The House met at 1330.
Mr Ramsay: It is a pleasure to stand in my place today and to salute a group of hardworking women and men in my riding of Timiskaming. On Monday of this week I attended the official opening of the Gateway project in the town of Haileybury. This is a skills training initiative that is both imaginative and I believe will prove to be truly effective.
First, Gateway is a partnership of a broad cross-section of organizations in Timiskaming: the Canadian Steel Trades Employment Congress, commonly known as CSTEC, which is a partnership between the United Steelworkers of America and the steel companies of this country; the Sherman Mine Adjustment Committee; the Timiskaming Board of Education; Employment and Immigration Canada; the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and the town of Haileybury.
The group has developed a hands-on work project of building a home that will provide employment and job training. At the same time, the workers are going to be going to an adult training facility in Haileybury to upgrade their academic qualifications. The beauty of this project is that the proceeds of the sale of the house will allow the project to continue so that we in Timiskaming can continue to train unemployed workers.
I urge the Minister of Skills Development to take a look at this project as a model. I believe it is important to develop the skills of workers in Ontario so that we can stay competitive in a changing global economy. I salute the men and women and the organizations for their work and creativity and I wish all the participants well.
H. GORDON GREEN
Mr Arnott: On Sunday, November 3, Ontario lost one of its most renowned literary figures. H. Gordon Green -- broadcaster, newspaper columnist, editor, novelist, teacher, farm leader, politician and homespun philosopher -- died at the age of 79.
Raised in Arthur in the county of Wellington, in an area that was known as "stumptown" at the time, he received his early education at Arthur public and high schools. Very much a renaissance man, Gordon Green contributed greatly to promoting among the urban population of this province, and indeed throughout Ontario, a fundamental understanding of rural Ontario, its character and its people. In his death, rural Ontario has lost one of its best friends and strongest allies.
His political ambitions, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's perspective, were not realized when he ran for the New Democratic Party in the 1962 federal general election in the riding of Wellington-Huron, which was ably represented for many years by yet another Arthur resident, Mr Marvin Howe.
In conversation yesterday with my friend Jim Hamilton, our local historian in Arthur, who was a lifelong friend of Gordon Green, Jim recalled his last visit with Gordon back in May 1990 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary reunion of Arthur District High School. Gordon felt it might be his last visit to his home town.
H. Gordon Green will be sadly missed by his family, his friends and his faithful readers. Those of us in rural Ontario who have a special place for him in our hearts mourn his passing.
Mr Hansen: I rise today to inform the House of a very important ongoing activity in my riding of Lincoln.
With Lincoln being made up of five municipalities and being mainly rural, it is difficult to implement an effective waste management program. In 1971, four of the municipalities, Grimsby, Lincoln, Pelham and West Lincoln, got together to form a board of management committee to jointly administer one municipal landfill to serve all four communities. However, their collective efforts have not stopped there. Since 1987 they have been operating special household hazardous waste days to allow their residents the opportunity to rid themselves of old paint, oil and so on, instead of having to go directly into the landfill.
This year the group opened a permanent facility for household hazardous waste in Grimsby. Now residents from all four communities have a place to bring their hazardous waste on a regular basis. On Saturday I visited the depot to congratulate the staff who help collect the waste and to thank the people for taking the time to separate their waste to help protect the environment.
The four communities have shown that politicians and people can work together to help solve the problems Ontario is facing. The board of management should be commended on its fine effort in dealing with its own waste problem and for getting the residents so actively involved. Even though the board is busy preparing an environmental assessment document for a new landfill, it has taken it upon itself to initiate new waste management programs.
Mr Callahan: I rise today to address the flip-flop by the Attorney General. He was reported recently in the Law Times as proposing that legal aid should be phased out in favour of a public defender system.
I am old enough to remember when the legal aid program was brought into this province and the decision was made that the public defender system was of less quality and would be more costly in the long run. In addition to that, it sets up a two-tier system of justice in this province. It provides very efficient paid-for justice for those who can afford it and it actually dumps on those people who are not able to afford it.
Legal aid has provided megaservice to this province over the years it has been in existence and I suggest it is the way we should go. I ask the Attorney General to make a decision quickly, because there are people out there who cannot afford to retain their own lawyers and are being served very well through the legal aid system. If he intends to dump on the very people the New Democratic Party professes to protect and preserve, then that is what he will in fact do by setting up a public defender system. If any review is taken of New York or any other jurisdiction that has a public defender system, it is less than desirable; it is in many cases a sham.
I suggest to the Attorney General and to the Treasurer, please do not eliminate legal aid. It is the best-quality system; it is the best program in existence and our justice system will be served well.
ORANGEVILLE SWEET ADELINES
Mr Tilson: Today I would like to offer my congratulations to the Orangeville chapter of the Sweet Adelines on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, to be celebrated on November 16, 1991.
For those who are not familiar with this great-sounding group, the Sweet Adelines International is an organization of 30,000 women in more than 700 chapters across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, the Republic of Panama, Finland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. This group's mandate is to develop and promote a public awareness and appreciation of the art form of barbershop harmony and to teach its members to sing and perform four-part harmony in barbershop style.
The Orangeville chapter of the Sweet Adelines was established in October 1979 with nine members, and by the time the group received its charter in November 1981 the membership had grown to 40.
They have experienced great success over the past 10 years. They can be heard performing throughout the community at dances, seniors' homes, hospitals and of course their own very popular concerts. The Orangeville Sweet Adelines also encourage new recruits and welcome women who love to sing, are energetic and interested in being the best they can be.
I wish the Orangeville Sweet Adelines best wishes and continued success on their 10th anniversary. I have had the pleasure of enjoying many of their performances and I encourage all Ontarians to support their local chapter of the Sweet Adelines.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Hayes: As all the members will recall, the Minister of Agriculture and Food asked me to chair a task force across this province last fall. As a result of that, we were able to come up with a financial assistance program that helped some farmers in the long term.
We spoke and listened to many of the individual farmers across this province, and the message we got was that they are tired of ad hoc programs. They have asked us to look at the long-term solutions dealing with agriculture and also other sectors in the rural community.
I am very pleased to say today that we have been able to bring together a large group of people representing agriculture in this province, and having them all in the same room is really an accomplishment of this government. We have had the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the National Farmers' Union, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the Catholic Rural Life Conference, the Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens, the Farm Women's Network, the Ontario Commodity Council, representatives of supply-managed marketing boards and also representatives from the financial institutions.
I am very pleased we were able to do this, and I can tell the members that it is a very good working group. I ask the members from all sides of this House to help and assist us in reaching our goal of protecting the family farm in Ontario.
METHANE GAS LEAK
Mr McClelland: The city of North York received a letter not too long ago from the Minister of Housing. That letter was dated August 27, 1991, and was in response to communications about the possibility of an existing hazard on a parcel of land previously used as a landfill site being proposed for a high-rise development. The Minister of Housing responded that the Ministry of the Environment had decided that a review of the hazard was not needed since there were only trace amounts of methane present.
The Finch-Ardwick community is very concerned that the investigation by the Ministry of the Environment -- or might I say the lack of investigation -- was not rigorous enough and did not really look at any of the details and that a greater hazard exists than the government is willing to acknowledge. It is important to note it has said there were trace amounts. I remind the ministers involved that Bluehaven public school, which is very close to the building site, was closed and remains closed because of methane gas seepage.
I want to caution the ministers involved and the local member, the member for Yorkview, that the issue here involves public safety and requires a close, hard second look. I hope the relevant ministers will re-examine their files on this very important issue so that a serious mistake is not made. We have to remember that people's health and safety is being put in jeopardy here. I remind them that their answer was, "There were only trace amounts." A school has been closed because of seepage. I ask the minister to please review this and exercise caution.
Mr B. Murdoch: Today I would like to congratulate my constituent George Edward Tottenham, who has been made a serving brother of the Order of St John. He received his award from the Governor General of Canada at a ceremony in Ottawa last month.
Mr Tottenham, for many years an elected municipal official, has served his community in many capacities, but his selfless volunteering of more than 7,500 hours to the St John Ambulance cannot go unnoticed.
As most members know, St John Ambulance is an organization committed to improving the health, safety and quality of life of Canadians, partly through the work of people like Edward Tottenham who are trained in the care of the sick and the injured and who volunteer their time to help their fellow man.
St John volunteers have distinguished themselves throughout the 20th century in Canadian history by serving overseas in both world wars and by assisting victims and their families in tragic situations at home such as the Springhill, Nova Scotia, mine disasters, the Mississauga train derailment and the Barrie tornado devastation.
I am very proud that Edward Tottenham has devoted so much of his time to as vital an organization as St John Ambulance. I am sure all members join with me in applauding his achievement, thanking him for his commitment and wishing him well in the future.
Ms S. Murdock: A little bit of the Sudbury basin's history has been brought to mind. I rise today to honour a distinguished former member of this House, not only a great Canadian but a committed builder of the labour movement and of social democracy in Ontario. On Tuesday, October 22, Robert Hugh Carlin, who sat in this House between 1943 and 1948 as MPP for Sudbury, passed away at the age of 90.
Bob's life was a history in miniature of the labour movement and of social democracy in this province. At age 15, he went to work in the mining camps of northern Ontario where he soon became a life-long, dedicated trade unionist. He eventually held executive positions in the one big union, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and the United Steelworkers of America. He served as a delegate to the International Labour Office of the United Nations.
In his two terms as MPP, he was a forceful and committed advocate for working people and for the city of Sudbury. In his years in the Legislature, he pushed for many measures to help working people, including a 40-hour workweek and a mandatory two weeks' vacation with pay. He was at the forefront of the fight for a university in Sudbury, a fight that was ultimately won. He received an honorary doctorate in 1978 from Laurentian for all his work on behalf of the city.
On behalf of the government and my party, I offer my condolences to his family and friends. I did not know Bob Carlin personally; I wish I had. But I must say that I hope to live up to the example and the high standards set by the first Co-operative Commonwealth Federation MPP for Sudbury.
Mr O'Connor: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to bring to the attention of this House a delegation of senior Czechoslovakian representatives sitting in the members' gallery east.
The Speaker: The member does not have a point of order. To the guests, welcome.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
ONTARIO INVESTMENT AND WORKER OWNERSHIP PROGRAM
Hon Mr Laughren: Our government is very pleased to announce today an important piece of legislation.
The Ontario investment and worker ownership program is an important step on the road to rebuilding the economy. It will provide businesses in this province with a new source of much-needed capital. It will provide our workers with an opportunity for greater participation and increased decision-making in the places they work.
It is well known that employee participation in the workplace helps to increase productivity. It also fosters better understanding between business and labour as each becomes more aware of the other's needs and challenges. Finally, worker ownership helps save jobs by supporting viable companies that would otherwise close.
We are proud to say that this program is the product of a successful consultation process with the various stakeholders -- business, labour and investment groups. As a result of our extensive consultations, the government has altered the draft legislation somewhat. For example, one of the suggestions we incorporated was to move from a majority control position by employees alone to a significant participation position with outside investors, thus allowing outside investors to join with employees in acquiring control of their companies. This will broaden the program's appeal and better meet its objectives. Another change is the institution of payroll deduction systems to facilitate share purchases. These changes to the draft legislation confirm the government's commitment to a process which not only listens to the people of Ontario, but which also responds to their needs and concerns.
We all know the economy of Ontario is undergoing enormous change. The role of this government is to help the people of Ontario respond to those changes, and to respond in a way that includes all the players in the economy.
As I said before, both employer and employee will benefit from the Ontario investment and worker ownership program. Small and medium-sized business will now have access to a new source of capital. This capital will help businesses grow and modernize, and employees will have more opportunities to be participants in the economy.
All the results of the program -- new sources of capital, increased productivity, better labour-management relations and saving jobs -- will contribute to rebuilding the economy, and rebuilding the economy is the most profound challenge facing Ontario today and one which this legislation will help address.
ONTARIO INVESTMENT AND WORKER OWNERSHIP PROGRAM
Mr Phillips: To respond to the minister's statement, I think his last sentence was most appropriate. Indeed we are facing a very difficult economic time.
There are several aspects of this that we will want to study in some depth. The statement today is fairly bare bones -- I think the minister will agree -- because for everyone's information, we are talking about a lot of money here. I think the Treasurer at one time said there may be as much as $100 million a year of taxpayers' money involved in this program, so it is not a small program that we are talking about.
One of the aspects we will want to get into in some detail -- and there is another level of consultation that has to take place, and that is with the Legislature -- is the protection of workers. People are going to put their hard-earned savings into this and there are two aspects they are going to purchase. One is, as I read the minister's document, companies that may be failing, where the government will want the workers to purchase them. We will want to be sure that as they put their hard-earned savings into this, there is some protection for them and there is full disclosure. I think the Ontario Securities Commission has already expressed its concern about the lack of disclosure.
The second thing we will want to debate is how much money is involved here. The Treasurer has indicated in an interview, I think, that it might be as much as $100 million a year. The actual taxpayers' subsidy can be $50,000 per individual, as I think the Treasurer will acknowledge -- approximately $50,000 per individual investor of taxpayers' money in this.
I understand there is a proposal in the document that if an owner of a business is planning to retire, he could sell the business to the employees. Again, we have to recognize there could be as much as $50,000 per employee of taxpayers' money involved in that, so we will want to look at what protection there is for the taxpayer.
The final aspect of this that we will want to look at is the issue I raised yesterday. That will be addressed by one of my colleagues who is also responding. It has to do with just who has access to these venture capital programs, who will manage them and who has the authority to run them.
We look forward to taking certain aspects of this and ensuring that the workers are protected, the taxpayers are protected and we still achieve the objectives the Treasurer has outlined in terms of ensuring that, wherever possible, workers in this province have an opportunity to participate in the ownership of their businesses and, wherever possible, firms that may be viable long-term but need a little injection of help can be saved.
Mr Offer: As my colleague the member for Scarborough-Agincourt has indicated, we recognize that there are certain aspects of the Treasurer's statement in the Legislature which we know will require further debate. In his statement he has spoken about the need for consultation. The question today becomes, was he in fact listening? This particular announcement and the proposed legislation only applies to trade unions. It excludes, for instance, co-operatives and employee associations. The Treasurer will be aware that in Saskatchewan and BC, for instance, this type of legislation applies not only to trade unions but indeed to associations of trade unions, to investment co-operatives and to associations of employees. Real legislation which provides real protection must embrace these types and forms of associations.
We will also be asking the Treasurer in this debate how he can respond to the question of this limited form of protection and application of legislation when just yesterday in this Legislature, in response to a question by the member for Scarborough-Agincourt on this very issue, on whether the Premier will be able to assure all workers of the province that they will be treated equally, the response of the Premier was yes, yet in the Treasurer's statement today he has limited the application to trade unions. He has excluded employee associations; he has excluded co-operatives. These are areas which will require debate and certainly are of concern to us in order to provide real protection for those who very badly need it.
Mr Stockwell: When I discuss the announcements such as the Treasurer has made today, I tend to be somewhat cynical, I suppose, because if we look back on some of the other programs and offers that have been put forward by all levels of government under programs much the same as this -- for instance ESOP. The employee share ownership plan, in two or three years, has had nine takeups. Members opposite would probably class that as a dismal failure. It is that way because it is so complicated and difficult to qualify. I firmly believe the Treasurer has made it that way. I would not expect the member for Scarborough-Agincourt to worry too much about the $100 million, because I doubt very much if we are going to get anywhere near that kind of number when we are talking about takeups or people who qualify for these particular programs.
Mr Sorbara: It is public relations.
Mr Stockwell: The suggestion is it is public relations. It probably is public relations. It is public relations for the unions in this province. I make a wager as well. I think the unions will be about the only people who qualify under these programs.
The Treasurer suggests, "The Ontario investment and worker ownership program is an important step on the road to rebuilding the economy." That is a farce. If this is the most important step this government is taking, it is in far sadder shape than anyone could have expected. They are playing on the margins. Let's ask ourselves one simple question: Why, if this is such a good idea, do we have to give tax incentives to unions or the employees? Because nobody would finance these plans. Nobody would finance this employee takeover. Why? Because it is a huge investment for a very risky business. No question about it, it will be very risk-oriented. If you cannot find capital financing out there today, you go to the government. The government will be left holding the bag, in my opinion, on a lot of risky programs that the private sector would not pick up.
Having said that, we must understand that we are in a public relations forum here. They are not going to be allowed to qualify. Even if they do qualify they are going to be very risky, operated and run by unions. This is not going to be a step on the road to recovery. We are going to balkanize the capital markets, particularly because this government is venturing into the capital market business. In my opinion, that is not going to bode well for our economy in this province.
This is a clear hurdle between interprovincial trading, in my opinion. We are offering preferential treatment to provincially run businesses. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be seen as an interprovincial barrier established by this Treasurer and this province.
The Treasurer suggests, as I said, it was a takeover. What it comes down to is simply this: It is asking the taxpayers in Ontario to subsidize union takeovers. That is really what it comes down to. They are asking the taxpayers right across this province to subsidize union takeovers of businesses that basically are not viable. They could not get capital financing, they are not making money, so the province is going to guarantee the loans so a union can buy out a failing business.
If it were the personal money of the Treasurer or any of his colleagues, would they lend it out on this basis? Of course they would not, because it is a very risky business, a risky venture and, as I said before, it is using the taxpayers' money to bail out companies for a union takeover, which I cannot endorse. I would not endorse that on a union basis. I would endorse it on a private sector business operation. If a business fails, it fails. That is the free market system.
I know what is going to happen. The takeup under this program will be marginal. It will be exclusively the domain of unions. It will be a taxpayer risk to finance these takeups. Most of the businesses will fail. We will be stuck with a tremendous bill to pay because they will not be able to service their debts.
This, the Treasurer is suggesting to us, is the first step on a road to rebuilding the economy. This is public relations, it is farcical and it will not work. It never has and it never will. I do not hear any taxpayers coming up to me and saying, "Please, could you start subsidizing unions to take over their companies so they can lose money, go out of business and you guarantee their loans?" Not very bright.
