The House met at 1330.
ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME
Mr Laughren: December 1 is World AIDS Day and it is time to set the record straight about the Ontario government.
Ontario has failed to provide anonymous testing. Evidence and common sense prove HIV reporting and contact tracing scare people away from testing. People cannot fight their HIV infection if they do not know they are infected. To discourage testing is to encourage early death. The Ontario government must provide anonymous HIV testing services throughout the province.
Ontario has failed to co-ordinate or manage treatment care for HIV infection. Delivery of primary care is in crisis. Physicians with large HIV practices are overloaded. Many are accepting no more patients. The Ontario government must take responsibility for the delivery of medical treatment to people with AIDS and HIV infection.
Ontario has failed to develop standards of care for treatment of people with AIDS or HIV. As a result, people in prison, people in hospital, people receiving home care and others are at risk due to inconsistent and inadequate treatment. The Ontario government must develop the highest possible standards for HIV treatment for all its institutions and services.
Ontario has failed to involve people living with AIDS and HIV in developing policies and making decisions that affect their lives. The Ontario government must appoint people living with AIDS and HIV who are accountable to people living with AIDS in the community.
Ontario has shown no leadership, no commitment and no responsibility in helping people infected with HIV fight the disease.
Mr J. M. Johnson: This government has made a commitment to the people of Ontario to improve highway safety and to implement programs that would reduce the number of accidents that occur on our highways. I commend the government on this initiative and would assume that the installation of traffic signals at dangerous intersections would fall in this category.
Ministry of Transportation officials from London district have identified that there is such a dangerous location in Erin township, Wellington county, at the intersection of Highway 24 and Highway 25, and are prepared to initiate the necessary procedures to install traffic signals. However, they fear some delays may be experienced before construction is initiated on the site.
If the delays are caused by lack of funding, I would hope that the government would honour its commitment to improve highway safety and give speedy approval to this project before any more of my constituents, and the travelling public in general, become the innocent accident victims of this dangerous intersection, which will become even more dangerous with the onset of winter.
Mr Adams: Trent University was founded 25 years ago following a major community campaign. People in the Peterborough area wanted a university that would both serve their region and make a major contribution to higher learning across Canada and abroad. This is indeed what they have today.
Trent is Ontario’s mast distinctive university. It is by far the smallest university we have. Its focus on high-quality undergraduate education is very special, as is its thriving college system. It serves local needs through campuses in Peterborough and Oshawa, while drawing more than 80 per cent of its students from farther afield. Its international program attracts students from 63 countries.
Trent pioneered programs in Canadian studies and native studies. It has a growing reputation for research and teaching related to the environment.
After 25 years, Trent is a vital illustration of the power of two expressions that were current in the 1960s, the decade in which the university was founded. One is, “Small is beautiful,” and the other is, “Think global, act local.”
Peterborough can be proud of the global roles of its community project, Trent University. Happy anniversary, Trent.
SUPPORT AND CUSTODY ENFORCEMENT
Miss Martel: The Support and Custody Enforcement Act was proclaimed on 1 July 1987. The intent was to decrease the excessively high rates of defaults in support payments in Ontario. Further, it was hoped public attitudes would change so that default on support payments would no longer be considered acceptable. Eight enforcement offices were established in Ontario pursuant to the act.
While I support the intent of the act, I have been less than happy with the concerns raised regarding the Sudbury regional office. These include the office policy of allowing employees to withhold their last names from clients, making it impossible for clients to identify who they are dealing with. Given that in April at least three employees shared the same first name with at least one other person, and in one case with two other people, it becomes totally impossible for clients or MPPs to deal with the office.
Second, we have received many complaints regarding a lack of courtesy displayed in dealing with clients. It is not easy to deal with the public, but the concerns raised regarding this office are far in excess of any other agency I contact.
Third, support orders are not being enforced effectively or efficiently and the backlog is now out of control. In my office I have over 30 cases on file, and the latest of these involve defaults in payment with no action being taken to resolve the problem.
The Attorney General (Mr Scott) has yet to deal with the act. If all court orders must be filed, then more money and more workers are required. Otherwise, the whole intent of the act and expectations will be undermined.
Mr Villeneuve: Members of this assembly should know that after the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) spoke to the annual meeting of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture here in Toronto yesterday, the first two questions directed at him concerned fuel ethanol.
Although this government has talked about cleaner fuels, it has done nothing and the minister’s answers yesterday that fuel alcohol may be worth pursuing hold very little hope of any real actions.
According to US clean air standards for carbon monoxide, industries in Toronto would have been shut down 11 times last winter because they were over the limit. Carbon monoxide emissions are caused by unburned fuel, which increases in colder weather. Fuel burned is increased by adding alcohol, which contains oxygen. In fact, some US states require at least two per cent oxygen in winter fuels.
As pointed out to the Premier (Mr Peterson) by my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) last February, the Ontario cabinet passed a regulation reducing oxygen content to no more than 0.05 per cent in fuel. To make matters worse, the MMT octane enhancer presently used in today’s fuels promotes the creation of benzene, which is carcinogen.
This government bases its acceptance of the safety of MMT on a committee report on which half the members represented are oil companies or MMT importers.
It is time for cleaner fuels in Ontario. We know how to do it. Let’s clear the air.
The Speaker: There are quite a number of private conversations. They may be necessary, but they are quite noisy.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES
Mr D. R. Cooke: On 25 October of this year, I called on CN and CP Rail to fulfil their obligations under the National Transportation Act and the 1978 order in council which mandate them to fulfil any duties and obligations Via Rail cannot fulfil. I am sorry to report to the House that both CN and CP have responded by denying their responsibility to pick up the lines Via has been ordered to abandon.
These rail line abandonments have been ordered despite the fact that Via Rail’s own report to cabinet this summer shows how it could make money on the north main line route between Toronto and London and improve ridership by 48 per cent as opposed to cutting services and thereby losing 62 per cent of its passengers and creating a $3-billion loss over the next 20 years.
This week the city of Kitchener allotted $10,000 to fight Via Rail cuts in the hope that other municipalities across Canada will join in the fight to save our national rail passenger service.
I applaud Kitchener and I applaud Brantford for taking the lead in this fight and I invite other municipalities to join the fight by launching an action in Federal Court to stop the federal government’s cuts to what could be a world-class passenger rail system.
Mr Hampton: As we all know, the government of Ontario is extremely capable when it comes to imposing and collecting taxes in Ontario. It taxes gasoline at the pump, new tires both at sale and when they are on new cars, and imposes a hefty eight per cent sales tax at the point of sale.
For some reason, however, this government neglects to collect taxes that are legally due when purchases are made over the border. It is this neglect in collecting a tax that is causing a problem for merchants in many communities who live along the US border. For example, in my constituency, you have the community of Rainy River, the community of Fort Frances near Thunder Bay and the community of Pigeon River. In all of those communities, individuals are able to purchase goods in Minnesota or Michigan and then return across the border.
At the border, they are hit with the federal sales tax and legally they are supposed to pay the provincial sales tax. However, for some reason this government has neglected to put in place the mechanisms that would enable that tax to be collected.
Imagine the situation a merchant finds himself in wherever he has competition across the border from Ontario in the United States. He is immediately at an eight per cent disadvantage. When will the government do its job?
Mr Harris: I rise today to draw attention to flagrant violations of the Apprenticeship and Tradesmen’s Qualification Act with respect to the use of uncertified labour in Ontario, and its virtual nonenforcement by the Ministry of Skills Development.
Last year there were 2,000 reported violations, with only nine charges laid and seven convictions. This lack of enforcement has many implications in terms of safety and quality of work. It means the ministry is forcing many contractors to bid for work against others who employ few, if any, tradespeople. It is also unfair to skilled tradesmen who are licensed as required by law.
This matter has already been dealt with by the Ombudsman, who has made recommendations to the ministry about how to deal with the shortage of certified tradespeople. Apparently, it has fallen on deaf ears. In the meantime, there is already a law, a good law that is not being enforced by the ministry.
Because skilled tradespeople are concerned about the lack of action by the Peterson government, they have decided to come to Queen’s Park on 13 December under the sponsorship of the United Auto Workers, Local 463, to press for changes.
After two years of posturing, it is time this government dealt with this serious issue. With-out enforcement, certification and laws regulating trades are meaningless. Without certification and regulation, safety and job quality cannot be assured.
Surely the people of Ontario deserve better.
Mr Eakins: I am delighted and honoured to join with members of this assembly and indeed all citizens of Ontario in congratulating Nancy Sweetnam of Lindsay for her outstanding achievement in swimming and thereby winning the right to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand from 24 January to 3 February.
I am very proud to say that this 16-year-old grade 11 student won the 100-metre butterfly competition on Monday and the 400-metre individual medley on Saturday at the Common-wealth Games trials in Montreal.
Miss Sweetnam is the product of the Lindsay Lightning Bolts swim club and her mother Marian is her coach. Their hard work and dedication to swimming have certainly paid off.
Nancy has certainly made all of us in Victoria-Haliburton proud of her, and in fact all of Ontario proud of her. I would like to take this opportunity to add my personal congratulations and best wishes for continued success at the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Well done, Nancy.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am pleased to announce today the funding levels for major transfer programs for the 1990-91 fiscal year. These transfers provide financial support to Ontario’s universities, colleges, school boards, hospitals and municipalities.
The announcement of major transfer levels at this time allows our post-secondary institutions and hospitals to plan more effectively for the year ahead.
In the case of school boards and municipalities, the fiscal year begins on 1 January. Early announcement of funding levels enables them to prepare their budgets based on knowledge of the provincial transfers they will be receiving.
The determination of funding levels for the major transfer programs also has important implications for the province. The major transfers account for more than 40 per cent of the province’s expenditures. This announcement therefore is an important part of the government’s overall budget process.
In 1990-91, operating grants to universities will increase by eight per cent to $1.8 billion. Operating grants to colleges of applied arts and technology also will increase by eight per cent to $754 million. Included in these amounts is funding for enrolment growth. Capital funding for universities and colleges will amount to more than $122 million in 1990-91.
My colleague the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr Conway) will announce details of these transfers and tuition fees later today.
School boards will receive an 8.7 per cent increase in their operating funding, bringing their total allocation to more than $4.5 billion. Included in this amount is funding for past throne speech and budget initiatives regarding junior and senior kindergarten, and a more equitable sharing of the local base between school boards in the same area. Capital grants to school boards will increase by $22 million to a total of $332 million.
Mr Harris: You didn’t put a percentage on that.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The member should put the percentage on a basis of what his government used to pay them compared to ours, and that is quite an impressive figure.
The 1990-91 operating allocation for hospitals will increase by over $500 million, or 8.7 per cent, to more than $6.5 billion. Included in this amount is funding for workload increases, life support programs and new and expanding programs such as cancer and cardiac services. This announcement also provides further support for the transitional funding measures announced by the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) during the past year.
The capital allocation to hospitals will increase by more than 30 per cent to $250 million, resulting in an overall increase in provincial support for hospitals of 9.4 per cent.
Transfer payments to municipalities will increase by 8.2 per cent in 1990-91, to $4.9 billion. Within this overall allocation, operating transfers for health and social service programs will increase by 9.6 per cent to more than $1.9 billion. Unconditional grants to municipalities will increase by 4.8 per cent to more than $900 million. Capital funding for municipalities will also increase. For example, municipal road grants will increase by 11 per cent to $751 million, and environmental project grants will increase by nine per cent to $187 million.
My cabinet colleagues will provide more information on these transfer announcements in due course.
With the announcements I am making today, total funding for our major transfer partners will amount to more than $19.2 billion in 1990-91. This allocation reflects the government’s continuing commitment to the universities, colleges, school boards, hospitals and municipalities of this province and to the people they serve.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO HOSPITALS
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to announce that Ontario hospitals will receive more than $6.75 billion in overall funding in the 1990-91 fiscal year.
Last year, operating funds accounted for $6 billion. A $500-million increase in the coming fiscal year represents an increase of 8.7 per cent in operating funds.
Provincial support for hospital capital projects will rise by more than 30 per cent to $250 million in 1990-91.
The increase in operational funding will not only provide for existing services, but will also recognize workload pressures in hospitals and provide funds for growth and enhancements across the system.
Hospitals have become actively involved in improving their delivery of services with the resources allocated to them. I am pleased with the progress and overall direction taken by hospitals in this area.
Over the past year, we have been working closely with the Ontario Hospital Association to improve the hospital funding system. Our joint goal is a fair and effective operational funding system. To move us towards that goal, the Ontario Hospital Association and the ministry have been working together on a transitional funding program. I want to thank the Ontario Hospital Association for its active participation and support and I am pleased to announce that funding will be provided to continue this transitionai funding initiative.
We are making incremental changes to the system to help it respond better to the real needs of hospitals and their communities without causing significant disruption in their operations. Money is being allocated to the three major types of transitional funding: growth funding, equity funding and incentive funding.
The $250 million in capital funding is another indication of my ministry’s commitment to effective quality care in our hospitals. This represents more than a 30 per cent increase in capital spending over the amount spent last year. We anticipate approximately one third of the funding will go to meet capital needs for our expanding services: cancer, cardiovascular, emergency, critical care and other specialty care programs, as highlighted in the throne speech. The balance will be applied to a variety of projects across the province.
I believe these substantial increases for our institutional sector will help to maintain and enhance the high-quality health care system we have built in this province and of which we have every right to be proud.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO SCHOOL BOARDS
Hon Mr Conway: I have two statements. The first concerns school boards. I am pleased to provide additional information on the increase in funding to Ontario school boards for fiscal 1990-91 announced in the Treasurer’s just completed statement.
As my colleague has just indicated, the Ontario government’s increased operating grants to school boards for the fiscal year 1990-91 will total more than $4.5 billion. That is an increase of $363 million or 8.7 per cent over the 1989-90 allocation.
In the 1990-91 transfer, additional support is included for the throne speech initiatives, which were designed to improve the educational opportunities for children in the critical early years.
These programs include meeting our goal of reducing class size in grades 1 and 2 by September 1990 to an average of 20 pupils in these very important early years.
We will also increase our support for computers in education and learning materials and will take the first important step in making junior and senior kindergarten available to all four- and five-year-olds across the province.
In addition, $30 million will be made available to address the impact of the first year of a six-year phase-in of pooling, which will provide a more equitable sharing of the local tax base between school boards in the same local area.
The overall 8.7 per cent increase in operating grants will also provide additional funding in support of the basic per pupil grant, which will assist school boards with enrolment growth and other costs.
As members are aware, the level of grant to individual school boards will vary from the global 8.7 per cent increase in grants. This established practice allows the grant funding formula to reflect an individual school board’s enrolment and local wealth. A school board’s grant will, therefore, increase or decrease according to the changes in these two important variables.
I am also pleased to announce that this government will increase the capital allocation to school boards by $22 million to $332 million in fiscal 1990-91. To further assist school boards, $300 million of this amount will be advanced to them before 1 April 1990.
I say to my friends opposite, when this government assumed office in 1985 it made a commitment to provide a quality educational experience to all Ontarians. Since then, we have met that challenge by increasing operating grants to Ontario school boards by $1.3 billion, a full 41 per cent over and above what was there in 1985, and by increasing capital grants by $258 million or 350 per cent.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS FOR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Hon Mr Conway: My second statement concerns the post-secondary educational community. I am pleased as well to elaborate here on the Treasurer’s announcement of increased funding to the post-secondary educational sector.
In 1990-91, the government of Ontario will provide more than $1.8 billion in operating grants to the province’s universities and related institutions. This amount represents an increase of $134 million, or eight per cent, over the total operating support provided in the fiscal year 1989-90.
Since assuming office in 1985, our government has increased by 45 per cent our support for universities by adding an additional $560.5 million to the operating grants for that sector. This increased funding will honour the government’s commitment to enrolment growth, increased accessibility for disabled persons and an extension of French-language and bilingual programs.
In addition, this allocation will allow our universities to appoint 60 new faculty members, thereby meeting our faculty renewal program goal of hiring 500 new people over a five-year period ending in 1990. The Ontario Council on University Affairs will provide advice on the distribution of these funds and individual institutions will be informed of their allocations in the new year.
This province’s colleges of applied arts and technology also play an important part in our educational system, and I am pleased to announce that this government will provide $754.4 million in operating grants to Ontario’s 23 community colleges. This is an increase of $56 million or eight per cent over the previous year’s funding and an increase of $266.6 million or 54.7 per cent over the 1985 levels.
This increased support includes an injection of funds which will be distributed in the form of specific-purpose grants intended to enhance both the quality of and the accessibility to college programming. The details of these grants will be announced in the near future.
As well, I am pleased to announce that we will provide $122.7 million for capital grants to the post-secondary institutions. This will include an allocation of $12.7 million in capital assistance for la Cité collégiale under the federal-provincial agreement. This represents an increase of 11.5 per cent over the 1989-90 capital allocation. I will be making announcements of the allocation of these capital funds in the near future.
These increases in both operating and capital grants clearly demonstrate this government’s ongoing commitment to an accessible post-secondary education by substantially raising transfer payments to both colleges and universities.
