The House met at 1003.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
COMPENSATION FOR VACCINE-RELATED INJURY
Mr Frankford moved resolution 27:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should begin consultation with the public and with health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health-related organizations regarding the implementation of a compensation scheme for vaccine-related injury.
Mr Frankford: I am very pleased to be able to bring in this resolution, which relates to my personal background as a physician, but I would also like to note the extensive help I have had from legislative research which has given me a very good background on some points I would like to make. I would like to point out that it is a resolution, not a bill, so I trust it will stimulate debate. I hope it will be acceptable to members on all sides of this House.
I would like to start off by noting about vaccination that I think we should realize there are strong public health reasons for vaccination programs. Sometimes people tend to forget that we are dealing with childhood diseases, but these are not just childhood diseases I am talking about; they can relate to other vaccines that are given in adult life. We should remember that there is mortality from what are sometimes thought to be somewhat trivial diseases such as measles.
I would like to read an extract from a Canadian Paediatric Society paper in support of a compensation plan for vaccine-associated injuries. It states: "In the 1980s, Canada's childhood immunization programs have been so successful that the target illnesses are seen infrequently, some not at all. Lacking visible reminders of the dangers of these illnesses, parents today are less certain of the benefits of immunization than were parents one or two decades ago and are more concerned about the safety of vaccines being offered to their children. The vaccines used routinely in Canada are much safer than the diseases they prevent but they are not perfect. Given that vaccines must contain the key portions of bacteria or viruses necessary to induce protective immunity, perfectly safe vaccines may not be attainable."
It is, as I say, an important public policy aspect to have this widespread immunity, and in fact it is close to being a requirement. As the members may know, there are requirements for vaccination around school entry. They are not absolute requirements, but they have considerable force behind them. There are a number of vaccines -- I mention measles, diphtheria, tetanus -- which are close to being absolute requirements. I say "close to being" because parents do have the option of a philosophical exemption. They can have a written statement saying they object and this does need to be notarized.
Although it is close to being mandatory, it is not absolutely mandatory. It is recognized as one of the philosophical concerns of this Legislature that we did not want to force people to get into things, but I think public health physicians would stress to the members how important it is to maintain widespread immunity. We have recently seen in the United States that there has been some resurgence of measles because of inadequate immunity, and this is a real threat.
Having established that it is close to being public policy and having established that there are risks and inevitably some damage, some injuries associated with it, we get into what happens in the case of injury. I would like to stress it is not my purpose to go into detailed discussions of any particular vaccines. I am not trying to make a case for damage from one vaccine or another. I know there have been some rather tragic cases and some law suits.
Part of the reason for bringing this in is that the present situation does require demonstration of tort, and unfortunately in some of those cases which have gone to court no tort could be demonstrated. No negligence was found on the part of the physicians or the manufacturers, so the unfortunate thing in those cases was that no liability was demonstrated, and the injured parties presumably had to pay quite high legal costs and the physicians and the manufacturers had the stress of going to court.
This is why I am proposing that we bring in some alternative scheme. I have not used the term "no-fault" in my resolution, but I think essentially what we are asking for is a no-fault scheme
I might at this point, just to make it more real, mention one case. In my professional career I have not really come across any, but I have this one personal connection. A relative of mine, a young man, joined the British army around 1939 and had not previously been vaccinated against smallpox. He had a profound reaction which has left him permanently disabled with very profound muscle weakness, although this has not affected his mental state and he has followed quite a successful career. But with this profound muscle weakness he has had to have lifetime attendants and he has had to have a modified car. Now in this case, because it was service-related, it was essentially a no-fault scheme. There is a pension and there has been assistance with activities of day-to-day living. This is an example of what can happen in some circumstances.
Essentially I am asking that some scheme be developed that would do something similar. I am not necessarily saying that we are talking about just a financial compensation scheme. This comes around to the question of comprehensive disability plans which I know have been discussed in this House and which I know have been looked at by the government. I was on the parliamentary assistants' committee that was discussing this topic.
What I am proposing certainly does not rule out developing a comprehensive disability plan, which I hope will come. Partly I bring this resolution forth because I think that in its small way it could help to plan what the approach of a comprehensive disability plan would be. It is a group of disabled people which, as I said, results essentially as a side-effect of public policy. There is a strong obligation for the government or for society to bring in some compensation, because the society in a sense has demanded that they get this vaccination.
In closing, I would like to point out that there are precedents in other jurisdictions. I note there is one in the United States and there is one in Quebec which did in fact result from a legal case around a measles vaccination. In that case the court did find that it was a side-effect of this measles vaccination without any negligence being demonstrated. My understanding is that because of this they felt there should be some sort of no-fault compensation, so they have implemented such a scheme already.
Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to rise in support of the resolution that has been presented today by the member for Scarborough East. I am calling from memory on some of the experiences and discussions around this and a much broader issue, the issue relating to the kinds of injuries that are avoidable that occur within the health system generally.
There has been quite a lot of debate and discussion generated which unfortunately we have not seen presented in this House for any discussion. I welcome the resolution because it gives us an opportunity to talk about what is existing today and what we can do in the future.
I think this issue goes far beyond the simple resolution that has been presented by the member for Scarborough East. He has referred strictly to compensation for vaccine injury. Those cases have been tested through the courts and they have pointed out that in this province, in fact in this country, unless you can prove negligence by the provider, the professional, the institution or the manufacturer, there is no compensation available for the individual, the patient, the consumer who has sustained injury.
I draw to the members' attention that this is the case whether it is vaccine injury, injury as a result of blood products or injury as a result of iatrogenesis. That is a term I became familiar with and I think it is an important term for all members of this House to be aware of. I have a dictionary and I will read the definition. "Iatrogenic: caused by process of medical examination or treatment." Simply put, iatrogenic disease is an illness or a disease which is caused by accessing medical treatment.
Much of iatrogenesis or iatrogenic disease is inadvertent. It is because many procedures carry with them a significant risk of harm. Right now in the standing committee on social development we are dealing with a package of legislation where the concept of licensing the risky and dangerous acts professionals such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, chiropractors and others do to people is then developed within the concept of risk of harm.
I refer to the beginning of this debate and would like to point out to members of this House that the now president of the University of Toronto, Dr Robert Prichard, headed a federal-provincial task force that dealt with many of these important issues. I would recommend to all members of this House to read his report, which is entitled Liability and Compensation in Health Care, and I express my disappointment at this time that there has been no action taken by the government in addressing the recommendations of this important report.
The report suggests that there is a problem. We are seeing an increasing number of malpractice and liability suits against doctors, institutions and manufacturers, whether they are pharmaceutical or whether it is in the area of vaccine or other areas. We have seen larger and larger awards. Particularly as inflation has been going in the western world in the last decade, we have seen large awards by the courts.
We have therefore seen an increased cost of liability insurance for providers and professionals and the hospitals, and we have also seen the response from the professionals, which is often defensive medicine. That has had enormous costs in the health system because the providers, wanting to make sure they are providing quality care and doing everything they can, often do many things that are considered unnecessary, wasteful or inappropriate. That is really the call for quality assurance programs, for the development of programs in total quality management, in continuous quality improvement programs, sometimes referred to as CQI.
These are the things that are necessary to start addressing the level of inappropriate care generally within the health system. I use the term "inappropriate," because we are not talking about negligence and we are not talking about malpractice. We are talking about that which just may not be necessary. I notice the member for Scarborough East nodding his head. We understand that.
At the Conference on Quality Assurance hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Health in November 1989 in Metropolitan Toronto, we heard very clearly that the level of inappropriate care taking place in the health system generally was about 20%; that is, of everything we did in the health system, 20% was considered inappropriate.
That does not mean it was not good quality if you happened to have a caesarean section you did not need. That does not mean the tonsillectomy you had was not perfectly and competently performed, except that it may not have been necessary. That does not mean that the service given was not high-quality service, but it was inappropriate because it was unnecessary or did not meet the standard of appropriate care.
Those standards have been and are being defined by medical practitioners around the world for the first time as part of quality assurance, total quality management, continuous improvement programs around the world. The notion of systemic quality assurance in health care is relatively new. We are just beginning to see that take place, so this discussion of a compensation scheme is extremely important.
The reason it is important is because of the changes that are occurring. We know that within the existing system there is inadequate compensation for persons suffering from avoidable injuries in the health system, whether they are related to vaccine, drugs, devices, drugs like thalidomide or blood product selection, the kinds of avoidable injuries that come from iatrogenesis, as I mentioned before.
How do we as a society respond to that? I think the resolution the member has brought forward is the beginning of an important debate in this Legislature, but I do not think it should be defined just in the area of vaccine. I believe Dr Prichard's recommendation should be taken very seriously by legislators, not only in Ontario but right across this country.
He calls for the development -- not institutionalizing it today -- of a system which would still allow for litigation where there was malpractice. However, he is talking about the development of a no-fault compensation scheme for those people who are inadvertently injured. He points out in his report that the present system is costing about $200 million. That is a lot of money, but that $200 million is only compensating 10% of the actual claims.
Approximately 250 claims are being compensated in Canada today out of an estimated 2,500 deserving claims. Of those, the ones that are being compensated, where you are talking about proven negligence or malpractice against providers or hospitals, in areas such as vaccine there is no compensation at all. The courts have said that unless you can prove negligence or malpractice, there is no entitlement.
The recommendations that are made in this report are extremely significant, in light of the fact that people who we believe should be compensated are not being compensated. The report makes some 79 recommendations, but there are three very significant ones. First, they suggest maintaining tort action for malpractice and negligence against health care providers. Second, they recommend increased responsibility of health care institutions, hospitals and others, for the quality of care provided in them. That is what continuous improvement is about, that is what quality assurance is about and that is what total quality management is about, utilization management and others.
Third, they recommend developing a no-fault compensation system alternative for avoidable health care injuries which have caused personal injuries to individuals. If this recommendation was pursued by the present government, I think it would result in achieving the goals the member for Scarborough East has suggested to us today in the discussion on vaccine compensation. But I suggest to him that the discussion goes far beyond that. There are many people in Ontario today who are not being cared for and compensated except through a very involved court system, when the injury they sustained was inadvertent and the result of lack of standards, lack of the kind of ongoing quality assurance consistency that would lower the rate of those kinds of inadvertent illnesses.
As I speak in support of the resolution, I would also like to speak in support of the recommendations that came out of Dr Prichard's report. I also urge the member to note that within his own government the responses have been very inconsistent. For example, I am aware of the response to the Canadian Hemophilia Society. The federal government announced a compensation program for those with haemophilia who contracted the HIV virus. This was because of the federal government's responsibility for blood supply in this country. There have been some tragic consequences as a result. We are all aware of that.
When this was announced, I know that the provincial Health ministers right across this country indicated a desire to work with the federal government to make sure that proper support was given to those people right across this country. I was disappointed that the response from the federal minister at the time was not more positive in entering into a partnership relationship with all the provinces to develop a truly national program, as opposed to just a federal program.
However, I say today that Dr Prichard noted in his report that the cost of a system for no-fault compensation, such as this suggested by the member, would be far greater than $200 million a year if we included vaccine, blood products, devices and so forth. This report recommends taking the first steps to getting on and doing it. This report says Ontario should not act alone, because this is a national program.
We are also proud of our medicare and the fact that we share principles with every other province in this country. We know of the numbers of cases of individuals who have suffered from reactions to vaccine. Those statistics are clear.
I would say that right now I very much support the nature of mandatory vaccine, because it is in the public health interest. But the unavoidable individual cases of those who are inadvertently damaged in the interests of public health should be responded to in a compassionate and caring way, and the existing system that is in place today does not allow for that.
It is not just in the case of vaccine. I think very specifically of the drug DES. I think of the devices, intrauterine devices and others, which have been permitted to be used and which are now shown to have caused damage. I think of iatrogenic disease, where people are inadvertently harmed in the health system and face no opportunity for compensation because they cannot prove negligence.
I believe this is an important debate and discussion about making sure the people of this province have access to the kind of compensation they deserve. I also think it would be good for the providers. It would lower their tension and their resistance. One of the things Dr Prichard noted was that doctors particularly are under tremendous stress. That is one of the reasons for defensive medicine. Overall, there is tremendous opportunity in support of this discussion, and I am pleased the member has brought it to the Legislature.
Mr McLean: I appreciate this opportunity to say a few words about this resolution of the member for Scarborough East. I was going to say Simcoe East, but that is me. However, I am supporting the resolution so it could be one of mine.
I want to read the resolution into the record. "That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should begin consultation with the public and with health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health-related organizations regarding the implementation of a compensation scheme for vaccine-related injury."
I support this resolution in principle because I believe there is a clear need for some form of compensation system for vaccine-related injuries. We all know that proper immunization of schoolchildren is the law in Ontario and is part of the Immunization of School Pupils Act, 1982.
The Ontario Ministry of Health administers a universal school immunization program to ensure that both children and the public are protected against six serious diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. Making sure that children are properly immunized has become a back-to-school ritual, much like shopping for new school clothing, packing nutritious lunches and telling kids how to behave at school.
Even when the best vaccine products are properly administered and used, they can pose minute risks to those who receive them. It should be noted that the medical community has historically had a great deal of difficulty identifying vaccine-related problems because neurological conditions are often vague and not well understood. Because of the uncertainty that surrounds neurological disorders, it is quite possible that children who are born with certain types of conditions may have their conditions attributed to vaccines when in fact they are not vaccine-related. I believe it would be irresponsible to establish a vaccine compensation fund that would be a funnel for inappropriate claims.
Having said that, it is time to recognize that the few who suffer inevitable serious vaccine-related injury deserve compensation from the many who remain free of disease as a consequence of the high vaccination levels. I believe a provincial compensation program is feasible. I also believe social conscience demands its enactment.
To me, the most attractive solution involves the establishment of a compensation system with an administrative rather than a judicial base. This would offer dependable, cost-effective, rapid and equitable compensation for unavoidable serious injuries resulting from mandated vaccines. It should reduce frivolous lawsuits, yet provide compensation for all true victims.
At the same time as we are considering implementing a compensation system for vaccine-related injury, the Minister of Health must look into the need for and mechanisms and scope of such a program. This must be undertaken before the government can have any meaningful consultation with the public, health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health-related organizations. It should be noted that the Ontario Medical Association recommended this several years ago.
In conclusion, I support this resolution in principle, but the boundaries must be defined before we can begin implementing a compensation scheme for vaccine-related injury.
Mr Winninger: I am pleased to speak in support of the resolution of the member for Scarborough East calling for consultation on the implementation of a compensation scheme for vaccine-related injury.
Where public health policy so strongly dictates in favour of vaccination as a requirement for school entry, compensation should flow when injury occurs. Forcing the families of victims to sue for negligence adds insult to injury. Often the measure of success is based upon the financial resources of the afflicted party, the ability and resourcefulness of legal counsel, the availability and quality of the evidence, the credibility of the witnesses, and finally and perhaps most important, the predilections of the judge hearing the case.
The insurance companies that underwrite the risk for the manufacturers of these drugs and the physicians who prescribe them are the same insurance companies that hire the high-priced legal counsel to defend their clients in court. They are likely to have infinitely greater resources to ensure success in the judicial arena than do the victims' families.
A causal relationship between the use of pertussis vaccine and brain damage has never been definitively established. There are convincing proponents on either side of this vexed issue. The issue in fact was highlighted in the Rothwell case decided here in Ontario, in which a three-month-old child began to receive immunization doses of pertussis vaccine and after the third dose was found to have severe brain damage, rendering the child blind, almost deaf and severely retarded both mentally and physically, requiring constant care.
Notwithstanding that the trial judge found there was no causality between the injections of pertussis vaccine and the ensuing brain damage, Mr Justice Osler, who heard that case at the trial level, stated that had there been a slight difference in the evidence, had there been further scientific advances or a different trial judge, a very different result might have occurred.
Mr Justice Osler went on to suggest that in view of the compensation schemes that have already been enacted in the United Kingdom and the United States, Ontario provide an adequate but not lavish compensation scheme for cases where the victim of a vaccination has enjoyed prior good health, where the vaccine has been administered under public mandate and where catastrophic damage occurs within a limited period of time.
In fact, Mr Justice Osler went on to quote his brother judge, Mr Justice Krever, in another Ontario case involving the Hamilton Civic Hospitals. Mr Justice Krever said: "I confess to a feeling of discomfort over a state of affairs in an enlightened and compassionate society in which a patient who undergoes a necessary procedure and who cannot afford to bear the entire loss through no fault of his, and reposing full confidence in our system of medical care, suffers catastrophic disability, yet is not entitled to be compensated because of the absence of fault on the part of those involved in his care. While it may be that there is no remedy for this unfortunate and brave plaintiff and that this shortcoming should not be corrected judicially, there is, in my view, an urgent need for correction."
In a similar case in Quebec, the Lapierre case, which was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, Mr Justice Chouinard, writing for the majority, acknowledged that special legislation for vaccine victims in France, Britain, Japan, Germany and Denmark provides for compensation regardless of fault and is directed more to the needs of the vaccine victim than to delicate issues of evidence and liability and damages. In that case, Mr Justice Chouinard, speaking for the Supreme Court of Canada, suggested that the obligation to compensate victims independent of fault would be, to use his words, "a wonderful thing."
This case led to a plan in Quebec that compensates victims of permanent physical and mental damage arising from immunization. In Ontario this step would be a logical extension of numerous developments in social welfare that furnish compensation to injured people on a no-fault basis. It would replace or supplement areas of the tort system which imperfectly provide reparation. It would be akin to the workers' compensation system, which operates independently of fault, compensation for victims of crime and the no-fault provisions of auto insurance. There are many precedents for the kind of scheme that the member for Scarborough East is suggesting consultation begin on in earnest.
In Canada, governments have responded to the needs of specially affected citizens whose health has suffered as a result of national or provincial health policies and programs. One example that may immediately come to mind is the federal government grants that were instituted to remove urea formaldehyde foam insulation when it was felt UFFI posed a health risk to those who lived in homes that had been insulated.
Ontario could in fact join Quebec and other jurisdictions that have been mentioned by focusing on the needs of injured victims rather than on narrow legal principles to ensure that the cost of necessary medical services -- this would include long-term care and rehabilitation and all the other costs associated with disability -- be reimbursed on a modest scale, not on a lavish scale. Thus it can be ensured that the families of these innocent vaccine victims will not have to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of meeting the necessities of life for children who contract brain disease following injection. It would ensure rather that compensation is paid either through a compensation fund established and mandated for pharmaceutical companies or at least spread across society by a government compensation scheme.
Mr Wessenger: I would like to commend the member for Scarborough East for bringing this resolution. I think it brings to the attention of the House the problems of people who suffer through the health care system, the problems we have with our tort system and the fact that the tort system does not work well in providing compensation for victims. I will be supporting the resolution because it calls for a discussion of the matter to see what types of schemes we should come up with. However, I do have some concerns about dealing with the matter on the specific, narrow basis of vaccine alone.
First, there are a very small number of cases in this regard, and I think we have to look at the financial costs of setting up an administrative system or a compensation fund, if that is the process we are going to do, that would add a great deal of administrative cost. We have to be aware that the implementation of this scheme would undoubtedly raise the cost of administering vaccine programs. I am not opposed to the resolution for that reason, but I think we should be aware that there is a cost factor.
Second, I think we have to be aware that this is just a small part of the injury suffered through the health system by many individuals. We have the situation of the victim who got AIDS through receiving blood transfusions. We have other drugs to which there are adverse reactions. So we really ought to be looking at a broader scheme with respect to the whole aspect of compensation rather than just the narrow scope of vaccination.
The other aspect that concerns me is setting up a scheme on the basis of the workers' compensation scheme. The fact is that we still have the problem of determining causation. My friend the member for London South indicated the problems in proving causation with respect to vaccines. I think that is basically a problem. Again, maybe we ought to be looking at a broader type of compensation scheme. I am certainly supportive of developing a broad compensation scheme for people who are victims in our society, a scheme that would rehabilitate them and provide the necessary health care.
In conclusion, I would like to commend the member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House. Hopefully out of the discussions we will take a further step towards providing a better compensation scheme for victims of our health care system.
Mr J. Wilson: I am pleased to rise in support of the member's resolution this morning. I think everyone agrees that some degree of compensation is needed for individuals injured through vaccination. Children maimed by vaccinations are in effect suffering in the line of public duty. Not only are they immunized for their own protection, but also to protect the entire population from disease and from the enormous medical and social costs of epidemics.
There have been discussions involving federal and provincial health officials regarding the feasibility of compensation. Some of the important issues have been resolved and some have not, and we have seen that in the debate at this point this morning.
The problem I have with the member's resolution, although I agree with it in principle, is that it talks of beginning "consultation with the public and with health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and health-related organizations" to implement "a compensation scheme for vaccine-related injury." I think it is premature for us to begin consultations to implement a compensation policy when a consensus is yet to be reached on how to go about this, and so I question the wording of the resolution.
The Ontario Medical Association is recommending an investigation into a compensation scheme instead of the establishment of a scheme at this time. I want to quote from Dr Ted Boadway, the director of health policy at the Ontario Medical Association. He sent me a letter yesterday and in it he talks about a couple of things. He says:
"This is the problem that children who are born with other conditions may have their condition attributed to vaccinations, since vaccination is universal, by parents who desperately would like to find a cause." The member for Simcoe East previously spoke about causation. "You must understand that this search for cause is not motivated by avarice but rather by profound grief." He goes on to say, "These issues can be extremely difficult to decide, and would bedevil any compensation scheme."
Finally he says: "This is why we recommend the 'investigation' rather than the 'establishment' because we have doubts that the state of our knowledge in Ontario allows us to wisely decide the gates of entry to this program. Before you can recommend institution you must have some idea of the gates of entry, or the gates -- or the lack of gates -- will become a threat to the program itself."
I also want to briefly point out a couple of legal questions that I think have to be resolved before implementing any such compensation scheme. Quebec, for instance, has a vaccine injury plan that enables individuals to sue and be compensated, and the question arises, is the compensation money being used at times for unsuccessful lawsuits, and if so, is it being found to be extremely costly for taxpayers?
An additional concern I have is whether you pre-define what constitutes vaccine injury or leave it up to a panel or a series of panels to decide on an injury. Of course, the problem there is that implicit in any such system of adjudication is the notion that adjudicated evidence does not constitute medical evidence. So it is a question of whether we pre-define what we are talking about or allow courts or quasi-judicial panels to decide it.
How would a compensation plan pay out? Would it be like the federal government's plan where they are compensating a couple of thousand haemophiliacs, particularly children, affected by the HIV virus who were infected prior to 1985 when we were not screening the blood supply? They have been paid a lump sum. Does the member for Scarborough East, whose resolution we are debating, have in mind a lump sum payment or a regular payment program? Certainly the lump sum payment in the case of haemophiliacs is considered to be the more compassionate route.
Another concern that was mentioned is whether all the taxpayers pay for such a scheme. Will it fall on the shoulders of pharmaceutical manufacturers? I would argue that it should not, since pharmaceutical manufacturers, in developing the vaccines, are for the most part doing a great public service. Our programs are universal at this point and should not be solely responsible for those cases where injury occurs.
Finally I wonder whether the issue of liability, in the inestimable costs it could present, will serve to jeopardize the future of our immunization program, which could have devastating consequences for the general health of our population and for the quality of life of the people of Ontario.
Ms Carter: I too would like to congratulate the member for Scarborough East and say that I am glad everybody agrees with this resolution. I think they should; it is very desirable. Vaccination, combined with increases in the standard of living and improvements in public hygiene, has probably done more to lengthen life and improve public health than any other advance in medicine.
My grandmother had seven children. Three of them died in infancy from infectious diseases, diphtheria and scarlet fever, I believe. Child mortality figures in particular have been enormously improved by vaccination. Diphtheria, smallpox and polio, which used to be household words, are now largely vanquished and the incidence of some of the less frequently fatal childhood illnesses has also been greatly reduced.
It has already been said that a person who has a vaccination is not just obeying the law or improving his own chances of survival; he is doing a public service. They are reducing the pool of people who can harbour a disease, thus reducing the likelihood that other people, whether vaccinated or not, will get it. Of course, the classic instance of this is the smallpox virus, which was eradicated after a worldwide campaign of vaccination. I can remember when a smallpox vaccination was mandatory for travellers. Now, as a result of universal vaccination, we are relieved of that nuisance.
There is a small number of people who have adverse reactions, some of them permanent, to given vaccines. As far as I know, and as has been said, it would not be possible to determine in advance who those people might be. Thus there is no specific blame to be attached when such adverse reactions occur. I would therefore agree that if vaccination is to be compulsory, and the more widespread and effective it is, then there has to be no-fault compensation for people who suffer damage as a result of receiving vaccination.
The damage is a fact regardless of whether the vaccine was administered properly or whether something was incorrectly done. I can see no point in wasting government money or any other funds on determining whether there was any fault, and I find the third party's pickiness on this issue to be a little counterproductive. Obviously there needs to be machinery in place to discuss negligence, but since damage can occur without negligence this should not be the criterion for compensation.
Quebec alone in Canada has legislation to compensate people. It is time intergovernmental discussions among other provinces in Canada and the federal government bore fruit. Disagreement over details should not stand in the way of the creation of a compensation fund, otherwise blameless individuals will continue to suffer more than they need for co-operating in the search for safer and healthier lives for all of us. I wholeheartedly support this resolution.
Mr Jackson: I am very pleased that occasionally we have new members of the Legislature who bring with them their new ideas and their sense of dedication, but unfortunately they do not bring their full sense of history on some of the important issues before us. In that sense, on the one hand I want to commend the member for Scarborough East for bringing forward this resolution, but I also want to remind the member and his government that a bill similar to this was presented by my colleague Mr Jack Pierce, the member for Rainy River, back in 1986.
From his private member's bill, debated on a morning not unlike this, there was a series of public hearings. First of all, we got the permission of the government of the day to allow it to go to the standing committee on social development, and then have public hearings. What ensued was an incredible education for the members of this House in 1987. Not only did we meet the Rothwell family and Patrick, the boy who has been discussed here, but we met families from Thunder Bay, where a child had been inoculated for the second time in a month because the medical community in Thunder Bay had misplaced the child's records and that child died. The child's brain actually boiled over during the middle of the night and when they checked with the doctor, the doctor said: "The child's just being colicky. Call me in the morning." The child did not live through the night.