Mr Jordan: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: Yesterday in this House I made a statement regarding the government's policy on conservation programs and I pointed out that they were costly and, in our opinion, not effective.
After returning to my office I found I had received a call from a senior official of Ontario Hydro. I returned the call to find this official very critical of my statement. He said he thought they had an excellent program, had received excellent press and he was disappointed that I would make such a statement in the House.
I was representing the feelings of the people I represent in Lanark-Renfrew, and I was representing our party policy. I am wondering if this is going to be a policy of the new Minister of Energy to try to harass members so they are not free to express their views relative to new policies.
The Speaker: I will be pleased to take a look at the situation brought to my attention by the member for Lanark-Renfrew. Perhaps the member could provide my office with further details.
Mr Mancini: On the same point, Mr Speaker --
The Speaker: You are rising on what?
Mr Mancini: On the member's point of privilege, because the member --
The Speaker: No, no. Take your seat. You rise on your own point of privilege, not someone else's.
Mr Elston: I have a question for my favourite storyteller, the Treasurer. He has by now been seen to have considerable competition but he is far and away the leader in storytelling in this province. I would like to talk to him just a little bit about the loss of jobs in Ontario, the fact that thousands of working women and men have been thrown out of work and that there has been little if any response by his government to any of these things.
Last Friday, for instance, Komdresco in Cambridge shut its doors for the last time, throwing some 200 women and men out of work. The day before, Borden announced it was closing the Ingersoll plant, putting another 79 people on the unemployment lines. While the Premier continues to speak of consultation, dialogue and consensus, the sad reality is that we continue to await his grand economic recovery plan and nothing comes as these men and women lose their jobs.
I want to know what plans the Treasurer and the Premier have, since the Premier is in charge of almost everything in this province of ours now, to stem the flow of capital, jobs and talent out of Ontario and into places like Pennsylvania, Mexico and other locales?
Hon Mr Laughren: I regret that the leader of the official opposition chooses to cast such a pall of gloom over Ontario. I think most of us feel that Ontario is still the best jurisdiction in the world in which to live, work and invest.
We acknowledge the fact that the last year has been an extremely difficult year. To deny it would be downright foolish. We know that in the last 18 months the private sector has laid off over 250,000 people. Government cannot pick up all of that slack. That is simply not possible to do.
At the same time what is bothering us is that of all the job losses, about two thirds of them are deemed to be permanent. Without getting into all of the reasons for that, since I would be accused of finger-pointing at the federal government because of its high-dollar, high-interest rate policy, we are trying very hard in this province to create an environment in which the investment community will see that this remains the best jurisdiction in the world in which to invest.
Mr Elston: I merely stated in my opening question that several companies had recently shut down. That there are others is clear to all of us. While my favourite storyteller does not disappoint with his new stories, perhaps he could hear these companies and the number of people they have thrown out of work: Kendall in Peterborough -- they have gone south -- 144 people; Amerock, Meaford, 140 people; Heinz, Leamington, 280 people; H & K Manufacturing in Cobourg is shutting down on the 25th of this month to concentrate production in Dallas, Texas.
The people in this province are not finding it to be satisfactorily competitive with other jurisdictions. I do not think any of us need to be told by the Treasurer that he is hoping it will remain a competitive climate to do business in, rather than asserting that is the case.
I want to know what the Treasurer and Deputy Premier is going to do to stop the haemorrhaging and in fact to enhance our competitiveness in the international field.
Hon Mr Laughren: Before I do that, I wonder if I could put it in a bit of perspective here that the leader of the official opposition is not giving. He went through a list of some companies that have closed. I wonder if I could give him some good news, if he can handle it.
First of all, we announced in this Legislature yesterday funding for the Industrial Research and Development Institute to be located in Midland. I think that is a good sign; it is a very positive sign in this province. In Windsor, a GM trim plant has won a contract to provide seats for a GM assembly plant in Michigan. That is good news for Ontario. Piper has chosen to move the main business of its aircraft company to Canada -- from the United States, I might add. Both Toronto and Vancouver are short-listed as potential locations.
Mr Elston: You are really stretching.
Hon Mr Laughren: No, I am not stretching it. These are all good-news announcements which the leader of the official opposition does not want to hear.
Finally, I remind the leader of the official opposition that in the last year, of all the foreign investment that came to Canada, three quarters of it, a full 75% of it, came to this province because people know this is a great place to invest.
Mr Elston: I think I want to thank Darcy McKeough for leaving one of his old speeches in the Treasury. I cannot ask any of us here to listen to this story without joining the debate but perhaps on another occasion.
It is very clear indeed that a whole group of people in business in Ontario find that it is onerous to be in business in this province and that they need some leadership from this Treasurer, from this government, to help them compete against the international competition.
To ask the same question again and ask him once again, will the Treasurer tell us what he is doing to make Ontario competitive? What role will the release of his government's statement tomorrow on the Labour Relations Amendment Act add to competitiveness in Ontario?
Hon Mr Laughren: There are a number of questions built into that supplementary. But I truly believe this government has indicated and shown by its actions, not simply its words, that it is prepared to sit down with the business community to work out differences we might have. I do not think any government in this country has ever spent the time we have in consulting with the business community. When we do it, we are criticized by the opposition for spending too much time consulting with the business community.
The Speaker: Order, the member for Grey.
Hon Mr Laughren: I do not think we do spend too much time consulting with the business community, and there are examples. The statement I made today is a good example of how we went out and consulted with the business community, with the labour movement, with investment groups, we made changes to our proposals and we have come up with a better package than we went in with, and I think that is the way it is going to be.
Finally, the leader talked about the Labour Relations Act amendments, which I gather will be introduced tomorrow. I think there has been a lot of hand-wringing over that legislation and the discussion paper before anybody even knows what is contained therein. I ask the leader of the official opposition to check what happened with labour relations in Quebec when it reformed its labour legislation a number of years ago. I believe that, if anything, it created a better atmosphere of labour relations in the province than had existed before.
Mr Phillips: My question is also to the Treasurer and follows along with my leader's questions. It also has to do with developing confidence in the economy.
I think the Treasurer would acknowledge that the area that is perhaps of most concern to the people of Ontario, and certainly to the investment community, is his four-year economic plan. I think most people would accept living with a deficit in tough times -- perhaps not the deficit he has, but a deficit. The thing that concerns people the most is a four-year economic plan that calls for deficits that never get below, I believe, $7.8 billion, and even that assumes a healthy economic climate for the next three years and about $5 billion of new taxes. We recently saw the two new governments that were elected out west both calling for balanced budgets over the mandate of their term.
Given that experience, given the fact that the minister has now had this job for a year, could he outline for the people of Ontario that it is his intention not to live with that four-year major deficit plan, but rather that he will undertake to come out with a balanced budget by the end of his mandate?
Hon Mr Laughren: It seems like longer than a year. I want to assure the member opposite that when we put in the budget this past spring the deficits for what we call the out years, the three years after this one -- and his numbers are quite correct -- we did it based on our forecasts of where the economy was heading in the next three years after this one. While there are some indications by some forecasters that the growth will be greater than we had predicted, it is not a lot greater. Even the more optimistic ones are not greatly more optimistic. The unemployment rate will stay very high for the next three to four years. Even in that third year, when the forecasters assume we will be completely out of the recession, the unemployment rate will still be flirting with between 7% and 8%. That was the forecast upon which we based the numbers in the budget.
I see the Speaker is looking nervously at me, so I will simply wait for the supplementary, other than to say that we think it is going to be difficult enough reaching the figures for those out years, without pretending that we can balance the budget in three years.
Mr Phillips: That is a problem. On the unemployment rate, I believe the Treasurer predicts higher than 7% to 8%; I think he is in the 8% to 10% range, which I think for all of us, on every side of the House, is unacceptable.
At the standing committee on finance and economic affairs the noted economist Mel Watkins spoke to us. He spoke on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and 59 economists. When we asked, should this government balance the budget, he was quite critical of the Treasurer and the government and said, "I would think that this government...with a four- to five-year mandate" -- which it does have -- "ought to aim to balance its budget over that period." He was just one of virtually everyone who felt the Treasurer should balance the budget over his mandate.
My question to the Treasurer is, what are we going to tell Professor Watkins the next time he appears before our committee, asking his advice on the Treasurer's balanced budget?
Hon Mr Laughren: I think all Keynesians want to balance the budget over the economic cycle. He might take offence at me for referring to him as a Keynesian, but I think he is. I think it is simply unrealistic to think we can cope with the rising utilization of the health care system -- it is raised in this Legislature almost every day -- increased enrolments in the educational system, the absolute essential --
Mr Elston: You're cutting it back. You're slashing health care.
Hon Mr Laughren: The Liberal leader even complains when we try to contain the cost of the health care system. At the same time, the members opposite say we should be cutting expenditures. The opposition has to understand that there is a serious problem out there in terms of rising expenditures. At the same time our revenues are not going up as quickly. I simply say to the member opposite that nothing would make me happier than to have a balanced budget at the end of three years, but I am not going to kid the troops and pretend that I believe we can do it in that period of time, because I simply do not believe it.
Mr Phillips: Just so we know what we are dealing with over essentially the next four years, is the Treasurer confirming today that he is making his financial plans -- because he is laying them now for the next 18 months to two years -- on the basis of continued deficits in the $8-billion range, new taxes in the $5-billion range and unemployment running in the 8% to 9% range? Is that what Ontario has to look forward to over the mandate of this government?
Hon Mr Laughren: There is no question that in the next three years after this one -- I think we are talking about the same time frame -- we are going to be faced with budget deficits; that is absolutely correct. If the economy rebounds faster than, quite frankly, I think it is going to, and if our revenues are more buoyant and we are able to contain our expenditures even better than we have already -- we have stayed within our forecast this year despite some very substantial pressures -- then of course we would have the deficit lower than is forecast in our 1991-92 budget.
At the same time, I am not going to stand in my place and, simply to take off some immediate heat, say that people should not worry and that we will reduce the deficit more than is indicated in the out years in the 1991-92 budget, because I do not think we are going to be able to do that unless there is a much more buoyant recovery in the economy than I think there is going to be.
RETAIL STORE LEGISLATION
Mr Carr: My question is to the Solicitor General. I quote from the throne speech to start off with, and we are going back a year or so ago: "It is a government that will listen to the people and respond to their needs to the best of its ability."
There is a group of drugstore workers who have attempted to make their views known. They appeared before the standing committee on administration of justice. They wrote to the Solicitor General and they have met with him. They have taken out full-page ads in the papers. They have given him about 20,000 petitions. They have protested in front of the Legislature. They have confronted him as well as the Premier in the alley. Last night they were at the Premier's office protesting. Why will the Solicitor General not listen to the people and change his bill that discriminates against drugstores that are over 7,500 square feet?
Hon Mr Pilkey: In the amendments presented by this government, Bill 115 does not discriminate against those drugstore workers. In fact, the bill and the amendments do not alter the previous legislation brought in by the former government. The promise this party brought to the people of Ontario was for the enactment of a common pause day that could be enjoyed by individuals and families alike, and also worker protection to require that those who wish not to work on Sunday would not have to. There is nothing in the bill or the amendments brought forward by this government that alters the facts for these people, as it was the law for, I believe, the last two or three years.
Mr Carr: I know the Solicitor General is fairly new to the position, but there are his draft regulations on tourism. I will speak slowly so he will understand this. This is his document and if he will look to it and refer to the very bottom of the first page, in clause (a) this government says that if a municipality decides to open -- he remembers that he was a mayor; this is a municipality -- if they are above 7,500 square feet and decide to open, under the tourism criteria they cannot open.
Let me put it very simply to the Solicitor General: If Toronto decides to open, under the tourism criteria these drugstores cannot open if they are above 7,500 square feet. Will the Solicitor General take a look at these regulations -- remember, we are talking about his draft regulations -- look at the 7,500 square feet, get an eraser and take that out?
Hon Mr Pilkey: I would like to indicate to the members of the House on this particular issue, because I think it adds great clarity, that drugstores that are providing pharmaceutical, cosmetic and related goods can and are open 52 weeks a year on Sundays in this province. The only caveat there is that they be no larger than 7,500 square feet. All I can indicate to anyone who is a shopper of any ilk at all is that if a drugstore cannot serve the need for pharmaceutical goods in 7,500 square feet, there is something wrong.
Mr Carr: The problem is that they cannot do anything with the square footage. In case he does not know, they cannot close it down. They even wanted to be a little bit practical and said: "We would only sell the things you tell us we can sell on a Sunday and 70% of the things we sell are drug items. We have cash registers that we can program so the only things that will be able to be processed are what you tell us. The advanced technology is such that if somebody tries to take a piece of bread or a Coke, and you does not want to include that, it will not be able to go through the register, those little things that go through and print the money."
This is the situation. The Solicitor General has said continually that he is listening to the people. This is what somebody said, and I have a picture of this lady: "You don't care, Bob" -- referring to the Premier -- "as long as you have your pockets full, as long as you're chauffeured around all the time. What would you care about the people in this province, trying to look after it, because this province is going to the dogs?" I agree with this lady. It is going to the dogs.
The Solicitor General can decide what needs to be sold. If it needs to be drugs, that can be programmed. He can even tell them what he wants them to sell. My question is this: Will he commit today to letting those drugstores open?
Hon Mr Pilkey: In terms of the comments read by the member, those are obviously extremely objective remarks by that individual that he conveys to the House. I would also like to indicate that if the member opposite believes --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Pilkey: To the second part of the question, I would like to pass along the opinion that if drugstores start back into the roping-off example, or if people are allowed into stores to take products off the shelf and bring them to a cash register to find out they are then rejected by some kind of automated tape, it would certainly create tremendous confusion, disruption and a not very harmonious circumstance in those retail outlets. I can only indicate to members that this party did not campaign or promise amendment to the drugstore issue. It did promise and campaign on a common pause day and worker protection, and we have delivered on that promise.
Mr J. Wilson: In the absence of the Minister of Health, my question is to the Deputy Premier. CKCO-TV reported yesterday that the Ontario Hospital Association says that provincial hospitals are running a total deficit of $200 million, that 3,500 hospital beds, will be closed by the end of March 1992, and that 5,000 full-time positions will be eliminated.
The government is squeezing the hospital system without an effective management plan. The OHA says hospitals are being forced to plan for the future in the dark. Will the Deputy Premier, the person who holds Ontario's purse strings, today table this government's comprehensive plan for controlling health care costs in this province?
Hon Mr Laughren: I think it is important to get a couple of things on the record in this assembly. First of all, when we issued our transfers to our partners in the province last spring, the hospital sector got an increase of about 9.5%, as I recall, which is a fairly substantial increase in funding for hospitals.
Second, the Minister of Health has asked the hospitals in a very direct fashion, in her inimitable way, to live within their budgets. We are not into bailing out hospitals that have deficits. That has been stated categorically to the hospital sector. I think we should understand that there is a lot of money spent on the health care system in this province. We are determined to maintain the best health care system anywhere at the same time as we maintain its costs, because I believe as fervently as it is possible to believe that if we are going to save and maintain the principles of medicare in this province, we have to contain its costs as well.
Mr J. Wilson: We would agree that Ontario's health care system needs to be managed more effectively, yet this system is starting to haemorrhage and this government is applying only Band-Aids. The minister has no overall plan for maintaining accessible, quality health care. The OHA president, Dennis Timbrell, told the Globe and Mail that the province has complicated matters by failing to provide clear guidelines on the future of hospitals within the health care system. Mr Timbrell said, "We've got to have some leadership from the ministry, and some very clear policies." When can we expect to see those policies?
Hon Mr Laughren: First of all, when a comprehensive program for managing the hospital system is released, it will be released by the Minister of Health and not by me. But I can tell the member that, in particular, the Conservative Party of this province simply cannot rise to its collective feet every day in this Legislature and start demanding that we control the expenditures in the province and then the very moment we try to effect savings, whether it is the closing of registry offices or the rationalization of the hospital system, complain that we are not doing enough or doing too much.
I do not know whether the Conservative caucus believes we are doing too much to control the cost of health care or whether we are not doing enough. I wish they would tell me which it is.
Mr J. Wilson: I say to the Deputy Premier: Read my lips. I already said to him that we agree Ontario's health care system needs to be managed more effectively. The point is that they do not have a plan in place. They cannot just close beds and lay off workers in a piecemeal fashion. The majority of the jobs cut will be in critically needed nursing positions.
The integrity of our system is at risk because we have no clear direction from this government. In fact, the Minister of Health told the district health councils in a letter recently that she is looking to them for leadership. I ask the Deputy Premier, what message does this send out when the Minister of Health is shirking her responsibilities and failing to provide the necessary leadership?
Hon Mr Laughren: When I think of the way in which this Minister of Health conducts herself and works with the health care system compared to the way the honourable Frank Miller used to deal with the health care system, there is no comparison; none whatsoever.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Laughren: I will make sure the balance of my remarks are not provocative.
I would say in a very serious way that the debate around managing the hospital system cannot be conducted simply between the Minister of Health and the OHA. There are other major players in the delivery of health care in this province, including the people who work in the hospitals, the district health councils and the communities in which the hospitals are located.
We are not going back to the old days when the Ministry of Health and the OHA simply locked horns to resolve any differences. We live in a different era, a more consultative, collaborative era, and we are not going to go back to the old way of managing the health care system.
Mr Mancini: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Less than two weeks ago, during the estimates debate of the Ministry of Transportation, he assured me that public safety was at the top of his priority list.
Yesterday I spoke to Hector C. King, president of the Armstrong Metis Association. Mr King had called to complain about a situation that developed last Thursday and Friday due to heavy snowfall and, I should say, little or no snow removal by the ministry. Highway 527 between Thunder Bay and Armstrong was left in a deplorable condition.
A regular bus service leaving Thunder Bay on Friday, November 1, at 5:30 pm and scheduled to arrive in Armstrong at 9 pm did not arrive until 3:30 pm the following day, 18 1/2 hours behind schedule. Why was there no snow removal service on this important northern highway? Does this represent the public safety the minister promised us two weeks ago?
