The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mrs E. J. Smith moved resolution 44:
That, in the opinion of this House, since recent statistics continue to disclose that a sizeable portion of the women in our society are exposed to physical or sexual abuse, and that most studies would indicate that this behaviour pattern in men is often a result of childhood exposure to these same patterns of behaviour, the government of Ontario, and in particular the Ministry of Education, should earmark specific funds to create programs (and material) delivered by respected male role models, to address and reverse these negative attitudes and that social programs provided for assisting male abusers be given consideration for inclusion in the funding programs of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the women’s directorate.
The Deputy Speaker: The honourable member has up to 10 minutes to make her presentation.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I come here today to speak about a problem that is of very grave importance to the whole of our society. About a generation ago, in the same sort of way, we addressed child abuse in our society and took very strong and urgent steps to not only prevent child abuse but to change the definition of child abuse and to address it in our society in a way that would lessen its impact. I say that we changed the attitude in so far as we required of anybody who knew of any sort of abuse of a child, under the criminal law, to report such abuse to the government so that it could be corrected.
As well as that, in the day-to-day life of how we handled children, we did indeed move towards a less violent way of approaching discipline. I think that many, like myself, can probably remember the days when we had long discussions about whips and straps in schools and whether or not such discipline was useful in disciplining children. Now we are moving to examine wife abuse and the attitudes around it. There are some facts we have heard again and again and that we know. We were told for a long time that 60 per cent -- the latest statistics say 52 per cent -- of all homicides of women occur in a family situation. We know, therefore, how serious this problem is.
But the other statistic that, interestingly, relates to that is that usually a person who is assaulted has been assaulted 30 to 35 times before he or she reports such assault. I wish to draw very closely to the attention of the members that if in fact we have that figure about the people who do report their assaults, then we can only begin to guess at how many people are assaulted fewer than that number of times, to some degree, and simply never come forward at all to bring this to our attention.
In cases like this, the children are usually present. The children are assumed to be present now in 80 per cent of wife-beating incidents. It is for this reason that I feel very strongly that we must address the preventive element in the schools. Children exposed to abuse, particularly young boys exposed to the abuse of their mothers, tend to go on and repeat the patterns. So it is the prevention element we are dealing with here.
I do not intend to speak particularly today on the sexual assault area. To me, in many ways, sexual assault is another violent attack on women, and it is being addressed by a different group. While I know it is important and present and while any preventive programs within the school would obviously address that too, still, basically what my resolution is meant to address is the battered wife rather than the sexually assaulted wife. I know that it is very important to those people involved in a sexual assault that we keep those two elements separate. So out of respect to them, I do that.
Howsoever, I do want to point out that the government has recently put $28 million into the area of the criminalization of sexual assault and the various elements it hopes will help do away with that, and I did not want to not mention it in passing.
But I do want to talk more on the preventive aspect of battered wives. When I was Solicitor General, I had occasion to go to the United States and visit the chief of the New York Police Department and his commissioner of drugs. He pointed out to us at that time that he could put all of the police in New York into doing nothing but fighting the drug battle, so to speak, and basically it would not succeed in doing away with drugs because there was so much money to be made in it that when you caught one person, another stepped into it.
He stressed very strongly that the only thing that would really stop drugs in a country is when people change their attitudes and stop using them, because it does away with the market, and so, I would add, with the business of battered wives.
In fact, a batterer, if he remains a batterer, may be charged. The criminal process may be used. He may go away to jail, but what does this really do? He will not stay in jail for ever. He will be back out into our society, and unless steps have been taken to correct his behaviour, then inevitably he will find another mate and go on and repeat the pattern. So indeed, although we would like to think that this area of prevention is enough, the real area of prevention is getting to children when they are young enough and getting them to change their attitude towards being abusive to women.
Interestingly, studies have shown that 25 per cent of children who are in homes for battered women really found it acceptable under certain conditions for the wife to be battered. They had to be educated in those circumstances to learn that it was not so, that indeed such battering is never justified. It is for this reason that we must put into the schools educational programs that change attitudes.
I have stressed in my motion that I think, since we are dealing with wife battering situations, it is important that those who are there to deliver this message to young boys should be trained male role models. I do not think it is enough for women to stand up and say that men should not batter women. If we are going to get the message through to young boys, in particular the young boys who have been exposed to such battering, then it has to be a message that comes from their own role models, namely, respected men. I say this in the same way that it has to be women who go into the schools and teach young girls, career models for them.
The presence of a course like this, with proper materials, proper training to try to change the attitudes of young people, is really the only way that in the end we will get to the route of battered wives within the homes. We have an opportunity while the children are there and we must take advantage of it because we know the consequences if we do not do so.
As I said about my trip to New York, if in fact you look only to the jailing of men to correct and change their behaviour, you can almost be guaranteed that that in itself will not work. Men who are wife batterers are in many, many cases people who have been exposed to the wrong attitudes in the home, who really are to some extent victims of their own exposure to these wrong attitudes. Therefore, I wish to say that we need programs to help those men overcome this behavioural pattern.
We have such a place in London called Changing Ways. It is partly funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, partly funded by the Ministry of Correctional Services and largely funded by charitable dollars.
It has been suggested to me that some of these programs do not work as well as they should. I say that if the programs are not working, then we cannot just give up. We have to correct the programs. We have to find out what will make them work and keep working at this until we get a solution. Just as the drug problem becomes hopeless except in an educational way, so, if we do not do programs with men and find programs that do work -- we cannot keep them indefinitely in jail -- all we do is care for one victim, care for one woman, briefly punish the man and then the pattern starts again. It is a discouraging picture, but it is a picture that we must face up to.
We must find out what programs with men can work. We must stress the prevention with children and we must do it now. We are aware of the seriousness of this problem in our society. We are aware of the violent crimes that arise out of it and we are aware that it is largely an attitudinal problem.
I would ask that everyone support me in looking to these two programs, the educational program and the program with men, as at least one important link in fighting this type of assault in our homes.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would like to thank the member for London South for bringing forward this resolution today. It is timely. Unfortunately, it is still timely; it has been timely for a long time and I am glad that she has done it. I have some problems with some of the direction of it and I will raise those concerns, but the principle that she is trying to address, especially as she just enunciated it in the last few sentences of her remarks, I concur with entirely.
One of the advantages of having been here for these 11 years is that one gets to see issues come up from time to time, and sometimes that just makes one cynical and sceptical about the reality of change, or the lack of change, in our society. Sometimes it at least allows one to provide a perspective for other members of the House who maybe have not been here this length of time.
I think it is important for members to know that this House has looked at this matter in the past, and members of this House have taken this issue very seriously. In the summer of 1982 the standing committee on social development, for the first time, held hearings on family violence in the province of Ontario, and coming out of those hearings was a whole series of recommendations. There were only two weeks of hearings, and probably it was the most effective single action within a committee that I have been involved with in my 11 years in terms of the appropriateness of the recommendations and in fact the impact of government’s moving on most of those recommendations.
It was at that time, as a member of that committee, I learned about the cyclical nature of violence. Studies that came out of California in those days -- we are talking about studies which predated our hearings in 1982 by several years -- talked about the fact that 40 to 50 per cent of young boys who come from homes where their mothers had been abused turned out to be abusers themselves at a later date. That was something we identified back in 1982, I would say to the member for London South, a member of the government of this province, which has the power and the right to deal with these issues as it chooses.
I would also say that it was during those hearings that we also learned about programs in her own area, new programs in the Canadian context for dealing with male abusers, peer group counselling kinds of programs that were started on shoestrings in those days with no major government assistance at all. They were based on some programs developed in the United States over a period of seven to eight years in advance, and there was some fairly interesting research about their effectiveness at that time.
Here we are in 1990 and we have a member of the government coming forward and identifying the need for those kinds of programs today. I just say, look back at that report. The members will see in the narrative of that report that these kinds of things are taking place. The analysis that these problems of violence in the family and the role model of violence and its dangerousness in terms of the escalation of that in the future were identified in that report.
Recommendations were made in that report which have not been followed by the government, the Conservative government of the time or this government since, and I welcome this individual member of the Liberal Party’s initiative in this matter. But I say to the members that the formal recommendations are there in writing and should have been responded to long before now.
One of the things that was recognized by the government late in the reaction to our report was the notion that special services for children in homes for battered women needed to be provided and that was a very positive step. The member for Essex-Kent over there will remember the recommendation that this be a major emphasis, to get to those kids who were in crisis, to try to help them through those problems and hopefully deal with, especially the young boys in those situations, stopping the notion that they may become perpetrators themselves at some point.
However, there are some difficulties here and I have come to the education field, because I think the member is right, that is the place where we need to emphasize major action if we are going to stop this continued vicious cycle of men learning how to be violent in their homes from other men. That is to say that while I agree that we need more role models, while I agree that we need more emphasis on the kinds of programming in our schools that will change those things, I have to point out to members of this government what they are doing and not doing at the moment as a government, and why in fact it is necessary for one of its own members to raise this matter now.
There has been a program at the Huron school here in Toronto for a number of years, started at the initiative of a transition home in this municipality and that school, to provide special supports, educational supports to the kids in that school system, to make sure that what happened prior to 1982 no longer takes place. That is to say that for a period of 6 weeks or 10 weeks or even longer, depending on the housing crisis in a particular municipality, those children were in the old days kept out of school. They were sitting around a transition house with no supports at all, no programming, no educational assistance, no psychological counselling, anything.
That transition home here in Toronto and the school got together and developed a program for those kids in that school. It has been supported by government up until recently. I am absolutely perplexed as to why this government would propose withdrawing assistance from that kind of program in that school and in other schools across the province that are linked to transition homes. I wonder why it is that that kind of government action flies in the face of the logic of what this member from the government party is now suggesting.
I will raise a couple of other concerns with the members. Yes, we need role models. Let’s look at the number of men who are child care workers in the province of Ontario. It is a tiny number of men who are child care workers. Only 13 per cent of the people registered in faculties of education this year for the primary section are men -- 13 per cent. Already only one in five elementary schoolteachers is a man. We have some very fundamental problems here in terms of the structure of education, just in terms of role models in the class, let alone dealing specifically with the matters of violence.
I say to the member again, as a member of the government party, what has she done in terms of enhancing the growth of family studies in the province of Ontario and giving that priority in dealing with such issues as parenting skills, resolution of conflict without violence? I would say that there is a culpability here in terms of not having brought forward a major emphasis in change of curriculum and emphasis on family studies in the province of Ontario. So I am glad that the member raises the notion that we should be having more role models going into the schools.
I hope it is not just a notion that somehow we will be having men go in to talk about this on an ongoing basis, but recognizing that you have to have the curriculum reflect what we are talking about here. You have to have men in that situation who are showing themselves as loving teachers and helping children resolve problems in a non-violent way so they can learn from that, before you can go on to suggest that there is going to be any major change through the school system itself.
A friend of mine who was very involved in trying to bring feminist kinds of notions into education talks about changing the three Rs and adding to them three Cs. She considers major female values that are often missing in the male value system, and they are caring, concern and co-operation. It seems to me that unless you are changing the notion of what we are trying to do in the school in terms of the effect of trying to create socially responsible individuals, loving individuals within a society, it is going to be very difficult to use the system as we know it today to change these fundamentally dangerous aspects about male socialization which have been so established in our society.
I also want to say that I think where the member is wrong in her recommendations, if I can say this to her, is in where she wants the other kinds of programs to be directed. It strikes me as inappropriate to choose the women’s directorate as a place to provide programming for male abusers. I think it is just the reverse of what you would want to do in terms of women, if you think about the situation. I do not think that is an appropriate location for that kind of programming. Yes, there are programs that could be brought forward under the women’s directorate, but I do not think they should be directed towards assisting the male abuser, as she suggests. The Ministry of Community and Social Services is a much more appropriate ministry for that to take place within.
The other thing I have difficulty with here is something which the government seems to be tied into now in a major way, and that is giving the Solicitor General’s office major on-line service kinds of functions. It is doing this in only two areas at this point. One of them is in terms of the rape crisis centres, and I disagree with that. I just think again that that should be under the Ministry of Community and Social Services and tied in much more directly with our notions of facilities for battered women, etc, especially now, when we start to understand that more and more it is incest cases that are coming forward in that situation, things that the Ministry of the Solicitor General does not have the experience or the general direction to provide service in to those individuals. Its function in society is a very different one.
Yes, there is a function, obviously: the legal function, the apprehension function that is required in terms of the policing. But I would suggest that in terms of the delivery of services to abusers or to victims of violence, it is inappropriate. I would again suggest that the ministry the member should be directing this to would be the Ministry of Community and Social Services. This is the logical area to have this kind of co-ordination developed, and I do not know why the member has suggested that these are the two directions. Perhaps in her wrapup she will indicate to me why she has chosen these two instead of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
I think the member is right to not speak too much about sexual abuse and its violence and its assault in conjunction with this motion, although it is listed, because it seems to me that there are very different principles involved in terms of how one can deal with the physical abuser and how one can deal with notions of sexual assault within either the school system, the education system, or concepts like peer counselling.
Some of the evidence I have seen from the United States would indicate that the peer counselling concept works much better for physical abusers than it does for sexual abusers who have been found to have been criminals, for whatever reason, for either of those two reasons, in the system, that in fact professional intervention with a sexual abuser is more effective and peer work with the physical abuser seems to be a more effective kind of approach.
The member mentions some of the causes that underlie this situation. The one she did not mention that came up continually within our debates these many years ago now in the standing committee on social development, and since, was to do with a sense of powerlessness that those men felt. There was a very interesting kind of notion that kept coming up, because we talked to abusers. Abusers came before our committee, as the member for Essex-Kent and others will be able to tell her, and they talked to us about their total sense of frustration and powerlessness within the society. The one area where they as males felt they had a right to exert their power was against their spouse and against their children and that is where their rage and their sense of frustration started to exert themselves.
That is something we have really got to start to deal with in terms of people’s attitudes within our society and the kinds of things that are making them feel like they have no impact and no power, whether it is because they were laid off from jobs that they were relying on and are now feeling like they are not the men that they were before because of our notions about the person’s worth when he is employed versus when he is not employed or whatever it might be.
I just wish to say to the member that one of the lessons we learned there is that if we do not deal with that very fundamental matter of a person’s notion of his relative power in society and his right to exert power over other individuals in a way to compensate for that problem, that attitude, we will not really come to grips with this issue.
Speaking on behalf of my caucus colleagues, we are in support of this motion. We recognize that there is a need for major action in this area, but we support it with a concern about the direction of where the programs should be placed that the member has listed and we do it decrying the lack of action in certain areas by this government and the incorrect action in other areas in terms of the withdrawal of programs from schools that are trying to provide supports to homes for battered women at this point. With those kinds of caveats, we do support the resolution.
Mr Jackson: On behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party and as its women’s issues advocate, I am pleased to respond in the House to the resolution from the member for London South. I have had occasion to work with the member in her former capacity as Solicitor General and also on committee, and I have come to recognize her as someone who has a growing understanding, awareness and concern for the issues she is raising today.
I do, however, have some concerns with some of the elements of her resolution and I will address those. But I also have elements of the resolution that I find I am able to support, and I want to identify generally those concerns for her first and then proceed to indicate some areas where I feel she and her government could be providing more leadership and more assistance to combat the issue of violence in society and, more specifically, sexual violence directed against the women and children in this province.
At the outset, let me say that I am rather confused by the suggestion here as to which ministries would be doing some of the lead funding. I am concerned about the Solicitor General’s office being involved. I understand its role to be involved with enforcement of the law and to assist in the protection of the citizens of this province. But matters that deal with correction, matters that deal with recovery and matters that deal with support services, I believe, rightly fall within the Ministry of Correctional Services, the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Community and Social Services. As the previous speaker indicated, I too share the concern with the ministries being mentioned.
I share an even stronger concern about the reference to the Ontario women’s directorate. The reason I share that concern is because it is clear that the mandate of the women’s directorate is not like a regular ministry. A regular ministry has funds it can allocate for programs over a long period of time, but the women’s directorate has a cap of short-term funds, maximum of $24,000.
These are grant programs, generally short-term, but they do not have an application here, given that the nature of the male abuser and his needs for psychological assessment, support and recovery are very long-term matters. We have many empirical studies to prove that this kind of counselling is expensive and it is long-term. I certainly would protest most violently and most aggressively if I thought for one moment that these moneys would come as a detraction or a siphoning off of the limited moneys that are already being allocated to women’s programs in this province, to victims’ programs in this province and to incest survivor programs as well.
Let me talk a bit about the education elements of this recommendation. They fascinate me. As the Education critic as well, I have some strong views here. There are programs that have been proposed to this government that deal directly with this issue, yet those programs have not been taken up and supported. To the extent that the member has addressed this in her resolution, I applaud her, and I think the fact that she has flagged it for her government and that it might in turn begin to start funding some of these programs is worthy of all members of this House to support.
In that regard, I would draw the members’ attention to the very first report of the select committee on education. Our very first area of examination was the goals of education. As members know, in Ontario we have a very individualized approach to the development of the individual child and the individual learner. The committee in its wisdom suggested that our goals in Ontario were deficient in only one area with respect to, and I will read directly from the report, “that the ministry add a 14th goal, that education develop an awareness of those stereotypes and assumptions that contribute to the unequal position of women in contemporary society.”