Throughout the entire world there is sufficient evidence that there is cause and effect as it relates to vaccine damage, and in particular with the pertussis vaccine. So when the member for Peterborough talks about pickiness, I want members to know that there is a long history of concern on this issue for members on this side of the House, and in particular Mr Jack Pierce. I have spoken in this House for up to three and a half hours on the issue of vaccine-damaged children in this province and I represent Patrick Rothwell in this Legislature; he is my constituent.
I want to let the members of this House know a couple of facts. We had Bill 98 in 1987. That bill caused a certain protocol to be observed in this province. It said that physicians are obligated under law to inform families of the risks associated with this vaccine. We did not have that law in this province. Parents were going in with a child, with no one to advocate for him except the physician and the parent, who could not articulate his needs as a three-month-old or a six-month-old child. We were not routinely informing people and that is what happened to Patrick Rothwell. The family had no idea that if he had an adverse reaction, it might be related to the vaccine.
We now have that protocol in place, but when we had all agreed that we should inform the patient, the government of the day changed the legislation to say just simply to cause the patient to be aware. In other words, if the pamphlet is in the doctor's office in this province, that is sufficient to cover him legally -- the information about risks with adverse reactions to vaccines. That is not good enough. It is not good enough in most of the jurisdictions in North America, but it seems to be good enough in Ontario.
We are supposed to be keeping a registry of all the adverse reactions with children in this province and yet we know that is not going on. Like the registry we have for women who died during childbirth, there are supposed to be records kept. They are sitting in some file cabinet in the Ministry of Health. Nobody is analysing them and examining them.
Let me tell members the most important aspect of this issue. There are provinces, and states in the United States, that will not use the vaccine we routinely use in this province. Some Third World countries do not use our vaccine but we have a very cheap vaccine. In 1987 Connaught Laboratories was charging $3 an inoculation. It raised it to $8 so it could create a fund for insurance in case it went to court. I have not heard anybody discuss this insurance money that Connaught Laboratories has been stockpiling over the years and how that relates to this issue of compensation. I think that is an area we should be discussing, but because we have public health care in this province -- other jurisdictions that do not are able to develop compensation schemes by using the cost associated with what is charged for the inoculation.
We should be looking at the kind of research going on around the world. In Japan they are using split-cell approaches to this vaccine to get a much safer vaccine with documented empirical results that show they have fewer adverse reactions causing death.
As my time is running out I want to put on the record, especially on Patrick Rothwell's behalf, that if you open up this vaccine in this province today, there is a warning that says, "The parents should be questioned about the occurrences of any severe adverse reactions after the previous dose." That is the warning. If you look to the drug formulary books they will tell you that sudden infant death syndrome can be connected to this vaccine. It has been reported following administration of vaccines containing diphtheria, tetanus and toxoids.
There are a lot of important issues about this, the issue of compensation. I commend the member for raising it, but in 1987 we were told there would be a compensation plan and discussion.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you, your time has expired.
Mr Jackson: It is now five years late. Let's get on with it in this province.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Scarborough East, you have two minutes to reply.
Mr Frankford: I have very much enjoyed listening to the contributions of the members on all sides. It really was my purpose to try to stimulate awareness of this issue, and I quite deliberately restricted it to the question of vaccination, although I am happy to hear the suggestions about broadening it. I thought that since there is this question, as the Conservative Party Health critic said, of injury in the line of public duty, this makes it particularly pressing to do something in this particular area.
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of the member for Oriole and her reference to the Prichard report, which I certainly am aware of. I do hope it is going to be discussed, because it does raise important questions about combining no-fault with tort. I think this is something which is of great interest in a broad range of areas. It gets into automobile insurance and other areas, so I thank her for raising that question.
Since there is not much time, the question of cost has not been raised all that much and I would have liked to spend more time on it but, as the member for Burlington South said, there is insurance. The companies are paying insurance right now. Physicians are paying their liability insurance, which in fact now gets topped up by the government. I think there are funds which could be reallocated into this but, as I say, the resolution is about consultations and I trust all these things will be brought into it.
FUNDING OF GROWTH BOARDS
Mr Sola moved resolution 28:
That, in the opinion of this House, given that there is extraordinary population growth in the areas of the greater Toronto area immediately surrounding Metropolitan Toronto, and that current development plans, such as the Sandringham-Wellindale development in Brampton, and the pattern of immigrant settlement suggest that such growth will continue indefinitely, and given that in 1991 the growth boards, namely, the Peel Board of Education, the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board, the Durham Board of Education, the Durham Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, the York Region Board of Education and the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, were seriously underfunded in comparison to their expressed capital requirements, the present government of Ontario should undertake to develop a capital funding formula particular to these growth boards to take into consideration their extraordinary needs.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 94(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.
Mr Sola: The reason I had to move this resolution was the receipt of a couple of letters, one dated October 2 from the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board and one from the chairman of the Growth Boards' Coalition, Mr Harry Bowes, which was mailed to the former Minister of Education, the member for London Centre, on October 1 this year. Both of them highlight the problems that the growth boards are experiencing.
A little bit of background information to start off with: As we all know, there is an extraordinary rate of growth in the areas immediately surrounding Metropolitan Toronto, and this rate of growth can be described as mushrooming, not growth, because none of the municipalities can keep up with the demand for services the growth has engendered. For instance, in Brampton this new development, Sandringham-Wellindale, will develop a whole community. I will allow my colleague the member for Brampton North to tell us more about the problems that will cause, because they will be causing a few grey hairs in his head, I think.
The growth boards which were named in the resolution requested $796 million for the year 1991 for capital projects and they received a total of $75 million. That is less than 10%. All these boards put together are currently using 3,015 portables. That means that out of a total of 345,000 students enrolled in these boards, at any one time you can have up to 90,000 sitting in portables. That is more than most boards have enrolled.
The extraordinary growth of these boards is just that, extraordinary, meaning that because there are special circumstances, they deserve special treatment. Where else in this province are children taught in such conditions?
I want to give members a breakdown of what the various boards requested and what they received from the provincial government in 1991. The York region separate school board asked for $141 million and was allocated $15 million for capital projects. They are presently employing 365 portables. The York region public school board asked for $62 million and received $11 million. They are employing 726 portables. The Durham region separate board asked for $111 million and received $9 million, requiring the use of 147 portables. The Durham public board asked for $92 million, received $7 million and uses 500 portables. The Dufferin-Peel separate school board asked for $322 million and was allocated only $25 million, requiring the use of 630 portables. The Peel public board asked for $68 million, received $8 million and is using 637 portables.
What are the problems with the underfunding of capital projects? First of all, there is the growth of portables. As I said, there are 3,015 portables in the growth boards, and taking an average of 30 students per portable, which is what the student-teacher ratio is in the growth boards, that comes out to over 90,000 students. This means that a huge number of children are being educated in structures that were designed to be temporary. Some of these temporary structures have been in place now for over 30 years. Because they are temporary, they are causing problems which have nothing to do with education.
Here I would like to refer to the letter from the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board, dated October 2 and addressed to me. It says:
"As you are well aware, the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board has faced and is facing a number of critical issues: inadequate amounts and levels of provincial funding; taxpayer concerns about education costs, and others. As you may have noted recently in the press, we are now encountering yet another serious issue -- that of indoor air quality."
It goes on to say later in the letter:
"The report details, among other board concerns, the need for regulated/legislated standards related to indoor air quality; the lack of interministerial consensus on IAQ issues; the complexity in attempting to determine all the variables related to IAQ; the potential considerable cost to the board to install mechanical ventilation units in its portable classrooms if required and the cost to the local ratepayers of studies to determine the nature and extent of our problems regarding IAQ."
They go on to give five recommendations: that the board request the Ministry of Education, in co-operation with other appropriate ministries, to establish regulated indoor air quality standards and to provide adequate funding to ensure that schools meet such standards; that local MPPs be requested to address this issue in the Legislature as soon as possible; that the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board establish a task force consisting of trustees, staff and parents to study indoor air quality issues and to provide recommendations; that in order to assess indoor air quality through the system, the board authorize the expenditure of funds, not to exceed $20,000, to expand the study to determine ventilation rates in a representative sample of portable and portapac classrooms, and finally, that the board authorize the expenditure of funds, not to exceed $80,000, for piloting, at St Basil Elementary School and other sites selected by staff according to criteria which will be reported and approved to the board, a variety of mechanical devices and alternative measures, with a view to finding the best solutions related to indoor air quality issues which can be generalized to the rest of the board.
Members can see from just this one letter what problems result from having too many portables and portapacs.
I would like to touch on another issue and just show members what the students are facing in several schools. Bishop Scalabrini, for instance, was designed to accommodate 500 students. Its 1990 enrolment was almost 1,100 and it was forced to use 20 portables. Father Michael Goetz was designed for 1,100. In 1990 enrolment was 1,900. They were forced to use 25 portables. St Martin, which my two daughters attend, designed for less than 700, had an enrolment of almost 1,500, forcing it to use 25 portables. Loyola Catholic Secondary School, designed for 750, last year had an enrolment of over 1,400, requiring 26 portables. Here is a real interesting one: Our Lady of Mount Carmel, designed for less than 1,100, last year had an enrolment of over 1,400. They were forced to use 15 portables last year, and to date, as I am speaking, they are in the process of putting up their 30th. In one year they have put up 15 more.
I would like to refer now in the last few minutes I have to the letter of October 1 addressed to the former Minister of Education by Harry Bowes, the chairman of the Growth Boards' Coalition. It states, and this was also reiterated by my colleague the member for York North, who is the critic for Education, that the former Liberal government passed Bill 20, legislation which would provide boards of education with the opportunity to put in place lot levies to raise moneys for the construction of new schools. To date, they have waited over 22 months to get authority to hold public meetings and to pass the necessary bylaws and they are really concerned, because not only are they losing money, but the provincial government is forced to allocate additional moneys to meet the needs.
Mr McLean: I welcome this opportunity to comment briefly on this resolution from the member for Mississauga East. I would like to read the resolution into the record again. It says:
"That, in the opinion of this House, given that there is extraordinary population growth in the areas of the greater Toronto area immediately surrounding Metropolitan Toronto, and that current development plans, such as the Sandringham-Wellindale development in Brampton, and the pattern of immigrant settlement suggest that such growth will continue indefinitely, and given that in 1991 the growth boards, namely, the Peel Board of Education, the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board, the Durham Board of Education, the Durham Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, the York Region Board of Education and the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board, were seriously underfunded in comparison to their expressed capital requirements, the present government of Ontario should undertake to develop a capital funding formula particular to these growth boards to take into consideration their extraordinary needs."
I have some reservations about this resolution, because it focuses exclusively on the greater Toronto area and ignores other critical areas of Ontario.
With respect to the Simcoe County Board of Education, there are currently 7,000 elementary and 1,800 secondary school students educated in 340 portable classrooms. With respect to the Simcoe County Roman Catholic Separate School Board, there are currently 2,882 English elementary students educated in 131 portable classrooms and 1,424 English secondary students educated in 89 portable classrooms. As well, there are 176 French elementary students educated in eight portable classrooms.
In Ontario, we are in serious danger of having a generation of students go through school in substandard facilities. As many as four students are forced to share lockers because schools are occupied by twice as many students as were intended in some areas of this province. Some schools have little outdoor recreation space because playgrounds and track facilities are covered with portable classrooms. I have some serious concerns about the health and safety of students who are faced with getting an education under such an outdated system.
Under Ontario's current system, taxes raised through commercial and industrial assessment are shared between school boards, based on the number of home owners who list themselves on the tax rolls as separate or public school supporters.
Quoting from the New Democratic Party's Agenda for People:
"The Liberals like to talk about international competitiveness and preparing for the next century. Yet they've broken their promise of 60% funding for elementary and secondary schools, putting the squeeze on quality education and property taxpayers.
"New Democrats propose raising the provincial share of education costs to 60% over five years, providing a solid base for a better education system and lifting some of the load of property taxes. The cost of this initiative over the next two years would be $1.5 billion. That's also $1.5 billion in property tax relief for Ontarians. We want to reverse the punishing increases in property taxes which hit seniors and low-income people especially hard." This is the same government that has cut back on student funds for university.
I suggest that the NDP Agenda for People and the resolution before us today are examples of inadequate solutions to problems created by an outdated system for raising and distributing money for education purposes. I also suggest the time has come for us to undertake a complete review of education funding in Ontario.
In line with the third recommendation of the select committee on education's third report, I believe co-operation with the education community is essential to define the types and level of programs and services that constitute a basic education, and to calculate the component costs of these services. Provincial support for education would be determined by this new model.
These funding reforms would ensure that every school board in the province has sufficient resources to provide equality of educational opportunity for every child. In the interim, no new provincial initiatives should be introduced without adequate provincial resources for their implementation.
In consultation with the education community, the government should look towards the establishment of an option for the creation of consolidated school boards, where both the public and the separate school boards wish to do so. Consolidated school boards would be composed of one joint administrative board and two educational panels, allowing for greater cost efficiencies and more effective use of resources.
I believe enhanced internal and external audit procedures for school boards are necessary to ensure cost-effective use of tax dollars. I recognize the need to establish a separate capital expenditure budget to cover the cost of renovations and repairs of the existing stock. I also recognize the need for government to work with the development industry to build new schools in growth areas of the province. Under this leaseback concept, home builders would retain ownership of the land, build a school and then lease it back to the school board for a specific period. This would ensure that new schools would be built at the same time as subdivisions, eliminating the need for portables in growth areas.
Perhaps the government should review the education lot levy and allow school boards to issue bonds with preferred income tax rates to finance the local share of capital construction.
Just recently, one of the school board members in my riding had a meeting with the Ministry of the Environment on the reasonable land use policy with regard to school boards in the county. The indication I had from that meeting was that now we are not going to be able to put additions on to schools because of the septic system requirement of the Ministry of the Environment. In a school with an enrolment of 218 pupils, they require an additional 114 acres to put an addition on to that school. In a school in Wyevale with 245 pupils, the acreage required for 350 students would be 61 and for 500 students would be 87.
There are other examples in East Oro, Guthrie and Medonte East of the additional acreage required to put additions on to schools. What they are really saying is that there are going to be no more additions to rural schools, so the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Education had better start looking at the reasonable land use policy applying to the school boards across this province.
Mr Martin: It gives me some deal of pleasure to rise this morning as the member for Sault Ste Marie and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education to speak to this resolution.
First of all, I want to say to the member for Mississauga East that he certainly brings to us today a very real problem, one that I do not think any of us does not recognize, one that I do not think any of us has not in some way been lobbied about over the last number of months.
All of us who represent ridings across Ontario that have school boards therein recognize that the funding of education is a challenge that faces this province in a more critical way now than it ever has in its past. However, this problem is not a challenge -- let's call it that -- unique to the greater Toronto area. It is a problem all of us experience across the province. It is not a problem the government has not recognized and is not trying to grapple with and come up with some answers to.
I think it is important to recognize two factors. One of them is that the challenge of education is province-wide and that we must consider the whole province when we look at how we fund education. Not only that but, in looking at the funding of education, we must be very concerned as well about where we raise that money, where it comes from and how we do that. It is a much more complicated issue than simply levying taxes on people who are building new homes and that sort of thing.
This government has responded to that challenge, actually, in two ways. We have launched the Fair Tax Commission, which will allow us to look at this problem in its fullness, in all its factors. We recognize there is a problem in the collection of taxes and how we spend them. There is a demand on the government today for moneys as there never was before, particularly in front of the recession that we have raging.
This is the question being asked by the Fair Tax Commission: Is the current property tax system capable of meeting the revenue requirements associated with local governments' and school boards' program delivery responsibilities while imposing a fair tax burden on property owners? If not, what changes should be made to the property tax system and/or other funding sources for local governments and/or school boards to improve the fairness of their revenue-raising requirements?
I think the operative word here in both the collection of taxes and the spending of taxes is "fairness," certainly recognizing that Metropolitan Toronto has a particular problem at the moment. A number of the boards the member for Mississauga East spoke of were in my office speaking very passionately and eloquently about their own particular situation. However, every weekend when I go home I hear the same story from my own boards.
It is also important to know that the Ministry of Education has launched a discussion around this question in an effort to participate more positively with the Fair Tax Commission. It has started an education reform project and put out a consultation paper that will include all the major players. The focus of that particular exercise will be on providing equity to the learner in Ontario and also being fair and responsible to the taxpayer.
As I said in my opening remarks, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this. I recognize it as a very important challenge in front of us as a government. I suggest that we as a government are responding in a responsible way. We are looking at the problem in its fullness. We appreciate, invite and will consider seriously any discussion or input that members across the floor and particularly our partners out in the communities might have on this important question.
Mr Curling: What an opportunity to remind this government of its responsibilities. It is very easy. I want to just come from a base, all the time, from their bible or charter, the Agenda for People. They are very familiar with that, because it is a document with which they are guiding themselves to destruction, as a matter of fact, because of reneging.
The member for Simcoe East mentioned exactly the direction in which they felt they would be going and also some of the broken promises of the Liberal government. When we are speaking about broken promises, we just have to see the government across the way. I am very encouraged by the members on the government side who have recognized the importance of lack of funding. Not only have they broken their promise on the operating costs, but they have also reneged on their commitments to capital funding.
We have seen the rapid growth that has taken place, Mr Speaker. I am from the riding of Scarborough North, which I know you have visited very regularly. I encourage many of the members here to visit that wonderful place of Scarborough, specifically Scarborough North, which is an example of the diversity and growth of Ontario and the need for capital funding, especially in the school system.
When the Liberal government was in power in 1990, it allocated to the Scarborough Board of Education grants totalling over $8 million for the construction of two schools. As members will remember, that included child care centres for both schools, quite a forward-looking policy.
The NDP says now that the cupboard is bare. As a matter of fact, they are beyond even thinking properly how to construct the economy. When they looked into that cupboard they said it was bare, but when they reached their hands in there, they found money to pay off the teachers, they found money for Ontario Hydro and the exorbitant salary they are paying Mr Eliesen, and they found money for many other things. But to find money to educate our children --
Mr McClelland: The future of the province.
Mr Curling: The future of the province, as my colleague the member for Brampton North states; no foresight at all, no commitment in that direction. It pains my heart that the cupboard is bare, not for doctors, not for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, but for our children.
Between 1981 and 1986, Scarborough grew or increased by 9.3%. On a comparative basis the city of York grew by 6% and the city of Toronto by 2.2%. More recent estimates point to even more dramatic growth, with much of our community's population increasingly made up of the many new Canadians who arrive and contribute so well to our population.
The member for Scarborough East nodded in agreement, realizing the urgent need for that funding. I am sure he has visited the portables; if he has not done so, I would encourage him to visit the portables that are there. Many of the students are now studying in portables. They had identified the need when in opposition, then the third party, that this was so needed, so much so that they put it in the Agenda for People.
I would like to clear this up, but I decided not to because I feel they will come to their senses. We have colleagues on this side who are prepared to sit with them to show them where the priorities are, because most times the socialists over on that side talk a lovely talk but they do not walk. It is time for them to walk the walk and scrap the talking. The consultation, the constant consult, consult, "in order for us to consult" is a lot of talk, of rhetoric.
Our children are hurting. For us to compete we must have the equipment and the facilities. I urge them to encourage those ministers who sit close by to change the priority and put the proper funding within the school system.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: I appreciate the applause, especially from the government members this morning.
It is a pleasure to rise to support the resolution of my colleague the member for Mississauga East. I also congratulate him on the first resolution he has had an opportunity to bring forward in his four and a half years in the House. Since we are on a lottery system, we do not all get to the top of the heap with our lottery draw for this opportunity.
However, the one concern I have about the resolution is that it is limited. I wish it would have gone further into the real problem that exists today for the funding of education in Ontario, not only in terms of the capital cost but also the operating cost for schools and the education systems.
The travesty of what has been going on for the last six years in Ontario is that both the present government and the previous government -- the Liberal government -- have not made education the priority it needed to be, nor have they fulfilled the responsibility with which they are mandated, to give an equal opportunity for education to every child in this province.
During our Conservative election campaign of last year, we actually put forward a very realistic suggestion, and that was that there should be two separate capital funds to address two different needs, one being the construction and building of new schools and the other being renovation and repairs to existing schools.
We can have schools in older areas of new-growth boards and the Peel Board of Education and the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board are two very good examples of that, but I would like to give members an example of a school in my riding in Mississauga South, which is one of the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board's elementary schools, and it is St James school.
If members were to visit St James school, they would find a facility for education in Mississauga South that they would not believe could exist in terms of its being crowded and with a total lack of facilities for a full curriculum program for those children.
I have stood in this House every year for all the years I have been here and talked about St James school. I have stood in this House and begged every Minister of Education to come and visit St James school and try to understand why each had a responsibility as Minister of Education to make the renovation and repairs to existing stock as big a priority as funding new schools, so that children who are in any part of this province at least have an equal opportunity because they have an equal type of facility. The children in St James school do not have a gymnasium or an auditorium. They have to be bused to outside facilities like church halls to rehearse for school concerts and similar events.
Their physical education program is limited because of not having a gymnasium. Of course, as with so many schools in the region of Peel, a large proportion of the students are in portables. We now have a new Minister of Education and I will be writing my routine letter to him to see if we can yet convince a Minister of Education in this province to care about older schools that need repair and renovation.
I wrote repeatedly to the Liberal ministers of education. I wrote to the member for London Centre, the previous Minister of Education in the current socialist government. As I said a moment ago, I will be writing to our new Minister of Education, the member for Dovercourt.
It is really significant that for the last six years the number of children in portables in this province has increased by 102.6%, over 100% more children in portables today in Ontario than when the Progressive Conservative Party was the government and responsible for education.
We have these horrific figures of children in portables. At this point I would like to mention on behalf of the member for Willowdale that at Brebeuf Secondary School, which is a Metropolitan Separate School Board facility in his riding, 60% of the students are in portables. In the Dufferin-Peel separate school board and the Peel Board of Education in Peel, over 50% of the children are in portables.
At the same time we have all these children in portables, which in my opinion is substandard education in terms of the opportunity of an environment, the cost of education is more and more being transferred down to the lower levels of government, namely, the municipal level of funding. The school boards themselves are now having to debenture and borrow the money to build their new schools. Who pays the cost of that borrowing? The property taxpayers. I have a great deal of concern with what is going on in the province today, and I hope there will be a remedy for it.
Mr Fletcher: I rise not to support the resolution but to show some sympathy for the resolution. As a former trustee with the Wellington County Board of Education, I know too well the problems with underfunding. I have seen the people on our board, the administration work hard with the lack of funding over the years. It is not something that has happened just today. This problem is not a problem that lurks only in Mississauga or somewhere else like that. It is throughout the province and that is something I think we have to address quite clearly.
If members look at the area of Guelph which has seen unprecedented growth over the last few years, that is not just an overflow of people from Toronto; that also brings in people from outside the province and people from outside the country.
The problems in my riding are the same as members would find in most ridings in Ontario: overcrowded schools, busing children long distances so that they can find available space, and administration being pushed out and squeezed out. The problems are there and we cannot just keep throwing money we do not have at the situation. I think my colleague the member for Sault Ste Marie mentioned some of the programs that we are implementing as a government.
When people talk about the quality of education, as I said, being a former trustee I know how dedicated and how hardworking the teachers are in Wellington county. That is why the quality of education in Wellington county is so high; also the administration, which has to work with the lack of funds and try to implement some of the programs the government puts on us.
What it is going to take is some co-operation between school boards and the provincial government, and also co-operation in this House between the opposition and the government, to help us put our programs through so we can start dealing with some of the problems that the underfunding problem has created. We have to realize, as I said before, that this did not start overnight. This started with the extreme right-wing party, when Bill Davis was Minister of Education and was starting to tinker with the system, and it has not stopped since.
When I was a trustee for five years, it was during five years of economic boom and the Liberals were in power and we could not get a penny out of them this way or that way. As I said, it did not start overnight. The problems started there, they continued there and now the member is saying to us to fix it for his area. We cannot do it overnight. We are going to take our time to do it and we are going to make sure that the economy can support our education system before we start throwing more money at it.
Mr McClelland: Let me at the outset address a few comments made by my friend the member for Guelph. His point is well taken. There is a problem that attaches to school boards across the province, and to any that are high-growth areas. I think my friend the member for Mississauga East has tried to focus the issue with respect to the areas in the GTA, because that is where there is a significant problem with respect to growth.
I want to talk very briefly about a point that was raised by the member for Guelph. He said that the former government did nothing. I remind him that the previous government, prior to the Peterson government, had flat-lined capital funding for year after year. In the year I was elected, I say to my friend opposite, it went from $75 million to $300 million. I would say that is doing an awful lot. In the boards I represent, the areas that are contiguous with my riding, more money was spent in the Peel board than was spent previously in the entire province. I think it is important that the record show the former government responded.
I asked the question at that time, "How much is enough?" When it comes to this issue, one could argue that you never have enough. But for the members now in government to have flat-lined what we did in government is really just totally unacceptable. They have betrayed the promise they made that they would address the problem. They have flat-lined. They have in fact done what the Conservative government did and have flat-lined capital funding for schools. I think the member for Guelph should keep that important point in focus.
I want to say to the people of Ontario, particularly those in high-growth areas, that right now school boards are presenting their capital funding proposals to the Ministry of Education. School boards are now presenting their capital needs for the next provincial budget. I would urge every parent who has a child in a portable in the greater Toronto area and indeed across the province, to phone the Premier at 325-1941 and tell him that you are not satisfied that your child is receiving an education in a portable. Call the Premier at 325-1941 or fax him at 325-3745 and make a phone call for every child who is in a portable. In my area alone that would be some 36,000 phone calls to the Premier's office. I urge parents to do that.
I want to tell members what the Premier said when he was just "Call me Brother Bob," before he became the imperial Premier. He said, "Every time they" -- school boards -- "build a new school in the area a few kilometres northwest of Toronto problems are added right away, which is a direct product of the underfunding of the government. School boards have been wrestling with rapid growth without getting enough money from the provincial government."
A year ago, prior to the election, in the summer of 1990, before he was cloaked in the regal robes he prances around in now, the Premier said, "I'll take care of it." On August 10, 1990, he said, "The Peel Board of Education" -- which includes Huttonville -- "is one of the largest in Canada and has 18,000 of its 93,000 students studying in portables." He promised an NDP government would increase government spending on education, but he would not reveal the details until later in the campaign. The campaign is past. It has been more than a year since he was sworn in as Premier and I have seen nothing happen in the area board. It has been flat-lined.