I am announcing today that the standard tuition fee rates for colleges and universities will be increased by eight per cent in fiscal 1990-91 so as to remain in line with the increased operating grants announced for that period of time. These new fees will be eligible for OSAP assistance.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Hon Mr Sweeney: The Treasurer has announced that transfer payments to municipalities in 1990 will total approximately $4.9 billion. This includes an increase of 8.2 per cent. Of that total transfer, $914 million will be paid to the municipalities in the form of unconditional grants. These are grants to be spent by municipalities according to their own needs and their own priorities. This represents an increase of $42 million or approximately 4.8 per cent over the previous year.
Across Ontario next year, unconditional grants will amount to about $240 per household.
I would now like to inform members about some important changes being made to the unconditional grants program this year.
First, we have more clearly targeted the resource equalization grant to ensure that it is paid only to those municipalities that have a below-average tax base.
Second, we are eliminating the density-per-household grant paid to some municipalities within regions.
Third, in the past, certain grants under this program were calculated on a formula which included the unconditional grants paid to the municipality in the prior year. In effect, municipalities were paid grants based on the previous grants. In 1990, the prior year’s grant will not be included in the calculation. However, the grant rates will be increased to compensate for this change in the formula.
These changes are being made in consultation with my Advisory Committee on Provincial-Municipal Financing Matters, which includes representatives from the municipal sector. I am pleased to note in the east gallery the presence of Grant Hopcroft, the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and a member of that committee.
That committee has reviewed several components of the program and will continue its review with the goal of recommending further reforms. Those reforms are part of a larger review of the whole system by which the province provides grants to municipalities. The purpose is to bring the system up to date, so it will be more equitable in meeting today’s municipal needs.
These changes in the 1990 program will result in some redistribution of the available grants, but no municipality will receive less unconditional grant funding in 1990 than it received in 1989.
As well, today’s changes will see additional financial assistance going to those areas of the province where infrastructure financing is putting significant financial pressures on municipalities. Exact details of these grants will be forwarded to municipalities within the next few days.
The current unconditional grants legislation was implemented in 1973. However, the system of calculating the grant must reflect the changing needs municipalities face today. What has been announced today is the first step in meeting those changing needs. Over the next year, this government will work with municipalities to produce a fair and responsible reform of the unconditional grants package.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr Laughren: We welcome the announcement by the Treasurer on the grants to the various institutions in the province. I do think a couple of comments would put some of the numbers in perspective, however.
The unconditional grants to municipalities, for example, is a particularly strange announcement, particularly given the remarks of the minister, because as most people know, and everyone at the municipal level certainly knows, those grants were frozen last year. So to say that this year no one is going to receive less than they did last year really is a very strange comment to make.
As a matter of fact, just to have kept up with the consumer price index, rather than the $914 million, the municipalities should have received $965 million, so the minister is not doing anybody a big favour by simply bottling up the demands for one year and then giving them the grants the following year.
It is the same with the municipal roads grants: while some of the numbers look big, once again the municipal roads grants were frozen last year as well, so all the minister is doing is playing catch-up from the previous year.
Of course, that does not take into consideration the fact that the government has foisted upon the municipalities the whole problem of courthouse security. It has to put a cap on the grants to the day care operators and to the extended-care funding for the homes for the aged, as well.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO HOSPITALS
Mr Laughren: I will make a brief comment about the hospital funding. This government continues day after day to show that it is committed to the institutions in a funny kind of way -- as a matter of fact, an overreliance on institutional funding at the expense of community-based and preventive health care. Members do not have to take my word for that. They simply need to read the auditor’s report from yesterday, in which he indicated that York Finch General Hospital in North York -- an acute care hospital -- has 15 per cent of its beds being occupied by chronic care patients. That is some kind of commitment to chronic care and home-based care.
The government simply has to get out of that model of institutional care and start addressing the needs of community-based chronic care and preventive care. At this point, it is simply not doing that. When I look at the amount of taxes the Treasurer has imposed and their regressive nature, it is no wonder he is increasingly being known across Ontario as Maximum Bob.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO SCHOOL BOARDS
Mr Allen: Responding to the statements by the Minister of Education and Minister of Colleges and Universities, the school boards that have received barely inflation level increases recently from this government will not be entirely excited by an increase in transfers which amounts to only 2.7 percentage points above the inflation rate that is expected this coming year.
If I might comment on two elements, let us take away the window-dressing comments. On the $30 million to be made available to address the impact of a first year of the six-year phase-in of pooling, it is becoming more and more clear that this whole project is essentially a way of reducing commitment to the public boards by ignoring inflation and commercial growth over the six-year period. Even at present estimates, this $30 million ought to be at least $40 million-plus in order to make up the actual losses of the boards as measured by the 1989 assessments, which will be looked at in detail later, but which, as indications indicate, would be the difference.
With respect to the capital allocations, $22 million -- what is that? One composite high school for the whole of the province? Really. The minister knows very well that he has dropped his own commitments to capital from 75 per cent to 60 per cent. When he spreads it all across the school boards, he should in fact be increasing it at least by $65 million in order just to break even with what he was transferring last year in the capital sector.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS FOR POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Mr Allen: As far as the university and post-secondary transfers are concerned, perhaps I should content myself with simply saying that university funding in this province for the last number of years, and including this last year, has been in 9th and 10th place across the systems of the country as a whole and that this increase really will not lift this provincial system out of the last-place stance which it has across the country. Other systems have been increasing at greater rates than this and our universities need a lot more than this even to keep equal with the rest of the country.
Mr Pope: I would like to reply to the statement of the Treasurer. I find it somewhat ironic to have the Treasurer make the kind of statement he did today in light of the statement he made a year ago. It was 12 December 1988 when the Treasurer said, “The funding I am announcing today is in keeping with the sustainable rates of growth we forecast for the economy, while the rates of increase in grants will be moderate due to the declining rate of increase in economic growth,” and on and on.
Last year the Treasurer cut back in the rates of increases in transfer payments across the board for virtually all of our basic services in this province administered by school boards, hospitals and municipalities. He cut it back because his own forecast showed that real growth would decline from 5.6 per cent in 1988 to 2.8 per cent in 1989. Using that logic of decline in real growth for the province, he reduced the rate of increase to the transfer payments accordingly and in fact flat-lined the municipalities. I think it is important to underline that -- he flat-lined the municipalities.
Now we see that the rate of growth, according to his own document, is to be two per cent and somehow some other political imperative has taken over and we see a whole new strategy and a whole new principle of allocation from this Treasurer -- totally inconsistent messages with respect to economic policy, and that inconsistency is sending the wrong signals out to investors who want to come into this province. It is sending the wrong signals out to the deliverers of basic services to the people of this province.
It is clear that as a result of the policies of this Treasurer and this government we have seen a decline in services to the people of this province: a reduction in OPP detachment strength; 7,500 portables with over 200,000 students in them; inadequate access for our students and our children to post-secondary education, and the absolute destruction of a world-class health care system, with people having to go outside of this province.
At the same time, this Treasurer has whacked us for over $1 billion in tax increases for two successive years. We are being taxed to death by this Treasurer. His rate of increase in spending is 10 per cent last year alone, and at the same time, the basics that the people of this province have a right to expect are going to hell in a handbasket under this Liberal administration.
The Speaker: Order.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr McCague: I have been telling the people of the province that we have a reasonably good Minister of Municipal Affairs and that he could get more money out of the Treasurer than anybody else. I am sorry the minister was so unsuccessful and could get only 4.8 per cent for the municipalities, which got no increase last year. The Treasurer is still the parsimonious farmer from St George.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO HOSPITALS
Mr Eves: I would like to respond briefly to the statement by the Minister of Health by pointing out to her that of her $500 million increase in operating grants, by the calculations of the Ontario Hospital Association, $441 million of that will cover inflation, her government’s pay equity package and her government’s employer health tax. That leaves them new money of $9 million of her $500 million.
We would presume on this side of the House that the minister’s $250 million for capital expenditures is in excess of or above and beyond her predecessor’s commitment of $850 million over seven years. We presume that by this the minister will now be able to deliver on her commitment of 4,400 new beds to the province.
I presume that her ministry is totally up to date with respect to requests for funding and programs from every hospital in the province, and not two years behind like she was a year ago at this time. I presume there will no longer be a shortage of intensive care unit nurses or radiotherapy technologists in Ontario.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO SCHOOL BOARDS
Mr Jackson: As has become the custom, the Minister of Education has again tabled a document -- a public relations gesture -- which the members of his caucus can hide behind during the Christmas season, but in fact there are certain elements of the truth missing from this document.
The minister would front a notion of 8.5 per cent as an increase. Obviously he has not listened to the school boards in this province which have told him that inflation will be 6 per cent, there will be a 2 per cent increase for enrolment, a 0.5 per cent increase for pay equity, 1 per cent for the employer health tax, 1 per cent for pooling of industrial/commercial assessment and the transfer to the separate boards, 0.5 per cent for unemployment insurance and 1 per cent for provincial government initiatives.
In truth, the minister is only going to give school boards less than four per cent.
YORK REGION LAND DEVELOPMENT
Mr Philip: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), I will direct my question to the Deputy Premier.
The staff of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs prepared a cabinet submission to the then minister recommending a public inquiry into the development of York region. We now know that the recommendation was killed by the Premier’s chief political fixer, Gordon Ashworth, in a meeting on 4 February 1989.
I ask the Deputy Premier, does he think it appropriate that the executive director of the Office of the Premier play such a role and have such authority?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would like to ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs to respond to the question.
Hon Mr Sweeney: The particular issue that the honourable member speaks to was one that was placed before my predecessor along with two other options. At the time that the previous minister had asked his staff to define three options for him, he clearly indicated to them that he wanted background information that he could use, depending upon which option he moved forward with. This was discussed with other people. He did not choose to make the decision solely by himself, at least in terms of the discussion.
However, in talking to my staff at the present time, I understand that the minister finally made the decision himself. Somebody else did not make it. He made it on the basis of the information that was available to him. He made it on the basis of the fact that the police had conducted, I believe, an 11-month review and had not been able to substantiate what they felt were serious concerns. On the basis of that he decided that the most appropriate option to use was the administrative review, which in fact would change the practices in the municipality under concern, and that is exactly what happened.
Mr Philip: This document, which is a cabinet submission, was not submitted to cabinet. Instead, it went to Gordon Ashworth. The minister will know that the key players in the development industry --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Philip: The minister will know that the key players in the development industry in the region of York were also the biggest bagmen for the Liberal Party in the 1987 campaign. He will also know that one of those people, Marco Muzzo, was instrumental in the purchase of the Premier’s family business.
Does the minister not agree that people would find it troubling that the Premier’s chief political troubleshooter would be the person saying no, rather than the cabinet, to a submission like this?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I would point out to my honourable colleague that ministers prepare submissions to cabinet on a regular basis. That is not unusual. I would tell him, however, that on numerous occasions they do not go forward to cabinet; therefore, they do not become cabinet submissions.
There are all kinds of reasons for that. There is information that is available at a point in time that does not carry itself out and the minister chooses not to carry it forward. It is not unusual for a minister to discuss with members of the Premier’s staff certain contingency plans or elements of a decision they are trying to make.
But in the final analysis, it is the minister himself or herself who makes that decision as to whether or not to proceed. It is not someone else who makes that decision.
Mr Philip: I am sure the minister, with his experience, would agree that if a problem is of a major nature, it would normally go to cabinet. If it is of a minor policy nature, it would at least go to the minister, have an extensive review by him and the final decision made by the minister. If it is a legal problem, it would go to the Attorney General.
Is it not true that the only problem that would be referred to Mr Ashworth would be a political problem, a problem then for the Liberal Party and a problem for the Premier, and that is what has happened in this case?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I can assure my honourable colleague that his latter statement is not the case. As a minister for roughly the past four and a half years, I call up members of the Premier’s staff on a fairly regular basis to get some sense about particular issues. I can tell him very clearly that nine out of 10 of those calls would have nothing to do with what he calls “a political nature,” unless he means small-p politics, which involves everything we do around this place.
We do consult. I consult with other members of the cabinet on the impact it will have on them, depending upon the decisions I am thinking of. But in the final analysis, I look at all the information that is available to me and I make a decision.
I think the honourable member would appreciate the fact that the cabinet used to meet once a week; now it meets once every two weeks. We as ministers are expected to make the bulk of the decisions ourselves, not taking them to cabinet. That is our call to make, as to whether we take it to cabinet. In this particular situation, the minister chose to make --
The Speaker: Order. Thank you.
Mr Allen: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), I will direct my question to the Minister of Health.
In response to a question on 12 October 1989 about the death of Mrs Lacroix after a vain search for a critical care bed, the Premier said in this House -- and the minister will remember the words -- “.. there is a system in place, but the system was not used.” Then he repeated again, “It was there, but for some reason the people involved did not avail themselves of that service.” And again, “Why was that system which is in place, and, to the best of my knowledge, functions well most of the time, not used.” And again, “.. but the system was there.”
The question is, why was it not used? I want to ask the minister, in light of the evidence that is now coming out in the inquest with respect to the death of Mrs Lacroix, is she prepared to admit that the advice that she and the Premier gave does not correspond to the facts of the situation?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows, there is an inquest under way which is a fact-finding exercise. I believe it would be inappropriate for me to prejudge the determinations of that inquest. In fact, I would say to him that it would be inappropriate for any of us in this forum to comment on an inquest while it was ongoing.
Mr Allen: The minister knows quite well, and I am quite astonished, that she is not being straightforward with this House. On almost exactly the same date she was telling us that it was not going to be until the year’s end that the regional hotlines would be in place that would provide the basis for a provincial hotline service.
She knows very well that she can comment on facts that pertain to this situation. I will ask a second supplementary with respect to the real problem, which is that the emergency ward situation we are faced with is a direct product of the shortage of nurses. We have had recent articles in the paper by people like Dr John Oysten, who has been around emergency wards in this city for some time and can testify to that, among others.
The cases we have raised in this House have repeatedly indicated that nurses in neonatal care intensive care units in London and Hamilton, trauma cases transferred to Toronto --
The Speaker: Your question.
Mr Allen: -- all have suffered from this particular problem. A ministry source tells us --
The Speaker: Your question.
Mr Allen: -- that the minister is aware of a study in her ministry which indicates that acute care and critical care nursing together account for 67 per cent of the overall nursing shortage in Ontario. Can the minister confirm that figure for us, please?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite, in his very lengthy question, suggested that I was not being forthright with this House. I want to be very clear. In the question he asked, he referred to the establishment of provincial critical care hotlines. I was very clear in June when I announced an $18-million, province-wide program to enhance the quality of emergency health services. In response to that, he would know, my colleague the member opposite from the third party said he did not think we had to spend $18 million to come to commonsense conclusions and that any doctor whom he had dealt with -- that is, the member for Parry Sound (Mr Eves) -- “certainly knows what hospital to call and what other specialized physician to contact in terms of needing specialized care.” That is a quote.
What I would say to the member who has asked this question is that in fact at that time we announced we would be establishing regional province-wide regional critical care hotlines. I am told that the first regional hotline should be in place by the end of this year and that ministry staff are working to establish the others as soon as possible.
Mr Allen: The minister still is not being straightforward with this House, because she knows very well there was no system in place that could have been used by Dr Nesdoly. It has been repeated time and time again-
The Speaker: And the supplementary?
Mr Allen: I want to come back to the minister on a question which she failed to answer on my supplementary. The minister apparently has in her ministry a study which tells her that there is a grave shortage and that in fact the shortage is so severe with respect to acute care and critical care beds that it constitutes 67 per cent of the nursing shortage all across the hospital system in Ontario. Is the minister going to confirm that information for us, or are we going to have to try to find it out in more authoritative ways?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As I mentioned to the member opposite, we have taken a number of initiatives in the area of nursing. We have appointed a nursing co-ordinator, and we have brought forward regulations under the Public Hospitals Act to ensure that nurses participate and have a greater say in hospital decision-making. As well, I met recently with the ministry’s Advisory Committee on Nursing Manpower to discuss many of the issues facing nursing.
One of the things that the member opposite should know is that we have enhanced and expanded services across this province in a number of ways which raise the issue of the importance of human resource and manpower planning. That is something we are attempting to improve upon in this province, not only in nursing but also in the allied health professionals. I would say to him that he can rest assured that with the research we are having done through the Advisory Committee on the Quality of Working Life and through our nursing initiatives and nursing innovation fund, we will gather the data that are necessary to ensure that we plan properly for the future not only in areas of service delivery but also in human resource planning, and in nursing in particular, in this province.
YORK REGION LAND DEVELOPMENT
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Solicitor General. I want to ask him if he could advise this House about the February meeting that was held in connection with the York Region development questions. Can the minister share with this House whether the OPP was in attendance at the meeting that was held with the former Minister of Municipal Affairs and the principal assistant to the Premier, Gordon Ashworth? Is the Solicitor General aware of whether the OPP was there?