That is a very important resolution. It is a very important goal for education because it really strikes at the whole heart of this issue of violence, intolerance and misunderstanding between genders in society. Like anyone else in this House who has had occasion to look into this issue and to deal with this issue, we have come to the same conclusion, that our best efforts can always be in the area of working with children to help break down those stereotypes and assumptions which contribute to violent attitudes in our schools and later in life.
I do not wish to digress into some of the varying schools of thought as to feminist thought and other thought, but there is at least one school of thought which I subscribe to, and that is that our school system should help to bridge the gap between the various stereotypes that we promote in our schools, that girls are taught to be somewhat submissive, to be co-operative, to have the qualities of receptivity, mutuality, co-operation, resonance, and unfortunately -- and this is done through our curriculum and through modelling -- our boys are taught to be competitive, to be aggressive, to be workaholics, to fear intimacy. These are all the images and promotions that we give in our school system and we can undo them. We can teach boys to be less aggressive.
I applaud the member’s suggestion in this regard, that in our school system there is a key to assisting us. I have recommended a couple of additional things. I know it was just two days ago in this House that the Attorney General brought in a resolution on alternative dispute resolution models and, as I indicated to the minister at the time, its complete family law focus, this no-fault California divorce system that he seems to be enamoured with, should not be his only focus. His focus should also be on ADR models in our schools. We should be equipping the children in our society to deal with their conflicts so that they do not manifest that negative behaviour by resorting to violence.
There are some outstanding examples right here in Ontario. In the city of Ottawa there are two schools operating ADR models with pure modelling programs involving the students in ways in which they can deal with their conflicts and resolve them in an atmosphere of respect and mutuality.
I come from a community where just recently we have had three students shot in a case of violence. When it was examined further, it was discovered that this was a love triangle that had gone sour, that in regard to the individual student, a young offender who walked into the school with a gun and shot three other students, that was his way of dealing with his conflict. There was no mechanism in place. There are insufficient counselling support services, which we require in our schools, and insufficient social programs in the communities to assist in identifying these problems and to equip young people with the skills to resolve that conflict.
But there are more issues in education. The previous speaker also indicated individual programs in some of the Toronto schools that are worthy of support. I am concerned that the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues, the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses and the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres have not been consulted about this resolution. I hoped that they would have an opportunity to examine it and respond to it and I hope that, should this resolution pass, the member will respect the fact that those groups that have been active and involved in this issue should be consulted in a more direct way.
I would like to point out a couple of other issues. I notice the member for Kitchener is in the House today, and he has distinguished himself as an advocate for incest survivors in this province. He brought out an outstanding resolution, supported by all members of this House, to extend the Limitations Act to allow the victims of incest the opportunity to seek redress, to seek compensation, to approach the courts with the horrors of the crimes against them.
Unfortunately, I wish I could report that there was more progress with his resolution. I know his commitment has not diminished, but I do know the Attorney General has seen fit not to respond to Bill 198. We know clearly that the process of identifying violent acts and sexual assault acts against children is important to help a person who is a victimizer to recover. The Limitations Act is giving a four-year window to these abusers. If you wish to break a contract in this province, under the contract law they give you six years’ limitation, but for incest this province gives only four years. That bill really must be brought forward again, and I know the member for Kitchener will be interested in pursuing that.
We have raised in the House this week the issue of children’s mental health. There are 10,000 children on waiting lists. My leader, the member for Sarnia, read aloud to this House a couple of cases of children, who themselves are the victims of violence and abuse at home, contemplating and attempting suicide and yet we do not have the placements in this province for those children, those victims. Those services are not being provided.
To suggest that we now start spending these funds for people who have had a string of abuses as perpetrators, and all the while their victims are sitting at home not knowing how to cope with their problems, let alone being able to speak out about it, is somehow an inappropriate set of priorities for this province. To support this bill, we must support other initiatives in this province which are assisting those children most at risk.
The Children’s Law Reform Act amendments, Bill 124, is another area of concern. This deals with joint custody and access. This government was told repeatedly by all those groups involved in defending victims of violence that this was bad legislation and that it was encouraging joint access models for families where there were examples of violence and sexual abuse. The government’s response was, “We can put them on supervised access programs,” but the fact is we do not have any provincial government funding for supervised access programs. We have a program here in Toronto and one in London, and those programs are running on community support funds but not with provincial dollars.
There is a serious flaw in the bill which suggests that a child who is a victim of domestic violence and who is unable and incapable of expressing those concerns should be now subjected to forced access by a parent who is an abuser. You cannot say that will not occur if the child is unwilling to admit to that violence because of the dynamics within the family and because the support services are not there in order to identify it. I could go on.
I want to raise the issue of the recent incidents at Queen’s University in Kingston which concern me. It concerned me that public statements of the male students’ mock anti-rape campaign went completely unresponded to by this government. The president and the faculty at Queen’s University made no public response to suggest that the male attitudes at that university were inappropriate for our society. It took three or four months, I believe, before the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues even made a single statement or spoke out against the sort of conduct going on and the attitudes at that post-secondary institution.
Finally, I would suggest that a week from today the member will be in the House and before her will be my private member’s resolution, a victims’ rights bill for Ontario. I am hopeful she will consider that the elements of her bill speak as well, with equal measure, to the support for victims in this province.
Ontario and Alberta are the two lone, remaining provinces in Canada that do not have a victims’ bill of rights. Alberta is actively pursuing one. Ontario has nothing. I am hopeful that next week the member will also support that bill as well.
Mr Fleet: The first thing I would like to do today is to quite sincerely congratulate the member for London South. I know of her deep interest in this area, not simply from the context of this debate but from other discussions that I have had the opportunity to have with her. I know she is deeply committed to seeing changes that advance the social condition of women, the economic condition of women, and to seeing social changes that also take place, as she indicated, in the attitudes of men in our society.
As other speakers today have indicated, the intent of this particular resolution is very laudable and the desire to see changes, to provide assistance if it is at all possible, is something that we would all agree with. Obviously, again, the focus on getting men to change in their behaviour is a key part of the ultimate solution to the problem of women who are battered.
There are, however, some concerns, and I now speak in my capacity as parliamentary assistant to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues about some of the impressions that might be gained by those who are watching or who will later read of this debate in terms of what the emphasis is in this particular resolution and the overall emphasis in this area of the Ontario government.
It is the first priority of the government that we provide as much protection as possible and as much assistance as possible to the victims of violence; namely, women and children. It is obviously a complex set of issues that are involved, as has been indicated by all of the speakers so far this morning, and we very much need to focus our resources. Resources are always scarcer than we would like them to be.
There is currently a five-year program that has been carried out by the Ontario government dealing with problems of wife assault. In the current fiscal year, just coming to an end in this month, the budget in this area is some $41 million and the vast, vast majority of that has been focused, as our priority is, on providing assistance, providing shelter, providing all manner of counselling for women and for children who have been the victims of battering.
But in addition to trying to address the attitudinal problems and the behavioural problems of men, we have had for several years now in November a Wife Assault Prevention Month. This last year there were various parts of that strategy: television ads that were hard-hitting, radio ads equally hard-hitting, newspaper ads. These various media were used with different languages -- I think there were 15 or 16 in all -- with all of the different kinds of ads that were placed. In addition, I know the minister, myself and a great many other members took the opportunity to speak to local community groups to raise the consciousness, to get people to think about what the problems were all about.
I quite agree with the member for London South, we very much need to get men to address the issues, for men to talk to one another. Quite simply, this is a difficult thing to measure. Certainly, there are cases that I can recall where men would speak typically in a locker room kind of scenario in a kind of boastful way about how they might behave. We need to get that attitude changed, so that if they are so foolish and so insensitive as to express those kinds of opinions and to act in a way which is violent against women, it be very clear it is not a joke, it is not acceptable. In fact, wife assault, quite simply, is a crime for which there is no excuse.
I think we also have to be clear about the extent of the problem. The reality is that the pattern of wife assault exists in all cultural groups, all social categories, all income levels. It is a problem that is pervasive in our society. What that also means is that it is the responsibility of all of us in society to deal with that.
Quite often, people will think, “Well, it’s a private matter.” Women in particular are frequently ashamed. They do not want to admit it to friends or to family, let alone to officials they may never have met before in the justice system or in the medical system. We want to make it very clear that wife assault is not a private matter. It is everybody’s responsibility.
I would also like to emphasize something which, particularly for men, is an important aspect in the attitudinal changes. I have recently put out a householder on women’s issues and I want to quote briefly from it.
Of all of the things I have been reading as a parliamentary assistant, there were three particular facts that really leaped out that bothered me more than any others of all of the disturbing things I have read in my current capacity in the various studies, and that is that one in four women will be sexually assaulted in her life, half of those sexual assaults occur to women aged 16 or under and one in eight women is assaulted by her husband or male partner.
With respect to this resolution dealing particularly with the question of wife assault, I want to repeat: one in eight -- an amazing figure, an astounding figure. I will now quote two brief paragraphs from my householder:
“The magnitude of the violence is so astounding that one might instinctively react by denying its existence, but it does exist.
“These problems will be resolved only if we treat all individuals with equal respect. Equal access and equal opportunity to participate in society, whether achieving access to professions or feeling safe enough to take a stroll in the evening, must be guaranteed to all.”
Those are the principles of the Ontario government. I know those are the feelings and the beliefs deeply held not only by the member for London South but I believe by everybody in this Legislature.
I think it is important for men to address the reality of the facts. We know that wife assault is underreported. We know that there are fears, understandable ones, and insensitivities that have been evolved with the justice system, and so there has been an emphasis to make the system work better, to be more sensitive.
A variety of things have been undertaken in terms of the Solicitor General’s office and the Attorney General’s office to make sure that we are really dealing with the crime and dealing with it in a very firm way to punish offenders, but it must also be clear that this resolution does not just deal with offenders. We know that not all instances of wife battering lead to something in the courts.
I would also like to touch on a point addressed about the effect on children. This I found quite a concern and quite significant. There are studies that show that, as has been indicated, children are present in a majority, a clear majority, of all wife assault situations. So typically, children are watching what happens.
There are other studies that indicate the negative impact that occurs to children when they are themselves the subject of beatings in terms of their future attitudes and behaviour is really not significantly different for those who just witness it. It has the same kind of negative impact on their behaviour and their attitudes in the future and that repetitive cycle that tends to develop. If children have witnessed or been the victims of assault, it tends to be part of their life as they become adults, either because they are more accepting of the situation or because they, if men, are more aggressive and are obviously behaving in a way we just cannot allow to continue.
I would also like to point out that the government has increased its funding considerably. In the current fiscal year, the increase for male batterer treatment programs was some $105,000 in the Ministry of Correctional Services and that brings the total allocation to $641,000. Also in the current year, the increase was some $2.1 million in the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the total in the current year is in excess of $8.1 million. This is for various counselling programs, including those for male batterers.
There are approximately 50 groups in Ontario that deal with various kinds of treatment, both those mandated by the court and those in instances of men voluntarily seeking treatment. There is also a study that is under way now through an interministerial committee chaired by the Ontario women’s directorate.
The study has been conducted by the Ministry of Correctional Services and it is to try to deal with the question that is involved with this resolution. We do not know the results of it yet but I know it will be of some assistance to members when it comes forward. It is expected some time this spring.
On balance, there is concern, as I have indicated. I know other members will be speaking to this matter. Again, I would like to congratulate the member for London South because of her concern and for bringing the issue forward. I know the government of Ontario will remain committed to its objectives and to its priorities to provide as much assistance as possible to victims of violence, both women and children in particular.
Mr D. R. Cooke: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise in support of the resolution of the member for London South and I do so, really, without any sense of trepidation whatsoever. I think she has hit the nail exactly on the head.
I want to address the care with which I believe we must start to move in bringing an end to the sexist and violent approach that far too many men bring to their physical relationships with women.
I listened to some of the statistics that some of the other speakers were citing. I do recall reading some statistics a year or so ago which indicated that one quarter of all women were sexually abused before the age of 16, which is approximately half the figure the member for High Park-Swansea indicated. In any event, there is no question but that sexual assault is a quite common, far too common, crime in our society. The number who are physically assaulted is far greater and it is a common way of life that needs a whole new approach to challenge it. The government has taken a very comprehensive attitude and the throne speech for this session reflects a commitment to preventing violence against women and children as a step to maintaining a safe and secure community for all citizens.
I suggest that we really are looking at a three-pronged approach, speaking to integrating the initiatives in areas of (1) services to victims, (2) justice and (3) prevention and education. All three prongs must be active if the war on assaultive behaviour is to be won.
The Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues has taken a lead role during the recent break in the legislative session with her announcement of $29-million funding over five years to address the problems of violence. Twenty-four million dollars of that money rightly go to improving services to victims, including the allocation of stabilization funds for rape crisis centres in the province, designations of sexual assault centres in hospitals and so on. It includes co-ordinating activities of service for victims, distributing forensic kits, staff training, counselling for victims; all well and good.
Then we are continuing to work on justice. The whole approach to violence has improved immensely over the last decade. We have this advertising campaign that has been very successful, “Sexual assault is a crime.” We see the advertising on television.
The Attorney General’s instructions to police and crown attorneys are to remove pretty well all discretion in cases of marital violence. There is no forgiveness. That, I suppose, has some value. It is working, I imagine, but what about the third prong? What do we do next?
Among the speakers we have heard, the member for Burlington South mentioned that we do need education, and that is why I suggested the Ministry of Education is the right ministry to be looking at it. Counsellors who are involved in this field tell me that we can extricate the woman from the situation but if we simply leave the man there, he is going to go on to seek another victim to dominate and possibly assault.
These programs must be encouraged so that the punitive stand that we have taken can be coupled with a holistic approach to teaching and understanding so that the offender can intellectualize that he has been taught the wrong patterns and can be shown new examples so that, as a male, he can unlock a new and different attitude towards women.
The third prong, then, cannot be ignored, and it is for that reason that I endorse the careful and thoughtful resolution the member for London South has brought forward.
Mrs E. J. Smith: I would be happy to wrap up this particular debate.
Of course, as in health, you could spend almost limitless money to create the perfect society. I think we all recognize that the business of government is the business of prioritizing and determining how best to spend its money to accomplish the goal we want of an as-close-to-perfect society as we can provide for our citizens.
It is for this reason that I want to emphasize, as the member for Kitchener has said, the preventive element. This is not in any way to detract from the need for criminalization or the need for providing services to those who are battered. It is simply to draw attention to the fact that the root has to be learned. The root is an attitudinal one and the schools are a logical place to start.
I emphasize the schools because this is a problem that must be approached while people are still young. The more we learn how difficult it is to change this behaviour, then the more we must come to this conclusion: The work that must be done must be done younger, must be done sooner and must be done in a preventive way.
With regard to other people’s comments, I would simply say that I know we have excellent programs in place in our government on all these scores, but it was my desire to emphasize in this motion the need for proper education and the need for early prevention.
I know that it is really not an important element what ministry provides what service because people do move, as services move, from ministry to ministry. Presently certain ministries are involved in providing certain services and so we look to those ministries to broaden their programs into more protection and education. There is no concern for me what ministry should be doing it. That is not the point. The point is to emphasize the element of education, to emphasize the assistance to men so that we can put an end to this kind of violence within our society. I am sure the members will support me in this objective.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Mackenzie moved second reading of Bill 82, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act.
Mr Mackenzie: It is my pleasure to debate in the House today Bill 82, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act. As members in this House will know, my work at the Legislature is dedicated to finding solutions for the problems that workers in this province must face every day, and letting people get on with their lives in dignity and according to their hopes and desires.
My effort to establish a decent minimum wage is just one aspect of this ongoing effort on behalf of Ontario’s working people. In my remarks I will focus primarily on a number of issues surrounding the need for a better, decent minimum wage. This is not the first time this issue has been before this House. I hope also to address the concerns expressed by both of the other parties in last year’s debate in order to prove that this bill indeed merits their support.
One of the oldest refrains from both the Liberal and Conservative governments has always been that the best social program is a job, but the unfortunate reality in Ontario is that for some people welfare is a better deal than a minimum wage job. That is appalling. For a society that glorifies the work ethic we have done very little to reward those who practise it.
What reasons do we have for withholding that reward? The members opposite have blamed inflationary pressures, potential job losses and cite international comparisons in trying to con the workers into accepting the dismal minimum wage that is offered in this province as a living wage.
That game of smoke and mirrors no longer fools anybody in this province. Let me explain. Let me address the argument regarding inflation. It is true that increasing the minimum wage will have an inflationary impact, but that impact will be slight compared to the 22 per cent drop in the purchasing power of minimum wage workers over the past 15 years. There are about a million full-time workers within a dollar of the minimum wage in this country, and as Terrance Hunsley, executive director of the Canadian Council on Social Development, tells us, “There are probably another million within spitting distance of that level.”
Second, let us take a look at the argument that suggests a direct link between an increase in the minimum wage and job loss. Proponents of this view argue that increases in the minimum wage will mean an automatic loss of jobs for those at the bottom end of the career ladder. The reasoning holds that if employers have to pay more for these unskilled services, the jobs will disappear. There is simply no hard evidence to prove this theory. In fact, what evidence there is suggests the opposite. There is no disadvantage because all employers are affected.