Hon Mr Pouliot: The member is quite right. The unseasonable snowstorm that struck Minnesota and Manitoba with a vengeance, the one that originated in western Canada, left fully 95% of the Trans-Canada Highway closed in the month of October.
The member is talking about Armstrong. The riding I represent -- and I have an interest here -- is 114,000 square miles and extends all the way to Hudson Bay. I have been in Manitouwadge for 26 years and I never blamed the government of the day, be it the Conservatives or the Liberals. I am more aware than anyone else that safety, maintenance, road conditions and a lifeline for the people of the north -- of all Ontario -- are extremely important components for the Ministry of Transportation. We mean what we say. We do the best under very difficult circumstances when we have two to three feet of snow in October.
Mr Mancini: We were not interested in a weather report about Minnesota. We wanted to know about Thunder Bay to Armstrong.
I spoke with the manager of the bus line and he told me this was the first time in his six years with the bus company that a serious delay had occurred due to the ministry's failure to remove snow on Highway 527. I am talking about a near tragedy in the minister's own riding. I am told that travellers on the bus included two pregnant women and six children under the age of six.
We need to know why the snowplows were not out on Friday, November 1, clearing Highway 527, and why the snowplows did not leave their yards in Armstrong until 9 am Saturday morning. Is this an indication of what we can expect for the rest of this winter? Can the minister tell the Legislature if there have been cuts in the snow removal service for northern Ontario?
Hon Mr Pouliot: I thank the member for his sincere concern regarding not only the riding of Lake Nipigon but all of Ontario. The commitment is there. There has been no curtailment, no cutback in terms of maintenance.
Hon Mr Pouliot: The member has asked me a question; he should have the decency to let me answer. We will do it together. The member should try to be positive for a change; maybe he will like it. Maybe he will find it becoming.
What we have here is a budget that allocates more money than ever before for the building of roads and the maintenance of these roads all across Ontario: $1.1 billion out of a capital budget of $1.9 billion in highway transfer payments to municipalities in maintenance of our roads. We are determined to keep up with the elements and we are doing the very best we can. In fact, jurisdictions across Canada come to Ontario, look at our management system and try to implement our system in compliance with their own jurisdictions.
Mr Villeneuve: My question is of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. I am sure the minister is aware of the rumours of a tobacco control board. The same as an LCBO, we will now have a TCBO, and it is creating a lot of anxiety for our tobacco growers.
The government collects more than $1 billion a year in taxes on tobacco sales but is doing literally nothing to protect and assist our tobacco farmers. The joint federal-provincial Redux program was supposed to help tobacco growers take land out of production, yet we hear from the tobacco growers that $14 million of federal money is still there, unused, because the provincial government has abandoned that program. Is it really NDP policy to shut down the entire tobacco growing industry and also the tobacco retailing industry? What has happened to the crop transition team that was helping tobacco farmers a few years ago?
Hon Mr Buchanan: Is there no limit on the number of questions the member can roll into one question? I should have been writing them down, because I have forgotten the one he started with.
In terms of supporting the tobacco industry and the tobacco farmers in particular in this province, this government is concerned, and there are ongoing discussions with our federal counterparts and with the tobacco board. There are ongoing discussions, and we expect to be able to make an announcement this fall.
The member is right that there is federal money left over in the Redux program. We are aware of that. We want to make sure those moneys are made available to the farmers. We want to put in place a long-term program that will assist farmers who wish to get out of tobacco production.
In terms of some of the other points the member made about opening stores, I just ask the member to read the newspaper clipping a little more closely. The Minister of Health was quoted but did not say there was any suggestion or any idea of opening stores. She made comments about concern about tobacco consumption and dealing with that within a strategy for health but did not talk about or agree to any proposal of opening special stores.
Mr Villeneuve: The $14 million of federal money that is idle must be used now. These people cannot even meet their financial obligations. It seems to me that any tobacco control board -- and the minister says it will not happen, but there is a mixed message coming from the government -- is going to really create a bootlegging industry in the tobacco business. It will encourage a lot more cross-border shopping because, as the minister knows, the purchase of tobacco products is one of the main reasons Ontarians go to the states of New York and Michigan.
The minister is endangering some 14,000 shopkeepers if indeed what the Minister of Health has said comes to fruition. Can the minister assure us today that he will aid the remaining growers in the tobacco industry by returning some of the $14 million that is there and indeed not promote the bootlegging of tobacco products?
Hon Mr Buchanan: I would like to assure the member that we are very much concerned about the interests of tobacco farmers. I am sure the Treasurer is most concerned about any cross-border shopping or bootlegging of cigarette products in Ontario and wants to make sure that he collects all the taxes due to the province.
I believe it is actually $15 million that is left over in the federal program. We want to make sure, again, that the farmers of Ontario get that money. We also want to be able to try and put in our share, though, to ensure that tobacco farmers can get out of the growing of tobacco and have some hope of a reasonable future in this province.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE
Mr Farnan: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. Cambridge is among the largest cities in Ontario -- indeed, it is among the largest cities in all of Canada -- that is without any passenger rail service. It is totally unacceptable for a city the size of Cambridge to be without passenger rail service. It is a community that continues to grow. What has the minister to say to the residents of Cambridge on the issue of passenger rail service?
Hon Mr Pouliot: I thank my colleague and friend the member for Cambridge for the question. It is filled with validity. The grievance voiced by the people of Cambridge is indeed legitimate, and this is what we have done. Many communities wish to avail themselves of GO Transit service. It is a normal reaction, for the service itself is excellent. We have commissioned a study to look at all the needs of the community. The study is near completion and we are hoping to report to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario the findings of that study in rather short order.
Mr Farnan: The people of Cambridge are fed up with studies on this issue. Our request is very modest. There is a train to Guelph. We are asking that that train go on one journey in the morning and one journey in the night to Cambridge. The track is in place. The signals are in place. The station is in place. There is community support. There is a projected ridership for this. Cambridge is waiting and we want that service now.
Hon Mr Pouliot: In his unique fashion, the member for Cambridge reminds all of us of the many compelling reasons why Cambridge should have a GO Transit system.
I will make a commitment to my friend. I know he will appreciate that this administration operates in a most systematic and liberal fashion. Political expediency is not the order of the day. The member would be appalled and shocked if we go back to yesteryear and have political expediency decide who gets what. We are not going to do that.
The study is reaching its final phase. I can promise the member that before the end of the fiscal year, we will be in a better position to inform and say yes or no; yes or no because, not like these people, those are not election promises. The study will find all the compelling reasons we will acquiesce to what the member is asking for. I thank the member for his question and I would be more than willing to go and talk to him right after question period.
Mrs Sullivan: My question is for the Deputy Premier. He knows that 2,300 people have already been laid off permanently in our hospitals and that this number will double over the next six months. He knows that beds will close in communities in which there are no alternatives, no other places for certain kinds of health service delivery, no chronic care facilities, limited or no home care facilities and no ambulatory care service that meets the needs in communities in many places in Ontario.
The Treasurer and Deputy Premier says he provided 9.5% in transfers; indeed, the operating transfers were 6%. Hospitals throughout the province are eliminating beds, they are cutting services, they are curtailing access and they are chopping jobs. I would like to know and the people of Ontario would like to know according to what premises are the hospitals to do those things? What are the standards of service that the Treasurer is requiring hospitals to provide, and what are the standards of services that people across Ontario can expect?
Mr Bradley: Good question.
Hon Mr Laughren: Yes, it is indeed a good question. Some of the specifics that the member opposite is seeking would be better coming from the Minister of Health. But let me in a very general way respond to the member.
I think all of us appreciate the fact that the cost of the health care system cannot continue to grow the way it has in the past. We simply cannot sustain that level of growth in the health care system unless we rationalize health care. The Minister of Health has already taken some actions such as the removal of electrolysis from OHIP and restricting out-of-province expenditures, which I think are very responsible decisions on the part of the minister.
When we talk about the hospital sector itself, I think it is terribly important that the Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Ontario Hospital Association, the district health councils, the communities and the people who work in those hospitals, sit down and work out the best way to deliver the most essential service there is in this province. We are determined to do that in the most appropriate way possible, but I hasten to add, we simply cannot sit back and just let her rip when it comes to the escalation in the cost of the delivery of health care in the province. We simply cannot do that if we are going to control the cost of health care.
Mrs Sullivan: It seems to me from the response of the Treasurer that hospitals indeed have a right to feel very concerned about what this government's view of their place is in the health care system and in the management of health care.
I would like to review, in posing my next question, some of the things that hospitals see facing them. When the agreement with the Ontario Medical Association was signed, it provided for a hierarchy that left hospitals out. Hospitals were recently, just last week, left off the distribution list for the long-term care consultative document. There have been no transition funds announced for the hospitals, which require them to deal with the risk, the questions of growth and the questions of safety in their communities.
Seventy five million dollars has been taken out of the hospital capital budget. Less than half of the moneys that were required to meet the pay equity requirements for hospitals are going to be provided. There has been no money for the nurses' settlements, nor for any additional wage increases for other employees. The hospitals have been told as of last week that district health councils will be providing the advice to the minister in relationship to hospital planning.
The Speaker: Does the member have a supplementary?
Mrs Sullivan: I have a supplementary, Mr Speaker. When over 50% of our hospitals are facing enormous deficits, the Deputy Premier cannot tell me that all the fault lies with the hospitals. He cannot tell me that all the hospitals are badly managed.
The Speaker: Would the member please place her question.
Mrs Sullivan: When will this government bring the hospitals back into the management of the health care system and provide them the funding to do so?
Hon Mr Laughren: The member opposite says the hospitals should be concerned about their plight. Of course they should be concerned; we all should be. But I think simply to walk away from the problem and say, "Whatever your deficit is, here's the money," surely is not the answer. I do not think the member opposite would come out and say that. She might imply it in her question, but I do not think she would support that kind of action either.
When it comes to the capital budget, the reduction in the capital budget that we anticipated this year was not because we are pulling back; it was simply because those expenditures would not be made this year in any case. That money was not going to be --
Mr Elston: Because you didn't approve it. Come on, Floyd.
Hon Mr Laughren: No, that is simply not the case. We announced that there was going to be $125 million for pay equity in the broad public sector. That commitment remains. No other jurisdiction has made that commitment. As far as the nurses' settlement is concerned, we indicated to the hospitals that the nurses' settlement was to be rolled into the 9.5% increase they received in their funding.
Mrs Sullivan: Six per cent.
Hon Mr Laughren: No, the 9.5% that they received.
Finally, Mr Speaker -- I can see you are getting edgy -- I want to assure the member that the hospital system in this province simply must be rationalized. I understand there are 700 or 800 empty hospital beds in Metro at any given time. We need to rationalize the health care system, and we are determined to make that happen.
Mr Harnick: My question is to the Attorney General. Last week, an action was commenced under the auspices of the Canadian Jewish Congress regarding school funding. The facts in this lawsuit are not in dispute; it is purely a legal issue. Will the Attorney General refer this matter to the Court of Appeal to save expense and time for all the litigants, including the taxpayers of Ontario?
Hon Mr Hampton: I can tell the member that after some consultation with the Canadian Jewish Congress, we indicated to them that we would not be referring the matter to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Harnick: Why not? The facts are not in dispute; it is strictly a legal issue. Why is the Attorney General putting the parties, including the representatives of his ministry, through a full trial when it can be sent right to the Court of Appeal, where it is going to end up regardless of the outcome of the trial in the trial court?
Hon Mr Hampton: I can tell the honourable member that senior counsel in the civil law division and in the constitutional law division of the Ministry of the Attorney General looked at the arguments that the Canadian Jewish Congress was advancing, and after a very thorough review, the view was that the arguments were not in any way substantially dissimilar from the arguments that were advanced in a court action, which the former government was very familiar with. Therefore, given that the arguments were substantially the same, the feeling was that there would be no benefit in referring this directly to the Court of Appeal.
NORTHERN LIBRARY SERVICES
Mr Wood: My question is to the Minister of Culture and Communications. In these tough economic times, northern communities are being hit hard. It is important to remember that they rely on their public libraries to provide free access to information and cultural resources. I understand the public library services in the north are being eroded. What is her ministry doing to counter this trend?
Hon Mrs Haslam: First off, I would like to assure my colleague that I do recognize the very special economic and geographic problems facing northern Ontario libraries. The vast majority serve communities of under 5,000 people. Many are isolated and have a small tax base and limited municipal support. The Ontario library service north, which supports northern libraries, receives $2 million out of a total of $7 million of the OLS budget from the ministry while serving only 8% of the population.
I have just approved a grant of $100,000 to the OLS north to continue to buy books that will supplement the collections of very small libraries in the north. While I recognize the many issues of inequality in the north, I believe we are providing the best and most equitable library service that we can currently afford.
Mr Wood: I understand the report of the Advisory Committee on Finance Matters to the Minister of Municipal Affairs on the provincial-municipal financial relationship, otherwise known as the Ballinger-Hopcroft report, recommends the deconditionalization of grants to many municipal agencies. Those agencies include public libraries. What is the minister's position on the initiative, keeping in mind that the whole move would seriously damage public library service in the north?
Hon Mrs Haslam: The Ballinger-Hopcroft report is, as the member mentioned, an advisory report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and does contain many sweeping recommendations that will require considerable debate. My position continues to be that the per-household grants provided by my ministry will be paid directly to library boards for the provision of library service as required under section 30 of the Public Libraries Act. I anticipate no change in this position.
Mr Conway: My question is for the Solicitor General. It concerns policing by the Ontario Provincial Police in my part of rural Ontario and I gather in other parts of the province as well.
On the front page of this week's Eganville Leader, which is a very well read weekly newspaper serving my county, it is reported that the Killaloe OPP detachment, which serves a very large rural section of west Renfrew county, is now living with the following constraint: namely, police cruisers will be limited to not more than 108 kilometres per eight-hour shift. Can the minister confirm that is happening, and is he aware what that kind of constraint will mean to policing in rural Ontario?
Hon Mr Pilkey: I cannot attest to specific knowledge on that specific jurisdiction that the member raises his earnest concerns about. I can tell him that because of the budget constraints that face the entire government, the OPP, as well as all functions within the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Correctional Services, have been asked to review their circumstances. I do know that Commissioner O'Grady has implemented certain operational requirements to try to comply with the budget restraint and with, I believe, a rather severe shortfall that exists within the OPP presently.
Mr Conway: The Eganville Leader report makes very plain that the force is struggling with very real service cuts in my part of Ontario. I note that the Lindsay Daily Post of September 30, 1991, contains the following paragraph: "People in Bobcaygeon, Dunsford and Woodville have been asking for increased police presence. 'But [quoting Lindsay OPP Staff Sergeant Jack Watkins] the safety of these communities in Victoria county is being threatened by these cutbacks.'"
It is quite clear from these two references, and the provincial press is replete with several others, that the budgetary problems at the OPP are serious and palpable and are having a real and negative effect on rural communities, whether they are in Killaloe or Eganville in Renfrew county or in Bobcaygeon or Woodville in Victoria county. Is the minister aware that the public is increasingly concerned about what this is doing in terms of safety and security in these rural communities, and what particular measures does he intend to initiate to alleviate this real and significant concern?
Hon Mr Pilkey: An expenditure reduction plan has been implemented to contain costs, but without compromising the Ontario Provincial Police's ability to serve the public. As I indicated, the OPP have forecast a financial deficit for this fiscal year. It has been pressured as a result of a variety of cost increases. There are cost-cutting measures by the commissioner that he has directed. We hope they are of a temporary nature, but I am assured that none of those particular expenditure reductions will compromise the OPP's ability to serve the public in a safe and competent fashion.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. In the 1991 budget the Treasurer announced he will make available $125 million to assist our major transfer payments on the issue of pay equity, talking about municipalities, school boards, hospitals and universities and colleges, and they are looking for these pay equity adjustments now. It is my understanding some of the institutions already have them.
Rumours are circulating that the colleges and universities will be receiving only 50% of the amount they were originally promised. Could the minister clarify in this House exactly what was promised, whether they will be getting only 50% of that, and when he will be making the transfer payments for pay equity to the colleges and universities of this province?
Hon Mr Allen: I cannot answer the final part of that question, which is to give a date at which the information will be relayed to the institutions, institution by institution, in terms of the pay equity transfer each of them will receive. I can tell the member that the original allocation in the budget of $125 million for pay equity in the broader public sector is still in place and will be devoted entirely to that objective.
What I also must tell the member, however, is that a portion of that has been set aside for the calculation around proportional value of pay equity to apply to some sectors of employment in the broader public sector. That does mean the initial payment that will be made to the transfer partners will go ahead at a somewhat lower rate of transfer for the pay equity payment to those institutions.
Mrs Cunningham: I do not think the minister answered the question, so I am going to give him another opportunity. I have to have an answer because I have been asked to get it, and I want the minister to respond as clearly as he can, with numbers. I am not sure what he promised the colleges and universities. I have read three different announcements and I cannot find that number, so I need to know what was promised.
I also need to know, and I think the colleges and universities need to know, what they are probably going to get. I suppose if the minister is going to stand up in the House in the next week or two and tell them they are going to get the money, that is fine, but they have a responsibility to provide the education to our students and preplanning a budget is very important. Could the minister please tell us what he promised, whether or not the rumour is true -- that is, the 50% -- and if he does not want to say when, I will be happy with the answer to the first two parts.
Hon Mr Allen: The announcement will be made in some detail by the Treasurer very shortly and it is not my responsibility to give that detail. I have been asked the very same question by the member, with the same concern. What I will tell her in terms of further detail is that in addition to the 7.3% transfer announcement, there was indicated a 0.7% add-on that would relate to the pay equity transfer overall. It is not my responsibility at this point in time to make the specific announcement as to what that difference will be, but the institutions will know very shortly.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
Mr J. Wilson: I have the pleasure 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 from 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."
