The House met at 1330.
Mr Allen: I have a very simple question for the Minister of Transportation: When on earth is the work on the McKittrick Bridge, provincial project 88-90, going to be completed? There are only two access routes from Hamilton below the Mountain to Hamilton West and really only one that is at all direct; it leads over the McKittrick Bridge, which overpasses Highway 403.
Some 14 months ago the ministry closed down two lanes for repairs. Today there are still only two lanes and it is a major bottleneck. The patience of Hamilton West drivers is exhausted and the regional engineering department is fed up with making excuses for the province. The bridge not only feeds Hamilton West but two ramps on to Highway 403, and the barriers and laning require some quick responses from drivers who may not be familiar with the route. It is surprising that there have been no accidents to date.
The failure of the province to complete the work has complicated regional planning for other road repairs in the area and aggravated drivers’ reactions to other nearby repairs being proceeded with by the region. They are fed up with driving by what often appears to be abandoned machinery or a couple of workers looking forlornly at a non-functioning air compressor. How many more months do we have to wait for this bridge repair to be finished?
Mr Jackson: The Watson commission report on religious education in Ontario’s public school system has been in the hands of the Liberal government since January of this year and has yet to be made public.
This delay in releasing the report is unacceptable. It is unacceptable and unfair to ecumenical educators, such as Archbishop John Bothwell of Niagara, who have come forth with positive ideas on interfaith religious studies as contained in the Call for Action statement
The delay is unacceptable to the students of our public school system, whose opportunity to reap the benefits of comparative religious studies has been put in limbo by the indecisiveness of a Liberal government which is totally unsure of its footing on this issue.
Finally, this delay is unacceptable to the people of Ontario. It should be obvious to this government that religious understanding plays an important part in the promotion of social tolerance and mutual respect among all members of this province’s multifaith population. Religious studies in the public school system would allow it to continue to play its historic unifying role among people who are challenged by the ever-changing nature of Ontario.
I therefore call on the Liberal government to release the Watson report as soon as possible and to begin to establish a multifaith religious studies program acceptable to all public school teachers, trustees, parents and children.
One would expect that a government that has so greatly assisted this province’s publicly funded separate school system, which is founded on a specific religious code, would show a comparable concern for the development of multifaith religious understanding in coterminous public schools in Ontario.
Mrs LeBourdais: I would like to welcome to the House today a group of constituents from Etobicoke West, who are here in recognition of their achievements in obtaining a personal goal.
As my friend the Minister of Education announced earlier this week, 1990 is International Literacy Year and this week has been declared Literacy Week in Ontario. Adult learners and instructors working in literacy and academic upgrading programs, operated by the continuing education department of the Etobicoke Board of Education, have produced a book entitled Celebrate Our Stories. It is a collection of warm, human interest stories written by the learners, with the instructors writing the accompanying language activity.
The result of this partnership in education speaks for itself and is indeed something to celebrate during International Literacy Year 1990. At a time when the level of illiteracy worldwide is approaching 900 million people, it is more than encouraging to meet a group of individuals who have met the challenge. There are solutions and people can work towards reading and writing.
Today, literacy means the ability to meet demands in new technologies that are being put on us for our increasingly sophisticated reading, writing and numeracy skills.
I had the honour to meet with some of the teachers, learners and volunteers recently while filming my cable show on literacy.
The need to improve literacy levels is recognized as a priority of the government of Ontario.
Mr Hampton: Two days ago the Toronto Globe and Mail disclosed that, because the Ministry of Health did not have adequate or enough drug rehabilitation programs, people from Ontario were being sent to private clinics in Texas, Colorado, Louisiana and elsewhere to receive drug rehabilitation treatment. The Globe and Mail noted that for one person to spend one day at these private US drug clinics would cost over $800 per day or $24,000 for a one-month treatment program.
In today’s Toronto Star, Dr Blenos Pederson, a leading Ontario addiction specialist and staff psychiatrist at Toronto General Hospital, says that the Ministry of Health is actually spending $8 million a year sending Ontario residents to private drug clinics in the United States when it could be doing the same job much more cheaply here at home. In contrast to the $8 million the Ministry of Health spends in the United States, a new program at the Queen Street Mental Health Centre received a budget of only $750,000.
In northwestern Ontario, for example, the Ministry of Health drug and alcohol treatment programs are completely inadequate. The ministry could find only $172,000 for a drug and alcohol program for young adults at the Smith Clinic in Thunder Bay. Meanwhile, 45 Thunder Bay adolescents were sent to Minneapolis for drug and alcohol abuse programs at a minimum charge of $18,000 each for a 35-day program. Elsewhere, 150 northwestern Ontario residents had to be sent to the United States.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr McLean: My statement is for the Minister of Community and Social Services and it concerns a huge waiting list for children needing mental health care in Simcoe county. The 85 mental health centres that the government funds in Ontario have more than 10,000 children on waiting lists for mental health care services. In the Orillia area, the waiting list averages seven to eight months, and in some cases children have to wait as long as two years.
It is my understanding that most of those children are in immediate need of help. Many of these children are suicidal or violent. In some cases, there are five-year-olds who are attacking their brothers and sisters and seven-year-olds who are breaking teachers’ fingers.
Clearly, these are kids who need help and they need it now, not eight months or two years from now. Many children have been abused sexually, emotionally or physically, and if they cannot get the help they require immediately, I fear that they will end up as young offenders.
The waiting list in the Orillia area continues to grow because of increased referrals from doctors, the children’s aid society and family members. The growing waiting list is also a result of the underfunding and understaffing of mental health centres.
I would urge the minister to launch an immediate, independent review of the mental health care system and to give serious consideration to developing legislation that would give children the right to mental health treatment. Our future rests with our children, and right now the future for many of them does not look very bright.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Ms Oddie Munro: The unanimous Supreme Court decision of 3 May was a most significant landmark ruling. It upheld the acquittal of Lyn Lavallee in the shooting death of her husband, who had abused her on a continuous basis. It recognized the reality of the battered women’s syndrome and the contingency in pleading self-defence as it relates to the apprehension of imminent danger to the well-founded anticipation of peril.
The Criminal Code provides the plea of self-defence if the accused believes on reasonable and probable grounds that one cannot otherwise preserve oneself from death or harm. The ruling of admissibility of expert testimony by psychiatrist Dr Fred Shane and the depth of understanding by the professional opinion rendered was critical to the defence of Miss Lavallee and to the ruling by the Supreme Court.
Dr Shane’s testimony indicated that there is a pattern to the attacks by an abuser on the abused spouse, that the person being abused can sense when a threatened attack will be far more dangerous than those she has known and that, as Judge Bertha Wilson writes, “The mental state of an accused at the critical moment she pulls the trigger cannot be understood except in terms of the cumulative effect of months or years of brutality.” Judge Wilson in writing the judgement said, “The appellant’s shooting of the deceased was a final desperate act by a woman who believed that she would be killed that night.”
How is it, we may ask, that a woman can be trapped for years in an abusive relationship and be incapable of leaving? What are the motives, feelings and reactions of the abused and the abuser? How will we be able to view this landmark decision and make sure that in Ontario, in our communities and in our homes, we must recognize that wife abuse and battering is a crime?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Last November my wife and I and the Canadian Lithuanian community invited Zigmas Vaisvila to come to Ontario. As members may recall, he opened up a whole new period of dialogue by appearing here in our Legislature with us.
I wanted to bring to the attention of members of this Legislature who met him and got to know him that on 20 April, as members may recall, the press building in Vilnius was taken over by the Soviet troops by force. Zigmas was there as a deputy of the Parliament to negotiate the peaceful transition, if that were to take place. He was beaten badly on the orders of the Soviet troops. He is now in hospital suffering from damage to his lungs and his intestines and has sustained a contusion to his brain.
I would encourage all members here to do several things: (1) write to him to offer our moral support; (2) request our government to officially complain to the federal government of the Soviet Union against this kind of action being taken against an elected deputy who was peacefully trying to negotiate; (3) contact the Canadian delegation to the Helsinki Accord conference to raise our concerns with the human rights violation.
It would be so important to any of us who are elected members of this Parliament to support the rights of a democratically elected individual to try to lobby on behalf of his citizens without being beaten.
Mrs Cunningham: The Council of Ontario Universities recently sent me a letter that graphically portrays the crisis in universities in this province. Science and technology is a stated priority of this Liberal government, yet we are not exposing our students to the technology used in industry and research.
For example: Two truckloads of laboratory equipment used last year by University of Guelph engineering students was recently sent to the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, where it will go on display as ancient artefacts. Scientific equipment at 25-year-old Trent University is as old as the institution itself, and students currently use a spectrophotometer that is considered obsolete. A shortage of space at McMaster University has resulted in the reduction of first-year chemistry labs from once a week to once every two weeks. Laurier’s science labs were built in the 1950s and have not been updated since. York uses converted cupboards and washrooms as laboratory space. The University of Toronto stated it lacks basic teaching aids, computers, something we all have in our offices.
If the Liberals think they have addressed the problem of inadequate facilities and equipment at our universities with a token acknowledgement in the budget, they are sadly mistaken. Our equipment is deteriorating and young people are leaving our country.
MEMBER FOR NIAGARA SOUTH
Mr Haggerty: There are rumours and speculations that there may well be a provincial election called some time in the near future. That has raised some concerns with constituents whom I have served in the Niagara South Liberal Provincial Association.
After careful consideration over the past few weeks and discussing the matter with my wife, Marie, and family members, I have decided not to seek re-election in the event of a possible provincial election being called. My 23 years in office representing Welland South, Erie and Niagara South ridings have been a rewarding experience, a pleasure to serve so many wonderful constituents.
I want to extend sincere appreciation to everyone in the riding for the confidence and trust they have placed in me over the many years at Queen’s Park. Their kindness, support, advice and encouragement have been major factors in making a difficult task more readily acceptable.
The Niagara South constituents are the greatest, very accommodating and understanding. The area municipal officials, the many service clubs, employers, employees -- every citizen -- have been supportive and a pleasure to work with in resolving issues.
Politics to me is a process of bargaining, a compromise that seeks common ground in resolving issues in the best interests of the people we serve. The opportunity comes only once in a lifetime. I have been honoured to serve and to participate in an important role in a free and democratic system of government.
I want to thank my staff at Queen’s Park and the constituency staff members for their outstanding commitment to me and the citizens of Niagara South riding in the province of Ontario.
I have enjoyed my role in opposition, as well as a government member, and particularly my role as parliamentary assistant to the ministers of Government Services, Municipal Affairs and Consumer and Commercial Relations.
There is a time in one’s life when a person must look to other alternatives, to pursue a different course to fulfil life’s expectations.
One cannot forget and reflect upon the many elections fought since 1967 through 1987. Working with many volunteers, who gave so generously of their time, energy, talent and convictions to the democratic process of government in a free nation, is greatly appreciated.
I want to thank all honourable members, the Clerk and staff of the assembly for their assistance and words of wisdom. Marie and I and the family will for ever cherish those precious memories. We appreciate the continued friendship and trust that have been generated over 23 years and look forward to continued friendship, visiting so many wonderful people.
Mr Laughren: Mr Speaker, I wonder if the members of the assembly would allow me a minute or two to respond to the statement by the member for Niagara South.
The Speaker: Do I see heads nodding in the affirmative?
Mr Laughren: I have not been here all of the time Mr Haggerty has been here. He was elected in 1967 and I was elected in 1971. During those years, I have spent a lot of time on various committees with him. I can tell members that his dedication to his job in the committee work was second to none. You could always be sure, whether a committee was travelling or whether it was meeting in Toronto, that Ray Haggerty would be there if he was serving on the committee. I have no doubt whatsoever that he served his constituents with the same amount of dedication that he served on committees around this place. I know that I for one will miss Ray’s attendance here in the House.
Mr Cureatz: Might I say to the honourable member on behalf of my caucus, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, that I too would like to extend best wishes to my friend and colleague, the honourable member. Indeed, he had already been a member for 10 years when I was first elected in 1977 but, as my honourable colleague the member for Nickel Belt indicated, Ray and I have served on a number of committees over the last number of years.
From time to time I like to think that I have learned something important from him, and that was to set aside partisan politics and to do the job we have been elected to do, which is representing individual constituents in our riding. There is no doubt that for his long tenure of service that is exactly what he has done. I know only too well that good wishes and hopes will follow his way, after leaving the chamber whenever the next election is.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I want to express my personal regrets at the honourable member’s statement. I had heard just a few moments ago that he was going to do so, although I knew that he had been considering the possibility of not running in this election. But I thought that perhaps, like some others who had been considering these matters, he would have decided that once more was all right. It is nice to know that there are some people with principle still available in this House.
I have been closely associated with Ray Haggerty through our mutual political careers. There have been many occasions when our caucus was somewhat smaller even than any caucus represented here. We used to meet every day at noon so that the course of the good ship Liberal was well defined, as the people who read of our escapades in those days would be able to discern. We have had many opportunities to discuss matters.
I have always found that he was a good politician, but a man with shrewd judgement and able to give his advice in direct and certain terms. If anything, I suppose I have felt that his predictions usually were predictions of difficulty and disaster, and in almost every case that I can recall, he was right.
I have had a number of opportunities to campaign with him in Niagara South or Erie. The constituency has been loyal to the Liberal Party, but I sense the loyalty was to Ray, who before he ever entered this House had an excellent, worthy career in municipal politics. As the representative of union and working people in his area, he has continued to be a strong and clear voice for a wide range of policies, but with the emphasis in that area, to which the Liberal Party has always responded so well and so truly.
In this respect I want to join of course with others, but speak at this occasion on behalf of his many colleagues on this side, all of us his good friends, express our regret, thank him for his service and wish him well.
The Speaker: The only thing I can say is that the class of 1967 is fading.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Hon Mr Scott: I am pleased today to be able to inform my colleagues in the House about a province-wide, anti-drinking-and-driving campaign. The Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving has designated next week as Arrive Alive -- Drive Sober Week. The week starts next Sunday and will run until the end of the Victoria Day weekend.
The Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving, an initiative of this government, was created in early 1990. The council represents some 55 anti-impaired-driving groups in the province. Its mandate is to co-ordinate resources and implement province-wide awareness programs such as Arrive Alive Week.
The creation of the council represents an important step in the government’s ongoing effort to eliminate or reduce impaired driving. We have long recognized that the problem of impaired driving will only be solved when the community as a whole acknowledges it and confronts it directly. One of the primary mandates for the countermeasures office in my ministry has therefore been to encourage community involvement across the province. The council is the direct result of that effort.
