The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mrs Cunningham moved second reading of Bill 166, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mrs Cunningham: It is with some degree of satisfaction that I speak in this House today about a piece of legislation that I think, if accepted by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, will seek in its own way to prevent serious injuries to young people and any cyclists in Ontario. The request, of course, and the intent of the legislation is that people who are riding bicycles should be asked by law to wear helmets, such as this one.
Two years after my first attempt to do this, we now have a Canadian-approved bicycle helmet with a CSA sticker inside available right across Canada in our own sporting goods stores. We did wait for some length of time so that they would be readily available to families and to people who ride bicycles on our roads and on our streets.
Of course, everyone knows that a bike helmet cannot keep someone from falling off a bicycle, but it can prevent the majority of head injuries that do take place in our province and in our country. If we insist on buckled seatbelts, we should also insist on bike helmets, I think, every time we get on a bike. Both of them are preventive measures. Both of them have been well researched.
There are many studies in our province, in our country and across North America that advise us as parents, certainly as teachers, as citizens and as politicians about the wonderful preventive response by people who wear bike helmets. When someone wears a bicycle helmet, first, the injuries are less severe and, second, there are far fewer of them. We already know that football and hockey players, police and construction workers all keep their heads safe. I think the time has come, certainly in Ontario and right across the world, that there is enough good information that tells us that people who ride bicycles should do everything they can.
We also know that there have been many public awareness campaigns. They are not new, but we are not getting the kind of response we need through the public awareness campaigns -- and I will talk about those in just a little while -- to prevent the many tragedies involving bicycles. More and more people are travelling by bicycle and, if they are sharing the roadways with our motor vehicles, they should be properly protected.
We already have, as part of the Highway Traffic Act, a section that says, and this is the one that we are amending, “No person shall ride on or operate a motorcycle, motor-assisted bicycle” -- and we are saying “or bicycle;” that is the only change – “on a highway unless he or she is wearing a helmet that complies with the regulations and the chin strap of the helmet is securely fastened under the chin.” It is a rather simple amendment. It does, however, have far-reaching effects. The far-reaching effects are to prevent serious head injuries and to improve the quality of life of many, many citizens in our province.
When I distributed the information to my colleagues in the House, I did advise them that between three and seven million Canadians ride bicycles at least once a year, representing between 15% and 30% of the population. That is a Statistics Canada number. Of the 5,000 bicycle accidents recorded in 1987, 94% occurred during clear visibility, so it was not a matter of people not being able to see clearly, it was not even a matter of poor weather; 88% occurred despite no apparent bicycle defect. Basically, when people are injured while riding bicycles, their bicycles are in good condition.
A study conducted from June 1984 to December 1986 revealed that bicycle accidents were responsible for 25% of the fatalities reported in the trauma unit of the Hospital for Sick Children of Toronto. Imagine, 25% of the fatalities were young children who did not have bicycle helmets on and who were in fact riding bicycles.
A survey of the coroners’ offices in Ontario found that 14% of all paediatric injury deaths in Ontario from 1985 to 1987 were attributed to bicycle accidents. We tried to update these numbers, but were unable to do that. We only have the numbers to 1987. This means that 55 out of 393 accidents, virtually all these deaths, resulted from head injuries.
From January 1988 to August 1988, the Metropolitan Toronto Police reported 754 bicycle-related injuries, and three people died as a result of these injuries. They were between the ages of 15 and 34.
We could go on to talk about what we see around our province with young people with head injuries, and we know in fact that the Ontario Medical Association is very concerned about what it sees, what physicians see in their own offices and the young people they see in emergency wards of hospitals. I myself am the mother of a head-injured son, not because he was not wearing a bicycle helmet but because in fact he did not wear a seatbelt. I know it has taken a great toll on him, and his quality of life has changed significantly to the point that he can never be alone again. I just think we have a wonderful opportunity here to make changes for young people in this province.
In June 1989, just last spring, the OMA was so concerned about this that, in its great interest in promoting bicycle safety, it had a campaign encouraging the public to wear safety helmets when cycling to help prevent head injuries. In June they sent out some 13,000 promotional pieces, large posters which I did not bring, but they did have a very large public forum. They did in fact say that the increasing public awareness on behalf of the professions concerned about the management of our health care system included anything they could do to prevent head injuries. I think the easiest suggestion they have, and what they have chosen to promote, is the wearing of bicycle helmets whenever anyone is on a cycle. In June 1989, all of us were aware of their press release where they say, “We want to alter attitudes towards recreational bicycle riding so that a proper helmet is viewed as part of a bicycle rider’s basic equipment.” It went on to talk about the same statistics that I have talked about.
We also know that we have in Ontario, and we are very fortunate to have, a group of people, basically parents, educators and people in the health care professions, who do anything they can to prevent head injuries. That association is called the Ontario Head Injury Association. They say: “Remember, accidents causing head injuries can happen anywhere -- on sidewalks, driveways and bike paths as well as the street. You and your children cannot predict when an injury will happen.” So they put out pamphlets such as this, where they say, “How can I get my children to wear their helmets?” There are many ideas for parents. It goes on to say, “A bicycle is not a toy; it’s your child’s first vehicle.”
I know there will be some concern on the part of my colleagues in this House about enforcement. I would be prepared to go into some detail if requested to do so. There is precedent for this legislation in the province of Manitoba, where they recently required infants to wear helmets. I must say at the same time that the fines vary in our province for people who break the Highway Safety Act. The fine can be anywhere from just a warning right up to not less than $40 and not more than $200 for anyone who contravenes any of the provisions of the act. These are for pedestrian offences as well, so even pedestrians who break the Highway Safety Act can in fact be warned and then fined. In Manitoba they are not fining people yet. They feel they will phase that in over a period of time.
I would like to close by saying that I would be prepared to answer any questions on the part of my colleagues in this House. My intent was, at the appropriate time, to have this bill referred to committee where concerns can be expressed and questions can be answered, and perhaps we can get our own administration to advise us how it can best be implemented. It is law in Manitoba, it is law in the state of Maryland and I would encourage the province of Ontario to do the same.
Mr Miller: It gives me great pleasure to rise this morning and participate in the debate on mandatory helmet use and standards for child bicycle carriers brought forward in Bill 166 by the member for London North.
First of all, I would like to publicly congratulate the member in her recent campaign for leader of the third party. We have always admired her ability and we would like to wish her well.
I think that bringing forward a bill such as this in this Legislature is another indication that we are all concerned about the welfare of our young people in the province. As a father and a grandfather of 13 -- and I am expecting the 14th, to make it an even number -- I am very much aware of the bicycle and what it does for our young people. It is the first mode of transportation. Even my son does considerable riding. When he comes to Toronto on business he brings his bike along with him. I did not realize he could ride so far within the city limits.
I am responding on behalf of the Minister of Transportation to the introduction of the private member’s bill by the member for London North proposing amendments to the Highway Traffic Act requiring all those riding bicycles to wear helmets and that any young child being transported on a bicycle be carried in an approved child carrier.
Let me begin by assuring the member for London North, as well as the rest of my colleagues in this House, that bicycle safety is and has been of the highest priority for the Ministry of Transportation. Bicycle riding has become very popular in Ontario and recent trends indicate that it will continue to grow in popularity by both adults and children. The safety of these riders is extremely important and can be enhanced by riding their bicycles properly, following the rules of the road and protecting themselves from serious injury by wearing a helmet.
I might add that in the last couple of weeks we had a couple of grandsons who could not handle their bikes and they did fall off and end up with some scratches on their foreheads. Those accidents can happen.
The ministry actively promotes the use of helmets by cyclists. Last year the ministry co-operated with the Ontario Medical Association in a province-wide campaign to educate bicyclists about the benefits of wearing a helmet. This campaign was prompted by recent studies in the United States of America that showed that 75% of bicycle fatalities are due to head injuries.
As well, to educate Ontario’s bicycling population the ministry has stressed helmet use in all its bicycle safety informational literature that has been distributed to the general public, schools, police forces and bicycling associations across the province.
Last week we had a Lions Club Ride for Sight, where 100 bicyclists left Courtland and rode to Fort Erie. They raised $35,000. It was headed up by one Dennis Craddock, a member of the Jarvis Lions Club, and was very, very successful. They were stressing the fact of safety and they were looking forward to next year’s participation and enforcing and protecting the riders who are going to be riding in that particular event.
At the moment, no jurisdiction in North America or Europe has made bicycle helmet use mandatory, and Canadian bicycle helmet standards for children and adults are, so far, incomplete. The Canadian Standards Association has recently published a cycling helmet standard for persons over the age of five and is planning, in the near future, to amend this standard to be suitable for very young children.
Before considering legislation in the area of bicycle helmet use, the Minister of Transportation would like to first monitor the effects of increased public education efforts by his ministry and other organizations. He would also prefer to await the development of uniform acceptable standards for the design of bicycle helmets for riders of all ages.
On the subject of bicycle child carriers, the ministry has been carefully studying this issue as well. The ministry does not promote or recommend the practice of carrying children in a child carrier due to the potential danger of children, since there is presently no Canadian standard for child carriers either.
The ministry is aware that the federal Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs has been distributing information to the general public on the safe use of child carriers for those parents wishing to use them, in recognition that the proper use of child carriers requires education and, I might add, practice in riding with those young children on the back of the bike. The adult cyclist has to be aware that the addition of a child carrier on a bicycle will create a change in the load distribution and will affect steering. Studies have shown that accidents involving bicycles with a child carrier are primarily due to cyclist error caused by the additional weight of the child, as opposed to faults with the actual carrier.
In discussions with the medical profession, the ministry has been informed that the injuries resulting from accidents involving bicycles with carriers tend to be head injuries. Therefore, we feel the preferred approach is to focus on head protection initiatives as opposed to the development of carrier standards.
In closing, we can assure the member for London North that the Ministry of Transportation will continue to promote bicycle safety with an emphasis on head protection. Before considering mandatory helmet legislation, the ministry prefers to monitor the experiences of other jurisdictions, the effects of increased public education and the progress of the Canadian Standards Association certification program.
With those comments, we would like to congratulate the member for London North for bringing the bill forward, but we perhaps will not give support for bringing it into legislation, for the reason I have just given.
Mrs Grier: I am very pleased to have an opportunity to participate in this debate today. I approach it strictly as a private member because when I was asked to participate in the debate, I had not made up my mind, and I am still not sure that I have. So it is very refreshing to have an opportunity to listen to the arguments and then decide in 40 minutes which way I am going to vote. At this point I may say to the member for London North that I think I am more on her side than on the other, but there are arguments to be put in both directions.
I guess one of my reservations is that I am concerned we are into regulating everything. I say that because every time I ask the Minister of the Environment to regulate protection of the environment, he says: “Oh, you’re always wanting regulations. That’s the socialist approach.” I think he is quite wrong in his ideological and rather doctrinaire approach to what socialism is. In my version of socialism it is our obligation to create the conditions that make it easy for individuals to assume responsibility for their own lives and to make their own decisions. I come to bicycling with somewhat the same approach, that I wish one did not have to regulate everything and require perhaps the wearing of helmets on all cyclists.
As someone who cycles occasionally and casually, I know that when I pull out my bicycle on a bright spring day and decide to go and buy the paper or a jug of milk on my bicycle instead of walking or by car, I am going to consider it somewhat of an inconvenience if I have to put on a helmet. By the same token, when I see my young grandson beginning to learn to ride even his tricycle I am very relieved that my son, his father, has bought a helmet and is requiring him to wear it. I must confess it never crossed my mind when my three children were learning to ride a bicycle that they should wear helmets, but living in a city today, it is required.
I learned to ride my bicycle on a country road, because I remember being unseated into a large patch of brambles on my first attempt. Well, I guess if two cars passed per day, that was all that ever happened. Certainly in wartime Ireland there were no more than that. Today’s conditions are entirely different, so perhaps we come to the point where it is required that we begin to regulate.
I have been interested in cycling ever since, as a casual cyclist, I got my front wheel caught in a storm sewer grating on a busy street in Etobicoke and was very pleased thereafter to be able to get the works department to design its gratings in such a way that my front wheel no longer did get caught in the new gratings because they were on an angle. Those are the kinds of changes that make it safer for cyclists. Perhaps we have to begin to look at what can be done in the broad context to recognize that cycling is an appropriate way to travel, not only on country roads but in the cities, and at what can we do in the general context to make cycling safer.
I introduced a private member’s bill requiring cyclists to identify themselves to the police when they are stopped for a violation of the Highway Traffic Act; a private member’s bill, I may say, that was prompted by the policeman in 21 Division, the division in my constituency, who came to me and said: “We have this real problem with cyclists on sidewalks, be they children or adults. When we ask them their name and address so that we can hold them accountable for knocking someone down if they are riding on a sidewalk, as has happened, they do not have to give it to us. They can give us a false name, and there is nothing we can do about it.”
So I introduced my private member’s bill and, as I say, I am pleased that the minister incorporated that into his new legislation and regulations regarding cyclists. Perhaps the same thing will happen to the bill from the member for London North if it is approved by this House today.
I think that the amendments the minister introduced, as well as my amendment, contribute to what I think is necessary in the way of a broader system of safety for cycling. The fact that “bicycle” is now clearly included in the definition of a vehicle and that bicyclists are not permitted to ride their bicycles across the sidewalk or a pedestrian crossover and must walk their bicycle across the road, helps to improve safety.
There are now in the regulations clear indications that a cyclist should give when changing direction, that he may indicate a right turn by extending his right hand and arm horizontally, which is safer than the system that was permitted before that and easier to recognize. Also, bicycles must now be equipped with a proper braking system. This enhances bicycle control and provides the police with the power to charge bicyclists who drive without proper brakes, because lack of brakes is a very real safety hazard. That a person walking a bicycle along a highway without sidewalks may walk on the right side of the highway not facing the traffic, provided it is unsafe for the person to cross the highway, is again a safety measure that I applaud. I agree that these new requirements will help make the bicycle safer to ride and more visible.
I think, in addition, we ought to be really encouraging municipalities to look at the provision of bicycle paths, not necessarily as a separate lane on a busy street, but as an alternative route. If we can begin to have throughout our cities routes that are designated as bicycle routes and where drivers will recognize that there are going to be more than the occasional bicycle, then that will contribute to drivers realizing that cyclists have a right to share the roads with them and put more of the onus on drivers to watch out for cyclists rather than constantly having it the cyclist who is worried about the car. This is an unequal contest if the two collide. I think there has to be some onus put on the driver to take responsibility for the way in which he drives with respect to cyclists.
Cycling is environmentally desirable. It cuts down on the pollution from automobiles. It cuts down on traffic congestion. It increases the livability of our cities if more of us can cycle, and it is interesting to see that over the last decade even our winter climate has not deterred many people who ride their bicycles downtown.
I certainly have no qualms in suggesting that bicycle couriers are required to wear helmets, and we should all perhaps be given safety protection from bicycle couriers and the way in which some of them ride. But at the very minimum, I have no hesitation in supporting the requirements that those riding bicycles as a commercial operation ought to be required to have the safety features, both of their bicycles and in their personal wearing of helmets.
I applaud the educational efforts that the member opposite has said are being undertaken by the government. I hope that we can perhaps see an evaluation of how those are working in the short term rather than in the long term, because I think education of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists will all contribute to the recognition that bicycling is a legitimate mode of travel and one that we encourage and want to legitimize as much as possible.
Mr D. R. Cooke: Why don’t you propose an amendment to the bill?
Mrs Grier: Why do I not propose an amendment to the bill?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mrs Grier: I am not sure that it is in order to suggest an amendment, but I think, on balance, what I am saying, as I toss around my arguments, is that I will support in principle the legislation that is before us today. I share with the member for London North the hope that this bill will be referred to committee and that the members on the government side will change their, unfortunately, recently adopted practice of requiring all members’ bills to go to committee of the whole, which means that they are lost somewhere in the void of government, because they certainly never reappear. Those of us in the opposition, those in the public who wish to have them dealt with, have no opportunity of getting them on the agenda.
If what I am hearing from the members opposite is that they think further discussion of this bill is required, then I would urge them to refer it to a committee so that the concerns and the reservations I have can be canvassed, so that people who have looked at this subject in greater depth and who have very legitimate suggestions to make about cycling can come before a committee and can share those concerns and ideas with us, because I think the principle of needing to assist people to protect themselves is one that I can certainly support. We have required seatbelts in cars, we have required carriers for automobiles for children rather than the rather flimsy things that certainly 30 years ago I put on my car seat to carry my children around. Perhaps it is, in fact, time that we make helmets mandatory, and discussion before a committee would give us an opportunity to canvass all of that.
I have also the concern that bicycle helmets are not cheap. Riding a bicycle is often something that people do out of economic necessity because they cannot afford to run a car. So I would hope that if we are going to make it mandatory, we would also look at some way of assisting people in acquiring the helmets. I know with child car seats, many non-profit organizations have arranged systems of networks where these expensive things can be shared and while you have an infant you can borrow or rent a car seat at a very low cost. Perhaps cycling helmets for children could be made available in the same way, so that as a child grows, you are not expending what is now a $50 expenditure every time you need it.
Let me also say, while on the subject of cycling, that I have recently realized that there are not very many facilities around this building for cyclists. There is one bicycle rack on our premises. It is in the northwest quad. It is not very visible and many members of our staff who ride bicycles to work are reluctant to leave their bicycles there for fear of vandalism or theft. They also are reluctant to leave their bicycles out in the open air.
What I was saying, Mr Speaker, was that I hope in this discussion of cycling you might take note of the need on these premises for some edifice where bicycles could safely be left by those who ride them to work. There are a growing number of our staff who come to work by bicycle, and in the north wing there are many members of staff who have been driven to carry their bicycles up and put them in their offices or in the corridors because they do not want to leave a valuable machine out in the elements or in a place where they fear that it may be tampered with. I hope that if the government is sincere in its desire to increase the safety and the viability of cycling, it will look to putting our own house in order, because I know that would be welcomed by many people.
In conclusion, let me say to the member for London North that I think I have argued myself into certainly supporting her bill in principle. I hope, as I say, that it can be referred to a committee, and I look forward to greater in-depth discussion at that time.
Mr Cousens: I am pleased to participate in this debate that has been brought forward because of the concern and interest that has been given by the member for London North.
Before I begin my remarks, this is my first opportunity to just comment on the magnificent efforts that have been taken by the member for London North in the very short time since this lady has entered the House, and certainly taken such an active role within the Ontario Conservative Party. She has given a tremendous amount of herself, in not only her thinking and her experience but just her commonsense approach to things. Through the electoral process to elect our new leader of the party on 12 May and for the many months of hard work and dedication, this is one person who will go down in the annals of the history of certainly our party and, I think, over the long term in the annals of the history of the Legislature of Ontario as one who is truly a dedicated, concerned Canadian and who puts others first, and certainly her Legislature and the people of the province at the head of the list. I begin with these words because I have not had a chance until now to publicly acknowledge the outstanding efforts that have been given by the member for London North.
I am really pleased to participate in this debate. I think it is another reason why we as legislators have to lead the way rather than follow. Very often we are in a position to say, “Well, what does the majority want to do?” Mr Speaker, you no longer participate actively in the Liberal Party, I am sure, because of your independence as a Speaker and the objectivity that you have, but for the rest of the Liberals who are in this House, the way they operate is by reading the polls.
They have probably been reading the polls and saying, “What should we do with regard to this legislation?” rather than being leaders. Instead of being proactive, they are reactive. The member for Norfolk wonders who the dinosaurs are in this world; they are certainly not on this side of the House.
I would like to touch on some of the reasons why people are not supporting Bill 166. I believe there are a number of reasons, some of them having to do with the fact that these helmets look funny by virtue of what in fact people are used to having on their heads. Who knows? I am not just saying members, but I know certainly when I said to some of the young people in my community, “Well, why don’t you wear a helmet?” they said, “They look funny.”
Mr Miller: My grandchildren wear all kinds of hats and they would likely be happy to put one on.
Mr Cousens: That is good. I wore a hat and it did other things to me.
The fact is, the honourable member is saying one thing now, but when it comes to voting time, he is not going to be supporting this legislation. To some people they look funny. I think the same kind of consideration went into it before people started wearing hockey helmets. They said, “Oh, they look funny,” as if that was a reason not to wear a hockey helmet. Or if in fact it seemed to be an inconvenience when they put a seatbelt on, it looked funny to have a seatbelt on. It just did not seem proper.
The fact of the matter is these helmets will save lives. It is one of the things that we can do to protect ourselves for the long term. Looks are not the important thing. What is important is that we have proper protection. It is that kind of protection that could really begin to make a change for someone’s life, who, if he did not have that helmet, could have a fall and the damage could be permanent.
We often do not think enough about the permanency of head injury and the long-term effects it has. There are a number of young people I know who have had head injuries in car accidents and other ways. Their lives and their families’ lives will never be the same as they could have been. Certainly it has had a long-term impact.
I do not think any kind of helmet -- and this is the second reason I would give that people do not support the idea of the member for London North -- is that they are not that comfortable. They will be hot on a summer’s day. They will kind of slide around. The strapping may sort of change. You might have to stop your bike and readjust it periodically. You might have to stop and get rid of the sweat line. But the fact of the matter is, a lot of other things that we do for our own safety are not all that comfortable either, and yet if you really look at what it is going to do for you, that comfort factor is just a small consideration compared to the safety factor.
Some people say they do not work. I really begin to think they have not begun to understand how the Canadian Standards Association has made sure that these work. We are not talking about the design that came together in someone’s kitchen. The strapping is now firm. We are talking about the protection on the head that can withstand a very large blow.
The Canadian Standards Association has approved two Canadian companies that manufacture bike helmets and two models have been approved by the Canadian Standards Association. We are now talking about a range of sizes. The Helmtec is a tour light model that ranges in size from very small. Denrich has another type of helmet that is also approved by the CSA, and it has sizes small, medium and large.
These helmets meet the standards of the Canadian Standards Association. Approval stickers will be visible on the helmet or the liner, so when people are purchasing a helmet they can see that it has gone through a testing process that allows people to know that what they are going to be buying really has been thoroughly and carefully tested.
So when people say, “They don’t work,” I would have to say they do not know what they are talking about. We have a standards association in Canada which has gone through the testing process to see that it is okay.
One of the other reasons, the fourth reason, why maybe the helmets are not all that popular, is someone says, “Well, I didn’t need it, so why should my kids need it?” That logic just does not hold any water when you start to consider the impact it can have.
I thought the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore spoke very eloquently when she spoke of her memories in Ireland, back in the last century or whenever it was, and the safety factors there.
Mrs Grier: I did not say the last century.
Mr Cousens: I am not sure, but back when the member was there. I really respect her wisdom that comes from her years of experience. Certainly, we should all respect anyone who has been around that long.
One of the other concerns why people have not supported this in the past is that human rights are involved, and yet we have got around it. A turban cannot be an excuse for not wearing a motorcycle helmet. Motorcycle helmets are required, they are mandatory. They are there in the Highway Traffic Act for all people who want to drive a motorcycle. So if a person who has a concern because of his religion and has a turban, that does not take away the right of the law to be exercised on that person. If he is going to drive a motorcycle, he must wear a helmet. For anyone who has a human rights concern, I would say that does not take any kind of importance above safety. Safety would go first; and we have precedents for that in the legislation as it affects a motorcyclist.
There are many precedents where people have previously looked at this kind of legislation. The Highway Traffic Act in Manitoba has been amended, where it is now required that infant passengers on a bicycle must wear a helmet. This bill was recently proclaimed, on 19 March 1990. Another instance where there is a precedent for helmet usage on cycles is in Maryland, where they have a bylaw that has an effect on county roads and bicycle paths. It does not have an effect on state or federal roadways, but it would appear that there is now an effort, certainly in that state, to get things going.
I have not had a chance to follow research through into other states, but there is the beginning now of other jurisdictions saying “We are prepared to bring out progressive legislation that is going to have the long-term interests of people on our highways and our roads, and therefore there is an urgency to have something in place to have a helmet there.”
It would appear that the ministry of the Ontario government has not done much research. Probably they are saying, “Well, it is not important because it has not been fully researched.” The fact of the matter is, all the signs are coming in now that there has been research. Just one example that came across my desk was of a physiotherapist -- I am rather sympathetic to physiotherapists; I am married to one and happen know that they deal an awful lot with people who are recovering from accidents and other situations. This lady, Martha Somerby in Thunder Bay, has completed a year-long study on the use of bicycle helmets. Her findings show a significant decrease in the incidence of severe head injury when a proper helmet is worn. Again, that is another example of research being done and I am sure there is a lot more happening that begins to say, “If you use the helmet, it is going to benefit you.”
Is the Ontario Medical Association just sending out a request to municipalities across the province of Ontario suggesting that helmets be used because its members want to be good people? No. They are making the suggestion because they happen to know that you reduce the leading cause of injuries in young people by the use of helmets.
I guess another reason why people do not support this legislation has to do with the need to study it more; and that seems to have been the reason given by my good friend the member for Norfolk this morning, where in the Legislature he is saying, “Well, we need to still look at it more.” This government keeps studying things to death and nothing is ever going to happen. They are going to call another quick election shortly and they will say “Well, we will study it again.” They studied automobile insurance and look what we have got now; the more they studied it, the worst they did on it.
I am sure that if you take this as an example of their study ability as a government -- not you as an individual, because anyone with 14 grandchildren or thereabouts really has to understand what studying is all about; you have studied people for a long time. But studying this is just not a good enough excuse to say that you are not going to do something about it.
I believe the member for London North has done us a favour today in this Legislature. It is obvious that the government is not going to support this bill. They may come along and a have a whip vote to vote against it. We never know what they are going to do, but what we are beginning to do is educate the people of the province of Ontario on the importance of having proper safety gear when they are doing different things. Certainly, if you are riding a bicycle there is a tremendous benefit to the rider, to a child that is being carried on a bicycle, to have the proper equipment. We require the bicycle to have brakes and other things on it. Why not protect the driver who cycles with such a thing as this? I think the member for London North is to be congratulated.
What we have to do now is to break down some of the prejudices that are part and parcel of the objection to helmets. By virtue of having a discussion on this, I would venture to say that among our pages, who are grades 7 and 8 young people -- and I am not going to ask for a show of hands because that is not done in the Legislature and I know the rules well enough -- there is not one who has a helmet; but maybe anyone who does could come and talk to me about it. I would hope that within a few years we are going to see more and more young people having helmets.
I truly respect the fact that it is something they need to be educated on. Everybody needs to be educated on it. Why not begin that process here in the Legislature? That is why I commend the honourable member for London North in bringing forward this bill to give us a chance to discuss it further.
Cycling is a more and more popular sport. More and more people are taking to the bicycle paths and the roads in the neighbourhoods on bicycles. Let us encourage that, but while they are doing it, we are going to see an increasing incidence of the possibility of accidents. Why not encourage people, if they are going do a sport, to do it safely and do it right? Oftentimes the accidents are caused not because they are being foolish. An accident is an accident. Some of the worst accidents happen when someone runs into a parked car. They think the car is moving and, bam, they are into it. Suddenly, they are into an injury as well, and so damage is done.
I am seeing more and more people in my community wearing helmets. I see this as an example of them respecting themselves and taking care of themselves over the long term. All the excuses on why a helmet is not a good idea -- it looks funny, it is hot and uncomfortable, it does not work, I have not done it before, I did not need to do it before and there is no precedence for it -- all those to me do not make sense. The real thing that makes sense is that each one of us has to do more to protect ourselves, to protect our rights and by looking after oneself we are in a position to really have a long-term carriage for ourselves.
I would hope that the government will look at this bill. If it has to go to committee and it is amended there and changes are made to it, let us do that. But let us at least begin to be leaders in our community and in government by having some way in which we can do it.
Mr Reycraft: I am pleased to participate in this debate this morning, and I want to compliment the member for London North for having introduced Bill 166 and having it placed before the Legislature.
