that native education is generally regarded as coming under the sphere of the federal government, I think that it is perhaps one of the most important social and economic policies and, as well, one of the most difficult social and economic policies of the day.
I have brought this resolution forward not to castigate the federal government for its native post-secondary education policies. Rather, my task is to try to lay out the rational groundwork as to why this House should send a strong message to the federal government regarding its policies and to try to lay out the rational groundwork why the federal government’s policies must change.
My argument is fundamentally this: If the condition of first nations people, not only in Ontario but across the country, is to improve, it will not improve as the result of government, whether it be the provincial government or provincial governments or federal government distributing a program here or a program there to native people.
The lot of first nations people will improve if they are given the opportunity and the opportunities to improve their own conditions. Put more specifically, if first nations people are given the opportunity to enhance their educational resources, to enhance their capability of controlling their own livelihood and of controlling their own futures, then we will do more in doing that than we can do through any other program.
For example, the province of Ontario has acknowledged that it has some responsibility now in terms of assisting native people with recreation programs, of assisting them in terms of community infrastructures. These are all useful programs, but I would argue that their effectiveness will be severely limited if the capacity of first nations people to develop the skills that are needed in the 20th and 21st centuries is denied. Fundamentally, that is what is happening with the new post-secondary education policy that has been announced by the federal government earlier in 1989.
It is only recently that first nations students have had the opportunity and the encouragement to attend post-secondary institutions. If you look at the history of native education in terms of the residential schools, I would argue residential schools contributed to cultural genocide, which basically in the most blunt terms turned first nations youth off of education altogether.
It has only been a short time since those kinds of elementary and secondary schools have been done away with, and after they were done away with, first nations youth became turned on to education. So it is only since the early 1960s that more and more first nations young people have attended post-secondary universities. It is only in the last 20 years that first nations people have had the encouragement, both socially and financially, to enter post-secondary institutions.
It is only in the last 15 years that we have seen a number of graduates, graduates in law, in business, in social services, in education. Indeed, it is only probably within the last 10 to 15 years that we have seen parole officers of native ancestry, police officers, nurses, lawyers, public administrators, financial managers, all of the things that are necessary to enable first nations people to assume the proper control over their own lives and over their own social and economic development. That kind of development, educational development, social development, economic development, was provided for and encouraged by the kinds of financial incentives that were there for first nations young people.
What the policies that were enunciated in the spring of 1989 do, however, is to severely limit the funding that is available and at the same time, they limit the circumstances in which it is available. The primary problem with what the federal government is doing is this. The federal government now says in its 1989 policy that there will be so much money set aside each year for native post-secondary education. If more people apply for the funding than there are funds available, then those people who come last in line are deferred. Imagine that. You are simply told, “Defer your life for a year. We will look at your plan in a year from now. Defer your life. Defer it for a year. Defer it for two years.”
The obstacles which first nations people must overcome in terms of getting to a university or a community college are unbelievable: the social barriers, the cultural barriers, the financial barriers. I do not think I need to repeat in this House that if you do an economic profile of Ontario society and Canadian society, you will find that native people are among the poorest, if not the poorest. First nations families, by and large, depend on seasonal incomes, seasonal work, that this government’s own record in terms of promoting employment for first nations people is not an enviable record, and if members want to see how bad that record has been, check and see how many first nations people work for the Ministry of Natural Resources in northern Ontario, or how many work for Ontario Hydro, or how many work for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Very few -- too few.
So the barriers that young native persons must overcome in order to get into a university or a community college in terms of social, cultural, educational and financial are overwhelming. But then for the federal government to say to them after they have overcome many of these barriers and they have applied for funding: “Sorry, you have to defer your plans for a year. You defer your life for a year. Come and talk to us a year from now.” That is an unforgivable statement to make to young first nations persons who want to enhance their own educational skills and enhance the educational, social and economic opportunities of their people as a people. It is an unforgivable statement to make.
But not only is that an unforgivable statement to make, the new policy does not contain financial capacity for things like career counselling. One of the things which a young first nations person would most likely need in terms of moving into a community college or moving into a university is career counselling. “Help me. This is all new to me. This is all strange to me. I have never encountered this before. Help me get some bearings. Help me find my way.” There is absolutely no funding available for such things. It is as if you throw somebody out on the ocean with a raft and say, “I hope you can swim. I hope you can stay on the raft. We are not going to give you any paddles, we are not going to give you an oar to help you find your way, no compass.” That is absolutely unforgivable.
The other thing which this new policy does is that it sets strict limits on how long you can have funding for a given diploma or degree course. Let me give members an example. If you have a three-year BA program, someone who comes out of a nice middle-class high school in a nice middle-class town in southern Ontario might have no problem in completing a three-year BA program in history or economics or whatever you have. They may already have their career counselling in front of them before they leave high school, their goals are determined and away you go. There are no social barriers to overcome, no economic barriers, no cultural barriers. It may take a native person four years to complete that program, or three and a half, yet the funding is limited. In terms of the government of Canada --
The Speaker: The member’s time has now expired.
Mr Hampton: -- and in terms of Ontario, this is an important resolution which we must take a stand on and we must send a message to the government of Canada on.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I do not intend to speak on this motion. Our member for London North (Mrs Cunningham) is speaking for our party and she is in committee now, so could we waive her turn and the London North member could speak at a later --
The Speaker: I will remind the member, the standing order says that each party has up to 15 minutes to participate on a rotational basis, so I think that would be within order.
Mr Miclash: I would just first of all like to thank the member for Rainy River for bringing this most important matter before the House. It is a great honour to speak on behalf of the Liberal Party in favour of his motion. There are two things I want to take a look at during my speech today. Both of them involve the federal government.
First of all, I do believe, as the member has stated, that the federal government in some way is maybe sloughing off a little bit of its responsibility, and that is to allow for an adequate education for native people, an adequate education that will allow them to compete on an equal footing with their non-native counterparts throughout the country.
I also think that the federal government has maybe acted in a little bit of a paternalistic way where it has had very little input from our native people. Most of the native people were not consulted themselves to find out how important, as the member has stated, this post-secondary education is to their people.
As well, I would like to say that I honestly believe it is a treaty and constitutional responsibility of the federal government to take care of the educational needs of our native people.
As members know, I am from a riding which contains 23 reserves and a population of about 10,000 native people. I have lived in the riding all of my life. I returned to the riding as an educator and as a counsellor with the Kenora Board of Education and, therefore, have worked very closely with native people, in a high school setting, ready to go on to a post-secondary setting. I cannot tell members how important it is to those native people that they get the proper funding to continue on with what they want to do in life.
I must say as a member I have visited all of my reserves and have seen that people on the reserves are not happy with, as I mentioned earlier, the paternalistic view of the federal government in making work projects for them and contributing to their welfare payments.
As we know, unemployment, as the member stated earlier, is a very high statistic on our local native reserves and in some of my reserves, we are looking at unemployment rates of 80 to 90 per cent. It is something that we want to combat and I feel through post-secondary education we can take a look at combating some of these figures.
As the member has stated, before the March 1989 changes were introduced all native people from high school who were accepted into post-secondary institutions were allowed to go ahead with their plans, and now we put it on a priority system, a priority system that is not allowing all of these people a right to gain that post-secondary education.
I mentioned treaties earlier. When we take a look at the treaties, we find that the federal government is responsible for the education of the native people. When we take a look at a treaty, we must interpret it in today’s times, the standards of today. We know that today it is very difficult for a native person or any person in society to get ahead with their ambitions and their goals with some sort of post-secondary education.
The former member has mentioned that these people are determined to go forth with their self-government, are determined to go forth with an education system within their own society. I think, in order for them to keep pace with some of these feelings and some of these goals, they have to be a partner in society and in order to be that partner have to attain these higher sights than just secondary education.
We know that our neighbours, our native people, are striving for these two goals and, as I mentioned, their own government. In order for them to get into their own government, a government that would work in conjunction with both the federal and provincial governments, they are going to have to receive some of this higher training, higher education and, as well, their own educational systems.
We know that native people are quite proud of their heritage and quite proud of what they have done in the Canadian mosaic in the past. They would like to retain this culture and it is through education that I feel they will do this.
Let me go on and talk about the obligation of the federal government to fund this right to education. In order for these people to fulfil their dreams and for this to become a reality, these costs must be looked at. If we take a look at the costs, we can take a look at it in two ways.
We can take a look at it in actual cost where we put a student through a post-secondary institution for roughly five years on average; that is the average for a degree; we are looking at approximately $7,200 a year. However, if we take a look at keeping that same person, without dependants, as a single on a welfare system or a handout dole system, we are looking at approximately $300,000 to put that person through life.
As I mentioned, I have had a lot of personal experience in watching native people go through secondary school and then post-secondary institutions and then return to their people and help out, whether it be an educator on a reserve, an administrator, a social worker, a police officer, whatever. The difference in the person is exciting. It is truly exciting to see somebody who is able to go back and use a post-secondary education to help their people.
The other cycle that I have seen on the reserve is the welfare cycle, which is a cycle that goes from generation to generation and is a very difficult one to break. I feel, as a former educator, that often the cycle is broken through education. It gives a person a goal, something to reach for and, again, I feel this is very important to our native people.
I just might quote Chief George Watts who stated that, “the real changes are happening because our people are going to university and taking their skills and using them, with the knowledge of our old people, to start to make meaningful changes in our community.” I must emphasize that real changes are happening because his people are being educated. How can the federal government not see this, not realize this among our native people?
The former member also touched a little bit on the provincial government’s assistance in native education. As you know, today our OSAP is open to all students across Ontario and all students have an equal opportunity to go for that assistance. But I must agree with the former member that we are looking at people who have to readjust to a society that maybe they are not used to. A person from a middle-class society who has gone through a regular secondary education does not need that extra counselling, maybe that extra push, that our native people are in need of.
I always look at education as either a “pay now” or “pay later” scheme. I suggest that either we educate or we continue on that cycle that I mentioned earlier. As well, we see that there is no lack of desire among our native people. If we take a look at 1960, we had 64 native students in our post-secondary institutions across Canada. Today that number has risen to 15,000 native students, something that I say speaks very well for their culture, their people, and something that I know that they want.
As the member stated, however, the new system is going to limit that funding. What we have found out is that there is a good possibility that come September 1990, we will be looking at 1,000 native people who will be turned away from our post-secondary institutions because of that limiting of resources for them.
I talked about the paternalistic attitude of the federal government. When you talk to native people, you find out that they were presented with this concept, this idea, as a fait accompli. They were just told; they were not consulted. They were told, “This is the way it is going to be.” I do not think that is fair to our native people and I think that is a strong point where there has been a true lack of consultation with them. As I say, they want and they deserve what others in this country have, and I really feel that they will look for a secure future and a fulfilment of their dreams and aspirations. To do that they will have to continue to push for more funding from the federal government.
Just in closing, I would again like to thank the member for Rainy River for bringing this issue forth. It has given me an opportunity to speak on behalf of some of the people in my riding and to present their views, along with my view on this very important matter.
Mr Pouliot: I too join in supporting the private member’s ballot item placed in Orders and Notices by the member for Rainy River.
If ever there was a human rights problem in Canada, it is with the native peoples. This is what the Canadian human rights commissioner had to say following the most recent decision of Pierre Cadieux, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, to limit the federal subsidies for native post-secondary education. He calls it an example of the litany of misunderstanding. That is what he refers to the decision as.
The Canadian government has chosen to deny, to cap, to put a ceiling on, to limit spending on native education, more specifically on post-secondary native education, while being fully cognizant, very much aware, that the traditional economies can no longer fulfil the daily needs of the first nations. In order never to assimilate but to integrate and to cope with technological changes of a modern era, you need an education. The current dollars that the minister would forward towards that goal are an investment in the future, not only for natives but for the Canadian society as a whole.
One need not do a lot of research to acquiesce that if you are a native person in Canada today and if you do not have an education, you are much more likely to end up in jail than any other person in Canada. The certainty that you will not get a permanent job is real, for jobs are at a premium in remote and desolate communities; or if you do happen to get a job, you will get a very low paying one. You will be poorer than the poor and you will marry what you are, by and large, The cycle will continue.
Society will have to pick up the tab, both emotionally and in dollars, of an even higher rate of substance abuse, mainly alcohol, and a higher rate of suicide. Despair, no belief that tomorrow will be better than today: that is the alternative, that is the cost.
Everyone needs an education. It is one of the sacred gifts, one of the ultimate gifts in society: the right of access. The people cannot do it. They do not have any money. They need their future recognized with an investment today, not a major investment but an investment to say, “Give us the tools to defend, to survive and to cope in society.”
I was paid a compliment last June. I was invited as the guest speaker at a graduation exercise in the township of Nakina. The township has a small elementary school that welcomes people from Aroland, which is a native community nearby. Consequently, the majority of graduating students at the Nakina school were people from Aroland. They were natives. I remember so vividly, as if it were yesterday, as if it were now. The people just filed in during the graduation procession, standing proud, and those were grade 8 students, standing tall indeed.
I recall the valediction oration, and it spoke exactly about the right to an education. For a moment the people who sat rigid, erect, proud, representing what is the best in people, which is the achievement of an attainable goal, saw the future with unlimited confidence.
They did not have much. The little paper hats were exactly that; they were little paper hats and there were no silk linings. Some of them had running shoes. There is nothing wrong with running shoes -- you get good wear -- but for a graduation exercise -- it mattered little because they had so much to look forward to.
They did not take anything for granted and they were clutching, hanging, their little diplomas. They could go back home; they were community leaders. The whole community felt it was impacted by young men and women graduating from grade 8. The ramifications were enormous. This was an achievement. Somebody had arrived. Somebody had made it. Somebody was to be like the others: a community leader.
With high respect for my distinguished colleague, I would like to conclude by saying that in terms of human dimension and in terms of doing our job, when we read every word on the resolution, we do not have to search long and hard, because this is what it is all about. That is why we are here. We are here to endorse the resolution. We are here to put clout on the government and say: “Respect the treaty rights. Respect the deal that you made with the forefathers. Put your best foot forward. Say yes to education.”
Mr Jackson: I rise today to support the resolution on native education and to support my friend and colleague the honourable member for Rainy River. As all members of the House can appreciate, education has become a central key in the unlocking of a future for members of an ever-increasing technological and industrially modern society. As the pace of that development quickens in this province, so does demand for greater and more specialization in how we deliver that education.
Today it is a commodity much sought after by all of our citizens, not only because it promises employment and it offers empowerment for groups that have not had it, but also because it has opportunities for our citizens to take greater control over their lives. As we deepen our awareness of our surrounding environment and the society we live in and as we get a better sense of the history of this province, we learn to develop our own capacities for original thought and insight as we come to understand ourselves in relationship to our history and to our people.
The resolution, therefore, that we are debating today has to do more with our understanding of our founding peoples, of our native peoples, and their desire to obtain the special key to their future. which is education and which is just as central to them as it is to all other Canadians.
Our native peoples have never been given the educational opportunities promised them in the original treaties signed in the last century. The treaties promised schools on the reserves themselves, together with paid teachers. However, native children were shipped off to residential schools where they were exposed to great pressures to assimilate culturally with mainstream society, where they were forbidden to speak their native languages, where they were forbidden, quite frankly, to have the intimacy with their own families as they sought our interpretation of their educational needs.
By the 1960s, in this province only 3.4 per cent of natives had ever even finished high school education, while a very tiny minority -- the statistic is frightening -- ever went on to university. But with the development of the federal post-secondary student assistance program, there were, in 1977 and 1978, more than 3,500 native students enrolled in universities, with 15,000 enrolled by this year. At approximately $9,000 per student, which is spent under the terms of the program, this number has driven its budget up to $130 million.
Unlike other programs which were created to help our native peoples it is very clear that this program works and this program is successful. It has meant employment to nine of 10 graduates among our native graduate pool of 1,000 for last year and for this year alone. It has meant tremendous relief for native women who often suffer lower employment with poorer opportunities for career advancement than any other single group in our society because, of those 24 to 44 years of age among native women who are on the experienced labour force and did not work in the 1980s, their proportion was 5.3 times that of non-native men and 2.9 times that of native men.
This program has proved that, with a little support from the government, support that this government is bound by treaty to provide anyway, our native peoples are more than capable of breaking free of poverty and lack of economic independence which have traditionally limited their own self-actualization. Not only are excellent native leaders being produced with the help of this program, but as Robert Rosehart, the president of Lakehead University, said, good role models for the native community are being produced as well. In his words, probably you could find a few examples of abuse; like any other government program, it’s not perfect, but it is accomplishing things.
Yes, it is accomplishing things and yes, we could find a few examples of abuse if we choose to look at that. But the overall positive impact of this program on our native community, which is truly for the original people who founded this nation, is such that it deserves continuing support from every single member of this House.
When I say from all of us, I also include the Liberal government of Ontario. I say to the Minister of Education (Mr Conway), where are his educational priorities with respect to our native community in this province? Are he and his Premier (Mr Peterson) content to sit back and let others totally do the work which they should be taking an initiative in as well?
At a time, for example, when this government is busy promoting heritage language education in our public school system, there are three native languages that domestically are part of our culture, and our culture alone, here in Ontario, that are at risk of being lost not only to Ontario and Canada, but to the whole world. We could lose those languages because there is no concerted effort to save and preserve them. There seems to be a serious contradiction in the value that we put on that culture which our native people so rightly cling to and they so rightly respect, but we are losing it.
What I believe this government should be doing, quite frankly, is funding specialized teacher training for those teaching in Metis and aboriginal languages for their students, while boards should find specialized in-service training to assist in the development in that regard. I also believe firmly that a department of aboriginal studies should he established, possibly at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, known as OISE, with both federal and provincial funding, to study and promote that native culture and language which somehow we seem frightened to help preserve.
In addition, we should be looking at ways in which to put local control of native education back into the hands of the native community itself. What our native people are concerned about is that the recent announcement of the cap on this program, the $130 million budget, could lead to the turning away of as many as 2,000 native students from universities and colleges, students who have the desire to continue their education into post-secondary levels.
This is also something which all other Canadians should be concerned about. Let us make no mistake. In the words of Grand Chief Georges Erasmus: “Canadians want fairness to native people and they just want to know in return that natives are not abusing the system.” Conversely, all Canadians should know that our native people do not want something for nothing. Their culture is in possession of values of individual effort and providing one’s worth, values which we hold in admiration as well.
The native peoples did not ask to be placed in the cycle of poverty and misery that we somehow have put them in. What they ask is some help to move out of it. and to date they have more than proved that they, as native graduates, can join the Canadian economic mainstream in ever-increasing numbers, to be followed by other native students who are inspired by their example to study, to graduate and to seek economic, social and cultural independence.
One argument that is advanced against expanding this program’s budget is that the treaty signed more than 100 years ago did not cover post-secondary education. But it must be remembered that when the treaties were signed, something like a post-secondary education was not nearly as important for living in society as it is today.
I think it can be readily accepted that post-secondary education, whose future importance to our citizens was either unforeseen or irrelevant to the social conditions of that time, should indeed and must be considered an integral part of what is implied by the term “education,” as ratified under the terms and conditions of those old treaties. To do otherwise would be to play a cruel game of semantics, all to the detriment of the social well-being and of the relationship with our native peoples. This we simply cannot afford to do. We cannot do it as Canadians with a sense of our own history and our own social responsibility.
The expansion of this program’s budget will prove much more costly than the already burgeoning welfare budget of about $350 million that goes to our native people, but their message to us is that they do not want to be on welfare. They want to go to school and then they want to work.
What kind of example will we be showing them if we renege on legitimate responsibilities sworn to in treaties and established by custom to help our native people, in effect to help them help themselves, and if indirectly we help contribute to the continuation of that vicious circle of poverty and misery? It must be broken.
I therefore support my honourable colleague’s resolution and commend him for coming forth with it on behalf of native peoples and, I know, for a group of constituents he holds very dear to his heart.
Let us invest in our native peoples’ future. It is an investment that is fiscally responsible. It is an investment that brings solid returns and rich dividends to the native students, graduates and indeed the entire native community. It is therefore a great investment in our province and in our nation.
Mrs Cunningham: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to stand in the House and have an opportunity to speak on the importance of native post-secondary education in our province and in our country. The only comment I would make on the resolution is that I would rather censure the government than condemn it. It is just a word that I feel is more appropriate under the circumstances. I know that to get change we are going to have to work with our federal partners as far as possible and this is our opportunity to send a message to them today.
The Conservative Party, of course, is addressing the resolution put forth by the member for Rainy River with regard to the government of Canada’s recent policies regarding native education. I have a very strong personal conviction about the importance of education for all people across our province and our country. I believe education is essential for one to compete and progress in a modern and technological world, but I also believe in fairness, in a level playing field for all our students.
I think there is a much deeper issue here at hand today and that is the matter of how native education is perceived and how we deliver it. We are all mistaken if we think it is comparable to the experience of the children of middle class families across this country. My children grew up in a culture that stressed education and were encouraged throughout their education by family support that we would hope would be possible across our country, but we recognize that many native students do not have this support. They need this support and we would be foolish to look the other way. They need support in every way. When they have the courage to come forth and ask for it, we should give it to them, and it does take courage for any member of our society to say: “I am different. I have not had the same kind of opportunity and I need it,” especially our native students.
Twenty-seven per cent of all Canadians go to university, but only four per cent of natives do. The numbers speak for themselves. Just saying that they can get student loans and go to university will not do. They need more. Grants are an encouragement, but loans are a debt burden few students enjoy assuming, a burden that may turn and does turn native students away. As a matter of fact, it turns all students away. The debt load of university graduates in our province is something we should all be ashamed of. There has to be a better way of supporting our young people who need our help, the kind of help that we, as members of this Legislative Assembly, ought to be fighting hard for.
Funding native students could be justified purely as sound economics. The Nielsen task force reported that 90 per cent of natives who attend university find employment whether or not they graduate, and that is wonderful in itself. Yet the national average for native unemployment is 55 per cent and as high as 90 per cent. Which 90 per cent do we want? Do we want to pay welfare for 90 per cent of the native population or do we want them to attend university and live in dignity? Do we want them to be able to pay their own way some day and have some hope in their own education and an education for their children?
Our vision is very shortsighted in this province and in this country. Education is not just for today; it is for ever. When only 20 per cent of natives finish high school and only four per cent finish university, why should we even have to consider a change such as has been proposed by the federal government? We need a level playing field for all our students, but especially for our native students.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): The Speaker humbly apologizes to the honourable member for Port Arthur (Mr Kozyra) on missing the rotation.
Mr Kozyra: It is my pleasure this morning to stand and support the resolution as well. My 40 years in education, 17 in the classroom as a student and the rest as a teacher, have impressed upon me tremendously the importance of education in all its levels, so it is with pleasure that I support this resolution which strikes at the very heart of some of the problems.
I am proud of the fact and the role that the two higher levels of education in Thunder Bay, Confederation College and Lakehead University, play in furthering the cause of native post-secondary education. In the Thunder Bay situation, though, on the negative side, the one that must be addressed, is the fact that we have over 10,000 natives in Thunder Bay, many from northern reserves and many facing tremendous difficulties of adjustment. In a fast-paced society that is economically and educationally driven, these people, as indicated by the member for Rainy River, suffer from tremendous social adjustment difficulties that we can only begin to comprehend. These cutbacks by the federal government to the post-secondary program only make that matter worse.
There is a critical need for more education. Less education or a slowdown contributes tremendously to problems like illiteracy, unemployment, welfare, hopelessness and destruction.
I would like to read from a letter. This letter is an open letter sent to the Prime Minister of Canada. These social conditions were described for the native population of Canada:
The proportion of Indian children in institutional care is five times the national average. Education: 20 per cent of aboriginal students complete grade 12 compared to 75 per cent for other Canadians. The income of native Canadians is 50 per cent of the national average or less. Unemployment runs between 35 to 90 per cent, depending on the size and location of the community. Violent deaths are three times the national average and infant mortality runs at 60 per cent higher than the national rate.
The irony of the cutbacks to this program is that what the federal government saw as the need for cutbacks was based on the success of the program. It is a strange reaction to a successful program.
I would like to read from a letter in which the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Pierre Cadieux, the federal minister, explains the rationale for these cutbacks. I would like to point out the irony and the tragic paradox here. He says:
“Dear Chiefs and Councils:...
“The post-secondary student assistance program is widely recognized as one of the most successful programs my department has ever undertaken.” So far so good.
“The number of post-secondary students has increased from about 3,500 in 1977-78 to some 15,000 in 1988-89.” So far so good.
“This extraordinary growth in student numbers has caused the post-secondary budget to expand from $9 million to $130 million.” Now, there is the rub.
The federal government chose to focus on purely financial aspects to cut back on a very successful program. Rather than taking a look at the whole picture, rather than recognizing what an important step this was, what tremendous progress socially and educationally was being made by the native Canadians and emphasizing that, it chose to focus strictly on the budgetary implications and decided to have the cutbacks.
I think they misread the situation. I think that rather than seeing this as a problem, they should have seen it as a tremendous opportunity, a challenge and an opportunity. I think they missed their chance, but it is not too late if we can convince them to go back.
What kind of impact does this federal decision have? It continues to impose 1987 ranking criteria. It continues to impose a 12-month Canadian residency clause. It restricts the level of tuition support to students attending private or foreign schools and it restricts the level of travel assistance. It caps the level of assistance for living expenses. This capping of the overall program funding results in (a) reducing the number of students able to attend post-secondary schools and (b) forcing Indian administrations to reject student applications during an academic year.
It imposes new and harsher time limits to complete degrees. It eliminates doctoral level assistance when assisted for a master of arts degree. It imposes federal interpretation of self-government and economic self-reliance on students. It forces Indian administrations to give student statistics to the federal government for a national database instead of an Indian-controlled database. It forces Indian administrations to reduce the level of funding for students. There are all these negative implications of these cutbacks.
In the limited time that is afforded me, I hope I was able to show that rather than cutbacks, what is needed is an augmentation of the funding for post-secondary education.
Mr Wildman: I want first to congratulate my colleague the member for Rainy River for bringing this matter before the House. It is a most important one and of crucial importance to the future of the native community, the aboriginal people and the first nations of this province, as well as the whole country.
I want to say at the outset, though, hopefully without sounding as if I am preaching, that I am a little disturbed about the tone of the debate. While I welcome the comments of many members, I think language is important whenever you are dealing with any topic, but particularly when you are dealing with matters that relate to race and ethnic groups. It important to understand the nuances of language. I think it is unfortunate when members of this House or members of the white community refer to the native people as our native people in the same breath as condemning paternalism.