The summer is a time traditionally devoted to family and vacations but, tragically, it is also the time when alcohol-related crashes are at their very peak. Arrive Alive -- Drive Sober Week is an opportunity once again to focus public attention on this terrible problem, and throughout the summer the Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving will work closely with my ministry’s countermeasures office to keep the dangers of drinking and driving foremost in the minds of drivers and passengers across Ontario.
Community groups, the council and the provincial government will not be working alone. In response to a request sent out by the Premier to all municipal and regional councils, a substantial number of municipalities throughout Ontario have declared their support by proclaiming Arrive Alive -- Drive Sober Week in their communities. Corporate sponsors, provincial park administrators and municipal personnel will be joining forces with community groups to help raise and maintain public awareness through information centres, workshops, promotions and a variety of local events.
Arrive Alive -- Drive Sober Week highlights a larger, year-round effort to reduce impaired driving. The drinking-driving countermeasures office of the ministry has recently provided over $200,000 in support funding for 23 prominent anti-impaired-driving groups which are active all year long.
In addition, I am particularly pleased to note that the number of schools participating in the anti-impaired-driving programs offered by the countermeasures office has again increased. The countermeasures office provided over $100,000 to 117 secondary schools for their 1989-90 anti-impaired-driving activities, as compared to 75 schools the previous year, an important and significant increase.
The ministry will also provide funding to hire two high school students per community for July and August in 30 to 40 locations across Ontario. There is in the gallery today, for example, a group of students from Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute who are anxious to participate in this program. These students will continue the work started during this week and will continue promoting public awareness during the very dangerous months of the summer.
Finally, I want to tell the House about our new media campaign related to drinking and driving. Coincident with the Arrive Alive Week, three new, strong-messaged, 15-second television commercials will be released on Monday next. Coupled with radio messages and transit vehicle ads all across Ontario, the theme of this year’s summer campaign is “You can lose a lot more than your licence” by drinking and driving.
Based on research, we are targeting young male drivers, who are still the greatest offenders. They have expressed their concern over the potential loss of their freedom, their loved ones and injury to themselves if they drink and drive. Our summer advertising campaign picks up on these concerns and I believe emphasizes the dangers and the risks in no uncertain terms.
The government, and my ministry in particular, has been and will continue to be extremely active in the effort to reduce the death and destruction caused by impaired drivers on our roadways. Significant progress has been made in the last five years, but there is still a long way to go.
HERITAGE CONSERVATION / CONSERVATION DU PATRIMOINE ONTARIEN
Hon Ms Hart: I am pleased to inform the House that the government will draft comprehensive new legislation to strengthen and revise the Ontario Heritage Act. This legislation will reflect the challenges highlighted by the Ontario heritage policy review’s final report, which I am releasing today. The report outlines a new vision of what heritage encompasses and establishes a series of goals.
These five goals are to foster awareness that our heritage is vital to our success as a people, particularly by putting more emphasis on the interpretation and promotion of heritage resources; to strengthen provincial government leadership by improving co-ordination among the 15 ministries with an impact on heritage; to empower Ontario communities to undertake high-quality heritage conservation by strengthening their decision-making role and integrating heritage considerations into the local planning process; to stimulate private sector involvement by providing incentives for individual property owners and corporate interests and promoting heritage tourism; to guarantee access to the latest heritage knowledge and information by supporting education and research and by improving communication within the heritage sector.
The policy review, as members will recall, was launched in 1987 with three aims: to create a cross-government policy framework for heritage conservation activities, which currently involves 15 ministries; to foster wider public appreciation of Ontario’s diverse heritage, and to update the Ontario Heritage Act.
The review process included public meetings across the province, written submissions, extensive discussions with government ministries and agencies, and direct consultation with a broad range of provincial organizations representing nearly 2,000 local heritage groups.
Through this process we have reviewed the various forms heritage takes. Traditional and modem architecture, folklore and natural landscapes are just a few examples. A fundamental element links these resources together -- each of them tells us something about who we are.
Le patrimoine ontarien est une ressource vivante ; c’est la base de notre identité ainsi que de notre bien-être social et économique. C’est aussi une source de confiance à l’égard de ce que nous pouvons réaliser. Plus nous connaissons notre patrimoine, plus nous comprenons qui nous sommes et ce que nous pouvons faire.
Heritage is the link between our past and our future. It is an expression of our collective experience and a guide to our ongoing development. This is our new vision. In order to realize our new vision, I expect to introduce a new Ontario Heritage Act in the House this fall.
The development of new heritage legislation will be accomplished through a consultation process with Ontario organizations, ranging from traditional heritage groups to those representing municipal, construction and tourism interests.
Hon Mrs Caplan: As members of this House are aware, treatment of kidney disease is one of several specialty care areas in which my ministry is concentrating its resources.
With the $23-million, three-year program begun last June, we set ourselves a target of at least 25 additional dialysis machines in the first year. Some were to be placed in acute care hospitals, some in patients’ homes and some, for the first time, in chronic care hospitals. My ministry has more than lived up to that commitment. The specific allocation of funds I am announcing today brings the total of additional dialysis machines funded in the first year of this program to no less than 30.
As early as last November, we approved and funded five new haemodialysis stations for the Oshawa General Hospital as well as one new peritoneal dialysis station, and 24 more machines around the province are being funded today.
But machines are not the whole answer. The more sophisticated machines in hospitals need people to run them and to assist the patients using them. The more hours per day and days per week they can stay in operation, the more people who can be served. So another aspect of this important program is the funding of staff and medical supplies to allow expanded use of the dialysis machines already in place in Ontario. We have accomplished this in a number of hospital settings, beginning right away last June with the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga. A third shift of nurses and technologists was added, enabling them to treat 20 more dialysis patients a week. Today, I am directing still more funds to this aspect of dialysis treatment in a number of hospitals.
Happily, not all patients with kidney disease need to be treated in hospitals, as was once the case. Advances in technology have made dialysis at home possible for a growing number. Home dialysis often, though not always, requires the help of a visiting attendant. Some of my ministry’s funding goes towards providing that help. Some also goes to assist in the training of patients who will be largely able to administer their own treatments at home.
Today’s funding allocation takes into account other commitments made by my ministry. One was to place dialysis machines, for the first time, in chronic care hospitals. I am pleased to announce that the Wellesley Hospital in Toronto will receive $696,000 to develop a joint pilot project with Riverdale Hospital. Chronic care patients at Riverdale who need dialysis treatments will no longer have to be transported back and forth to another hospital every few days. Four new dialysis units at Riverdale itself will serve those patients. At the same time, the Wellesley Hospital will receive nearly $202,000 to expand its own dialysis treatments through extended staffing.
Another area of concern for my ministry is the availability of dialysis treatment in northern Ontario. We said we would begin to address this in the first year of our three-year program. I am pleased to announce that almost $555,000 will be allocated to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora to establish a satellite dialysis centre with two units, and another $1.14 million will fund a four-unit satellite dialysis centre to be established by the Porcupine General Hospital in South Porcupine near Timmins. It will operate in conjunction with Laurentian Hospital in Sudbury.
Other funding to expand hospital-based dialysis includes $824,000 for three new dialysis units at Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital.
I am particularly pleased that we will also be funding more home dialysis programs in four areas of the province. Kingston General Hospital will receive $735,000 to expand its peritoneal dialysis program. The money will go to provide supplies as well as staff to teach home dialysis patients how to treat themselves. Ottawa General Hospital receives nearly $190,000 for four machines to expand its home haemodialysis program. The Toronto Hospital receives $472,000 for another seven haemodialysis machines and helpers for its home treatment program. St Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton will use funding of $278,000 for a project to help peritoneal dialysis patients who otherwise would not be able to treat themselves at home. St Joseph’s will organize helpers who can do the rounds of these home patients and be there when their assistance is needed.
As members of this House are well aware, dialysis in most cases is buying time for a kidney transplant. A kidney transplant is the nearest thing to a cure at present. Transplant operations rely on organ donation and retrieval. Last June, I announced additional funding of $300,000 a year to MORE, Ontario’s multiple organ retrieval and exchange program, bringing its total annual funding by my ministry to $1.3 million.
In January of this year, to bolster the MORE program, the government amended regulations under the Public Hospitals Act so that hospitals are now required to develop policies and guidelines to encourage organ donations. In conjunction with that vital program, I would like to take this opportunity today to urge people everywhere to consider seriously the pledge of an organ donation. Even in death, the opportunity exists to make a gift of life.
Miss Martel: I want to respond on behalf of our party to the statement made by the Minister of Culture and Communications. We are pleased with the release of this report today after a very long, long time in its preparation. We want to join with the government in thanking all of those particular groups and individuals across the province who participated in the hearings and the consultation process leading up to the report.
Members of the House will recognize that the heritage of this province is very important; it is also very diverse. Whether we talk about arts or culture, whether we talk about language, buildings or monuments, all of those things need to be protected and we have to ensure as a province and as a government that the legislation that is put forward this fall, hopefully, will be legislation that will in fact protect those values and ensure that in Ontario we remain rich in that diversity and use every mechanism that we can to recognize and promote the differences which enrich our whole existence here in Ontario instead of actually dividing us.
I want to make two points, though, if I might, in regard to the report. First, I hope that the report says a great deal about the protection that municipalities, and in particular LACACs, need when it comes to their protection and their desire to protect heritage values. The minister will recognize that within her own ministry there have been many disputes between small municipalities trying to protect monuments, buildings in particular, against big developers who want to use that land to build condominiums etc, and they have not found in the legislation the means they need to protect that heritage and to keep it in place.
Second, I want to say that the consultation process was indeed very lengthy. I appreciate that; it is better than some of the processes we have seen around here around other bills. But I would point out that this has taken some three years, some 250 groups and individuals, 26 public meetings, 2,000 provincial heritage organizations represented and government ministries etc. Today again we see a statement that the process is going to begin again and did today with 46 other agencies. I hope that in fact there is some legislation before this House finally in September of this year.
But I want to congratulate the minister again, and I look forward to dealing with this legislation if indeed she and I are both back here in September 1990.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Mr Kormos: We welcome the announcement of the Attorney General this afternoon, and indeed there is not a single person here who is not supportive of this type of program. There is not a single one of us who, when we get back to our communities, is not going to support the Arrive Alive -- Drive Sober Week.
What an important issue for this government to attempt to deal with. Once again we are supportive of this government’s stated commitment not just to reduce impaired driving but to eliminate it. But how can this government hope to do that when it announces 15-second TV spots that are going to appear by way of advertising that will undoubtedly run alongside the new, liberalized, expanded liquor advertising that this government permitted the liquor industry just in the last few weeks?
The contradiction inherent in announcing support for an anti-drinking-and-driving campaign across the province when this government falls prey to the clout of the liquor industry and the beer industry here in Ontario and permits them to advertise in a way they have not been permitted to advertise in almost a decade now, I tell you, Mr Speaker, is shameful.
It is shameful that this government knows full well that driver training is so essential to the safe operation of vehicles on the highways, yet this government will not do a thing, notwithstanding the pleas by people like John Bates from PRIDE, People to Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere, to institute finally some effective driver training programs that people have to pass before they are even considered eligible for drivers’ licences.
This government has got a long way to go before it really starts to do something to stop drinking and driving in this province.
Mr Reville: Clearly we are pleased that the government is keeping its commitments made a year ago to improve dialysis treatment in Ontario, I should warn the Liberal government that nothing for Scarborough-Ellesmere means that the former member, David Warner, will speak about that omission loudly and often, and very shortly he will return to this place and stand up and say, as he did once before, “As I was saying before I was interrupted, where is the dialysis unit for Scarborough-Ellesmere?”
Mr Eves: I would like to respond briefly to the announcement made in the Legislature this afternoon by the Minister of Health. I guess the old adage “Better late than never” comes to mind. The Minister of Health has known about this problem in kidney dialysis -- it has been pointed out to her repeatedly by members on the opposition benches -- for several years, let alone months. I am glad to see that she is finally responding. I just would hope, of course, that there is no ulterior political motive in the back of her mind with respect to this.
I would also like to echo a reference she makes in her statement. It is fine to supply money for capital expenditures and for equipment, but without the personnel to deliver those health care services that all Ontarians need, such commitments are meaningless.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Ms Cunningham: I would like to respond to the statement with regard to Arrive Alive -- Drive Sober Week. All of us in the province are very concerned about the real statistics regarding alcohol use and driving statistics in Canada and in Ontario. About 3,000 Canadians die each year as a result of driving while impaired.
Drinking while driving is the leading criminal cause of death for all Canadians. In Toronto, every 14th driver is impaired at any time of the day and on weekends one out of four drivers is impaired. Some 30% of arrested drunk drivers are alcoholics and alcohol use by Ontario university students is rampant and increasing.
Metropolitan Toronto doubled its alcohol-related crash fatalities in 1988. Anything we can do to assist in the prevention of driving while impaired, in the prevention of alcoholism, in the treatment of alcoholics and in fact in improved driver training programs, is welcomed not only by the Progressive Conservative Party but by all persons across the province.
This issue of driving while impaired is one that we are all concerned about, and I commend the government for its program and especially for using young people as part of this program, not only for today or this week or all summer but for the years and weeks to come.
Mrs Marland: In responding to the Minister of Culture and Communications’ statement, we want to make note of the fact that it has taken three and a half years to get this far. I hope that now we are this far, it will not take another three and a half years to get the legislation.
We feel very strongly that this legislation is overdue. We also want to comment on the minister’s recent comment in London -- I guess the minister has left, but I will tell you anyway, Mr Speaker -- in which she said, “I will be moving very quickly to bring in legislation that will enable municipalities to do what they have to do to keep what they want to keep.” We feel that comment is a little hollow when it has taken three and a half years to get this far, and we wonder if perhaps the new, added urgency has something to do with the threatened Talbot streetscape in downtown London, right in the Premier’s backyard.
Nevertheless, we know there are good things about pending elections and elections hovering over the people of Ontario because, suddenly, after five years of inaction, we are getting all these wonderful announcements and promises. It will be a refreshing change if and when that election comes, that we certainly end up having some of these promises fulfilled.
I want in closing to make sure that we as a caucus express our compliments to the former minister, the member for Hamilton Centre, I am convinced that the member for Hamilton Centre did a great deal towards the preservation of our heritage and we thank her for the efforts of herself as minister at that time.
Also, as the Environment critic, I think the government should take note of these printouts today, these reports and the folder that goes with them. including the minister’s statement. It has to be the heaviest, most expensive glossy paper that is available on the market today.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, it being the member for Sarnia’s last day serving as leader of our party, could I ask the unanimous consent of the House to make some statements?