I take particular exception to that. We took a lot of heat. We did the best we could and we did not do well enough. I admit we did not do well enough, because when it comes to providing adequate funding for our children, you cannot do too much. But the year before the member for York South became Premier, 28 capital projects were funded in Peel. Last year, under the Premier who promised he would take care of this problem, five capital projects were funded. The people of Ontario and Peel cannot accept that in light of his promise. I again urge them to call the Premier, to fax the Premier and tell him, "Bob Rae, live up to your promise."
Mrs MacKinnon: Education has long been of great interest to me and it continues to be now that I find myself as the elected member for Lambton. Many will be aware that I was serving on the Lambton County Board of Education at the time of my election. I well remember during my term as a trustee the many concerns I, along with my colleagues, had at budget time trying to match the dollars available to the programs we were trying to implement. I very well remember looking at the dollar amounts being requested and the dollar amounts projected by the collection of taxes. I need not tell anyone the two never matched; indeed, the budget dollars were far more than the dollars available.
It goes without saying that it is still that way. With the onslaught of this recession dollars for education are still in short supply. It appears to me that at a time of restraint such as we find ourselves in it is necessary for all school boards in Ontario, including Lambton county's, to become more innovative as to how they are spending their dollars.
I cannot support this resolution because in my opinion all boards of education are experiencing population growth. I really believe the boards named in the resolution are experiencing and will continue to experience extraordinary population growth, but it would be very difficult and unfair for any government to fund different boards of education across the province in different ways.
It would be easy for me to present a case for Lambton county to qualify for such extra consideration. There is no need for separate capital funding. Separate capital funding will only make for severe problems of understanding with other boards of education. All boards of education, including Lambton county's, are experiencing a shortfall of funding because of rising costs.
As I alluded to previously, the recession we find ourselves in makes the job that much more difficult. Our government has formed the first Fair Tax Commission, which will be looking for things to help education financing. Also, the Ministry of Education has set up an education finance committee to take a look at the funding of education. Important as education is to all of us, we as a government are doing and have done all that can be done during a very severe recession.
Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to rise in the debate today and I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Mississauga East for raising this issue during private members' hour.
There is a goal we all share in this Legislature. During private members' hour we have a chance to talk about our goals. I think everyone in this Legislature wants the children of Ontario to have the very best education possible. I think they realize that the very best learning environment will enhance the learning opportunities for the children in the province.
We are also concerned, all of us, about an environment which is substandard or less than optimal or unacceptable, as we have heard from the member for Mississauga East in his description of the kinds of substandard conditions in place, particularly in the GTA, because of the very rapid increases in enrolment over the last few years. This has led to a concern that the learning experience will be diminished and that our children will not be having the best educational opportunity we all want them to have.
What should the government do about it? I can tell members how disturbed and distressed I am that there was no speaker out of the government benches from the GTA and no speaker who really understood the exceptional pressures of rapid growth and rapid enrolment increases that the boards in the GTA are experiencing.
We heard calls for innovation at the boards. There is a real opportunity, and I would like to be helpful this morning during private members' hour in suggesting to the new government what it can do to address this. It is their responsibility to set their priorities. They have to be really clear about what their priorities are and then reallocate available resources. No taxpayer in this province wants to see increases in taxes -- certainly I as a taxpayer do not want increases -- but there are some resources that could be reallocated.
For example, they came out with a $700 million anti-recession fund. The beauty of using capital to stimulate the economy in education is that there are no operating implications. Their formula for funding education is fixed. They could have used a substantial portion of the $700 million to build badly needed schools, particularly in the GTA. They could have recognized that need and put their money where their mouth was a year ago during the election campaign. They could have done it. They allocated money but they did not set the priority. They are building noise barriers along our highways. It is nice to have noise barriers, but is that their priority? Let's put that money towards schools. There are things they could be doing in setting priorities that could be really clear.
We are in a recession right now. During this recession we are seeing increases in vacancy rates. There are also huge operating implications in building more social housing. Maybe some of those dollars should be going into education capital instead. Those are the kinds of decisions that they as the government can make as they go through their allocation process. They are not making them. They are not managing the available resources. They are not setting clear priorities. They are not sending the message out to the people of this province that they know how to stimulate the economy to get us out of the recession and that they know how to manage the available resources as effectively as possible to achieve the common goals we share. I am very concerned about that.
When I listen to the bureaucratic palaver coming out of the members who spoke this morning, I am really worried. On behalf of my own constituents in the riding of Oriole, the people in the GTA and the people of this province, this government has to get its act together. It has to understand its role. It has to look at reallocation of existing dollars and putting them where its priorities are.
I say very clearly that they have got to do it now. Sending it all off to the Fair Tax Commission and waiting until 1994-95 to take some action is unacceptable. The children of this province need their attention now. The people of this province need their attention now. We are here to help them. They do not accept any of our good ideas when we propose them. At least today they should support this important proposal from the member for Mississauga East and send a message to their government.
Mr O'Connor: I want to thank the member for Mississauga East for bringing this resolution to the House today because I, as the member for Durham-York -- I also live in the riding -- have four school boards. They are the four growth school boards we are talking about here today. I share a lot of the concerns the member has raised.
Perhaps the motion is somewhat flawed, because it does not address the whole education system. In referring to that, I would like to point out the work done by the standing committee on public accounts and its report this year. It pointed out a couple of different problems with education funding. One of the school boards we looked at was the York Region Roman Catholic Separate School Board. Last year they looked at having a deficit of $18 million, a very serious problem. But some of the problems are basically because of funding discrepancies. Again, high growth becomes part of the problem, and of course their allowance to fund in different ways just exacerbated the problem. They worked quite closely in the minister's office trying to resolve some of these problems. That is what has to be done.
In looking at school boards, we have to take a look at the broader problems right across the province. In public accounts we looked at that. These are a couple of the boards that were looked at by the Provincial Auditor, and the auditor looked at the Lakehead school board up in the north too. They addressed a lot of different concerns and the problem they had was a lack of control of spending and auditing. That needs to be addressed and is something that will be addressed. It is something we have to take a look at right across the province. It is actually somewhat flawed.
The auditor addressed some of the problems at the Ministry of Education regarding inadequate documentation around capital expenditure and forecasting. The ministry has worked with the auditor in trying to meet some of those requirements. It is something that again points out the whole broader issue beyond schools and school boards within the GTA.
I can point out one of the schools in my riding that has an overcrowding situation, which of course causes safety and hygiene problems. The parents there have been calling for a new school for years now -- "Build us our new school" -- and rightly so. There have been a lot of new schools built within the region and they have not received theirs yet.
I also remember last year in the late spring, when the capital expenditures were being submitted by the school boards for approval, that these parents from the school actually took a look at trying to solve some of the problems and trying to restructure the whole system right within the whole town of Uxbridge. That is creative thinking. It is trying to use money that did not need capital dollars and trying to put a little fairness into it.
There was a request put in for $2.1 billion and the only money we had available was $300 million for capital expenditure funding. We have to take a look at that and we have to recognize it. We also have to remember, as the member for Scarborough East mentioned, that we have only one taxpayer. When we go looking for school taxes we have to keep that in mind. That is something we have to take a look at.
Among the different issues raised during our committee hearings was the lack of accountability as far as some of the school boards are concerned, because of the audit committees they have. There needs to be more public participation. Bring in some of the parents and sit down and discuss some of the needs that need to be addressed within the schools and within the school system.
I think the problem is not just within the GTA. It goes far beyond that. We have to take a look at that as a government and recognize the special needs within the GTA. I thank the member for Mississauga East for bringing this resolution forward today.
Mr Sola: I would like to thank all the members who participated: the members for Simcoe East, Sault Ste Marie, Scarborough North, Mississauga South, Guelph, Lambton, Oriole and Durham-York. I accept some of the criticisms and I welcome the suggestions that were made. I think it is time education stopped being a political football, something used during an election campaign to build up support and conveniently forgotten once the election campaign is over.
As we have noted, delay just magnifies the problem. I realize that my resolution was limited in scope because it concentrated on the areas immediately surrounding Metropolitan Toronto. That is the area I am most familiar with and for which I had the most facts. For instance, when the member for Guelph notes that his area is now a growth area, it shows the danger in the NDP government's response that will put education funding on the back of the Fair Tax Commission for consideration. By the time they finish their deliberations and make their recommendations, we may have several other areas that will be considered growth areas because they are behind in their facilities as far as the number of students is concerned.
If the members accept the principle of the resolution, that we should develop a formula that will look more adequately after the needs of our students, I will be happy. But I would hate to use the limited scope of my resolution for ignoring the problems that have occurred in this province. These problems were there when we had a Conservative government, they were there when we had a Liberal government, they are here under the NDP. Our government tried to do something about it and I hope the NDP will do so as well.
COMPENSATION FOR VACCINE-RELATED INJURY
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Frankford has moved resolution 27.
Motion agreed to.
FUNDING OF GROWTH BOARDS
The House divided on Mr Sola's motion of resolution 28, which was negatived on the following vote:
Ayes -- 25
Bradley, Brown, Caplan, Carr, Hansen, Jackson, Malkowski, Marchese, Marland, McClelland, McGuinty, Miclash, Mills, Murdoch, B., O'Connor, Perruzza, Phillips, G., Ruprecht, Sola, Sterling, Tilson, Turnbull, White, Wilson, J., Wiseman.
Nays -- 26
Bisson, Carter, Christopherson, Cooper, Dadamo, Drainville, Duignan, Farnan, Fletcher, Frankford, Haeck, Harrington, Hayes, Hope, Kormos, Lessard, MacKinnon, Martin, Mathyssen, Morrow, Owens, Ward, B., Waters, Wessenger, Wilson, G., Winninger.
The House recessed at 1212.
The House resumed at 1330.
BILINGUISME EN ONTARIO
M. Grandmaître : Lors de la dernière campagne électorale, l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario a circulé un questionnaire concernant les politiques en matière d'affaires francophones. Les réponses du premier ministre ont soulevé les espoirs de la communauté franco-ontarienne. Le premier ministre a déclaré être en faveur de promouvoir les services en français en matière de services de santé. Il a déclaré être en faveur d'établir une université et un autre collège francophone en Ontario. Sa réponse à la question du bilinguisme officiel donnait à espérer à toute la communauté franco-ontarienne. Le premier ministre a répondu sans équivoque, «Oui, le parti néo-démocrate est en faveur du bilinguisme officiel en Ontario.»
Mais en juin dernier, lors du Sommet de la francophonie ontarienne, le ministre délégué aux Affaires francophones a annoncé que l'Ontario ne serait pas déclaré officiellement bilingue. Plus que cela, les Franco-Ontariens n'ont plus de chance de participer dans le processus gouvernemental puisque le ministre a dispersé le Conseil d'éducation franco-ontarien.
Comble de frustration par l'inaction du gouvernment NPD, l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario a tenu une conférence de presse hier pour pousser ce gouvernement à maintenir ses engagements envers la communauté franco-ontarienne. L'ACFO a dévoilé un projet d'entente qu'elle veut signer avec le gouvernement de l'Ontario. Cette entente reconnaîtrait le français comme langue officielle en Ontario et donnerait aux Franco-Ontariens le droit à l'autogestion de leurs institutions scolaires et financières.
Maintenant, l'ACFO et la communauté franco-ontarienne attendent un signe de vie du Bureau du premier ministre.
Mr B. Murdoch: TVOntario says it helps Ontarians develop the skills they require to successfully participate and compete in the world of rapid change and global challenge. For the sake of the public of this province, I hope TVO is not planning to lead by example and teach its viewers to avoid paying taxes, for that is exactly what this publicly funded community channel is doing.
TVOntario owns 97 acres of land in Grey and uses eight of these acres for a tower. The rest is good farm land, part of which is rented out to a farm family and for which TVOntario receives revenue in the form of rent. I realize TVO is relying on the Assessment Act to avoid paying anything towards the wellbeing of its host municipality, but it seems that such a corporation, which prides itself on serving the public, would realize that it is not held in very high esteem when people see it collecting rent and contributing nothing to the upkeep of the roads.
The municipal tax assistance act enables crown corporations to pay an amount in lieu of taxes at their discretion. I would ask that the Minister of Culture and Communications look into this matter and decree that TVO at least pay the municipality for the portion of land that it rents out. How can TVO purport to serve the public when it is seen by my constituents to be unwilling to fulfil its community responsibilities?
Mr Winninger: I am pleased to rise in the House today to recognize the work of a distinguished Canadian from London, Ontario. Mary Oliver, administrator of adult education for the London Board of Education, recently received two honours for her work to overcome adult illiteracy. In May she accepted the Lamp of Learning award from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, and last Wednesday she was awarded the Ivey award for excellence from the London Foundation.
Mary Oliver, a voluntary tutor in 1978, became administrator of the program in 1981 and now oversees a program with 2,000 learners, 140 volunteer tutors and 25 full- and part-time paid teachers. She tells me that the program's success is due to the students' determination and hard work, learning basics with a tutor, then using classroom instruction to refine their skills.
Today's Globe and Mail front page reports 56% of 227 forest products industry employees in British Columbia had difficulty reading at a mid-grade 4 level. Two years ago, an Ontario study found 40% of all adults had below eighth-grade literacy. In London, 20% of the population is functionally illiterate.
The dedication of individuals like Mary Oliver, as well as the $10.5 million in funding for the 184 organizations that provide literacy programs and services for adults throughout Ontario, supports people learning to read and write.
Mr McGuinty: A few hours ago I had the misfortune of sitting on the standing committee on government agencies. I describe it as a misfortune for the following reasons.
As members know, the committee was charged with the important task of determining the best way to deal with allegations that a solicitor representing the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations had made statements contemptuous of this House's authority, of the committee's authority and of the privilege enjoyed by each member of this House.
Two motions were put forward in committee today. The government's motion, which of course passed, recommends to the minister that she herself conduct an internal inquiry and take whatever action she deems appropriate. The opposition motion could not even be debated, as the government invoked closure after only one member of the committee had spoken.
The result is that this matter of vital importance to all of us here and to our traditions of parliamentary authority will be investigated by a minister whose own lawyer, who we must logically presume was acting in accordance with the minister's wishes, will now be conducting the inquiry. In effect, the minister will be the judge, the jury and the accused.
Our public and our traditions of fairness demand that this matter be reviewed by a committee of this House. The course that the government members of the committee have embarked the committee upon means that this government has no intention of dealing with this matter publicly and fairly. Government members have accused us of being on a witchhunt. We are on a hunt -- a hunt for the facts, and we will pursue those facts relentlessly, rigorously and unfailingly.
Mr McLean: My statement is directed to the Premier. He is not here, but the Deputy Premier will hear it. It concerns the failure of several ministers to respond to urgent letters from elected officials in Simcoe county.
The warden of Simcoe county has indicated to me that over the past seven months she has written a total of six letters to several officials in the government, including the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Revenue, requesting their consideration of a number of serious situations that have arisen as a result of the county of Simcoe's assumption of waste management responsibilities. To date, the warden has received only two acknowledgements of the six letters.
In the Premier's throne speech he said: "My government will open Queen's Park to those who have never before had an effective voice in the corridors of power. It is a government that will listen to the people and respond to the needs to the best of its ability." Apparently the ability of several of his ministers leaves much to be desired.
I suggest the lack of courtesy exhibited by the ministers in responding to the concerns of the warden of Simcoe county, to individuals in my riding of Simcoe East and even to correspondence from me is forcing the people of Ontario to operate in isolation, without the appropriate direction or guidance from the government. Last week I delivered two letters to two different ministers, the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Transportation, and they immediately got back to me with those.
I tell the Premier I think there is a problem within the ministries of the ministers not getting the letters, and I would ask him to look into it.
CANADIAN WOMEN'S ARMY CORPS
Mr Mills: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to stand in the House today and pay tribute to the Canadian Women's Army Corps as it celebrates its golden jubilee in 1991. I would also like to recognize the fact that the Minister of Government Services attended their 50th anniversary banquet recently.
The Canadian Women's Army Corps was formed on August 13, 1941, to perform services during the Second World War. During that war, 21,614 women, embracing 10 nationalities, answered the call for volunteers. Their commitment, by today's standards, was rather stiff. They made agreements not to marry for six months, to wear their hair above the collar, to abandon all finery and to work long hours and be subject to military discipline.
Time marches on, Mr Speaker, and no one is more aware of that than you and I. Today, most of the former members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps are grandmothers. I ask all members of the Legislature to join in paying a tribute to the members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps, who in the bloom of their life made a significant contribution to ensure the freedom we all enjoy today.
Mr McClelland: When one assumes a new role as critic, it is remarkable what a fresh perspective can bring to old material. I thought it would be interesting, and I hope you will too, Mr Speaker, to review some of the Premier's correspondence from the election campaign of just over a year ago.
This particular letter is dated August 14, 1990, and is addressed to organizations such as Pollution Probe, Greenpeace and others. These are all statements the NDP supported: "zero discharge of all toxic chemicals into the air and water by the year 2000; a ban on toxic organochlorine dumping by the pulp and paper industry by the year 1993; an immediate ban on municipal garbage incineration; enact the environmental bill of rights immediately; legislation requiring that all containers be refillable; tough packaging laws to eliminate excess packaging; no new nuclear reactors in Ontario, a plan for energy efficiency and a phase-out of existing reactors; an immediate ban on CFCs in flexible furniture foam and rigid insulation." There is an awful lot of use of the word "immediate."
Yes, all of these were statements that the then member for York South made in August 1990. The letter is signed by Bob Rae and ends with this statement: "I hope these commitments indicate to you that an NDP government would take firm, timely and decisive action to achieve the eight proposals you have put forward."
I simply remind the government that the public is watching, and we are still waiting.
Mr Jackson: I call to the attention of all members of the House yet another example of gross insensitivity towards Ontario's seniors by the NDP. The Ministry of Health has decided it will no longer cover the drug persantine as a non-formulary interim Ontario drug benefit after October 31 of this year. Persantine is a continuous-use drug on the market since the 1960s which normalizes platelet survival in patients with prosthetic heart valves and which was covered for many years as a safe and effective medication for angina and other related heart problems. In other words, it is a drug used by senior citizens.
The NDP decision to discontinue coverage of persantine was made without any consideration for the wellbeing of those seniors who will now have to bear great financial difficulty to obtain this drug, or who may even be forced to forgo the drug altogether.
The Minister of Health this week took over complete responsibility for long-term care in Ontario. That minister should be ashamed of her actions, which seriously compromise the health care of seniors. Where is the NDP minister responsible for senior citizens' affairs in all of this? Is that strangely silent seniors' minister even aware of what is going on here?
This is the second time this week I have stood in the House to speak on this government's socialist slight against seniors. We now know that NDP OHIP cutbacks will force seniors to buy expensive, unregulated private insurance. It would now seem that the Premier should just put out a sign on his front office door that says, "Seniors Are Not Welcome."
I call on the Minister of Health to reinstate coverage for persantine immediately. The NDP says it is listening. It is now time for the Premier to begin hearing what vulnerable Ontario seniors are telling him about their critical health care needs.
Mr Dadamo: As the member of the Ontario Legislature representing the riding of Windsor-Sandwich, I am pleased to inform members of this House that the Windsor Young Men's Christian Association residence has been given the go-ahead by my colleague the Minister of Housing to begin developing plans for the 50 non-profit housing units for singles as part of the Ontario non-profit housing program.
As well, the very dedicated community-based group is among the first to be selected to produce non-profit housing as part of the Ontario non-profit housing program announced in last spring's budget. The goal of this program is to produce 10,000 affordable housing units right across this province.
The non-profit housing sponsors will take out mortgage loans to pay the capital costs of the housing and the province will subsidize the annual operating costs. The housing will have tenants with a mix of incomes. Those with the lowest incomes will pay rents based on their incomes while those with higher incomes will pay rents based on comparable accommodation in the local private market.
Those eligible to apply for non-profit housing include families, senior citizens, single people and of course people with disabilities and refugee claimants. Once final plans have been approved by the ministry, construction will commence, enhancing our government's goal of economic renewal.
I would also like to extend my warmest congratulations to the executive at the Windsor YMCA for a job well done in securing these 50 non-profit housing units for singles, a welcome addition to my riding of Windsor-Sandwich as well as to the city of Windsor.
INVESTIGATION INTO RELEASE OF DOCUMENTS
The Speaker: On Tuesday of this week, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Elston) rose on a question of privilege concerning a visit by police officers to his office in the Parliament Building. He was of the view that the visit was preventing him from carrying out his work and that it infringed the rights of the minorities in this House.
This matter is covered by paragraph 45(1)2 of the Legislative Assembly Act, which provides that the assembly may find that it is a breach of privilege or a contempt to obstruct, threaten or attempt to force or intimidate a member of the assembly.
Having had an opportunity to review Tuesday's Hansard and the relevant parliamentary authorities, I find that a situation whereby outside police authorities interview a member in his or her parliamentary office, in the case at hand, does not amount to intimidation or obstruction in the parliamentary sense of those words.
While the Leader of the Opposition has not established, in my opinion, a prima facie case of privilege, this does not end the matter. I am concerned about how this incident affects other areas of the law and custom of Parliament. Therefore, let me make some remarks and give some directions concerning the proper procedure that must be followed by police forces seeking to interview someone in the legislative precinct. In doing so, I am cognizant that there is no rule or precedent of this assembly on this specific point, and accordingly I have carefully canvassed the parliamentary authorities with respect to the practices and procedures in other jurisdictions.
Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada states the following at page 146:
"The exclusive privilege of the House to regulate proceedings within its own walls must be respected. 'It is well established that outside police forces on official business shall not enter the precincts of Parliament without first obtaining the permission of Mr Speaker.' To this limited extent, the law and custom of Parliament prevails over the general law. The Sergeant at Arms or a member of the protective service should accompany police officers while officially in the building in assertion of parliamentary authority and to prevent police 'fishing expeditions.'"
The second edition of Australia House of Representatives Practice states the following at page 164:
"Police may not enter Parliament House for the purpose of interrogating anyone or executing a warrant without the express consent of the Speaker or President. There are a number of precedents of such consent being granted in the case of police wishing to interview members. In commenting on one such incident, the Speaker stated:
"'To avoid any misunderstanding as to the powers of the police in this building, I draw to the attention of the House that it is accepted as part of the Parliament's privileges and immunities that the police do not have a right to enter the Parliament building without the prior knowledge and consent of the President and/or the Speaker. The police officers who visited the honourable member yesterday sought my permission to do so before coming to the building.'"
It is clear then that police forces cannot, as of right, interview an occupant of the legislative precinct; they have first to obtain the consent of the Speaker.
I might say to members that there has not been a ruling on this point by any previous Speaker of this assembly because there has never been a request to so so. Now that the procedure has been set out in this ruling, I want to caution interested persons that failure to comply with this procedure in the future may constitute a breach of privilege or a contempt.
Hon Mrs Boyd: With the unanimous consent of the House, I would like to take a moment to recognize Persons Day.
The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent?
Hon Mrs Boyd: On October 18, 1929, 62 years ago tomorrow, a 12-year struggle to win equality before the law for Canada's women came to an end when England's Privy Council overturned our own Supreme Court and proclaimed that, yes, women were persons too. What the council was ruling on was whether Canada's five million women -- in 1929 almost half the population -- were to be included in the legal definition of this word and would therefore be eligible for appointment to the Senate.
This battle was waged by five indomitable personalities, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Henrietta Muir Edwards, all dedicated advocates of women's rights. Their vision of the full implications of personhood for women persuaded them to take their case to the highest court in this land, and then on to the Privy Council in England.
It is important that we remember and honour the vision and staying power of Alberta's Famous Five, not only out of respect for our history, but out of respect for the constitutional process being undergone in Canada right now. As we stand at another turning point in Canada's affairs and our country works to resolve pivotal constitutional issues, it is important that women, aboriginal people and other marginalized minority people continue to make themselves heard in the constitutional process. The same qualities of vision, tenacity and clear and original thinking demonstrated in the personhood case are urgently needed today as this country seeks to constitutionally perfect itself.
I know this is no easy task, but the stakes are high and so will be the rewards. As we stand to celebrate Persons Day, we know we will all benefit by those who show the same spirit and determination that propelled Canada's women to personhood.
Ms Poole: The Liberal caucus is pleased to join the minister in celebrating the 62nd anniversary of Persons Day. I know it must be amazing to many members of this House that for almost the first third of this century, women were not recognized as persons under our Constitution and under our laws. As the minister mentioned, it took 12 years of concerted effort by the Famous Five, led by Nellie McClung, to win recognition from the British Privy Council that the concept of persons being limited to men was irrelevant.
Those of us who today enjoy all the advantages of personhood, including the right to serve in this Legislature, owe a great deal to those women who worked so hard for so long to advance the cause of women. As I mentioned, one of those Famous Five women who fought for us to be recognized as persons was Nellie McClung. I am sure members are familiar with the enormous contribution she made to the early women's movement in Canada.
I have a favourite story about Nellie McClung and how she fought for the right of women to vote in Canada. Members have to remember that at the turn of the century, the Dominion Elections Act stated, and I will quote: "No woman, idiot, lunatic or criminal shall vote." Nellie McClung did not think this was too fair, so she and an intrepid group of women in 1914 set out to challenge the Manitoba Legislature. She approached Premier Roblin and demanded that women be given the right to vote. The Premier of the day, Mr Roblin, dismissed their arguments by saying: "Now you forget about all this nonsense about women voting. Nice women don't want to vote."
Nellie McClung and her supporters decided that humour and laughter might be the best way to get action from the government, so the next night, at a theatre in Winnipeg, the women staged a mock Parliament in which all members were women and Nellie McClung was the Premier. However, their roles were reversed in this Parliament and it was the men who were asking for the right to vote. Mrs McClung simply used the same arguments that Premier Roblin had used, in reverse. She said: "If men are given the vote, they will vote too much. Politics unsettles men. Unsettled men mean unsettled bills, broken furniture, broken vows and divorce. Men cannot be trusted with the ballot. Men's place is on the farm." Two years later Nellie McClung won the first right of women in Canada to have the vote, in Manitoba.
We owe a great debt to women like Nellie McClung and our early pioneers, who not only established that we are indeed persons, but also that we have the right to vote and fully participate.
While the "persons" decision was not a recognition at the time that men and women were equal, it was certainly a pivotal step in the women's movement. It was a breakthrough making way for the battles we still fight today for pay equity, child care, freedom of choice and the ability to live free from the threat of violence in our homes and communities.
Today as we celebrate that remarkable victory, that Privy Council decision that established what really should have been self-evident, that both men and women are indeed persons, let us show our gratitude to our pioneer women who led and blazed the way for the rest of us.
