The House met at 1002.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
ONTARIO WATER RESOURCES AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES RESSOURCES EN EAU DE L'ONTARIO
Mr Hansen moved second reading of Bill 141, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act.
M. Hansen propose la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 141, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les ressources en eau de l'Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 94(c), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.
Mr Hansen: I would like to explain the bill. The purpose of the bill is to require persons installing plumbing fixtures in new or existing buildings to use only prescribed fixtures intended to reduce the flow of water and the discharge of sewage. The use of the prescribed fixtures would be enforced by the municipal inspections carried out under the regulations.
Last spring I talked to the mayor of West Lincoln, Ms Packham. In Smithville, a small town in which the local well was contaminated with PCBs, a pipeline had to be installed from Grimsby to Smithville. The line that was installed to Smithville has actually choked the development within the urban boundaries of Smithville.
Discussing introducing private bills for the municipality for a bylaw, I conferred with other municipal mayors and they thought this would be a great idea, but introducing five bills would be very expensive for the five municipalities.
Fonthill is in the same state, in that it depends on water from the city of Welland. Grimsby is waiting for an environmental assessment for installing another water-pumping station and purification plant. Also, St Catharines is in the position that if it has the water it does not have the sewer capacity, so development in the west part of St Catharines has been slowed down also, within the urban boundaries. The town of Lincoln -- Mayor Konkle -- has also had a problem with mussels in the intake pipes, and there have been water restrictions in the town for a period of time.
I would like to share this bill with the province of Ontario and not just look after my constituents in Lincoln. I would like the members opposite and the government to buy into this plan and be part of this bill to also help their constituents and their towns.
That is just my local experience on this particular bill. The government has already taken the initiative to challenge Ontarians to reduce water consumption. Bill 141 will ensure that new users on the system will automatically use less. Bill 141 will go hand in hand with the long-term plan of the Minister of Natural Resources, who is conducting workshops on water efficiency with various groups in the province. If new homes or buildings are required to have efficient units installed, they will add less pressure to the municipal services.
This will allow municipalities which are being restrained from expanding because of infrastructure being at near capacity to expand, or at least to infill in areas that should be developed, without putting unnecessary strain on a system.
Also -- my riding is very rural -- in rural areas, efficiency units require less water to be drawn from the ground water supply and will mean less going into the septic beds.
One example is in Boston, the Marriott Hotel. The hotel replaced 430 guest-room toilets that used 3.5 gallons per flush with 1.5-gallon efficiency units. The changeover will reduce the Marriott's water usage by approximately 1.2 million gallons per year. They were also looking at a 38% increase in the next three years in water and sewage charges. As a local example, the Holiday Inn in Kitchener, Ontario, replaced all shower heads in guest rooms with low-flow shower heads. In addition, they installed simple toilet dams, and together the result has been a saving of $14,000 per year in energy, water and sewage charges. Reduction saves money.
Ontarians are big water users. Per capita, they use nearly as much as Americans -- 300 litres per day versus 426 litres -- and twice as much as western Europeans, who use 150 to 200 litres per day. Ontario households use more than one third of all the water provided by municipal treatment plants. The water supplying Ontario households and industries comes primarily from the Great Lakes. This water cannot be used as it is; it must be purified with chemicals. Waste water must be treated, and clean water must be distributed throughout the province. This process uses energy and will likely cost Ontario about $1.7 billion in 1991. It also affects the quality of the environment. In 1980, the processing cost was about $600 million. Since then, this cost has nearly tripled.
Communities not situated near lakes or rivers, as well as most Ontario farms, use ground water supplies such as wells, which can run short. Water shortages in such areas as the regional municipality of Waterloo occur often during prolonged dry weather and, if demand continues to increase, most communities will face the substantial cost of expanding existing water treatment plants or building new ones. In addition, some communities that rely on ground water already face water shortages and may have greater problems in the future.
By adopting efficient practices used elsewhere, Ontarians can achieve zero growth in water use, at least to the year 2011. If we achieve zero growth, we will reduce stress on the environment, lessen the likelihood of water shortages and reduce energy costs.
To take an example in the United States, 14 states, including New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, have mandated or will mandate the use of low-flow devices such as toilets, faucet aerators and shower heads. A bill is before the House of Representatives which will require the use of six-litre toilets and other water-efficient fixtures.
What are the savings to the average household with four people living in it? The answer is dependent on the efficiency measures undertaken and how the family reacts to water efficiency. If the family is charged per litre of water use and is assumed to have the standard shower faucet and toilet which was installed in the past, and if newer water-efficient fixtures, including a low-flow toilet, are installed, then savings of $115 per year are possible. This represents a 33% saving on the average bill of $350 for water and sewer services for a family of four. There are 26,000 households in Lincoln; that would be a $2-million saving in one year.
Who will pay for this? The only source of funding will be water users. It is this group which makes use of the water and pollutes the water, and it is only fair this group should clean it up.
It is possible that some municipalities may choose to offer free retrofit kits to home owners or offer financial incentives. This has been done in Waterloo and in many US cities. However, it is important to understand that the water user will ultimately pay for those through their water bill.
If we use less water, are we going to be able to maintain the same rates? Utilities have fixed costs which must be paid even if less water is used or even none. If everyone suddenly cut back their water use, this could happen. In practice, some people will cut back right away and others will take longer.
During this time, new customers will be hooked up to the system, which will offset any decline in sales. Over time, more customers will be paying less, which will maintain revenues to the utility. The aim will be to hold demand at a constant level thus holding revenues constant.
Do members know that 26% of all municipal water supplies in Ontario are from well water? This services about one million people. In addition, most agricultural water used in households is from ground water sources. Toilet flushing takes 41% of the water used in our homes; washing and bathing, 37%; kitchen and drinking, 11%. As you can see, this bill is needed.
What about the cost of the toilets? They are between $125 to $350, depending on the model. What about the existing sewage lines that we have? They can be adapted to it. There will not be any problem with plug-ups or anything else.
The Ontario plumbing industry has indicated that if we change over to make water-efficient products in Ontario, if there is a sufficient demand, changing the code and launching a water efficiency program should create this demand, therefore preserving or enhancing the number of Ontarians working in the plumbing fixture industry. Only about 12% of plumbing fixtures are currently imported.
Mr McClelland: At the outset, let me say to the member for Lincoln that I appreciate, and I think many of his colleagues appreciate, the initiative he has taken here. I want to congratulate him for having taken this opportunity in private members' hour to introduce a very practical piece of legislation and something that in terms of the spirit, the underlying philosophy and thrust, of what is incorporated within Bill 141, any member of this House would be hard pressed not to support. I say to the member for Lincoln, he is to be congratulated for this job well done.
The bill sets out a requirement for new structures and new buildings to incorporate water-saving devices in their fixtures and plumbing. It is certainly worth while to consider that a number of jurisdictions, as the member for Lincoln has already indicated, have proceeded with similar legislation, particularly jurisdictions in the United States.
We note that some municipalities have shown leadership in this area and they too are to be congratulated. My understanding is that Waterloo and Wellington require low-flow devices in new homes. Niagara Falls has passed -- if not already passed it is certainly considering -- a bylaw that would require all hotel additions to use low-flow fixtures.
That is the kind of initiative being undertaken from place to place across the province. What the member for Lincoln is doing is, of course, to try and incorporate that in a general scheme across the province.
The member for Lincoln has indicated in his comments the tremendous amount of water that is used by the average household and the average person in Ontario. The very able people in research came out with some statistics that are quite astounding. The numbers are indeed staggering. I had no idea that an average toilet that is three or four years old loses up to 100 gallons of water a day just in seepage through seals and valves that have worn. That is yet another example. I had no idea, quite frankly, that if you have a household of four people and they brush their teeth and leave the water running, presuming they do it two times a day, you are looking at about 24 gallons of water wasted.
I water my lawn probably more than I ought to from time to time and I am not judicious in terms of controlling the time. Watering an average lawn in the summertime uses about 660 gallons of water. When I wash my car, do I leave the hose running? Washing a car uses approximately 125 gallons of water. Those are the kinds of things that sort of put in perspective the principle of the bill that the member for Lincoln has brought forward. It is very worth while. There is a tremendous opportunity for conservation and for using a very important resource that we have more judiciously and wisely.
We often forget as well in Canada, and particularly in Ontario, how very fortunate we are in having ready access to the quantity and quality of water that we have. Some of us have had an opportunity of visiting other parts of the world where it would be criminal to use water the way we do. Indeed, one of the greatest commodities is water and one of the greatest difficulties in terms of health and maintaining life in many parts of the world is the availability of water.
Again to pay tribute to the member for Lincoln, it is something that I believe, without sounding too esoteric and too flighty, has a really valid moral component, in terms of our responsibility to a world environment and to a world ecology, to show leadership. Having been blessed with an abundance of water in our province, we have a corresponding responsibility to show leadership in how we use that resource and to deal with it appropriately. Again I thank the honourable member for bringing this forward.
There are a couple of questions in terms of the bill itself that I would like to bring forward in a positive and constructive manner and that I ask the member to consider. Certainly I will be urging all of my colleagues on whatever side of the House they sit, for whichever party, to support the bill, because I think the principle is well regarded by each and every member.
In terms of the definition within the amendment, I would like to know, and perhaps the member could comment on, whether the use of the word "building" will refer to all structures. Would that include, for instance, cottages, single homes, industrial buildings, high-rises, etc? What level of change would be considered a renovation? What if I was to do a simple add-on to my home, for example, or some of those practical things? That would probably have to be thought out a bit more.
The other thing that is really key to this is the phase-in period. The manufacturers and the suppliers of the hardware, I think, would want to know very precisely, and appropriately ought to know, what the phase-in period would be. There have been similar initiatives taken in the United States, and the phase-in periods have been anywhere from 90 days to three years. It seems to me, having done some very brief consultation, with able assistance from people on our staff, that a period of a year of phase-in would provide an opportunity for manufacturers to tool-up for the production of domestic hardware that would accommodate the requirements of the act and also provide an opportunity for in-stock materials. That is a consideration. Failing that, there has to be some consideration of what you would do with all the material in stock. We would have to come up with some creative ideas for either re-using those materials or, ultimately of course, they would have to be disposed of. That is a concern I have.