The Speaker: I believe that response is indicative of approval.
MEMBER FOR SARNIA
Mr Eves: It indeed does me proud to be able to speak on behalf of our party with respect to the leadership that the member for Sarnia has given to our party.
The member for Sarnia is a humble man; some would say he has a lot to be humble about. When Andy first became the leader of our party, he promised us nothing -- and he delivered. I was talking to his wife, Patricia, the other day, and I know that Andy is far too modest to have mentioned this, but they recently had a fire in their residence and their library was destroyed; both books were missing. But the part that really disturbed the member for Sarnia was that he had not finished colouring the second one. He taught me everything I know, by the way, which is not much.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think he wrote this speech.
Mr Eves: It is just the way he wrote it; exactly the way he wrote it.
Everybody in this place and beyond knows of the challenge the member for Sarnia inherited when he became the leader of our party. I think a real leader is one who leads by example and I think the member for Sarnia, if he has done anything in his tenure as our leader, has demonstrated to us, to all members of the Legislature and indeed to all Ontarians that nothing can replace hard work and sincere dedication in approach to your position in life.
When I think of the timeless effort and the numbers that we have today, I think Mr Brandt has improved our party and hopefully improved the lot of Ontarians in every walk of life. I have known Andy since I have been a member at Queen’s Park, when we were elected together in 1981. He is a very genuine and sincere individual. The member for Sarnia has a genuine rapport with individuals from all walks of life, even the media.
Mr Eves: Perhaps that is stretching a point, but it does prove the effectiveness and the genuine approach that the member for Sarnia has taken to his position.
His selfless approach to leadership has certainly been an example for all of us in this place. I think probably one of his best attributes is that he never takes himself or his position too seriously. Because we are dealing with serious issues in this place from time to time and debate does become rather political at times, I think it is a great lesson for all of us to learn that we should never take ourselves too seriously; indeed the member for Sarnia has certainly led by example in that regard. It is not everyone who has that ability and that unique quality. Our party has certainly benefited from his leadership. We have not only benefited in concrete terms but we have benefited in terms of morale as well.
I have known the member for Sarnia at his best -- as a friend, as a colleague, as the leader of my party. I have known him at his worst -- as a Detroit Tigers fan at a baseball game. I really think the approach and the humble manner in which he goes about his position, both inside and outside of this Legislature, is a lesson that we can all learn from.
A position as interim leader is a tenuous position at best and I can say that the member for Sarnia has delivered quality leadership equalled by none that I can think of in recent memory in our party. The temptation must have been great for him upon occasion to renege on the commitment that he made to our caucus about two and a half years ago to serve as an interim leader.
I am sure there are those on all sides of the House and all throughout the province of Ontario who think he should have reneged on that commitment, but I think that fact alone demonstrates the type of individual that the member for Sarnia is. He is an individual of honour, commitment, determination and dignity, and we on this side of the House will miss him greatly as leader.
Hon R. F. Nixon: It is my great honour and pleasure to respond on behalf of the Liberal Party on this important and interesting occasion. The Premier expresses his regrets through me. He is absent from the House, and actually from Toronto, on important business; but I can assure the member, and I need not make the assurance, of his personal good wishes, which I know he will extend on other occasions.
When I realized that I had this difficult responsibility, I did what I usually do, and that is go and see the leader of the third party for a few jokes that would be appropriate. Unfortunately, he let me down for the first time and said, “Bob, you’re on your own.” So if the quality of my intervention here is a little bit reduced, it is because he refused, for the first time, to give me a couple of zingers.
I was interested that the member for Parry Sound, in talking on behalf of the Conservatives about his good friend, said he was characterized by his commitment to hard work and his dedication to service. We all agree with that, but my friend the Attorney General said, “And also his good humour.” I said, “I believe, frankly, in reverse order.” I have no doubts about his dedication, but his good humour sets him apart from all of us --
Hon R. F. Nixon: -- “all of you.” let’s put it that way -- and makes an impossible job doable. There is never an occasion, however seriously he gets his back into criticism -- and there are many occasions where criticism is perhaps moderately warranted -- where you feel that this is strictly a function of political responsibility and he is able to very properly contain his personal feelings in this regard. It is something that not everybody can do, and a few of us should certainly take lessons from his example. I intend to do that some time further on in my career.
I have a great deal of sympathy for the honourable member because I too experienced almost the identical situation, but not quite. In 1975, following an election which my party was supposed to win, when the smoke cleared away and the votes were counted, I found myself leading the third party on an interim basis with two of my colleagues vying to succeed me.
So I know exactly how pleasant and sometimes how onerous that job can be, because certainly in a political contest the people who are upwardly mobile, unlike the honourable member and myself, have to undertake certain political exigencies which are sometimes out of character, and the leader, interim or whatever, is left to paper over the cracks and see that everybody, even if he or she is not pulling carefully in harness, appears to be doing so. The honourable member has done a good job of that -- as a matter of fact, as I recall, a little better than I did.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, I was thinking about his career. When he came in from Sarnia, I had known him in a previous political incarnation, which I sometimes refer to. I am not going to do it again. The fact that he used to appear at Liberal meetings in something other than his capacity as mayor I am not going to refer to, other than to say that if he had been loyal to his first set of principles -- and I understand he has a number of sets -- he might very well have been Treasurer of Ontario or maybe, a continuation of his first love, the Minister of the Environment. We would not have had the leadership and movement forward that we have here, but we must remember that the honourable member was the discoverer of the blob in the St Clair River, Was that not his claim to fame, as I recall it? It took the member for St Catharines to get rid of it. He is working on a few other blobs, but in the long run --
Hon R. F. Nixon: When I think of it, before he assumed the leadership of the great Progressive Conservative Party, the honourable member probably reached the epitome of his career as Minister of Industry and Trade. Under those circumstances, of course, he was given the gold credit card that enabled him to travel around the world, and he was and still is, in my view, particularly well fitted to making friends and influencing people, in the best sense of that word. So whatever we think of his political philosophies, and his commitment to democracy and fairness in democracy is never questioned, I just want to express our thanks and appreciation for his service.
We look to the future, of course. He will be giving up the leadership in the next few days and hours; to whom, we will find out. We will be making speeches next week welcoming someone to that onerous new responsibility. What to do now that he leaves his leadership? I have read in the paper that he is on the short list for Ontario Hydro, that he is very keen to be the commissioner of sewer services. I just advise him not to even think about London. If worse came to worst, he might throw himself at the mercy of his federal friends, because, after all, they are cousins under the skin and he has had to bear that millstone around his neck of supporting on all occasions the federal initiatives.
Perhaps if I were to give him the best advice, it would be to just keep doing what he does best. That is to attempt once again, if there is an election, God forbid, in the next few months, to represent the people of Sarnia. There are worse fates. We would do the best we could, and I would predict our success in ending his career, but if that were not to happen, the members of the House, recognizing his undoubted abilities, his understanding of the democratic process and his record of service on both sides of this House, would feel he was serving his community well indeed if he would put aside all those alternatives and try to come back here.
I cannot say that I wish him well in all his endeavours, but in some of the things I have said there may be my personal feeling of friendship and admiration for one of the finest members we have had in this House in my experience.
Mr B. Rae: First of all, I want to say to the Treasurer that we took careful note of the statement he made that there were going to be speeches in this place here next Monday and Tuesday. We look forward to that for many reasons.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I told you he was out of town. Actually he is walking down the hall right now.
Mr Reville: Don’t make our day today.
Mr B. Rae: We all look for these signals.
A very unkind person would say when Mr Brandt was looking in the St Clair River and saw the blob that in fact it was a reflection, but I would not say that.
Mr B. Rae: Oh well, the member for Parry Sound started it, and I have actually spoken at a roast for Andy and we were able to raise, I think, some money for a good cause, and I would be delighted to do it again. As long as the cause is a neutral one, I would be delighted to serve in that role.
The Treasurer and the member for Parry Sound have said it all in terms of the feelings that I know everyone in this House has for Andy. I just want to say a few very brief words about our relationship and, I think, some things perhaps behind the scenes, if you like, or the real world of the personal relations in this place that sometimes the public does not understand.
As the Treasurer said, we all of us argue and dispute in this place and sometimes have some extremely unpleasant things to say about one another. The simple fact of the matter is that, despite that fact, we all of us establish friendships across party lines, and that is, I think, a wonderful thing. We share a commitment to a common profession, a profession which is in significant disrepute, it is fair to say. Whether it is any worse than at any other time, I have no idea, but I think we all realize that when people talk to their children about careers they might follow, the profession of politics is perhaps not uppermost in people’s minds.
I would like to say that when I came to this place, I noted the extraordinary personal skill of the then minister of cabinet. He was somebody who managed to obfuscate on the subject of the environment as well as any of the 47 Tory predecessors he had in that portfolio, or indeed the successor he has had in that portfolio. He went on to a brief but spectacular career as the Minister of Industry and Trade and then faced the realities of opposition and then the ultimate reality, which of course is becoming the leader of the third party, a job which I performed for a time. One can never tell what futures will unfold; indeed, in many respects we know that this is a roller-coaster on which we live.
We share a very small world -- not tiny, but not as large as we would like it to be -- on this side of the House. We share a little room back there where the leader and I share many jokes and quips. We share stories with one another, none of which frankly are repeatable particularly. But we have also had occasion to meet on many occasions to talk about issues and to share ideas. We had one really good argument on a matter of principle, which, I can say to members, we have very successfully patched up, and it is healthy to have those disagreements. He is somebody who I have enormous affection for, and great respect.
Much has been said about Andy’s humour. Like many people of good humour, it is important to understand the humour belies a seriousness of purpose and in a sense a seriousness of intent about the things that he believes in and about his enormous effectiveness. If I may be quite blunt about it, the member for Sarnia did not become the mayor of Sarnia, the member for Sarnia, a member of the cabinet and the leader of his party simply because he was a jolly good fellow. We all know that good humour belies enormous substances -- substance. I should not have said “substances.” I have no reason to believe that. On this of all days, given the Attorney General’s announcement today, it surely would be inappropriate to refer to it.
I do want to say one other thing about Andy. Throughout the time that we have shared this opposition bench, there have been many moments when we have both understood some of the personal tensions and difficulties of being leader, of having to perform publicly when that was a difficult thing to do. I want to say to Andy that no one has shown me greater kindness and greater good humour and good cheer, in the best sense, at difficult times than he has, and I appreciate that. I know there are many others in his caucus who appreciate a similar sensitivity and a similar understanding and who also appreciate that this is a very good man.
I have often quoted Abraham Lincoln’s phrase, which I think is a very accurate and acute one. It simply says, “When you measure a person, measure him around the heart.” I think if we were to measure the member for Sarnia, Andy Brandt, around the heart, we would find that he broke the tape.
Mr Brandt: I want to say that perhaps the best piece of advice I have ever received as I walked into this Legislative Assembly was from my friend and colleague the Leader of the Opposition, who said: “There may well be some nice things said about you today, and I would give you just this little piece of advice: Don’t inhale too deeply.” I shall follow that advice very carefully.
I recognize the words of kindness and affection that were expressed by members of all three parties, and they mean a great deal to me because of the very unique and special role that we all perform in this assembly.
I am, however, reminded as well of the time that Winston Churchill was in the House and a page rushed in to give the great Prime Minister a little note. Winston looked at the note and he was surprised to find that, unexpectedly, a death had a occurred; one of the adversaries from the other side of the House had in fact passed away of a heart attack. Winston was asked by one of his advisers if he would like to say perhaps some nice words of kindness about that individual, at which point Winston rose from his seat in the House of Commons and walked to the back, where the members assemble. He sought out this particular adviser who had sent the note and said, “Listen, I understand that good old Fred has died of a heart attack but, before I say anything really nice about him, will you make absolutely certain that he’s really dead?”
I do not know whether that has application to me this afternoon, but I feel very much alive and I just trust that Hansard will record all of these words as accurately as they have been expressed. During those lonesome nights that ex-leaders spend by themselves watching the debates on television as you sit quietly in the back row, I would like to refer to them and sort of read especially those nice things said by the Treasurer and Deputy Premier of this province.
Hon R. F. Nixon: Don’t inhale.
Mr Brandt: I will not inhale but, with his permission, I may take the odd breath occasionally.
I say to all members in a non-partisan way, it has been an honour and a privilege for me, as leader of my party, to have served in I guess what we would all recognize as a somewhat difficult position over the course of the past two and a half years. I have had the opportunity and the honour and privilege of serving in government; I was chosen by the Premier of the day to serve in cabinet, which indeed is a very real privilege and a distinct honour. I have also served in the opposition, both Her Majesty’s loyal opposition and also her equally loyal third party in opposition.
I have enjoyed all sides of this House because, and it has been expressed by those more eloquent than myself, this is certainly a very unique club. There are 130 of us here who wrestle with the issues of the day, who try in our own fashion, based on whatever talents and abilities that we might be able to bring to this place, to perhaps set a focus and a direction as to where we think the province should be going. When you really think of it, 130 people out of 9.5 million residents is a tremendous honour that I think we all have to remind ourselves of each and every day that we walk in these doors. It brings with it a very special responsibility.
If you have the opportunity, and I hope some of you do -- in the case of the New Democrats, I hope that the rush does not happen too quickly in this respect -- I hope that you are one of three who will move into the position of leader at some point in time and have the opportunity to serve, as I have, in a very distinct fashion and in a very different way than any other roles that I have had an opportunity to play. It is just entirely different, I can assure you. There are many challenges. There are many good days; there are many bad days. I would prefer to remember the good days rather than those days that were perhaps not as good.
On this particular occasion -- and I will try, as I usually do, to keep my remarks relatively brief -- I want to thank a few people, if I might; first, my wife and family. My wife, Patricia, of course, has had to put up with my being absent from home on far too many occasions. I think she is beginning to enjoy it; so I thought perhaps I should terminate my political career in terms of leadership at this particular juncture. But she has been most patient and understanding. We all know the sacrifices that the family makes when we engage in our professional occupations here at the assembly.
Certainly the executive of my party -- and the president of our party is in the gallery today -- I would like to thank Kay Wetherall and the executive, as well as those members of our party who perhaps do not serve in a direct capacity on that executive who have been most supportive of me during some interesting times.
Your home riding is one that is very difficult to serve. You keep a balance between those things that you want to do here and those things that have to be done back home. We all have that kind of tremendous problem sorting out priorities as to where we should be, and on occasion I guess the constituents may have to sacrifice because of another responsibility that you may have here at Queen’s Park in Toronto. I would like to thank them as well.