Hon Mr Offer: In response to the question of the leader of the third party, I would like to clearly indicate that after this allegation was made there was an investigation or an inquiry made through the ministry. I have been advised that there was no such presence.
Mr Brandt: Further to that same question, I wonder if the minister could advise if he is saying without any equivocation that the OPP was not in attendance with the former minister and with the principal secretary to the Premier. Could the minister indicate whether there was any discussion and/or dialogue at any other times in connection with the OPP, the minister in question or the principal secretary, Mr Ashworth, regarding this subject?
Hon Mr Offer: Once more, I would like to indicate that I have inquired dealing with this particular inference or allegation, and I would like to state once again that I have been advised there was no such presence; the investigation, 13 months in duration, was done in the normal and thorough course.
Mr Brandt: The minister is advising this House that particular situation took the normal and thorough course, which I trust covered the cabinet guidelines as they relate to this particular question. The cabinet guidelines clearly state that “With the exception of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General in the performance of their duties, no member of cabinet may communicate with police officials concerning the decision by the police to lay a charge or charges.”
Something happened, because in February there was a meeting that obviously resulted in a decision to not proceed further at that particular point; the earlier memo that was shared by the former Minister of Municipal Affairs clearly indicated there were sufficient grounds upon which to proceed at that time and there was an inquiry being made by the minister as to whether or not he should determine whether a full inquiry was to be held.
The Speaker: And do you have a question?
Mr Brandt: I wonder if the minister could share with us at this time, to be absolutely certain, that he will state without any question whatever that the OPP had no contact with any minister of the government in connection with this question.
Hon Mr Offer: The honourable leader of the third party may wish to ask me this question three, four, 10 or 15 times and in whatever way he wishes to rephrase the question. My response will remain the same, and that is, I have asked my officials to make that determination. They have advised me that there was no such presence; that the investigation was done in the usual and normal and thorough course by the OPP, as is done by all regional and municipal police forces across this province in dealing with any investigation.
The honourable member may ask me the question as many times as he wishes. The response will always be the same, because that happens to be the fact.
TRANSFER PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr Pope: I have a question for the Treasurer, arising out of his announcement today about how the government intends to allocate our tax dollars. The Treasurer is aware that he has been responsible for significant tax increases that we all have to bear in the province of Ontario, to the tune of $1 billion over the past two years. He is aware of growing concern in the business community and from the average citizens about the impact of his tax increases on people’s economic livelihoods and on the ability of many public institutions to deliver basic services to the people of this province.
My question is, the Treasurer has announced this year an increase of 4.8 per cent in unconditional grants to municipalities, on top of his flat-lining of the grants from last year, at the very time when his own documentation, his own statistics indicate inflation last year was 5.9 per cent and this coming year will be 5.3 per cent. Can the Treasurer indicate how he can justify a 4.8 per cent increase over a two-year period, in light of his own tax increases to the citizens of this province, and how municipalities can carry on basic services?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The 4.8 percent, we feel, is a realistic and justifiable increase on unconditional grants. Obviously, I cannot say it is keeping pace with inflation. That speaks for itself. The honourable member said in his earlier remarks that he thought the rule that he thought I had laid down last year would indicate the grants should be lower. But his colleagues, who have already spoken on this, indicate they think the grants should be higher. I think perhaps those people should caucus and get their act together.
Mr Pope: In light of the comments of the Treasurer and the principles he used last year and the principles he has announced this year, driven by the dictates of politics, it is he who should get his act together, because he has two inconsistent economic theories in two straight transfer statements in two straight years. So it is the Treasurer who had better get his act together, and he had better give a clear signal as to what his principles and policies are.
The Speaker: Order. I appreciate that the question is coming. However, I might suggest that it is helpful if all members place their comments through the chair. If you wish to point, please point at the chair, too.
Mr Pope: Can the Treasurer indicate how municipalities are supposed to provide basic municipal services and, at the same time, meet the requirements that are now being foisted and offloaded on to municipalities by this government with respect to court security, with respect to Sunday shopping enforcement, with respect to the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, with respect to the employer health tax, with respect to the homes for the aged obligations they now have?
Mr Brandt: Pay equity.
Mr Pope: Pay equity. How can municipalities even supply basic services to the citizens of this province and, at the same time, meet these additional responsibilities in light of his transfer policies?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I believe that the municipalities have done very well under difficult circumstances in providing the services in the past, as they will in the future. These men and women are elected and they are often critical of decisions taken by myself, just as they were critical, and we were critical, of decisions taken by the honourable member and his colleagues when they had that responsibility.
But he asks, more or less, what rules we apply. I suppose they are rules of good judgement. The honourable member should know that, in the unconditional grants, the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Sweeney) has consulted on this matter and has announced already a reform of the approach to the grant system, which I think is an extremely important one and one in which the municipalities can see an improvement in their situation.
But basically, I think the thing that might differentiate our decisions from perhaps our predecessors’ decisions is that we do not want to allow our deficit to balloon as it did in the years when the honourable member was associated with the government. When we took office, the deficit was over $3 billion, and now it is about $570 million. We are proud of that accomplishment. We have raised taxes, that is true. No one likes to pay those taxes, but they do like the services that the money provides.
The other rule, of course, is one that we hold to strongly and that is that we provide good service with fairness and equity.
Mr Pope: It is not a reform of the policies that dictate transfer payments to municipalities that is needed. It is a reform of the Treasurer’s attitude towards taxation and towards providing basic municipal services to the people of this province that is needed.
The Treasurer may relate very well to the consequences of his transfer statements over the past two years. He may relate very well to them. The consequences of them have been double-digit increases in municipal taxation -- double-digit increases -- something like the Treasurer’s own policy with respect to tax increases that we are paying for now, whether it be sales tax, gasoline tax, land transfer tax, personal income tax. He is great at taxing, he is great at offloading, he is great at encouraging municipalities into double-digit taxation.
What will the Treasurer ask the municipalities to do this year? Will they have to increase taxes again at double-digit levels? Will they have to cut services?
The Speaker: Order. Do you want responses to the three questions or just the first one?
Mr Pope: The three.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would say that the municipalities and their leadership, the elected members of councils, the mayors, wardens and reeves, have the responsibility to respond to these announcements and the cheques that go out and support them as they see fit. I do not expect any particular response other than a businesslike response. They have to establish the level of service that they want to provide and they have to establish the taxes at the lowest level consonant with providing those services, just as we do here and just as Michael Wilson advises his colleagues to do in Ottawa.
The honourable member would, I am sure, agree with us all that we do the best we can, although it is difficult when we get the sort of advice the honourable member provides when he says we are taxing too much and not giving enough money to our transfer partners. I am not sure what consistency there is in that advice.
The Speaker: I will have to apologize to the member for Beaches-Woodbine, but there are some members who do not seem to want to allow her to ask a question.
Ms Bryden: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. Last week, the Toronto Transit Commission announced it was raising transit fares by an average of 6.4 per cent effective 2 January 1990. In actual fact, Metropasses and seniors’ passes will go up by eight per cent, the single fare by almost 10 per cent, all above the cost-of-living increase. What is worse, TTC officials have warned of either another fare increase or a cutback in transit services if ridership in the system does not increase substantially over the next few months.
Can the minister tell me whether he thinks such draconian fare increases or transit service cutbacks will get more people out of their cars and on to public transit, and if not, is he prepared to make sure that TTC patrons will not have to contend with cutbacks in services or a further fare increase in 1990 by renegotiating the provincial-municipal TTC cost-sharing formula whereby the riders pay 68 per cent and the province pays 16 percent?
Hon Mr Wrye: No one, of course, as I indicated in answer to a question earlier last week, ever likes any kind of price increase, and certainly the TTC has announced fare increases which are, for the base fare, an increase of 9.1 per cent but a fare increase which averages out to 6.38 per cent if all the variations are taken.
I note that the fare increase is 10 cents this year. It was five cents last year and five cents the year before that, which may have been slightly below the rate of inflation. But the honourable member now asks if we are intending to renegotiate our support for the operating deficit incurred by the Toronto Transit Commission.
I would only say to the honourable member that she suggests that our operating support is only 16 per cent, which is not very much. I would tell her, in real terms, that operating support will amount to $101 million next year.
Ms Bryden: The problem is that most of the operating costs have gone up because of new provincial taxes on fuel oil, on gasoline, on tires and the coming levy on parking lots operated by the TTC. Therefore, the minister has a responsibility to take a larger share of operating costs than he has in the past. That is what many transit riders are wondering what they are getting from the provincial Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) in the way of payback of some of these new taxes. They do not have the Sheppard subway. They have a minuscule extension of the subway -- one stop, the Spadina subway. My question is, will the minister recognize that he is not promoting public transit by not assisting the TTC in covering his new taxes?
Hon Mr Wrye: I listened very carefully to my honourable friend’s question. It was interesting and ironic, because last Friday I was in the community of Thunder Bay inspecting the Can-Car Rail Inc facility there. As I was inspecting the facility, looking at the first of 60 new bilevel trains which we are beginning to build for GO Transit, I was also looking at the last part of the latest level of subway cars which are just being completed at that facility for the Toronto Transit Commission. It got me to thinking about the kinds and volume of capital support that we have given the Toronto Transit Commission.
I just would want to note for the honourable member, and I noted in my first answer, that we supported the TTC or will support the TTC’s operating deficit to the tune of over $100 million next year. Since 1985, this government has supported in capital and operating costs of the TTC -- that support has totalled over $900 million.
Mr Sterling: I would like to ask a question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. No doubt the minister is aware of an article which appeared in the October issue of Canadian Business magazine listing the 50 fastest-growing public companies in Canada by province, as compiled by Price Waterhouse. This annual list is a good economic indicator of the overall provincial economic scene.
It is interesting to note that the province of Quebec is home of 28 of those 50 companies, more than half the list. In fact, Quebec accounts for four of the top five. Ontario is a dismal third place. We have seven out of the top 50 companies in all of Canada. Can the minister explain this?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I thank the member for the question, but I do not really feel that I have to sort of explain why certain companies are here or why they are somewhere else. I should tell him that all he has to do is look at the record of Ontario over the last seven years. He will notice that last year we had the most vibrant economy in the industrialized world. I should tell him that 40 per cent of all of the economic activity in this country takes place in this province.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Despite free trade.
Mr Brandt: Better than Japan? Based on what percentages? Let’s not fudge the numbers.
Hon Mr Kwinter: That is true, better than Japan and better than any other jurisdiction in the world, so I do not think we have to apologize for the economic activity in this province, and we continue to be the leading jurisdiction in this country.
Mr Sterling: Perhaps I can help the minister, because in Canadian Business it states “the fortuitous merging of pro-business government policies and private attitudes that began in Quebec in the late 1970s continues to nurture the province’s entrepreneurs. Ontario has become a very expensive province in which to do business.
The average Quebec-Ontario corporate tax gap, that is, the average higher percentage of corporate taxes paid in Quebec against Ontario, has narrowed from 9.6 per cent in our advantage in 1985 to a slim 1.8 per cent this year. The new commercial concentration tax and the employers’ health tax levy will likely eliminate any narrow tax advantages Ontario firms have now. Why has TransCanada PipeLines moved to Calgary? Why are there now seven million square feet of vacant office space south of Queen Street in the core of Toronto at this time?
The Speaker: You finally got to the question.
Hon Mr Kwinter: Whenever comparisons are made between Ontario and Quebec and any other jurisdiction, whether it be a sister province or a sister state, there is always one indicator or the other where you can show that they have an advantage one way or the other. But I can say that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and his ministry and my ministry monitor what is going on in a competitive way, and we are satisfied that we are doing things that keep Ontario competitive, I can tell the member that for every one that he tells me that is moving out, I can tell him two that are moving in. I can also tell him that we continue to enjoy the most vibrant economy certainly in Canada.
Mr Kanter: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. This morning I carried a number of glass bottles out to the curb for recycling. Like many Toronto residents, I have heard reports that some of the glass collected is contaminated with ceramics and other materials and must be rejected. Can the minister provide the House with an update on what is happening to the many tonnes of glass, of various types of containers, I might add, which is collected in Metropolitan Toronto through the blue box program?
Hon Mr Bradley: An excellent question, I must say, and I think I can assist.
Mr Brandt: I hope the answer is interesting.
Hon Mr Bradley: The member can make the judgement after, whether it is or not.
There are conflicting reports about the fate of glass that is collected in recycling programs across the province, as the member has mentioned. Most municipalities are solving their glass contamination problems, however, I am pleased to report, and they are taking much greater care at the curbside collection area. Even the large municipalities such as Ottawa are able to provide recycling companies with what they consider to be a good-quality product.
I am pleased to report some figures compiled for the fall of this year, and they show that mixed-colour glass from all locations outside of Metro Toronto had a 92 per cent acceptance rate and that sorted glass had a 99 per cent acceptance rate. I would give some further information to the member, that many of the successful programs have had strong public awareness campaigns which indicate clearly to the people what should and what should not go in the box. In fact --
The Speaker: Thank you. There may be a supplementary and you could add some further information then.
Mr Kanter: I appreciate the information about the good results outside of Metro, but as a Metro member I would like to understand a little more clearly whether there is a specific problem with glass collection in the Metro area, and if so, what type of remedies should be implemented in Metro.
Hon Mr Bradley: There have been some operational problems which have been encountered here in Toronto. The city of Toronto did not choose what we call the class-1 program, and as a result, Toronto uses rear-packer trucks rather than the special recycling trucks that are used in many other municipalities. Not only are the materials therefore not separated and contaminants not rejected at curbside, but all recycling materials are mixed and broken up in the trucks, making later removal of the contaminants more difficult.
Also, recycled materials are picked up only one day a week, whereas in other municipalities they are picked up all of the days that garbage is picked up. Therefore, not everything arrives in the yard at the same time.
The clean glass collected from Metro and other municipalities like those municipalities which do not separate, Toronto for instance -- the contaminated glass, in other words, is mixed with the separated glass in the rest of the Metro area. Therefore they run into problems with glass contamination.
These can all be overcome. I am very optimistic that with some changes that can take place, these can be overcome, and in Metropolitan Toronto they will face, I am sure, the same degree of success in terms of acceptance if the measures I have mentioned have taken place.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Allen: I want to take the Minister of Community and Social Services back to the issue of children’s mental health treatment centres, and specifically to address him to the Beechgrove Children’s Centre in Kingston. This particular centre this year has had a waiting list as high as 430, with waits of from eight to 15 months. In the course of recent months, suicidal cases have reached 40 in number at one time without any psychiatric backup.
To give an instance, recently one of their cases viciously assaulted staff members and was a danger to herself and others. They called five or six psychiatrists. No one would come to help. They finally took her to an emergency ward at the hospital, where she waited in the lobby for several hours. It was not until she bloodied her head pounding it on the floor that the hospital acted.
Is this the way kids with serious emotional problems should be treated in the system that the minister is responsible for?
Hon Mr Beer: The honourable member has underlined an area where there are many difficulties and many problems which we are addressing with the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres. Despite the fact that we have been putting a great deal more money into this system, we are experiencing in many areas increased problems.
One of the things that we are doing with the children’s mental health centres is trying to identify clearly what the waiting list is and just how many young people there are out there who are in need of service and of what kind of service.
During this month and next, we are discussing with the children’s mental health centres a series of these issues and steps which we would be able to take to help them in providing the service. We recognize that obviously a part of that is funding, but we believe that there are other elements as well. I think our focus is the same: we want to ensure that these children have the help when they need it. It is fair to say that at this point in time we are not able to do that to the extent that we would like.
Mr Allen: The minister referred to funding, and the vast majority of these centres cannot afford any psychiatric assistants on their own staff. He did not provide any top-up out of that $88 million last year for our community-based agencies to help these particular people out. Mr Ogden at the Beechgrove centre says a major problem with the centres that have older kids in particular is the split jurisdiction between the minister and the Ministry of Health.
It makes it difficult, he says, virtually impossible, to get a hospital bed for a stabilization period for an acute psychiatric case involving a teen. Health says kids are Comsoc’s responsibility, Comsoc can’t get psychiatrists to work for the ministry and the kids are a very low priority list for Health, even in emergency situations.
Given the interministerial nature of this particular problem and given the seriousness of the situation, would the minister establish or secure from cabinet the establishment of an independent inquiry to investigate this whole circumstance of children’s health centres and to report to the minister and to the ministry the best solution to this very troubling situation?
Hon Mr Beer: I would like to point out to my honourable colleague that we do have very close co-operation, particularly among the ministries of Health, Education and Community and Social Services, to address particular needs and ways in which we can improve the way that we link up and provide service.
In addition, my predecessor created a commit-tee under Dr Colin Maloney of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto which is looking at a number of the issues that the member has addressed in his question. We are going to be getting a report from that committee in the spring but, as I say, we are addressing these issues now with the children’s mental health association. It is my hope that we can address some of these particular issues and be able to make improvements and to improve co-ordination, so that they can provide the service that they want to do.
With respect to the particular case of Beech-grove, I can tell the honourable member that I will have a look at that myself.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. On 10 April of this year, the minister announced with some fanfare the publication of her booklet Deciding the Future of Our Health Care. In the Legislature at that point in time the minister said, and I quote, “People have been telling me they want to know more about how our system works and what choices are available to them.”
