The House met at 1330.
WELLAND HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, for just a few moments, let me tell you about the Welland Historical Museum. That is a non-profit, community-run, full-time museum right in the heart of the city of Welland. It has been blessed for the last four years to have as its curator a brilliant young person, Mac Swackhammer. Mr Swackhammer has contributed a great deal to the substance of that museum, has made it a living thing, not just for tourists and visitors to Welland but for the people who live in the community. His latest coup was to acquire the 30 murals from a great Canadian train. These, as you undoubtedly know, Mr Speaker, are murals that were painted by, among others, members of the Canadian Group of Seven and were contained in the Canadian Pacific fleet that did the transcontinental runs. There were 36 originally. Six were lost and so simply will never be seen again. The 30 remaining, which have for a long time been merely stored at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa and have had only one major public exhibit, and that was in Kleinburg, are now at the Welland Historical Museum. They are there from the present through to the end of the month of October. It is an outstanding display. Anybody who misses it has missed a major event in Canadian history, in art history and an opportunity to see some of the finest works that Canada has produced.
We are proud of that in Welland. Mr Speaker, you should get down there to see it. So should these other members, because everybody in Wetland is going to have a chance.
Mrs Cunningham: My statement today is directed to the minister of all education. I read with interest the report entitled, Ontario’s Labour Market: Long-Term Trends and Issues in the 1990s. It was released last week, and the report identifies one very important trend: that the importance of training will increase as the level of skills required in most jobs continues to rise.
If the minister were here, I would be able to say directly that I have been making this statement in the Legislature for over two years. If we are to remain competitive in the new global economy, Ontario will require a highly skilled and adaptable workforce. We know this. We did not have to read it in yet another report.
This report, 1990 -- I will give members an example -- says that “shortages of skilled persons who are capable of working with the new technologies being introduced into offices and plants encountered by employers in the 1990s will persist.” The old one says in 1988, just two years ago, “In the years ahead, Ontario’s employers face a prolonged period of labour shortage.”
Why should the citizens have to reproduce a report giving the same recommendations? Yet what do we see from the government? No action on important recommendations that will affect their young people and the economy of the country yet again.
Mr Tatham: Mr Speaker, should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
The best laid schemes o’ mice and men
Gang aft a-gley
Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
to see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion.
What airs in dress and gait wad leave us
and even devotion!
The Ayr Advertiser and Prestwick Times, Scotland, Thursday 12 April 1990 headline: “Burns Cottage Hits Cash Crisis.” In 1975, 143,000 people paid to visit the cottage. Last year the number was just 66,000. Trustee Colin Kilpatrick says there is not even enough money to buy a new lawn mower. Sixty nine Burns clubs overseas, as far away as New Zealand and the Persian Gulf, are being contacted for help.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere
and gie’s a hand o’ thine.
And the words that give my inner heart a cheer are:
Then let us pray that come it may,
As come it will for a’ that,
That sense and worth o’er’ a’ the earth,
May bear the gree, and a’ that,
For a’ that and a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That man to man the world o’er
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
CASE OF JANICE LAROQUE
Miss Martel: In light of the reluctance of the Workers’ Compensation Board to accept that there are major problems at the board, I want to raise another case today.
Ms Janice Laroque of Sudbury is a Canada Post employee. Her work on the night shift involves hauling around 50-pound bags of mail, which then requires sorting. She suffered her first injury to the shoulder in 1985. In April 1986, January 1987 and February 1988, Ms Laroque again had to claim compensation because of work injuries. At no time did she have any problems receiving benefits.
On 2 March 1990, Ms Laroque was again ordered off work by her doctor. This time, however, the WCB has decided that the claim cannot immediately be allowed. The board feels there is not enough evidence on file to show that the worker has had ongoing problems; this, in spite of the fact that she has had claims in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988. In 1988, for example, she received chiropractic treatment for three months for her injury.
The WCB has decided an investigation is now necessary. It has taken the board 10 weeks to pull together Ms Laroque’s other files so that all can be reviewed together. We have no idea how long the investigation will take.
Ms Laroque actually returned to modified work on 7 May, but Canada Post had taken her off the payroll during her absence and it will take six weeks for her first cheque to arrive. She cannot wait that long. Her bank manager has already contacted her regarding the power of sale of her house. Further delays are unacceptable. Ms Laroque should receive benefits now
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to bring to the attention of this assembly an article that appeared in the Toronto Star on 22 April 1990. This article is a reprint of an editorial published in the Equity, a Shawville, Quebec newspaper on 6 March 1890. It is entitled, “I am a Canadian.” I will quote the editorial.
“During the progress of the dual language debate, words have been spoken and published in the press throughout the country that will rankle in the hearts and foment ill-feeling between the two races of Canada, a feeling which at the present time is only too strong between the two races in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
“Great responsibility will now rest with aspiring politicians of both races, how they use these prejudices and work upon the feelings of the people in both provinces, for the purpose of gaining their own ends and raising themselves to power.
“It behooves the people of this Canada of ours, French and English, to stand shoulder to shoulder, forgetting the differences of opinion which may exist between us and only remembering the great love we bear for our country, to push forward in the great work of building up a nationality in Canada which shall be able to challenge the applause and admiration of the world.
“Then the time will come in the history of Canada when the proudest words a citizen of this country can utter will be, ‘I am a Canadian.”’
These noble words spoken over a century ago are even more important today, and I truly hope that the time will soon come when the proudest words a citizen of this great country can utter will indeed be, “I am a Canadian.”
Mr Adams: There has been some comment about the cost of operating this House in our two official languages. We are the richest province in Canada and, by many measures, one of the most wealthy jurisdictions in the world. The number of francophones in the province is second only to Quebec.
I want to draw the attention of members to the language services provided in the Legislature of one of the smallest and least wealthy jurisdictions in Canada, the Northwest Territories. The NWT, which has a population of 55,000, operates its Legislative Assembly in four or five languages and, on occasion, at the request of members, in eight or nine. These include Inuktitut, Chippewyan, North and South Slavey, Dogrib and Dene, as well as English and French. Visitors can follow the proceedings in all of these. Our friends in the translation booth here will be interested to know that their translators work from the English soundtrack.
The NWT does not view this multilingual approach to government as an expensive luxury. It sees it as an appropriate and productive means of governing an extremely diverse population.
If the NWT can do this, surely here in the great province of Ontario we can afford, without complaint, to operate this chamber in Canada’s two official languages.
DECENTRALIZATION OF GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS
Mr Allen: Recently, a group from Hamilton has made a proposal to the government to decentralize the Office for Disabled Persons to our fair city. The Minister of Government Services and the member for Wentworth East have both been talked to about this and I understand that they support the idea.
I think it is a great idea. In fact, I have a specific location that I can suggest to them, a beautiful site to the west of Main Street which is ideally located opposite the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. It is right beside the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System, the disabled transit proposal. It is very near to Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, which has outstanding services for the disabled. Chedoke is internationally renowned for its prosthetic device development programs. So this would be a great step, I think, for the ministry and for the government.
Not least of all, of course, besides the handsome location, would be that this building would be ready to house them at the appropriate time. It is not the only site, but it is perhaps one of the best that would be available in my riding and give a handsome location in a building devoted to medical and professional services.
Of course, moving outside Toronto would bring great saving for any ministry, inasmuch as the expenditure level of rents and personnel costs and so on would be substantially less than those in Toronto.
I commend this to the ministers and I hope they vigorously pursue it.
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation and it concerns an advertisement that appeared recently in the Toronto Star. Judging by this ad, we can assume that the Ontario Lottery Corp is seeking a co-ordinator for government liaison at a salary starting at $41,796. It appears that the successful candidate who wins this fancy-titled position will also win a substantial lottery prize that starts at over $41,000.
A closer examination of this ad indicates that this “coordinator for government liaison” will “act as a primary Ontario Lottery Corp contact for the provincial government; direct responses to questions raised in the House, in government correspondence and prepare preparations to House committees and responses to committee recommendations; plan and coordinate the primary implementation of new legislation.”
An ad like this can only leave the people of Ontario with the impression that the minister is looking for someone to run interference for him. He wants to hire someone to do his job for him.
The ad also mentions that the successful candidate will be able to work under pressure and with minimal direction. In other words, this “co-ordinator for government liaison” will be doing all the work while the minister sits back and acts like a tourist in his own ministry. Is the minister trying to be like his colleague the Minister of Health by getting someone to run the show in his ministry? Just who is in charge of the ministry over there?
VANDALISM OF JEWISH CEMETERIES
Mr Daigeler: Ten days ago, more than 30 community leaders and over 500 ordinary citizens from all parties, all levels of government and all walks of life joined me in a spontaneous condemnation of the desecration of Ottawa’s Jewish cemetery.
Starting with Ed Broadbent as the new president of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, key representatives of what this country is all about spoke to denounce racism, anti-Semitism and hate-mongering at home and abroad.
We also wanted to show our support for our Jewish fellow citizens who were visibly hurt and shaken by this shameful attack on their integrity and history. As a member of Ontario’s German-Canadian community, I considered it a grave responsibility to act quickly and decisively against any signs of anti-Jewish behaviour.
I am proud that Ottawa’s people responded to my call for this meeting with spontaneity and sincere sympathy.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Hon Mr Ramsay: I am pleased today to update the members of the House of a development that will benefit the agriculture industry in Ontario.
This morning, I signed an agreement in principle with the honourable Charles Mayer, federal Minister of State (Grains and Oilseeds), for a joint financial assistance program to aid eligible Ontario farmers in 1990. This agreement will provide $35.2 million towards alleviating the severe financial stress facing Ontario farm families.
Specifically, the federal contribution will be made to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which in turn will implement a direct-payment program for eligible Ontario grains and oilseed producers. All grains and oilseed production, as determined by the province, including grains and oilseeds fed on the farm, are eligible for this assistance.
The federal government has agreed to provide its funds in recognition of this government’s commitment of $48 million in interest assistance to Ontario farmers, as announced recently in the budget. In addition, negotiations are continuing, on a priority basis, to establish similar programs for the Ontario fur and horticulture industries. I will be providing more details of this agreement to the House in the near future as ministry staff are discussing this proposal with Ontario farm groups to obtain their advice on program details.
Ontario farmers have been under considerable pressure from international trade subsidies, high interest rates and the high value of the Canadian dollar. I am pleased that this government could work in co-operation with our federal counterparts to help Ontario farmers with these difficulties. This reaffirms our commitment towards maintaining a viable and sustainable agrifood industry in Ontario.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Wildman: I would like to respond to the minister’s statement regarding the federal-provincial agreement on the grain assistance plan.
I really wonder if this is evidence that the federal government is matching the grants promised by the provincial government in the budget for interest rate reduction. These really are two different programs. One is responding to the pressures facing farmers regarding the free trade agreement, while the other is trying to deal with the problems farmers are facing as a result of the wrongheaded high interest rate program of the federal government.
I really wonder if the minister believes that these two different programs are directly related. But then again, I am sure that the federal minister will appreciate the agreement of the provincial minister and his signing the agreement and will be assured, as we all are, that this minister will keep his word in this case, as he has done so often in the past.
Mr Villeneuve: In response to the announcement today by the Minister of Agriculture and Food, certainly the $35 million plus from Ottawa is very welcome. Normally we hear this minister and this government finding terrible fault with the government in Ottawa. All of a sudden, $35 million is given to this government to administer, federal money administered by the province.
The problem here is that a lot of the cropping has already been put in the ground. We have farmers who are now being charged 2.5% to 3% a month for fertilizer, for seed, for herbicides they have used on their crops. It is my understanding that the minister hopes to have money in the hands of farmers some time by September or October.
That is rather late, because about that time we will probably have an election in Ontario, and believe it or not, the Minister of Agriculture and Food’s name will be on cheques that will be sent to Ontario’s farmers, saying, “Look at how great a job this government is doing,” when indeed it is spending federal money. I want to emphasize that it will be federal money being used in the political process in Ontario.
Everything that farmers can get right now -- grains, red meats -- is being attacked. The price of grains and red meat is no higher now, and in many instances lower now, than it was 10 years ago. Ten years ago the costs of production were considerably less than they are now. Yet we are asking our farmers to continue to produce to feed Ontario, to feed Canada and indeed to feed the world at a cost that is really charged up to their families. Families are having to work for nothing and board themselves. Farmers always buy retail, sell wholesale. That is the entire problem.
This is but one of the areas of concern where this government has relegated agriculture literally to the back burner in the way of support. They are again paying lipservice and they will be using federal money during an election campaign. I can see it as clear as crystal. The honourable minister will have his name on a cheque, “Look at how good we are,” in September or October, and that is after farmers have paid 2.5% to 3% a month on their input costs starting last April.
It is a welcome contribution by the federal government. It will be administered by this government which will try to take credit for it and say how great it is to Ontario’s agriculture. It is not right.
Mr McCague: My colleague has referred to the cheques that the minister is going to send out to some of my constituents in the next few days. I can tell the minister that it is not going to work. I do not know why the minister is messing around with the affairs of the stockyards. For instance, I understand that the minister decided yesterday that anybody who was in favour of maintaining the stockyards was let go from the board and is going to be replaced by someone who is in favour of the demise of the stockyards.
The minister has given a great, big slap in the face to a very fragile red meat industry. Do not forget it, because they will not forget it.
Mr R. F. Johnston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to raise a point about ministerial statements under section 3 1(c), which indicates, as you probably remember, that “Two copies of each ministerial statement shall be delivered to the opposition party leaders, or their representatives, at or before the time the statement is made in the House.”
Recently I have noticed a trend that statements are given to us in advance but then are often embellished in the House. A critic on this side often is reading along in his text, as we were today, and finds that the text that is being stated in the House is not that which is before the critic.
It strikes me that some latitude should be left for the odd minor interjection, but I am wondering if the Speaker has thought about the two tendencies which are taking place: the one is this embellishment without that being part of the written statement and the other is of course the opposition members responding to statements which have not been made, which I remember doing myself once.
The Speaker: I thank the member for his comments. However, he will note that the Speaker does not receive a copy, and therefore I cannot follow along. But I will --
The Speaker: Order. I will certainly make sure that the government House leader reads your comments in Hansard.
The next item will be oral questions. The Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Reville: Look, the front bench has gone.
The Speaker: Order. And the question is to whom?
Mr B. Rae: I was just looking for the front bench. The Minister of Health has just arrived, so I will disappoint her by not asking her a question. In the absence of the Premier, who I had hoped would be here to answer my question, I will go directly to the Minister of Citizenship.
The minister may perhaps recall -- it was before he was here -- that in 1985 the Liberal Party made a commitment to the people of the province, five years ago, to bring in an employment equity program that would apply to the private sector as well as to government. Five years later, disabled people, just to mention one of the groups that have been discriminated against in a systematic way, are still waiting for action from this government with respect to their rights in the workplace. The unemployment rate among disabled people is as high as 60%.
When is the Liberal government going to live up to its promise, made many times over, that it will introduce legislation ensuring employment equity for people who are disabled in Ontario?
Hon Mr Wong: I am pleased to answer the question of the honourable Leader of the Opposition. Let me remind all members of the House that, during last summer and last fall, the government met with over 100 organizations, including community groups, labour unions, business and public sector agencies, to seek their views on how to effectively implement employment equity for the broader public and private sectors in Ontario. In addition, many briefs have been submitted and continue to arrive.
Let me also say that careful consideration is being given to the input from community consultations and the written briefs on a number of options, including legislation, to enable the government to put forward a comprehensive employment equity strategy which emphasizes a consensus approach.
I might also say that the government has taken many other initiatives --
The Speaker: Thank you. There might be a supplementary.
Mr B. Rae: The American Congress has been considering for some time and has now approved legislation affecting people with disabilities which is far in advance of anything that has been proposed by the Liberal government in this province. Not just the American Congress, but the Mulroney government -- the branch plant of the American Congress, if you will -- has an employment equity bill which is in advance of anything that has been proposed by the Liberal Party of Ontario. The city of Toronto has an employment equity program with respect to employment and contract compliance which is in advance of anything proposed or discussed by the Liberal government of Ontario.
When is this government going to live up to its rhetoric and do something for those people who have been left out of the world of opportunity, left out of the world of a pay packet and left out of a chance to earn a living for themselves, which they want rather than welfare?
Hon Mr Wong: The honourable Leader of the Opposition uses the United States as an example. In my reading, the affirmative action and other policies in the United States started more than 40 years ago with presidents Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. Let me talk about the last five years. In fact, let me talk about the last several years here in Ontario.
In the Ontario women’s directorate, provisions have been made for support for the development of employment equity initiatives in the broader public sector and the private sector. In March 1989 there was an announcement by the Minister of Education of goals and timetables for achieving employment equity in the boards of education. In the Ontario public service, on 9 November six months ago, there was another announcement which included a commitment for $1 million for the 1989 fiscal year to be used to support persons with disabilities, with technical aids, assistive devices and attendant care.
A $7.5-million fund for --
The Speaker: Thank you.
The Speaker: Order to all members.
Mr B. Rae: I asked the minister a question about a law for Ontario. They promised a law back in 1985. It is a commitment that they have not kept. I say to the minister very directly, there are people with disabilities today who are as unemployed today as they were five years ago. The private sector and the public sector have no more obligations with respect to people with disabilities than they had back in 1985. Nothing has changed.
Very specifically, when is the minister going to introduce a law that will finally ensure that people who are labelled as disabled but who desperately want a chance to participate in the workforce are going to get that chance right here in Ontario? When is he going to do it?
Hon Mr Wong: I thank the honourable member for the question. I believe he asked me a similar question two weeks ago. Let me say very clearly that I am currently discussing various options with my cabinet colleagues and we hope to have a comprehensive approach in the very near future.
SOLID WASTE REDUCTION
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Yesterday I asked the minister whether he had any plans to reach his own target of diverting 25% of the province’s solid waste from disposal sites. In response the minister said, “We have already achieved at least a 14% diversion of waste in terms of the household waste we see.”
What I am sure the minister meant to say was that what he had achieved was 14% diversion of waste from households that have blue boxes, that only slightly more than 50% of the province’s households have blue boxes, that household waste represents only one third of the total solid waste generated in the province and that therefore my estimate of the 2% of solid waste that he was diverting was in fact accurate. Is that not what the minister meant to say?