Most particularly, however, I think it would be remiss of me if I did not, in a very personal way, thank the members of my caucus. I have had a dedicated, hardworking and loyal group of people who gave me their advice. Sometimes they gave me their advice too frequently, but they gave me their advice, their guidance, and certainly they stuck with me and were behind me all the way during the time when our party was going through the very type of development and reorganization that every political party of whatever stripe has had to go through at some point in its history. What came out of that was a sense of teamwork, a sense of unity and a sense of loyalty that I want to say to all of them I shall not forget.
I would also like to thank those people who are maybe the unsung heroes around here, the clerks of the House, who make this place work so well and are so co-operative, the Sergeant at Arms, the OPP and the members of the government service. They have done a great deal to make my time here more pleasant. They always have a friendly smile, as they do for most members, and they actually treat us like human beings, which is most appreciated at times. They have been very professional and of course they have been very non-partisan.
I would like to thank the Deputy Premier for his kind remarks, and certainly the Leader of the Opposition and my House leader, the member for Parry Sound, for the things they have said. I recognize, as the Deputy Premier already pointed out, that the Premier could not be here today. He was kind enough to join with me at noon, when we had a very brief social gathering in my office. I would like to say to the Deputy Premier, since I am in much closer contact with the Premier than he is, that the Premier is in New York today. It is probably something he did not share with the Deputy Premier. He was off on some government business. When he reports back to me later on today as to the success of his mission, I will share the balance of that information with the Deputy Premier. I do very much appreciate the Premier extending his good wishes through the Deputy Premier. He certainly knows of my respect and my affection for both him and the Premier, other than when it comes to question period.
Again, I appreciate those comments by all members who have spoken. I will hold them very dear for a long period of time to come.
Just in closing, I would like to say that, as I indicated, the unique democracy that we practise in this place is something that means a great deal to me. When we look at those things that are happening in so many parts of the world and so many problems that have developed as a result of people not having this mechanism for vetting the various differences of opinion, and when you see that words are used in here as opposed to guns and violence in other areas, I believe you have got to appreciate that this is a very important, very vital and very critical process that just has to continue and one that we have collectively to protect to the extent that we can.
I have enjoyed the past two and a half years. As I said, I will remember the good times. I will remember the kindness and the consideration of each and every member of the House. I want, however, to remind all members of the assembly that I am going to be around for a while yet but in a different capacity. I want to say especially to my good friend the Attorney General that he has not seen the last of me yet. I expect to be back in this chamber and in this House pursuing issues of importance and entering into the necessary debates in order to do what I think it is that we are all elected to carry out, and that is to best serve the people of this province based on our abilities and our talents and whatever we can bring to this place in our own unique way.
I wish all the members well. I thank them for being who they are and what they have been in the last two and a half years. Let me just say that I will look forward to serving in a somewhat different capacity come Monday.
The Speaker: The next item of business will be oral questions.
Some hon members: Dispense.
The Speaker: Dispense?
Some hon members: No.
The Speaker: I cannot get unanimous agreement.
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Treasurer. He will no doubt have seen the news and the survey that indicates what I think everybody living in this part of Ontario knows, which is that it is a very expensive place to live. What was not clear to people was just how expensive it is in comparison to literally every other city in the western hemisphere. Given that we now have objective information as to how expensive a place Toronto has become, I wonder if the Treasurer can explain why it is that a single person who is earning the minimum wage in Toronto today is still having to pay income tax to the Treasurer at the same time as the Treasurer is admitting that this person has to use a food bank.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member would know that the minimum wage here in Ontario is as high as any other in Canada and among the highest in North America. The fact that there is personal income tax payable is the same here as it is elsewhere, but I am sure he and his colleagues would applaud with some enthusiasm initiatives taken in recent budgets that direct taxation relief to families and towards the support of their children, particularly those who have disabilities and have to be cared for in the home. We believe that our taxation system is fair and equitable and that it continues to become fairer and more equitable.
Mr B. Rae: The fact of the matter is that this is not only a city for the rich and famous, this is also a city where people need to earn a living and be able to live. We now have the information that tells us just how difficult that is. I want to ask the Treasurer again, when we know this is the most expensive city not just in Canada, not just in Ontario, but indeed now in the entire western hemisphere, why would his government not be raising the minimum wage now in order to allow people to be able to begin to afford to live in this community? Why would he not be taking that step right now?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Since the honourable member has reiterated his question, I will say again that we have the highest minimum wage in North America, along with Quebec. We also have the best and most expensive health care system. We also have the best and most expensive education system. We have the highest level of social assistance of any jurisdiction in Canada. I believe that our accomplishments should be applauded, not criticized.
Mr B. Rae: The fact of the matter is the Premier of this province has gone around saying he wants to be the leader of a world-class place. I will tell members what he has got. He has got world-class poverty in this city; that is what he has got. He has got world-class food banks; that is what he has got. He has got housing that is too expensive for people to live in; that is what he has got. He has got people who are earning the minimum wage or below the poverty line who are still paying income tax to his government; that is what he has got.
I want to ask the Treasurer what he is going to do to make sure that this city is not only the most expensive and the most inflated but also the most livable city in the western hemisphere. What is he going to do about that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: We are going to continue our enlightened and progressive programs, which the honourable member, if he were perspicacious, would certainly applaud. As a matter of fact, I was gratified to see that the non-political but knowledgeable people associated with the Daily Bread Food Bank were congratulatory, not about any political initiatives but about initiatives that have been supported by all members of the Legislature to improve the transferences to assist in housing and the provision of an adequate lifestyle for people on low incomes.
The honourable member would know that the utilization of food banks has decreased by 7%, which in his view may be irrelevant, and has decreased by 25% for those people who have been using the food banks and who have children. We think we are making substantial progress, we believe that the taxpayers are anxious to support this, and reasonable people are proud of that progress.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The minister will know that most recently this House, in the standing committee on general government, had a hard look at the issue of acid rain abatement and dealing with acid rain. It was an interesting report because even the government’s own members, even members of the Liberal Party, commented on the fact that there was no real planning as to what would happen after 1994. The minister knows full well that the planning for what takes place after 1994 in terms of continuing to reduce acid rain emissions has to be announced now. I want to ask the minister, where are the critical announcements on the reductions in acid rain which will take place after 1994?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member would be aware, Ontario has by far the most ambitious and aggressive anti-acid-rain program that exists anywhere in all of North America. One of the concerns that has been expressed, for instance, south of the border in the program that was announced, or at least being discussed, in Congress -- both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives -- was whether the rules and regulations would apply in perpetuity.
Hon Mr Bradley: I will make sure for the member for Hamilton West that all the industries that produce sulphur dioxide in Hamilton are appropriately looked after, and I know he will be very supportive of that.
We have indicated that regardless of how the economy would grow, how industrialization would grow in this province, there would not be an allowance for growth in the production of sulphur dioxide and the acid-rain-producing gases. I think we can anticipate as well that with the program we have implemented, not only will the four major polluters, which we have required to have about a two-thirds reduction by 1994, in fact meet that; I expect they will exceed that.
Mr B. Rae: I did not hear an answer to my question. Again, it is perhaps on a day like today when we reflect on our experiences here. I simply have not heard an answer to the question. I asked the minister very directly, where are the regulations that are going to give the House the assurance and the people of Ontario the knowledge that we are going to see a continuation of a reduction in acid rain emissions post-1994, regulations that will apply not only to the Big Four in terms of their emissions but to all polluters? Where are the regulations that are going to assure this House that we will continue to see a reduction in acid gas emissions post-1994?
Hon Mr Bradley: As I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition in my initial response to the question, our limits, and the American program as well, are designed to reduce the SO2 deposition to levels that will protect the resources that exist in this province, and I anticipate there will be further reductions.
Let me tell the Leader of the Opposition what is happening, for instance, in terms of Inco, which is the largest source at the present time in all of North America. At Inco, despite the fact that the member beside him shakes her head, I think she knows --
Mrs Grier: We didn’t ask about Inco. We acknowledge what Inco’s doing. We want to know what you are doing in excess of Inco.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Bradley: Let me explain what is happening at Inco. The member will recall that when I initially announced these in December 1985, in fact what happened was many of the people who were subject to the regulations said: “It’s not scientifically possible. It’s not technically possible. And even if it were, we wouldn’t have enough money to do so.” Inco, which is the largest source, is making such drastic changes in its production at this time, as we specified in the regulation, that not only will it meet the regulated limit, but we will see significant further reductions as a result of the fact that instead of simply tinkering with the operation at Inco, it has made some significant strides in changing the entire smelting operation so that it will be significantly lower in its reductions.
Mr B. Rae: Can I conclude from the non-answers the minister has given to what I have asked him that in fact the government is not prepared now to table the regulations that will deal with reductions post-1994, reductions that will deal with all the polluters in the province? Can I therefore reach the conclusion from his answers that he has no such regulations in place and that in fact he has no such plans in place? Otherwise, surely now would be the time to be releasing them.
Hon Mr Bradley: It must be a slow day over there for the opposition to deal with one of my favourite subjects, that of acid rain, where in fact we remain the leader in all of North America despite what the member happens to say and where the efforts we have made in fact have had an impact south of the border so that they are following in our footsteps.
I can tell the member, for instance, when I look at Inco, which is the largest operation, where you have a 265-kilotonne limit, that in fact the goal being set is 175 kilotonnes, which is significantly lower than the regulated limit.
Right across the province of Ontario, a regulation exists for the purpose of lowering the sulphur content in all boilers that exist in the province. In addition to that, we will have a draft regulation which will affect all air contaminants, or potential contaminants, for public comment.
I think members will find once again that it is one of the most ambitious programs anywhere in the world -- one, for instance, which in terms of percentage exceeds that of any New Democratic Party government that was ever in existence in all of Canada.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. Upon checking with the Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto today, we found that some 1,597 hospital beds are currently out of service in Metropolitan Toronto. That is out of a total of 15,500. That is, in excess of 10% of the available hospital beds in Metropolitan Toronto are out of service. We know that the minister has said on several occasions in the House that beds are no longer the benchmark of health care in Ontario, despite the fact that her Premier, during the 1987 election campaign, promised to provide 4,400 more beds. How does the minister feel that these bed closures in Metropolitan Toronto and elsewhere in the province will affect the people of Ontario?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would be very pleased to tell the member that on the advice of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy, whose work over the past two years has identified the enormous opportunities that new technologies are allowing in the provision of services in alternative ways, we accepted its recommendation to review our capital plan. We established a capital framework that acknowledged that we should focus on services, on the people rather than the name on the bed, and look at how those services could be provided in innovative and alternative ways, taking advantage of new technologies which have developed quite rapidly over the last two and a half years.
Mr Eves: I want to give the minister a specific example. It is an example that I alluded to in this Legislature on 24 April and again on 1 May. I never got a direct response to that particular situation or question on either of those dates, but I will take a chance on raising it again today, 9 May. That is the issue of the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. As was reported in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record yesterday:
“At least three suicides in Waterloo region in recent months are linked to a lack of beds at Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital, heads of the hospital’s psychiatric department say.
“In a strongly worded document, which was dated April 24, the psychiatrists expressed concern about the devastating impact bed shortages have had on the psychiatric unit. ‘The impact has been devastating. It has demoralized staff, it has placed on-call psychiatrists under tremendous stress and there have been three suicides that have been directly linked to the bed shortage.’”
What does the minister have to say about that? Does she disagree with that?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the member opposite that Ontario, as he should know, has one of the highest rates of institutional use of any jurisdiction in North America. In fact, that rate is a reflection of the outmoded and outdated policies of his party when it was in office.
Much service can be provided in alternative ways and in alternative locations. People can be provided services on an outpatient and ambulatory basis, and today people can be provided services in their home. The fact that he stands in this House day after day demanding institutionalization of people who do not want to be in institutions, who do not need to be in institutions and who would prefer to have the option and choice to have services provided in alternative ways shows how out of touch he is with the new directions and the realities of health in this province.
Mr Eves: If I were the Minister of Health, I would be ashamed to make that comment in light of the fact that three people who wanted to be institutionalized committed suicide because of her cutbacks, because they could not get treatment in her institutions, despite the fact that her Premier, who is in New York this afternoon, promised 4,400 new beds during the last election campaign and the minister has gone about and, through hospital budget cuts and limitations and elimination of deficits, cut 2.000. Now we are 6,400 beds behind where her Premier promised we would be in 1987.
There are currently over 15 people who have psychiatric problems waiting on similar waiting lists because of the shortage of beds in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, according to spokesmen at the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital. Does the minister disagree with their expertise? Does she disagree with that hospital’s demonstrated need for beds? I have asked the minister this question three times now. When is she going to give a straight answer to that specific question?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Mr Speaker, I must correct the record. There have been no cuts in hospital budgets. Every hospital budget has increased in this province. This member opposite would suggest that a 10.7% increase in the Ministry of Health budget is a cutback. That is clearly ridiculous: $6.6 billion for the hospitals of this province, an increase of 9.7% --
Mr Eves: I said cuts in deficit. Clean out your ears. You had better take the hair off your ears. You’ve eliminated the deficits and they have had to cut the beds. You don’t have the guts to tell them.
Mr Kerrio: Apologize.
Mr Eves: You apologize, to the people who are dead. There is an apology needed all right, Vince -- to the three people who are dead.
The Speaker: Order. Will the member for Parry Sound control himself or we might need more health care.
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Actually, I have doubts whether we still have a Minister of the Environment, given the lack of environmental wisdom in recent announcements by his Liberal colleagues.
We have had the Environment ministry’s budget cut by $341 million because of the new water and sewer crown corporation. The money may go to sewers for suburban sprawl rather than cleaning up our waterways. We have heard about Project X and that it is still alive, and that tells us this government still wants looser environmental controls on land development. The Premier and the minister have sounded the death knell of the environmental assessment process by exempting all interim landfill sites for the Toronto area in terms of garbage from the Environmental Assessment Act.
Does this minister agree with these decisions, which put political expediency and short-term economic interests before the health of our environment?
Hon Mr Bradley: Look at the record of this government in the field of the environment and stack it up against any other jurisdiction in North America. Ask for independent observations, not something from a partisan person -- and that is the member’s role in the House, to play a partisan role, just as when I was in opposition it was my role and responsibility to be critical. If she was to get an evaluation from those who have observed her government when it was in power for a number of years, other governments in other jurisdictions and then this government, she would recognize that the environmental protection that is taking place in this province is almost unsurpassed, that the kinds of programs we have embarked upon in this province are those which others would not dare to embark upon and that people in this province have found that we have aggressively dealt with so many of the issues that are of a historic nature and we are making some substantial progress.