She went on to say that she hoped people in Ontario would discuss this with their families around their coffee tables, with their neighbours over their back fences, and hoped it would become a bestseller so she would have to print more copies of the same booklet.
As of 4 July, the minister sent me in response to an Orders and Notices question I asked in May, that she had printed the 50,000 copies at a cost of some $109,307.77 to the Ontario taxpayer but had only received orders to date for 11,075. Could the minister tell us how many orders she has received to date, whether her publication has become a bestseller and whether she is anticipating publishing more copies?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to say to the member opposite that the response to the Deciding the Future document, as I have travelled the province and met with providers and professionals, has been very positive. They tell me that in fact it is an important document because it lays out the strategic plan for the future.
I would say to the member that with the establishment of a Speakers Bureau in the ministry, which is available to all members of this Legislature and to all communities that want to hold forums on health care, I believe that this document, which is just the beginning of the discussion and the opportunity for communities to participate fully in understanding how our very complex but important health care system works, will become just one of the important ingredients in fostering that important discussion in communities.
I want to thank the member for giving me the opportunity to say that we are making progress in getting that information to the people of this province.
Mr Eves: The minister studiously avoided answering the question as to how many more had to be published and how many orders she had received. On the date that the minister announced this, 10 April, and in her booklet, it also announced that she was going to publish six more of these in six specialities. We have been told that her ministry is now advising health care providers that the six subsequent booklets have been cancelled due to a lack of response to her first booklet.
I might refer the minister to a quote that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) made on the day that she introduced this in the Legislature:
“I think the report makes the minister and the ministry a laughing-stock. I hope it falls on its fanny. It deserves to.” Which is it? Is it a bestseller and the minister has to print more, or have she and her ministry fallen flat on their fannies and cancelled the other six booklets?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to say to the member opposite that many thousands of this particular publication have been distributed and that those people who have an interest in discussing the health care future of this province, right across this province, want to meet with us and hold forums in their communities.
There are a number of strategies for doing that. We held, for example, a consumer workshop forum because we believe that the consumers and consumer advocates in this province should have opportunities to come together. I would say to the member that as we attempt to communicate, we are seeking the very best advice on how we can do that in this society of ours where people want to have information. We are attempting to give them that information in a number of different forums and in a number of different ways.
I know that the member would support those initiatives because he would agree how important it is for the people of this province to know and to understand how to appropriately use and access the health services in this province.
Mr Tatham: My question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. During the fall of 1988, the Mulroney government promised the people of Canada a land of milk and honey if we accepted the free trade agreement. However, what we have ended up with is a land of ice cream and yoghurt, that is, American ice cream and yoghurt.
Earlier this fall, the United States obtained a favourable GATT panel ruling which will allow for American access into the Canadian market in ice cream and yoghurt. This ruling, if implemented, could have a disastrous effect on Canada’s dairy industry and our supply-management system.
I have received many inquiries from my constituents as to what the Minister of Agriculture and Food is doing to protect the dairy industry in Oxford county and in the entire province of Ontario.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Tatham: Could the minister inform us today of the steps he has taken to ensure that we in Ontario continue to have a strong --
The Speaker: Minister.
Hon Mr Ramsay: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for allowing me to answer this question. I am most pleased to answer the question of my colleague from the county of Oxford, the home of many a good black and white cow that produces much good milk and good cheese for Ontario.
I must say to the grinning member who is proud of those dairy products that I just returned yesterday from Washington where I took up the case on behalf of Ontario farmers. We had discussions, as I took along industry representatives from Ontario who are very concerned about the pork countervail and also the GATT ruling which the member refers to.
We spoke to legislators and people of the executive branches of government in the United States and also to industry representatives. We found varying opinions on the farm bill and the GATT negotiations, but I think what became perfectly clear is that American dairy producers, for example, want to have unfettered access to the Ontario market, and I made it perfectly clear that we will be fighting to the last breath for supply management in this province.
The Speaker: I think it is time just to wait once more. If you want to waste the time, go ahead. It is hard to imagine, but I guess that is the way it goes.
Mr Tatham: I am pleased to see that the minister has taken some proaction and gone down to the United States to see what is going on. What else is he going to do to follow this up?
Hon Mr Ramsay: It is probably good that I have a chance to clarify this, because it might be advisable. I will fight on this to my second last breath at least. I will save one breath.
I think it is important that we send a message to our federal counterparts, and Mr Crosbie in particular, that now is the time for Canada to clearly define and strengthen its position on article 11 of the GATT. It is very important that we articulate an action plan now and we make that public, so that we bring great comfort to the people who are producing the farm commodities in this country.
HEALTH MINISTRY EMPLOYEES
Mr Hampton: In the absence of the Premier (Mr Peterson), my question is for the Minister of Health. As the minister well knows, her ministry is shutting down the OHIP collection office in Kingston and a number of regular, permanent employees and a number of contract employees are losing their jobs. In fact, as I understand it, at this point in time somewhere in the neighbourhood of 99 permanent employees and a greater number of contract employees are still without work. Can the minister tell us what is going to happen to those employees, especially the contract employees who, as I understand it, have no pension plan, no benefits and are basically being told: “Your job is over on 15 May. Good luck”?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, the implementation of the employer health levy and the elimination of OHIP premiums presents a challenge to the Ministry of Health, and I am pleased and proud to say that we have been working co-operatively to implement the kind of program that will show that we are a good employer in the interests of our employees and doing everything we can to assist them appropriately during this transitional time.
Mr Hampton: The minister’s remarks somehow do not meet with reality, because we have talked with many of those contract employees. I will give the minister some examples. One lady, who is 58 years old, is a single-parent mother. She has worked for the Health ministry for eight years. Never has the ministry offered her nor given her the opportunity to compete on anything more than a contract job. She has no benefits and no pension plan, and she has been told, as of 15 May, good luck to her.
Mr Allen: After eight years.
Mr Hampton: After eight years. Another employee, with seven years’ service, also a contract employee, 47 years old, and after May 1990, nothing. Another employee, 51 years old, a woman, self-supporting, has worked for OHIP, again for eight years. She has no pension plan, no benefits, and she has been told, as of 15 May, good luck.
I want to ask the minister. Her government says that it is in favour of pay equity and employment equity. How is it that her ministry can take a workforce that is mainly women, whom the ministry has kept as contract employees for eight years, and now is telling them to go out the door without any benefits whatsoever? How does the minister justify that?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, the member opposite is not categorizing this situation correctly at all. I would say to him that the ministry is working very closely with the union, that a very significant package has been put in place to assist employees, that there have been no layoffs and that people are being given priority in job placement.
I would say to the member as well that we are trying to assist our employees and we care about them. I understand that change is difficult for everyone, but in fact the Ministry of Health is attempting to be a very good employer in assisting its employees through what is a difficult and challenging time. I would say to him that we are doing that in a co-operative way, seeking the very best advice of the union with us in Kingston, and the member is wrong.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. I know that the minister does not have time and I do not expect him to read all his news releases, but there was one release this week, on the 27th, in fact two days ago, that I think he should read. It is almost like reading Punch magazine. It is the one about the asbestos in the drinking water.
The initial headline in this release talks about elevated levels of asbestos fibres in certain communities during a six-year period, and goes on to name them. Then the second page says that the testing subsequently indicated that there had been errors made in the initial sampling and in the laboratory reading of those samples.
I have to ask the minister, what on earth is this release about? Is there a serious problem? Should we be concerned in those communities that are named in it?
The Speaker: Do you have a response to one of those three questions?
Hon Mr Bradley: In fact, this is an historical summary, as we put it -- I have it right here -- of the sampling activity and data that were generated. It has been compiled and published now at this time to provide an Ontario frame of reference for reviewing a new proposed US asbestos in water regulation in conjunction with the current Ontario objective for asbestos in water.
I think the actual testing took place from 1977 to 1983 and, as the press release said, there were some 371 municipal water supplies tested over that six-year period, three of which in initial tests showed some indication of asbestos. Subsequent to that they always retest to make certain they are right, and it appeared in one. My understanding is that in fact that was cleared up some time ago.
Mrs Marland: I do not think the public is going to be very clear about the answer, but I will ask the minister another question. It also says in his press release that there is no Canadian objective for asbestos in drinking water, yet it talks about there being one in the United States. Is the minister concerned about levels or any existence of asbestos in drinking water in Ontario today and is he concerned about the fact that they use asbestos pipes to transport that water?
Hon Mr Bradley: Historically they have used that and what they have overcome it with, the member may know, in communities where there is high acidity in the water is that they simply use soda ash, as it is called, or sodium bicarbonate. That can be used to neutralize the corrosive effect of the water, preventing the release of those asbestos fibres.
We are very interested in the US Environmental Protection Agency and what it is doing at this time. We want to provide some data from our point of view, which is historic. The problem was solved a long time ago in MacTier. I do not whether at that time there was a press release put out or something. It was a number of years ago but that is the context in which it was released. We would like to see these guidelines established with as many products as possible. That is why we are working with the EPA in this regard.
Mr Dietsch: I have a question of the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. On Monday 27 November a major newspaper published a front-page article that used outmoded, if not derogatory terms, not only in the headline but throughout the article. The article detailing abysmal conditions in a very poor province of China used such terms as “shuffling cripples.” It also alluded to the inhabitants of a certain village as “imbeciles” and cretins.
I have a number of disabled persons living in my riding, as we all do, and everyone I have spoken to over the last few days has taken some offence at this article. As minister responsible for the disabled persons, what is the minister going to do to address this outrage on behalf of the disabled people of Ontario?
Hon Ms Collins: I can tell the member for St Catharines-Brock that I have seen the article. In fact, there have been several phone calls to my office expressing concern by people who were offended by the unacceptable language and the labels that were used in that article.
The media of course can influence and reinforce public perceptions of people with disabilities. They can use words and present images that create positive images and views by the public or those that create very negative views.
The greatest challenge to disabled people in this province of course is public attitudes and the barriers they present to disabled people and it is my hope that the media will become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I can tell the member that I have written a letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail to express my concerns.
Mr Dietsch: Everyone has a responsibility to help break down those barriers of attitude. It is not the first time I have noticed the use of undesirable terms in the media. What is the minister’s office doing to correct the usage of these terms?
Hon Ms Collins: The Office for Disabled Persons has published a lexicon of preferred terms on disability issues and it is called Word Choices. This lexicon was sent to all members of the Legislature as well as all members of the media. In fact, the Office for Disabled Persons held a briefing for the media to make them aware of this publication and to make them more sensitive to this issue.
To answer the member’s question directly, I can tell him that my office monitors the media regularly and when improper uses or terms are used to describe people with disabilities we send a copy of this lexicon.
Mr Pollock: I have a petition signed by 21 people that reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“I am a Canadian and proud of my heritage. I am also very much aware of the part religious freedom has played in the freedom we as Americans and Canadians now enjoy. Therefore, I protest any human effort to remove from radio or television any program designed to show faith in God or to remove Christian music or carols from the public school system.”
I have affixed my signature to this petition.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
HOMES UNLIMITED (LONDON) INC ACT, 1989
Mrs E. J. Smith moved first reading of Bill Pr52, An Act to revive Homes Unlimited (London) Inc.
Motion agreed to.
FORT ERIE LIONS SENIOR CITIZENS COMPLEX INC ACT, 1989
Mr Haggerty moved first reading of Bill Pr37, An Act respecting Fort Erie Lions Senior Citizens Complex Inc.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The following bills were given third reading on motion:
Bill 39, An Act to revise the Veterinarians Act; Bill 40, An act to repeal the Brucellosis Act.
House in committee of the whole:
MINING AMENDMENT ACT, 1989 (CONTINUED)
Consideration of Bill 71, An Act to amend the Mining Act.
The First Deputy Chair: Could I ask any members who have amendments to propose to Bill 71 in committee of the whole House to make sure the table has copies of them. We are anxious that if any members intend to move amendments, the chair have copies of those amendments now.
Hon Mr O’Neil: Mr Chairman, I wonder if I might ask two of my staff, Michael Bourassa and Dr John Gammon, to join me at the table, and with your permission I will move up to the front desk.
The First Deputy Chair: Perhaps while we are doing that, we might bring to the attention of members that we have in our standing orders provisions for giving “reasonable notice,” I believe are the words, for the production of amendments.
We have entertained some discussion on this in the past. Part of the problem we are having in having amendments presented to us is that we are supposed to read all of these and decide whether they are in order and are reasonable and correct amendments. It is a little difficult to do that if we do not have them ahead of time. It is also difficult for other members of the assembly to debate an amendment they have not seen before.
Members may find in the next little while that the chair will be a little more insistent that members follow the existing standing orders as best they can and provide us with amendments well in advance so that we can see that all members have copies of them and so that the table officers can check to see the amendments are in order.
I think it is also true that we do not want to inhibit the House in moving minor wording amendments and we do not want any stumbling blocks that are unnecessary put in the way of the procedures of the House, but we do have that difficulty and I anticipate we may have some more of it this afternoon.
I should also tell members that the only device we can use is that while we cannot refuse any amendment that is put by any member, the chair does always reserve the right to take the matter under consideration and to consider it for some time, which in plain English means that members can hand us any pieces of paper they want, but we do not necessarily have to put them in front of the House until we are satisfied they are reasonable and correct amendments.
Mr Laughren: It will take a week.
The First Deputy Chair: It could indeed take some time.
I think we are ready to proceed now.
Hon Mr O’Neil: We will have a series of technical amendments. Those technical amendments were circulated to both the opposition parties. However, I apologize that there will be one additional amendment coming in. We have talked with both opposition parties and we feel it will be a good amendment. I understand it will be introduced by one of the opposition members and we are in agreement with that. We have given the table a copy of all those amendments except for this one that will be introduced later. I can read out all those amendments or I can start through on the amendments if you like.
The First Deputy Chair: The first order of business is normally to ask any members who have amendments to particular sections to identify them just so we can get it organized here. If the minister would do that for the government, that would be some help.
Hon Mr O’Neil: We have motions to amend sections 33, 34, 50, 51, 77 with two amendments, 82, 89, 91, 93, 108, 108a, 108b and 109.
Mr Laughren: Just could not get it right the first time.
Hon Mr O’Neil: I know there was a comment made there. We have been consulting with all of the different people and we feel it is better to make the amendment now and try to keep everyone happy, including the member for Nickel Belt.
The First Deputy Chair: Let me caution you that if that is your goal in life, you are in big trouble now.
Mr Pouliot: We will be proposing an amendment on section 60. En passant, I note that if it is the wish of the minister to up the ante -- I notice a change in tone -- we were under the impression vis-à-vis the amendments that it was to pass quickly, but we can follow the minister’s mood if he wants to get serious and start debating every article, every amendment. We will be very pleased to oblige.
The First Deputy Chair: Are there any other amendments that should be indicated now?
Mr Pope: Mr Chairman, if I could just have your indulgence for a second, in the interest of expediting the legislation, I wanted to make some comments at the outset with respect to all the amendments and the philosophy behind them and then leave it at that and not debate every single motion that is put forward. If you would allow that, I will do it.
The First Deputy Chair: That would be fine. You do not have any amendments then that can surprise us.
Mr Pope: No.
The First Deputy Chair: As has been suggested and I think it is quite reasonable, I take it there are a number of technical amendments and the House would prefer to make some comments initially and then deal rather succinctly with the amendments. Is that agreed? Agreed. Does the minister have any opening remarks?
Hon Mr O’Neil: No. I would be willing to have the member go ahead if he would like to make some comments and it is agreeable to the chair.
Mr Pouliot: I too would like to say a few words. I certainly welcome the approach taken by the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope). These are housekeeping amendments. They in no way represent a major addition that our party is aware of. By and large, the new Mining Amendment Act was well drafted. I think the minister will commend his people on his staff. They have done a good job. They have also kept both opposition parties very well informed of his intentions. It speaks very highly of the new Mining Amendment Act.
Having said this, I was hoping that in reference to section 104 of the Mining Amendment Act the minister would perhaps come up, if not with an amendment, with the assurance that he will monitor compliance.
This section has lain dormant in the act for a good number of years. People choose to bypass the act itself. Really, his ministry has not been at its post in terms of ensuring that the minerals that are extracted in Ontario be processed in Ontario, especially around Sudbury. There was some ministerial discretion. That is the only reason the act was not applied, if you wish, but it is not good enough. If the minister keeps it in the act he should monitor compliance or he should take it out of there or should amend it so that people can live with it.
Mr Campbell: How do you deal with the exemptions?
Mr Pouliot: The thing is, the meat is in the act. It sounds very good. It satisfies a lot of people and rightly so. However, the minister has a duty to monitor and to police the act. I see the parliamentary assistant is nodding his head, acquiescing with what I am saying, so he will be one of the watchdogs of the new act and, hopefully, it will have more success than the old one.