It has been mentioned by my friend that there would have to be some integration with the building codes. That is something that could be done very readily in the building and plumbing codes. The Ministry of Housing has indicated, and I think it is clear, that it would be a relatively simple task legislatively to incorporate the changes through the acts that are under the responsibility of the Minister of Housing to make them consistent and comply with the requirements of Bill 141.
I also have a concern, if members will allow me to draw a little bit of a parallel, in terms of the Landlord and Tenant Act and Bill 121 that we will be dealing with and some of the initiatives that I want to see taken in that particular bill. I think I can draw a parallel with this. In the area of water conservation or conservation of anything, energy for example, one of the concerns I would have is to have some sort of guarantee or indication that a landlord or people involved in owning buildings would not be effectively punished for having shown conservation measures.
One of the difficulties I see with not incorporating it into a more holistic scheme is saying to landlords and people who run buildings: "Go ahead and do it. It's the right thing to do" -- which I think we all believe -- "and by the way, you're going to be punished for it. We're going to roll back your rents because you have a cost saving." There ought to be some incentive, some practical way those savings can be passed on to the home owner and the landlord in cases where they are commercial buildings, and residential tenancies particularly.
I want to leave some time. My colleague the member for Oriole wants to talk about this. There are some specifics I touched on. There are a few others we will save for another day.
In conclusion, I simply want to say that apart from some of the specific issues I would like to see addressed, there may be some refinements that would be in order. Again I say to the member for Lincoln, this is a job well done. The principle of what he is doing here is to be commended. It is a responsibility I believe we as legislators in Ontario have, not only to the people in this province but indeed to show leadership across this country, and may I say at the risk of overstretching our boundaries too much, a leadership role internationally. Because we are blessed with abundant water resources, I believe we have that responsibility, as the member has so very well taken up in this bill.
Mr Cousens: I would like to applaud the member for Lincoln for bringing forward a motion that has a great deal of thought behind it. He has a genuine concern about the resources we have in this province. Certainly his intention is an honourable one, to see what we can do to preserve our water supplies. Conservation is a term that existed long before we ever entered this House and we have to work towards it.
I want to begin with a compliment, because what follows is not all that complimentary. I happen to believe the member for Lincoln is an honourable man and his intentions are of the highest order, but what follows does not necessarily come under the category of laudatory comments.
If, through this bill, people become more concerned about conservation, if those who are taking in this debate will understand that each of us can contribute to the saving of water supplies through improved shower heads, taps, toilet fixtures and other fixtures in the home, that in itself will mean the debate is not totally a lost cause. But I believe there are matters in the bill that require some alternative point of view and I will try to bring that to the table.
There is another thing in this bill that is of a positive nature. I do not think there is any doubt that people across Ontario and North America who have such resources are now trying to save money and not use them any more than they have to. The power bill itself is an example of where the costs are going higher and higher, and because of the cost of electricity, people are beginning to turn off lights on their own. They can see there are dollars to be saved.
I cannot believe the government has paid $7 million to send out light bulbs to the people of Ontario to try to get them to save electricity. At least it is not coming along with free shower heads for people to try to save water. The government should not do it that way. This bill does not bring up the worst things that are coming from the New Democratic government; that is, sending out free light bulbs so people will save electricity. That $7 million could have been used for the 911 program. It could have been used for many other programs across the province. At least here the government has not tried to give them something for free.
I believe there are a number of issues that should be addressed in the bill before us. The first one has to do with a cost benefit analysis. Some remarks were made by the member's very close and dear friend from the Liberal Party, the member for Brampton North, who is obviously supporting this bill. Like the member for Lincoln, he has not thought through all the elements. It makes it very easy for the Liberals to go along with the New Democrats. Any time they have a chance to go to bed together, it seems they can crawl up under the covers and say, "We at least agree again."
I wish they would come out and have a cost benefit analysis that would allow people to ask, "Why is it in my best interest from an economic point of view to start doing something to help the ecology of our world?" In other words, what are the real numbers that are going to come into it to save people money, for instance, in Metropolitan Toronto and different other areas where they have to pay for their water? How much can a family of four save in a year, and how much extra is it going to cost if they install, when they are making modifications to their home, shower heads and taps and toilets and fixtures? How much extra is it going to cost them? Then how much is it going to save them?
One thing that never comes through from the New Democrats and the Liberals -- I do not want to let them off the hook at all -- is any kind of cost benefit analysis. They should figure out what it is going to cost people and say, "If you spend this, you are going to get this in return." There are going to be intangible benefits that help the ecology, but there are also going to be tangible savings that are going to help people have something back in their own pocket. What is the return on one's investment? What we really want to know is that there is going to be a return for the money that is spent for these fixtures.
Where there can be, there should begin to be far more explanation of the fact that it is going to cost people and then there is also going to be a saving. One thing socialists do not understand is cost benefit analysis because they happen to think everybody has money and money does not matter. I cannot believe that is the way the people want to operate.
That has to do with this bill, but I am leading up to other points, because to me that kind of information could be available and should be available and should be part of any kind of explanation.
Why is it that when this government comes along with a bill like this, as well intentioned as it is, it does not give any notice of it? My friend the Liberal counterpart from Brampton North has a little bit of concern about it. I have a lot of concern. This bill, if it were passed the way it is, would come into force the day it received royal assent. Ladies and gentlemen of the Legislature, that is exactly the way Bill 4, the rent control act, was done: no notice; in fact it was retroactive.
This government has no understanding that there are huge stocks of inventory that are not moving right now. If you have a plumbing supply business and you happen to have some toilets, shower heads and taps, you have a stock already. The member for Brampton North says, "Let's have an innovative way of getting rid of them." What is he going to do, sell them to the United States, sell them to California? They do not want them in California, because they know what it is to be short of water.
We know how rich we are with our water supply. We know it is an invaluable resource that has no price tag to it. But he is talking about all those investments that are held across this country, especially in Ontario, whereas with this bill we are talking about people who have money tied up now for this equipment. How long is it going to take them to get rid of it? The way this government is driving the economy into the ground, they are never going to be able to install their existing inventory because no one is building houses any more. You can sure tell that when you come through my riding. There is no building going on to speak of.
Those people who already have a significant investment in the products we have been talking about here are going to be stuck with them. The Liberals say, "Give them a year." A year is not enough time for a business to deal with it.
Mr Speaker, could you quiet this rabble down here? The Speaker is not listening either. This is terrible. Here we are in the Legislature. I try to get the Speaker's attention to quiet down my good friends over here. I am listening to myself, but that is probably all that is really happening. It is just terrible in this Legislature. I wish you would quiet those critters down, Mr Speaker. That is all I was trying to get your attention for.
Mr Kormos: Listen, we are on your side.
Mr Cousens: You cannot tell it. Come sit over here. We could use a few more; 20 are not enough.
I am concerned that there is not notice to allow industry and business to really deal with this issue by making this law come into effect right away. I have a feeling, as the New Democrats all have the right words and the Liberals are coming along and supporting it, that I will probably be the only one voting against it. You just never know. I do not like the way the government is saying that this act comes into force the day it receives royal assent. It goes down the hall, the Lieutenant Governor will sign it, and then it is law, and anyone who is in the process of installing fixtures in his home will be breaking the law.
Ontarians do not want to be breaking the law all the time; they are doing it enough now with the GST and the under-the-table things and other things going on. All we are doing now is creating more barriers between the population of Ontario and the government. The government is saying: "We're making this a new law. You have to follow it. It has to be right away. There isn't any notice." What it has ended up doing, then, is forcing people into being lawbreakers. I do not think the people of Ontario want to be known as people who are breaking the law.
The government should give some notice. If there is anything I have learned as the Environment critic for the last year and a half, it is that the industry out there is saying: "Don't make such fast changes in the law or in the regulations that affect us without giving us some chance to react to it. We're not able to do things at the snap of the fingers of the government." The Minister of the Environment does that regularly. She comes along and says, "It's got to be done tomorrow or today, or retroactively."
May there be some sense behind this bill and other bills like it that gives a window of opportunity for people to react to it. The government should not make it come into effect the day it receives royal assent. One year is not enough time for things like this, especially when you have inventories, probably millions of dollars' worth of inventory, and it is just not moving right now. What are they supposed to do with it, throw it out? Is the government going to subsidize them for it? Is the government going to come along and pay down the inventory they cannot use?
To me, that becomes a problem for business. It is hard enough to operate a business today, but when you have stocks of inventory and now you are going to have to throw it out because the government has made a law to make illegal the use of existing toilets and existing shower heads and other fixtures, I say the government should back off a little. It should not just feel it has to legislate something. Instead of having no notice, they should spend more money on education.
If only we could get people who want to do things that are going to help conserve our ecology and conserve our resources and have people buy into it because they believe it, buy into it because they are going to get something back.
I think those benefits are there to be found. They are there to be found because the cost of water is going up. It has gone up in our community. There is a water surcharge we have to pay now, and the cost of sewers is going up. In fact, the cost of water is going to break through the roof once people really start paying for the infrastructure that is there. There is not any doubt that in our own city here in Toronto and across Ontario in many municipalities, you are talking about billions of dollars in order to repair the infrastructure. The leaks that exist already in water mains that are just seeping away large amounts of water -- some of it goes back somewhere, but we have a major problem in that we have had water so cheap that once we start dealing with the real value of water, the cost of it is going to go up and then people will have more and more reason than ever to say, "Hey, I'd better do something about my fixtures and make sure they're coming along."