All of us in this House want to make more progress. I am one of those people who does. But, for instance, when the member mentions the budget, the budget since this government has been in power has increased by over 100% in the field of the environment. This year it went up over $100 million, some 22%, and sits now at $649 million.
Mrs Marland: This minister would do well to listen to the evaluation of his government and his ministry in particular today by those people in this province who are concerned with the environment. The minister simply cannot back away from the tough questions by replaying the record of the past.
The Speaker: The question, please.
Mrs Marland: That was then and this is now. He cannot bask in his own record. All the decisions I just mentioned took place during his time as Minister of the Environment.
Let me remind the minister of another of his decisions that undermines the environment, the scrapping of the quota on refillable pop bottles. By allowing this in the name of recycling, the minister has taken another step backwards. He says pop can recycling is necessary to pay for the blue box program.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mrs Marland: My question is based on the fact that we all know many cans still end up in litter and in garbage bins. This minister knows that recycling cans is not as good for the environment as reusing bottles. Given his goals of --
The Speaker: Order. It is already the length of a member’s statement, so would you place your supplementary.
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will. Given his goals of 25% diversion by 1992 and 50% by the year 2000, why is the minister ignoring the first two Rs -- reduction and reuse -- when recycling programs have only managed to reduce waste by some 14% at the most?
Hon Mr Bradley: Once again, this government in all of those areas has moved forward rapidly, much more rapidly and much more comprehensively than others.
Interestingly enough, this question comes from the member who was chastising me in the standing committee on estimates for dropping what is referred to as the fourth R. When I said that it should be reduction, reuse and recycling, I was questioned as to why I was dropping the other one, the one that she seems to like most, recovery -- or at least at the time she indicated she was supportive of that. She got some calls between the time she started out and the next time we had a meeting, that said: “Don’t you realize what you are saying? Don’t you recognize what you are doing by asking where the fourth R is?” The fourth R is not a very popular one in the environmental field; so that was turned around.
We recognize that there are many ways of diverting waste. We are putting some $55 million into the 3Rs this year. I recognize as well that this question about environmental assessment came from a member of the party that exempted the Darlington nuclear generating station, the Pickering nuclear generating station and the Bruce nuclear generating station.
Mrs Marland: This minister is being very unfair and inaccurate. He is repeating something, and fortunately the truth lies in the Hansard of the estimates committee. Four months ago I asked him to confirm the comment that he has just repeated now, and I am very disappointed that he would repeat something that is not accurate. I think there are rules prohibiting that.
The Speaker: Do you have a supplementary?
Mrs Marland: This is based on the fact that the minister seems to have taken a back seat on all the issues involving the environment that are important to all of us, certainly the exemption of the garbage sites and the establishment of the water and sewer corporation, and the evidence is mounting that he was nowhere to be seen during the Hagersville tire fire.
My final question is this: What steps is he taking to ensure that decisions made by his colleagues are subject to strict environmental checks, so that the health of our children and the province they will inherit are protected?
Hon Mr Bradley: Of course, if the member knew about baseball, she would know that in this business you have to be not only a good pitcher but a good catcher. You recognize that when you have sat on both sides of this House.
In regard to the instances that the member has spoken to, for instance, we have in fact seen a huge increase in the budgetary commitment of this government to so many of the environmental initiatives that we have. The member, of course, likes to make reference to different things. If she wanted to find me during the Hagersville fire, she had to go to Hagersville. That is where I was: at Hagersville, not back in Toronto.
For the first time, the Premier of this province has placed the Environment minister of this province on the policy and priorities board of cabinet, the Management Board of Cabinet, the cabinet committee on economic and environmental policy and all other committees of cabinet. Therefore, there is an environmental input into all of the decisions that have been made by this government, which I think anybody in fairness --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: An independent, objective observer would certainly place a very high rating on the environmental record of this government, particularly in --
The Speaker: New question, the member for Hamilton East.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware that under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, regulation 692 on industrial establishments requires that a second person trained in the use of artificial respiration must be conveniently available when someone is working on live electrical equipment. For six years, Ontario Hydro has had a policy that in the case of electrical equipment of less than 350 volts a second person need not be available.
His ministry defends the Hydro policy in a 2 March 1990 memo given to Windsor representatives of CUPE Local 1000. Both his ministry and Hydro justify the policy saying that section 2 of regulation 692 allows for variance from its requirements. However, the equivalency section only allows for such variance in the case of the “composition, design, size and arrangement of any material object, device or thing.”
Does the minister really believe that having a second person conveniently available to give artificial respiration can be considered an “object, device or thing” and that Hydro’s policy is in line with the law of Ontario?
Hon Mr Phillips: I know that Hydro and its union are extremely sensitive to safety issues. In fact, during the last round of negotiations, if I am not mistaken, just prior to the total contract being agreed upon, some major strides were made between the union and Hydro in the safety area, including some ground-breaking areas around the right to refuse unsafe work. So I would say that both the union and the company are extremely sensitive about safety.
I am not completely aware of the specific instance that the member is referring to but, knowing both the union and the company’s track record, I would think that they would have examined it thoroughly and looked at the safety aspects. I know that our own inspectors work co-operatively with the employees and the employers to ensure safety, and I would hope that they have examined this matter thoroughly.
For the member who has now raised it, I would be happy to look further into it but, as I say, my experience with the company and the union is that they are both extremely sensitive about the safety issues.
Mr Mackenzie: The Ontario Hydro policy is a tragedy waiting to happen. Just last week I raised the case of Peter Casperson, who died by electrocution at Stelco in Hamilton. There was, unfortunately, no second person to give artificial respiration.
It appears that the main rationale for Hydro’s policy is that much of the crown corporation’s work is on equipment of less than 350 volts. What assurance will the Minister of Labour give Hydro employees, who are not happy about this, that he will enforce the existing law and not just be the servant of the largest crown corporation, Ontario Hydro?
Hon Mr Phillips: I guess I would repeat something I said earlier, and that is that I am aware of both the union’s and the company’s interest in health and safety. In the last round of negotiations, I know that was an issue of significant importance to both sides. There were some ground-breaking agreements made between the two parties in that area.
I would repeat what I said, that I would be happy to look into the specifics that the member has raised and just assure the members that the workers indeed do have the right, if they see a danger, to refuse to do that work. As we move into Bill 208, we will expand some of the protections for workers that will be of further assistance to them, I would hope and I would expect that no worker is being put at risk or danger and that both the company and the union would ensure that this in fact happens.
The Speaker: Before I recognize the next question, I am advised that the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues has a response to a question posed yesterday by the member for Burlington South.
Hon Mrs Wilson: Yesterday, in response to a question, I committed to report to this House with regard to a mailing that went out from my ministry, from the Ontario women’s directorate.
A Purolator courier picked up about 40 envelopes from the Ontario women’s directorate last Thursday afternoon by mistake. All of those 40 envelopes were empty and were unsealed. They were in fact in the process of being prepared for a mailing which would have taken place this week. Upon my staff realizing that those envelopes had gone out in error, the courier company was telephoned and the mistake brought to their attention.
They in fact had realized that they had made the mistake. There will be no cost to the taxpayers of Ontario. The courier company has agreed to pick up whatever cost there may have been.
I would just repeat that those envelopes went out by mistake. The courier company has agreed to pick up any cost that have may have been made to them. There will be no cost to the taxpayers of the province.
Mr Jackson: I would ask the minister to continue her investigations. The groups that received these envelopes received them last week and she is informing the House that yesterday the courier picked up the envelopes, I would ask the minister to look into it.
Hon Mrs Wilson: Perhaps the member opposite misunderstood. The envelopes were in fact picked up by the courier last Thursday afternoon. It was Friday morning when the courier realized the mistake. Those envelopes were in the midst of being prepared for a mailing that would have taken place this week. In fact, they were picked up by the courier in error last Thursday.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mr Jackson: I have a question to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for women’s issues. Yesterday, in the House, the minister made a statement that her government was allocating $2.2 million for expansion of shelters for victims of domestic violence. What was missing in the minister’s statement was an acknowledgement that the federal government for two years had been offering the minister and her government over $11 million for capital and operating grants in order to make the expansion of these badly needed shelter beds.
In her statement yesterday, the minister did include the following -- I am quoting the press release – “I, as the minister, want to ensure that Ontario will stay a leader among provinces and territories in addressing the issue of wife assault.”
How can the minister make a statement like that, which is to be considered quite clearly contradictory and inaccurate, in light of the fact that six provinces in Canada not only have received their money, but they have actually built the shelters and have victims already in them? Why is it that Ontario is the last province in all of Canada to access this fund, which has been available for two years? How can the minister make that contradictory statement?
Hon Mrs Wilson: This government is committed to ensuring safety for victims of wife assault. There are currently 81 transition houses for battered women and their children in this province. This government, as part of its long-term strategy to address the issue of wife assault, committed to first stabilizing funding to the existing shelters. I am confident that, with an increase in funding to those existing shelters of some 177%, their needs are well taken care of, their funding has stabilized and we are now ready to move into phase two of our strategy, which is to access the federal funds to build some nine new shelters in communities across the province not currently served by shelters for their battered women.
Mr Jackson: The truth is that this is not a social priority for this government; it is an election priority. Ontario is the last province in Canada to access this fund. Every government in Canada, including the federal government, has stated that this is a priority. The victimization in domestic violence is severe out there.
The fact is that there is something else the minister left out of her statement. She is putting up $2.2 million; but municipalities -- in fact, nine of them in this province -- will have to put up almost $1.5 million in operating grants in order to make this a reality.
My question to the minister is this: If she is convinced that she is providing this national leadership -- and she is the only one, I am quite convinced, who is convinced that she is providing it -- if she is committed to expanding these beds as quickly as possible, will she announce today in the House which are the nine communities that will be expanded? Will the minister announce it today and not during an election? Will she prove that she is committed and tell us which are the nine communities?
The Speaker: The question was well put.
Hon Mrs Wilson: May I just make very clear that this government has developed a long-term, co-ordinated, comprehensive strategy to deal with the many issues that surround wife assault. The provision of shelter beds is one of the very important services which are part of that initiative. We have now used the federal funds, some $7 million, from Project Haven.
Yesterday the member opposite was confused about that funding in thinking that in some way the province of Ontario was not accessing the full federal funds that are available. But I can assure the member opposite that this government will access every federal dollar that is available, some $7 million from Project Haven. Combined with the operating funding from the province, we will provide some nine new shelters across the province.
We are reviewing with the Ministry of Community and Social Services right now the communities most in need of these services. Once those decisions have been made, we will be pleased to make those announcements. I know from the calls I received yesterday, communities across the province and Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses are very committed to the initiatives of this government and actually very --
The Speaker: Thank you. The member for Simcoe Centre with a new question.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation. In my riding of Simcoe Centre there are several major highways that carry heavy traffic from the Metropolitan Toronto area to cottage country throughout the warm months of the year and especially on weekends and holidays. Because at certain times of the year our highways become congested, the travellers turn to our county and township roads. What we are finding is that they are not respecting the slower-moving agricultural vehicles that are on the county and township roads. They start to compete with each other to use these other more-removed roads.
I am wondering if the minister could recommend any way of warning the drivers of the presence of the slower-moving agricultural vehicles. Are signs available? Can something be done before there is a serious accident?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member asks a very good question because it is not an issue that is being faced in his riding alone. In fact, the Farm Safety Association has recognized the problem and has made plans to launch a province-wide billboard campaign, I believe, later this month on selected roads in mainly agricultural areas of the province. I am pleased to report to the honourable member that my ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food have jointly gone together to provide some of the funding for that billboard campaign. It is an issue that is an increasingly serious one in the province and we hope this billboard campaign will be able to partially address it.
Mr Owen: I have been approached by individual farmers about this problem and I have been approached by the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture about it. They tell me that drivers simply do not know how to cope with the agricultural vehicles on the road. I am wondering if the minister could introduce some public awareness or maybe some driver training approach, either when they are taking their training or at the licensing stage. Can something be brought to the attention of these young people who are learning to drive that these vehicles are there and they also have a right to be on those roads?
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member knows, of course, that there is a slow-moving-vehicle sign and that indeed the issue is referenced in the Driver’s Handbook. However, my officials have given me assurance that in the next revision of the handbook there will be some upgrading of the recognition of this, as the problem -- as the honourable member and his constituents so correctly point out -- is one that is growing and that we are concerned about.
The member for Simcoe Centre raises a good suggestion as well, that throughout some of the other offices of the ministry we might put together publicity material that might raise the awareness of new drivers, and indeed of all drivers, on this growing issue. It is certainly a very worthwhile suggestion and I will give the member a commitment that we will take a very careful look at it.
SAULT STE MARIE LOCKS
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. The minister would know that the Sault Ste Marie locks are a vitally important tourist attraction and are of historical significance. In northern Ontario, the Sault locks in particular are vitally important to ensure that tourists from the American side, at the important crossing of Sault Ste Marie, do cross into Sault in Canada. They have historically been one of the two major tourist attractions in that area.
The Canadian locks have now been out of operation for more than two years. Efforts are under way involving the federal government and the private sector to put together a proposal to restore the Canadian Sault locks. I would like the minister to commit his ministry to supporting that and to being financially involved in ensuring that this important tourist attraction continues to be an important part of tourism in northern Ontario. Will the minister so commit his office?
Hon Mr Black: The member would be well aware of the fact that the Sault locks are the responsibility of the federal government. Having said that, we have met two or three times during the past few months with individuals from Sault Ste Marie who have a particular interest in getting the Canadian locks in operation again. The proposals I have looked at have been general proposals without any specific details attached to them, and at our last meeting I indicated to the representatives from the Sault with whom I was talking that when they had a specific proposal to make, we would be happy to meet with them and discuss it in more detail.
Mr Morin-Strom: The minister should know that formal proposals are being requested in the Sault area for redevelopment of the Sault locks and that it is anticipated developers will be proposing a major tourist attraction be developed in conjunction with the lock. The federal government has committed some $5 million to restoration and renewal of the lock itself. Would the minister commit to a comparable sum of funds from the provincial government to support a major private development tourist operation on the site of the Sault Ontario locks?
Hon Mr Black: Let me say to the member for Sault Ste Marie and to the people of Sault Ste Marie that this government has always been willing to look at things that promote tourism in the Sault area or in any other part of northern Ontario. We believe very firmly that we need more attractions in that part of the province and we are willing to look, as I have said, at any proposal that comes forward. However, I will not commit until I have had an opportunity to look at the details of such a proposal. I am sure the member would not want me to do that without giving it very careful consideration.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Is it the intention of the ministry to proceed with privatization of Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores by expanding the agency store concept and closing D stores?