I know the parliamentary assistant is familiar with it and has a good mining mind. I wish him well. He is familiar with mining and has made a commitment that he will soon visit most mines in Ontario and very much looks forward to going underground in most mines in Ontario, so that he can see at first hand the contribution that has been made. It is nice to hear from a parliamentary assistant that it is more than a job; it is actually a mission.
One amendment we will be presenting, and I do not want to go into detail on every amendment, is on subsection 60(2) of the bill which provides for a 10-year lease. A 10-year lease is more or less in perpetuity and we have some mild concern. If you do not have a patent, you have a lease for 10 years in lieu of. You do not issue a patent; well then it is renewable in perpetuity. They have the land for ever, so really it is not a 10-year lease.
We have less quarrel with that. Our concern is the 11th-hour rush. We would like to get the commitment from the minister that until the new act is in place we will not have a multitude of people applying for those 10-year leases that are being grandfathered here. What the minister is saying is that if I have a 10-year lease at present, it will be renewable in perpetuity until the new act comes into force. We wish to caution the minister that we do not want the proverbial vultures, if you wish, gathering. We do not want a lineup of people applying for leases at the last minute to bypass the intent of the act.
The Conservative representative will be back in one or two minutes. I have no more comments and I certainly have no reservations in endorsing the new Mining Amendment Act in its entirety. I said this at the beginning last week when we had a chance to spend 40 or 45 minutes reviewing what was being proposed, so I am not going to take up the time of the House. If it is okay with the minister, I would propose that we dispense with reading information pertinent to housekeeping measures, and that is all they are, because really the 15 amendments being put forward make the operative clauses in the bill clearer and easier to work with, so we are quite pleased.
The First Deputy Chair: The first amendment I have been given notice of is to section 33. Shall sections 1 to 32 carry?
Sections 1 to 32, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that section 55 of the act, as set out in section 33 of the bill, be amended by striking out subsection (3) thereof.
Motion agreed to.
Section 33, as amended, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that subsections 56(7) and 56(8) of the act, as set out in subsection 34(4) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(7) Notwithstanding clause 28(c) and subsection 84(1), where a dispute has not been filed against a mining claim a transferee who has acquired the claim in good faith may re-stake or cause to be re-staked the claim or any part thereof at any time and, upon filing with the recorder a notice in the prescribed form of the re-staking, the recorder shall, upon notice to all persons having a recorded interest in the original claim, order that the re-staked claim shall be deemed to have been recorded on the date of the recording of the original claim or any part thereof that has been re-staked.
“(8) In an order made under subsection (7), the recorder shall provide that orders, assessment work reports, instruments or other notations which have been entered against the original claim be entered in the record book in respect of the re-staked claim, and may include in the order such provisions as the recorder considers necessary to effect such entry in the record book of the re-staked claim.”
Mr Pouliot: Briefly, I could never understand why it said the recorder “may.” I always took it for granted that he “shall .” That is the job of the recorder. I do not know why it escaped people for so long. I guess they took it for granted, the “shall” instead of “may,” in fact.
Mr Pope: Mr Chairman, I apologize. I was just outside the door. I did want to make a few comments about this section and how it conveys an approach to the staking of claims and the actions of the recorder and the administration of our mining system in Ontario.
I have some concerns about the extent of regulatory control. The possible proliferation of regulations that will be applied at a later date to what has been the traditional activity in this province, not necessarily by big companies operating out of Toronto with professionals, but by individuals -- we call them grubstakers in my home town -- who go out to stake a claim on a regular basis and have for many decades. When they stake their claim, put their tags on the corner posts, sign the corner posts and file documents with the mine recorder, they expect that they are going to get their claim.
There is a real tradition of the grubstaker in northeastern Ontario and I think the minister in his discussions will have seen a real dichotomy between the position of a provincial prospectors and developers association body and the kinds of opinions that are expressed by the local associations, particularly in Kirkland Lake, Sudbury and Timmins, about their perception of how this system should work.
One sees the same dichotomy between the large mining corporations in this community and the smaller, more local mining corporations in other parts of Ontario. I say that because I have some concerns, for instance, about a five-year prospector’s licence. My personal preference always was for a lifetime prospector’s licence. I have concerns about the five-year prospector’s licence because it could lead to regulation of what is required to obtain that licence or renew that licence. It will lead to the expense of issuing a new licence every fifth year. That is why, when I dealt with this matter in 1983-84, I opted for a lifetime licensing system.
Second, I have some real concerns, again based on my experience in another life, with the administration of leases and the grief that we all face as local members when there is a change in the rental to be charged on the leases and/or the policy to be applied in calculating leases for crown land leases. I would not want to see those kinds of political difficulties and concerns that are raised by individuals being really structured into the amendments of this act and become part of the problem that the minister and local members from northern Ontario will have to face in the future.
I still have grave concerns about map staking because it really takes a significant economic activity out of the hands of the local grubstaker, out of the hands of the local economy, and puts it into the hands of someone who may be in Toronto drawing lines on a map. I say that knowing the background, as the former Minister of Natural Resources does, about the argument over the allocation of peat resources in the province and how they can be mapped out using satellite photography and one does not need to go and stake them. I have some concerns about getting into that system of map staking and what it is going to do to the prospecting fraternity, as we call it, in my community and across northern Ontario.
I have same concerns about the rehabilitation requirements and their impact on marginal investments, not the major investments of the big mines -- I understand that and I understand the need for rehabilitation, in any event -- but I have some concern about its impact on marginal mining operations or small corporate investment opportunities in Ontario.
Specifically with respect to rehabilitation, I have some concerns about mine tailings processing and whether that is mining. There has been a real argument that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to whether mine tailings belong to the surface rights holder or the holder of mineral rights, and they ruled that it went to neither. Anyway, there are some real problems there about whether or not that qualifies as a mining activity, and if this amendment makes that change and brings it in, so be it.
There is also some real concern in my community about progressive rehabilitation of the mine tailings project of ERG Resources Inc, the impact on the McIntyre park site and on future sites around Gillies Lake and other areas around my community, and whether or not we will be getting into a phased rehabilitation program, even though the mining operation started before this act will go into effect. Before the act goes into effect, we are involved in that processing program and I question whether we will be able to tidy that up with these amendments.
Basically, I do believe that proxy staking should be allowed. That is my own personal point of view, one not necessarily shared by everybody. I do believe proxy staking should be allowed and encouraged. It is part of the tradition of the prospector in my part of the province. I have some concerns about the number of items that we are going to make subject to regulation. As the members are aware, Manitoba went to a regulation system of regulating mining activity about 15 years ago and it has now opted to go back to putting it all into statute to give it greater certainty and to solve some of the problems that constantly changing regulations can create.
On the problems with respect to financial sureties or performance bonds and the restrictions of sureties to class A banks, I do not understand why that was done and why it could not be class B banks as well, such as Lloyd’s Bank Canada, which could provide that kind of surety.
These are the kinds of things that cause me some concern as concepts to be incorporated into the bill. There are good things, and I hasten to say that the mining fraternity, the prospectors and developers of this province want the legislation passed quickly. I understand that. The security of title is critical to them and the amendments the minister has proposed meet most of the concerns they have expressed.
The dollar basis for assessment work as opposed to man-days is something that has been sought for a long time, and the minister has this in his legislation. Perimeter staking is another popular amendment that the minister is bringing in that has been demanded by prospectors, developers and the mining community in this province. So there are good things in it; do not get me wrong.
There is need for reform and change, but I have some concerns about where this could head in light of some of these amendments that the minister may want to address at some other time, such as third reading. Mr Chairman, subject to your ruling, I do not think I need to hear a reading of the amendments from the minister. I am satisfied that what he has told me will be submitted as amendments, will be. I am prepared to proceed on that basis.
Motion agreed to.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 35 to 49, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that section 50 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“50. Section 83 of the said Act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“83. (1) The holder of a mining claim may abandon the claim at any time by filing a notice of abandonment in the prescribed form with the recorder.
“(2) The holder of a mining claim may abandon any part of the claim at any time on such conditions as are prescribed, by filing a notice of partial abandonment in the prescribed form with the recorder.
“(3) The recorder shall enter a note of the abandonment upon the record of the claim with the date of the receipt of the notice and shall forthwith post up in the recorder’s office a notice of the abandonment with a sketch of the claim or part thereof to be abandoned.
“(4) Where part of a claim has been abandoned under subsection (2), the recorder shall issue an order directing the moving of posts or tags, the erection of new posts and the identification of new boundary lines and stating the time within which the work is to be completed.
“(5) Where an order is issued under subsection (4), the mining claim holder affected shall file an affidavit in the prescribed form within the time set out in the order and a copy of the affidavit, marked with the date of the posting, shall be posted by the recorder in the recorder’s office.
“(6) Where the work set out in an order under subsection (4) has not been completed within the time set out in the order, the recorder may extend the time for completing the work or may order that the portion of the claim on which the work was to be done is abandoned and shall in the case where an order of abandonment is made, by registered letter mailed not later than the next day after the making of the order, notify the holder of the recorder’s action and the reason therefor, and a copy of the order shall be posted by the recorder in the recorder’s office.
“(7) Where part of a mining claim is abandoned under subsection (2) and an order of the recorder is made under subsection (6), the mining claim abandoned is open for staking from nine o’clock in the forenoon of the 11th day after the posting of the order of the recorder made under subsection 6.
“(8) Every mining claim abandoned under subsection (1) is open for staking from nine o’clock in the forenoon of the 11th day after the notice of abandonment is filed.
“(9) Where part of a mining claim is abandoned under subsection (2) and no order is made by the recorder under subsection (6), that part of the claim is open for staking from nine o’clock in the forenoon of the 11th day after the posting of the affidavit required under subsection (5).”
Motion agreed to.
Section 50, as amended, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that subsection 84(2) of the act, as set out in section 51 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where in respect of a mining claim no dispute is on file and,
“(a) one year has elapsed since the day of the recording of the claim; or
“(b) the first prescribed unit of assessment work has been performed and filed and, where necessary, approved,
“the mining claim shall be conclusively deemed to have been staked out and recorded in compliance with the requirements of this act and the regulations.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 51, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 52 to 59, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr Pouliot moves that subsection 95(4) of the act, as set out in subsection 60(2) of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(4) A lease referred to in clause (1)(a) is renewable in perpetuity for a period of 10 years, and every renewal shall date from the day following the expiry of the lease if application therefor is made within 90 days of the expiration of the lease or within such further period as the minister, in the circumstances of the case, considers proper.
Motion agreed to.
Section 60, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 61 to 76, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that subsection 161e(3) of the act, as set out in section 77 of the bill, be amended by striking out “15” in the third line and inserting in lieu thereof
Motion agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that subsection 1611(l) of the act, as set out in section 77 of the bill, be amended by striking out “15” in the 14th line and inserting in lieu thereof
Motion agreed to.
Section 77, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 78 to 81, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that subsection 190(1) of the act, as set out in section 82 of the bill, be amended by adding thereto the following paragraphs:
“(16a) prescribing, for the purposes of subsection 83(2), the conditions on which the holder of a mining claim may abandon part of the claim;
“(20a) prescribing, for the purposes of subsection 198(3), the size, form, manner and time of staking out and recording mining claims on land in which an interest is retained after surrender.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 82, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 83 to 88, inclusive, agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that section 89 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“89. Section 198 of the said act is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
“(1) The owner, lessee or licensee of any mining lands or mining rights granted under this act or any other act may surrender such lands or mining rights to the crown only upon such terms as are acceptable to the minister, and thereupon the minister may cause a notice of determination to be filed in the proper land registry office.
“(2) An owner, lessee or licensee who surrenders mining lands or mining rights under subsection (1) may file a notice in the prescribed form with the recorder indicating that such owner, lessee or licensee wishes to retain an interest in the lands or part of the lands thereof, in the form of unpatented mining claims.
“(3) Where a notice has been filed under subsection (2), the owner, lessee or licensee shall stake out or cause to be staked out and recorded in such size, form, manner and time as is prescribed, the lands in which an interest is to be retained.
“(4) Where mining claims have not been staked out and recorded under subsection (3) within the time prescribed, the recorder may extend the time for staking out and recording or may order that the mining lands or mining rights on which the staking out and recording is to be performed are surrendered and the recorder shall, in the case where an order of surrender is made, by registered letter mailed not later than the next day after the making of the order notify the owner, lessee or licensee of the recorder’s action and the reason therefor.
“(5) Mining lands or mining rights surrendered to the crown under subsection (1) and which are not recorded as unpatented mining claims under subsection (3), shall not be open for prospecting, staking out, sale or lease under this act until a date fixed by the deputy minister, notice of which shall be published in the Ontario Gazette at least two weeks prior thereto.”
Mr McLean: I have a question to the minister on the amendment that was just put. Why would the surrendering only be on the terms acceptable to the minister? That is my first question. My second question is, why would there be so many additions to the amendment? Why was it not included in the original bill?
Hon Mr O’Neil: I appreciate the question from the member. Quite a bit of consultation has taken place with many of the mining groups, and in this particular case the mining and prospecting community was concerned that there would no longer be any relief from forfeiture provisions in the amended act. They felt that there may be special circumstances -- an administrative error on the part of the claim holder, for example -- where an opportunity to seek relief should be still provided.
It is our position that applications for relief from forfeiture have been made frivolously and too frequently to the mining commissioner in the past, but in recognizing the valid concerns, we feel this motion will allow for relief from forfeiture by order in council. Because such orders require cabinet approval, they will be made only in very special circumstances.
Motion agreed to.
Section 89, as amended, agreed to.
Section 90 agreed to.
The First Deputy Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that section 200 of the act, as set out in section 91 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted therefor;
“200(1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council, upon the recommendation of the minister, may order, revoke, cancel or annul the forfeiture of any mining lands or mining rights under this act or revoke, cancel or annul the termination of any lease of mining lands under this act or relieve from forfeiture any unpatented mining claims on such terms and conditions as the minister considers appropriate.
“(2) Where an order under subsection (1) concerns unpatented mining claims, such order shall be filed in the office of the mining recorder.
“(3) Where an order under subsection (1) concerns leases or freehold patents, the deputy minister shall cause the order to be registered in the proper land registry office and thereupon the mining lands or mining right revest in the owner or lessee of the mining lands or mining rights at the time of forfeiture or termination, his or her heirs, successors or assigns, subject to any lien, mortgage entered or registered prior to the forfeiture or termination and still outstanding.
“(4) Where application is made for an order under subsection (1), the minister may direct the mining lands or mining rights described in the application to be withdrawn from prospecting, staking out, sale or lease until a disposition of the application.
“(5) The minister may direct an application for an order under subsection (1) to be accompanied by the prescribed fee.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 91, as amended, agreed to.
Section 92 agreed to.
The Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that section 201 of the act, as set out in section 93 of the bill, be amended by striking out “section” in the first line and inserting in lieu thereof “part.”
Hon Mr O’Neil: This is merely a housekeeping matter. Mining land tax applies to all of part XIV and not just section 201.
Mr Pouliot: I know in this case it is a coincidence but, with respect, this government is so lax in tightening up its house when it comes to collecting the money. It is good. We are literally under a state of siege. The world has descended upon us. But every time there is an amendment, when taxes are mentioned, one more time, it seems to be missing the boat.
By way of conclusion on this proposed amendment, let that be a lesson to all of us. You have to run it a bit as you are running your own affairs. If you ran your affairs the way you run the affairs of the government, you would have to declare bankruptcy. The government always misses out. It always has to tidy things up to collect what is the public’s, really. In this case, it has to come up at the last hour; but this has not been done until 1906, so the minister has had ample time to come up and do what is right.
Again, it is centred on money. It is ironic; it has to be more than a coincidence. Sometimes I wonder, when it comes time for the Ministry of Revenue to collect, if someone is asleep at the wheel. It is just a matter of attitude, no more than that, but a matter of attitude perhaps.
I know this would not happen with the previous Minister of Mines, for he left before this new Mining Act came into being.
Motion agreed to.
Section 93, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 94 to 107, inclusive, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that subsection 108(1) of the bill be amended by striking out “at midnight on 31 March 1990” in the third and fourth lines and inserting in lieu thereof “on the date set out on the licence or renewal thereof.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 108, as amended, agreed to.
The Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“108a(1) Where forfeiture occurs under clauses 85(1)(c), (d) or (e) of the Mining Act as those clauses read before the coming into force of section 52 of this act or under clause 85(1)(c) of the Mining Act, as re-enacted by section 52 of this act, and where an application is made to the mining and lands commissioner within six months of the forfeiture, the commissioner may make an order on such terms and conditions as the commissioner considers just relieving the claim from forfeiture and extending the time for performing or reporting the work, or both but no such application may be made to the commissioner after the expiration of eight months from the day section 52 of this act comes into force.
“(2) Where, on the day section 76 of the Mining Act, as re-enacted by section 46 of this act, comes into force, 200 days of assessment work have been performed and recorded by the holder of a mining claim under section 76 of the Mining Act as it read before its re-enactment by section 46 of this act, the holder of the mining claim shall,
“(a) perform and file such annual units of assessment work as are prescribed under section 76 of the Mining Act, as re-enacted by section 46 of this act; or
“(b) apply and pay for a lease of the claim within the time set out in subsection 94(2) of the Mining Act, as it read before its re-enactment by section 59 of this act, or, where applicable, within the time set out in an order of the mining and lands commissioner under section 86 of the Mining Act as it read before its re-enactment by section 53 of this act.”