Bill 166 provides us with an opportunity to focus public attention on the very important issue of bicycle safety and on one way in which we can reduce the number of serious injuries that result from bicycle accidents. Every year in this province there are thousands of accidents involving bicycles. The member for London North sent a letter to all members of the Legislature indicating that in 1987 there were 5,000 bicycle accidents in the province. I assume that refers to the number of reported accidents in the province, because I suspect the number is much, much larger than that.
Whatever the number is, many of those accidents involve serious injuries and some of them involve death. One thing that is certain is that some of those serious injuries and some of those deaths could have been avoided if the bicycle rider had been wearing a proper helmet. Many of the people in this province who ride bicycles are unaware of the statistics on accidents and serious injuries and deaths. Many of them are simply not aware of the risk they are taking when they attempt to ride a bicycle without a proper helmet.
I did some consultation on this bill last evening. I phoned my resident expert on the subject, my 14-year-old son, Nathan, who is in grade 9 at the high school in Glencoe, and I asked him how many of the students at the elementary school that he graduated from last year wore helmets when they rode bicycles. He indicated that none did. I asked him how many of his fellow students at Glencoe District High School wore helmets when they rode bicycles. Again, he said that none of them did. I asked him how many adults he had seen wearing helmets when they rode bicycles in the village of Glencoe where we live. Again, he indicated that he had seen none. The only helmets that he has seen on people on bicycles are the helmets on babies or young children who are being carried as passengers on bicycles.
I suspect that the situation in Glencoe is not unique or unusual. I suspect that similar situations exist in most small towns and most rural parts of this province. The use of helmets by cyclists in those places is very limited. Certainly, in large urban areas like Toronto, even like London, the use of helmets by cyclists has increased significantly in the last few years. One needs only to look around to know that, but the risk exists everywhere. Accidents do occur in those small towns and rural areas just as they do in the large cities. Riders are seriously injured in bicycle accidents in those places and some of them, unfortunately, are killed. There is no doubt that the use of helmets would make cycling safer, not just in heavy city traffic but wherever people ride bicycles.
I support the wider use of helmets by cyclists and I also support the recent amendments to the Highway Traffic Act, which will make it safer for people who ride bicycles, and I compliment the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore for her involvement in those legislated changes.
Let’s get to Bill 166, which has been proposed by the member for London North. Bill 166 would make it mandatory for anyone riding a bicycle on a highway to wear an approved helmet and would also make it mandatory for children who are being carried as passengers on bicycles on a highway to wear those helmets. Just to clarify things, the Highway Traffic Act defines “highway” as including “a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle.” We are talking about all public roads.
The Highway Traffic Act establishes a penalty for those who do not observe its provisions and in the case of section 88, which Bill 166 would amend, the penalty there is a minimum of $60 or a maximum of $500, not the lesser amount as I believe was stated by the member for London North. That means anyone riding a bicycle on a public road without a helmet would be subject to a fine of from $60 to $500.
A lot of the people who ride bicycles in this province are younger than 12 years old. I suspect that half of the people who ride bicycles in this province are younger than 12 years of age. Under the Provincial Offences Act of the province, people under the age of 12 cannot have charges laid against them. As a result of that, the provisions of the Provincial Offences Act, half of the people who would be affected by this legislation would not be subject to its enforcement. That means we would have obvious violations of the legislation but a police force that would be powerless to enforce it. In my view, that makes Bill 166 impractical.
Some might suggest the law should be changed so that charges could be laid against kids who are under the age of 12. I think that is problematic as well. First of all, I do not think $60 to $500 fines against nine-year-olds or 10-year-olds are appropriate. I also think there is a real problem in trying to collect those fines should the violators decide they did not want to pay them. With infractions involving automobiles and other vehicles, because they are licensed there is a mechanism whereby those fines can be collected. But bicycles are not licensed so there is no mechanism to allow for the collection of those fines.
I think, too, this legislation might encourage kids who are riding bicycles to get off the highway, to get off the public road and on to the sidewalk. That is problematic as well, certainly for pedestrians, particularly seniors. They do not like to see young people riding bicycles on sidewalks and many municipalities in the province have passed bylaws that prohibit that.
There is another problem with the legislation, as the member for London North herself has pointed out, in that there are only two bicycle helmets that are now approved for use in the province by the Canadian Standards Association. That is pretty limited. I understand they have tested some 10 helmets that are now available and of those 10 only the two were viewed as being acceptable. There are also problems with the costs of the helmet and the implication of that cost on the people who would be affected.
The final point I want to make is that I think there is a better way. I think the use of helmets by cyclists is increasing, particularly in urban areas but all across the province. There is much more we can do to educate bicycle riders on the value of wearing approved helmets. I think we should do that. We should continue to promote and educate but not legislate. Encouraging the greater use of helmets by cyclists is something that is very practical: I believe Bill 166 is not.
Mrs Cunningham: Is it appropriate, if there is time available to the official opposition party, that I use that time?
The Speaker: Is there agreement that the member for London North may use the two and a half minutes plus her own two minutes?
Mrs Cunningham: I will use this time to respond specifically to any questions as I have written them down. I would like to thank my colleague the member for Markham and my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore for their support, for their questions and of course for their very positive attitude towards having this bill referred to committee so that we could look at making it work.
I think the time has come when we have to lead the way. These statistics are not new. Many of them have been gathered throughout the 1960s, the 1970s and more recently throughout the 1980s in Ontario. The injuries are becoming greater, not less, and it is time to do something about it.
I would say to the member for Norfolk I was not surprised to hear that the ministry officials are not happy with this piece of legislation. They were not happy with the legislation around the wearing of helmets when it was introduced for motorcycles and they certainly were not happy with the legislation for seat-belts.
Mr Miller: We supported that.
Mrs Cunningham: We supported it, but not with the support of the administration. Of course they are warning us as politicians that there are difficulties with legislation and certainly, as the member for Middlesex has pointed out, with whether or not one can fine them appropriately. I believe we have the opportunity right now to refer this to committee and all of us hear about what these problems from the administration are all about.
This is the wrong time to defeat a piece of legislation that is certainly worthy of more discussion. I will say to the member for Middlesex that those numbers I used for fines were numbers that were used for pedestrians. We do have the opportunity to amend this section and say section 2 instead of section 1. We could make it a separate section in committee. We could say there would be warnings. We could say whatever we want to say if we want to make it work.
We know that in the Highway Traffic Act itself there are ranges available of both sentences and fines. All we have to do is make the fine suit the breaking of the law and make it work. In this section, when we talk about pedestrians, and I wanted to talk about motorcyclists to wear the helmet, the member is quite right to say that “every person who contravenes any provision of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.” I was aware of that. Let’s call this a new section and make the fine or the warning different. But I certainly think that at this time in the province of Ontario we have a wonderful opportunity to lead the way. To use fines and enforcement as an excuse is just not acceptable to young people across the province. They are prepared to lead the way.
When we talk about helmets, yes, the Canadian Standards Association has in fact approved two new helmets in the last two years and when I first raised this they had not approved any. But you have to remember at the same time that the American Standards Association, of course, has many helmets that have been approved and they have been used in the province of Ontario and across Canada for many years, so we do not have to go with those two. But we know also that the Canadian-owned-and-operated Helmtec and the samples of these sports-safe helmets have helped in the awareness of the importance of wearing helmets. They in fact have given out coupons under certain circumstances so that people can get $5 and $10 off. They have worked with the Ontario Medical Association.
If we really want something to work, we can make it work. That is what I am here to say today. The time has come in Ontario. We have shown the way; we have led the way.
Manitoba has in its way. Other states, and I used Maryland as an example today, have led the way, and we have an opportunity. Everyone in this House agrees that head injuries caused by bicycle accidents, and especially more severe ones, and all of them by young people who do not wear helmets, are a real problem. I would just like to ask for the support of the House with regard to this matter.
NORTHERN HEALTH TRAVEL GRANTS
Mr Miclash moved resolution 52:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that fully accessible, quality health care for every Ontarian is a priority of this government and that northern Ontario residents often have to travel outside their communities to receive specialized health care services and that travel costs in northern Ontario are higher on average than in other areas of the province and that some situations, regardless of age, require the assistance of a travel companion, the government of Ontario should reduce the distance criteria under the northern travel grant program from 250 kilometres to 200 kilometres and that any individual requiring the assistance of a travel companion regardless of their age be eligible to receive a grant to cover their companion’s costs.
Mr Miclash: It gives me great pleasure to rise in the Legislature today to bring forth this private member’s resolution, which deals with an issue of great importance to the people not only in my riding but to all northern Ontario residents. The issue is, of course, the provision of health care for northern Ontario residents.
The geography of Ontario has much to offer. We know that it is a vast geography and it provides for a flourishing tourist industry and has many benefits of natural resources across it. But as well, it does have some drawbacks. We know that the geography of northern Ontario, for example, is one of vastness. We know that distances between centres in the north are large, causing a remoteness not only among themselves but also from the larger urban centres of southern Ontario. As a result, the delivery of health care services faces daunting challenges for us in the north.
When the present government came to power in 1985, it made a commitment to alleviate this problem. One of the first actions it took was to implement the northern health travel grant as part of its strategy to ensure that all Ontarians have access to adequate health services. There are other programs also which are available to help northerners. We know that social assistance will provide funding for people who cannot afford travel to get specialized services.
Just last week, actually, the government announced another priority in terms of helping people in the north practise in the north and be educated in the north, and it was an initiative that drew 48 training positions into the north. We know that both Lakehead University and Laurentian University were allotted 24 positions each to bring practising physicians into the north, just one program that has been offered by this government along with many others which try to provide health care in the north.
We know that there is an underserviced specialist program which allows specialists to move in and out of some of the communities that do not have these specialized services, and we know that these services are provided in the communities to the people who need them and that they are best suited to provide them in their home communities.
But let me return to the northern health travel grant. We know this provides coverage for residents of various territories across the north and it allows them money to be used to travel for specialized services. To date, the grant program has been of assistance to 150,000 individuals and we have had some 15,000 travel companions use the grant system as well. Undoubtedly this has been a great benefit to patients in northern Ontario.
When the program was first introduced in December 1985, the minimum distance at that time was 300 kilometres. In 1988 we saw a reduction in that minimum distance to 250 kilometres. That is saying that the distance to travel to a centre for specialized services had been reduced in 1988, but today I have indicated that that reduction may not have been enough. I know of a great number of communities, including three major ones in my riding, that are between the 250- and 200-kilometre range, and we know that transportation over that distance can be quite expensive.
Last year the minister undertook a comprehensive study to take a look at the program and came up with a number of recommendations. They sent out a review team composed of people from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Northern Development to take a look at the program. In order to achieve a wide public response, the team mailed out some 300 questionnaires. As well, they included people who had both used the grant system and who had been refused a grant under the program. The purpose of the study was to find out whether people were satisfied with the program and what kind of comments they would have in terms of the program. I understand that generally they received fairly favourable comments about the program and about the specialist care that was able to be provided through the program.
I know that the Ministry of Health at the present time is going over the recommendations, and today I bring forth this resolution to let it know about some of the concerns of both myself and my constituents about the program in the Kenora riding and across the north. The provincial government has moved in the past five years in a very responsible manner to address the problems that exist and I feel it has shown a willingness to listen to us there in the north.
I would just like to give a few examples of some of the problems that we have encountered in the Kenora riding, some of the problems that have come forth from constituents of mine. I would like to refer to a young man who had injured his hand and had to travel on a weekly basis for some 13 weeks to Winnipeg to receive treatment. As I indicated before, he was from Keewatin and the travel grant program did not cover his travel for those 13 visits.
As well, I would like to highlight some cases to demonstrate my point in terms of the benefit of a travel companion under this program. One case that was brought to my attention was that the wife of a gentleman from northwestern Ontario had been referred to a specialist in southern Ontario for open-heart surgery. Both doctors who had examined the patient had recommended a travel companion. However, as the patient was over 18 years of age, this was denied.
As well, a young lady who had been travelling to a specialist in southern Ontario since she was 14 had the assistance of her parents up until the time that she turned 18. Of course at that point, again, the assistance to the companion by the travel grant was discontinued. As well, we have heard from a blind man from Red Lake, a town in my riding, who was travelling to Winnipeg and again denied the travel assistance program.
So you can see, Mr Speaker, that we can see complications in this program where companions are needed to travel and, the person being over 18, he is not allowed to take the companion along.
There are other reasons that dictate the need for a travel companion, such as medical condition, disorientation due to disease or treatment, or actually the need for moral support of the patient. We know that often the trauma of dealing with a medical condition calls for special care and some special care that can be provided by a companion in travel.
Removing the age restriction could also save money and make our health care system in northern Ontario more efficient. I refer to patients who sometimes, instead of taking an ambulance from centre to centre, could be accompanied by a travel companion and alleviate that very expensive need.
I suggest that the delivery of health care is to ultimately be able to expand medical service in the north through higher technology and more specialists, but in the meantime I think there is a gap, a gap that must be filled, and I feel that the northern health travel grant program has obviously filled this gap and has been of great assistance to us in the north.
I indicated earlier that the government has moved quickly in meeting many of the medical needs in northern Ontario, but unfortunately some people are still falling through the cracks. Therefore, after reviewing the northern health travel grant and reviewing what it is doing for the people in northern Ontario, I have proposed that the government of the day reduce the distance criteria under the northern health travel grant, as I indicated earlier, from 250 kilometres to 200 kilometres.
As well, I mentioned a number of cases where it was obvious that individuals were in need of companions to travel out of their centres to major centres where they would receive specialized medical care treatment, so I have also indicated that I feel we should be taking a look at any individual who requires the assistance of a travel companion, regardless of age, that he be eligible to receive a grant to cover the companion’s cost.
As you can see, Mr Speaker, I have indicated two ways that I feel we can take another good look at the travel grant program in northern Ontario and ensure that it helps meet the needs of people who must travel to other areas of the province or even into Manitoba to receive these specialized treatments and the specialized care that they need.
Mr Hampton: I am very pleased to be able to take part in this debate, because my constituency is right next door to the member for Kenora’s, so he and I have experienced many of the same bureaucratic hassles with the northern health travel grant. In fact, I can even recite a few more, and I would, just for the benefit of making the record complete.
The bureaucracy that is involved with the northern health travel grant is even more absurd than the member for Kenora suggests. Let me give an example that I encountered. If you live in northwestern Ontario, the northern health travel grant allows you to travel either to a centre like Thunder Bay or Toronto in Ontario for service, or allows you to travel to Winnipeg. However, if your doctor sends you to Winnipeg you have to be very, very careful that the doctor you are going to see in Winnipeg has all of these neat little letters after his or her name and is in fact recognized as a specialist by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, because if he or she does not have all of these neat little letters after his or her name, even though you receive specialist services from him or her in Winnipeg, you may not qualify for the northern health travel grant.
Let me give members an instant example. Dr Jerry Wilson in Winnipeg is one of the most renowned knee and orthopaedic surgeons in the world. He is the consultative doctor for the Winnipeg Jets hockey team. They have hockey players they have invested $1 million in and they are very concerned about their knees, so they send them to Dr Wilson.
When people in my constituency are referred to Dr Wilson for surgery or for specialist attention, they go, under the impression that they can recover northern health travel grant funding for the travel. When they get back, the Ministry of Health tells them: “No, no, Dr Jerry Wilson, even though he is recognized around the world as a leading orthopaedic surgeon, does not have all of the necessary little initials after his name. You don’t qualify for the northern health travel grant.”
How ridiculously absurd and stupid, that someone who is recognized around the world as providing specialist services, the Ministry of Health in Ontario will not recognize him.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Hampton: That is just one example.
What is at stake here is a fundamental principle of medicare within Canada. Medicare states that recognized health services should be, shall be, universally available. Whether you are rich or poor, old or young, disabled or abled, health services should be available to you.
What has happened in northern Ontario is this: You have to be wealthy, or you have to be able to acquire some money from someone, either through charity or through a loan or service group, because in many cases you are in fact cut off from health services. That is the fundamental of it.
I want to give credit to the member for Kenora, because he deals with one small aspect of this problem, but the fact of the matter is that the situation goes much beyond what his resolution is dealing with. People from all across northern Ontario are put into situations where, as I said, they have to deny necessities for their family in order to get medical care because their travel costs are not fully covered or even partially covered, which to me goes completely contrary to the principles of medicare, and I would argue, therefore, completely contrary to the principles of OHIP.
I just want to show again the double standard. When local health care services were not available for cancer patients from Toronto, the Ministry of Health paid the full bill to send them to Thunder Bay, to Windsor, to Ottawa. Our information is that something close to 500 patients from Metro Toronto and area received full costs of return air fare, full costs of hotel accommodation, taxis, meals and so on. Not only that, but escorts also received this funding.
None of that happens for people in northwestern Ontario or northern Ontario. You have to beg and plead for an escort. The maximum you can receive is $250, even if the cost of going to see a specialist in Toronto or Winnipeg runs into the thousands when you take into account air fare and hotel accommodation.
There is a great inequity here. While I give credit to the member for Kenora for bringing a small piece of this forward, it is only a small piece. Under this government that inequity has continued, and it is getting worse. So while I say to him this is a small piece, it is not nearly enough.
Mr Eves: It is a pleasure for me to rise and partake in this debate here this morning. I will be supporting the member for Kenora’s resolution, but I must say that I am doing so partially -- not only because I believe that his resolution is a worthwhile one, but if I had my preference, I would be going even further than he is going, for reasons that I am about to explain.
The distances for eligibility for the northern health travel grant program are outlined in regulations and there are two different distances. There is travel within northern Ontario, or in the case of the Kenora area of the province to the province of Manitoba, and this distance was changed from 300 kilometres to 250 kilometres on 1 April 1987. I am sure that most members will be aware that the northern health travel grant program was announced in December 1985 by the Minister of Health.
There is also another regulation with respect to travel from northern Ontario to other parts of Ontario, namely, southern Ontario. That distance still remains at 300 kilometres. I note that the member for Kenora’s resolution does nothing to address that distance in his resolution.
The northern health travel grant program has long been an issue of concern for me because of the problems it creates for my constituents. As 1 said, the then Minister of Health, the member for Bruce, created the program in December 1985. Specifically excluded from the program was the district of Parry Sound and everything in the district of Nipissing east and south of North Bay.
On 1 April 1987, as I said, the minister changed the distance eligibility requirements for travel within northern Ontario from 300 kilometres to 250 kilometres. The district of Parry Sound, despite my pleadings, was still not included because at that time it did not have northern status. For those unfamiliar with the Parry Sound riding, it includes the entire district of Parry Sound and literally everything in Nipissing district east and south of North Bay, which includes all of Algonquin Provincial Park among other areas of the district of Nipissing.
At that particular time, before northern status was granted, and now -- it still exists -- there is the ridiculous situation where there are people who reside in the Nipissing portion of my riding who live farther south than many residents in the Parry Sound district part of my riding. They qualify for northern health travel grants because they live farther south, and the people who live farther north in the district of Parry Sound do not qualify. It does not make any sense to me whatsoever and it is causing tremendous hardship, literally, for hundreds of my constituents.
On two separate occasions in this Legislature I have brought forth private members’ resolutions calling on the government to uniformly designate Parry Sound district and all of Nipissing district to be recognized by all ministries in the government as being part of northern Ontario. I did that on 25 June 1987 and almost a year later on 28 April 1988. Both of my private member’s resolutions received unanimous consent of this Legislature.
I have continually raised this issue in questions, members’ statements, I have gone to estimates for the Ministry of Northern Development when the Premier was the acting Minister of Northern Development and finally on 9 June 1988 an announcement was made where northern status was given to Parry Sound riding, being all of the district of Parry Sound and all of the district of Nipissing.
In making this announcement, the Minister of Northern Development, the member for Cochrane North, stated, and I quote so there can be no doubt as to what the government’s intention was on 9 June 1988:
“The government has acknowledged that the people of Parry Sound and Nipissing share the special social and economic needs of northern Ontario and that they deserve access to the special government programs established to address them. Official inclusion in northern Ontario will give individuals, institutions, municipalities and organizations access to specific programs oriented to northern needs.”
At that time the government made a commitment to the people of Parry Sound riding that on 1 April 1989 the entire area of Parry Sound and Nipissing would be considered part of northern Ontario. They would have access to all programs oriented to the needs of northern Ontarians. The government must live up to its commitment to the residents of Parry Sound riding. Despite northern status for Parry Sound riding, some 75% to 80% of its constituents are still ineligible for the northern health travel grant program because the distance requirement of 300 kilometres for travel from northern Ontario to southern Ontario for medical treatment does not include the residents in Parry Sound riding.
I would suggest, as I have suggested to the Minister of Northern Development, the Minister of Health and the Premier on many occasions, and again I am doing it here this morning, if there is any validity to the commitment that the Minister for Northern Development made, that that distance be changed from 300 kilometres to 200 kilometres as well as the change that my friend the member for Kenora is making on behalf of his constituents, which I fully support, I might add.
My constituents have another problem, and that is because another part of the regulation specifically defines what territorial districts are northern Ontario for the purposes of this program. It specifically excludes the district of Parry Sound and it specifically excludes the part of Nipissing that lies east and south of North Bay, ie, the Algonquin part of the district of Nipissing. That regulation has to be changed as well if the government is going to give any meaning whatsoever to the Commitment that it made to the residents of Parry Sound riding.
I have the ridiculous situation where many residents of mine who must travel to Toronto for medical treatment, a lot of whom are cancer patients to Princess Margaret Hospital, do not qualify for the northern health travel grant program, despite the fact that this government claims that Parry Sound riding now has northern status. It is a sad, sad joke for the people of Parry Sound riding. I think it is about time that this important issue was addressed in a sincere and forthright manner by the Minister of Health, the Minister of Northern Development and the Premier.
When I queried the Minister of Northern Development about this, he said, “If I do it for you, I am going to have to do it for the people of Kenora.” Well, I challenge him to do it for both. Not only should this private member’s resolution be addressed and adopted by the entire Legislature, but also the changes should be made to those distances so that my constituents as well can benefit from the northern health travel grant program.
When I asked the Minister of Health about it, she said it is not a northern program. The northern health travel grant program is not a northern program? Do people in Windsor qualify? She claims it is based only on distance and not whether you are in northern Ontario. She has told me that several times. She has written me letters saying that.
I cannot believe anybody could be so ridiculous and represent the Ministry of Health in cabinet and not know that the northern health travel grant program, which defines northern Ontario as certain territorial districts in northern Ontario, is indeed a northern program for northerners. Maybe she should go up past Highway 7 once in a while and realize that she will not fall off the end of the earth and that another world does exist out there. I find that absolutely ridiculous.
I suspect the real reason is that it will cost money and that the government does not want to live up to its commitment. To show how ridiculous this really is, the officials at OHIP in Kingston have been holding on file since 1 April 1989, the day that we were supposed to become part of northern Ontario, applications for the northern health travel grant program, because they fully expected that their minister would be directing them to process these applications and give the people in Parry Sound and Nipissing districts the northern status that they justifiably deserve.
I will be supporting, as I said, the member for Kenora’s resolution. I would also urge the government to address the issue and the concern that I have expressed here today for all residents in Parry Sound riding as well.
Mr Kozyra: It gives me great pleasure to stand and also indicate my support for this resolution from my colleague the member for Kenora. I believe it is an excellent resolution that takes a look at a program that has had outstanding success and looks at ways of further improving it.
The program’s success speaks for itself. In the years 1988 and 1989 alone, 55,000 patients and over 3,000 companions were helped and assisted through this northern health travel program. The member for Kenora addresses two distinct points that do need improvement: the reduction in distance criteria, one of his proposals, and the companion eligibility that would increase the access to this by companions, no matter what age, and certainly age should not be a barrier in this.
So while we recognize on the one hand the success of the program, which speaks for itself -- in the four and a half years almost 150,000 people have taken advantage of it -- I am a little disturbed that the member for Rainy River from the official opposition took the opportunity not to praise the benefits but once again, in overanxiety to discredit the government, to mix apples and oranges, to talk about the northern health travel program but cloud the issue by mixing into it the program being administered by the cancer society under totally different funding and totally different criteria.
Mr Pouliot: Sick people are sick people.
Miss Martel: It just shows the inequities between north and south, Taras.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kozyra: The deliberate fuzzy thinking to cloud the issue --
Mr Wildman: There is no way that the cancer society should be having to contribute money to chauffeur people around this province.
Mr Kozyra: They fail to recognize --
Mr Pouliot: That is a cheap shot, a cheap shot. A sick person is a sick person.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kozyra: The truth hurts, Mr Speaker.
Mr Pouliot: A buck is a buck. A sick person is a sick person.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Le député de lac Nipigon, s’il vous plaît. If members want to have an opinion, they can choose their own time to make it. Please, standing orders.
Mr Pouliot: I came here seeking --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for Port Arthur.
Mr Kozyra: The truth of the matter is, as the Minister of Health explained, that whether the person is travelling from Kenora to Toronto, Thunder Bay to Toronto or, as in the latter case that sparked the issue, Toronto to Thunder Bay, the support from the cancer society remains the same. There is no special treatment as the members from the opposition party have tried to make.out.
Mr Wildman: They shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Miss Martel: How come we don’t get full costs when we go to the south, Taras? How come we don’t get full costs when we have to travel to the south?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please, la députée de Sudbury-Est.
Mr Kozyra: It was a deliberate attempt to discredit this other program by mixing these medical apples and oranges. This program, the northern health travel grant, is a very good program. There are points for improvement, but we are addressing those.
On a more personal note, I had an opportunity seven years ago to experience some of the inadequacies of northern health care. At that time I was more physically active and involved in a northern Ontario broomball provincial tournament. At that time, when on a breakaway early in the morning -- I think it was an 8 am game -- I dove for the ball, the goalie dove with his broom for my teeth and knocked in three of them substantially and cracked one so that the bottom portion fell off. Here we were in Hornepayne, a small northern community 300 miles from Thunder Bay, and I went in search of proper health care.
By this time it was 9 in the morning, a cold winter morning. I found a wonderful dental clinic, but it was closed. When I asked about it, they said, “Well, we built this clinic to attract medical people, but as yet we have been unsuccessful.” Hopefully now, seven years later, they have been successful, but there is a case of the dental aspect. I then went to the medical facility, a doctor. They said, “Yes, there will be a doctor here” -- this was 9 am -- “but he will be here at 12 and you are 18th on the list.” I thought my situation was rather critical, so I decided to drive back to Thunder Bay, a six-hour drive. I did not have a companion, so I drove alone and got attention there. But that was my experience with the inadequacies of northern health care.
Mr Wildman: Getting good health care in the north is like pulling teeth.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Kozyra: One of the arguments used is that maybe we should not improve this package -- I have heard this used and it is faulty logic again -- because it deters health improvements in the north. Because it is making it so easy to have access to specialists in the south, maybe it will just take care of our pressing need in the north. I would like to speak against that. The government’s record in continuous improvement -- and granted, I will be the first to say there is room for improvement and that is why it is a gradual process, but we are moving in the right direction.
There was a recent announcement in Thunder Bay of the residency program that will eventually incorporate 48 medical doctors, family practitioners, as residents in the north, with the basically solid idea that if they work in northern communities, there is a greater likelihood they will stay there. Most people who have been in the north for a little while appreciate it and do decide to stay there. I think this is an excellent program, a big step in the right direction.
About six months ago in Armstrong a clinic was opened. A large amount of funds came from the Northern Development ministry, but in addition, that clinic replaced a little tin shack, one of these mobile trailers, that up to that point had been the temporary and permanent kind of medical facility. Thunder Bay recently got announcements of $3 million for a cancer unit expansion and to help in the operating, and soon will get $1.5 million for an improved, expanded perinatal unit.
This does not take away from the concerns we have. We know that part of the problem in the north is not the lack of total number of doctors in Ontario, but it is a distribution problem. We have to continue to strive to improve this so that the north gets its fair share. Especially, we do have a critical problem in specialists, which is in an ongoing concern. But that does not take away from the validity of what the member for Kenora has put forth in his resolution.