I have affixed my name to this petition and it is also signed by a number of good residents of the town of Stayner.
The Speaker: Reports by committees?
WITHDRAWAL OF BILL 149
The Speaker: Before introduction of bills, on Tuesday, November 5, the member for Parry Sound introduced a bill entitled An Act respecting the Amalgamation of Municipalities in the Districts of Nipissing and Parry Sound. It has been brought to my attention that this bill is in a unilingual format only, which is contrary to subsection 3(2) of the French Language Services Act, 1986. I must advise all honourable members that this matter contravenes section 37(d) of our standing orders in that it is in improper form. I must therefore rule that this bill is out of order and must be omitted from the order paper.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
LABOUR SPONSORED VENTURE CAPITAL CORPORATIONS ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 SUR LES CORPORATIONS À CAPITAL DE RISQUE DE TRAVAILLEURS
Ms Wark-Martyn moved first reading of Bill 150, An Act to provide for the Creation and Registration of Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Corporations to Invest in Eligible Ontario Businesses and to make certain other amendments.
M. Wark-Martyn propose la première lecture du projet de loi 150, Loi prévoyant la création et l'inscription de corporations à capital de risque de travailleurs aux fins d''investissement dans des entreprises ontariennes admissibles et apportant des modifications corrélatives.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon Ms Wark-Martyn: This bill is an act to support labour-sponsored venture capital corporations investing in eligible Ontario businesses. This is the government's first initiative designed to deal with two important issues raised in the 1991 Ontario budget, the need to promote investment in industries to enable them to compete and grow in the Ontario market and the need to provide opportunities for workers to get involved in and initiate economic change.
The act proposes to set up the Ontario investment and worker ownership program. It has two parts: the labour-sponsored investment fund, which offers a 20% tax credit for eligible investors -- this credit is based on existing federal legislation that offers investors a matching 20% federal tax credit -- and the Employee Ownership Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Corp, which offers a provincial tax credit to workers investing in the corporation they work for as part of an employee buyout plan or company restructuring.
This bill also contains certain other provisions required for administration of the act. By working together, business, labour and government will find economic solutions for Ontario. This bill is an example of this government's commitment to that goal.
Mr Stockwell: Mr Speaker, may I request unanimous consent to introduce the report from the standing committee on government agencies which was somehow omitted?
The Speaker: Do we have unanimous consent to revert to reports by committees?
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Mr Stockwell from the standing committee on government agencies presented the committee's 17th report.
The Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 104(g)(11), the report is deemed to be adopted by the House.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ONTARIO MEDICAL ASSOCIATION DUES ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 SUR LES COTISATIONS DE L'ONTARIO MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 135, An Act to provide for the Payment of Physicians' Dues and Other Amounts to the Ontario Medical Association.
Suite du débat ajourné visant la motion de deuxième lecture du projet de loi 135, Loi prévoyant le paiement des cotisations des médecins et d'autres montants à l'Ontario Medical Association.
Mrs Marland: I am happy to have a further opportunity to complete the comments I was in the process of making yesterday afternoon on Bill 135, An Act to provide for the Payment of Physicians' Dues and Other Amounts to the Ontario Medical Association. When I was talking yesterday, I was saying to my colleagues in this House that I hope they remain healthy, because as long as they are healthy and do not need the health care system, the impact of what is going on today with the health care system will never touch them; but should they need the health care system, then they will realize in a personal way exactly what is going on in Ontario today.
Yesterday, when we were talking about Bill 135, we were talking about the government collecting dues for physicians in this province to belong to the Ontario Medical Association. We also were making very clear the fact that now the Ontario Medical Association is nothing more or less than a union. This professional association has become unionized, with the right to arbitrate what its fees will be for services. We recognize it is all part of this famous agreement that was signed in May of this year between the Ontario government and the Ontario Medical Association.
One of the things I tried to address yesterday was the very real concern I have for the fact that all this is on the surface and nobody really realizes what the impact is going to be underneath. One of the examples of the impact is contained in a letter I wish to read into the record. What all of us are concerned about in this province is not only the quality of health care but also the cost of health care, and this letter very clearly gives an example of one specialty where the cost of health care will increase because of this legislation and the part it forms of the total agreement between the OMA and the government.
The letter is on the letterhead of the Rudd Clinic and it is dated July 19, 1991. Interestingly enough, the letter is addressed to Dr Tom Dixon, chairman of the board of the Ontario Medical Association:
"Dear Dr Dixon:
"I would like to present the following reasons why I and also my colleagues at the Rudd Clinic should be exempt from the threshold limits.
"I understand that your main reason for exempting doctors or groups is in cases of specialties where there are insufficient doctors to service the community, where the service is unique and where under-serviced areas are taken care of.
"I would think that other very important considerations to government should be whether maintaining the status quo saves the taxpayer money and still maintains the quality of service with equal availability to all.
"First, our clinic certainly is unique. We have five colorectal surgeons who do nothing else but colorectal surgical procedures. There is no other clinic like this in Canada. Because of the way we are set up, with our equipment and experience, we are able to do a lot of procedures in the clinic which almost all other surgeons do in the hospital.
"As evidence of this, we service approximately 3,000 referring doctors, who refer patients from all parts of the province and from every university centre and hospital in Toronto.
"We have made great efforts to teach our techniques to others, but it is hard to duplicate our results without our extensive equipment and well-trained staff; hence, our clinic remains unique.
"There are only a few colorectal surgeons in Canada, let alone Ontario. This is not enough by a long way. There is little chance for many more colorectal surgeons in the future as there is no significant university training program in Canada. We are an underserviced specialty. We cannot afford to lose any colorectal surgeons.
"Second, we service all Ontario, including the underserviced areas of Ontario -- especially the north -- Kapuskasing, North Bay, Thunder Bay, etc. We see many patients from Ottawa to Sault Ste Marie.
"Third, we have saved government many, many tens of millions of dollars. We do many surgical procedures in the clinic which normally are done in the hospital (eg, all haemorrhoids, fissures, anal lesions, most fistulae and colonoscopies and polypectomies). In the large number of patients we have treated just for one of these (eg, haemorrhoids) we have saved the government over $30 million by keeping the patients out of hospital and working. This figure increases proportionately when all the other techniques (and especially colonoscopy) are included since all of these are done in our clinic and out of hospital. The savings to government in hospital beds alone is staggering and must be an important consideration to government and taxpayer and voter.
"There is no question but that if I and my colleagues were subjected to threshold limits, we would see fewer patients, have the rest seen by less experienced doctors and the whole effect would be inferior-quality care for many of the patients who come from all over Ontario to benefit from the expertise in our specialized clinic. We don't mind contributing to our high overhead because we want the best equipment, etc, for our patients; it does give the best results. It does not seem logical or desirable to penalize those who are helping keep the quality of medicine high, for which Ontario can be proud.
"We are unique. We are in a specialty which has very few specialists, and we see many patients from underserviced communities in Ontario. We save government huge amounts of money and have a very large, loyal and happy group of patients who appreciate our work. They are taxpayers and voters. I hope we will be allowed to continue this service.
"If there are other considerations you wish me to address, please let me know.
"I hope you will look favourably on my request to exempt myself and my colleagues at the Rudd Clinic.
"W. W. H. Rudd, MD, FRCS (C), FACS."
That is a very significant letter, and it is only one area of specialty. This specialist is trying to say that his particular practice of medicine for the health care of his patients in this province is unique. While it is unique, it is saving the government, and therefore the taxpayers of this province, millions of dollars. The alternative to his practice is that patients are hospitalized and they lose time from their places of employment. So we not only have people away from their places of employment; we have the daily cost of their being in hospital.
This practice is one of those being addressed in the new agreement between the OMA and the government of Ontario. The people in his practice are included in Bill 135, which is before us today. They are very special physicians who now will have their Ontario Medical Association dues taken out of their billings. I do not think that was necessary for these particular doctors. I think they were more than happy, as most of the doctors in this province were, to pay their own professional association dues, just as I am quite confident that most of the doctors in this province were quite happy to pay their own malpractice insurance. Physicians and surgeons around this province have been paying their own malpractice insurance for a very long time. They accept that as a cost of doing business.
Mrs Marland: Mr Speaker, every time I speak in this House, the member for Yorkview interjects, and I take strong exception to it. If he wishes to make a contribution to this debate, he should arrange with his whip to get on his own speaking roster.
The Speaker: Indeed, the member for Yorkview should know that interjections are out of order. Of course it will be helpful if those who are speaking address their remarks to the Chair.
Mrs Marland: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will address my remarks to you.
What is happening here is a big game. It is a game being played at the expense of the health of the people who live in this province when we say to doctors: "We're going to control you. We're now going to unionize you. We're now going to force your professional association to come to the bargaining table with us, the socialist government, because that way we can control how much you earn."
I thought we lived in Ontario, in the free country of Canada. I did not really think we were going to regress into pure socialism, the like of which has now been discontinued in eastern European countries.
What has happened with Bill 135, as part of the overall agreement the physicians of this province have been forced into, is that they are now part of a union. The irony is that when the physicians of this province were young men and women deciding what they wanted to do with their careers and their lives in terms of a vocation, I am sure, like all of us, they looked at many options for employment. Those who chose medicine did not choose the practice of medicine to become members of a union. They chose the practice of medicine in order to maintain the health of people. They chose the practice of medicine because they wished to serve in the most human way possible, which is to help people live healthy lives, help people regain health if they are in poor health, perform surgical procedures to correct problems people have that are able to be remedied with surgical procedures.
Whatever area of practice of medicine these young men and women chose when they entered that profession, it was because they wanted to serve the public in that capacity. They are not business people, for the most part. I think any doctor in this province will tell us that if they had wanted to be business people, they would have gone into a business field. They chose medicine because they wanted to serve that basic human need directly with their patients, that of preserving and recovering good health.
But the way doctors have been treated in this province has now resulted in their all giving up. They have been pushed so far by the governments of this province that they say: "What's the use? We might as well tell our professional association" -- the Ontario Medical Association -- "to bargain the best deal it can with the government, because we're now unionized government employees."
We are killing the very essence of their professional ethic by treating them the way we do. If the government does not care about doctors, that is fine. But I care about people, and I care about the people of this province who will end up paying the penalty for the way we have treated our doctors, our specialists and our physicians in this province.
I remember standing in this House during that lengthy debate on Bill 94 in December 1986, when I talked about children in my riding who needed very special surgery on their faces and on their heads. One of the best specialists at that time was just in the process of leaving the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to go and practise in Houston, Texas. Ironically, one of the reasons he was leaving was because he was being so controlled here by that legislation that he would not be allowed to practise the number of hours that he wanted to. He would not be allowed to serve those patients to the extent that he wanted to.
Mr White: He came back.
Mrs Marland: He did not have that freedom. Because of that he decided, "What's the point?" He would move to Houston, Texas, where he could work whatever hours he wanted.
Mr White: Why did he come back?
The Acting Speaker (Mr Farnan): Order. The member for Durham Centre contributes nothing to the process of this House with this kind of interjection. Please give the floor to the speaker.
Mrs Marland: I appreciate that, Mr Speaker. Thank you.
This individual surgeon wanted to dedicate his life to his very special surgery. I am talking about children who are born with tremendous deformities. Through his expertise, his particular dedication and his skill, and all the investment that he had made of his life to obtain that level of ability, he was able to operate on these young babies and young children to give them an opportunity to live normal lives.
Because of what was happening to him in Ontario, because of the attitude that doctors are not any different from anybody else -- we must control them and now ultimately we must unionize them -- we have lost hundreds of our specialists. I am just giving that doctor as an example.
We are now losing those specialists who had been teachers in our university hospitals. Why would they bother trying to teach medicine when the practice of medicine in Ontario has become, in the mind, thinking and philosophy of this socialist government, nothing more or less than people who work on a shop floor in a factory? The people who choose the practice of medicine for their career and profession are the people each one of us will be looking for if that need has to be met personally or by a member of our family.
I know very well that when we need that specialized kind of health care, none of us wants to settle for anyone but the best. We only have one chance at life, and life itself is so fragile that when we start to lose our health, we want the best health care possible. We are saying to the physicians and specialists of this province that we are going to treat them like any other unionized group. We are going to tell them how much they can earn, regardless of how much it costs them to practise.
Dr Rudd, whose letter I read into the record a few moments ago, spends millions of dollars on his specialized fibre optic equipment. That is his own capital cost; that is how he chooses to practise. While he is practising and able to give that service to his patients, he is saving the taxpayers money because he is keeping them out of the hospital. Otherwise, that procedure would be done in the hospital.
Now we are saying to them that we are going to take their Ontario Medical Association dues out of the billing we receive from them. It is almost as though the government does not trust the physicians. Is it such a big deal that the government has to control them by saying one of the things we have to do is make sure we get those OMA dues in? It is something like $1,000 per physician. I would really like to know how many physicians in this province refuse to pay their $1,000, but it is such a big deal that we are in this House today discussing a piece of legislation that is an insult to the medical practitioners in this province.
More than that, it is an insult to all those people in the province today who are suffering all kinds of emergency situations, whether we are talking about housing, food or jobs -- all the things this socialist government is always yelling about. They are always saying we must help the workers and save the jobs. What are we doing today? We are dealing with a piece of legislation that has a system of collecting dues to the Ontario Medical Association from the physicians of this province.
Is this a priority of the government? In November 1991, when people are without food, homes and jobs and we have an economy in a recession, the only thing this government can come up with for a piece of legislation before this House is a bill dealing with collecting professional dues from doctors. Is that the priority of this government?
I simply place the question, because the answer is very obvious. The irony goes even further because, as I think I mentioned yesterday, even though it is compulsory that these dues and assessments come from all practising physicians, it is not compulsory that they are members of the association. It is only compulsory that the government collect the money. It is voluntary whether those physicians are actually members of the Ontario Medical Association.
It is depressing when we try to understand what it is this socialist government wants out of the doctors and the health care providers of this province. We have invested millions of dollars building our hospitals, building additions to our hospitals and building new hospitals in remote areas. While we have made this tremendous capital investment over the years in this province, this government is saying it is okay for hospitals to close hospital beds and have nurses out of work and patients waiting on stretchers in hallways because there are no beds for them. We are dealing with this situation on a daily basis, and I can give the minister names of patients in my riding who cannot access the health care they need because the hospital has just made another cutback.
We talked about 250 beds last week at the Toronto Hospital. We had 30 beds in the Mississauga Hospital two weeks before that. Psychiatric patients are unable to access the kind of in-hospital care they need because there are no beds for them.
We heard yesterday from the Minister of Health when she answered the question about the request for the new drug for schizophrenic patients. We heard that they are looking at it but they have not decided yet and she mentioned something about cost. If somebody can be kept out of hospital by paying for his drugs, does it not make sense to spend the money on the drugs rather than have him hospitalized at the daily cost of a hospital bed?
Here we are with all these problems, yet today we are discussing who will collect the dues for the OMA on behalf of the physicians in this province. To say it is okay to treat the physicians as employees of the government, to say it is okay that they are unionized, I suggest, is handing the responsibility of health care in this province to an unknown quantity.
If we are going to say they can have binding arbitration in the future in the settlement of what those professional fees will be for medical services in this province, then we are saying this government really does not care, because it will not have that responsibility. There will be an arbitrator somewhere who will decide what medical services are worth in this province. That is a black day for Ontario, Mr Speaker, because you and I will decide what health care services are worth in this province when we need them.
The way we are treating the medical profession through this agreement between the government and the Ontario Medical Association is unacceptable; it is deplorable. When people say, "The Ontario Medical Association signed this, they agreed to it," of course they agreed to it -- they were pushed to the wall. They had no other choice at this point.
When you cap the income of physicians and specialists at an arbitrary amount, regardless of what their overhead is, then we really are dealing with something with blinkers on. When government members look at an operation like the Rudd Clinic and say its billings will be capped at $400,000 and they do not care whether it costs them $250,000, $300,000 or $350,000 a year to operate -- I have no idea what the figures are, but by the equipment it has, government members know there is a tremendous investment and cost of operation. But if we do not care about that we say, "Okay, the billing is still limited at $400,000." As I said yesterday, we thought it was okay to pay the chairman of Ontario Hydro $400,000, or even $230,000 or whatever his new, revised figure is, and he does not have any overhead at all. Where is the comparison? Where is the logic? Where is the fairness? There is none.
If I was a young person today I would think twice about entering the practice of medicine in this province. Why would I invest 10 or 12 years of my life going to school to be a medical specialist in surgery or psychiatry, whatever area, and then have the government control my income? We do not do it with anybody else -- or is that what is coming? Is that what is going to happen next, that we are going to control all the other professions?
Perhaps Bill 135 is only the beginning of the written enforcement of the philosophy of this socialist government. Maybe their plan is to unionize all the professions in this province and control what everybody earns. Maybe that is the road we are now on. If it is, then we are going to see a very large exodus of professionals from this province, from many professions, not only the practice of medicine. If they are saying as a socialist government, "We're going to control everything you do because we're paying your salaries. We're not going to pay you too much; we're going to cap it at this amount," then the only people who lose are the patients and the people of this province.
Members had better get sick in the first half of the year, the first two thirds of the year or however long it takes for those individual practitioners to meet that $400,000 in their billing, because when they meet that $400,000 in their billing and their overhead may be $300,000, why would they continue practising that year? Members had better make sure they are not looking for a specialist in the latter part of the year with the kind of legislation that is coming down.
Bill 135 is in my opinion the tip of the iceberg when we start forcing one group of professionals in this province to pay their professional association dues through the billings they send to the province. People do not understand that doctors get paid by the government only. Doctors do not have any other source of income from the practice of medicine except from the government. People do not understand that today. They today do not understand that the government has made doctors in all specialties and all practice of medicine government employees, civil servants, whatever word members want to use to describe them. That is what they are.