Hon Mr Bradley: Despite the prompting from the mini-benches of the New Democratic Party, I could not agree with what the member has to say other than to say we are certainly seeing a rather significant increase in the amount of activity designed to reduce, reuse and recycle material in various communities across this province.
In addition to those communities, which are growing almost daily, the number of communities coming on to the blue box program grows daily. We are over two million people at this time. A lot of people said we would not have two million households on the blue box program --
Mr R. F. Johnston: How many households are there, Jim?
Hon Mr Bradley: That is at least half of the households in Ontario, to the member for Scarborough West, and it is growing almost daily.
Hon Mr Bradley: “Seeing the communities minute by minute,” says the member for Sarnia. It is a program which is growing, a program of course which the United Nations recognized with its environment program award, which --
Mr Brandt: Who started that program?
Hon Mr Bradley: -- I know the member would be very proud of, on behalf of the people of this province who have responded overwhelmingly to this program.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Bradley: We have had that kind of massive support for it, communities coming on one after another, and the people --
The Speaker: Thank you. Supplementary.
Mrs Grier: I agree entirely with the minister that the blue box program is a good program and has been a successful one. The point I keep trying to make to him is that it is only part of what needs to be done and that even though it is a good program, it is not in fact capturing as much of the waste as it ought to be capturing.
Let me give the minister some more information that he sometimes forgets to include in his answers. We all know that he recently surrendered to the soft drink companies by refusing to force them to reduce waste by using refillable containers. In 1989, only 20% of the non-refillable soft drink containers sold in Ontario went into the blue boxes. In 1990, it is estimated that 32% will go into blue boxes. In other words, two out of three non-refillable soft drink containers will go to disposal sites or will continue to litter the countryside.
The minister has ruled out refillable bottles. He has ruled out a deposit system. Can he tell us what plans he does have to deal with this, which is a simple part of the waste disposal puzzle?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member refuses to recognize what people in a number of other jurisdictions have recognized, and that is that we in Ontario are leading in diverting waste from our landfill sites and from our incinerators. I mention as well to the member that we have 130,000 home composters that have been funded, plus a number of communal projects.
Mr Reville: Big deal.
Hon Mr Bradley: The member for Riverdale says, “Big deal.” I think a lot of people in this province who have watched the growth of composting, who have seen the individual participation by people within communities and the individual communities themselves that have, let’s say, region-wide or city-wide or town-wide composting facilities would think that is extremely important, because it is estimated that about 30% of household wastes are in fact compostable materials.
We are seeing this grow on a daily basis in terms of the capturing of this material. We have people from the European Community looking at our system in Ontario with a view to emulating it because they recognize how successful it has been. What we look for in Ontario are practical results, and that is what we are getting.
Mrs Grier: The minister is getting practical results from individuals who want to participate and who want to do what they can, but they represent only a very minor proportion of the waste that is generated in the province.
Why will the minister not come to grips with the need to look at the root cause of our garbage problems. which is that we produce too much waste? Why will he not recognize that he has to produce a program that is going to reduce the amount of waste we generate, not merely divert it to other disposal methods? When is the minister going to spell out a comprehensive policy and program to deal with waste reduction --
The Speaker: That is three supplementaries. Thank you.
Mrs Grier: -- not merely waste diversion?
Hon Mr Bradley: I make reference to the fact, as the member will recall, that the environment ministers of Canada put forward a task force, which included representatives of government, people from environment groups and industrial groups, to come forward with a national packaging protocol which would have the effect of reducing the amount of packaging produced in this country. Some rather favourable reviews of that took place when the ministers met in Vancouver, when officials got together when it was announced.
I know it may not satisfy the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. She is a member of the opposition. Were I sitting in the opposition, I would be asking questions as she does. That is her role and responsibility. I asked those questions for eight years. Now we are in fact, I tell the member, implementing those programs. When I look at the industrial 3Rs program, when I see new wood waste facilities coming forward for the recycling of wood, when I see that some communities now include corrugated cardboard, when I see the plastics now being recycled --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Harris: I have a question as well for the Minister of the Environment, about what is surely a province-wide waste management crisis. I am referring specifically to the lack of landfill sites or incinerators. Simply put, we are out. Two and a half years ago, the minister said at least 160 municipalities would run out of landfill space by 1990. As of January of this year, he has approved only five new landfills since taking office in 1985. Within a couple of years up to 300 Ontario municipalities will have no place to put their garbage. What are they going to do with it?
Hon Mr Bradley: This, of course, is the contradiction that we see in the Progressive Conservative Party. One day they are getting up asking, “Why don’t you make it more difficult to locate landfill sites?” and the next day the new leader gets up and says, “Why don’t you make it easier to locate landfill sites in the province of Ontario?”
Mr Pouliot: Five years in Marathon.
Hon Mr Bradley: I say, and I know the member for Lake Nipigon is also agreeing with the member for Nipissing, that in fact he would like to see more landfill sites approved more quickly. Apparently, that is what he is saying back there anyway, which again does not always jibe with what the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is saying, so it is interesting to watch this happening.
We have a number of waste management master plans under way in Ontario which are in fact identifying the most desirable sites for those materials which are left over after diversion has taken place. I know that a number of municipalities are working hard, with some guidance and assistance from the Ministry of the Environment, and I am confident that we will be able to deal with all of these matters in partnership with our municipal friends.
Mr Harris: The minister, in response to these questions, gets up and brags about all the things he has done. The fact is, despite all that bravado, there is no way on earth, short of hijacking the approval process, that he now has enough time to find enough landfill sites to meet Ontario’s needs. The sad thing is this is not a new problem.
The minister knew in 1985 that he had a five- to seven-year window when he came into office, and the results are there for all to see five years later, that he has failed to do his job. Again, I ask the minister, we have insufficient landfill or incineration facilities, we have no time to approve what we need, we have a province-wide garbage crisis that is growing every day. How is he going to avert an environmental catastrophe, literally, when the clock stops ticking on the existing sites?
Hon Mr Bradley: If indeed the new leader speaks for the Progressive Conservative Party -- and I must assume that he does. He was elected at its leadership convention and so he does speak for the party. I look at that now and I say that the person who ordinarily would be sitting behind him, the member for Mississauga South, has been critical in the other direction on a number of occasions. I think he has to be consistent in this regard. He has to say whether he would like us to abort the process. That is what he seems to be saying.
We are working with municipalities all around Ontario. I know that in the past when the previous government has approved sites, this government and the taxpayers of Ontario have been forced to pick up the tab for sites which were identified in the manner in which the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party is suggesting now. We want to ensure, through this process, that in fact we are not going to encounter those problems, the Pauzé-type problems that existed in the province when the member’s government was in power. That is why we have established the present process. We will, through our various efforts --
Mr B. Rae: You don’t have the same rule for Metro, my friend. Ask people in Whitevale about how fair your system is.
Hon Mr Bradley: The member for York South is interfering --
The Speaker: There may be a supplementary. You might have something to add then.
Mr Harris: I am always intrigued that the Minister of the Environment, when he does not have the answers to these questions and has not had for five years, now starts looking elsewhere. I would be glad to come over there and give him the answers. I would be glad to provide them. I do not have enough time today to point out all the things that the minister should have been doing. But we have been mentioning them, like streamlining the approval process so it does not take six to 10 years -- I am happy to point that out; I think we all know that -- like providing leadership instead of pitting municipality against municipality and neighbours against neighbours, like mandating tough new packaging regulations that are required to reduce and reuse products so they do not end up in a waste stream. I wish I had more time to give all the answers that the minister needs. We know he should have been doing those.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Harris: So we know what the minister has not done. What the people of Ontario want to know today, and it is a pretty straightforward question, I believe, is where do 300 municipalities put their garbage when Ontario runs out of space within the next 18 months to two years.
Hon Mr Bradley: They will have the kind of facilities which will be environmentally acceptable facilities as opposed to the kind of facilities that the previous government provided. In fact, we may say that Pauzé is the essence of the landfill policy of the party which is the third party in this House at the present time. We have lots of those examples around this province that our remedial plans have to look after in terms of funding because we all remember the way the Tories used to locate landfill sites and facilities in this province.
We are not doing that at the present time. We are in fact having municipalities work together. We have municipalities, for instance, now working together as counties, looking at their problems county-wide and working together, or as regions or as groups together, something that never happened when the Conservatives were there. When they were in power, they were spending some $750,000 on diversion. In fact, this year we are now spending approximately $55 million in this province on the 3Rs, something that their government never, ever considered.
Mr Jackson: I have a question for the Premier. Section 209 of the Education Act specifically requires that school boards cover off their previous year operating deficits. The Premier would also be aware that the Ontario Separate School Trustees’ Association, in a recent survey, found that almost half of their separate boards in this province are reporting year-end deficits for 1989, totalling over $45 million. In January 1989, the then Minister of Education made some very strong statements about the need to comply with Ontario law. He said if boards cannot balance their operating budgets as submitted, then surely they do not have the ability to fund the local share of their capital allocations either.
Since the current Minister of Education has been deathly silent on this issue, what has changed the mind of his government in one year, where it has taken such a strong stance in compliance with the law and yet now he has allowed his minister to be deathly silent on this important issue?
Hon Mr Peterson: This minister has never been silent on any issue, and he is happy to tell the member the answer.
Mr Laughren: That’s true.
Hon Mr Conway: I have to agree with both the Premier and the member for Nickel Belt, for my reputation regrettably precedes me. I would want to say to my learned friend the member for Burlington South that what the Education Act holds and what my predecessor, the member for Wentworth North, indicated is very much the order of the day.
Mr Jackson: The minister would be aware that this practice is actually increasing in activity in this province. The number of boards that are not complying is growing. In the Peel region, for example, the public boards set a 17.3 per cent education tax increase for 1990, and the coterminous separate board, which traditionally matches its tax rate increase, did not. They set theirs lower, at 16.5%, even though they now project a $10.1-million operating deficit which is accumulating for 1990. This is a clear indication that they are not going to comply with the Education Act and that this practice is growing in Ontario.
Again, my question to the minister is, what is he prepared to do as the minister? As his predecessor made some clear statements, what is the minister prepared to do to ensure that school boards comply with the act and that separate and public school ratepayers are protected in this province?
Hon Mr Conway: My friend the member for Burlington South would know that in the year just beginning -- that is, the fiscal year 1990-91 -- the province has announced, in fact announced some months ago, very generous levels of increase in the operating grant to school boards, 8.7% year over year overall. We are adding another $363 million to support the operations of Ontario’s school boards. At the ministry, we are looking as well at the budgetary estimates that are coming in from various school boards, and we intend to work very constructively with the school boards in the province which appear to be having some difficulty. I can assure my honourable friend that we will do everything we possibly can in a constructive and in a helpful way to ensure that the needs of the community are met and that the requirements of the Education Act with respect to deficit financing are obeyed.
Mr Jackson: In spite of the minister’s own belief that his government has been generous, the number of double-digit tax increases for school boards, public and separate, across this province is growing. They are growing at an alarming rate. What we have here is a question not on the government’s so-called generosity but on the issue of compliance with a basic law.
I am telling the minister that in a recent conversation with Keith Fletcher, chief grants officer from the ministry, he said, “The Education Act expects you to prepare a budget that goes to the ratepayers with your requirements for the current year.” He went on to say, “I cannot help you in speculating on what’s going to happen.” He thought the Minister of Education “may be forced to make a public statement on the issue. I don’t know what will occur. It should be interesting to see what happens next.” Within the minister’s own ministry, there is concern because they do not have direction on how he is going to get boards to comply with the legislation.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr Jackson: My question is this: Why is there an apparent lack of leadership from the minister’s government on this sensitive issue, given that we now have a double standard, not for the children and their education but for the taxpayers between separate and public boards in this province?
Hon Mr Conway: I would say to the House and my friend the member for Burlington South that he should not confuse his mischief-making with a want of leadership on this side. The rules of this House, of course, almost encourage members of the opposition to take their idiosyncratic view of what is going on. I cannot help him in that except to say that I expect that the Education Act will be concurred in.
I know the people of Ontario. I have had the honour to serve here for 15 years, and I want to say that in that 15 years I have found the people of Ontario, and particularly the people in the school community, to be very law-abiding. I cannot believe that my friend the member for Burlington South would imagine that there are people in the school community who are not going to meet the needs of their students at the same time as taking the tough management decisions that we are all elected to take, some at the provincial level and others at the local level. I cannot really help my friend beyond that, though I am sure he might have more to say outside later.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question to the Minister of Labour about the strike that is taking place in Timmins between the United Steelworkers, the miners, and the Placer Dome mine. It is unusual, to say the very least, for the employer of a mine of this size -- there are hundreds of employees at this mine -- to be trying to keep the mine open and operating in the course of a legal strike. Nevertheless, that appears to be the decision of the employer. Students have been brought across the line in vans, and one student last week had his hand crushed while working in the mill.
First off, will the minister send in his inspectors right away with respect to the health and safety of that operation? Surely, on the face of it, it is absurd to have people working in those conditions without any kind of training whatsoever.
Hon Mr Phillips: When I was made aware of the fact that it might be possible students might be involved in the operation of the mine, I asked that we keep a very close eye on that particular matter in terms of safety. I want to assure the House that we will continue to do that. I think it is important for all of us to rest assured that our Ministry of Labour people will be watching with the safety of the workers specifically in mind during this particular labour disruption.
Mr B. Rae: It is very hard for me to understand, looking at the mining situation across northern Ontario, how the minister can stand in his place and sanction that kind of decision by an employer. With a mine that size and with the kind of implications it has, I find it very hard to understand why the minister would not be standing in his place today saying that he intends to do something about it to ensure that replacement workers are not brought across the line.
The minister will know that just two nights ago a worker was injured on the picket line, hit by a car. He hit the windshield, was knocked out, woke up in the hospital and said he had no memory of what had happened while he was on the line. This is clearly a very dangerous, volatile situation. I want to ask the minister why he will not introduce legislation right away in this House, to ensure a degree of safety and security on the line, that where we have a legal dispute in a mine of this kind replacement workers cannot be brought across to do work that is already being done by the members of the bargaining unit.
Hon Mr Phillips: I know it is a subject of some considerable interest to the official opposition, but I think if we look at labour relations in this province we have a history we should be proud of. Certainly as I look at the respective bargaining power between the two parties, as I look at the history of labour relations in this province and as I look at the relationship between our union movement and the employers of this province, yes, there are disputes, but by and large I think we have a labour relations environment in this province to be proud of. Therefore, in terms of significant changes in our labour relations law, I think we should look long and hard before we look at significant changes.
I think the labour relations environment in this province by and large is extremely good. I think we would look seriously at significant changes one way or the other, but we would look at them carefully because I do not think anyone disputes, as we look at jurisdictions across North America, that this is one jurisdiction that seems to be working well. What the official opposition is proposing is a significant change in it. Therefore, while we are always looking for improvements, I think we have to be very careful about significant changes that disrupt that fairly delicate, but none the less effective, balance.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr Runciman: In the absence of the government House leader, I will direct my question to the Premier. It has to do with what we in the opposition parties are perceiving to be a stalling effort on the part of the government members on the standing committee on general government.
Mr D. S. Cooke: It is not a perception; it is a reality.
Mr Runciman: It is a reality. The Premier is aware of the standing order changes made some time ago which were to facilitate the operations of this Legislature. One of the elements of those changes was to provide the opposition parties with an opportunity to have matters referred to standing committees.
As the Premier is aware, our party made reference in respect to the stoppage of a commission of inquiry into the planning and development of land in York region at his office. Up to this point we have been frustrated in our efforts to have this heard. Initially the member for Yorkview tried to have the matter deferred; it was ruled out of order. Then this matter was appealed to you, Mr Speaker, and now the member for York Mills is refusing to attend meetings to schedule witnesses.
Can the Premier explain why his members are taking this action?
Hon Mr Peterson: This matter is in the hands of the committee, and as the member knows, the committee orders its own business.
Mr Runciman: It is an effort here, quite clearly, on the part of government members, operating on a clear direction from somewhere, to stall this matter until it cannot be dealt with in a full manner. Obviously the government has something to hide here. We are attempting to get to the facts, and we are being shut off at every turn. The changes in the standing orders were made with the agreement of all three parties in this Legislature to facilitate the operations, and now at the first opportunity for the opposition to have a matter referred, we are being frustrated by the government members’ on this committee stalling tactics to cover up.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Runciman: Will the Premier commit himself to making certain that members of that subcommittee on his party’s side are prepared to meet this afternoon, and if not this afternoon, tomorrow at the latest, to arrange a schedule of witnesses so we can get on with our business?
Hon Mr Peterson: -- ordered by the committee and by the House leaders and I will be happy to pass on his very thoughtful and dispassionate views on the matter.
BALLET OPERA HOUSE
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Communications. Some time ago, this government made a commitment to the support of a Ballet Opera House in Toronto, and more recently, Toronto itself has also indicated its support for the same. Such a performance house is very important to both the Canadian Opera Co and to the National Ballet of Canada in order that they can further their growth and development so that they can work towards becoming world-class companies. I wonder if the minister could share with us today where the federal government stands with regard to its possible support of this project and where that stands with regard to any time limits as to when its support has to be on side or the project is gone. Could the minister please advise us?
Hon Ms Hart: I thank the member for Simcoe Centre for his interest in this issue. Indeed the Ballet Opera House, it is hoped, will be a beacon in this city for the whole nation in the performance of ballet and opera.
As the member knows, the province has committed to support the Ballet Opera House and its support is conditional on a support by the federal government. I recently met with the federal minister, Marcel Masse, and as far as I understand, their commitment still stands. I do not believe there is a firm time when that must occur, but I understand that before summer we should hear something.
Mr Owen: I understand that at the present time the National Ballet, for example, functions out of four different locations in Toronto and that in order to perform at the O’Keefe Centre, as it has been doing for many years, it must treat each session or performance as if it is on a road trip, with all of the difficulties and limitations that would accompany a road trip tour. I understand the same situation applies to the Canadian Opera. The difficulties are almost insurmountable for these companies. They are good, but they cannot become world-class until we co-operate with them and provide the proper venue for them to perform in. I wonder if these circumstances have been communicated to the federal government so it can realize how important the issue is.