I must say the other reason I am somewhat disappointed with the members of the official opposition in their attack on this, to give fair credit, is that it was one of their members, my predecessor for Port Arthur, Jim Foulds, who was one of the driving forces for this excellent program, and I give recognition for that. I think they should be speaking well of the program rather than harping and carping on picky little points.
Mr Pouliot: I too would like to commend the member for Kenora. It is not a courageous move. It is a private member’s resolution. It is a piecemeal way of addressing problems, but I remind myself and my distinguished colleagues that every journey starts with a single step. In some cases it starts with a very, very small step. It is a policy of gradualism; it is a policy that is incremental. At this rate we shall never get there.
If someone is sick in Thunder Bay and is referred to a specialist by the family practitioner and asked to go and seek services in Toronto, the minimum air fare costs $464. What the ministry will pay is a maximum of $300. So that person, he or she, is already $164 behind the eight ball. Supplementary is the cost associated with lost wages, meals and accommodation, so you are looking at around $1,000 to pay a specialist in Toronto the compliment of your visit.
If you have a sickness and if you live in Dryden, you are looking at $618. That is the minimum air fare. You cannot take the train. Forget about Via. They forgot about us. With Greyhound you will never get there. In this case, if you are in Dryden, $350 is the maximum you will ever get. You lose your wages. You have no accommodation. You are over $300 in terms of air fare alone. I have a great deal of concern.
Mr Speaker, you will recall vividly the case of the 38-year-old blind person from Red Rock who was referred to an ophthalmologist in Winnipeg. Because of his condition, because of his difficult trip, he requested the service of a companion, an escort to help him make the trip. The blind person’s application for an escort, believe it or not, was turned down.
Ironically, by a twist of fate, a 17-year-old hockey player in the neighbouring community, fully six feet tall, the picture of health and some talent, sprained an ankle -- it was after hours -- was sent to Thunder Bay and was given the opportunity to have an escort, the reason being that if you are 18 years of age and you sprain your ankle at a hockey game, well, you bring your escort. Rightly so. There is the human dimension; they will pay. But if you are 38 years of age in this Ontario of ours in 1990 and you are blind, you do not have the right to have an escort because there is no provision.
On that basis, I salute and applaud the efforts of the member for Kenora because he too recognizes, “Let’s correct a situation that has been allowed to go on for far, far too long.” The member is giving us a drop and, if not an ocean, certainly the recognition factor has to be there: People shall not be penalized by virtue, on account of, because they are less fortunate because they are sick.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to have the opportunity to say a few words in support of this resolution. It is related to the Ontario health care system. I would like to read the resolution again just to familiarize some of the members who have just come in. As they are no doubt aware, this resolution states:
“Recognizing that fully accessible, quality health care for every Ontarian is a priority of this government and that northern Ontario residents often have to travel outside their communities to receive specialized health care services and that travel costs in northern Ontario are higher on average than in other areas of the province and that some situations, regardless of age, require the assistance of a travel companion, the government of Ontario should reduce the distance criteria under the northern travel grant program from 250 km to 200 km and that any individual requiring the assistance of a travel companion regardless of their age be eligible to receive a grant to cover their companion’s costs.”
I believe the people of northern Ontario should have easy access to a full line of quality, specialized health care service. They have the right to have fully accessible health care in the north, just as every resident in central and southern Ontario has the right to these services. Perhaps the hospitals that already exist in Sudbury and Thunder Bay could be the regional health care facilities that offer specialized health care services and a full line of medical equipment that is currently found only in southern Ontario.
This could mean that patients requiring hospitalization and specialized treatment would not have to travel such great distances, thereby cutting down some of the costs. Failing this, I am in complete agreement with the idea of reducing the distance criteria in the northern travel grant program and providing a grant to cover a travel companion’s costs. Travelling can be a traumatic experience and we should make this experience as pleasant as possible. If that means providing a grant for a travel companion, then so be it.
Mr Speaker, you will note that I agree with this resolution in principle, but I have some serious doubts when the member for Kenora includes the phrase “recognizing that fully accessible, quality health care for every Ontarian is a priority of this government.” We all know this is simply not the truth. We know this is not true, because the deterioration of Ontario’s health care system demonstrates once again the failure of both the Premier and his Minister of Health to manage this province’s health care system. For instance, the day before the last election was called in 1987, the former Minister of Health promised $30 million for the development of Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. That was three years ago. To date, no one has seen that $30 million, and we do not anticipate seeing it for a while, if ever.
Another example occurred during the election campaign three years ago. The Premier declared that, if elected, his government would allocate $850 million for 40,400 new acute and chronic care beds in Ontario, but his Minister of Health admitted last year that only 300 of those promised beds would be in place by the 1990 target date -- failure all along the line in the health care system.
My constituents in Simcoe East are just as concerned about the state of our health care as I am. More than 500 of my constituents felt so strongly about this issue that they took the time to complete and return my spring questionnaire. Of those who responded, 60% indicated that the state of health care in Ontario has worsened, 33% indicated there was no change and 7% said it was improved. As well, 35% indicated that the Health minister should place a greater emphasis on providing more home care, 30% said more outpatient services are required, 25% said we need more hospital beds and 10% said the nursing home beds are their priority.
This is an indication of what the people of Simcoe East are saying, and I think it is a pretty clear reflection of what the people of Ontario are also saying, but this government continues to do nothing. I am afraid that if this situation continues, the government will still be just providing lipservice to us all.
It is hard to believe why this member was so adamant about bringing this bill forward. Why could it not be changed in a regulation? Why could the minister not make the announcement to have it changed? Why not have a voting bill before this Legislature that, if it were passed, would save many, many lives in this province? The government does not see fit to bring that bill forward. Do members think the government is going to see fit to bring this resolution to a conclusion that would be satisfactory to those people in the north? The health travel grant in Ontario has been so important over the years that it must be continued and expanded upon.
There was no need of this resolution; the government could have done it without it.
Mr Campbell: I am pleased to rise to support my colleague for Kenora because I know of his very strong concern for the kinds of programs, the kinds of medical problems that we have in the north. Before I was here, I was pleased, as the chairman of health and social services committee of the region of Sudbury, to have supported through our regional council a resolution for precisely this kind of program. I am pleased to have seen it evolve and continue on, but I want to deal with some of the problems that we felt we were going to have in the program. We felt that a program such as this would more clearly cause patients to overfly Sudbury. Part of our strategy in Sudbury, of course, was to have a very excellent medical centre for northeastern Ontario, and we have gone a long way to achieving that in a number of specialties.
But to demonstrate that there are still people being referred to other facilities outside of northern Ontario I refer to the Ombudsman’s report in the case of Mr K. Mr K, a resident of northern Ontario, was referred to a specialist in a city in southern Ontario in order to undergo open heart surgery. Due to his precarious health situation and upon the advice of his general physician and specialist, Mr K’s wife accompanied him to southern Ontario for the surgery. Mrs K’s application for a companion travel grant was denied because her husband is over the age of 18.
The key to that whole phrase was “southern Ontario,” when Sudbury has one of the most magnificent centres for cardiovascular specialties in Ontario -- not just in northern Ontario, but in Ontario. I am pleased that we do have such an excellent specialty, but still people are being referred to southern Ontario. I am concerned about that. I think that, along with these kinds of evolutionary steps, we can in fact have that recognized, that some specialties are still overflying the very excellent centres we have in northern Ontario.
Along that vein, I am very much concerned that my colleague for Rainy River would ask that perhaps -- and I do not say, in that case, the knee surgeon. I am sure the knee surgeon is a specialist and I am sure that he is well recognized, but then it opens the way to people with unproven treatments in other areas to be funded. Where do you draw the line?
I know in northern Ontario, certainly, there are a number of orthopods who are highly qualified and who can provide specialties, so I would ask that sometimes when we are dealing with this issue that we recognize the fact.
I think, as well, that it is a good program to have, certainly the companion grants to this point, and I would hope that the member for Kenora is successful in making the change for companions to travel because I think it is important for the patient’s wellbeing. A number of physicians would recognize that and in fact would recommend it.
One small point of course that constantly bothers northerners, and it is a little bit of an aside but related, is that when you fill out the form to get the money, the northern health travel grant address is PO Box 1292, Kingston. Now, I think it should be in northern Ontario, and our government has announced more jobs that are going to be decentralized in the budget program. The budget has announced that a number of these kinds of offices are going to be diversified throughout the province. My good friend the member for Kingston and the Islands, I know, would understand that having this office in the north, having it acceptable to people to receive that funding faster because of the mail service, the wide geography and everything else -- it is somewhat difficult.
I do have more to say, but I know that my friend the member for Kenora would like an opportunity to wrap up and I appreciate the fact that I have been able to participate in this debate.
Miss Martel: In crass political terms, the best I can say is, this is a joke. I have been here for two and one half years; the member for Kenora, the member for Sudbury and the member for Port Arthur have been here for two and one half years, and in that whole time, this grant has been wholly, totally, absolutely inadequate and this government has not done a bloody thing to change it.
When the questions were raised -- the questions about the blind gentleman from Red Lake, the questions about residents who live in Atikokan and have to travel over to Thunder Bay and cannot get their costs covered -- it has been people in this party who have raised those questions, not the Liberal backbenchers. They have not been seen. The silence has been deafening from these members. As a matter of fact, the only reason we are seeing this now --
Mr Campbell: It is our government that brought it in.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Ballinger: He started this.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Durham-York.
Mr Pouliot: You guys never raised those social issues. You don’t have a social conscience.
Le Vice-Président: Le député de lac Nipigon, n’est même pas dans son fauteuil. La députée de Sudbury-Est, s’il vous plaît.
Miss Martel: Mr Speaker, I would like some of that time back, if you do not mind. Can I get that?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please
Miss Martel: Okay, let me keep going then. The real reason we are seeing this now is that we have an election in a few months. In crass political terms, this is a chance by some of the northern New Democrats to try to get some support. We have been here for two and one half years. It is your Liberal minister who is in power, your government that is in power. If you were serious, you would have made some changes.
The Deputy Speaker: The member seems to forget to address the Speaker.
Miss Martel: All right, Mr Speaker. Let me tell the House what the grant does not do. As a matter of fact, my colleague has referred to the maximum amounts of travel. Let’s just give it to you from Sudbury, Mr Speaker. The airfare is $314.20. The most that we can get back is $125.
If you go by Via Rail, you have to go at night, so you have to take a sleeper. The minimum amount of cost for a sleeper from Toronto to Sudbury is $188, so you still are not getting the full cost covered. It goes back from Toronto to Sudbury at night again, so you have to take another sleeper back and the minimum cost again is $188.
If you have an appointment in Toronto on Friday, you have to take the train down Thursday night, pay for a sleeper, and then pay for hotel accommodation in Toronto on Friday night because you cannot get home until Saturday. That is totally inadequate and this government has done nothing to resolve that.
The full fare of all of the cost for people to travel should be covered. That way northern Ontario people would be assured that they will have full access to health care like those people in southern Ontario.
My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon has already talked about no accommodation costs being covered. When people come from northern Ontario, if they are old, fragile, sick or young kids, they have to bring their mother or a parent or some companion with them. Those costs are not covered and we all know how expensive it is in Toronto to find any accommodation.
The full cost of wages, compensation for salary for a man who has to bring his young daughter or his elderly mother down is not covered. Those are the kinds of costs that should be covered, and if this government was serious about it, this resolution would have gone a lot farther and dealt with all of those problems that have been ongoing for at least two and one half years.
The problem with health care in northern Ontario is the Liberal government, because it does not want to admit that there are inequities and it does not want to address the real problem.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Wildman: In the few seconds left, I want to say that the problem we have is that we have a Ministry of Health that does not really understand the north.
Recently, I wrote to the Minister of Health pointing out two problems: the fact that the northern travel grant does not cover the full air fare from Sault Ste Marie to Toronto and also the fact that, with the changes in air service in Sault Ste Marie, there are no longer any commercial aircraft that can take wheelchairs on board.
In response, the Minister of Health wrote back to me and went to great length to talk about the fact that a disabled person could travel Via Rail or could take the Ontario Northland Railway. Who wrote the letter? There is no Via service and no Ontario Northland service in Sault Ste Marie. I suppose they could travel to Kapuskasing from Sault Ste Marie and take Ontario Northland or something.
The fact is that when my friend the former member for Port Arthur introduced the resolution calling for this kind of a program, he saw it as a stopgap, as something that could be done as a Band-Aid until we got better services in the north. Unfortunately, this government continues to treat the whole health care system as a Band-Aid, with piecemeal approaches rather than taking a comprehensive approach to ensuring that we have the facilities and the training facilities that we need in order to get the services we need in the north.
It is not enough to continue piecemeal changing this program. We have to have proper health care for all northerners to have access.
The Deputy Speaker: Government members have two more minutes to debate. The member for Kenora has two minutes, but there are another two minutes to the debate. Do you want to use the two extra minutes? You have four minutes then.
Mr Miclash: First of all, I would like to thank the members for participating in this debate this morning.
When we take a look at the members from the opposition, they concentrate very carefully on the northern health travel grant program. In my opening statement, I indicated this is one of many programs offered to people of the north. I talked about the expanding services that I am going to be involved in tomorrow, actually, at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital for the expansion of various services. I talked about the travelling specialist program and I talked about a great number of things. The northern health grant program, and the travel assistance that is provided, is only one of many of these programs, programs that they obviously have forgotten about in determining this.
The member for Lake Nipigon indicated that it is only a small step in the direction of improving this particular program. I think it is a step that is crucial in helping out our people in the north. However small he may see it, I still think it a crucial one.
We talked earlier about the balance of allowing people to travel from the north for specialized service and of getting specialized service into the north. I think this is a very delicate balance that we have to take a look at, one that the Ministry of Health concentrates on, one that it looked at in terms of having the specialists come in to the north.
The members fail to note that just recently the Premier was in Thunder Bay and announced that we are going to have 48 positions in two universities in northern Ontario that will bring people to the north to practice.
As the member for Port Arthur indicated earlier, we quite often get people up to the north who determine that want to remain as part of the north. I would just like to say that these, along with a great number of initiatives that this government has taken, are things we are doing to ensure that the people of northern Ontario are receiving the best possible health care today.
It is unfortunate that the members from the official opposition would take exception that I mentioned a person from Red Lake, a person in my riding. I feel it is unfortunate that they would suggest that I had not brought that to the attention of the minister, for the reason that I brought it here today to the House, to let people know that there are deficiencies in the programs. One of the main deficiencies that I pointed out was in terms of companion travel; again, one of the reasons that I bring forth this resolution to the members of the House today. So, again I would just like to thank the various members who have put forth their view and I look forward to carrying on with this resolution.
The Deputy Speaker: The Minister of Revenue and the member for Lake Nipigon, I call both of you to order. This completes the debate on Mr Miclash ‘s resolution.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
The Deputy Speaker: Mrs Cunningham has moved second reading of Bill 166.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
That vote will be deferred until later.
NORTHERN HEALTH TRAVEL GRANTS
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Miclash has moved resolution 52.
Motion agreed to.
The House divided on Mrs Cunningham’s motion for second reading of Bill 166, which was agreed to on the following vote:
Ayes -- 21
Bryden, Carrothers, Charlton, Cousens, Cunningham, Daigeler, Eves, Farnan, Grier, Hampton, Hošek, LeBourdais, Mackenzie, Martel, Morin-Strom, Owen, Pollock, Pouliot, Ray, M. C., Roberts, Stoner.
Nays -- 18
Ballinger, Brown, Campbell, Elliot, Epp, Faubert, Keyes, Mancini, Mahoney, McGuigan, Miclash, Miller, Nixon, J. B., Oddie Munro, Polsinelli, Poole, Reycraft, Velshi.
The Deputy Speaker: According to the standing orders, the bill is referred to the committee of the whole House.
Mrs Cunningham: Mr Speaker, could we have it in the standing committee on general government? There were a lot of discussions during the debate and I feel we would do a much better job with the legislation if we have an opportunity to look at it there.
Hon Mr Mancini: Mr Speaker, we would like the bill to follow its natural process, the usual process that takes place in the House, and we will support your original suggestion.
The Deputy Speaker: In that case, we will have a count because I need the majority.
The House divided on Mrs Cunningham’s motion to refer Bill 166 to the standing committee on general government, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes 13; nays 25.
The Deputy Speaker: The bill will be referred to the committee of the whole House.
The House recessed at 1210.
The House resumed at 1330.
Mr Farnan: The truckers of Ontario are suffering because this Liberal government permits American truckers to enjoy an unfair competitive advantage. American truckers, as a result of deregulation, can now haul goods within Canada while Canadians do not always have the same opportunity within the United States.
Furthermore, with the exception of Michigan, Ontario has the most lenient weight control limits in Canada and the United States. Yet despite this fact, our fine for exceeding this generous gross vehicle and load weight is a ridiculous $53.75. Compare this to the situation in the United States. The same truck that pays Ontario’s token fine would pay $2,250 in Pennsylvania and $10,000 in Rhode Island. The American truckers simply view our petty fines for overloading as the cost of doing business.
Certainly overloading will contribute to our $1.8-billion road repair bill this year. Overloading is a danger to safety on our highways and overloading with our low fines gives the American truckers yet another competitive edge as they move goods within Canada.
The trucking industry is a vital component of the Waterloo region’s economy. It has been badly undermined by this Liberal government’s deregulation policy. Ontario’s truckers must have a level playing field. Otherwise jobs will be lost and trucking companies will move south of the border. It is time to act. Truckers deserve better.
Mr Runciman: More than eight months have passed since social workers in the town of Prescott identified several children who had become victims of sexual abuse. After these many months, 28 of the 36 children identified have received no psychological treatment whatsoever. The Ministry of Community and Social Services acted quickly to provide funds to assist with the prosecution of those charged, but the ministry has not provided one cent to permit this urgent treatment to begin.
A local task force has reported to the ministry that almost $1 million in funding is required to provide the necessary treatment over the next two years. More important, the majority of the 36 abused children suffered physical injuries as a result of their sexual abuse. This and other factors establish this group of children as among the most severely traumatized. Therefore, they require the most skilled and comprehensive treatment services available, and it will be long-term.
Only one facility exists in the Prescott area which provides specialized treatment for children and it has a waiting list of almost 150. Local social service agencies are understaffed and the many cases of sexual abuse now identified present a unique and difficult problem for the community of Prescott.
I urge the Minister of Community and Social Services to take immediate action to provide the necessary funding so that these victims of child abuse can receive the treatment and counselling they so urgently require.
WILLIAM J. TEGGART
Mr Mahoney: I would like to bring to members’ attention the upcoming retirement of Peel region’s chief of police, William J. Teggart.
The Peel Regional Police Force has the reputation of being one of the most advanced forces in North America in the area of criminal investigation. Chief Teggart distinguished himself in this field as well, and one of his cases was the very well known Demeter murder investigation. He spent 20 years in the detective branch, holding virtually every rank up to and including deputy chief.
Over his 34-year career as a police officer Bill has received many awards, including the Governor General’s Canadian 30-Year Police Exemplary Service Medal and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for Community Service. He also received, for the Peel Regional Police Force, the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery from the Premier of Ontario.
Chief Teggart has always believed that police officers should pursue higher education and as such he studied police-related subjects at the Ontario Police College, the Canadian Police College, Northwestern University, the University of Toronto and the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy.
I was in attendance recently at his farewell dinner and it was evident that he is a very well-respected man. It was a wonderful evening with great humour and yet some sadness in saying goodbye.
I wish Bill and his wife Joan much happiness and success in future years and I am sure the residents of Peel would join me in well-deserved congratulations to this outstanding gentleman of the Peel Regional Police Force.
Mr Kormos: Down in Niagara where I come from, the people are mad as hell that there is a convicted paedophile who is going to be released in 20 days ready to strike again, ready to attack more children. Of course, we are talking about 27-year-old Timothy Garland of Brampton, whom members heard about yesterday. Children are going to be victimized and this government shows such disinterest in the inevitability of that.
This molester has been neither treated nor controlled by virtue of the courts and the probation process that followed his sentence. He is identified as being dangerous and having an uncontrollable sex drive. Indeed, in his prison cell they found a list of future victims and descriptions of the sort of atrocities he was going to impose on those children.
It is incredible that a creep like this is going to be allowed to walk the streets to prey on more youngsters. What is more incredible is that the government shows such a lack of concern about the fact that there are going to be more and more victims, not just from other molesters but certainly, as I said, predictably from this Timothy Garland.
The response of the government to questioning yesterday was pathetic. It showed not just a complete lack of concern, but obviously lack of ability to do anything to intervene in these types of tragic circumstances -- tragic for the victims. One need not be so concerned for the perpetrator. When will this government start acting responsibly?
Mrs Cunningham: I would like to take this opportunity to make a few comments on the government’s long-term-care report released yesterday. While we in the Progressive Conservative Party are pleased that this report has been released, I feel obliged to express some concerns.
Many of the reform policies in the report were part of the 1986 paper entitled A New Agenda, released four years ago. The new service access agencies referred to are reminiscent of the one-stop access program which has not yet been implemented in the pilot centres.
The government must also address the high turnover rate in the labour supply. Without an adequate labour supply long-term care services will not be available. I would also like to caution the government from offloading too much on to the municipalities.
I am particularly disappointed that the report omits regulation of rest homes. The government has been aware for some time now that many elderly citizens have been living in substandard care because no legislation exists to protect the residents. It is appalling that the government has done absolutely nothing to ensure a standard of safety and care in these facilities where abuse, neglect, poor nutrition and hygiene have been reported.
It is important that we do not lose sight of providing quality long-term care services. Clients’ needs and preferences must remain at the forefront of this process. We will watch the implementation and continue to press for good recommendations and implementation.
SUDBURY LAND RECLAMATION
Mr Campbell: Last week I had the pleasure of representing the Minister of Northern Development at the planting of the millionth tree in the land reclamation program for the regional municipality of Sudbury. Such an event was not envisioned several years ago when a core group of concerned citizens took realistic stock of the region’s environment and said, “We must do something to enhance the vitality and the beauty of the region of Sudbury,” I say to my colleagues across the way.
Scientists, led by Dr Keith Winterhalder of Laurentian University and Dr Tom Peters of Inco, researched and experimented with planting methods and types of grass and trees that would grow in the soil of the once barren rock. The result is the greening of Sudbury. Over the last 12 years, 2,900 hectares have been reclaimed, including land across the transportation corridors into Sudbury.
I am proud of the province’s commitment to the land reclamation program through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. By the end of the province’s current agreement with the regional municipality, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines will have contributed a total of $843,000 over a 12-year period. Approximately $10 million has been committed to this program with other financial contributions, including those from the regional municipality of Sudbury, Inco, Falconbridge and the federal Department of Employment and Immigration.
The land reclamation program serves as an excellent example of the confidence, commitment and the high level of co-operation demonstrated by municipal leaders and others in the Sudbury community.
Mrs Grier: For some time I have been urging the Minister of the Environment to get serious about waste reduction by requiring soft-drink containers to be refillable. I have received many calls and letters supporting my position. I want to share with the House a letter which a Mr Sweeney wrote to the minister. It says:
“As a small store owner, I was disappointed to learn of your decision to allow pop companies to introduce more non-returnable containers.
“Before the 500 ml non-returnable bottles were put on the market, our store used to return over 300 small bottles every two weeks. We now see these bottles in our neighbour’s gardens, our garbage can and probably in school garbage cans.
“You mentioned that if people wanted returnable bottles, they would buy them.... The most popular sizes...are no longer available in returnable containers.
“You said that people from all over have praised our blue box system.... It is a good program, but that doesn’t mean that we have to manufacture material to fill them. What about the praise we received from the New York officials with regard to our bottle deposit system.... They used our bottle-free highways in their argument to get their present deposit system.
“If you must allow the industry to use non-refillable bottles and cans, make them charge a deposit.
“As a store owner, this would mean extra work for me but it’s a small price to pay for a better future for my children and their children.”
Mr Sweeney is quite right. I hope the minister will listen to what he has to say and act on it. The minister ought to; Mr Sweeney’s store is in St Catharines.
FARM TAX REBATE
Mr McCague: In 1989 the Liberal government unilaterally changed the farm tax rebate program without consulting the farming community. They income-tested a property tax matter.
The program was initiated in 1970 as a way to redress farmers for the disproportionate taxation of farm assets. Farmers continued to pay taxes on their homes. In 1989 the Liberals turned the program into an income subsidy program and cut $23 million from the budget. Only after he announced the changes did the Premier promise to consult with farmers to reform the program. The farm tax rebate program review committee has now reported to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. The committee clearly supports the position of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture that the program should be based on “the agricultural use of the property, not on ownership status, occupation of the owner, or income level of the owner.”
We have heard from the Ontario farmers and from agricultural experts. They have concluded the government’s moves were wrong and should be reversed to bring back the original principles of the farm tax rebate program; that is, to relieve farmers of an unfair property tax burden.
The Progressive Conservative caucus opposed the Liberal move in 1989. We now call on the government to immediately implement the recommendations of the committee.
Mr Owen: Most motorists in Ontario wear their seatbelts. The majority believe that wearing a seatbelt reduces the chance of serious injury in the event of an accident, and statistics bear this out.
A 1987 Ontario road safety report found that 86% of drivers were reported to be wearing seatbelts when involved in crashes, and of these a majority, 82%, were not injured. However, those drivers not wearing seatbelts when the collision occurred were 21 times more likely to be killed and 76 times more likely to be hospitalized than belted drivers.
Improved road safety habits, including the use of seatbelts, would help reduce injuries and in turn reduce costs associated with hospitalization and insurance.
A group of teachers at Georgian College in Barrie, Michael Wolfe, Fred Ruemper, Tony Podzienski and David Aves, was one of six groups to receive highway safety research grants from the Ministry of Transportation in 1989. Recently they had an opportunity to share their findings at a Toronto conference. Ultimately the findings of these research groups can be applied to encouraging better and safer driving habits and conditions.
I am pleased that these Georgian College teachers were given the opportunity to turn their talents and concerns to this problem and to lead the way to better highway safety across the province of Ontario
The Speaker: Just before we go on to the next order of business, I would like to inform the members that we have a number of visitors in the Speaker’s gallery today, including seven members of a delegation from the USSR Supreme Soviet.
The delegation is headed by the Chairman of the Soviet of Nationalities, USSR Supreme Soviet, Rafik Nishanov. Also accompanying the delegation is the ambassador of the USSR in Canada, His Excellency Alexei Rodionov.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
SENIORS’ MONTH / MOIS DES PERSONNES ÂGÉES
Hon Mr Morin: This year marks the 20th consecutive year that the government of Ontario has proclaimed the month of June as Senior Citizens’ Month in Ontario, a time to recognize both the past accomplishments and the continued and valued contributions of the more than one million senior citizens living in this province.
Cette année, le thème du Mois des personnes âgées, JubilAGEtion / Fête-Àge, en hommage aux personnes âgées, symbolise l’esprit de participation et de réjouissance qui anime de nombreux événements dans des centaines de communautés de l’Ontario. Parmi les événements qui prendront ll’affiche, il y aura « JubilAGEtions of June », une série de spectacles de variété qui donneront aux personnes âgées de l’Ontario l’occasion de démontrer leurs nombreux talents.
This year’s Seniors’ Month theme, A Celebration of Age, symbolizes the spirit of activities and events that will be taking place in hundreds of communities across Ontario. One of the special events happening in June will be a series of seniors’ variety shows, JubilAGEtions of June, featuring the many talents of seniors.
The best acts from across Ontario will appear at a special four-day song, dance, comedy and music extravaganza at Roy Thomson Hall, 13 to 16 August. The highlight of the province’s tribute to seniors will take place this evening at 6:30 pm in the main foyer of the Legislative Building when the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, presents a number of seniors with an Ontario Senior Achievement Award.