Mrs Marland: It is a privilege to rise on this occasion on behalf of our caucus. Tomorrow marks the 62nd anniversary of the "persons" case, that historic decision by the Privy Council of Great Britain which declared that women were in fact persons and were eligible under the Constitution Act, 1867, to become members of the Senate of Canada.
The Privy Council's decision overturned a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1928 that women were not "persons who could hold public office as Canadian senators" because of the terms of the Constitution Act, 1867, and the historical incapacity of women to hold office under common law. In making its decision, the Privy Council called the exclusion of women from public office "a relic of days more barbarous than ours."
The decision on the "persons" case was the result of the efforts of five Alberta suffragettes: Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Emily Murphy and Irene Parlby. Today is a fitting opportunity to pay tribute to these remarkable women and to the countless others who have worked to remove barriers to equality for Canadian women.
Certainly, as we look around us at the women in this chamber and in the Legislative chambers across our country, we see evidence of the progress women have made in politics. But we cannot congratulate ourselves yet. Women have not achieved equality in Canada, politically, economically or socially.
In this Legislature, for example, only 28 of 130 MPPs, or 21.5%, are female. In the House of Commons women make up just 39 of 295 MPs, or 13.2%. Women who have been elected often recall how difficult it was to obtain the financial support required to run for office, or how draining it is to juggle political and family life when in many cases they still carry a disproportionate share of the responsibility for raising children and running a household.
Canadian women still make, on average, just two thirds the salaries of their male counterparts. More than 1.5 million Canadian women live in poverty. Most disturbing is the link between poverty and motherhood: 75% of never-married single mothers raise their children in poverty.
All women, no matter what their economic status, live with the spectre of violence. One woman in four will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. Vulnerable women, such as the frail elderly and those with disabilities, are especially in need of protection from violence. I was horrified to learn that a recent study by the Toronto-based Disabled Women's Network shows that 73% of the disabled women surveyed have been victims of violence, while 96% of these victims have experienced sexual assault.
Until women no longer live in fear of attack, until women are not subjected to sexual harassment, until women's salaries equal those earned by men, until single mothers receive the community and financial support they need to conquer poverty, until women can count on men to share the responsibilities for raising children and housework, until all this and much more, we cannot celebrate equality. But we can celebrate the gains we have made since the "persons" case. We can celebrate the fact that today our daughters can become politicians or, if they prefer, scientists, judges, welders or doctors.
Tomorrow morning, LEAF-Toronto will hold its fourth annual Persons Day breakfast. LEAF, which stands for the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, is a national non-profit organization which litigates precedent-setting equality cases and provides public education on issues of gender, equality and justice. I want to congratulate the members of LEAF for their vital work towards achieving equality for women.
While it is impossible to name the many persons and organizations which have followed in the steps of Henrietta Muir Edwards and her companion suffragettes, we thank them all. While government can and must be a leader in achieving equality for women, it is the work of private citizens like the suffragettes or the members of LEAF which can change public attitudes so that Persons Day becomes an occasion of celebration without qualification.
INVESTIGATION INTO RELEASE OF DOCUMENTS
Mr Bradley: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I have had an opportunity to reflect briefly on your statement which affects the parliamentary precinct as it relates to the use of the police by the government against members of the opposition. While I appreciate the fact that you have, through your statement, it appears, extended your authority and perhaps the authority of the Clerk in order to be notified of the police coming on to the parliamentary precinct, the concern that members of the opposition have quite obviously is not only the parliamentary precinct itself, but that the police would be coming to the homes of members of the opposition or to other offices outside the parliamentary precinct whenever the government deems it appropriate because some information has escaped from the government.
We have had two examples, at the very least, of members of this House -- the member for Halton Centre and the leader of the official opposition -- who have had visits from the police. I suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that while it is both technically and in your interest a matter of interest that they are having those visits within the parliamentary precinct, our concern is that every time there is an opportunity to open up information, to have open government, to see democracy flourishing at its best, members of the government will send the police in to investigate members of the opposition or members of the news media or anyone else who happens to come into possession of information that is interesting to the public and that certainly the public has a right to know. That is the concern that we in the opposition have.
The Speaker: I appreciate the matter that the member for St Catharines has brought to my attention. I am pleased to review the matter once again. I do not believe the authority of the Speaker extends beyond the precinct and the building and the grounds. None the less, I am certainly pleased to review all of the circumstances one more time.
Mr Stockwell: I too would like to raise concerns about that very same issue. I am very disturbed by the actions the government has taken on this and in past practices in connection with the police and the use of the police against opposition parties. I would suggest that if the government today were in opposition and this had taken place, the reaction would have been very strong and very concise.
I am opposed. I think it is clearly harassment and intimidation, no less than harassment and intimidation, by a government that has prided itself in the past on full and open public disclosure. I find it shocking that a socialist government such as the one we have today would even consider sending the police into the opposition parties' offices for a spin document. That is what has been suggested, a spin document.
I have very grave concerns, if it were really a document that had some teeth, some document that was rather important, about what this government would do to get to the bottom of how that document was in fact leaked. I feel very certain that if they are prepared to send the police into our offices over a spin document -- and I ask you to rule on this again, Mr Speaker, in backing up the point made by the member for St Catharines -- it would not surprise me at all if they would send the police to our homes and to other places of business. I am not so sure how far they would go.
I am greatly disturbed by your decision, Mr Speaker. I am greatly disturbed by the Premier's attitude. If it were me they had sent the police to, I would be very clear. If they ever sent the police into my office or my home, I would charge them with intimidation and harassment and I would get them in court. I think you should look into that as well.
The Speaker: I am not sure if the member for Etobicoke West was present in the chamber at the time I delivered my ruling. I have dealt with the matter with respect to visits by police officers within the precinct. Of course, while I am taking a look at the authority for the Speaker as it pertains to not just the precinct but beyond, if members have specific instances of visitations by the police to their residences or offices, they may wish to bring those to my attention. I will take a close look at this matter once again and will report back to you at the earliest moment possible.
Mr Elston: Mr Speaker, this has been a troubling week for me in many ways. I heard your ruling and I support your ruling. I have no questions or qualms about that. In this instance you have decided, on the basis of your examination, that there was no intimidation intended. My view is somewhat different than yours, and that opinion, of course, can rest between you and me having examined the facts in a different manner.
While you have indicated that a request for a visit must now be made to you, at least in these precincts, I want to ask you a question for your consideration while you think on other things and perhaps provide us with some detail later of how you will make a ruling or an understanding about the request and its intent when a request is brought to you by the Ontario Provincial Police or any other police force this government directs to inquire into the activities of opposition party members.
I would ask you in that regard to provide us with an explanation of what you will require to ensure that we are not being intimidated, and that in fact the intimidation is not perhaps being directed so much at us, but directed through us to the public servants who believed it was within their ambit of responsibility to the public to make available to the public information which needs to be known, so that we can protect the openness and the interest of our democratic institutions here.
I will not go on much longer except to say that by having the police visit the people who would expose the information, it is my sense --
Hon Mr Laughren: Are you a lawyer? You're not a high-paid, high-powered --
Mr Elston: Although the 20-year veteran from Nickel Belt, the storyteller of fabled proportions over there, is sort of interjecting, I have to tell you, Mr Speaker, that it is my view that we are being used as an example of what will happen to some public servant who does whistle-blow.
I want to say further, in line with the government's release through the auspices of the minister who is in charge of Management Board of the discussion paper on whistle-blowing, that you be particularly interested there in examining what is required to ensure that the public interest is maintained or at least the discussion that follows that.
Perhaps you could provide us, Mr Speaker, with the guidelines you will use to see that we will not be abused, at least in the precinct and perhaps in other places, which I presume might include the constituency offices because they do in some ways fall under the Legislative Assembly, although I know that is a point of academic interest at the moment and not fully determined.
As I say, I only do this because I am troubled beyond belief about what is taking place here in the House in this province and the fact that the Premier decides not to answer questions or to make himself available when occasions are extremely important and contentious.
Hon Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, I would suggest this is on a different point but a related point. I would ask you to look at the record for this afternoon and the accusations that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition that the government directed a police investigation, that the government was involved in intimidation of members of the assembly by the use of the police. I think those are accusations that are completely out of order and they should be ruled out of order and withdrawn.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Elston: You know exactly why these police investigations are going on, Dave Cooke. You know darned well and you know that the Premier has known about them for a long time.
The Speaker: Order. Would the members come to order, please.
The Speaker: I ask the Leader of the Opposition to come to order, please.
Mr Chiarelli: The time has come to do what you preach. It is dishonest government.
The Speaker: First to the honourable Leader of the Opposition --
The Speaker: Order. When serious matters are brought before the House, we are not aided by intemperate language.
The Speaker: The member for Ottawa West in a calmer moment might wish to rephrase his comments and to withdraw what he just said.
Hon Mr Cooke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member cannot simply accuse this government of being dishonest and not withdraw it. He has got to withdraw.
The Speaker: The member for Ottawa West.
Mr Chiarelli: I should say, Mr Speaker, that they do not practise what they preach and it is a very secretive government. Thank you.
The Speaker: Is that a withdrawal? I caution members, before we proceed any further, that obviously this issue is one that has evoked some emotion. Unfortunately often with emotion comes language which we wish later we had not used. It is helpful when members who in a calmer moment, more reflective moment, realize that they should not have said something that they did simply use the words, "I withdraw." Then we can move on with the business and try to conduct our public business in a little better way.
I would ask the member for Ottawa West if he would simply say, "I withdraw," and then we can move on and conduct our business.
Mr Chiarelli: I withdraw, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: There are two issues which have been brought to my attention. First to the honourable Leader of the Opposition --
Mr Conway: It is fine for Bob Rae and Morty Shulman and Ed Ziemba and Dave Cooke --
The Speaker: Order. The member for Renfrew North, please come to order.
Mr Conway: I want to say, Mr Speaker, that it is very difficult to take a lecture from the Dave Cookes, the Morty Shulmans, the Ed Ziembas --
The Speaker: The member will please sit down.
The Speaker: Order. I ask the members to please come to order. I cannot believe this exchange of harsh words is helpful and I ask members to please exercise some restraint. If the House will come to order, I will address the two matters brought to my attention.
First, the honourable Leader of the Opposition makes a very fair and reasonable request and I will attempt to provide as quickly as possible the details that quite naturally follow from the ruling I made earlier this afternoon. I will provide those details to all members of the House.
Second, the government House leader has brought to my attention a concern and I will examine Hansard to see precisely what was said. Often it is not simply the words but the tone and the context in which words are used that help to create disorder in the chamber and that is always a concern to me. If members are now at least a notch or two more calm than previously, perhaps we can move on with the public business.
Mr McGuinty: It has been brought to my attention that when I made my statement a few moments ago I may have made reference to the standing committee on government agencies. If I did so, I simply want to note for the record that it was my intention to refer to the standing committee on general government.
INVESTIGATION INTO RELEASE OF DOCUMENTS
Mr Phillips: Mr Speaker, back on your ruling: Because you are planning to look into it further, I will say to the House it has been a matter that my caucus will tell you has disturbed me as much as any matter I have seen here in four years. My concern is that we have now had, if I understand it properly, two examples where ministers have launched, I gather unilaterally, police investigations that involved interrogation of the opposition.
It is very troubling to me, Mr Speaker, and I would ask that in your investigation you determine on what basis the government has the authority to launch these investigations. Is it up to each minister to determine whether he or she shall launch a police investigation? On what basis do they have that authority?
The Speaker: I appreciate the concerns brought to my attention by the member for Scarborough-Agincourt and of course note with some interest the concerns he raises. I will attempt to get as much information as is relevant and possible to obtain.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
TEACHERS' PENSION LEGISLATION
Hon Mr Silipo: I am pleased to advise that later today I will introduce legislation to amend the Teachers' Pension Act. I believe this legislation will become a model of the kind of partnership this government wants to build. It will establish a framework for the Ontario government and Ontario's teachers to manage the Ontario teachers' pension plan as full and equal partners. That partnership will start on January 1 of next year.
The legislation provides for equal representation of the province and the teachers on the Ontario teachers' pension plan board. It gives teachers an equal say in the investment decisions of the pension plan and an equal share of future surpluses or deficits.
It gives the partners a formal process for negotiating changes to the plan every three years. Changes to benefits and contribution rates may be negotiated as part of this process. If the partners cannot reach agreement on benefits and contributions, these two issues may be submitted to binding arbitration.
I am also pleased to inform members that at the request of both partners, the current chair of the Ontario teachers' pension plan board, Gerald Bouey, has agreed to continue serving in this position. Both partners will look to Mr Bouey to continue providing the leadership that has already contributed to the building of our partnership and to the financial soundness of the plan.
In conclusion, let me also convey my appreciation to my predecessor, the member for London Centre, who recently took on the portfolio of Community and Social Services. She played a vital role in bringing government and teachers together on this issue.
I also want to note the presence in the gallery of representatives from the Ontario Teachers' Federation: Ron Poste, the president; Margaret Wilson, the secretary-treasurer, and Ruth Baumann, legislative liaison.
I am proud to bring this legislation before this assembly. It is the result of both partners' commitment to fairness and co-operation. I believe this bill deserves the support of all members and I ask that they give it their full consideration.
TEACHERS' PENSION LEGISLATION
Mrs Y. O'Neill: I would like to respond to the statement of the Minister of Education and begin by stating how happy I am that Mr Gerald Bouey will continue as chair. This man has outstanding leadership qualities. Indeed, the original piece of legislation that came in 1989 broke new ground and has had a strong foundation under this man's leadership. I also congratulate those who have served on both sides to this point.
I and my party feel this is a progression from the act of 1989. The option of partnership has been taken fully at this point. Partnership, at every step of the way, always assumes co-operation and respect and we want that in any dealings we have with each other, whether government and associations or indeed one on one. For that we wish this partnership well, because partnerships tend to be healthy.
The commitment of this government to pay off the initial unfunded liability remains intact and that also makes me happy. There is now a full acknowledgement of a responsibility for a deficit that had been at question, may I add, and now this deficit is fully acknowledged to such an extent that the Treasurer last week indicated that one of the reasons we would have to put some stops to spending at this moment was the $215-million need of this pension fund.
There are cautions that I would still like to make on behalf of our party. Arbitration is part of this agreement. Arbitration, as any of us who have done collective bargaining know, assumes an adversarial atmosphere. It often also removes the responsibility for decision-making from those who are accountable and I have certainly seen it in personal experiences. That is a strong concern of mine and of my party, that the taxpayers of Ontario now will have very little in the way of responsibility for financial issues that go to arbitration. I am not saying this always happens, but arbitration sometimes encourages parties, when decision-making gets tough, to remove it to another level.
Negotiating benefits and contributions every three years: There is a real possibility that deficits will be present when this is fully implemented in 1997. Indeed the Treasurer is projecting deficits in the Ontario economy and this fund is not removed totally from the economy. This could result in the limitation or capping of teachers' benefits or an increase in contributions. I think those fears have to be brought forward. I certainly hope the investments of this fund will be wisely and well placed, and that they will be fruitful. I am sure all parties want that.
Retired teachers have already come to me, and to other members of this Legislature I am sure. They again have fears. They have devoted their lives to the children of this province, but they have fears that the contributions they have placed in this fund are now going to be in jeopardy if the right decisions are not made. I think it is the responsibility of this government, and certainly of the teachers' federations in this province, to allay the fears of these teachers, because they have earned these benefits.
I wish this partnership well. There are certainly cautions, and I think they have to be made public. I am sure that will happen. Mr Bouey and his board, I know, have a challenging task before them and we wish them well in their efforts.
Mr Bradley: What I will be concerned about is that, because we heard a promise from the government that it was going to assume 60% of the cost of education, on average, across Ontario by the Ministry of Education, the minister would not be counting, of course, the contribution to the teachers' superannuation fund as part of that 60%.
I noted this year in the transfers that contrary to what I heard in the election campaign and contrary to what I saw on some school bulletin boards across Ontario, the NDP has in fact decreased the amount of money in terms of the percentage to the cost of education in its last transfers. We have just heard from the Treasurer and other prophets of doom and gloom on the other side that those transfers are going to be minuscule in this year. I hope the minister does not play this little smoke-and-mirrors trick that I suspect his colleagues will be advocating.
Mr Jackson: I thought when the member for St Catharines rose that he was going to lament the fact that he is no longer a teacher and that he was going to deeply regret that he was no longer a contributing member to the Ontario teachers' pension plan. However, he had other comments to make which we all listened to with appreciation.
With a small sense of history, I certainly want to acknowledge how pleased the new Minister of Education is that he is able to stand in the House in the week he has become the new Minister of Education, announcing a substantive adjustment in the approach to pensions in this province. But he cannot share the same sense of excitement and thrill as we hear that there are about 300 or 400 University of Toronto students outside at this moment demonstrating. The fact is that all is not necessarily well in public education in this province, and the work ahead of this minister and his government will be rather extensive.
However, what is important is that it is clear that a year and a half ago in this House both I, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party -- and I would like to acknowledge Mr Karl Morin-Strom, the former member for Sault Ste Marie, who provided leadership for his party in the debate with the then Liberal government on this issue. My respect for Mr Morin-Strom is well known. We worked closely together to fight for some of the principles that have found themselves in this bill.
The fact is that a year and a half ago the teachers' federation made good on its threat that it would bring down the Liberal government of Ontario on this issue. Today we know it was successful in its threat to that Parliament and to that Legislature. But what is important to note is that within several months of being in the government, the Treasurer, a former very well acknowledged teaching professional in his own right in his day, was able to convince his cabinet that the teachers' pension fund should be enriched by $200 million from the general legislative grant top-up to $800 million and that an additional new injection of $240 million would be allocated.
One of the very first decisions made was to transfer that $450 million. There were some on the Liberal side -- I should not make excuses for them -- but there were some over on that side who missed the point that it is one of the reasons the Liberal projections were off. As the Treasurer knows, that transfer was made the day before the last day of the fiscal year, and it was a very clever move. It did not go unnoticed on my part. The Treasurer essentially made the Liberals pay politically for his decision to honour his commitment from the last election. I thought it was a stroke of genius and he is to be commended for that kind of bookkeeping.
I would also like to suggest today that when we were in a minority government situation in 1985 and 1986, the Conservative Party approached the issue of binding arbitration when it dealt with a couple of issues in this House. In the minority government situation, both the NDP and the Liberals voted against it. I believe the NDP will revisit its record of voting. The NDP House leader was intimate with these votes. Certainly pharmacists were not allowed to go to binding arbitration on matters relative to the government's control of rate regulation. The doctors in the balanced billing debate --
Hon Mr Cooke: Not true. We moved it; you voted against it.
Mr Jackson: I tabled the amendment. The member for Windsor-Riverside knows I tabled the amendment and he voted against it.
We are encouraged that the NDP is finding that some of the policy positions we have taken are worthy of support, and certainly we are delighted that a greater sense of equity and a greater partnership has been approached. But it must be a sad day for the Treasurer, having made the decision to transfer these moneys, that he cannot make true on the statement in the throne speech that the corridors of power will be more accessible to those who have not previously had access to them, because there are costs associated with this decision. Pension reform for the average Ontarian will not be pursued by this government, and there are some expenses to the kinds of decisions implicit in today's announcement.
Mr Tilson: Mr Speaker, I wish to rise on a point of privilege. I served you notice that I wished to speak at this time. As you will remember, I rose last week, Thursday, October 10, on a point of privilege dealing with what I felt is a contempt of the Legislature and its committees. In your ruling on Tuesday, October 15, you stated that this was a matter that is before the standing committee on general government and ought to be settled in the committee, not in the House, and that the committee may make a report to the House.
Earlier this afternoon in the general government committee, a motion to refer this matter to the House was defeated by the government members of the committee.
The reason I am rising on this point of privilege on this particular point once again is that I feel it is an extremely serious matter that goes beyond the purview of the general government committee. If this matter is allowed to go unchallenged, it will have wide-ranging implications for all legislative committees and this dark cloud will continue to hang over this House.
By defeating the motion to refer this matter to the House, the government members of the general government committee have signalled to all future witnesses who come before legislative committees that the process is nothing but a sham. The perception elucidated by the lawyer for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations that committees are nothing but political window dressing and have no consequence will be allowed to stand.
Surely, Mr Speaker, you can see the inherent danger in allowing this perception to stand. The validity and relevance of all committees will be diminished, along with every member's ability to perform his or her duties as legislators. This matter affects all members of this Legislature. It is not so much a single occurrence where a contempt of this Legislature was shown; it has implications for all members and if not dealt with will surely hamper the abilities of this Legislature, its committees and all members. I believe all chairmen of the committees will be continually faced with this criticism, as will all members of this House.
Given the implication of this alleged contempt, Mr Speaker, I urge you to rule that this is a prima facie breach of privilege, and I will be pleased to move a motion referring the matter to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for further investigation.
Mr McClelland: I had sent you notice, Mr Speaker, that it was my understanding the member for Dufferin-Peel would be raising this issue with you, and I would like to add, simply from our party's point of view, the following. I think it has been well stated by the member for Dufferin-Peel.
As you know, Mr Speaker, I serve as a member of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly and have served from time to time on other committees and I expect will do so in future for the while I am here. I think the point was very well taken by my colleague the member for Dufferin-Peel that it calls into question the efficacy and the effectiveness of any individual who comes before a committee in the future.
I remind you, sir, that committees not only have the power to and do meet around the province from time to time to hear the citizens of this province, but have the power to compel their attendance. If the cloud that I think has been raised in terms of the perception of individuals who are compelled to attend or who attend willingly remains, the operation of each committee of this House and the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, on which I serve, is called into question.
Mr Speaker, I refer you to section 1(b) of the standing orders of the Legislative Assembly. I have reviewed the order. I do not find anything that deals with this matter particularly, but it gives you broad scope to review the matter and to look at precedent and to make a judgement based on the information that has been put before you.
The difficulty is this, Mr Speaker. You made a ruling and referred it to a committee and asked the committee to report back to you. The committee did not follow your instructions. It came to you in the first instance. It went to the committee and you directed it to bring a report back to you. It has been sidetracked. They have done indirectly what you, sir, dictated they could not do. I ask you to review that in the chronology of events and rule, bearing in mind the implications for each and every member of this House and each and every member of the citizenry of Ontario who will appear before committees of this House in the future.
Mr Drainville: Mr Speaker, I just want to speak very briefly to the point that has been raised by the two honourable members who have stood up in the House. In terms of the general government committee, I want to be very clear about this, Mr Speaker. You said in your remarks to the House that this was an issue that has to go back to the committee because it should be dealt with by the committee, and the committee may report back to the House. That is the specific quote: "...may report back to the House."
I want to say, Mr Speaker, it is very clear that when we discussed this issue today --
The Speaker: Order. Two members brought to my attention a matter which they consider to be quite serious and I was able to listen to those two members. The same courtesy must be extended to the member from the government side who wishes to make his point to the Speaker.
Mr Drainville: All I am trying to say, Mr Speaker, is that as we dealt with this in the committee today, as per your instructions, we reviewed the situation. Our side, the government side, put forth a motion which was passed in the committee today, and basically that motion dealt with the situation in a way we believe to be expeditious and advisable at this time. Following your instructions, Mr Speaker, we did not feel there was any need for any report back to the House, because, as I say, the direct quotation as you put it in the House was that we "may" report to the House. We did not believe there was any report to be made. Therefore, that is why we took the position we did. I think both the opposition members who have put forward their points of view do not deal with the substantive reality of what you said in this House when you made your remarks on that day.
The Speaker: To the three members who have addressed this issue and brought it to my attention, indeed I will be pleased to review the matter and report back to you at the earliest possible moment. It is certainly my observation that each Thursday members seem able to find some homework for the Speaker to do over the weekend, for which I am most grateful.
The Speaker: Before continuing, members may wish to welcome to our presence a former member of the assembly seated in the members' west gallery, the former member for Cornwall, Mr Luc Guindon.
Mr Elston: We might also want to welcome Mr Bob Hawkesworth from the belle province of Alberta, a member of the Legislative Assembly, who is also here. He and his spouse are seated in the members' east gallery. The members might want to take note of that.
SALARY OF ONTARIO HYDRO CHAIRMAN
Mr Elston: I wish to place my question to the Minister of Energy, who has the courtesy to be here with us today. When trouble brews, I have to say it is nice to see a minister coming and answering questions when they are put, not passing them off and running away from being in the House where the questions of the day have to be dealt with.
Mr Bradley: Who isn't here? The Premier?
Mr Elston: We have kindled somebody's interest in this. There is one notable absence among the eight or nine others who are not here.
I have a very simple question for the Minister of Energy. Will the Minister of Energy guarantee to the public that Mr Marc Eliesen will not receive one cent more than his deputy minister's salary from the time he was appointed until the time the Ontario Energy Board rules that it has a certain view as to his salary limits?
Hon Mr Ferguson: As I have mentioned numerous times in this House during the past number of weeks, we have asked the Ontario Energy Board to look at the whole question of executive salaries for the people at Hydro. It appears at this point that this will be done prior to the Power Corporation Amendment Act being given royal assent, thanks to the unofficial opposition which has chosen to speak on the matter day after day. In answer to the question, we will be looking very closely at what the Ontario Energy Board has to say and we will obviously be looking at the recommendations of the Ontario Energy Board.
Mr Elston: I ask the minister one more time: Will he guarantee that there will be no retroactive cheque for Mr Marc Eliesen, since it is the cabinet, under the current authority, that must set that remuneration?
Hon Mr Ferguson: They have chosen to spend so much time on Bill 118, they ought to know by now exactly what the provisions of Bill 118 are. Quite frankly, Mr Eliesen is performing the duties of chair and chief executive --
The Speaker: Order. I did not hear the response. It is not for the Speaker to judge the response, but the Speaker must be able to hear the response.
Hon Mr Ferguson: Mr Eliesen, for quite some time, has been performing the duties not only of chair but also of chief executive officer of Ontario Hydro. Surely to goodness the members opposite are not suggesting he should not receive the salary that goes along with that position.
Mr Elston: The government of the day is taking credit for the fact that Mr Eliesen receives only a deputy minister's status salary at the moment. Can the Minister of Energy guarantee that there will be no retroactive cheque, a second payment, a supplement to that salary?
Hon Mr Ferguson: The Ontario Energy Board will examine all the executive salaries at Ontario Hydro. They will, of course, put forward their recommendations. Quite frankly I think if somebody is performing a duty on behalf of a private or public corporation, whatever the case may be, he or she should receive whatever salary goes with that position. That is pretty clear. I think that is a basic rule of fairness that certainly the members opposite must agree with.