Now we are saying, "We don't even trust you to pay your professional association dues, so we're going to take them out of your salary." I do not think the majority of physicians in this province realize the significance of this legislation. Do members know why? The majority of physicians in this province are so dedicated and so committed to the profession they have chosen that they spend all their time looking after sick people. They are not up to all these games and pieces of legislation that come from this socialist government. They do not have time for that. They are saving lives and looking after sick people. They do not have time to get into the gamesmanship that has been going on with this socialist government and the Ontario Medical Association. They will not find out until they have done their billings that their OMA fees are now deducted. They did not have a problem paying them themselves anyway. That is the issue.
I do not think there is any point in continuing this debate on this unnecessary bill any further. The socialist members in this House could not care less. The fact remains that Bill 135 is only the beginning of the end. As we deal with each piece of legislation that comes through, it further penalizes health care in this province by pointing a finger at one group that forms a percentage of the overall cost of health care and says: "It is those rotten doctors that drive the cost of medicine in this province. That's why we've got to control them and that's why we've got to cap them."
Why do we not let them continue paying their professional dues? Why do we not let them continue paying their own malpractice insurance? That is not a problem for them. Instead of that, we are going to say, "You can only practise so much at such and such a rate, and then after that we control you." It is a very sad day.
Mr Sutherland: It is a pleasure for me to respond to the member for Mississauga South. The member is somehow implying that there is something wrong with a majority of a group deciding that they want to pay membership fees to an organization, namely, the OMA. The member has tried to imply somehow that this deal was coerced upon the doctors. As we know, the doctors voted in a democratic election where they had the opportunity to participate. Those who wanted to participate did so and they ratified this deal. The doctors did not have to ratify this deal. Their representatives did not have to negotiate it either. So I find that a little bit disturbing.
The member for Mississauga South also talked about doctors who are in teaching hospitals and leaving this province and going to other provinces. I want to remind her that the reason many of those doctors are leaving is not the most recent deal. The reason many of those doctors are leaving is that our post-secondary education system has been seriously underfunded, starting in 1977-78 when her party was in power.
I also want to say that I know many of the doctors -- one of my former roommates from university is in medical school -- are very dedicated and caring individuals and are very concerned about health care. There is no doubt about that and I do not think anyone questions that.
I will wait to see the next time a member of the third party decides to get up and rail at this government about the high cost of expenses and talk about the deficit. We will see whether the member for Mississauga South will be one of those people up talking about the deficit at the same time as this government is working on curbing health care costs.
Mr Frankford: The member for Mississauga South said physicians are going to be pushed to the wall, while I think the Liberals say the physicians are being wrestled to the ceiling. I hope the members on the opposite side will get their act together and decide where we actually are.
We have heard some extraordinary statements about health care from the last speaker. I am really not clear what her position is on universal medicare. I thought her party was for it. I believe the federal party actually supported the Canada Health Act. Clearly it is something that is coming in all over. I think it is a nice opportunity to recognize the wise decision of the voters of Pennsylvania yesterday when they elected a Democratic senator who took a very strong pro-universal medicare position. This follows on the election to Congress of a socialist from Vermont in the elections last year.
The industrialized world is moving in that direction, and I am sure the people who feel they are moving to greener, free-enterprise pastures, which are not that free whatever the member for Mississauga South may imply, are going to be disappointed. In fact, those who emigrate find themselves in a very restricted system.
I really should concentrate on this bill. It is a simple piece of legislation that is part of the thrust to a rational health care system which we need and which can improve on what we have right now.
Mr Bradley: I was wondering, with the money that it will take to implement this act -- there is always some expense that will take place -- whether there will be any money left in the budget of the Ministry of Health for a second CAT scanner for the Niagara region. I look at what the member has said and I know she is very concerned about that. I thought that when she addressed her remarks to this bill, she would look at the potential negative implications of it as they relate to other expenditures within the ministry.
I know that in her area the member is concerned about these matters. I know my colleagues from the Niagara Peninsula are very concerned about these matters and are probably wondering, as well, will the implications of this bill mean that there cannot be a second or third CAT scanner in the Niagara region when people are waiting five or six months to use one, when up in York region at night the dogs and cats can get a CAT scan?
These are the concerns I have. I know the member for Mississauga South, if she had had the time -- she did not want to take the entire afternoon -- would probably have asked the very same question I have asked. I am sure that in Cambridge they are probably in the streets talking about the fact that there is not a second CAT scanner permitted in the Niagara region, even though it would not cost the Ministry of Health very much money at all. It requires the individual hospitals to foot the cost and the public to raise the capital cost.
I simply raise that. I know the member did not have the time to address that issue and I was pleased to be able to address it myself this afternoon.
Mr Bisson: I listened intently both yesterday and this afternoon in the House to the comments by the member from the third party, the member for Mississauga South. I want to touch on one thing she touched on. I tried to listen to her really well. If there were a coherent message in what she was saying when she kept on embroidering a tapestry, I guess of -- I am not going to use the word because it would be unparliamentary, but it was not quite the way it should be.
One of the very strong points she made was that this government was wasting the time --
Mr White: What tapestry? He has lost the thread.
The Acting Speaker: Order. I would ask the member not to leave the House. On several occasions the member for Durham Centre has used the opportunity of exiting the House to make interjections. It is totally unacceptable. We would appreciate it if you cut it out of the process.
Mr White: Mr Speaker, I have not left the House since this afternoon --
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr Bisson: I have lost about 20 seconds on the clock. I hope I can get it at the end.
The point she was making was that the government was wasting the legislative time of the House by introducing Bill 135. I took the liberty of going back and taking a look at the last recession we had in Ontario, which was in 1981. I remind members of this House -- they do not need to be reminded -- that it was a Conservative government that was here at the time. I looked at some of the bills that were before the House in any one week within the month of June. I will just read a few to you, Mr Speaker: the City of Ottawa Road Closing Act, the County Courts Amendment Act, the Executive Council Amendment Act, the George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art Act, the Legislative Assembly Act, the Liquor Licence Amendment Act, the Live Stock Branding Amendment Act -- the list goes on.
The member says we are wasting time speaking about something that is as important as Bill 135 in regard to the health care system. I just point out that when they were in government it was no different. There are acts that you must bring to the House. This is an important piece of legislation and I ask for all the members to support this because it does mean the future of our OHIP system.
Mrs Marland: In response to the member for Oxford who talked about why the doctors were happy to sign this agreement with his socialist government, it is pretty hard to disagree when you have your hands tied behind your back. The doctors settled with this agreement because they had no choice. It was the best they could possibly get for the kind of bargaining they were into. When he talks about the deficit, yes, I will stand up in this House and criticize this deficit, and yes, I will refer to the deficit when we are talking about this kind of legislation because this legislation is going to end up costing us more money because of the way it treats the practice of medicine in this province.
If the member for Oxford did not hear what I was saying, then he could not have been listening. The examples I gave were procedures that one specialist can do that save millions of dollars because they are done in his clinic and not in the hospital. If that is too complicated for him, then there is nothing I can do about it.
As for the member for Scarborough East, who is not in the House at the moment but who was here a moment ago to respond to me, what can I say about him? He is a physician and I think he should be embarrassed to stand in this House and defend this bill or any other of the directions of his socialist government in the way it is treating the health care providers in this province.
Yes, I say to the member for St Catharines, I do have a lot --
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Please address your remarks through the Chair.
Mrs Marland: Through you, Mr Speaker, I do have a lot more questions and a lot more comments I would have liked to have made today, but being the excellent Speaker you are, I knew you would not let me speak about anything else but Bill 135. That is why I kept very close to it. I simply say that if the member for Cochrane South has nothing better to do than stand up and list a whole lot of 10-year-old bills, then I feel sorry for him too.
Mr Bisson: I am just going to take a couple of minutes. I am not going to go on at great length for a couple of hours such as the previous speaker has taken -- within her rights, I must add.
Bill 135 comes down to a couple of very essential points. One of those points is that it is a fact -- the member for Mississauga South would not recognize it -- that part of the health care cost is the payment of doctors. Every time somebody is sick he or she is treated by a doctor. That obviously has an extreme amount of cost, one that comes to the health care system. If we want to ensure that in the long run we have the dollars necessary to be able to fund the medical care system that Ontarians have grown very fond of over the years, along with other people across the country who enjoy the same kind of benefits in other provinces or territories, I think they would not only ask but would demand governments to be very judicious when it comes to being able to deal with the amount of money we are spending in our medical care system to ensure that in the long run the system is there and that we protect it.
Really, that is what this bill is all about. Back, I think it was, in 1985 doctors felt they wanted to have the ability to be able to bill above the OHIP guidelines. There was the whole extra-billing issue. I understand that. Like anybody else in this province who works for a living, I would always want to be able to get a little bit more for the services we give. But what they were doing at the time was attempting to extract more money from the public than is possible. The government of the day, I think, made the right decision.
Bill 135 basically makes sure that we have a better process by which we can negotiate with our doctors so that at the end we can ensure the dollars are there to be able to not only pay the doctors but pay our nurses, to pay towards the budgets of hospitals or health councils and all the other services that are necessary to deliver the fine health care system we are used to in this province.
The other question that has been raised in debate and that my honourable friend who is just leaving the House, the member for Mississauga South, mentioned is that she has seen this as some sort of bill that speaks to trade unionism, that basically entrenches the right of trade unionism or collective bargaining for doctors.
I do not think that is quite the situation, but the only point I would make is that there is nothing wrong with collective bargaining. Collective bargaining has been part of the democratic process of the nations of the free world for a long time. Why? That system was brought in so that you can bring people together to negotiate with their employer, whoever that employer may be, to get a fair remuneration for the work they do.
What Bill 135 does, very simply, is it makes sure that those doctors who are practising medicine within the province pay their dues to their association. Presently, there is roughly 10% of doctors practising medicine in Ontario who enjoy all the privileges of that association and do not pay their dues. All the bill does is to say, "Listen, if you're going to practise medicine within the province of Ontario and you're going to enjoy the privileges given by your medical association, you should pay those dues."
That was part of a position, I think, that the doctors wanted when they brought to the bargaining table their representatives to make sure that all the doctors within the province pay, and not have a system by which I will not pay, as one doctor, and enjoy all the benefits without having to pay those dues. I think that is something that is quite right, and I think it speaks to the whole question of what it is to work as an association. The more members we have in our association, participating, paying into the membership, the better the job the association will be able to do to have the dollars necessary to service its members.
I think in the long run the additional 10% of doctors paying into the medical association would only provide a better service, not only to the doctors, but I would dare say also for the public they serve.
The other point I just want to get to very quickly is the whole question of the usage in the House with regard to what pieces of legislation we bring to it. I did not get too much of a chance, Mr Speaker, because you were ruling on a matter that was somewhat out of order, and I tend to agree. The whole question is what the member was talking about, that she did not want to see Bill 135 come forward. Why? Because she felt we would be able to deal with more important issues, as she had put it, for the people of this province. Clearly, there are a number of issues that we need to deal with in this province, many of which, if we all had a lifetime, we would never be able to get to.
Bill 135 is an integral part of what this economy is all about. Health care represents the largest expenditure the province spends at any one time, within any one ministry. I think, just roughly, somewhere around $17 billion to $18 billion out of our $50-billion budget goes to health care.
It would seem to me a member who purports to represent the right wing, or the capitalists, as she likes to call herself, would be concerned that we have some opportunity of being able to manage that system. Certainly if I am in the private sector, I am not going to allow a department within my company to run uncontrolled, so that I do not have any say or any control over what is being spent. That is not directly what this bill is doing altogether, but that is what this government is attempting to do through legislation such as this: to put in some good management practices within the particular ministries or within particular services the government offers so that we make sure we have the best use for our dollar.
More specifically, when she talked about the types of bills we are dealing with, yes, we are dealing with a number of bills that are very central to what is happening within the economy of Ontario, but as I say, it is an essential part of what we are doing.
I wonder if I am straying away a little bit from the topic. I am looking at you, Mr Speaker, for direction.
The Acting Speaker: It would be very easy for you to get back on topic, I suggest to you.
Mr Bisson: I let myself go to your indulgence. The point is that in order to be able to make sure we have the money necessary to provide not only health care but all the other services in this province that people have come to expect of their governments, it is very essential that the government put together a good management strategy. Then that strategy will be put together, as well as a good plan to make sure we can get the biggest bang for our dollar with the money we get from the taxpayers of this province. That is what Bill 135 is about. It is simply that.
If a member of the opposition is going to say we should not do these things because they infringe on the rights of doctors, well, I am sorry. Everybody within society has responsibilities and we as members of our society have to live up to those responsibilities one way or another.
I have taken 10 minutes on the clock. With that, I will leave the time to other members.
Mr Mammoliti: I must commend my colleague the member for Cochrane South. I agree with most everything he said in terms of Bill 135. However, I cannot understand the member for Mississauga South, who spoke just before him and basically criticized the doctors.
The Acting Speaker: Order, please. Your comments are directed to the speech that was given by the member for Cochrane South, not the member for Mississauga South.
Mr Mammoliti: Yes, I understand that.
In his speech, the member talked a little bit about the doctors, and I got the impression that he meant to say it was a democratic procedure. Being pushed to the wall, as the member for Mississauga South said earlier, is just not the case. I cannot see it being that way. I cannot see it in terms of democracy and what it is all about. In this particular case, that is what it is: democracy. I tend to agree with my colleague the member for Cochrane South when he says democracy is where it is at.
In terms of his views on unions, I tend to agree with him as well. The difference between us and the speaker before him is that we believe unions are where it is at. I certainly believe that. I feel the member for Mississauga South insulted the doctors when they said they belonged to the union. If anything, the union will bring them together and it will be a united front, an understanding of all. That is what unions do. So I would have to agree with my colleague when he talks about unions.
Frankly, I am sticking up for the physicians, because I believe they are here for care.
Mr Conway: I would like to take some time this afternoon to join the debate on Bill 135 and to make some comments about what I think is a very important piece of legislation, not just for the government, not just for the Ontario Medical Association, but for this Legislature and a lot of other interested parties who particularly relate to the government of Ontario in some kind of pecuniary way.
I was not here yesterday to hear the minister's opening statement, although I have taken the time today to look at the transcript of yesterday's legislative debate, and I found what she said quite interesting. Basically, she spoke for what looks like about 45 seconds and had four paragraphs worth of commentary. I think that is probably a good guide for some of the rest of us, but it is also illustrative of how pleased this government must be to see this agreement.
I want to quote the minister's remarks of yesterday, November 5, speaking to Bill 135: "The proposed legislation flows directly from the agreement signed with the Ontario Medical Association" -- and the government of Ontario -- "earlier this year." I think any understanding of Bill 135 must be put in the context of that framework agreement which the new government signed in May of this year and to which the minister made reference in her statement to this Legislature on May 6, 1991.
I want to begin my remarks this afternoon by just looking back over the last few years at some of the relationships various governments have had with the Ontario Medical Association. It is no secret that the relationship between that government of which I was a part and the Ontario Medical Association was not very good. In fact, it was hostile and very bad on those occasions in 1986 and 1987. I make my observations as well on the basis of having served as the Liberal Party critic for Health in the period from 1977 through 1982. I must say, I never thought I would see the day when we would have a government and a medical association voluntarily committing each other to what we have in Bill 135. In that respect I congratulate the new government, because it has been able to come to an arrangement that other governments were able neither to contemplate nor to fashion.
I well remember those days years ago when, in a wonderfully stentorian voice, Stephen Lewis would rail at Dick Potter and Frank Miller, and even Bette Stephenson for a few weeks 10, 12 or 15 years ago. He would say, "Minister, why don't you come clean and recognize what you're dealing with? What you're dealing with in the Ontario Medical Association is the most powerful, the most well-financed and the most highly respected labour or trade union in the land." Ministers of Health and Tory colleagues, and I dare say a few Liberals as well, just cowered in the face of that Niagara of analysis offered by the great Stephen Lewis. It is too bad Stephen Lewis is not here today to celebrate this occasion, because he has been proven right, as he has been elsewhere.
What I would not have imagined, however, is that the day would come when organized medicine would genuflect before not just the public will but an NDP government and voluntarily subscribe to Bill 135. I do not think Stephen Lewis imagined that day would come either, certainly not in his lifetime. Here now, 13 years after Stephen Henry Lewis left this place, he has been proven right in more ways than he might imagine, and I just want to make that observation.
When I read Bill 135 I fantasize, as I rarely do, about what Bette Stephenson must be thinking, what Joan Charbonneau must be saying.
Mr Conway: I say to my friend from Orono, the government is looking for new energy sources. I recommend the following alternative. I think there is a very real alternative built into Bill 135. I suspect we could displace most of the electrical energy of Darlington if we could somehow harness the rage that people like Bette Stephenson and Joan Charbonneau, representing those independent physicians, must feel about Bill 135.
For any members who served here with the former member from York Mills, the redoubtable Dr Stephenson, I ask them to reflect on what she must now feel to be legislated into a union. I see some very learned, bespectacled faces underneath the press gallery representing the public service and they have served several governments with distinction. If no one else, at least two of those gentlemen over there will know of what I speak.
I will remember that night in 1986, because the member for Mississauga South referred to it, when the Peterson government with the support of the NDP passed Bill 94, was it? I have a great deal of regard for Dr Stephenson. I do not think anyone here fought with her quite as often as I did, but I will remember that night when for the first and only time in my legislative career I feared for her health, because again, to use another analogy from the energy world, I thought we were going to experience, on this legislative floor, a meltdown. I thought she was literally going to melt down in rage over Bill 94.
I say to my friends in the third party, ably represented by the Acting Speaker, what Dr Stephenson must feel. I would say to my friend the member for S-D-G & East Grenville that it would be interesting to send a copy of Bill 135 with affection to the former member for York Mills, just to see what kind of return post one might receive.
This is a very important day when we have this framework agreement, and as part of that framework agreement, Bill 135. I say it is important not because the NDP has managed this. I think anyone who knows anything about the New Democratic Party would see this as something, as has been mentioned by the previous speaker, the member for Cochrane South and others representing the government, that would be just perfectly sensible and natural to them. I respect that. That we have the leadership, the apparatchiks, at the Ontario Medical Association volunteering to be part of this is a day about which there should be some comment.