The purpose of these awards is to recognize some of the outstanding contributions individual seniors have made to their communities during their senior years. This year, the external nomination process resulted in over 600 nominations being received by the Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs. With the assistance of Mrs JoAnne Fillimore, chair of the Ontario Advisory Council on Senior Citizens, and my colleagues the member for Wellington and the member for Oshawa, a number of seniors will be presented with the 1990 Ontario Senior Achievement Award.
Chaque récipiendaire honoré ce soir témoige de la contribution inestimable des personnes âgées à nos communautés. En rendant hommage à ces personnes, le gouvemment de l’Ontario témoigne sa reconnaissance et sa gratitude à ceux qui continuent de mettre leurs talents et leur énergie au service des autres. Au cours du Mois des personnes âgées, nous félicitons toutes les personnes âgées qui continuent de partager avec les autres leur temps et leur sagesse.
Each of the award recipients to be honoured this evening exemplifies the tremendous contribution older adults make to our communities. Through honouring these few individuals, the government of Ontario expresses its recognition and appreciation to those who continue to use their talents and energies for the benefit of others. During Seniors’ Month we applaud all seniors who continue to give generously of their wisdom and time.
I hope that each of the members will join me in this tribute to Ontario’s seniors by recognizing the many contributions seniors make to the quality of life in their area and by celebrating this very special month-long celebration of age in their community.
Mr Farnan: I and the New Democratic Party want to join in recognizing the contribution of seniors to this province, the wealth of experience they bring and their generosity in terms of volunteerism, etc.
However, in recognizing seniors and in calling for jubilation and music extravaganzas, I have one suggestion to make to the minister and to the government: If they truly want to recognize seniors, meet their promises. In 1985 the government said to seniors, “We are going to give you denticare.” In 1987 it said to seniors, “We are going to give you denticare.”
The reality of the matter is, if the government really wants to recognize seniors, to recognize the contribution they have made to society, then it would be nice if it did it in a practical, tangible, concrete way. Let us say to the minister, “Seniors were out there when the government made these promises.” Telling them there is going to be jubilation, telling them there is going to be music extravaganza, is fine. We want to recognize them, but for goodness’ sake recognize them in a practical, tangible, concrete way by giving them the kinds of services they truly need.
I have called upon this government several times now to introduce denticare. It is about time it acted upon it and in this month of seniors add to the jubilation, add to the musical extravaganza, do something practical; come forward and produce the legislation that will give denticare to seniors.
Mrs Cunningham: It is with a great deal of pleasure that we respond with some significant jubilation to the celebration of Seniors’ Month in Ontario.
We owe our seniors a lot. They have been our role models and they have been the people who have worked hard to make our province what it is, and those of us who have been elected to the Legislative Assembly will try to keep up their standards that they have set for us. In so doing, many of them have come, with age, to need some services that we in this province hope that we can maintain and make even more available to them.
I would say at this time that I am happy the minister will be presenting the awards this evening at the Legislative Assembly to those seniors who have made significant contributions over the last few years. I will be part of the awards ceremony, as someone from London will be receiving the award.
I should say that during this month we have a wonderful opportunity to make further announcements to this House and to the public of Ontario. Perhaps we will see some rest home regulations. We could take our pick. How about a response to the Lowy report on the overuse of medication with our seniors? We did talk about, and have talked about for the last four years, an advocate for seniors. We will be looking for that. The integrated homemaker program: In the last election there were some 18 locations across the province of Ontario. This year there are still only 18 locations. We will be looking for some improvements there. My colleague from the New Democratic Party has already mentioned the need for dental care for seniors.
We are looking for funding policies, and have been for the last three years, that recognize the needs of seniors in nursing homes and homes for the aged so that we can take a look at care in both those facilities being properly remunerated so that no one is suffering because of where he or she is sent because of a waiting list.
The one-stop access: This was part of A New Agenda, and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to hold it up, because my predecessor, a member of the Liberal party, Ron Van Horne, was the initiator of this report, for which we will be for ever grateful. The Strategies for Change, which was tabled in the House yesterday, were somewhat disappointing because we are still getting more discussion and not enough action.
We are here in this opposition in this wonderful democracy we have in Ontario to help the Minister of Community and Social Services and the minister responsible for senior citizens’ affairs, to urge the minister along and get the Treasurer and the Premier to respond appropriately to the services that have been so long needed.
In closing, I will say that as we went across the province of Ontario in the last four months, community by community by community was saying: “We want services in our homes. We don’t want to be in hospital beds if we don’t need to be there.”
We wish the minister the very best. We in the opposition parties will continue to raise these issues on behalf of seniors in the House and we compliment him for his announcement today.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to compliment the minister for continuing this program that has been in existence for 20 years. I sat on the committee and I was very impressed with the number of excellent presentations that were made on behalf of nearly 600 seniors in this province. It is extremely worth while to realize that we have so many dedicated people, and especially our senior citizens, who are participating so actively in the life of this province.
I look forward to this evening so I can review the 1990 Ontario Senior Achievement Award recipients, the ones who took so long for us to determine that they indeed were the best, because it was a selection of a very few out of many hundreds and many others could have received this same definition of being an achiever.
So I do congratulate the minister. I encourage him to carry on the program and I guess, if I have to be political in one sense, I am going to ask him once more to zero in on that accessibility fund and provide elevators for senior citizens’ apartment buildings in this province.
RESIGNATION OF CABINET MINISTER
Mr B. Rae: I had hoped the Premier would be here today, but in the absence of the Premier and of the Deputy Premier, who I had also hoped would be here today, I will have to go to the Attorney General.
Mr B. Rae: No, it is the Attorney General I want to ask this question of because of his particular knowledge of law, and indeed of life.
We had yesterday two quite different accounts of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of the Minister of Culture and Communications, one from the Premier and one from the minister. The former minister has yet to make a statement to the House.
It would appear from what the Premier said yesterday that what was a case of bad judgement on the part of the minister was the fact that she asked for assistance from certain companies which had been doing business or would potentially be affected by her work as a minister. I want to ask the Attorney General first of all if he understands that the Premier’s account of events is the case, rather than the statement of the minister. Could he confirm that for us?
Hon Mr Scott: I have only read accounts of the scrums in the press and was present –
Mr Wildman: You were in the scrum yourself. You were on TV yourself.
Hon Mr Scott: Just relax, honourable member for Algoma.
I have read the press accounts and I was present in the House for the question period yesterday. I do not accept the premise of the leader’s question. I got the impression that both the resignation letter of the minister and the comment of the Premier indicated that an error of judgement, in the Premier’s expression, though not anything illegal, had occurred in the manner in which the nominating campaign of the minister involved the use of representatives or employees of clients of the ministry.
Mr B. Rae: Does this mean that the new rule which the Premier has apparently enunciated applies only to ministers who are affected by races that are internal to the Liberal Party? Does it mean that only when there are complaints from other candidates from within the Liberal Party is there a problem?
We have raised on a number of occasions examples where ministers of the crown -- the former Minister of Health had letters sent out on his behalf to all kinds of health service organizations and to various doctors who were all encouraged to come to a cocktail party. It is well known that there are lawyers who contribute to the riding organization of the Attorney General, as well as others, I am sure.
What I want to find out is, what are the rules now? Exactly what are the rules and how are they being applied? Is it now the rule that a minister of the crown is not allowed to accept funds from organizations with which his ministry does business? Is that the new enunciation of the rule from the Premier of the province?
Hon Mr Scott: I do not think, in answer to the question, that what happened yesterday means any of those things. I think it is perhaps to be drawn from yesterday’s experience that the standards the Premier has imposed in respect of organizing campaigns for nomination might well -- but probably will not -- be applied by the opposition parties as well.
Mr B. Rae: It is in order to find out what that rule is and whether we are only talking about a problem within the Liberal Party or whether we are talking about a problem when the Liberal Party is running against other parties. We are entitled to find out what the rule is.
Garth Drabinsky and Phil Lind both sent out a letter on 23 March 1990 on behalf of Christine Hart, which letter apparently went unobserved by the Premier, saying: “In her short time as minister, Christine has brought a fresh and innovative approach to Ontario’s cultural life. She has also added greatly to the current debates in the fast-changing world of communications.”
What I want to find out is why something is a problem at the end of May when it was not a problem at the end of March. Exactly what is the morality that is being applied here? Is it only being applied --
The Speaker: Order. You asked the question.
Hon Mr Scott: The honourable member will want to recognize that the Minister of Culture and Communications was not caught. She acted on her own, as she said yesterday. I noted in this morning’s paper that the honourable Leader of the Oper -- Opposition -- I should have said “the operation” -- the Leader of the Opposition had asserted that this appeared to be a matter of trivial concern and he was astounded that the Premier would require the resignation. The fact is, if the honourable minister had not resigned, she would have been hounded from office after pestering by this opposition, as others have been before.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Yes, if I can hear.
Mr B. Rae: The Attorney General stated a position on my part which is completely false, completely the opposite of what I said in this place and what I said outside, so I would appreciate --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
The Speaker: Order. I have to say that I allowed that question. I have a little difficulty still in seeing how that pertains to the Attorney General’s ministry.
Mrs Grier: All this week I had planned to ask questions to the Minister of the Environment on waste reduction. The minister has only been here for two out of four days, so I would like today to ask a question on the same subject, indirectly, to the Solicitor General.
I am sure the Solicitor General will remember that after the enormous tire fire in Hagersville he and the Minister of the Environment scrambled to explain why they had failed to prevent this fire from happening. In fact, on 15 March, after the fire, the Solicitor General and the Minister of the Environment announced with their usual fanfare that they were going to bring in tougher fire prevention and environmental protection legislation to make sure it could not happen again. To quote the Solicitor General, he said, “This government stands firm in its resolve to put measures in place to prevent another fire of this type in Ontario.”
I managed to get a private member’s bill in to do what I suspect the Minister of the Environment would not do, on 22 March.
Can the Solicitor General explain why, two months and more after that brave announcement, we have seen no legislation to amend the fire code from the Solicitor General?
Hon Mr Offer: I would like to thank the honourable member for acknowledging the announcement and the direction in which it took place. I think that she was being quite charitable, as I recall, yesterday dealing with this government’s initiative in the environment field and I am glad that she is carrying on in that direction today.
I indicated at that time that we felt it was necessary that there should be amendments, not only to the fire code dealing with its regulations, but also dealing with the responsibilities of the fire marshal or his designate, dealing with inspections and with the ability to make certain that any contraventions are to be complied with immediately when there is the threat or the consequence of a particular fire.
We stand by that commitment. We are working now on the regulations to the fire code, as per our commitment. We are currently working on the amendments to the Fire Marshals Act. Again, in accordance with our commitment given, we are working to make certain that that particular responsibility, which we said we would give to the fire marshal, as per our announcement, is in fact given.
Mr Mackenzie: The key to the Mount Hope disaster waiting to happen is that the owner, Mr Musitano, has received instructions from the local fire marshal to do certain things. The fire marshal has indicated clearly to Mr Musitano that he is not in compliance with these instructions, with the fire code and with the regulations under the Fire Marshals Act. The fire marshal is not taking any further action because he is waiting for the Solicitor General’s promised amendments to the fire code to be passed. The fire marshal is hesitant to move without more specific sections under the fire code on tire dumps, which we understand are part of the amendments. Does this not make the minister the person directly responsible for no action being taken in this case?
Hon Mr Offer: I think that the member of the opposition has forgotten to indicate that immediately upon that announcement, we have moved and it has already happened that those particular tire dumps, first, have been inspected across the province, that we have categorized all of the tire dumps, that we have secured all of the tire dumps, that we have moved to safeguard the particular tire dumps, that we have also indicated that we will be making changes to the fire code dealing with regulations surrounding the piling of tires in dumps and that we are also amending the Fire Marshals Act to give to the fire marshal and his designate the ability to make certain that contraventions are complied with when there is a serious consequence of fire. We have made that commitment, we have acted on the safeguarding of those particular tire dumps and we are going to be bringing in those amendments and regulations.
Mrs Grier: They have not acted, as my colleague the member for Hamilton East says. If they had acted, we would have seen the legislation that had been promised and we would have some much greater assurance that Hagersville could not happen again. That is what the Solicitor General said he wanted to make sure happened. There is a real danger that it could happen in Mount Hope, and if he thinks the security and the guard dogs are going to prevent a tire fire, then he is dreaming. We do not know who is paying for the security guards and the security that he says is in place; we suspect it is the taxpayers, not the owners of the dump site.
There are now four weeks left in this session. What we want to know from the Solicitor General is when will we see the legislation and will it be a priority so that we get it through this House as soon as possible and do not have another tire fire?
Hon Mr Offer: I wish to assure the honourable member and all members of the Legislature that this is indeed a priority, not only with my ministry and the Ministry of the Environment but with the government, dealing with the strengthening of the Fire Marshals Act, dealing with the strengthening of the regulations under the act known as the fire code. We are working on those particular regulations. We are working on amendments to the Fire Marshals Act to give to the fire marshal the type of power necessary to make certain that any contravention of the code, where there is a serious consequence of fire, is in fact acted upon. We made that commitment, we are working on that and we will act upon that.
RESIGNATION OF CABINET MINISTER
Mr Runciman: In view of the absence of the Premier, the absence of the Deputy Premier, the absence of the new Minister of Culture and Communications, the absence of the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet and the absence of any respect for legislative accountability, I am forced to put my question to the government House leader.
In the Premier’s own words yesterday, the former Minister of Culture and Communications showed bad judgement because she accepted help in her nomination bid from representatives of companies involved in an upcoming regulatory hearing. As members know, there are many inconsistencies surrounding the resignation; the Premier says one thing, the former minister says another. The Premier says the member for York East personally asked for help on the campaign from Cantel, and the member for York East says that she did not solicit help. The member for York East says she offered her resignation and the Premier says he asked for it.
When we talk about bad judgement, we can reflect back on the former Minister of Energy and the president of Unicorp organizing a fund-raiser. That was bad judgement, but he was not required to resign.
Can the minister assure this House and the people of Ontario that we have been given the whole story on this resignation?
Hon Mr Ward: I believe that both the Premier and the former minister have given a full explanation of the circumstances surrounding the resignation.
Mr Runciman: Today I have been given some information which would lead us to understand that at last week’s cabinet meeting a former Minister of Culture and Communications put forward a document recommending the government support wide-open competition for long-distance service. I wonder whether the minister is prepared today in the House to confirm if indeed that presentation took place, was a decision made, and if yes, was the minister involved.
Hon Mr Ward: No, I am not prepared to give any indication.
Mr Runciman: This is a very serious matter, as I am sure the minister can appreciate, despite his smile. In the light of yesterday’s events, I would put this forward to him. Is the government of Ontario going to accept the document written by the member for York East or will it withdraw the document from cabinet and re-examine the issues so that all parties involved may be assured that the position of the Ontario government has not been improperly or unduly influenced by this minister’s actions?
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated in my previous response, I am not prepared to deny or confirm any matters that were before cabinet.
Mrs Cunningham: In view of the absence of the Premier, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. The Premier’s Council was established with great fanfare in the 22 April 1986 speech from the throne. This 28-member, blue-ribbon panel chaired by the Premier is composed of a number of cabinet ministers and key players in the business, labour and academic communities.
The Premier’s Council has a very specific mandate: to steer Ontario into the forefront of economic leadership and technological innovation. The council set out to fulfil its mandate in three easy steps, of which all of Ontario has been very watchful: examine the state of the Ontario economy objectively; determine how to enhance the province’s strengths while addressing its weaknesses; and based on the findings, develop policies and proposals for the province’s future.
Perhaps the minister could provide us with an update on the work of the Premier’s Council.
Hon Mr Kwinter: I do not think the Speaker would allow me the time to tell all of the things the Premier’s Council has done.
Hon Mr Kwinter: Do we have unanimous consent? I would be happy to spend some time talking about it.
The Premier’s Council, as I am sure all members will know, has been diligently working and has produced documents that have been acclaimed internationally as to their efficacy, relevance and insight.
I assume that in supplementary questions the member will ask me about reports in the media and I will be happy to wait for that particular question.
Mrs Cunningham: The minister is certainly on top of my style of doing business. Quite frankly, I am going to ask him about a report in the Toronto Star, not just because it appeared in the Star, but because many of us know members of this council, including the minister’s own cabinet officials and members of the business community. The council has had two full years to prepare its people strategy report. That is the one we have been waiting for. Two years ago we asked for that. In fact, the people’s agenda is necessary to support the government and the business agenda and we are still waiting for it.
The Premier’s Council has failed to put forward recommendations in virtually every key area it has been examining. This is a report I know well: training taxes on employers, worker-sponsored training programs, increased notice of impending layoffs and plant shutdowns, student streaming, greater student-sponsored --
The Speaker: Order. Do you have much more material there?
Mrs Cunningham: Yes, I do. I have a question.
The Premier’s Council is clearly failing in its mandate. Will the minister admit it?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I certainly will not admit that the Premier’s Council has failed in its mandate. If anything, I think the Premier’s Council is a unique opportunity and it has fulfilled its mandate.
I should tell the member I was in Edmonton on Monday and Tuesday attending a meeting of science and technology councils from across the country. I can say, without being partisan, the unanimous decision of all of those councils is that the Premier’s Council of Ontario is absolutely the model they would emulate.
To get back to the member’s question, I should tell her that the Premier’s Council is a unique collaboration. For the first time in government policy advice, we have labour, industry, government and academia sitting together, checking their prejudices at the door, to deal with a problem and benefit all the citizens of Ontario.
We are now at a very difficult time only because we are dealing with an .area which impacts directly on labour and industry --
The Speaker: Thank you. Perhaps you might continue after the next supplementary.
Mrs Cunningham: You are very perceptive, Mr Speaker. Look, nobody wants to see this work more than our party.
But two years ago on 25 May 1988 the member for York Mills asked the minister, “Will the Premier’s Council continue to meet and will it continue to work with its same mandate?” There was a question two years ago about the mandate.
The minister responded at that time: “They are also going to look at what they think is the major thrust of what we have to do; that is, to look at people.” That was two years ago.
The minister readily admits the development of a people strategy is a major thrust of the Premier’s Council. Council is no closer to developing consensus proposals on a people agenda than it was two years ago.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mrs Cunningham: The question was asked two years ago, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Well, ask it again.
Mrs Cunningham: I will ask it again. Clearly something has to be done either to expand it or change the mandate, because it is not working. What is it going to be?
Hon Mr Kwinter: I do not agree with the premise that the member has presented. I should tell members that when it comes to the issue of the whole area of people, human resources, the committee has been working, a draft document has been prepared, it has been circulated. It is not a secret. Members have read about it. There is not consensus. We are having another meeting on 11 June, and I am confident that given the goodwill of all of the participants, we will come out with a consensus. But it is a difficult issue because we are dealing with an area that gets very sensitive, it gets almost into the area of labour negotiations, and it is a difficult issue.
I want to assure all members of this House that the Premier’s Council is alive, it is well, it is functioning, and again, given the goodwill of all its members, I am confident that we will come up with a consensus document.
The Speaker: Order. This may be irregular. I would like to inform the members how to ask a question:
I just received a senior citizen’s badge with a note saying, “You qualify.” Who did it? You? Okay, thank you.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, the only time you will get a straight answer is from the opposition. I thought the answer was also a message that could be sent across to the other side of the House.
Mr McCague: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Under what standing order is the Speaker allowed to ask questions?
The Speaker: I will not answer that.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I have a question for the Attorney General. On Tuesday 29 May, Bill C-43 was passed in the House of Commons and abortion has again been criminalized in this country. We have been set back again to the situation where women and doctors have to fear their decision-making around having abortions. Yet since that time we have had no statement from the Attorney General or from this government about how it is going to react and interpret this piece of legislation in the province of Ontario, and I would like to give the Attorney General the opportunity to do so now.
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member’s question reflects, changes in the Criminal Code of Canada are made by the Parliament of Canada, and in this case the Parliament of Canada has passed an amendment that is dealing with the subject to which the honourable member refers. It is obviously in very different form than the sections which it replaces and which were struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada, and it is difficult therefore, notwithstanding the debate that was held in the House of Commons, to predict precisely how the courts will interpret its provisions if a prosecution is ever launched.
The honourable member will know that I do not launch prosecutions, that they are launched by police officers or other citizens who take informations of sworn belief. But I have the capacity, as I have done in cases like this, to either proceed with prosecutions or to stay prosecutions, and we will be dealing with any prosecutions that do arise, if they do arise, according to those standards.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The minister will know that many doctors now are deciding to in fact change their position on abortion and to not proceed with them because of fears of third-party interventions and that the Attorney General in Alberta has indicated -- more strongly than he has just done -- Mr Rostad has said he will instruct his prosecuting attorneys across the province not to proceed with third-party charges that may be laid.
I want to have an assurance from the Attorney General -- I was hoping I would have an assurance from him today -- that he will take that principle position as well and not deal with third-party interventions on a case-by-case basis.
Hon Mr Scott: I read what my colleague the Attorney General of Alberta has said, but I do not believe an Attorney General or indeed a Legislature has the right to ignore a provision of the Criminal Code if the appropriate circumstances have led to a prosecution instituted by lawful authority. We cannot declare that a section of the Criminal Code does not exist in the province of Ontario. That is the first point.
As the honourable member knows, the Attorney General has the power, in a case where he judges a prosecution to be oppressive or improperly motivated or inadequately founded, to stay a prosecution. As the honourable member will know, I have exercised that power in one instance in a similar case and I will continue to exercise my capacity under the Criminal Code in that way.
RESIGNATION OF CABINET MINISTER
Mr Runciman: I am going to go back to the government House leader with respect to the non-answer he supplied to my earlier question.
There have been concerns expressed on this side of the House by both opposition parties surrounding the reasons given for the resignation of the Minister of Culture and Communications and some questioning as to how serious the charges against that individual were in order to merit her resignation. We have asked on a number of occasions whether there is more to this than we have been told in respect to the public comments by both the Premier and the minister. We have looked at previous instances of bad judgement by members of cabinet which have not resulted in resignations.
We are talking about the possibility of a document before cabinet which would have recommended the government support wide-open competition for long-distance services. The minister said he is not prepared to comment on anything that may or may not have appeared before cabinet. It seems to me if it did not appear before cabinet, he can quite clearly stand up here today and say it was not before cabinet. Will he not answer that right now?
Hon Mr Ward: As I indicated before, I am not prepared to either confirm or deny that an item was before cabinet.
Mr Runciman: I think this a very serious matter indeed and apparently there is more to this than meets the eye. It is quite apparent and it is certainly indicated clearly here today by the minister refusing to respond in respect to whether this matter was before cabinet, whether the minister played a role and, if indeed a decision was made, a positive one based on the recommendation of the minister who apparently was utilizing the services of clients of her ministry to regain a nomination.
I think it is quite serious and we have to know indeed whether the government has been unduly influenced or improperly influenced in respect to decisions made by it. I think it is important.
Will the minister assure the House today that he is prepared to discuss this with the Premier of the province and perhaps refer this matter to some form of inquiry, perhaps by a standing committee of the Legislature?
Hon Mr Ward: The member makes a number of inferences but he should know as a former member of the executive council, albeit for a brief period of time, that I am not at liberty to confirm or deny any item that was before cabinet for consideration.
Mr Faubert: My question is for the Minister of Labour. Recently I have received a number of calls from nurses in my riding about the government’s pay equity legislation. They are concerned that under the current act they may not be able to achieve true pay equity.
Could the minister please advise me and the nurses of this province how the act will affect them?
Hon Mr Phillips: I realize that many members in the House are getting comments from nurses. I think frankly we can reassure them. I think to a great extent they are mistaken. The pay equity legislation does indeed cover nurses. We feel the current methods within the act will cover a large percentage of the nurses. You may be aware, Mr Speaker, that in March I announced that we will be providing a further opportunity for pay equity to benefit nurses by something called proportional value. We think the combination of those two things will cover virtually all the nurses.
I might add that we feel there are about 1,750,000 women who work in companies of 10 or more employees in this province and we think with the combination of these two things, the proportional value and the male comparator, all but about 5% will be able to benefit under our pay equity legislation.
Mr Faubert: I have also been contacted by nurses in my riding who are represented by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, and I can tell the minister that the nurses I have talked to are very upset. In fact, they recently held a news conference to express their views, and it was stated at that time, “It would be cheaper and fairer to scrap the whole process.”
Could the minister please respond to the concerns which these nurses so obviously share?
Hon Mr Phillips: I am aware of those comments. I am also aware of comments of the third party that it also would dismantle the pay equity legislation. Having said that, though, I think we should be aware that the Ontario Nurses’ Association, which represents, I think, well over half the nurses in this province, said that it felt those comments of scrapping the legislation were “ill-founded” and that it is having success in working with the act.
So I would say, on behalf of the government, that we are dedicated to pay equity. We are dedicated to this legislation. We are dedicated to improving this legislation, and rather than looking back at any thought of dismantling it or at the suggestion by the registered nurses of scrapping the act, we in fact are planning to strengthen the act to ensure that in this province women in the workplace have equity in terms of remuneration.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development with respect to highways in northern Ontario. Six months ago, the ministers of transportation across Canada issued a report on a national highway strategy for the country that identified types of improvements required of each jurisdiction in order to meet a national highway policy standard, and the relative cost of that work.
It included in Ontario some $2.2 billion, most of which, some $1.4 billion, is for twinning and four-laning in northern Ontario, including four-laning required on Highway 69 between Waubaushene and Sudbury, Highway 17 east of Sault Ste Marie and Highway 17 east and west of Thunder Bay.
I wonder if the minister could tell us what in fact the government’s policy is on this document and what the timetable for this work is going to be.
L’hon M. Fontaine : Premièrement, je tiens à remercier le député de Sault Ste-Marie pour cette question. One thing I do not understand is: Is it a report from the federal government?
Mr Morin-Strom: All the transportation ministers across Canada.
Hon Mr Fontaine: Okay. First of all, I think I will go back to the question.
Our commitment for the next five years was announced in two sections. I announced the one from Thunder Bay and area with the Minister of Natural Resources and, on behalf of the Minister of Transportation, the section for the northwest, and I announced with the Minister of Transportation a section for the northeast. I think our share is there. If the federal government wants to put some more money -- I have always said that if we want a four-lane highway, we cannot do that alone -- and if the federal government is prepared to do it with the other ministers of this country, we will do it.
What I announced are Highway 69 and Highway 11 and the four-laning from Nipigon to Thunder Bay, an outer passing lane. That is our commitment from the province and my ministry, and if the feds are so good, well, maybe at the next meeting pretty soon -- I think there is another meeting -- they will come up with their money.
Mr Morin-Strom: This report includes the recommendations from all the ministries of transportation across Canada, including the province of Ontario, and it includes a program which is much more generous than the one this government is committed to at this point.
In the budget we have a commitment from this government to see a $5-billion plan to improve the transportation system in Metropolitan Toronto. That is more than enough to cover the four-laning of Highway 17 and the Trans-Canada Highway right across northern Ontario.
Why will this minister not work to get his government to commit to a similar kind of program to ensure we do have a national highway across Ontario, that it will provide the kinds of benefits we need in the north?
L’hon M. Fontaine : Que le député ne s’énerve pas, là.
First of all, in the last three years, 60% more money was put in my base budget, plus another percentage, $131 million and over, for highways 11, 17 and 69.
I have said it many times, and again, ourselves, the tax that we are paying, if we spend too much money, we always say, “Don’t tax the people any more.” But with the money that we got this year, last year and the year before, I got my share.
Hon Mr Fontaine: Never mind. Why don’t you listen a little bit?
We are working with the federal government to try to get more money from it because it put a tax on fuel and we did not get one cent from it for the north. So we will go back. The leader of the second party should not worry. My feeling is that again we tripled the budget in the last three years. Right now, everybody is working.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mr Fontaine: Mr Speaker, I want to tell you something. When I was in Nipigon two weeks ago, people are so glad in Nipigon that they say maybe they will vote Liberal this time because I gave them four-laning from Nipigon to Thunder Bay.