One of the other concerns I have is, why another law? Just because we are paid to sit down here 26 weeks of the year, does it mean we have to keep passing laws? The people of Ontario are sick of this place because of all the laws we are passing. We do not feel as if we are doing a job unless we are passing another law, and it is just getting worse and worse. All the government is doing is punching them in: "Hey, come on. We've got another one for you." People are so tired of the fact that the government keeps telling them what they have to do. May the government find other ways of getting people involved rather than just passing these laws.
I remember Claude Bennett when he was Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He said, "Probably the biggest favour we could do for the province right now is let the House have a year's holiday and not pass any laws." The statutes came into my office this week. If you stack them they are this high, and that is in English. If you have the French, they are twice as high. I can only read half of them. Too many laws in the province, and what the government is trying to do right now is add another law. Is there not another way of trying to bring it in?
We have a new area developing in Markham. It is called the Markham East project. I am going to use the member's motion as an idea that I will bring forward. It is a brand-new subdivision of some 600 acres that is going to be expanded by the province of Ontario. I will put together a resolution in the House that we call for the highest environmental and ecological standards to be built into the homes that are constructed in this new subdivision, so that we will require the fixtures and the toilets and the intent behind the member's bill to be there in all these new homes and structures that are built, not just the homes.
I believe in what the member is trying to do, and there are ways in which it can be done. Let that become a model community, as indeed the rest of our community is.
But to come along and have another bill passed into law, not giving the time for people to really understand its ramifications, not having spent the time to educate them even more on the value of conserving our very valuable water supplies -- these are elements missing from the bill. They were not missing from my good friend the member for Lincoln's preamble when he began his presentation, but the bill itself will come into force the day it receives royal assent, and I think we have had enough of these fast acts by the province. It is time we slowed down a little bit, had a little more time to work it through within the communities and allow people to buy into the whole purpose we are all interested in, and that is to save our country, save our land, save our water and save money.
Mr Fletcher: It is a pleasure to rise and support my colleague the member for Lincoln and his private member's bill, Bill 141. Before I start what I want to say, I want to respond to what the member for Markham was saying as far as cost-benefit analysis is concerned. That is strange coming from a party that is about $3.5 million in debt, wanting to do a cost-benefit analysis when it cannot keep the cost of its own debt down.
As my colleague mentioned before, the current increases in water consumption can be traced to inefficiency. All water that is treated, whether it is being purified for use or being treated for discharge, requires chemicals and energy, both of which lead to higher costs. Our society has changed so much over the years to a conserver society, and it started when the Conservatives were in power, the third party, and also when the Liberals were there; their initiatives also helped changed society towards a conserver society. I think in this society people are going to respect the member for Lincoln's bill and the intent of the resolution. It is also bringing to the attention of our society the need to start conserving our most precious resource, and that is our water.
If the current growth in water usage continues, municipalities are going to be forced to expand treatment facilities or build new ones. Of course, all this would cost the taxpayer in the end. We know the taxpayers of today are getting sick and tired of rising costs for the services provided to them.
Also, if we look at the new construction that has been going on in this province, we see that the trend is towards a conserver society. It is also towards using what energies we do have. In new houses the windows are facing more to the south to collect sunlight to help heat the houses. Solar panels are being used to warm water. Our citizens, especially the citizens of Guelph, my riding, are more than anxious to start conserving our energy resources and water resources. The water in Guelph, which was partly tainted last year, is well water, and the people finally began to realize just how precious this resource was.
As far as what this is going to cost the people of Ontario is concerned, I think we have to look farther down the road. If we do not start, what is going to be the eventual cost? We see what has happened in California, where water resources are so low that people are crying for water. That can happen here. If we do not start now -- and I think the member for Lincoln has started the ball rolling with this bill -- then we could be the people of California tomorrow, saying, "Where is our resource, where is our water?" Right now it is a timely bill and I want to congratulate the member for introducing it, and it has my full support.
Mr Cooper: As the member for Lincoln has introduced this bill and has spoken highly of Waterloo region and the efforts it has put into finding solutions to save our water, and as I represent the riding of Kitchener-Wilmot, the Kitchener part which is basically suburban residential and the industrial basin, which makes them the largest water users in the region, and as I also represent the township of Wilmot, from where the region draws a lot of its water, I feel I should speak on this briefly and support the bill.
What we are talking about here is new homes being built, but in Waterloo region they have taken a new approach, which is basically education. This is part of the education process: By getting new homes built that will be saving water and helping us in the future to reduce the use of water, we can send out an educational package that would get people thinking in the right frame of mind. Never mind the cost factor; what is the cost of not implementing these things?
What we are talking about in Kitchener right now is a pipeline possibly. I am saying that if we get a reduction in water use, we could probably put off the pipeline. And we should use the facilities available in the region, like the Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research at the University of Waterloo. This facility is second to none in North America, and if we use this facility we could find solutions and maybe avoid putting the vast amounts of money that are necessary for a pipeline and start building up our infrastructure, such as our water treatment plants and maybe a distribution system. If all these things are combined, obviously we will have a better solution and it will be cost savings in the future.
That is why I rise in support, and I understand there are several members on this side who would like to speak to this, so I will defer my time to the next member.
Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to have the opportunity today during private members' hour to speak to the member for Lincoln's bill, which is An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act. It is an important issue that is of concern to me as the member for Oriole, whose riding is in the heart of Metropolitan Toronto and is substantially developed. We may be seeing over the course of time some renovations and changes, but there are not huge tracts of vacant land in Oriole and therefore I would suggest that my constituents are like many people in this province who have taken the vast water resources for granted. You turn on your tap. You turn on your shower. We have never really concerned ourselves about the need to conserve our water in this province. Therefore, I will be supporting this bill in principle, although I think there are some serious concerns that would have to be addressed before this bill could be implemented.
I am a little concerned with some of the comments of the member for Markham because I believe it is important that the people of Ontario, such as my own constituents in the riding of Oriole, understand that we have always taken both quantity and quality of water for granted in Ontario, just as we have taken for granted the supply of energy and power. Both of those, water and energy, have been the cornerstone of our economic prosperity. These have, because they have been taken for granted, sometimes not been used as efficiently as they can be.
Because we are all concerned about our environment, because we are concerned about future economic prosperity, I think it is important for us to look at the issue of water conservation, and at effective and appropriate use of all our natural resources so that we can continue to have economic prosperity at the same time as we have an ample supply of clean water.
If we use water ineffectively, if we do not conserve and protect the resources we have, this puts enormous demands on our sewer system. I think the statistics my colleague the member for Brampton North mentioned, the statistics around waste, are important for the people of this province to know. The waste that comes from using inefficient plumbing, whether it is toilets or water through shower heads, is something that is costing us. It is costing us as taxpayers because we have to build new sewers. It is costing us as taxpayers because our environmental concerns are not being addressed and we then have to clean up the effects of this wastefulness of the past.
I have some of the same concerns that were expressed by the member for Brampton North. While I will be supporting this in principle, I would like to suggest to the member for Lincoln, who has brought this bill forward, that it is very important, when bringing in a bill like this that will increase public awareness, that we have a plan which will provide incentives for public education and for municipalities, which are the closest to the people, to bring forth the kinds of initiatives we have seen from the municipalities of Waterloo, Wellington and Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls has a municipal bylaw now that requires new hotels to install water-efficient shower heads. We know that in Waterloo and Wellington, they have brought forward a bylaw very similar to this, as have municipalities throughout the United States where they have water shortages.
I happen to know at first hand, because I have family that lives in Los Angeles, that they have a very severe water shortage and so they have taken all kinds of initiatives to conserve and save water. We have been very fortunate in this province. We have an opportunity today to bring forth the kinds of initiatives that will be friendly and save our environment for the future, for our children and grandchildren, and that will save taxpayers money today and in the future because we will not have to have the kind of infrastructure that would look after waste. We want the infrastructure to look after what we need, but we do not want to have to build sewers and sewage treatment plants for water that has been wasted unnecessarily.
I want to point out how important good maintenance is. This bill does not provide for a maintenance strategy and a public education strategy. I think that would enhance this bill. We know the Ministry of Housing has a great opportunity as well to raise awareness.
I do not think there is a lot of concern about the principles and the thrust, but there certainly is in the definition of "building." There are concerns around phase-in. We cannot have this bill come into effect on the very day it is proclaimed. We have to allow the public education campaign and the phase-in that would allow for the proper incentives. I think there is an important role and opportunity for the municipalities that this bill does not address.
On behalf of my constituents in the riding of Oriole, who are just beginning to understand the need to be effective and efficient in our use of water, power and those natural resources that we take for granted, I will be supporting this bill in principle. It has allowed for an important debate in this Legislature, but this bill is far from perfect. It needs significant discussion and amendment. I hope the member for Lincoln would seriously consider amendments to this bill so that we could see it enacted in this House.
Mr G. Wilson: I am pleased to rise to join this debate that the member for Lincoln has initiated. I can see that with the debate that has ensued, the constructive criticism he has met, he is indeed becoming flushed with pride over bringing this into the House.
Some hon members: Oh.
Mr G. Wilson: Is that the first time that has been used?
I have to say, as several members have pointed out, that it is a province-wide problem. Certainly the examples we have used show it is a worldwide problem, the conservation of resources that we are dealing with here. In my own riding, we have an issue that highlights this problem in that we have to upgrade our sewage treatment plant at the cost of millions of dollars. As has been pointed out, if we could reduce the inflow into that plant, then we could make a significant saving.
I want to say too that although several people have mentioned that the problem has come to the fore recently, I took the opportunity to go into the library just to see what literature there was on this issue. It is quite easy to come up with some startling statistics.
For instance, a conventional toilet uses 19 litres for flushing. An air-assisted unit would reduce that to two litres, for a saving of 89%. A clothes washer uses 140 litres. Front-loading would reduce that to 80 litres, for a saving of 43%. Shower heads use 19 litres a minute; air-assisted would reduce that to two litres a minute and that is a saving of 89%. For faucets, the conventional litres per minutes are 12. A flow-limiting faucet would reduce that to six litres, for a saving of 50%. Members can see that there are some very significant savings that could be achieved by using the implements that are mentioned in the member's bill.