In Sweden today, for example, they have a society which is far fairer than ours in terms of wage levels, one in which everyone is given the opportunity to raise his family at a decent level of income. They have in effect a system whereby no one is paid less than 70 per cent of the average industrial wage in Sweden today, and they have managed to do that without the kind of economic scares that we get from the Liberals and Conservatives or from their business friends about the disastrous scenario of lost jobs to the working poor. They have an unemployment rate in Sweden today of about 1.7 per cent, the second lowest in the western world. The only one that is lower is Norway’s, another country that has a similar policy of fair and equitable wages for everyone.
In the case of Canada, however, the experts agree: The evidence of job loss resulting from attempts to improve the minimum wage is inconclusive. Let me share with members the conclusions of Judge Thomson’s review committee, which over the course of a year looked into poverty-related issues. He notes that there are many people who strenuously oppose any move to substantially increase the minimum wage because of a negative impact on overall employment, but he concludes that this concern is not grounded in firm knowledge. He writes, “Although a large body of empirical research exists, the evidence of job losses resulting from increased minimum wages is inconclusive.”
Lawrence Klein, the economist who won the 1980 Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in econometrics, states that he has not seen any evidence that persuaded him that minimum wage laws actually destroyed jobs. Even Arthur Flemming, the former US Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, concluded:
“Other factors such as economic growth, interest rates and inflation have a far more profound impact on employment than does the minimum wage. The rationale that we cannot survive economically any other way has been used to justify” -- I remind members of this House -- “slavery, apartheid, unequal wages and other forms of economic injustice. A low minimum wage is simply another example of economic injustice.”
There is one factor, of course, which will inevitably affect Ontario’s minimum wage and that is the Canada-US free trade agreement. With minimum wages in Kansas and Nebraska at less than $2 an hour, there will be increasing pressure in Canada to seek competitive advantage by cutting wages or benefits. Inevitably this will increase deprivation for working class families as we compete with manufacturing industries in the US, a country with lower minimum wages and poorer labour laws.
Having said all of that, I would like now to set all of these viewpoints into their proper perspective. As even my colleagues in the two pro-business parties are beginning to concede, the profit motive can no longer be the sole dictator of our market economy. While it was once true that business profit was the sole priority and workers were hired, fired and paid according to the prevailing profit formula, it is now being recognized that consumer and social needs, worker wellbeing and environmental protection must be integrated into the economic formula.
We have made advances with respect to the environment. We must now recognize that the same priority must be given to the workers’ right to a fair return for their labour. We are morally obligated to develop an economic formula that recognizes the needs of people as a higher priority than the quest for profits.
How do I know we are falling short? Just look at the facts. According to Statistics Canada figures for 1986, eight per cent of the Ontario workforce received $4 per hour or less at some time in 1986. In fact, Statistics Canada estimates that more than a million or nine per cent of the workforce earned minimum wage or less at that time.
This is appalling, especially when you consider that the ranks of the working poor are substantially larger than the statistics today indicate. Why? Because minimum wage incomes fall far short of poverty lines. The income of a person working full-time in Ontario at minimum wage before deductions is $10,400 a year. That is only 75 percent of the poverty line for a single person. Figures for a dependent family are even worse.
These figures in relation to the average industrial wage point to the appalling realization that the minimum wage has declined steadily in recent years. Between 1975 and 1987 the minimum wage dropped from 47 per cent of the average industrial wage in this country to 41 per cent. I propose that we bring this percentage back up to a respectable level of 65 per cent of the average industrial wage. Given the current average industrial wage of $11.07 an hour, my formula for the minimum wage would mean a wage of $7.20 an hour.
This would give meaning to the very notion of a minimum living wage, because as it stands now the present minimum wage bears no relation to the cost of living, the poverty line or any notion of an appropriate distance between the bottom and middle rungs on the economic ladder. In short the minimum wage no longer serves as an effective standard of economic justice.
Let me illustrate this denial of economic justice. According to the Ontario Social Assistance Review Committee, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has decreased by 22 per cent since 1975. Indeed the loss of purchasing power since 1987 has declined as much as 20 per cent for the person who receives emergency food aid and who can least afford it.
While on the subject of food assistance, let me share some further statistics. In the past three years the number of people using emergency food programs in the Metro area has doubled and there is a tremendous unmet demand as well. For those people who are receiving food aid, the December report of the Daily Bread Food Bank states that on average they have only $22 per person to pay for all expenses after shelter, including food, clothing and laundry.
I repeat, there are working people, nearly three fifths of all poor families headed by single parents, who were supported by someone working either full-time or part-time. The statistics show further that many of these heads of households -- in fact, 34 per cent of food bank users -- are single parents.
The innocent but real victims of our inadequate minimum wage are children. We need to act now to transform the working poor into working people; people with a sense of pride and dignity who can live their lives according to their own hopes and desires. We need to reward their efforts with a wage that puts them above the province’s poverty line.
Even business groups agree with my observations. They know that an hourly minimum wage of $5 or less is simply not a livable wage. Most of them, however, have looked for alternatives such as the guaranteed annual wage, which unfortunately is a means of keeping the minimum wage at a subsistence level. It is hardly surprising that this would be the approach of the business community. These calls are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between an income supplement and increases in the minimum wage.
Referring again to the government-sponsored Thomson report, it concluded: “A program of income supplementation is not a substitute for a fair minimum wage. On the contrary, the two are complementary. The introduction of income supplementation must be accompanied by an increase in the minimum wage” in Ontario.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words on Bill 82, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act. Having said that, I am probably one of the few members in this Legislature who remembers working for $2 a day, so I am well aware of the concerns that this member is bringing forward.
If this bill, which was introduced on 27 November 1989 by my colleague from the riding of Hamilton East, is passed by the Legislature, it will provide that the minimum wage cannot be less than 65 per cent of the previous year’s industrial aggregate wage for Ontario as published by Statistics Canada. It is my understanding that if Bill 82 were in place now, the minimum wage would be approximately $7 under the formula contained in this bill.
I think it should be noted that the current minimum wage for domestics is $5; for students under the age of 18 it is $4.15, and for waiters and waitresses who serve liquor it is $4.50.
I would like to focus a little attention on the latter category by reading into the record part of a letter I received recently from a constituent of mine, Robert Newell of Orillia, who makes an eloquent case in favour of a higher minimum wage for those who serve liquor. Mr Newell’s letter, which is dated 5 March 1990, reads:
“Dear Mr McLean:
“Thank you for returning my call this date with such haste. As per our conversation, I write to seek your assistance in having the wages of waiters and waitresses who work in eating places that serve alcohol reviewed and hopefully upgraded to at least minimum wage. At present, the minimum wage is $5 per hour for all jobs except this one, which for some reason remains at $4.50.
“I do admit these people also make tips, tips that at one time were pretty good. Many patrons do not like or feel they should have to subsidize the wages of waiters and waitresses and therefore do not tip.
“Most people do not know that these people make so little. I know of one waiter who is a single mother who works to support three children. Her pride dictates for her to work rather than get mother’s allowance, welfare or UIC. She is an honourable person who slaves to wait on people who look down their noses at her for doing something she enjoys, because the public in general considers these people as uneducated and not able to improve their lot in life. It is never conceived that they may just enjoy the job. Waiters and waitresses work at their jobs and never receive yearly pay increases of three per cent to six per cent as most others do. They are left to the mercy of our politicians to see they are treated fairly because restaurant owners will only pay according to government dictates.
“Please, Mr McLean, do what you can to help these people attain a fair and equitable wage so they can survive in today’s society. They do not retain dreams of home ownership or even dreams of going with their children to Canada’s Wonderland. They can’t afford it and have long resigned themselves to never having these things. They would, however, be happy to feed their children more than just macaroni and weiners and dress them in new clothes to give them a chance at a better future without being discriminated against by other children whose parents receive fairer wages.
“Thank you for any help or assistance you can offer. Take Bob Nixon to lunch and let him subsidize the waiter.
“Respectfully yours, I remain,
“Robert E. Newell.”
I think Mr Newell’s letter makes a better case for increasing the minimum wage than anyone here in this Legislature could make.
Waiters and waitresses who serve liquor cannot expect members of the public to be as willing to tip as much as they did in the past, and there is one main reason for this reluctance. This government has implemented over 32 tax increases since it came to power. This government is responsible for increasing the per capita debt for every man, woman and child in this province to $4,159 from $2,300. The debt has increased in this province from $28 billion to over $41 billion.
This government has forced the average Ontario resident to pay 10 per cent more in taxes every year since it came to power in 1985. This government’s budgets in 1988 and 1989 cost Ontario taxpayers a minimum of $2.6 billion in new taxes. Is there any wonder that people are reluctant to tip waiters and waitresses as much as they did in the past when you consider what this government has done to their disposable income?
When you take into consideration how brutal this government’s economic policies have been on the people of Ontario, I have no problem with supporting this bill in principle. But I consider any minimum wage legislation to be social legislation that is all too often called a quick-fix solution to a very serious problem in the marketplace.
Competitive economic theory predicts that in the long run an increase in minimum wage levels will actually harm the employees it is designed to help through an adverse economic effect; that is, employment will be reduced relative to what it would have been in the absence of minimum wage increases. Firms will substitute other, relatively cheaper, input for higher-priced labour. As well, output will decline due to decreased demand, a direct result of higher costs.
The magnitude of the adverse employment effect depends on the shape of the demand curve for labour. If demand for labour is high, the effect is small. Such might be the case for skilled tradesmen, such as carpenters or electricians. These sectors, however, are not the ones most likely to be affected by minimum wage legislation. Low-wage industries, such as tourism and recreation, textiles and retail trade, will be the ones where adverse effects are the greatest. The demand for labour is low and will be decreased even further in the long run as firms substitute inputs and consumers look for cheaper substitutes.
Coming from an area of the province which relies heavily on tourism, I can tell members that labour accounts for a large portion of the total cost in this industry, and competition is always fierce. Employers will not be able to observe the wage increases. Workers will be made to suffer, especially the unskilled, who are most vulnerable. Younger workers and women who need employment, even at low wages, as a means to acquire job training and labour market experience in order to move on to higher-paying jobs will be most affected. The minimum wage theory works well if all workers have the same levels of skills productivity. However, this is not the case. That is the only place where I have some difficulties with Bill 82.
Farm workers hired during the harvest season are a typical example of people hired by those operating with tight profit margins in a low-wage industry. Produce prices dictate the wage pool, over which the farmer has no control. Driving up the price of seasonal help will only force the farmer to cut back on the number of employees he or she hires. I know about this situation because I own a dairy farm in Oro township and I have hired seasonal help to give somebody a job. If a minimum wage is not what I can afford to pay, then the people do not get the job.
But I want to tell members that they may recall that I noted that, if this bill were in place now, the minimum wage would be $7. I believe that for anybody who has his or her own apartment and has to feed or clothe a family, $7 an hour is certainly hard to live on. We on the farm have paid $10 an hour to get summer help; good help, that is.
The problem I see with this legislation is that in the tourist industry, where one relies on tips and gratuities, there has to be a minimum wage that would also be acceptable to the industry. I am well aware of the situation and I have many people who come into my constituency offices in Orillia and Penetanguishene who make only $4.50 or $5 an hour, which is unacceptable. As far as I am concerned, it is unacceptable if somebody is expected to make a living, to house and clothe a family.
I think what we have got to be doing is educating industry to say, “Look, in order to get good help you’ve got to pay a decent wage.” I agree with the member for Hamilton East and I believe I will be supporting his resolution because there is nobody who can live on $7 an hour if you have got to clothe a family, raise a family and pay rent. The only difference I have with him is the fact that there are some people, young people, who need part-time summer jobs to gain and learn some experience. If there is some way that could be separated from the basis of the bill, it would certainly make it a lot easier for me. But I agree with him when he is talking about the minimum wage: there is nobody who can live on even $7 an hour; $10 would be more like a decent wage.
A year ago we spoke in this Legislature. I forget what the number of his bill was; I believe it was Bill 156, but I am not sure. At that time I did not support it. However, having had the opportunity to see what has happened in the province with regard to the cost that is laid on people, with the increased taxes they are paying across the board that this government has put on them, nobody can live on under than $7 an hour. I want to let the member know that I will be supporting his bill.
Mr Dietsch: The member for Hamilton East is certainly to be commended for his attempt to improve the plight of this province’s working poor through this private member’s bill. In doing so, he certainly strikes a chord of concern that I think is common to us all.
This bill proposes that the minimum wage in Ontario be set each year at not less than 65 per cent of the industrial aggregate average wage for the year before. This would raise the current minimum wage, by the member’s figures, from $5 to $7.20 per hour, an increase of 44 per cent.
There has been much debate over the years about the issue of minimum wage increases. We have all spent considerable time discussing the impact that would result from increases, but this goes beyond that, the normal parameters of the debate, and proposes action that gives us all cause for real concern.
I appreciate the intent behind this proposed legislation, but to tie this province’s minimum wage to a single economic component, and therefore hike the current wage by nearly 44 per cent, is not a valid solution to the problem. In fact, there is every likelihood that it could leave low-wage earners worse off than they were before because of the effects it would have on many employers and on the province’s economy as a whole.
This government fully acknowledges the significance of the minimum wage to the working poor of Ontario, but even the report of the Social Assistance Review Committee, known as the SARC report, pointed out the importance of balancing the need for increases with other considerations. Economists, regardless of their individual philosophies, agree that large increases to the minimum wage carry with them the likelihood of eliminating many low-wage jobs, which I am sure the member opposite would be concerned about.
The estimates of job loss vary from study to study, so that no precise estimate can be given with confidence, but it is clear from the available studies that the greater the increase in the minimum wage, the more jobs we would lose.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It has never shown a drop. Name one. Even Walker couldn’t prove that when he tried it at the Fraser Institute.
Mr Dietsch: If the member would shut up and listen, he will hear. With an increase in the minimum wage of nearly 44 per cent, job loss would be substantial, perhaps in the tens of thousands. Perhaps that is all right with the members opposite.
It is perfectly obvious that the number of small businesses would have to cut back on hiring when faced with a big jump in their payroll costs. This would be particularly true for the tourism and hospitality sectors. Many restaurants, resorts and small retailers would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to absorb such a large increase in the minimum wage. They will not be able to simply pass it on to the consumer if they want to stay competitive in the international industry that is tourism today.
The group most threatened by cutbacks in low-wage jobs would be students and young people who make up more than 60 per cent of low-wage earners. These young people need such jobs, often their first jobs, to gain experience and establish a foothold in the job market.
Inflation is another risk associated with the proposed legislation. The honourable member for Hamilton East knows as well as I do that whenever the minimum wage goes up, it tends to have a ripple effect with it and effects on wage levels above the minimum. This leads to a higher wage component in the cost of production for all employers which in turn means higher prices in effect for consumers.
Because of the effect it can have on our small businesses, tourism, specialized agriculture and our whole economy, the minimum wage has to be determined through a more balanced and reasoned approach. We must take into consideration such factors -- and I know the members opposite will be interested -- as trends in consumer prices and wage rates, labour market conditions, the profile of minimum wage earners and the minimum wage jobs, the minimum wage in other jurisdictions and the effectiveness of other social policy tools being used to help improve the net incomes of the working poor.
Such a reasoned and balanced approach is precisely what this government is committed to and has been pursuing since 1986; that year we introduced an annual review process of the minimum wage so that we could make well-informed and responsible decisions regarding the need for increases. Since then we have acted consistently to prevent further erosion of the minimum wage. In fact, we have increased the minimum wage in Ontario by 25 per cent over the last four years alone. At $5 per hour, Ontario’s current minimum wage stands at the highest level to be found in any province in this country. In addition, it exceeds the federal minimum wage rate in the United States as well as the minimum wage rate in several border states, such as Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, which, under the free trade agreement, is a very big concern to this province.
A moment ago I mentioned that our tools of social policy must be used in addition to the minimum wage to help improve the net incomes of the working poor. We are using these tools. For example, we enriched the Ontario tax reduction program so that an additional 50,000 low-income earners would benefit. As well, the government has committed $415 million to increase and improve services to social assistance recipients. Benefits for families and children are being increased, employment support programs are being improved and barriers that act as disincentives to work are being removed.
In the longer term, the government is committed to the labour market adjustment strategies that focus on education and training and are designed to help many low-wage earners acquire the skills that open doors for better opportunities and better pay.
In closing, I urge members not to support this bill despite its good intentions. Minimum wage has to be adjusted on more factors. It would be a rash support and so simple of a solution to such a complex issue. As I have shown, the risks are considerable. Through job losses and inflation, this proposed legislation would leave low-wage earners even worse off than they were before.
Mr Allen: I rise to support Mr Mackenzie’s Bill 82, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, in order to provide a minimum wage for the workers of Ontario which is at least 65 per cent of the average industrial wage. I rise with a certain amount of dismay. I thought perhaps my task would be a little bit easier than that of Thomas Phillips Thompson back in the 1880s, who wrote one of the first major studies of the politics of labour and the problems of labour in Ontario. What I have just heard reflects precisely the arguments that were used against Thomas Phillips Thompson and all his colleagues in the 1870s and 1880s who sought some adequate adjustment of hours of labour, sought some adequate living wage for working people in this province.
Mr Wildman: Mike Dietsch would have been a Conservative in the 19th century.