Hon Ms Hart: Indeed those circumstances have been communicated to the federal minister, because I have done that myself, but I should say further that the planning process is ongoing for the Ballet Opera House, that construction is intended to begin in 1991, and as far as I know, it is a go.
Mr Reville: My question is for the Minister of Health. Here is where this government’s health policy has got us: Women and men, old and sick, get wheeled into a closet where they are hosed down. All of us can imagine how we would feel under such circumstances, how dignified we would feel.
Yesterday the minister responded to questions about this matter with the usual platitudes. What can she say to us today? Do people in Ontario have the right to expect dignified treatment from this government?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I was very clear in my answer yesterday that the story that I read on the weekend, as the member opposite did, clearly showed an unacceptable situation. I want him to know that the ministry considers the expansion of Ajax and Pickering General Hospital as one of its highest priorities. We have met with the hospital board as recently as last Friday, and I can assure the member that the planning process is nearing completion and that we hope to have an announcement in a matter of weeks.
Mr Reville: The minister is quite right, it is unacceptable to hose down old, sick people in closets, but that is the inevitable consequence of the goofy health policy that this government has. On the one hand it has stopped building beds, and on the other hand it has barely begun to put into place its community care system. This government is not putting its eggs into any basket. What is it to be? Is it to be a real continuum of institutional and community care, or is it going to be more makeshift showers?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite is quite incorrect. In fact, our whole capital planning framework acknowledges that infrastructure renewal, which will make sure that both occupational health and safety issues as well as patient comfort and convenience, is considered a priority as one of the four parts of the capital planning framework, as are innovations, specialty care and a responsive approach to demographics.
I can tell him that the capital planning framework has been applauded by communities across this province and, for the very first time in a long time in this province, we are seeing hospitals work together to identify those areas where we can improve both patient and staff comfort as well as safety issues. I want to assure him that those processes are under way right across this province and that this year we will see some $250 million in capital expenditure, which the Treasurer has very generously allocated for this purpose, and I am pleased to report to the House that that kind of activity will result in improving the facilities in this province for the people of Ontario.
Mr McLean: My question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Of 443 proxy votes cast in Tiny township in 1988, 306 were incorrectly completed or altered, 118 were completed with no proxy appointed by the elector but a proxy was not listed by the candidate, 129 were completed with no proxy appointed by the elector but a proxy was not listed by the campaign worker, 21 were completed by the elector and a proxy was appointed by the proxy’s name or the date had been altered, 12 had the proxy and the witness as the same person, two were completed in which the elector and witness were the same person and seven were completed by proxies who voted as proxy for more than one person. The report also states that some of the problems experienced were likely the result of recent amendments to the Municipal Elections Act, which meant proxy voting was no longer restricted to ill or absent electors. Does the minister plan on amending the Municipal Elections Act to rectify that problem?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Yes, we share the concern of the honourable member, and he will probably recall that the last amendment to the act came a relatively short period of time before the 1988 election. This was not the only one; there were several, shall I call them, irregularities that occurred. As a result of those, we have done a considerable re-examination of the act. We have already made a couple of changes. We are in the process right now of making a change with respect to proxy, and as the member probably knows, there is a small task force going around the province right at the moment that provides a number of other options that might be made, and in all of these cases we have asked that the changes be recommended to us before the end of this calendar year so they can be incorporated into the 1991 provincial election. So the answer is yes.
Mr McLean: That is exactly what I wanted to hear. If the previous minister had listened to my colleague the member for Simcoe Centre and me when we were dealing with this legislation, there would not have been this problem. So really, my question has been answered and I hope that the reeve of Tiny township now will be able to say that he agrees with the minister, although he has indicated that he does not believe any of the legislation needs to be altered.
I am asking the minister now. He indicates that once the report is in, he will amend the legislation?
Hon Mr Sweeney: What I have indicated to my honourable friend is that there is a significant re-examination of the election legislation. We are in the process of changing a number of things, and what he is talking about is part of the review that is going on right at the present time. The only thing I cannot tell him with any surety is exactly what form the change will take, but in fact there will be changes to that legislation.
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions. It is now several months since the Outboard Marine Corp closed its operations in Peterborough, but apparently the distribution of the pension assets of the former employees is still unsettled. My question to the minister is, could he comment on the process used to distribute such funds?
Mr D. S. Cooke: He’s asking about pension reform. When is the indexation coming?
Hon Mr Elston: As always, the member for Peterborough has raised a very important question for his constituents, and as usual, the member for Windsor-Riverside has again misunderstood the intent of the question, in fact is unable to provide anything useful by way of comment in the House.
Let me tell the member for Peterborough that his request for information is timely inasmuch as the announced closure has caused a partial windup of two plans at the company. In fact, as I understand it, there was an approval for distribution of benefits given on 11 May and shortly, I suspect, there will be a sending out of request forms to the employees, which they should send back.
Mr Adams: I am grateful to the minister for that response. I think he realizes that this has been a very stressful time for the former employees. As this thing has dragged out somewhat, I wonder if the minister can give me any sense of when all the decisions will have been taken for every employee as to when he or she will be receiving final information on pension matters.
Hon Mr Elston: As I understand it, not all of the employees are terminated at the same time, so that will mean that an answer to that will depend upon termination, obviously, but there will be in the next four to six weeks a sending out of the application forms that I advised the member of, and those forms obviously should be filled in quickly by all concerned so that the material can be gathered and distribution commenced.
As I understand it, some employees, I think, will be going until 1 June, which is quite soon. As a result, I think the expectation is that within seven months from that time there should be complete dealing with the pension matters at the company.
OLDER WORKER ADJUSTMENT PROGRAM
Mr Farnan: To the Minister of Labour: Two older workers come to my office. Both of them are the victims of layoffs due to bankruptcy. Neither of them has any hope of being rehired or retrained. One of them will be covered by the POWA program, the program for older worker adjustment, and will be eligible for extended benefits. The other will not.
Would the minister tell me how he would explain the inadequacy and the unfairness of the POWA program, particularly to the worker who is denied the meagre benefits of the POWA program?
Hon Mr Phillips: As I explained in the House, I guess probably four or five months ago, the POWA program is a joint federal-provincial program, one that has benefits for some older workers -- not all older workers, but some older workers -- and I am pleased that we have been able to assist many older workers, including some older workers in the member’s riding.
The POWA program is not perfect, as I said in the House before. It is one of the reasons why we were the last province to agree to participate in the POWA program. It is of benefit to many older workers, but it does not benefit all older workers. We had some suggestions for changes. We were unable to get the federal government to necessarily agree to those. As I say, POWA helps many, not all, and I think the member will have to explain to his constituents that it is a program that nine of the other provinces agreed to, we finally agreed to it, and it does benefit some but not all older workers in the province.
Mr Farnan: The minister admits that the vast majority of older workers are excluded from the program. Ontario had a total of 5,496 bankruptcies in the first four months of this year. This is an increase of almost 30% over the same period in 1989. The vast majority of these bankruptcies will result in layoffs of men and women, the majority of whom will not be included under the POWA program.
Given the fact that the minister’s predecessor promised four and a half years ago that he would go ahead with provincial legislation -- note that, provincial legislation -- to protect workers, can the minister tell this House why he has failed to deliver an effective protection for the working people of Ontario?
Hon Mr Phillips: Again, it is a question that has been asked in the House before. The federal government has been indicating to provincial governments that in the case of bankruptcies, which I think all members in the House realize is a federal responsibility, it was its intention to provide wage protection. We have been urging the federal government to do that. Myself and the previous ministers of labour have been urging the federal government to move on that provision for providing wage protection in the case of bankruptcies. It clearly is a federal matter, it clearly is one that the federal government has said it was going to act on, and it is one that we are attempting to hold it accountable for. Too often the federal government is attempting to put on to provincial governments responsibilities which are clearly its.
I hope the member opposite is not suggesting that we back away from those responsibilities and back away from holding the federal government accountable for the areas where it should be held accountable. That is what we will continue to press to do.
ONTARIO HYDRO ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS
Mr Cureatz: I have a question to the Minister of Energy. A week ago Friday, Ontario Hydro made an announcement on Ontario Hydro Environmental Assessments -- nuclear generating stations siting studies. I find it passing strange that the announcement was made a week ago Friday just before the House adjourned.
I know I am stowed way up here on the back bench and my learned colleague the member for London North is way down there on the front bench, but I have not lost all my marbles. I just want to bring to the minister’s attention: Is it not true that the minister directed Ontario Hydro to make the announcement concerning the siting of future generating stations just before the House adjourned so that she would hope that the Energy critics for the opposition parties would not bring to her attention the fact that -- and is this not the case -- she is now proceeding with environmental banking for future energy site locations?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would assure the honourable member that I do not direct Ontario Hydro in its press release function. However, I would recall for the honourable member’s benefit that in the environmental assessment hearing that will be undertaken in relationship to Ontario Hydro’s plans for electricity supply for the next 25 years, those hearings are to be conducted in two phases. The first phase is looking at determination of need and also the proposals that Hydro has put forward to meet that projected need. The second phase of the hearings is to deal with site-specific approvals for the projects that have been included in the final plan approved in phase 1 of those hearings.
What Hydro has undertaken to do and clearly indicated that it was going to do was to do the environmental assessment work on different sites for different projects that are included in its proposed plans so that when phase 2 of the environmental assessment hearings does begin, that process can be expedited by virtue of having all of the background work as well as consultation in the communities already carried out. That is what they were announcing: they are continuing with that process.
Mr Cureatz: We appreciate the minister’s clarifying the announcement. I would like to bring to her attention that my colleague the member for Leeds-Grenville had pursued with former ministers of Energy, as I am with the minister again, the need for environmental banking.
I would like to make it as brief and as simple a question as possible. Is it not now the case that this administration -- and we have been pressuring the government to do so -- is proceeding on the basis of environmental banking because it is going to take a long process, some two to three years, to get the necessary environmental assessment hearings out of the way? Is it not the case that the minister is actually proceeding with environmental banking so that when she finally reaches the decision-making point of locating a station, she can immediately begin construction?
Hon Mrs McLeod: No, that is not in fact the case. The environmental assessment hearings that will be undertaken on Ontario Hydro’s proposed plans have not been undertaken in the province before. They do not involve environmental banking in the sense that any approvals would not be granted for any site-specific projects until phase 1 of the hearings is first of all completed so that there is an agreement on the mix of electricity generation options that will be provided for, and second, the environmental assessment work on projects that are approved in phase 1 of the plan is fully considered by the Environmental Assessment Board. Until both phases of those hearings are completed, there is no environmental approval for either general proposals or specific projects.
VANDALISM OF JEWISH CEMETERIES
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Citizenship. The minister knows about the recent desecration of the Jewish cemetery 10 days ago in Ottawa. Our political and community leaders condemned this outrageous attack forcefully and quickly at a public rally in Nepean. However, the question remains: How can we prevent similar events in the future? In fact, I will be joining a community meeting this Friday to see what we ourselves can do to promote respect and have tolerance among all people of different backgrounds.
Can the minister advise the people of Ontario on his own reaction to the recent signs of anti-Semitism and racism and what his plans are to stop similar occurrences?
Hon Mr Wong: First I would like to thank the honourable member for Nepean for his serious concern and his question. The desecration of the Jewish cemetery in the Ottawa region was a reprehensible, despicable and very terrible act of racism. I wish to inform the honourable member and all colleagues in the House that after the event I personally spoke to and have written to a number of the leaders of the Jewish community both in the Ottawa region and also in Toronto in order to convey the government’s abhorrence of this particular incident and in order to exchange views.
Also, I would like to indicate that staff of the ministry in Ottawa has been working with an ad hoc committee consisting of elected officials of all levels of government and also with key members of the Jewish community and members of the minority community groups in the Ottawa region. In addition, our staff has been in contact with senior police officials in the Ottawa region in order to determine appropriate strategies.
Let me conclude by saying that in trying to prevent similar occurrences in the future, we all have to work together. This means community groups, the media, police, government. In fact, all of us have a responsibility in shaping the attitudes to help build a tolerant and understanding society.
Mr Daigeler: I welcome the minister’s efforts to promote respect for minorities, whatever their race, colour or religion. There is also the question of proper police protection and intelligence work to uncover the perpetrators of hateful acts. I am wondering whether the minister is working with his colleague the Solicitor General on this matter.
Can he inform us whether our police services are making a special effort to find the people responsible for the recent desecrations and to protect the cemeteries and any other facility that may be threatened?
Hon Mr Wong: To answer the honourable member’s question, let me say that I have spoken to my colleague the Solicitor General. His staff is doing everything possible to co-operate. But really, this is a matter for the local level of police. As I indicated in my previous answer, our ministry staff in Ottawa has been in contact with senior police officials in the Ottawa region. Let me say further that our information is that these acts of violence are the work of a few troubled instigators and do not reflect the views of the majority of citizens who join in denouncing this and other despicable racist incidents.
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the ministry’s commitment to assisting the communities of the North Shore in response to the devastating layoffs announced at the Elliot Lake mines and the effects they will have on the economies of the small communities in the area.
Can the minister explain, in the context of the serious economic depression facing the communities, why her ministry has decided it is opportune to transfer jobs away from the Ministry of Natural Resources district in Blind River to Sault Ste Marie district and to move the fire crew from Piche to Ranger Lake at a time when the ministry should be doing the opposite; that is, increasing staffing in the area to help the economy of the local community of Blind River, rather than furthering the economic depression the community is facing?
Hon Mrs McLeod: My understanding is that there was a relocation of fire crews either last year or the year before to Ranger Lake in order to ensure that there is adequate fire crew placement close to the site of anticipated fires. That arrangement basically exists for this coming year, although there has been some further relocation in order to have a detached crew leader available in three different sites, one of which would continue to be Blind River. It is my understanding that two crews of six people, plus one detached crew leader, would remain in Blind River.
I can assure the honourable member that the ministry’s concern in its location of its fire crews is simply to ensure that those crews are located in a place where they can be most expeditiously used to fight the fires quickly.
Hon Mr Offer moved that the following substitutions be made on standing committees: on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, Mr Laughren for Mr Mackenzie; on the standing committee on government agencies, Mrs Grier for Mr Breaugh; on the standing committee on regulations and private bills, Ms Martel for Mr Morin-Strom.
Motion agreed to.
Miss Roberts: I have a petition signed by 175 people in my riding. Under the whereases, they respectfully request the government of Ontario provide time for opt-in classes in our public schools for the teaching of Christian religious education and moral ethics to all those students whose parents request it. If this cannot be provided, they request publicly funded Christian schools on the same basis as the Roman Catholic schools.
I have affixed my signature, pursuant to the standing orders.
Mr Adams: I have a petition here from 300 people in the Peterborough area who are concerned about the environment. In part, it reads:
“We petition the establishment of regulations requiring all eat-in restaurant customers to be served on reusable plates with reusable utensils, and that whatever necessary funding and tax incentives be provided to allow for a smooth transition of these changes; and further, the establishment of a tax on non-recyclable, disposable eating utensils used in retail outlets for takeout purposes, sufficient to provide a reasonable incentive for such restaurants to shift to reusable alternatives; and further, that the proceeds of this tax be used to fund projects and programs to enhance the environment.”
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
EMPLOYMENT EQUITY ACT, 1990
Mr Rae moved first reading of Bill 172, the Employment Equity Act, 1990.
Motion agreed to.
Mr B. Rae: As I had an opportunity to explain earlier to people at a press conference, this bill is the result of a long period of discussion and consultation with a number of groups as well as individuals across the province, members active in the visible minority community, the disabled community, women’s groups, native groups as well as people from the labour movement.
It is a way of getting this government and this House to focus its attention on the next logical step in creating greater justice and fairness in the workplace and ensuring that it happens. The bill establishes the principle that every employer with a payroll of more than $300,000 a year needs to develop an employment equity plan, that this plan needs to be discussed with the employees it concerns and, indeed, if there is a trade union, to be negotiated with employees. The bill, as the explanatory note makes clear, also establishes a commission on employment equity and an employment equity board.
Since I see you are about to get to your feet, Mr Speaker, I will say that this bill will be discussed, as I understand it, in rotation on 14 June, and we shall have an even greater opportunity to discuss the principles of the act.
MENTAL HEALTH AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Chiarelli, on behalf of Mr Callahan, moved first reading of Bill 173, An Act to amend the Mental Health Act.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ONTARIO LOTTERY CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Hon Mr Black moved second reading of Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
Hon Mr Black: My colleague the Treasurer recently presented a budget that demonstrated the very high priority that government places on protecting and enhancing the environment.
This legislation supports that direction by allowing the profits of the Ontario Lottery Corporation to be used to help protect a clean environment for Ontario’s future.
Ms Bryden: Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, is another attempt by the government to pretend that it is going to make some new money available for the protection of the environment. It is purely a public relations bill which offers no guarantee of any new funds. It offers no program on how any money from lottery proceeds, which might be allocated to “the protection of the environment,” will be spent. It offers no opportunity for the public to have any say in how such money will be spent. It offers no way in which public accountability will be ensured for such expenditures beyond the usual estimates process for considering and approving all ministerial spending.
Bill 114 is simply a further tinkering with section 9 of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, which was done in late 1989 under Bill 119. Our party will be opposing this bill as a further piece of deceptive legislation on spending of lottery proceeds similar to Bill 119. Bill 119 is the legislation brought in by this Liberal government in the dying days of 1989, allocating lottery proceeds according to the whims of the provincial Treasurer and the cabinet. Nothing is really designated under Bill 119.
Bill 119 went through in a most undemocratic way in this Legislature. The provincial Treasurer and the cabinet did not get this tax-grab legislation through without very great difficulty. In fact, they had to withdraw two previous bills which the public had indicated it did not like and the Treasurer decided at one stage that Bill 38 should perhaps be postponed and looked at again. Finally, in the dying days of 1989, Bill 119 was rammed through by the top-heavy majority on the other side, who did not seem to be worried about the fact that we were giving up the power of the purse which the Legislature is supposed to have, and we were giving it up to the provincial Treasurer and the cabinet to decide how lottery funds should be spent.