The Speaker: Order. What a waste of time. Are all members finished now?
Mrs Marland: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. For five years the government has been reviewing the mandate and operation of conservation authorities. Two and a half years ago the Burgar report was released. Since then the Ballinger committee has reviewed that report and made its recommendations, but we have yet to see an implementation plan.
Recently in the standing committee on estimates, the minister said she plans to establish yet another committee to consult with the conservation authorities and oversee the implementation of the changes. Does she intend to send out this committee to meet with the conservation authorities before releasing the plan to the Legislature?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I am not sure whether the honourable member is asking for specific copies of past reports, which I would certainly be happy to make available. I have written to all the conservation authorities across the province giving them the background material on the recommendations of the Ballinger report and the specific changes which that report made to the previous report the member referred to, which was the Burgar report.
Those details are well known. The reason for sending those letters out with that degree of detail was to ensure that we would provide an opportunity for conservation authorities and municipalities to be able to respond to the changes proposed.
In the course of hearing their responses and in meeting with the full group of conservation authorities, I became aware that there remain a number of concerns for a number of the authorities. We take those concerns very seriously and that is why indeed we have established yet another committee which will work with the remaining concerns of the authorities.
Mrs Marland: I think it is obvious from her answer that the minister is aware that the conservation authorities have some discomfort with the report and some of the recommendations. Certainly, they are concerned about the delays in implementing the new plan. She also is aware that the authorities are sitting on their budgets and they cannot make decisions. We are really concerned about how inappropriate it is to consider consulting behind closed doors. We feel the time has come for open discussion and action.
I would like to ask the minister if she will commit herself to sharing the implementation plan with us right away.
Hon Mrs McLeod: I would want to provide some clarification. What is in place and certainly open for the examination of any member of the Legislature, as it is for all conservation authorities, municipal leaders and any others who are interested in reform of the conservation authorities are the two reports, the Burgar report and the Ballinger report. There is nothing beyond that in the nature of an implementation plan.
In response to the recommendations of the Ballinger report, there have been some further concerns that still remain with the authorities and there are quite different concerns that I hear. The honourable member is correct in saying that there are some authorities that would like to move ahead with the changes and are concerned about the delay. We recognize that the very process of delay creates some uncertainty, and our conservation authorities branch is working with authorities, for example, that have appointments to make.
But there are other authorities that say they have concerns about the funding proposals and their implications, and some concern about amalgamation. We have not put in place firm plans for implementation because we want to work with those kinds of concerns before developing a final plan for implementation of any review of the structure of the conservation authorities.
Mr Dietsch: My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Recently he made some very welcome changes in policy at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and I am curious if he would inform this House as to how many wineries have been able to take advantage of those recent changes in policy permitting Sunday openings and credit card sales and what these changes have meant.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I appreciate the question from the member for St Catharines-Brock and the notice he gave me of the question because I can point with some satisfaction to the coordination of two government policies that really have resulted in very significant benefit to our Ontario wine industry.
Of course, under laws relating to Sunday shopping, for years retail businesses have been able to open on Sunday in tourist areas, but the estate wineries in the Niagara Peninsula, because of other regulations in the Liquor Licence Act, have not been able to open, and they historically have not been able to use credit cards.
A few months ago the government announced it was going to change that policy so that if a municipality wanted the estate wineries to remain open on Sunday to very significant tourist traffic, they would be able to do that. I am happy to report to my friend the member for St Catharines-Brock that all indications are that tourists are finding the estate wineries interesting places to visit on Sunday and they are making use of their credit cards, and it is going very well.
Mr Dietsch: I believe it necessary that we be supportive and innovative in assisting wineries, recognizing that greater wine sales represent greater grape sales. Does the government have any intentions with respect to direct sales from the producers of such wines to the licensee, therefore eliminating the LCBO and the middleman while passing on substantial cost savings, with possible increase in sales, to the wineries?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I can understand why my friend the member for St Catharines-Brock asked that question. I do not think there is any member in this House who is more supportive and a greater advocate of the Ontario wine industry than the member for St Catharines-Brock. He certainly has spoken to me on this question on a number of occasions, as have the wineries. I should tell him it is one of the areas we are working on, because the wineries see the opportunity to sell their products directly to restaurants and licensed establishments all over the province and to get their products to the public in a more direct and, frankly, cheaper way.
There have been incredible changes in the wine industry over the past 10 years, as my friend knows, and certainly they are producing a product that is competitive all over the world. All I can tell him at this point is that we are looking at models that may eventually permit that kind of direct sale to come about, but there are certainly issues relating to taxation and our trade agreements, etc.
USE OF HERBICIDE
Mr Hampton: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. As the minister knows, the herbicide Vision is widely used by the Ministry of Natural Resources as a herbicide spray in Ontario’s forests. Recently the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety stated that it recommends that very extreme care be used when Vision is being sprayed because it contains the very toxic substance dioxane. As well, tests done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed that dioxane was carcinogenic in rats and guinea pigs, and the National Cancer Institute in the United States found that dioxane could cause tumours in rats and mice and could produce toxic effects in the kidney and liver of humans.
In view of this kind of evidence, is the minister not concerned about the widespread use of Vision for spraying in Ontario’s forests?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I assure the honourable member, as I would assure all members of the Legislature and concerned Ontarians, that we will use only herbicides which are fully approved by the federal Department of the Environment and by our own Ministry of the Environment and that we will in fact use those with all caution, as we do with all our spray programs, regardless of the herbicide or pesticide that is being used.
If there is evidence that comes forward in relation to any of the herbicides or pesticides which the ministry is using and ministries of the environment in fact reflect that concern in their regulations or their approvals, we will of course adjust our programs accordingly.
Mr Hampton: A couple of questions come out of that. While the federal Department of Agriculture in fact registers the use of these types of chemicals, there is no evidence that very careful testing has been done for the presence of dioxane in Vision. There is no evidence that the kinds of careful tests that have been carried out, for example, by the US Environmental Protection Agency, have been carried out here in Canada.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Natural Resources has had no problem banning the use of certain pesticides in the past even before the federal Department of Agriculture has gotten involved. The ministry has acted on external advice, external information before, without any assistance from the federal Department of Agriculture. Why will the minister not do it in this case? Why does she continue to use Vision when there is evidence from outside Canada that Vision does indeed contain very toxic, very harmful chemicals?
Hon Mrs McLeod: I trust that my words were accurately conveying my sense that it is not the Ministry of Natural Resources that carries out the research. We are dependent on the appropriate environmental ministries with the research capacity to carry out that research. We are, as I indicated, very careful in all our spray programs in terms of the areas in which the spraying is used, the notification that is given and the actual application of the herbicides or pesticides we are using.
Of course, we are concerned and will continue to be concerned that whatever methods we are using, whether to control forest pests or to manage the vegetation in the forest, we will be practising environmentally sound management, and we will continue to look at all the spray programs we have to provide that assurance, but we do not carry out the research ourselves. We will look at the research that is carried out and the implications of that research for our programs.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Mr Runciman: I have a question again for the government House leader on a different topic. It is one I raised earlier in the week in this House in respect to what has been happening with the standing committee on general government in the first effort by an opposition party under the new standing orders, standing order 123, to have a matter referred for study by the committee.
As you know, Mr Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party has asked for an investigation into why, in the fall of 1989, the Office of the Premier halted an inquiry into the activities in York region before the recommendations made their way to cabinet. We have had a number of stalling efforts by Liberal members of that committee and they really have frustrated our efforts to get this matter on the floor. The New Democratic Party House leader and our House leader are in agreement, and I am asking the government House leader if he would support a recommendation to the Speaker for immediate approval of a supplementary budget for legal counsel to be retained by the committee.
Hon Mr Ward: The member knows full well of the committee’s authority to order its own business. I understand that a request will be forthcoming in the very near future from the committee for a budget to retain legal counsel, among other things. That will be considered as expeditiously as possible by the Board of Internal Economy, which I believe is slated to meet next week, and we will do everything we can to hasten it.
Mr Runciman: The minister is not aware when the board is meeting obviously. It is not meeting until 11 June and, in effect, what he and his colleagues are doing is killing this hearing. What he is doing is frustrating the intent of the new standing orders, which were achieved by agreement of all three parties in this House.
As the minister knows full well, the opposition parties gave up a number of opportunities whereby they could compel the government to deal with issues through bell-ringing, etc, as a result of these changes. What he is doing now is frustrating the intent of the changes to the standing orders.
All I am asking the minister today is, will he support the NDP House leader and our House leader in handling this quickly, asking the Speaker to deal immediately with this and have a supplementary budget approved so that we can retain legal counsel and get on with these hearings next week?
Hon Mr Ward: I am not as yet in receipt of the committee’s request. I can assure the member that we will deal with it expeditiously, and if there are mechanisms by which we can do that, we will certainly do that.
Miss Roberts: My question is to the Minister of Education. On 29 May 1990, 1 presented to this House petitions from my constituents requesting new initiatives in the field of religious education. In light of the recent Court of Appeal ruling, in light of section 50 of the Education Act, in light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, my constituents are seeking the continuance of Christian religious education and moral ethics in Ontario public schools.
What is the minister’s stand on the possibility of providing time for opt-in classes in all our public schools for such religious education to all those students whose parents request it?
Hon Mr Conway: I thank my friend the member for Elgin for her interest in and concern about a matter of very real interest to many in the community. I can tell her what I indicated to school boards some weeks ago.
In light of the Court of Appeal decision of late January this year in respect of the so-called Elgin county case, I indicated to all school boards in Ontario that they could not offer religious education at the elementary level in public schools if that religious education was of an indoctrinational kind. But as the court indicated, education about religion, education which seeks to foster moral values, is permissible, and we have indicated this to all school boards.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Surely you received a report on this several months ago.
Hon Mr Conway: Moreover, in the interim policy announcement that I made earlier this year, I say to the member and to my friend the member for Scarborough West, who seems to have come alive to this subject, that it is possible for an individual religion to have the opportunity on an after-school basis to have certain kinds of instruction as long as the school board makes the school space on an after-school basis available to all in the community.
Miss Roberts: I thank the minister for his answer. My supplementary deals with perhaps a curriculum of some type or a further policy statement that he might be making with respect to the types of classes that may be offered in religious education, if indeed he is going to be doing that.
Hon Mr Conway: The member’s question and my friend from Scarborough West’s parenthetical observation take into account the fact that we have received the so-called Watson report. At the time of the court judgement earlier this winter, I indicated that there would be an interim policy, that the government would be reviewing its options in respect to this most sensitive area of public policy in light of both the court decision and the Watson report.
I can assure my honourable friend and the member for Scarborough West that we are doing that. In the fullness of time, I expect to be communicating both with the House and with the school community about any progress we have made in this regard.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BOARD
Miss Martel: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. Several weeks ago, I raised the matter with him of 120 vocational rehabilitation case workers at the Workers’ Compensation Board. The individuals were hired in December 1989. They were told they would have permanent employment, provided they met a six-month probationary period. In March they received a letter from the board stating that the board had over-recruited by accident and that they no longer had permanent employment.
On 8 March the board began another recruitment drive, this time for the same positions of vocational rehabilitation case workers, the same group of 120 individuals who lost their permanent employment two months before. Can the minister tell me now what kind of problems are going on at the Workers’ Compensation Board?
Hon Mr Phillips: The administration of the board, of course, rests with the board and under the board of directors. Having said that, the explanation that I think I gave once before in the House was that they indeed had overrecruited for vocational rehabilitation officers, that there were many of their permanent employees who wanted those positions and were given those positions, that the probationary case workers, I am told, were assured that they would have a job within the organization and that, as those vocational rehabilitation case work jobs became available, they would be offered them.
I have recently been told that quite a large number of them have now moved into those positions and that, over the next 12 to 18 months, it is the anticipation of the board that most of those people will be accommodated. That is what I have been told by the board, and I would be interested if that is not the case.
Miss Martel: That is not the case. The recruitment drive began on 10 May and it is due to finish on 16 July 1990. The fact of the matter is that the pecking order for recruitment is as follows: All the affected staff, that is, people who have lost their employment at the board because of organizational or technological change, will be asked to apply for the rehab jobs first. Then any other members in the WCB organization from whatever unit across the organization will be asked if they want to apply for those positions. Finally, if there are any permanent positions left, those 120 people who lost their employment already will be asked to apply.
The fact of the matter is that they will be lucky if any of the 120 actually receive some employment. What is the minister going to do to try and protect these people who were promised permanent jobs, who lost them and who will have no chance of regaining them?
Hon Mr Phillips: I will repeat what I said earlier, that is, they were probationary individuals recruited and there was no question that the board overrecruited and then filled those positions with permanent employees who felt that they wanted those positions. The probationary workers, I am told, were given other similar positions, not in the same field but similar positions, and they were assured that as positions became available in the vocational rehabilitation case work area they would be offered them.
As I say, I have been told that many of them already have secured those positions, and that it was the expectation of the board that over the next 12 to 18 months the vast majority of them could be accommodated as positions became available.
Mr McCague: Mr Speaker, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was here. Has he left the building or is he hiding?
The Speaker: Is that your question to someone? I do not see -- oh, here is the minister. Please go ahead.
Mr McCague: The minister has not had many questions lately so I can understand his wandering around.
The minister’s lotteries branch is really harming a lot of the charitable efforts of a lot of service clubs within the province by not issuing licences quickly for tickets that have a name starting with N, which we are not supposed to use, but I think you pull a tab. You call them pull-tab tickets or something like that. Anyway, these have been good money-raising ventures for a lot of clubs, and the minister has really messed it up. What is he going to do about it?
Hon Mr Sorbara: My friend has not been asking very many questions lately in the House nor has he been following very carefully the changes that we are making within the entertainment standards branch, particularly as it relates to charitable gaming and what we call Nevada tickets, I tell my friend the member for Dufferin-Peel, I think it is.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Ten years ago, yes, but the question was probably was more appropriate to 10 years ago in any event.
Mr Ferraro: It’s Simcoe West.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Simcoe West, I am told by my friend the member for Guelph, who keeps up on these matters.
Let me just say to the member on this question that the Tories seemed to throw in at the last minute at the end of question period -- I am sorry, Mr Speaker, for my momentary absence -- I just want to refer the member to a document that we put out some four months ago called Charitable Gaming, Putting the Charities Back in the Driver’s Seat.
We are undergoing very substantial revisions to the laws and regulations relating to not only bingos but break-open tickets and Monte Carlo nights and the like. The full purpose of these initiatives is to make sure that the real beneficiaries are not the people who run the halls or print up the tickets, but the charities themselves who through their voluntary efforts raise quite a substantial amount of money to help charitable causes all over the province.
I am going to send my friend the paper and perhaps he will ask another question on it some time later.
SCHOOL OPENING AND CLOSING EXERCISES
Mrs Cunningham: This is just one small sampling of a petition given to me from over 6,000 residents from all over Ontario and it calls on the government to support the daily use of the Lord’s Prayer in Ontario’s public schools.
The Speaker: You have signed it as well?
Mrs Cunningham: Yes, I will sign the covering letter.
Miss Roberts: I have a petition from members in my riding. They respectfully request that the government of Ontario provide time for opt-in classes in all public schools for the teaching of religious education and moral ethics to all students. If this cannot be provided, they request publicly funded Christian schools on the same basis as Roman Catholic schools.
I have affixed my name to the petition, pursuant to the standing orders.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT, 1990
Mr Reycraft moved first reading of Bill 174, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Reycraft: Subsection 125(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act prohibits a landlord of a mobile home park from acting as the agent of a tenant with respect to the sale of a mobile home except when under a written agency contract.
The proposed amendments to the act would require an agency contract to be separate and distinct from a tenancy agreement. An agency contract would not be valid unless entered into after the tenant decides to sell the tenant’s mobile home.
The amendments would apply to agency contracts entered into before or after the amendments come into effect.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
CITY OF TORONTO ACT, 1990
Mr Kanter moved second reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the City of Toronto.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
CITY OF BRAMPTON ACT, 1990
Mr Ferraro moved, on behalf of Mr Callahan, second reading of Bill Pr43, An Act respecting the City of Brampton.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
VICTORIA COUNTY RAILWAY COMPANY LIMITED ACT, 1990
Mr Owen moved, on behalf of Mr Eakins, second reading of Bill Pr63, An Act respecting The Victoria County Railway Company Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
ONTARIO SKEET SHOOTING ASSOCIATION ACT, 1990
Mr Eves moved, on behalf of Mr Cureatz, second reading of Bill Pr64, An Act to revive Ontario Skeet Shooting Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HAREWOOD PARK ASSOCIATION ACT, 1990
Mr Matrundola moved, on behalf of Mr MacDonald, second reading of Bill Pr67, An Act to revive the Harewood Park Association.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
SILAYAN FILIPINO COMMUNITY CENTRE ACT, 1990
Mr Velshi moved second reading of Bill Pr72, An Act to revive Silayan Filipino Community Centre.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
JABKO HOLDINGS LTD ACT, 1990
Mr Owen moved second reading of Bill Pr76, An Act to revive Jabko Holdings Ltd.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Ward: Before calling the next order, I would like, pursuant to standing order 53, to indicate the business for the upcoming week.
On Monday 4 June we will have second reading of Bill 108, second reading of Bill 106, Bill 104, Bill 105 and Bill 140.
On Tuesday 5 June we will have second reading of Bill 96.
Wednesday 6 June will be a continuation of unfinished business from Monday and Tuesday, if not completed. At the conclusion of the second reading debate of Bill 96, we will proceed to committee of the whole House on Bill 208.
On Thursday 7 June, in the morning we will have private member’s ballot item 53, in the name of the member for Sault Ste Marie, and ballot item 54, in the name of the member for Nepean.
ONTARIO LOTFERY CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1990 (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 114, An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
The Speaker: I believe the member for Cambridge was speaking previously.
Mr Farnan: Resuming the debate on An Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, Bill 114, as I pointed out in my remarks yesterday, this bill will simply add yet another area to which lottery profits can be designated.
I took considerable time yesterday talking about compulsive gambling. I suggested to the government that part of my rationale for supporting this bill is if the government can bring itself to accept certain key amendments.
The first one I debated at some length yesterday, and that amendment was simply that 0.5% of all lottery profits would be designated for the provision of treatment for those afflicted with compulsive gambling as a disease. That 0.5% represents half a cent of every $1 of lottery profits. When we consider that lottery profits this year will be in the range $500 million, we are simply asking the government to designate something less than $2.5 million to provide gambling rehabilitation treatment. There is not one treatment clinic in Ontario; indeed, there is not one treatment clinic in all of Canada. In fact, we are sending those people who are afflicted with this disease to the United States for treatment at considerable cost, and they have to pay 25% of that cost themselves.
I want to re-emphasize that I and my party, the New Democratic Party, are not opposed to the fact that lotteries are a reality of life. We are not here to say that they should be curtailed or abolished, and we realize that the government will generate, has generated and will continue to generate significant profits through lotteries. What we are saying is that there are some significant side-effects to lotteries. When you expose the population of Ontario to aggressive marketing of what I called yesterday the dream, when you are encouraging people through advertisements, whether it be by newspaper, radio or television, and telling them that if they make the wager of $2 they are going to have this dream, some people are going to be affected and will become compulsive gamblers. I pointed out that 2% to 3% of our population suffer from the disease of compulsive gambling.
I want to read to the members today the testimony of just three individuals. I have testimony here from a whole range of individuals, which I would dearly love all members of this House to have. In fact, I think I will ask my assistant to have copies run off and sent to all members of this House because it is an area that many of them may not be too familiar with. But we should be familiar with it because in fact we are promoting gambling in a very aggressive way through our marketing of lotteries.
First of all is the case of George M. These are real, live people. George M’s case is typical of that of anyone with a compulsive gambling problem, in that it took George many years to realize he was the victim of an uncontrollable illness.
George began his gambling career on a small-time basis in 1959, but 15 years later he had, by his own admission, dug a hole so deep that he could not see daylight any more. He lost his self-esteem, respect, confidence and all moral and spiritual values. On 21 May 1976 he tried to commit suicide but, in his own words, “I couldn’t even do that right.” However, with the help of his wife and some legal aid, George came out of that suicide attempt a better person. He did not make a wager for six years and gained back some respect and confidence.
But in 1982 George discovered the lotteries. At first, George merely experimented with small amounts of money he made moonlighting on a second job. From $13 per week, George went to spending $95 per week on lottery tickets. But he could not win anything, so he accelerated his wagering to $190 per week. Still no success, so George upped the ante to $380 per week. Worst of all, George’s bad habits returned also and he started to borrow and to steal. Soon George was back in debt and lying to his wife to cover his tracks. George’s wife recognized the symptoms and gave George an ultimatum: either to get help or she would leave him.
George finally got the message. He joined Gamblers Anonymous and he has not gambled since 1986. But for every lucky person like George who manages to get help with his problem, there are countless thousands of pathological gamblers walking the streets unable to recognize their own plight. It is these people who need help in the worst way, and the establishment of a modern treatment clinic would go a long way towards alleviating the problem. I ask the minister, how about it?
I can recall, through personal experience, a man coming into my office. His lifestyle now is a lifestyle between jail and lottery tickets. He comes out of jail, he has the dream, he thinks he is going to win and he buys lottery tickets. He sustains his addiction by stealing, and he knows that if he is caught he is going to go back to jail, but he thinks he is going to hit it big. He is convinced he is going to hit it big, and his whole life is destroyed, the people he loves -- his wife, his children, those friends close around him. He cannot control himself.
Here is the testimony of Cindy. If members think pathological gambling is confined to the victim, they should listen to the poignant tale of Cindy, the wife of a self-admitted pathological gambler. Says Cindy: “Pathological gambling is a family disease and I can certainly attest to the illness we have all been battling. The heartache and sadness is that no facility is available near home for the treatment of this illness.”
Cindy’s husband attended the Taylor Manor Clinic in Baltimore for help with his addiction. While he was there, it was suggested Cindy participate in some of the family sessions. But, says Cindy, they could not afford such a luxury. “How sad for us that we were unable to receive therapy together at a clinic close to home where money would not be a concern.”
Cindy also points out that as rehabilitation and recovery are lifelong processes, it is imperative that victims and their families continue to receive medical support as aftercare. Says Cindy, “Although our support groups (Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon) have been an immeasurable source of help, medical practitioners would be an even greater and much-needed source of support for families in despair.”
Cindy firmly believes the l990s will be the decade when pathological gambling emerges as a problem which will have to be addressed by responsible authorities here: “This sector of pathological gambling will definitely increase as the opportunities for gambling increase also. The alcoholic and substance abusers already have support and now it is time to focus on the same devastation endured by the pathological gambler and his family.”
She asks the question, “When, Minister, can we expect this government to take some concrete action towards the establishment of a clinic?”
Although pathological gamblers have a similar addiction to the alcoholic or the drug abuser, we cannot recognize them. They do not stagger, they are not easily distinguishable, but nevertheless lives are destroyed, the lives of themselves and those people around them.
Here is the case of Ken, a self-admitted pathological gambler who even tried to commit suicide in an attempt to escape from his turmoil.
Ken says that for more than 20 years he lived principally to gamble. His family, friends, career, personal health and welfare took a back seat. He admits that he stole money, cars, drugs and, in his own words, “anything else I could get away with to finance my betting.” This is exactly the road or the treadmill that the alcoholic or the drug abuser goes down.
When he got married seven years ago, Ken did try to do something about his problem. He tried to stop gambling and he cut down on his other addictions, to alcohol, drugs and food. But his best intentions were not good enough. With his wife’s help, he even tried to get some therapy, but found himself unable to quit gambling for any length of time.
Listen to what he says here next: “My self-hatred grew to the point of suicidal thoughts. I changed jobs, tried willpower but always went back to gambling. Finally, I attempted suicide believing my wife and children would be better off without me.”
His suicide attempt failed and triggered what he now refers to as a series of miracles. He is in a 12-step recovery program and has learned that his gambling addiction was really a disease. From Parkside Hospital in Chicago, Ken returned to his home and family here only a few months ago to try to reconstruct his life.
Why do pathological gamblers like Ken have to go to the United States to get help with their problem? Why can they not get it here? When this province is generating $500 million in profits from lotteries, why do Ken, Cindy, George and the literally hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who are addicted to gambling and the families of those addicted gamblers who suffer as a consequence -- why is there not one clinic in Ontario to address their needs?
I am putting forward what I consider to be a rather minimum request, that 0.5% of lottery profits, a mere $2.5 million out of a grand total of $500 million, that that small amount be given to provide treatment for the pathological gambler in Ontario.
My colleagues in this House know this is not the first time I have spoken to this issue. I have raised it on other occasions. It is probably the first time where I have had an opportunity to discuss it at some length, but I have raised the matter in the House and I have written to the Minister of Health pointing out the need.
In some of the jurisdictions in the United States up to 3% of profits is allocated to gambling rehabilitation. As I pointed out, in the state of Iowa, a small farming state, they have 13 clinics for gambling rehabilitation. Surely we must hang our heads in shame, not just in Ontario but right across Canada, when we cannot point to one clinic. What do we do in this great province? We contribute $50,000 to a foundation. It is not good enough.
This bill that is before us today is simply a way to encourage the people of Ontario to buy more lottery tickets. The ministry has brought in marketing experts. The marketing experts said to the minister, “If you want to sell more lottery tickets, you’re going to have to change the manner in which you address the issue.” In the past it was Wintario, and it was for sports, culture, recreation and fitness. The lottery tickets had those pictures on them -- the javelin thrower, the high-jumper, the orchestra.
But someone sat down and said, “Hey, if we put a crippled child on the lottery ticket, if we put flowing rivers” -- they know the environment now is something that will sell more lottery tickets. The reality is, we will sell more lottery tickets; there is absolutely no question about it. But this government and all of us in this House, Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats, all 130 of us, have to recognize the fact that as we promote lotteries we also push some people, some percentage of the population -- and the statistics suggest 2% to 3% of the population -- into becoming compulsive gamblers, and they will need treatment.
All I suggest to my colleagues is that that small portion, 0.5%, half a cent out of every dollar, be designated for gambling rehabilitation. That is one of the areas that, if the government accepts this amendment, I may very well be encouraged to support the bill.
The second amendment that I am going to suggest as a requirement of support for the bill is to look at that whole area of profits. We are talking about that $500 million of profits and I am going to say to the government that I will be placing an amendment before the House, and that amendment will say that at least one third of all of the profits of lotteries go to sports, culture, recreation, fitness and, say, the Ontario Trillium Foundation. That is a reasonable amendment. This is an amendment, as my colleague has pointed out, that I have brought forward before, and I will continue to bring it forward.
I want to address that particular amendment. Back in 1974, when the Ontario Lottery Corp was established, the government of the day designated the profits from lotteries for culture and recreation. The wording of the legislation appeared to be quite specific. It said that lottery profits would be available for culture and recreation. This was reinforced, as I suggested, by government advertising, and lottery tickets bore illustrations of athletes, musicians and artists.
What does it mean to you when the government says that the money will be available? It means that it will be there for you. I give this example: If I go into a restaurant and the waiter says to me, “Your table is now available,” I believe that I am going to have that table. That is a reasonable expectation. But to be available from the point of view of this particular government was not a guarantee that the table was available, was not a guarantee that they would get those lottery profits, so over the years the government did not use those moneys for what they were designated for.
In future years, as the Wintario draws were televised from communities across Ontario, we were invariably reminded of the arenas, the little theatres, the orchestras, the community groups that were to be the beneficiaries. However, despite the legislation and the public perception, the government was only spending a portion of lottery profits on culture and recreation and the remainder was going into other areas. That is okay, we are not going to argue about that, but let’s face it, only a portion was going to culture and recreation.