Mr Allen: The arguments have not changed. They are precisely from the mouth of the member for St Catharines-Brock as they were from the electrified and shocked business community when anybody suggested that perhaps an employee’s hours should be reduced from 12 hours to perhaps 10 or nine a day. Yet in the course of time there have been hourly adjustments, there have been benefit adjustments, there have been wage adjustments, and we have not seen the economy of Ontario go into massive decline as a consequence.
If this question is a matter of such concern to the member for St Catharines-Brock or the government that he appears to speak on behalf of this morning, why is it that when this issue has been raised time and time again there have been no substantial studies in this province done on the impact of the minimum wage? Why do we not know what the effects are? There are none to be pointed to. Whenever we ask the Treasurer of this province to undertake a study of the impact on the economy of poverty, the cost to this economy and to this government of poverty in this province, why do they hesitate to do the study, unless it is that it would shatter the myths by which they live?
I appreciate the arguments and the support of the member for Simcoe East, but when he referred to “competitive theory tells us,” it is the same language all over again. What does competitive theory tell us? What is competitive theory? Competitive theory is the anecdotes that are swapped back and forth by employers over their expense account lunches. That is what competitive theory is. It has nothing to do with substantial studies of economic realities.
When, for example, in 1982 the US National Bureau of Economic Research employed economists to do a major study and report on the minimum wage for the federal government in the United States in 1981; when in 1983 the US General Accounting Office undertook to study the same question for the Senate committee on labour; when the Congressional Budget Office released a report in March 1989 on the effects of increases of the minimum wage on the economy of the country and regional economies, they could find no conclusive evidence that significant increases in the minimum wage in that country had any substantial impact that one could measure anywhere on the question of employment or unemployment, the question of wage rates and the question of the future and the stability of the businesses concerned.
There was possibly one small marginal item. There might be some measurable impact on teenage employment, but nobody could be quite sure because the factor was so small.
Why, for example, is it that we have studies, like the one we have just received from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, on the circumstances of small business in this province, a whole volume which reports on the growth of small business, the expansion of small business numbers, the increasing employment in the economy by small businesses? It tabulates, in clear tables, the clear minimum wage policies of small businesses of zero to four employees, of five to 19 employees and so on, but there is nowhere in this volume any reference of the impact of the minimum wage policies in those industries on the very lives of the workers who are being referred to; no study of the impacts on the economy, on the possible purchasing power, for example, that might come as a result in the economy of increases in the minimum wages of those employees; nothing that would tell us that this government is even remotely interested in the fate of working people who work in small businesses that pay minimum wages.
The member for Hamilton East is quite right. Those industries are normally small industries that compete with one another in local markets. If members look at the arguments about the tourist industry that have just been retailed to us from both sides of the House as part of the arguments of the member for Simcoe East, who I am happy to see is supporting the bill, and the arguments of the member for St Catharines-Brock, who is opposing it, the most significant economic factor that impacts on the tourist industry is the relative value of the Canadian and American dollars, for Pete’s sake. It has nothing to do with wage levels. People will come back and forth across the border more or less depending on how much gain they can get on the value exchange of their dollar. The minimum wage question is relatively insignificant in terms of the future of the tourist industry in this province and in this country. The member opposite ought to realize that.
We are quite aware, from the studies that have been made on food banks and the studies of poor children in this province, that there is a tremendous loss in human resources in terms of the capacities of people to participate creatively in our economy. By the mere fact that we have minimum wages of the level that we have, by the mere fact that poverty breeds so many problems for the people concerned, they spend the rest of their lives trying to get over the impact of having been brought up in families who have to survive on minimum-wage-level poverty.
If we would only invest in adequate minimum wages, in income adequacy in this province, in social assistance rates, then we would begin to address the major cost factors and the big burdens in our economy.
I have much more that I would like to say on this subject, but it certainly seems to me that if one looks at the purposes of an economy, if one looks at the reasons why people are working in the first place -- to put food on the table, to put shelter over their families’ heads and to give them a dignified existence -- there is no moral claim that is any stronger on this government than the need to improve the minimum wage to at least the level that the member for Hamilton East advocates, namely, 65 per cent of the average industrial wage, and to keep it there for future workers in this province, if not to improve that.
Ms Oddie Munro: I am pleased to speak to Mr Mackenzie’s proposed private member’s bill to increase the minimum wage in this province. I am supportive of the intent of the honourable member but would like to express my reservations.
Notwithstanding the arguments put forward by the opposition members today, it may be that such a step would prove to be a hindrance rather than an assistance to many of the minimum wage earners in Ontario, and we need to examine this possibility very carefully.
Each one of us, as MPPs, is aware of fair wage policy, the problems of the working poor and the needs of people in our ridings who are at the minimum wage level. Most of the concerns for adequate wages relate to some aspect of job guarantee, job security, health of the economy and the relationship between wages, consumers, prices and the marketplace, and of course, quality of life. These are in fact the very issues that this government has been grappling with through social reform, reflected in the Social Assistance Review Committee report, labour amendments, industry trade initiatives to secure job markets or initiatives in skills and training to equip workers for changing job markets. I might add that demonstrable effects of the SARC report are still out since we have not implemented all of the recommendations.
Each of us must be concerned about the negative impact on employment, on jobs, that this bill could, and I state “could,” produce. Since the government is concerned about the minimum wage and reviews it regularly, this discussion is timely and I am sure will be taken into account by those ministers most affected.
Part of job guarantee is ensuring that the job is there and not subject to economic disruptions. Is minimum wage related to potential job loss? Well, it is related, but it is difficult to precisely define the degree of job loss that would occur.
There are studies, and estimates do vary. However, there is evidence that large, significant increases in the minimum wage will likely eliminate many low-wage jobs. If the minimum wage is increased by nearly 40 per cent, as is proposed by the bill, it will not be unreasonable to expect job cutbacks by small businesses, particularly in the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors. Let me emphasize how vulnerable the northern parts of our province would be in such a scenario.
Many small businesses, including some restaurants, resorts and retailers, would find it difficult to absorb a large increase in the minimum wage. There is an equal likelihood of inflation, as wages above the minimum level are pressured upward. Without a precise formula that accurately reflects both labour costs and employment effects, tying the minimum wage to the industrial average wage is a form of indexing that will simply add to the spiral of inflation.
We can expect the young to feel the brunt of cutbacks in low-wage jobs, and the longer we keep them from the job market and the vital experience of work, the less chance they have of creating decent opportunities for themselves.
The minimum wage is only capable of treating a symptom; it does not address a disease. If we are to significantly improve the lot of the working poor in this province, then we require a more comprehensive approach and a focus on long-term solutions.
The government is already taking such an approach and is focused on long-term solutions. As members know, the combined efforts of several ministries are directed at developing and implementing labour market strategies that will help low-wage earners acquire skills that bring higher wages. The Premier’s Council will soon be coming out with recommendations as to how this province can best develop its human resources -- yes, its people. This is the approach that will help ensure a productive, competitive, high-wage economy in Ontario. It is the approach that is needed to best help the province’s working poor.
A letter dated 29 March to the Minister of Labour and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues from the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues, while supporting the initiative of the member for Hamilton East, along with recommended amendments on parental leave, calls for a comprehensive review of the Employment Standards Act in order that labour standards reflect the reality of women’s participation in the labour market.
SARC recommended tying the minimum wage to the average industrial wage but did not provide a formula. The “not less than 65 per cent of the industrial aggregate average for the previous year” proposed by the member for Hamilton East is an attempt to provide for inflation, yes; relationship to the overall wage scales, yes, and presumably job security. It does not provide an analysis of how he arrived at 65 per cent, the impact on geographic regions in Ontario, a sectoral analysis of current wage earners in the minimum wage category by employer, nor does it indicate the number of people who progress from minimum wages and entry level to other wage rates, nor the company policy relating to such.
The member for Brantford on Tuesday of this week asked the Minister of Labour re purchasing power of the dollar in today’s economy and deliberations on minimum wage. The Social Assistance Review Committee report suggested harmonization of minimum wage with social assistance levels, recognizing that minimum wage is only one of many instruments used to assist low-income families and individuals. Job security and job guarantee does not come from increased minimum wages alone, as suggested to the minister in his review of minimum wages. A suggestion may be to look at regional minimum wage policy. Minimum wages may be more acceptable to workers and employers in some regions and not in others, and this is directly tied in to purchasing power.
Minimum wage dictates exactly that. This government has encouraged individual employers and businesses to look at what is affordable, what is doable, given the economic reality and social reality of businesses and their workers to provide opportunities for job advancement.
Because of my reservations about the relationships with the total job market, job guarantee and the context of government initiatives -- and minimum wage is one aspect of job security and opportunity -- I must vote against the bill. I do, however, support the intent of the bill and recommend that the Minister of Labour take into account the discussions in the Legislature today as he and the government wrestle with minimum wages in their next review.
In closing, I am certain this topic will continue to receive the attention of the members of the House and I thank members for the opportunity to take part in the debate.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I rise with pride to support the member for Hamilton East in his continuing battle over these 15 years that he has been here, and 11 years that I have been in the House, to try to get governments to come to grips with the need to have a minimum wage which is tied in some sensible fashion to some kind of indices which will allow it to be meaningful and not maintain people in poverty.
When I listen to Bette Stephenson reincarnated on the other side of the House -- she has lost her pompadour hairdo and has grown a moustache in the member for St Catharines-Brock -- and I hear all those right-wing Tory arguments from the Fraser Institute, all hogwash, about the negative effects of raising the minimum wage, it just makes me cringe to think that is where reform Liberals are today in terms of this issue.
I remember where you were when you were in opposition; it is a shame to see where you are today.
The Deputy Speaker: Address the Speaker, please.
Mr R. F. Johnston: There has not been one study, Mr Speaker -- I am speaking to you rather indirectly here -- in this country or in the United States which has ever proven a negative impact of a major increase in the minimum wage, and I defy any member over there to come up with one which will show me one. It is not true. We do not know that there will be negative impact.
Do you know that Saskatchewan in the mid-1970s --
The Deputy Speaker: Address the Chair, please.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am. I do not have to look at you to address you, sir. I am addressing the Speaker.
I just want to say that Saskatchewan in 1975 had a minimum wage that was $1.50 higher than the minimum wage here in Ontario. It was a province which should have gone bankrupt, in the member’s theory that he is proposing today, and yet it had the lowest unemployment rate in the country at that point, under a New Democratic government.
We do know the impacts of the present minimum wage policy. People are on bread lines. People are now going to food depots to get money and soup kitchens to eat. They are going to have to take intolerable housing conditions because of the minimum wage policies that this government has.
It is preposterous to have a member on the other side get up today and talk about the various indices that are required and have a balanced approach to this. We know what the approach has been. It has been to allow the minister on an ad hoc basis, every year, to raise the amount for minimum wage as he sees fit. And the member has the gall to say that they have been able to manage to keep the status quo, knowing how poor that is in terms of the relationship to poverty lines or the average industrial wage or any indices that we want to compare it with in the province.
I think it is amazing that even yesterday, or the day before yesterday, when the member for Brantford tried to raise the minimum wage issue, we heard from the minister that he again this year is not proposing to publish a white paper on the indices that should be used, is not proposing to set up some kind of means of tying minimum wage to other kinds of benefits and structure so that it is meaningful. He does not suggest that at all. He just says that on 1 October he will look at it again and will decide whether or not the fact that it has dropped so much since 1975 should be a factor in his raising the amount by some arbitrary amount this fall.
The Liberal government is not a new government; it has been in power since 1985, and it has not dealt with this fundamental issue. Of that, they should be absolutely ashamed. If I had longer to speak, I would talk to the government about what this means in other terms, because the minimum wage affects people in sheltered workshops and what they get for what they do, and the obscene policies we have in Ontario maintaining Tory policies on keeping people in servitude in those kinds of positions. We have a differential rate for students, we have a differential rate for people working on farms, we have a differential rate for people working in the liquor industry, all accepted by this government, all accepted in terms of the total incongruity with anything to do with social justice or a co-ordinated plan, and the best the government can do today is put up the member for St Catharines-Brock to quote the Fraser Institute.
The government members should all be ashamed. This is not progressive reform policy that they have. I encourage all people with any conscience to support the member for Hamilton East in his request today, which is eminently sensible.
Mr Mackenzie: I am a little disturbed -- I do not get disturbed; I get angry sometimes -- at the garbage arguments that came from the member for St Catharines-Brock and the member for Hamilton Centre, and garbage arguments they were. They took us right back to the hungry and dirty thirties. Mitch Hepburn obviously rides again in the Liberal Party in Ontario.
If the arguments made by the member for St Catharines-Brock are the position of the government, and I suspect they are because he is the parliamentary assistant, then we have had literally another doublecross by this government in Ontario, because there was a clear call for substantial increases in the minimum wage in the Thomson report, and these people are just saying, “It doesn’t mean a darned thing.”
I want to make a point just quickly, if I can. A guaranteed income supplement is not enough to improve the lot of Ontario’s working poor, but an increase in the minimum wage is. To increase the minimum wage to 65 per cent, you divide Ontario’s industrial aggregate average weekly earnings by 44. This way we can ensure that the full-time working people in Ontario will live above the poverty line. Thus, and only thus, will our minimum wage really become a living wage.
I recall the arguments of the Liberal Party’s own leader. Its leader, the Premier, in March 1989 said a state that does not put the welfare of its most vulnerable members ahead of other considerations is a state that cannot justify its existence. Surely there could not have been a more eloquent way to put it. Given the garbage that has come from the Liberal Party today, this is a party which does not put the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens ahead of anything else. It does not deserve to continue a role in leadership, or even to exist as a political party, in the province.
The members who made the kind of rubbish arguments we heard here today are a disgrace to poor people and to working people in Ontario and they should be totally ashamed of themselves.
The Speaker: I should remind the member for Hamilton East of the rules under private members’ public business. If he wants to work himself up again for another two minutes, he may.
Mr Mackenzie: Mr Speaker, I am also a practical man, and if I thought there was any possibility at all of getting through one of the thick skulls on the other side of the House, I might, but it is obvious they have made up their minds, they have their marching orders and they are still in the pockets of business. We are going nowhere on this issue. It is really a tragedy for the people of Ontario.
An hon. member: Tell him he has still got a minute and 30 seconds.
The Speaker: No, I have given him one chance.
I would remind all members that we do have a standing order not to use insulting or abusive language too. It sort of helps in here.
Our standing order also says that at 12 o’clock I should place the two items before the House. I would have to, I suppose, ask if there is unanimous consent.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It looks like noon to me.
The Speaker: Are the members of the House agreeable to go ahead with the motion?
The Speaker: We will deal then with ballot item 37 and ballot item 38.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The Speaker: Mrs E. J. Smith has moved resolution 44.
Motion agreed to.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
The House divided on Mr Mackenzie’s motion for second reading of Bill 82, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes -- 14
Allen, Breaugh, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Grier, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Kormos, Laughren, Mackenzie, McLean, Philip, E., Wildman.
Nays -- 34
Cooke, D. R., Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Ferraro, Fleet, Fulton, Keyes, LeBourdais, Leone, Mahoney, Mancini, McGuigan, Miclash, Miller, Nicholas, Nixon, J. B., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Patten, Pelissero, Polsinelli, Poole, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Riddell, Roberts, Smith, E. J., Sola, Velshi, Wilson.
The House recessed at 1205.
The House resumed at 1330.
BIG BROTHERS OF NIAGARA SOUTH
Mr Kormos: Last month I had the real pleasure of being at the 26th annual general meeting of Big Brothers of Niagara South. While there, I was able to greet many old friends, all of them people who belong to that silent army of volunteers. Without it, Big Brothers could never be the success that it is.
From the executive through to the volunteers, one could not help but be impressed. The retiring president, Scott Brown, remains active not only in Big Brothers but also in Jaycees. New president Joan Elliot, recently retired from E. L. Crossley school, is a lady of great energy and compassion. We are indeed lucky to have her in our community. We were able to meet Greg Whelan, the new executive director. He succeeds Mikki Roy, whose talents, hard work and enthusiasm are acknowledged by all who know her.
Appropriately, awards were presented. Wendell Callbeck was recognized for his 20 years of contribution to the board of Big Brothers. In addition, Wendell has been a Big Brother himself for 24 years now. When people mention Big Brothers in Niagara, they immediately think of Wendell Callbeck. Eric Farnell, Dave Vanderzanden and Al Boison were recognized for 10 years of Big Brothering, and Bob Shibley for 20 years.
These people and many more are to be congratulated for their quiet and passionate service to their community, to their province and to the many, many young people whose lives have been touched and indeed bettered by their volunteerism and participation and their compassion for others in their community.
MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Mrs Marland: April 1 marks the 18th anniversary of the Ministry of the Environment. On 1 April 1972, as part of the reorganization of the Ontario government, the Ministry of the Environment assumed responsibilities that had formerly been shared among the Department of the Environment, the Ontario Water Resources Commission and the Department of Health. The Progressive Conservative government of the day created the Ministry of the Environment to achieve the planning, co-ordination and control that are essential for the government to provide environmental leadership.
However, my experiences with the current Ministry of the Environment under the Liberal government lead me to question whether this ministry has lost sight of its mandate to protect human health and the ecosystem by ensuring that acceptable standards of air, water and land are maintained.