There are also some more innovative ideas I came across in a recently published book, a term called xeriscape, which is a strategy for changing monocultural lawns, that is, all lawns that are just devoted to grass, to more innovative uses of that kind of space that would free up not only the time it takes to look after a lawn, but also the amount of water we put on it and the amounts of herbicides some people use on their lawns. You have a saving too in the amount of waste that would be removed from the lawn. Studies have shown that approximately 20% of municipal waste consists of grass clippings and other yard trimmings. There is a significant saving, not only in the water that would be used but in the waste that is at the other end.
I think there is a point that has been raised by a number of members: the savings we would have here in the energy that is used to heat water. Certainly the implements that are mentioned in the bill would cut down on the amount of water and cut down on the amount of energy that is needed, but also in the treatment of the waste water that we produce.
These statistics are readily available, as I pointed out. It just requires going to the library or listening to a debate like this and you know that significant savings can be achieved. The question then is, is the political will there?
I think the member for Markham highlighted that difference, that if you take the individual approach you might not realize all the implications. For instance, are people aware of the significant loss in sewer lines or even water lines? It takes, I would suggest, a social approach to this problem. By coming together to debate it, as we are doing here, we can see the problem and then look for solutions that I suggest require a community approach, because it is certainly at the community level where it can be felt. Beyond that it is a global issue.
I want to mention too a recent conference that was held here in Toronto in June, sponsored by the faculties of engineering at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and the University of Toronto, as well as some professional engineering groups, to show that professional engineers are aware of this problem and are working on it.
An article entitled "Engineers, Scientists Call for Sustainable Society" has this quote: "Technological transformations must go hand and hand with economic, sociocultural and political changes. We're heading for a disaster if we don't take any action."
It is significant that we know there is a problem, but beyond that, as these studies show, I think we will have a lot better society if we meet this crisis. It is not just a question of a disaster that we face but a much better way of living if we live a more ecologically sensitive lifestyle.
Mr Farnan: I appreciate the opportunity to address this private member's bill this morning, An Act to amend the Ontario Water Resources Act, by my colleague and friend the member for Lincoln.
The member for Lincoln and I have shared offices next to each other since he arrived at Queen's Park and we have often had the opportunity to discuss issues together. I can tell members I have been extremely impressed by his enthusiasm, dedication and commitment. I have been around here for four years now and I can say that the member for Lincoln is one of the hardest-working MPPs I have ever had the pleasure to work with.
There are two characteristics that stand out in my view of the member for Lincoln: his determination to serve his constituents in Lincoln and his commonsense approach to issues. He is a very practical politician, I can tell members. In addressing issues, he is a realist. He is more concerned with what is possible than with grandiose ideas that may never materialize. He takes on tough issues, and that is why he has taken on the issue of water conservation. It is an issue that would daunt many people, but he has approached the issue and he does it in his own straightforward, inimitable way. He asks the straightforward question and then he provides practical, commonsense solutions that can be implemented.
We have seen many private members' bills come forward in this House, and all of them, I would hasten to add, have merit in their own right, but often they are lost because, quite frankly, they are not practical. That is the difference with the member for Lincoln. When he brings forward a private member's bill, members can be absolutely sure it is going to be practical. It will hit the tough issues, but it will have a manner of addressing those issues so that you can say, "If we do this, we'll be moving towards a solution."
As I have listened to people around this chamber this morning, even those who attempted to criticize the bill were consistently saying, speaker after speaker, "We agree with the principle of the bill." Of course they agree with the principle of the bill, because the principle of the bill has merit. It is right. It should be done. What is to stop us, as parliamentarians, when this bill goes on to committee, to come together and take the positive contributions of all members of the House?
That is the kind of politician the member for Lincoln is. He is not stubborn. He does not wear blinkers. He comes forward with an idea, and I can tell members that when this goes to committee, they will find in the member for Lincoln someone who is a conciliator, a mediator, a practical politician who will take the best of all the suggestions and will be prepared to fine-tune his legislation so that it then can receive the unanimous support of all the members of this House.
Not only is he a practical politician, but he is a practical politician who speaks from the heart of the philosophy of the New Democratic Party. Let me say that when the member for Lincoln sits down and asks, "What contribution can I make?" he looks at the importance of conservation within the entire New Democratic agenda, and being the kind of man he is, then goes and brings forward legislation that will support the government's overall policy direction. That is the kind of New Democrat he is, that is the kind of government member he is.
On the local scene, Waterloo region has been a pioneer in this area. We are proud of our industries in their efforts to conserve. We are proud of our region. We are proud of our school board in its education policy. We want this government to lead in conservation. I congratulate the member for Lincoln for taking that leadership role.
Mr Hansen: I would like to thank the member for Brampton North. In the bill I said all structures; it does not matter whether it is a cottage or an industrial site or wherever it may be. All toilets use so much water, so I think we have to take a look right across the whole province.
The other thing he is concerned about is these old toilets and fixtures going to dumps. The metal ones can be recycled and the toilets can be ground up and used in road construction. Those are two areas I did not get into in the very beginning.
It is very important. I think my friends the member for Markham and the member for Brampton North were talking about the phasing in, and that is something my friend had stated, that there has to be some fine-tuning here. I take the criticism quite well and I think it is useful in this particular bill. I think the cost-benefits, the costs that will be saved, also have to be looked at and passed on to the tenants or the householders in the end.
To wind it up, together with conservation education, Bill 141 will lead to a water-efficient Ontario. Examples have shown that efficiency units make an immediate difference to savings that can be easily made by municipalities and eventually the consumer. Bill 141 is a starting block. It will set the standard for the future. We have just recently realized that Ontario's water supply is not endless and that we must start to conserve in order to preserve clean water for our children and grandchildren and the generations ahead.
UNIVERSITY CROWN FOUNDATIONS
Mr Daigeler moved resolution 31:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should follow the example of British Columbia and establish immediately crown foundations at Ontario universities to increase private sector incentives for making major charitable contributions towards higher education.
Mr Daigeler: It is indeed a pleasure to speak to what I think is an important initiative to help our universities at a time when they are under severe stress in terms of their finances. Let me explain a little bit, first of all, what this particular resolution is all about, as I am sure not many members of the House may be familiar with it. It is a tax measure, and tax measures are always rather intricate, so I am sure the members want to know a little bit of what is behind this resolution.
The members will know that under the federal income tax, individuals can reduce their annual taxable income by 20% if they give that amount to registered charities. Of course, I encourage all members of the House and the people who are watching today to make use of that particular provision because many of our charities very much depend on those kinds of contributions. Our tax system wants to encourage people all across the country to contribute in that way to charities.
However, this 20% limitation does not apply if you make donations to certain government bodies; for example, to government bodies associated with medical research. In fact such gifts, called gifts to agencies of the crown, are fully deductible. In other words, donors can get a 100% tax deduction against their net income. Given the tight fiscal situation of our universities, not just in Ontario but across the country, they have argued for some time that provinces should establish crown foundations or agencies that act on behalf of the government and therefore on behalf of all people. These foundations would be wholly owned by and be agents of the provincial government. Therefore, private donors to these university crown foundations could obtain the full tax deduction for their donations to the universities, without the 20% of net income limitation.
As I said, the funds raised would be used to support university programs. In this way, the tax saving for the donor would provide an ongoing benefit to the university community and as such, of course, to all the people of that particular province where the crown foundation is being established.
You may ask, Mr Speaker, and some citizens of the province may ask as well, whether the federal government, which is responsible for the Income Tax Act, will allow a 100% tax deduction for this university purpose. I am pleased to say the answer is yes. In fact, British Columbia has been a trailblazer in this matter. That province got a ruling from the Department of National Revenue and passed the University Foundations Act in 1987. It became effective on December 11, 1987. I have a copy of that act in front of me, and I should acknowledge the help and assistance of the Council of Ontario Universities in that regard. They sent me a copy of this particular act.
Ever since British Columbia passed this particular legislation, this concept of establishing crown foundations and therefore giving incentives to private donors has been widely discussed by the university community. Here in Ontario, Queen's University has been particularly active in this regard, with, I should say, the support of other university presidents. In fact it was at a recent visit to the University of Western Ontario that this issue was first brought to my attention as the Liberal critic for the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, and also to the attention of MPPs who represent the greater London area.
I should acknowledge that the University of Western Ontario has a very excellent practice of twice a year inviting members from the local area and also members of all three parties who are responsible for the university's portfolio to come and hear more about the concerns of the university. I think that is an example that could be followed in other parts of the province.
On April 25 of this year, the principal of Queen's University wrote to the Premier saying the creation of crown foundations has the potential of providing significant benefit to all. I have a copy of that letter in front of me and I would like to quote some paragraphs because I think it explains very well the benefit of this particular initiative to the universities and to the province. Mr David Smith, the principal of Queen's University, writes as follows:
"The concept has very important public policy implications. It provides an incentive to those in our society who are most able to contribute to increase their support for our public universities. Once the decision to make a substantial gift to higher education is taken by a potential donor, the existence of the crown foundations at Ontario universities may significantly increase the size of the gift....
"The fact that some provinces" -- and I mentioned British Columbia -- "have already provided for the establishment of such crown foundations at their universities places Ontario universities at a distinct disadvantage. Members of our own group have lost significant potential gifts to other provinces because of this fact. Queen's University has one benefactor who had indicated that our gifts would have been fivefold if we had a crown foundation in place."
To the Premier therefore, "We urge that immediate consideration be given to the advancement of the process of creating crown foundations at Ontario universities."
My resolution today has as its objective precisely that, to make sure the Premier and this government move quickly on this request that was put forward by our universities.
We all know that higher education in this province and across the whole country is strapped for money. To increase private donations to universities is obviously one way to help them out. It will not, obviously, be the only way and the only solution, and perhaps not even the major solution to their funding crunch, but it is a solution, and it is a solution that is practical and immediately available, with enough political will. I hope the members will support me. It can be implemented quickly and without much bureaucracy.