I think it is important to recognize that the first nations signed treaties with the white government, the crown, and that under those treaties a number of things were guaranteed. One thing that was guaranteed was education sufficient to allow the members of the first nations to prosper and to compete.
That has been open to interpretation. The federal government historically has always taken the position that this treaty right initially only applied to primary education, and then to secondary education as well. The federal government has never accepted post-secondary education as a treaty right, but rather as some sort of gift that white governments can extend or curtail.
In 1964, there were only 60 aboriginals enrolled in post-secondary institutions. It was not until 1975 that an exclusively post-secondary education assistance program was established by the federal government. Now we have the current policy that was instituted this year, the program my colleague is referring to in his resolution. He pointed out that under this program, a certain budgetary level will be set and if there are more students than anticipated, those students at the bottom of the list will have to defer their education for a year or two. Also, limits have been placed on the length of time that a student can take to complete his or her studies.
As my colleague the member for Port Arthur pointed out, essentially what has happened here is that we have a successful program, a program where large numbers of students started to take advantage of the possibility of post-secondary education to the point where that 60 had grown to 15,000 or more by last year.
In essence, what has happened is that when the cost grew to over $120 million, the federal Conservative government said: “This program is too successful. It’s costing too much. We have to cut back.” It was not until the enrolment of aboriginals in post-secondary educational institutions increased dramatically that the government suddenly said, “It’s costing us too much.”
Even if you think just in terms of dollars and cents, this is false economy. Many speakers in this debate have argued about the cycle of poverty that too many native people in this country experience. Surely any politician or bureaucrat concerned about fiscal responsibility should recognize that by investing in education, by helping students to gain the tools that will make it possible for them to compete individually and collectively in our society and in our economy, we will be saving money in the long run.
It costs enormous amounts of money in social and economic breakdown because of the fact that too many aboriginals in our society do not have the skills they require to compete in a modern society. Give them those skills and the native people of this country will compete with anybody in our society. But it is not enough for us to stand here and say, “Somehow we have to do things for our native people.” They are not our native people. They are the first nations of this country and they deserve the treaty rights that were guaranteed them when they gave up the land so that we could settle it.
We have to recognize what the white man’s purpose of education of Indian people has been right from the beginning and I think we have to say it clearly. The purpose of education of Indian people in our society has been assimilation. The purpose has been to eradicate the Indian culture from our society, and that is why Indians, aboriginals, have not done well in our education system. Is it any surprise that the people of the first nations would reject our education system when it was designed to deny everything that was important and dear to them?
Give self-government. Recognize self-government. Guarantee self-government. Give our first nations, the people of this country who deserve it more than anyone, the right to control their own affairs, particularly their education. Extend to them the resources they require and they will compete and do well and we will learn from them.
Mr Hampton: I want to thank all my colleagues who spoke on behalf of the resolution -- my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot), my colleague the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman), the member for Kenora (Mr Miclash), the member for Port Arthur, the member for Burlington South (Mr Jackson) and the member for London North. I thank them all for their eloquence and for taking the time they obviously have taken to look at this issue very seriously.
I want to conclude by restating the theme of my argument. It is simply this: The federal government’s native post-secondary education policy, as enunciated in the spring of 1989, is the epitome of shortsighted social and economic policy. The 1977 policy on post-secondary education assistance for first nations people permitted 15,084 first nations people to attend post-secondary education institutions in 1988-89. From those 15,000 students will come many of the leaders of tomorrow’s first nations communities and organizations.
The first nations people do not want something for nothing from the federal government or from the provincial government. They want only the opportunity to control their own cultural, social and economic destiny. One of the keys, and I would argue the greatest key, to gaining control of this destiny is education. The $120 million spent by the federal government on native post-secondary education assistance in 1988-89 is very likely the most productive spending the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development engaged in in that year.
I want to repeat what many of my colleagues have said here today. The federal government has a choice. It can fund native post-secondary education assistance so that more and more first nations people may get the kind of training, the kind of education, the kind of skills that everyone will need in the 20th and 21st centuries. In doing that, I am convinced they will return to their own communities and they will improve their own communities. They will provide the guidance, the skills, the leadership that their own communities want, need and have asked for.
First nations communities do not want us to attempt to guide them. They do not want us to tell them where they should go and what they should try to achieve. We have been doing that for 100 years and it is a policy that has met with abject failure, and failure that every non-native person in this country should be ashamed of. To continue to provide the support that native people want in terms of post-secondary education assistance would be the most enlightened policy that the government of Canada could ever put in place.
I want to send a strong message to the federal government today. The message is this: Think again. Do not cut off your nose to spite your face. Do the right thing. Do the good thing in terms of social and economic policy and fund native post-secondary education and we will all be better off because of it.
ONTARIO WATER RESOURCES AMENDMENT ACT
Mrs Marland moved second reading of Bill 61, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Mrs Marland: It gives me great pleasure to move second reading of Bill 61, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act. I wish it were not necessary to debate this bill today, not because I do not enjoy the process of debate, but because it is disturbing that steps proposed in my private member’s bill have not already been taken.
I expect it will surprise members of this House, as it surprised me, to learn that there is no mechanism currently in place to ensure that bottled table water, whether spring, distilled, treated or demineralized, meets provincial standards for drinking water. More and more Ontarians are consuming bottled water.
In 1987-88, sales of spring water in Ontario expanded 58 per cent. Indeed, I expect many of the members who are taking part in this debate drink bottled water, trusting that such water is free of bacteria, toxic chemicals and taste of chlorine. However, bottled water is not subject to the Ontario drinking water objectives.
Before I speak specifically about my private member’s bill, I want to state that the bill does not deal with the broader issue of provincial standards for tap water. That is a topic beyond the scope of this debate. I want to state for the record that I have every confidence in the public water supply. My family and I drink tap water, not bottled water, However, we cannot ignore the fact that many people are consuming large quantities of bottled water, a commodity for which there are no provincial standards. These consumers of bottled water must be protected.
The purpose of my private member’s bill is to ensure that all bottled water sold in Ontario meets the minimum requirements of the Ontario Water Resources Act. The bill also provides the authority to make regulations governing water dispensers used to dispense bottled water.
I would like to provide the House with some background information on the bottled water industry, the consumption of bottled water and the status of the relevant legislation. This background will put into perspective the bill before us.
The bottled water industry currently has two major components. The largest component which markets bulk water primarily serves people who question the purity of tap water or who do not like its taste. This bulk water is used for everyday drinking and cooking and is packed in large plastic jugs or larger carboys. The second component includes sparkling and nonsparkling waters, which are largely substitutes for soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Finally, there is a third and minor component: mineral waters with reputations for alleged restorative powers.
Bill 61 was drawn up primarily to regulate the large market for bulk bottled waters, since these waters tend to be a substitute for conventional public drinking water supplies and therefore may be consumed in substantial quantities. The marketers of bottled water range from small family businesses utilizing local spring water sources to larger firms such as Nestlé Enterprises Ltd of Toronto, which holds the Crystal Springs label in Ontario. The majority of companies are small businesses that serve limited local areas.
The bottled water industry in Canada is still young. The national value of this industry has been estimated at $110 million and the volume of bottled water consumed is approximately 210 million litres. By province, the largest market is in Quebec, followed by Ontario, whose accounts total 28 per cent of Canadian sales.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ontario market is growing rapidly. In 1987-88, spring water sales grew by 58 per cent. The bottled water companies have established an industry group, the Ontario Bottled Water Association. The OBWA is very concerned about protecting the public safety and the industry’s image from amateur or unscrupulous operators who would take advantage of the current growth potential in demand for bottled water. Therefore, the OBWA is also anxious for the Ontario government to develop regulations for bottled water.
In Quebec, where the popularity of bottled water developed earlier than in Ontario. the provincial government enacted laws and regulations in 1974 to control a market rife with abuse and ignorance. We must take action in Ontario to ensure that a similar situation does not arise.
The only regulations governing bottled water in Ontario today are under the Canada Food and Drugs Act, revised statutes of Canada, chapter F-27, which as amended provides for the regulation of prepackaged water and ice under part B, Foods, division 13. Basically, the federal regulations require that mineral water or spring water be from an underground source but not a public community water supply and be potable, free of coliform bacteria and not chemically altered. Labelling requirements are included, relating to source location, total mineral content, fluoride content and any added fluoride or ozone. Definitions are also provided for distilled, demineralized and carbonated waters.
Local health units are charged federally with the responsibility for inspecting food processing plants. Therefore, the health inspectors will inspect water bottling plants and spot-check the products in retail outlets. These checks are primarily for bacterial levels. Federal inspectors may also do spot checks.
At the provincial level, as I have pointed out, there are currently no laws relating to the quality of bottled water. Ontario drinking water objectives apply only to public water supplies which provide water for domestic purposes and serve more than five private residences. The only Ontario control which applies to new sources of water for bottling relates to the need for a permit to take water if more than 50,000 litres per day are to be withdrawn.
No water quality information is required for a permit to take water. As well, the Ministry of the Environment could not prohibit the taking of water based on water quality factors. In any event, such a permit is not required if less than 50,000 litres is to be taken daily.
Therefore, at present, bottled water quality is regulated only by federal requirements, much like any other food. These regulations are not enough.
The federal regulations do not, for instance, require that springs be free of dangerous substances beyond coliform bacteria. Nor do they require that the springs be removed from sources of pollution or that they be protected from any risk of accidental contamination. They do not provide for sufficient inspections of the product and production facilities and, finally, they do not go far enough in defining the various classifications of bottled water. In Quebec, for instance, there are regulated designations of mineral water, spring water, treated water and demineralized water.
In drafting a bill to correct the omission in the current Ontario Water Resources Act, the legislation that exists in the province of Quebec, as well as in the United States jurisdictions, specifically at the federal level and in California and New York, have been studied.
The bill before us would add bottled water to the drinking water supply to which the act applies. It would also expand the regulatory authority under the act to include: (a) prescribing standards for water that is sold in sealed containers or packages; and (b) governing the manufacture, repair, service and sale of water dispensers other than water dispensers that are connected to a municipal water supply.
It is important that these standards be prescribed by regulation rather than by statute because of the speed and flexibility required to develop, implement and adjust the standards.
The Ontario Bottled Water Association has already developed a model bottled water code and would be happy to work with ministry officials to ensure that thorough regulation of bottled water becomes a reality.
In closing, I want to emphasize the urgency of immediate action to ensure that the bottled water consumed by the people of Ontario meets appropriate standards for purity and quality. Bill 61, the Ontario Water Resources Amendment Act, provides the means to this end.
Mr Adams: I am delighted to be able to participate in this debate, particularly because one of my colleagues on this side of the House is the member for Scarborough Centre (Miss Nicholas) and, as all members of the House know, she has unparalleled experience in the waters of Ontario.
The proposed bill of the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) certainly has some merit. Increasing numbers of Ontarians are buying and consuming various brands of bottled waters for a variety of reasons. They may believe they are buying a pure source of water or they may simply prefer the taste of carbonated water over tap water. Frequently, bottled water is consumed in restaurants as a noncalorie, nonalcoholic drink. Certainly, as the member says, the public is entitled to feel confident that the quality of bottled water is at least comparable to that of tap water.
Bottled water, as the member for Mississauga South said, is regulated in Canada by the federal Department of National Health and Welfare which is responsible for its examination, analysis and control. The federal food directorate of the health protection branch checks bottled waters for compliance with federal regulations. They define spring water as potable water from underground sources or springs, not municipal waters, containing less than 1,000 milligrams per litre total dissolved mineral salts. Mineral waters contain in excess of 1,000 milligrams per litre total dissolved mineral salts.
According to federal criteria, these waters may be produced domestically or imported and may be ozonated prior to bottling. Aside from carbonation and fluoride up to one part per million, the waters may contain no chemical additives. The source of the waters must be bacteriologically pure and the bottled water must not contain any coliform organisms, that is to say, as determined by standard methods of analysis. The water should have a total bacterial count not exceeding 100 organisms per millilitre.
Testing for compliance with these regulations is carried out on a spot-check basis by the federal food directorate, either from samples obtained at the retail level or from the bottling plant. However, analysis is not carried out for some important heavy metals, organic substances such as pesticides, radioactive substances or specific bacteria other than the coliforms that I mentioned.
It is clear that the federal regulations do not control the quality of bottled water as comprehensively as the provincial drinking water objectives control our municipal water supplies. Ontario has health-related and aesthetic drinking water objectives for no fewer than 49 parameters. The Ministry of the Environment also uses guidelines set by other agencies, including the World Health Organization and the US Environmental Protection Agency, to assess the quality of this province’s drinking water.
The Ontario drinking water surveillance program is a monitoring program providing immediate, reliable, current information on drinking water quality. When I use the word “current,” there is no pun intended. Raw, treated and distributed water is currently being monitored at 55 water supply systems. Analysis for up to 180 parameters is carried out monthly at each water system, including microbiological, organic and inorganic substances as well as process parameters.
In 1987, for example, when 43 water systems were being tested, more than 18,300 tests for metals such as lead, copper, iron and zinc were carried out on treated and distributed water. Over 32,600 analyses for pesticides were completed at the same time, as well as approximately 24,000 tests for volatile substances. Tests of this sort are not carried out by the federal government on bottled water.
At each water supply system, water samples are obtained for both raw and treated water and generally at two sites in the distribution system. At all distribution system locations, two types of samples are obtained: a standing-water sample and a free-flow sample.
The standing sample consists of water that has been in the household plumbing and service connections for a minimum of six hours. These samples are used to make an assessment of the amount by which the levels of inorganic compounds and metals may be changed by standing in the plumbing system.
The drinking water surveillance program was initiated in 1986 at 22 locations and expanded to 43 in 1989. It is presently under way in 55 locations and will eventually include all municipal drinking water supplies in this province. Currently, nearly 75 per cent of the 7.2 million people in Ontario who receive water from piped municipal systems are covered under the drinking water surveillance program.
Results from the program have been used in the preparation of a report published by the Canadian Public Health Association entitled A Comprehensive Survey of the Status of Great Lakes Drinking Water. Data have also been supplied to epidemiologists from other government agencies and universities carrying out research into the effects of drinking water on human health. They are also supplied to consultants, the public and, of course. municipalities. I understand the most up-to-date annual reports are now being finalized and will be published later this fall.
Most of the municipal drinking water in Ontario is treated through coagulation filtration, and chlorine is used as the disinfectant of choice. The Ministry of the Environment is also investigating some innovative treatment techniques. For example, a Niagara Falls pilot plant study is addressing specific contaminant removals through the use of granular activated carbon. As well, a water plant optimization study was implemented in 1986 to ensure that the water treatment plants throughout the province are applying treatment technologies which provide maximum protection for householders. This study is currently in place in 41 locations. The study will result in a manual for individual utilities on operation and design criteria, as well as practical recommendations for individual plants.
The Ministry of the Environment has also carried out and funded a number of research projects to investigate water disinfection processes, including a study of ozonation as an alternative to chlorination for drinking water. The Ministry of the Environment research staff continues to keep abreast of European and United States work currently under way to ensure that duplication of effort is minimized and that state-of-the-art technology is being applied here in Ontario.
While an intensive monitoring program such as the drinking water surveillance program may not be necessary for the regulation of bottled water products, it would certainly be prudent for the federal government, and specifically for Health and Welfare Canada, to step up its surveillance program to encompass more parameters than are currently tested. The province would certainly urge the federal government to carry out its mandate and improve its regulation of this most basic food product.
I would say that I personally am in favour of this motion, but I would not like to see our resources channelled away from quality municipal water to quality bottled water.
Mrs Grier: Let me start by saying that I am a little surprised by the concluding remarks of the member for Peterborough. He says that he supports this bill but does not want to see our efforts channelled away from maintaining our better water supplies. Let me point out to the member that we would not need a bill like this and we would not have a large and growing industry in bottled water if the people of the province had confidence in this government’s attempts to provide safe drinking water for everybody in the province, not just for those who can afford to buy bottled water.
This is the kind of legislation that we wish we did not have to have but that we, on this side, support in the absence of any legislated standards for drinking water, regardless of its source for all the people of this province. I have tabled on a number of occasions a safe drinking water act as a private member’s bill from our party, which indicates we would like to be able to guarantee people in this province that they have a right to safe drinking water, that there are legislated standards, that they have redress if, in fact, their drinking water proves to he contaminated and that they know whom they can hold responsible if they find their drinking water is contaminated, is unhealthy or is causing problems that have not yet been identified. We do not have such standards.
If this bill passes and if it has the support of the other side and becomes law, then we will have standards for bottled water and we will not have legislated standards for municipal water supplies or for well water. I find that a little ironic. When we raise this question, as we have done as recently as discussion of estimates with the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), he has two responses. One is that he would much rather clean up the sources of our drinking water, get at the sources of the problem and clean up the supply than legislate standards; second, that under the increased surveillance and the testing that has been described by the member for Peterborough, it is not as necessary to have drinking water standards as he thought it was when he was in opposition, at which time, of course, he supported a safe drinking water act for the province of Ontario.
Let’s look at the minister’s efforts to clean up the sources of contamination of our drinking water. The minister always mentions the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement. MISA was announced in 1986 as the answer to all of our water quality problems, an answer that was to be in place and completed by 1989. We are now near the end of 1989 and, lo and behold, we do not have yet, under MISA, one single regulation requiring compliance with the MISA standards, and we will not have a completed MISA program until, at the best guess, 1992.
This government seems to be content to await efforts to get at the sources of contamination of drinking water for ever rather than to give that the sense of priority that we feel it ought to have.
The second thrust of the government’s policies, of course, is the increased surveillance and testing. But I think it is useful to note what the Provincial Auditor said just last year when he examined the drinking water surveillance program that the member for Peterborough has just enunciated. What the auditor said was: “The ministry’s monitoring and control procedures to ensure water is treated in accordance with ministry requirements were weak. There was incomplete information on the quality of drinking water. Most water treatment plants were not regularly inspected by environmental officers to ensure compliance with legislation and ministry requirements.”
He went on to say: “When asked about the lack of inspectors in certain Ministry of the Environment regions, regional staff responded that if there had been a serious problem, they would have taken appropriate action. Yet, this could occur only after they were informed of the problem via the Ministry of the Environment laboratory.” The auditor said: “It is imprudent to restrict inspections to situations where problems have already been identified, since the purpose of regular inspections is primarily preventive and protective.”
I could not agree more and I think that indicates a real lack of confidence in the drinking water surveillance program that this government has put in place. It is obvious that the public shares that lack of confidence, because the public, as the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) has pointed out, is voting with its dollars to buy bottled drinking water.
This will have the effect of creating two classes of people, those who can afford to buy bottled water and perhaps assure themselves that their drinking water is safe, and those of us who drink it from the tap and always have in the back of our minds the cumulative effects of the minute quantities of toxics that we know are in that drinking water. With 200 different toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes, we know that there are bound to be elements of those toxics in our drinking water.
If we do not take our drinking water from the Great Lakes, if we take if from wells or other sources across the province, can we be any more assured that our drinking water is of a high standard? I think the answer to that is also no.
Just last year the Minister of the Environment released a report looking at the effects of pesticides on drinking water supplies. The minister admitted that weed and bug-killing compounds were found in rural areas in southern Ontario from Lindsay to near Windsor in half of 42 wells and 13 of 18 municipal, treated water supplies tested. Many of them were cancer-linked substances such as alachlor, although they were below levels considered unacceptable by the federal Department of National Health and Welfare.
The minister stated when he released that report, “This study shows that the decades-old trend of increasing use of pesticides is threatening our drinking water.” If we are acknowledging that our drinking water supplies are threatened, whether they be from the Great Lakes or from other sources, surely the kind of standards that are contemplated in the legislation before us today are required not only for bottled water but also for public water supplies.
There seems to be an indication in the comments of the member for Peterborough that somehow this is a federal responsibility. That is arrant nonsense and one of the greatest of the copouts that we have seen from this government over issues of the environment. Surely the provision of drinking water is very clearly within the purview of the provincial government and the responsibility of setting standards for that is a responsibility the provincial government ought to assume.
It is now six years since Pollution Probe issued a report called Drinking Water: Make it Safe, a report that looked primarily at drinking water supplies in the city of Toronto and that caused a great deal of concern because of its findings about the variety of toxic chemicals that were in treated water, the effects of the chlorination of drinking water and the creation of new hazardous compounds. Nothing much has happened since that report came out other than increased monitoring, increased surveillance and greater knowledge about the number of chemicals that are found in our drinking water.
There has been no leadership from the provincial Ministry of the Environment in setting the standards that I have already said are called for or in taking the lead in looking at bottled water. As the member for Mississauga South has made clear, more and more people are turning to bottled water, yet there seems to be no willingness on the part of this government to show leadership in assuring those people that their bottled water is any safer than the water from public supplies.
Once again, the environmental protection office at the city of Toronto is showing the way to this government, because a very extensive study is currently being carried out by that department, looking at 66 brands of bottled water. That is the number of brands that are available on the market in Metropolitan Toronto. They are looking for almost 150 different compounds and they are examining the point of use. They are going into a number of homes and looking at the effect of the devices that are put on the end of the tap and seeing how effective they are in protecting our drinking water.
That study is going to be released early in 1990. I hope this ministry will examine its results carefully and will take action, not only to protect all of our drinking water supplies from public sources, but also to follow through on the initiative of the member for Mississauga South to protect those people who have chosen to buy bottled water so that they too can be assured that their drinking water is safe.
I support this bill very warmly and hope it receives support from all sides of the House.
Mr Jackson: I am very pleased to be given an opportunity to rise and debate on a private member’s bill, Bill 61, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act, which has been brought forward by our distinguished colleague the member for Mississauga South, who really has established her awareness and her sensitivity for environmental concerns, not only prior to her arrival here in the Legislature, with her commitment to educational programs and the work in her own community of Mississauga, but also here as the Environment critic for the Progressive Conservative Party. It is no surprise then that this has become a very important issue, and it is her first private bill of this newest session.
I believe this piece of legislation, which would ensure that the same standards of water quality testing that are applied to municipal water sources should also be applied to bottled water sources, is long overdue in our province, so I commend the member for bringing it forward.
Members in this House will certainly recognize that in the last 20 years or so we have witnessed the rise of two factors, a rise in consumer awareness and a rise in the environmental protection movement. These two movements have certainly not developed independently of one another, but each has influenced the other in deepening our understanding of how we are affected by the results of our chemical tampering with the natural environment.
What we see happening today is what we might call a popular consumer distrust of what is chemical or what has been brought under the influence of chemical contaminants of any kind. Modern consumers today have clearly demonstrated their concern for the potential dangers to human health which often lurk, frequently undetected, in various products which they use in their everyday lives by their consumer choices for various products which they consume. People no longer accept purely on faith the assurance of companies that what they are selling is healthy and obviously poses no long-term health risks or the threatening of their own personal wellbeing or that of their children.
I can say from a personal perspective that as a legislator and as an awaiting parent that both Elaine and I were concerned. Our unborn daughter at the time, Amy, was very fortunate to have a mother who was very committed to ensuring that Amy’s life chances were enhanced as much as possible. She was not smoking, she was not drinking, she watched her diet, and yet when we came to the consumption of water, we realized we had limited confidence in the municipal water source, and I think we had every right to feel that way. None the less, that was our decision as citizens of this province, that we had limited confidence in our water supply, so we sought out bottled water as an alternative leading up to, during and subsequent to the pregnancy.
We realized very clearly that all we had were assurances from companies, different coding. There was a whole series of problems associated with our consumer choices which we felt that we should be empowered to be able to make intelligently. So again, from a personal point of view, I want to thank the member for Mississauga South for her initiative.
This is an initiative which consumers and consumer groups have taken all across this province. It is laudable and it is very supportable. In a society where lifestyles are often in a state of flux, the natural or often holistic approach to what we do in life has emerged with greater interest and greater strength.
The popularity which holistic approaches such as naturopathy enjoy today is just one additional indication among others of the strength and maturity of consumer decision-making and consumer awareness, back along sort of the back-to-nature movement or, as I say, a more natural approach to consumption.
The consumer awareness movement has also affected the readiness with which we perform the normal, nonreflexive task of turning on our kitchen tap water and pouring ourselves a glass of what we presume to be clear and clean water. Today, we are all aware of the immense natural and human catastrophe of water pollution. We see films and read books of the deteriorating quality of our water in our Great Lakes. We see signs, petitions, protests because of the pollution of our Great Lakes. We view pictures of the effects of chemical contamination on birds and wildlife and the fish that we ultimately consume.
The public perception is clear and the public is alarmed and the public does react, even if only by making consumer choices. Quite frankly, consumers have been turning more and more to bottled water as an option over tap water.
Again, municipal water quality standards may or may not serve as an adequate assurance for the safety of tap water for human consumption. Or it could be that tap water does not taste good. Finally, it could even be that people buy bottled water because everyone else seems to be doing it. But the fact is, it is being done.
However, an organization such as Pollution Probe, which has done some extensive research on this subject, has also indicated that another problem is developing, which also applies to the other food products as well. That problem has to do with the introduction of chemicals into water so as to purify it or to improve its taste, while at the same time creating new and untested chemical compounds which may prove potentially harmful, if not more so, than those contained in the other, standard sources of water that we drink in this province.
This problem arises more specifically when the question of private water purification companies, rather than bottled water companies, is considered, but it can be said to also indicate clearly the need for regulations which would at least ensure that bottled water in this province meets with the same minimum standards which are applied to municipal water sources. In this way, there will be a uniform standard for most of the water available for public consumption, and perhaps more important, it will mean that should the standard be changed or upgraded in response to scientific data or water quality and testing procedures some time in the future, it would immediately apply to our drinking water supplies completely across the board, including bottled water.
I believe that this legislation and the problem which it addresses raises one further point. That point has to do with an apparent change in how we have come to understand the availability of pure drinking water for all from the standard sources as opposed to specifically bottled water. Clearly the popular shift from using municipal water to bottled water and water purifiers is one which should send a message to local and provincial governments about consumers’ confidence in existing water testing and water purification procedures.
Consumers always have a choice, and will continue to choose bottled and purified water for any number of reasons, but is it not time for governments to start testing their own water quality standards and municipal water purification methods against the recommendations of scientifically based conclusions having to do with the enhanced provision of safer drinking water for all? I believe that such a time has come and that such a project is reasonable, given the state of our engineering technology today and the public will to support it.
Consumer choices of water from varying sources should be protected, but the ensuring of sate drinking water from all sources, including municipal ones, according to updated standards and water purification methods should be a guaranteed right of all citizens in this province.