I am particularly concerned that the Environment minister seems incapable of proactive leadership. For example, it took the disastrous Hagersville fire to spur the minister to announce changes to the Environmental Protection Act, a tire recycling program and security measures at tire sites. The fire could have been prevented had these measures been in place as part of good preventive planning by the minister.
April 1 should be a day of celebration for all environmentally concerned Ontarians. Instead, it is April Fool’s Day, and we all know who the April fool is.
Mr Ferraro: I want to take this opportunity to bring to the members’ attention yet another outstanding achievement from the city of Guelph. Indeed, this event is especially gratifying to me since it involves my alumnus, the University of Guelph.
As many members will know, the University of Guelph Gryphons men’s basketball team won its first-ever Ontario university basketball championship. By doing that, they got to carry this province’s honour into battle at the Canadian finals two weeks ago in Halifax.
To avoid reopening painful wounds, I will not mention that the Gryphons beat the University of Western Ontario Mustangs on the way to the Ontario title. I also will not mention Guelph’s win over the University of Toronto in the first game of the Canadian championships. Instead, I want to express how proud all the people of Guelph and of Ontario are of these young men for the devotion, hard work and dedication it took to even get there. I might say that the brand of basketball we received in the city of Guelph this year was even a little bit better than when I was a member of the team.
While Concordia University managed to beat Guelph in the final game, our pride was not diminished by one bit. They gave the people of Guelph and Ontario everything they had, and that is all we can ever ask.
To coach Tim Darling, the players and everyone connected with the team, I want to offer my thanks and congratulations on an outstanding season. And I want to add that I am saving a copy of this speech because there is absolutely no doubt that I will need it again next year.
ONTARIO FOOD TERMINAL
Mrs Grier: Two successive Liberal agriculture ministers have now refused to reform the Ontario Food Terminal, a provincially owned facility run by big business at the expense of small business. In 1979 and 1988 committees of this Legislature reviewed the functions of the food terminal and recommended major reforms. They were ignored.
Today I want to draw attention to a very specific problem. Five new units are being built at the terminal. There is room for 10, there is need for 10, and the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly recommended 10. But the board of the terminal demanded that prospective tenants put up $581,000 to cover the cost of construction, so only five tenants were found and five units are being built.
Tenants not only have to pay over half a million dollars to construct a warehouse of 5,000 square feet, but they must then pay rent and they have no control over the design of the units. The board insists that the new units be built the same as those built in 1954 -- hardly world-class.
I would have hoped for better from the current minister. I wrote to him in October and I met with him. I wrote again in January, and yesterday he replied saying what I already knew:
“The new units will be built to the board’s original plans.”
The minister was born on 23 April 1948. He was six years old when the present food terminal was constructed. A student during the 1960s, he showed independent and even progressive tendencies. Now that he is in a position to actually implement reforms, instead of being a product of the 1960s, he has reverted to the 1950s. What a shame.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION
Mr Cousens: Tomorrow, 30 March, marks the 36th anniversary of the official opening of Toronto’s subway system by what is today known as the Toronto Transit Commission. On that day, the city of Toronto and the provincial government took pride in establishing what was to become one of the finest transit systems in North America and probably the world.
Over the past three decades, the foundations of the Yonge subway gave rise to the expansion of a transportation network that today serves millions of commuters in Toronto and the greater Toronto area. Thirty-six years ago, the establishment of the Toronto subway system also spurred the development of what is today a vibrant and dynamic urban community.
Over the past 30 years, Metropolitan Toronto’s transportation system played a pivotal role in shaping the pattern of urban growth. The major transportation systems built during those years were constructed first, and development then followed. However, over the past several years something has gone terribly wrong. There have been no major expansions to the existing transportation infrastructure similar to what was done in 1954.
Today’s announcement regarding Seaton, which I will comment on later this afternoon, is an example of this government’s failure to plan for the future of the greater Toronto area’s transportation network. Again we witness piecemeal, window-dressing announcements. We are failing to keep pace with the demands that development has created. We are failing to manage growth. Until a very real commitment is made by this government for transportation planning, we are failing the people whom we serve.
DAVE VAN BELLEGHEM
Mr Miclash: It gives me great pleasure to rise in the Legislature today to pay tribute to an outstanding individual in the field of athletics.
Just recently, Dave Van Belleghem of the town of Kenora was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the fourth round of the Canadian college football draft. This is an outstanding achievement for Dave and his family, and the people of Kenora are very proud of him.
Dave is 23 years old and has been attending the University of Calgary for the past four years. He will be graduating this spring with a degree in physical education. Dave plays for the Calgary Dinosaurs in the position of defensive back as well as punt/kick returner. In his first year of play he was chosen rookie of the year, and in each subsequent year Dave has been selected as a western all-star.
Dave also excels and competes in the area of track and field and hopes to secure a position on the Canadian bobsled team.
On behalf of myself and the people of Kenora, I extend best wishes and good luck to Dave Van Belleghem when he attends the Toronto Argonauts training camp, which opens on 12 June.
HEALTH CONCERNS AT SCHOOLS
Mr R. F. Johnston: I was amazed to see in the paper the admission by the Minister of Labour that he does not believe that parents, teachers or school support staff should be allowed to conduct independent testing for asbestos in the school system.
Can members believe that? It is incredible that parents should not have the right to bring in their own independent evaluator of a situation when they are concerned about their kids, that they should rely only on the Minister of Labour to conduct these kinds of tests -- the Minister of Labour, who does not go ahead and lay charges, who gives boards countless excuses to avoid taking action, who does not recognize clearly the serious dangers of asbestos in the schools.
As Liberals, the government is saying that the parents do not have a prima facie right to protect their children by bringing in their own independent consultants. Is this the government that is bringing forward Bill 208? Is this the government that believes that in point of fact there should be worker involvement in decisions around their health and safety? Should not a representative there be able to call in somebody he trusts to give an independent view?
I think this government has been exposed here today as the kind of Big Brother that it is.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mrs Cunningham: Currently in our province there are over 10,000 children waiting for mental health services. If the Minister of Health wants these numbers verified, perhaps she should phone the 85 children’s mental health centres and ask the executive directors to describe the real needs of the children on the waiting lists. Routine cases, as we used to call them, are waiting six or seven months for their first visit. What child so desperately in need of help that he or she has been referred by physicians, teachers and others should be asked to wait six or seven months?
Professionals working in the agencies must ask the question, one we never had to ask, “Which child is more suicidal?” so that he or she can get treatment first. That is a reality. That was never a question that was asked five years ago as we looked at families and children in need of help. We just helped them. What has happened?
Hon Mr Black: No services.
Mrs Cunningham: They were there. Madame Vanier Children’s Services was started with the help of the member for London South; it was 10 years ago that we looked at that agency, and it provided the services then. We cannot afford to wait until June for Dr Maloney’s report and then take even more time to review the report’s recommendations. The Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres deserves more than two hours of Dr Maloney’s time. The consultation process is not working. We need an independent study.
Mr Reycraft: This afternoon, I want to share with the assembly some news about an important study being done by some people in my riding of Middlesex.
The London Co-ordinating Committee on Family Violence is launching a study to find the best way to offer counselling services to victims of sexual assault in Middlesex county and the city of London. The victims this study will focus on are adults now. Susan Ralyeia from the committee tells me that as many as 60 per cent of our entire population, men and women, have at some point in their lives been sexually assaulted.
We often think of sexual assault as being a big-city problem. However, this is simply not the case. It is also incorrect to think sexual assaults are only common in a certain socioeconomic class. Sexual assaults happen in every type of family, in every corner of this province.
Some of the victims are able to be helped soon after the assault, but others carry their trauma with them for years before realizing it is okay to reach out for help. The Ministry of Community and Social Services has recognized the need to counsel people who, after years of silence, are just now reaching out for help. A grant of $26,800 will pay for a study to determine how to co-ordinate these counselling services in Middlesex county. When it is completed this fall, I will gladly report back to the assembly and the people of Middlesex and London on its findings.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
SEATON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Hon Mr Sweeney: This morning, the Premier and I were in Pickering to announce the creation of a new kind of community. It will be a home for 90,000 people on 7,000 acres of land currently owned by the people of Ontario. This is an opportunity to create an entire community from scratch. In fact, this is an opportunity to define what a community of the future can be.
We will take the best ideas of what has worked well in the past, apply the solutions of today and provide for the needs of tomorrow. We will tap the most innovative minds through a dynamic partnership involving the province, the town of Pickering, the region of Durham, the builders and the public. We must involve everybody if we are truly to create a community in the true sense of the word.
We have seen a great many changes in the past few decades: a changing population, changing lifestyles and changing needs. There are more single-parent families and more families where both parents work full-time. There are more seniors choosing to live longer in the community. There are more single people choosing to live on their own. This will be a community that is accessible to households of all incomes.
There will be non-profit homes for rent, starter homes for first-time buyers and homes for second- and third-time buyers. It is a community where people will want to be. This will be a community for the 1990s and beyond. It will serve as a model for development and its innovations shared and adapted right across this province.
It will be a working example of this government’s commitment to our environment. Conservation will come naturally to the people of this new community. For instance, it will be planned in a way that encourages conservation through widespread use of public transit. Targets will be established not only to encourage the use of buses and trains but also to conserve energy and water and to reduce household waste. It will be a compact community that uses land wisely.
What we do not develop on the Seaton lands will be just as important as what we do develop. Every effort will be made to preserve and enhance important natural assets for the people who will live and work in this community. Development which is environmentally sound is also economically sound. We intend to illustrate that principle in Seaton.
It will be a new approach to development in Ontario that will allow us to preserve more land, as we have just done in the Rouge. As we get the kind of support we need for compact, conserving communities that use less land, there will be more land for other purposes such as open space, wildlife habitats and agricultural use.
Members will know that plans for a community on this land have been talked about since the early 1970s. It is an opportunity this government is not going to let slip away, and it is an initiative that fits in well with what the government is determined to achieve in the greater Toronto area.
There is a need for green space, so last Monday the Minister of Natural Resources announced the preservation of the Rouge. There is a need for more housing, so today we are announcing plans for a new community in Seaton. To move these people around efficiently, the Minister of Transportation this morning announced some important initiatives he is taking in this part of the greater Toronto area. There will be more to come.
These are all co-ordinated steps this government is taking to manage growth and ensure a high quality of life for the people of this province. They reflect the four principles the Premier spoke about last week: growth that preserves and enhances our natural environment, enhances our quality of life and promotes long-term economic prosperity, all at the direction and leadership of the province working with strong municipal governments.
One of the ways we will achieve these goals is by encouraging wide public involvement in the planning and development process, and to ensure that these values and goals are honoured in this new community, we are establishing a public corporation to oversee all aspects of planning. A memorandum of understanding between the corporation and the government will clearly describe the kind of community we want, how it is to be achieved and the matters of timing. We expect preparations for development will begin as soon as possible. The first stage will include housing for more than 5,000 people.
Our goal is a community in which people can live as well as work and where their social, cultural and recreational needs are met. The public corporation will work with provincial ministries, local governments, the region and the private sector to maximise opportunities on the land within Seaton that is zoned for industrial use. The corporation will encourage members of the public to participate and to offer advice on such planning matters, and members of the public will sit on advisory panels designed to assist the corporation on a wide range of issues, including the environment, social services and construction.
The corporation will work closely with the town of Pickering and the region of Durham and with builders and developers both big and small. In fact, the corporation will ensure that there are good opportunities for small builders, and there will most certainly be opportunities for innovative thinkers. In fact, one of the first duties of the public corporation will be to arrange for a design competition. It will solicit the latest ideas on community planning from the brightest minds in Ontario and elsewhere.
To get the public corporation up and running as soon as possible, I have appointed a seven-member panel to make recommendations to me for the position of chair of the corporation. I expect to announce the name of that chairperson in the very near future.
I believe members will agree that this corporation will have a vital role, not just in building Seaton, because builders are the experts, but in shaping Seaton. This is an opportunity for the province to join in partnership with local governments, members of the public and the private sector to create a community that will be a working model for the coming century for this province.
Hon Mr Wrye: Three days ago, I informed the House of our decision to support the preservation of the Rouge Valley by considering other transportation options in the northeastern part of the greater Toronto area. Today you have heard my colleague the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announce the new Seaton community to be built in that region.
Obviously, a new urban area of 90,000 people will create transportation demands, but it is also a unique opportunity to incorporate forward-thinking transportation planning into this new community right from the beginning. Our approach to meeting the transportation needs of Seaton will rely on making public transit a sensible and viable option. We will undertake a fully open and public planning process with the people of Durham and Pickering to determine the needs of the existing and future communities. Together we will work to build the transportation links that will make Seaton a vibrant, healthy place to live and work.
First, we will pursue community design that promotes transit use by making Seaton an employment destination as well as a good place to live. Our goal is to reach 30 per cent transit use during rush hour. This emphasis on public transit has a number of environmental benefits. For example, it contributes to reducing vehicle emissions and represents one of the government’s contributions to meeting the challenge of global warming.
Second, we will ensure street layouts which make bus service accessible and efficient. Arterial roads within the community will be designed for the operation of buses. Transit access to Seaton will be a priority. In co-operation with Durham and Metro, we will provide for reserved bus lanes on Steeles Avenue and Taunton Road and on Brock Road. We will create a direct Brock Road bus connection with the GO rail station at Pickering.
Finally, we are providing Durham with the funding to connect Taunton Road with Steeles Avenue and we will commit funding to Metro Toronto for the widening of Steeles. These immediate initiatives are essential components of linking Durham and Metro Toronto.
Our transportation plans for this community will respect the natural environment, they will meet the demands of new growth and they will be developed in a process that fully involves the existing community.
Seaton will be integrated into the transportation and land use objectives of Durham region and the GTA as a transit-oriented community offering a quality of life which will serve as a model for other communities in Ontario.
Hon Mr Black: I would like to inform members that earlier today I announced that 35 groups will receive a total of $1.6 million to undertake innovative community-based prevention and education programs to reduce the illegal use of drugs. These grants are the first phase of the $3-million communities united against drugs grant program announced in November 1989 as part of the provincial anti-drug strategy.
I am particularly pleased to report that a grant of $45,000 will go to the Multi-Faith Task Force on Substance Abuse. Part of that grant will be used to offset costs for a provincial conference next October. The conference, which will bring together members of some 29 different faith communities from across Ontario, will be designed to increase awareness of the substance abuse problem and to promote action at the community level.
The Multi-Faith Task Force on Substance Abuse formally announced its plans today to participate as partners in the government’s attempts to reduce the illegal use of drugs in Ontario. The group is one of the 35 groups to receive funding under the first phase of the grant program.
The establishment of the Multi-Faith Task Force on Substance Abuse is the first of what we expect to be many examples of community groups mobilizing against drugs. The task force is to be commended for its initiative and effort.
I am pleased to say that today’s announcement is only the beginning. Details of funding for the remaining groups will be made public over the next week.
Furthermore, the provincial anti-drug secretariat will continue this initiative with a second phase of funding under the communities united against drugs grant program. The deadline for new applications is 31 May 1990. I urge all members of the House to help their communities to become active partners in the struggle against the illegal use of drugs.
We intend to continue to foster partnerships with community groups such as the Multi-Faith Task Force on Substance Abuse. What these groups accomplish and what we learn from their initiatives can be of benefit to other communities and other jurisdictions.
Through strong community action and with the commitments from partners across this province, we are determined to reduce the incidence and impact of the illegal use of drugs in Ontario.
SEATON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Mr Breaugh: I want to begin by congratulating the government. This is the nicest package of information announcing the new town of Seaton, or North Pickering, that I have ever seen, and that is considerable because in 20 years this project has been announced at least 12 times when I have been present. I guess it simply points out that if you let them write the same speech for 20 years, sooner or later they are going to do a good job on it.
I want to thank the minister because he was kind enough yesterday to come over and invite me personally to attend the announcement this morning. I did that. I was on Highway 401, and we were not going anywhere on Highway 401 this morning anyway, so I thought I might as well go up and hear what they had to say.
It was particularly convenient because there was a press package there that had the speech in it. I could read the speech and see the display and how it was set up. I did not have to stay for it all; I could leave. Since I have heard this announcement many times before, it was not necessary to stand around and cheer. But I did pick up some good ideas while I was there.
One of the problems that has always happened to this project -- and the member for Durham-York and I, for example, have all our political lives dealt with this one proposal under a variety of names, but it is the same land in the same place -- is that in 20 years two governments have never got anything started on this project.
I wish the government well. I hope the new co-ordinating group for Seaton does much better than the one the government just folded for the North Pickering project. They do not have a very high standard to hit, but I am sure they will be more successful at it than the previous group was.
I am pleased to note that there will be a bus going from the site down to the GO station. That is great because there will be a lot of room for that bus to move around. There are not a whole lot of buses on those roads out there and people will be very grateful for it.
I noticed there was a group there from Whitevale. It would not be an area in Durham region if it did not have a proposed dump site on it, and of course Seaton has one of its own. As a matter of fact, at this point in time the only thing we really know is likely to happen on that site is another Metro dump. Of course, people are organized for that in that area, and a regular guerrilla movement has formed. They greeted the Premier as he came in. They know how to do a small, effective demonstration.
They had some really good suggestions. I heard one of them suggest that the Minister of the Environment take his limousine out to the dump site and stay there and work with them through all this process, so that if they are going to design a totally new community, they have a total waste management system built in. That would be something that would be really nifty.