We cited to the government opposite that the Magna Carta guaranteed that there should be no spending without approval by the elected people or by the people who were the advisers to the King. When the barons got together and told the King they would not give him any more support or money if he did not consult them, that established the principle that we know as Magna Carta. But this legislation, Bill 119 and its successor Bill 114, go in the face of that tradition that the Legislature should have control of the spending of all moneys that come into the consolidated revenue fund, and that we do that through the estimates and the appropriation process.
In the case of lottery funds, they are a little different. They are what some people call voluntary taxation. The people who invest in lottery tickets feel that they are investing in them because they think that the purposes to which the funds are put will be good ones and ones of which they approve, and they feel that those funds should be definitely earmarked for certain purposes.
Normally, we do not like earmarking taxes; we like to give the government the full opportunity to decide through its budgetary process how money shall be spent. But voluntary taxes which come in through lottery purchases are something different, and from the very beginning of establishing lotteries in 1975, we decided that lottery funds should be designated for certain purposes.
Honourable members will recall that the Ontario Lottery Corp was established by an act of 1974 and started in 1975. It was originally set up to stem the flow of lottery funds out of the province to things like the Irish sweepstake -- not that we have anything against the Irish, but there was the argument that perhaps some of that money should be kept at home.
It was agreed that lotteries -- even though some people had misgivings about encouraging gambling, shall we say -- to a limited degree, were a method of raising funds from the public to provide assured funding for certain designated areas of activities in the province. These areas were greatly underfunded at the time, and still are, meaning the areas of fitness, culture, recreation and sport. But since these areas were greatly underfunded, the original bill in section 9, at least assured them of the net proceeds raised from lotteries run by the corporation. I think the public agreed with going into lotteries on that basis.
Let me read the original section 9 in the 1974 act setting up the lottery corporation.
“9. The net profits of the corporation after provision for prizes and the payment of expenses of operations shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct, to be available for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities therefor.”
Members will note that section 9 in its original version dedicates all net proceeds of the Ontario Lottery Corp to the above-designated activities. Presumably, it covers proceeds from all lotteries operated by the corporation, since no mention is made of specific lotteries that were operating then and the section 9 has been deemed to apply to subsequently set up lotteries as long as they are operated by the corporation.
However, Bill 119 was the first successful attack on the original dedication of lottery funds to those purposes that I have mentioned. It dropped the dedication of the net proceeds of the lottery corporations to the above activities alone. Bill 119 substituted for it a statement that lottery corporation net proceeds “be available for appropriation by the Legislature” for three purposes.
Let me cite those three purposes: (1) the designated activity of the original bill, (2) the activities of the Trillium Foundation, to which the government has delegated the dispensing of some funds to social service agencies -- in passing, I question whether that is a delegation that should not receive more scrutiny from the Legislature and from the people who operate social service agencies. It is a group of businessmen who have set up a foundation to dispense grants to social service agencies, and while I do not question that they have done good work in dispensing funds in some areas, the question of how they exercise that power is still not really subject to legislative scrutiny, and I think the people who are appointed to the foundation are also not subject to legislative scrutiny. So that is an agency that perhaps should be looked at some time by one of the legislative committees, but I am digressing.
The third function under Bill 119 or the third purpose to which lottery funds may be allocated is, in the event that not all the proceeds are used in each fiscal year for items 1 and 2, namely the designated activities of the original bill and the Trillium Foundation, the balance of the lottery proceeds can be appropriated as part of the money appropriated by the Legislature for the operation of hospitals. So that is the third area where the new Bill 119 changed the original section 9.
I may say that section 2 of Bill 119 solved a problem that the government was facing at that time. A goodly amount of unspent lottery proceeds were locked up in the consolidated revenue fund at that time, and without Bill 119 going through, it appeared that the government would not be able to spring those funds and get them into circulation for the purposes it wished to use them for. It had to get Bill 119 through to legitimize some of the allocation of lottery funds in the past that did not appear to fit the original section 9 and also to spring the funds that were locked up in the consolidated revenue fund.
So section 2 of Bill 119 said that all funds paid into the consolidated revenue fund prior to 1 April 1989 which had not been expended before that date should be applied to and accounted for in the public accounts of Ontario as part of the money appropriated by the Legislature for the operation of hospitals in the fiscal year in which the act comes into force -- that is, in effect, 1989-90. So I presume that money has been sprung and has been spent on hospitals, but we are not really sure until the fiscal year end results are reported. It has ended as of 31 March last, but until the accounts come out, we are not really sure whether that money was not just used to cut the usual appropriation for hospitals in the fiscal year 1989-90. In other words, we are not sure if any real, new money went into hospitals as a result of section 2 of Bill 119. At any rate, that section is now dead, so we are looking at the effect of Bill 119 on the spending of lottery proceeds that come in from now on.
Bill 119 substituted a completely new section 9 for the original one in the 1974 legislation. It was cleverly worded to appear to be dedicating some funds to the same fitness, sport, recreational and cultural activities as were in the original section 9. In addition, it earmarked some funds for the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the operation of hospitals. In Bill 114, it is adding to the above list a vague designation, namely “for the protection of the environment,” whatever that means.
Both Bill 119 of 1989 and this bill are deceptive because Bill 119 gives the Treasurer and the cabinet the full power to dispense all or none of the Ontario Lottery Corp proceeds as they see fit. There is no guarantee any of the named groups or purposes will get a penny.
The government has cleverly changed the wording of section 9 from “The net profits of the corporation,” and I will drop out a few words up until now, “shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct, to be available for....” The old section 9 stated the designated activities of fitness, culture, recreation and sports, but in the new bill they dropped that after “to be available for” and put in that the funds shall be available for “appropriation by the Legislature.” In other words, they have appeared not to change the allocation of the proceeds, but by adding the words “appropriation by the Legislature” they have, in effect, under majority government, simply made it by the whim of the provincial Treasurer and the cabinet, because that is all that “appropriation by the Legislature” means these days under majority government.
This means that Bill 114 is pretending that the Legislature will have the say in whether some money should be allocated “for the protection of the environment.”
Beyond the fact that there is now no guarantee for any of the designated groups or activities, there is no special accountability for the expenditure of the lottery funds so appropriated by the Legislature beyond the usual standing committee on estimates and standing committee on public accounts review after the event. In fact, I am saying that in Bill 114 the vague phrase “for the protection of the environment” is absolutely meaningless.
There is no provision in the bill for any consultation by the government with the Ministry of the Environment or the public as to how any funds that might come in through that source at the whim of the provincial Treasurer and the cabinet should be spent. There is no provision even for any consultation with the Ministry of the Environment as to whether it would be the designated spending ministry if there was any money that came in through that process.
There is no indication whether, if any money did come in through that process, it would not be a substitute for other moneys appropriated for the Ministry of the Environment. In other words, rather than increase spending, it might simply supplant spending that is already planned in the budget for the environment. We know the amounts in the budget for the environment have not been going up at a rate that is encouraging that the ministry is prepared to attack the whole problem of the protection of the environment.
In fact, it is suggesting in this bill an attempt to look after the protection of the environment by possibly dedicating a few dollars from lottery proceeds, which often do not exceed more than $500,000 a year. What we need for the protection of the environment is absolutely astronomical if we are going to actually protect our ecology and our planet. This funding, so-called in this bill, is absolutely no substitute for a planned program to save our ecology and our planet.
Where has the principle gone that the polluter should pay for protecting our environment? I thought there had been an announcement, I think by the Ministry of the Environment, that we were going to have a clean lottery, or a lottery dedicated solely to protecting the environment. But we have not seen any legislation on that and it seems to be only another public relations announcement. It also seems to be another attempt to say that the taxpayers should pay for cleaning up and protecting the environment and that business and the polluters should not pay.
Who is going to pay for changing our lifestyles and our habits, which are also polluting the environment? Who is going to change the packaging policies that are adding to the pollution of the environment and the running out of landfill? Who is going to pay for the reduction in emissions that are badly needed to protect our air and our water? Who is going to pay for the actual reduction of emissions which, in the long run, will mean that we have less toxins going into our environment? These are all big problems and they will require big expenditures.
A government which thinks that passing Bill 114 is any answer to the vast problem of the protection of the environment is really just kidding itself that it is doing anything that will be recognized by the public as protecting the environment.
I want to go back to the fact that Bill 119 struck off any guarantee for the designated groups, the fitness, sports, cultural and recreational groups, in our province. I am sure the government is aware that when our party finally persuaded the government that it had to send Bill 119 to public hearings -- and I think the other opposition party agreed with us on that. When they did send it out to public hearings, which were held over January and February as well as in the fall -- I guess it could not have been in January and February, because Bill 119 was passed in December 1989.
Anyway, during the last several months of 1989, the public hearings on Bill 119 were absolutely phenomenal. Almost 200 delegations asked to be heard. The committee did some travelling and heard delegations in other parts of the province. Many people came into Toronto to make delegations.
The cultural, recreational and sports groups got together into a coalition and made many of their proposals in the form of an organized attempt to show how very valuable all those cultural and recreational groups and their contributions were to our economy. They showed how very valuable they were to the communities in which they operated. They showed how very valuable they were to many of the municipal governments which were trying to operate sports. recreational and cultural programs.
They also made us aware of many new areas into which cultural and recreational grants had been going, but in very limited amounts, areas such as dance and theatre, in order to get across educational messages, or to help prisoners develop their talents by developing plays in prison.
By sitting on that committee I learned about a great many activities that were going on in this province that desperately needed that funding from the lottery corporation. They will not be pleased to see that we have now added a new subject that might be allocated some funds. If they realize the amount is likely to be as little as nothing, maybe they will not feel so aggrieved because they are all in the same boat now.
They are guaranteed nothing from the Treasurer and, of those categories that are mentioned, who gets it will depend on the policies of the Treasurer and the cabinet. I think all of those groups who were mentioned should consider that they are still really not first-class citizens as far as allocation of lottery funds is concerned.
We also learned that a lot of those groups who had been getting small lottery funds were not able to expend them efficiently because they were too small or they spent too much time trying to get their funding. They had to go after it year after year. They did not have full-time staff and so they spent a lot of their time making their proposals available.
A few of them have started to computerize their activities so that at least their mailing lists are computerized and they can get out appeals for funds in an efficient way. A few of them have decided to get together on purchasing policies and are reducing costs by methods such as that. At the moment it is all really subsidizing many operations that could be a lot more efficient if they had a more stable source of funding and if they had adequate funding to meet the needs they have been set up to meet.
We are very rich in the kind of cultural, recreational, fitness and sport activities that have been going on in this province, many of them operated entirely by volunteers, many of them operated by parents, many of them operated by the groups themselves, such as the baseball teams that do get small grants but still have to do most of the work themselves in the fund-raising area.
All of those groups are really being shafted by this government. They do not see any future growth in their grants and they do not see any future growth in the grants that come from the umbrella councils, like the Ontario Arts Council and the athletics administrators. They are all getting very discouraged on how much they are expected to do and how much the provincial government is prepared to do.
It is more of the downloading that we have been talking about, where the provincial government is ducking out of its responsibilities in these areas and is letting the local people, and possibly the municipal governments, pick up the slack. We all know that the municipal governments have been downloaded in so many other areas that they really have no money for extending cultural, fitness and recreation grants.
Many of them are finding that the programs they run, particularly through the parks and recreation departments in municipalities, contribute a great deal to health and personal wellbeing in the various municipalities. Some of them rely on some volunteer help, with volunteer coaches, but others need money for operating recreation centres and sports arenas and also maintaining the arenas they already have.
I think we all remember the day of the great building of arenas under the Progressive Conservative government. I commend them for starting that initiative in many local communities, assisting them with the building of arenas and stadiums. But again they did not provide very much, if anything, in the way of operating costs. That has been left to the local municipalities or some sort of a sports, recreational or cultural group in the area. The government is not really contributing to the quality of life in this province by cutting out adequate provision for cultural, recreational and sports and fitness grants.
I think that Bill 114 is really just a further step in the march away from a caring government that is concerned about what is going on among the people in our communities. I think if they read the piles and piles of briefs that were submitted on Bill 119 when it was going through, they will become much more aware of what has been happening in this province. With an election facing us, it is time for them to look at their programs in this field and to show they really are interested in encouraging the original designated groups, and money for them is not nearly enough.
If they need money for other purposes, they still have their $2 billion of extra taxes that they have imposed in the last two budgets before the present tax-free, sunshine, pre-election budget. I think more of that money could have been allocated to a substantial increase in the funding of those community, recreational and cultural groups across the province.
This government has really not kept faith with all those groups that counted on lottery funds as just a little extra stimulus but also counted on umbrella groups that would see that activities in these areas were adequately funded with other grants going to municipalities and sports central organizations, recreational developments and capital spending.
Capital is one of the big areas where we are missing any substantial funding. With the construction industry complaining that there is a slowdown in construction jobs, it might be a good time to do some capital spending on more recreational centres in the area, more sports and cultural centres, instead of spending vast sums on restoring theatres.
Although I think that restorations are very interesting, they are very expensive. We do need more small theatres, small concert halls and small sports complexes to see that people have some place to go besides places where you pay $50 and $60 for tickets to get in to a show. That is an area where I think some capital spending might stimulate the economy. It might provide jobs and it might provide new places for young people to go.
It might even contribute to the problem that our young people are not having enough recreational and cultural activities available to them. They are not even able to find a place in Metropolitan Toronto to rollerskate, which is ridiculous. But that sort of healthy activity is something that we really should be promoting if we want to avoid the people going in for drug syndromes and activity that is not healthy.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know that government members would not be very happy to know there is not a quorum, in view of the quality of the speeches being made.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Ms Bryden: I hope the larger audience will be aware of the fact that I am making a plea for all the people in sports, recreation, fitness and cultural activities who are being not only neglected but also given the cold shoulder by this government in its policies.
Mr Speaker, if you will recall, when Bill 119 was going through, our party moved an amendment to it, saying that instead of giving the Treasurer a blank cheque on the allocation of lottery proceeds, he should be required to put all unallocated funds, which were considerable at that time, into a lottery trust fund and that the dispensing of that trust fund should be subject to a committee that would study the needs that have been neglected due to the lack of allocation of those funds over the years.
There is a deliberate policy, it would appear, since the Liberal government came in certainly and probably before that, to not spend all the lottery funds that came in. They were hived away in the consolidated revenue fund and, year after year, there were these unspent sums in there. Yet all sorts of groups were not able to carry on their activities. Various small sports groups had to resort to dances and fund-raising for most of the time of the people operating them, and they were mainly volunteer parents who would rather get on with running the sports activities and the peewee teams and the older teams.
But the amendment that our party moved, that we set up a lottery trust fund to dispense all those funds that actually were sprung in 1988-89, was rejected out of hand. It was rejected like most amendments in this Legislature since the majority government came in. The government does not appear to listen to any arguments for a sensible way of running things and for involving the public in how funds should be spent.
I think these funds had come in through the actions of both governments in underspending them. When it came time to spring them by legislation, the dispensing of them should have been decided by a lottery trust fund. We might have learned a lot about what the needs were in the hearings of that trust fund and it would have been another opportunity to do some planning ahead for both capital and operating expenditures for the kinds of groups people think the lotteries are funding.
It is still evident when we listen to the ads on the lottery draws or look at the ads in the paper that our proceeds help recreational and cultural activities. People buy the tickets thinking they are doing a good thing, but they do not know that practically none of that money will go to the purposes for which they thought they bought their tickets. I think it is fraudulent for the government to still advertise on its tickets or on the ads for them that these proceeds go to cultural and recreational activities because there is no reporting as to how much of it goes to any one activity or how much comes back to each community.
The coalition of groups that came before us did at least think if they were not too demanding and were like Oliver Twist, who came asking for more, and if they asked for a guarantee of one third of the lottery funds to go to sports, fitness and recreation and culture, they might get that amendment to the bill. We moved an amendment to that effect as well to get at least a minimum guarantee. That was also defeated by this government. When the next election comes, the government is going to have to explain why it would not even guarantee one third of approximately half a million dollars that was available in lottery funds. The government would not even guarantee one third to all those various activities in the communities.
I think we have reached an area where we need a lot more acceptance of consultation by the government in the spending of its money. The Treasurer calls meetings periodically, or one of the standing committees has hearings periodically, on what people would like to see in the budget. While this is very commendable, it used to be that most of the people who came to those committee hearings were from the business world. What they want to see in the budget, of course, are more and more tax concessions for the business world. I think they are getting that from the Liberal government right now.
Some ordinary groups of individuals wanting grants for cultural and recreational purposes did come and their briefs were politely received and listened to, but I do not see any evidence in the Treasurer’s budget when it comes to appropriating further moneys for both the capital and the operating expenses of culture, recreation and fitness.
In fact, tomorrow is Participaction Day, where we are all supposed to participate in some sport. We should do our push-ups right now. It is no good the Premier running around in his track suit, showing that he is participating, when his government is not participating at all in the development of healthy sports activities for people.
I think one reform that this government should consider is to make it mandatory that if grants are given to any sports and recreation cultural group for a capital structure, and we do need some, a certain amount should be set aside for maintenance costs every year. Members will remember that we have had a few arenas which collapsed from the weight of the snow on them because they were not properly maintained, and it was left up to the municipalities to find the money to maintain them. This is another area where the government’s policy on any spending under Bill 114 should be combined with a clause that anything that is spent on capital should have provision for a minimum maintenance grant as well.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Could you indicate whether or not there is a quorum?
The Deputy Speaker: We will soon do that.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is not present.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung
The Deputy Speaker: A quorum is present. The member for Beaches-Woodbine may resume her speech.
Ms Bryden: I am glad that I have got a new audience each time. Maybe it is possible to persuade some of them of my point of view.
Mr Speaker, I have told you that our party will vote against Bill 114 as being another deceptive bill intending to show that the government is doing something about the environment, but we have no idea what it is doing except getting a public relations statement on to the record before the presumably imminent election. So I would like to simply urge all members to reject this really vacuous piece of legislation which does nothing to improve the image of the government as being interested in the protection of the environment.