I thought it interesting when I read in the May 1990 edition of the Ontario Medical Review, which is the publication of the Ontario Medical Association, some observations in an editorial by none other than my former friend Dr Edward J. Moran, general secretary of the Ontario Medical Association. I should not say "former" friend. We meet very sporadically these days because it has not been a happy time since 1986. I think my own doctor was the president of the Ontario Medical Association that year, and that relationship has certainly been impaired to some considerable extent.
I think it interesting and I read a few paragraphs from the special edition of the Ontario Medical Review, which speaks from the OMA's point of view to the so-called framework agreement. I am sorry the member for Mississauga South is not here, because I do not agree with many of her observations, and I think the member for Cochrane South made some very good points that I do not need to repeat. But in speaking to the framework agreement of which Bill 135 is so central a part, Dr Moran, in his opening editorial in that journal, says:
"Apart from such pragmatic considerations, we must accept the public's right to determine the type of health care system it wants. Through a democratic process, the people of Ontario have decided that physicians are to function in a publicly funded health care system, and that to ensure the system's viability, physicians cannot have the right to unilaterally set their own fees. It is counterproductive to continue to oppose a framework for health care that has been embraced by a majority of Ontarians. Certainly it is the responsibility of physicians to continue to oppose government strategies that harm quality of care and unfairly treat health care providers. But the medical profession also has an obligation to work within, and develop to the best of its ability, the health care system that society has established."
I think that is a very important observation and I commend Dr Moran for it.
We have had a number of elections in which the question of health care has been, if not a central question, an important question. I do agree with the good doctor from Scarborough who made the observation that there is clearly an expression of democratic will. I want to come back to that a little bit later.
I begin my remarks this afternoon by observing that for me, it is significant to see the Ontario Medical Association voluntarily subscribing to the Rand formula, which it has long wanted, but to have it in the way in which Bill 135 presents it, where it is all-encompassing. I suppose that is inherent in any Rand formula. But when I think of some of the more colourful members of the medical profession, some of whom have almost had strokes in my presence -- I can think back to days in Brantford and Sarnia, to two most vivid encounters as a Health critic with members of the medical profession a decade ago.
It is a very special day for me here to be able to say that the OMA has been able to bring itself to this point. I repeat: I hope someone is monitoring the blood pressure of some of my friends in the medical profession, because I suspect hell hath no fury like Joan Charbonneau these days on subjects of the kind contained in Bill 135.
Then I look at the agreement and I see some very interesting things. I am struck by the minister's own defence of the agreement. Let me say -- I do not know if I have said this before -- that I have a very high regard for the new Minister of Health. I think she is a very capable lady and I expect we are going to see a very significant performance on her part. I think she is going to have to live up to that high billing, because anyone who knows anything about the health care debate these days knows that she is sitting on, shall I say, a Mount St Helens of anxiety and concern and tension.
What do we find in the statement made to this Legislature in May of this year as the Minister of Health, the member for Beaches-Woodbine, seeks to explain and defend the framework agreement? I am not going to go into all this again, but it is quite clear from what Dr Moran says in that special edition of the OMA Review that the profession had some very real expectations, and that to a very significant extent they felt they got what they were after in that agreement.
Let me perhaps talk a little bit about what they were after. Again, coming back to the medical association and its special review edition of May 1990, the OMA said there were three things about which it felt very strongly. First: "The government must accept that the medical profession is an important, crucial participant in the health care system and must work with it co-operatively. It must not act unilaterally." Second: "The government must accept...independent, fair binding arbitration" of the fee negotiation and any dispute that might arise therefrom. Third: "The government must accept that all Ontario doctors, regardless of the method of compensation or practice mode," are entitled to be represented by the OMA.
Those three conditions were deemed by the OMA to be central and what we have in Bill 135 is the meeting of that third condition. I gather that in the discussions it was also indicated that the government had to table this Bill 135 before the end of June 1991, and it did that. I think the actual tabling of this bill was on June 26, 1991.
I want to briefly touch on a couple of the other conditions before coming back to Bill 135. "The government must accept...binding arbitration" of the fee process. Let me deal with that for a moment. There has been a debate for a long time in this Legislature around the whole question of binding arbitration for this particular aspect of the public purse. Doctors have said to me and to others that there is something wrong with a scheme of things where the government gets to be player and referee. To some extent they are correct in that; government is in a conflict of interest.
It troubled me then, as it troubles me now, that it is not as even-handed a process as I would like it to be. Binding arbitration has always been recommended as the way out of this that will relieve the tension. So this government has acceded to binding arbitration on the medical fee account.
My friend the member for Halton Centre, in her excellent assessment of this policy and this legislation yesterday, observed that what we are talking about here is a budgetary allocation of somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion at the present time. My learned friend underneath the gallery shakes his head in the negative. Perhaps it is not $4 billion and $5 billion, but it is, by my calculation, a very significant account. I think my friend would not nod negatively in that connection.
Taxpayers out there will want to know that the fees paid by taxpayers to medical practitioners through the government of Ontario, the health insurance plan, amount to billions of dollars annually. That is an incontrovertible, incontestable reality. What we have in this policy now is a determination by this government to turn the final determination of that to an outside arbitrator. My friend nods affirmatively.
I just want to make this point, and I make it to all members of this Legislature and I make it with absolute seriousness in such a way that perhaps I will be misunderstood: I hope members of this Legislature understand what the advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has meant to our responsibilities as members. We all, I think, or most of us -- outside Sterling Lyon -- in 1980 or 1981 said that Pierre Trudeau was more right on that question and that we should have a charter so there would be a clear constraint put on these parliaments, which on occasion do things that are very injurious to the rights of citizens, either individual or collective rights.
We have now almost a decade of experience with the Charter of Rights. This much can be said, and it can be said in a way that is consistent with what its sponsors argued would happen: that the Charter of Rights has in fact significantly constrained legislative and executive power. That is what it was intended to do, so people should not be surprised.
Now we have an advance in one of the most interesting mechanisms used by modern government to settle disputes, particularly around payment and working conditions in vital or essential or controversial sectors of the public or parapublic sectors, namely, binding arbitration. I just want people to think about what that is going to mean. I want individual members to think about what that is going to mean.
I think it is going to mean that the government of the day has essentially abandoned its capacity to make decisions around a multibillion-dollar account. We have done it elsewhere, as others have observed. Government psychiatrists have access to binding arbitration. You, Mr Speaker, will know from your long experience in the great united counties of Glengarry, Stormont and Dundas that firemen have access to binding arbitration. We have it to a certain degree in the teaching profession with certain mechanisms that are provided under Bill 100 that can be triggered to that result. But here we are now granting for the first time the right of an outside party to decide a multibillion-dollar government account.
My observation is simply this: I hope members of the Legislature understand what this is going to mean over time to all of us, whether we are the current member for Renfrew North or Don Mills or whether we are a successor member in Brantford or in Prescott-Russell. Increasingly we are establishing and supporting mechanisms that delegate out a spending authority, and I repeat, in this case on a multibillion-dollar account representing, I think, nearly 10% of the total budget of the province. We are setting ourselves up as duly elected members to essentially tax.
I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but I did not run on six different occasions to come here and be a taxing authority for a whole bunch of other people who get to set the rates. I believe in the doctrine that he or she who taxes has something to do about setting spending limits or priorities. We are abandoning that right to a significant extent in this bill.
I am sincerely hopeful that the optimistic interpretation around this policy, this framework agreement, is borne out, but in talking to former members of the Schreyer administration in Manitoba -- I think it was the Schreyer administration; it may have been Schreyer-Pawley -- I do not have a great deal of confidence that it is going to be borne out in an optimistic fashion.
I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but I repeat, I did not come here to tax so other people could spend what I have to defend in terms of taxation policy. I think there is a linkage. I think the doctrine of accountability means something, and if I spend I should have to tax for that. The people in Durham East or Simcoe Centre should be able to point a finger and say: "Mr Conway, as a member of the Treasury bench, you taxed and you spent. I don't like very much of either. Off with your head." But oh, no, it is getting much more complicated and I do not wonder.
If I were in one of the special interests, if I were an apparatchik at the OMA or at OSSTF or at OPSEU, I would pray for this kind of policy because tactically I could pick off these poor politicians everywhere at different times. I could apply a guerrilla tactic that would bring a government or a legislature to its knees in a way which, quite frankly, to some extent we have seen. I feel very badly for all of us because in a few years' time we are going to have to go back to Barrie and Orono and we are going to have to give an accounting of what has been done in in our name and we are going to have to stand there naked in the wind and protest that an arbitrator did it.
I do not know how the members feel about some of those court rulings that have flown from the charter -- the charter I support -- but they have made my life as a legislator a little more complicated in ways I had not expected. I will be damned if I have to go out and start justifying what Marty Teplitsky will decide when the OMA and the government cannot come to an agreement. If Marty Teplitsky is going to decide, then I want Marty Teplitsky in this Parliament. I find it offensive that this is not going to happen.
I am whistling in the wind, I know, but I am going to tell the members that this policy is a Trojan horse and members of this Legislature on all sides are going to remember the day this framework policy began a new era, as the Minister of Health said that sunny day in May of this year. She is right.
I will say as well that there will be some people listening to this who will say -- the NDP apparently says this a lot -- "You know, poor old Conway, he's just sucking a vinegar stick. He's so bitter." I am bitter about a few things, I will be quite honest.
Mr White: About what, Sean?
Mr Conway: Well, I have a great respect for the NDP. I have always regarded the NDP as a party a little different than the others. That smear campaign of 1990 still nettles. I think they should feel contaminated by that disgusting smear that besmirches the record and reputation of Ted Jolliffe and Stephen Lewis and Donald MacDonald, but it has been done. I am angry. I am no angel, but I have not done some of the things that were done in that campaign. So if I am a little angry, I hope my anger can be understood.
There are other aspects of that campaign and I want to talk a little bit about those because they are felicitously touched upon in the most recent report of the Ontario Medical Association. I am sure the members gets this. If they do not, they should read it: a wonderful picture of Basil Johnston, the president, a sage-like picture of my friend the general secretary, Dr Moran, a wonderful little section in this report, "Political Professional Activities." I want to read from page 6 of the annual report of the Ontario Medical Association, 1990-91, under the chapter heading "Political Professional Activities":
"The Ontario provincial election campaign of 1990 afforded an opportunity for the Ontario Medical Association to forge alliances with other major provider groups as well. The experience of expressing joint concerns about major governmental shortcomings in the provision of vital health, education and social services in Ontario with representatives of the Ontario Teachers' Federation and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union created a momentum that has continued beyond the election. The result is the emergence of a new group called the Coalition of Health Care Providers, which has as its mandate a broad vision of health care delivery."
I do not want to go on, but let me just say that I think that observation is at least disingenuous. It is incomplete because I think that happy activity produced more than just a new group called a Coalition of Health Care Providers. I think it helped produce the framework agreement. I congratulate the OMA, if for not unduly abandoning itself to the Rand formula, for the not inconsiderable financial gains this framework agreement offers. Not since Larry Grossman a decade ago has the OMA wrestled a government to the ceiling. I want to say they have done it twice in my legislative lifetime.
They have done it, interestingly, at the very time when the province was in the absolute pit of recessionary circumstances, and they have done it not just in the pit of a recession for six months, but in both cases they have extracted first from the Davis government and now from the Rae government by any standard -- certainly any recessionary standard -- an enormously successful and remunerative multi-year, I think six-year, agreement that cannot be touched.
I just want to observe that if they had to adjust some of their principles for some of their members on the Rand formula, they had to adjust none of their principles in so far as, "We want as much as we can extract from the government and we found another government that is prepared to kneel before us," is concerned
I read the minister's statement very carefully. This is her statement accompanying the framework agreement this spring. I am quoting the member for Beaches-Woodbine: "Over the last 10 years, payments to fee-for-service physicians have been increasing at an average annual rate of 12%. Even with a fee increase of under 2% in 1988-89' -- those bad old terrible Grit days -- "and a 0% increase in 1898-90 and 1990-91, physician payments in the two years without increases jumped by $400,000 million."
The minister's own statement I think makes a case for a more rigorous agreement than we have before us on the fee account. It is not because I want to penalize doctors. In the main, I agree with a lot of what others have observed. But my salary is a matter of public record. I have no difficulty and I have no intention, I might add, of trotting out a whole range of numbers, but the last year for which we have data is 1989. According to the data I have for 1989, the average GP salary in that year was $184,000, the average specialist was $297,000 and the all-in average was $238,000. That was almost three years ago now, and they are averages and averages are insidious; I accept that.
What have we done in this agreement? In this agreement, the government has agreed, "The agreement provides for a one-time payment in lieu of a fee increase of 2% for each of the last two years, at a cost to the Treasury of $140 million." Moreover, the government has agreed to provide malpractice or, as my friend from Scarborough would like me to refer to it as, liability insurance for the past two years at an additional cost of $84 million. "These one-time payments will, however, not be incorporated in the base for determining future fee increases."
Finally, I make the point that I represent rural eastern Ontario, and we are a deferential lot. We want our medical providers well paid and we want them happy. New Democrats and Tories could say, "You know, the Liberals didn't do a very good job of keeping the medical profession happy." I accept my responsibilities in that connection. We did not do it very well, I suppose. I think we did the right thing. We may have not done it too efficiently, but it was a very fundamental clash. I believe it was a fight we had to have. In a funny kind of way, as Dr Moran's observations have made plain, I think that fight has made this Bill 135 possible.
I just again observe that for the coming year, under the new agreement, remembering that over $140 million has been paid out as retroactive payment to the profession for those years 1989 to 1991, what do we know about the fiscal year in which we now find ourselves? According to my information, under this agreement the government will provide a 3.95% increase on fees, representing an additional $140 million, and $110 million, roughly 3%, on utilization, meaning a total increase for this year, fiscal 1991-92, of approximately $250 million in new money or an average increase of 7%, on an average that is very nearly, according to data now two or three years old, $250,000 per Ontario physician.
I repeat: I do not have a particular quarrel with doctors being well paid, but how well paid does well paid have to be? I repeat what I have said here before. The loggers and the farmers and the retail people and the unemployed in Renfrew county are hurting and they are hurting badly. They applaud the fact that their member's salary has been frozen for very nearly three years, and they applaud the fact that 1% of the senior public service has been frozen at whatever rate -- zero increase. I applaud it too. But what do we see? For the most well-paid people in our society, 7%.
I want doctors happy, and I want them well paid, but how much is enough? I think this government ought to think about what it has done. I am angry, not because they have made a deal we could not make, but 7%? I do not know what the calculations are for the out years, but my guess is that as a result of this now firm and untouchable six-year arrangement, we are going to see these kinds of increases on an annual basis. Oh, it may not be 7%. There is going to be a joint management committee and it is undoubtedly going to ratchet down the utilization; it is going to do a variety of other things.
How many people do members know who have got 7% in 1991 or 1992, particularly those people who may be at an average salary in excess of $200,000? Not bad, I say, if you can manage it, and the OMA to its credit has managed it with the new government, as they managed it with Larry Grossman 11 years or 10 years ago.
I become a bit worked up on this, because when I look back on that Grossman agreement of 1981 or 1982, I cannot believe that we let it happen. I cannot believe that this Legislature was undressed to that extent, but we were. And let me offer kudos to the OMA. They took us down in splendid form and some of us did not even really complain about it. Now I see again something that I appear to have experienced before.
How does this compare with others? Let me restrict my observation to the health care debate. How about nurses, for whom we all rightly profess a new and higher order of commitment? We have worked quite the deal, have we not, for nurses? We are all on side with the nurses, and the government negotiated a new day for the nurses, but what has that come to mean? Members of the opposition are up daily now talking about hospital budgets, which in significant measure means nursing budgets. I myself reported the news and it is well understood.
The Toronto Hospital Corp has had to retire something like 150 full-time nursing personnel as a result of these constraints, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. It is going to be happening in Thunder Bay and Brantford and Pembroke and Alexandria and Brockville and every other institutional health care setting across this province; certainly virtually every hospital setting across this province.
Nurses gained a pyrrhic victory. They won, but they will be shown to have lost at least as much as they won. It may take a few more months for that reality to present itself, but I ask my friends, how have the nurses fared vis-à-vis the doctors? I want to say it is game, set and match to the doctors. In comparative terms, they have won it all, and they have got it in a way that it is untouchable.
Yesterday I was down in the standing committee on social development, putting an oar in the water with the member for Brantford and others -- in my case very parochially -- for the optometrists, who have come to me and said: "Listen, we think we are getting a bad deal, unintended perhaps, in this health disciplines review. We think we are getting a bad deal because the ophthalmologists, as a result of the new framework agreement, have had a chat with the people at the ministry or the Minister of Health and said, 'No, we think those optometrists'" -- front-line eye-care people in my county, where we have, I think, one ophthalmologist. I have had people, largely senior citizens, from Eganville and Chalk River and Barry's Bay coming to me and saying: "What is this? What am I being told? As a result of this policy, I am now not going to be able to be diagnosed in the Barry's Bay office of my friendly optometrist, but rather, I'm going to be shipped off to Ottawa." They may be overreacting and maybe their optometrist is overreacting, but that is how they feel and I am concerned about that.
I have reason to believe that part of the informing logic and the pressure in this is coming from this framework agreement which now gives organized medicine a very significant say on the health care waterfront. I do not think it is a bad thing entirely, but it is a bad thing if underneath that water line they are now exercising a veto that may be having real, intended or unintended health care effects in my part of rural eastern Ontario.
I come back to my main point. When I look at nurses and how they have fared with these cutbacks everywhere -- and we are not in any way finished with those as I speak -- I tell you, if I were a nurse, I would be looking at this framework agreement and I would be angry, because once again I have been dealt an unfair hand in the power politics that are so central to this policy and this legislation.
Mr White: Address your remarks to the chair.
Mr Conway: I know my friend from Brockville wants to get involved in this debate. I am notorious for going on in these matters.