Hon Mr Sorbara: The answer is no; once again, the answer is no.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I appreciate that on behalf of the many stores in rural Ontario, but the managers and employees are quite concerned that the ministry is cutting the stocks of the stores. It is my understanding it is reducing some of them by 50 per cent. If the ministry cuts the stock, it will also cut the sales. Then will the government use the excuse that they are no longer creating enough sales to warrant being kept open?
Hon Mr Sorbara: In politics as in everything else, there develops periodically a variety of urban rumours, and sometimes rural rumours, that just seem to pop up every now and again. I remember, when I was a kid, that the urban rumour about the government raising the driving age to 18 was there; everyone who was 15 years old heard that urban rumour. The privatization of the LCBO is yet another urban rumour.
The member for Wellington suggests that stock reductions are being made as a strategy to phase out stores. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Let me tell members the retail strategy of the LCBO; it is to ensure that every community is served as effectively as possible with two main points at the front of the priority agenda. The first is customer service, to have a wide range of products available that are desired in the community. The second is socially responsible distribution of beverage alcohol.
If a store needs to be expanded, it will be expanded as the community grows. Indeed, if a store is not the beneficiary of a lot of business, obviously in the fullness of time that store’s stock would be reduced if products are not being bought, and if there is no business at all, the store would be closed.
The rumour about privatization is just that.
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Labour. People in my riding are very interested in improving the benefits package for part-time workers. As the minister knows, many of these workers are women, and the lack of vacation or holiday time is especially hard on them, not to mention the fact that few part-timers share in company pensions or dental plans.
My question to the minister is this: Is he looking at this problem, and is he planning to address it in a comprehensive way as soon as possible?
Hon Mr Phillips: I appreciate the question because it is a matter of some considerable interest, I know, to the member. I think the first thing I would say is that we should be aware that a number of protections for part-time workers already exist in both the Employment Standards Act and our pay equity legislation. Some feel that the pay equity legislation does not cover part-time workers. In fact, it does. In our Employment Standards Act we cover minimum wage and vacation pay, and there are some pension benefits covered. Having said that, there are still some areas where part-time workers are not covered under our Employment Standards Act, on things like pay for public holidays and the benefits he speaks about.
In answer to his question, we are reviewing, as I have mentioned in the House before, the entire Employment Standards Act. We will be issuing a green paper this year on the Employment Standards Act, and one of the areas that I think all of us have an interest in is, should we be enhancing the protection available to part-time workers under that act? So two things: There are a number of things covered currently, and we are looking at additional areas.
Mr Daigeler: I certainly look forward very much to the publication of this green paper. I understand the member for Beaches-Woodbine, I am sure, is equally interested in receiving this paper as soon as possible.
The claim is sometimes made that large companies are deliberately hiring part-time and seasonal workers to bypass having to pay benefit packages to their employees. Is there any evidence for this allegation, or is it more that the hiring of part-time workers relates to either personal working preferences or the economic climate that business faces?
Hon Mr Phillips: The members might be interested to know that about 15 years ago around 11% of our jobs in this province were part-time jobs. That number now is around 16%. So as the member has quite correctly pointed out, the numbers are increasing.
I think that is a function of several things. I understand about a third of these part-time employees are students. Our service sector is increasing quite significantly as a percentage of jobs, and it happens that there is a significant number of these part-time jobs in the service sector. In fact, a little more than 85% of our part-time jobs are in the service sector. I think there is some evidence as well that there are individuals who like to have the flexibility of not necessarily working full-time.
Those would be three reasons. I cannot rule out, although I do not know, the possibility that some organizations also look to part-time workers to provide them with cheaper labour costs. It is one of the concerns that was raised by the Treasurer in his budget, ensuring that as we look ahead in this province we have quality jobs. As I say, I cannot tell the member the specific reasons, but those are four things that may be contributing to it.
Mrs Grier: My question is to the Minister of the Environment. All across the province communities are preparing waste management plans and preparing themselves for environmental assessment hearings. There have so far been two landfill sites subject to environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act, one in Halton and one in North Simcoe.
In the case of North Simcoe, a joint board rejected the application for a number of reasons and I would like to just quote to the minister two of the sentences from that decision. The board found “that the proponent’s environmental assessment lacks the basic combination of reasonableness, consistency and systematic approach” and said, “An environmental assessment must not only come to a conclusion as to the suitability of the undertaking, but must also demonstrate how the proponent arrived at it.”
Can the minister tell us whether he agrees with the decision of the joint board in that case?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member would know, the matter comes to what is called the cabinet committee on legislation and a decision is rendered then. Since it is going through that appeal process at this time, I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment until such time as the cabinet has dealt with that appeal process.
Mrs Grier: My question was more directed to the generality of how subsection 5(3) of the Environmental Assessment Act is to operate, because I am sure the minister shares my concern and the concern of the people of North Simcoe that if in fact cabinet overturns this decision, it would be a travesty and an undermining of the Environmental Assessment Act.
I want to quote to the minister from a letter written by the member for London Centre when he was Leader of the Opposition and was commenting on an application for a landfill site in Salford in the county of Oxford. He was opposing the intervention of the cabinet of the day and said, “It is a travesty of the system to have the hearing process with expert testimony overturned by politicians in cabinet who know very little about the issue.”
Does the minister agree with the conclusions of his leader, now Premier, that politicians in cabinet who know very little about the details of the issue should not overturn decisions of a joint board?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member knows, legislation in the province of Ontario provides for an appeal to cabinet of decisions of this kind, because ultimately they are the people who are elected and the people who must defend such positions, whatever the position might be in terms of an appeal. I suspect as well that although the member and I would, by and large, say that the decisions of boards should be sustained in principle, she would not want to be placed in a position where any decision at all made by a joint board was a decision that would finally stand. I think she would agree with the need for an appeal process.
I know that the legislation committee of cabinet carefully considers any and all matters that come to it, that it looks exceedingly carefully at all of the arguments that are marshalled on either side, and that ultimately a decision is rendered based on that. I can assure the member that whenever cabinet considers any appeal, that always takes place. Each and every member of the cabinet looks very carefully at all of these to determine what is most appropriate in terms of a final answer. The member knows that in a democratic system it is essential that be the case.
Mr Villeneuve: I have question for the Minister of Culture and Communications. In the Ministry of Culture and Communications’ publication released today, A Vision of Heritage, the minister’s goals are great: “To foster awareness that our heritage is vital...to strengthen provincial government leadership in conserving Ontario’s heritage; to empower Ontario’s communities to undertake high-quality heritage conservation.” Great statements. The Capitol Action Group in Cornwall will welcome these very much.
Is the minister aware that the Premier is totally ignoring requests to not destroy or dismantle the Capitol Theatre in Cornwall? Would she not, as a matter of principle and of provincial issue, commit the province to not building on or occupying the site of the Capitol Theatre if indeed it is torn down?
Hon Ms Hart: I thank the member for the opportunity to discuss the Capitol Theatre in Cornwall. The member may not be aware that I had a telephone call yesterday from two members of the committee he suggests, I believe. They were very concerned, as are others and particularly my colleague the member for Cornwall, that the local government perhaps is not fully appreciative of the fact that there are programs under the Ministry of Culture and Communications that deal with heritage and heritage preservation. In fact, they asked me to write a letter to the mayor and council to indicate that those programs are certainly available.
Having said that, I intend to carry through on that, but I would indicate to the member that I am very reluctant to interfere in a choice of what a community wishes to preserve and what it does not. It seems to me that the people living in the community are in the best position to know exactly what they would like to go to bat to preserve.
Mr Villeneuve: The minister may not be aware that on 15 June there is a hearing scheduled to look into the possibility of turning the Capitol into a national heritage site. Would she ensure in the correspondence that she sends to the mayor and council of Cornwall that she would like at least to protect this building until such time as these people have had a chance to look at and assess the possibility of leaving the building there, building the provincial building around it and using the facilities as part of a heritage structure that, I believe, the majority of the people of Cornwall want to see in place?
Hon Ms Hart: What I can say to the member opposite is that I and my ministry are very interested in heritage preservation, as he heard from the announcement today. I have said I will write the letter, and I will also indicate, as I am prepared to do to the member today, that my ministry and the government will do everything possible to assist the community in making its decision to preserve the Capitol Theatre.
Mr Kanter: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services about efforts to save the reception class at Huron public school in my riding. This class provides support and security for children living at four transition houses near the school. The minister will recall that I wrote to him about this matter on 2 April and spoke to him about it several times subsequently. Can he advise whether ministry staff have had an opportunity to consult with various parties to look at options for continuing this program, which is very badly needed by the children at Huron public school?
Hon Mr Beer: I want to thank the honourable member for the question and also for his ongoing involvement in this particular issue. I am pleased to tell him that earlier this week a meeting was held with the Earlscourt Child and Family Centre, Huron public school and other representatives with an interest in this particular issue. We will be able to ensure, through the Earlscourt organization, that a child care worker will be available and that the program at the Huron public school will be able to continue next year.
I would like to thank all those who have been involved in this. We want to ensure that this kind of program can continue because it serves an extremely good purpose in assisting those children from the transition houses.
Mr Kanter: I would like to thank the minister for his investigation of this matter and for the very successful outcome, which is successful both for the children in the program and the community at large. I think this is an excellent example of a successful resolution of a community problem, not one that was caused by the minister or the ministry but, rather, one that was resolved by the ministry. I want to compliment the minister for his success in that regard.
However, could the minister explain for all interested members the importance of this type of program, which integrates different services to best assist children in transition houses?
Hon Mr Beer: I think it is important to recognize that during the discussion of this particular issue there were some problems that people were trying to wrestle with honestly and openly. It is because of that this particular program has been continued. What we recognize is so vital with this program is that it brings together a number of the organizations that are active in the children’s services sector. Here we have a case of a school, a children’s mental health centre, transition houses, social workers, all coming together within the school setting, and I believe this is the kind of approach we are going to see increasingly.
Members will recall that in the report of the select committee on education about a year or so ago one of the key recommendations was that we have to see within the school system more representatives from the health and social service sectors, and I think this is the kind of program that shows how that can work and work very well.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. I presume the minister is aware that Seneca College has decided to close the Seneca lab school day care on its campus, thereby shutting down a facility that is of enormous importance to early childhood education students as well as to the people who go to Seneca College. As I understand it, this will be the first college without a day care facility on its campus as a result.
What kind of intervention will the minister make on behalf of his government to make sure that the same principle that applies for his elementary schools should apply to colleges as well, that child care should be available on those campuses, especially where we are actually educating early childhood educators?
Hon Mr Conway: I am aware of the situation at Seneca. It is my understanding that they are acting within their responsibilities. I was just looking for my note, Mr Speaker, and I can assure my honourable friend that my staff is reviewing the matter. Perhaps it would be prudent of me, since I cannot seem to locate my note, to simply take this as notice and get back to my honourable friend.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON REGULATIONS AND PRIVATE BILLS
Mr Callahan from the standing committee on regulations and private bills presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:
Bill Pr43, An Act respecting the City of Brampton;
Bill Pr63, An Act respecting the Victoria County Railway Company Limited;
Bill Pr72, An Act to revive Silayan Filipino Community Centre.
Your committee begs to report the following bill as amended:
Bill Pr64, An Act to revive the Ontario Skeet Shooting Association.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
OTTAWA ARTS CENTRE FOUNDATION ACT, 1990
Mr Grandmaître moved first reading of Bill Pr4l, An Act respecting Ottawa Arts Centre Foundation.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
TIME ALLOCATION (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to government notice of motion 30 on time allocation in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance.
The Speaker: Mr Runciman adjourned the debate. He is not here. The Minister of Financial Institutions.
Hon Mr Elston: It has been some time since we have been able to speak about this matter from this side of the House, and it is an important piece of legislation. There is no one in this chamber who can downplay the importance of this new initiative. There is among us none who would suggest that this is not a change in the way business is done with respect to insurance in the province of Ontario. There is none who would argue that there are substantial changes to be made and changes that have to be made if there is going to be a balance in terms of the benefits that are to be delivered to the victims of accidents at a price which is reasonable and responds to the needs of the consuming public of Ontario to have a product that it can afford to purchase. There is no question that the way people will now be able to shop for their insurance product will be different.
Hon Mr Elston: There is no question that the yammering from the member for Welland-Thorold will not cease, that he will try to barrack and prevent us from putting our points on the record, that after his 17-hour assault on the sensibilities of the province, of the members of the House and the assault on the democratic process of that member --
The Deputy Speaker: Will the member withdraw --
Mr Pouliot: My colleague is in line.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Would the member please withdraw that remark?
Mr Kormos: I did not make a remark.
The Deputy Speaker: Could the members please respect the standing orders? Do you have a point of order?
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would ask that the minister withdraw his comments whereby he indicated that my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold had been subverting the parliamentary and democratic system. That is implying motives. It is inappropriate. The discussion that he engaged in was most appropriate for the parliamentary system and it is not appropriate for the minister to put any label on that whatsoever or say that is not in line with the standing orders. He cannot use that kind of language, and I would ask you to ask him to withdraw it.
The Deputy Speaker: Minister, did you use these words?
Mr D. S. Cooke: The minister cannot question his motives.
Hon Mr Elston: I was not questioning his motives. I identified the fact that there is an assault on the democratic process.
Mr Speaker, I will withdraw anything that offends the honourable gentleman across the way. I do not want to get engaged in this and hold up the debate as they have done in the last while. I will withdraw the things that irritate the gentleman, even if they are true.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Would members please calm down. Minister, did you use these words; yes or no?
Hon Mr Elston: I will withdraw whatever it is that offended them.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I am not going to play games with this. He said that he withdrew them and then he said, “Even if they are true.” He cannot question the motives of my colleague the member for Welland-Thorold.
The Deputy Speaker: In that case, Minister, would you please withdraw these allegations.
Hon Mr Elston: I withdraw.
I will identify the fact that I have been prevented from speaking to this issue now for fully more than a month in this Legislature, and I cannot but think that is unfair, that in fact it is not the intention of the chamber to prevent the minister or any member of the government party from putting forward a balanced and weighed vision of the legislation.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I have been trying all along to get the members to respect the standing orders when any member is speaking. It does not matter who is speaking; I want the standing orders respected, please.