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that the bill be amended by adding thereto the following section:
“108b(1) A subsisting lease that has been issued or renewed under sections 94, 95 or 97 or subsection 190(2) of the Mining Act, as those before the day sections 59, 60, 62 and this come into force, shall continue to bear the existing rental rate until the expiration of five years from that day.
“(2) Where a lease applied for before 24 October 1989 is issued after the day sections 59, 60, 62 and 82 of this act come into force, the lease shall bear the rental rate provided for by the Mining Act, as that act read before the day sections 59, 60, 62 and 82 of this act come into force, until the expiration of five years from the day those sections come into force.
“(3) Where a lease to which subsection (1) or (2) applies is renewed under section 94 of the Mining Act, as amended by section 59 of this act, the lease shall, until the expiration of five years from the day sections 59, 60, 62 and 82 of this act come into force, bear the rental rate set out in subsection 94(8) of the Mining Act, as that section read before its re-enactment by section 59 of this act.
“(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of a lease, after the expiration of five years from the day sections 59, 60, 62 and 82 of this act come into force, every lease shall bear the rental rate set out in the Mining Act as amended by this act.”
Mr Pouliot: I have a brief comment again. With the highest respect for the minister, there seems to be some discrepancy between what the Chair is reading and the minister’s own copy, and yet they are about 15 feet apart. I know in this case it is not consequential in the least, but I am beginning to wonder what is going on here. What kind of show is the minister running? Yet we know that he has no limit on his own expenditures. The members opposite have spent in the past five years like drunken sailors, if you wish, at more than twice the rate of inflation, so there is really little excuse. I will be listening very carefully as we move through those amendments.
Hon Mr O’Neil: I am glad the member will be listening very closely. Maybe that will correct some of the problems.
Mr McLean: I would like to ask the minister how many amendments there have been to this bill. That is one question. The other question is, why is it that in this legislation the minister seems to have all the power? It is always at the discretion of the minister or subject to the minister’s approval? How come it cannot be in the bill without everything being approved by the minister?
Hon Mr O’Neil: I thank the member again for his comments. First of all, I believe there is one more short amendment we have to go through. I certainly appreciate the patience of the members here in the chamber, but I remind the member that this bill has not been really changed since 1906, although there were several chances when it was brought before the Legislature and it was not acted upon.
We not only spent quite a bit of time putting the bill together, and working hard, I might say, with the co-operation of the opposition members to make sure we could bring it forth, but we also, both ourselves and the opposition members, widely distributed this bill and asked for any input that was there from the different groups. There was the Ontario Mining Association, the prospectors and developers, and they have come in with some of these suggestions. But they are not only their suggestions; some of them are ours and some of them are the opposition parties’ suggestions.
We feel that if it has taken us since 1906 to bring this new bill in, we can at least spend a little time here today to bring about some of the changes that the members opposite, and we and people outside, have suggested.
As for having the minister look at that, I can also tell members that we feel we will be again consulting very widely with any of the client groups to make sure their wishes are adhered to.
Mr McLean: I just want an answer to my question: How many amendments to this bill has the minister brought in?
Hon Mr O’Neil: I believe that there are 15.
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Mr O’Neil moves that section 109 of the act be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“(1) This act, except subsection 34(3) and section 51, comes into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor.
“(2)Subsection 34(3) and section 51 come into force on the day this act receives royal assent.”
Motion agreed to.
Section 109, as amended, agreed to.
Section 110 agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported.
Hon Mr O’Neil: Just in closing again, I appreciate the forbearance of all members. I would also like to thank my parliamentary assistant, the member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr South) and the opposition critics for their co-operation, not only today but also before in helping to put this bill through.
On motion by Mr O’Neil, the committee of the whole House reported one bill with certain amendments.
MUNICIPALITY OF METROPOLITAN TORONTO AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved, on behalf of Mr Sweeney, second reading of Bill 53, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.
Mr Ballinger: I am pleased to introduce for second reading today a bill to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act. This bill will implement a number of requests made by metropolitan council. A number of changes are of a housekeeping nature, while others are of a more substantive nature. The amendments have been structured to permit flexibility and encourage local autonomy.
Several of the amendments relate to the environment: authority to contribute to water pollution control projects, authority to charge waste disposal user fees and authority to make grants to area municipal waste recycling programs. These new programs are permissive and will aid Metropolitan Toronto to deal effectively with important environmental issues.
Other amendments will allow Metro council to determine the number of members on the Toronto Transit Commission and clarify the powers and duties of the Metropolitan Toronto Library board. A 10-year limitation on the right to sell refreshments and liquor in metropolitan parks will be removed. Two amendments bring Metro legislation into conformity with that of other regional municipalities. An exemption from Ontario Municipal Board approval for various undertakings where debentures are not being issued will be extended to Metropolitan Toronto, as will a general prohibition barring council from assisting business ventures.
Overall, this package of amendments will assist the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to deal more effectively with the changes of today.
Mr Wildman: In the absence of my friend the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh), who would normally be carrying the bill for us but who is away on a family matter, I would just say that as we understand it, the legislation as proposed for second reading is legislation that is desired by Metro council and has the support of Metro council and deals with an important issue regarding, among other things, how one deals with wastes.
I would just say in passing that I think it is unfortunate that besides passing this legislation -- someone is talking to me here -- as desired by Metro, I think it is long past time for this provincial government to take the initiative with regard to dealing with the garbage crisis in the so-called greater Toronto area, the GTA, and it is important that we have some understanding of how we are going to deal with what is indeed a garbage crisis. We all recognize the difficulties associated with landfill sites, the difficulty in finding landfill sites and the importance of recycling projects, as this bill would allow Metropolitan Toronto to get involved with providing grants for.
I commend the ministry for acting on the wishes of metropolitan council, but I do say that this is one step, a very small step, in the long process of dealing with what is in fact the crisis dealing with waste.
There are a number of other amendments in the bill that deal with a number of various acts of the Legislature. We have no problem with them, and we will be in support of the passage of this act.
I would just say that if it would be appropriate, I would suggest that at this point, considering the emergency that has led to my friend the member for Oshawa having to be absent, perhaps we should consider adjourning the debate at this point and proceeding with the bill on second reading at another point, perhaps next week, if that is acceptable to the House.
On motion by Mr Kwinter, the debate was adjourned.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr South: It is with great pleasure that I rise before my colleagues today to comment on the recent budget tabled by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon). Many of my colleagues in the opposition have criticized this budget, ignoring the views of many in this province who believe that this is a sound and fiscally responsible budget.
It is a budget that is tough -- that is true. However, this government has always met tough issues head on, as have the people of this province. To the Treasurer, my constituents have asked me to compliment him on this budget. Many believe that this is the best budget he has presented since taking office. Like a fine wine, the Treasurer only improves with age.
The benefits of this budget are threefold: tax savings for individuals with the elimination of OHIP premiums; improved programs and services such as education, health, transportation and social assistance and the renewal of our infrastructure and natural resources, and most important, the restoring of confidence in this province through the continued reduction of the deficit.
This budget reaffirms our commitment to open and accessible government. We have listened to the people. We have recognized the people of this province as our strength.
First, I would like to discuss in some way the provisions in this budget for health. The public of this province demands accessible, affordable, appropriate health services. People come from all over the country to live in Kingston. Why? Partly to be near the quality health services that we provide. The Kingston area is fortunate to have many world-renowned doctors who are leading in advanced technologies. We have caring nurses and a caring way of health.
None here can dispute that Ontario residents enjoy one of the best health care systems, not only in North America but in the world. The people of this province can be proud of the quality and access to these services.
The people of Ontario have chosen health care as one of their priorities. Funding for health is almost $14 billion, and that is one third of the provincial spending. That translates into $1,450 for every man, woman and child in Ontario. We now have the highest per capita health care system in Canada, and as I have already stated, it is one of the best systems in the world.
However, the challenge is not in doling out money. The challenge is how to creatively manage the resources we have, given the changing requirements of our society, providing the services we deem necessary for our future. Quality assurance will be the best insurance that we are using our previous resources most effectively.
Our society is growing rapidly. The government is concerned, as are the people of Frontenac-Addington, about the effects of escalating costs. We have to also consider the changing demographics and advancing technology. All these things exert tremendous pressure on the health care system.
With the 1990s comes a period of transition in preparation for the 21st century. This government believes that changes have to be made in the way health care services are delivered and funded. We must respond to the irrational and widely held belief that more beds means better health care. In fact, services can be provided in alternative ways.
Focusing on people, the services they need and the appropriate place to deliver these services, we are committed to meet the real changing needs appropriately and we will work with the people of the province to come up with solutions to problems in determining the directions for the future. The public discussion paper entitled Deciding the Future of Our Health Care is a way of ensuring public participation. It is a way of ensuring that the public has control over its future.
Many of those opposite may remember that when the Liberal government took office it promised to abolish regressive OHIP premiums. The termination of the premium system represents a creative change to the funding of health care services in this province. Most important, it represents a saving of $1 billion in 1990 for individuals across this province. To the constituents of my riding this means a great deal. It represents a considerable saving for the average family.
The employer health levy will make this system more fair and equitable. As many members are aware, previously some employers paid OHIP premiums, while some did not. An employer health levy of 1.95 per cent of payroll will now be paid by all employers. Small businesses will only pay half of this rate.
The Progressive Conservative members of the opposition may also be concerned, because their federal counterparts in Ottawa will now be required to pay one third of the $1-billion savings to the residents of Ontario.
With regard to the environment, the environment is one of the hottest topics around these days. It is a concern to many people, including environmental groups, the public and governments both here at home and around the world.
A clean and safe environment is one of the cornerstones of our efforts to improve the quality of life in Ontario. Through the budget initiatives, this government will continue to demonstrate leadership in environmental protection to ensure the quality of our air, water and food.
Once again, we have listened to the people of this province. The public demanded more money on the environment and this government increased environmental spending by 20 per cent, to a total of $528 million.
However, it is no easy task for the government to meet all of these objectives through increased spending alone. Serious consideration and creative problem-solving is required and has been demonstrated by the Treasurer in this budget.
A greater emphasis has been placed on advanced technology. It can offer solutions to many environmental problems. The environmental technologies program will provide $30 million over a five-year period to private firms to research and develop new environmentally sound technologies and will help reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of pollution control. The expansion of current cost adjustment will help stimulate the development of pollution abatement technologies and help business achieve cleaner projects and processes while sustaining competitiveness.
In regard to energy, and as the former parliamentary assistant to the previous Minister of Energy, I am extremely proud to state that the Ministry of Energy is supporting research and development programs that will lead to some exciting new energy options for industry. The EnerSearch program provides R and D grants to industry, universities and research organizations and underwrites about one third of the cost of these projects.
Since the program started in 1986, $4.4 million has been granted towards promising research projects. Over one third of this funding has been designated to develop new energy supplies. We are extremely excited that the recent budget expanded this program to provide $3 million in assistance in 1989.
In regard to the tax on tires, I would like to remind the opposition that this has been an innovative initiative to help protect our environment.
Mr Hampton: That’s a crock.
Mr South: I ask the member opposite who disagrees with this position whether he has travelled on the Toronto subway recently and seen the caption: “Politicians are like disposable diapers. They will take 70 years to become environmentally friendly.”
I wish to repeat that the opposition has failed to understand the problem that presently exists. This measure will reduce the potential environmental hazards of used tires. It will cover the disposal of tires and research into innovative recycling methods. Is this an unfair tax? I do not believe that it is.
Today our society is faced with the unpopular task of dealing with the problems of waste management. Controlling the growth of our unwanted waste will help reduce the environmental impact on society. Our biggest collective challenge, and one I know members are aware of, will be to change people’s attitudes and create a widespread desire to participate in more efficient environmental measures.
People are beginning to understand that disposing of our waste more wisely can protect and preserve our environment. Attitudes can be changed, even in the opposition. We have all been impressed by the way blue boxes have appeared all over the province, as people suddenly became more aware that waste management is a problem that can only be solved by all of us starting at home.
But to speed up these changes in attitude, to increase the understanding of the benefits of efficient waste management practices, takes the help of all community leaders, including the members opposite. Environmentally, economically and socially, waste management makes sense. For much longer than I have been a politician I have been an environmental engineer. I can sympathize with the environmental problems faced by society today. I appreciate that the tire tax is a lesson in accountable environmental economics, a term many of us are unfamiliar with.
In regard to social services, this budget enables individuals in receipt of social assistance to have the opportunity to become more economically independent. There will be improvements to benefits for families with children and recipients facing high shelter costs. To achieve the above there will be a reduction in the complexity of the system, which will provide for greater fairness in the system.
All these initiatives are a response to recommendations by the Social Assistance Review Committee, headed by a Kingston native, Dr George Thomson: a committee that consulted with the people of this province; a committee whose recommendations the opposition supports, recommendations which the opposition criticized the government for not acting upon sooner. Here again the new thrust for social services, as for health, is prevention, not correction after the fact.
Here we have it, a budget with recommendations supported by all sides of this House. There are people in my riding who live a life many of us here could not understand let alone endure, families trying to survive on an income below the poverty line. Often these people are stereotyped as people who do not want to work. This is not the case, and I believe that many of them are merely victims of circumstances.
By reforming Ontario’s social assistance services, as well as other related new initiatives will reduce barriers that make difficult achievement of economic independence. This government intends to give these people their dignity and pride back; $440 million has been allocated to Transitions, the program that is making this all possible.
In regard to education, recognizing the people of this province as our strength, education has remained the priority of this government. We believe that education is the key to achieving the economic potential of the province and the individual potential of our people. We must encourage a system whereby our children develop basic learning and social skills at an early age. We must set high standards for our youth.
Our secondary educational system must assist students to acquire advanced knowledge that will equip them for post-secondary education and the workforce. In doing this, this budget has increased transfer payments to school boards by 6.1 per cent, to over $4.1 billion in 1989-90. We are providing funding for school boards to offer half-day junior and senior kindergarten and full-day senior kindergarten where space permits.
In ensuring quality and accessibility of education, capital commitments have been made to provide $1.2 billion over four years for the construction of schools and for the renovation and repair of older facilities. This funding will ensure that more schools are built to meet the growing demands.
In Frontenac-Addington, overcrowding at schools is a serious problem. Residents demanded that more money be spent on capital construction of new schools in the Kingston area. Listening to the people, the former Minister of Education, the member for Wentworth North (Mr Ward), announced in 1988 that two new schools would be built in Kingston township: $13 million would be spent on the construction of a new high school and $3 million would be spent on an new elementary school. This year, the Minister of Education (Mr Conway) has announced that an additional $4.2 million will be spent on the construction of a second new elementary school in the Bayridge area.
Again, recognizing that technology can work wonders, $60 million in capital funding will be provided over five years beginning in 1990-91 to update and consolidate the curriculum and renew teaching equipment. This will provide a highly skilled workforce and thereby increase the competitiveness of this province.
This government wants to invest in our young people. We want to ensure that they are prepared for the challenges of the 21st century. However, our big challenge in this province is to use the money that we are using on education more efficiently.
In regard to municipalities, we in the government recognize that the rapid growth and development in some areas of the province places demands on all levels of government. We recognize the need for increased investment in infrastructure and for certainty in the planning process. It is for these reasons that we increased transfer payments to municipalities to $4.5 billion in this fiscal year, an increase of eight per cent.
We will set up a new advisory committee on provincial-municipal financing matters to explore issues related to conditional and unconditional grants, property tax assessment, etc.
I believe the most positive of all these initiatives for municipalities is the advance payments of $413 million in unconditional grants to municipalities, providing a cash flow advantage to municipalities.
Again, this government has listened to the people at the local level. Many of the municipalities in the county of Lennox and Addington and the county of Frontenac found it increasingly difficult to undertake planning for the future when they had difficulty predicting the amount of funding that would be made available in the future.
Recognizing the need for increased investment in infrastructure, the Treasurer has devised a system by which those who benefit significantly and directly from the provision of new public infrastructure will be required to make a greater contribution to the cost of that infrastructure.
Many of those from the greater Toronto area have complained that this is unfair. However, we never hear them complaining about the extremely high appreciation in the value of their homes. These critics complain about the congestion of Toronto transit, the lack of parking in the downtown area, the lack of educational facilities, the high level of pollution in Toronto, etc.
The high standard of living and economic prosperity in Toronto has resulted in an ever-increasing demand for these services from business, industry and the public. This in turn places new strains on our government. This government is seeking solutions to these complex problems. The pay-as-you-go principle is a beginning.
This government recognizes that Ontario’s system of roads, public transit and highways makes an important contribution to the economic health of the province as a whole. Provincial spending will total $2 billion in this fiscal year, of which $1.2 billion will be spent in the greater Toronto area. Everyone will benefit from this improved infrastructure. The public has demanded it, and I believe the public is willing to pay for it.