There will be some cost to the province and the federal government because they are losing out on some income tax revenue. But of course, since BC already has crown foundations, individual donors could just make their donations to BC -- in fact they have -- and Ontario would thus lose the tax revenue anyway. Moreover, this initiative could be seen as a way to allow people to pay their tax for a particular purpose -- to designate their tax, as it were. I think we are all agreed that higher education is a very worthwhile purpose in this regard.
I note that my time is unfortunately up already. I hope members will support my resolution.
Mrs Cunningham: It is with pleasure that I speak to this resolution in the House this morning, presented by my colleague the member for Nepean. We were very pleased to have him at the meeting at the University of Western Ontario a couple of weeks ago, where he saw how that university was struggling to maintain the programs and the staff and the quality of the education system we have come to enjoy in Ontario. He was also there to see how difficult it is in these times for our students as they face the challenges and the expectations to be able to compete in this global economy in a way that we ourselves never, ever thought would be needed. I have to say I think this is a very forward-thinking resolution. I hope it will receive the support of the government.
There is a precedent in the province of British Columbia for this. I could quote from many letters in the past number of years where donations to our universities have had to be returned because there was no incentive for the estate, in many cases, to make these presentations, based on the amount of money it would be involved with in terms of taxation.
In October of this year, the University of Western Ontario brought to my attention an issue where an estate lawyer in British Columbia working with a graduate of the University of Western Ontario now working in British Columbia suggested that our university may not receive $500,000 from a bequest because the estate would be unable to use more than a small fraction of the $500,000 charitable receipt as long as the 20%-of-income rule applied. So I think the member for Nepean is very timely in this presentation, and the government would be very responsible if it responded in a positive way as quickly as possible.
That particular lawyer is recommending that his client leave that bequest to the appropriate crown foundation in British Columbia, for the use of the University of British Columbia. Although that is a wonderful province to visit, and many of our young people spend time working in that great province in the summer, especially in the forestry industry, I would advise that here in Ontario we ought to have at least the same advantage when it comes to private donations on behalf of our universities.
We know that university students are facing many challenges. Post-secondary institutions are struggling to maintain excellence, there is a shortage of permanent full-time faculty, and buildings are rapidly deteriorating. Students are finding themselves in overcrowded classrooms with outdated facilities and equipment. It is becoming more difficult for students to learn in the environment they are being subjected to.
Without the resources to produce the highly skilled workforce and advanced research facilities, Ontario will be unable to compete in today's global markets, either inside our own country or around the world. We are currently experiencing job losses during these times of economic recession, and it is more important than ever before that we support creativity, competitiveness and commitment to a well-educated workforce.
We must remain in the forefront of scientific and technological development and educational achievement if Ontario is to maintain its competitive position in today's global economy. We know that Ontario's universities in the past have made, and hopefully in the future will continue to make a major contribution to this province's competitiveness, and that they do indeed play a vital role in the development of highly skilled human resources.
On Monday this week we saw a new alliance, the Alliance for Ontario Universities, release a study that demonstrated the vital contribution universities make to the economic stability of the province. The study interestingly showed that each year universities pump some $6.2 billion into the economy, and more than 138,000 jobs are associated with university operations. They receive approximately $1.9 billion from government, which means for every dollar we invest in our universities, our universities generate $3 in the way of real dollars to our economy; for every dollar we spend on universities, they in turn inject into our economy $3, not to mention the number of young people and graduates around the world who make this country a country others want to invest in.
Last year the Council of Ontario Universities released its recovery plan, which suggested ways to improve the quality of educational experience for all students. On Monday of this week, again, the alliance released this impact study. I asked the minister that day where his government's multi-year plan was for universities. We did not get a specific response, which means this government is struggling with the kinds of resources it is going to be able to put into the universities. I feel, as they have said themselves, as they look to the private sector for more support, as they look to students, perhaps, for more support, that today gives us a very specific idea and ultimately plan and ultimately tool to attract that kind of private sector support we need.
In Toronto, York University had to sell its property to provide the kind of new construction and buildings and some of the services the students need in order to attend that university campus in this city, which is very far out and does not have good transportation. We now have much better facilities for the students, but we only gained them because they, in turn, sold property to generate the kind of income that was necessary to support the program they needed, because this government just did not seem to have those resources. I thought it was a responsible thing for them to do on behalf of the students.
We now have a timely opportunity right here, and my colleague the member for Nepean has clearly identified the plan in British Columbia. We too have talked to them. In fact, we were out there for the Commonwealth convention this summer and took the opportunity to meet with a couple of the ministers and certain other representatives of their House to see the kinds of things they were struggling with and some of the responses they were able to make in a responsible way to taxpayers. This is one of them.
I should say that the staff from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities confirmed that this idea is something they had been considering, and I feel the concept is something the government will be speaking in favour of today. If the resolution passes, that will be a good thing.
From the standpoint of the provincial and federal governments, they are both going to lose income taxes if they create such a crown foundation. We know that seems to be the downside for them. But on the other hand, they would provide the needed incentive to greater revenue for Ontario universities by increased donations. If the Ontario government has a solid commitment to higher education, it cannot afford to pass up this resolution today.
Although we know there are legal costs and administrative costs, we do know that the crown foundation in British Columbia is basically a board consisting of five members who are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology. They are voluntary positions and the universities take care of all the accounting and reporting, so the ministry is not involved in an excessive way with regard to time.
It is with honour that I speak to this. I congratulate the member for Nepean for this resolution today. Our party will be supporting the crown foundations, and we hope the government will act quickly.
Mr Lessard: I, too, will be speaking in support of establishing crown foundations at Ontario universities. There are several reasons I am going to support this resolution, one of them being that when bills and resolutions do come up on Thursday mornings during private business, many times I ask members of my community what they think about these issues.
On Tuesday night I happened to be at the roast for retiring Mayor John Millson. I spoke to the president of the University of Windsor and asked him what his impressions were of university foundations. He felt that this was an initiative that should be encouraged and pursued by the government.
Of course the University of Windsor, notwithstanding the comments in the ranking of Maclean's magazine, has a reputation as being an excellent university in Ontario. The law school, of which I am a proud graduate, is rated close to the top of law schools in Canada, the business school has a great reputation as well, and graduates of the school of dramatic arts are performing around the world.
The University of Windsor is one of the few growth industries in Windsor. It is a city that has been very hard hit by the free trade agreement and the change in industrial development. However, in order to maintain that position, that reputation of excellence and that growth in our community, it needs financing. Of course, it is difficult for this government to contribute additional financing to the University of Windsor or to other universities.
I want to state that this government is committed to post-secondary education in Ontario. It is a commitment, unfortunately, that is very difficult for us to meet: to increase the financing of universities at this time. Everyone knows the difficult financial position we are in. The only way to increase our commitment to post-secondary education is to look at alternative means of financing, and this is one.
The sad legacy we have been left with is that on a per capita basis funding for universities has actually decreased in the past few years. This is something we are now stuck having to deal with. Not only are universities concerned about that, students are concerned and they are upset as well. I learned how upset they were a couple of weeks ago on the front steps of the Legislature with the Minister of Colleges and Universities, to whom I am the parliamentary assistant, when a group of students protested loudly that they felt that universities were being underfunded, and they were throwing macaroni at me and at the minister.
I want to say to the students of Ontario that I think there are probably better ways for them to express their opinions, and they need to recognize we are all in this boat together and we need to work together to try to address those problems.
I know students are upset by things like GST on textbooks. They are upset by the 3% levy on Canada student loans that was imposed by Brian Mulroney and the Tory government. They are upset because they see their future job prospects being sold out to the United States and other countries as a result of the free trade agreement.
But as I said, notwithstanding all those factors, we still remain a government committed to post-secondary education, and some of the things we have done to support that commitment we did very early on in our term. We committed close to $100 million in anti-recession capital to the post-secondary system. This created jobs, this permitted schools to be able to complete projects that had long been neglected through 13 years of underfunding. It permitted buildings at the University of Windsor to be constructed, like the Odette School of Business. It permitted the faculty of education to finally move on to the campus. There were also many projects to permit access for disabled students.
The government has put forward an agenda to increase access to post-secondary education. We have established a native education strategy. We have contributed $3 million over two years to increase safety for women on campuses. We have made reforms to OSAP to help mature students and part-time students and international students. But we know more needs to be done, because we know that what we need in the future is a well-trained and well-educated labour force. We also know that the post-secondary schools will be a strong component and an essential part of economic renewal here in Ontario.
We are supporting this resolution to establish foundations here in the province because we see this as a positive beginning. It is not the complete solution, but it is something that will encourage those who are able and willing to contribute to the post-secondary education system. We want to encourage that.
It is our information that these types of foundations could be expected to generate up to $10 million in additional revenues to universities in the first year. The foundations would also raise the profile of the post-secondary education system. We need a strong system to survive economically. As I said, we need some innovative ways of funding education here in Ontario. This is just one way we would be able to do that.
Mr Conway: I am pleased to rise in this debate this morning and support my colleague the member for Nepean for his very thoughtful and timely resolution. It appears from what I have heard since 11 o'clock this morning that this will be one of those resolutions which will have either unanimous or near-unanimous support.
I want to make some observations in this connection because I think we are faced as a community and certainly as a Legislature, and my colleagues in the New Democratic Party are faced as a government, with very real budgetary pressures on the university account. I think as a result of not just those budgetary pressures but as a result of changing attitudes in the community, we are going to be forced to look at a series of alternatives we traditionally may not have looked at very carefully.
In this Legislature, and the previous speaker has indicated something of this, there has been a lot of debate over the years about underfunding in the system. He should not feel very badly, though I am sure he might have at the time, about having rice or whatever it was thrown his way. I cannot think of too many people associated with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities who, over the 25 years or whatever, did not have something of that kind, if not worse, hurled at them.