I close my remarks today by commending my colleague the member for Mississauga South for undertaking her current initiative. It is an important first step in the long journey which lies ahead in the area of consumer and environmental awareness and protection for the citizens of Ontario.
Miss Nicholas: I am standing today to also support the adoption of tougher regulations governing the quality of bottled water. I would like to support my colleague the member for Peterborough in his suggestion that the regulation take place at the federal level, since we are discussing a food product which is distributed and bought by Canadians right across the country. Canadians have the right to expect that foods and beverages available in Canadian stores have been judged to be safe for consumption by the federal Department of National Health and Welfare, and this should hold doubly true for bottled water.
The drinking water provided by Ontario municipalities is certainly subject to a very thorough monitoring and testing process through the drinking water surveillance program. What is just as important is that the Ontario Ministry of the Environment is committed to protecting and improving the quality of the province’s surface and ground water, the sources of our drinking water, Initiatives such as the MISA program, the 17 remedial action plans across the province, the beaches cleanup program and the revision of the model sewer use control bylaw will all serve to ensure a continued high quality of drinking water for people across this province.
The MISA program will lead to new regulations and standards aimed at controlling and reducing pollution, including toxics from municipal and industrial effluents discharging into the environment. MISA establishes a new approach to water pollution in Ontario. Indeed, it is the first systematic water pollution reduction program in the province’s history. MISA adds a regulatory component to enforce effluent standards based on the best available technology economically achievable.
There will be two regulations: a comprehensive effluent monitoring regulation and an abatement regulation. All nine industrial monitoring regulations have been developed. MISA will cover all industries, those discharging directly into the environment and those discharging indirectly to the environment via municipal sewers. Compliance with the abatement limits will clearly be defined. Violations of limits will trigger immediate remedial action and possible prosecution. These limits will be periodically reviewed and lowered to take advantage of technological advances to reduce the toxic discharges even further. Under MISA, we are headed to the virtual elimination of water pollution in Ontario.
A similar process is being followed to impose monitoring and abatement on the thousands of other industries whose discharges are indirect by way of municipal sewer systems. MISA is expected to result in dramatic reductions in the amount of pollution entering our waterways. In the long run, the continuing pressure of MISA and the improvement of pollution control technology will ratchet down the flow of toxic substances from our industries even closer to the zero discharge level. That is good news for commercial fisheries, workers, tourist operators and anyone drawing drinking water downstream.
As a result of the International Joint Commission’s 1985 report on the Great Lakes water quality, Ontario, in co-operation with the federal government, agreed to develop remedial action plans to restore water quality in the 17 Canadian areas of concern. The remedial action plan process incorporates extensive public involvement in all phases of its development, defining water use impairment and water use goals and objectives, evaluating options and preparing the draft plan and, finally, monitoring the implementation of the plan.
The Ministry of the Environment has taken the lead role in the development of remedial action plans and has provided enhanced funding for remedial action plan development. For example, for the 1989-90 fiscal year, the budget is approximately $2.4 million, of which $750,000 is dedicated to public involvement. As a matter of interest, the federal Ministry of the Environment committed only $600,000 to the program for 1989-90.
Ontario is also working jointly with the state of Michigan to develop binational remedial action plans for the St Marys, St Clair and Detroit rivers. From my personal experience of having to live beside one and swim in the other, I am grateful for the programs that are being initiated in this way.
It is clear from these initiatives -- and there are others which I cannot describe in detail at this time -- that protecting, restoring water quality in Ontario is one of my major priorities and also one of this governments. I welcome Bill 61 and concern about bottled water. I know that I had the opportunity with Peter Gzowski once to do a water testing and tasting of quality of bottled water. I had the opportunity to savour all of them. As some of us have the ability perhaps to sample fine wines, I had a chance to sample all our fine bottled waters and chose the selection of mine, which I will leave a mystery today, my favourite bottled water, and it was not even sparkling.
I think that we should assure ourselves that it is safe. I think the member for Mississauga South should be commended for putting forward Bill 61. I can only hope that the idea was not one that she struggled with as she walked through the halls of the Legislature and saw in every corner that we do have bottled water in the Legislature, and perhaps it is not the quality that she would hope or would want to enjoy throughout the province.
So I support the bill. I hope that we would consider it at the federal level rather than just the provincial level. I have enjoyed speaking on Bill 61 this morning.
Mr Charlton: I rise to support Bill 61 as well. I was glad to hear at the very end there the member for Scarborough Centre indicate she will support the bill.
It bothers me somewhat to hear all of this discussion about federal standards. There is certainly nothing wrong with pursuing federal standards so that all Canadians have the right to the same quality in any product that they consume in this society of ours, but Ontario has the ability, has an opportunity to act in the absence of federal action around the question of bottled water. In the absence of federal action, which we can spend a year or perhaps 20 years trying to lobby the federal government to proceed with, we have an opportunity to provide protection for Ontarians through standards that would be developed as a result of Bill 61.
I would like to, for a few moments, because I do not have very much time, just deal with the question of standards which are set out in this bill and how they relate to drinking water in general, not just bottled water. As my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore has mentioned, we have on several occasions introduced private members’ bills for a safe drinking water act in this province. I first introduced that piece of legislation in 1982.
We have no drinking water standards in the province in Ontario. It is time the government members started to understand that. We have what are referred to as water quality objectives. and they are precisely that -- objectives. We have not yet obtained those objectives.
There is no enforceable standard and, second, even if we had an enforceable standard, the citizens of this province have no clear right or ability to enforce that standard. So in addition to the question of standards -- and we support the standards that are set out in this bill -- we need a right on the part of the citizens of Ontario to ensure that they have access to those standards once it is passed.
I hate to be the cynical one in this debate, but we have seen government in this province, we have seen government in other provinces and we have seen government nationally set regulations and standards in a variety of areas and then allow exemptions and exclusions from those standards and regulations. The present government may very well be committed to cleaning up the problems in our water sources in Ontario. That has nothing to do with the pressures that may be brought to bear on future governments to allow things to happen that are not presently happening or that are eliminated over the course of the next few years. That is why we need standards and that is why we need the right on the part of Ontario citizens to ensure, when their government does fail them, that they have the right to enforce those standards.
Bill 61 deals specifically with bottled water. I support the bill and the standards it proposes because perhaps it will be the first step to having overall clean drinking water standards in Ontario. One of the realities we have to face is that although some people drink bottled water for aesthetic reasons, because of taste questions, the burgeoning in the bottled water industry is as a result of people’s lack of confidence in our municipal drinking water supplies. That lack of confidence is not misplaced.
We have done a bad job of protecting the environment in Ontario. We have seen all kinds of chemicals introduced into that environment and into our water supplies and there are serious questions about our ability to remove all those chemicals. On the other hand, there is not an ability in Ontario, or worldwide, to provide all the residents of this province with bottled water, even once we have put in place legislation to ensure its safety. So we have to do both jobs and perhaps this can be the start of a move down that road.
The Speaker: The member for Mississauga South wishes to wind up or wind down the debate.
Mrs Marland: I want to express at the summation now, my appreciation for the support of this bill this morning, which I am sure in a few moments is going to he demonstrated by a unanimous vote of this House. I do appreciate the fact that the government members and the official opposition members who have spoken support Bill 61. I think it is very significant that we are jointly sharing in the responsibility of the protection of the public, which is simply what Bill 61 is about.
One area that I did not address in the bill, but which I think would be worthwhile addressing through regulations to this bill -- I must give credit, actually, for this comment to the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr Faubert). His comment to me, which is something I have thought of in the past but did not think of earlier is week or today in my earlier comments to the House, is that through regulation I hope the government will see a way of mandating and requiring the bottlers of water to have some kind of recyclable bottle.
The fact of the matter is that today bottled water comes in any number of sizes, shapes and types of plastic, and that is a concern, I think, that all of us in this House share. I know that we support recycling: we certainly do not support increasing the volumes of plastic and shapes and sizes of plastic bottles that have to be disposed of through the public waste stream. So I hope that will be something that the minister will look at when they draft the regulations for the bill. And then we will combine everything.
We will combine the protection of the members of the public who choose to buy bottled water, and I emphasize again that my family and I are drinking the public tap water and I am very confident in the public tap water, which receives over 1,300 tests annually. I feel that if people have a choice to do everything else in life, then it is up to them to choose whether they buy bottled water. We just want to be sure that if they do make that choice, they are protected, and that is at this bill will do.
So I will look forward to the vote on this hill and at that time I will ask for the bill to be referred to the standing committee on resources development.
The Speaker: It appears that completes the debate on both private members’ ballot items. so we will deal first with ballot item 23, private member’s notice of motion 21, Mr Hampton’s resolution.
NATIVE POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
The Speaker: Mr Hampton has moved resolution 21.
Motion agreed to.
ONTARIO WATER RESOURCES AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
The Speaker: We will now deal with Mrs Marland’s motion for second reading of Bill 61. I would advise the House that I have not received a petition signed by one third of the members objecting to a vote on this item. However, I still will ask whether there are any members opposed to a vote on this motion.
Motion agreed to.
Mrs Marland: May I request that this bill be referred to the resources development committee?
The Speaker: The request has been made. I will have to --
Mrs E. J. Smith: I believe that it has been requested that it could be effectively dealt with in committee of the whole House.
The Speaker: Order. I believe our standing orders state that a private member’s bill will go to committee of the whole House unless a majority of the House wishes it to go to some other committee. The request has been made and I understand there is an objection to it. Therefore, will have to put the question to the members in the House. I hope you will recall we have done this on one or two previous occasions.
Ayes 14; nays 29.
The Speaker: The request has been denied and it will go to committee of the whole House.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole.
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We would be happy to give unanimous consent to go into committee of the whole immediately.
The Speaker: That is very nice. However, I must remind the member the clock is not moving as swiftly as it should. It is now after 12 o’clock so I will now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30.
The House recessed at 1202.
The House resumed at 1330.
PRIVATE BOARDING AND LODGING HOMES
Mr Reville: This week, two people were sentenced to terms in jail for their role in abusing vulnerable people. One was sentenced to jail for five and a half years and the other was sentenced for four months. These two people had systematically abused, both physically and emotionally, very vulnerable people who had been discharged from the Queen Street Mental Health Centre and sent to be looked after in a private boarding and lodging home. I assume that the sentences were appropriate.
The culprit that has been left out of my story so far, of course, is the Ministry of Health, which discharged the people to the care of these boarding and lodging homes. The 23 people involved in the Cedar Glen matter are only 23 of literally tens of thousands of people who are developmentally handicapped, psychiatrically disabled or simply frail and elderly, who exist in circumstances similar to this throughout the province. I think it is long past time when a full investigation of the private boarding and lodging home industry is done by this government.
Mr Harris: Last Wednesday, on one day alone, there were six accidents at the intersection of the two major cross-Canada highways, Highway 11 and Highway 17, at North Bay. Why? Because after years and years of lobbying, despite many accidents and despite letters and petitions to this Liberal administration, this government refuses to build a flyover interchange at the intersection of the two major cross-Canada highways crossing through my community.
What I would like to know is how this government can find $143 million to subsidize and give to the large insurance companies but we cannot find less than one per cent of that amount to build an overpass to avoid six accidents in one day, to avoid accident after accident over the last number of years since the four lanes on Highway 11 opened?
At a time when we -- residents of North Bay, the chamber of commerce, the city council -- are told, “The traffic count doesn’t justify it; that is how these things are determined,” the traffic count is 61 per cent higher than at the flyover that is being built currently in Huntsville at the interchange of Highway 60 and Highway 11. We demand action now.
CANADIAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION
Mr Velshi: I would like to take this opportunity to inform this House, on behalf of the Canadian Diabetes Association, that November is designated for its annual fund-raising appeal.
Diabetes is Canada’s third largest cause of death, with the incidence increasing each year. Over one million Canadians have diabetes. In Toronto alone, over 100,000 individuals are afflicted. It affects five per cent of our workforce and is estimated to cost the Canadian economy over $2.5 billion each year.
The Canadian Diabetes Association is a national, independent, self-financing organization. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life for all those affected by diabetes by being the leading force in research, service advocacy and education.
Remember, insulin is not a cure. Please help the Canadian Diabetes Association find one.
I would like to recognize three representatives of the Canadian Diabetes Association who are here in the House today. They are Ruth Schwartz, a fund-raising co-ordinator, Mabel Hurgott and Eva Goodger, who are volunteers.
Mr Wildman: In 1984 the Department of National Health and Welfare instituted a study of mining communities in Ontario and Quebec to determine how the incidence of cancers and other diseases compared in those mining communities to the national average. That study was published in 1986.
The study indicated that in Elliot Lake there was a significant increase in obstructive lung disease and ovarian cancer among women. However, the author of the study, Dr Yang Mao of the federal department, indicated the sample in Elliot Lake was not large enough to get definitive findings and he suggested a follow-up study. For some reason, the Department of National Health and Welfare has failed to act on the recommendation of Dr Yang Mao.
In response to that. I suggested that the provincial Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), in her capacity as the minister responsible for protecting the health of Ontario residents, do a follow-up study in Elliot Lake, an epidemiological study, to find out if Dr Mao’s findings were correct and if they were, what should be done to try to lower the incidence of cancer in Elliot Lake.
For some reason, the Minister of Health does not take this seriously and is not following up on the study, so the uncertainty in Elliot Lake continues.
Mr McLean: Mr Speaker, my statement today concerns my private member’s bill, Bill 7, An Act respecting Heritage Day, which received second reading on 25 May 1989. You will no doubt recall that Bill 7 would name the third Monday in the month of February as Heritage Day. I believe it is important that my private member’s bill receives third reading and royal assent because Ontario’s heritage is about our past, our future and our present. That means it is about the kind of province and the quality of life we will all have in the future.
Ontario is a growing community of people from many generations, many countries and many cultures. This is a community of people we should appreciate and celebrate on the third day of February each year. It is a legacy we must focus our attention on and a legacy that deserves improving and enhancing for our future. By proclaiming Heritage Day in Ontario we would increase awareness of the scope and value of our heritage and cultural resources, and encourage all participants to preserve, promote, protect and develop their diverse heritage and cultures.
I look forward to receiving the support of all members of this Legislature to ensure that Bill 7 receives speedy passage so we can all celebrate Heritage Day in February 1990, which coincidentally marks the fifth anniversary of Heritage Week celebration in Ontario.
Mr Adams: Sadly, links between the generations are not so strong as they were. For various reasons, young and old do not mix as they once did. Interlink is an intergenerational program that brings together old adults and young children through the celebration of words and music.
I attended an lnterlink event in Peterborough. A choir composed of seniors and elementary school students entertained with songs and recitations. It was clear that rehearsals for this fine evening had developed a close rapport between the older and younger members of the choir. Their enthusiastic performance, obvious friendship and mutual respect extended that rapport to the audience. Both Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary schools have been involved.
Through Interlink, the young benefit from the experience and patience of the old; seniors benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of youth. Interlink was founded by Thelma Edelstone. It was brought to Peterborough by the county board of education, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the city recreation division, Fleming College and the Kinsmen. I commend this program to all members as a fine way of enriching of their communities.
I close with a verse from Bill Beaith, a senior member of Inlerlink:
Young and older as you pass by:
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so may you be.
Prepare, young people, to follow me.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES
Mr Wildman: This government, quite rightly, has made a great to-do over the inadequacy of the federal government’s approach to transportation and the demands or suggestions that have been made by the federal government to cut back on the rail passenger service in this country.
Ironically, at the same time that the provincial Liberal government is criticizing the federal Tory government, the provincial Liberal government is proposing to cut back on the passenger service in the Ontario Northland Railway. Talk about hypocrisy. On the one hand, it is opposed to destroying the federal passenger service that serves the whole country, while at the same time it is cutting hack on the number of trains that serve the northeast and are under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.
Let’s get it right. If it is opposed to them at the federal level, improve the passenger service in Ontario and in northern Ontario and expand the service of Ontario Northland. If the federal government cannot he persuaded to meet its responsibility, take up the slack.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mr Jackson: I wish to bring the House’s attention to an article which appeared in this morning’s Toronto Star entitled “Male Students Mock Anti-Rape Campaign.” I want to share with the House the fact that there have been obscene and violent messages displayed in the men’s residence at Queen’s University in response to the annual “No Means No” campaign against rape, sexual assault and the growing incidence of date rape that is occurring all too frequently at Ontario high schools and campuses.
This government must take this more seriously-- which it did not do yesterday with its announcement of increased publicity only for this crime. This government must realize -- I hope the Attorney General (Mr Scott) does -- that we have no victims’ rights legislation in this province, whereby victims of sexual assault have the right to he interviewed by police of the same gender and the right to he interviewed and to be examined by competent medical staff sensitive to the physical and psychological affects of the violent crime. We must understand that our court system impedes the pursuit of justice for victims of sexual assault because of what the courts’ attitudes have been traditionally.
We should remind the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) that he was asked specifically to include a 14th goal of education in this province that would develop an awareness of those stereotypes and assumptions that contribute to the unequal position of women in contemporary society. Unless he gives meaning to this, women in this province will continue to be vulnerable because of male attitudes as offensive as were displayed in Kingston yesterday.
SUTTON WEST DISTRICT LIONS CLUB
Mr Ballinger: My wife, Donna, and I recently had the pleasure of attending the Sutton West District Lions Club charter meeting in the town of Georgina, one of the five member municipalities in my riding of Durham-York. Lions Club members from communities across southern Ontario were in attendance to help celebrate this very special occasion.
What was so special about this particular charter evening was that this was the newest Lions Club to accept both male and female members into its club. In total, 26 men and women from Sutton accepted the oath of membership from past district governor Ernie Stefaniuk.
International director Gil Constantini praised the Sutton West District Lions Club for having accepted the challenge of Lionism and for including women members into the Lions organization. He also predicted that women would become more and more an integral part of Lions.
Lions, he said, have the ability to effect change around this world, which in turn benefits all mankind. Mr Constantini also pointed out that Lions Clubs are growing in numbers behind the Iron Curtain, in countries such as Poland, Hungary and Estonia.
In accepting the charter from international past district governor Tom Barker, charter club president Wayne Woods thanked the Mount Albert Lions Club for sponsoring the Sutton West club and indicated how extremely proud the new club was to he a member of the Lions international family.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, there has been an agreement by all three parties that each would make statements with regard to the constitutional accord.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
1987 CONSTITUTIONAL ACCORD / ACCORD CONSTITUTIONNEL DE 1987
Hon Mr Scott: Last week a legislative committee in New Brunswick and a task force in Manitoba issued reports and proposed recommendations to their governments respecting ratification of the 1987 constitutional accord or, as it is commonly called, the Meech Lake accord.
At about the same time, the Premier of Newfoundland circulated a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada containing his observations on a number of substantive issues with regard to the accord. It is my understanding that these observations of Premier Wells will in due course lead to a set of proposals from Newfoundland for modifications to Meech Lake.
With the publication of the New Brunswick and Manitoba reports, the two provinces that have not yet passed the Meech Lake resolution have now set out their reactions to the accord. With the end of this phase, it is appropriate for Ontario to respond to these reports.
I will be pleased to table today an assessment prepared by my ministry of the Manitoba and New Brunswick reports. On the basis of this assessment, I propose to comment briefly on the reports and on their implications for the future of constitutional evolution in Canada, bearing in mind that these are reports Manitoba and New Brunswick made to the premiers of their respective provinces and may not reflect the final position adopted by those premiers and those governments.
The views expressed by Premier Wells in his letter also deserve careful consideration and a detailed response. but it would be unjust to address Newfoundland’s position prior to the release by its Premier of its formal proposals.
The Meech Lake accord is itself a phase in the ongoing process of constitutional renewal in Canada. Its immediate source is the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982. That historic event was achieved without the concurrence of Quebec and over its profound objections.
As a result, despite the promise made in Ottawa and in numerous provincial capitals of a renewed federalism, which featured prominently in the Quebec referendum of 1980, patriation and the entrenchment of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms were both accomplished without the formal agreement of a province that represents more than a quarter of the population of our country.
Faced with this reality, it was widely recognized that any further constitutional progress depended on a constitutional reconciliation with Quebec and on its return to full and willing participation in the Canadian constitutional family.
To undertake that process in the spring of 1986, the government of Quebec circulated widely five proposals for securing Quebec’s willing assent to the Constitution. These five points were: (1) recognition of Quebec as a distinct society; (2) a greater provincial role in immigration; (3) a provincial role in appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada; (4) limitations on the federal spending power in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction; and (5) a veto for Quebec on constitutional amendments.
These five proposals, when they were made, were greeted positively throughout Canada as a most reasonable basis for renewing Canadian federalism.
In August 1986, the premiers of all the provinces and the Prime Minister, meeting in Edmonton, agreed to limit the next round of constitutional negotiation to Quebec’s proposals and to defer other constitutional issues to subsequent rounds.
This so-called Quebec round of constitutional negotiations culminated, almost a year later, in meetings first at Meech Lake and then at the Langevin Block. The result, unanimously agreed to by the first ministers of Canada and its 10 provinces, was the Meech Lake accord.
I have dwelt at some length on the events leading up to the Meech Lake accord because it is only by keeping this background in mind that one can understand and assess the agreement that was reached.
The Meech Lake accord was the result of a recognition that securing Quebec’s active and willing participation in the constitutional process was a necessary prerequisite or precondition for any further constitutional development in the country.
It was based on a general agreement as to the basic reasonableness and acceptability of Quebec’s five proposals for achieving that participation, and the accord was made possible by a decision to limit the subject matter of that round of negotiations in so far as possible to these proposals and matters arising from them.
It follows that assessment of the unanimous accord produced by the Quebec round must take place in the context of the history and the process that produced it.
The first point to note in this regard is that the agreement was reached and a series of constitutional adjustments responsive to Quebec’s five proposals were arrived at. The Meech Lake accord does not settle once and for all the outstanding constitutional issues facing Canada nor does it correspond in all its detail to the position most favourable to any province. The accord is clearly a compromise. None of the participants, including Quebec, was successful in achieving all of its goals.
The first question that a Legislature considering the accord must ask itself is whether it agrees with the overall goal of securing national constitutional reconciliation based on Quebec’s five proposals. If the answer is yes, then recognizing that the accord constitutes a compromise among many different parties with many different interests, the next question is whether any aspects of this particular compromise are so fundamentally flawed as to make it impossible to ratify the accord without immediate change, so that we can go on to the next round.
There is no impropriety in pointing out imperfections and in suggesting improvements to the accord, but if such improvements do not attract unanimous approval then, given the importance of the fundamental goal of constitutional reconciliation, no party should without very great care and thought for our future as a nation make them preconditions to its agreement to the accord as a whole.
It is in this context that the select committee of our Legislature that studied the accord described it as “an enormously important piece of unfinished business in Canada’s constitutional history,” and although our committee concluded that there were improvements that could be made in subsequent rounds, it recommended that the accord be ratified by the Legislature in its existing form, as indeed it was.
In the same context, I can inform members that in my judgement neither the New Brunswick nor the Manitoba report identifies any fundamental flaws that would justify reopening the accord, but that several of the preconditions for ratification proposed by Manitoba strike directly at the heart of the accord and would amount to a rejection of the very principles upon which it is based.
Turning first to the report of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly to its Premier and its government, it is important to note that all of its observations and recommendations are made in the context of an acceptance of Quebec’s five proposals and a recognition of the crucial importance of securing the overall goal of national constitutional reconciliation that underlies the exercise.
The New Brunswick report contains a number of observations on what that committee considers to be shortcomings or oversights in the accord. Some of these observations correspond to observations made by our own select committee; others find no parallel in the Ontario select committee report, and indeed some of the proposed modifications in New Brunswick would likely be unacceptable in Ontario. All these recommendations from New Brunswick, however, are put forward as a basis for discussion for proposed improvement and not necessarily as preconditions for securing New Brunswick’s assent to the accord as a whole. On this basis, the concerns identified by New Brunswick can and should form the subject matter of ongoing discussions, that like the concerns and proposals raised by Ontario and others will form part of the continuing process of constitutional evolution.
The report of the Manitoba task force to its Premier and government proceeds entirely differently. Although stating support for the overall goal in the accord of constitutional reconciliation, the Manitoba report recommends that approval of the accord be withheld unless six specific changes are made as a precondition. As I have stated, it is my view that none of these six recommended changes address fundamental flaws that would just reopen the accord, but several would go directly to its heart and would in effect reject three of the five proposals on which the accord is premised.
The first of Quebec’s five proposals is recognition of its distinct society. This proposal is addressed through that part of the accord that deals with linguistic duality and distinct society.
The clear purpose of that clause is to respond to Quebec’s proposal that it be recognized as a distinct society while safeguarding the rights of linguistic minorities both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada, and without changing the division of powers under the Constitution.
It is important to emphasize that this clause does not confer any new powers on the province of Quebec. This was the conclusion reached by the Ontario select committee and I am pleased to note that this conclusion is not contradicted by either the Manitoba task force or the New Brunswick committee.
Although the Manitoba task force states its support for recognizing Quebec’s distinct society, it recommends that the clause not be ratified unless three specific changes are made. As I have suggested, in assessing these proposed changes it is necessary to consider whether they respond to fundamental flaws and beyond that, whether they would be consistent with the principle underlying the accord of effective constitutional recognition of Quebec’s distinct society.
The first proposal from Manitoba recommends withholding assent unless the list of fundamental characteristics referred to in this clause is expanded beyond the recognition of Canada’s linguistic duality and Quebec’s distinct society. No doubt, as the Ontario select committee noted, it would be symbolically appropriate and, indeed, preferable that the list of fundamental characteristics of Canada be fuller and more comprehensive.
The purpose, however, of this particular clause is not to list all the fundamental characteristics of Canada but merely to identify and give constitutional recognition to two characteristics that have not previously been entrenched as interpretive principles.
Other possible fundamental characteristics, including multiculturalism and aboriginal rights, are already recognized in other clauses of the Constitution. Bearing in mind the purpose of this clause, the omission of a fuller list is surely not a fundamental flaw.
A second objection raised to the linguistic duality/distinct society provisions in the Manitoba report relates to the nonderogation clause. This provision specifies that nothing in that clause is meant to derogate from multiculturalism as an interpretive principle, not from existing aboriginal rights and treaties recognized in the Constitution.
The worst that can be said about this proposal is, as numerous constitutional scholars have noted, that it is redundant since there is nothing in the accord capable of derogating from the constitutional protections of multiculturalism and aboriginal rights. The Manitoba task force, however, recommends that the accord not be ratified unless the derogation provision is expanded to include the Canadian Charter of Rights.