Over the years, the accumulated unallocated lottery surplus would have grown to $400 million in the designated lotteries and to about $900 million in the interprovincial lotteries if the government had not been spending it. In total, this amounted to a whopping $1.3-billion surplus. However, we all know that in fact the government was spending that money which had been designated for culture and recreation.
What is particularly galling to the sports, culture, recreation and fitness groups of the province of Ontario is that at a time when the government was spending this money, which was originally allocated, maybe available, groups across the province, thousands of applications from culture and recreation groups that met all the criteria for lottery funding, were being rejected. What particularly irks the cultural and recreational communities is that the reason given for rejecting their applications -- and these letters were sent out as a matter of course -- the reason the culture and recreation groups were refused their grants, they said, was because of insufficient funds.
How could there be insufficient funds when there was an unallocated surplus of $1.3 billion? That is a good question. But the government was spending it on different things. It was spending it, I am sure, on hospitals, the environment and other things. We cannot argue with that.
For several weeks I sat as a member of the standing committee on general government of the Legislative Assembly holding hearings into Bill 119. Bill 119, members will recall, retroactively changed the rules of the game. It legalized the misappropriation of the accumulated lottery profits by both Conservative and Liberal governments over the years, and in fact the government, during those hearings, admitted that these moneys were already spent and referred to those moneys, in what I thought was an absolutely beautiful phrase, as a “notional surplus.” It really was a surplus that existed only in our minds. In other words, there was $1.3 billion of unallocated funds that should have gone to culture and recreation, but in the government’s opinion, this was a notional surplus. It had already been spent.
I want to look at Bill 119 and Bill 114 together. Bill 119 at the time pitted culture and recreation against hospitals for future lottery dollars, a situation that hundreds of thousands of volunteers and professionals in culture and recreation found unacceptable. So at first we had lottery profits going to sports, culture, fitness, recreation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation and then we added, “We’re also going to use it for hospitals.” Bill 114 came along and said, “Okay, we’re going to throw into the equation the environment.”
The public response to Bill 119 was overwhelmingly negative. Some 228 municipalities, representing 7.5 million people, passed motions in opposition to Bill 119 and not one of the 105 delegations which appeared before the Legislative Assembly committee spoke in favour of the bill.
The position put forward by culture and recreation groups was very reasonable. All they wanted was a guarantee that a minimum of one third of future lottery profits would be designated to culture and recreation. At that particular time, we were talking about $400 million. My apologies -- all they wanted from future lottery profits was one third of the global amount.
I have to admit that during the course of those committee hearings, the Treasurer did appear before the committee and he made a commitment of, I believe, $120 million per annum for three years. I suppose that is something that we should be grateful for, that he did make that commitment. But it would have been a small step, I believe, and one of great significance if this government had been able to make a real commitment by putting it into the legislation and saying that -- one third of $500 million is certainly more than $120 million.
There are enough legitimate applications out there that meet all the criteria for us to use one third of lottery profits for culture, sports, recreation and fitness, so I say it would make a lot of sense to write into this legislation the simple amendment that one third of all lottery profits will be designated for culture, sports, fitness and recreation. Even the sports and cultural groups which appeared before the committee said that the rest of the profits can go to hospitals, the environment, roads, sewage treatment plants, anything the government likes. But at least let’s guarantee culture and recreation, the designated source for which lotteries were initiated in the first place, one third of the profits.
We did not get that guarantee when we discussed Bill 119, so we come to Bill 114. I want to speak again on behalf of all those community groups, on behalf of the millions of volunteers across this province who enrich our lives through cultural and recreational activities. Believe me, it is those individuals who make life in Ontario that much finer. I think it is a small step to ask that we reward them by including in this legislation an amendment that will protect their interests.
I am not going to read out the whole list of agencies and groups, I am just going to take a couple at random, but literally hundreds of groups appeared before the committee, sent in briefs, asked the government please to listen: the Ontario Arenas Association Inc, Older Adults Centres Associations of Ontario, Ontario Choral Federation, Ontario Library Association, museums, recreation associations, Ontario Parks Association, art galleries, theatres, track and field, Ontario Orienteering Association Inc, bowlers, field hockey, sport and the physically disabled, skating, badminton, soccer, curling, archers, baseball.
I have extracted from those public hearings a variety of quotations that I think help to put the view of these groups in perspective, and it behooves us to listen to remind ourselves of what these groups were telling us.
Mr Faubert: Read the answer also from Hansard if you’re going to read the question.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Farnan: As I said, I am going to take some very brief statements to remind the House of some of the areas, how society is enriched by arts and the quality of life and volunteerism.
Margaret Wade Laberge, president of the Council on Aging: “Recreation and cultural activities are an essential component of the high quality of life which we enjoy in Ontario. These activities promote the wellbeing of all.”
Doris Haist, director of recreation, York region: “There is no question that recreation opportunities enhance the quality of life in a community and contribute significantly to the health and wellbeing of participants.”
“Preventive Health Care: Investment in Well Society” is another heading that I have taken.
Lee Batstone, president, Northwestern Ontario Sports Council: “A disappearance or further erosion of support for sport and recreation organizations will lead to a less healthy population and skyrocketing health costs.”
Margaret Thomson, manager, Parks and Recreation, Thunder Bay: “Recreation, sport and fitness have proven to be most effective preventive measures available to reduce health care costs.”
Douglas Block, president, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: “I frankly think that the arts, symphony orchestras, as well as dance groups and everything else, are just part of the balance of life that we all need to make our communities viable, to attract business, to attract industry.”
Many of the groups at that time, as the minister will know and as some of the members of the committee will know, were a bit disturbed by what they felt was a government betrayal of sports, culture and recreation.
John W. Gates, manager, Parks and Recreation, Thunder Bay: “Can the Premier be trusted to live up to this commitment of funds for recreation? Apparently not. If Bill 119 is passed, many of the statements and goals as proclaimed in the 1989 throne speech become nothing more than words. The government is not fully committed to pursuing healthy lifestyles, safe communities and a promising future for our children.”
Hockey Development Centre of Ontario: “If this government is committed to sport and recreation, it will withdraw Bill 119. Failure to do so is a betrayal of a promise made to us in 1974.”
The final category from which I am going to draw remarks is the need for expansion of leisure time in an aging society. I think these are very critical.
Robert D. Johnston, chairman, Alliance to Protect Culture, Fitness, Sports and Recreation in Ontario: “If you consider that leisure time involves activities not only for most of us but also for senior citizens and for youth, we are probably talking about supporting the activities that most of us spend the majority of our lives doing.”
Wayne Burnett, Downsview: “There is no shortage of ideas for the money, no scarcity of need. The surplus that has built up is due to underspending of budgeted funds.”
Robert Freeman, director-curator, Gallery Stratford: “No one is denying the importance of hospitals and their need for additional funding, but should it be at the expense of Canadian culture?”
Rhea Shulman, board of directors, Older Adult Centres Association of Ontario: “I believe that older people are extremely well organized in this province.. .they really are mobilized and they will act as soon as the government...slips a little bit off where it should be.... I think the governments have to listen not just for the votes, but because this a group that can do things.”
I have just gleaned a few of the comments.
The amendment that I am putting to the House in order to offer my support for this bill -- the second amendment; the first, of course, was the percentage of funds for the treatment of pathological gamblers -- is that one third of all profits from lotteries be directed to the source they were originally intended for, sports, culture, recreation and fitness.
What is going on is something of a sham. What we have -- and I am going to describe this for members in a very simple way so that the people of Ontario can get a handle on what is happening.
If we can imagine a large pot or retainer into which all of the revenue that is generated by the government is deposited, whether it is personal income tax, taxes on luxury items, sales tax, taxes that are brought about through regulation, increases in licensing fees, motor vehicle fees, hunting and fishing fees or whatever, all of that money goes into a pot and indeed part of the funds going into that big container are the funds generated from lotteries.
So now we have a pot with all of the funds that are generated in the form of revenue for the operation of the province of Ontario, from which we have to pay for our services. The significant contribution of lotteries, the $500,000, is going into that pot, but it is going into that pot along with every other conceivable form of revenue that this government receives.
So when we pay money to a hospital, or when we pay money for an environmental issue, or when we pay money to parks and recreation, who is to say which source of revenue is paying for hospitals, that it is lottery funds over personal taxation, over a sales tax7
No. The reality of the matter is that we collect taxes from every conceivable source and out of that general consolidated revenue fund we pay for all the various items that a government has to pay for, whether they are roads, hospitals or schools.
But when it comes to selling lottery tickets, I want to say very clearly that I think we have learned from the Irish hospitals sweepstakes. It has been raised in this House a couple of times that before lotteries were legalized in this country, people were buying Irish hospitals sweepstakes tickets in large numbers. It was illegal, but people did it. Indeed, part of the rationale for introducing lotteries into the province of Ontario was to say that we do not want all this money going out of the country, we want to keep it here. A good cause, at that time, we said, was culture and recreation.
The advertising boys, the smart guys who are there to promote lottery sales, have come to the realization that selling lottery tickets based on parks and recreation is fine. If you are putting up community halls or arenas, in putting those arenas up, if you have a picture of kids playing ice hockey, that is appealing. People will go out and buy a ticket.
It is much more powerful when you have the crippled child on your lottery ticket. It is much more powerful when you have the cancer treatment clinic on your lottery ticket. It is much more powerful when you have the flowing, beautiful river on your lottery ticket.
What we have in this legislation, in Bill 114 and in Bill 119, is basically, in my view, a total farce. We have added hospitals and the environment as the recipients of funds not because they are going to be the recipients of funds but because they help us to market more lottery tickets. It helps us to sell more lottery tickets, to put it in that big pot I talked about, which is the general revenue fund, and indeed then the Treasurer will decide who gets what. But we are going through this facade in order that we can market more lottery tickets.
Hon Mr Black: You are such a cynic, Mike. You never think positively about anything, always negatively.
Mr Farnan: The minister has interjected, and I have great respect for the minister, and he suggested that I am speaking negatively to this subject. With all due respect, I want to say to the minister I think I have attempted to be as constructive as I possibly can in this debate. I have said to him I will support his bill. I suggested I would support the bill, and I am providing the kinds of amendments that I can support the bill with. The amendments are not negative amendments.
I hope the minister is not suggesting that providing treatment for pathological gamblers is a negative suggestion. I would suggest that is very positive. If I am suggesting a guarantee of income for culture, parks and recreation, I would suggest, Mr Speaker, to the minister through you, that that is a very positive manner in which to look at preventive health care in the province of Ontario.
Because I have great respect for the minister I will take that remark of his as a moment in which he just spoke with some indiscretion. So I remain faithful to what I said yesterday. I do have trust in this minister. I do believe him when he says that he is concerned about gambling, and when he says that to me in private, I do believe it implies two things: (1) that he recognizes pathological gambling is a problem, and (2) he is going to do something about it. I hope he is going to take my suggestion that a very small portion -- 0.5% -- of lottery profits would be designated for that purpose.
To return to this issue of supporting culture, recreation, sports, etc, I want to look at the language of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act. Bill 119 and Bill 114 do nothing to change the language, but I want to give members the significant phrases. This is what the bill says. All of the money that comes in “shall be paid” -- that is strong language -- “into the consolidated revenue fund.” So now we know that all the money coming in goes into the fund.
Now what does it say about sports, culture and recreation? What funding will they get? It says “at such times ... as the Lieutenant Governor in Council may direct, to be available for appropriation by the Legislature” sums for these areas. “May direct, to be available” is very much weaker language than “shall be available.” The rest of the money that is not used for sports, culture, recreation and the Trillium Foundation, and now under Bill 114 for the environment, what does it say about that? It “shall be applied to ... hospitals.”
If we were to take the Treasurer’s commitment to sports, culture and recreation at its face value, $120 million, and subtract it from the overall profits of lotteries, we are talking about $380 million left. There is no guarantee of where it is going. It is simply going into the pot.
What kind of a tax are lotteries? The minister now is shaking his head and I am not sure whether to understand by his body language that he disagrees with me that lotteries are a tax. I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that any way in which government raises a dollar is a tax. If it raises it through personal income tax, if it raises it through sales tax, if it raises it through lotteries, that is a tax.
It is a fact that those individuals who have a lower income spend a greater percentage of their income on lottery purchases than those who have a middle or upper income. They do not spend more money on lottery tickets; they spend a greater percentage of their earnings on lottery tickets. So basically what the government is saying is that the group of people in our society who are in the low-income earning group, as opposed to the middle- and upper-income earning group, are spending a greater percentage of their income on lottery tickets. It is not unreasonable that they are going to buy lottery tickets. As a group, we are spending a lot of money.
I would like the minister, if he is responding to my remarks, to give me one piece of information. I would ask him to indicate to the House how much money is spent by this government advertising lotteries through its staff, through its salaries to staff and through newspapers and radio and television. It would be an interesting statistic to know how much money is allocated, because you have to invest so much money in order to reap the profit. Certainly the advertising of the lotteries in Ontario is extremely aggressive; it is extremely well done; it is very clever; it is very smooth. It could not be a better operation if the sole purpose is to generate funds; if the sole purpose is to separate people from their money.
As I have suggested to you, Mr Speaker, it is impossible to enter a corner grocery store, it is impossible for people to go to buy a newspaper, a packet of cigarettes, bread, milk, whatever you like, without having in front of them the opportunity to buy a lottery ticket. It is impossible, if at the same time these people are being inundated with very seductive advertising, which says: “You can break out of your poverty cycle. It’s as close to you as the purchase of a $2 lottery ticket.”
Of course, the government is so clever that it keeps bringing you back, because on some of the lottery tickets now there is an additional number at the bottom. For an extra $1 you can have this extra number at the bottom of your ticket. If you have noticed the government advertising, it says, “Well, if you don’t buy it, you don’t have a chance to win.” So there is the dream being presented to you, and the government is saying, “Hey, if you want the dream, you’ve got to pay for it.” It is not surprising that people at the lower end of the income scale in Ontario are attracted by this dream.
If your life is tough, if you have real problems footing the bill, if you have real problems trying to keep a balanced diet on the table for your kids, clothing your kids, paying the bills, financial problems, struggling from week to week, and then this dream is presented to you that with the purchase of a lottery ticket it is going to be a whole different new world; it is going to be heaven; it is going to be the cars and the boats and the rich lifestyle. The ministry promotes that. It promotes the dream and it makes the dream totally accessible. No matter where one goes, one can buy the tickets. It is that close.
The point I want to make to the members is that for most of us purchasing a lottery ticket is not a problem. I purchase a lottery ticket, as I said yesterday, maybe once every couple of weeks. Occasionally, I might buy them a couple of days in a row. It might be three months before I buy another one. Buying lottery tickets is not a problem for me, but there are people who budget for their lottery ticket because that is part of their dream:
“We’ll put $5 aside each week.” But desperation leads on to say, “Well, gee, you know, if I put $10 aside,” and then, “Mrs Murphy in town, she won $25,000. Well, gosh, you know, maybe if I go to $15 a week or $20 a week ....”
All the members of this House have to do, I would suggest, is stand beside one of the outlets in the mall and watch the kind of money being deposited to ask themselves if pathological gamblers are not involved. Pathological gamblers, as I said before, are not easy to pick out. They do not stagger; they do not smell; they are not puking up over you. Basically, they look very normal, but they have the disease. I am saying to all my colleagues we have to very seriously consider what we are going to do about it.
It is a tax, but it is a tax for which it is possible that some people, because of the disease, will put their own lives and the lives of their families and friends at risk. We do not have one clinic in Ontario. It is time that we did.
When this goes, I believe, to the committee of the whole House, I am going to present the amendments I have suggested. The minister has left at this stage, but I do simply want to make an appeal to him. I do not know where this legislation is going to go. The government has not been flexible in the past when we dealt with Bill 119. I have little reason to suspect that it will be any more flexible in dealing with Bill 114.
Hon Mr Black: I am always flexible.
Mr Farnan: I want to the say to the minister, who has just remarked publicly in the House that he is always flexible, that indeed there is no room for flexibility here, there is a demand, a need for people who are suffering from a disease, who have no treatment in Ontario or all of Canada and who are being sent to the United States for treatment. This minister is bringing in $500 million in revenue from gambling, from the sale of lottery tickets.
I believe we have a responsibility to address this need in our society and I want the minister, whatever happens, to take this issue to cabinet, to talk to the Minister of Health and to work diligently and vigorously on behalf of those who suffer from the disease of pathological gambling.
There are many other areas I did want to speak to, but the way the debate is structured today in order to allow my colleague the member for Hamilton Mountain and a member for the Conservative Party to make their statements, at this stage I have to basically leave out some of the remarks which perhaps I can add at a later date.
I want to thank you, Mr Speaker, for the order you brought to this debate. Before I sit down, and I say this most sincerely, I have listened to the debate over the last couple of days and at times this House was extremely wrangy. There was a lot of back-and-forth banter that was going on, but during the period of time when I discussed. the problem of pathological gambling, I want to say that the members of this House listened with great attention, and I am very grateful for that. I say that to all my colleagues in every party.
The issue is so significant, so important, it cries out to be addressed, and there are people out there -- maybe they are watching this, maybe not -- whose lives are literally destroyed by gambling. Their wives, husbands and families, their lives are being destroyed. There are suicides as a result of this. That is why I appreciate the attention that was given to my discussion of this issue by all parties. I hope the attention that has been given reflects the seriousness and the commitment of government members and opposition to do something about it.
Let’s put a percentage of funds from lotteries to provide treatment for the pathological gambler. Let’s do that. Let’s address the need.
Mr Fleet: I would like to make a couple of comments. First of all, I think the honourable member was correct that there is a concern about any person who suffers from some kind of an addiction, whether it is gambling or anything else, but there was not much else I agreed with in terms of the tenor of some of the comments about Bill 119, in particular, a committee I sat on, and I heard the kinds of submissions that were made, as did the honourable member for Cambridge.
I think it would be useful if we just reiterate what the current legislation says, what it said with Bill 119, and what it is going to say after Bill 114 is dealt with. That is simply that physical fitness, sports, recreational and cultural facilities, as well as now the Ontario Trillium Foundation, have first claim on lottery proceeds.
What we said with Bill 119 was that hospital funding should be included, and now with Bill 114 the protection of the environment should be included. The honourable member is clearly confused. He calls the process of voluntarily buying a lottery ticket a tax. Clearly, he misunderstands the nature of a democracy when people make voluntary choices. He is fearful, indeed -- quite surprisingly -- he is fearful that somebody with perhaps not a large income might buy a lottery ticket.
We think that democracy is a good thing and if people want to buy a lottery ticket, so be it. We think there are a lot of public support for protection of the environment. I certainly find it in my riding and elsewhere around the province, and I do not think it is helpful that people might be fearful about that process.
Lastly, I commend the Treasurer for coming to the legislative committee on Bill 119 and making a commitment about guaranteed funding out of lottery proceeds for fitness and recreational purposes of a minimum -- I add the word “minimum” -- of $120 million a year for three years starting last year. It is highly commendable.
Mr Farnan: I just want to make one small point in talking about the tenor of the debate.
The member who just made a statement said culture, recreation, sports, etc would, under this legislation, have first claim on the lottery funds. That is true; they will have first claim. The problem is it does not say what their claim will be. That is the problem. Because under this particular act -- I am not saying the government is going to do this, but the way the legislation is structured -- the government could give $1 to all of culture, sports, recreation, etc and nothing else, and it would meet the commitments of this act. They could use every other dollar for everything else.
I am saying that lotteries were designated and they were introduced originally to address the needs of sports, culture, recreation and fitness. That was the designation. They have been more successful than we ever dreamed they would be, and all we are saying is, fine, use the profits for a variety of other areas, but give a guarantee -- not first claim on -- a guarantee of one third of the total profits to those areas for which lotteries were first introduced.
That, I think, is a reasonable statement to make. I am not going to comment on some of the other inflammatory remarks made by the member, because to give them the dignity of a response would be unworthy of me. Therefore I do want to suggest that I am sorry the member did mention pathological gambling and support for that issue.
Mr Cousens: Bill 114 is being carried by the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. Is that not odd? Here it is, an environmental change, and the Minister of the Environment is not even here. What I see happening now is that the Minister of Tourism and Recreation can set up a tour to 10 places in the province so that when he is talking about tourism -- and here he is now becoming the environmentalist. Maybe he can take them by Hagersville and look at the burnt tires and say: “Now there’s something we did with your tax money. We took the tire tax and there’s what we didn’t do with it. Here’s just what we’ve got and there are long-term ramifications to it. Yes, we in Ontario are going to take you on a tour of another spot. Let’s go and look at some fresh water in Elmira. We’ve got some water here. Don’t drink it, but you can look at it.”
You can do that with a lot of water in Ontario, and not all of us are sure just what water to drink or not to drink any more. But the Minister of Tourism and Recreation will take us on a tour of the places to see.
He can take them up my way in York region and look at the Keele Valley dump site and look at the expansion that the Ministry of the Environment is looking at to double it and expand it. All it is trying to do is sort of go beyond the expectations that site had originally and ever would have. The whole impact that it is having, not only in that community, in the riding of York Centre, Vaughan and south York region, is such that here we have another example of not managing our waste. We are ending up filling it up. It is coming from all over the province now.
Take the people who come to Ontario. The tourists will have a chance to see something the government is not doing anything about, and the minister comes forward with a bill that says: “Oh, hey, aren’t we good in environment? We’ve added another few words to the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act to show that we are very much environmentalists.”
Take the people on a tour of what the government is not doing. Keele Valley is certainly one of the sites to look at. Take them up to Tiny Township and look at Pauzé dump up there and watch. It is too bad they cannot climb down and join the leachate and see how it is expanding through into the ground.
Members have places to take people in Ontario. They can take them over to Whitevale. They really had something good to see there when they went and had a monument made for the Premier of the province, drawing attention to what he is doing, exempting the regional municipalities from the Environmental Assessment Act and using the Environmental Protection Act. That is something the government could tour people through and give them an insight into what is going on over in Whitevale.
Indeed, each of the regional municipalities is trying to do its thing, and yet this government really does not know how to walk people through the truthful way. The minister could have them take a little river tour down the Don River or the Humber. As their Minister of Tourism and Recreation, he can show them how proud he is of the smut, the dirt, the things that are around in there. He has something to be proud of. Here he is bringing forward a bill, he is so proud he is doing something, but it is not much to be proud of. The tour of the garbage and the problems that this government continues to forget about is a tour he should take himself. He should have a look at the Don River and the Humber, go and look at the beaches in and around Toronto in the summertime, realize how people cannot swim there any more because there are storm sewers and whenever there is a big storm, they flush out everything else and they contaminate the whole beach.
Sure thing, the minister is doing an awful lot by making a small change to a lottery bill and make the world think this is a government that is environmentally concerned. I have not heard such a pile of rubbish, because what he is doing is failing to look at the rubbish that he is continuing to support around this province.
He should have a look at what Ontario Hydro has done. There are lots of points. There are tours he could take around the Toronto area. We could take him out to the Lakeview area to have a look at the emissions that are coming out from Lakeview and some of these other places. His government has not even begun to act on it, yet he is going to be taking big credit with all the environmentalists: “Look how we’ve done something here.”
How about taking some people, when they come on a tour of the province, to Muskoka? I think the minister comes from there, when he goes back up there to get elected, and probably every weekend. But when he finally gets them through all the traffic problems on Highway 400 to get to Muskoka, there is an example of a municipality that does not have a place to put its garbage. Mind you, they might send some of it down to Toronto, but the fact is that the people of Muskoka have a problem. They have a serious problem.
I just got some extra advice from my honourable friend the member for Mississauga South. She just happens to agree with the fact that we have a problem with 100 municipalities, and we could put each of those 100 municipalities on the list of places that have a garbage problem.
When the member is on his tour of the province as Minister of Tourism and Recreation he should drop around to Temagami and just show them the no-cutting plans. There are a lot of people interested in the environment, and the tourists who come into Ontario might be quite shocked yet very surprised that here out of one side of our mouths we are saying, “We’ve got a lot to see.” I will tell members, there is a lot to see that they do not want to see and that I do not want to see any more.
The minister should have a little look at the riding of Hastings-Peterborough and have a look at what is going on in Marmora, where we have a huge quarry site, a situation where there was a mine, and that is becoming a potential dump site. There are 10 different places I just took off the top of my head as places that the minister could come along and look at, all part of the lie that Ontario is a leader in the environment. We are not a leader in the environment.
I am really pleased at some of the things that private enterprise is doing. In fact, the Royal Bank Reporter has just released an issue called “Conserve and Protect.” It is their environment issue. I want to quote from some of the things that are very salient to this issue of the environment. They begin, in one of their key articles, entitled “Waste Not, Want Not” -- and this should be mandatory reading for everyone in government and just about everyone in the province of Ontario -- “North Americans, who make up only 8% of the world’s population, are responsible for 50% of the garbage.” We make up 8% of the world’s population, yet -- do you believe it? -- 50% of the garbage in the world comes out of North America.
“On a per capita basis, which two countries produce the most garbage and consume the most energy?” Put on your thinking cap. This is a $64,000 question.
Mr Pelissero: And the answer is?
Mr Cousens: The answer is Canada and the United States.
They go on to say, “Indeed, it has been said that Canada, with a population of 26 million, has as much impact on the environment as India, whose population numbers 800 million.”
We have a growing and serious problem with the environment, and I have just the very terrible feeling that the minister, in his very proud introduction to the bill, feels that he has now done his bit to protect the environment by adding the words under the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, “for the protection of the environment.” I have to say it is nice, but it does not really amount to a hill of beans when we look at all that has to be done for the world to begin to understand the importance and the urgency to protect the environment over the long term.
I sense that people in Ontario and around the world have come to understand some of the problems that we are creating ourselves. More and more people are beginning to believe that we are in serious danger of destroying the world environment. We are doing it to ourselves. We are doing it with the way we are destroying the atmosphere, the ozone layer, our rivers and our valley system and the way we are taking away the swamp land and hurting wildlife. There is just no end to the number of things we are doing as human beings to destroy, destroy, destroy.
Mr Velshi: What about the Rouge?
Mr Cousens: The Rouge is a good example. It took a long, long time.
Mr Pelissero: What was the recent announcement about the Rouge? Tell us about the Rouge.
Mr Cousens: If the member wants to talk about the Rouge, this is no government that can stand up and be proud. I am not too pleased with the federal government and what it is doing with the GST or the way it is handling some of its other problems. It was not just one person. Pauline Browes, the federal member for Scarborough Centre, was able to get $10 million to start the Rouge. How long did it take this government to wake up to the fact it was going to lose the $10 million and there would not be any money at all coming from the federal government? Miss Browes happens to be a very strong and influential Tory in Ottawa. I wish there were more like her; then we would have more money coming into the environment. We need to have that kind of strength to protect the environment at all times.
Mr Fleet: You just want to have the GST come in so you can tax the people of Ontario.
Mr Cousens: I think I am getting them upset. They will have a chance to speak, if I give them one.
The Speaker: Do you feel you have been successful?
Mr Cousens: I think I have. It is feeding time, is it not?
Mr Pelissero: Feeding or breeding?
Mr Cousens: I would not want to breed any more like that.
They start to make a little bit of noise. Throw them another fish. We in Ontario are looking for leadership out of this government on environmental matters because it is a fundamental concern to people. I know the government has polls. It lives by them, it works by them, it reads them, it pays for them. Surely the polls are telling the government, because I can read about them in the public papers, that environment is becoming the number one issue. It certainly is in my riding in Markham, as people are saying to me: “What are we going to do about the environment? How can we protect it over the long term?”
We in Ontario have an opportunity to be world leaders. If we are going to be world leaders, we are going to have to do an awful lot more than just have a little change in the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act for the protection of the environment because the government is saying, “We will be able to put $20 million or $30 million into the environment.” I will come to that later because I do not think there is anything close to $20 million or $30 million that is going to go into the environment from the lottery funds that are about to be spent.