I do not ever remember a time here -- and I was here for some of the salad years -- when universities were not underfunded. It is an article of faith that they are underfunded. I do not expect any transfer partner ever to come here and tell us it has adequate resources, certainly not adequate resources provided by the government, of whatever partisan stripe.
I had a brief period when I served as minister responsible for this area, and I must say I have a real interest in and support for the university community. It was the one I had planned to spend my life in before I was sidetracked in 1975. In some ways I have a bit of a conflict of interest, because I have maintained a fairly close relationship with some of the Ontario universities since my election here as a graduate student some 16 years ago, and I think the universities have a very good case for our attention and for the levels of support that, in most cases, they have put.
It is not, however, an absolute case, and I have been particularly struck by some of the recent reports that have been produced in this province and in this country. An old colleague and leader of mine, Stuart Smith, has just completed a one-person inquiry into Canadian universities, which report has been talked about in recent weeks. I think my friend the member for Nepean may have said -- if he did not say it, he intended to say it in his remarks -- that the Smith study is an interesting one to review, because in that year-long or 18-month-long survey, Stuart Smith encountered quite a lot of interest, much of it positive, some of it downright negative in so far as the universities were concerned. He found, for example, a growing worry that universities are not spending as much time focusing on teaching, and in that I would tend to agree. We have an ethic now that seems to place research and the writing of wonderfully arcane treatises as being significantly more important than teaching.
I went as a graduate student to Queen's University and as an undergraduate student to the old Waterloo Lutheran University. When I look back on both of those experiences --
Mrs Cunningham: You are really dating yourself.
Mr Conway: I am dating myself. But one of the things I would say to the member for London North is that I remember most fondly both of those institutions, in different ways, because they both focused a great deal of their energy back in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the teaching aspect of their mandate. I continue to believe that teaching, particularly at the undergraduate level, is an enormously important aspect of the university mandate, and I think all university boards of governors and administrators would do well to reflect upon some of the criticism that Stuart Smith picked up as he did his cross-Canada survey of attitudes to Canadian universities.
The resolution before us asks us to consider that "the government of Ontario follow the example of British Columbia and establish immediately crown foundations at Ontario universities to increase private sector incentives for making major charitable contributions towards higher education." I support that, because I think it is timely and I think it would be helpful. I agree with the previous speaker, the member for Windsor-Walkerville, that we should not imagine that this is going to be any kind of panacea, because it is certainly not going to solve all the budgetary pressures that universities have.
I know from having had some recent discussions with people at Queen's University, for example, that they are very keen to see this kind of public policy enacted, and I am sure the member for Frontenac-Addington has been similarly petitioned in this connection. I would expect, for example, that Queen's University and the University of Western Ontario, both of which, I think, are officially on record as supporting this, would do quite well, whereas perhaps some of the newer universities in the province might have a bit more difficulty. This will be an interesting competition when this policy is decided upon. I would think that not all the institutions would be starting at the same baseline, if you know what I mean, Mr Speaker. But I do think it is a policy we should endorse and, I have some reason to believe, the government may in fact be very favourably disposed towards.
There are some real problems, as I say, in the financing of our post-secondary institutions. I have believed for some time that we should be looking for some additional ways to assist the universities. That is why I have felt, however appealing it might be to some, the idea that there cannot be any student contribution in the form of tuition is just not realistic. I have defended reasonable tuition fee increases over the years and I will continue to do so, not because I want to unfairly single out those people of whatever age category who are participating in post-secondary education but simply because -- I think tuition income represents about 17%, 18%, 19% of the total income pie of our universities -- I do not think that is unreasonable, particularly when you look at the profile of who traditionally has gone to university.
If there ever was a middle-class commitment, it is the university commitment. We have tried, with varying degrees of success over the years -- and the new government has some very interesting initiatives to widen the participation. I certainly would support that, but the fact of the matter is that, by and large, it has been a middle-class commitment, and those people who graduate with that wonderful certificate from Western or Windsor or Wilfrid Laurier or Queen's or Carleton will carry with them, we are told by the analysts, a certificate that will substantially increase their lifetime earnings. So there are those who argue, in the interest of fairness and equity, if Conway is going to spend half his life in university and benefit materially for the rest of his working life, why should he not make some kind of contribution to that not just intellectual stimulus but financial advantage?
I would say as well that government grants have increased, as I think many people have observed over the last few years. University administrators, if they were here, would say, "Yes, but they have not kept pace with real costs." To some extent that is true, because we have seen a very real pressure on the admission side, for whatever reason. When I think back to 10 years ago and the projections of where we would be, I think it was predicted by a lot of people that by about 1986, the total enrolment would peak and then it would start to trend downwards, when in fact that has not happened. That interest in attending university continues to be strong, and in some sectors and in some ways dramatically so. So I want to say that the increases our government provided, and certainly that the new government is providing, are helpful, but they are not solving all the problems.
The Provincial Auditor has been looking at how some of these universities spend the millions and millions of dollars we have provided. There have been audits at the University of Toronto, at Trent and at Guelph, and they have been very interesting audits. I think those audits should be carefully looked at by members of this Legislature, and I want to congratulate the auditor, because he went about his work professionally and has produced reports that are very careful.
The standing committee on public accounts has made some recommendations in its most recent report. Reading from the June 1991 report, our public accounts committee recommends that there be amendments to the Ontario Audit Act to provide the Provincial Auditor with the discretionary authority to perform value-for-money audits of any government agency and all transfer payment recipients. In the case of universities, this audit approach will help to address the management accountability of each university's administration, while at the same time respecting the academic autonomy of these institutions.
I think in the main we are well served by our universities. I think over the years they have behaved quite responsibly, but there are aspects of the university question that bear very careful scrutiny. I have found that the doctrine of institutional autonomy is one that some in the university want to hide behind, to excuse some conduct that in a lot of other public places would not be tolerated.
I want to tell the honourable members that I have, as I say, a number of very good friends who work in the universities, and I hear some very interesting tales about what goes on. We are petitioned here by faculty associations and by administrative staff for more money, more money, more money, and that is perfectly fair and reasonable. But I was stunned while out for dinner one day not too many months ago a very good friend of mine, at a very distinguished, large university found in the city of Waterloo, told me that the average salary a year or two ago at a humanities department at that university was something approaching $75,000. That had nothing to do with income earned outside that salary. In many cases, I know a lot of my good friends in the universities find a lot of very --
Mrs Cunningham: Kindergarten teachers get $65,000.
Mr Conway: Kindergarten teachers, I am told, get $65,000.
My only point was that I remember as minister the data that were quoted to me about salary levels, and to be told that the average salary in that department was $73,000 or $74,000, exclusive of moonlighting opportunities, which are not inconsiderable in the university community, I say to my friend the member for London North, was just a very interesting revelation.
We should, as responsible members of the Legislature, not take hook, line and sinker every petition which is offered by whomsoever comes to ask for more money. I repeat, I think in the main we have been served rather well by the universities. I think they deserve the program and the policy the member for Nepean has put before us in this connection, but there are some very real issues attendant upon the university question -- the issue of accountability. How are they spending their money? The audit at Trent University found some dramatic things. The farmers and the retail clerks in my riding, most of whom did not have an opportunity to go to university, looked at some of that with some degree of concern.
I do not know how many members have been following the debate in the United States, but Congress hauled before it the distinguished president of the endlessly distinguished Stanford University, who had to explain multimillion-dollar misappropriations of public money funnelled to Stanford through, I think, one of the defence accounts. I have not seen a congressional cross-examination quite like that in a while.
Of course the universities have important work to perform. Of course they should have the highest level of public support, and they deserve that support. But I am telling members, I am finished with any kind of uncritical acceptance of every petition from that quarter or any other. I know my friends in the university community, whether they are part of the professoriate or the administrative élite, will hear me when I say that this Legislature and its agents like the Provincial Auditor are increasingly serious about the accountability question.
I think we would do well not just to support this resolution standing in the name of my friend the member for Nepean, but also we have to become more vigilant about exacting an accountability from those good men and women who serve us in the university community.
Mrs Witmer: I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to the resolution of the member for Nepean. I represent the riding of Waterloo North, and within my riding there are two universities, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to tour the University of Waterloo when I was there on the occasion of the opening of the Guelph-Waterloo audio-visual link. This is a very significant step forward. It was a partnership funded by business, Electrohome, the government and the university. It allows the classes to be taught simultaneously in classrooms both at the University of Waterloo and at the University of Guelph. It is a tremendous saving for the universities. It also permits the students to sit in one city and not have to drive to another. This is what we need to be promoting. We need to promote partnerships among business, the government and the universities.
Yesterday I witnessed the fact that universities are facing many financial challenges. There was certainly a shortage of space in the buildings. I encountered many students in overcrowded classrooms and in portables. There were outdated facilities and there was outdated equipment.
I think we have to remember that universities make a very vital contribution to the economic stability of this province. They pump $6.2 billion into the economy and they receive $1.9 billion from the government, which means that for every $1 the government invests, the universities generate $3. If we invest in our universities, we are investing in our future and in the young people of this country.
I support the establishment of these crown foundations, which would encourage more private donations. This is going to go a considerable length in alleviating the very severe underfunding problem at our Ontario universities. This is going to help that very critical financial situation. At the present time we see that our universities are jeopardized. Their ability to effectively teach and conduct research is in jeopardy. What we need is additional funding and we need a long-range recovery plan from this government.
As has been mentioned before, we already have these crown foundations established in BC, Alberta and Nova Scotia, and what this would do, of course, is to increase the incentive of the private sector to make very unique and outstanding charitable contributions to the universities in this province. This would provide an incentive to those people in our society who are most able to contribute to increase their support for our public universities.
Unfortunately, because there is a situation in the three other provinces, especially BC, where they have already provided for the establishment of crown foundations at their universities, Ontario universities at the present time are at a very distinct disadvantage in their ability to attract major bequests and gifts. Many universities in this province have indicated to me that they have lost significant potential gifts to other provinces because of this fact, especially in BC.