Mr Elliot: I would like to react just a bit to the comments made by the honourable member with respect to Bill 114. Having chaired the standing committee on general government on Bill 119, which was the basis for most of her talk, I would like to point out from the Chair’s point of view at that time the submissions that I heard were far different, in my interpretation, from those given to the chamber today.
I have long been involved with the Ontario Municipal Recreation Association, way back into the 1970s, and have followed the advent of the lottery bills and that type of thing for the past 15 years or more. As past president of the Oakville Art Society and a number of other associations like that, the availability of funds now, under this present government, with respect to culture and recreation and other areas like those is far in excess of anything that we would have anticipated when we brought in these ideas 15 years ago.
I am very happy with respect to what I heard because the other thing about that is we got a commitment from the Treasurer in committee. He came to the committee on the last day and indicated to us that there would he absolutely no cutback and actually made a pledge on the public record that the present level of funding from the lotteries would be maintained for at least the next three-year interval of time. That is exactly the kind of statement that I want to hear as a member of the government.
One of the reasons I am in government is to allow groups like the Oakville Art Society to plan down the road a little farther than they have been able to do up to this point in time, because up until this government took over it was a year-by-year scenario. Now, in most of the programs that we administer, the people know where they are going for the next three, five, even seven years. I think that what I heard relative to Bill 119 was entirely positive.
I hope to get a chance to talk a little bit about the environmental aspect of this particular piece of legislation a little bit later in the debate.
Mr McLean: I was not going to comment on the member’s speech this afternoon, but after the last member got up I thought I had better. I want to relate to the member for Halton North that I happened to be on that same committee and now I am not so sure that he was on the same committee I was. To indicate to this Legislature that most of the people were in favour of Bill 119 is totally reversed; 90% of the people were opposed to Bill 119. Wherever he was, sitting there as chairman, he could not have been listening. I am sure the member for Beaches-Woodbine will concur with what I am saying here as the facts.
Mr Laughren: I wish to commend the member for Beaches-Woodbine for a very excellent presentation to the assembly this afternoon on this bill.
I too sat on the same committee, the committee that the member for Halton North chaired, and I have no idea what he was listening to during that debate. He must have had his Walkman plugged into his ear, because the people who came before the committee were, without exception as I recall, opposed to the bill. I know that the member for Halton North has a special affection for lotteries, for reasons we will not go into this afternoon, but it seems to me that he is totally and absolutely wrong when he talks about the people who came before that committee. There is no question that people were opposed to that.
I know that he was very pleased when the Treasurer came before the committee on the last day of the hearings and said that he would not cut back any of the moneys to cultural and recreational organizations. But I would tell members that that is the same Treasurer who a couple of years previous to that withdrew Bill 38 and said, “There’s so much opposition in this minority Parliament to the changing of what is known as section 9 of the act” -- which would have put all of the money into the consolidated revenue fund – “that we will withdraw the bill.” But what happened as soon as the government got its majority? Zap, back came the Treasurer with his desire to make sure that the funds did not all go into culture and recreation, which the legislation had said that they should.
Mr Farnan: I have listened with great interest to the speech given by my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I simply want to say that the member for Beaches-Woodbine has been an extraordinarily strong advocate for culture and recreation within the province of Ontario. I look back over the last three years and I cannot think of another member in this assembly who has devoted so much energy and such commitment on behalf of the sports and cultural groups of Ontario.
As the Liberal government has to a great degree abandoned sports, culture, fitness and recreation, it has been the voice of the member for Beaches-Woodbine that has been bringing this issue to the fore, making the province aware of this betrayal, because within the original act there was a very specific designation of funds for culture and recreation. We have seen, as the member so very clearly pointed out, the erosion of the importance placed upon culture and recreation within Ontario.
I am glad that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation was here to listen to the comments of the member for Beaches-Woodbine. It is too sad that his voice is not sufficiently strong at the cabinet table to protect culture and recreation in this province, but I want the minister to be assured that, with the support of the member for Beaches-Woodbine and the New Democratic Party, we hope that we can encourage him to get that support at the cabinet table.
Hon Mr Black: Let me comment very briefly. I appreciate the comments from the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I know of her sincere interest. I know it was not her intention to mislead people, but she did in fact state some things that were not quite correct.
There has been only one other prior bill which was introduced; that was Bill 38 and it was withdrawn. She is quite correct in saying that. Bill 119 actually returned power to this Legislature because in the past, prior to Bill 119, interprovincial lottery funds were not restricted by statute. Since Bill 119 has been passed they are.
However, I think it is important that we recognize we are not debating Bill 119 here today. We are debating Bill 114, the bill that is presently before us. Although it is interesting to hear the rehash of history from members of the NDP and the Conservative Party, I think we should more properly focus our attention on the legislation which is in front of us and which does in fact strengthen the environmental thrust of legislation in this province.
Ms Bryden: I am very pleased that other people who sat on those general government committee hearings seem to have had a different version of what went on in the committee than the chairman. There certainly was a very strong number of delegates, a very large number, almost 200, and of those I would say 95% were opposed to the legislation because most of them thought it was really an undemocratic kind of action by the government and Bill 119 did amount to a retroactive expropriation of the previously unexpended lottery funds. What happened to them was they all presumably went to hospitals. Whether it increased hospital funding or not we do not know.
There were a lot of things in Bill 119 that we think are being repeated in this bill. The government is still not putting into the legislation, and it could have been this bill, the guarantee that the provincial Treasurer is supposed to have given the committee in the last days of its sittings, that there would be no cutbacks. He did not say anything about a cost-of-living bonus, of course, and most of them are suffering inflation rate increases in their costs.
I think if we had seen any sort of commitment in this bill, which after all is opening up the act again, to guarantee the sports, culture and recreation groups some sort of minimum allocation of funds, we would at least have felt that the Treasurer was not just playing games with us at that committee meeting and that it was worth opening up the bill for that purpose. To open it up just to add the words “protection of the environment” is, I think, simply wasting time and I am surprised that the minister thinks that is a very important bill.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to have this opportunity to say a few words concerning Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. As members already know, section 9 of the act now provides that net profits of the Ontario Lottery Corp are available to be appropriated by the Legislature for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities, as well as for the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. This bill would amend section 9 to provide that the net profits of the Ontario Lottery Corp are also available to be appropriated by the Legislature for the protection of the environment.
Bill 114 “does not amend the existing scheme, set out in section 9 of the act, for dealing with net profits of the corporation that are not specifically appropriated by the Legislature. Under this scheme, any part of the net profits of the corporation in a fiscal year of Ontario that is not appropriated by the Legislature in the fiscal year for the abovementioned purposes is to be treated as part of the appropriation made by the Legislature in the fiscal year for the operation of hospitals.”
We have here with Bill 114 an example of this government continuing to divide up the pie -- in this case, the net profits of the Ontario Lottery Corp -- into smaller and smaller slices, when that pie has already been cut up far too often. In the spring of 1989 the throne speech of this government announced that a new lottery fund, Cleantario, would be established to help finance our ongoing efforts to protect the environment.
Then one year later, on 21 March of this year to be exact, the Minister of Tourism and Recreation introduced Bill 114, which he claims will make that promise a reality. The Ontario Lottery Corp plans to introduce a new game called Clean Sweep. That is in conjunction with this initiative. According to Treasury officials, this new game is expected to generate net profits of approximately $20 million in its first year, 1990-91, and about $30 million annually thereafter. You see, it is not a separate bill at all; it is all part of that pie that I am talking about. The pieces are getting smaller and smaller.
In essence, Bill 114 is very similar to a previous bill, Bill 119, which was passed by the House last year and provides hospitals with a slice of the lottery profit pie, which continues to grow smaller all of the time. Bill 114, like Bill 119, is an exercise in pseudo dedication, which has become a small but important part of this Liberal government’s policy. For example, Bill 114 and Bill 119, the tire tax, fishing licences, the gas guzzler tax and the employer health tax are an extremely mixed bag, but they all have one thing in common. They are all examples of how this government uses the implied dedication of revenues to justify tax grabs and other unpopular policy decisions. Yes, I think we all agree that the environment and health care have emerged as two primary targets for pseudo dedication under this government.
Mr Laughren: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I wonder if you could tell me if there is a quorum.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: A quorum is not present.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz) ordered the bells rung.
Mr McLean: After the third quorum call this afternoon, it seems that the Liberal members are not as dedicated as they should be to this Legislature. I find that absurd. Yesterday there were six members here at one time. The disrespect for this Legislature is very, very unkind.
I want to continue on with my speech. This government has apparently concluded that it can extort unlimited sums of money from the taxpayers simply by saying that the unlimited sums of money are for a clean environment and a world-class health care system. That is what they claim they can do. The same government is willing to hold the taxpayers hostage to their concerns about the ecology and about the sick.
The irony of this situation in general, and with Bill 114 in particular, is that none of those taxes or levies are dedicated at all. They simply flow into the huge pot of money called the consolidated revenue fund. The way these taxes, levies and Bill 114 were announced, and the record used by the government in defending them, certainly created the impression that these green taxes and health taxes were somehow special, but they are not.
I think the people of Ontario are clever enough to see through the government’s underhanded scheme. They know that green taxes or health taxes are simply used by this government as a means for digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of the taxpayers.
Once again, we see the policy of this government in action. Bill 114 does not earmark or dedicate the net profits of the Clean Sweep game to environmental projects at all. Again, like Bill 119, we see that Bill 114 simply says that the net profits of the corporation shall be available for appropriation by the government for these purposes as it sees fit.
I think it should be noted also that lottery profits for the current fiscal year are projected to be about $493 million. That is an increase of only $2 million, or 0.4%, relative to the 1989-90 interim levels. Clearly, the new game will not generate an increase in total net profits of $20 million or $30 million.
With Bill 114 we see that the lottery pie will now have to be sliced up once again. That pie will be eight pieces pretty soon. It used to be that we got six big pieces; now we are getting eight smaller pieces. This means that there will be less money available either for the promotion of sports, fitness, recreation and culture, for the Ontario Trillium Foundation or for health care. Clearly, the portion of the net profits directed to the environment cannot also be directed to other purposes and functions.
I think it is well known -- it is a well-known fact -- that in the past I have attempted to amend bills such as Bill 119 and had amendments to the Retail Sales Tax Act, which, among other things, imposed the tire tax, to ensure that moneys raised were specifically dedicated for the purposes specified. These amendments were not accepted by the government, but I am a determined man, and therefore I plan to try to have Bill 114 amended to ensure that the funds actually are used to protect and preserve the environment and are used to encourage the acquisition and development of green spaces. I plan to move an amendment that section 1 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subclauses:
“(c)(i) That net profits appropriated pursuant to clause (c) shall be paid into a special fund to be established in the Ministry of the Environment for the financing of programs and initiatives to protect our environment and to conserve the natural heritage of the province, and that the revenues and expenditures of the fund shall be accounted for in the public accounts of Ontario;
“(c)(ii) That in any fiscal year a minimum of 35% of the total net profits appropriated pursuant to clause (c) shall be used to encourage the acquisition, conservation and development of green spaces, including park lands, forests, valley lands, waterfronts and wetlands.”
That is my amendment, and I would hope that the minister will see fit to give it every consideration that is possible.
Lottery funds were originally intended to support sports, recreational and fitness and cultural programs and activities. These activities are badly in need of funds, and this government has either discontinued, appropriated or flat-lined alternative funding mechanisms. Then, with Bill 119, the government added hospitals to the list. Now, with Bill 114, the environment has been lumped in with all the others that are dividing up this pie.
Once again, Bill 114 amounts to unfair, retroactive expropriation of unallocated surpluses. Again, Bill 114 unfairly pits sports, recreation, culture and fitness groups, and hospitals, against our environment for public support. Bill 114 does not provide any guarantee of a minimum funding level or a minimum share of profits, nor does it make any provisions for year-over-year increases in the level of financial support available to all of the groups cutting up the lottery pie.
This government should abandon Bill 114. Failing that, the government should at the very least send Bill 114 to committee, where my suggested amendment could be discussed and hopefully approved.
The taxpayers of Ontario are sick and tired of a government that continues to give them the dickens. Sports, recreational, cultural, health care and environmental groups are sick and tired of having to come before this government with cap in hand, asking, “Please, sir, I need some more.” We are all sick and tired of the government giving us the dickens and not giving us the money.
Remember Bill 119? Somebody mentioned that bill earlier on. We had public hearings in committee. We went on for weeks in public hearings. We had people from Thunder Bay. We had people from Ottawa. We had them from Hanover, from Windsor, from London. Some 90% of those people who appeared before that committee opposed Bill 119, which was going to have the hospital funds put in part of that lottery pie. Over 90% opposed that.
I was surprised to hear today that the chairman of that committee indicated the people wanted Bill 119. I certainly did not get that from the delegations.
As a matter of fact, I just happen to have a copy of a brief of one of the persons who made a presentation to that committee who was very much opposed, “to express my firm opposition to Bill 119, the proposed provincial legislation to amend section 9 of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, which is now being referred to your committee.”
I have another letter from another group of patrons headed by the Honourable Pauline McGibbon, “We will place in jeopardy the preservation and interpretation of our heritage as one of the province’s small museums, now struggling to survive with less than 15% of our budget funded by grants from governmental sources.” They endeavour to carry out their mandate. They are very much opposed to that previous bill.
If we had the same occasion today to have public hearings on Bill 114, I am very sure we would get the same reception across this province with regard to Bill 114.
Remember there was a tire tax that was brought in that was supposed to deal with the environment? For example, in imposing the tire tax, the government stated in the 1989 budget that proceeds from the tax would help fund efforts to support recycling and environmentally sound disposal. The government was careful not to say just how much of the more than $40 million a year raised by the tire tax would be spent on those programs and did nothing to counter the impression that every red cent raised by the tax would be so invested.
In defending the tax, for instance, the Treasurer complained about the buildup of old tires at the Tyre King Tyre Recycling dump at Hagersville, which he described as “a substantial environmental menace which has to be cleaned up.” As for the tire tax, the Treasurer said, “It’s not very long, but it’s got to last long enough for the research and facilities to get rid of the tires.”
Was this tire tax not for the environment? This very Bill 114, is it not for the environment? There was probably only about $1.1 million spent on three tire recycling projects in this tire tax, and his total budget for all industrial recycling stood at $6.5 million. Here they are raising over $40 million from the taxpayers.
When those 14 million tires at Tyre King burned in February 1990, the government was still spending only $1.1 million on tire recycling programs. Suddenly the burning question became, what happened to all that money raised by the tire tax?
The Treasurer’s first statement left the impression that the province did have a plan for dealing with the old-tire problem and that it was simply bad luck the fire started before the plan was put into action. Bill 114 deals with the environment, and that is what this Treasurer was assessing the people of this province for. It was for a tire tax to clean up these tire and environmental problems. As the Treasurer put it, “We didn’t have a chance to get our program in gear before some twit set it on fire.” That is what the Treasurer said.
Why did the government put the tax in place before it had the program in high gear? It never had it in gear at all. The answer proved to be that the government did not have any plan or program at all, as the Treasurer later admitted in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen. He admitted that the tax had been slapped on the tires without a specific plan on how the money would be spent. The Treasurer said: “We don’t have earmarked revenue. The tax doesn’t go into a sock. It can be spent on anything.”
That is exactly what is happening here with Bill 114. They are watering down lottery funds to be spent on everything and they want to direct some to the environment.
I did a questionnaire with regard to the environment. One of the most pressing issues in Ontario, the number one concern, 46%, was the environment. The second question I had was, “What is the most pressing issue in Simcoe East?” Forty-three per cent of the people answered, “The environment.” The state of health care in Ontario was my third question. I would hate to tell members what that is. It says it has worsened by 60 per cent, so that is what we got on the health care one.
Environmental problems, municipal garbage, was top of the list at 35%. Creation of environmental lottery, separate, 53% of the people said yes, and I agree with the majority of my constituents; 53% said yes to a separate lottery for the environment.
The government is playing games here with the environment in a lottery poker shoot. It is totally not acceptable.
Greater Ministry of the Environment emphasis on mandatory recycling was 56% of the people. We said, “Who should administer waste management?” We passed a bill here not too long ago to turn it over to the counties; 38% say the municipalities are the ones that should still deal with it.
This Minister of Tourism and Recreation, who is responsible for this legislation, wants to hire a co-ordinator government liaison person. This new person is going to receive pretty near $42,000 a year. Not only is this new person going to get the substantial lottery prize that starts at $42,000, he is going to be the co-ordinator for government liaison. He will act as a primary Ontario Lottery Corp contact for the provincial government. He is going to direct responses to questions raised in the House -- I would suggest that the minister should answer them, not have a civil servant answer them -- government correspondence and preparation to hold committees and responses to committee recommendations. This minister is wanting to have somebody to run the whole lottery corporation, and he is going to be on holidays as the Minister of Tourism and Recreation.
Some time ago, there was a letter sent in from a very small municipality with regard to the concern. The letter starts off, “Greetings from Hinterland.” It is a little municipality up in the riding that is represented by the Minister of Financial Institutions. He happens to be in the Legislature today. “Our municipality is extremely disturbed by a series of recent developments initiated by the ministry” -- that is, the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation -- ”consolidation of the former central and southwestern regions.”
The Minister of Tourism and Recreation has amalgamated the regions in southwestern Ontario. It plays a very important role in this province. Some day I am going to have to ask the minister how the reorganization which has occurred within his ministry, with staffing levels in certain areas being reduced and operations centralized, is going to affect the ability of the citizens of this province to receive the same level of service to which they are accustomed from his ministry. The minister very carefully assures us that Ontario citizens will not be adversely affected by this reorganization. He does not seem to be as successful at convincing the public. Our caucus has received a number of letters from communities concerned about this reorganization.
Bill 114 is going to be involved in here with regard to the environment. I wonder if the minister is going to be able to tell us, with the consolidation of the form of the central and southwestern regions -- now he is starting to get it, what I am talking about in the southwestern regions -- will the numerous small municipalities such as Hanover, which has a population of only a few thousand, be able to compete directly with Metropolitan Toronto for recreation financing despite the fact it cannot offer his party the same number of votes?