Mr Offer: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. The minister will be aware today that the All Business Coalition released an economic analysis of the impact of this government's proposed labour amendments. This analysis states that approximately 480,000 jobs and $20 billion in investment could be lost because of these labour proposals. Does the minister not agree that the economic costs associated with his labour policies far outweigh the benefit they may bring to organized labour?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: The answer to that one is obvious. No, I do not agree with the member.
Mr Offer: For some unfathomable reason, the NDP members do not believe business when it tells them their policies are having a dramatic effect upon business confidence and its willingness to invest in Ontario. An example of this is in the cabinet submission which spoke about "neutralizing opposition," which spoke about "the narrow focus of business." People in the business community are asking the government to consult with them regarding the necessity of change and the impact that change may have on them.
Can the minister tell not only the All Business Coalition, but indeed the whole business community in this province, the reasons for his desire for change to the Ontario Labour Relations Act?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I am pleased to do that for the member, to the best of my ability. The need for changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act has been fairly obvious for some time. There have been no major changes since 1975, and the basic problem we have in Ontario is whether or not we want to change attitudes, given the tough economic times we are facing, and look for a more co-operative and less confrontational approach. That is exactly what is behind our look at changes to the Labour Relations Act. That is exactly what we are going to be doing with the discussion paper, which will be out very shortly.
Mr Offer: The minister shared his thoughts as to the need for change. That is exactly the concern many people in this province have. They have not been able to talk to the minister and his government as to the need for change and what it means to them. When the minister speaks about consultation, it is just empty words when in fact he has already made up his mind. He seems to be unwilling to believe business when it states that proposals could mean the loss of approximately 480,000 jobs in this province.
It is our understanding that the Ministry of Labour has conducted similar research into the economic impact of the minister's proposals. As the minister will know, we have requested this information through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Yet the ministry has denied us access to this information and delayed the release of it for 75 days. What is the minister afraid of? Will he release this information immediately and provide to the people of this province the research into the economic impact of those labour reform proposals he is going to be making?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: It is pretty hard to do that when we have not yet made the labour reform proposals the member is referring to. I think it might be useful to go through the process to date.
Mrs Caplan: Table the statistics. What are you afraid of? There will be 480,000 jobs lost. You couldn't be afraid of that.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Can you get the squeak out of the House, Mr Speaker?
The Speaker: The member for Oriole will please come to order.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I think it is worth going through the process we have gone through so far. We made it very clear that we were looking at changes to the Labour Relations Act. We had a committee from labour and a committee from business file their reports and their suggestions for changes to the Labour Relations Act. Those came back into the ministry. We then started to take a look at their views of what needs to be done in terms of changes to the Labour Relations Act and have produced another document which has now gone to cabinet.
The Speaker: Order, the member for Etobicoke West.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Anybody who has taken a look at these documents -- the first one was made available to anybody who wanted it and the second one was leaked -- will know that there has already been a substantive change in the second document, which was the basis for cabinet to decide whether we would put out a consultation paper. That consultation paper will be going out shortly and it is that consultation paper which should become the basis for discussion, because it will much more clearly indicate the direction the government wants to go in.
Mr Harris: I too have a question for the Minister of Labour. He talks today about consultation. We heard from a group today representing 70% of the private sector employees in this entire province. They said that the way they view consultation with the minister is that if they are nice to him, if they speak nicely to the government, the government being the cannibals, it will eat them last. That is the definition of consultation.
The minister further says that he consulted with business and labour at the beginning. He did not. He did not consult with business. The minister consulted with labour lawyers who have a vested interest in having acrimony between business and labour. The minister did not consult with business.
I have repeatedly asked for an impact study on the poor working men and women of this province. How many jobs would be lost as a direct result of the minister's proposal or how many jobs might be added as a result of the minister's labour proposals? The minister would not do that impact study. He was too busy being patted on the back by Bob White and the minister's labour buddies.
The All Business Coalition did the study for the minister. They had a reputable firm, Ernst and Young. This is a firm the government has hired and this is the firm the Treasurer wanted, an NDP firm. They are on the Fair Tax Commission. They are helping bail the government out of lots of things. They know that. The result is that an astounding 250,000 jobs are at risk.
The Speaker: Order. Would the leader place his question, please.
Mr Harris: What does the minister have to say about that?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: At the same time the leader of the third party is asking for consultation and some co-operation between the parties, the statements and comments he makes certainly do not lead one to believe one could get a fair consultation process with his way of doing things. I also want him to know very clearly that the consultation paper, which will be out very shortly, will be the basis for any real discussion on what this government's intentions are in terms of Labour Relations Act changes.
Mr Harris: The minister can point the finger at me. I am quoting what business is saying about how comfortable it feels consulting with him. This is important as a measure of his consulting ability. That is what they are saying. This is a measure of the minister's success. I do not know why the minister will not do a job impact study. Maybe he does not care about jobs. Maybe as long as they are unionized, it does not matter how many there are. Maybe the non-union ones do not check off and give money to the NDP, so who cares. Maybe this is not their first priority.
We are talking about a group representing 75% of the employees. The minister has flipped them off with the back of his hand. Eighty per cent of those firms believe the $20 billion they had planned to invest in the next five years is at risk and may go elsewhere and 90% are saying it is going to cost jobs.
The Speaker: And the interrogative part?
Mr Harris: Since the minister did not do his own study, does he agree with the results provided by the independent firm of Ernst and Young, a firm, as I have said, that the NDP has been quick to call on for other advice?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: As I understand it, the survey referred to today was based on the original Burkett document, as it is called, which is not the document this government is going with. What the leader of the third party should understand is that what we need and will try to do with the consultation paper is constructive dialogue between the parties, not the scare tactics currently being used.
Mr Harris: This survey interviewed 250 chief executive officers across this province, many of whom are not getting paid as much as Eliesen is getting paid. This is the cumulation of those data. They represent more than 70% of the private sector jobs. They are telling us, as they told Ernst and Young, that one in four jobs are at risk, not because of free trade, not because of federal policies, not because of something beyond the government's control, not because of international forces, but because of something completely within the government's control. These are the ones who have survived the recession. They are still actually here. It does not talk about those jobs that will not come to Ontario, just the existing ones that have survived so far. One in four is at risk.
Does the minister not agree that now is the time to scrap the labour proposals he has on the table and get on with bringing business and labour together so that we can create some jobs? Then later perhaps the minister can argue about whether they should be unionized, but let's make sure we have some so that there is something to argue about down the road.
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I find it difficult when the leader of the third party continues to refer to a study that was used for the survey when the government has long since passed it in its own discussions and its own planning in terms of the Labour Relations Act. What is in that study, in many cases, is not what the government is going with, so I am not sure how he can use that as any real basis.
SALARY OF ONTARIO HYDRO CHAIRMAN
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Yesterday he said and today he has confirmed in his response to questions asked by the leader of the Liberal Party that it is not cabinet's job to set the salary of Mr Eliesen, that it is indeed the job of the board of Ontario Hydro. "The board will decide the salary." Today I think he said: "Surely you don't expect cabinet to set this salary. We don't have anything to do with that."
The board said Eliesen is not qualified for this job; the cabinet overruled it. The board said no to Elliot Lake; the cabinet overruled it and directed it to do something else. The board said no to Kapuskasing; the cabinet overruled it and directed Hydro what to do with Kapuskasing. We have seen example after example since the members opposite have come to power. Whenever the cabinet disagreed with the board, it overruled and directed the board.
Is the minister telling me today then that he does not disagree with the board, that to go to $400,000 plus a 22% bonus, $488,000 a year, from $120,000 a year when the government is appropriately asking those in the public sector to take zero to 3% --
The Speaker: Would the leader conclude his question, please.
Mr Harris: Does the minister think this is appropriate? If not, why does he not stand up and do something about it?
Hon Mr Ferguson: What I cannot believe about not only the questions that the leader of the third party put today but the questions yesterday as well is that he stood in the House, he waved a piece of paper and said the board was not in favour of Mr Eliesen and was not in favour of this government's policies. What he neglects to point out is that it was the board of directors of Ontario Hydro that decided Mr Eliesen was worth $400,000. That is what he did not point out.
Mr Harris: Let me correct the record, because the minister has totally misled this House.
The Speaker: Order. That is not even borderline. The leader of the third party should withdraw that.
Mr Harris: Yes, I will withdraw the comment.
I think what I have to say will be quite apparent. The minister said the board said Mr Eliesen was worth this amount of money. What the board said was that a qualified person in the position was worth this amount of money and Eliesen was not that person. That is what the board said.
I would like to ask the minister this as well: During the -- if I may use the words -- confirmation hearings for Mr Eliesen --
Mr Elston: That's rubber-stamping.
Mr Harris: We call it rubber-stamping here in Ontario, a little different than in other jurisdictions.
The member for Ottawa South pointed out that eight members of the board of directors had indicated that Mr Eliesen had requested that the board, pending any change in legislation, appoint him as president and chief executive officer. Eight members of the board, respected members, one a labour member, indicated that this was the case by way of letter. Mr Eliesen replied, "That statement is false, sir." Has the minister investigated whether it was Mr Eliesen who was telling the truth or whether it was these eight members of the board who were telling the truth at those hearings?
Hon Mr Ferguson: Mr Eliesen's qualifications are not in question by fairminded people. What I cannot believe about this process is that we have members of the third party accusing me of not doing a job and now they want to expand my duties and go out and play cops and robbers. I am far too busy looking after the energy needs of this province to go out and play cops and robbers at the request of the leader of the third party.
Mr Harris: Does it not bother the minister that eight members of the board of directors of Ontario Hydro are saying one thing and Marc Eliesen is saying something completely opposite? I believe he said, "That is false, sir," ie, those eight members are lying. I believe that is what Mr Eliesen was saying.
Mr Harris: The member for Ottawa South was reading a quote that I have also seen, signed by eight members of the board of directors, in response to the interjections. Is the minister telling me this does not concern him, that he has not investigated this? Would he not agree that if somebody is lying he should be fired right away, eight board members or Mr Eliesen, one or the other, if they are going to bring information forward to a public committee or send information and sign it? Would the minister not agree with that? Why is he not concerned with that?
Hon Mr Ferguson: I think we have to recognize board members, in some respects, for what they are. They are very much political appointments of the government of the day to manage the affairs of the corporation and to develop the long-term policy initiatives of Ontario Hydro. I want to say to the leader of the third party that clearly for a minister of the crown to follow his suggestion and only be concerned about who said what, when and about whom is just not good use of a minister's time. It is not productive use of a minister's time.
Mr Chiarelli: My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations regarding the public safety issue of elevator inspections. Two years ago, Ottawa suffered two unfortunate elevator accident fatalities. A coroner's inquest strongly recommended more provincial inspectors than the one who was available in Ottawa-Carleton. At one time Ottawa-Carleton had five inspectors, and that for fewer elevators. The last government added a part-time inspector. Although still far from adequate, it was a move in the right direction. The minister has now terminated this position for budget reasons.
I have now obtained a letter and a computer printout from a ministry director clearly showing that 2,053 elevators in Ottawa-Carleton have not been inspected by the ministry in over four years. The majority of these have passed the ministry's own due dates for reinspection in the past year. The situation is seriously deteriorating under this government. Will the minister immediately provide more inspectors in Ottawa-Carleton? How long does she intend to leave these 2,000 elevators uninspected beyond the ministry's own due dates for inspection?
Hon Ms Churley: It is quite true that there are more elevators than we have enough inspectors for these days. Over the past little while we have recruited nine new trainees. One of the problems we have is a shortage of trained inspectors. We are working with the Ministry of Labour at this time and are actually training new elevator inspectors. The certification and training program that is going on will help alleviate the problem. We are aware of the difficulties.
We are also looking at prioritizing because we do not have enough inspectors for all elevators and doing some kind of risk management. The elevators that perhaps are creating the most risks for people will be inspected more frequently than newer elevators that are creating fewer risks.
Mr Chiarelli: My constituents in Ottawa-Carleton are not interested in risk management, which produces no results. The minister ought to know that last May in this Legislature the Premier, then Leader of the Opposition, raised this very same issue, the lack of inspectors. Nothing has been done by this government.
In fact OPSEU, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, has made a brief to this government pointing out the problem, as has an all-industry committee dealing with this issue. The ministry is totally ignoring any advice it is getting from either the unions or the industry.
The minister must allocate resources now. There is a public safety risk, as the union would say, as the elevator industry would say, and this minister is doing absolutely nothing. Will the minister pass an order in council approving self-financing of elevator inspectors? Her ministry is a cash cow earning $1.2 billion a year and all the revenue from elevator inspectors goes into the consolidated revenue fund. Will she allocate resources immediately and will she put some more inspectors into Ottawa-Carleton to avoid this public safety hazard?
Hon Ms Churley: It must be millions, not billions. We are in the process right now. We have been studying very carefully the jury's recommendations and have been implementing some of those recommendations.
As I said in my previous answer, the certification and training program which I am working on with the Minister of Labour is ongoing. We have brought on nine new trainees but, as I said, one of the problems is that we have a lack of well-trained inspectors at this time. We are indeed dealing with the problem at this very moment.
Mr Tilson: My question is of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Last week I asked the minister why she had agreed to sign a secret agreement involving the sale of our land registry system, also known as the Polaris administration, an agreement negotiated by the Liberal government and signed by her.
I asked why she had agreed to keep the details of this agreement secret for ever. She did not answer the question. She did not even come close to answering the question. She was not even in the ballpark of answering the question. The Treasurer even had the gall to put to me in an aside, "Trust us."
The secret agreement has now had rampant speculation from the people of Ontario as to bid-rigging, improper tendering and giving away our land registration system to individuals who are not even Canadians. We do not even know who these people are.
I am going to give the minister another chance. Can the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations answer to this House, can she tell the members of this House why she has agreed to keep the agreement between the government of Ontario and Real/Data Ontario secret for ever?
Hon Ms Churley: I have to say that the Tory version of reality differs quite frequently with what reality is all about, and this is another case in point. I will certainly make an attempt to answer some of these questions, which have nothing to do with the reality of this particular partnership of the government with the private sector, which I would like to say has been well investigated. It has had an internal and external review since we came to government. We are fully satisfied that it is a good deal for Ontario. We have a lot of privacy safeguards built into this deal.
Mr Stockwell: How do we know?
Hon Ms Churley: Because I am telling the House now. There are three levels of safeguards. The government controls all legislation and regulations governing land registration information. Under the terms of partnership, the government owns 100% of the land registration database. The government has the right to approve any new information products resulting from this partnership. The government controls the fee structure.
I will end here and perhaps go on in a supplementary, but Teranet is fully bound by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I am happy to provide any information to the opposition and the third party as long as it is allowed under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Mr Tilson: The minister has agreed to keep this contract secret for ever. How do we know? She is simply saying, "Oh well, we want to protect this company." That was her answer last week. The answer she has given is no better than last week. It is a stock answer. She is reading it. It has been prepared. Why can she not produce the agreement? What has she got to hide?
Last week I asked the minister about the fact that this secret agreement contained an agreement by the government to guarantee the minimum revenue flows of this private company. Naturally she did not provide an answer, although she said she would be happy to do it later. We have been waiting. A week has gone by and we have yet to receive that answer.
Now is the time for the minister to tell us. I am offering her another chance to answer the second question that I asked last week. How much is this secret contract going to cost the people of Ontario? Is it going to cost $1 million, $2 million, $1 billion? What is it going to cost the people of Ontario?
Hon Ms Churley: I notice the member asking the question was also referring to notes as he asked the question. I think it is okay to read from time to time and I am going to read to him now. This strategic alliance is not a $1-billion industry as outlined in the TV program. The member should know that he should not believe everything he sees in a newspaper or on TV.
In early years the revenues, as I am told, will be around $20 million, and by the 10th year should exceed about --
The Speaker: Order. Would the minister take her seat, please. The member for Etobicoke West. First of all, it really would be helpful if those who ask questions would allow the person an opportunity to respond. If we would just be a little calmer, perhaps we can entertain the response.
Hon Ms Churley: I do not lose my temper very often, but this is the second time this member has falsely accused me of giving inaccurate information on the land registry situation, and I must admit I am losing my temper. I am telling him in this House at this moment. He asked me a question and I am telling him the answer: $20 million in the first 10 years and it should slightly increase from there.
The Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, come to order.
Mr Jackson: Give us a figure.
Hon Ms Churley: I just gave the member a figure. As I have offered the member for Dufferin-Peel before, I am happy to sit down with him. I am not allowed the time in this House to give him full details, but I am more than happy to sit down and go through the whole detailed plan with him any time.
Mr Bisson: I would like to take this opportunity to thank the pages for the fine work they have done for the Legislative Assembly since they have been here. As most of us know, it is their last day here and another group will be coming in next week. Thank you.
GOVERNMENT TRAVEL EXPENDITURES
Mr Bisson: My question is for the Chairman of Management Board. Recently I had an opportunity to meet with a number of civil servants within the riding of Cochrane South where the employees of the province of Ontario wanted to put their heads together around trying to find ways of being able to save money from the public purse by means that they have within their own control, and we talked about a couple of issues.
One of the things they raised was the whole question of travel for the government. As of right now, the practice is that if you travel on government business, you are not allowed to accumulate travel points in any way. They were wondering if it was possible that travel points could be accumulated but strictly used for the purpose of government business. This would represent quite a saving for the province of Ontario, and they wanted to know if something like this would be possible.
Hon Mr Silipo: I am glad the member raised the question, because although it may seem somewhat insignificant to some members, I think it is one that actually raises a number of issues in terms of the amount of money we spend as a government, as any government does, on travel for our employees as well as for members of the Legislature.
In fact, I recall in some recent travels it is something we did as members of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, wondering about the use of the points and the fact that we do not take advantage of that structure. It is something I am quite interested in looking at, to see how we might take advantage of some of those possibilities.
Mr Bisson: There were a number of ideas that was raised at this meeting. It was quite a productive meeting actually. It was the first time a member of government had actually taken the time to sit down and speak to the civil servants of this province, trying to find ways to economize within the section, within the public expenses of our government -- something they were quite happy about. It was a trying experience but it was interesting.
The other point they raised was the whole question again of travel. One of the things they were talking about was that presently, when booking flights or booking travel for the government, it is done through one central government agency, but the prices, when you look at them, tend to be fairly elevated compared to what they would be if you knew ahead of time you could book on a seat sale, leave on a specific date and come back again. It is not always possible, because at times you cannot really know the exact day you will be coming back from a meeting, but they figure in about 20% to 30% of the travelling they do now, they leave at a specific time and come back at a specific time. They would like to know if it is possible to book that ahead of time to be able to take advantage of seat sales, which would be about 50%.
Hon Mr Silipo: I think the member raises the broader question of travel cost that I alluded to in my answer to his first question. That too is an area that I know we actually are looking at through Management Board of Cabinet, to see how we can best co-ordinate the way in which we go about spending our money with respect to travel and the whole question, particularly of airline travel, but certainly others. There are ways, I think, that we can spend that money a little more wisely than we have done in the past.
Mr Daigeler: In the absence of the Premier, my question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The minister knows that the students outside this building and all across the province have been asking where the Premier is today to explain his broken promises on higher education. They are also sending him letters, addressed to the Premier, asking about the funding cuts and his tuition fee increases.
Here is what some of them have been saying and are saying to the Premier: "I do regret voting for you in the past election. Many of your promises have either been ignored or put off."
Here is another student: "I voted NDP in the last election, after being a Liberal supporter for years. Your recent actions are making me believe that I have made a mistake."
Another one: "It just seems that you guys can never do anything right. You finally are given a chance and you have really screwed it up. Shape up or you will be shipped out."
The Speaker: Is there a question?
Mr Daigeler: That is what the students are telling him, and I am sending some of these letters right over to the minister so that he will know how the students are feeling. They have explained it to him outside. What is the minister telling the students? What has he told the students outside about his cuts to higher education?
Hon Mr Allen: It has been a great rally outside. Everybody has rehearsed his lines well. The students are concerned about serious problems that were left over in the wake of the Liberal and Tory eras in this province.
The member for Nepean knows very well, regardless of what he is receiving on those cards, that we placed, and still place, $177 million in new dollars in the university system this last year. We doubled the capital dollars available to the system. We expanded OSAP. We introduced a whole series of accessibility programs that had never seen the light of day under the member's administration. I do not think the record is a bad one, but I do understand the students because there is an awful lot of ground to be made up in the wake of those guys.
Mr Daigeler: I accept the fact that I got pelted with macaroni this year. The students were not expecting to have to pelt the minister today with macaroni, and they did. Why did they do it? Because the minister promised them not to increase tuition. He increased tuition. He promised them not to cut funding under education. He did not deliver on his own promises and that is what the students are protesting.
The minister refers to OSAP. Let's be straight about the program. He is so proud that he has not cut back, but I am informed that there is a group right now working in the Treasury to turn OSAP into a loans-only program and that 62,000 students who are presently receiving grants would be affected by this. Can the minister confirm that he is aware of this? Second, who told the staff to do that study? Third, can the minister confirm that he will not implement this new, incredibly dangerous, negative, draconian measure for the students of this province?
Hon Mr Allen: I recall that at the rally the member stood far enough away not to be hit by any macaroni. I was right up front.
Our ministry, in attempting to face the whole question of funding the system and being fair to students, is looking at a whole range of options in order to improve access and get more students studying better at better universities in Ontario. That is the maxim. That is what we are fighting for and that is what all the groups are working on that are working at my ministry.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Carr: My question is to the Solicitor General. It is an economic question, but as it relates to Sunday shopping, I will give it to the Solicitor General. He will have read the full-page ad from the Ontario Discount Drug Association. It was a letter to the Premier saying: "You keep saying in your government that you are committed to creating jobs for Ontario. As recently as September 23, you stated, 'Job creation is a key priority for this government.'" It goes on to say: "Our member stores will be unable to compete and 3,000 jobs will be lost. Our workers are no less important than other employed people in Ontario."
We have heard the Minister of Labour say today that 480,000 jobs are not important, so I do not know why 3,000 would be to them. I wrote to the Premier on September 9 and said: "Three thousand jobs are important enough. Maybe you should get out and meet them." His letter back said no, he did not have the time to come in. Then we sent another letter and said maybe the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology would be interested. When de Havilland was going to lose the same amount of jobs, they struck a committee and got the Treasurer to open his pocketbook and give them whatever amount of money they wanted. But for these 3,000 clerical jobs -- they are cashiers -- the Premier, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, nobody will talk to these individuals.
What is the Solicitor General going to do to save the 3,000 jobs that are in jeopardy because of his legislation?
Hon Mr Pilkey: By his own admission of the actions of this government in the specific examples he raised in terms of other corporate entities, the member should recognize that this government in fact has been very judicious in its attempt to save jobs and encourage job creation in this province. More specifically with respect to the drugstores, the previous Liberal government legislation provided that drugstores might offer their various product lines up to a maximum retail area of some 7,500 square feet. I would think that is a size which is quite large for the distribution of pharmaceutical goods, and I would be surprised if someone suggested it is not.
Mr Carr: Those 3,000 employees will not sleep any better tonight with an answer like that.
I have copies of the minister's remarks that he was supposed to make on September 30. It is Notes for Remarks by the Honourable Allan Pilkey. I suspect I will be getting a visit, because in the back are the questions and answers. As he is the minister responsible for the OPP, I am sure they will be in there this afternoon. I will save them the trouble: My office is 107 north.
I have it right here with me. In it are the questions and answers that have been prepared for the minister by some of his officials. Quite frankly, we do not need to go ahead, because all the questions and answers are in here; it is very thorough. It says they will spend $1 million -- in case the minister forgets, it is on the last page -- on the Ontario Municipal Board. How can he justify spending $1 million? He cannot save 3,000 jobs, but he is going to spend $1 million at a time this province is bankrupt. How does he justify to the people of this province spending that money?
Hon Mr Pilkey: I cannot respond. Perhaps the member opposite is reading from my copy; I do not seem to have one. I certainly will not be launching any investigation, because I am sure the information the member has there will be very helpful to him as we proceed to clause-by-clause on this issue. Any costs that would be incurred by the Ontario Municipal Board in reviewing the decisions that are made that are made by municipal councils will be money well spent. The reason I say that is that when one contrasts that approximately $1 million to the volume of retail expenditures that will occur as a result of the bona fide tourist exemptions, that number will not even be close to the overall benefit that the province and retailers will receive. It is a solid investment in that way.
The Speaker: The Solicitor General has a response to a question asked earlier by the member for Leeds-Grenville.
REMARKS BY APPOINTEE TO POLICE SERVICES BOARD
Hon Mr Pilkey: I rise today in response to a question that was asked Tuesday, October 1, 1991, by the member for Leeds-Grenville concerning a request for an investigation by the Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board. I have studied the matter and have drafted a letter which has been sent out to the Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board detailing my particular response. It is a very short letter and with the indulgence of the Speaker I will simply read it:
"I am replying to your letter of September 9, 1991, in which you have asked me to request the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services to investigate the alleged comments of a member of your board as reported in the Toronto Star. I have reviewed all of the documents which you have made available respecting this matter, including the newspaper articles in question and correspondence from the board, the Peel Regional Police Association and the member of the board in question.
"It is my considered view that the resolution of the dispute does not lie in my requesting an investigation by the commission under section 25 of the Police Services Act. As you have said in your letter, the positions adopted are contradictory and irreconcilable. The member of the board in question categorically denies stating that Peel police officers will sometimes lie under oath to protect their fellow officers, while the newspaper maintains strongly that the article in question reflects the truth of what was said in the interview.
"In my view, an inquiry at this time would not foster in a positive or significant way the enhanced relationship between police forces and members of the community they serve that we are all trying so hard to effect.
Mr Runciman: That is a very disappointing response indeed, not to me alone, I am sure, but to Peel regional council, to the policemen and policewomen in the Peel force who were very disturbed by the comments of this individual.
He is indicating that it is one person's story against another's, but the reporter for the Toronto Star had a witness present while she posed those questions, re-posed those questions, because she was concerned about the nature of the responses. I think it is incumbent upon this government -- this was its appointee, an NDP appointee -- and I believe it is incumbent upon this minister, this government, to ensure that it is appointing the appropriate people to police services boards across this province.
I ask the minister, as a supplementary, to review this again because I think this is important in respect to the message it sends right across this province, to municipal councils and policemen and policewomen who are trying to serve the public as best they can.