Canadian courts are already using the concept of the distinctness of Quebec society as an interpretive tool with regard to the Canadian Charter of Rights, especially when they come to consider, as the Constitution requires them to do, whether a particular provision is demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.
The Manitoba task force proposal would prevent courts from looking at Quebec’s distinct society in such circumstances. In other words, not only is the Manitoba proposal not addressed to a fundamental flaw in the accord, its result would be to overturn the status quo and leave Quebec with less legal recognition of its distinct society than it now enjoys.
A similar observation may be made with regard to the recommendation to withhold ratification unless Quebec’s role is described as “upholding” rather than, as at present, “preserving and promoting” its distinct identity. Given that the existing clause does not confer any new powers on Quebec, this change either has no impact and is therefore not addressed to a fundamental flaw or it represents an attempt to take away something already enjoyed by Quebec. In that case, it too would be inconsistent with the basic principles underlying the accord.
A second major principle among Quebec’s original proposals was a limitation on the spending power as applied to shared cost programs. In such programs, whose constitutionality has never been tested, the federal government initiates programs in areas that the Constitution assigns exclusively to the provinces and provides a portion of the funding. The benefits to the provinces of federal funding are obvious, but in order to enjoy these benefits, a province must either accept priorities and provisions different from those it might choose for itself, or risk losing federal assistance.
If the province decides not to participate, its citizens will see a portion of the federal income tax they pay spent elsewhere by Ottawa on a social program from which they derive no benefit at all.
The solution proposed by the accord is for the first time to confirm the right of the federal government to set national objectives in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction, but to balance such right with the right of a province, not only to opt out of the program but also so long as it institutes a program of its own that is compatible with national objectives set by Ottawa, to be entitled to compensation from the federal government for its tax dollars paid. Far from being an example of a massive and unwarranted transfer of power to the provinces, as has sometimes been claimed, this provision in fact simply proposes modest limits on an extension of federal power into the realm of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
The Manitoba task force report recommends withholding ratification of the accord unless this clause, as a precondition, is deleted from the accord, because it finds the clause “controversial.” The rejection of a provision whose fundamental flaw is never identified in the report amounts to a rejection of any qualification on the federal spending power and would likewise constitute a rejection of a second of Quebec’s five proposals.
We turn to the third proposal. Prior to the patriation of the Constitution in 1982, it was generally thought that Quebec had, by constitutional convention, acquired a right not to have constitutional change imposed on it without its consent. This assumption as a result of the patriation case proved to be incorrect, and under the terms of the Constitution Act of 1982, constitutional amendments in a number of areas are capable of being made on the basis of the consent of the federal government and two thirds of the provinces representing 50 per cent of the population of the country. The accord responds positively but within limits to the essence of Quebec’s proposal to limit such unconsented constitutional change.
The accord recognizes the principle of constitutional change to significant national institutions ought not to be imposed on a province against its will. It also recognizes the principle that all provinces, and not just Quebec, ought to benefit from this right. The accord therefore selects a small class of national institutions and requires that amendments to these be subject to unanimous consent. For all other constitutional amendments, two thirds and 50 per cent remains the general formula.
The Manitoba task force report to its government concludes that a requirement of unanimity will make more difficult the prospect of Senate reform and therefore recommends refusing ratification unless reform of the Senate as a precondition be made subject to the “general” amending requirement, rather than unanimity.
I bring to the members’ attention that other provinces no less committed to Senate reform than Manitoba have concluded that the principle of the equality of all provinces, which is a key component of their vision of Senate reform, requires that all provinces must have an equal right not to have national institutions changed against their will. Many observers have noted that on a practical level no reform of so vital an institution as the Senate can occur without Quebec’s participation, but in any event the Manitoba task force report position would amount to rejection of yet another of Quebec’s five proposals.
The remaining three recommendations for changes to the accord put forth by the Manitoba task force, while not amounting to repudiations of Quebec’s five proposals, nevertheless propose withholding approval of the entire accord unless relatively minor amendments are made to particular provisions as preconditions to that approval. However worthy of consideration and possible future actions such suggestions may be, none can reasonably be characterized as aimed at so fatal a flaw as to justify allowing the accord to fail if it is not adopted as an amendment.
In 1987 a hand of friendship and reconciliation was extended to Quebec by all of Canada in the form of the Meech Lake accord. The accord itself is a balanced set of modest constitutional adjustments that fairly reflect the evolving relationship among all the parties to this confederation. As our own select committee reported, there is room in the accord for improvement and further constitutional development, but without the accord, it is doubtful whether any constitutional growth whatever is possible. That is the spirit in which the Ontario select committee, made up of members of all parties, made its recommendations for future improvements to the accord and to the Constitution.
It is to be hoped that those in New Brunswick and in Manitoba, who have now made us aware of the concerns voiced in various quarters in their provinces, will at this point join in a process of addressing these concerns within the framework of reconciliation embodied in the accord.
It is time for all of us to take careful note of the importance and sensitivity, the point in our nation’s history at which we now find ourselves. It is a moment that requires those who find fault with the compromises in the accord to take careful stock of the seriousness and significance of their concerns and to weigh them realistically against the consequences of turning a moment of national reconciliation into a moment of national estrangement.
It is profoundly to be hoped, I am sure by all of us, that in the weeks and months ahead such reflection will lead to a determination to seize an opportunity that may not soon present itself again, and to assure agreement to the necessary first step in the continuing evolution and improvement of our Constitution and of our nation, which was promised the country in 1980.
Mr B. Rae: I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the Attorney General’s statement and to do so, not at indefinite length, but I hope in a way that does some justice to the issues that he has raised. I do not intend to give the same kind of detailed and, if I may say so, quite effective legal analysis to the various propositions that have been made by both the legislative committees of New Brunswick and Manitoba. What I would rather do is focus on the broader political context in which this discussion has taken place and to comment, if I may, on some of the choices which I see and our caucus sees as facing the country at the present moment.
The issues that are before us are, to put it mildly, difficult ones. I think a great many of us who have been involved in this debate for not just a few months but, indeed, many years understand the depth to which emotions run when we discuss the Constitution of Canada. Because a Constitution is the fundamental law of the country we hope that it reflects the fundamental values that are shared by Canadians, and we would hope that in our Constitution we would have a document that would reflect the very best that is in us and those things that pull us together as a nation.
I think it would be fair to say that prior to 1980 there were many Canadians, and certainly many Canadian lawyers and law students and students of the Constitution, who had to come to terms with the simple reality that the British North America Act fundamentally dealt with one question only, and that was the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government; and that, in effect, the Constitution at that time was frozen in time because it contained a fatal flaw, and that was that there was no provision in the British North America Act allowing it to be amended, allowing it to be patriated to Canada and allowing it to become an expression of Canadian feeling and of Canadian values.
Without going into all the long history which has already been enumerated by many other speakers on this, I think it is important for us to remember that when Mr Trudeau became the Prime Minister, the first ministers came together in Victoria and tried to find an amending formula. They reached an agreement. The agreement fell apart when Mr Bourassa, who at that time was the Premier of Quebec, went back to Quebec and decided that he could not in fact live with what he had originally agreed to.
When Mr Trudeau was re-elected in 1980, he was re-elected with the mandate, he believed, to begin again the process of attempting to patriate the Constitution and, as he also wanted to introduce into our Canadian law and life a Charter of Rights and Freedoms which would reflect our fundamental values as a country, we all understand, I think, and remember what happened at that time.
There was a Parti Québécois government in the province of Quebec. There was considerable debate and emotion within the country on the manner in which the Constitution was patriated. At the end of the day, through a series of negotiations, last-minute understandings, last-minute additions to that Constitution, it was determined that we would in fact get our Constitution. We would in fact have an amending formula. But one fundamental fact about that process of patriation stands out, and that is that the government of Quebec, through its Legislative Assembly, explicitly stated that the Constitution was not being brought back with its voluntary participation.
Now we come to the Meech Lake accord. When it was presented to this House by the Premier (Mr Peterson), and I can remember the day and I am sure many members who were here will remember the day when he returned from Ottawa, he told us what was in the agreement. The Attorney General very kindly came in to brief me in the morning after he had been up all night figuring out what the wording of the first draft was going to be. I expressed on behalf of our party our congratulations to the Premier of Ontario and to all the premiers who had done what I think many of us felt was going to be very difficult to do.
The proposals that came from the government of Quebec, the five that had been talked about and mentioned by many other speakers, were proposals that had been on the table for a long time in one fashion or another, in one way or another, and had never been accepted by other provinces as the basis for a constitutional amendment.
We then had discussions in this House and I can recall the debates that we had. Question period was focused for a few days on this question and we asked the Premier to try to clarify and fight for other amendments and other changes. The Premier went to the Langevin Block a few weeks later and some wording was changed, some rearrangements were made and that produced the document which is now known as the Meech Lake accord.
I have stated on more occasions than I care to think about what I think every member in this House understands about my personal position and the position of, dare I say it, most of us in this caucus, certainly not all of us. I would suspect that if there were a genuinely free vote in this House with respect to our opinions on Meech Lake, we would have a considerable diversity of opinion with respect to the contents of the accord and what might and might not be there.
I do not see anything wrong with the fact that there is a division of opinion within our party on Meech Lake. I would suggest that nationally across the country, there is division of opinion in every party on Meech Lake because, let’s face it, my friends, this country is divided on this question. I think we have to come to terms with that division, and that is what I want to talk about today.
I am in favour of the Meech Lake accord as it now stands. I voted in favour of it, as most of the members of this House did, and I appreciate very much the strength of the case and the capacity to argue which once again the Attorney General has shown. But I say with great respect to him and with great respect to the government that that is not the point at this stage of the discussion.
It is important for us to recognize, I believe, that there are three very different kinds of objections to the Meech Lake accord. I would characterize the opponents of the accord in three groups. This is being very broad-brush and perhaps provocative but, for the sake of argument, I think we need to get some ideas and arguments on the table.
The first opinion that I would say is out there -- and there is no point in denying that it is out there -- the origin of the opposition to Meech Lake is anti-French and anti-Quebec. Let’s call it for what it is. It stems from a sense that has always existed in parts of our country that have never appreciated the French fact, that have never accepted the existence and the rights of the French language and that have never accepted that Quebec is a province in which the French language is going to be predominant.
That anti-French sentiment was, of course, obviously -- and everybody in this place understands it and everybody who thinks about the political situation around the country understands it -- not helped by the decision of Mr Bourassa to invoke the “notwithstanding” clause with respect to the use of English in commercial signs; not helped at all. But there we are. This is Canada, and there you have it. About that opinion, all I can say is this: Any sensible person who cares about what makes Canada Canada cannot possibly take a position that is anti-French or anti-Quebec.
I have no idea how wide, broad or deep that undercurrent of sentiment is. Anybody in public life encounters prejudice and bigotry every day. We know it exists. It is a human sentiment; it is a human failing. It should never ever be entertained or catered to by any respectable politician in the land we call Canada.
There is another kind of opposition which is very different. I think it is expressed perhaps most clearly and cogently, and again with a considerable degree of dialectical skill, by the man whom I had the pleasure of watching in action when I was sitting way down on the side in the House of Commons and he was sitting as Prime Minister of Canada: Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
I would urge all members of the House to read Mr Trudeau’s book on the subject of Meech Lake. It is provocative, it is based on a profound vision of the country and it is based on a rejection of the vision that is contained in the Meech Lake accord. I suggest to this House that that vision is shared by, it would appear, another Premier of this country, that is, Premier Wells of Newfoundland.
In fact, it is well known that Mr Wells, when he was a lawyer, was a constitutional adviser to Mr Trudeau. Certainly if you listen to the arguments that Mr Wells is putting forward against the accord, those arguments are root and branch, they are quite fundamental and they are a rejection of the very notion that one should in any way entertain the five minimum demands, as they have been called, or the five basic propositions of the government of Quebec.
Having watched the Prime Minister, as he then was, in action, as I did, having like most of us lived with his influence over the last 20 or 25 years in our public lives, I can only say that I disagree with Mr Trudeau. I do not think you can have a country called Canada in 1989 which does not recognize the distinctiveness of Quebec.
I do not agree with his view that the Meech Lake accord fundamentally takes away from the powers of the federal government and that it somehow denudes the federal government of any of its power and is an accession on a kind of Munich-like level, as he describes it, to the greedy provincial premiers simply asking constantly for more, more and more. That is not how I read the accord. That is not how I see the accord. That is not how I interpret its effect.
Nevertheless, there is that opinion there. It is an opinion that is expressed in the country. I know it is an opinion that was expressed on many occasions in front of our committee here. It was an opinion that was expressed by many appearing before the Manitoba select committee, and it is an opinion that has a wide influence across the country. We would be dumb to ignore it or pretend that it is not out there and not there as a fundamental intellectual ease against the accord.
The third category or group of people who have expressed views about the Meech Lake accord that are less than completely accepting of the accord is very different. I think they are fundamentally contained in the documents that come to us from Manitoba and New Brunswick and they are contained in the opinions that are expressed by a great many people about the Meech Lake accord. I think they are expressed by my colleagues here who voted against the accord when it was presented because it has flaws in it which they felt were quite fundamental.
What are those flaws? In going through some of these, I want to emphasize this: Not every objection to the accord as it now stands is an objection to Quebec’s five demands, five conditions. I say to the government of Quebec, which I hope is listening: “Do not make the mistake of thinking that every Canadian who has a concern about the Meech Lake accord or who has a view about the Meech Lake accord or who wants something changed, either in the Meech Lake accord or in a companion process of amendments, do not make the mistake of assuming that this is somehow a rejection of any of the five conditions or indeed, more broadly, a rejection of Quebec.”
If the debate is carried on at that level, if the position taken by any government in Canada, including the government of Quebec, is, “You do not like this, therefore you do not like us or you do not like the whole thing,” it is a mistake.
There is one man, one political leader in Canada, who has an interest in doing that. Again, let’s talk turkey here. Mr Parizeau has an interest in doing that. Mr Parizeau inevitably is going to say, “Sure, there you are, you have just said no to Quebec.” You have people in Manitoba and in Ontario and in New Brunswick who say: “We are not saying no to Quebec. We are saying yes to our native people or we are saying yes to the fact that there are millions of people who have come to this country, who speak every language under the sun and who want Canada to represent them and want to feel that this is their place as well -- white-, black-, brown-, yellow-skinned people who see this as their country and somehow want that fact expressed in the Constitution now. Not indefinitely down the road but now.”
No one, in my view, would be fair in characterizing that kind of opposition -- and I am going to go through some others -- as expressing any kind of opposition to Quebec. Let me be quite blunt. It may be in Mr Parizeau’s interest or in the interests of those who have a very different vision of Canada to say that every concern about Meech is a rejection of Quebec, but I want to make it very clear that would not be in Canada’s interest. It is not in Canada’s interest to interpret those objections in that way, and one has to be very thinking and careful about this whole process.
What are the objections? Everybody in this House understands. How would members feel if they were living in the Northwest Territories or the Yukon and they were told that effectively they were disfranchised with respect to many important questions? The reality is -- again, let’s talk turkey here, my friends. The only territorial jurisdictions in which our native people have a majority now and could conceivably have a majority for the indefinite future and may want to see provincial status as a way of expressing their right to self-government -- how do members think they are going to feel and how do members think they do feel when they are told directly that they have to get the unanimous consent of all the other provinces before they are admitted into the club, a condition that has never before been attached to the creation of provinces, ever before in Canadian history?
It is tough. It is an injustice. Anybody has to recognize it as an injustice. I do not believe it is an injustice that is necessary. I do not believe it has anything to do with the five conditions of Quebec, the question of our native people, issues that we are going to be debating in this House.
Every province is going to be facing and having to come to terms with this question. Why not build a process into the Constitution that gives them some sense that self-determination is not going to be a never-never question, it is going to be real?
The question of multiculturalism: I touched on that. Multiracialism: I touched on that. The question of its relationship to women: I do not share the view that there is any problem with regard to the relationship between the charter and the “distinct society” clause with respect to women, but there are some who do. Is somebody saying that question is one that speaks directly to the five conditions of Quebec? I do not believe so.
Then we come to the one which does. This is going to be a hard one and I do not have the magic answers to this. My critics on the other side will say, “Hurray, he finally admitted that he didn’t.” That is the question of the spending power, because there are very different views of this.
I regret the decision or the view expressed in the Manitoba report that the section on the spending power should simply be deleted, because I can tell you, Mr Speaker, from my understanding of Quebec, as limited and as frail as it is, that if there is something that really has been fundamental to Quebec’s constitutional position, certainly since Jean Lesage, it is the question of the limitation of the abuse, as Quebec sees it, of the spending power by the federal government to intervene in areas of provincial jurisdiction.
Je veux dire directement à la population du Québec qu’il y a ceux qui s’opposent à l’accord du Lac Meech pour des raisons que nous ne pouvons pas supporter ou appuyer : qu’il y a ceux qui s’y opposent pour des raisons, franchement, de haine. Le sentiment antiquébécois, antifrancophone et antifrançais, ça existe. Ce n’est pas quelque chose dont nous pouvons être fiers, mais nous devons reconnaître que c’est une réalité partielle de la vie canadienne. Cela existe.
Il y a ceux qui s’y opposent pour des raisons idéologiques, comme M. Trudeau et comme d’autres qui voient dans le document du Lac Meech une attaque sur les pouvoirs et les capacités du gouvernement fédéral, et en même temps, un retour de pouvoir aux provinces qui n’est pas acceptable pour leur vision d’un Canada fort et uni, comme ils le disent, mais surtout fort, où les provinces n’ont pas vraiment un rôle très important à jouer. C’est ce point de vue que je n’accepte pas, mais tout de même, c’est un point de vue qui est là et qui existe dans le pays.
Mon troisième point, c’est qu’il y a ceux qui ont des objections à certains articles ou à certains aspects du document du Lac Meech qui ne s’opposent pas du tout à la province de Québec et qui ne s’opposent pas du tout aux cinq conditions de base qui ont été établies par le gouvernement québécois. Il ne faut pas confondre l’opposition idéologique, si vous voulez, avec l’opposition qui vient de ceux qui s’opposent à tout.
Il ne faut pas dire que chaque personne qui a un problème avec un certain article s’oppose à l’inclusion du Québec dans la constitution canadienne. Il ne faut pas confondre cette question, parce que si cette question est confuse, nous n’allons pas pouvoir trouver de solution à nos problèmes -- j’en suis convaincu.
Par contre, je suis convaincu qu’il est possible de trouver une solution -- c’est très difficile, mais le Canada est difficile -- mais seulement si nous reconnaissons que les cinq conditions de base du Québec sont acceptables et acceptées par toutes les provinces canadiennes et par tous les chefs des partis provinciaux partout au pays, et en même temps, si le gouvernement québécois est prêt à discuter et à entendre les objections qui viennent sur certains articles pour voir s’il n’y a pas de solution possible.
I believe profoundly that we have to find a way of saying yes to Quebec and saying yes to Canada without saying no to native people, without saying no to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and without saying no to other concerns that have been raised about this accord.
I would tell you, Mr Speaker, that as a political realist and analyst of the situation -- I have already voted for it, so I am telling you that I have made my decision that on balance I am prepared to accept it, but I am not so sure others are in the same position.
Where are we? In my view we have to find a way of accepting that the Meech Lake accord is the basis for national reconciliation, but that it may well be that some changes, either to the accord itself or some other agreements that are companion to the accord, will allow the process of constitutional dialogue to move ahead and will allow us to make progress and include Quebec, which after all is the objective of this particular round of constitutional talks.
It is not going to be easy, but I would suggest to every member that if ever it was true that it ain’t over till it’s over, this is it. I remind members of what happened hack in 1980 and 1981. I was in the House of Commons when it was said, “It’s this or nothing.” Closure was in vogue. People stood up and swung the mace around. People ran off to the courts of appeal in various provinces. The provinces got together. There was a national crisis. It went to the Supreme Court. Each side was convinced it was going to win. The Supreme Court came down with a sort of Solomon’s judgment, basically saying, “You’d better get your act together and meet again.”
One deal was cooked up between a certain number, then that deal was changed and then another number were brought it. That was presented to the Parliament of Canada as a fait accompli. The women and the native people said: “Wait a minute. You left us out where we were in before.” Parliament had to come back and look at it again and the premiers had to decide whether or not they were going to accept that last minute change.
It was a very messy, imperfect process, certainly not the ones one reads about in the great events of writing constitutions, whether it be the Congress at Philadelphia or whatever it was, or the coming together in Charlottetown and in Quebec City in the events that preceded 1867, but I would suggest that is the way it is done.
With these documents and with the debate as extended as it has become, I would suggest that we are probably in a better position now to reach a genuinely national understanding even than we were two years ago, but it is going to be very difficult and it is going to require give on all sides, with the understanding that the accord that was signed has to be the basis for this round and has to be the basis for including Quebec.
That is what I am committed to doing. I have said to the Premier -- I think the public should know that this is one subject upon which the Premier and I are able to chat without shouting at each other -- I have said to the leader of the Conservative Party and I have continued to talk with people at the federal level as well as in other provinces -- I have offered to do whatever can be done to keep the dialogue going, to keep the discussion going and to make sure we do not lose this opportunity, as it has been described by so many.
The stakes are very high. I profoundly believe the country’s life itself is at stake. Much has happened to take away from the capacities of government. Our sovereignty has been affected, I believe affected very, very directly, by the free trade agreement. If we fail to begin to define what it means for us to be a country, if we fail to define the relationships between all of us in this country, and if we fail to establish a process in which this dialogue can continue and take place, we will pay a heavy price and none of us should be under any illusions as to what that price is.
Having said that, the ball is in all our courts. not in one or the other; it is in all of our courts as we come to terms with that most basic of questions, what is Canada?
Mr Brandt: Usually I enjoy following the Leader of the Opposition. Today, I am not too sure.
I want to begin my remarks by stating that the Premier called me at home two days ago to inform me that the Attorney General would be speaking on the constitutional accord in the House today. It is a courtesy that I wish to acknowledge and I want to thank the Premier. It is my hope, as I know it is his and the hope as well of the leader of the official opposition, that the spirit of cooperation on this topic of such national importance can continue in the future as it has in the past.
Mr Speaker, I want to respond, if I may, to the remarks of the Attorney General and with your permission I would like to put my remarks in the context of both the message and the messenger.
First, the message: The message from the government, as advanced by the Attorney General, appears to be that we can live with what New Brunswick has proposed but we are not so sure about Manitoba. The renewed opposition from Newfoundland, on the other hand, is barely mentioned as the Attorney General is limiting himself to legal opinions.
My response to the government, to the Attorney General and the Premier is, gentlemen, look at the time we have wasted, the opportunity to show leadership on this issue of such vital importance to Canada.
New Brunswick has suggested a parallel accord to address the deficiencies of the constitutional accord agreed to at Meech Lake. I ask them, how does this differ from the position put forward, the two companion resolutions that were put forward by my colleagues the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) and the member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves) during the deliberations of the select committee on constitutional reform, resolutions, I might add, that were defeated by the government members on that committee.
I ask them, why is a parallel accord acceptable now, when on 29 June 1988 in this Legislature, when I put forward those identical resolutions stating Ontario’s belief that the recognition of our aboriginal people and the recognition of Canada’s multicultural nature should accompany the passage of the Meech Lake accord, both the Attorney General and the Premier voted against it?
I ask them, how much stronger would Ontario’s position have been as mediator, as a bridge between the opposing views on Meech Lake, if they had listened to the undercurrents of the nation and accepted that the Meech Lake accord was not cast in stone? It was not perfect, as the Leader of the Opposition has so clearly pointed out. There were improvements that could be made and the means by which to make those improvements were at hand.
The Attorney General was somewhat harsher in his comments about Manitoba’s position, less relenting, less forgiving of the legitimate concerns expressed by its parliamentarians. To the Attorney General, to the Premier, I repeat my earlier question: How is it that we have wasted so much time? How could we have missed such an opportunity?
The Premier and the Attorney General will know that the majority of the concerns that were identified by Manitoba were also identified in the public hearings before Ontario’s select committee on constitutional reform, as was, I might add, the possible solution to that impasse. That solution was for the government of Ontario to refer the question of the impact of the accord to the Supreme Court of Ontario so that every province and every Canadian would know without any question whatever just what impact the accord would have on their rights as defined by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Over 16 months ago, my colleagues proposed a solution to the select committee that was studying the accord at that time. The reference was already written. The precedents for such an action were already identified, including, I might add, the government’s earlier referral of Bill 30 to the courts system. The benefits of such a referral in my view are obvious, and as obvious now us they were then. An opinion from the Supreme Court would have clarified the impact of the constitutional accord. It would either have laid to rest some of the serious questions surrounding the accord or it would, on the other hand, have identified any serious flaws, which could have been rectified by the premiers and the Prime Minister.
The amendments that were put forward by my colleagues asking for such a referral were, again, defeated by the members of the committee.
That is my response to the message we have heard today from the Attorney General. By his statement today he has affirmed, in my mind and in the mind of those of our colleagues who have listened, I believe, with an open mind to this debate, that we have wasted close to a year and a half, that the position that he the Premier are slowly evolving towards is precisely the position he and his colleagues rejected in this House on 29 June 1988.
In my view, that is a waste of some 16 months that could have been avoided, for the ultimate irony is that there was no surprise in the positions put forward by the provinces of New Brunswick and Manitoba. They could have been predicted the day this Legislature voted on the Meech Lake accord last year, for the very same concerns that were put forward by New Brunswick and Manitoba, and which they are now attempting to address, are precisely the concerns speaker after speaker identified in public hearings before Ontario’s own select committee.
Those are my comments about the message we have heard today. I now want to speak very briefly about the messenger. which I believe is a far more serious matter and has far more serious implications for the role to be played by Ontario in determining the fate of the Meech Lake accord.
With all due respect to the Attorney General, a man whom I respect and who I know has laboured hard on his statement today on behalf of the government and has performed, I say quite openly in this House, a valuable service in the past on the matter of bringing this nation together under the proposed accord, my question is: Given today’s climate, is it really the Attorney General who should be speaking for Ontario? Who cares about Ontario’s legal opinion about what New Brunswick and Manitoba have to say about the accord? Presumably, they have their own legal opinions, as has every other province as well as the federal government.
The crucial question here is not what the Attorney General of Ontario has to say about the accord and the legal ramifications of the positions of the respective provinces, but what the Premier of Ontario has to say. What is his opinion? What are his plans? Just where does Ontario stand?