This Bill 114 is another example of this government wanting to collect extra revenues and put them into a pie whereby it can dish them out as it sees fit, just before an election. They are closing the parks down in the St Lawrence Parks Commission. Some four or five parks have been closed. There is a debt of some $10 million run by that parks commission, which is now headed up by a very prominent Liberal in the area. As a matter of fact, the debt has increased by about 20% since he took control of it. The manager there now is the Deputy Minister of Health, I believe. The parks in this province are something like the same as the roads: they have been going downhill ever since this government came to power.
I want to close by saying that Bill 114 is --
Mr D. S. Cooke: What do you think about hunting in the parks?
Mr Ferraro: It depends what you are hunting
Mr McLean: Well, I am getting a few vibes from across the way here with regard to the parks in Ontario. But I have to tell you, Mr Speaker, that Algonquin Park is one of the nicest parks of the province. I happen to have the availability to go moose hunting there every year, just out of the park in a nice camp which is operated by a very good group of fellow conservationists and sportsmen. The Ministry of Natural Resources has increased the camping fee substantially, a further tax grab from the province.
With regard to the environment being used as a lottery, I in no way accept it. I would hope that the minister would look at the amendment that we have. You cannot continue to put such important items as the environment and health care into a lottery. If there was a special lottery for health care, I am sure many seniors and many people would go out and buy a ticket for health care. They would. The environment is the same. Why not have a special lottery for the environment whereby people, if they show that interest, could go and buy a lottery ticket for the environment? The government’s concern with regard to the lottery is all part of a pie. I do not agree with it and I will not be supporting the government bill.
Mr Reycraft: The member for Simcoe East, as did the member for Beaches-Woodbine, made reference to Bill 119 and the committee hearings on that bill. There seems to be some argument about what was said to that committee during those public hearings. As a member of the committee, I remember very well that the common theme by those making presentations to the committee was that there should be a guarantee, a firm commitment of lottery funds that could be used for culture and recreation, sports and fitness in any given year.
The Treasurer appeared before the committee and gave the members of the Legislature that commitment late in the hearings. He committed $120 million per year for a total of three years for culture and recreation, sports and fitness. That is a total commitment of $360 million. It is a far larger commitment than was ever made from lottery profits for sports and culture at any previous time.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I would just like to comment indirectly on the comments of the member for Simcoe East, but directly on the comments of the member for Middlesex. I think the member makes an appropriate comment that if there were absolute guarantees, if this government had a history of keeping its guarantees and its promises, then we would not have to have these types of debates. But we remember what the Premier said a few days before the last election, that he had a plan to lower insurance rates. He had absolutely no plan at all. The history of this government is that it will say anything it thinks people want to hear in order to get their votes and then when the reality comes of delivering on those commitments, it says to heck with what it has promised; it does not matter because people will not remember.
If the government is serious about guaranteeing a certain amount of money for culture and recreation, which was the original purpose of lotteries in this province, then it should build it directly into the legislation. If the environment and health care are essential services in this province, which we certainly believe they are, then we should not be relying on lotteries anyway. They should come out of the basic, fair taxation policy that we should have in this province.
These kinds of gimmicks and these kinds of promises that the Liberals never intend to implement and just make to get votes do not wash with the opposition because we have been burned too often by the Liberals, and so have the people of this province.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Cureatz): Continuing with comments and questions -- can we do that? Let me think about this. I do not think we can.
Mr Pouliot: You can indeed, and thank you kindly, Mr Speaker. Of course, with respect, you are the authority here.
My distinguished colleague has said it -- the pass line, 7-11, a game of chance to address what the Ontarians are saying collectively, that the environment in which we live is far too important to be left to a game of chance resembling a seance. Tales of Houdini: sometimes you may see the money and other times you may not; a sense of déjà vu where the minister comes in like a phantom, like a ghost dragging his chains. It has been done before.
Mr Speaker, you have heard of scavengers of the political marketplace. You have read about the day when vultures would be gathering, where the only component, the only element, the only focus that counted was the favour of the taxpayers. One more time let it be heard that the taxpayers of Ontario view the environment as a sacred trust and have given this government a significant mandate with 94 seats at present and say: “You have a budget of $46 billion. You do what the population requires to make sure that our place under the sun and our river will remain pristine for as long as the sun shines and the river flows, that our children and generations to come can look to the future not only with confidence but be able to savour what is best about Ontario.”
I am very sad to report that the confidence of this government is eroding rather quickly.
Mr Pouliot: You have missed the boat.
The Acting Speaker: I was just inquiring about rotation. That is why I was questioning the member for Lake Nipigon standing in his place.
Mr Neumann: I was interested in listening to the speech of the member for Simcoe East on this important bill. I was interested in the results of the survey he did where he indicated that a majority of residents in his area support the idea of using lottery funds for the environment.
I had a group of citizens, kind of an outreach group within their church, come into my constituency office -- and it is great to see citizens respond on this whole issue of the environment -- to go over a number of proposals they had. They had centred on the environment as an issue they wanted to deal with. They put a number of proposals to me -- this was several months ago -- and one of their suggestions was why does the government not develop a lottery to raise funds for the use of the environment.
I pointed out this was something that was announced within the budget and I mentioned that some of the opposition members were opposed to it and that guffaws had come from the suggestion. I remember when it was announced guffaws had come from the official opposition. They just could not believe that kind of response on an issue like the environment. They thought this was a great idea. They had not happened to hear about it, but they were commending the government for coming up with this initiative.
I believe this initiative will have support across Ontario, that if we can raise money for the environment to clean up our rivers and waterways and for special projects for the environment, this is going to complement -- this is obviously not the only initiative of the government on the environment -- initiatives such as the one announced by the Minister of Government Services yesterday, where the government is using its purchasing policy to be in keeping with developing sustainable development and programs that will show leadership in the province in cleaning up the environment.
Mr McLean: I am very pleased with the speakers, with the issues that they have raised. It is very interesting with regard to the Treasurer coming to make this very great commitment that they speak of.
Is this the same government, tell me, that said free trade would be vetoed, that there would be no deal unless certain conditions were met? Is this the same government that came to Orillia and said there would be $30 million for a hospital expansion? What happened with that promise? Is this the same government that said there would be 4,400 new beds created in the province, which there have not been? Is this the same government that wanted to have that tire tax on the people of this province? What has happened with the tire tax? Is this the same government that is talking here today?
I cannot believe it and I say shame on those members for indicating that this lottery is going into a lottery fund for the environment. That is not so. It is going into the Ontario Lottery Corporation in the general pie that will be divided up as they see fit. There is no special lottery here for the environment at all.
That is what there should be: a separate lottery where you could buy a ticket for the environment. That is not the case.
It is the same with health care in this province; there should be a special lottery for health care. If people want to go out and buy a lottery ticket for health care, they can do it.
It is misleading people if members say this is a bill that is going to have the environment looked after. It is not so. They will pass out the amount of money they see fit, where they see fit, and it is going to be less than $20 million that is going to go for the environment.
They should be putting their efforts into recycling and reusing. In the questionnaire I did, a high percentage of the people wanted that. The questionnaire indicated that people want a separate lottery. They do not want it all part of a pie to be given out as the government sees fit. That is not a commitment to the environment at all. That is a commitment to try to get re-elected and that is not what this government should be doing.
I say shame on the minister; better luck the next time.
Mr Kerrio: I certainly rise to support Bill 114 and I would like to commend the minister on putting forward a very important bill.
I think the very first thing that comes to mind is the fact that the two opposition parties, day after day, belabour this government with this supposed interest in health and in the environment, and the minute we put in a bill that addresses these two very important priorities that the people of Ontario have -- the people of Ontario have spoken out that these two priorities are uppermost in their responsibility and this government is responding to that purpose. I feel very good about this bill.
I have another interest in the bill. It is a more personal interest.
Mrs Cunningham: This bill does not address health care and the environment. This is a lottery bill. What does it have to do with health care?
Mr Kerrio: Our friend who just ran for the leadership of the sinking ship, if she wants to talk to this issue, her turn is going to come up, I would say. Would you not be willing to give her a chance to speak to this bill, Mr Speaker?
Mrs Cunningham: I will speak next. You go on now, but you will have to stay for my speech, though.
Mr Kerrio: That is unfair punishment. I do not think I could agree to that.
I would like to go back a few years in time to 1975 when Wintario was the brainchild of the former government. I decided that if I was going to be on the team of the Liberal Party, I would not aspire to be critic of one of those high-profile ministries but rather start at the bottom and work my way up. So I started out as critic of the Minister of Culture and Recreation of that day. The minister was Mr Welch, my neighbour.
Having said that, Mr Welch was gung-ho for this particular bill. But there was one thing that entered my mind as the critic and I brought it to the attention of the then Premier of the province, Mr Davis, and the minister that we were in fact looking with some kind of an eye at the income that was being generated by the Irish sweepstakes. I remind all the members here that all of the money that was generated worldwide by the Irish sweepstakes was to support their hospitals.
I said to the Premier of the day, “Mr Premier, do you realize that if you have now decided you would like to get in on some of that money, you are going to upset the people who raise funds for other very worthwhile purposes -- muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Heart and Stroke Foundation, cancer people -- who were out running their own lotteries to raise money for a very worthy cause and were now going to have a government step in and use their funding for purposes other than what they were displacing?” I found that not quite acceptable.
In fact, I thought it was worth while to put in a private member’s bill. In response to a private member’s bill that I put, my local newspaper printed the following editorial:
“Vince Kerrio, Niagara Falls MPP, has come up with a good, sound idea. But unfortunately, because the Liberals are languishing in third spot in the provincial Legislature, this brainwave probably will be consigned to gather dust on some dark shelf at Queen’s Park.”
Miss Martel: It would now, that’s for sure.
Mrs Cunningham: One good, sound idea.
Mr Kerrio: Not so, I have to tell that member who interjected. This is coming to fruition in the last couple of years with Bill 119 and now Bill 114.
Mr Kerrio: I would like to carry on without interruption, if I may. Members will have plenty of time to interject later on, and I will listen to what they have to say and respond accordingly.
“Mr Kerrio, his eyes on the money generated by Wintario, does not want to see the cash frittered away. Instead he would present a private member’s bill...which would require...funds from Wintario to be channeled into hospitals in the province.
“This scheme would allow better health care, help prevent an increase in OHIP premiums and probably allow the most modern equipment to be provided in hospitals where some things are lacking. It could take the pressure off the backs of hard-pressed hospital boards who are beginning to wonder how they can keep going.
“Mr Kerrio, a newcomer to provincial politics, will learn quickly that private member’s bills, however sound and solid, get shuffled around until they are lost in limbo. And that is a great pity because there is merit in this...plan.
“Even in what probably will be a failure, Mr Kerrio deserves a slap on the back for trying darned hard to do his job” as he sees fit for his constituents.
So you see, Mr Speaker, while there are those who talk at great length about their interest in the environment and in health care, when it comes right down to the hard, cold facts of making decisions that a government has to make -- the opposition party does not have to make those decisions. They do not have to try to decide where the money should be expended; our Treasurer does. He has given a guarantee in fact that a good part of the money is always going to be guaranteed for culture and fitness and some of the buildings that we put up for these very important activities in our communities.
But I must say that in this day and age when we get all of the criticism from the opposition parties, I am very, very surprised that they do not encourage and in fact come over on this side and support a bill that is going to give money to the environment and to the hospitals, surplus funds, surplus money, that we have generated, good money.
There have been a few comments about the fact that people are buying tickets for a particular cause. I do not find that is the case. I think that in fact when they bought Irish sweepstakes tickets they were buying them to see if they could win the sweepstakes. I think that when people buy lottery tickets a good percentage of them buy them with the hope that they are going to win the lottery. I do not think they feel that they have to dedicate the purchase to a particular cause.
I think this government is taking a very firm stand that money that is raised in the lottery, while it is guaranteed that it will continue to go to support sports and fitness, the surplus funds are going to a very good cause that the opposition members seem to support until it comes time to support the bill. So I am very pleased in fact that subsequent to Wintario, when the then minister introduced a new provincial lottery, he said to the member for Niagara Falls, “I must give you some credit that now this new lottery has some money dedicated to health-related issues.”
So you see, Mr Speaker, I think that good-thinking people will support a bill that says, “Yes, we’re going to support culture and fitness and those good things,” but when we raise the kind of funds that are raised, it seems most appropriate that in a day and age when everyone wants some comfort, we are going to be able to support our hospitals and our environment. This bill is doing just that. I am pleased to support it and I hope the members on the other side might change their minds and do the very same thing.
Mr Pouliot: I would like to commend the former Minister of Natural Resources and Energy. The point that he made about introducing a private member’s bill is indeed well taken. He, better than anyone, should be aware that we too, as the official opposition, are going that route.
Now that we have his acquiescence, his guarantee, that our private member’s bill, in lieu of a chance to dream for people who buy a lottery ticket, in view of a hypocritical -- because it has to be said -- way, method, scheme of taxation -- of course, we do sense that there is a saturation at the marketplace, that the accomplice to the Minister of Revenue can no longer impose a Remo tax, and if people do not pay their Remo tax, then they get repo. It is from one scheme to the other. The Minister of Revenue, to the tune of $46 billion, has been exaggerating.
We have reached a stage where the proverbial straw makes it impossible for us to give more. We have given everything. So the government, in its wisdom, or the lack of wisdom, comes up with a scheme, a lure, and says, “Because of temptation, because the populace has to be given a chance to dream, what we will do is take part of the profits that we make and turn it into a game of chance, channel that money into a game of chance.” I am sure that in intent, in spirit, what the former minister had in mind when some 15 years ago he introduced his private member’s bill has not been adhered to by the government. He has won his game of chance, but the people of Ontario are still looking forward to sound measures regarding their environment.
Hon Mr Black: I want to compliment the member for Niagara Falls on his comments here in the House today. In 1976 his ideas made a great deal of sense; 14 years later they continue to make a great deal of sense. It is worth noting, Mr Speaker, and I know that you will agree with this because you are a member who listens carefully to what is being said in this House, that the member for Niagara Falls made more sense in the last 10 minutes than all the members of the opposition have made all afternoon. I compliment him on a knowledge and understanding of the issues and of this particular piece of legislation.
Mr Farnan: I want to correct the interpretation of the member for Niagara Falls. The member for Niagara Falls used as an example the Irish hospitals sweepstake as an example which inspired him in terms of his particular private member’s bill. I am not sure what the private member’s bill said and that is why I asked him, during his comments, if he would specify what the private member’s bill said. The private member’s bill may have said that the funds be used for hospitals. Now, the Irish hospitals sweepstake, when you bought that ticket, you knew you were buying a ticket to provide funds for hospitals.
The reality of the matter is that when this government and previous governments had the Wintario ticket, they had pictures of orchestras, they had pictures of parks, they had pictures signifying culture, sports, recreation, fitness. When people purchased a ticket, they presumed that ticket was going to provide the funds for those specific areas -- all of the funds, not some of the funds.
What has happened is that the people of Ontario now realize that there is a slush fund. Some of the funds went to all of these particular designated areas, but there was a slush fund that the Liberal government used to feather its own nest. What they are doing with hospitals and the environment is, they are simply saying, “Here is another way to market lottery tickets to encourage people to spend more money on lotteries,” but there is no guarantee that the funds will find their way to the designated areas, none at all.
Mr Kerrio: I certainly appreciate the comments by the minister and I would like to thank him for those comments. I certainly can take exception to comments made by my good friend the member for Lake Nipigon, but I must comment about the other question regarding my comments about the sweepstakes and the hospital.
I am convinced that when people buy lottery tickets, they do not, in a sense, feel that they are dedicating those funds to a particular cause. I think they buy a lottery ticket to take a chance on winning the lottery. There are those few who might feel the other way. I have respect for those kinds of people and I think the proportions would be such that the people who buy for a particular cause will find that it is funded, as the Treasurer has said, over $120 million.
Not to take away from the circumstance, my concern at the time I raised the issue about putting the Irish sweepstakes out of business in this country was that we were then going to enter into that business and we were going to impact on some very worthy causes that were using lottery income as their funding, as were muscular dystrophy. multiple sclerosis and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. I asked the Premier of the day if he would not consider that he was moving into an area where he was really pushing those people out of business and making it more difficult for them to fund those worthwhile causes.
So, yes, in my private member’s bill I was looking at putting the bulk of the money into hospitals to replace the moneys that were taken from the sweepstakes of that day. Notwithstanding that, I find the next best thing that we can do now is to address Bill 114 and Bill 119 and address those two issues.
But we should remember one thing: The government, wherever the funds are, is responsible to the electorate for the spending. I think that is the bottom line and, on that basis, I thank the good members for their comments.
Mr Laughren: I was not going to take part in the debate this afternoon, but I have been provoked by other members.
The last five years have been a history of mismanagement of lotteries in this province. I say that because of one simple reason: the number of bills that have been before this assembly dealing with lotteries. They started out in 1986, I guess it was, with Bill 38. Bill 38 was going to take the money from lotteries and just channel it directly into the consolidated revenue fund. That is what Bill 38 was designed to do.
There was such an uproar across the province, primarily by the municipalities, and because it was a minority government and the two opposition parties said to the government, “You must not do this,” that the government backed down. The Treasurer backed down and simply did not proceed with Bill 38. You can argue whether or not he withdrew it or whether or not he did not proceed; the fact is he did not proceed with Bill 38, so it died before the 1987 election.
Then there was, of course, another bill that was even more shameful than that. It was called Bill 115. I do not expect all members to remember the numbers of the bills, but Bill 115 was a bill designed to require anyone who sells lottery tickets to do so with the approval of the Ontario government, and you could not sell tickets except for the face value of the ticket. You could not sell it for more than that.
The reason that was done is that there was a white collar thug in Ontario who was selling lottery tickets by mail, primarily to the United States, for over $2 each.
Mr Pouliot: Name the minister.
Mr Laughren: We had public hearings on that particular bill.