The University of Waterloo in my own city is aware of at least a $1-million gift that is pending. If this legislation were to be passed, that is $1 million this university would not have to receive from the government, which is already stretched to the limit.
This type of philanthropy is vital to our ability to offer nationally and internationally acclaimed programs for the students of Ontario. At the University of Waterloo we have some of these programs that are world renowned.
We need to promote this concept. It is a concept that has been widely discussed and widely supported by the university community, and there is tremendous benefit for this government at this time, especially when it finds itself in a very constrained financial position. I would urge all the members today to support the motion to create the crown foundations for Ontario so that the young people in this province can be provided with the facilities, the staff and the equipment so that they can in the future make a contribution to this province.
As I indicated before, we need to look to our young people. We need to look at stimulating our economy. If we are going to fund those social programs, we need to create the wealth and universities help us in the creation of wealth.
At my own university, we have the Centre for Groundwater Research. This is a centre of excellence. It is supported by the Ontario technology fund. This centre is a world leader. People from Libya, Ukraine and China come to this centre in their demand for ground water technology, and this is one area where Ontario can compete globally and contribute to economic growth, because what has happened at this centre of excellence is that there have been spinoff industries created for people in this province.
I urge members to seriously consider supporting this motion, which would allow the private sector to make major charitable donations towards higher education. That is very needed at this time in this province when we are facing so many financial constraints.
Mr Frankford: As a member with a university in his riding, Scarborough college, part of the University of Toronto, I certainly take a great interest in this. I also happen to have a daughter who makes the almost impossible trek to York University. So I acknowledge the need for more funding of the universities. I would also point out, as people have before, that the universities' share of provincial budgetary expenditure has been going down progressively over many years. The per capita funding has not kept up with the inflationary growth of expenditures. I welcome the chance to debate this.
I would have some reservations, however, in contrast to most of the other speakers. I think the member for Nepean did not have sufficient time to go into some of the questions and perhaps I could bring up a few questions.
As he said, in British Columbia the Social Credit government brought in a crown corporation. My understanding is that it has not been all that successful. I think one has to look at this particular way of bringing in the possibility of targeting funds by donors, which may be good but may not be so good. It may produce distortions, from what those particular donors want. It may produce an excessive business bias. It may produce an ideology that universities are just to further the economy, which I am sure the member for Nepean does not fully support.
Universities have to cover the full range of disciplines and I think we need to spend in the humanities, in the social sciences. These also have spinoffs. I think there is something of an implication coming across that universities are part of an industrial strategy. I am sure people do not really fully feel that, but I think there is a possibility this is what comes across.
I really should close because I want to let my colleague finish, but I think one should look at whether this is the only way of doing it or whether we would be better off with a fair tax policy, and we do have a Fair Tax Commission sitting. I would like to elaborate more but I will defer to my colleague.
Mr Sutherland: It is a pleasure for me to participate in the debate this morning on the resolution put forward by the member for Nepean. As members know, before I came here I had extensive involvement in the university setting at the University of Western Ontario, being president of the student council. I remember quite vividly coming to Queen's Park and actually lobbying the former Minister of Colleges and Universities, the member for Renfrew North, and I always found it quite challenging then, as we all have come to find it challenging debating him on whatever issue.
I want to say that I give my support to this resolution and I compliment the member for Nepean for bringing it forward. We have a great challenge in this country and within this province, and that is to try to find the adequate resources necessary to sustain our post-secondary education system. Whatever we can do as legislators and as elected officials to enhance that, we should be trying to do that, and I think that is the purpose of establishing crown foundations.
We know that in many of the American universities, not so much the major ones, the Harvards and Princetons, but in some of the state universities, in some cases they are receiving more per-student grant from their state governments than we are able to give at this time as a province. We also know, though, that many of the universities in the United States have large endowment funds, and a great deal of those large endowment funds come from the fact that they have more generous rules and regulations allowing people to donate to universities and to set them up.
I know from my experience at Western that it is just in the process of completing a very successful fund-raising campaign, the Renaissance Campaign, where it has been able to raise about $95 million. But that has been a very targeted campaign.
What we have to look at in the context of this resolution is, over the longer term, how are they going to continue to raise those funds and to build up endowment funds and to build up research chairs and better opportunities, and hopefully scholarships, because I want to say to members today that I do not think I would be here today if it were not for my being fortunate enough to be able to attend university, and particularly to attend Western, and the many opportunities it gave me to grow and develop, not only in intellectual terms but growing and developing as an individual with a chance to develop my ideas and thoughts.
Universities are doing many good things in our communities. We know the recent report put out by Stuart Smith, and there was some criticism that universities are not representative. I would say that in my years at the university, I saw a significant change in the makeup and in the direction. When I first went, there were not such things as employment equity committees. They are dealing with the issue of pay equity and are just starting to deal with the issue of race relations. I compliment the universities, and particularly Western, for the progress they are making.
That is not to imply that there is not a lot more to be done. There is no doubt that there is a great deal more to be done, but I think from the institutional standpoint of recognizing that and putting some formal procedures in place to make our universities more accessible, they are doing a very good job in this province.
To conclude, I support the resolution. I certainly hope we can see some legislation at some point. I know there are concerns about tax breaks for corporations, but my sense has always been that we never evaluate what type of tax breaks we allow. I think this, an investment in our future, in our education system and allowing other people to share in the same opportunity I was fortunate enough to share in, is a good tax break to allow and is a good investment for the province as a whole.
Mr Daigeler: Let me say first of all that I appreciate the contributions made by the various members of the House, and certainly their support for my resolution.
It seems to me -- perhaps I am being a little bit immodest -- that the resolution I have put forward is the type of initiative that is particularly appropriate for private members' hour. I think it is a resolution the government can do something about. I think it is something important for the community out there, and in fact can be done quickly.
To the member for Scarborough East, I would like to say that the reservations he put forward are thoughtful ones and I appreciate that he has put them on the record, because I think I share them and any reasonable university member would share them as well. We do not want the academic sector to be tied into the particular interests of any community, be that the business community or labour or whatever it is. I certainly agree with him that we will have to be very careful that increasing private donations will not increase the ties -- perhaps "ties" is the wrong word -- the obligations of the universities towards the private sector, because I think independence, academic freedom, is a very important objective and I do not want to deny that. I think he is right in his concern.
At the same time, I do not want to wait for the results of the Fair Tax Commission to put forward an initiative that can provide some support for the universities right now. So while I appreciate the concerns that were expressed, I also appreciate the support that was indicated by this House.
ONTARIO WATER RESOURCES AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES RESSOURCES EN EAU DE L'ONTARIO
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Hansen has moved second reading of Bill 141.
All those in favour of the motion will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 94(k), the bill is referred to committee of the whole House.
Mr Hansen: I would like to have it referred to the standing committee on resources development.
The Deputy Speaker: Shall this bill be referred to the standing committee on resources development?
All those in favour of this question will please rise and remain standing.
All those opposed to this question will please rise and remain standing.
Bill ordered for standing committee on resources development.
Le projet de loi est déféré au comité permanent du développement des ressources.
UNIVERSITY CROWN FOUNDATIONS
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Daigeler has moved resolution 31.
Motion agreed to.
The House recessed at 1203.
The House resumed at 1330.
DIABETES CELEBRITY CHALLENGE
Ms Poole: In Tuesday's Toronto Star it was reported that doctors are at a loss to determine why people suffering from diabetes, which is an acute disease that affects more than 1.2 million Canadians every year, are being diagnosed at the rate of 60,000 cases per year.
The most disturbing reality of this disease is that half the Canadians who have diabetes do not even know they have it. The symptoms of diabetes can be so subtle that they can be easily mistaken for everyday aches and pains. If only people realized that diabetes-related complications are the third leading cause of death by disease in Ontario today. Even the belief that insulin is the ultimate cure is grossly inaccurate. A daily injection of insulin can only help diabetics manage the disease, not cure it.
My colleague the Deputy Speaker and I have joined eight other MPPs in this House in participating in the Canadian Diabetic Association's celebrity challenge. As a participant in this challenge, I am required to live the life of a diabetic for one week. This includes activities such as injecting insulin into this teddy bear twice a day, taking a blood test by pricking my finger three times a day to test the glucose level, exercising regularly and following a strict diet.
I ask all members to join me in promoting the health of people across Ontario and Canada and recognizing the Canadian Diabetic Association's great job.
Mr Tilson: I would like to bring to the attention of members of the Legislature the passing away of Mr Ivor McMullin, former chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and former politician for the town of Caledon.
Mr McMullin first became involved in politics in 1945 when he was the secretary-treasurer for the Albion township school board. In 1962 he was successful in obtaining a seat on the Albion council. One of the first jobs facing him as a council member was finding a new landfill site for Albion-Bolton. As a result of this experience, he was able to sympathize with the problem Peel is having with its landfill site.
In 1966 Mr McMullin was elected as reeve of Albion and in 1974 he became the first mayor of the town of Caledon. Following that, he served two terms as warden for the county of Peel. Mr McMullin was involved in the original formation of regional government in the area. He felt strongly that there were both advantages and disadvantages to the system, but was convinced that each area had to try to work hard at making it work. He considered that Peel region had achieved the best results.
In 1975 Mr McMullin became chair of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and held the position for 11 years. During his term as chairman, he saw many changes.
Mr McMullin made a valuable contribution to the town of Caledon and the surrounding area and will be greatly missed by all the residents. I would ask members of this Legislature to join me in extending our sincere condolences to his wife and family.
DIABETES CELEBRITY CHALLENGE
Mr Mills: I thought I was bumped off my statement, but I am told I am on it, so I am going to talk freely without notes.
I am going to take on the Canadian Diabetic Association celebrity challenge. Like my colleague the member for Eglinton and other members in this Legislature, I am a participant in this challenge. I personally find it very interesting. It gives me an insight into what it is really like to be a diabetic sufferer. Those people who have that disease indeed have my sympathy.
I have injected myself, taken my blood levels all through the week, and it has given me quite a lesson in what to eat and what not to eat. I really thank the association for giving me the opportunity.