The second attitude that is really strong with people is that the government has to begin to take very serious action against pollution, even if it means closing down factories, putting people in jail or causing some people to be unhappy with it. We are unhappy with this group of Liberals for a heap of reasons. One of the reasons I am unhappy with them has to do with the lack of focus on environmental issues. If they were really serious about it, there would be some action taken to make sure that there were teeth in the law and that people who are going to break the law are not going to be out on the street the next day to do it again and again.
We have to take it seriously. The government has to take very seriously the attitude that people have now. We as Canadians can set an example for the world and do something to fight pollution. When you can come along and have it said that North Americans, and ourselves among them, are among the highest perpetrators, developers, contributors of garbage, that is not one of the traits I want to be known as having around the world.
The third point I want to make on the attitudes to the environment is that people should pay the full environmental cost of products and services they consume. There has to be far more interest in people when they are making purchases to say: “I wonder where this was manufactured? Does that company or that organization have environmental standards that have a long-term effect on the environment that could be negative?” I am worried about what is going to happen with the Third World countries and the opening up in Europe of new industrialization as companies from North America take their plants and move over there and start manufacturing.
Will they manufacture with the same kind of environmental guidelines in those countries as we have over here? I venture to say they will not, because at this point in time they will just be glad to get the investment so that they can start manufacturing and having jobs. Over a period of time they will then bring in the kind of environmental controls and safeguards that we have, but right now if you want to manufacture in Mexico or Czechoslovakia or Romania or India, you are not going to have the kind of environmental controls that are part and parcel of our society and of working and living and manufacturing in Canada. So we in Canada, when we purchase things, should be very sensitive to the fact if this was manufactured elsewhere by a company that says it is a strong North American company. Are we going to be looking into the background and saying:
“Hey, that is not being manufactured in the country. That company is not having to live by the same environmental standards and controls that are present here, and it is just getting around our environmental guidelines by manufacturing over there.”
We have to be sensitive as people who are buying and saying, “Hey, I want to make sure that what I buy has been manufactured or built or developed by people who have a similar sensitivity to the environment.” We have, as consumers and as a government and as human beings, to begin to set an honest example as to what it is that we care about. I will tell members, if we care about the environment, when we consume things we should be far more careful in what we are doing.
One, I believe that drastic changes are required, far more than this bill which is being touted by the government as a significant attempt to advance environmental issues. I think we have to proceed to have far more policing of what is going on and damaging the environment.
Two, we have to be far more concerned about putting money in, where we can as a government give leadership to make sure that the research and the development is going on to ensure that people are being guided out of the environmental problem areas and into areas in which they can have a way of participating positively.
I believe every ministry, every company, every one of us, should have some kind of policy that we are following that says we are environmentally involved, we are charged up with the responsibility of being environmentalists. It is not going to be just the member for Mississauga South who is the environmentalist in the Legislature, but every one of us can stand up and be counted as people who believe in the green.
I do not have confidence in the present Minister of Tourism and Recreation that he is the environmentalist that this bill is going to try to make him. The fact of the matter is, I do not think this lottery funding that the government is going to set aside will begin to do the job.
How much will come out of it? I think some of the estimates indicate that it could be up to $20 million that comes out of it. If that is the case, with the increase in money that is coming into the lottery corporation, that is going to be far in excess of what has been there before. I would like to know how that money is going to be spent, where is it going to be directed and who is going to control the direction of it. Is it going to come through the Minister of Tourism and Recreation, who is going to then say, “Well, now, how are we going to spend this money?”
I know that the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay has to have some sensitivity, but I would not like to see the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay be the fellow who says, “Here is how we are going to spend our environmental pot this year.” Let’s realize first of all, he will not get his hands on the money, because it is not going into his own pot anyway; it is going into the great, big pot of the government. It is going to be like all the other money that those guys collect from us. It is just going to go in the big pot and then the Treasurer and Minister of Economics, in his budget, will find ways of allocating it.
It is like the fishermen. We had the Minister of Natural Resources in yesterday and we were talking about our fishing licences. The money that people now pay for a fishing licence does not necessarily go for building fisheries and hatcheries and replenishing the supply of fish in our lakes and streams because it goes into the great big pot. If a person was paying a licence for that and knew that it was going for the replenishment of our fish and stocks, then he would be inclined to feel, “All right, that is a tax we can live with; it’s got a purpose to it.” But all it is is another tax. It is not really a licence for it. They come along and they charge you and fine you if you do not have it, but the money has been put in the great big pot of the Treasurer of Ontario and is not necessarily applied to those areas that we want.
That is the same with this environmental fund that the government is going to have out of the lottery corporation. Instead of really saying, “There it is, a pot of gold for an environmental purpose,” it might be a scholarship, it might be some special R and D things, it could be a host of things, far more the $20 million is going to do. But I will tell members, there are going to be huge press releases and announcements when something happens with this money, not unlike the announcements that the government made when it set up its technology fund and said, “Half a billion dollars is going to be spent on promoting high technology, $100 million a year.” How much has been spent over the past three years? A bag of shells. Just $20 million or $30 million, nothing close to the hundreds of millions that were promised.
I do not see anything that is coming forward in this legislation or in the actions of this minister or this government that tells me that the people who participate in the lotteries for the environment are going to actually see this money go back in to protect our futures.
This government is classic in saying, “Well, we’re going to take this money and it’s going to go to this purpose.” They did that with the tire tax. The tire tax was going to do something about it, but they did not get around to doing it and we have Hagersville to prove it. By the time Hagersville happened, the minister was not even around to pay attention to it -- and I just cannot believe that the Minister of Environment is not even here to take part in this debate and to be involved with it.
Hon Mr Black: He is in the hospital.
Mr Cousens: Someone tells me he is in the hospital. Well, I hope he is feeling better. That is probably the best reason to be away. Have we done it to him, or is it something else? I hope he is okay. If he is watching, I hope he gets well soon and comes back here so we can beat him up. In the meantime, I hope he has a good recovery.
Where is his parliamentary assistant for the Environment minister? Is he here, or she? Mr Speaker, on an environmental issue, you would expect --
The Speaker: Order. It is not question period, but I would just like to remind the member -- there have been a few other occasions when I have reminded members -- that it is up to the members individually to be here or not be here and it is not really tradition to refer to members as missing.
Mr Cousens: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that.
The problem we have is that we are seeing a government that is very good on the window dressing and on the facade. We are seeing a government that says, “Oh, we are really involved with the environment.” Some of the people who will look at that have to understand that we are just getting window dressing here, as we got it with Hagersville.
Hagersville is proof that the government took the tire tax and what did it do with it? They did not even have a plan for it. It goes into the big pot or the general revenues of the province and does not really go out there to assist and support and help the problems with tires that exist.
The examples go on: the Ontario employer health levy -- what an example -- where this government has another form of taxation. One of the constituents in my riding just in the past couple of days called me in tremendous dismay at the dishonesty he felt was being exemplified by the way this government has introduced the employer health levy.
It is just an unbelievably bad situation where the government is saying, “Hey, we’re now going to cover the cost of health care.” This employer previously had a 50-50 deal with his employees in covering their OHIP. He would pay 50 per cent of the costs and they would pay 50 per cent of the remaining costs. Some were covered by other employers, their spouses or someone, and he would not have to pay those costs. His costs last year were $50,000. This year his costs to cover the employer health levy are going to be $200,000, cutting right into his own revenues.
This is a government that says, “Oh, we’re covering it for you.” Meanwhile they have the professional people free of having to pay it. Do lawyers have to pay the employer health levy? Do accountants have to pay the employer health levy? We have the public relations experts that come out from this government who somehow convey to the people of Ontario, “We’re doing it right for you.”
When they come out and say that they are doing it right for us on the environment, it is probably no different from the way they have done everything else that they have touched. When they have gone in and touched those issues that I am talking about, such as the tire tax, such as the fishing tax, such as the employer health levy -- it is like the parents I know who took their children’s education fund and instead of spending it on the children’s education spent it on themselves. It is a tragic situation.
I know of a family where the parents were having some money and all the way along their children were assuming that what the parents had said was true, that that money was being set aside for their education and when they went off to college or university, or whatever they were going to do, that money would be there for them. These parents I know took that money and spent it on themselves. Then when the children went to go to university, it was not there.
I have that same sense of heartbreak when I look at this government taking money for an environmental purpose. It is not going to be in one pot like the education fund that a child or a young person would need to go on to university. Instead, it is going into the large pot of the Treasurer and Minister of Economics, and at some appropriate time -- probably during an election campaign -- the government will make some announcement as to how it is going to spend that money.
It might be accumulated for three or four years, and then when the election is coming along, the government says, “Now we have a chance to use this money to help the Liberal ridings that we are going to win.” Maybe at that point they can identify some special crusades that they can help with. If I am lucky in Markham, I might get just a few pennies. Then I will have to be grateful, and I will be, but the fact is that I do not have a sense that this government is going to be doing it fairly, equitably or in a timely way, nor is it going to be doing it for the right reasons all the time.
The environment has to become a crusade for this government. It should not be just one of those little things that they set aside and say, “Hey, aren’t we doing a great job?” I have the abysmal, deep, horrible feeling that the government is not truly committed to the environment the way it should be or the way it said it would be when it was elected back in 1987. What we really have to have is some consistency of program, some involvement in the issue, so that we are beginning to be solvers of the problem and not just people who are creating an even worse problem.
The statistics I started out with from the Royal Bank, of waste not, want not -- we are a wasteful society. We in government have a chance to give leadership about it. I just cannot say enough on how poor the leadership has been on environmental matters, and it is exemplified by what this government is doing with this bill. The government is coming along and just saying, “Here is another little pot and we are setting it aside.”
When you look at the concerns that were expressed when Bill 119 was brought forward, the people who were doing something for parks and recreation were saying, “What is going to happen to our programs?” People have traditionally looked for something in parks and recreation. Is that going to take a lesser place now? What is going to happen with cultural programs now that the pot is going to be further spread out? What is going to happen with the Trillium Foundation now that you have got health and environment issues? And then, how much of the money is not spent anyway?
When the minister is giving his response I would be interested in knowing how much --
Hon Mr Black: If we ever get a chance.
Mr Cousens: The minister will have his chance. This is a democratic system, and we always make sure that you get your chance because the Speaker guarantees it, the system insures it. The minister will be the last person to speak and he will be able to come back and isolate two or three of my remarks and everybody else’s remarks, mock them and make fun of them, sidestep the issue and not deal with the fact that we are very, very upset that here is the Minister of Tourism and Recreation bringing forward an environmental change and really not having anything to do with it beyond that; not really being involved with it as an environmentalist should be. Maybe he will have a conversion and become an environmentalist. Maybe the Minister of Tourism and Recreation should take a few lessons on that.
I am concerned that what this government is doing is making all the pots smaller and not saying, “Here is the commitment that this government is going to make on the environment.” It is going to take more than the $20 million -- if it is that much; and I doubt if it is going to be anything close to $20 million that is going to be able to be spent on the environment out of the lottery fund, because there is not going to be that amount in there.
Will the minister guarantee it? Not a chance. If it is going to be $4 million or $5 million -- could the minister tell us how much of the money, if it is put in the pot from the environmental lotteries, is really going to be spent on the environment? How much is going to come in and is it going to be spent within a certain period of time? Will he commit that it is going to be spent within six months or a year of it being in his pot, or is he just going to spend the interest and hold on to the principal?
Come on. This government has a great way of being magical with the words and then moving things around and you really do not know what is there. I do not think we are going to have a public accounting of how much money is really going to be in the pot for the environment. In fact, what worries me is that we continue to undermine other good programs and then we put up the window dressing on a program like this and say, “Hey, now we have got a problem solved.” This government has not solved the problem of the environment.
Just try to outline any of the big problems that I listed earlier in the tour that the minister could take people on: Hagersville, Elmira, Keele Valley, Pauzé dump, Whitevale, the Don River, the Humber, Lake Ontario, the Lakeview site, the 100 municipalities without garbage dumps, Temagami, Marmora. There are so many examples where this government is going down and taking the province with it. Then it is beginning to make us think that this is the solution.
What we really have to do is go back to the attitudes that the people of the province are trying to convey to us as members of this Legislature. Let’s see what we can do so that we do not have a Bhopal. When you think of the tragedy there of 2,000 blinded people -- could it happen here? We just do not know. Are we talking about a Chernobyl at some point? We hope not, but it is going on in other parts of the world. Are we talking about the Love Canal? How many secret Love Canals are there around the province? What about the PCB problem? Has it gone away in Ontario? I do not think so. What about St Bruno School and the asbestos? Has that gone away? Is everything solved? What other schools are contaminated with asbestos?
What we have to do is accept the fact that as members of the Legislature we should be giving direction for solutions on environmental matters that show that we are leaders in the environment and prepared to make a significant commitment that says we are willing to stand up and be counted, we are willing to bring legislation in that is going to say: “Here is the money that’s going to go towards these and these are the goals that we see as important. This is what we as a government are really going to stand for on environmental issues. Here is our position on Temagami, here is how the money from your lottery funds are going to help other things.”
It is a matter of having a comprehensive picture that understands the subliminal and deep and true attitudes of the people in our province who are saying: “This is an issue, and it’s not the second or third issue we want to see looked after. We want to see our government taking leadership in the environment.”
It is a call-to-action time. If the total amount of action that is being taken by the government is one to bring in a lottery bill that is going to sort of sign it through, I just wish I could support it. The principle in itself is sound, to be able to say we are going to be doing something. But what are they going to do with it? When are they going to do it? How is it going to be managed? Is it going to happen in time? Is there a real sense of purpose to what this government is doing? It is not there, it is not here.
When I look around and see the interest that is being taken by the Minister of the Environment, when I see the casual nature of it all, I have to say that we in Ontario have a major problem. Here the Minister of Tourism and Recreation is coming cloaked as an environmentalist with his lottery change, and I can see his newsletter going out to the people of Muskoka, “There is another change that I did.” They still will not have a garbage dump in Muskoka. They will still be sending it somewhere else.
That is the problem. Deal with the real issues, deal with them in a way that has integrity and honesty to it. Do not come along here in the House and say, “Well now, haven’t we done something?” The minister has done something, but at the expense of what? And when is he going to do it?
I do not know really where to begin or end on the issue. As I talk about the issue and as I feel a tremendous sense of importance around it, I just know that the government will stand judged on its failure to take the environment seriously. It will be able to get a few points, but not many, for the change in the lottery act.
People who do not understand that it is going to be less money for some of the other things that are required in our community will not really know that now there may be less money for sports and fitness and culture and the Ontario Trillium Foundation and some of those needs which were really the beginning of why the Ontario Lottery Corp could justify itself.
People are still going to buy their lottery tickets and the minister will make it interesting and he will make it fun for them. I just do not get a thrill out of the fact that he is giving us the false assumption that he is now going to be doing something very, very significant of an environmental nature.
We have a problem with this bill. I know that the member for Mississauga South will be bringing in amendments in a very substantial way, trying to change this so that there can be a special fund established. I referred to that earlier. It is the very problem with fishing licences and the employer health tax, allowing it to just go into the general revenues of the government and allowing the Treasurer to get his hands on it. Who really knows what is going to happen then?
The other problem is just that a minimum of 35% of the net total profits appropriated shall be used to encourage the acquisition, conservation --
The Speaker: Order. A point of order.
Hon Mr Black: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am a very patient man and I have been listening to the member for Markham as he has gone on for several minutes now, but there is a limit beyond which he should not go. He suggests that the Treasurer is going to be doing something behind the scenes, undercover, and that to me is an attack on the Treasurer’s honesty. I want the member to realize and to recognize, as he well knows, that the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act requires a public accounting in the public accounts committee --
The Speaker: Order. I listened very carefully to the alleged point of order. On many occasions -- in fact I expect on all occasions -- members express their own points of view. The member for Markham is now expressing his point of view. I am sure the minister will have an opportunity to express his point of view. The member for Markham may have something further.
Mr Cousens: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and I congratulate you on the way you have just spoken to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. I happen to agree with you immensely on the way in which you have done that.
I think it just has to do with my own sense of worry that when the Treasurer touches money that is tagged for the environment, and it could have been tagged specifically in this bill, then we, on our side, would have felt that it would certainly have gone there -- during elections, for sure. That is when those guys are going to be spending the money. But at least it would happen.
I would like to wrap up and give others an opportunity to speak on this bill. I am concerned that this government has not begun to face up to the environmental responsibility it has been given and that what we are seeing here today is just a further example of its failure to do something serious about it. Is it $20 million we are going to have? Will it be spent within the next year? Has the government really made that commitment to the environment, or is it just more window dressing? I fear that is what this is: more window dressing from the Ontario Liberal government.
When the Minister of Tourism and Recreation comes along and looks over his great record of achievement, is this going to count as one of those great big things that he did? History will tell us an awful lot of what I have said. The money will not be there, it will not be spent and it will not be doing what he said it would, because he never really put it in a place where it could happen that way.
I know he is going to win the public relations battle, because he has got such a large staff to get out there and start telling people what a good job he is doing. But the people who watch this live and might read Hansard are going to know that there is not just total agreement in this House on the way this government is handling the environment, and we who are concerned about the environment are looking to people like the member for Mississauga South to continue to give that kind of leadership, so that the minister and the government might become a little more honest in what they are doing.
Mr Faubert: I am aware that the opposition’s role is to oppose and I know the standing orders do not allow me to use the word “misrepresent” in reference to another honourable member’s remarks, so I will not use that, but I would like the debate and the Hansard of this debate to reflect reality.
I would first like to point out to the member for Markham, as you pointed out earlier, Mr Speaker, that it is a custom in this House not to comment on a particular member’s absence. In this case, for the record, the Minister of the Environment happens to be in the hospital with a detached retina. That perhaps is one of the problems of certain members of the opposition. I think their actual research is suspect.
I would actually like to congratulate the member for Cambridge, because there is one area which he did raise, aside from all the others, a particular issue which I think should be of concern to us. The act before us is not an act on culture, as everyone seems to think. Partly it is an act on the environment, but it is an Act to amend the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act.
He raises the issue of compulsive gambling or pathological gambling. I think it is a problem that anyone who has any connection with it recognizes as an addiction, but not always necessarily for the reasons that he put forward. The figures he uses are somewhat suspect, and also the fact that he keeps saying it is the poor who are trapped in this area of pathological gambling. It simply is not a fact. It is not true. Anyone who has done any research on this knows that the middle class and the upper middle class are as addicted to gambling in many cases as the poor. The great thing about pathological gambling is that it has nothing to do with the return on gambling; it has to do with the action of gambling. That is what the person becomes addicted to, not indeed money.
With regard to the US studies that he quotes, I always look with great suspicion on someone who utilizes United States studies and attempts to extrapolate them into Canada, because as everyone knows, we have much different socioeconomic bases. Trying to take those figures and apply them to Canada should be suspect. He also admitted very clearly that there are no conclusions and the quid pro quo of the studies he put forward cannot show an actual reason for pathological gambling.
I think what he talks about is valid, but I think perhaps the best approach would be something I think will be addressed by the minister, and that is to look at a more logical Canadian study related to pathological gambling. I think this would be the best way of going. I have been to many conferences on gaming and state revenues.
Mr Charlton: Let’s take some of the lottery revenue to have a study done. Let’s take the first $2.5 million.
Mr Faubert: One of the things that perhaps we can do is along this line. I think we have to look specifically at the reasoning behind it. The numbers are actually there. The great problem with all the studies that have been done is the very low threshold in interpretation of what is a pathological gambler. If anyone reads those studies, he will recognize that, because they are statistically suspect from the source that prepared them. If you look at some of those studies, they have been done by establishments, religious groups or clinics that actually treat compulsive gamblers, and therefore one has to understand why the figures are inflated within them.
I would tell the member for Cambridge that on the basis of what he is bringing forward, I would support any study or any proposal that we put forward for a Canadian study in this area. I do not support his amendment and I will leave the minister to deal with that one a little further.
I point to the opposition in another area, and that is that they keep saying that somehow this bill is our answer to dealing with the problems of the environment. Obviously it is not. We know it is not to resolve or to pay for all environmental programs of this government, but it is to raise additional revenues. That is the object of the bill, to allow us to be able to bring forward a lottery that is specifically geared to the environment.
To say that this is the be-all and end-all, that this is to resolve all, is entirely wrong. We know it is simply to supplement the many successful programs that have been put forward and that have been taken and implemented by what I consider -- and not just myself and not just the members of this caucus but many people -- the best Minister of the Environment in the history of this province. He has shown leadership in every single aspect of the environment within this province.
One of the things I think the minister will also do in his windup is clarify the intent of the bill. I will leave him to do that. But one of the things I wanted to clarify in my remarks, and I am probably looking for another five minutes to do so, is that on Tuesday 29 May the member for Halton North, as Chairman of the committee on Bill 119, raised a particular issue relating to this, a criticism that a number of members who have spoken to this were talking about. He said very clearly that all the people who appeared before the committee on Bill 119 were not in opposition to Bill 119. For some reason, that was extrapolated by certain members -- I believe the member for Simcoe East for one and the member for Nickel Belt for another -- who said to him that they must have been at a different committee.
Well, I happened to be at that committee and I also know some of those members and the actual attendance at that, because I was there for every single day of hearing of that committee. I would like to point out, from my perspective, what the member for Halton North was alluding to. After the committee hearings, both he as Chair and I as Vice-Chair, received both calls and letters, from many people who appeared before that committee, thanking us for two things: for the courtesy that was shown them at that committee and for the explanations that were given to them about the bill and a better understanding of what the government intended by the bill. I think that would lay to rest some of the concerns that were raised by members of the opposition.
Before that committee, I was impressed by the variety and scope and intensity of the submissions by many people who spoke there in a very articulate defence of recreation, sports and culture. I would point out, though, that every single one who opposed Bill 119 at that time thought, or were led to believe by the opposition, that somehow there was going to be a reduction in dollars to recreation, sport and culture. When it was explained to them, the rationale of the bill and the prioritization within the bill, the majority of people accepted that.
What happened was that most of them asked, and this is the one point that was made, for some commitment. I want to put this on the record because this is the record that will be seen, not only related to Bill 119 but Bill 114, was at that time we asked the Treasurer to come before a committee to allay the fears of those people that somehow, in the terms of the member for Markham who kept saying it, “The pie is getting smaller and smaller.” Indeed, the pie is not getting smaller and smaller. What is happening in culture and recreation is that whole field is expanding and indeed the demand for dollars is expanding and public expectations for those dollars are expanding. But so also are the moneys available.
The Treasurer appeared before the committee, and I would like to read into the record the words of the Treasurer on Thursday 5 October 1989. This is from the committee minutes, the afternoon sitting. He said:
“I would just like to say to you, Mr Chairman, and I know that the Hansard record is here for all to use in the future, that I can make a commitment as Treasurer that for the next three years -- I have told you what the commitment has been for the past three years – ” that was in the nature of $95 million. “It will be not less than the $119 million this year. If you would prefer to think of that as $120 million over the next three years, that is a commitment I am putting before the honourable members willingly. I really expect that it will be more than that.”
Those are the words of the Treasurer, that is a commitment from the Treasurer and many people who appeared before the committee were quite willing to accept that as a commitment of more dollars to sports, culture and recreation.
Just to wind up, I really wanted to ensure that the record showed that what is happening is that exactly the same arguments are being used on Bill 114 as were being used on Bill 119. I would like to point out, though, that what is happening, as we understand it, is that everyone who came to the defence of the use of lottery funding in the areas of sports, culture and recreation -- and indeed I think members will find this in the area of the environment, because the reason this is being brought forward is that many people have asked and have put forward, in an affirmative way, support for lottery funding going to the environment. On that basis, I would just like to let those matters rest. I would like to allow the minister to wind up in the rotation.
Mr Charlton: It never fails to amaze me, the rubbish that flows out of some members of this Legislature during debates on legislation, but thankfully sometimes that meaningless comment that comes from some members just confirms my view of particular legislation that we are dealing with. That is certainly true in the case of this bill.
The member for High Park-Swansea got up at the end of the speech by the member for Cambridge and made some silly comments about the view in his party of democracy somehow being related to the right of poor people to choose to purchase lottery tickets. Obviously the member for High Park-Swansea understands very little about desperation, very little about compulsion and nearly nothing at all about democracy. For the poor, desperation is something that has no relationship to democracy at all. Put another way, the extension of what the member for High Park-Swansea was saying -- that people who have an illness should have the right to choose to purchase lottery tickets -- is like saying that heroin addicts should have the right to legally purchase heroin in democratic Ontario.
Mr Fleet: Are you comparing people who buy lottery tickets to heroin addicts?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member for High Park-Swansea, please.
Mr Charlton: As I said, the member for High Park-Swansea obviously has no understanding of the illness, no understanding of desperation and compulsion.
Mr Fleet: You don’t understand desperation.
Mr Charlton: His comments now just verify what I have been saying.
Let’s talk about this lottery legislation and what the real context of democracy is in the kind of lottery system we have set up in the province of Ontario. We have a Liberal government in Ontario that claims to champion the free market system, that claims to be a strong supporter of small business, but let’s look at the democratic way that the lottery operation in Ontario gets jammed into the so-called free market system.
When we started out with lotteries back in the early 1970s, lotteries were designed for the purpose of funding special events, exceptional circumstances, and then we extended the use of lottery funds to cover one-time investments in sports teams or arenas. But we never, until this Liberal government was elected, considered lottery funds appropriate for the day-to-day operation of government. Lottery funds were always designated for special events, exceptional circumstances and one-shot investments.
What have we done in the lottery system over the course of the 20 years since we created lotteries in Canada? In the free enterprise system, in the free market system, we have gone from a time when all the lottery tickets we sold were printed tickets and any retailer who wished to sell lottery tickets could choose to sell lottery tickets in a free and open way. It did not matter whether he was selling lottery tickets in combination with cigarettes, potato chips, T-shirts or records; every retailer had the right to sell lottery tickets in Ontario.
But then they find, through promotion and study, that they can make greater lottery ticket sales by mechanizing the process, by computerizing the process and by making some of the games more fun. They farm out the installation, maintenance and profits from the operation of that mechanized, computerized system to private sector entrepreneurs.
Now we have variety stores. Some are chains, some of them are small local variety stores, and they are competing with each other. But the one that can sell enough lottery tickets gets a machine and the one that cannot sell enough lottery tickets, even if he could sell enough to make himself some money and keep his customers coming in, cannot get a machine. We have the government of Ontario promoting a system in a supposed free market where the market is not free any more -- not for everybody, anyway.
How does that fit into the government’s notion of democracy? Is that a fair system to the retailers who have been into my office who have had their machines taken out or who cannot get a machine and who are losing customers to the guy down the street who has a machine? We have this government imposing itself in a supposed free market system in a way that favours the big against the small and it says: “We believe in democracy. Poor people should have the right to choose to buy lottery tickets.” That is the government’s view of democracy. My God, what has democracy in this province and this country come to? That certainly is not how I understand democracy and freedom.
I go back to a comment I made a few minutes ago about how lottery funds are used. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere made comments about whether or not the studies and the figures which were quoted by my colleague from Cambridge with regard to a very serious illness, pathological gambling, were correct. He is right, we do not have any good studies here in Ontario. We ran into the same problems in the energy field, because this government does not like to know reality in terms of Ontario. But the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere says in the same breath, “I won’t support the amendment of the member for Cambridge to take some of the money out of the lottery to put it into the problem of” --
Mr Faubert: That’s a specified amount.
Mr Charlton: Listen.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Charlton: Listen. The member for Cambridge would have absolutely no objection to taking the 0.5% of the lottery profits and for the first couple of years using that designated money to do a major study of the problem in the province of Ontario so that in fact we could design our clinics and our health centres to suit the problem in the province of Ontario. But the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere says: “We don’t have a study in Ontario. I wouldn’t mind seeing a study, but I’m going to vote against any possibility of seeing the study appropriately done.”