This is not a debate for the 10 provincial attorneys general and their federal counterpart, if it ever was. This is an issue, an exercise in shoring up the foundations of this country that must be addressed by the premiers and the Prime Minister, which is why yesterday it was the Prime Minister, I might add, and the two federal leaders of the opposition parties who spoke in favour of Meech Lake, recognizing the difficulty this country is in at the moment in connection with the controversy surrounding this whole question.
Therefore, it is with regret that I say to the Premier that it is he who should have stood in this House today to speak for Ontario, not the Attorney General.
It is with regret that I say to the Premier that if he had lived up to the three commitments he gave to this House 16 months ago, creating a framework for future constitutional changes initiated by public discussion in Ontario, perhaps some of the regional and linguistic tensions facing Canada and Ontario could have been avoided, for a safety valve would then have been present for the release of those tensions.
It is also with regret that I say to the Premier that if Ontario had taken a more flexible role some 16 months ago in the initial stages in its approach to the constitutional accord of 1987, if Ontario had been quicker to anticipate and react to the concerns that were voiced by women’s groups, by our aboriginal peoples, by our multicultural communities and by the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, as well as by the provinces of New Brunswick, Manitoba and Newfoundland, then the upcoming first ministers’ conference would have been to discuss any last-minute questions about the 1987 constitutional accord, instead of to discuss how it can now be saved.
In a few days the Premier will be going to the first ministers’ conference to speak for Ontario. As such, he deserves to know where the members of all parties stand on the constitutional accord reached in 1987. The Premier knows that when he speaks at the first ministers’ conference, he will be carrying on the vital task, the tradition of nation-building established by previous premiers of this great province.
He knows that no matter our differences in this House, which as we all know can at times be many and deep, when he steps on the national stage and speaks for the recognized good of Canada, then he has my support. As I have said so many times in the past, and I affirm again today, along with, I believe, all members of this Legislative Assembly, I am, we are Canadians first, as was Leslie Frost, as was John Robarts, as was Bill Davis. A strong Canada means a strong Ontario. Without a strong Canada, then we are all diminished; we are all lesser parts of a greater whole.
I say to the Premier that my position has not changed with respect to the constitutional accord that was reached in 1987. Yes, the accord is flawed; yes, it can and should be improved, but I support it, for in the final analysis it will allow Quebec to become a signatory to our Constitution, and that is the vital question that must be resolved for our nation.
I believe it is a goal we must pursue, even though the risk may be great, for Canada is richer for Quebec, as is Ontario. To have Quebec’s energy join ours, totally unfettered and fully directed to making this great nation of ours grow and develop, to challenge the future together, all provinces and territories standing as one, is to envisage a society, a country that does indeed have the potential to be a world leader in the decade and the century to come. A solution can, and I believe must be found to the present impasse that is preventing the ratification of the 1987 constitutional accord.
I am hopeful that when the Premier of our province attends the first ministers’ conference, when he speaks for Ontario, he will listen to the suggestions put forward by others and return with an amended position on the 1987 constitutional accord that will meet with the approval of all members of this House. I know most members share that hope.
I want to say on behalf of my party that I wish the Premier Godspeed in his work. I wish him, Ontario and Canada every success.
TEMAGAMI DISTRICT RESOURCES
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. I understand he just had a meeting with Chief Potts and I know he will be aware of the announcement by Chief Potts and the Chiefs of Ontario that a blockade is planned, beginning on November 11, at the Red Squirrel Road. I would like to ask the Premier what he is planning to do now in order to avoid what I am sure he would agree could become a tragic confrontation.
Hon Mr Peterson: I did have a conversation with Chief Potts just prior to question period. We did not discuss that particular situation. He did not inform me that he was going to have a blockade on November 11. We talked about the road, about the timber management, about a treaty and about land claims. I told him we were ready to sit down on any occasion to discuss the land claim they have in that area, and we are ready, willing and able to proceed.
I told him we have always respected the law, as I am sure he would want to do in the circumstances. Everything that has been done has been with the approval of the courts, and I hope, as the member hopes, everyone will respect the law.
Mr B. Rae: Does the Premier not recognize the seriousness of the situation which now faces all of the province? That road and the area around it have been the scene of controversy involving environmentalists, native people and the government of Ontario. Does the Premier not recognize that unless he is prepared to stop further construction of the road and negotiate right away with the band, and signal to it that he is prepared to negotiate, then we are headed for a major confrontation in this province the likes of which we have not seen in recent history? Does the Premier realize the seriousness of the situation he is facing?
Hon Mr Peterson: I told the chief and I tell the member that we are prepared to negotiate right this minute. I said I would sit down this afternoon, as the Attorney General (Mr Scott) would. We are ready to negotiate on any occasion that they want to come forward and do so.
Mr Wildman: I do not want to overdramatize the gravity of the situation, but could the Premier indicate as a demonstration of good faith that the provincial government is prepared to stop the road construction as a first step to bringing the band and the government negotiators to the table to negotiate, and recognize that the deadline of 31 December is not set in stone?
Hon Mr Peterson: I appreciate the honourable member’s question. We have litigated this matter for 15 years. For 15 years it has gone on. The government has been forthcoming in its offer of a land claim settlement. We sit ready and willing to negotiate. My friends opposite can stand up in this House and ask us not to respect the law. That is what they are asking. The law has been complied with on every occasion, and what they are saying is that because someone threatens the government or disagrees with the law, we should back off or change.
Governments are challenged every day on their authority and they are challenged on the wisdom of their decisions, and that is fair enough, but ultimately at the end of the day one must respect the law, as this government has always done.
Mr B. Rae: Building a road is not a law.
Hon Mr Peterson: Everything that has been done has been with the approval of the law. My friend opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, stands up and predicts a great confrontation. I would not assume for a minute that he has been trying to encourage people to break the law, but I will say this: His example encourages exactly that, and when legislators, democratically elected leaders who are supposed to respect the law, take that position, then the member can expect, perhaps, the consequence that he desires out of this circumstance. But I say to my honourable friend, he has a responsibility in this whole matter, as does everybody else.
Mr Wildman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like the Speaker to consider carefully the comments just made by the first minister of this province to determine if he was in any way imputing motives to my leader.
The Speaker: I listened very carefully, and I will take that into consideration.
Hon Mr Peterson: If it will make your job easier: if I have, I withdraw.
The Speaker: The Premier has withdrawn. Thank you.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Health. I am not allowed, for reasons of confidentiality, and I am sure the minister will appreciate it, to give the minister this woman’s name, but I can give her the exact details of the case, and I want the minister to respond.
Mrs X was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery and her doctors determined that she needed follow-up treatment and passed her file on to the Princess Margaret Hospital. Princess Margaret Hospital said, following its recent decision, it could not take her. It has assigned her case to Ottawa and she has to travel to Ottawa for five consecutive weeks.
Why is it that this woman has only enough money from the Canadian Cancer Society to effectively pay for one trip, and why is it that she has to lose other money -- that is to say, her work here in Toronto -- because of the failure of this government to plan effectively for the treatment needs of her and many other cancer patients?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I understand the stress of cancer patients who have to travel. That has been a reality in this province for many, many years. In fact, we have eight centres, as the leader knows, and people travel to those eight centres so that they can get the kind of specialized care they require.
We made a commitment, and my priority is to see that people get the care they need when they need it. We are working with Princess Margaret Hospital, the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society and Mission Air to ensure that people do not experience costs in having to travel. If the member will give me the details of the case, I will be happy to look into it.
Mr B. Rae: Just so the minister understands the human dimension of this case, this woman is a piano teacher. Her students are studying for their exams. They cannot study for their exams when she is travelling to Ottawa for her radiation treatment. So they lose their exams and she loses her income as a piano teacher. This is the human consequence of the failure on the part of this ministry to anticipate the tragedies that are out there.
Is the minister now prepared to fully compensate people for their full loss in terms of what they themselves are losing as a result of her forcing them to travel hundreds of miles in order to get treatment instead of being treated close to home, as the Liberal government and the Liberal Party have promised consistently for years?
Hon Mrs Caplan: On numerous occasions in this House, the Leader of the Opposition, in fact, has not been accurate in his portrayal of individual cases. I am always prepared to investigate individual details. I said very, very clearly that because of this unusual situation in Toronto, which resulted when a number of radiation therapists took jobs in other parts of the province, we are working together to make sure that people get the care they need when they need it, and to make sure that they do not experience costs.
He knows that, and we are committed to doing that.
Mr B. Rae: I want to make it easy for the minister. I am not asking her to be concerned. I am not even going to talk about the pressure, the strain, the emotional side of the anguish of having to travel hundreds of miles in order to get care which ought to be provided far closer to where people are living. I am going to ask the minister a simple, direct question.
Is the minister prepared to compensate people financially for their full loss when they are forced to travel because of this government’s incompetence?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I have to tell members that I am offended by the categorization of the Leader of the Opposition because, in fact, this is a human issue and this is about people getting the care that they need when they need it. He knows very, very well that we have responded, we have taken action, and we are ensuring that people get the care they need.
We are working with the Canadian Cancer Society and Mission Air and there are many, many people referred to Toronto who could receive services in a place closer to their homes or just as close to home. That is what the referral centre is for, but my priority is to make sure that people get the care they need. I have undertaken to do everything that I possibly can to see that it happens, and I want the Leader of the Opposition to know that I have been assured that it is happening.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Premier. I would like to ask the Premier about the appointment of the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr Black) as the some-time, part-time or little-time minister responsible for his government’s so-far mythical antidrug strategy.
In other jurisdictions where drug co-ordinators have been named, such as the state of Michigan, they have been allowed to devote all of their energy to fighting drugs. Considering that drug use is responsible for great increases in violent crime and is destroying families and lives in this province, what is the Premier’s possible justification for making this a part-time job? Is he telling us that drug abuse is a part-time problem?
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not think that is a fair characterization of the government’s thinking, and I honestly think my honourable friend is known for these kind of things so I do not take it as seriously as I might from some other member.
I think it is acknowledged that the minister, who has had a task force report on this matter, is widely knowledgeable. We recognize the fact that it is an interdisciplinary problem; it affects a number of ministries. Obviously, one could have taken Health, one could have taken Education, one could have taken the Solicitor General, but it is all of those things.
I wanted a minister with a profound understanding of the problem, as a parent, as a teacher and as someone who did a report that is widely respected across this nation, and someone who had the capacity to draw it all together. I have inordinate faith in his capacity to do that.
Mr Runciman: Meaningless and offensive rhetoric at best.
The government recently announced, as complementary to its no-responsibility auto insurance plan, it was going to hire 115 OPP officers for highway patrols. Over a year ago. the Premier had a recommendation from the minister responsible for the provincial antidrug strategy to hire an additional 32 officers for the OPP antidrug squad and the necessary support staff -- and nothing has happened. We have to wonder how many young people have been sold drugs because the extra officers were not in the field.
If the Premier is so committed to fighting illicit drugs, will he tell us why he can, almost overnight, hire 115 officers to nab speeding motorists but he cannot beef up the drug squad? Does he care more about seizing Fuzzbusters than drug pushers?
Hon Mr Peterson: No.
Mr Runciman: The Premier undoubtedly is aware of a story in today’s newspapers where Judge Stephen Borins states that because of a shortage of courtrooms and judges, four individuals charged with cocaine trafficking were allowed to go free. In his report on drugs, the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr Black) recommended that the Ministry of the Attorney General be given the resources to improve the delivery of criminal court services. It appears quite clear that this recommendation is moving as quickly as the government’s promises on more hospital beds and lower auto insurance rates.
Will the Premier indicate whether he intends to take concrete action on this recommendation and many others in the minister’s report and treat drug abuse as a full-time problem with a full-time minister? Or do we have to continue to listen to hollow rhetoric while more and more lives are destroyed and drug pushers go unpunished?
Hon Mr Peterson: I appreciate the honourable member’s very thoughtful and constructive suggestions and I will pass them on to the minister.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. I have another individual who has had a problem with our health care system in the last few days. This is the case of six-year-old Lisa Harrod of Barrie, Ontario, who had scoliosis and had her corrective surgery cancelled twice at the Hospital for Sick Children because of operating room cutbacks.
Lisa had her initial operation in November 1988 but she needed two more. The subsequent procedures were scheduled for 1 August 1989 but in July she had her surgery postponed until October. The last two procedures were then scheduled for 19 October and 26 October but on 12 October they were cancelled and no commitment was made to perform them. After Lisa’s mother told the story to CKVR television in Barrie, the operation was scheduled and performed just a couple of days ago on 31 October.
The hospital indicated that it closed three operating rooms this summer and it has been unable to reopen them because of a nursing shortage. What is the minister doing to correct the nursing shortage at the Hospital for Sick Children and other hospitals around this province?
Hon Mrs Caplan: If the member will send me the details of the case, I will ask the Hospital for Sick Children to account for the decisions of its staff who are responsible for making those kinds of decisions. I know how difficult it is for any family, whether or not the surgery is elective, as obviously this one clearly seemed to be, to have to wait or to have surgeries postponed, especially when children are concerned.
I am very aware of the issues facing nurses and I have been listening to them as I travel the province. We have had a number of reports, and the member knows that I have taken significant action, both in the development of a regulation to give nurses more say in hospitals and in initiatives that were announced earlier this week to change the attitudes to ensure that nurses within the hospital sector not only have greater say but have opportunity through a nursing innovation fund. I would say these certainly do not go far enough, but they are an important first step.
Mr Eves: I think the members of the House are all too well aware of the action the minister has taken with respect to the nursing shortage. As a matter of fact, on the regulation she speaks of, which was well needed, the implementation date for compliance by all 223 hospitals across the province was 30 September. We have pointed that out to her. She is the individual who is supposed to make sure that is complied with by every one of those hospitals by 30 September. She has not done a thing. It is now 2 November.
The nursing vacancy rate at the Hospital for Sick Children is 7.5 per cent. The vacancy rate for the nursing profession in Metropolitan Toronto is 10 per cent. What specific action is the minister taking to address the acute nursing shortage in the province of Ontario, and specifically in Metropolitan Toronto, so that people like Lisa Harrod will not have to have their surgery postponed indefinitely?
Hon Mrs Caplan: No matter what we do, I know the member’s criticism is always that it is not enough, it is not soon enough and it is not fast enough. He is very good at being critical; he is not being at all constructive.
The hospitals of this province have informed me that in fact they would like to have a survey conducted -- we are doing that right now -- to determine what, if any, obstacles there are to the implementation of the regulations. We are working co-operatively to ensure that not only the intent but also the spirit of the regulations is there.
I announced a package of nursing initiatives which will be an important step in responding to many of those systemic issues which the nurses are telling me are so related to quality of worklife. I can say to the member that the appointment of a nursing co-ordinator and two nursing advisers in the Ministry of Health will make sure that whatever we can do in adjusting policies, in sensitizing employers and employees, will be done.
Mr Eves: The minister is well aware, I presume, of the comments of the president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Pat Bethune, in response to the announcement which the minister glowingly pats herself on the back for. She said, “Unless we can get better pay in the next round of negotiations in 1990. these steps won’t be that significant in retaining and attracting nurses.”
When is the minister going to acknowledge that she has a very direct and important role to play in determining nurses’ salaries in Ontario? Hospitals receive on an average 81 per cent of their funding from the Ministry of Health. Seventy five per cent of their operating expenses are salaries and the overwhelming majority of that goes to nurses.
Will the minister not agree that if she provided the public hospitals in this province with more money, specifically directed to give to their nursing staff, she could take a very direct step in solving the nursing shortage in the province of Ontario?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The critic for the third party has just displayed his fundamental lack of understanding not only of how the health care system works but of the collective bargaining process, where the nurses, who are the employees of the hospitals, negotiate their contract with the hospitals through the Ontario Hospital Association. He should know that the hospitals are a transfer payment agency of this government, that they receive their funds and then allocate them appropriately to deliver the services which they determine are needed in the community.
There has been an enormous increase in the last few years since this government took office, and I am proud of the fact that this year some $6 billion is going to the hospitals of this province. When the member stands in his place and asks the kind of question he just asked, all it displays is his fundamental lack of understanding, lack of sensitivity and lack of support of the collective bargaining process.
The Speaker: Order. Has the member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves) cooled down?
ONTARIO DAIRY HERD IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food regarding the dispute that has disrupted the services of the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp to the dairy farmers of this province over the last two weeks.
In view of the fact that the two sides were very close to a settlement, and in view of the fact that now only 20 per cent of the required work is being done and as a result the supervised herds could lose their record status, when is the Minister of Agriculture and Food going to meet his obligations to the dairy farmers of this province and bring both sides back to the table to reach a settlement so that the technicians can get out and do the inspections that they want to do and that the farmers require?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would first like to clarify to the member that the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp is a private corporation which provides milk production testing for the dairy farmers of this province. I would like to make that clear to let the member and the public know that this private corporation is involved, not in quality testing of milk at all but in the quantity testing of milk, and the quality and quantity of milk supply in this province is not affected by the strike.
I would also like to assure the member that I, like he, agree with the collective bargaining process. Therefore, it would be inappropriate of me to comment on this dispute.
Mr Wildman: Surely we all recognize that the reason this corporation is a private entity is that this government has privatized it and that the government used to provide the service that is now being provided in the private sector.
Also, we should recognize that this provincial government provides a $3-million subsidy to the program, so the purse-strings are in the hands of the minister. The provincial government’s funding has declined over the last few years.
Will the minister agree that this service should be adequately funded and managed by the provincial government to assure the accountability of the program to the farmers and its availability to the farmers who might have fewer resources and who want to be involved in the dairy herd improvement program?
Hon Mr Ramsay: As the member says, we subsidize this private corporation in helping it provide this service to the farmers of Ontario and at this time, even with this dispute, the service is provided by management through its laboratory in Kemptville.
Mrs Cunningham: I have a question for the minister of all education. Today the York Region Board of Education revealed, unfortunately, that because of the implementation of education lot levies, developers have served notice that school boards across the province will now have to pay market value for their land.
Mr Ballinger: They asked for the bill.
Mrs Cunningham: Will the minister acknowledge that part III, the lot levy section of the Development Charges Act, will directly increase the cost of constructing new schools?
Hon Mr Conway: To my good friend the member for London North, for whom I have the highest regard, so much regard, quite frankly, that I would take this opportunity to encourage her in a very public way to focus her attention on the 12 May opportunity that we now know more formally.
Hon Mr Conway: Well, I do. I have a very high regard for my friend the member for London North, but I do not accept her analysis of the impact of Bill 20. My friend the very learned member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger) observed parenthetically that some of the people who are now complaining about Bill 20 are the very people who asked that it be brought forward.
I have to say to my friend the member for London North that this government has done two very important things in the area of school capital. First, we recognized that the appropriations of l’ancien régime conservateur were altogether too miserable for the growing needs of Ontario. We recognized that $72 million being offered in 1984-85 was simply not enough; our good friend the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has in recent times more than tripled that appropriation. That, I think, is very important.
Second, we have recognized that fast-growth areas in parts of Ontario are going to need additional instruments to relieve the extraordinary pressures on their capital accounts. That is why we want areas like York region, not areas like Renfrew county --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mrs Cunningham: My supplementary is a little more detailed than what I had intended. This government has done two things for schools. It is giving less proportionately -- it has gone from 75 per cent to 60 percent -- in support for capital funding. It has also done something for families; this legislation will very directly increase the cost of the home, the home to the home owner and the home to the school board, which is the new school. It is very simple.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, the Ontario Public School Teachers’ Federation and growth boards in London and Waterloo, just to name a few, never mind the others, realize they have to get into the game to get the money now, because the minister has forced them into it. Never mind those. They have all told the minister that this is a flawed piece of legislation. There is no point in me standing up here and asking him to withdraw part III because I do not think he is really going to do that.
The Speaker: But what are you going to ask?
Mrs Cunningham: For heaven’s sake, will the minister tell us that he will increase back to the regular level, from 60 percent to 75 percent, the provincial share to school capital that was there before?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to say again that our friend the member for London North has had more experience in local school board activities than many of the rest of us, and she will know the active lobbying of school trustees to do many of the things that this government is now doing.
She will know, for example, that as a result of the increased capital appropriation -- and I repeat, the Peterson government has more than tripled the capital grants to school boards, not just so thousands of new places can be provided, but so that in areas like Wellington, for example, we will get on with the task of renewing and replacing older schools that were simply not getting nearly enough attention, in reducing the --
The Speaker: Order. Order.
Mr Eakins: He should be allowed to go on; that was good.
Mr D. S. Cooke: That should be a warning. Throw him out.
The Speaker: It was certainly difficult to hear. New question, the member for Brampton South.
Mr Callahan: I was --
??Mr D. S. Cooke: Is this a question about your
Mr Callahan: That is not a bad one. Maybe I will try that one instead.
I was very grateful to receive from the Glidden Co, a company that has been in my riding for some considerable period of time, notification that there will be a relocation of the plant in March 1990. This concerns me greatly because some 90 salaried and plant positions will be transferred to a community outside of my riding.
I would like to inquire of the Minister of Labour as to whether his ministry is aware of this and what steps will be taken to see that these employees are adequately compensated.
Hon Mr Phillips: As I think the members may be aware, part of our Employment Standards Act does require companies planning layoffs of 50 or more to notify us. I gather that was done yesterday in the ease of the Glidden Co. Unfortunately, the member is correct, they will be closing two plants, one in the city of Toronto and one in Brampton.
In terms of help for the workers, our Employment Standards Act does require a certain severance pay, and my understanding is that the company will at least meet that, if not exceed it. We have what is called the employment adjustment branch which, if the employees wish us to be involved, will be of assistance to them in terms of helping to relocate and to find other employment. Unfortunately, it is true that the plants are closing, and we will be of whatever assistance we can be to the workers of those two plants.
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Health. In less than two weeks the communities of Owen Sound, Port Elgin and Kincardine may be without ambulance service because the Ontario Ministry of Health refuses to grant funds to allow Owen Sound Emergency Services Inc to pay its ambulance officers the same amount as the ministry pays its own employees.
The 24 full-time employees employed by OSES earn only $13.84 an hour, or 12 per cent lower than the projected 1989 Ontario public service rate, and the 10 part-timers earn even less at $10.25. The ambulance officers, who are in the front line of the health care system, deserve the same pay.
The Ministry of Health controls the budget of its transfer agency, the private company OSES, line by line and is providing only a four per cent increase in its allocation for salaries. The minister has given adequate funding to at least seven other private ambulance services in Ontario to ensure parity with the public sector.
How can the minister justify this lack of fairness to the workers and the communities of Owen Sound, Port Elgin and Kincardine, and will the minister ensure that Owen Sound Emergency Services receives enough funding to treat its workers and the community fairly by providing wage parity?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows, the ambulance services in the province are provided by private operators, municipal operators and hospitals, and only nine of them are actually ministry-operated. For the nine that are ministry-operated, the Human Resources Secretariat negotiates with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union to determine contract settlements. The Ministry of Health does not negotiate directly. Neither can we comment on negotiations between the employees and the operator in this case.
Mr Mackenzie: The union representing the workers, Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 250, is prepared to go to voluntary binding arbitration to resolve this question. The employer is refusing. One of the concerns is that the Ministry of Health would not provide the money necessary to fulfil an arbitrator’s decision if he should rule in favour of awarding parity. This is exactly what happened in 1985 in a similar situation with the McKechnie Ambulance Services in Collingwood. An arbitrator awarded parity. The government refused to transfer further funds.
Will the minister assure this House and the workers and communities of Owen Sound, Port Elgin and Kincardine that it would provide the funds necessary to meet an arbitrator’s award?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The issue the member raises is the subject of negotiations between an employer and its employees and their union. It would be inappropriate for me as Minister of Health to comment on these kinds of labour negotiations.
Mr D. S. Cooke: You’re at the bargaining table.
Hon Mrs Caplan: That is why it is inappropriate for me to comment.
The Speaker: Order.
ONTARIO DAIRY HERD IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
Mr Villeneuve: I see 50 percent of the cabinet is not present.
Hon Mr Conway: More than the front bench of the Tory party.
Mrs Cunningham: If you want to be the government, be the government.
Mr Villeneuve: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In his earlier reply to my colleague the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman), the minister said the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp is a private corporation, which it is, but it is funded at least 25 per cent by the province through his ministry. He also provides a director on the board of the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp.
With that input, would the minister not agree with the technicians that the Ontario Dairy Herd Improvement Corp has become management-top-heavy and is paying its field staff some 30 per cent less than what comparable jobs are going for in other provinces? What does the minister intend to do about this very unfair situation?
Hon Mr Ramsay: Mr Speaker, I got two questions there, as you realize, because I had already figured out what I was going to answer on the first question: No, I would not agree. Two, I think we should let the corporation and its employees work out this dispute.
Mr Villeneuve: It is quite unfair because we in Ontario and in Canada have developed dairy cattle that are next to none because we have a reputable milk weighing and testing system. The minister is shirking his responsibility when he is funding over 25 per cent and has input at the board level. Who will take the initiative if this minister is not prepared to take the initiative and let milk weighing and testing go down the drain? The minister is responsible for agriculture and food. It is his responsibility. What does he intend to do?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am tempted to, but I will not be doing anything that relates to milk jokes, but weighing and testing is not going down the drain. Milk weighing and testing is going on as we speak. The lab in Kemptville is in operation. I think in fairness to the corporation, its management and its employees, we should give them a chance to work out this dispute.
ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTRE MAILING
Mr Velshi: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications. Can the minister explain why a covering letter with her signature was included in promotional literature from the Ontario Science Centre which reached residents of my constituency earlier this week?
Hon Ms H1art: I had hoped earlier to make a statement about this matter but as that did not prove possible, I thank the member for Don Mills for giving me the opportunity to respond.
Last June, before I was appointed the Minister of Culture and Communications, the Ontario Science Centre developed a marketing plan to encourage people living within a short walk or bus ride to take greater advantage of the programs at the centre. The Science Centre believes that people right in the neighbourhood should be encouraged to take greater advantage of the centre.
On 10 October, I was asked by the Ontario Science Centre, as minister responsible, to sign a covering letter prepared by the centre encouraging local residents to visit this nearby educational facility on a regular basis. Such requests are a normal part of my duties in supporting the agencies for which I have responsibility. It is unfortunate that my responsibility to assist in the promotion of the Science Centre has been misconstrued.
I apologize --
The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.
Mr Velshi: The mailing from the Ontario Science Centre included information of interest to families and to seniors. However, not all people in my riding received this information. Can the minister tell me if the Ontario Science Centre information will reach all the people in my constituency and in other parts of Metropolitan Toronto?
Hon Ms Hart: As I was indicating, I apologize to the House that I failed to anticipate the possibility of the exact distribution of this letter. It was my only intention to fulfil my duties as minister in helping to promote the Science Centre.