Hon Mr Elston: We have a continuation of a discussion which started more than a month ago. I have not been able to put my points on the floor of the House, even though there have been outrageous claims made by the two members who have spoken, one from each of the official opposition party and the third party, outrageous claims about what has occurred with respect to the members of this party.
The fact that the member vilified the activities of the members who sat as government members on the committee was something that in fact I have not before seen in this House in the manner displayed, and he asked me to withdraw some indication that I thought it was not an appropriate use of this forum in the manner that he has used this forum. I find that very difficult to accept.
I find it equally difficult to accept that I have had to listen, over the last two or three days, to all of the interventions of the member for Leeds-Grenville where he indeed attacked the individuals who sat as government members on the committee, fairly being present to listen to the presentations that were being made by concerned people who came in front of the committee, and they listened with patience. They were available to be attentive to the questions which were put to the individual witnesses.
That some of the questions and some of the interventions of the representative of the official opposition were, by any measurement, unusual, to use a kind phrase, is clear by reading the Hansard. Some of the things that were said about the witnesses by the member for Welland-Thorold were not only unkind but were uncalled for.
In this building we have a code of conduct which was not and has not been upheld. This has not become a place where we can put our points and counterpoints in a way which would allow the people of the province of Ontario to weigh the differences of opinion that we hold. I do not for a moment try to tell people in the province that there are not people who disagree with me. People will disagree with the initiatives of government, people will disagree with the interjections from the official opposition, people will disagree with the member for Sarnia who, as interim leader, has so well led his party. That is the nature of our business.
We have a duty, however, to move in a manner in which the points can be placed and can be answered. Yes, some people will not agree that the answer is as full or as complete as they may wish to have, but that is no reason why an important piece of legislation, with important principles and with important objectives, brought in front of the Legislative Assembly, should be held without debate, without resolution over more than a month.
The process in this House is well known. We have first reading, second reading, committee, committee of the whole if required, and it is not always required. In fact, it is not often required to come back to committee of the whole House for bills, then to go into third reading.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Elston: It is highly unusual to have the types of speeches that were engaged in when committee of the whole started to hear again the first sections of a bill which had been in committee between the adjournment of the House and the recalling of the House, between January and February.
It seems to me that when we started out with section 1, the member for Welland-Thorold asked his first pertinent question, like -- the people will probably be able to read it in Hansard for themselves -- ”What is an accountant?” After that particular section had been addressed in full, and in fact 56 other sections had been addressed in full and covered in debate and had issues resolved in front of the committee before it came back here, his action was very clear to everybody. He had no intention of moving the debate forward. In fact, that was well described by his colleague the member for Algoma when he said they had one objective and that was to prevent this bill from being passed.
I do not disagree with the fact that the members from the loyal opposition have a point of view about requiring the government, in their view, to have only public ownership of the insurance industry. They are fully entitled to their view. It is a view to which the Liberal Party does not subscribe and we have a difference of opinion. But when there were differences of opinion, even in their own caucus, the interventions such as we were sustaining here in this House would not have been tolerated by a reasonable chairman in their caucus meetings. They would not have allowed the person to go on without allowing somebody else in their own caucus to debate the issues that they have to deal with. I cannot believe for a moment that they do not disagree internally and I do not believe for a moment that they think they can come into this House and hold up the debate on the bill and prevent it from being passed just because they do not agree with us.
There is no question but that these people really are not happy with the legislation. I admit that and I admit to the people of the province of Ontario that there are individuals in this province and people who are members of associations in this province who do not agree with the way in which we have put this bill together. But let me assure the people in Ontario that this was not a piece of legislation that came together lightly; the decisions about the balance required were not taken on the moment. In fact, the deliberations took place over weeks and months as we examined all of the material that came forward.
We did not have to just examine the presentations from the Committee for Fair Action in Insurance Reform, as perhaps the opposition paid more attention to. They did not have to go through all of the presentations in the manner we did. They did not have to survey all of the material that was brought forward. They have relied upon their favourite pieces, and that is okay because it allows them to make their points, but they do not fully explain the entire process to people.
For instance, the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale makes great volume about the minister not being in committee. As long as I have been in this House, it has been appropriate for the parliamentary assistant to the minister to attend the committee. I happen to have a very good assistant in the member for Guelph, well able to put forward the arguments in a rational and sensible fashion while able to represent the government of this province in a way in which all of us are proud. There is not anybody who questions the ability of that member to be able to represent the position of the government on this bill and he has done so with reason and with integrity.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Elston: What was it the opposition did? They tried to make the point that there was no provision, or at least they allowed the inference to be taken from their remarks that there was no provision, for the minister to be represented in committee and somehow it was inappropriate for me to be represented by my parliamentary assistant. That is not true. The way this government works is that there is a sharing of the responsibilities among all of the people in our caucus. We work well together and we share in the workload, and I am proud to be able to call the member for Guelph my assistant and, in fact, one of my closest and best colleagues in this House.
I am proud to say that, despite the interventions from the member for Leeds-Grenville, I am very proud indeed of the manner in which the Liberal members on the committee received and entertained the representations of the witnesses in front of the committees. The types of comments that we had to listen to were, in my view, not appropriate. If I had more time -- and we run short of time even in today’s schedule because of special circumstances -- I would have gone, item by item, over the contributions of each of the members of our committee, just to take exception to the types of reviews which were given by the member for Leeds-Grenville.
You might have noted, Mr Speaker, that he held a sign up here the other day in the House which had “Chris Ward” on it. That sign identified the member for Wentworth North, and I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that I have nothing but the highest regard for the member for Wentworth North. He and I have worked together in this House for more than five years now, and he has shown an exceptional ability to carry on the business of the government with dispatch. I cannot for a moment countenance the types of interventions that came to us from that member.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Hon Mr Elston: Those interventions perhaps had a purpose. I do not know, nor will I give to any of them the time which I would have liked, but perhaps they were merely made so that we would have a longer speech. Perhaps the member for Leeds-Grenville, for whom I have a great deal of admiration at times, would come and apologize to our members after the fact. I cannot believe that he would hold personally the types of representations that he made in the manner that they were made.
Let me talk about the no-fault legislation, Mr Speaker. We have been talking about the no-fault legislation since I first made it public in September 1989. It was introduced in the House in October 1989. We talked about it on second reading. In fact, it went out to committee in December 1989. It went into committee and stayed in committee from December 1989 until the middle of February 1990.
We visited a number of communities around the province. We heard representations from a number of people who talked about their concerns with the bill. In fact, although there are some who would say there was nobody there who supported us but the insurance industry, that of course is not the case. There are people who are identified in Hansard; there are individuals who showed at the committee that they supported the concept. They may have had disagreements with one particular point here or another particular point there in the entire program, but, in balance, they would support the program, and in fact they have made some suggestions about change which we accepted.
We did not change the threshold. The member for Welland-Thorold would be concerned that we change the threshold, but we have not changed the threshold. But we did change the weekly benefits from $450 to $600. We did change the monthly allotment available for long-term care to $3,000 per month. We did take into consideration the fact that some people thought that our threshold was perhaps too strict.
But when we took a look at all of the material which was available for us, we had to make the balanced decision. We had to make the decision that there was value for the money that the people were paying, that in fact the people could afford to pay for the product.
It makes no sense for those individuals to say that we were in committee without support. It is not true. There is not unanimous support for this legislation; I agree with that. Why is there not unanimous legislation? There is not unanimous legislation because we changed substantially the way that we do business for auto insurance in the province of Ontario. There will be a reduction in the use of the courts, and that is clear, I do not dispute that at all. But in terms of the amount of dislocation that is caused by this new legislation, we perhaps will have to take with a grain of salt some of the predictions that they have made in the opposition party.
I am clearly of the view that we must go forward with this legislation in a timely fashion. We have already seen a substantial amount of time slip by while some members spoke at length.
I want to ensure that we have the understanding in the province that this is not by itself just a bill that deals with auto insurance; that it does not just deal with no-fault benefits, which are at the level of $600 per week, tax-free; that it is not just a reimbursement for child care costs, at $50 per child per week for a limit of four; that this is not just an increase in the benefit for supplementary medical and rehabilitation insurance costs; that this is not just a bill which allows for the introduction, for the first time ever, of long-term care under no-fault benefits; but that this bill goes further and provides benefits, for the first time, on a weekly benefit basis for seniors, for students, for the unemployed and for the unpaid homemaker.
In that latter category, before, there was some $70 a week allocated for the individual who did not work for remuneration outside the home. We have increased that to say that they should be treated better. We have increased the benefits in the sad case where there are deaths occurring. The death benefit has been increased and funeral expenses have been increased. Unfortunately, those items must be addressed, because we recognize that inevitably we will have to deal with the problems that come from the most severe of those accidents.
For the most severely injured in this province, there is no change. Those people will be able to go to the courts of this province and be able to seek relief as they now do, with one important exception: Instead of trying to subsist on a paltry $140 per week as they process their litigation through the courts, they will have $600 a week or whatever it is they are reimbursed for their earned wages; they will have long-term care available, if that is required; they will have supplementary medical, and they will have rehabilitative costs paid. They will be sustained in a way which will allow them to prosecute their litigation to the fullest. We have a much fairer plan here than was the case before.
When those people objected about moving from the system that we now have, did any of those people bring forward the cases in which people were disadvantaged? They refuse to acknowledge that there are dislocations. They were not even able to come forward and identify the fact that the no-fault benefits have been universally seen in this province as too low. They have not come forward to indicate that there are people in this province who have been disadvantaged by the process in front of our courts.
People have been disadvantaged under the tort law system, make no mistake. There have been individuals who have been injured severely in this province and have not been able to recover. There have been people who recovered amounts of money that were then taken and applied to costs associated with litigation, associated with the recovery, and ended up with virtually nothing.
Those problems were not identified by the people. They left the impression that there were no problems to be addressed under our tort law system. They left the impression that there was a Utopia from which we were moving. It is not the case. That is what they tried to make people believe, and they spoke at length, much too long, about all the good attributes of the current system, without balancing it against the people who had been disadvantaged, without telling people the full story and without telling people that there was, through no-fault benefits, a better system at hand.
I think I would feel more difficult about putting this program forward if there was no way that a resolution to disputes for those less seriously injured people could be addressed. There will be a forum when there is disagreement about those people who receive no-fault benefits and the level at which they are given. They will not have to go to the courts, because there will be mediation and arbitration established under the provisions of the legislation which comes forward here. There will be a quicker resolution of the difficulties between company and insured. There will be an independent commissioner who will act with dispatch to allow resolution in an inexpensive forum of disputes about the moneys owing and there will be an independent commissioner who will act on behalf of the consumers to institute the very new and firm consumer protection laws that are covered in this bill.
Did the people over there, in mounting opposition, in their day-after-day debate -- what they called debate -- talk about the consumer protections that are in this bill? No. And do members know why? They did not want to provide the balance that is required to give a reasonable assessment of this legislation.
They spent a lot of time talking about the fact that the Treasurer of this province and this government no longer will tax the premiums which are to be paid by the drivers of the province. The current method is to put 3% on top of the premium that is charged to the driver. That money is then passed through to the consolidated revenue fund. That will not happen any more. Under the auspices of this, the premium tax will not be charged, and that is reasonable. Anything we can do to provide a more reasonable-cost product I think is an initiative worth taking.
We are not just dealing here with auto insurance. The people do not talk about the other initiatives which are also accompanying this piece of legislation. They are not talking about the reform to the tort system to allow a more reasonable method of resolving disputes with respect to interest to be charged prejudgement or the process that is to be streamlined, as the Attorney General has done. He had two pieces of legislation passed last October.
They have not talked about the initiatives against drunk drivers. They have not talked about the initiatives we have taken to reduce speeding on the highways. They have not talked about the initiatives that we have implemented to allow safer use of our highways in the very busy areas of this great province.
I would like to have spoken at length about those. I would like to have talked about the fact that we will allow persons who have a bad driver in their family to exclude that driver from the use of their vehicles and, as a result, pay not for the bad driver’s record but pay premiums on the basis of their own driving record. I would like to have gone through a whole series of items, but I have been prevented from addressing those.
I have not been able to pursue the right that I have to answer the questions which have been levelled against us by the member for Welland-Thorold and by the member for Leeds-Grenville, I would love to have provided the answers, because we have the balanced answers. We have replies, but we saw in the beginning of the debate in committee of the whole House a concerted effort not only to slow down the debate but to prevent it.
All they have to do is go to the remarks of the member for Algoma. He made it clear in this House as the member for Welland-Thorold embarked upon his first few sentences, virtually, that they were going to do everything in their power to prevent the passage of this bill, and in fact that representation made in this House by that member confirmed and verified what was said outside the House by any number of those New Democrats who said this is, in their view, not the way to go.
They want to have a nationalized insurance industry. Nothing is better than the public ownership of almost every means of production as far as they are concerned. They do not talk about that as much as they used to because they are looking for new platforms, more balance, but that is where they are. They want to have a public system, and that is okay. That is okay for the socialists, but that is not what we have in this place. In this bill we have chosen another option, which we think is balanced and which provides us with the best benefits and the best relief under the circumstances.
We have gone on and on in this House about the various concerns, about being unable to process other legislation. There are problems associated with the long debate on this, because it holds up other important initiatives that this government has in mind.
It seems to me that when we come to the end of the day, people will find this a reasonable, balanced approach. When you couple the insurance bill, Bill 68, with the initiatives dealing with consumer protection, motorist protection through Ministry of Transportation, protections and initiatives that are sought through the introduction of enforced speeding laws by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, by seatbelt enforcement and other things, the people will see that this is a comprehensive program to deal with the real problem, which is the increased accident rate.
We cannot feel successful if we are unable to remove, as much as possible, the difficulties of driving on our roads. We must reduce the accident rate. Unfortunately, we recognize that there will be some accidents, and this is a balanced approach to making sure that we can help those people who are really disadvantaged by the accident result.
I am sad that we were unable to engage in real debate as we came to committee of the whole House. I am saddened that I was unable to reply to the questions which were brought forward. I am saddened that the members of the Liberal Party were unable as individuals to reply to the types of allegations which were made by the two opposition parties in an unfair and unreasonable manner, because they are reasonable, honest, decent people.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The minister is indicating that he would like to have heard from more Liberal members during this debate. I can speak on behalf of my caucus and I think the Tory caucus would agree that we would, by unanimous consent, agree to listen to the member for Windsor-Walkerville on this important issue.
The Speaker: I cannot see any point of order. The minister may continue.
Hon Mr Elston: Again they play games -- anything they can do to extend the time, anything they can do to waste time they stand up and grandstand about, and they barrack and heckle. They try to prevent us from putting the balanced view, but the time has come to move forward.