The minister of the day, the member for Victoria-Haliburton, was very much in support of his own bill, of course, and was quite concerned about it.
But do you know what? The government refused to call the bill after it had been through the committee stage of public hearings. The government refused to call it. When I went to the minister and said: “We have gone through the public hearings. A lot of people took a lot of personal abuse in public hearings as a result of that bill,” the minister said: “You will have to go to the Premier. I cannot tell you why the bill is not being proceeded with.”
To this day, to me that was one of the most shameful acts of this government. After bringing in a bill to stop this white collar thug from selling these tickets in the United States at more than twice the face value of the ticket, the Premier ordered that the bill not be proceeded with. Members are going to have to use their own imaginations and search their own consciences as to why that in effect happened. I do not know. I can only guess and I can only imagine, and I will not engage in that speculation here.
Then we had Bill 119. Bill 119 was the predecessor to this one, which said that: “It is not appropriate that all the funds go into sports, culture and recreation. We’ve got to channel some off into hospitals.” Bill 119 said that whatever is not used in other ways is going to be used for hospitals.
Mr Neumann: You’re against funding hospitals, I suppose.
Mr Laughren: As far as the idiots who claim that if you are against this bill, you are against hospitals, I do not think we even need to concern ourselves with their stupid remarks.
Mr Laughren: That is correct. That is exactly what I am saying, that those people who make the argument --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kerrio: Can’t you make comments without that language?
The Deputy Speaker: Will the member withdraw that remark, please?
Mr Laughren: Yes, I will withdraw, but I think it shows the intellectual depth of members of this assembly when they say that if you are opposed to this bill, you are opposed to hospitals. How stupid do they think the public is out there in Ontario? If you do not include education in this bill, does that mean that those people are opposed to education?
Mr Speaker, is that what you would interpret this bill to mean, that because you do not channel some of the funds into education as well as hospitals and the environment that you are all against education? How stupid do they think we are?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Ballinger: Don’t be mad at me.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Durham-York, please. The member will recall that the standing orders request that the member address the Speaker.
Mr Laughren: I am trying to do that.
The point I am trying to make is that because members oppose this bill, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether they are in support of an appropriate health care system in Ontario.
How in the world could anybody argue differently? And yet we get members of the Liberal Party, the same party that is short-changing the health care system in this province, the same party that is doing diddly-squat in the delivery of home care in Ontario --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for Durham-York, please. If members want to react to a member’s speech, they have the two-minute period afterwards, not during the member’s speech. Please. Standing orders.
Mr Neumann: It’s hard not to react to some of what is said.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Brantford, please.
Mr Lupusella: He is provoking.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Dovercourt.
Mr Laughren: If they keep interjecting, Mr Speaker, I would throw the bums out if I were you.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt is making sure the Speaker’s circulation is well activated this afternoon. Will the member withdraw that term, please?
Mr Laughren: Yes. I am sorry, Mr Speaker.
Mr Matrundola: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I take exception to the way business is conducted in this House. This is an honourable House where business should be conducted in a businesslike manner with due respect for everyone.
I strongly object when a member of his own volition or intentionally uses words and then retracts them. Mr Speaker, you well understand that if a person kills another person, afterwards he cannot retract that; he cannot bring the person back to life. Therefore, it is impossible to keep using improper language in this House and then retracting it. I suggest that perhaps some measures should be taken to address that.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I am just asking all members of the House without exception to please respect the standing orders, and I would make a special request to the member for Nickel Belt not to use unparliamentary language.
Mr Pouliot: On the same point of order, Mr Speaker: With respect, I am appalled and shocked that on one of the rare times -- my distinguished colleague has been in this House serving the people of Nickel Belt loyally and faithfully for a period of 20 years, and no lesson of decorum or good manners from a recent arrival, the member for Willowdale --
Mr Kerrio: Recent arrival. What’s that supposed to mean?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for Niagara Falls, please.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Lake Nipigon, please.
Standing orders apply to all members no matter how long they have been here and decorum applies at all times.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for Durham-York. The member for Lake Nipigon.
Mr Laughren: Not only will I try not to be provocative, but I will ignore the fatuous comments of the member for Willowdale.
I am sure you understand, though, Mr Speaker, it is very hard to accept comments from the government about our lack of commitment to health care when it is this same government that allows our elderly and sick to be hosed down in closets in this province --
The Deputy Speaker: Please address your remarks to Bill 114.
Mr Laughren: I am -- because of inadequate funding of our health care system, and at the same time to be told that because this is a bill that will divert funds from the lottery profits to the environment that somehow we have a lack of commitment to the environment.
This is the very same government that brought in an environmental tax on tires and then watched the tires burn at Hagersville. So we need no lectures whatsoever from this government on our commitment to education, to health care, to the environment. We need no lectures from these people whatsoever. They are the ones who have made the promises and broken the promises every day since they formed the government back in 1985. We do not need any lectures from them.
This bill, as members know, is designed to drain off funds from the lottery profits, away from both hospitals and from culture and recreation into the environmental causes. If I were to make an argument, which I would not do, of course, I could say, “Here they are, this same government diverting funds from health care into the environment.”
What kind of competition are we setting up here? The Ontario Lottery Corporation Act already allows funds to go into hospitals in Ontario. Now the government is saying, “Not only do we want the money to go into hospitals and culture and recreation, but we want it to go into environmental protection as well.” So whatever it puts into the environment is going to be taken away from hospitals. Where is the money coming from for the environment?
I do not see any new moneys. All I see is that the bill is changing the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. Let the minister rise in his place and correct me if I am wrong. Instead of allowing funds to go from lottery profits to help the hospitals and into culture, recreation and sports, this bill is now allowing money also to go into environmental protection and enhancement. I believe that is correct and I think that is the correct interpretation of this bill. If that is the case, then surely it is draining money away from hospitals, from culture and recreation and from sports. But where is the extra money coming from?
Are you going to put any money into the environment through this bill, or are you not? If you are going to put money into the environment as a result of this bill, where is it coming from? I can tell you where it is coming from. It is coming from the hospitals. We are going to have more people hosed down in closets when this bill goes through. How do you like that? That is another interpretation of this bill.
Mr Ballinger: We are starting a new game.
Mr Laughren: You people want to get into the game of saying, “Who protects the health care system in the province of Ontario?” We can get into that game.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Address the Speaker.
Mr Laughren: You tell me how you justify any kind of defence of your health care system in this province, given your record in northern Ontario, given the record of protection of native people all across the province --
The Deputy Speaker: Address the Speaker, please.
Mr Laughren: -- given the way you are allowing elderly and sick to be hosed down in closets. Do not give me a lecture about protecting --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for Nickel Belt has not understood the standing orders when I say “Address the Speaker.”
Mr Laughren: I am.
Mr Pouliot: Through you, Mr Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: No, the member has to address the Speaker, according to the standing orders, please. Address the Speaker.
Mr Laughren: I am addressing the Speaker, but so help me, I have searched the standing orders and I do not see any place in them that says when I address you, I have to look at you. I am addressing the Speaker when I make my comments.
What we are really talking about is that question that started away back in 1975 when the original lottery bill came in: Should there be a special allocation of lottery profits? That is the question we are dealing with. The agreement of all parties was that lottery profits were not like taxes. There is that difference and I think all members in this House agreed --
Mr Kerrio: It wasn’t real money
Mr Laughren: I do not know what the member for Niagara Falls is blabbing about now.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Niagara Falls, please.
Mr Kerrio: They ranted at me when I was up, never gave me a space. Come on now. Let’s say it the way it is. I bought it. I bought it from all you people.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kerrio: I ate it. You people won’t.
Mr Laughren: He is out of control. Throw the bum out.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Will the member for Nickel Belt please withdraw that comment? Thank you. Order. The standing orders provide a two-minute period for comments, including for the member for Niagara Falls. Could we resume with the member for Nickel Belt please?
Mr Laughren: I really am trying not to be provocative any more for the rest of my comments, but I do not know why the government feels so sensitive about the issue of health care unless there is some guilt attached to its record.
Mr Ballinger: It is all the innuendos you throw.
Mr Laughren: Perhaps they are embarrassed about the elderly and the sick being hosed down in clothes closets in our institutions in this province.
Mr Ballinger: You are an exploiter. Members are exploited.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Durham-York, please.
Mr Laughren: It is a fact that we do not need lectures on health care in this province.
I was trying to deal with the question of whether or not lottery profits are indeed just another form of tax. I believe most members of the assembly see a difference between ordinary tax revenues and lottery profits. Otherwise, why do we have designation of lottery profits? What other revenues to government are designated for specific purposes? I do not know of any. If members know of any others, I sure would like to know what they are. The fact is that this assembly regards lottery profits as different than ordinary tax revenues in the province.
I think the reason we collectively feel that way and have ever since 1975 is that lotteries are a game of chance. They are an extremely volatile source of revenue. With all the individual lottery games, any one game does not last a long time and they have to keep changing them and so forth. I think most people felt right from the beginning that essential services in Ontario should not depend upon lottery profits. There seemed to be a consensus from the beginning that this was the case and that lottery profits should go towards such things as sports, culture and recreation, where there is a discretionary aspect to the allocation of the amount of funds.
When it comes to health care, education and, I would argue. the environment as well, it is not the same. Those are absolutely essential services which we must provide. That is not something that should be dependent on games of chance. It should not be a form of voluntary tax that protects the environment, provides health services to our citizens or, for that matter, educates the citizens of Ontario. It should not be a voluntary tax. Those essential services should be funded by the tax system of this province, not through games of chance.
If the sense in this assembly has changed, particularly among the members of the government who have the majority, and they feel lottery profits are simply another form of tax revenue, let them get off their hind legs and say so and do away with the designation entirely. We have lottery profits going into sports. culture, recreation, health care and now the environment. What do they have against education? Why not that? Do they not care about the education of our citizens? If so, why are they not putting funds from the lotteries into education? I have not heard an explanation for that. Perhaps we will hear it later on in the debate. Perhaps when the minister winds up in the next day or two, he will tell us what he has against education in Ontario. I would like to know that.
Mr Pouliot: What about roads?
Mr Laughren: Yes, what about highways? If we did a poll across northern Ontario, they might say: “What is this about the environment? We’re not getting any environment protection in northern Ontario. Why don’t you put the money into northern Ontario roads, for heaven’s sake?” The government cannot have it both ways. What is the next thing they are going to divert lottery profits into? Government services? I do not know. I would like to know, though, what they are going to do next with Ontario lottery profits.
What the government is doing is chipping away at the whole principle of designation. They are chipping away at the designation of lottery profits. They do not have the courage to say, “We now believe that lottery profits are simply another form of tax revenue.” If they believe that, why do they not say so? Oh no, they chip away bit by bit at the lottery profits and keep diverting them into something else.
I remember very well the debate on the previous bill. We are not debating the previous bill so I will not get into that. I hope the minister, perhaps even today, will tell us philosophically what he feels about lottery profits, where they should be designated and why, and where it is not appropriate to put lottery profits.
Is there any part of the operation of this province where lottery profits do not belong’? What is going to be next? Is he going to decide that, “Well, I think that there are a lot of applications by the various churches out there for renovations to their churches, for access and so forth and that all lottery should be diverted to churches as well as health care and the environment”? How about that? How about all capital grants to churches for access for the disabled to come from lottery profits? Would the minister agree to that? I would like to know. And if not, why not?
Mr Farnan: Affordable housing
Mr Laughren: Affordable housing. What is wrong with that? What has he got against housing?
Mr Ballinger: You wouldn’t vote for that anyway.
Mr Laughren: I would vote for a bill if the Liberals were honest about it. This is a dishonest bill. That is what it is. It is a completely dishonest bill.
Mr Pouliot: It is a crown-and-anchor minister we have. That is what it is, the chief crown-and-anchor minister.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Laughren: That too.
Mr Pouliot: It’s a bingo, a tombola.
The Deputy Speaker: Order please, the member for Durham-York and the member for Lake Nipigon, both of you.
Mr Laughren: I appreciate the protection you are providing me this afternoon, Mr Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: The same I provide to all members.
Mr Laughren: Oh, yes. I was not suggesting you were singling me out, Mr Speaker, for a special purpose.
A while ago -- as a matter of fact, on 10 April 1990 -- I introduced a bill in this assembly which I plagiarized from somebody else.
Mr Ballinger: Talk about deceit.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Durham-York, please.
Mr Laughren: I confess. An Act to establish the Ontario Lottery Profits Awards Council would have created the Ontario Lottery Profits Awards Council to deal with the profits of provincial lotteries and to promote cultural, multicultural and recreational activities. What that would do, if the government would proceed with it -- and since the member was bragging about how he found the only editorial written in history -- no, I will not say that.
Mr Kerrio: Go ahead. I can take anything you guys hand out. You can’t though: you’re stuck with it the other way.
The Deputy Speaker: Order please, the member for Niagara Falls.
Mr Laughren: The former minister found -- it must have taken a lot of research -- an editorial praising him for something he had done.
Mr Ballinger: That’s not fair.
Mr Kerrio: I accept cheap shots.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Laughren: I can recall the former minister’s stewardship of our forests, so I do have a lingering resentment about that stewardship, Mr Speaker.
Mr Kerrio: Who planted 93 million trees up to that year?
Mr Laughren: And did not give a damn whether they grew or not, did not care whether they grew or not. That is the same minister.
Mr Pouliot: It was a letter to the editor written by his mom, not an editorial.
Mr Adams: Would the member for Lake Nipigon go back to his seat?
Mr Laughren: Oh, we have got another speaker on the other side now trying to rule.
The Deputy Speaker: It is very cyclical this afternoon. I personally long for all members to respect the standing orders on a permanent basis.
An hon member: Hear that, Floyd.
Mr Laughren: Tell that to the member for Peterborough.
The Deputy Speaker: All members without exception. The member for Nickel Belt, please, will resume.
Mr Laughren: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think you would have to agree that I am not being provocative in this part of my speech.
The reason I introduced a bill establishing the Ontario Lottery Profits Awards Council was to take away the feeling out there in Ontario that the lottery profits are a huge political slush fund for whatever the government of the day happens to be. There is that very strong sense out there that that is the role that the lottery profits play. The lottery profits awards council would have removed that sense because it would have been an independent council selected by the various organizations that receive funding now, multicultural, sports and recreation and cultural organizations.
But, of course, I do not expect the government to reject the enticement of almost $500 million worth of lottery profits every year. Nevertheless, the reason I introduced the bill was that it would have given a very strong sense of independence of the lottery profits from the political party in power, and I think that would have been a very positive change.
So at first blush, when you look at Bill 114 -- and blush they should -- the bill states that it is simply to allow money to be spent on the environment. I can see why members would say, “Well, if you don’t like this bill, then you must not like the environment,” just as on its predecessor, Bill 119, they said, “Well, if you don’t like this bill, you must not like hospitals.” That is why I got angry at the beginning of my remarks, because it is the kind of comment --
Mr Kerrio: You can’t handle it.
Mr Laughren: It is not I who cannot handle it. It is the fact of what that says about the members’ attitude towards the public. That they would believe that kind of line speaks volumes about the attitude of this government towards the people of Ontario. They think that just because they break promises with impunity they can make outrageous statements with impunity and people out there are so stupid they will believe it. The public in the province of Ontario knows a stupid argument when it hears one. When members opposite keep making them, they will always recognize them. Make no mistake about that. The people in Ontario are a lot smarter than a lot of members in this assembly give them credit for being.
Mr Ballinger: Just on your side.
Mr Laughren: I am not saying any side at all. I am saying that if I were to stand up here and try to make the argument in a serious way, the way other members are doing from the government side, that because the government was not putting some of this lottery money into education it did not care about the education of our children, that would be a stupid argument and would indicate how stupid I thought the people were who would buy that. Yet that is the very argument the people in the Liberal Party, the Liberal caucus, were making to me because I oppose this bill, that I do not care about the environment, that I do not care about hospitals. What a ridiculous attitude.
Mr Kerrio: Right.
Mr Laughren: The member for Niagara Falls still thinks that.
Mr Kerrio: Yes, that your arguments are ridiculous.
Mr Laughren: It is absolutely ridiculous that we have to put up with this kind of silliness from members on the government side.
I could see that if we had a health care system that did not abuse the old and sick in our society, then maybe the government members could make an argument, but any government that should hide its shame in the way it treats our elderly in this society, the way it treats our native people, the way it treats northerners and discriminates against them, I want to tell members that this government has no right to criticize any member or anybody else for their views about health care in Ontario, because it is absolutely shameful.
Mr Kerrio: Stick to the bill.
The Deputy Speaker: Order please, the member for Durham York.
Mr Ballinger: Well, he is outrageous, Mr Speaker.
Mr Pouliot: He is right on.
The Deputy Speaker: If members wish to respond, they can use the two-minute period afterwards.
Mr Ballinger: I can’t wait. I apologize.
The Deputy Speaker: Members will wait. That goes for all members. If they wish to respond, they can use the two-minute response period, not during the member’s speech.
Mr Laughren: There is no reward in this place for not being provocative. Members still heckle when you try to be most reasonable.
The reason I am opposed to this bill, Bill 114, is because what it does is it breaks a commitment made to the people of Ontario, when the lottery system was set up, which said that the funds would be channelled into culture, recreation and sports. I do not know why or how the government selected the environment as being the next one on the list. They selected hospitals first. No, actually they selected the consolidated revenue fund first. Then they selected hospitals. Now they have selected the environment. Can education be far behind? I can see that the government really has no commitment to the designation of lottery profits at all.
What government members really have to ask themselves is how do they view lottery profits. If they are just another form of tax revenue, then they should stand up and say so and we can get on with debating in the various ministries how the consolidated revenue fund should be spent. That would be an honest approach. But what the government has done here is completely dishonest. It is pretending it is designating profits from the lottery, but it is not. It is not at all. That is why I find this bill so offensive.
I feel as strongly about my opposition to this bill as I did to its predecessor which channelled funds out of the funding to hospitals. Before, we had the culture, recreation and sports organizations competing with hospitals. Now we have got sports, culture and recreation competing with hospitals and environmental protection and we have got hospitals now competing with the environment for priorities of hospital lottery funds. I do not know what kind of game they are playing here. Who is going to win?