The marketing incentive plan which the member refers to was prepared by the centre in June, as I understand it. It called for two directed bilingual mail packages, one in October and one in January, to be delivered on a selective basis to areas of East York, Leaside, North York, Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park. This represents phase 1 of a progressive strategy which will unfold over the next year and involve additional neighbourhoods increasingly more distant from the centre.
Mr Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The minister will recall that before the summer break I raised with him a question about problems in the Millgrove area of Flamborough and the need to do testing on the wells in the Millgrove community to determine the extent of the problem and to try to clarify what had to be done to resolve that problem.
Subsequent to that, the regional municipality requested of the minister that the Ministry of the Environment do testing on all the wells in the Millgrove community. Members of the council have been led to believe that the ministry is not prepared to test all the wells but only to go in and do random testing.
Would the minister please comment on this and tell us what the ministry’s intentions are in terms of the Millgrove situation?
Hon Mr Bradley: I can tell the member, it is one of a number of situations of this kind I have to deal with. I know there has been some progress made on it, and I have communicated that progress to some of the people who have made inquiries.
Initially, I believe, there was some thought that the work that had been done in the early to mid-1980s would be sufficient and that the assessment of the problem based on those early tests would be adequate. Subsequent to that, some further information was brought to my attention and our ministry did agree that there would be some further testing done. I will attempt to get the precise details of that for the member, because I know, as a result of further communications and with the individual who made the request, the resident in the area who made the request, and with the municipality, we are working on what I think will be a superior way of dealing with that, but I will be happy to get the further information for the member. If he has a supplementary, I will get further information for him on that as well.
Mr Charlton: First, I was glad to hear that the minister understood to reject the testing that was done earlier, because the situation in Millgrove is that community, all on septic, has expanded in such a fashion that the ground water situation has changed substantially. The minister should be well aware that ground water tables do not operate in a regular or predictable fashion, and therefore, random testing of the wells in Millgrove may or may not identify the extent of the problems we are trying to identify here.
I want to ask the minister to assure us that, regardless of the particular protocol approach the ministry is going to take to testing of the wells, all of the wells be tested to ensure we do not miss the problem
Hon Mr Bradley: I appreciate the member’s raising the question again, as I know the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward) has done with me on a number of occasions. He has properly identified the fact that the development proposal is different from the one that was originally proposed. I think that is what certainly justified doing a different kind of more extensive testing. I will review with my officials the particular protocol to be used and take into consideration the representations the member has made, because we want to ensure that we in fact have a situation where we have adequate and acceptable water for all of the people in the area. So I thank the member for sharing that with me and I will be prepared to look into that expeditiously.
Mr Cousens: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. It has to do with the number of people who are moving into the greater Toronto area, outside of Metropolitan Toronto, into Peel, York, Durham and Halton from Toronto. In fact, there is such a large number of new people moving into the communities with families, who are coming from the Toronto area and Metropolitan Toronto, that we can expect to see the population double in these areas by the year 2011.
It is placing a tremendous amount of pressure on the regions to maintain the level of services in both social and community levels for all these communities. There are two standards developing -- one, a standard of services that are provided in Metro and then another for those who live outside of Metro, who are not able to get those services.
What commitment is the minister prepared to make to treat non-Metro residents in the greater Toronto area the same as the Metro residents?
Hon Mr Beer: The honourable member has underlined a particular problem that all of us who live in those areas outside of Metropolitan Toronto are aware of, which is, with the rapid growth, as he puts it, the pressure on existing social services is extreme. Through my own ministry, we are trying to address in particular, specific problems around various agencies where clearly the demands on their work are being caused by that rapid growth.
I think that, both in terms of our health services and our social services, this is an area where we have to find mechanisms, and some already exist in terms of the kind of reviews we do of budgets. Indeed, in many cases, with organizations in those outlying regions, we have been reviewing and having to provide additional funding at the end of the year, to the point that what we have done in our own ministry is to say that we have to review the way that funding is done with those agencies so that we can try to put them on a firmer footing, and that we are continuing to do.
Mr Cousens: The challenge is a big one, I know, and I appreciate the minister is trying to put the money where it should be. It is a major, major problem when, in fact, we have a family that recently moved into south York region with a young child, three years of age, who was in a program in Scarborough and then moved into York region, thinking there would not be a Berlin Wall that separated Metro from York region. The child is not able to be accepted into any program. In fact, in the letter that I received back from the minister not too long ago, he says -- it is almost as if we have got to accept it: “Sufficient resources are not available at this time for an expansion of the children and infants development services program, and we cannot commit a specific time frame when additional funds will be available.”
This is a three-year-old child who had services in Scarborough who now lives in my area and if that child does not receive those services in the very near future, he or she will not have a fair chance when he or she starts into school. I would therefore ask the minister, when will he service the needs of this particular child whom I wrote to him about back in September?
Hon Mr Beer: I am aware of the particular situation the honourable member has brought before the House, and this is one of the very difficult areas in terms of the service levels in the different areas. What we attempt to do and will continue to attempt to do in this case as in others is through the offices of my ministry to work closely with the families to find an appropriate placement or the kind of support that will help that family. One of the real difficulties right now is that the level of services that traditionally and historically has been provided in some communities is not always immediately there in new and expanding communities, but I can certainly give the commitment to the honourable member that we are going to continue to work with that family and with some others in similar kinds of situations to try to see it we cannot alleviate that problem as quickly as possible.
Miss Roberts: My question also is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. This month is Wife Assault Prevention Month, and the ministry has some indication and some interest in that particular issue. Can he tell this House what initiatives his ministry has taken or will be taking to stem the incidence of family violence that is going on in Ontario?
Hon Mr Beer: As the honourable member knows, yesterday my colleague, the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues (Mrs Wilson), made a statement in the House with respect to the month of November and with respect to some of the initiatives that the government is taking. In responding to my colleague, I would like to note two major areas where I think in this past year the government has put forward proposals to have a specific impact on this issue.
One, and it was noted yesterday by our colleague, was the provision of some $5.4 million in funding that was announced by the previous minister. Of this, $2.7 million is going toward shelter support, $2.1 million for community counselling and the rest for child support workers. In addition, my predecessor as Minister of Community and Social Services announced some salaries initiatives in the spring. Those funds, part of which will be going as well to those working in the family shelters, will be announced very shortly.
I think between the two of those and the $5 million -- that is retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year; the salary dollars are retroactive to 1 September -- we believe that those will have a real impact in helping those working with issues of wife assault and family violence.
Miss Roberts: I thank the minister. I appreciate his answer, but can he assure this House that the money that has been announced will soon be allocated, and as quickly as possible?
Hon Mr Beer: Yes, I know that a number of people who are active in this area have been concerned to ensure that those funds flow as quickly as possible, and I am pleased to say to the House that will be happening very shortly.
CASE OF ANTONIO PRETE
Mr B. Rae: A question for the Attorney General, just to keep him here a little longer. The Attorney General and I have exchanged many letters involving the case of a man who was, at one time, a constituent of mine, Mr Prete. Mr Prete, as I am sure the Attorney General will remember, was charged with first degree murder. He was released after the preliminary inquiry. Charges were dismissed. The Attorney General himself at that point then issued yet another charge against him on the same facts, and he was ultimately acquitted.
Mr Prete spent over two years in prison and was found not guilty, not once but twice. It is my understanding that he has now sued the government of Ontario. Can the Attorney General tell us if the government of Ontario is going to actively contest that claim, or is it going to make an attempt to settle with Mr Prete?
Hon Mr Scott: The gentleman to whom the leader refers has, in fact, sued not only the government of Ontario but the Attorney General and the crown prosecutors in this case, and the allegation, as the leader will understand in the state of the law, is that a malicious determination to convict him was evidenced in the proceedings. The government intends to defend the proceeding.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Attorney General, again, would not consider the possibility of attempting to find a way of compensating Mr Prete for the extraordinary amount of time that he spent in jail. I visited him in the Toronto Jail a few years ago. I could tell the Attorney General that Mr Prete’s life has been utterly devastated by this series of events. He feels a very profound sense in himself of injustice. He is convinced that he is entitled to compensation. It is very hard for me to say why somebody who has been in jail for so long and acquitted twice should not receive some compensation from the government.
I wonder if the Attorney General, and I know that there are many technical legal questions involved here, would not see his way clear to try to find some way of compensating Mr Prete.
Hon Mr Scott: As perhaps the honourable member knows, the attorneys general of the country have agreed on guidelines for compensation in appropriate cases. One of the conditions of those guidelines is that it be demonstrated that there was no case made out that pointed to the guilt of the accused.
In this particular case at the conclusion of the crown’s case there was a motion of the type the honourable member would understand asserting that there was no case to go to the jury. The trial judge, a very experienced trial judge, concluded that it was open to the jury to find the accused guilty. The jury, of course, had the discretion to find him guilty or not. The jury found him not guilty, but the criteria that program referred to were not met in this case.
Mr B. Rae: What about the preliminary?
Mr Cureatz: I have a question to the Minister of Correctional Services. I wonder if he might be helpful to us to explain the transportation policy involving inmates among various correctional institutions. It is my understanding, for instance, there has been an inmate who was detained in the Metropolitan Toronto West Detention Centre, was to be transferred to the Ontario Correctional Institute for treatment, but through the various transportation in-house systems, has wound up in Lindsay and does not know when he will be leaving Lindsay. For that matter, his immediate family is concerned; they cannot visit him up in Lindsay.
Hon Mr Patten: I appreciate the question being asked by the member for Durham East. I also appreciate the fact that the member did give me a little bit of notice for the question, and that is a very helpful thing to do, of course.
In this particular instance I would have to ask my ministry officials what went wrong, whether the driver did not know the route to the institution, or whether, indeed, there was the wrong institution on the order for the driver. It is very specific the question the member asks me, and I will check into it if the member could give me the name, the day and the time, I would be happy to do that.
Generally in terms of transfer policy, what I can tell the member is that we try not to transfer people late at night if we can avoid that, that it is done during the daylight hours; that transfers are performed for a variety of reasons after admission. There is an assessment process that takes place. As a result of the assessment process it may, in fact, be determined that someone is not in the appropriate institution for the program that would be required to be of help for the rehabilitation of a particular inmate and that is often a very good reason for the kinds of transfers that take place.
Mr Cureatz: In the most restrained manner that I can: would the minister indicate then is there an overall policy after the assessment has taken place to transfer inmates at random on the basis of facilities that are available, be it, namely I suppose, beds and rooms that are available? Are they told, or is anybody else told, or the immediate family told, or any consideration taken in this regard?
Hon Mr Patten: Of the issues that the member has identified, it is my understanding that indeed families are notified if an inmate is to be transferred. I am not aware as to whether or not, in this particular instance, this was done. However, the lawyer, the counsel for the particular inmate, is obviously in a situation where it is a remand situation. We take into consideration whether there is a trial date, the location and accessibility to the family so that, for example, someone from the Toronto area who is in a remand situation, is not sent, because of pressures in our institutions, to a place further than, say within an hour or an hour and a half of the Metro Toronto area.
Ms Poole: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Several weeks ago, I asked a question in the House of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Sorbara) concerning environmental protection legislation. It was concerning the use of the word “green” and the words “environmentally friendly products.”
I am very delighted to see that businesses have gotten on the bandwagon and are concerned about the environment, but I am concerned that those words will be exploited. Would the minister please tell me whether the Ministry of the Environment is concerned about the use of these words or whether he plans to bring in regulations to regulate them?
Hon Mr Bradley: It is an excellent question. I was just this very moment discussing this matter with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations who I know has a great concern about this, but I do want to say that the question the member has put forward is one that is being asked throughout the environmental community and throughout the country.
One of the problems is that while we are pleased, I think as governments, federal, provincial and local governments, to see people coming forward with products which are better for the environment than some of the alternatives that are there, we are concerned that there those who might use the term “environmentally friendly” or “green products” and not really be providing those kinds of products.
At the national meeting of the environment ministers of Canada, held in Prince Edward Island, there was quite an extensive discussion of many matters related to this and I know the officials of the Ministry of the Environment of Ontario and other ministries have been discussing with federal officials with a view to --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Ms Poole: I certainly appreciate hearing that the provincial ministers have been consulting with the federal officials on this. I was wondering if the minister could confirm whether this would be an Ontario jurisdiction to look at the regulations surrounding the use of the words “green” and “environmentally friendly.” If it is not strictly in the provincial jurisdiction, would the minister be willing to discuss this further with the federal government in the hope that it would bring in the corresponding legislation?
Hon Mr Bradley: I think that is a reasonable suggestion in that we have a situation where we have interprovincial trade. Obviously, there are areas where provinces have pre-eminence in terms of legislation and regulations. However, when we are dealing with products that are sold across the country, indeed exported to other places, I think it is superior to have some continuity across the country.
The best way for that is to have the necessary federal regulation or federal legislation or federal protocol which is available to determine what would be most appropriate in terms of judging whether something is genuinely environmentally friendly or genuinely green. That is a really difficult problem and it is thin ice for governments to get on, the endorsement of products saying they are green, because there are other people who may contest that and say, indeed, that they are not as environmentally friendly as the people contending that. So the member can be assured of further discussions between the federal and provincial governments on this matter.
ANIMALS FOR RESEARCH
Mr Wildman: I have a petition which is signed by 37,000 residents of Ontario.
The Speaker: Are you sure? Have you counted them?
Mr Wildman: Approximately, and that brings the total in support of this petition to approximately 71,000 when it is added to the ones I have submitted previously.
It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and states:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario to pass into law a bill prohibiting the use of animals in cosmetic and product testing.”
I support this petition, which is in support of my Bill 190, and I hope the members of the standing committee on resources development take the number who have signed this into account in determining their agenda.
Mr D. W. Smith: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by approximately 543 people from the communities of Alvinston, Inwood and Brigden, which are in the riding of Lambton.
They are expressing their concern about the rerouting of the current high-voltage lines that are going to go across Lambton county to the hydro plant there on the river. They feel strongly that the government should force Ontario Hydro to bypass these communities in its routing.
I have signed my name to the petition.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of the whole.
COURTS OF JUSTICE AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
The First Deputy Chair: When we were finishing with this bill, I think we were at a point where the member for Carleton (Mr Sterling) had a further amendment.
Mr Sterling had moved that section 32b of the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“32b(1) Despite this act, the Small Claims Court shall be continued as it was constituted immediately before section 2 of this act is proclaimed and shall have all of the powers and duties that were assigned to it at that time.
“(2) Despite this act, the rules committee of the provincial court (civil division) shall be continued as the rules committee of the Small Claims Court as it was constituted immediately before section 2 of this act is proclaimed and shall have all of the powers and duties that were assigned to it at that time.
“(3) The Small Claims Court,
“(a) has jurisdiction in any action for the payment of money where the amount claimed does not exceed the greater of $3,000 or the prescribed amount exclusive of interest and costs; and
“(b) has jurisdiction in any action for the recovery of possession of personal property where the value of the property does not exceed the greater of $3,000 or the prescribed amount.
“(4) Subsections (1), (2) and (3) are repealed 730 days after section 2 comes into force.”
Any opening comments?
Mr Sterling: Yes. This section is put in place in order to give an opportunity to the government to test the constitutional validity of the proposal of raising the provincial court judges (civil division) to the higher level of becoming judges of the General Division and the right of the provincial government to appoint those judges to that position.
There have been a significant number of learned people who have been concerned about the constitutionality of the bill. Basically what this bill does is it postpones the implementation of that particular elevation of the Small Claims Court into the General Division for a period of two years. It also raises the jurisdiction of the court to $3,000 across the province.
The First Deputy Chair: Any comments or response from the parliamentary assistant?
Mr Polsinelli: At the last sitting of the committee of the whole House, we commenced the discussion on the constitutional questions that had been raised with respect to the Small Claims Court amendment. At that point I indicated that certain concerns had been expressed with respect to the constitutionality of Small Claims Court judges sitting as members of the General Division.
I also indicated at that time that sections 21 and 23 of the bill had been amended at committee to reflect that concern so that the existing provincial appointees who presently sit as members of the Small Claims Court will not be sitting as members of the General Division, but rather the act allows them to sit in the General Division in order to hear particular types of cases. That would be these types of cases that presently fall under the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court.
I advised the member for Carleton that our constitutional advisers, the provincial constitutional advisers and also the federal constitutional advisers, now feel that this amendment is sufficient to alleviate any concerns of the constitutionality of this particular provision. Accordingly, we cannot support the amendment.
Mr Sterling: The only thing that I wanted to point out was the timing of the concern of various members of the bench and the legal community as to the constitutionality of this section and the other sections that it relates to. It is important to note that the bill was effectively amended on or about 1 August of this year. The objections to the constitutionality continued to be voiced after the bill had in fact been amended by the government.
While in fact the Attorney General (Mr Scott) may in some respects be satisfied in his own mind that there is no problem with the constitutionality, and perhaps the federal counterparts are satisfied as well, there have in fact been people who are very learned in the law who challenge that opinion. As the parliamentary assistant knows, in law there can be varying opinions on it.
The purpose of the amendment that I present at this time to him is to make certain that the Small Claims Court will not grind to a halt because of a constitutional challenge. If that in fact happens, if there is a constitutional challenge, and it is almost guaranteed to happen because of the support that there is a problem with the constitutionality, what we would urge the government to do is act in a responsible manner, accept this amendment, refer it to the courts and, if it is right, it is going to get a court ruling that is there.
Then, during that two-year period, the Small Claims Court can carry on as it has in the past, and the minister can have his cake and eat it too. He can have his elevation into the General Division, as per his amendments to his bill, but he will have the matter decided by the court. If the court should decide, as some judges and lawyers have argued, that in fact even with the amendments placed in the bill on or about 1 August, there is a constitutional problem, then the Attorney General can come back to the Legislature and make whatever amendments are necessary to meet that constitutional ruling. That is why the amendment is put forward.
Mr Polsinelli: The member for Carleton will know, as a lawyer, that one of the things that they teach you in law school is to never accept one argument as being 100 per cent correct. One of the struggles that lawyers constantly undergo is to look at the other side of the coin, look at the other argument. It seems to me that lawyers looking at any issue, no matter how convinced they are, can always pose a counterargument. As a matter of fact, that is one of the things that they are trained to do.
In dealing with legislation, the government must rely on the best advice that it can receive. I say again that our constitutional advisers in the province and the constitutional advisers for the federal government indicate that in fact there is no issue left here and that there is no question of the constitutionality of this section. As a matter of fact, one can parallel this section to the situation that presently exists with masters sitting in the Supreme Court, hearing certain cases, though they are not members of that court. It is almost a parallel type of situation and that clearly is not an unconstitutional situation.
I must say again that we cannot support the member’s amendment. We feel that at this time it is proper and constitutional.
The First Deputy Chair: All those in favour of Mr Sterling’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Sterling moves that the bill be amended by adding the following section:
“32c(1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Attorney General, may appoint such masters and commissioners of the Ontario Court (General Division) as are considered necessary.
“(2) Subsection (1) is repealed 730 days after section 2 comes into force.”
Mr Sterling: This section is put into the bill because basically Bills 2 and 3 do away with positions of masters and commissioners of the court. At the present time, there are masters in several parts of Ontario, not all across Ontario, but masters of the court deal with what I would describe as the minor parts of the litigation process. If someone in Ottawa, for instance, has a complaint about his solicitor’s bill or his lawyer’s bill, he can take it to the master and have that bill passed. The advantage of meeting the master in his chambers, which does not have the same aura as a courtroom, is that the master deals with the person who is complaining, for instance, about what a solicitor has charged him and does it in a much less formal setting and is often assisted by the master in carrying it forward.
Now the argument that might be put forward by the government would be that with this new reorganization judges will be able to handle this particular function. We are not convinced that in the time when the changeover is occurring with regard to this change in our courts -- which is a substantial change and that is why, in general, we have been supportive of it -- that the work of the masters will be adequately taken up by other appointed officials of the court, and I am talking about judges of the court.
That is why I have put forward this amendment in the hopes that the masters would continue on for a period of two years after the bill kicks into effect and, therefore, ensure that the access to the judicial system that is now presently enjoyed by using masters and commissioners will be continued over the two-year period while the implementation is taking place.
Mr Polsinelli: It is the intention of the bill and the government’s intention to phase out masters under this legislation. We intend to do that by the process of attrition. We do not intend, once the bill receives royal proclamation, to immediately get rid of them all. As a matter of fact, we are going to let them proceed to do the work that they have been doing in the past in the future. But it is clearly our intention not to appoint any more masters.
The situation as it exists today is that there are 12 masters in Toronto, one in London, one in Windsor and one in Ottawa. Outside of those areas, the work that the masters do is done either by the district court judges or the court registrars. In terms of the assessment of costs right now, that is, the individual who objects to a lawyer’s bill, as the lawyer’s bill is controlled by the courts, that control mechanism is presently exercised by masters where there are masters or court registrars if there are no masters available. It is our intention that that will be substituted by specially trained court officials to handle that function outside of the area where masters are not available.
We feel that this amendment is not necessary, that the government’s proposed intention is quite simply to let the masters do their work, and as the process of attrition takes place, they will slowly be phased out of the process. It may be that two years down the line, the member has sort of a self-destruct in his motion. It may be that two years down the line, all of the existing masters we have today may still be there. Accordingly, we feel that our process is an appropriate one and we will not be supporting his amendment on this.
Mr Sterling: My concern here is that places like London, Windsor and Ottawa have relied on the master in order to get quick remedies to what I have called minor litigation matters. With only one master in each of London, Windsor and Ottawa, I ask the parliamentary assistant this question: If one of those masters should quit, resign or no longer serve in that position for whatever reason, what is the plan of the Attorney General to fill that position?
Mr Polsinelli: The ministry’s estimates are that the process of attrition will take somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10 to 15 years before the masters are completely phased out. In the situation of London, Windsor and Ottawa where they have one master, if one of those masters were to resign, it is quite simply the responsibility of the local judges to determine which of them will do the work, or if at that time in terms of the assessment of cost there is a specially appointed official to do the assessment of cost, that official would do the assessment of cost.
It is our intention to phase out masters through an attrition mechanism. It is our estimate that it will take about 10 to 15 years for that process to be completed and we do not think that the motion proposed by the member for Carleton is appropriate at this time.
Mr Sterling: I want to put this motion in the context of what it really does. The motion to include the section gives the government the flexibility to appoint another master. What they are saying today is that they are going to cut themselves off from the flexibility to do that in the future. I do not understand why they would not want to have that flexibility for at least a two-year period in order to maintain or protect. in particular, the areas outside of Toronto, to have a service that has been very valuable to the people of the area. I think they are putting unnecessary risk in it by not accepting it. I only make that point. It is permissive. It is not mandatory for the government to appoint the masters.
Mr Polsinelli: As a final comment, I point out that in most other provinces the work that is undertaken by masters in the province of Ontario is done by federally appointed judges. It is our intention to standardize that practice as it is presently occurring in most of the other province. On a sort of similar, related note we have 49 counties in Ontario. Out of those 49 counties, only four have masters. We feel that in a certain sense it almost behooves us to make the judicial system and the judicial process as equal as we can throughout the province and this is one way of achieving that.
Mr Sterling: I say facetiously that we only have one county of all of the counties in Ontario that has a $3,000 limit on the small claims court, so I find the argument a little specious that he is worried that only four counties have masters. Notwithstanding that, I only say to the parliamentary assistant, God forbid if something happened to any one of those three masters in those other cities and he was caught in a position where he could not appoint somebody else even for a short period of time.
The First Deputy Chair: The House appears to be ready for this question. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Sections 33 and 34 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
COURT REFORM STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Consideration of Bill 3, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, 1984.
The First Deputy Chair: The chair has been forewarned that we have one amendment that is being proposed. Are there further amendments that members have to this bill? If there are, would you give me an indication of that now? I have an indication of an amendment to section 6 of the bill. Are there any others?
Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Sterling moves that section 6 of the bill be amended by striking out “Judge” in the last line and inserting in lieu thereof “Justice.”
Mr Sterling: As members know, Bill 3 is to be passed in conjunction with Bill 2, and therefore in changing the name that certain judges are called by in Bill 2 it is only appropriate that we do the companion change in this bill. That is basically what this amendment does.
Mr Polsinelli: I agree with the member for Carleton. This amendment is consequent on our accepting his amendments to Bill 2. Accordingly, we will support this amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Section 6, as amended. agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: There being no further amendments to any other section of the bill, shall sections 7 through 54 be carried?
Sections 7 through 54, inclusive, agreed to.
Mr Kormos: I want to make some inquiries about section 34, in particular subsection 34(4). I am talking about what will be, if this passes, section 90a of the Provincial Offences Act. One is purporting to create codified contempt sections. I wonder if at this point we could get some rationale, if there is one.
The First Deputy Chair: Could I just stop you there? Is it your intention to move any amendments to that section?
Mr Kormos: No, Mr Chairman.
The First Deputy Chair: With the consensus of the members present, it would be possible to carry on such a discussion as that under section 55, which is the short title section. If that is agreeable, we can proceed. We have just carried the bulk of the bill and we can entertain this discussion with that. Is that agreeable?
Mr Polsinelli: Might I suggest that if the member for Welland-Thorold is not prepared to move any amendments, I must quite frankly say that this is a bill that is consequent on the passage of Bill 2. If he is prepared to do so, we have Mr Perkins from the Ministry of the Attorney General who could take as much time as he wants outside the proceedings of the House and answer as many questions as he wants with respect to this section. It is up to the member whether he is prepared to do that.
The First Deputy Chair: Just to assist, you would put me in an awkward position if you do that. A member has sought to ask some questions on a couple of sections that we just carried. We are in committee. It would be reasonable and appropriate to dispense with that vote and to refer it to the two sections to allow him to ask his questions. I sought leave of the House to do it in a slightly different way. I may be wrong here. I did not perceive that the member wanted to go on at great length, but that he had a couple of questions he wanted to ask. He could certainly do that under a general section such as the short title, and the House seemed to agree to that.
Mr Polsinelli: I want to point out that I am not disagreeing with the process. All I am indicating is an alternative process if the member were amenable to it, where we could sit down at an informal session with Mr Perkins from the ministry and we could perhaps have his questions answered in a fuller fashion. It was not in any way critical of the process that was being undertaken here today.
The First Deputy Chair: That is fine. It is just that sometimes members want to have quiet chats with ministry staff and sometimes they like to do it in here where they keep a record of it all. The choice is up to the member.