One would have to admit that there is the capacity in the York-Durham sewer to handle Seaton and any other project you would care to have. The world’s largest sewer pipe is there. While you cannot drive on the roads any more, certainly if you could get at it, you could drive your cars and trucks up and down the big blue pipe. It is there.
Members who have been around for a while will know that this was originally John White’s hallucination. John White apparently had a vision while driving home on Highway 401 one night. That was in the days when you could actually drive on Highway 401. You did not just park; you could actually go from one place to another.
The problem has always been, and I suspect will be again, not that there is a shortage of developers who want to build on this site. They are already lined up; they have all their plans done. You do not really have to hire planners or consultants or get development proposals. They have been looking at this site for 20 years and they are ready to go. The problem always has been when some dreamy-eyed person in the cabinet comes bumping up against a Treasurer who does not want to do anything. That has traditionally been the problem. “This is a really nice idea but nobody wants to pay for it.”
It would be nice to have transportation links in here but they are not there yet. They have not been there in 20 years. There is a roomful of plans for transportation corridors for this area; none of them has ever been constructed. That has been the difficulty.
Here is another suggestion which I think might solve the problem of actually getting the decisions made. This Sunday afternoon in the SkyDome the World Wrestling Federation has a big event under way. Those of us who take our vitamins every day, who work out every day, who say our prayers every day, have a champion. The Hulkster will be there. If the Hulkster wins on Sunday afternoon, forget the cabinet meeting Wednesday morning. Let’s do this for a change.
All the plans are there. The only real problem has been political will and it has always been that the Minister of Housing -- and there have been a variety of them -- or the Minister of Municipal Affairs -- and there have been a variety of them -- always lost to the Treasurer. At least this time if we lose, we will get to see the battle. We will at least be entertained by it all and we have a chance of taking this concept and actually making it work. It is long overdue. The only problem is people will be able to flush the toilets but they may not be able to get there.
Mr Cousens: I am trying to smell it. I thought it was spring in the air but I think there is an election coming. You can smell it. I can sense it. Breathe deeply, Mr Speaker. You can do it as well. It is healthy. There is a real feeling.
We have the Rouge Valley in one week and we sniff again and suddenly the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Transportation have made another little excursion out of town. I even heard earlier that the Liberals have allowed their 94 members, including yourself, to go out and seek their nominations. So it is not just spring in the air. There is an election coming.
What we have today is one of those pre-election announcements. Look at the words, look at the presentation. Remember in September 1987 the Premier said, “I have a solution to reduce automobile insurance rates.” He said that, and we are not getting it. So sniff this one carefully because what we are about to see in this announcement is not good news; it is not one of those promises that the people of Ontario can really be thrilled about. What we are seeing is the government coming forward with its great promises. What we are seeing now is every word carefully crafted, chosen to convey all the right messages of good environment, non-profit homes, starter homes and public transit. With all those nice words we agree. The people of Ontario will agree.
Mr Cousens: Three cheers for the window dressing. If we really want to get down to what is going on with these guys in this government, they are talking about the York-Durham sewer, now known by my friend the member for Oshawa as the big blue pipe. I thank him. We built it with the taxpayers’ money because we made an investment in the future. When is this government going to build a big red pipe?
We have a community increasing 25,000 per cent from 350 to 90,000. We have a situation in which there is no infrastructure for schools, hospitals, services and roads. The Minister of Transportation made a big announcement today to do something about providing a bus route. Yippee. A bus route from your new home in Seaton down to Toronto. Come on, ladies and gentlemen. We have to make an investment in planning long before this, and I hope the people are not fooled by this government.
Mr Runciman: It is pretty hard to follow that, but I do not want the part-time minister for drug abuse to feel neglected so I want to make a brief response to his statement in respect to funding for the Multi-Faith group. We are complimenting him and his colleagues for undertaking that initiative. At the same time, I want to reiterate our concern about this government’s commitment, real commitment, to the fight against drugs in this province.
We have some real concerns about the fact that we do indeed have only a part-time minister in that capacity, someone who has very significant responsibilities and a major portfolio in the provincial government and who has also been assigned the task supposedly of co-ordinating and following through on the government’s fight against illicit drug use in this province.
We are very concerned about that. We think that someone should have those responsibilities on a full-time basis. Once again, we are urging the minister and the government to take serious consideration of that particular kind of initiative which we feel would more responsibly address what is a growing concern in this province.
We want to congratulate the minister, but we find it something of a contradiction that in the same week he is making this announcement the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations is loosening the advertising requirements for the use of alcohol products in this province. There seems to be something of a contradiction there.
I know the Multi-Faith committee is going to be taking a look at alcohol abuse as well, so the government should get its act together in respect to those sorts of things. It should take a serious look at alcohol abuse as well and seriously consider the role of a minister responsible for the drug problem in this province. It has to be a full-time job.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for ministerial statements and responses.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: In ministerial statements, the Minister of Education has made three significant statements this week to the House. Yet the day before the general legislative grants are to be announced he does not bring them first to the Legislature and instead decides to announce them outside the House tomorrow.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the government House leader. This House has been dealing with the insurance question in committee for the past two days, and the government has now decided to bring in a closure motion, not only with respect to debate in the committee of the whole House but also with respect to the final discussion of this bill in third reading.
This government has consistently fought efforts on the part of this party to open up the process and to try to give the citizens of this province a chance to defend their rights. Can the minister tell me what he is so afraid of that he is bringing in closure at a time when we are just beginning to debate the substance of this bill?
The Speaker: Order. We will just wait if you want to waste the time.
Hon Mr Ward: The Leader of the Opposition knows full well that this matter has been before this House for quite some time indeed. He made reference to the fact that the government has put forward a notice of motion for a time allocation after two days. I would say to the Leader of the Opposition that it is after 28 days of consideration, over 107 hours of debate, a complete analysis and 442 submissions before a committee of this Legislature.
No one in this Legislature would deny the right of the opposition to put forward its case and to have ample opportunity to do so, but by the same token I believe that the people of this province fully understand that important questions must be decided in this House from time to time, and sometimes actions such as this are necessary to have important questions decided.
Mr B. Rae: This bill affects fundamentally the civil rights of every citizen of this province. This government is doing to the drivers of this province, in terms of the threshold, in terms of the substance of this bill, what has been done in no other province. I want to ask the minister, how can he justify after two days of discussion on the House returning this past month -- hearings to which the public is invited are very different from discussions that take place among members of this House; there have been discussions now for two days in committee of the whole. Let the minister tell me what other time the government has brought in closure after two days’ discussion in committee of the whole on a bill as important as this one.
Hon Mr Ward: Once again I will enunciate for the Leader of the Opposition the process that has been undertaken since the introduction of this bill. Bill 68 was introduced on 23 October 1989. During the course of the debate at second reading, approval in principle, some 26 members of this Legislature spoke to the issue over five days of debate and the bill was approved in principle and referred to committee.
The bill had ample clause-by-clause examination during the standing committee stage. I would also point out that it is interesting that after two days of debate in committee of the whole there has not been one single amendment put forward by either opposition party. It is clear that their intent is only to avoid dealing with the issue and rendering a decision on this important matter.
Mr B. Rae: This government has taken its marching orders from the insurance industry of Ontario. That is where it is getting its marching orders. The people of Ontario are being denied the right and the members of this Legislature are being denied the right to debate this issue and to show just how far this government has gone in caving in to the demands of the insurance industry in Ontario. That is what this represents. This government is bringing in the guillotine earlier in a debate of larger substance than any government in the history of the province. That is what this government is doing. It is going to pay a price for it.
Hon Mr Ward: There were 28 days of discussion, 107 hours of debate, ample discussion, over 442 submissions. The people of this province also have a right that important questions be decided. That is our obligation and we will fulfil that.
Mr B. Rae: I want to go back to the same minister on the same question. Can he tell me, at what other time in our history has the government brought in closure on a bill of this importance at this stage to restrict debate in the way in which this government has done it today? We had five days of discussion at second reading. We then had a closure motion from him, a time allocation motion on how the committee would work. Mr Justice Barr, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario, had 15 minutes before the committee in which to make a fundamental assertion about the mistakes and the flaws in this bill. What is he so afraid of when it comes to the question of civil rights in Ontario?
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated in response to the previous questions, this bill has had ample discussion and debate. I would quote to the Leader of the Opposition some of the comments made by his own members yesterday -- for instance, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale who suggested that the hearing process was extensive, the member for Algoma who stood in his place and indicated that it was their intention to ensure --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: There is a fundamental question here about the rights of opposition members and about the rights of the public. The government has attempted to restrict the rights of the public to hearings. It has restricted the access of the public. It has restricted the rights of disabled people and their advocates to appear in terms of time and in terms of the arguments they were allowed to make, because of time restrictions. Now the minister is doing the same thing to members of the opposition because his 94-member red-tie chorus thinks that is the way it can proceed, without any rights given to the opposition members.
On the question of doctors’ extra-billing, this government was prepared to let it go for ever. On the question of equal funding for separate schools, this government was prepared to let everybody have his say. When it comes to an issue on which they know they are fundamentally wrong and fundamentally unpopular because they are taking rights away from every citizen of this province, the minister brings in closure and the guillotine. Why is he doing it?
Hon Mr Ward: Unfortunately this is not the first time a time allocation motion has been brought into the House and I doubt very much it will be the last time. I cannot accept the notion that over 400 submissions on an important piece of legislation is a restriction of the rights of either individuals within this province or the members of the opposition. I believe that members of the government and the government itself have a fundamental obligation to ensure that after significant debate, fundamentally important questions be decided in here. I would also say to the Leader of the Opposition that this is not the first time a time allocation motion has been brought in in committee of the whole. As a matter of fact on 18 July, I believe, a time allocation motion was put before this House and adopted after one day of the committee of the whole.
Mr B. Rae: The reality is that this government believes it has the right to do whatever the hell it wants to do, regardless of the views of the public and regardless of the views of those of us who oppose. They are not even prepared to give us the time. I want to ask the minister, why are the opinions of the insurance industry, the schedule of the insurance industry, the money demands of the insurance industry and the financial demands of the insurance industry more important to him than the opinion of the public of Ontario?
Hon Mr Ward: I would just remind the Leader of the Opposition that after all of this debate, all of this discussion -- some 107 hours -- after two full days of committee of the whole House -- not one single opposition amendment was presented and tabled in the committee of the whole. We began a process of clause-by-clause consideration so that we could put before this House some 30 amendments that were derived from --
The Speaker: Order. Are you finished? New question.
Mr Runciman: On the same subject to the same minister, the legislation, the bill that is being brought in today, in our view, and I am sure in the view of the other opposition party, is the most notable display of political arrogance since Pierre Trudeau described opposition members as nobodies outside the House of Commons. This government is trying to send the message that opposition members are nobodies inside this Legislature.
I think the minister has been talking about the committee process. I sat through that process. I know how committed the government and the government members on that committee were to truly listening to witnesses before us. There was no commitment, no listening to those witnesses. There was some of the most moving testimony I have heard in nine years as a member, and no real concern on the part of government members. They are dancing to the tune of the insurance industry.
I would like to know from the minister today, was this matter of closure discussed with representatives of the insurance industry? Was there a commitment made on the part of this government to invoke closure to ensure passage by a certain time?
Hon Mr Ward: The member has made reference once again to the process that was undertaken before the standing committee of this Legislature during the recent recess. It is true that there were extensive public hearings held throughout this province. It is unfortunate the member could not be present for all of those, though I know he did make a contribution to much of the debate. I would point out that as a result of that input and the submissions received, the government has proposed a number of amendments to its legislation, important legislation that ensures that the victims of accidents get benefits paid to them quickly and effectively.
I would say to the honourable member that he has had ample opportunity to put forward his concerns, to put forward his concrete suggestions for alternatives, and to date, as this House sits in consideration of this matter before the committee of the whole House, there is not one single amendment available from either opposition party to consider during the course of the clause-by-clause discussion.
The Speaker: Order. It would be helpful if members would allow other members to ask questions.
The Speaker: Order. We will just wait if they want to waste the time.
Mr Runciman: It is hopeless dealing with this arrogant overreaction on the part of the government. The minister suggests that I was not present for all the public hearings. I want to tell him I was present for all of the public hearings, unlike his Minister of Financial Institutions who showed up the first day and then disappeared and would not be there for the public hearings, would not show his face, would not answer the questions or hear the concerns of the overwhelming number of witnesses who appeared before that committee.
I want to say there was an agenda from the outset. The insurance industry was in on this deal. They knew the changes the minister proposed after the committee hearings.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Runciman: The whole thing was a ruse. There was no real intent to listen to the public.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Runciman: What we have here is one of the biggest giveaways to large corporations in the history of this country, an over $800-million windfall to the insurance industry.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Runciman: I want to hear a little more justification on the part of this minister as to why he is shutting out the elected representatives of this province from dealing with this very serious matter.
Hon Mr Ward: Four days of clause-by-clause consideration within the committee itself, and after two days of committee of the whole clause-by-clause consideration no progress being made whatsoever. No one denies the right of the opposition to put forward its objections, its concerns or its alternatives, but I believe this government is obliged to ensure that important matters that are before this House are ultimately decided and that is what we propose to do with the motion before the House today.
Mr Runciman: The minister is not describing the facts. This party has over 30 amendments to propose during the clause-by-clause consideration. He talks about the committee hearings. I want to tell him that we had 39 actuarial studies indicating the impact of this legislation tabled on the last day of public hearings so that witnesses appearing before us could not testify on the impact. We had rate filings by the industry indicating the true impact of rates that were given to the government. The minister had them in his hands during the committee hearing process and he refused to make them available to the committee.
I want to talk about a legal opinion on the constitutionality of this legislation --
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Runciman: -- a very serious issue indeed which could impact on all the taxpayers of this province. He says, “We’ve got legal opinions that say it is constitutional,” but he is not prepared to make them available.
The Speaker: Order. Do you have a question?
Mr Runciman: My question to the minister --
The Speaker: Make it fast.
Mr Runciman: Let’s lay the facts on the table. Let’s give the people of this province the opportunity to really understand the impact, the effect this legislation is going to have on all of us.
Hon Mr Ward: This legislation was introduced on 23 October 1989. The people of this province have had ample opportunity to consider the provisions contained in this legislation. This Legislature has had ample opportunity to debate the issues that are before it. The legislation we are dealing with is important legislation to the vast majority of Ontario’s citizens who also happen to be automobile owners. The legislation provides for an appropriate mechanism to ensure that the victims of automobile accidents are adequately and quickly compensated. The legislation makes provision to ensure that exorbitant rate increases do not take place in this province.
This issue has been before this House in one form or another now virtually since September 1987. It is time this question was decided.
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Premier on this insurance issue, since he is really the architect of this no-fault plan. One of the great problems many people in the province are having is with the equity, in relation to the automobile insurance plan, with other social net programs that the government has. If a person falls sick for no apparent reason, he receives from the government, through the Minister of Community and Social Services, probably somewhere between $700 and $1,000 a month depending on the number of dependants he might have.
Under Bill 68, the government says you must have insurance. It sets the rate, sets the profit for the insurance company and sets --
Hon Mr Elston: It doesn’t set the rate.
Mr Sterling: It sets the range of rates and it sets the benefits.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Sterling: If a person is at fault and has in fact been convicted of careless driving and is injured as the result of an accident, he or she is entitled to somewhere between $2,500 and $3,000 a month.
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the honourable minister can explain to the honourable member why he is wrong in so many respects in his question.
Hon Mr Elston: If I might, just to address several of the issues about which the member has some misconceptions, first of all, we do not set the rates. Under the current plan, as the member knows, there is a capped rate under Bill 10, as it was then known, of a 7.6 per cent increase over what was charged the year before. That went to the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board and there were things done then to make sure that the increase was only 7.6 per cent. Where there were variations, of course, in coverage and other things, then there were changes.
Under the new program, there will be a prior rate approval in the sense that the commissioner will have to have filed with him the new rates that are being proposed for use. Those will have to be, on the basis of the bill, fair and equitable rates and there are provisions for hearings where there are disagreements as to how those rates are brought forward by the companies.
The member will also know that we do not set the benefit level. With respect to this insurance, as is the case in any other insurance policy which people are purchasing, they will look at their own personal circumstances to purchase what they need to provide for their coverage. Under the auspices of this bill, there is no question that there is what I guess could be called a core policy, which provides repayment of lost wages of up to $600 weekly tax-free; there are long-term care benefits of up to $3,000 per month to a limit of $500,000, and there are payments of up to $1,500 with respect to supplementary medicals and otherwise.
Mr Sterling: The minister has said they are not setting the rates and then he tells me how the auto insurance board sets the rate. His press announcement has noted that the no-fault benefits are up to $600 a week, which I equate out to somewhere between $2,500 and $3,000 a month.
Under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, if someone walks into a store and injures somebody in the commission of a criminal offence, Ontario legislation gives a maximum of $1,000 per month to the victim. Why is the minister giving the person who caused the accident up to $2,000 a month more --
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman will know that the no-fault benefits are based on a reimbursement of the lost wages of the people who are involved in the accident. We made a decision that people who are involved in accidents get involved in accidents for many reasons, but sometimes it is just a matter of inattention. If somebody should reach to assist a child who has difficulty and, for that moment of inattention, they are then involved in an accident which causes them loss, we think they should have a repayment of their lost wages in that situation.