Hon Mr Pilkey: The member says that this is a purely partisan NDP appointment, and quite frankly he should know as Chair of the standing committee on government agencies, which reviews appointments, that this is simply not true.
We have as a government, quite differently than previous governments, created a listing of all appointments available that has been distributed widely across the province. We have provided generic application forms, we have publicly advertised for applicants and we have allowed the standing committee on government agencies to review whichever appointments it wishes to review.
Mr Cordiano: I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. On at least two separate occasions in this House the minister has expressed her concern for the plight of consumers in Ontario and has recognized the need to protect consumers, particularly seniors, from the vagaries of the marketplace. Indeed, the minister has stated that she is extremely concerned about the abuse that not only seniors but other consumers in this province are taking.
I would ask the minister today if she is still concerned about price gouging and other issues affecting consumers in Ontario.
Hon Ms Churley: Yes, of course I am still very concerned about abuse of consumers, and particularly the vulnerable consumer. I have said on a couple of occasions in this House that it is a major priority of mine. We have taken the Liberal legislation that had been worked on, which was essentially good legislation, but there were some holes in it that I feel it is very important that we address. I do not want to introduce legislation at this time. In only a very short period of time we can plug those holes and make it a little better for consumers out there, for consumer protection.
Mr Cordiano: We anxiously await that legislation. But in the meantime, the minister must be aware that her government is about to impose a 44% hike in Hydro rates over the next three years. Once the complete 44% rate is in effect, the average consumer in North York will be paying over $360 more per year and the average consumer in Deep River can expect to pay as much as $600 more per year for hydro.
Those individuals on fixed incomes such as seniors, particularly seniors who are most vulnerable, may not be able to afford to pay those rate increases and may be forced out of their own homes. I ask the minister if she still believes it is her mandate to protect consumers against price gouging of this kind and what she has done in terms of protecting consumers at the cabinet table to ensure that price gouging of this kind will not take effect once the rate increases go into effect. What has she specifically done at the cabinet table to make sure those rate increases will not affect those who are particularly vulnerable, those who are on fixed incomes and who will see these kinds of rates push them out of their homes?
The Speaker: The member will conclude his question, please.
Mr Cordiano: What is the minister going to do about that?
Hon Ms Churley: I do not think I can refer this question at this point to the appropriate minister to answer.
Mr Bradley: You're the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Hon Ms Churley: I certainly know what minister I am. Because I cannot refer it, I will simply say at this point that, as I said in my first answer, I am quite concerned about gouging of consumers. However, this question should be addressed to the Minister of Energy. I certainly will continue to speak up for the consumer at the cabinet table. If the member would ask my cabinet colleagues, they will tell him that I always speak up for the protection of consumers.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the government House leader who also happens to be the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Can the government House leader explain to the members of the Legislative Assembly, and more specifically to the members of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, why the committee meeting this afternoon, as previously agreed upon by all three House leaders to meet the Premier's personal agenda from 3 to 4, has been cancelled?
Hon Mr Cooke: It is my understanding that when we discussed this in the House leaders' meeting a week or so ago, the opposition House leaders and I agreed we all shared some concern about overlap between a committee meeting and the House still in question period. There was going to be an attempt to get question period over with by about 3 o'clock so that the committee could proceed. I think the Chair of the committee and other members were concerned that because question period was so late starting, it would show a disrespect to the question period process. So I think it was appropriate that the committee meeting was cancelled.
Mr Eves: I have before me the minutes of the House leaders' meeting of October 10, of which the government House leader speaks, drafted by the government House leader's office, I might add. On page 2, it says: "The committee will be authorized to meet on October 17 from 3 pm to 4 pm to accommodate the Premier. If a motion in the House is required, it will be presented by the government."
It was never the understanding of the House leaders that this was conditional, and it does not say so in his own minute, that if the question period happens to be over by 2:59:30, then we will have a meeting, but on the other hand, if question period goes to 3:01, we will not have the meeting. That was never the intention. That was not what was agreed upon by the three parties and the three House leaders. What difference does it make to the Premier anyway? He is not in here for question period in any event.
Hon Mr Cooke: I did not cancel the committee meeting. The Chair made a decision, and I know he was consulting with some members of the House, to cancel the committee. If this is a problem, and obviously it is, then obviously the member and I and the House leader for the official opposition should discuss it.
The Speaker: Order, the member for Willowdale.
Hon Mr Cooke: I did not cancel the committee, and if there has been a problem created by this, we will certainly check it out and see if it can be rectified.
The Speaker: New question. The member for Victoria-Haliburton.
Mr Drainville: It is not a question, Mr Speaker. I am rising on a point of order.
The Speaker: Can this wait until outside question period? The member for Durham West.
Mr Wiseman: My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. As this House will know, I have shown a tremendous amount of concern for the wetlands and the waterways of this province. In April 1990 this House passed a resolution requesting the Ministry of Natural Resources to do some further study and to bring forward some protection for the wetlands. I would like to ask the minister if he could give an accounting of where that process is at this time.
Hon Mr Wildman: I thank the member for his question. I share his concern. I know most members of the House share his concern for the need to --
The Speaker: Order. I am having difficulty hearing the response because of not just interjections but a number of private conversations. Would the members of the House come to order so that we can hear the response of the Minister of Natural Resources?
Hon Mr Wildman: In September a draft policy statement on wetlands was released by the ministry. It was circulated across the province and we are currently accepting comment and review from various interested groups. That policy statement is significantly different from the earlier draft that was published in 1989, and that is why we decided there was a need for further consultation with the public. The public consultation period is 60 days. When that is completed, we will take into account the comments we have received and incorporate them in the final statement and we will publish the policy statement under the Planning Act. I will keep the House informed of the progress we make in this policy.
Mr Wiseman: There are more than just development pressures threatening the province's wetlands. As I recall, the standing committee on resources development earlier this year looked at the question of purple loosestrife in the broader context of exotic invading species. I have posters here. I am very concerned that even when the wetlands policy is in full effect -- for members who are not aware, the weed was accidentally introduced into North America in the early 1800s. In Canada the plant caused few problems until the 1930s when it began to take over the floodplain pastures along the St Lawrence River.
According to the study for the Ontario Heritage Foundation, purple loosestrife has invaded half the wetlands in southern Ontario and north to a line running from Sault Ste Marie to Kirkland Lake. What is the government doing to ensure that this beautiful killer, as it has been dubbed, does not irrevocably damage Ontario's wetlands?
Hon Mr Wildman: The member is correct that the invasion of purple loosestrife is a very serious problem, as is the invasion of other exotic species into the province, and it does cause significant loss to wetlands. Its impact could indeed be disastrous, and I think it is unfortunate that some other members of the House find this an amusing topic.
In 1990 the Ministry of Natural Resources established a working group to make recommendations this year on the managing of purple loosestrife in Ontario. That group is assembling information now on the effective ways of controlling the spread of purple loosestrife. We are developing educational programs and trying to inform the public about the dangers of this plant that many people see as a rather attractive-looking plant.
I understand also that the Minister of Agriculture and Food, under section 10 of the Weed Control Act, has allowed a number of municipalities such as Bruce county to declare purple loosestrife a noxious weed. That bylaw then makes it incumbent upon the municipality to remove the purple loosestrife within its municipal boundaries and enables weed inspectors to ban the sale -- this is very important -- of this plant in local nurseries, because unfortunately there are still some nurseries in this province that sell purple loosestrife as a plant for gardens.
The Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired. There are a couple of members who would like the opportunity to address the Speaker. I will certainly allow that.
The Speaker: Before so doing, if I could capture the attention of all the members of the House, we have been served extremely well over the past several weeks by a group of young people, 24 in number, who I think you will agree have delivered to us absolutely exemplary service and who deserve our applause.
Mr Drainville: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think I need to respond to the comments that have been made by the honourable House leader for the third party. There may have been a mistake made on my part --
The Speaker: There is sufficient noise in the chamber to prevent the Speaker from hearing the alleged point of order.
Mr Drainville: I may have inadvertently made a mistake and I want to apologize to the House about this particular thing. This afternoon I was under the impression, as the Chair of the select committee, that when the question period was under way members could not leave to go to committee. I thought it was a rule of the House. It may not be a rule of the House.
When I spoke to the Premier, I indicated that it looked like we would not be finished till 3:40. We were to meet at 3 o'clock and we would not meet until 3:40. At that point in time it was obvious that the Premier had another engagement planned and could not stay for any more than the time allotted. Therefore, under those conditions I decided that we would have to invite the Premier back to the select committee. If I have made any difficulties for the members of the opposition or for members of my own party I deeply regret that.
I was not in any sense trying to make it difficult for those members.
The Speaker: I appreciate the member's point of personal explanation.
Mr Harnick: The government House leader made the allegation, when he answered the question regarding this 3 o'clock meeting with the Premier, that the Chairman of the committee had consulted with the members of the committee and, based on that consultation process, made the decision to cancel the meeting.
I would just like to set the record straight. He did not consult with us. He merely told us that the meeting was cancelled. I point out to the government House leader that this is 90% of the problem with this government. They do not understand the meaning of consultation. It is not telling people an answer after the decision is made; it is getting people involved in helping make the decision. It is not levying a decision and then consulting to tell people what the decision is.
The Speaker: The member for Willowdale will know that it is not a point of order, but obviously it is a point of a great deal of interest.
LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH SERVICE
Mr Chiarelli: On a question of privilege, Mr Speaker: As you know, this afternoon I raised a question concerning public safety and elevator inspectors in Ottawa-Carleton. I want to raise with you a very serious problem, as I see it, with respect to the disclosure of information to legislative researchers. As you know, under standing order 140 you are responsible for the legislative library and consequently for the researchers who work for members from all parties in this place.
Several weeks ago I had an appointment in my constituency office with a retired elevator inspector who raised concerns about the public safety of elevators in Ottawa-Carleton. As a result of that particular meeting, I consulted with legislative research, through the library for which you are responsible, and I placed a number of questions in writing for the legislative research people to investigate. Very briefly, I asked two questions in particular, as well as a number of others. The first one was, "How many elevators in Ottawa-Carleton have not been inspected by the ministry for a period of at least four years preceding September 1, 1991?" and the second was, "Provide a list of buildings where no such inspections have taken place in the four years preceding September 1, 1991."
Legislative research got back to me with a memo, and I will quote from that memo. This is information the researcher obtained from a director of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations: "The information requested under this question would require approximately 91 working days to prepare and would involve a cost of approximately $133,320. It was estimated that approximately 10 minutes would have to be spent on each of 20,000 files at a cost of $10 per quarter hour."
The very professional and tenacious researchers thought that was a little bit unrealistic and it took a considerable period of time in negotiation with the director to rephrase the questions slightly and obtain appropriate answers that would permit me to ask a question in this House to protect my constituents.
I am almost finished, Mr Speaker. I know you are getting a bit edgy about the time I am taking.
The long and short of it is that in order to get the information to protect my constituents, I, as an MPP, was required to pay personally to the legislative library researcher close to $300 to get this information. I want to ask you to refer this matter and other matters to an appropriate legislative committee, so that we can look at the interface between the bureaucracy and legislative researchers.
I raised this point of privilege with you on a previous occasion and I thought it was very serious. As a matter of fact, I received your response, which I did not agree with, but I did not do anything with it because I was prepared to defer to your opinion and your judgement. However, it has arisen again in a very serious matter. On behalf of my constituents, who expect me to be able to get this information on their behalf, I am asking you on a point of privilege, as the person responsible for the legislative library, to refer this type of issue to an appropriate legislative committee where we can all have some input and there is an appropriate flow of information through the bureaucracy, which is trying to stonewall on behalf of this government.
The Speaker: I appreciate the matter which the member brings to my attention and I will be pleased to take a look at it and report back as soon as possible.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
Ms Poole: I have a petition which is addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas Her Majesty the Queen, at her coronation in 1953, took a personal oath to the people of Canada, and Canadians have always reciprocated with oaths of allegiance and service to the person of the sovereign;
"Whereas it is our right and duty to take oaths of allegiance and service in such form;
"Whereas Ontario regulation 144/91 made under the Police Services Act, 1990, denies Ontarians this right;
"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, loyal to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to resolve that His Honour the Lieutenant Governor in Council be requested to revoke Ontario regulation 144/91 and restore the traditional oath of service to Her Majesty for police personnel in Ontario."
I have signed this petition.
WINCHESTER DISTRICT MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Mr Villeneuve: This petition is signed by 2,534 constituents and neighbour constituents. It has to do with the approximately $500,000 operating deficit that the Winchester District Memorial Hospital has and is unable to meet, even by the cutting down of hospital beds.
"We, the undersigned, demand that the province of Ontario increase the level of operational funding to the Winchester District Memorial Hospital in order to prevent further loss of health care services to our area."
I have affixed my signature to this petition and strongly endorse it.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
Mr J. Wilson: I have the privilege of presenting a petition to the Legislature of Ontario that reads as follows:
"Whereas the Queen of Canada has long been a symbol of national unity for Canadians from all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds;
"Whereas the people of Canada are currently facing a constitutional crisis which could potentially result in the breakup of the federation and are in need of unifying symbols;
"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to restore the oath to the Queen for Ontario's police officers."
That is signed by a number of good people and councillors, actually, on the Tosorontio township council and a number of good people from Wasaga Beach, Tottenham, Alliston and Collingwood in my riding of Simcoe West and I too have affixed my name to this petition.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS TEACHERS' PENSION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LE RÉGIME DE RETRAITE DES ENSEIGNANTS
Mr Silipo moved first reading of Bill 140, An Act to amend the Teachers' Pension Act, 1989 and the Teaching Profession Act.
M.Silipo propose la première lecture du projet de loi 140, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1989 sur le régime de retraite des enseignants et la Loi sur la profession enseignante.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon Mr Silipo: Very briefly, as I indicated, I am pleased to introduce in the Legislature today the Teachers' Pension Statute Law Amendment Act, 1991. There are many important things that this act will do. Among the most important is that it creates for the first time a partnership between teachers and the province of Ontario. As members will hear in the debate in subsequent reading, this partnership will become a model for other partnerships which this government will forge with its stakeholders. I trust and anticipate that members will give this bill their fullest attention, and I look forward to their support.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
POWER CORPORATION AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LA SOCIÉTÉ DE L'ÉLECTRICITÉ
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 118, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act.
Suite du débat ajourné sur la motion visant la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 118, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la Société de l'électricité.
Mr Ruprecht: I am, of course, delighted to join other honourable members in the debate on Bill 118. What I would like to raise today is what the Toronto Sun already indicated a few days ago when it said, "Ontario Hydro is the biggest management screwup in the history of Canadian industry." That, of course, is not a light sentence. To point one's finger and to say to Ontario Hydro and very directly to this government that it is participating in "the biggest management screwup in the history of Canadian industry" is indeed a very serious charge.
I compliment the member for Sarnia, who is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, in his attempt to deflect the debate and simply say that the main message that Hydro is trying to propagate today to the members assembled here is that, yes, Hydro will deliver power at cost. But what he does not say is what kind of cost.
The member for Sarnia, who I think is in the House, will probably agree that we have to look at the kinds of statements that have been made previously by the minister, so that his whole idea of deflecting this debate and saying that the opposition is wrong in attacking Bill 118 and that we do not understand and are misrepresenting the facts of what Bill 118 is about -- I would like to ask at the same time whether the member for Sarnia is prepared to give us an answer today to the question that was raised yesterday. That is what I would like to continue.
Yesterday the member for Mississauga East indicated what the minister had said just a few days ago, on October 1, 1991. That of course speaks directly to the whole issue of whether Hydro should deliver power at cost or whether Hydro should be used for purposes of economic planning or social experimentation or taking away and using millions of dollars for other purposes than producing hydro and electricity at cost. "For other purposes" means taking millions of dollars and spending it for experimentation, however well it might be designed and however much we might even agree with some of it. But the issue today is that if Bill 118 passes, I think some pretty contradictory problems will arise.
I raised the question of what the Minister of Energy had said previously. The member for Sarnia had said very directly that we have misled the House and that we do not know what we are talking about. Let me just quote, as has been done previously. I am doing this because we did not get an answer. At least for the last 10 days when this debate has taken place, every time we raised the issue of Bill 118 and we said the mandate of Hydro is simply to produce energy at cost and then we talked about social experimentation of millions of dollars being siphoned off into some other direction, the member for Sarnia stood up and accused the opposition, both parties, of not understanding this bill and of not telling the public effectively what this bill is about.
I remind him when I read what the Minister of Energy said in this very House on October 1: "The intention of the bill" -- of course I am talking about Bill 118 -- "is to direct Hydro in order to fulfil the mandate of the government of the day." The main phrase here is, "to fulfil the mandate of the government of the day." The mandate was not what was set down previously, that Hydro deliver power at cost, but the intention of this bill "is to direct Hydro in order to fulfil the mandate of the government of the day." In other words, he is looking for a way out of the mandate that was originally given to Hydro, and that was to supply power at cost.
Then he goes on to say, to the same question that was asked by the member for Ottawa South, "The goal and objective of Hydro is to provide power at reasonable prices." Again, let's be clear about this. He is not talking about power at cost. He is talking specifically about producing power at reasonable prices. There is a vast difference and no one should be fooled about this. Producing power at cost and producing power at reasonable prices is a difference that either will have industry staying in this province or will make industry leave this province. There is a vast difference between producing power at cost and producing power at reasonable prices, because who will decide what a reasonable price for hydro is?
We know of course what some people say is reasonable. I would like to quote from a letter we received from the Ontario Mining Association pointing out quite clearly that Ontario now is the third most expensive electric power producer in Canada, the third most expensive province, very directly affecting the jobs of this province.
The Agenda for People is clear in that it says we try to produce jobs for the working people, but what is clearer is the result and the response, I might add, from people who are in the industry. They say: "The power is too expensive. We can't be competitive. We'll have to move." That means thousands of jobs are being lost again. We know we are tremendously affected by job shortages and industry leaving to go south of the border and to some other places where hydro can be cheaper.
What concerns me today and what has been raised is another question, the promise Hydro made not too long ago to rip out your pipes and move away from oil, move away from other means of heating your home and use hydro.
I think the Speaker, of all people, will remember the jingle. I think I remember it. I will not be able to produce it in the way it has been repeated on the radio but let me try anyway. It said that hydro would be cheaper than any other source of energy, "If you heat your home electrically, you are paying a lot less money," or something like that.
Mr Ruprecht: I appreciate the member for Sarnia providing some applause. It is really a relief to see that there is still some sense of humour in this place.
However, we must not deflect from the seriousness of this jingle because this jingle may be the result of a propaganda mechanism that has cost many thousands of Ontarians to switch from oil and other sources of energy to hydro. The very net effect of this kind of switch is going to catch people short.
It means that many seniors on fixed incomes are looking at their budget and saying to themselves that a promise by Hydro is a promise by the government. I know, and all honourable members will agree, that previously, only a few short years ago, when Hydro made a promise, people believed it because the government backed it. The people believed that a promise by Hydro could never be relegated or broken.
I am not here today to talk about the broken promises of this government. I am talking today about the broken promise that was made, not only to seniors but to every member who is on a fixed income in this province. Thousands were affected by it and now find themselves in a situation where the added bill, the extra cost that would be placed on the taxpayer, on the senior and on those on fixed incomes to pay for their hydro, to pay electrically for heating their homes, is simply going to be tremendous.
The reason I am disappointed is because I know that many of the seniors affected by this increase are going to have to leave their homes. It is going to cost a tremendous amount more next year, a tremendous amount more the following year and at least 44% to over 54% in year three. We know it is going to cost 44%, but if you add GST, the provincial sales tax and all the other taxes, there can only be one conclusion, that in three years those on fixed incomes will have to pay over 50% in added cost of hydro. Think of the scenario. Think of all the people across Ontario who are on fixed incomes. What exactly will their charge be to us who are going to be charged today for letting them down?
We and especially this NDP government are going to be responsible today for thousands of seniors with extra rate increases, and many will consequently have to move out of their homes. The charge will be not only to me representing Parkdale, but to every member of this House, next year and in 1993 and 1994. We are all going to be responsible. All of us are going to be called and they are going to be asking us, "Why are you responsible for increasing hydro rates?"
I ask the members today what our response will be. Will we simply say: "I'm sorry. That's the way we do business in Ontario"? Or are we in the opposition going to say, "Check with the NDP government because it made a promise and broke it"?
We are not to be partisan on this bill, far from it, but the facts are clear. Some people will lose their homes and consequently we, this government and every member of the opposition are going to be held accountable and responsible for the increases. Over 50% in three years is not a pretty sight. We are going to be getting calls no matter where we are, what part of the province we are from and what riding we represent. Right across Ontario we are going to be getting calls and we had better be prepared for an answer.
That is why today, hopefully in co-operation with the government, we will make some amendments to Bill 118 that will be reasonable and non-partisan. We are here to discuss this bill and I remind members that there is a lot more at stake than simply the issue of increased rates and charging some people over 50% in three years.
I think of what the member for Niagara Falls indicated a few days ago in this House. She stood in her place and said: "It may be true that we will be charging people in Ontario over 50% within three years, your residents and mine, but don't worry, folks, because in 1994 the rates of increase for hydro will stabilize and consequently we will be in a much better position to regulate price increases."
Today I ask members, the Minister of Energy and the member for Sarnia, who ought to be a minister -- I ask him because I know he is going to give us an answer today and that will be the judgement, the basis of my recommendation -- how the member for Niagara Falls can stand in this House and promise again that rates after 1994 will stabilize? What information does she have to tell this House? What kind of promise can we make to the residents based on the assumption of that member for Niagara Falls? Maybe she knows something we do not know. She may know something that is directly connected with the power we get from Niagara Falls. Maybe the member for Sarnia or the Minister of Energy can enlighten us today on why we received a promise by the member for Niagara Falls that price increases will stabilize in 1994.
Has this government discussed this in caucus alone with its members? Is there something that has been withheld from the members of the opposition? If that is the case, if the member of the government raises that question of price stabilization in 1994, is it not the case that we in this House should be notified? There should be a position paper or at least some kind of press release. Certainly the Minister of Energy should be clarifying the position of price stabilization in 1994. That is the way things should operate in this House.
I remind members that in the last few weeks, especially in this session of the Legislature, we have become used to not receiving any information from this government. I should not be so blunt as to say "any" information, but some ministers have chosen not to inform the House -- a serious charge -- rather than making statements, dropping hints and making innuendoes while some ministers are walking down the hallway in front of the cameras, the press pencils and other things of this nature.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Farnan): Order. The member will take his seat. I appreciate the member's comments in the debate. I ask the member to remain focused on the issue before the assembly.
Mr Ruprecht: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I certainly appreciate your remarks, except that we should be informed when some members of the government are standing here and almost as an aside telling this House the new Hydro policy for 1994. This impinges directly on your rights, Mr Speaker, on my rights and on the rights of all the members here. I am simply saying that ministers ought to make statements that reflect the issues of increases or price stabilization.
When we have members making these kinds of ministerial statements and we do not get all the information we ought to be getting, we have to be asking some very hard questions. That was really the connection. The question we ought to ask is, why are ministers not prepared to talk about price stabilization for 1994? Why does it come from the mouth of the member for Niagara Falls, who I think might have some information we are not getting? That raises the bigger issue of ministers not making statements that ought properly to be made.
Talking about the price stabilization of Hydro, I do not expect the member for Niagara Falls would go down the hall, toss all caution to the wind and talk to the press about price stabilization or what Hydro ought to do. She is not the minister. She is not even the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy.
The reason I am suspicious of such a statement is very simply that we cannot rely on this government to make statements through the ministry. They hint at price increases or stabilization which at certain points really should be made in this Legislature.
I want to address the question of competitiveness in Ontario. I point out that many people and many organizations in Ontario, including some of the press members, have said quite clearly that we will lose more jobs, that because of our non-competitiveness we will not be able to maintain a stable workforce and that consequently our recovery, economically speaking, will either fall back or we will not be able to increase the job creation programs the way we should be, thinking about the wealth we have created in this province.
Before I talk about competitiveness I would like to indicate some facts. When many of the immigrants and many of the corporations came to Ontario, they settled really because of the promise of this land. The corporations came because they looked at the hydro rates and thought this would be a great place to do business. The immigrants came from all over the world because jobs were being created, not only by Hydro but by some other industries. We are indeed so rich -- the second-largest country in the world, Canada -- and the province of Ontario so vast in its natural resources; yet this country and this province have an unemployment rate of over 10%.
The wealth that we have, the natural resources that we have, should by rights make each person who calls himself or herself a citizen of this country a millionaire if this province and this country were governed right. Think about the vastness of this land. Think about the vastness of its people, the talent of its individuals and of its citizens. Yet we somehow seem to be bound by our inability to make progress and our inability to create work. It is almost criminal that in this country, with its great wealth, we are not able to create the workforce and the work necessary to maintain a great deal of prosperity.
I must say that sometimes we share the burden of being unable to govern this province right, of being unable to produce the kinds of jobs that are necessary and the kinds of jobs we could create. The members will remember that there were a lot of studies that indicated, not only in this province but out west and other places in this country, that the west alone, in three provinces, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba, these little places alone would have room for over 30 million people if only the infrastructure was being put in place.
What are the ramifications of that for Ontario? We could of course have a lot more people come to this province, but what is the basic fact? The basic fact is that we are so rich, we have such abundance, that we certainly should be able to create jobs for everybody. That should be the right of every Canadian. That should be the social charter of this government. That is the promise that the NDP should have made: a job for every Ontarian. Hydro is the key to such a program.
Today, while discussing Bill 118, what do we find? We find that people are critical of Hydro. We find that the top brass of Hydro make an enormous amount of money, that its chairman alone wants to make at least $400,000. Four hundred thousand dollars. Just think of such a salary. I would think, because of Hydro's inability to produce enough jobs, our inability to produce jobs -- this energy-consistent type of industry should have all kinds of jobs created because we should have been the most competitive place in the universe. We should have been the most competitive place certainly in North America, if we cannot say in the whole world, because our hydro possibilities in Canada are probably the greatest in the world.
What we need to do obviously is to focus. The social charter should focus on jobs; Hydro should focus on jobs. But because of the vast discrepancies between $400,000 for the chairman and only $25,000 to $35,000, even $65,000 as the average -- these are vast differences. I think if a person in the top brass would be interested enough to think about the competitiveness of Hydro across North America, that would directly lead to industries moving back into Ontario because of the cheapness of hydro, but exactly the opposite has taken place.