There is a great deal of information to be given to the people of the province. There is a great deal of work to be done to implement a fair system for the people of the province. There is a great deal of work to be done to get the results of this introduction of this bill, which is to find that, on average, increases for premiums in areas outside the large urban centres will be zero and inside the urban centres, on average, 8%. When they talk about some people receiving high increases, they forget to tell the people that when there is an average, there will be people who get decreases, decreases to match.
There is not any question that a new system will require adjustment for everybody who is in the system. But for those people to hold on to the hope that they will frustrate for ever the introduction of this legislation is not reasonable. It is not reasonable in the system in which we find ourselves. I think it is time for us to move forward. It is time for us to deal in a rational manner in committee of the whole.
We could have spent more time in those places if those people had spoken reasonably. But we knew what they were doing, and there is no question that when the people read the Hansard of the 17-hour stretch when the member for Welland-Thorold was in full flight, they will know that there was not one very helpful contribution made by him through those full 17 hours, that it was a grandstand. We know what he was trying to do, and he was applauded by his colleagues for doing it. In fact, I applaud his stamina. I do not necessarily agree with what he was saying, but his stamina was really very unexpected. I did not expect him to be able to go for 17 hours.
But it is time that we move forward. At this time, in accordance with standing order 45, I move that this question be now put.
Mr D. S. Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think it would come as no surprise that there would be a point of order on a closure motion, on an attempt by the Liberal Party to shut down the debate on the most important amendments to the Insurance Act and the way car insurance is provided.
Mr Speaker, I think in order for you to look at this matter -- and closure is not a motion that is used very often in this Legislature -- to make a ruling on this motion, whether or not it is in order, you must look at the history of how this insurance bill has been dealt with by the government and how at each stage --
The Speaker: No, no. Order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, there is a point. If you will not listen to that aspect of it, then I will refer to whether the closure motion today is in order. I mean, you should at least --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, I am going to be heard on this. You are not going to shut me down like that. There is a point of order on the closure motion and you are obliged to listen to my point of order.
The Speaker: I appreciate that and I know that the member is aware of the standing orders --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Darn right.
The Speaker: -- I am going to, in very short term, read the standing orders so all members are aware. I have accepted a point of order, but I am not going to listen to debate.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I do not intend to debate it, Mr Speaker, but I do intend to point out to you how this bill has been debated and dealt with by the government. I am not going to speak at length on this point of order at all, so I would appreciate it if you would simply listen to me. We listened to the crap from the minister this afternoon.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I think we have an opportunity to respond to a closure motion.
When this bill was introduced in the fall of last year, it was the government’s intention to ram this bill through the Legislature and have it passed without public hearings by 31 December. We then negotiated --
Hon Mr Elston: No, no. You can’t give a history.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, I will not be speaking at length. This is all on the closure motion.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, I do not intend to sit down. I am only going to be five minutes on this and I think that you could relax and listen to a point of order on a closure motion.
The Speaker: Well, please keep your comments as close as possible --
Mr D. S. Cooke: They will be. I told you, they will be five minutes, for God’s sake.
The Speaker: Look, really. Order. Will you take your seat, please.
The Speaker: Order. I feel I am showing respect to the House by offering you the opportunity. I wanted to read so that all members, and you as well, are aware of what the standing order says. In case others have not, I would like to read it:
“A motion for closure, which may be moved without notice, until it is decided shall preclude all amendment of the main question, and shall be in the following words: ‘That this question be now put.’ Unless it appears to the Speaker that such motion is an abuse of the standing orders of the House or an infringement of the rights of the minority, the question shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment and debate. If a motion for closure is resolved in the affirmative, the original question shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment and debate.”
I recognized the member on a point of order, and I presume the point of order is trying to assist me to make a decision, so I will listen to the member briefly.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I do not mean to get angry, but this has been a long debate on this issue, an important debate on this issue, and tempers have certainly flared over the course of the last couple of months. So I apologize, Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I just simply ask you to look at the history of how this legislation has been dealt with in the last few months, because I think it is relevant. The legislation was introduced in the fall. It was the intention of the government to complete the debate on the legislation with no public hearings by 31 December of last year. It was only because the opposition parties insisted that there be public hearings across the province that there were a few weeks of public hearings across the province. That is the only way it was achieved. Even at that point, the public hearings were very restricted and, I would say, were not full public hearings in the way that we have public hearings around this place on important legislation like this.
Then, when the legislation was reported back to the Legislature on the first day that we returned for the resumption of this session, we were in committee of the whole for two days and the government then introduced its time allocation motion, which has been debated since. The reason that time allocation motion has been debated at length is because it is absolutely clear that the majority in the Legislature was trying to shut down debate on the insurance bill after only two days in committee of the whole.
I think that is a relevant fact for you to take into consideration, Mr Speaker, that we have only had a few days on second reading. We had a few weeks of public submissions. It was not debate among the committee members; it was public submissions. The government may not seem to think it is relevant, but we do. Then the committee reported back, we had two days in committee of the whole and the government tried to shut down the procedure with a time allocation motion that says two days in committee of the whole and one day of third reading. That, in itself, I think is a complete abuse of the democratic process in the Legislature.
Now, after trying to make that point to the government, through a lengthy debate and through all the tricks that took place by the government in the process of having late-night sessions when commitments were made that there would not be late-night sessions, we have come to this point: Yesterday, there was an amendment put forward by the member for Leeds-Grenville and that amendment was an honest attempt by a member of the opposition to start to lay the groundwork for coming to a consensus of how this legislation would be dealt with. There had been no initiative by the government over this period of time to try to negotiate an adequate amount of time to be dealt with in committee of the whole and at third reading. I congratulate the Conservative Party and the member for Leeds-Grenville for putting forward a constructive suggestion of how this legislation could be dealt with without having to use closure.
Now, at the first opportunity the government has to respond to that constructive proposal, closure is moved. My colleague the member for Welland-Thorold and other members of our caucus have not had the opportunity to respond to that constructive proposal. I saw yesterday as a real breakthrough for the government. The member was obviously trying to come to a common ground of how the legislation should be dealt with from this point on, but the government rejects that, throws it in the opposition’s hands and says, “To hell with you, we’re going to move closure.”
Mr Speaker, I think what you should suggest, as the presiding officer in this Legislature, is that the House leaders should get together, use the proposal that the member for Leeds-Grenville has put forward and negotiate a mechanism whereby the legislation could be dealt with. The groundwork has been set in the proposal and therefore I think there is some common ground whereby that can be achieved.
The other thing is, I feel very strongly that when this amendment was put forward, while the government does not want to talk about a constructive plan to deal with this legislation, we do; and we should have an opportunity to speak on this amendment. Therefore, I believe the closure motion is out of order.
Mr Eves: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker -- and I will just try to make my remarks as brief and as on point as possible -- I would echo the comments made by the member for Windsor-Riverside with respect to the amount of time that is purported to be allocated by the government’s time allocation motion, two days in committee of the whole, with respect to this. This is a very significant piece of legislation, as the minister and everyone who has participated throughout this process over the past few months admits and realizes.
Yesterday, at approximately 5:50 pm, the member for Leeds-Grenville moved what I think is a very constructive and positive solution to the dilemma that faces this Legislature. I am quite frankly kind of surprised that the members on the government side would not just simply choose to adopt this as a way out of what has been an impasse in this Legislature for several weeks now. Eight days in committee of the whole on a piece of legislation as significant as this surely is not unreasonable. It is a very reasonable, positive approach to resolving a very real problem that we have with respect to this particular piece of legislation, eight days as opposed to two days proposed by the government itself. It is not a ridiculous amendment. It could have said two years; it could have said two months; it could have said 16 weeks. It does not say any of those things; it says eight days.
The amendment was only moved less than 24 hours ago in this Legislature. The only people in the Legislature who have had an opportunity to even address the amendment are the member for Leeds-Grenville himself, who moved it, and the minister, who has spoken for approximately 35 or 40 minutes in the Legislature this afternoon. Correct me if I am wrong -- I was not here for his entire debate -- but I do not think he has addressed the amendment that was moved by the member for Leeds-Grenville.
I would respectfully suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that before you rule the closure motion to be in order, the very least that members of this Legislature are entitled to is to have a representative from each one of the three parties address the amendment that was made yesterday by the member for Leeds-Grenville. That makes abundant sense to me.
If the government representative, namely the minister, has chosen not even to address what I think is a very positive and reasonable amendment, so be it. He has had his opportunity. He decided not to do that. He decided to move closure instead. He is not interested in a reasonable solution to a very real problem which he has had, along with other members of this Legislature, really for several weeks now.
But the very least that should happen here, in my respectful opinion, is that closure should not be invoked until the members of the third party and the official opposition; the members of the New Democratic Party of Ontario, have at least had the opportunity to speak to the amendment that was moved less than 24 hours ago. They have not even had a chance to address that amendment. I think to allow closure without their even having that opportunity is a very wrong precedent indeed to be set in this House. Does that mean that, with closure motions from here on in, we only have to hear from two out of three parties and the third party is left out in the cold? I do not think that is a very good precedent to set.
So I would respectfully ask you to consider that and to consider the amendment, and I think it is a very appropriate, responsible and reasonable amendment, that was moved by the member for Leeds-Grenville yesterday.
Hon Mr Ward: Mr Speaker, this motion we are dealing with today and have been dealing with for some time now has been the subject of in excess of 48 hours of debate. It has been before this Legislature for 16 days, and I would point out to you, sir, that over the course of the past several months the subject matter which this motion refers to has been before this House for some 42 days.
I think it is very important to note that no other business has been before this House since this session began. I think it is important to note that, prior to the introduction of the time allocation motion, some 26 members had spoken to this bill, in some 104 hours of debate. The fact of the matter is that, as has been quite eloquently put by the Minister of Financial Institutions, at some point the issues of the day have to be decided by the elected members of this Assembly.
Mr Speaker, I know that you have a very onerous obligation in your capacity to protect the rights of the minority in this Legislature, and I would say to you that you have done that very, very consistently. But I would also point out the comment made by you on 23 January 1989, when ruling on another time allocation motion. You stated that, in your opinion, the motion to curtail debate did not infringe upon the rights of the minority. You stated that in protecting the rights of the minority you must not lose sight of the rights of the majority. Through a 40-hour filibuster, I believe that the rights of the majority have been very much infringed upon over the course of the past several weeks.
Mr Speaker, I will say to you that it gives us no comfort to have to resort to what clearly is the most drastic method a government has in terms of getting important questions of the day put. I would say to you that we have been patient and you have been patient and I would suggest that given the comments made by members of the opposition during the limited time we had for committee of the whole House, it was clearly indicated by member after member that there was no intent to allow the debate to move forward, there was only an intent to obstruct the passage of the bill. So I would say to you that your obligation is of course to rule on this point of order and I ask that you do so judiciously.
The Speaker: I appreciate representatives from all parties assisting me in my decision. First of all, I want to accept the apology from the member for Windsor-Riverside, I did hear a message from the member for Parry Sound requesting the government to withdraw the motion, as I understood the suggestion, and I did not hear any response to that question.
Having read the standing order a brief time ago, and again reading it while I was listening, in my view this is not an abuse of the standing orders, as the members have had ample time for debate, and therefore I find the motion in order.
So the first question I put will be the question by the Minister of Financial Institutions. The minister moved that the question be now put.
The House divided on Mr Elston’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 57
Ballinger, Black, Bossy, Bradley, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fawcett, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hart, Kanter, Kerrio, Kozyra, LeBourdais, Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella, Mancini, Matrundola, McGuigan, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Morin, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, Owen, Pelissero, Poole, Ramsay, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Roberts, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Velshi, Ward, Wilson, Wong, Wrye.
Nays -- 20
Allen, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Eves, Grier, Hampton, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Kormos, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McCague, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Pouliot, Villeneuve, Wildman.
The Speaker: Mr Ward has moved resolution 30:
That, notwithstanding any standing order or special order of the House in relation to Bill 68, An Act to amend certain Acts respecting Insurance, two sessional days shall be allotted to consideration of the bill in the committee of the whole House. All amendments proposed to be moved to the bill shall be filed with the Clerk of the assembly by 5 pm on the first sessional day on which the bill is considered in the committee of the whole House. At 5:45 pm on the second of these sessional days, those amendments which have not yet been moved shall be deemed to have been moved and the Chair of the committee of the whole House shall interrupt the proceedings and shall, without further debate or amendment, put every question necessary to dispose of all remaining sections of the bill and any amendments thereto and report the bill to the House. Upon receiving the report of the committee of the whole House, the Speaker shall put the question for the adoption of the report forthwith, which question shall be decided without amendment or debate.
That one further sessional day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the bill. At 5:45 pm on such day, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further amendment or debate.
That in the case of any division relating to any proceedings on the bill, the division bell shall be limited to five minutes.
The House divided on Mr Ward’s motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 56
Ballinger, Black, Bossy, Bradley, Brown, Callahan, Campbell, Carrothers, Chiarelli, Collins, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Curling, Daigeler, Eakins, Elliot, Elston, Epp, Faubert, Fontaine, Fulton, Furlong, Grandmaître, Haggerty, Hart, Kanter, Kerrio, Kozyra, Leone, Lipsett, Lupusella, Matrundola, McGuigan, McLeod, Miclash, Miller, Morin, Neumann, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, Owen, Pelissero, Poole, Ramsay, Ray, M. C., Reycraft, Roberts, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sola, Sweeney, Velshi, Ward, Wilson, Wong, Wrye.
Nays -- 19
Allen, Bryden, Charlton, Cooke, D. S., Eves, Grier, Hampton, Johnson, J. M., Johnston, R. F., Kormos, Mackenzie, Marland, Martel, McCague, McLean, Morin-Strom, Philip, E., Villeneuve, Wildman.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Pursuant to standing order 53, the business for the week of 14 May is as follows:
On Monday 14 May, committee of the whole on Bill 68; on Tuesday 15 May, an opposition day in the name of the member for York South; on Wednesday 16 May, Committee of the whole on Bill 68. On Thursday morning, 17 May, as it stands right now there is no private members’ business, but I am sure that will be discussed on Monday. In the afternoon sitting, it will be third reading of Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: You are not going to make that promise to the insurance companies.
Mr Mackenzie: The only one they’ll keep.
Hon Mr Conway: I hear people imputing motives, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Would the members show a little respect. It is now close to 6 of the clock and because of a motion previously passed by this House, this House now stands adjourned until next Monday at 1:30 of the clock.
The House adjourned at 1758.