We also know there are situations where there are drunk drivers and people who are committing criminal offences in which there is a sense that there should be a loss of benefits coming back, and we have made provision for those people who have violated the criminal statute for them not to receive their weekly payments back.
However, we made a further decision, and this is well within the ambit of policy decision with respect to how things are done in the province of Ontario. We decided that anybody and everybody in this province who has an accident and suffers physical injury must have supplementary medical and rehabilitative services available which are paid for them to get them back into the workplace. If they are not able to be rehabilitated and they require long-term care, they have to have those resources whether they are at fault or not. We made those decisions and we stand by them.
Mr Sterling: Since the minister has stated in this Legislature that he is supporting his House leader with regard to the closure of this debate, has he read each and every brief of every delegation that appeared in front of the standing committee on general government and has he responded to the questions that Ralph Nader put in front of the committee?
Hon Mr Elston: I took note of each of the briefs presented. I have had material briefings on each of them, either by the parliamentary assistant, who was at each of the meetings, or by people from my staff and from the staff of the Ministry of Financial Institutions, who have advised me of each of the people who presented. I have gone through parts of all of them; I have not read every word of every brief, but I have gone through the briefs, I have received them, and I know the content of them.
In addition to that, I have read the advertisement which the Progressive Conservative Party put in the Financial Post yesterday, which is made up of a series of questions which lead to inference of inaccurate information being left with the people of the province -- this from a party that prides itself in being fiscally responsible at a time when it is about $4.5 million in debt.
Mr Philip: The Conservatives’ ad doesn’t tell the kinds of lies that your ad told.
The Speaker: Order. I hope the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale is careful.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. I want to ask the minister about the pathetic state of Ontario’s minimum wage and refer him to an ad from the Ontario government which appeared in Business Week encouraging American businesses to come here, not only singing the praises of the free trade agreement, which is certainly a conversion, but saying, “You’ll like our wage rates,” and pointing out that Ontario’s average hourly compensation in manufacturing is lower than Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts. This is a reason for businesses to come here: they can pay people peanuts.
How does the minister justify the incredible loss in purchasing power of the minimum wage since the mid 1970s, and in particular how does he explain the simple fact that a minimum-wage earner in Ontario today earns less than it costs to rent an average two-bedroom apartment in Metropolitan Toronto?
Hon Mr Phillips: I think I had a similar question yesterday and I pointed out that the minimum wage here in Ontario is the highest of any jurisdiction in Canada, far higher than any jurisdiction in the neighbouring states. I also would like to point out that we as a government are committed to ensuring that people are treated fairly and equitably.
I will give an example of that. We introduced the pay equity legislation, which by all accounts is the most progressive legislation around pay equity anywhere in the world. The provincial government alone committed about $80 million to ensuring that we implemented our Pay Equity Act fairly and equitably.
Therefore, I do not think we need to make any apologies about fairness and equity. I said the other day as well that we review our minimum wage each year and we will be doing that again shortly.
Mr B. Rae: Under the minimum wage, the minimum wage is a kind of pay equity plan because it gives an equal right to men and women to starve. That is what the minimum wage does with respect to pay equity.
The way in which it has been done is that the minimum wage is increased from time to time like a kind of Christmas present from a beneficent 19th-century Lady Bountiful. When is the minister finally going to establish a connection between the minimum wage and the average industrial wage in a way that is fair and finally establish a minimum wage that is just in the province of Ontario?
Hon Mr Phillips: As I said, we review it each year and we take many factors into consideration, including that, but also including such factors as what impact might it have on jobs, what impact might it have on some industries, such as our tourism industry, how would it compare to tourism industries in neighbouring jurisdictions? We consider many factors as we establish our minimum wage each year.
I would say once again that the minimum wage in Ontario is the highest of any jurisdiction in Canada, substantially higher than the neighbouring states in the US, and one which we must review each year in light of what is necessary in terms of ensuring that we create jobs, that we have stable and vibrant industries and that we reflect the needs of all of the citizens.
Once again, we review it each year. We are the highest of any jurisdiction. It will once again be reviewed in the near term.
ONTARIO HYDRO LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Energy. I want to speak about the Ontario Hydro question for a moment, if I might.
The minister is aware that the recent strike vote taken by CUPE 1000 would indicate that a strike is imminent. Ontario Hydro has been warning that brownouts and blackouts will occur if a strike does take place, and that certain important and vital services in Ontario will be affected by such brownouts: hospitals, schools, industries, perhaps others as well.
Does the minister agree with the position that has been announced publicly by Ontario Hydro, that such blackouts are in fact inevitable and will occur if a strike takes place? Does the minister agree with that statement?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would want to respond to the honourable member, but I do want to preface my comments by recognizing that even as I respond to his question, discussions between both parties are continuing. I do not think we should assume the inevitability of a work stoppage.
The union did indicate yesterday that if in fact there was not a resolution of the issue at the bargaining table and if there were to be a strike, it would be a full work stoppage. If that in fact did occur, we believe there would be very serious and immediate impacts for residential, business and industrial customers. We have been working with Hydro management. We have also been in contact with representatives of local utilities to try to assess the magnitude of that impact.
There would be a significant loss of power that could not be fully replaced with purchases. There would undoubtedly be some rotating blackouts, although we are assured that everything would be done to maintain power to all designated essential services.
Mr Brandt: Local 1000 has indicated in some of its press announcements that in fact the amount of power lost as a result of the shutdown of the nuclear system could be offset by a relatively small purchase of power from some of our neighbouring sources.
They have indicated from their position that it is in fact not inevitable, if there is a work stoppage, that brownouts or blackouts will occur, but that Ontario Hydro will be in a position to purchase the needed additional power from some other sources.
We have two of the parties to this dispute sending out signals which are contradictory. I am not suggesting that a strike is necessarily inevitable, but I think the government does have to place itself in a position where it has some contingency available.
Can the minister assure the House, and through this House the people of Ontario, that we will not suffer from power disruptions which will cause brownouts or blackouts?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would certainly assure the House and the Ontario public that in the Ministry of Energy, and in fact in all effective ministries of the government, we will be monitoring this situation on a constant basis and assessing exactly what the impact of any potential work stoppage would be so that in fact that impact could be managed. Obviously, we are very dependent upon Ontario Hydro’s assessment of how the power needs could best be met.
It is our best analysis, as a Ministry of Energy, even with full purchase of power, that in all likelihood we would not be able to meet the current full power demand of the province of Ontario and we would have to manage that shortage of power. But everything possible would be done in order to ensure that we were managing that in a way which was responsible, and that everything was being done to ensure that essential services were met.
I want to come back to the fact that there is still discussion going on. I believe that whatever the disagreements between the two sides about the magnitude of the impact of a work stoppage, both sides in the dispute recognize that it would have a serious impact and that the focus would be on resolution of the issues so that that would not occur.
Mr Velshi: My question is for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues. It has been recognized that Ontario’s labour force is rapidly changing. By the year 2010, it is projected that 85 per cent of those entering the paid labour force will be women, racial minorities, people with disabilities and aboriginal people.
For Ontario to remain competitive, we must fully use all our human resources and promote employment equity in all sectors. My views on employment equity are well known. I believe the only solution to the present discrimination in the workplace is mandatory employment equity. My view is quite opposite to that taken by John Downing of the Toronto Sun and other neanderthals who believe that maintaining the status quo is movement enough in this area.
What initiative has this government undertaken to promote employment equity?
Hon Mrs Wilson: The government of Ontario firmly believes that employment equity is about building a society in which every person participates, but it is also about building and maintaining a prosperous economy. The government has announced equity goals and timetables for our own public service, and we have announced a fund which ministries can use to effectively bring into effect programs within their ministries to develop employment equity programs.
My ministry, the Ontario women’s directorate, has taken a lead in working with the public and private sectors in assisting them to promote employment equity programs. More than 100 groups from all sectors across the province took part in consultations on employment equity policy options for the province. Those consultations were chaired by the Minister of Citizenship.
Mr Velshi: For the Ontario public service you speak of goals and timetables and incentive funds. Yet for the private sector and for the broader public sector you speak not of goals and timetables but of policy options, voluntary initiatives and discussions. I would like to know how successful voluntary initiatives are, and how does the government recognize successful voluntary employment equity initiatives of employers, unions, associations and other community groups?
Hon Mrs Wilson: The Ontario government established an employment equity awards program to recognize significant achievements in employment equity on the part of employers and unions and community groups. We have been honouring those employment equity programs for women, but this year our award program was different. We brought in the expansion of employment equity programs for aboriginal peoples, for racial minorities, for people with disabilities, in addition to those programs for women. The awards program provides examples of positive benefits of employment equity so that those businesses, employers, unions, community groups can act as role models to other employers in the community.
The winners were announced last night. They were: Superior Performance Products, the Coalition of Visible Minority Women, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and the Ryerson Faculty Association, the Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, the Ontario Federation of Labour, IBM Canada and the Anigawncigig Institute for Native Training, Research and Development.
PRESTON SPRINGS GARDENS RETIREMENT HOME
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question to the Minister of Health. I am sure the Minister of Health is aware of the very sad and unacceptable situation at Preston Springs Gardens Retirement Home in Cambridge, where for the last 10 days the staff of the facility have been bringing in food to feed the 30 residents and they have had to pay for the fuel in order to heat the home, as the owners have abandoned the rest home and just yesterday it went into receivership.
What is her ministry or the government doing to protect these 30 residents and plan future appropriate placements for them as quickly as possible?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would like to refer the question to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs.
Hon Mr Morin: I am appalled to hear that seniors may have been left with inadequate food and heat for a period of 10 days and that none of the appropriate local officials was notified.
Let me tell members what I did. As soon as I found out about this situation, my staff immediately, this morning, contacted local officials, including the placement co-ordination service and the medical officer of health, and put all appropriate people in touch with one another.
I want to assure you that every resident of Preston Springs Gardens Retirement Home will be properly cared for and will have food and heat. Representatives of the receiver, Touche Ross, met with the administrator of the home today to discuss the future of the home. I have been advised that the receiver plans to keep the home open.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am certainly glad to hear that the minister and the government have become aware of the situation after 10 days of this going on.
Perhaps what the minister could respond to is the other question the people in Cambridge are asking themselves today. The Liberal government of Ontario said five years ago that the whole issue of retirement homes and rest homes for seniors was going to be studied and that proposals for a legislative response would be coming forward. That was five years ago. Now we have this problem going on. We have no standards, no staff requirements, nothing to protect these people. It is not anyone else’s fault for this situation, other than the minister’s and his government’s. When is he going to act to protect these people?
Hon Mr Morin: Even if there had been provincial regulations, this incident would not have been prevented. I know this for a fact. I am concerned with the wellbeing of all senior citizens, all across Ontario, of any place. This is a very complex issue without an obvious solution. There is not even a definition of what a rest and retirement home is all about. Municipalities can license and regulate rest and retirement homes, and a number of municipalities do so.
However, I am deeply concerned about the quality of care being provided and I am looking into the lack of standards in this area. My advisory committee submitted a report with all kinds of recommendations. There is not even a consensus. My role as the minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs is to act as a facilitator. I have the co-operation now of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Housing, the Office for Disabled Persons and my ministry.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Morin: We are looking into the issue. We are concerned and I hope to be able to find a solution in the near future.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Premier. I held a public information forum in my riding on Bill 68, so the public might know what his automobile insurance bill was about. I invited a member from his minister’s staff to attend, and his minister refused to send anybody. My question is to the Premier. Based on the fact that at that forum Spurge Near, who is the president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, announced the change in the weekly benefits from $450 a week to $600 a week before his government publicly made that announcement, can the Premier explain to us why the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario knew that and made the announcement publicly before anybody else knew about it?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think the minister has already explained that.
The Speaker: It has been referred to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
Hon Mr Elston: We in fact knew about the public forum. We knew that she was holding this public forum, but she did not wish to have any politicians from the Liberal Party visiting her that evening. We had made available people to visit, but she would not allow us to attend. The fact that she would stand there and indicate that we would not send a speaker out to attend one of her public forums which was a political public forum is something that I have to disagree with.
With respect to Mr Near, he happens to be the leader of a provincial association. He was there because we had had chats with people about various options, and he expressed his opinion. That is what happens in these events if you are going to talk to people around the province, and we talk to a lot of people every day about various options that are available. It is up to him to make whatever assumptions he may want, but until things are announced those are not official government policies.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, I have a problem. I do not know how to tell you that what the minister has just said is not true.
Hon Mr Elston: You wouldn’t accept a Liberal, would you?
Mrs Marland: I personally made 15 telephone calls to the deputy minister. I was not offered a Liberal member of the provincial Parliament to speak for that ministry. How is it that he does not have bureaucrats who can explain his legislation, in any case?
The minister chooses to ignore the public; he chooses to have the president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario make that announcement before anybody else. The minister has said in this House this afternoon that he did not receive any amendments from the opposition. The government has presented 32 amendments to this legislation. My question to him is this: Why is it that in none of those 32 amendments has it addressed a single concern of the disabled community of this province?
Hon Mr Elston: That is a totally different question than we started off with, but let us be very clear about this person’s desire to have a spokesperson on this policy at her “public forum.” She did not wish to have a politician from the Liberal Party attend because she did not want it to be “political.” She made this a political forum. She knew it was a political forum and called the bureaucrats so that she could get a bureaucrat on the hook to answer political questions.
We said, “Why don’t you ask somebody who is political to go to your political forum?” That is the case in this thing, but she does not want competition out there. She is opposed to somebody who can politically go toe to toe with her on the deficiencies of her understanding about the politics of this. But that is her purpose. She should not blame us about the fact that she does not want Liberals at her public forums.
With respect to our amendments, our amendments are designed to provide the best coverage that this program can to people, whether they are disabled by auto accident or otherwise. We want timely and very good compensation to go to people who are victims of auto accidents. And the auto insurance program and the amendments that are put forward here are designed to improve the program after --
The Speaker: I think it is time for another question.
The Speaker: Order. Time for a new question.
HOUSING ON GOVERNMENT LAND
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Government Services. The people of Peterborough were delighted that the minister could visit our community to announce the servicing of the government lands which have been released for housing. My question is simply this: When does the minister expect that these affordable homes will come on stream?
Hon Mr Ward: In September 1988, the Ministry of Government Services and the Ministry of Housing signed an agreement with the city of Peterborough, in co-operation with the federal ministry of Housing, for the development of residential lands to increase the supply of affordable housing in Peterborough.
The Speaker: Order. I am sorry to interrupt the minister, but I would like to remind the member for Mississauga South and the Minister of Financial Institutions that we do have a standing order, 20(b), that no member shall interrupt while another member is speaking. Do you understand that?
Mrs Marland: I do.
The Speaker: You do? Good.
Hon Mr Ward: As I was saying, my ministry has been working closely with the Ministry of Housing, the city of Peterborough and the federal government. In February I was pleased to join the member for Peterborough for an announcement of the servicing of a major new residential subdivision. A proposal call had gone out. The contract was awarded to a local firm in Peterborough. We hope to issue the tender for the construction of this servicing agreement either this summer or fall, and from there we will no doubt proceed with the call for the construction of the homes.
Mr Adams: I appreciate the minister’s interest in affordable housing. The 326 affordable units that are involved occupy only 30 acres of the 170 acres in the land assembly. Are there any plans for the remaining government lands in Peterborough, and if so, does the minister have a timetable for them?
Hon Mr Ward: The project that has been announced covers some 30 acres of a total of 170 acres. Phase 2 of the development is planned for the land south of this 30-acre parcel. I am happy to say that my ministry has submitted a draft plan for approval of phase 2 to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and this proposal is out for comment. It envisions 503 single and semidetached units, a church block and one block for medium residential development. Officials of my ministry will continue to work with the city of Peterborough, with the federal ministry and with the provincial Ministry of Housing on these very significant proposals, which are just one part of our ongoing commitment to affordable housing in this province.
Mr Kormos: A question to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation: Susan Berg is a small business person in Welland who has been running her bookstore for some 21 years now, raising her three children and supporting herself with a lot of hard work.
For about as long as they have been in existence, she has been a retailer of Ontario lottery tickets, catering to the people in the neighbourhood, many senior citizens who do not have cars and rely upon her as the retailer of those same tickets. After those many years -- and she is a pioneer in the ticket distribution and retailing system -- she, along with five others in Welland, including Bartok Jewellers just up the road one block on King Street, have been told by the distributor in Niagara that they are not going to get any more lottery tickets, that they will not be delivered to them any more.
Surely the minister could tell us that he does not think that is a fair approach to these retailers who have pioneered in the lottery distribution system.
Hon Mr Black: I appreciate the interest of the member for Welland-Thorold and the people who live and work in his community.
As a result of an inquiry made by him, I have had the opportunity to review the case he brings to the floor today. I want him to know that the people who distribute lottery tickets are independent businessmen, and as such they are interested in profit-and-loss and the bottom-line portion of the financial statement. That means that sometimes they do have to review their operations and look very carefully at calls they might make that are not, in a sense, cost-effective.