I suppose if one objects to money going to any organization now, one will be told: “What are you? Are you against hospitals? Are you against environmental protection? Are you against culture, recreation and sports?” It is ridiculous. This government has made a mockery of the whole question of designation of lottery funds. It has made a joke out of it. Be honest. Stand up and say: “We no longer believe in the designation of lottery profits. We believe they are just another form of tax revenue.” Say that. Have the courage and the honesty to say that. But it will not. Oh no, it will not, Mr Speaker. Believe me, I know it will not, because for some reason it seems to think that it can take away funds from lotteries and, one by one, pick off ministries into which it is going to channel the funds.
Mr Ballinger: Not true.
Mr Laughren: It is true. We started with sports, culture and recreation, then we moved to hospitals, now the environment. What is next? I think that the people of Ontario do not like the idea of the environment being protected on the basis of games of chance, of hospitals being funded on the basis of games of chance. I do not think that people believe that is the appropriate way to fund our hospitals and to fund the protection of the environment. I simply do not believe it. Those are essential services that should be funded through the legitimate tax system, not based on the people who buy the lottery tickets. What this government is really saying with this bill is that the people who buy lottery tickets are going to pay more for the protection of the environment than people who do not buy lottery tickets. That is what it is saying; there is no other way of putting it.
Mr Kerrio: Put it another way.
Mr Laughren: Well, there is no other honest way of putting it. The people who buy lottery tickets will be paying more for the protection of the environment when this bill is passed than the people who do not buy lottery tickets. I would be interested to hear the minister’s response on that. If that is appropriate, then why do we not just set up a huge tin cup at the corner of Yonge and Queen and we can have everybody throw money in to protect the environment. That is the kind of system they are doing.
Mr Kerrio: You wouldn’t put any in.
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr Laughren: I rest my case. The member for Niagara Falls is quite right, I would not put a nickel in it. That is not how we should fund the protection of the environment. The protection of the environment should be funded through the legitimate tax system, a more progressive tax system -- we could get into that if members like -- than we have now. That is why I am adamantly opposed to this bill and why my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon is adamantly opposed to this bill too.
Hon Mr Black: Let him speak for himself.
Mr Laughren: Well, I think he is. I do not want to prolong the debate. I did not even intend to get involved in it this afternoon, but I felt I really had to in view of the fact that I really believe that the government is making a mistake when it says to the people of Ontario, “We want voluntary contributions for the protection of the environment.” Because that is exactly what the government is doing, and those members who are good enough to go out there and buy lottery tickets are going to pay more for the protection of the environment than I am.
I personally do not buy lottery tickets. I do not believe in them. I do not buy them. Never. Therefore I am not paying my fair share in the protection of the environment. That is my point. I would rather that we had a proper tax system to protect the environment, not dependent on whether or not I believe in buying lottery tickets, because that is what this bill says. And not just the environment. This bill, because it continues the existing system, says that those people out there who buy lottery tickets are going to help pay more for hospitals and more for the environment than people who do not buy lottery tickets.
I think that is fine if it is not an essential service, but I think essential services like hospitals and the protection of the environment -- I think most of us agree that is absolutely essential. I do not see why my friend who buys lottery tickets by the bucket, any friend of mine who buys lottery tickets by the bucket, should have to pay more for the protection of the environment than I do. I am not paying my fair share and I am the first to admit that. I would hope that the minister would understand that that is not appropriate.
Hon Mr Black: I want to answer your question. Give me a chance.
Mr Laughren: I can see that the minister is anxious to respond to some of my comments, so I would just close by saying that I have enjoyed very much the debate this afternoon and the contribution that the hecklers have made to my debate.
Hon Mr Black: First of all, I want to acknowledge the contribution of the member for Nickel Belt to this House over many, many years. I want to tell him that I recognize that he is a fair and honest person and I recognize that he would not at any time do anything to mislead the public of Ontario.
I have a question I want to direct to him through you, Mr Speaker, if I may. I am looking right at you as I ask this question. I say to the member for Nickel Belt, through you, that I thought I heard him say that things like the environment and health care were essential services and, by inference, that protection of our culture and our heritage and recreation and physical fitness were not essential and therefore it would be all right to fund those with lottery funds. I know, Mr Speaker, that you will want to give the member for Nickel Belt an opportunity to respond, because I may have misunderstood him. If I did misunderstand him, I would like him to respond to my question.
I guess my question is this: Is that view accurate, first of all? Is it a personal view or is the policy of his party that fitness and culture and our heritage and recreation are non-essential services? That is my question, and I hope that the member for Nickel Belt will have an opportunity to respond to that, because I know he would want the record to be perfectly clear so that all of us can understand exactly what his position and the position of his party are on that issue.
Mr Farnan: Let me say that the member for Nickel Belt very clearly focused on lotteries as taxes. Not only are they taxes, they are a very unfair form of taxation. The reality of the matter is that poor people spend a larger percentage of their total income on lotteries than do middle-income or upper-income earners. It is true that middle-income and upper-income earners spend actually more money on lotteries than lower-income earners, but the fact of the matter is that lotteries are essentially a very regressive form of taxation.
This is a government that believes in taxes. The public record suggests that there are 32 different taxes. By regulation there are all kinds of tax increases that we never even see in this House. Liquor licences just recently went up 550%.
The reality of the matter is that the marketing strategists out of the minister’s department are sitting down and they are brainstorming and saying: “How can we sell more lottery tickets? How can we get people to buy more lottery tickets when they are going out?” So as they go to buy their groceries, they basically are to be lured by saying: “Hey, give your $2 and you’re going to be helping the environment. Give your $2 and you’re going to be helping hospitals.” The reality of the matter is that this is simply a marketing strategy in order to dispossess people of additional funds. It is a sad day in Ontario when we look at the government that simply sees lotteries as a milch cow and that has not one centre for treatment of gamblers who are addicted in any way.
Mr Ballinger: I just want to tell the member for Nickel Belt that I buy lottery tickets. I want to assure the member for Nickel Belt that if I ever win, I am going to offer him an all-expense trip to an antistress ranch in any part of Ontario he wants to be in.
Mr Speaker, I want to suggest to you that the member for Nickel Belt was not being provocative at all, he was being outrageous, absolutely outrageous. We are talking about a minor amendment to Bill 114. In the hour and a half that I have been here, I have heard the member for Nickel Belt stand up and touch on every issue you would ever dream of to fill in some time to bang the government.
As a government member, I get just a little bit tired of the opposition members exploiting the real issue. The real issue here is what this amendment to Bill 114 will do. It will allow the ministry to design a lottery that will allow people in Ontario who want to support the environment to go out and purchase a lottery ticket. It is an involuntary tax. The member does not have to buy it if he does not want to. We all know he is so cheap he would not buy it anyway.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Ballinger: The interesting thing is, there are many people in Ontario who care about the environment. When this was announced by the Treasurer, he thought this was a heck of a good idea for the people of Ontario.
Just because the member for Nickel Belt does not like it, is that any reason why this government should withdraw it? No, absolutely not. Anything that he supports is reason enough for me to say, “I’m going the other way, no question about it.”
There is a lot of support all across Ontario for this amendment and I want to congratulate the minister for introducing it in this House, because those guys over there are all wet. They do not have a clue what they are talking about, as usual.
Mr Pouliot: I too buy lottery tickets. I cannot help but think what opportunity it would give me should I be a winner, and all the good I could do with the winnings. First, I would certainly advertise and make sure that all future lottery tickets designed to protect our beloved environment, to improve our environment, would be printed on recycled paper.
More important, of course, what the member for Nickel Belt has mentioned to us are the fundamentals that make a difference, whether we are talking about the ultimate gift of health and wellness, the very high profile, and rightly so, of the subject matter of our environment, the Ministry of Education and others, Culture and Tourism and Recreation. What we are saying is not only in terms of capital planning but in terms of those fundamentals that we must not exceed, surpass the perimeters, for those are too important, for those demand meticulous planning to reach a fruitful conclusion and should never be left to a game of chance.
That is not the way to go about things. This is not the way you become a manager and run a prosperous Ontario. That is not the way you run the books. This is not businesslike. This is not good accounting. This does not augur well for the future.
There is a methodology, there is a style, there is an approach. You have to be accountable. There is a way to do things, and a game of chance, whether the tickets will sell well one day and not sell at all or sell less well the next day, is certainly no way to run an economy in a prosperous province such as Ontario. Surely there is a better way to do business.
Mr Laughren: I want to thank members for their comments. The question the minister asked is whether or not I saw culture and recreation as an essential service. Of course I do. As a matter of fact, I see culture and recreation as being a form of preventive health care and I argued that as strongly as I could during the debate on the previous bill, Bill 119.
What I object to is pitting preventive care, such as culture and recreation, against acute care, such as hospitals. That is what this government has done by saying to culture and recreation, “You’ve got to compete with the hospitals for this limited pool of funds.” Now the government is doing it even worse. It is saying, “You’ve got to compete against hospitals and the environment for a limited pool of funds.”
The reason the culture and recreation organizations were so concerned about it was that if they made an argument for more money, the other people would argue against them saying, “Don’t you care about hospitals?” That was the very point I was trying to make, so I am pleased the minister seems to appreciate the fact, although he did have to ask me and I am a little concerned about that.
I would have thought the minister did not have to ask me about culture and recreation being essential services. I would have hoped that he, as the minister, would have recognized already that that is an essential service, and indeed it is a form of preventive health care, so I feel very strongly that those funds should be protected and designated for culture and recreation. I am somewhat taken aback that the minister does not understand that culture and recreation is an essential service and indeed is a form of preventive health care.
Anyway, I am pleased we have been able to straighten him out this afternoon and I would just encourage members, particularly of the government, to think seriously about what they are doing with this bill, because it is not the right move to make.
Mrs Cunningham: It is with some degree of interest that I find myself speaking to this Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
I find it interesting that we are adding a clause (c) to section 9 of the act. This clause, of course, could have been dealt with so that there would have been public hearings on behalf of the people of Ontario at the same time that we looked at amending the act with Bill 119. We added at that time a new way of dealing with moneys from the public, money that people put into the purchase of lottery tickets.
I think it is interesting to note that in September and October 1989 we looked at Bill 119 in a different way. Obviously, the government felt that at that time the Treasurer of Ontario and the Minister of Economics was responsible for changes or took the lead for changes to the lottery act, basically because he wanted some more control over how the money was designated.
First of all, what the government did in the fall of last year was to tell the public, who had purchased lottery tickets in support of physical fitness, sport, recreational and cultural activities and for the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, that that money would of course first of all go into the consolidated revenue fund with all of the other money -- that is what the amendment was saying -- and that in fact the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct money from the consolidated revenue fund for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreation and cultural activities and for activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and if in fact the government chooses to put money into those activities, anything that is left over shall then go into the support of the operation of hospitals.
We took a look at a very major change in intent of dollars that were spent on behalf of the public, those members of the public who chose to purchase lottery tickets. We looked at a very major change in intent at that point in time.
As a result, members of the public of Ontario who were involved in fitness and recreation, who were involved in cultural activities -- libraries, art galleries, dance -- who were involved in the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, took it upon themselves, in the interest of democracy, to come and speak to the committee with regard to Bill 119.
At that time they came to speak to a principle, and that principle was the support they had received over the years from lottery dollars for the activities they mainly worked towards providing in their communities as volunteers. Many of them worked as volunteers, and many of the grant proposals that went to the government in support of recreation, fitness, cultural activities and activities of the Trillium Foundation were prepared not only with the executive directors of very small institutions across the province of Ontario, but certainly by volunteer organizations and non-profit groups.
So we looked at a very major change in direction, and one would ask oneself at this time, if we were looking at that time to put some of these dollars into hospitals in support of health care, why in the interest of efficiency did those groups not have the opportunity to talk about moneys diverted from these activities across the province -- I am now talking about culture and recreation, sport -- why at the same time did we not take a look at the government to support, through lottery dollars, environmental concerns?
There is no one in this Legislative Assembly who has spoken against, today or during the committee hearings, support for health care and support for the environment. I can only say that what was heard at those committee meetings was the great concern of members of the public. They took a look at the dollars people spent for their lottery tickets. They expect them to go to the services, the events, the arenas, the swimming pools, the art galleries, the libraries, the dance and the social service agencies that are in need of camping activities and recreational activities for young people.
There are so many non-profit groups and volunteer groups that look upon lottery donations, the funds that are received by the Ontario Lottery Corp, for support for these activities, most of which are supported by volunteers. So it was with some degree of dismay that many groups, almost 100% of the groups that appeared before the committee, saw that this government chose in fact to divert these lottery proceeds to health care.
At the same time I want to make it very clear that the perception of the public is that the dollars in fact will be spent on health care. I can say right now, in response to questions by committee members to the chairman of the committee -- who is no longer in the House this afternoon, possibly because the time is so late -- that this bill does not mean that any money would in fact be directed to the environment, certainly. It says “may direct” from general revenue funds, and so we are not certain, with the track record of this government, that money will in fact be directed to the environment. We are certainly not certain that any money would be diverted to health care. In fact, really both Bill 119, the previous amendment to the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, and now Bill 114 have totally confused the public as to where funds will go when in fact they are spending their dollars on lottery tickets.
There was an editorial that I think spoke well on behalf of the public of Ontario not too long ago when we were deliberating the changes in the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. I think it speaks well for these times as well. “For the past 13 years, like it or not, Queen’s Park has used lottery profits to fund sports, recreation and cultural activities and, coincidentally, buy some votes.” But now the government is about to change the rules of the game and we find ourselves here this afternoon speaking to another bill which in fact will change the rules of the game. Most of us who have been involved in volunteer activities to support sports, recreation and cultural activities over the years rather appreciated the fact that those people who clearly wanted to support those activities had another way of supporting them through the lottery funds.
That battle was not one that was won easily. It was with a great deal of public attention and public debate that the lottery fund was established in Ontario to begin with. So now we find ourselves confusing the public, even once more, around what will happen to the lottery fund tickets. Our great hope, certainly in our party, is that all of the money will be spent to fund sports, recreation and cultural activities, as was intended in the beginning. I should tell members that we have a lot of support for our position, along with the members of the official opposition.
This editorial goes on to state that “Treasurer Robert Nixon wants part of the pot to help fund the province’s hospitals.” This was Bill 119. I suppose if we were writing the same editorial today, we could say “and the environment.” This is partly because lottery profits have jumped from $42 million in the first year of operation to almost $500 million today.
No one would deny that money must be spent wisely and efficiently, but I still believe that, if you took a look at recreation and sport, took a look at cultural activities, environmental purposes and health purposes could be found within the mandates of those particular groups. When we talk about sports and recreation, we are talking about prevention of disease, both physical and mental. There are many, many grants and grant proposals that have been turned down but that could have been well-funded under the existing lottery corporation without the amendment to support hospitals. There are many, many grant applications -- and we in fact heard from those groups during the deliberations -- that could have been found to support environmental concerns.
As a matter of fact, the public has simply given up on this government when it comes to listening. During this debate, these same groups that got themselves organized to speak against Bill 119 for literally weeks and months -- the coalition of sports, fitness, recreation and cultural groups which lobbied long and hard against Bill 119 and Bill 38 -- cannot, in my opinion, be expected to mobilize against or to oppose vigorously Bill 114. Do you know why, Mr Speaker? Because they have simply given up on the process here at Queen’s Park. They have simply given up on confidence and trust. Some 98% of the people who came before the committee that looked at Bill 119, and I would say the numbers would be exactly the same for Bill 114, have given up on the ability of this government to listen to their concerns.
If it had listened carefully, and if this government in fact wanted some of those dollars to support health care or the environment, it could have found those dollars within the mandate of the original act, the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. It could have supported health and it could have supported the environment. But this government in fact wants to send out the message that this is the government that in any way it can will support health care and will support the environment. I think it is totally dishonest to go about it in this way.
We have no way of knowing exactly what kind of money will be spent or how it will be spent. It is up to the prerogative of the government and in fact I should go right back to the legislation so that everyone clearly understands: “The net profits of the corporation after provision for prizes and the payment of expenses of operations shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund at such times and in such manner as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct” -- may direct -- ”to be available for appropriation by the Legislature for the promotion and development of physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural activities and facilities” -- this is the amendment that was spoken against by those groups -- ”for the activities of the Ontario Trillium Foundation,” and now we add for environmental concerns under Bill 114, to be specific, “for the protection of the environment.”
There was lots of money available to support environmental concerns and health care under the existing legislation, and it could have gone to community groups, non-profit groups, volunteer organizations that would have spent it for their concerns in their own community, and it would have made it very meaningful. Right now, anyone who came down and spoke before that committee would not even begin to come before the committee again because they know this government does not listen. Now we find ourselves with this smoke-and-mirrors promise that we will be using lottery dollars to support health and the environment and sports and recreation and culture and fitness when in fact the public, in the very beginning, was most happy with the bill the way it was.
I should go on to say the temptation to put his hand in the pot has become too great for the Treasurer. He has a point, but he certainly missed another point in the proposed legislation. Whatever happens to funding of sports, recreation and cultural activities? What will happen to them? That is the big question here today. Will levels of funding be maintained?
Mr Neumann: Yes.
Mrs Cunningham: Well, our party put forth an amendment to Bill 119 and asked for a specific dedication of funds to support sports, recreation and cultural activities. The opposition parties asked for a specific dedication of funds, of the $500 million. I have to tell you, Mr Speaker, that we lost in committee. It was never considered by the Liberals to be something that they would promise as part of the legislation. The Treasurer stood up and made a promise in the committee that a certain amount of money -- I think it was $120 million -- would be committed for three years; and I have to tell you that when it comes to keeping its promise, this government has absolutely no credibility.
On that point, Mr Speaker, I will leave the members who are here this afternoon listening to me speak on behalf of the public -- who would love to come but they have lost confidence
-- time to think about the last remarks that I made.
The Deputy Speaker: I assume you are adjourning the debate.
Mrs Cunningham: I would do so, Mr Speaker, if that is appropriate at this time.
On motion by Mrs Cunningham, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1801.