Why are we disappointed? We are disappointed because we see into the immediate future and, I might add, into the long-term future. We do not believe for one minute that in 1994 there should be a price stabilization. We see into the future where we become less competitive and where we in Ontario, because of the loss of jobs, will go back to being drawers of water and hewers of wood. We will be back to our birthright.
We have to go back to not being able to process the goods, where we have labour-intensive industries being able to produce these goods but we will again be relegated to ship out our national resources to other places so that products can be created that are labour-intensive. The shift obviously should be taking place right here in Ontario, if only there were a will. That will is now missing, and we who are discussing Bill 118 would like to make some amendments that are right so that we can get back to our competitiveness. It is the competitiveness that I wish to address myself to now.
The Ontario Mining Association is obviously a very reputable organization. The Ontario Mining Association has been around for many a year. We on this side of the House, having been accused by the government of always being wrong and of not understanding the issue, only have to look at some of the ratepayers, at some of the users of energy, at some of the people who use massive amounts of hydro.
What is their story to us? Who are they going to point their finger to? What will the future be in terms of competitiveness? They say to us today: "Wrong policy decisions now will not be reversible in the future. It takes a long time to bring new energy supplies on stream. Decisions made now will affect all of us for decades or later if we do not act today."
Obviously if industries perceive a growing likelihood of serious shortages -- we have talked previously about brownouts and shortages -- or escalating energy costs, which are just as bad, they are going to have to decide whether it makes sense to stay in this province or whether the company should move to other places. Should the company scale down its operations and even close them down? "A shortage of energy," it says, "would scale them down for us or force us to move smelting and/or refining processes to other jurisdictions."
The point is that those who use hydro and pay millions of dollars for hydro are thinking of scaling down their industries. We are not talking about abundance of jobs. We are going back to being drawers of water and hewers of wood, and even within that jurisdiction, it is being charged today that we will fall short of even the rudimentary development of industry. Even those companies that produce power on the basic level of resources are thinking of scaling down and shutting down because of our non-competitive strategy in hydro rates, a serious charge. Consequently, we cannot promise the job that we should for every Ontario resident.
The letter goes on to say: "The government and other advocates of this present course of action had better be very, very careful about the consequences. If the present approach of Hydro is wrong, it will not be just moderately wrong; it will be disastrously and ruinously wrong." They cannot find words to describe the seriousness of Hydro rate increases and the seriousness of Hydro shortages, because they affect the very jobs we are counting on to bring this province out of the recession. There is an inability of this government to focus and to ensure that there will be jobs for Ontario residents and that this recession will come to an end without giving an incentive to industry to relocate back to Ontario and create the jobs that could flow from such a location.
Instead this government will be accused of being totally wrongheaded by pushing industry out of Ontario and losing more jobs and postponing the recovery that is rightly ours because of one thing. That one thing is an increase in hydro rates that will not only devastate those on fixed incomes but, as this letter indicates, it will be "disastrously and ruinously wrong" for this government to increase rates to the point of non-competitiveness.
It is a serious charge. Ontario's energy dilemma is a very serious issue, one that threatens the building blocks of this province's economy, and it specifically points out mining, pulp, paper, the automotive sector, steel. The implications of a decision either wrong or too late are simply enormous. I am pointing out to members today that when Hydro is directly implicated in increasing rates, and consequently directly implicated in losing the jobs that are necessary for ending the recession, it will not only be disastrous for our economy and for this government -- because people will remember the kinds of decisions that are made here today, and they might even remember all of us -- I think it will be a policy that will be so devastating for all of us that we will remember the decisions we make today.
Finally, let us think about the kind of competitive strategy that is necessary for industry to move back to Ontario. As it stands right now, the reason much of our industry, and business for that matter, is moving out and relocating and taking with it the engineering and entrepreneurial knowhow and the jobs -- there are definite reasons for this kind of an action. People have to make a decision, and Hydro is directly implicated. The decision is simply this: Do we stay in Ontario and get overtaxed by the new labour legislation, extra corporate income taxes, income taxes, Ontario sales taxes, the GST, increases in the minimum wage, market value assessment and inflation? We add all of these together and we are talking about a tremendous cumulative effect that will drive out even more people. Who can withstand these kinds of pressures when the going is easier south of the border?
We cannot stand in the way of progress. We cannot hold back people to maintain businesses in Ontario when they have one fundamental choice to make. That fundamental choice is simply this: "We stay and we have to shut down; we go and we can make a profit." With this kind of choice in mind, I am not surprised that people are taking the jobs and their knowhow and moving south.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The minister will refrain from interjecting. Please continue.
Mr Ruprecht: If I had only heard what the minister said, I probably would have applauded his remark, since he is known for his generosity and sense of humour.
The Acting Speaker: I will have to reiterate first of all that I would appreciate it if the honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology did not interject. I would appreciate also if the member who has the floor addressed his comments through the Speaker and not directly to the minister's interjection.
Mr Ruprecht: Mr Speaker, I have always respected you in this forum and the kind of forum you had previously, but you will remember that the minister sits there. I take him to be a generous person and consequently I will not address myself to him, because he is known to be our friend on this side. I know his comments have always been fair and, as far as I am concerned, have been mostly on target. I have no intention to carry this on any further.
The Acting Speaker: Order. The member will take his seat. The member will follow the direction of the Speaker. I think we have had enough nonsense on this and I would ask that you continue the debate and speak to the issue.
Mr Ruprecht: The present government, including the ministers present here today -- we appreciate their presence obviously -- has been identified as terrorizing many communities; the business sector obviously, which very directly has a stake in this community. Hydro rates will obviously be an effective instrument in ensuring that industry will come back and maintain the jobs in Ontario. Hopefully in my wrapup this government will understand that the decision it makes on Bill 118, the amendments it permits us to make from this side of the House, will have a direct influence on the future of this province.
Whether we are talking about increases in hydro rates, mismanagement, competitiveness or bringing jobs back to Ontario, what is rudimentary and fundamental today is that hydro rates -- some people have described Hydro as the great big Frankenstein monster. I do not believe it is a Frankenstein. It is not a monster. Nevertheless, the point is that if we are unable to rein in these tremendous rates and ensure that Hydro's mandate is being recognized for what it should be -- to provide power at cost -- we will endanger the very economic health of this country and province.
Finally, this government should obviously and respectfully listen to the amendments we are proposing. With our co-operation, government and even opposition, we could go a long way. In a non-partisan, co-operative way we can manage to rein in these tremendous hydro rates. We can rein in the jobs that have left this province and we can be competitive again to the point where we can say we are Ontario residents, we believe in economic health and development and our new plan for an economic strategy must consequently rest on hydro rates and must be directly connected with what Hydro does. If we fail in this endeavour, we will be judged very harshly and will be unable to face our residents when they ask what we have done to force them out of their homes, to close jobs and push out industry.
Mr Villeneuve: I am pleased to participate for a short time in this debate, which I gather will terminate today. Hydroelectricity and Bill 118, as it will affect hydro and as it will affect everyone in rural Ontario, is of great concern to me and should be to everyone who represents rural ridings particularly, where hydro is really the only source of conventional energy as we know it. Bill 118 plans to put a lot of power in the hands of bureaucrats, and that is of concern to us all.
As most members of this Legislature know, there are alternative uses for some of our byproducts, some of our waste products, and I want to touch on that. I am pleased to see the Minister of the Environment here in the Legislature today. She will be getting a request from the township of Charlottenburgh, which I very proudly represented until 1987 when redistribution placed it within the riding of Cornwall. I got word from the municipality, as a matter of fact, yesterday afternoon that it is looking at a waste-to-energy program which will be using the Ogden Martin waste system. I want to talk about that this afternoon because many people have said: "What's the alternative? A 40% increase in the cost of power." But the government has not provided us with an alternative.
We have had some prosperity in this province and companies that manufacture automobiles formerly manufactured offshore and in Japan have come to Ontario because of two main things: first, an energy supply that was plentiful and economical and, second, a labour force that was available. We are going to lose one of those trump cards. The fact that hydro will be going up in price within the next four years somewhere in the area of 50% is very alarming. Bill 118 is probably one of the contributing factors.
I know Ontario belongs to the North American power grid. In order to belong to the North American power grid, you are supposed to have the ability to produce 25% more energy than you actually need, so you can transfer back and forth when the requirement comes from the United States or western Canada. You belong to this North American power grid and therefore you are able to supply power in times of need and are able to receive power in Ontario in times of need as well.
I know the government is on a conservation kick, which we all agree with, but there is a limit to what you can conserve. When Ontario Hydro starts paying people to go from electric heat to natural gas or some other source, then I say there is something drastically and fundamentally wrong with that type of system. This is what we are being faced with right now.
However, with the waste-to-energy, I had the opportunity of visiting Bristol, Connecticut, in the middle of the summer with a number of my federal colleagues and the majority of councillors from Charlottenburgh township. We spent one day at Bristol visiting Ogden Martin Systems Inc. I have some information here. Again, this will probably be as interesting to the Minister of the Environment as it will be to the Minister of Energy. The Ogden Martin system was set up on 18 acres of land in Bristol, Connecticut. It has two incinerators for 325 tons per day per unit; maximum 650 tons. They take the waste from a population of 250,000 and convert it to energy to generate electricity for 15,000 homes. A city the size of Cornwall is actually electrified by this plant in Bristol, Connecticut, using approximately 650 tons of garbage per day.
We visited this plant and we had one of our most severe environmental critics with us, a man who is a graduate from the late 1950s with an environmental science degree. Both he and his wife have one. He is highly respected. His questions occurred not only that day, but were subsequent to the visit. The man's name is John Milnes, from eastern Ontario. I was speaking to him again recently and he is quite satisfied that the emissions and indeed the method of operation in this waste-to-energy plant are state of the art. The incineration is at very high temperatures.
We can compare that to, say, the Lakeview generating station here in Mississauga, just west of the city of Toronto. I had occasion to be out on Lake Ontario this summer on a fishing expedition on a very warm day, and as the four sisters fired up, we could see the plume coming from the first, the second, the third and the fourth. Remember, this is a coal-fired generator at Lakeview. It was putting a haze out over the city of Toronto the likes of which I could hardly believe. The only reason we could see it well is that we were out on Lake Ontario. It was very obvious that this is a major polluter here in Ontario. When we compare that to the Ogden Martin system of incineration, then we really have no comparison, because we have no plume and very limited emissions.
The Ogden Martin system is most interesting in that I saw not one seagull in the area. Everything is done inside. It reminded me very much of a large grain elevator, a grain-handling facility, with a lot of height to be able to incinerate the garbage. The trucks come there, they go inside and they dump on a concrete floor. An inspector looks at the material and then gives the payloader the okay to put it into the pit, from whence it is hoisted into the incinerator and transformed into steam, with a generator turning out enough power for 15,000 homes -- a very slick setup.
I want to tell the Minister of the Environment that the tipping fees are about $45 per ton -- I emphasize, $45 per ton -- where we in Ontario are well over the $100 tipping fee per ton of garbage and rising. I often have the comparison thrown to me that it is much more lucrative to be tipping garbage or to be receiving garbage than it is to be growing grain in this province, which is food for human consumption. However, that is a story for another day. We do have an alternative. We can turn waste to energy. We can and we will recycle, because this is part of this Ogden Martin project.
I want to state here that the air pollution control equipment is dry flue gas scrubbers and fabric filter baghouses. There is no effluent. There certainly is no visible plume. Since the waste-to-energy establishment has been in place, apartment buildings have been built in the immediate vicinity with absolutely no problem at all.
An hon member: It's low in ash too.
Mr Villeneuve: The ash, yes; that is a very good question. The garbage is reduced by 90% in volume and 75% in weight. The ash, which is both fly ash and ground ash -- there is no fly ash that leaves the flue. It is all accumulated at the plant and utilized to seal existing landfill sites that presently are putting out some gases that are very detrimental to the environment. That is what the ash is being used for. Members should remember it is being reduced by 90% by volume, 75% by weight, and that is what happens to the ash. They are using it to seal old landfill sites that are putting out gases and creating havoc for the environment. I believe some of the gases that are coming from these garbage sites are very contributory to the greenhouse effect in our atmosphere. That is what the fly ash is being used for.
We saw absolutely no negatives to this, so this is very definitely a possibility. The facility has allowed the participating towns to focus on recycling and planning. State-wide recycling is mandatory and the communities are looking at an overall waste management system that includes resource recovery, recycling and landfilling. That is, I think, a very viable alternative and it kills several birds with the same rock, so to speak, because it actually generates from waste some very badly needed electricity and it is also really reducing very considerably the requirements for landfill sites, which produce methane gas, which is something that is certainly not very desirable in our environment. I know I may seem to have strayed a bit from Bill 118, but I am providing some alternatives to both the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of the Environment.
I could not terminate without putting in a word for the production of ethanol, which is also a renewable power source, and it would involve several ministries, including the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. It is a renewable resource. It would reduce by one third the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the air.
As we look at the Lakeview generating station and the number of cars in this very city, we must look at both alternatives, the production of ethanol and waste to energy, which are of utmost importance to successfully getting back to a productive economy here in Ontario and doing away with our waste.
I would not want to see any human being trying to divide the garbage that would be so-called recyclable and non-recyclable. I defy anyone to ask any human being to sit there or stand and work at trying to divide that garbage as it is incinerated in the system I had the opportunity of visiting this past summer.
In closing, Bill 118, unless it is amended quite extensively, will not solve the energy problems of the future. Providing a salary, and it has been talked about by almost everyone who has addressed this from the opposition side, in the $400,000 bracket to someone coming from another province with a somewhat clouded reputation -- it would be nice to make sure that everyone is on side. When we have eight members of the management of Ontario Hydro showing great cause for questions on this new chairman of Hydro, I say we should have a very close and second look at this.
In summary, I emphasize that we must look at waste management and turning waste to energy in order to stay in the ballpark. We have many electrically fired steel mills in northern Ontario that are just waiting for the first increase in the cost of energy to skip across into Quebec, where they have energy. They have lots of hydro. As a matter of fact, they have a surplus to sell. This inevitably will happen, and I hope the Minister of Energy is listening closely, because he can provide as many dollars as he wants to some of the uranium-producing towns. It is only going to be on short notice, a short stay of execution. If our main industries, our main steel mills, because of the cost of hydro, wind up in the province of Quebec, that will solve absolutely nothing.
Hon Mrs Grier: I cannot let that speech go by without commenting on the member's conversion, or maybe adherence if it is not a conversion, to the principle of incineration of waste, and just setting the record straight and clearing up perhaps some of the misconceptions the member may have left in the minds of other members.
Incineration is certainly not an appropriate way to reduce waste. It leaves you with a residue. Ironically, the kind of pollution control equipment the member indicated was on the incinerator he visited creates ash and waste that is even more toxic than those from incinerators that do not have adequate air pollution controls. The more effective the stack controls, the more toxic the waste that has to be disposed of. A landfill site has still to be found for that toxic residue. The cost to build and operate incinerators is far greater than the cost of landfills. The transfer of the contaminants from land to air is not an environmental solution. More than any of that, incinerators work against reduction, reuse and recycling.
As the member must know, the core of this government's waste management program and policies is that we reduce the amount of waste there is, reuse what we can and then recycle. Having an incinerator, an easy catchall where you can throw everything, works directly in opposition to that approach. The things that burn at the highest temperature, plastics, wood and paper, are the products for which it is most easy to find secondary uses and markets. I think the member's rather facile characterization of energy from waste as the solution not only to energy problems but to waste problems is very incorrect.
Mr Villeneuve: I thank the honourable Minister of the Environment for her participation. Ash, we are told, is being used. It is amazing that if indeed what the Minister of the Environment is saying has not been proven in the United States and we are still wondering about the accuracy of what was said -- because this is state-of-the-art incineration at very high temperatures and we are told that the toxic effect is neutralized because of the high temperatures -- we quite obviously have an impasse here. But the people in the know were quite satisfied with the ash as a sealer for existing landfill sites to prevent methane.
The minister keeps talking about landfills. When I hear some city people start telling me my cattle are polluting the air with methane and yet we have landfill site upon landfill site producing methane, spewing it out into the air, and no one says anything except that we are going to create more landfill, I have a little problem with that. I have a little problem with that as one who lives in Ontario but particularly as a farmer. When I am being accused of polluting with methane because I happen to own cattle, I do not accept that.
In reply to the minister's questions, over $1 million was spent on a political exercise in the Ottawa area to prevent the Ottawa Senators from having a 98-acre site for an arena. Is she saving that for a garbage dump? Surely not. The grain that 98 acres will produce will not even bring in two thirds of the price of tipping of garbage.
Landfills, in my humble opinion, are not the answer. It is a matter of creating a monster that someone else will have to deal with in the future.
Ms Carter: Opposition members have been accusing the government of causing Ontario Hydro to abandon the principle of power at cost. This plan is totally unfounded. This is what I want to speak to.
The water-powered generating stations which provided Ontario's first electricity production were and are cheap, clean and durable. Apart from capital costs and regular, predictable maintenance, hydro power is virtually free, but for most of this century Ontario Hydro has pursued a policy of encouraging extravagant power use. As generating capacity and demand leapfrogged over each other, Ontario began to run out of hydro sites. Polluting and non-renewable fossil fuel generation and nuclear power were brought on stream. Nuclear power now accounts for something like half our consumption. Unfortunately, nuclear-powered generation is not as cheap, as long-lasting or as reliable as hydro power.
We are now in a situation where each new unit of power generated costs much more than the average cost of existing production. This average is being held down by the virtually free but proportionally dwindling hydro component. We could say that existing users are subsidizing new users as power rates rise. This is why it makes sense on fiscal grounds to use power more efficiently rather than to allow demand to grow and build more facilities to meet that demand. It can be seven times cheaper to substitute efficiency for new generation. Several states in the United States are discovering this and they are some of the places I think industry is going to.
If consumers are going to pay costs, I am sure they would prefer those costs be kept down. Under the latest technology, there is enormous scope in this province for power-saving through efficiency. We are told that power costs will go up about 40% over the next three years. This is not a departure from the principle of power at cost. This is the cost incurred by previous governments that insisted on the building of more and more nuclear generating stations, although their efficiency and durability had not been proven.
Darlington cost about $14 billion. It does not work. The performance of the older stations has been declining from year to year. When they seemed to be running well, they were run flat out and maintenance was neglected. This government is committed to running them as safely and efficiently as possible. Hydro is also now incurring the cost of renovating transmission lines and catching up with other maintenance work.
The opposition has objected to the suggested remuneration of the chief executive officer of Hydro. At $400,000, that would correspond to one thousandth of the cost of retubing one nuclear reactor, and a lot of them have had to be retubed. The costs of nuclear power come in billions, not millions or thousands. Hydro's borrowing is one underlying cause of fiscal problems in this province and leads to the siphoning off of vast sums in overseas interest payments.
Now I would like to address the concern over the proposed payment by Ontario Hydro to Elliot Lake. When Hydro was paying as much as seven times the world price for uranium to Denison Mines, that was never challenged by the Hydro board of the day as being contrary to the principle of power at cost. The facts were kept secret and power users in Ontario paid the difference. Over $2 billion was unnecessarily spent in this way. By putting a time limit on this contract, Hydro has saved its consumers $1 billion of future expenditure. It was only fair that a small fraction of the sum saved should go to ease the transition in a city which was, after all, built by and for Ontario Hydro. This was a unique situation, not a precedent.
I want to tell the opposition that if we do not work together to hold down our demands for electric power, which can be done without suffering an inconvenience, and make the transition to efficiency and the use of renewable generation facilities, then the cost of power will go up not just 40% in the next three years; if we build more nuclear facilities, the cost of power will escalate out of sight. We shall be forced to use less because we can no longer afford the cost.
Shall we encourage industry to be efficient, thus becoming more competitive and generating more jobs, or shall we drive it away because of expensive nuclear power? Better to plan for efficiency and pay less, both because we are using less and because we have kept the unit costs down, than invest in a power source that has shown itself to be uneconomical. Look at the billions, please, not the thousands and millions.
I challenge the opposition: How would they provide power at reasonable prices? Nuclear will not do it. Energy from waste will not do it. Efficiency will.
Mrs Fawcett: I welcome the opportunity to participate in this increasingly controversial debate on Bill 118, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act.
The proposed amendments to the Power Corporation Act have certainly caused a great deal of concern for many of the constituents in my riding, as well as the many public utilities commissions in the riding of Northumberland. I have received detailed letters from Alvin Ramer of the Colborne Public Utilities Commission, Gerry Houston of Port Hope Hydro, Bruce Craig of the Campbellford Public Utilities Commission and John Dudley of the Cobourg Public Utilities Commission, who are very nervous and have expressed their concerns about what is in store for the future.
The basis of their concern, and mine as well, is that under Bill 118 the provincial government would be able to issue policy directives that would bypass the democratic legislative process and would be binding on Ontario Hydro. This could force Hydro to do things that are outside its current mandate, which is the provision of safe, reliable power at cost.
I am not suggesting here that the Ontario government does not have a responsibility to ensure that Hydro acts in a manner reflective of the government's policy. However, and more important, Hydro must have the ability to safeguard the interests of its ratepayers.
As was the case under the previous government, ministers' policy statements must relate to Hydro's exercise of powers under the Power Corporation Act. I am most concerned that under Bill 118 this restriction is lifted. There should be no restrictions at all on the kinds of policy directives it can make. This government could order Ontario Hydro, the way this bill is written now, to do anything. We have seen what has happened in Elliot Lake, Kapuskasing and Spruce Falls. The government has used Hydro, and ultimately its ratepayers, to fund its regional economic development plans. This was done carte blanche, and certainly distorted the current mandate of Hydro.
What are we to expect? Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Will we see a whole new mandate for Ontario Hydro in the future as the government slowly manipulates that mandate to suit its own purposes?
I see some members opposite shaking their heads and reacting almost with indignation. Well, they should tell me why I should believe them that this government's intentions are as pure as the driven snow. It closed the fish hatchery in my riding of Northumberland with apparently no reason, or with reasons known only to it, which certainly were a mystery to many people. Then they decided to close two registry offices in Northumberland, and these were making money, something novel for a government. Really, there were no apparent good, economic reasons. We could not find a really solid reason there as to why.
Yesterday we heard the member for Kenora speak of three Ministry of Natural Resources nurseries that are going to be clear-cut. Orono is one of the nurseries that is slated, and while it is not exactly in my riding, it is very close and provides trees for many people in the riding and in the area.
The government apparently consulted with the employees and told them they had nothing to fear, that this was just a revamping to make better use of the resources available. Now their jobs could also be clear-cut. They look at the new organizational sheets and cannot find themselves after being told there was no fear, their jobs were secure. And they say: "Trust us. We're from the government. We know what's best for you." I have a problem with that because I just wonder what is coming next, especially in Northumberland.
At the very least, the proposed amendments to the Power Corporation Act, and this one in particular, are threatening Ontario Hydro's mandate to supply safe, reliable power at cost. Any directive issued by the government must be related to Hydro's mandate of providing power at cost. The ratepayers in my riding are going to be furious when they find out that the projected increases of over 44% over the next three years really have nothing to do with the cost of providing power but are simply a tax grab used to fund this socialist government's agenda.
I would like to remind this government that for many in my riding, Ontario Hydro is a major source of heat and power. We do not have the luxury of natural gas being able to be piped into our homes in rural and eastern Ontario. Ratepayers are not just people who own homes; ratepayers include farmers who, along with their homes that must be heated and serviced with hydro, require a considerable amount of hydro to run their various operations. They are under a great deal of financial stress already, with no immediate relief.
I have recently spoken with Gerben Dejong, a hog farmer in my riding. Gerben tells me his current hydro bill right now is $1,000 a month, $12,000 a year. Should the 44% increase become a reality, as predicted by the government's high-priced chairman, Gerben's hydro bill will be $17,280 by the end of the three years. That is an increase of $5,280. How can Gerben and the other farmers ever be expected to accept this rate and compete in the marketplace? It is impossible.
Just last Friday I spoke with Clyde Frew of MCM Food Processors Ltd in Hope township in my riding. This energetic company proposes to expand -- imagine that, a company that wants to expand -- its processing lines of production which would generate employment, not lay people off, not only for those who would be working at the plant but for those growers who would be supplying the plant with crops.
To accommodate this expansion, Mr Frew has asked Ontario Hydro for an increase in hydro service to approximately 800 amps. He has been flatly refused by local Hydro officials, who say their policy only allows for 600-amp service to his company. I wonder what the Minister of Agriculture and Food thinks of this. Here we have an enterprising agricultural industry wanting to grow and provide more jobs, and now MCM has to factor into its decision to do this Ontario Hydro's restricting its ability to compete, not only by increasing its rates by 44% over the next three years but by not even allowing it the power it needs to run the expanded operation.
It is this kind of conflicting message that needs to be addressed by this government. Also, there are ratepayers who are employers in the industrial sector, trying to compete and provide jobs that will allow people to fully participate in today's society. There are investors who will be considering places to locate, like the industrial parks in Port Hope, Cobourg, Colborne, Brighton or Campbellford. How can people like Frankie Liberty of the Diamond Triangle Economic Development Commission encourage them to come and invest here when they know that their power source is going to have to be subjected to increases that really have nothing to do with the cost of providing power?
A further concern for those of us in rural Ontario is the amendment that gives Hydro the power to provide incentives or loans to encourage the switch from electrical heat to non-electrical-based space heating systems. Given that electrical space heating is one of the most inefficient of home heating systems, I would concur with an effort to investigate alternatives. However, I would also suggest that this could be more appropriately dealt with and funded through the Minister of Energy.
I remember my late father, when the push was on 10 to 15 years ago for everybody to switch to electric heating, saying: "Don't believe that anything is going to be cheaper. As soon as they hook enough fish in on this, then up goes the cost and away we go." I wonder now, is this just another scheme, another revisitation of the same old story?
It would be safe to say that customers switching off electric heat will likely move to natural gas, which is a more environmentally and economically sound manner of heating, but I would remind this minister that for those with forced-air furnaces, it would be a cost of between $4,000 and $5,000, and for those without a forced-air furnace, it would be between $8,000 and $10,000 to convert. How much of the cost is Ontario Hydro going to ask its ratepayers to subsidize? I would ask the Minister of Energy, should Hydro ratepayers be responsible for subsidizing others to switch off electricity?
In our county of Northumberland, many ratepayers are not serviced by natural gas pipelines and therefore they do not have that option to switch from electricity to natural gas. Yet the government will be burdening them with rate increases to pay for these subsidies to others. While natural gas is currently an economically viable alternative, there is no guarantee that this will always be the case in encouraging people to switch off electricity-based heating.