We have new trading opportunities in eastern Europe, and keeping Ontario competitive is essential to our economic growth. Ontario is facing increasing competition from liberalized trade agreements under the free trade agreement, and a stronger European Community.
Our challenge is to keep our economy growing and to maintain our quality of life. Efforts to reduce the budgetary deficit will continue to restore the confidence in this province. It will play an important role in strengthening the province’s competitiveness.
The people of this province have become increasingly concerned about the deficit, both at the provincial level and the federal level. We have listened to this concern and are doing something about it. The 1989 fiscal plan reduces the budgetary deficit to $557 million, a decrease of $911 million. As members opposite are aware, this is the lowest level in 15 years. Ontario now has the third lowest deficit per capita in Canada.
In conclusion, the record of this Liberal government has been one of action. We have recognized the people of this province as our strength. Ontarians believe we must have a secure economy if we are to continue to grow and to thrive. In order to achieve this, serious consideration and creative problem-solving are required. This government is creatively managing our resources in a time when society is changing rapidly. We are looking at new ways to fund services and programs.
I am proud of the success achieved by this government. Why are we successful? I believe it is due, in large part, to the fact that we have worked in partnership with the people of this province. The more input we get from the public, the more likely we are to make the best choices. I am a believer in collective wisdom.
We must continue to have a vision, to be proactive and to have foresight, and I believe this budget shows that this government has all of these things. Together we can prepare for our future. Together we are making Ontario a world-class society.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to just make a few comments to refute some of the world-class statements made by the previous speaker in relation to his government. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and I heard a lot of farmers complaining about the lack of support from this government in solving a very serious problem pertaining to establishing landfill sites in all parts of the province; not just in Metro Toronto, but in Wellington and Simcoe and many other parts of the province that this government is supposed to serve so well.
Why does the government not take a lead in helping the municipalities develop policies that will apply to all sectors? Wellington has spent over $1 million in trying to establish a site, just in the planning process, and is far from reaching a conclusion. Data that have to go into Wellington’s situation apply to many of the other parts of the province. They could surely design a concept that could serve the needs of the vast majority of the counties, rather than have individual efforts.
An example of the government’s willingness to listen is Bill 119, a bill introduced by the present government. They had hearings and approximately 190 groups appeared before the legislative committee. Not one supported the government’s position, not one, yet the government refused to accept amendments. What is the point of having a government that pretends to listen? When they have hearings and amendments are proposed to accommodate the hearing process, the government refuses to accept the amendments. They refuse to listen to any of the people they ask to make comments and to provide input. It is a government that does not listen.
Mr Adams: I would like to comment on the excellent remarks by my neighbour and colleague the member for Frontenac-Addington. I was particularly struck by one aspect of his comments on the budget. That is the way in which children appear at various points in this budget. For example, as the member for Frontenac-Addington pointed out, the Transitions program is a new approach to welfare. It is a family-based approach to welfare. The objective is wherever possible to assist the children to effect a transition from welfare to the mainstream of society.
The member for Frontenac-Addington also mentioned the environment and there too we have a child-centred budget where we have developed environmental concerns, such as interest in waste management, in the curriculums of our schools, where we have actually been able to fund waste management programs in the schools so that the students can be involved in environmental matters.
The third area the member for Frontenac-Addington mentioned was the area of education where, as he so rightly stressed, the emphasis has been on kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2, the very earliest years of school. It seems to me this government has recognized the fact that many problems, for example the dropout problems we have in later years in schools, actually start much earlier. The emphasis in this budget on the first few years of school is a very happy one.
I compliment the member for Frontenac-Addington for an excellent speech on the budget.
Mr Hampton: I have a question arising out of the honourable member’s speech. Can the member tell us if the tire tax is an earmarked tax, that is, do all the revenues that come from the tire tax go directly to the Ministry of the Environment or do they go into the sales tax fund? Can the member tell us that?
Mr Campbell: I rise to commend my colleague on a very excellent job, not only in his speech on the budget, but also for the fine work he has done as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Mines (Mr O’Neil) in helping the minister shepherd the Mining Amendment Act through the various stages. I think it is very important today because today marks a very important milestone in the mining industry. I think it is very important that I draw to members’ attention not only a very fine speech, but a very fine job as parliamentary assistant in dealing with this matter.
Mr South: It has been a great pleasure to speak with regard to this government’s budget. In response to the member for Rainy River (Mr Hampton), I would like to tell him that the Ministry of the Environment is actively involved with many programs of research, especially into the tire dilemma. The disposal of tires is a really vexing problem. Every time I drive along Highway 2, as I approach Kingston there is the army camp with this great big pile of old tires and nobody knows what to do with it. I will tell the member that this $5 tax will be put to good use in contributing to the research that is necessary in disposing of one of the great dilemmas of modern-day society.
Mr Hampton: In other words it’s not an earmarked tax.
Mr South: This is response time, not answer time.
The Acting Speaker: That concludes the remarks by the member for Frontenac-Addington. In recognition of the change in order of business because of tomorrow’s recess, the cancellation of tomorrow’s order of business, I would like to call upon the honourable House leader for the government to bring us all up to date in terms of what the House will be doing in the next week.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to the standing orders, I would like to advise the House of the business for the following week. On Monday we will continue with second reading debate on Bill 68, the auto insurance legislation. That debate, if not completed on Monday, will continue on Tuesday, to be followed by second reading of Bill 48 and Bill 60. On Wednesday we will begin with third reading of Bill 71, An Act to amend the Mining Act, second reading of Bill 81, and will continue and hopefully complete debate on Bills 48 and 60. Thursday in the morning will be private members’ business, and in the afternoon we have notice of an opposition day standing in the name of the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs Grier).
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr Hampton: I am quite pleased to be able to enter into this debate for a few minutes right now because it gives me an opportunity to explain to the member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr South) exactly what the new tire tax is and to explain why so many people object to it being called an environmental tax. The fact of the matter is it is not in any way an environmental tax. It is not a tax that has been earmarked for the funds to go to the Ministry of the Environment one little bit.
The tire tax is nothing more than addition to, a supplement to the retail sales tax. Moneys that go into retail sales tax go into the government’s general revenue fund. Calling it an environmental tax is nothing more than a smokescreen, an attempt to make it a little more palatable for the public. It is not in any way a tax that is earmarked to the Ministry of the Environment. It has not been. The government in fact had an opportunity to make it so and refused. It turned down that opportunity. Let me use that as the theme to set the tone for our picture of this government’s budget and our picture of this government’s budgetary and spending priorities.
What many people in this province find reprehensible is this government’s habit of bringing out a new tax whether that tax makes any sense fiscally or not, whether it makes any sense in terms of its impact on our society, whether it makes any sense in terms of its impact on consumers, whether it makes any sense in its impact on lower income earners.
People object to this government’s penchant for bringing forward a new tax and then trying to disguise it by dressing it up as an environmental tax or a health tax. This tax has absolutely nothing to do with the environment. It is simply taxing people five dollars per new tire. That money then flows into the government’s general revenues. It does not go to the Ministry of the Environment, not one cent of it.
It is propaganda the government is engaged in by telling people that this tax has something to do with the environment, making out that this tax is somehow earmarked for the environment when it is nothing of the sort.
That is not the only tax this can be said of. The so-called employers’ health tax is not a health tax one little bit. The money from the payroll tax does not go to the Ministry of Health for health programs. It goes into the government’s general revenue fund as well.
The government reasoned that if it imposed the new tax on employers’ payrolls there would be some objection, so in order to make it a little more palatable, in order to soft-sell it, it calls it an employer health tax levy. It has nothing to do with health whatsoever. It goes into the government’s general revenue fund and can be divvied up however the government wants to divvy it up. If they want to use it to pay more sinecure salaries to Liberal members, it can be used that way. If the government wants to use it to reward more of their Liberal consultants, it can be used that way. If Patti Starr needs a little more butter for her bread, it can be used that way. It has absolutely nothing to do with health, not one little bit.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Why don’t you ask Bob Rae?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Hampton: I see that I have got to the member for York Mills, so through you, Mr Speaker, I will address the member for York Mills. I tried to explain this to him yesterday.
Mr J. B. Nixon: Tell us how much money Bob Rae wants.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Hampton: I tried to explain this to him yesterday. I do not know if he is busy reading and therefore does not hear or if he does not want to hear. That is what people in this province find so objectionable. If they are going to tax, tax. Do not try to hide it by calling it a health tax or an environment tax when it is nothing of the sort. Do not try to colour what is happening. That is what the government is doing.
Mr Fleet: This speech is very taxing.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Would all members please respect the standing orders.
Mr Hampton: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I heard from one of the Liberal members opposite that he found this speech very taxing. I know it is hard to hear the truth, especially when you have been engaging in a prolonged campaign of covering it up.
These taxes have something else that grates on the public of Ontario. They have something else that grates on the public of Ontario. Let’s just take this tire tax, for example. This is not a tax on income. It is not a tax on wealth. It is not a tax on capital gains. It is simply a tax on a consumptive good, and as a consumptive good it hurts those parts of the province more that have to engage more in overland transportation.
It is not particularly an effective tax here in Toronto, but if you get out into rural Ontario, if you go to northern Ontario -- I might add they are parts of the province where disposable income is less than it is here in Toronto -- if you go to those parts of the province, this tax has a particularly painful impact.
How do you explain it to someone, for example, who lives in the northern part of the province who has to drive to Winnipeg or Thunder Bay for medical attention? There are many people who have to go every week to those cities for medical attention and who have to go through three sets of tires in a year. How do you explain to them that they should have to bail more money out of their pockets? How do you explain the progressivity of this tax? How do you explain the equity of this tax? You cannot. You cannot explain the progressivity or the equity of it. Therefore, you called it an environmental tax and hoped no one would ask any more.
This is a regressive tax. By and large, it hurts those people who live in the less well-off parts of Ontario more than it hurts those people who live in the more well-off parts of Ontario. It hurts those people who have to travel the farthest, those people who have to travel the most frequently. Those people who have to travel over the roads of least quality have to pay this tax the most. This is quite simply a discriminatory tax, but you are becoming known for this kind of tax.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Please sit down. The member will address his remarks through the Speaker, and as we say, using the third person singular or plural. Members do not address other members directly, for one thing. Will other members use the provisions of the standing orders. If they want to make comments, they each have a two-minute period after the member’s speech, not during.
Mr Hampton: Thank you for your corrections, Mr Speaker. I will do my best to follow your instructions.
Let’s move on to the so-called employer health levy, which has nothing to do with health. Again, it is another tax grab; another long arm of the government reaching out into people’s pockets to inflate the general revenues of the government however the government chooses to spend those revenues. The employer health tax fails on all of the tests again.
Does it show equity? Not in the least. If one is a self-employed real estate speculator in downtown Toronto, one does not pay this tax because chances are that what one has is an answering device and no employees. If one is a self-employed lawyer in Thunder Bay, one has one secretary and one’s annual income is $100,000. One does not pay this tax on one’s own income; one pays it only on the $20,000 salary one pays to one’s secretary.
Similarly, if one is a sole practising doctor and one has a receptionist and that is all one has, one may have the average annual income of most doctors of the province -- that is $120,000 -- and one does not pay any of this payroll tax on one’s own income; one pays it only on what little amount one pays that receptionist.
I do not know what tests the Liberal government uses, but any of the tests that I apply to that tax tells me that it is most unequal, it is most regressive and it is most unfair in its impact. Who does it impact on? Who is it going to hurt? It is going to hurt those industries that are labour-intensive and those types of economic activities that create more jobs, because for every job we create, we have to pay more tax. What an insidious, silly tax, and this government says it cares about small business; it believes in small business.
If the government wants to tax small business for this tax, then it should create an income tax that taxes income of small business because, quite frankly, there are small businesses out there that are having a tough enough time as it is. They have several employees and they will not be able to stand the impact of this tax. They simply do not have the income available to allow them to pay this tax if it is based not on their income but on the number of employees they have. Again, it is a very regressive tax and a very silly tax.
To cover up how silly and regressive it is, the government then comes out and says it is an employer health tax. We all wish the government would not engage in this kind of subterfuge. We all wish the government would just come clean and say: “Look, we need more money for general revenues. We are going to impose this kind of tax.” Then people would be able to take their gloves off and, without dealing with all the packaging, tell the government exactly what they thought.
As it goes, we have to wade through the packaging for a month and then we get the reaction. I know, from speaking to some of the government members here, they realize the reaction in their home constituencies is not good. People are telling this government there are a lot of fairer ways this tax could have been brought in and could have been managed.
Those are just two elements, two taxes where the government has said: “This is an employer health tax. This is an environmental tax.” But neither of those statements is true. They are simply not true. The tire tax has nothing to do with the Ministry of the Environment. The revenue is not earmarked for the Ministry of the Environment. It is going into the government’s general revenues. The government may just spend it on whatever it wants.
The so-called employer health levy has nothing to do with the Ministry of Health. It is money that goes into government general revenues and the government can decide how it is going to spend it, depending upon the political vicissitudes of the moment.
Mr Dietsch: Where do they get the money from?
Mr Hampton: I love it when members of the government ask where the government gets the money.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for St Catharines-Brock (Mr Dietsch) is out of order.
Mr Hampton: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, maybe if you have time you could explain to the member for St Catharines-Brock some elementary details about where government does get money: government taxes, government charges for licences, and government charges for the consumption of liquor and so on at its Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores. That is how government gets money. Unfortunately, as I have tried to point out today, some of the ways this government is getting money are most regressive and most unfair. That has people quite upset in this province.
I have to thank the member for Frontenac-Addington for jogging my memory on something else, because he said this government is very committed to the environment. I want to just dwell for a moment on an environmental issue and an environmental problem which affects the greatest percentage of land mass in this province. I am talking about virtually all parts of Ontario north and east and west of Barrie. I am talking about the forest lands of Ontario.
I will tell members about the forest lands. We have heard in this House and we have heard Liberal politicians outside this House say, “What a shame it is that in Brazil the Brazilian government is allowing the Amazon rain forest to be cut and burned indiscriminately.” We have heard Liberal politicians point out that this has dire effects for the world’s environment in terms of the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance and in terms of the whole greenhouse effect. We have heard all that.
We should look within our own boundaries. We should look at our province, because while this government professes to be so concerned about the environment, last year it cut from the budget of the Ministry of Natural Resources $6 million from the firefighting capacity.
The point here is that the proper treatment of our forest environment is just as important as the proper treatment of the Amazon forest. Forests in Canada play a very important role as well in terms of regulating our environment, regulating our climate and the carbon dioxide/oxygen exchange. All of those things are just as important here as they are in the Amazon.
Yet this government, which says it is concerned about the environment, cuts $6 million off the budget of the ministry which is supposed to protect and preserve our forest lands. It simply goes to the Ministry of Natural Resources and says, “Cut $6 million out of your forest fire protection money.” That is a matter of public record.
What is even worse in this analysis is that the Ministry of Natural Resources itself knew that because of the greenhouse effect, the frequency and severity of forest fires across northern Ontario has increased generally over the last 10 years. The Ministry of Natural Resources has its own studies to confirm that. It has studies from the Canadian Forestry Association to confirm that. Yet in the face of that evidence, the government imposes those kinds of cuts on a service which has the duty to protect, preserve and conserve Ontario’s forest lands.
That does not indicate concern with the environment. It does not indicate that at all. It does not indicate concern with one of our most important environmental aspects. It indicates to me a government which promotes itself -- yes, promotes itself. It does a lot of promotional work talking about how good it is on the environment, but when we scratch beneath the surface and look at the fine print, the performance simply is not there.
I want to move on to another environmental concern which reflects upon this government’s budgetary priorities and its other priorities as well. The city of Winnipeg is located two hours away from Ontario by car. The city of Winnipeg gets its water supply from a lake that is in Ontario. It is a lake that until now has had a water supply that has been so clean that the city has not had to use water treatment facilities. It could take water directly out of the lake and feed it into the city’s water lines and it was fit to drink.
Lo and behold, a corporation decides it might want to build a gold mine on this lake. We all know what gold mining means. It means things like cyanide, arsenic and several other potential pollutants because of the chemicals involved in separating the gold from the waste ore.
The city of Winnipeg, concerned citizens of Winnipeg, the government of Manitoba all appealed to the Minister of the Environment. They said: “Please do not put some of your financial considerations in front of our health care and our environmental considerations. Please remember that in the modern world pollution moves around the globe. Pollution of our environment can occur as a result of something done across your boundaries.”
They received no response from the Minister of the Environment. In fact, he said: “Everything is wonderful. Everything is fine. We are not concerned.” It was not until arsenic, cyanide and several other harmful chemicals started appearing in the lake that the Minister of the Environment finally realized the error of his ways and backed off his original position.
I want to say to the members of the government, that does not indicate a concern with the environment. If this government tries to say that a large part of its budgetary and fiscal arrangements are based upon a concern for the environment, the proof is simply not in the pudding.
Now that we have sort of set the environmental record straight here with a few real-life examples, I want to go on to boards of education and municipalities.