Mr Kormos: If I can, Mr Chairman, I should explain. Quite frankly, subsection 34(4) of the bill, which will be section 90a of the Provincial Offences Act, stands out as being really quite unique because it is not something that is consequential to the passage of Bill 2. It is something quite special, quite independent of the whole theme of Bill 2, and it is really quite novel which is why it attracted my attention. Provisions creating powers of contempt citation attract my attention for a number of reasons, but this one certainly did --
Mr Sterling: Why?
Mr Kormos: Let me put it this way: I think I have read as much case law on contempt of court as anybody in this chamber ever has, which is why I find this amendment to the Provincial Offences Act particularly interesting. It is for that reason that I think it has to be discussed. I have some very specific questions about it that may be clarified when the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General, who is here in the absence of the Attorney General, tries to rationalize this new section 90a of the Provincial Offences Act, especially in view of how it conflicts with what the Court of Appeal has told people in the province and in view of what the common law and other codified sections do with respect to contempt of court.
This particular section affects every single member of every community across Ontario; let’s not make any mistake about it. That is why I brought it up and why I want to do it, as you pointed out quite rightly, Mr Chairman, in this forum. This is the place to do it, not behind closed doors, not in secret, but right here.
The First Deputy Chair: Are there Any other comments?
Mr Sterling: I am not sure. Was the member going to be asking some questions of --
The First Deputy Chair: Yes, you could assist the Chair just slightly. I took it that you wanted to make a short intervention. Is that as short as it is going to be?
Mr Kormos: No, that was the preliminary. You said we were going to get around to that when we were talking about section 55.
The First Deputy Chair: Yes.
Mr Kormos: All right. I will wait patiently. We really do not have that much time. We have only an hour and a half, give or take a few minutes. It could not be long even if I tried, because we have no more than an hour and a half this afternoon in any event.
The First Deputy Chair: I do not know how many times I have heard that song. Are there other members who would like to get in a prelude to section 55?
Mr Philip: What about a prologue?
The First Deputy Chair: That is later.
Mr Sterling: My remarks are going to be more appropriately placed after we deal with any matters dealing with the substance of the bill. I want to talk a little about the process in wrapping up.
The First Deputy Chair: I think we can go to the main theme of your song. Proceed.
Mr Kormos: I am still waiting for the parliamentary assistant to indicate how subsection 34(4) fits into the theme of Bill 3. It certainly is not any cleanup, any housekeeping that is required as a result of Bill 2. It is something brand new. It is a completely new section codifying contempt powers on the part of justices of the peace in provincial offences court. I wonder if he could, especially in view of what he said earlier when he tried to suggest that this was not the time or place because these were merely --
Mr Polsinelli: No, no.
Mr Kormos: I am sorry. He tried to suggest that I might prefer to deal with it in another fashion. He also tried to suggest that after all, this section was only like all the others, that it was just sort of a cleanup, that it was making a square peg fit into a round hole, when in fact this is not.
I wonder if he can explain what this subsection 34(4) is doing in Bill 3, because it is sneaking in; it is hidden away in there. It is getting it in the back door when he knows he could not get it in the front door. It is just, “Whoops, let’s slide this one through while we are doing all these other little changes to make various statutes comply with the requirements that will be created by Bill 2.” This does not do that. This is something totally separate and apart from the whole theme of Bill 2, or certainly the theme of Bill 3.
One, I am asking, why is it there? Two, can he give us some rationalization for it? Why is it worded in the way it is worded, especially after what he knows the Court of Appeal has told the people of Ontario about the courts’ powers to cite for contempt and about the process to be incorporated? Among others, it was Mr Justice Goodman on the Ontario Court of Appeal who wrote about some very specific procedures that had to be followed, and I just cannot believe subsection 34(4) in view of that history. I wonder if you could respond to those two issues initially.
The First Deputy Chair: He has trolled it by you twice this afternoon. Are you able to rise to the occasion now?
Mr Polsinelli: My suggestion that this be done with staff from the Ministry of the Attorney General was not a suggestion that this was an inappropriate forum to do it in, but rather I thought that if the member for Welland-Thorold wanted some substantive answers, Mr Perkins from the ministry was probably a more appropriate individual to give them.
What I can do is give a general response to indicate that what this does is codify the contempt provisions in terms of the Provincial Offences Act. We believe that it is an improvement and that it gives the justices of the peace the power to regulate the process of contempt. Some procedural safeguards are contained in subsections 2 and 3 of this section.
Quite frankly, I say again that if the member wants to undertake a detailed discussion as to the technical provisions and the relationship between the Court of Appeal’s decision on contempt and this particular section, he may find it more informative to speak to ministry officials, who I am sure have a wealth of knowledge on this subject.
Mr Kormos: That is the whole problem here. I will tell the member what my impression is. If I am incorrect in my interpretation of this subsection 34(4), it is really a horrendously dangerous bit of legislation. As I say, it seems to fly in the face of the course the courts have taken with respect to contempt proceedings.
Let’s take a careful look at it. Let’s face it, why should any member of this Legislature be satisfied to approve or pass anything if he or she does not understand it? It is fine if he or she does not understand it, but at the very least then he or she should be able to expect an explanation from the person proposing it. We are talking about contempt in the face of the court, because it talks about committing contempt in the face of a justice of the peace presiding over an Ontario Court (Provincial Division) and “in a proceeding under this Act is on conviction liable to a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment.” We are talking about the power to imprison. We are talking about a penalty here. The existence of a penalty implies an offence. What this seems to do is to give the very same justice of the peace before whom the contempt is alleged to have been committed, the power to then find in contempt and impose the penalty -- not just monetary penalties but sending people to jail -- and to do that without process issuing.
That is exactly, as I understand recent rulings, contrary to what courts have said should be done. Courts have said that as a result, among other things, of the charter and the rights that it gives individuals -- surely those same individuals are the ones who appear before justices of the peace -- there should be a process issued.
What this section smacks of is an entire absence of due process for the person deemed to be in contempt by the presiding justice of the peace, especially in subsection 90a(6). The parliamentary assistant should take a look at subsection 6 and see some of the really offensive parts of this section. It talks about a justice of the peace having power to “order the offender arrested and detained in the courtroom for the purpose of the hearing and determination.’
What happened to right to counsel? My goodness. The justice of the peace pursuant to your legislation proceeds to embark on this incredibly strict process and to order the purported contemptuous person, him or her, arrested and held in court. How is that person going to exercise right to counsel?
Surely, there has to be due process here. Surely, this government of all governments, in view of what it calls itself -- never mind what people across Ontario are calling it -- would want for there to be a guarantee that if there is an allegation of contempt, the basic principle of fairness be applicable to that allegation, along with any other, that a person who is alleged to have been in contempt be entitled to an impartial tribunal.
There is not a single person around who would dare suggest that the very person before whom the contempt is alleged to have been committed, the person who is alleging the contempt, the justice of the peace, can act impartially. How can it be perceived as an impartial tribunal when it is that very same person who says: “I challenge you for what you have done or said, and now we are going to proceed to have a hearing on whether you were in contempt. I am going to impose a penalty and, to boot, I, the justice of the peace, can order you arrested and detained during the course of that hearing.” We have some poor soul quaking in his boots saying, “My goodness, what have I done and how do I work my way out of this situation?”
Surely to goodness nobody is going to accuse me of letting my imagination run rampant in that regard, because if they do, we only have to come up with some newspaper clippings of some recent events right here in the city of Toronto -- never mind justices of the peace -- in provincial court, criminal division, scenarios that acquired some great notoriety and carried with then some grave consequences for some of the players wherein people’s rights, people’s freedoms were, it seems to those of us reading the reports, arbitrarily interfered with without there being any semblance of due process or fairness or independent tribunal.
Let us look at subsection 7 of what is going to be section 98 and look what they are doing here. They are permitting that a court may order that a person appearing as agent is barred from acting as agent in the proceeding in addition to any other punishment to which he or she is liable. Holy cow, they do not do that to a barrister or solicitor, yet they would purport to do that to an agent.
When we are talking about agents, we are not just talking about paid paralegals, the POINTTS types, some of whom are very competent. We are talking about well-meaning, fair-minded people who want to ensure that there is some semblance of justice in a particular proceeding. We are talking about a University of Toronto mathematics professor who may take it upon himself or permit himself to he called upon to assist poor persons who are feeling the full force of the law.
Mr Philip: You could be talking about an MPP.
Mr Kormos: As my friend the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale points out, we may be talking about a member of the provincial Parliament who recognizes the injustice of the police laying a Highway Traffic Act charge against a passing driver who honks his or her car horn as a gesture of support for the Temagami protesters picketing in front of Queen’s Park.
So we are talking again about really incredible penalties. It is easy enough to say, “Okay, take a look at what will be subsection 8 and there are appeal provisions.” Big deal. That is shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted. Appeal provisions look fine on paper but they are not that readily accessible. They can often times be expensive and, indeed, they add to the consequences and the unnecessary consequences that are imposed on individual persons.
I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form that a court should not have the power to maintain order in that courtroom. That is so important. That is essential to the function of that court. But all too often we have seen occasions where a court, not motivated by ill will or malice but -- let’s face it, one of the things we have come to realize, as surely the parliamentary assistant has come to realize, is that courts, provincial judges, indeed even justices of the peace are overworked in this province. They are carrying dockets, case loads, that are just incredible. We have heard examples -- and so has the parliamentary assistant -- of provincial judges having docketed for them things like 18 hours of case load in an eight-hour workday. We have seen examples of judges who have been very candid about reaching perhaps their stress point and reacting in a manner which they regret and in a manner in which they have candidly acknowledged, were it a better scenario, they would not necessarily have reacted.
I am not suggesting there should not be power in a court, be it presided over by a judge or one of the new secularized judges under the court reform legislation, or a justice of the peace; that those persons presiding over courtrooms should not have the power to maintain order in the courtroom. But we are talking about penal consequences; we are talking about the prospect of sending people to jail. Surely we want to move beyond the stage or the air of -- I was thinking of the Inquisition, but we know some of those experiences have been shared time and time again by different people in different communities in some societies in days not long gone by.
I ask the parliamentary assistant: What is the rationale for this legislation? How does this fit into the scheme of Bill 3? How does it fit into the direction provided by the Court of Appeal? How does it comply with the requirement of due process suggested by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Especially lacking, I guess, is due process, Mr Chairman, you know. You are reading this right now and you are thinking it is incredible that a Parliament in 1989 could even consider passing this type of legislation that denies people the right to counsel, because it gives power to a justice of the peace to arrest and detain somebody in a courtroom for the purpose of the hearing of a contempt. I do not believe that.
I do not expect to find strong civil libertarians over there on the government side, but I know, for instance, that the member for Yorkview (Mr Polsinelli) got his law degree in this century. I know that for a fact.
Mr Kormos: I know he has a degree. I am not sure from which school.
Mr Kormos: All right. He got it from a fine school. I cannot be accountable for what courses he chose to take. If he did not take any of the right courses, I cannot be accountable for that.
I do not know how he can justify this legislation. It is not just good enough for me to have it explained to me. Trust me, Mr Chairman, I talked about my caution bank the other day; how much caution I had left. When it comes down to contempt, I will get myself into a position where I am overdrawn, if need be.
The fact is, we are not talking about barristers and solicitors here, we are talking about lay people. We are talking about participants in litigation who may, only in the mind of that particular justice of the peace, be contemptuous.
I cannot help relate this, but it brings to mind the comments of the actress Mae West when she was being tried back in the 1920s in New York City for one of her stage performances. Her conduct prompted the judge to say. “Miss West, are you trying to show your contempt for this court?” and she replied, “Your Honour, I am trying not to show my contempt for this court.”
It remains that matters of contempt sometimes are so apparent and so patent that anybody would regard them as such. At other times it is in the eyes of the beholder and what it cries out for is an independent tribunal.
We all know -- at least those of us who have been involved in litigation, either as counsel or as participants in civil litigation or criminal litigation, witnesses, the accused, what have you -- that those are intense, often times highly emotional, tiring, exhausting situations; all the more so when we do not have adequate courtroom facilities here in Ontario; all the more so when we see criminals being sent out on the street because they are able to avail themselves of charter remedies that preclude a trial, that say: “No, we have taken too long. The government hasn’t provided enough courtrooms to permit this case to have been tried in the period of time that it should have been tried, so you folks get to go back out on the street and presumably carry on doing whatever it was you were doing that attracted the attention of the police in the first instance.”
Those are stressful situations for people involved in the litigation process. They are stressful situations when courtroom security is nonexistent and when we know that the manner in which the government tries to address that is going to be so thoroughly unsuccessful and going to do nothing more but burden municipalities with further costs, and in fact not provide one bit more of security than exists now.
We listened to judges; we listened to participants in the process. We know it is nonexistent because we know that courtroom security is not just a matter of police officers in the courtroom. We know that courtroom security is, among other things, a matter of courtroom design. We talked about jail overcrowding. It is a matter of whether or not the courtroom can comfortably accommodate the people who are expected to use it.
I am mentioning those things because I am envisioning a plethora of scenarios in which people could find themselves victimized by what is going to be section 98 of the Provincial Offences Act by the legislation that the government is proposing. When I go on to reflect -- I know the members will share these feelings with me -- on who does the representation, who acts for defendants in provincial offences court, as often as not it is not lawyers because the participants in these courts are people there for, let’s say, highway traffic offences. There are people there charged with trespass to property charges. There are people charged with other provincial offences.
As often as not, they represent themselves, and to the great credit of the justices of the peace here in Ontario, the vast majority of them tend to run their courtrooms in such a way that the unrepresented litigant feels comfortable, is made to feel welcome, is made to feel that he or she does not have to go out and spend big money on a lawyer who probably will not do any better for them in any event, in view of the nature of the types of charges being tried.
So we have people tending to appear for themselves, people who are not buffered from the system by the presence of a paid counsel, of a gladiator, if you will. We have people appearing on their own but, once again, people appearing on their own, without legal training, who may find themselves caught up in the emotion of the proceedings, who may find themselves overly burdened with the stress and the anxiety that those proceedings create.
Once again, that is why section 7 is a really scary prospect, because it talks about the justice of the peace barring the agent from continuing to act as agent. As I say, that includes the amicus, the friend, the friend of the litigant, the friend of the defendant. I suppose, under the circumstances, as much a friend of the court because he or she is there trying to make the process a little bit easier for everyone and trying merely to ensure that justice is being done.
It also includes the paid agent, such as any number of private companies or individuals who have established their own firms doing agency work; people who are not members of the bar, but people who in many cases have good credentials, good backgrounds and are quite competent at representing people in provincial offences court and doing so, hopefully, for a retainer or fee that is modest, that is one that most people can afford.
Here is incredible power on the part of a justice of the peace to order arrest and detention. Did the parliamentary assistant even think of the consequences that flow from that? We know what the charter provides arrested and/or detained persons in terms of rights, do we not? There is absolutely no consideration of that. Lord knows, it is difficult enough to call your lawyer from many police stations, from many holding cells. Here you have the power of a justice of the peace to order arrest and detention in the courtroom. Incredible.
The problem is that I am thinking along the lines of people having rights. I believe that people have rights. I see the rights as contained in the charter. The right to retain and instruct counsel without delay; I see that as pretty fundamental, do you not, Mr Chairman? Surely you do. We have to worry about what the parliamentary assistant has in mind. I keep having visions of the Inquisition. It is inescapable, but concepts like the Star Chamber come to me. Maybe the parliamentary assistant sees a role for himself in this new Star Chamber. Perhaps he would share that with us or perhaps he would rather wait until the chamber itself was instituted.
As I say, I take rights seriously. Lord knows, it is hard enough to get hold of a lawyer from a police holding cell, because you have a right to do so upon arrest or detention. Please help me, Mr Chairman. You have a copy of the bill; please help me if I am not reading it right. I cannot help but read this to say that a justice of the peace may order the offender arrested and detained in the courtroom for the purpose of the hearing and determination. That is the way I read it and if I am wrong, somebody please stand up and say, “You’re misreading that.” I would love to be told I am misreading that, but I can look at it again and again and again and it comes out to the same thing.
This government is giving the power to a justice of the peace to arrest and detain people. Listen to this, listen to how incredible this is, think about it, look at the scenario. The justice of the peace is saying, “I don’t like your conduct, so I think I’m going to find you in contempt.” The person says, “The parliamentary assistant said that I get to have a hearing.” This is like a good news/bad news joke. The justice of the peace says, “The good news is you are entitled to a hearing; the bad news is you are ordered arrested and detained right here and now.” What does the poor soul do at that point?
Quite frankly, if it is a lawyer to whom it is being done, most of the community would probably applaud the justice of the peace, but we are not talking about scenarios where it is going to be a lawyer who is subjected to this arrest and detention. It is going to be plain folk, it is going to be just plain, ordinary folk who are in court saying, “No, I wasn’t speeding,” or “No, I didn’t go through the slop sign.” or “No, I wasn’t trespassing.” Maybe it is going to be plain folk who say, “I was exercising my right to protest an unacceptable event by picketing along with unionized workers at an Eaton’s mall.” Those are the sort of people who end up in provincial offences court; we know that, do we not? People who try to exercise their right to participate in a lawful picket are the kind of people who get arrested at places like Eaton’s. Maybe it is the sort of person who finds the presence of unsafe nuclear facilities so offensive that he wants to make a strong, clear statement by his presence. Maybe it is the sort of person who says no when the government persists in building its logging road; it is inviting the destruction of an irreplaceable natural resource, one that we should be treasuring and nurturing and one that, quite frankly, does not belong to us; it belongs to the aboriginal people who own it. Those are the sorts of people who are going to end up in provincial offences court: simple, ordinary folk who for any number of reasons find themselves involved in litigation that is in that particular status of court.
If this were merely a power to cite, so what? “Okay. You are in contempt. Thank you. Goodbye, Your Worship, Your Honour, what have you. We will let bygones be bygones.” We are talking about people spending up to 30 days in jail. We are talking about people having not just fines imposed on them but a fine and imprisonment up to 30 days in jail. I thought we were headed in a direction where we recognized that if people are going to face custodial penalties, we had to go through certain procedures to guarantee that they were not unfairly, improperly, unjustly sitting behind bars.
This section 90a is everything but that. There are a few dictatorships down in South America that would be proud of this section. Somebody should fax this to General Pinochet this afternoon because General Pinochet would be proud to have that down there to take care of contemptuous little people who appear in the equivalent of provincial offences court. Then again, maybe he faxed it up here and that is how the government got the format for this to include it in its Bill 3.
What is incredible is the title of Bill 3, An Act to amend Certain Statutes of Ontario Consequent upon Amendments to the Courts of Justice Act. Section 90 of the Provincial Offences Act has nothing whatsoever to do with the Courts of Justice Act. This horrid, fascistic little bit of power and denial of due process, denial of fundamental rights to accused persons has nothing to do with being consequential upon amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, presumably pursuant to section 2.
The more you think about it, the more it appears that the government is trying to sneak this through, that it buried this among all the little, minute and terribly tiring little amendments to the Woodmen’s Lien Act, the Vital Statistics Act, the Territorial Division Act, the Sheriffs Act -- the Sheriffs Act is not that inconsequential -- the Cemeteries Act and so on. There is a whole pile of them there. There are 54 sections and change, and buried, hidden, undisclosed, in the midst of that is this little, neo-Nazi amendment to the --
The Second Deputy Chair: Order. I would like to interrupt to ask if you think you are not getting a little too repetitious. I have been listening very attentively, and for a new member you have become very adept at this, but I am getting a little concerned that maybe you are getting a little too repetitious.
Mr Kormos: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am talking right now about this being hidden away, this being sneaked in, this being camouflaged. It is not Halloween any more. You cannot dress up as something you are not. So do not dress up subsection 34(4) as an act or an amendment consequent upon amendments to the Courts of Justice Act. That has nothing to do with it.
Mr Chairman, as the Second Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, surely you have some power to make sure that this kind of nefarious, surreptitious, clandestine horror show does not take place. Surely you can rule that section out of order basically because it does not belong in that bill. It is a horrid little section. It gives incredible powers to the justices of the peace. It bodes ill for any concept of civil liberties. It is dangerous. It flies in the face of what the case law, what appellate court judges in Ontario have been telling our provincial courts, our district courts and our High Courts about how to deal with common law contempt, and it denies even the rights accorded to an alleged offender under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At that, what happens when I asked the parliamentary assistant to rationalize this for us, to explain to us how this could be here, to explain to us why it could be worded in the way it is worded, to explain to us why one of the powers is given for a justice to bar somebody from acting as an agent? Let’s assume for a minute that the person was contemptuous. Let’s assume, for instance, that the agent performed his or her particular contempt by not rising when the justice of the peace entered the courtroom. That may well be worthy of sanction. But does it go along with that, that it should similarly mean that person should be barred from representing the defendant in the particular action he was there to do? That is absurd, is it not? Either you are going allow agents or you are not.
I know there are lawyers around who would love to see these agents disappear because you have a few lawyers around -- not a whole lot -- who are hungry and they will basically do anything; they would be more than willing to appear in highway traffic court. Surely the government is not acquiescing to the wishes of those very few lawyers in trying to once again do what they cannot do directly indirectly; that is to say, stamp out paralegals.
There are a whole lot of people in the legal profession who have come to recognize that paralegals, agents, perform a very valuable function; one that should be encouraged, applauded and recognized because they are doing something that lawyers are not, quite frankly, prepared to do in most instances. Lawyers have no choice but to charge fees that would make them unavailable to litigants involved in provincial offences litigation.
What I am asking you to do, Mr Chairman, is to agree with me that the parliamentary assistant has not got the slightest idea what this amendment to the Provincial Offences Act is doing in Bill 3.
Mr Curling: On a point of order, Mr Chairman --
The Second Deputy Chair: My goodness. I was just waiting. Yes. I would like to recognize the member for Scarborough North.
Mr Curling: I have been listening attentively to the member over there. He is very well informed. Then he turned around and said I have not got a clue. Maybe it is because I was listening to him. I object to the fact that he feels I have not got a clue of what is going on -- unless what I am hearing is not making any sense.
The Second Deputy Chair: It was not a point of order, but we all appreciate the break.
Mr Kormos: The problem with Mr Curling, the member for Scarborough North, is not that he did not know what was going on; it is that he was not listening, because I said that about the parliamentary assistant. Quite frankly. I would rather that Mr Curling were dealing with this legislation because I know the member for Scarborough North, Mr Curling --
Mr Faubert: On a point of order. Mr Chairman: The member is addressing a member of this House by his surname when the standing orders clearly say that a member should be addressed by riding as a representative of the riding.
Mr Kormos: He is right; Alvin Curling, the member for Scarborough --
The Second Deputy Chair: Come on. It is deteriorating into haphazardness. Let’s get on.
Mr Kormos: Come on, Mr Chairman, what was silly was the point of order, not my referring to Mr Curling by name.
Mr Kormos: In any event, we will move on briefly. The member for Scarborough North is leaving now.
Mr Curling: No, I’m not.
Mr Kormos: Now he is coming back. I have to clear the air here. I did not suggest that he did not have a clue. I suggested the member for Yorkview, the parliamentary assistant, did not have a clue. I repeat, the member for Scarborough North clearly was not listening as well as he wished to.
If the parliamentary assistant wants to demonstrate more than a clue, he would explain what this section is doing here. He would explain why the government figures it can get away with denying fundamental rights to persons charged with what amounts to an offence that can land them in prison for up to 30 days.
He would explain why he can appear to contradict the well-established right of, let’s say, an arrested and detained person to retain and instruct counsel without delay when he gives a justice of the peace the power to arrest and detain somebody right there in a courtroom where the opportunity to retain counsel may be literally nonexistent and, indeed, much more difficult than it would be from a police cell.
He might explain why he would bar agents from acting for accused persons. What he is doing there is punishing the poor defendant for the sins of the agent, instead of merely punishing the agent. I would really very much want to hear that.
The First Deputy Chair: I know the member is anxious to conclude his remarks and let us proceed.
Mr Kormos: Let’s get right down to it now, Mr Chairman. Let’s hear from the parliamentary assistant.
The First Deputy Chair: The chair understands that the House gave the member considerable latitude. He certainly cannot say he has not had the opportunity to put on the record here anything he wanted to put on the record. We can all go home tonight and play that record, if we want to. I know the parliamentary assistant will be succinct in his reply.
Mr Polsinelli: I will try. The member for Welland-Thorold is a self-proclaimed expert on contempt, one of the things I am not. What I would like to do for a few minutes is go through the section for his benefit and for my benefit as well as for the benefit of other members of the House who may be interested in this debate.
The member for Welland-Thorold, even though he is not offering any amendments, is complaining about the horrendous new powers which this government is giving the justices of the peace in terms of controlling their courtrooms. Perhaps what we should do is examine section 90a, which is part of subsection 34(4) of this bill, and see what these horrendous new powers are that the member for Welland-Thorold is talking about.
Section 90a(1) says that if an individual commits contempt in the face of a justice of the peace he is liable to a fine of $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 30 days.
Subsection 90a(2) says that before a proceeding is taken, the justice must inform the offender of the conduct complained of and the nature of the contempt he has committed and show cause as to why he should not be punished.
Subsection 90a(3) says the offender will have an opportunity to show cause as to why he should not be punished.
Subsection 90a(4) is the interesting section, because this is one section that the member for Welland-Thorold has forgotten about in his endeavour to explain the horrendous new power that this government is giving justices of the peace. This subsection says the justice of the peace shall -- must -- adjourn the contempt proceedings until another day. That is, he cannot hear it right away, unless it is necessary for the preservation of order in the court.
Surely the member for Welland-Thorold would want to give the justice of the peace, the person presiding over a court, a right to take immediate action if it is necessary for the preservation of order in his courtroom. I cannot see why he would not want to give him that power. I think, and I believe this government believes, that it is a necessary power for the justice, for the person presiding over the court, to take immediate action if it is necessary to preserve order in the court. Now, if it is necessary to preserve order in the court and the justice of the peace decides to take immediate action, then at that point he can have the offender arrested and detained for the purpose of hearing the contempt proceedings. Again I stress, he must refer it to another day unless it is necessary to preserve order in the courtroom.
Now if it referred to another day, if it is not a situation where it is necessary to preserve order of the courtroom, and if it does get referred to another day, then it is not the justice of the peace who will be presiding over the contempt charges, but it is a provincial court judge, and as the member for Welland-Thorold knows, the provincial court judge is on a higher calibre than the justice of the peace; at least the qualifications for a provincial court judge are higher than for a justice of the peace.