I repeat, there are some very serious issues in this bill, and more important, in the policy of which this bill is a part. I do not want to talk about whether or not this is, as some people will say, a payoff for the OMA's participation in the common front. I suppose that would be indecorous. It might even be unparliamentary. I will believe what I will believe.
I will never forget that day. I thought I would never see the day when, on behalf of Bette Stephenson and Joan Charbonneau, Ed Moran would voluntarily agree to the principles of Bill 135. I never thought I would see the day when the Ontario Medical Association would weigh into an electoral campaign, as it did so overtly with its long-term friends in the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and its longer-term friends in the Ontario Teachers' Federation.
I will say here what I have said before: When I look back over the first 14 months of the Rae administration and I ask how well OPSEU and the OTF and the OMA have done, I say dispassionately, if not totally objectively, they have done very well indeed. I am sure it is fortuitous. I am sure it has nothing to do with the sinister motives that conniving oppositionists might manufacture. But I hope OPSEU, the OMA and the OTF go out one of these evenings and have a very good dinner on their success, because it is not an inconsiderable success.
When I look at the health care professions, the doctors have bested the nurses and they have left the optometrists well behind. Apparently the doctors are going to get an average of 7%. Compared to a sawmiller in Palmer Rapids, a retail clerk in Pembroke, a farmer in Westmeath township, they have won the main prize, and they have won it not just for this year but for five more years. I know the good people of Glengarry, if they had this agreement, would imagine they had died and been transported to another place.
We should celebrate success, because this is an enormous success these doctors have won at the expense of the public Treasury; a huge, lasting and significant pecuniary success. They have won it all. If no one else wants to celebrate that, I am going to at least observe it.
I want the farmers, the retail clerks, the trappers and the unemployed to know that this has happened and it is happening. I want members of this Legislature to know what they have surrendered. They have abandoned any kind of final control over a multibillion-dollar account; a great day for responsible parliamentary government.
I suggest that the defenders of this policy go forward and not run for this Legislature or for Parliament, but run for Marty Teplitsky's job or for some arbitrating tribunal. They will not only be better paid, they will be more anonymous and, most important, they will not be accountable. Some hopeless dupe who went through 37 days of excitement, of agony and ecstasy, will be standing up in Parliament defending what he or she did not have very damned much to do with deciding. Oh, a brave new day. I will end my comments at that point.
Mr White: I wish to congratulate my colleague on his excellent speech, as always well worth listening to, if not for the substance at least for the rhetorical flourish he offers us.
I thought when he brought up allusions to New Democrats past that he was a little bit too precious by half. In the midst of this rhetorical storm, the centrifugal force of his oratory splashed allegations all over. He is making allegations about teachers, about doctors, about nurses, etc. Perhaps he neglects to recall how his own party is saying we are too tough on the medical system, how his colleagues to his immediate right are talking about this terrible bill and how it would limit doctors' incomes.
The fact is we are talking about a basic, fundamental principle called the Rand formula whereby when a group offers services, those services are paid for. The Ontario Medical Association offers services for all the doctors in Ontario and in consequence should be paid for those services it offers.
We are not talking about the Ayn Rand formula, as the member for Mississauga South would suggest, but the Rand formula, a basic principle. We not talking about the settlement, but the method of that settlement, which is a sensible agreement.
M. Poirier : Comme d'habitude, mon collègue le député de Renfrew-Nord a fait une présentation tout à fait superbe qui décrit, très précisément, la nature conflictuelle de la façon dont le gouvernment néo-démocrate traite du sujet de financement du budget pour l'année en cours, mais qui décrit également la contradiction: comment le gouvernement néo-démocrate fonctionne à contre-courant, qui va contre tout le bon sens, contre la logique, de maîtriser les dépenses gouvernementales.
Ça a pris un collègue comme mon collègue le député de Renfrew-Nord, justement, pour être capable de démontrer ça très clairement, d'une façon bien élaborée, d'une façon bien énoncée. C'est bien son type à lui.
Moi aussi je suis très inquiet et j'appuie profondément les déclarations de mon collègue le député de Renfrew-Nord, justement parce qu'à un moment où tous les autres gouvernements serrent la vis, d'ailleurs, deviennent plus raisonnables, il a bien décrit jusqu'à quel point le gouvernement néo-démocrate se moque du contrôle budgétaire à un moment tout précis où nous, les députés, on nous demande depuis déjà deux ans et pour les deux ans à venir de limiter et même de contrôler et réduire à zéro notre augmentation de salaire, ce que j'appuie fortement, bien sûr, et que toute la population appuie.
Moi, je ne comprends pas du tout comment le gouvernment néo-démocrate peut aller de l'avant et faire ce genre de proposition-là: proposer un taux de pourcentage totalement non réaliste, dans un moment très difficile du financement des budgets gouvernementaux en Ontario. Ça défie la logique. Je m'y oppose fortement. Ce n'est pas raisonnable.
Je félicite mon collègue le député de Renfrew-Nord d'avoir très bien démontré les problèmes de manque de logique du gouvernment néo-démocrate.
Le Président suppléant (M. Villeneuve) : Je veux remercier le député de Prescott et Russell pour sa participation aux questions et commentaires. Autres questions et commentaires?
Mr Stockwell: One of the most important points we should be taking from the speech that was just made is the abdication of responsibility. When people elect us to come to this House they expect us to come here to make decisions that affect their lives. Every time we push off another decision to an arbitrator, committee, board or commission -- it has been happening for decades not just in this House but across the province and the Parliament itself -- it does not allow the electorate to get a full hearing and an opportunity to vote on decisions we make.
The statement was made that some $5 billion or $6 billion of government moneys will be set aside now and decided upon by a single person who was not elected to anything, who did not put his name forward, did not stand for any job and was not accepted or declined by the voters at large.
It is one of the sad situations that has happened over the political period of two or three decades in Ontario from municipal politics to provincial and to federal. It makes me very frustrated to think that the budget of this province will be set by one person when it comes to increases in fees and a vast amount of money. Not one person sitting here in this House today, and I include ministers, has as much control over that kind of dollars as the arbitrator.
The most important thing we do is to represent our constituents. We represent our constituents who elect us to come here. If we continue to pass away those responsible decisions we should be making, we cannot represent our constituents and our constituents cannot make proper decisions if every time a tough one comes down we say we did not make that decision. It is not responsible.
Mr Conway: I thank my honourable friends for their observations. I simply make the following point again in summary: Bill 135 is an important part of a very significant deal. It is a deal involving the government and one of the most enormously significant, important and resourceful interests in the entire community. It is a deal about power politics. It is a deal that is enormously remunerative.
I repeat that the government has been infinitely more generous than those miserable Grits. I will defend what we did. We took a tough line and we paid the price. We were thrown out of office with the help of the Ontario Medical Association and that was a very good participatory thing for them to do. We took a tough line, not just with Bill 94, but with the freeze essentially on fee increases for those two years in the last part of the Peterson administration. We brought the Ontario Medical Association into a happy coalition with others like the teachers and the public service and they committed themselves politically to getting the scoundrels out and bringing a new day.
They have won a new day and they have won a very generous deal that will take hundreds of additional millions of dollars out of the taxpayers' pockets. It will, in the pit of this recession, give an increase of 7% costing hundreds of millions of dollars this year, while nurses get much less and in fact will lose their jobs by the score and by the hundreds, and while optometrists and others will feel the pressure underneath the waterline.
Bill 135 is about power politics. It is about winners and losers. It is about deal-making and I want to tell members that in the first encounter between the OMA and the Bob Rae government it is game, set and match to the OMA.
Mr Runciman: Before I forget and the member for Renfrew North leaves the chamber, he mentioned the conflict in 1986 with the doctors with respect to Bill 94 and the extra-billing being a factor in the results of the last provincial election. It is the only thing I disagree with him on with respect to his comments today. I find myself in agreement with him more and more often these days. It is a little scary, but in any event I can safely say I did not hear the question of extra-billing raised during the 1990 campaign. Certainly, following the extra-billing debacle, or whichever way members wish to describe it, we had a 1987 election and the Liberal Party came in with an overwhelming majority.
Mr Conway: I am talking about the fee dispute, not the extra-billing, in 1990.
Mr Runciman: In any event -- even the fee dispute -- I do not believe the doctors had a significant impact with respect to the results of the 1990 election, partly because of their inability or unwillingness to lower themselves to get into the political trenches with respect to participating in an active way in a provincial or federal campaign.
I want to talk about this. I know the member for Renfrew North mentioned this and my colleague the member for Etobicoke West mentioned it too, not just the binding arbitration element over this, but this is an extremely important initiative by this NDP socialist government and one the member for Renfrew North said we really cannot do much about.
I beg to differ with him again on that point because even though we are told this is a done deal the Legislature, for all intents and purposes, has not been involved in this done deal and we are talking about in excess of $5 billion of taxpayers' money being spent. I think it is only responsible on our part to play a very active role with respect to this decision. Bill 135 provides us with the only real opportunity to do that.
I guess when I think about its impact, not only its initial impact but the implications for this legislation over the long term for all of us as health care consumers, and perhaps even more important as taxpayers in this province, it is a piece of legislation we should scrutinize very carefully, and in my view should be delaying. It is probably impossible to stop, but we should give it our best shot as opposition members in this Legislature.
As part of that process, we should make the public much more aware than we have done up to this point of the implications of what this government is doing and what it means to them as taxpayers and health consumers in this province. We in the opposition have sort of been sitting back on this and saying: "Look, there is nothing we can do about it. It is a done deal."
We have close to 60 members on this side of the House and I think if we start to play an active role in legislation like this we can have an impact, maybe not the one we would ultimately desire, but I think we can have an impact, if nothing more than elevating this issue so more and more people become aware of what is happening within the government and within the medical community.
I am not a big fan of the profession. Maybe I should not be saying that sort of thing. I know my colleague the member for Mississauga South was speaking today saying that doctors had no choice, that they had their backs to the wall in this negotiation process. I have a tough time with that when we are talking about the highest-paid profession in Ontario getting an increase of an average of 7%.
We had a doctor before the standing committee on government agencies today, Dr Perry Kendall, who is getting an appointment to the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council. I think it was a very astute appointment and he is a gentleman who certainly seems to have a good handle on health care issues in this province.
He felt from his pew that it was an extremely generous settlement. When we talk about the rest of the Ontario economy, about the cutbacks and the belt-tightening going on within this province, and this government grants a 7% increase to the highest-paid profession in Ontario, I say something is wrong. That does not in any way, shape or form present a hardship to medical practitioners in this province, from my perspective anyway, and certainly not from the perspective of Dr Perry Kendall. I would like to see that gentleman play a more active role in decision-making with respect to government policy related to health care in the years to come.
My feelings in some respect are oriented towards the dispute back in 1986, Bill 94, the extra-billing dispute. We saw doctors across this province outraged at the Liberal government that brought in the legislation, which was part of the NDP-Liberal accord. Mr Speaker, I believe you were around in those days. Obviously the Liberals supported it. It was part of their platform during the 1985 election, but the NDP, as part of the negotiation process with the Liberals to throw the Conservative government out of office, made it a major priority that they bring in a ban on extra-billing.
Otherwise I am not sure the Liberal government, if they had been elected with a majority, would have acted upon the ban on extra-billing. I think they did it as a result of pressure and as a result of their desire to obtain power, and as a result of the accord they signed with the NDP to enable them to achieve office in 1985.
When I look at those days in 1986, I remember the huge crowds out on the front lawn of Queen's Park, something like 10,000 or 11,000 doctors out there protesting the Liberal-NDP legislation, because that is really what it was. Now we see them in effect -- the same people, the Ontario Medical Association -- getting into bed with the architects of the legislation they were so vehemently opposed to, so furious about back in 1986, and now they have crawled into bed very rapidly with those same people, Bob Rae and company.
I was looking for a word to describe them. There is a new movie coming out starring Theresa Russell, and if you look at the title of that movie, it describes my view of the OMA. Another term we could use is "ladies of the night." I was looking at my thesaurus so I could use a parliamentary term to describe the OMA with respect to its dealings with the socialist government. I do not have too many complimentary things to say about them. I think they have indeed, as a previous speaker said, been wrestled to the ceiling by the government with respect to the settlement they have been able to achieve.
At the same time they have dragged something like 3,000 through this modified Rand formula that Bill 135 really is all about, compelling over 3,000 other doctors who, for a variety of reasons, did not feel they had any need or desire or wish to be members of the Ontario Medical Association. They are now going to be compelled by this legislation to pay dues to the OMA. So they go in kicking and yelling, but the government is not prepared to listen to those people.
Again, I say that perhaps this is the kind of legislation that should go to committee. We should not rubber-stamp it. We are talking about significant expenditures in the billions of dollars. When the member for Renfrew North and members of my caucus and members of the opposition parties generally say, "We can't do anything about this," I think we can do a heck of a lot about it, and perhaps the first step would be to send this legislation to committee. We have the numbers to do it. We simply have to get enough within our own caucuses to agree that it is worth while doing it. Obviously my views are that we should be doing that.
Another element of this is the cap on incomes. I have got some feedback on this from specialists -- dermatologists, ophthalmologists, orthopaedic surgeons -- who find that the cap is going to apply some severe pressure to them, not necessarily in terms of income but in terms of their ability to operate an office.
I was talking to a dermatologist a week ago who indicated to me -- he operates in the city of Toronto -- that he has had to lay off one nurse and may have to lay off additional staff because of the income cap. There is no recognition in that cap for a specialist's capital investment in new equipment. This specialist was indicating to me that when new equipment comes on the market, high-tech equipment which is going to provide the best possible service to his clientele, he simply, because of the government restriction on income into his office, is not going to be able to have that recognized by the government under this initiative it has undertaken.
We a look at the overhead of doctors, especially specialists. I am not so concerned about general practitioners. I think they look upon this as a windfall in some respects, a goal to shoot for, the $400,000 cap. I am talking about specialists. Another element of this we have heard, and thank goodness this is only limited to a small number of specialists up to this point, is of ophthalmologists and dermatologists closing their offices after approximately six months of operation and simply going on a vacation or doing other things or looking into other areas of income generation rather than keeping their offices open, because they have already achieved their cap.
What in effect we are saying to these specialists is that once they have achieved their cap, if it happens to be after six months of practice and their income is severely restricted from that point onward, why should they continue to operate their offices? There is no recognition of the overhead, the staff component, no recognition of that whatsoever, so why should that specialist continue to operate his or her office? It does not make any sense. It is perhaps a modest problem at this juncture. I am not sure who the lackey is in this exercise, whether it is the OMA or the government, but together perhaps they can address this so that we are not going to see this sort of problem continue to grow and health care consumers in this province suffer.
The other element of this which is a concern of mine too is the migration of doctors to the south. It is essentially specialists we are talking about who are attracted. We saw -- I cannot recall the doctor's name -- a significant specialist in Metro Toronto who I think worked at the Hospital for Sick Children move to Texas a couple of years ago. We have seen very prominent specialists in Ontario already leave because of the offers to function in a much freer climate, if you will, in terms of restrictions placed on health care providers in the United States. To me this kind of initiative, which does not recognize these special circumstances of specialists in Ontario, is going to further aggravate that situation.
I think an element of this, and my colleague the member for Etobicoke West mentioned this in his brief comments and certainly the member for Renfrew North did at length, is one we have to stress as members of this Legislature, and that is the provision of binding arbitration. That was a platform of the NDP during the 1990 election. They believe in binding arbitration and that is not strange. We can understand that coming from that party and its particular ideology.
When we look at the history of binding arbitration in this province perhaps we can understand where the OMA is coming from as well. I think I read where 87% of the OMA's membership council voted in favour of this deal. If they have taken a look at the history of binding arbitration with police services, if they have looked at fire services, I can understand that they would not necessarily be shy or reluctant to get involved in a process that is going to see them go to binding arbitration when they cannot reach a negotiated settlement with the government.
I served on a municipal council for a little over eight years. A number of us have served on municipal councils, and we have all had experience with binding arbitration. Frequently we find those settlements have no resemblance to reality.
I can recall in my community where an arbitrator would come in for binding arbitration on a seniors' residence, for example, and give a double-digit increase. The arbitrator did not take into consideration the average increases in the area and did not take into consideration the debt load of the municipality or the public body responsible for providing those salaries through the charges to the taxpayers. I guess what I am saying is that the history of binding arbitration in this province is something I think we should all be very much concerned about.
In binding arbitration with public bodies, these folks, for whatever reasons, seem to be overly generous with taxpayers' dollars. What we are talking about here is not a modest amount. We are not talking about a municipal budget; we are not talking about the budget of a seniors' residence; we are not talking about a local fire service or police service. We are talking about a province-wide service which represents over $5 billion in tax dollars. I think I have the figure here: $5.3 billion allocated for OHIP payments this fiscal year.
I think just that one element of this agreement is enough for us as legislators to say, "Whoa, is this the sort of decision-making we should be leaving in the hands of a third party? Is this the sort of thing that we do not want to play a role in? In effect, that is what the government is saying by bringing in an element of binding arbitration.
What we are doing is taking it out of the Legislature's hands. We are effectively taking it out of the government's hands. We are taking it out of the Treasurer's hands. When we are talking about numbers in the billions of dollars, that should be cause for pause and reflection, I would think, on the part of not just members of the opposition parties but certainly of members of the government party as well. Perhaps most of them are not looking down the road and they are only looking at the next three years because they realize, as most of us do, that a lot of them certainly are not going to be returning to this place.
I am going to continue speaking on this legislation until 6 o'clock.
Mr Mills: Oh, no. I'm waiting for the Fire Marshals Act.
Mr Runciman: Well, I am sorry; the member for Durham East can go home now.
In any event, I think this is the sort of legislation that we should be discussing in detail, and I want to encourage anyone in the medical community who may be viewing this broadcast, especially doctors, general practitioners, specialists, who has any concerns about this legislation to call my office in Toronto at 325-3868. I would like to hear your concerns. I would like to have them brought to the attention of the Legislature and to the public of Ontario.