The Ontario Lottery Corp has established guidelines for its distributors. They include suggestions that they service retailers who have low sales once every couple of weeks or that they attempt to service them by mail. I know the distributor in that particular area has looked at other options, but unfortunately the retailer whom the member identifies has particularly low sales and we are not sure that outlet has the potential for growth.
Mr Kormos: It is sad to hear that, because once again the minister should be reminded that these people pioneered the lottery system. Lottery proceeds, as we know, are very important to small communities across Ontario. These retailers are more than pleased to have ticket deliveries biweekly; that is to say, every other week. They are more than pleased to do anything they can to co-operate in the distribution.
Surely the minister knows that a distributorship involves taking the fat with the lean, that you cannot have your cake and eat it too under these circumstances. Why will the minister not insist that his distributor play fair with those small business people who have worked so hard as part of the lottery system, or is he really not that concerned about small businesspersons, be it in Welland or elsewhere?
Hon Mr Black: I want to assure the member for Welland-Thorold that I am indeed concerned about small businessmen. I am so concerned that I want them to be able to stay in business. I feel people who are in the business of distributing lottery tickets have the right to survival, just as any other small businessman does.
I can recognize that the member for Welland-Thorold may not be that concerned about independent businessmen. His background in the legal profession may be such that he has not had to be concerned about those issues. But we have to provide opportunities for small businessmen to make a living and to survive, and that is what the distributors of Ontario Lottery Corp tickets are trying to do.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions. Bill 68 does in fact now define two kinds of claimants in Ontario today. First are those injured by reason of the use of an automobile and the others are all other victims suffering from any personal injury. I will give an example: Personal injuries, those injured in cars because the roads are the problem, can sue. Those injured in airlines, trains, fires, those injured by way of negligence can sue.
We have a tort law that protects all of those incidents across the province of Ontario today. We now do not have a tort law for people who are the injured victims in car accidents. Why did the minister move in this direction to exclude that particular group of people?
Hon Mr Elston: Again, I know that the honourable member would not want to leave the idea that there is no tort action involved in the province after Bill 68 becomes law because clearly there is a threshold which, once passed, will allow tort action to occur. In fact, there will be suits in Ontario with respect to those people injured as a result of auto accidents. The only difference now will be that there will be a substantial number of people who will not have to sue because they will be getting enhanced no-fault benefits.
As members know, we have increased the weekly wage reimbursement to $600 per week, tax free; we have increased the supplementary medical and rehab monthly payments; we have increased the long-term care to $3,000 per month. Those things are different because in other situations like those the member enumerated there are not no-fault benefits available to people and there is not a way to receive compensation for medical expenses and for lost wages outside the tort action. We made moves a long time ago in various places to deal in a more efficient manner of reimbursing --
The Speaker: Thank you. Just leave a little in case there is a supplementary.
Mrs Cunningham: Our tort law does protect all of the actions that I described before. In fact, what we now have is the kind of tort law that is extremely disparate towards victims of car accidents. I will be very specific. We had a young, head-injured boy come before the committee, and he told us what his concerns were. He was offered some $40,000 in a settlement by the insurance company. He did have to go to court. His great concern was that, under the new law with a very low threshold, he will not be able to sue. What can we tell those victims with head injuries with regard to this law? How do you prove that you are physically permanently disabled when you cannot do it with pictures?
Hon Mr Elston: The member is correct that in our current tort system there is a burden of proof in several ways. One is that you have actually suffered damage and loss. That is a triable issue. Some people lose on that score. There is the issue of liability and people lose on that score, whether they have a brain injury or whether they have any other kind of injury. There are all kinds of issues that preclude people from recovering under our system of tort law now.
What we have done is increase the no-fault benefits to ensure that more people receive benefits quicker and without concern for establishing liability and otherwise. I would have to tell the honourable member that our system is more humane and will provide us with a better way of providing money for people who are injured as a result of accidents in Ontario.
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Business people in Ottawa-Carleton are asking for better air links to the United States right now. The economic growth of our area is hampered because there are no direct flights from Ottawa to the US Midwest, especially Chicago. I realize that the federal Minister of Transport has to decide whether he will allow a Canadian or an American airline to serve Ottawa, but I am wondering whether the province is willing to support the business community in Ottawa-Carleton in its dealings with Doug Lewis. I would like to ask the minister, therefore, whether he knows of this concern which is very important for the economic future of our area and whether he is willing to assist us in this regard.
Hon Mr Wrye: I thank the honourable member for raising this issue with me and bringing this to my attention. I do note that there have been increasing amounts of discussion of this issue and I am sure a number of people in Ottawa-Carleton have been speaking to him. Clearly we have a problem in that Ottawa-Carleton is the last major centre in Canada without direct air links to the United States. Indeed, there are other communities within Ontario and elsewhere which have some now and would like additional air links. This is a very important issue in terms of the economic relationship between communities such as Ottawa-Carleton, Chicago and others.
When I meet with Mr Lewis next month, while it is an area of federal jurisdiction, I can give the honourable member and his community a commitment that it is an area I will raise. We had our last agreement back in 1974. The discussions have not moved forward as quickly as Ottawa-Carleton would like and needs, and I hope that in my discussions with Mr Lewis I can offer encouragement to move forward on this issue just as quickly as possible.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for oral questions and responses.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr Ward moved that, notwithstanding standing order 94(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 42; and that the order of precedence for private members’ business be amended by adding the name of Ms Oddie Munro after ballot item 56.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved that, notwithstanding any standing order, the House shall not meet on Thursday 10 May 1990 and Thursday 21 June 1990.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved that the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs be authorized to meet on Wednesday mornings from 18 April to 16 May 1990.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved that the select committee on education be authorized to meet on one day during the week of 15 April 1990, subject to the agreement of the chief whips of the three recognized parties in the House.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ward moved that the select committee on energy be authorized to meet on the evening of Tuesday 3 April 1990.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Runciman: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: The House is not sitting this Saturday, 31 March 1990. It represents a significant date in Ontario political history. It is the second anniversary of the election of the member for London North in a by-election, and I simply want to indicate the significant contribution she has made to this Legislature and the people of Ontario in the two years she has represented the people of that area.
The Speaker: I listened carefully to that point of privilege, and I do not think there was any contempt of the House.
Does the Minister of Health have a point of personal explanation?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would like to rise to correct the record. During the answer to a question yesterday regarding the Owen Sound emergency services, what I would like to clarify is that as a result of the Ontario Public Service Labour Relations Tribunal ruling, the Owen Sound emergency services will operate as a crown agent and will negotiate on behalf of the crown.
Mr Kormos: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“Whereas Bill 68 is legislation that makes tragic changes to the rights of innocent, injured motor vehicle accident victims; and
“Whereas the Peterson government has made it clear that they want this legislation rammed through notwithstanding that people across Ontario have made it clear that they want this bad legislation dumped; and
“Whereas there is nothing in Bill 68 that gives effect to David Peterson’s promise in 1987 that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premium rates, because once this legislation is passed by the Liberals, auto insurance premiums will climb by as much as 50 per cent according to the Minister of Financial Institutions, Murray Elston; and
“Whereas the Liberal government’s auto insurance legislation will provide enormous taxpayer subsidies to the private corporate auto insurance industry, costing the Ontario taxpayer at least $141 million in the first year alone; and
“Whereas this legislation will cost drivers in Ontario millions of dollars in increased premiums; and
“Whereas this insurance legislation will deprive innocent injured victims of at least --
The Speaker: I hope the member has read the new standing orders approved by all members of the House. It is not necessary to read the whole petition. You may give a brief explanation and advise us whether you have signed it. Then other members will have an opportunity to present petitions in the 15 minutes’ time that is allotted.
Mr Kormos: Standing order 35(b), Mr Speaker? In summary, what the preamble says is that this is bad legislation that is gouging drivers, hurting victims and catering to the interests of the auto insurance industry to the tune of a $1-billion payday for them and that it should be dumped immediately simply because it is a cruel attack on drivers and injured victims in Ontario and taxpayers. It is signed by myself, along with the other petitioners.
The Speaker: How many other petitioners?
Mr Kormos: Two other petitioners.
Mr Reycraft: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“The Ministry of Education has made evolutionism a compulsory core unit in senior OAC (previously grade 13) history and science. Since evolutionism and creationism are completed acts in the past, neither can be proven nor disproven. In fairness to all parents and students, equal time should be given in presenting the underlying assumptions of each. Through the two-model approach, the skills of critical thinking, such as recognition of bias, awareness of society’s influence on one’s bias and the awareness of assumptions can allow students to examine their own belief system and better appreciate an opposing view.”
The petition is signed by 148 people in Mount Brydges and area and I have attached my signature.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
P & P MURRAY FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Ms Poole moved first reading of Bill Pr36, An Act to revive the P & P Murray Foundation.
The House divided on Ms Poole’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 67
Adams, Beer, Bradley, Brandt, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Cousens, Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Eakins, Elston, Epp, Eves, Fleet, Fulton, Grandmâitre, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Hošek, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Kormos, Laughren, LeBourdais, Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella, Mahoney, Marland, Martel, McCague, McClelland, McGuigan, McLeod, Miclash, Morin, Morin-Strom, Nixon, J. B., Nixon, R. F., Oddie Munro, Offer, O’Neill, Y., Pelissero, Philip, E., Phillips, G., Poole, Rae, B., Reycraft, Riddell, Runciman, Smith, E. J., Sola, Sorbara, South, Sterling, Villeneuve, Wong, Wrye.
Nays -- 0
PUBLIC VEHICLES AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Kormos moved first reading of Bill 120, An Act to amend the Public Vehicles Act.
The House divided on Mr Kormos’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 49
Adams, Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Charlton, Conway, Cordiano, Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Eakins, Elston, Epp, Eves, Fulton, Grandmâitre, Hart, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Lupusella, Marland, Martel, McCague, McClelland, McGuigan, Morin-Strom, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, O’Neill, Y., Pelissero, Philip, Pope, Reycraft, Riddell, Runciman, Smith, E. J., South, Sterling, Sweeney, Velshi, Villeneuve, Wildman, Wong.
Nays -- 4
Faubert, Fleet, Poole, Sola.
The Speaker: Just before I send this to the table, I would like to advise all members that we have a standing order that we cannot accept bills in imperfect form. I note that this one was handed to me. It is called Bill 73, An Act to amend the Public Vehicles Act, introduced by Mr Martel.
The Speaker: Order. That can be rearranged, I know, very easily, but I would suggest that I think it would be wise to rearrange it.
IMMANUEL CHRISTIAN SCHOOL SOCIETY OF EAST TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Curling moved first reading of Bill Pr40, An Act to revive The Immanuel Christian School Society of East Toronto.
The House divided on Mr Curling’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 45
Adams, Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, D. S., Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Eakins, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fulton, Grandmâitre, Haggerty, Hart, Johnston, R.F., Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Lupusella, Martel, McCague, McClelland, McGuigan, Morin, Morin-Strom, Nixon, J. B., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Philip, E., Poole, Riddell, Smith, E. J., South, Velshi, Villeneuve, Wildman, Wong.
Nays -- 0
VDT OPERATORS’ SAFETY ACT, 1990
Mr R. F. Johnston moved first reading of Bill 121, An Act for the Protection of Video Display Terminal Operators.
The House divided on Mr R. F. Johnston’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 43
Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Charlton, Cleary, Cooke, D. S., Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Elston, Epp, Eves, Fleet, Fulton, Grandmâitre, Haggerty, Hart, Johnston, R. F, Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, Lipsett, Mahoney, Martel, McClelland, McGuigan, Morin, Morin-Strom, Nixon, J. B., 0’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Poole, Reycraft, Riddell, Smith, E. J., South, Velshi, Villeneuve, Ward, Wildman, Wong.
Nays -- 1
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would like to make a short explanation, one that is much shorter than the explanatory notes that are in the bill. It is basically a bill to provide ergonomic protection for video display terminal workers, time off on a regular basis from being in front of the terminal, fines of $25,000 for infringements, health and safety committees for the workers and protection for women who are pregnant who do not wish to be in front of a VDT.
PROFITS FROM CRIME ACT, 1990
Mr Wildman moved first reading of Bill 122, An Act to prevent Unjust Enrichment through Financial Exploitation of Crime.
The House divided on Mr Wildman’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 43
Adams, Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Cleary, Cooke, D.S., Curling, Daigeler, Dietsch, Elston, Epp, Eves, Fleet, Fulton, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, Lipsett, Mahoney, Martel, McClelland, McGuigan, Morin, Morin-Strom, Nixon, J. B., O’Neill, Y, Oddie Munro, Pelissero, Philip, E., Poole, Riddell, Smith, E. J., South, Velshi, Villeneuve, Ward, Wildman.
Nays -- O
Mr Wildman: I appreciate the support of the members. The bill makes moneys earned by accused criminals from the sale of their memoirs payable to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which uses the funds received in each case to satisfy judgements obtained by victims of the crime.
ASSESSMENT AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Philip moved first reading of Bill 123, An Act to amend the Assessment Act.
The House divided on Mr Philip’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 32
Adams, Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Charlton, Cleary, Elston, Eves, Fleet, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Kormos, Laughren, Lipsett, Martel, McClelland, McGuigan, Morin, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, Philip, E., Poole, Riddell, Smith, E. J., Sola, Velshi, Wildman.
Nays -- 0
Mr Philip: I trust the Minister of Revenue will notice that this passed with unanimous approval of the House. The purpose of this bill is to exempt from taxation land rented or leased to a church or religious organization if the rental or lease agreement makes the church or religious organization liable for the taxes.
ONTARIO LAND INFORMATION ACT, 1990
Mr Kormos moved first reading of Bill 125, An Act respecting a Register of Ontario Land Information.
The House divided on Mr Kormos’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 31
Adams, Beer, Bradley, Bryden, Callahan, Charlton, Cleary, Cooke, D. S., Elston, Eves, Faubert, Fleet, Grandmâitre, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Johnston, R. F, Kanter, Kormos, Laughren, Martel, McClelland, Morin, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, 0’Neill, Y., Philip, E., Poole, Smith, E. J., Velshi, Wildman.
Nays -- 0
Mr Kormos: I have a very brief explanation. Some members are quite right -- this is a proposal that was made initially back in 1986 by Mr Martel. Let me tell the members what the bill does. This bill would authorize the creation of a public register showing the ownership of all privately held land in Ontario, the use of the land and whether its owner is a resident or non-resident of Canada. Now every owner, every purchaser or vendor of an interest in land in Ontario will be subject to a reporting requirement, and we all know how important that would be to property owners and to other persons having an interest in the role of property here in the province of Ontario.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Kanter moved first reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Mr R. F. Johnston: This is an important enough bill to have a recorded vote on, if you ask me. Anything to do with the city of Toronto is important to me.
The House divided on Mr Kanter’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 34
Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Curling, Dietsch, Elston, Eves, Faubert, Ferraro, Fleet, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, LeBourdais, Lipsett, Lupusella, Martel, McClelland, McGuigan, Morin, O’Neill, Y., Philip, E., Poole, Smith, E. J., Sola, South, Wildman.
Nays -- 0
Mr Kanter: I was so moved by the enthusiastic response to the previous bill, I would like to introduce another bill.
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Kanter moved first reading of Bill Pr62, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
The House divided on Mr Kanter’s motion for first reading of Bill Pr62, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 35
Adams, Beer, Bryden, Callahan, Campbell, Charlton, Cousens, Curling, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fleet, Grandmâitre, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, LeBourdais, Lipsett, McCague, McClelland, McGuigan, Miclash, Morin, O’Neill, Y., Polsinelli, Poole, Riddell, Smith, E. J., Sola, Velshi, Wildman.
Nays -- 1
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Wildman moved first reading of Bill 126, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
The House divided on Mr Wildman’s motion for first reading of Bill 126, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 37
Adams, Bryden, Charlton, Cleary, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Curling, Dietsch, Elliot, Elston, Faubert, Ferraro, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Kanter, Keyes, Kormos, Laughren, LeBourdais, Lupusella, Martel, McCague, McClelland, McGuigan, Miclash, Morin, Nixon, J. B., O’Neill, Y., Polsinelli, Poole, Riddell, Sola, South, Velshi, Wildman.
Nays -- 1
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Does the member have a brief statement?
Mr Wildman: Yes. This bill prohibits the use of spare tires that are not the same type or size as the other tires on the vehicle. In other words, it would outlaw the so-called doughnut spare tires that we are being stuck with by the car manufacturers today.
HOMES FOR THE AGED AND REST HOMES AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr D. S. Cooke moved first reading of Bill 127, An Act to amend the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act.
The House divided on Mr D. S. Cooke’s motion for first reading of Bill 127, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 33
Adams, Beer, Bryden, Charlton, Cleary, Cooke, D. S., Cousens, Dietsch, Elston, Ferraro, Grandmâitre, Grier, Haggerty, Hart, Henderson, Johnston, R. F., Kanter, Kormos, Laughren, LeBourdais, Lupusella, Mahoney, Martel, McCague, McClelland, Miclash, Nixon, J. B., O’Neill, Y., Oddie Munro, Philip, E., Polsinelli, Sola, South.
Nays -- 2
The Acting Speaker: Does the member have an explanation?
Mr D. S. Cooke: It is self-explanatory.
Mr McCague: Mr Speaker, I would like to move that we adjourn.
The Acting Speaker: The motion is in order. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock Monday next.
The House adjourned at 1655.