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Charlton: That is a really, really wild way to approach the problem. The member for Cambridge suggested 0.5% to start dealing with the problem of compulsive gambling of people who cannot control their urge or whose urge becomes an escalating urge to gamble. He did not suggest that we should not look at how best to utilize the funds once they have been designated. I did not hear him say that.
This bill is going to the standing committee on general government, as I understand it, where all of those kinds of specific ways that we want to approach problems like compulsive gambling, pathological gamblers, can be set out. But the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere says, “We don’t know that the problem is as bad here as it is elsewhere, so I won’t support the member’s amendment.”
That speaks to a government that just does not want to know. If we do the study and the study finds that there are no problems in the province of Ontario and the study is conclusive and we have all agreed on what the terms of reference and the methodology of the study should be, I am sure the member for Cambridge would say: “Great. Give that money to the hospitals or to the environment then.” But this government does not even want to look at the problem. It wants to pay lipservice to it by saying, “Yes, it may be a problem, and if it is, we have sympathy,” but it does not want to take the time to specifically deal with it.
And that brings me to the last real set of problems that I have with this piece of legislation, which is that we have got -- and again the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere in his comments said that the Treasurer made guarantees. Well of course the Treasurer made guarantees when the hearings were on on Bill 119. He made temporary guarantees that may or may not exist at the end of the period that he referred to, because there is nothing in the legislation that provides any protection for the people in the sports and recreation community and there is nothing in the legislation that provides any guarantees for anyone involved in the other areas that we are expanding out into.
One of the things that happens when you start to try to depend on something like lottery profits for hospitals or for the protection of the environment is that you become dependent on an undependable, unpredictable source of revenue. Perhaps the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere should take a look at what happened to lottery profits during the recession, and yes, it is fair to say taxes went down during the recession as well, but the decline in taxes was nowhere nearly as significant as the decline in lottery profits.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Let’s have the figures. Show us the figures. Give us the figures to prove it.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Charlton: It is all in Hansard in the report of the former committee of this Legislature, the standing committee on procedural affairs, when it reviewed the Ontario Lottery Corp. If the minister wishes to see those figures, he can take the time.
The members of this caucus would feel much more comfortable with whatever this government or any government in this province would want to designate lottery profits for based on the approach which I set out at the beginning of my comments. If this government is prepared to set up an environmental fund and to funnel certain amounts of lottery profits into that fund for environmental emergencies -- but not for the day-to-day operation of the Ministry of the Environment and the programs under it -- and if this government wants to set up a special fund that is available and designated for environmental purposes and nothing else, for perhaps the cleanup of landfill sites where we have no polluter to go back on because they are the mistakes of the past, we would be prepared to talk about things like that.
But the government will not designate anything. It will not spell out anything in this three-paragraph piece of legislation except to say to the people of Ontario that it wants to use lottery funds for the protection of the environment because it wants to sell more lottery tickets. It is not because they want to make a clear, factual, readable, understandable commitment to the environment that anybody can pick up and say, “Yes, this is the extent to which lottery funds are being committed to environmental protection or environmental cleanup in Ontario.” That is not what they are doing. There is nothing here. There are two paragraphs that do not do anything to protect the environment.
The member for Markham may or may not be right. Whether the dollars are ever spent or not does not matter, since they may be spent tomorrow and not available to the environment the next day because the government may have another priority. There are no procedures. There are no guarantees that the tickets the government promotes out there to the public of Ontario as lottery tickets for the protection of the environment -- there is nothing to guarantee that will ever happen. So the member for Markham may be right; it may never happen. But he may be wrong. It may happen for a year or a year and a half or two years or three years.
What happens when the government decides on another priority and they do not have a guarantee or they change their minds? Or what happens when we have a recession and the lottery sales drop off? Who then covers environmental protection in Ontario? What then does this government do? Does the Treasurer have the courage to stand up with his next budget and say, “I’ve got to raise income taxes or sales taxes by two or three or four points, because over the last decade we committed ourselves to environmental protection with lottery funds that no longer exist”? Is that what this government does when the slump happens?
This caucus opposes this legislation. My colleague the member for Cambridge has suggested a number of amendments that would certainly make the legislation better than it now is, but it appears clear to me that the members of the government party are more interested in impressions that they can throw out publicly than in clearly defining the process, the environmental protection that will result from lottery funds or hospitals that will benefit from lottery funds. This bill does not provide me with the confidence, especially based on the kind of comments I have heard during this debate, to allow me to support Bill 114.
Hon Mr Black: I am pleased to have the opportunity to, hopefully, clarify some of the misunderstandings that surround Bill 114. I would like to stress first of all that we are here debating Bill 114; we are not debating Bill 119, which is legislation that was passed and is now history in this province. Bill 114 provides for a new lottery fund, a lottery fund which was committed to in the 1989 throne speech, a lottery fund which will provide funds for a new purpose in Ontario: the protection of the environment.
I should point out that what in fact this bill does is add seven words to the legislation which has been in place in this province since 1975 and has had some revisions during the years; seven words which simply state “and for the protection of the environment.”
Second, I want to make it very clear that the addition of the environment to the list of government programs which can now benefit from lottery profits will not in any way -- and I want to say this clearly and emphatically -- affect funding for culture, recreation, sports or fitness. The Treasurer of this province has made that commitment. He has made it publicly and it is recorded in Hansard. This government is committed, as it has been in the past, to continue to adequately fund those very important and vital programs in this province. What the passage of Bill 114 will do is allow the Ontario Lottery Corp to introduce an environmentally-themed lottery.
Over the past two days we have heard numerous people from all sides of this House speak to this legislation. With one or two exceptions, I have to say that we have heard more nonsense than anything else. We have had members of the opposition who have outdone themselves in terms of misleading, misinterpreting and misinforming members of the public in the province of Ontario.
Yesterday afternoon those of us who were in the House had the opportunity to hear the member for Nickel Belt deliver a lecture. I want to say to you, Mr Speaker, it was a lecture that I listened to carefully for two reasons. First of all, because I have a great deal of respect for the member for Nickel Belt, and second, because he served in this House for a long period of time and he has behind him the experience which makes his words well worth listening to.
Basically, what he said to us was that the people of Ontario are not fools; they will not be fooled by the rhetoric of members in this House who do not speak clear, understandable English and who do not present the facts. I wish the member for Nickel Belt were here today so that I could compliment him on a very fine speech, to tell him that I agree with him 100%, but to tell him also that he was talking to the wrong congregation. He should have been turning and speaking to the members of his party and to the members of the third party who have failed to heed his words.
Instead, I want you to know, Mr Speaker, that what they did in many cases -- not in all cases, and I will acknowledge those in just a minute -- was to deal with myths. I think it is important that we set the record straight. I believe it is important that the people of Ontario understand very clearly the facts of the proposed legislation.
What are the myths the opposition would try to have the people of Ontario believe? The first one is that this revision of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act somehow changes the rules of the game and directs proceeds to the consolidated revenue fund for the first time in the history of the province.
I happen to have with me a copy of the original legislation, and I want to take a moment, if I may, and read to you -- because I know you are interested, Mr Speaker, and I know other members of the House are interested -- that original wording. I refer now to section 9, which says: “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.”
Since 1975 this legislation, which was introduced not by my government but by another government with a different political hue to it, has always paid the proceeds into the consolidated revenue fund, yet members of the Progressive Conservative Party have tried to make the public believe we are doing something that is different. Mr Speaker, I tell you quite frankly, I find that appalling. The fact is that we are not in any way changing what has been going on in this province in terms of the dispersal of those proceeds for the past 15 years.
The second myth that the opposition have tried to create in relation to this legislation is that by adding an additional source of revenue for environmental purposes, that can somehow be interpreted as meaning that this government does not have a commitment to funding for the environment. What is most disconcerting about that is the fact that those charges come largely from members of the Progressive Conservative Party. Those of us who have lived in this province know just how little commitment previous governments of the Progressive Conservative faith have had for the environment in this province.
I want once again to provide the people of Ontario with some hard, cold facts. In the 1984-85 budget, which was the last budget the Progressive Conservative government of the day had the opportunity to visit upon the people of Ontario, the budget for environmental purposes in this province was $312 million in total. The current budget of our government for the environment is $649 million. Mr Speaker, I ask you, does that sound like this government has a commitment to the environment that is above and beyond anything that any previous government in this province has ever had? It convinces me more clearly than any words could. The facts speak for themselves.
We have heard the member for Simcoe East, the member for Mississauga South and the member for London North suggest that somehow our party and our government does not care about the environment. Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, the people of this province know better. They know better because this government has consistently dealt with environmental problems, has consistently been recognized as a leader in environmental projects and environmental initiatives and in protection of the environment in this country and, indeed, in the world. The record speaks for itself.
The third myth that the opposition would have us believe is that this government is spending less money on culture, recreation, fitness and sport than has previously been spent. They referred on many occasions to the Bill 119 hearings and the concerns that were expressed there. They have talked about our lack of commitment to small communities. Once again, I want to answer those kinds of charges not with rhetoric, not with words, but with facts.
What are the facts that we can use? Let me go back once again to when the original legislation which brought the Ontario Lottery Corp into being in Ontario was brought into place in this House. The statement of the minister of the day, the Honourable Robert Welch -- a Progressive Conservative minister in a day when the Progressive Conservative Party had many more leaders than it has today, let me tell you -- the words of Robert Welch on 30 January 1975 said this: “We expect that sales could reach $100 million within the next couple of years.” I quote, Mr Speaker, and I know you want me to be accurate, so I will quote exactly from what is recorded in Hansard. “We expect between $40 million and $50 million to be available for physical fitness, sports, recreation and cultural programs.” That was the expectation when the lottery corporation was brought into being.
Today, some time later, we find that our government is now spending three times that amount. Our commitment to culture and to sports, recreation and fitness in this province has been without parallel. No government in the history of Ontario has spent more money or has made the kind of ongoing commitment to those programs that our government has made.
I want also to tell you, Mr Speaker, that I was disappointed, quite frankly, in some of the comments which came from some of the members in the debate yesterday. I want you to know that our commitment to small communities and communities in northern Ontario continues as it has in the past. I want to say to you, Mr Speaker, how soon they forget.
On 14 February 1990, at about this time of the day, I stood in the town hall in Marathon and in the audience was the member for Lake Nipigon, and I regret that he is not able to be with us now so he could hear me say what I want to say to him. At that time we announced recreational capital grants for the Lake Nipigon riding -- and the minister will be shocked to hear this and many members will be shocked to hear it -- recreational capital grants that total, for this year alone, $457,000.
How much did we spend in Rainy River, because the member for Rainy River yesterday expressed some concerns about the levels of funding? This year alone recreational capital grants to the riding of Rainy River were $394,000.
Let’s turn to the third party. Let’s look at Nipissing, the riding of the new leader of the third party in this House. This government spent this year $627,000 in recreational capital grants in Nipissing riding. In case my colleagues are not hearing me properly, let me repeat that. In Nipissing we spent $627,000.
How about Simcoe East, because we heard from the member for Simcoe East, who unfortunately had to leave us and was not able to be with us today. But we did hear from the member for Simcoe East yesterday and he talked at great length, as he always does, about the lack of funding for recreation. I want to say, as usual, he was not using facts; he in fact did not check the record. He did not know what he was talking about and that is usually the way the member for Simcoe East debates in this House.
But the fact is that in the great riding of Simcoe East this government this year has committed $708,000 for recreational purposes, for the purposes of promoting amateur sport and recreation in the riding of Simcoe East.
Those are facts, those are not myths. Those are facts, hard, cold facts, which I think spell out in great detail the commitment of this government to adequately fund programs and to meet the needs of this province in small communities in northern Ontario and in ridings regardless of what kind of representatives they elect.
I want to make some specific comments about one or two of the speeches that we have heard in the last two days and I want to at this point make a reference to the speech we heard yesterday -- and I specifically said “yesterday” -- from the member for Cambridge. It was a speech which did capture our attention. We listened intently and we listened carefully, because it was well-considered, it was thoughtful and it provided all of us with the opportunity to consider very carefully some recommendations which are being made by the member for Cambridge and which, I am sure, most of us in this House will consider and consider carefully.
I have to say to the member for Cambridge, although I sympathize with his views, although I recognize the validity of the points he has made, there is one link that is missing. There is not at this point, to the best of my knowledge, research which clearly indicates the link between lotteries and compulsive gambling. There has been, as many members have pointed out, very limited research done, so we are not in a position where we can draw conclusive conclusions.
But I will say that the most extensive study was completed at Iowa State University, on behalf of the Iowa Department of Human Services, and that was released 25 August 1989. That study, the broadest in its field, reported that there was no significant link between lottery play and compulsive gambling. In fact, it went on to point out that the very reasons that make people compulsive gamblers are not necessarily present in lottery play.
I say to the member for Cambridge that I am supportive of the positions he has made and that I recognize the validity of the concerns he has expressed. I want him to know I am prepared to work within cabinet and to work within government to try and address that problem, and to work with him to address that problem.
I remain unconvinced that taking lottery funds, which could suggest a link between lotteries and compulsive gambling, is the most appropriate way to address that need. However, I do want him to know, and I say this most sincerely, that it is a concern I will be pleased to discuss with him and a concern that I would be pleased to join with him in trying to find solutions for.
I also want to comment on the remarks made by the member for Markham. We are always entertained by the member for Markham, who is an entertaining debater in this House. But what we saw here today was a new height in hypocrisy. Either that or it was the greatest conversion that has ever been witnessed in the history of this world, because we had the opportunity today to see a member of the Progressive Conservative Party, a member who has sat in this House for some period of time and was a member of previous governments under previous kinds of leadership, the people who authorized the Pauzé landfill site, suggesting that the government which closed the Pauzé landfill site is somehow at fault. I want to tell members that is indeed hypocrisy.
Let’s look at the facts, and the facts are very simple and straightforward. The facts are that we propose to establish a new lottery, the proceeds of which will go to the protection of the environment. This legislation gives us the authority to do that, as a government. If members of the opposition parties had done their research carefully, they would recognize that the new lottery was announced in a press release on 4 April 1990. “A new lottery to help support environment cleanup will be launched next month” -- that was being perhaps too optimistic – “says the president of the Ontario Lottery Corp.”
What it also went on to say is that revenue from the new lottery is only for the environment and money from Ontario’s new environmental lottery will be earmarked for environmental spending only. I think that spells out very clearly the fact that this government is being straightforward. It is being honest with the people of Ontario. The changes being proposed in this legislation are not all that significant. They simply add six words which make it possible for us to put additional funds into the fight to protect our environment.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Farnan: It is my understanding that this bill will move to the standing committee on general government for public hearings for two weeks.
Bill ordered for standing committee on general government.
REPORT, STANDING COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for adoption of the report of the standing committee on resources development on Bill 208, An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Mrs Marland: I know the member for Nickel Belt had concluded the debate on the report of this bill, but I also understand that there is some agreement that the next speaker will be the minister from the government side of the House. I am quite happy to speak third on the reporting of this bill.
The Deputy Speaker: We usually have the rotation.
Hon Mr Sorbara: There is agreement, Mr Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: There is an agreement? The member for Mississauga South would speak after the minister?
Mrs Marland: I am at the pleasure of the minister.
Hon Mr Phillips: I think the member for Mississauga South spoke last on it and so I had assumed it was in this rotation. I plan to speak for only about two minutes, because I am frankly anxious that we deal with the committee report so that we can get on to the detailed committee of the whole discussion in the near future.
Hon Mr Sorbara: You spoke on 26 March, Margaret.
Mrs Marland: No, I didn’t speak last time.
Hon Mr Sorbara: Yes, you did.
Mr Mackenzie: Mr Speaker, it is my understanding, and I think Hansard shows, that we had an argument over whether or not the member for Mississauga South would have the right to speak, but she did follow, after some argument, my colleague the Chairman of the committee.
The Deputy Speaker: So what now? Would the member for Mississauga South like to speak after the minister?
Hon Mr Phillips: I did happen to check the Hansard. The member for Hamilton East is correct that the member spoke at some length, so if I might just now begin debate on the bill, as I say, I plan to be quite brief because it is my expectation that the House will deal with this quite thoroughly in committee of the whole.
I guess I would just make three points. One is that this is an extremely important bill. I think the members are aware that in this province each year we continue to see about 400,000 accidents. We see up to 300 deaths each year as a result of either accidents in the workplace or disease in the workplace. On the financial front, the Workers’ Compensation Board has an annual compensation bill of about $1.5 billion. Of course, the most important thing is the human tragedy of it all. So make no mistake: We are dealing with an extremely important matter here.
The second point I would make is that while there is of course opinion on the bill, I think as we look at this bill we will find it is the most progressive health and safety legislation anywhere in North America. We have proposed in this bill some substantial improvements. I might add that I found the committee process extremely helpful, and as a result of the hearings a number of amendments have taken place, amendments, I might say, that have been proposed by all three parties and members from all three parties on the committee.
The bill, in my opinion, now has been substantially strengthened. I am anxious to get on with the bill. I am anxious to have a thorough debate in the Legislature, clause by clause, on the bill and then, of course, most important, get on with implementing the bill so that we can improve health and safety in our workplaces in Ontario.
Mr Mackenzie: I wish to speak for just a few minutes on this bill. First, I want to reiterate just for a moment, because I think probably in the 14 or 15 years I have been in this House this is one of the most important issues we have dealt with -- it certainly is to me and to most of my colleagues. I think that it is important to once again set on record what we are really dealing with, the extent of the problem in the province of Ontario. It is a problem that the labour movement has seen fit to classify as “slaughter in the workplace,” and unfortunately that is literally what the case is in Ontario.
In Ontario we have, on average, one worker being killed every working day. We have about 450,000 workers who are injured and file compensation claims every year in Ontario. It is not a record to be proud of. There are a number of other things that should bother all of us. More than four million workers in Ontario have been injured since the present act, Bill 70, came into force, and I well recall, as do some other members of this House, the long, hard battle to establish the first really useful piece of health and safety legislation in Ontario. But since that time four million workers have been injured in Ontario. Enough workers were injured in Ontario to fill Maple Leaf Gardens every night for 30 consecutive nights. That was in one year alone, 1988. Since 1979 serious lost time claims have increased more than 30% and since 1979 the number of disability claims has increased more than 100%. Clearly there is something wrong with health and safety legislation in the province of Ontario.
I think it is useful to put a number of other things on record quickly: 78% of the workplaces in Ontario were violating one or more sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act; 7% of employers with more than 20 workers had not established a joint committee, which is the mechanism for the internal responsibility system required by law and which this government -- and the previous government, I might say -- said was the road we had to go; 34% of employers with designated substances but fewer than 20 workers had not established the joint committee required by the regulations; 35% of the worker members on joint committees were selected by the employer, in violation of the act.
I could go on and on, but I think it is useful to put on the record that this is why we have the problem. This is why it is a fundamental and serious issue with workers in the province of Ontario that we have not dealt with, and it is what led to the development of Bill 208.
Unfortunately, the Bill 208 that came in, while not a bill that we would have drafted and not a bill that the labour movement would have drafted, was a substantial improvement. I am talking now, let me make it clear, about the original Bill 208. It was a substantial improvement over the Bill 70 that we had and I think people were prepared to gamble on it, I guess. But we no sooner had that bill before us in this House than we started to find a campaign that I found almost sickening. We had leaflets put out by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business -- “Ontario’s Union Health and Intimidation Act, A Horror Story in the Making,” “Union Threat to Small Business,” “Workers’ Police to Stop Work,” “Urgent, Please Act.”
But even worse than that, we had a letter that I think to this day is one of the most unfortunate letters that was ever sent in Ontario. I am talking about the letter that was sent by the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, by the president, J. Laurent Thibault, to the Premier of this province. I think it is essential that this letter also is on the record as we get into the preparatory period for clause-by-clause work on this bill.
This letter, dated 2 March 1989, was sent to the Premier by courier. I will read only a couple of paragraphs out of it, but that is all members need. It is available and has been made public to anybody who wants to take a look at it.
“CMA is very disappointed that your government decided to introduce Bill 208 without further consultation to try to resolve its major flaws that have been identified by CMA and other associations in the province. The majority problems are,” and he goes on to list them.
Then the last paragraph, which as far as I am concerned is little short of blackmail, went on as follows:
“I will be calling you early next week to arrange a meeting. I hope that changes to Bill 208 can be made before the groundswell of opposition by our members and others in the business community grows out of control.”
That letter was sent to the Premier. It was not very much later that all of a sudden we had some switches in cabinet positions, we had a new Minister of Labour and we had the bill brought in for us to start working on it. And what did we find? We found that the Minister of Labour wanted five changes. Those changes, in effect, substantially weakened the bill that had first come in, Bill 208. Needless to say, there was a fight over hearings. We had some difficulty, and I think the process we went through is one of the things that bothered me to some extent, but we finally managed to get the bill out for some five weeks of hearings around the province.
I want to tell members, those hearings were useful and one accurate point in the minister’s statement is that they have resulted in some changes. As far as I am concerned, the bill is still not the bill that workers in Ontario need, but it certainly is not as bad as the initial expectation after we saw the new amendments, which incidentally almost paralleled some of the points that Mr Thibault had made in his letter. I think it shows clearly, whether government members like to accept it or not, the problem we have had, and that is, who is calling the shots and who is paying the piper? Whoever pays the piper calls the tune seems to be the case, because the amendments that came in without consultation from anybody in the labour movement were amendments that the business community wanted.
I want to deal with only one or two points during the course of the hearings. We could not accommodate all of the people who wanted to appear before the committee on this bill, but there were a number of highlights, only one of which I really intend to speak to for a moment or two here today. That was during the course of the hearings in London.
Everywhere we went, incidentally, we had a tremendous turnout of people who were interested in this bill. It was obvious the strength of the feelings as far as workers were concerned. But at the opening of the hearings in London, there was a demonstration of some 300 people outside the hotel rooms where we held the hearings. When the hearings were ready to commence, these workers filed into the committee room and they deposited on the front table, where the witnesses were to make their presentations, a daisy, each and every one of them.
They deposited 288 daisies for the 288 workers who had been killed the previous year. They made the point -- and I think it is worth making this point again and again to members in this House -- that the 288 workers who had been killed on the job in Ontario were not the Laurent Thibaults, the management people, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business people, the foremen, the supervisors, the people who had been arguing that this bill gave labour too much power or was not needed to stop the slaughter in the workplace. The 288 people who had died were in every case ordinary rank-and-file workers. They were the ones who were paying the price. It was they, along with their unions, who were saying, “Hey, look, we need better legislation in Ontario.”
Surely to goodness nobody will argue with the figures, which are WCB and government and ministry figures, in terms of the problem we have in safety and health in Ontario. Surely nobody will argue that it was not necessary. I think that point, more than anything else, should say to people -- at least I would hope it would say to people; obviously I have got some different values from others -- that if there was any validity to the arguments being made, the credence should be given to the arguments that were being made by the workers who were the ones who were dying, not the management people, and the same thing in terms of injuries in the workplace.
Unfortunately that is not the case, and the emphasis, as I say, and the amendments that we had to deal with and fight off in the course of the hearings, some of which we did, some of which we did not, were the arguments that had been bought by this government and by the Premier as a result of the kind of pressure that was put on by the business community in Ontario.
It seems to me that there is a clear lesson there, one that bothers me as much as what we have seen on auto insurance and on a number of other issues recently. That is, who is calling the shots for this government in Ontario? It is obvious that it was not the workers in the course of the Bill 208 hearings, just as it was not the workers in the case of the Bill 162 hearings. It is obvious that they did not have the ear of the government to the extent that the business community in this province did.
I think the other thing that bothers me about the process we went through -- and we never did finish, in committee, all of the clauses of Bill 208. We have still got to do some of those in this House. The time frames were so short that it was impossible to deal adequately with every section of the bill. We had some real arguments on the bill, as members of the committee will know, in trying to stop some of the new amendments the government wanted to bring in, change them, get some of the amendments that workers wanted or even bring it back to the original position of the original Bill 208.
The tragedy of it, as far as I am concerned, is that there is evidence. At first it seemed to be denied, but I am talking now about contracts that have been signed at Denison, Rio Algom and Inco, where the unions were strong enough that they were able to negotiate contracts that went beyond the minimum requirements in terms of health and safety and where they had the right to refuse and many of the rights that were in this original piece of legislation.
The evidence also before that committee, I submit to members, was that they had not misused the power and the rights and that in fact some of the biggest improvements had been in those locals, particularly in parts of the mining sector, the part of the province where we have some more effective coverage, that the record had improved rather dramatically. I think the evidence was fairly clear, yet we had a number of incidents that really bothered me.
I can recall one of the executive members of Inco -- they did not finish or did not get everything in that they wanted when we had the hearings in Sudbury so they appeared before us in Dryden. The representative from Inco said: “Look, we already have these rights, but we have them because we developed a trust with our workers and we are not having a problem with them. But it should not be put in legislation and we should not give it to anybody else.” I cannot understand that line of reasoning any way you want to put it to me.
But what he also did not say was that the reason it was in their contracts and it was working was because they had been forced to put it in as a result of contract negotiations. It was working and they had it, so it is fine for them. His only excuse was that, “We have developed a position of trust.” They have developed it because they had to and it was working but we should not give this kind of a right to anybody else.
I think the figures that I started with clearly indicate that the workers of Ontario do need the right and the coverage to have this kind of protection under health and safety legislation in Ontario.
Let me make one other point. It is not my intention to keep this going, but some of these things, I think, have to be clearly on the record. In my honest opinion, shared not by everybody in the trade union movement but by a lot of people, if ever there was an opportunity for this government to begin to break down some of the barriers and start developing a position of a little less confrontation, which we are never going to lose totally in labour-management negotiations, but a little less confrontation and a little more co-operation and working together and support and breaking down some of the barriers, it was in the field of health and safety.
And it had to be done, if it was going to be done and be accepted, on the basis that what we were looking at were the people who were paying the prices. It is not just the 288 workers who died a year ago in Ontario. There are as many as 6,000 more according to studies that may have died directly as a result of industrial diseases.
The ordinary workers, not the management people, not the chamber, not the manufacturers’ association or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that were making the arguments against this legislation -- they were not the people who were being injured or dying -- it was the workers. We had to start deciding that in this province we were going to give workers legislation that gave them equality in terms of making the decisions and running the show and deciding what was safe.
It is not my experience, in the long time I have been in the trade union movement, that many of them are going to abuse that privilege. We had to start by saying, “Hey, we do trust you.” Not just the phoney kind of an argument we got in Dryden from Inco but: “We really do trust you. We are willing to give you equality in terms of control of health and safety in the workplace.”
Had we done that, had we not cut the corners we have cut in this piece of legislation, in my opinion, we would have taken the single biggest step we could have taken in the province in developing the beginning at least of a slightly better atmosphere between workers and management.
But management obviously did not see it, from the kind of letters and threats they were sending to the Premier. He did not understand it because he bowed to their wishes, and we certainly were not able to convince most of the members of the committee of the need for more than we got.
I am admitting that we did not end up with the bill as bad as we thought we were going to after we first heard the minister’s amendments. But I think it is a tragedy that we did not stick with the original bill and that we did not decide, “Hey, we are going to find out whether we really can make health and safety work on a joint responsibility, a joint trust basis.” That is not the route we have gone with this legislation, and I am very sorry to say that.
I would like at this point in time just to say that I agree with the reporting of this bill and look forward to dealing with it clause by clause in the days to come. I thank you for the opportunity to speak on it, Mr Speaker.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
The Deputy Speaker: Before we depart, I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his office.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees: The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:
Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the City of Toronto;
Bill Pr43, An Act respecting the City of Brampton;
Bill Pr63, An Act respecting the Victoria County Railway Company Limited;
Bill Pr64, An Act to revive Ontario Skeet Shooting Association;
Bill Pr67, An Act to revive the Harewood Park Association;
Bill Pr72, An Act to revive Silayan Filipino Community Centre;
Bill Pr76, An Act to revive Jabko Holdings Ltd.
The House adjourned at 1800.