That is the system that is contemplated by this amendment. It says if a justice of the peace has to preserve order in his courtroom then he can deal with the contempt charges right away, he can have the offender arrested and detained for the purpose of hearing the contempt charge. If it is not a question of preserving order in the courtroom, then he must set it over for another day where a provincial court judge will hear the contempt case.
The member points out that these are horrendous new powers we are giving to the justices of the peace in allowing them to control their courtrooms. The member for Welland-Thorold again has said that he is an expert on this. He knows very much about contempt proceedings for very personal reasons, and also because of the fact that he is a lawyer. Perhaps what the member for Welland-Thorold should do is check section 71 of the Courts of Justice Act, which presently gives justices of the peace those exact same powers, verbatim, word for word. What this act is doing is it is removing it from the Courts of Justice Act and it is putting it in the Provincial Offences Act where it rightly belongs.
But again I say, it is the exact same power that justices of the peace presently have under the Courts of Justice Act, so if the expert is not offering any amendments, perhaps he would like to discuss it with the ministry officials if he has a philosophical problem or a policy problem as to the powers that presently exist with the justices of the peace to control order in their courtrooms.
The First Deputy Chair: The member for Carleton has been most patient with the House this afternoon, and I think we would like to hear from him.
Mr Sterling: I just wanted to give my friend the member for Welland-Thorold the opportunity --
The First Deputy Chair: Is that what you wanted to do? I am anxious to hear you. I have heard this song. I want to hear yours.
Mr Sterling: I have enjoyed the debate this afternoon, and I am learning more about contempt this afternoon than I have in all of my years in practice before I got to this Legislature and since that time.
I am talking to the last section of Bill 3,s and as members know we have spent a considerable amount of time in this Legislature dealing with bills 2 and 3. In fact, we have spent probably about five or six hours of legislative time in the legislative chamber. This was unnecessary, not because the amendments put forward were of no value, not because the debate was of no value but because the Attorney General, through his former parliamentary assistant -- and we cannot blame the present parliamentary assistant for this -- cut off the debate on Bills 2 and 3 in the justice committee during the summertime before that should have happened.
It was interesting, if members look back at the process that court reform has undergone in this province, that some year and a half ago, or almost two years now, the Zuber report was produced. The Zuber report was a report which looked into our whole court system, which I admit was badly in need of reform. About a year and a half later, after considerable consultation with various groups, the Attorney General, on or about 1 May, I believe 4 May of this year, brought forward Bill 2 and Bill 3.
The bill received rather quick second reading. Quite frankly, those of us who debated the bill at that time and voted in favour of it hoped that during the committee process, when we would have the opportunity to hear public input, we would hear from people who had the opportunity to read the legislation in detail, who knew the effects of the various sections, and who would bring forward to the committee their concerns over the various parts of Bills 2 and 3.
Well, the hearing started on Bills 2 and 3 in the third and fourth week of June of this year, some seven or eight short weeks after the bill was introduced in this Legislature for first reading. At that time the committee entertained a number of very, very substantial groups to bring forward presentations to the justice committee, the Advocates’ Society, the Canadian Bar Association, and a number of other groups who knew or deal with our courts on a consistent basis.
The one common thread through all of the submissions in the latter part of June was that they needed some more time to consider, in fact, what this legislation was recommending and what it was doing. See, my concern with Bills 2 and 3, even though we have gone through this process over the last two days and a very, very short process in committee, is that we have not considered all of the issues that were necessary.
That, in fact, was evidenced by the great number of amendments that the Attorney General, himself, brought to the justice committee in early August. A short three months after he introduced the bill in this Legislature, he found it necessary, I believe, to amend some 20 or 30 different sections. In other words, the Attorney General was saying to us on 1 August, “I have made 30 mistakes in bills 2 and 3, in the technicality of bills 2 and 3, and therefore I have to bring these amendments to the committee.”
Even by 1 August or 2 August, the groups who we would rely on for their free expertise did not have an adequate opportunity to bring forward those ideas, their concerns about various sections. In fact, it is interesting that we only received the preliminary report of the Canadian Bar Association one day after the Liberal members of the justice committee decided to report this bill to the Legislature.
My friend, the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr Kormos), put forward a motion during the committee, and I supported the motion, that we not report the bill at that time but wait until the first week of the legislative session on about 15 October to report the bill to this Legislature, so we would have the opportunity if the Canadian Bar Association came forward, the Advocates Society, or any other group that could help the legislative process bring forward constructive suggestions so we could take the benefit of it, put it into the legislation now so we will not have any glitches when this legislation is put into implementation.
What I fear most greatly is that in spite of accepting four or five minor amendments during this process over the last two days, there probably remain a number of problems with this legislation. Now I do not know how great those problems are going to be, but one of the things that a lawyer who has had any opportunity to practise in a court does know is that if he cannot fight a battle in court on the merits of his issues, he immediately goes to the process that the courts are run by.
That is why I thought that it was imprudent of the Attorney General and the Liberal majority to ram this bill through as they have done. They have not properly consulted with the bar, with the bench and with the public since 3 May or 4 May when they introduced this bill in this Legislature.
I would predict that a number of disputes that will occur in our civil and in our criminal courts will be decided not on the basis of the merits of the case but will be decided on the basis that there is something wrong with Bill 2 and Bill 3, which we are finishing in the committee of the whole House this afternoon.
I do hope, quite frankly, that we have covered all of the necessary amendments. I do hope we have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, but when we get into a technical piece of legislation like this where, for instance, Bill 3 amends many other statutes, the Construction Lien Act, as I open up Bill 3, the Crown Attorneys Act, the District Municipality of Muskoka Act, the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, the Evidence Act, the Fraudulent Debtors Arrest Act, the Fuel Tax Act, the Gasoline Tax Act, the Income Tax Act. Bill 3 amends many, many other pieces of legislation. That tell us that Bill 2 meshes with many other pieces of legislation which we have in our law books for the province of Ontario.
While I have every confidence in Mr Perkins who is the policy adviser on the staff at the Ministry of the Attorney General, I thought it would be most prudent for us to say to groups who would have an opportunity to look at this legislation in detail: “Let’s use your free expertise. Let’s use your knowledge of the law.” Because, notwithstanding the best of intentions on the part of the Attorney General, they do not practise law on a day-to-day basis the same as the private bar does.
Some of the people in the Attorney General’s office do and I do not know how much input came from those particular individuals who are dealing in the criminal courts, in particular. But certainly, I do not believe any member of the policy group in the Ministry of the Attorney General would be expected to have the same kind of expertise and experience that the practising bar would have in the province of Ontario.
Quite frankly, we are not at fault for shutting down the hearings. We would have liked to have invited the Canadian Bar Association, the Advocates’ Society and other groups to have the opportunity to come in front of us, after they had adequate time to consult with their members, to talk about this legislation. I believe the Advocates’ Society are, in fact, going to meet this month to talk about this legislation and it will be too late. But we would have liked to have had the opportunity to hear their input and then go ahead with the best possible bill so we will not have cases that are decided in our criminal and civil courts on the basis of the process, the fact that Bill 2 or Bill 3 may be faulty and therefore someone who is at fault is not going to be penalized and the person who is the victim of either a civil or a criminal wrong is not going to be satisfied.
I put forward a number of amendments and perhaps the amendment which I feel the government should have considered more seriously relates to section 92 of this bill. I am not sure which section it is but it equates to sections 92 and 92b of the bill.
Those amendments which I put forward dealt with the “management advisory committee” which is going to be dealing with running our courts in eight different regions across our province. There is also an overall management advisory committee which deals with running the courts across the province of Ontario.
The Attorney General received, on 28 September 1989, a letter from the Honourable Brian Dickson, the chairman of the Canadian Judicial Council and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and he outlined the concerns over sections 92 and 92b of this act. They relate to the problem of who is going to run the courts of this province.
Is it the judiciary, the judges, who should be charged with that? Is it the lawyers who are going to have an equal say with the judges? Is it the Attorney General’s department or is it a group of lay people who are going to have that function?
The parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General tells me it is going to be a partnership. Quite frankly, I do not think it should be a partnership. I think the ultimate decision should be the judiciary, the judges, who make the final decisions as to how the courtrooms are to be conducted across this province.
I asked the parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General what will happen when the 12 members of that committee who are not judges go against the four members who are judges. What happens when their advice to the judges is not acceptable to them? What happens when the judges go ahead and run the courts, as he suggests they have the right to, contrary to the wishes of the other 12? Will the Attorney General then cut back on their funding? Will the Attorney General not staff their courts properly with security and the technical people who are required? Will the bar co-operate with the judges in those cases?
In our province, to this time, most courts have operated in a manner where the bar has been consulted and other people dealing with the court have been consulted, but as I understand it, the present situation is such that there is no aura that they are managing the affairs of the courtrooms of Ontario.
The parliamentary assistant accepted my amendment to change the name of this committee from a management committee to a management advisory committee. That is his answer and the government’s answer to the problem of the independence of the judiciary, which is pointed out in Chief Justice Dickson’s letter to the Attorney General.
I do not think it is enough. I think he should have accepted the amendments which I put forward whereby it would be guaranteed that there would be as many judges as other people on the committee and it would be guaranteed that the chairman or chairperson of the management advisory committee was in fact a member of the judiciary.
We will see whether or not the legislation will stand the test of time. I think the bar and the other people involved would have accepted an amendment to this part of the legislation, but I do believe the government is taking an unnecessary chance in putting forward this type of management group to run our courts. It is not guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary of this province by bringing forward this kind of model.
In saying a few closing remarks, I would like to thank the Canadian Bar Association for its suggestions and its input with regard to this, and the work on Bills 2 and 3. It is unfortunate they did not have more time. I would also like to thank Elizabeth Baldwin from the legislative counsel’s office for the Legislative Assembly for helping me with the many amendments which she drew up, resulting from suggestions I gave to her. I would also like to thank David Gordon of the Progressive Conservative research bureau who assisted me.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Craig Perkins of the Ministry of the Attorney General, who has been a long-standing strength of the Attorney General’s department. I only hope, Craig, that you have taken into account all of the factors that I am concerned about and all of the t’s and all of the i’s have been crossed and dotted.
The First Deputy Chair: Would the parliamentary assistant like to conclude?
Mr Polsinelli: Since we are at the point where we are giving the closing credits and the member for Carleton has complimented Mr Perkins. I would like to do the same. I would also like to compliment all the Ministry of the Attorney General staff who have had anything to do with this legislation.
Actually, I will be rather brief. I thought that it was rather important that I respond at least to one point that the member for Carleton talked about in his speech, and that is the point dealing with public consultation and public debate.
It should be noted by members of this House that public debate on court reform had been an ongoing process at least since May 1986 when the Honourable Mr justice Zuber was given his mandate. His report, as we all know, was handed to the Attorney General some time in July 1987. The Attorney General has had consultation twice on the Zuber report, both in the following winter of 1987 and in 1988. Given his interest in proceeding with this, a task force on court reform was appointed in September 1988 and in a period of two months had 22 meetings across the province.
The meetings that they had across the province were held in six centres. They were held around Ontario with representations of every county law association, the Canadian Bar Association, the Advocates’ Society, the Criminal Lawyers Association and other local groups. Also involved in these consultations were consumer and business groups.
The member for Carleton asked whether or not there was any practising bar that had any impact on this legislation. I think he should be made aware that the task force on court reform that was appointed by the Attorney General includes, and I am going to point these out: five crown attorneys, four of whom had court experience within the last 12 months; two civil lawyers, one who was fresh from private practice; one lawyer from the legal aid system; two police lawyers, and one court administrator.
In terms of the actual legislative process, first reading of the bill was had in this Legislature on I May 1989 when the Attorney General announced his multifaceted court reform package. It went to committee 11 weeks later, and at that time we believe that individuals had some time to present briefs to the committee. All the judges were informed that all the judges who had opinions on the bills express them to us, that is, the Ministry of the Attorney General, privately, of course, but in plenty of time for the committee. Indeed, the Canadian Bar Association was able to put not one, but two briefs to the Attorney General in May and July respecting these two bills.
It should be pointed out that in terms of the actual committee process, the committee did undergo a public hearing process and there was never a time allocation motion that was placed by the committee, that is, there was no debate cutoff. Any group that wanted to appear before the standing committee on administration of justice to talk to us about this bill was allowed the opportunity to do so, after which the committee went through its regular clause-by-clause debate and reported the bill to this House.
I hope that at least sets the record straighter in terms of the consultation process. It is not that this bill went in one day and was passed the other. It is in fact a process that was commenced three years ago when the Honourable Mr Justice Zuber was appointed and it is a process that will be completed when phase 2 of the court reform package that was announced by the Attorney General on 1 May of this year is completed.
The First Deputy Chair: Is it the pleasure of the House that section 55 --
Mr Sterling: Mr Chairman, I feel because the parliamentary assistant was not a member of the justice committee --
Mr Polsinelli: I was.
Mr Sterling: Well, then I would recall and I just want to show him --
Mr Polsinelli: Norm, let’s not get into that.
Mr Sterling: If the parliamentary assistant was there, then he has forgotten something. I want to show him the amendments. Here are the amendments that were before us. In that package there have to be 60 amendments. Does the parliamentary assistant remember how long it took to pass those amendments? Fifteen minutes. Does he call that a proper process? Is he defending that process? It took 15 minutes because there was not adequate time for people to deal with it in a meaningful manner. That is not an adequate defence.
Mr Polsinelli: I must respond to that. It is incumbent on me because I was a member of the justice committee. I was there during the public hearing process of these two bills, and one of the reasons that we went rather quickly through 60 amendments is because, as the member for Carleton will know, we had a reprinted bill that incorporated the amendments and any section of the bill that any member of the committee wanted to hold was available to be held and to be discussed. If we went through them in 15 minutes, it was because the members of the committee were satisfied with the amendments and at that time the member for Carleton did not want to spend the time debating the amendments.
Section 55 agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
On motion by Mr Polsinelli, the committee of the whole House reported two bills with certain amendments.
PUBLIC SERVICE PENSION ACT, 1989
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: The fifth order, second reading of Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act, Mr Elston.
Ms Hošek: I am pleased to introduce the Public Service Pension Act for second reading in the House. The bill will amend the current Public Service Superannuation Act and the Superannuation Adjustment Benefits Act. These two acts provide the pension plan for about 85,000 members of the Ontario public service.
The bill addresses the financial problems of the plan which were outlined in the 17 May budget of this year. It also proposes significant changes in how both the plan and the fund are managed. As well, the bill allows for future changes in the area of member responsibility and control and alters the benefit design to reflect Ontario’s updated Pension Benefits Act.
Over the past few years, there has been extensive study and discussion on the inadequate funding arrangements for indexation benefits. In the budget, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) indicated his resolve to secure inflation protection for these plan members who have made their contributions in good faith over the years. He said that a speedy resolution was necessary so that the financial problems could be dealt with in a fiscally responsible manner and were not passed on to future generations of plan members and taxpayers.
This legislation fulfils those commitments. It increases the contribution rate for both the employees and the government to pay for pension benefits earned in the future. The government will take responsibility for the past service deficit, a responsibility which entails a financial obligation of almost $2 billion. Under the new financing arrangements, the basic and indexation funds of the pension will be combined. The result will be one consolidated pension fund providing one benefit, an indexed pension.
The new act also permits the plan to begin investment in market securities and creates an arm’s-length organization to administer the plan and the fund. Government representatives met with representatives of plan members last year to discuss alternative arrangements for control of the plan. Since it has not been possible to reach an agreement, the bill provides that the government will remain sole sponsor of the pension plan. However, the legislation keeps the door open to shared responsibility for the plan in the future, either through full partnership or a member-run arrangement. Separate plans for different groups of employees are also an option for future discussion.
This act maintains the excellent level of pension benefits available to the public service, as well as enhancing some aspects of the plan. The House is aware that the Pension Benefits Act legislated a number of requirements affecting all pension plans in Ontario. Although the public service superannuation plan has been administered in keeping with the Pension Benefits Act since January 1988, this act now brings the plan document into formal compliance. For example, under the new act public servants become entitled to a pension in the future after two years of service. Also, the 50 per cent rule ensures that the plan members do not pay for more than half the cost of their pensions since January 1987.
In addition to implementing pension reform, the Public Service Pension Act enhances several benefits. Under the new act, all unclassified, part-time and seasonal employees can choose to belong to the plan. Membership now will be available to virtually all who are employed by the government. I would like to note that this change is of particular benefit for women, who hold the majority of our unclassified and part-time positions.
One of the most important areas of benefit design that the bill improves is portability. In addition, this act simplifies buybacks of service for plan members whether in the private or the public sector. It will now be possible to transfer any past pensionable service from any pension plan in Canada.
Some technical amendments must be made in order to fulfil the intent of the legislation. I will be tabling these amendments during clause-by-clause review of the bill.
I would like to emphasize that this act will not have any impact on the entitlements current pensioners are already receiving. The provisions of this bill will help to secure first-rate pension benefits fur current and future members of the public service and open a new era in management of the fund. It also offers the flexibility and freedom necessary for the public service pension plan to change in the future.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): I would like to indicate to the honourable member, if she is paying attention, that our very able assistant at the table, Smirle Forsyth, has indicated that in my enthusiasm to try to help matters I am only confusing things. As a result, you should now move second reading of the bill.
Ms Hošek, on behalf of Mr Elston, moved second reading of Bill 36, An Act to revise the Public Service Superannuation Act.
Now that the honourable House leader for the government is here, everything will be correct.
Mr Morin-Strom: I am pleased to be able to address this bill. This is my first opportunity to speak for our party as pension critic. Certainly this bill is one that is of very serious concern to myself, to New Democrats and to public servants right across Ontario.
This is a bill, as we see it, that does nothing for the public servants of this province except oblige them to pay even more for the cost of their pensions than they were previously. There are no significant, tangible benefits in terms of improved benefits to any public servant in Ontario. However, at the same time, this government is asking public servants to increase their contributions to the plan by one per cent of their wages, one per cent that will be taken out of the wages of the employees of this province not just for this year but for many years to come.
This legislation is seriously flawed in many respects. Most fundamentally, it does not address the issue of the rights of workers to have some control over their own pension plans and to be able to either manage, jointly manage or negotiate those pension plans that will have such a profound effect on themselves and their families for years to come.
This government has refused to accept the recommendations of its own experts, in particular in the Slater report, with regard to fundamental features of the public service pension plan. This government refuses to accept the desirability of having a plan that is at arm’s length from the government, one that is jointly negotiated and governed by the employees who are affected by the plan and by the employer, who in this case is the government.
In this case, the government has put itself into a tremendous conflict of interest when it attempts not only to stipulate all the terms of the plan and prevent employees and their unions from negotiating any aspects of those plans, but as well is the one who holds the assets of the plan.
This government has not opened public pension plans to market investment and the proposal in this bill is inadequate in terms of the management of the plan that historically has meant a cash cow back to the government, a source of government funds from employees’ wages that the government has been able to use at interest rates that have not reflected current market values.
The government has not made the kinds of investments that would have resulted in a plan that was self-sufficient, that would have generated the kinds of income and surpluses that would have enabled reductions in the amount of employees’ contributions and improvement of benefits.
Instead, because of the total mismanagement of this plan by the government, we have a plan that the government says is looking at a deficit in total even though the level of funding into the plan from the employees is at a higher level than many other comparable plans. In fact, plans that have greater benefits than this have a record of considerable surpluses in recent years and have the availability of funds in those plans to be able to improve benefits.
The mismanagement of this plan has resulted in government action that will necessitate additional funds going into the plan. Because of that mismanagement, the government certainly should be taking on the burden of those problems, not passing it on to employees who had no say in the management of this plan, in the funding of this plan and in the investment strategy of this plan, an investment strategy that was simply a handout back to the government itself.
This plan, even with the changes that are in it, will not meet the retirement income needs of whole groups of vulnerable employees. Seasonal, part-time and casual employees, for example, do not get a substantive plan, one that will enable them to plan for their families’ futures.
The buyback provisions in this plan, the government says, are made simpler. In fact, the buyback plans are more restrictive than under existing legislation and are a penalty to current employees who will be forced to pay higher rates, higher amounts in order to buy back service to extend their pensions.
The guarantees of indexing in this plan are very shaky because of government intentions to assume the ownership of any plan surpluses into the future. The government refuses to ensure that the indexing plan will keep up with inflation.
Also, in the legislation, this plan restricts inflation protection to eight per cent, as the members over there must know. It does not ensure inflation protection, and a plan that had been adequately managed by this government would have had those kinds of protections.
This legislation does not guarantee worker or union representation in the administration of the fund. This is a step backwards from the current legislation. The Public Service Pension Board will not be at arm’s length, but will be appointments by the cabinet, by this government. The previous plan did ensure union representation of at least one member. This plan does not guarantee even one member on the pension board.
Most fundamental is the total unwillingness of this government to negotiate contribution and benefit levels with the workers involved. There is no appeal mechanism established to resolve disputes or to review actuarial assumptions established in the legislation. This bill, as it is presented, surely should be rejected. The government could have taken a much simpler approach, an approach that would have been acceptable to public servants across this province, by simply introducing changes to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act so that the union and the employer could undertake genuine negotiations on contribution levels and benefit levels, and on the administration of the plan.
The members of this Legislature have before them a piece of legislation that we know is unacceptable to both parties. We need only test against fiscal responsibility and existing pension legislation. This act is arbitrary in its nature, a unilateral act by this government that will not, and refuses to, negotiate pension benefits with its own employees.
Surely this sets a terrible precedent in terms of the co-operative approach that this government should be striving for in dealing in a forthright manner with its own employees. The inability of the Treasurer and of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr Elston) to negotiate these issues, which are of such critical importance in terms of employee benefits, is certainly an affront to all the workers for this government.
Surely a government that is able to negotiate wage levels, employee working conditions and other benefits could come forward with legislation that would ensure that the same kinds of bargaining rights are available to the workers for the province as are currently available for workers in the private sector. Why is it that workers and their unions are able to negotiate pensions and pension benefits in the private sector, in contract negotiations, but are totally restricted from that kind of negotiation in the public sector?
This bill, which replaces the Public Service Superannuation Act and the Superannuation Adjustment Benefits Act, has several major aspects. There are claims as to benefit provisions in this bill, one of which is to bring the old legislation in line with the Pension Benefits Act that was passed by this Legislature two years ago. These in themselves are not improvements because the Pension Benefits Act in fact supersedes in those areas.
One of the few tangible benefits of this act is in the area of some contract employees and unclassified part-timers who will now be given the option of joining the plan. This will affect a limited number of workers who will now be eligible for a partial pension from the province of Ontario. The legislation will allow pension transfers into the plan from any past pensionable service, whether from the public or the private sector, but those transfers are under restrictive conditions in which the payments are going to be at higher levels to buy back past service because they will be based on wages today, not based on the wages at the time the service was actually undertaken.
As well, employees will be forced to pay the cost of this buyback amortized over a five-year period rather than over a 10-year period. This will make the additional costs of that service prohibitive for many employees. The rules governing the purchase of credit for past service have been tightened considerably so that the buybacks for certain service in the private sector will be very difficult for those employees.
The funding of the plan: this legislation requires pension plan members to pay an additional one per cent of their salary on top of the seven per cent they are already contributing, but this is a unilateral action being taken by the government with no improvement in benefit levels to public sector employees working for the province of Ontario. The legislation claims that it will permit market investments rather than the old requirement that all funds be invested in nonmarketable government of Ontario securities, but given the fact that the government is retaining total control over the management of the pension funds, we have no assurances that in fact these pension funds will be managed in the best interests of the employees.
We should have a pension board that is at arm’s length, and in some of the language the government claims that it is, but in fact all appointments to the pension board are going to be made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, in other words cabinet appointments, even if there is an agreement reached at a later date for joint control of the pension plan. The government is planning to administer the plan and invest the funds in its best interests, not in that of the employees.
This new act is also based on the government remaining as the sole sponsor of the plan with the right to all future surpluses. This is nothing more than giving the government the opportunity to steal the funds of the employees. funds that are in fact being held in trust for workers in this province, not funds that belong to the government of Ontario. In this bill the government is acting as both legislator and employer, so it has more than a passing interest and a conflict of interest in this concern.
Our position is that this bill is unnecessary and should be discarded by this government and that true, full negotiation should take place between the government and the workers of this province, through their union representatives, so that a mutually-agreed-upon pension plan can be reached.
All that is needed to do this is an amendment to the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act that would allow pensions to become part of the collective bargaining process. We have introduced such an amendment in the past in private members’ bills. I would ask the government to take a closer look at them and a look at that approach as a realistic one that would ensure that we have benefits for the employees of this province that are agreed to by them, as they have a dual role to play in the reaching of wage and benefit packages covering all aspects of their benefits with the government.
This bill really is about negotiability and a real partnership that is needed between the government and its employees. I think it is most unfortunate that this government has not approached the employees in an open and forthright manner on this bill. This bill does not reflect the interests of the workers of this province, but, as with other initiatives in the area of pensions from this government, reflects the unilateral action which is in the best interests of the employer, not at all in the best interests of the workers.
I find it particularly outrageous that government continues to play fast and loose with pension plans that belong to workers. These funds surely represent deferred wages, wages that workers agreed not to take when they were earned but rather to invest for future use when they could no longer earn wages. In one’s later years, one’s family, one’s spouse and oneself are very dependent upon the pension plan that one has earned over the years of service for his or her employer -- in this case, for the province of Ontario. The funds that are in this plan represent benefit improvements that were not offered in other areas to employees.
These funds represent a forfeiture by employees of unvested benefits and the reduced benefits which accrue to deferred, as opposed to active, employees. Much of this forfeited benefit surplus in many plans has resulted from the economic downturn of the 1980s and consequent layoffs and terminations.
High interest rates and good investment markets have enabled many pension plans to generate substantial surpluses. With better management, this plan should have been able to achieve those kinds of surpluses as well. In the future, if a surplus is generated in this plan, the government, in this act, is stating its claim that those surpluses would be returned to the government. This is a terrible precedent to set in terms of the kinds of protections that we are expecting with respect to the private pension plans in the legislation anticipated very shortly in that area as well.
This plan has very many serious flaws, but at this time --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): I would ask the member if this would be an appropriate time to adjourn the debate and we can proceed later.
On motion by Mr Morin-Strom, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, the business for the upcoming week is as follows:
On Monday, resuming the second-reading debate on Bill 36, and should that debate conclude, we will then proceed to second reading of Bill 64 and Bill 65.
Tuesday will be spent completing the unfinished business from the previous day, as will Wednesday, and on Thursday we will continue any previously unfinished business and from there proceed to third reading of Bills 2 and 3 and second reading of Bill 66.
The House adjourned at 1800.