We live in a complicated world. We live in a world where money changes hands very quickly. We live in a society where literally billions of dollars can change hands electronically in a day. For government members simply to cite raw numbers, raw funding amounts, and say there is $5 billion here and $6 billion there and to expect that is going to pass muster, that is going to meet the test, is just not going to work.
When we sit down and read the fine print in terms of what the government has allocated to municipalities in unconditional grants and grants for streets and roads, we see that in fact the government over the last two years has basically starved municipalities. I know it, government members know it and most of all the municipalities out there know it.
The municipalities out there know that in fact their budgets have been flat-lined. They know that. They know what the government has done. It makes its announcements in a flurry and then it scurries back, closes the door and hopes that for two weeks or three weeks people will be impressed with the raw numbers and no one will look beneath the surface. But municipal councillors who have looked beneath the surface know they are not even receiving enough money from this government to cover the rise in the cost of living. They are not even getting enough money from this provincial government to cover the effects of inflation.
Boards of education are in an even more difficult position, because in terms of boards of education, not only has the government flat-lined their general budgets, it has also changed the formula for capital budgets. Every time a school board builds a new school now under this government’s latest spending regime, more money has to come out of local taxpayers’ pockets and less money comes from this provincial government.
The saddest fact of this is that when you cut off the funds to municipal governments and to local school boards, there is only one place that those bodies can go to get funds: the property tax. And what is the most regressive tax we have? The property tax. If you are working in the service sector, and you are making $7 or $8 an hour, you simply do not have the income to pay the increased property taxes. If you are in a small business, and you are struggling to get along, you may simply not have the growth and income each year to cover the growth in property taxes, because the property taxes bear no resemblance and bear no relationship whatsoever to your income.
Again the end result of this government’s spending and taxing regime has been to increase the most regressive taxes, the taxes which bear hardest on those people who have the least ability to pay. We call this increasing taxes through the back door. When municipal councils increase their budgets because they have no choice and school boards increase their budgets and increase the property tax because they have no choice because they are not getting the money from the province that they should, the government hopes the local school boards and the local municipal councils will take the blame or the heat for this.
So long as there are a few Liberal politicians on some of the school boards and the municipal councils, perhaps they will keep quiet. But you need only read the resolutions of the municipal associations, or their minutes or press releases, to understand that they have had enough of what this government has done to them.
The sad result of all this -- this has been confirmed by the Canadian Council on Social Development, and it has been confirmed by the National Council of Welfare -- is that for lower-income families in Ontario the tax increases have been too large in the last four years. They have simply been too large, and they have been very painful.
In fact, the studies by the Canadian Council on Social Development and the National Council of Welfare show that it is becoming increasingly difficult in Ontario for lower-income families to make ends meet; not easier, but tougher, harder on those families.
That is the test that ought to be applied to this government’s fiscal and budgetary and taxing arrangements. Do they impact on those who have wealth? Do they impact on those who have high incomes or do they impact most greatly on those who have the least ability to pay?
All the evidence suggests this government’s spending and taxing priorities have had the greatest impact, the greatest negative impact on those who have the least ability to pay in this province. That is a very sad comment on this government.
This government can bring in some good programs, and it can give good speeches, but the bottom line is that if at the end of the day the people who are paying the freight, the people who are being impacted the most and in the most negative way, are the people who have the least ability to pay, then that is a very sad comment on this government.
That is the test that ought to be applied to this government; and when that test is applied to it, this government fails pure and simple.
Mr Dietsch: I would not want to miss this opportunity to comment on the member’s comments on the budget. I suggest in a very sincere way that the member take a little time and study how municipal financing works.
He refers to grants being flat-lined, does not seem to know the difference between unconditional grants and conditional grants and has no concept of what happened with respect to the grant programs over the last year. He stands up in this House day after day and demands time after time to spend more money on this program or that program. He has no alternatives to offer from where the money comes; he only has criticisms to offer.
In the time I have sat in this House listening in a very sincere way to the criticisms that have been lodged, I have been looking in a very meaningful way to find answers. What is the honourable member suggesting? I know that many of the people in this House have an opportunity to listen in a very intent way, but he never comes through with answers.
I will tell members what I see, from my view, as to the position on the environment of the official opposition. Their position is for their leader to go up and lie down in front of the trucks, stop the logging on the road, take the people’s jobs away from them. That is their answer to the environment, and there has not been any other answer in this House in that length of time.
Is that the kind of thing they are supporting? Are they supporting that we should stop all work? Are they supporting that we should stop everything that we are doing, stop all the spending? If so, then for God’s sake stop all the requesting.
Mr Ballinger: I am very pleased to rise and donate my two minutes to this wonderful democracy in Ontario. Unfortunately, I happen to like the member for Rainy River (Mr Hampton); I just do not happen to like his party or the arguments he poses.
He stands here in the House and accuses us -- we wonderful Liberals on this side -- of being a propaganda machine. If I have ever seen a propaganda machine, it is that party over there, the official opposition. I just sat here and listened for almost 25 minutes to about as big a bag of wind as I have heard in this Legislature.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Ballinger: Not one concrete suggestion or recommendation; all we ever get on this side of the House is the sort of negativism that just involves banging the government. It does not matter whether it is a good, bad or indifferent policy; their argument over there is always, “If you propose it, we oppose it.” That is all we ever hear in this House.
For the member for Rainy River to cite the tire tax is a classic example of his not understanding. In this budget, the Treasurer increased the environmental budget by 20 per cent over last year to the tune of slightly over $500 million. We are spending $500 million on environmental protection in Ontario, and he stands up here and says we have a tire tax and we have no direction for it. Certainly the money went into the general revenue; but it was passed on through the budgetary process to the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley).
It is typical. The member for Rainy River does not, never has and will not understand what he is talking about.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Before I proceed with the next member, I remind members again that the standing orders do not allow members to address members directly -- only through the Speaker, third person, singular.
Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, through you, third person, singular, I want to congratulate the member for Rainy River for his presentation, because he made very clear the duplicity of the government with regard to its rhetoric about environment.
In regard to the comments just made by my friend the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger), I think the member for Rainy River understands --
Mr Adams: On a point of order, Mr Speaker --
The Deputy Speaker: Do you have a point of order? Which standing order?
Mr Adams: The honourable member is supposed to be responding to the member for Rainy River rather than to my colleague the member for Durham-York.
Mr Ballinger: So there.
Mr Wildman: Again through you, Mr Speaker, I just want to say that the unfair comments made about my colleague the member for Rainy River regarding the tire tax indicate the misunderstanding of my friend the member for Durham-York.
We had an experience in this House where a Minister of Natural Resources imposed a new tax, a licence fee for fishing, and he told the anglers of this province the fee would be used specifically to restock fish and to improve the habitat for the sports fishery in this province. In fact, far less than was collected has been spent on that, and that is exactly what is going to happen with this tire tax.
As soon as you raise a tax and it goes into the revenue fund, it is up to the Treasurer how it is allocated and the effectiveness of the minister in getting the funds away from the Treasury. We have seen in most cases that the ministers are completely ineffectual in that regard.
Mr Fleet: The speech of the member for Rainy River was filled with so many errors it is impossible to cover them all in two minutes. I will try to deal with some of the worst examples.
First, there was the tax on tires. From the point of view of the environment, it does not seem to me to matter why the tires are being used, whether somebody lives in northern Ontario or southern Ontario. The point is, they are difficult to dispose of. What the honourable member did not bother to mention was that we are also taxing fuel-inefficient cars and pesticides.
The member will also know I have advocated that we broaden that kind of approach to tax products that are difficult to dispose of and products that have excess packaging. I would have thought, if he shared in caring for the environment, he would have advocated that we do more of that.
I might add that I am not somebody who is opposed to having some kind of earmarking, but whether or not that takes place, the fact of the matter is the moneys are being spent on the environment. I believe the increase in funding on the environment is some 70 per cent over the last five years, a really dramatic change by anybody’s standard, and it has been recognized quite clearly.
The other thing is, on small business, we have a lower tax rate for the employer health tax; some 70 per cent of all businesses in Ontario will get something less than the two per cent rate that is applicable for large companies. In addition, one should never forget that we are abolishing OHIP premiums, and that is a $1-billion immediate tax saving to citizens all over, for ordinary Canadians. I would have thought the honourable member would have cared about ordinary citizens and ordinary Canadians a lot more than he exhibited in his speech.
I do not have time to go into the last point in great detail, but I wish the honourable member would speak with his friend the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) about the expert evidence we heard on the Temagami issue, where they were actually advocating to allow more forest fires to continue where property and persons were not endangered. I wish he would study it, because he represents a northern riding.
Mr Hampton: I cannot deal with all the comments. I will deal with the one or two that had some attempt at a logical point behind them. Let me first say to the member for St Catharines-Brock (Mr Dietsch), I have never served on a municipal council, but I have been a teacher.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr Hampton: I have been a teacher, and I have worked very closely with my municipal councils. I want to tell the member just briefly what a lot of school boards are going through right now. His remarks got to me, because I have seen school boards out there that have to make difficult choices about whether they are going to award funding to general programs or to special education. Too many kids in this province are doing without special education because of this budget, and I invite him to go around and look at some of those communities.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Hampton: Finally, let me talk to the member for Durham-York, otherwise known as Barnacle Bill.
Mr Grandmaître: You’re not supposed to refer to him by name.
Mr Hampton: Let me suggest that there are three ways this government could have taxed differently and could have taxed more progressively. It could have imposed a land speculation tax, particularly in urban southern Ontario-
Mr Curling: Pick on Toronto again.
Mr Hampton: -- where it may have taken some of the heat out of the housing market, and it may have gone after some of those folks who are reaping tremendous capital gains at the expense of people who need housing.
Second, it could have imposed a minimum corporate tax. A minimum corporate tax, even in the land of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, is something which is a reality.
Finally, they could have imposed a capital gains tax.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. The member’s time is up.
Could I remind the members again of the standing orders.
Miss Martel: Which one?
The Deputy Speaker: Actually, almost all of them. Can I ask the members to respect the standing orders, that when a member is making a speech, to make your comments after at the appropriate time and, again, to address all remarks through the Speaker.
Another point: The House is no place to refer to other members by other terms except the name of their tiding, of course.
Mr Curling: Before I even begin my points on the budget, I just want to commend the member for Frontenac-Addington for his excellent remarks, right on target.
I was feeling extremely uplifted by the points he was making, and then the member for Rainy River made that terrible attack on this individual. So ill-informed he is and so incorrect in his facts that at times we were forced to get up today. I had hoped that the time would have been about two or three hours in which I would have been able to address some of the issues here.
While I am on my feet, Mr Speaker, I would also like to commend you for the disciplined way in which you conduct this House and some of the members who have not adhered to the standing orders.
I would like to say, though, how extremely fortunate we are in this province to have an individual in our government like the Treasurer. He has such experience, such talent, that I am sure that not only this province is proud of him but the entire country. Any province would have liked him for a treasurer of their province. I just want to commend him for expressing and bringing forward a budget that is so progressive.
Members will notice that the budget of 1989 brought forward services for Ontarians that they never had before. I am so proud to be a part of a government that has worked so hard to reverse the kind of irresponsible manner in how this government was being run and the province was being handled.
If I can just go back four or five years, as you have noticed, the budget in 1987-88 was then about $34.9 billion. Today, the budget of 1989-90 is $41.29 billion.
When members stand up and talk about how we have not adhered to our election promises, they seem to forget, just as recently as today, some of the commitments the government has expressed. Commitments to education, social assistance, safe and secure communities, health, environment and economic development are things that were addressed, and I was extremely proud to know that today I was able to speak at a time when statements were made in the House honouring those commitments.
I do not have the time to go into all, but I would like to take one of those commitments; that is, education.
I will just recite from the budget here that, as members know, in 1987 there was $4.2 billion for the Ministry of Education, and today, $4.9 billion. In the Ministry of Colleges and Universities there is also a significant increase, from $2.3 billion to $2.6 billion; in the Ministry of Skills Development, from $38 million to $433 million. If the opposition members can stand in this House and say that we are not committed to education, after an increase of funding that we have seen here, I do not know what they are talking about. I do not think they are trying to be very honest about it at all.
Let us look seriously at education and the resources that we are trying to develop in our country, in our province. That is our people. We look at countries like Japan, approximately 125 million people in that small place, and a vast land such as Ontario having about 9 million people in our province. There is a tremendous amount of wealth of other natural resources that we depended on so much to make this place a wealthy place, but our most important resource is our people. The lack of people, the lack of the population, the underpopulation is something that we are facing every day, that our immigration policy has not lived up to in attracting more immigrants to our country, which we need so desperately.
Yet in comparison with the amount of money that we have just described and the amount of money that the Treasurer has put forward in the budget to address education, we should have been some of the most educated, most talented, most trained personnel in the world. However, we look at our adult population of illiteracy -- 24 per cent of our adults are functionally illiterate. We must address that. Money alone will not be the answer in dealing with one of our most important natural resources in this country.
If we continue in the manner in which we are going, the competitive manner with Japan and Korea, and even countries like Cuba and Barbados, where the illiteracy rate is 98 per cent and 92 per cent, there is no way that we will see ourselves to be one of the leading nations of the world in competing, because technology is moving at a clip so fast that some of the comprehension of the highly intelligent people is unable to even comprehend that. So when the opposition members stand up in this House and speak about our commitment to our people and say we are not putting our money where our mouth is, I think they should look back on the neglect in which this issue had been addressed in the past. No wonder the people have spoken so loudly and have put the Conservative government in third place, and the manner in which they had behaved, they should have been wiped out completely.
However, the democratic process says to us that the people have due rights. Some of the excellent members we have from the Tory party -- which again, if members should see the interest of a budget which is so important, we want them to have some response and input into this debate -- they are not here today, not one single Conservative member is over there.
Mr Wildman: They have gone to our convention.
Mr Curling: As the honourable member from the official opposition says, maybe they went to the convention of the New Democratic Party to learn something. But again, the response I was hearing from the member for Rainy River and other members with regard to the budget tells me there is not very much they will learn there anyhow.
We talk about in the year 2000, when it comes. There is no magic to the year 2000. There is no magic today to see that our people are not properly trained, are not a properly skilled workforce.
I would urge all members, especially the opposition members of the third party, to encourage their colleagues in the federal government to pay more attention to training and retraining. In cutting back on the unemployment insurance benefits that people do get, to see that they are answering to training in that respect, is not the way. Sure, we would like to take people off welfare and make a paycheque instead of a welfare cheque for those people who are collecting welfare. The George Thomson report, Transitions, showed explicitly that one does not want to be on welfare; one would like to be more productive if the infrastructure is there to support that.
There is much we can do. We hope that the members of the official opposition who come in here every day -- we have provided for them funds in order to have good research, but I am extremely disappointed with some of those questions that come out of question period. They are ill-informed and not targeted in a manner that can put us on our toes. Thank God for good government, for good Liberal government, that regardless of the opposition and the criticism that we receive, we proceed in a manner to address the issue in a very intelligent manner, putting the money where it is properly deserved.
I know, Mr Speaker, though you listen so attentively, and we would like to stay here, that the time does not afford me to go into the other details. I would have loved to have talked about social services and, as I am urged by my colleagues, to go on for the next half an hour.
What we have seen here in the last budget -- we have the lowest deficit in 15 years. What is this triple-A rating of this opposition, the previous government that was in here before? What is the use of a triple-A rating when we have this large deficit? We are able, this government, to continue with a high rating, a triple-A rating, and still have the lowest deficit there. But as I pointed out, low deficits will not in themselves address some of the major issues, and to continue on a very serious note, I am telling the members that our people are not properly trained. Our people are not properly educated, because the results show it.
We are seeing again, and I must emphasize that we have people who are showing that they have graduated from universities and still have a functioning illiteracy level. We have seen people who show a grade 12 diploma -- and my colleague the member for Ottawa South (Mr McGuinty) has gone across this province and has spoken to many, many interest groups on that issue and indicated for a number of years -- and as my parliamentary assistant when I was the Minister of Skills Development, he came in and he was pale from the shock of what he was seeing outside there to say that our people are not educated.
I urge every single member here to go out in 1990, which is the International Year of Literacy, and push the cause that our people should be literate in order to face this challenge. We have this technological era that is coming that is replacing all this learned process that we talk about in the school system that is again not seeming to be producing the type of education that we need. Spending money will not solve it.
I hope that on another occasion I will be able to express some of the other concerns I have in our social services and our health plan here. Just one quick comment: If we are spending $13 billion on health, we either have to be the sickest society in the world or maybe we have to be the healthiest society in the world. It is a lot of money to spend. As the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) each day stands up in this House to talk about how fiscally responsible she will be in making sure that these funds are spent properly, I am confident that we are moving to the year 2000 with a government that can meet those challenges in the way they should be met.
On motion by Mr Curling, the debate was adjourned.
The Deputy Speaker: I would like to remind members that the House does not sit tomorrow but it will resume next Monday at 1:30 of the clock.
The House adjourned at 1751.