All the issues surrounding gas, including pipeline capacity cost, reliability of delivery and direct purchase will become more important in developing such an incentive program. All the long-term implications must be considered. I would strongly suggest that this government work with Ontario Hydro and the gas companies to address the issues of communities like the small ones in my riding, like Warkworth, Garden Hill, Morganston, Gores Landing, Wooler and all the rural areas. What are they going to do? They do not have those pipelines and their costs will just bury them. They really need to look at all sides of this conservation issue of theirs before making a decision.
My colleagues the members for Ottawa South and Renfrew North have done an admirable job of outlining many more of the concerns that we in this party have with the bill. Perhaps I could just take a moment to touch on one that will affect every ratepayer, regardless of his ability to pay. Hydro rates indeed are skyrocketing at unprecedented levels. In 1991, we saw an increase of 8.6%. The 1992 rates announced by Hydro will see an increase of another 11.8% on the average, the highest annual increase in over 10 years. Just a couple of weeks ago it was indicated that hydro rates will increase 44% over the next three years.
Surely these amendments will only add fuel to the ever-increasing flames of hydro rates. How much more money can the ratepayers be asked to pay? What about those on fixed incomes like the many senior citizens in my riding? How are they going to be expected to cope with 44% increases? Will this government ensure that its payments to seniors reflect these types of increases?
In closing, I would urge this government to reconsider this Bill 118 in light of the ill-conceived ramifications it would have on many Ontarians. Let Hydro continue to manage our province's most valuable resource under its current mandate of supplying safe, reliable power at cost. Do not turn Ontario Hydro into a catch-all for this government's regional development agenda at the expense of its ratepayers. Lastly do not hide behind the regulatory process. Any future changes must be made with open and full debate in a democratic society here in this House.
Mr B. Murdoch: I would like to speak on Bill 118, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act, on behalf of the Owen Sound PUC, the Meaford PUC, the villages of Chatsworth, Dundalk, Flesherton, Markdale, Neustadt, Shallow Lake, and the towns of Durham, Hanover and Thornbury, and the townships of Egremont and Normanby, and the rest of the rural people in Grey who have all asked me to assist them in their struggle against this legislation. They are totally opposed to this bill as they feel it threatens to destroy our long-standing tradition of Ontario's offering electrical power to the people at cost. They are afraid that hydro rates will now become simply a new source of tax revenue for this government.
Since the government has bailed out Elliot Lake and Kapuskasing, I am afraid that because of the new powers given to the ministry by allowing them to issue directives, not merely statements, they may well pass this huge cost on to Hydro's consumers. We have no guarantee this will not happen. We feel that government should provide these social safety nets if they wish to, not the ordinary people who need hydroelectric power to go about their daily lives. How many more taxes can our people bear? Now this government is threatening to deny people heat and light if they simply cannot pay more, and we believe that they will have to pay more.
My local PUCs also want to know, as does my caucus, what the long-term projections are in terms of supply and price for natural gas. We do not know. No one has shown us these. Do we have the pipeline facilities to get gas here from Alberta? There are a lot of questions which remain unanswered. But even if we had the answers, this would still be bad legislation. Hydro and our taxpayers should not be subsidizing other forms of energy. If people want to switch, they should not receive public assistance. We should keep a free market system.
My constituents feel that this government will now be able to issue policy directives unilaterally which will bypass the legislative process. I cannot help thinking that this is one more example of the contempt this government feels for those members of this House as it completely ignores the democratic process which we have cherished for years.
I agree with the municipalities in my area that ask that this government withdraw the portions of Bill 118 that deal with policy directives that would change the mandate of Ontario Hydro and force its consumers to bear the cost. They also ask that the government and Ontario Hydro not finance social assistance programs and other government initiatives unrelated to Ontario Hydro's mandate through the cost of power. This is dangerous legislation. It completely disregards the principle of democracy and it will cost the taxpayer dearly.
I also have a letter which was sent to me from the Owen Sound PUC.
"On behalf of the Owen Sound Public Utilities Commission, I am writing to express our opposition to Bill 118, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act. As you are aware, this bill is now undergoing second reading in the Legislature.
"Bill 118 threatens to destroy Ontario's long-cherished principle of power at cost by making electricity rates a new source of tax revenue for the provincial government.
"Under Bill 118, the provincial government would be able to issue policy directives that bypass the democratic legislative process, are binding on Ontario Hydro, and that could force Hydro to do things that are outside its current mandate -- the provision of safe, reliable electricity. In addition, Bill 118 would force Ontario electricity consumers to pay for these policy directives through their rates. A good example is the recent $250-million Elliot Lake bailout. This is unacceptable.
"We also object to the sections of Bill 118 that permit Ontario Hydro to subsidize fuel substitution through electricity rates. This is unnecessary, as market forces alone are enough to encourage certain types of fuel switching. Private gas companies should not be subsidized from electricity costs.
"Bill 118 is flawed legislation that sets dangerous precedents and allows a new hidden tax grab by the provincial government.
"We look forward to your support in our fight to change Bill 118.
"Yours very truly, Harold Gard, general manager."
I also have a motion they sent me that the Owen Sound PUC passed. It was moved by O. L. Jackson, the mayor of Owen Sound, and seconded by W. C. Lougheed, a past mayor of Owen Sound:
"Whereas the government of Ontario has introduced Bill 118, An Act to amend the Power Corporation Act on June 5, 1991; and
"Whereas Bill 118 contains provisions that would permit the government of Ontario to issue binding policy directives to Ontario Hydro to change the mandate of Ontario Hydro and to finance the cost of government policy directives through the cost of power to municipal electric utilities; and
"Whereas Ontario Hydro has recently been forced to make an unnecessary $250-million expenditure associated with the legitimate renegotiation of uranium contracts and the associated community assistance package for Elliot Lake; and
"Whereas there is a growing concern that Ontario Hydro is becoming an instrument for the provincial government's social policies instead of being the provider of safe, reliable, sufficient electricity at cost; and
"Whereas municipal electric utility customers should not be financing the government's social assistance programs in their cost of power in the form of hidden taxation,
"Be it resolved that the Public Utilities Commission of the city of Owen Sound requests the province of Ontario to withdraw the sections of Bill 118 dealing with policy directives that would change the mandate of Ontario Hydro and force electricity customers to bear the costs of these directives in their rates; and
"Be it further resolved that the Public Utilities Commission of the city of Owen Sound requests the government of Ontario and Ontario Hydro to not finance social assistance and other government initiatives unrelated to Ontario Hydro's mandate through the cost of power and, further, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Premier of Ontario, the Minister of Energy, the chairman of Ontario Hydro, Mr Bill Murdoch, MPP and the Municipal Electric Association.
"I hereby certify that the above is a true copy of the resolution of the Public Utilities Commission of the city of Owen Sound passed at its meeting held on September 18, 1991."
It is signed by the general manager.
This is just one of many letters I have received from our public utilities commissions and electrical people in Grey county. They are certainly concerned about this bill and hope this government will change its mind.
Something else happened on October 3 in this House. I would like to read from Hansard a quote from the honourable member for Simcoe West. He stated: "Every year they have to bring in this big portable generator, which is an ungodly sight, at tremendous cost, to get us through the winter up there" -- meaning up in Simcoe -- "so that industries can continue to have power and so that I and folks at home can continue to turn on our lights and heat our homes."
At that time there was an unparliamentary word said and some people were called birdbrains. I realize maybe that was unparliamentary and the honourable member for Hamilton Mountain said he would withdraw those remarks. At that time the honourable member for Windsor-Riverside quipped in to say, "Why don't we sever it?" not understanding the real meaning of what is going on here in the House.
With remarks like that being said, it only shows that our socialist government does not understand rural Ontario. We do not happen to have gas lines running out into the country where people can heat with it, if that is what they want us to do. Some people only have electricity to heat their homes. They have no other way to do it. Like in so many other bills that our socialist friends want to pass, they do not understand rural Ontario. Until they find out what rural Ontario is all about --
Hon Mr Cooke: And you do?
Mr B. Murdoch: The Minister of Municipal Affairs says, "And you do." I hope I do and I understand maybe he does not at this time. Maybe through the years he will get to understand rural Ontario. Hopefully in his portfolio he does. Obviously at this point he does not when he can make remarks like he does here in the House. That is unfortunate, because birds also have brains over there. The members opposite have to realize that and keep it in mind. It is unfortunate that remarks like that come up. If they understood rural Ontario, we would be much better off and bills like this would not happen. I hope they can reconsider this bill, take a better look at it and come back with something else. They should try again.
Hon Mr Charlton: This is the third day that I have been in here listening to the debate on Bill 118 and I have to start by saying I have been thoroughly disgusted with the level of debate on this bill.
The members across the way have not even taken the time to learn from those who came before them, the members of their own parties, who worked for 15 years on what was originally the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs and subsequently the select committee on energy. They listened on numerous occasions to the comments of the public utilities commissions across the province, and to the comments of Hydro and a range of other industrial-business groups and energy groups. We sat down and cross-examined evidence instead of just reading out in a rote way the letters that were sent to us.
The members of the Conservative Party and of the Liberal Party on that select committee unanimously supported the approach set out in Bill 118. I recommend to the members of the opposition to take the time to read both the select committee report from 1986 and the subsequent select committee report in 1989, and perhaps we can start to deal with some of the myths that are floating around in this debate. They are real myths.
I have heard a number of concerns expressed about power at cost and losing the concept of power at cost because of government social programs. The first and biggest social program ever foisted on Ontario Hydro by a government was that of the administration of William Grenville Davis in 1977 to the tune of a $600-million interest-free loan to the uranium mining companies in Elliot Lake, the very place I hear members complaining about us providing some assistance to in order to clean up the mess that has resulted from those decisions in the 1970s.
Power at cost. What does "power at cost" mean? Power at cost means that Hydro produces power and charges the consumers of this province whatever the cost of that power is. Does it mean Hydro produces power for the consumers of this province that is the cheapest? No. Unfortunately that has not been Hydro's policy. Why? I will come to that in a minute. Hydro has been bound by the policy of power at cost virtually since its inception, but to Ontario Hydro, power at cost has not meant pursuing a least-cost strategy.
A number of people here today and in the last three days who have participated in this debate have talked about our competitiveness. They have talked about the energy rates and the increases that will happen over the next number of years and how those will impact on our competitiveness as a province. The decisions around what the member for Parkdale called the "strategy for uncompetitiveness" were decisions made in the 1960s by the Robarts administration. Those were the decisions that decided to use Ontario Hydro as an economic development tool to artificially create a nuclear industry in Ontario, an industry that did not exist.
The price increases occurring over the course of last year, this year and the two years following flow, as members well know, out of two basic problems that are occurring right now, but are a result of those strategic decisions made in the 1960s, strategic decisions to pursue the Candu system as our primary source of energy.
I say to the member for Parkdale, who was complaining throughout his speech about the government keeping secrets and not making announcements in the House, that the announcement was made a year ago April by the former Minister of Energy in the Liberal administration, when the 8.6% increase of this year was announced. The increases last year, this year, next year and in 1994 are increases that result from, first, the completion of the Darlington generating station, with in each of those years one reactor coming into service, and the costs of that one quarter of the Darlington system coming due and payable and being dumped into the rate base.
That is the first and primary cause of the significant price increases. The stability to which the member for Niagara Falls referred in her speech is simply a stability which happens at the end of that four-year process of dumping the capital cost of Darlington into the rate base. The stability results when we no longer have to dump $3 billion or $4 billion into the rate base in one shot.
The second major problem also flows out of decisions made in the 1960s by the Robarts administration. These are problems that relate to the operational difficulties being experienced at both Pickering and Bruce -- nuclear stations, as members well know because it has been debated in this House a number of times, that were supposed to operate at 80% capacity over their lifetimes and that are now operating at about 50% capacity. Their lifetime average is falling all the time. Every time that operating capacity falls, the cost goes up and the price of energy goes up.
We could make the same mistakes again. I have heard a number of opposition members talk about how we are delaying or are going to delay the construction of the next nuclear plants that Hydro wants to build, and at the same time they are saying we have to make a commitment to eliminating Hydro's debt.
Hydro has a proposal before environmental assessment that is presently going on. That proposal calls for another $61 billion of borrowing by Ontario Hydro. How can we, as members of this Legislature, ask with any honesty that we allow Hydro to proceed to provide the safe and reliable power we want when we know that the nuclear facilities are not working properly, that we have not resolved the reliability problems, and that Hydro wants to increase the debt, which the opposition says is already too high, by $61 billion?
This debate is about serious study that was done by all three parties present in this Legislature. I close off my remarks by commending to the members of the opposition that they sit down and read the two reports of the select committee, reports that were signed and supported unanimously by the members of their parties.
Let's learn from those who came before us. Let's learn from those who took the time to understand what this game was all about and what we had to do over time to change it. Let's learn from the efforts our predecessors made to understand the mistakes of the past so we would not make them yet again today.
Mr Cordiano: I want to say to the member who just spoke that indeed conservation has a price, but certainly the price his government is proposing in order to bring about conservation is quite high for those on fixed incomes if we see rate increases of the magnitude the government is talking about, which will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 44% over three years.
He can justify that in the name of conservation, but how can he justify that for people who are on fixed incomes or on low incomes? I quite frankly do not agree with him. The result and the consequences of what the government is planning --
Mr Cordiano: Obviously the member is talking about increases in costs which historically have accrued and are now coming due. That is fine; that is understood. We do understand that on this side of the House. But I want to say to the member that I think it is completely unfair when we have those kinds of across-the-board increases that will result from efforts being put forward by this government.
We know what the intention is. We know the chairman of Hydro intends to bring about those rate increases all in the name of conservation. Quite frankly, to bring about conservation by increasing rates is preposterous. It is going to destroy our economy even further and erode confidence even further.
One of the most important pillars of economic growth in this province was the fact that we had ample, relatively cheap power. The government can bring about conservation, and I think it can bring about greater efficiencies, but when it does so with rate increases, it has an effect on the other side of the equation, which says we are going to have a negative economic factor to deal with.
I think the government has to take that into account. They cannot simply say we are going to have conservation, increase rates for conservation, increase the cost of using automobiles for conservation, increase costs all across the board so people will rely less on the usage of their vehicles or on the usage of energy that is available to them.
We are in this country one of the biggest users of energy in the world, no doubt about that. But I think we have to keep in mind that you cannot bring about wholesale changes in a short period of time which have dramatic impacts on the economy. We are in a fragile state of affairs right now, and I do not think those people across the way really understand just how fragile it is and how much of a crisis we are in right now with respect to our economic future.
I think we have to fight like hell to ensure that all the factors that go into making an economy more sound are in place and to structure the economy in such a way that we will have a future outlook that is brighter. If we do not do that, we are seriously going to jeopardize any kind of recovery, which will take, I believe, longer now than it was at first anticipated. None the less, we will have a recovery and it depends on what this government does to a great extent. They have to understand the impact of what they do.
When we talk about what is being proposed, I do not think Bill 118 is necessary to bring about conservation. There is no doubt about that. That may not be the central focus of this but, on the other hand, to provide power at a reasonable cost for people is not really the mandate that was initiated in the first place. I do not think that is going to go far enough in terms of protecting our future economic growth.
When the government of the day decides to change rates it can do so, and that is obviously the intention. I know the minister commented on this the other day. He said the intention of the bill is to fulfil the mandate of the government of the day. That is a wide-open mandate, I would say. The mandate should continue to be some provision for consumers to be certain of what future supply is going to be like and what cost factors should be considered when economic planning takes place. That is what we have had in the past and that is what we will fail to have in the future when this bill goes through.
Demand for hydro is increasing, not decreasing and, as I say, we are in a recession and perhaps the recovery is not as quick as we would have liked and, of course, that brings about conservation. Was it Arthur Dickenson, executive director of the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario, who said, and the minister would be familiar with this, "One way to get better efficiencies and demand down for hydro for energy is to get people out of business"?
That is exactly what we are going to do when we bring about rate increases of the magnitude that are being talked about here. We are going to further provide disincentive to people who are thinking of investing in this province. There is no doubt about that. People are flocking to the US by the hordes to shop and to invest. We know that is happening. This will just be another nail in the coffin which says to people, "Look, we are not going to have that advantage of providing you with an efficient, low-cost source of power." It is simply not going to be there.
Hon Mr Philip: Is Bourassa giving them an advantage?
Mr Cordiano: I do not know if Bourassa is giving them an advantage. I am sure he is going to try to give them an advantage, and I know that Quebec and other provinces in this country are going to try to attract investment into their provinces. That is the nature of things. If this government is going to compete with other jurisdictions, it has got to keep that in mind.
Other jurisdictions will continue to provide as much incentive for investors to locate in their province as possible. I do not think there is any doubt about that. If we fail to understand that we are in competition with other jurisdictions for investment, which this province depends on to a great extent, this government fails miserably in understanding how our economy functions.
I say to the minister, who is present, that she has to be concerned about what rate increases she does bring in for those industries that are largely dependent on a low-cost source of power.
I know the government across the way has made the argument many times that free trade has destroyed our economy and free trade has brought about real competitiveness in those industries which are unable to compete and have gone by the wayside. They have got to understand that this would further reduce the ability of those industries that are on the brink in terms of their ability to compete with other companies in their industries, other jurisdictions. I think they should keep that in mind.
I want to raise the issue with respect to Elliot Lake and the directive that was signed on June 6. We had some comment earlier about historical perspective, and I know there is some concern with respect to Elliot Lake recovering from the economic devastation that it faced. We all are in favour of that.
It is quite controversial in the sense that we do not want to make a community like Elliot Lake have further difficulties. But the problem with the directive that was signed is that Hydro provided $65 million through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp, and that certainly is not within the mandate of Hydro. The fact of the matter is that when we look at the whole question of what happened in Elliot Lake, we see that it is not the best way to bring about economic diversification, and I agree with that.
Hon Mr Philip: What would you do?
Mr Cordiano: There are other things that could have been done. The fact is, the minister has done it.
Hon Mr Philip: Why didn't you do them?
Mr Cordiano: We did not have the crisis that the government faced just recently. We did not have that imminently on the horizon. It happened while they were the government. That is why we asked them to do something about it.
Hon Mr Philip: You had no idea it was coming?
The Acting Speaker (Mr Villeneuve): Order, please.
Mr Cordiano: That is fine. I am having an interesting dialogue, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: Could you please address your comments through the occupant of the chair. If the honourable minister wants to reply during the question and answer period, he is most welcome to. But the honourable member for Lawrence has the floor.
Mr Cordiano: Quite frankly, the issue was a difficult one. I do not want to say it is not. We had a situation where this had been ongoing, but I do not think the solution they brought forward was the correct one. We need to provide a direction, a policy for one-industry towns which we have been struggling for in this Legislature for quite some time over the years. Quite frankly, we simply we do not have the solution at this point in time.
This is a stopgap measure, but it sets a terrible precedent. In the future, it behooves this government to look at creating a policy which will look at one-industry towns and continue to search for the answer and continue to look for economic viability for a number of these communities.
To simply throw money at the problem without having a concrete plan is not the answer. It is not the best way to efficiently use those funds. I say to the members opposite that we have very scarce running resources. They are running a huge deficit, and those funds would be better used to develop a strategy which would be in effect for all of northern Ontario, for one-industry towns and for those communities which have suffered severe setbacks in the last little while.
We will be moving forward with this. There are a number of issues. I want to reiterate the fact that a 44% rate increase is not justified and cannot be justified over a short period of time. It will have serious implications for people on fixed incomes, serious implications for industries that need low-cost power. Those are devastating numbers for those companies in those industries which continue to be vulnerable and on the brink. I say to the government opposite, think carefully on that.
Hon Mr Ferguson: I am pleased to see the interest the members of this House are showing in the amendments now before them. In my concluding remarks, I would like to remind members of the principles of the legislation and take the opportunity to respond to some of the more important points, however misrepresented at times, made during the debate.
We in Ontario are facing energy challenges. Without question, we must protect the environment while ensuring that the province continues to have a reliable supply of energy at reasonable prices. To meet these challenges, the government has announced new energy directions, the primary goal being, of course, to concentrate more of our resources on controlling growth in the demand for energy and to ensure we use energy efficiently.
Since last fall when we announced our new energy policy in the speech from the throne, we have been moving decisively to give effect to the new direction. Ontario Hydro now expects an additional 1,500 megawatts of peak power savings by the year 2000, on top of the 3,700 megawatts already identified in its demand-supply hearings. The total of 5,200 megawatts is equivalent to the capacity of one-and-a-half Darlington-type stations. Ontario Hydro has indicated that these new targets were made possible by the upcoming amendments to this act.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Ontario Hydro has a vital role to play in meeting public priorities, and we expect the provincial utility to work more closely with the government to achieve Ontario's energy goals. To make that possible, we have introduced the amendments to the Power Corporation Act, and honourable members will know that Ontario Hydro will be truly accountable to the people of Ontario for the first time in Ontario history.
When the former Minister of Energy opened debate on Bill 118, she indicated at the time that the government would be listening closely to what is being said. We have listened and we are continuing to listen. The minister also informed the House that the government would be responsive where appropriate, and we are responding.
There has been considerable concern and misunderstanding about the scope and nature of provisions in the bill regarding policy directives. For example, it has been suggested that the amendments would turn Ontario Hydro into a social agency. Concern has also been expressed about Ontario Hydro being used as an economic development tool. I want to remind the House that provisions relating to Ontario Hydro's participation in economic development programs were enacted in 1989 under the previous government. The amendments proposed by this government do not change the provision. Ontario Hydro's participation in Elliot Lake was governed by that provision and this government makes absolutely no apologies about Elliot Lake.
Ontario Hydro has a unique obligation to Elliot Lake in that area. As a statutory corporation and the only remaining purchaser of uranium from Elliot Lake, Ontario Hydro is fulfilling its responsibilities as a responsible corporate citizen by assisting the community to adjust to the winding down of its Elliot Lake contracts. The $250-million package is a cost to Ontario Hydro, but it is a cost to discharge its legal and moral obligations to get out of the uranium contracts that over the past 10 years have cost a $1.2-billion premium. If Ontario Hydro had not cancelled the Elliot Lake contracts, the pricetag would have been an additional $1.5-billion over the next decade, with corresponding increases in electricity rates.
In the longer term, the saving from Elliot Lake contracts and the benefits from buying low-priced uranium elsewhere will be reflected in electricity rates. Rates will be lower than they would have been if Ontario Hydro had continued to buy from Elliot Lake.
Nor are there any apologies for Ontario Hydro's commercial transaction on Smoky Falls, which has ensured an economic future for the town of Kapuskasing. Ontario Hydro entered into an agreement with Spruce Falls Power and Paper Co to purchase the Smoky Falls Generating Station. This is a commercial arrangement from which Ontario Hydro is obtaining a producing asset, a dam and a generating station. Ontario Hydro has also agreed, as part of that purchase price, to provide the new owners of the mill with power and power credits equal to the value of the output of the generating station, and this government has agreed to compensate Ontario Hydro for the cost of that power and power credits if Ontario Hydro is unable to obtain approval under the Environmental Assessment Act.
The member for Renfrew North suggested that the government's plans for the future of Kapuskasing have been put in jeopardy by Hydro's decision to suspend activity on future hydroelectric development in the Moose River basin. I would like to remind the House that Ontario Hydro's suspension applies only to activity beyond the Mattagami redevelopment project. It is the government's intention to provide for policy directives that will enable Ontario Hydro to work more effectively with government to meet public priorities. Ontario Hydro will not become a social agency, or as some people have said a welfare agency. The amendments will equip Ontario Hydro to play an increased role in the implementation of the government's new energy policies.
These New Energy Directions reflect the public priorities of the decade ahead, priorities that mean we must meet our increasing demand for energy with a balanced approach that takes full advantage of energy conservation and efficiency.
It is the government's intention to move changes to the bill during committee to address misunderstandings that have arisen. Reference has been made to press reports about the likelihood of a 44% increase in rates over two to three years, and this is a clear indication that electricity customers will be forced to pay the costs of Ontario Hydro's involvement in implementing government policy directives. Nothing is further from the truth.
Concern has been expressed about the effect of all this on the position of Ontario Hydro electricity rates compared to rates in other jurisdictions. The latest rate increase means an extra $7 on the average monthly bill of a residential consumer. This rate increase is really a result of decisions made by previous governments in the past. Darlington alone accounts for about one quarter of the increase this year, and customers will face additional increases when the rest of Darlington is brought into service. Moreover, they will be paying for the $13-billion cost of Darlington over the next 40 years. What was said was that the rate increases could be in double digits for the next two or three years. That is what was said, not a 44% increase. This, quite frankly, is the result of costly decisions made by previous governments.
Let me reiterate that when this debate opened we stated that the government would listen to opinions and concerns about the bill. We have done that. In particular, we have heard from the Municipal Electric Association, which we have met with on a number of occasions. We have met with a number of municipal electric utilities and environmental groups and we are seeking to respond to their concern. We will continue to listen as the legislative process unfolds.
I want to conclude by thanking the members of the opposition and the third party as well as my colleagues here for their comments on Bill 118. I would be happy to ensure that this bill proceeds to committee. Members should rest assured that I will not only be listening but hearing what is being said, and I will be responsive where appropriate.
The Acting Speaker: Mr Ferguson has moved second reading of Bill 118. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Hon Mr Cooke: Mr Speaker, by unanimous consent, we would put off the vote until Monday, immediately following question period.
The Acting Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Le vote est différé.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Cooke: Pursuant to standing order 53, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
On Monday, October 21, Tuesday, October 22, and Wednesday, October 23, we will continue the adjourned second reading debate on Bill 83, Income Tax Amendment Act, followed by Bill 84, Tobacco Tax Amendment Act, Bill 85, Fuel Tax Amendment Act, Bill 86, Gasoline Tax Amendment Act, and Bill 130, Retail Sales Tax Amendment Act.
On Thursday, October 24, in the morning we will deal with private members' business: ballot item 39 standing in the name of the member for Oakville South and ballot item 40 standing in the name of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot. In the afternoon we will deal with a new motion of interim supply for the period commencing November 1, 1991, and ending December 31, 1991.
The Acting Speaker: Just prior to breaking this evening, may I add our particular and special thanks to the departing legislative pages for work very well done over the past number of weeks. We hope they have a very good fall, winter and spring season. Will ye no return to visit us again? To all the pages, thank you.
The House adjourned at 1802.