I am not optimistic that we are going to hear from a lot of doctors because --
Mr Runciman: I will. The member should not worry about that.
Mr Wiseman: What was that again?
Mr Runciman: Just for the benefit of the government members, I will repeat it. It is 325-3868. They should not clog my lines, please.
I recall when we had a filibuster in this House, the most recent filibuster, if you will. It was conducted by the member for Welland-Thorold, a member of the government party. I followed him, as at the time I was the insurance critic for my party and I spoke for four days; not four full days, of course. While the opportunity to speak was present, I spoke for four days.
I must say that when I look back at the filibuster and the debate that took place with respect to no-fault auto insurance and compare that with, not necessarily Bill 135 itself but when we take a look at the complete package with respect to the funding arrangements arrived at between the government and the Ontario Medical Association -- and the modified Rand formula that is being brought into effect is just part of that total package -- and compare it with important pieces of legislation that you and I, Mr Speaker, have dealt with over our time in this Parliament, I have to compare it with the most recent filibuster, which was felt to be important enough a couple of years ago that the member for Welland-Thorold, with the full support of the now Premier and other members of the NDP caucus filibustered right into -- we went into a 24-hour session at one point.
They felt strongly enough about the ban on extra-billing. When I take a look at the implications of this, I think they are certainly as important, if not more important, for all of us in this province as the introduction of threshold no-fault auto insurance, because this bill is not just having an impact on a one-year increase in payment to doctors; it is an agreement that is going to extend for the next three fiscal years -- 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94.
It has a number of measures which, as I said in my earlier remarks, are significant for all of us as taxpayers as well as health care consumers in this province.
When the announcement was made, they talked about cost containment. I want to say that those cost containment measures, upon scrutiny, appear to be largely symbolic and I want to run over some of those for the House and for the benefit of the members opposite.
The government and the Ontario Medical Association will share financial responsibility if the volume of OHIP billings goes over a certain amount.
Mr Sutherland: What's that number again?
Mr Runciman: I will get on to it later. I am having significant pressure, Mr Speaker, from the member for Oxford to keep repeating the phone number in my office, but I want to assure him that before the House adjourns at 6 o'clock I will get it on the record at least three or four more times.
Mr Harris: I'll be able to call you too.
Mr Runciman: We will keep a line open for the member for Nipissing.
For the next three fiscal years -- 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1993-94 -- the government will pay for all increases in overall system utilization resulting from demographic changes; an example: for increases in population and in the number of older people, plus a 1.5% cushion.
I think it is interesting that we had all this kerfuffle on extra-billing. My party, the Conservative Party of Ontario, from a philosophical point of view did not agree with the ban on extra-billing. We vigorously opposed it. Members will recall the government of the day bringing in time allocation because of the position the Conservative Party took. I guess in some respects we felt that we went to the wall on behalf of the medical community in this province.
Again, it raises my hackles, to say the least, when we look at the situation now, when the architects of the ban on extra-billing are now going hand in hand with the OMA -- the same people, with 10,000 or 11,000 doctors out there violently opposed to a ban on extra-billing, now going hand in hand with the Premier, the architect of the ban on extra-billing. As I said, it is indeed shameful and I have already used some rather descriptive words to describe my feelings with respect to the OMA and its carryings-on in its dealings with the current socialist government.
Getting on to these symbolic cost containment measures again, in the current fiscal year it is expected the government will be solely responsible -- we keep hearing that this government will pay for all increases -- for utilization increases in the OHIP globe up to approximately 3.5%.
I was going on to a point about the ban on extra-billing and I forgot about it, but what has happened in terms of the fee-for-service portion of the health care budget since the ban was implemented in 1986 or 1987, whenever it was, is that the fee-for-service element of the health care budget in this province is, I think, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30% to 35%. We have not seen any drop. Those ingenious doctors found some way to overcome that ban by finding new and innovative ways in which to bill OHIP so that there was no shortfall in incomes of the doctors in this province in any sense. In fact, fees for service have become even more of a burden on the Treasury and the taxpayers of the province since the ban on extra-billing.
For the government and the OMA, up to 3.5% in utilization increases is going to be completely absorbed by the government and anything in excess of the 3.5% is going to be shared. There will be some sort of sharing of financial responsibility if the OHIP volume of billings goes above 3.5%.
I talked to Dr Perry Kendall today, who is the medical officer of health for Toronto, about the increase representing something like 7% through this sweetheart deal that the OMA was able to get out of the socialist government this year for peace and quiet within the ranks. It is understandable that they have peace and quiet within the ranks when they get that kind of generous increase. We see over 200,000 manufacturing jobs being lost in this province. We see welfare increases so that we now have 10% of the Ontario population on welfare and social assistance. What does this government do? It gives the most highly paid profession in Ontario a 7% increase.
How do you justify that in tough economic times, Mr Speaker? How do you explain that to the laid-off worker in your riding or in my riding or in Nipissing? You simply cannot do it because it does not make any sense when the rest of us are being asked to tighten our belts and try to find ways we can cut expenditures and streamline government. What do they do? They give their public service a 14% increase for this last fiscal year and they give doctors a 7% increase. It does not make any sense at all. The increase has been estimated to cost $250 million. I think it is going to be significantly more than that. The retroactive element is apparently going to cost $140 million.
There is another interesting element which many members of the Legislature may not be aware of. Malpractice insurance this fiscal year --
Mr Harris: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We are dealing with a very important piece of legislation. There is not one single cabinet minister in this Legislature, not one, who cares about this bill and is here in the Legislature. I do not think the government is interested enough even to have a quorum in the Legislature so we can deal with this legislation properly.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr Runciman: Thank you for your help, Mr Speaker. I appreciate the intervention. This is an extremely important piece of legislation and one would hope the government members are prepared to play a role in this debate other than simply carrying on side conversations.
Another element of this I want to talk about is the establishment of a joint management committee. The agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the government is going to give doctors a clear role in the management of all medical services and all issues relating to the health care system in the province through this joint management committee. We cannot say the same for other health care providers. They have been excluded from the process. It is totally excluding all other health care providers.
What in effect we are saying is that we are going to isolate the little guys from the bigger picture. That seems to me to be in contradiction to what the NDP has stood for over the years. At least the public rhetoric is that it is very supportive of the little guy, giving him or her a voice in government, making sure they have an opportunity to be heard and have input in the decision-making process.
That is not the case here. We have seen this sweetheart deal with the doctors of this province, with the Ontario Medical Association, whereby the doctors have said: "We don't want anybody else in this process. We don't want to hear from the nurses. We don't want to hear from any other profession or health care provider. We want to be at the table only, just the two of us, you from the government and us representing the medical profession. We are going to make the kinds of decisions that are going to impact on, supposedly, making health care in this province much more responsive, much more effective in terms of cost containment."
I think it is unfortunate that the voices of other health care providers are going to be excluded or given a minimal role to play and that we are putting all our money on the doctors in this province, through the Ontario Medical Association, to play that kind of role and provide the kind of co-operation that is going to see the changes necessary to prevent the further decline of Ontario's health care system, the decline we have already witnessed over the past number of years in terms of long lineups and waiting lists for getting health care provided.
In essence, with the OMA's agreement, with this measure, we are not going to see that take place. I talked about specialists earlier and the fact that we are going to see some of them cutting back on service or simply moving into other areas of employment, areas where they can generate income, during that time when the government says, "If you reach your cap within five or six months, we're going to restrict your income flow for the remainder of the year." Why should a trained professional not look to other income-generating areas to devote his time to? Why should he spend time looking after a long waiting list of patients who require dermatological care or care from an orthopaedic surgeon or an ophthalmologist? They are simply not going to do it unless they are extremely devoted individuals to the community. I am sure many of them are, but there is a limit to that kind of service they can provide to their community.
I want to talk extensively about the joint management committee again. Apparently it is going to develop action plans to look at issues raised by both physicians and the government. It is going to constantly monitor the health care system. I guess I cannot say this too often: We are talking about the health care profession being responsible in terms of controlling health care costs and getting the system in balance. Right now, health care represents about one third of the provincial budget and in many respects seems to be out of control in terms of getting a handle on it.
I compliment the Minister of Health. As does as the member for Renfrew North, I have a great deal of respect for her as an individual member of this cabinet. I think she has some tough decisions to make and she has a huge ministry with which to cope, with all sorts of issues facing her on a daily basis. Getting a handle on the issues and not being diverted by that huge bureaucracy is a challenge indeed.
I have talked about a number of issues of personal concern to me with respect to the community mental health branch of the ministry. I think this minister, at this point in time in any event, is being led down the path by professional bureaucrats within the community mental health branch of her ministry. The minister has a real challenge, and for her and this government to become even more dependent on the bureaucrats and on the medical community is not a prospect that heartens me.
I do not think that in most instances, in terms of getting health care costs under control, we have had a positive response from the medical community. Their interests essentially seem to be centred on their own financial wellbeing. Maybe that is being too harsh. I certainly should not be tarring them all with the same brush, but I know the feedback and the comments I have received even in my own community seem to be centred on income levels and not necessarily on service provided to health care consumers. Perhaps I am not hearing from the doctors who are very much committed to improving and enhancing health care services to consumers in this province. Maybe they are out there, but they certainly have not been raising their voices in any concerted effort to be heard by me or other members of this Legislature.
We only see doctors playing an active role, as they did in the extra-billing dispute in 1986, when they feel they are going to be negatively impacted upon in terms of their own incomes. Maybe it would be a refreshing change if we saw the doctors of this province protesting about other elements of the health care system: when they see enormous waste occurring, for example; when they see things going on in their own practices or those of their colleagues where they routinely call for tests as part of a process within their own offices and then those tests are routinely ignored.
This is a frequent practice, according to testimony before my committee today by Dr Perry Kendall, who is the medical officer of health for the city of Toronto and a new appointee to the Metropolitan Toronto District Health Council. Dr Kendall was talking about that kind of waste within the system by doctors, at enormous cost to the taxpayers. We do not see doctors -- I am certainly not aware of the OMA -- trying to curtail those kinds of practices that we hear are rampant within the system.
When we say the doctors are now going to be the key players in terms of health care providers playing a role in this joint management committee the government is establishing, they are going to be the key players in terms of telling us where the cuts should be made, where the streamlining should occur and where the efficiency should take place. We are saying we are going to put all our chips on the doctors. I have a tough time with that. What about the nurses? What about the ambulance drivers? What about all sorts of people out there who are players in the provision of health care services in this province? They are being totally shut out.
In effect, for all intents and purposes, so are elected members of this assembly being shut out from the process, as we have been up to this point in this whole sordid deal with the OMA. We have been shut out. This is essentially really the first opportunity this Legislature has had to debate this deal made with the doctors of this province. All we are doing is talking about one element of it and the implications of the bringing in of a modified Rand formula, which is going to ensure that the OMA's tail is protected for ever and a day and that it is going to be able to dip into the pockets of doctors who are not supportive of the OMA and compel them to come up with the $3,500 dues annually -- I believe it is something like that -- that are going to have to go to the OMA whether they support it, whether they believe in it or whether it represents their interests.
I do not want to shock members on the other side too much, but for all intents and purposes I am not someone who has a lot of trouble with the modified Rand formula in most applications. At one time in my life I was union president, believe it or not, in a plant that had the modified Rand formula. It does serve a useful purpose when you have the union at the negotiating table representing the interests of all the workers within that operation. They are benefiting from that negotiating process and as a result they should be supportive in a financial sense, if no other sense, of the people who are speaking on their behalf.
In that sense you could say the idea of a modified Rand formula in this situation has some relevance, but we are talking about a professional organization here. We are not talking about a comparable situation in the chemical industry or in the auto industry where the workers have management above them and they have to deal with that management and have to have their interests protected and represented by a union in many instances. A modified Rand formula has suitable application there in many cases. Here we are talking about a professional organization that deals with the government, and I do not see this as being the sort of thing a professional organization such as the Ontario Medical Association should be getting involved in.
I can see the OMA's self-interest in respect of the binding arbitration element of this agreement. During the next opportunity I have to speak on this piece of legislation, I hope to review some of the history of binding arbitration settlements with public bodies in this province. I think it will be scary when we look at the impact and the implications of allowing a third party to enter into this process and make decisions that have an impact on the expenditure of public dollars to the exclusion of the people who are supposedly accountable to the electorate.
When someone pays taxes and votes, he or she believes that you, Mr Speaker, representing your riding, and I, representing the people of Leeds-Grenville, are going to be able to come back and say why these dollars were spent and why these decisions were taken. What we have done now, and what this government is doing through this legislation and some other agreements with the OMA, is effectively we have removed that element of accountability that is so important in a democratic process. It is even more important to all of us when we are talking about an allocation that is in excess of $5 billion in tax dollars in this fiscal year alone.
We are probably looking in the coming year at an expenditure that is going to exceed $6 billion in tax dollars. If the OMA, through its negotiating team, is unable to reach an agreement with the government of the day, it is going to go to binding arbitration, and who knows what that decision is going to be or what its implications are going to be on the Treasury of the government and all of us as taxpayers or what implications it could have on the financial rating of the province? There is a whole range of implications to this which I do not believe have been thoroughly thought out.
Again, I believe this is an extremely important piece of legislation and I want to encourage anyone who has an interest in the health care system in this province, who may be a health care provider, a nurse, an ambulance driver, a nurse's assistant, or who may simply work in a hospital or have any kind of role to play in the provision of health care services, but especially doctors, specialists, to call me. Call my office at 325-3868 in Toronto. Let me know what your concerns are. Make me aware of them so that I can bring them to this House, so that I can tell my colleagues that indeed there is concern and growing recognition.
Mr Runciman: I want to put on the record that there is a small group of socialists sitting directly across from me who find this whole discussion very amusing. They are simply having a good laugh over there right now. I want to tell the viewers watching this that we are talking about a bill that has implications for billions of taxpayers' dollars, and they are sitting over there joking about it while we are debating this very important piece of legislation. I am offended, and the taxpayers of this province should be offended.
Mr Mills: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: I would like to point out that the laugh was about the telephone number and the place it was seen.
The Deputy Speaker: Take your seat, please. That is not a point of privilege or even a point of order.
Mr Runciman: Just for the member's clarification, the number is 325-3868. It is my Toronto office. It is a Queen's Park number. I am going to encourage everyone in the health care field to call me, but I am imploring doctors, specialists, orthopaedic specialists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists to call me and let me know what the implications of this deal are.
I am not going to be optimistic that doctors are even going to bother to lift the phone. They do not bother to get involved in the political process unless they think that in some way, shape or form it is going to be -- I will not say in the best interests of their bank account, because that might not be nice to say. I guess I am rather hard on doctors and that is based on being around this place for 10 1/2 years and seeing a variety of things occur during that period of time which have not made me very enthusiastic about the medical profession in this province or about a significant number of its members, or at least the people who represent them in the OMA.
Obviously they have a role to play in terms of looking after the best interests of the people they represent, but I think they have a broader interest, and that is serving the people of this province and serving the best interests of the people of the province in terms of health care services. I do not think they have done a very adequate job in that respect. Again, this whole business concerns me. When we lodge with the doctors that significant responsibility through the joint management team, placing them in a crucial and pivotal role in the decision-making process respecting health care in this province in the years to come, when we are talking about the OMA effectively monitoring the system, how effectively are they going to monitor the abuses within their own profession?
The abuses are there, but do they stand up and catalogue them? No. We have to have someone like Perry Kendall, who is looked upon as something of a radical because he dares to stand up and say, "Look, there are colleagues within my profession who are calling for routine lab checks," which cost all of us $100 or $200 per check, depending on the complexity of that check. They do it on a routine basis. Then when the patient comes back with that test, they simply ignore it.
They go through this exercise which is not in the best interests of the system. We have a long waiting list. We are closing hospital beds. We are looking at all sorts of, in some respects, very draconian measures to try and get health care costs under control, and the doctors are the folks who are right in there in the system. They see those kinds of things occurring every day where changes could take place. It could represent real cost containment measures. It could see us do things that are going to have effective and beneficial returns to all of us. But we do not see those kinds of messages coming forward from the medical community. I do not see them; I do not hear them. Maybe you do, Mr Speaker, but I do not.
I think when we take a look at this legislation and its impact, we have to be very concerned, and as I said, I am going to continue to speak on this, unless I am cut off at the knees. I certainly want to ensure that all members of the opposition take a very careful look at the implications of this legislation and perhaps review the comments made by the member for Renfrew North today, who was eloquent as usual and worked up when he talked about the rural community in his riding. He raised the issue of Ontario Hydro costs going up 45% in rural communities, with no option for them to go to gas. He has talked about that and he compared this issue with that.
We have members of the agricultural community, those of us who represent rural communities, and I have a significant rural component, who are struggling to survive and keep their farms operational, and many others, looking at the highest-paid profession in this province receiving a 7% increase, and then the government getting up and boasting about that deal: a 7% increase to the highest-paid profession when we have farmers going under on a daily basis. We see manufacturing jobs either leaving this province or being done away with on a permanent basis, and the doctors, the wealthiest profession in this province, getting a 7% increase. I am not going to get out a crying towel for a doctor in this province today, based on that initiative by the socialist government of Ontario.
Mr Bradley: Brian Harling works for the OMA now, the NDP secretary.
Mr Runciman: What can you say? I am just advised that we now have a former NDP secretary working for the OMA. I guess there are benefits to everyone in this deal except the health care consumers and the taxpayers of this province.
I just had a little bit of a criticism here from my executive assistant, who says, "If you're going to give out the office number, the least you can do is advise your executive assistant." I apologize, but apparently he has been advised by someone. Maybe that is an indication that the phone is ringing and that indeed people are watching this broadcast and people involved in the health care service area are contacting us and making us aware of their concerns and the implications.
Mr Speaker, would you like me to move adjournment of the debate?
The Deputy Speaker: It is not necessary to pass a motion, but in any case you will have the floor when the bill is introduced again to the House.
It being 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 10 of the clock tomorrow morning.
The House adjourned at 1759.