On a humorous note, when I left my riding of Durham East to come back to Toronto on Sunday night, as I do, I was going out to my car and my wife came running out. Luckily no neighbours heard her. She said, "Have you got your teddy bear with you?" I thank the fact that it was dark and everybody had gone to bed by that time.
CANADIAN FORCES RESCUE TEAM
Mr H. O'Neil: I rise today to recognize the courage and bravery of the heroic men and women involved in the rescue of survivors from the Canadian armed forces C-130 Hercules aircraft which crashed in the Canadian Arctic last week. I trust that all members of the assembly will join me in paying tribute to the five people who sadly lost their lives in the crash and in offering our best wishes to the 13 survivors who were so heroically rescued.
Help was dispatched when crews from 424 Transport Squadron Trenton ferried a helicopter to Ellesmere Island. Prior to the helicopter's arrival, rescuers dropped flares from circling aircraft to shed light for the parachutists. The aircraft dove beneath the light of the flares and the parachutists dropped through howling winds in the pitch black of an Arctic night to open their chutes at an altitude of only 700 feet. They descended within seconds from the dangerous jump to reach the survivors below.
The loss of one of the victims is being felt at CFB Trenton, where Master Warrant Officer John Jardine was stationed. Among the three survivors from CFB Trenton is Captain Wilma DeGroot, a doctor who overlooked her own injuries to provide medical care to other members of the crew and passengers. Two of the other injured from Trenton were Bob Thomson and Susan Hillier.
I want to salute the men and women of the armed forces involved in the rescue, especially those from CFB Trenton. We also extend our sincere sympathy to the families who lost their loved ones in the crash and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured.
Mr J. Wilson: For several months the current Solicitor General and his predecessors sat silently while portions of my Simcoe West riding went without 24-hour police coverage. On October 8, I am pleased to inform the Legislature, in response to the identified need for 24-hour policing in the areas of Stayner, Wasaga Beach, Creemore and Elmvale, the OPP district 7 command unilaterally and without government help put in place limited 24-hour policing.
The 24-hour police coverage provided by the OPP in this area is very limited, however. In fact, one OPP officer described the new coverage as a stopgap, Band-Aid solution. The officer went so far as to categorize the situation as ludicrous.
Two weeks ago the OPP presented the Solicitor General with a proposal for new staff and the redeployment of existing staff to the hot spots of criminal activity. To date, neither the OPP nor members of this Legislature are aware of the government's response to this crisis.
I demand that the Solicitor General tell this House today what steps he is taking to help the people in my riding and in other areas who are hurting and who are at risk because of the shortage of OPP officers and staff. This government must act now to provide safety for these communities and to restore the beleaguered morale of police officers in Simcoe County and across Ontario.
Mr Waters: I rise in the House today to pay tribute to one of my constituents, Mr Wayland Drew of Bracebridge. Mr Drew, an English teacher at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, is a renowned writer, essayist and environmentalist who has contributed much to the Muskoka community and was rightly honoured for his dedication in the month of October.
On October 15, Mr Drew was presented with the Conservation Council of Ontario's annual Lieutenant Governor's award for his support of environmental issues. Well known in Muskoka for his outstanding achievements in conserving and protecting the natural environment, Wayland Drew was central in the organization of the Signs of Hope conference last April. The Signs of Hope conference brought together environmentalists from across Canada and provided Muskoka educators with a forum to discuss methods of communicating the importance of global environmental issues to their students.
On October 26, Mr Drew was presented with an honorary doctor of letters degree from Trent University for his literary contribution as an essayist and author. With 12 books to his credit, including three travel books, several radio dramas and numerous essays, he is best known for his Earth-ring science fiction series.
I thank Mr Drew for his commitment to Muskoka and I ask members of this Legislature to join with me in paying tribute to this dedicated environmentalist.
Mr Phillips: Seven weeks ago we began this session. In those seven weeks we have seen very clearly the style of operation the government is going to pursue in the future. It is clear that in their first year they suffered greatly in their public image. Now we see their plan to correct that.
The first part of the plan is that we have seen very few ministers' statements in the House, and when a statement is made it is the flimsiest of statements with the barest of details. Obviously this is designed to minimize the opposition's effectiveness and allow them to craft the message.
Second, we have seen the Premier in this House, by my calculations, less than twice a week, and when he is here we see him for about half an hour; again, clearly designed to minimize this House and its role and to maximize the Premier's central control.
When the Premier's own caucus members get slightly out of line and try to speak their own minds, what happens? They fire the Chairman of the committee. The member for Lincoln has now gone off the committee and lost his chairmanship role.
They manage the committees. The standing committee on finance and economic affairs travelled across the province hoping to get an unbiased opinion. The public presentations were stacked.
It may seem effective in the short term, this sort of cynical, manipulative approach to the House, but I assure members, the public in this province is too wise to fall for it. They are seeing through it now and it must change.
Mrs Cunningham: Bill 125, An Act to amend the Education Act and certain other Acts relating to Education, was introduced on June 13 by the former Minister of Education. This bill deals with 18 separate and unrelated changes to the Education Act, with implications for school boundaries, testing, employment equity, suspensions and pooling, to name just a few of the many issues that school boards and teachers need opportunities for public discussion about.
It will also remove existing provisions relating to religious education where "as his parent or guardian desires" has been a key phrase in the present legislation. Parents are very concerned that if Bill 125 is passed in its present form, the only clause which recognizes the principle of parental rights in the Education Act will disappear. They are trusting that the NDP government will consider their amendments in response to their interests.
When the bill receives second reading, I will be requesting on behalf of my Progressive Conservative colleagues that the entire bill be referred to committee for public hearings. I urge the new Minister of Education to seriously consider the concerns of so many Ontario citizens and to give sufficient time for public input so that we can clearly talk about the many issues that will affect the quality of education and the lives of students and parents in this province.
DIABETES CELEBRITY CHALLENGE
Mr Sutherland: I would like to join with my colleagues in talking about the celebrity challenge. As members know, to increase public awareness of the seriousness of the disease, which affects more than 600,000 Canadians, myself and nine other MPPs from all three parties are participating in the diabetes celebrity challenge.
For the past week we have lived the lifestyle of a person with diabetes. We have taken our blood sugar readings several times a day, injected an insulin substitute into a volunteer teddy bear, and followed a strict diet and exercise program.
At a press conference announcing the celebrity challenge, Dr Gerald Wong, an expert on diabetes, discussed its impact on health care. He said many diabetics also suffer other health problems, including a significant increase in the risk of blindness, kidney failure and heart disease. The most striking comment made by Dr Wong was that diabetics must take responsibility for their own health. They must regulate their diet and exercise and be more careful about their lifestyle.
However, this piece of advice rings true not just for diabetics but for all of us. Health care in Ontario today consumes $17 billion, one third of the provincial budget. All of us value our medicare system and want to preserve it, but to afford our health care system and meet the many other challenges, all of us must examine our own habits to make our lifestyles healthier. Eating a balanced diet, consuming less processed food, and broiling food rather than frying it are simple things that each of us can do to stay healthy and help control health care costs.
Mr Mills: I believe there is unanimous consent to spend a few moments speaking to Armistice Day.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous agreement?
Mr Mills: This coming weekend, many of us will gather to honour the men and women of our country who gave their lives for us and freedom in two world wars. Many of our young people today have no comprehension of the magnitude of death and suffering these wars caused. We shudder in horror lest they ever be repeated.
Over the weekend many of us will honour our family members and friends who were involved in the campaigns in the North Atlantic, in northwest Europe, in Italy, in North Africa and in the Pacific. We honour those who served in the Dieppe raid and in the defence of Hong Kong, in the battle of Ortona and in the invasion of Normandy.
We also honour the 2,383 women of the Canadian Women's Army Corps who were employed in theatres of operation overseas. Many of these women who served in the United Kingdom were wounded by buzz-bombs. Twenty-five were killed on duty; 65 were decorated for bravery.
We also honour those who gave their lives in the First World War and in the Korean conflict, and also those who have given their lives for peace while serving with the United Nations forces.
Time has taken its toll and the number of veterans each year grows fewer, but we are still proud, and if with the passing years there is a small lack of precision among the marchers, we do not notice, for this, above all, is a personal parade. None of us can go back in time, and that itself is a grace bestowed.
On this weekend, as the memories are exchanged at public ceremonies and in the legion halls, we will remember with affection all those who answered the call to serve their country. Their contribution to the betterment of humanity can never be measured.
Mr Morin: Next Monday is Remembrance Day and, on behalf of the official opposition, I pay tribute to the brave Canadians who served that we might live in freedom and peace.
On November 11, we commemorate the 100,000 men and women in the Canadian Forces who were killed while defending our nation in the Great War, the Second World War and the Korean War.
I served in Korea with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment. I witnessed first hand the results of war.
At this moment, citizens in hundreds of countries around the world live in war zones.
Until our most recent experience in the Persian Gulf, an entire generation of Canadians had thought of war as something remote. We were isolated from its reality. The Persian Gulf War forced us to confront the reality and the ugliness of war once again. The results of that war are still unfolding before our very eyes. Our brave Canadian service personnel served with distinction in that conflict.
Through the organization of the Royal Canadian Legion, on November 11 we will pause to remember those who died for our democracy and the veterans who still feel the scars of those wars. On this occasion let us also pray for those countries less fortunate than Canada.
Mrs Cunningham: I am truly honoured today on behalf of our party to be able to speak on this important subject. All of us in this House and the people who expect us to represent them in this great democracy that some of us have come to take for granted are most interested in the leadership I think we show in this assembly today in remembering those who went before us and gave up their lives so that some of us are able to be here to represent our constituents and so that this great democracy could survive and this great province and country that we live in could move forward.
All of us have special memories. Mine were in the city growing up as a young child, when this special day meant, I think, much more then than it seems to now, when we took part in our own Remembrance Day ceremonies, usually within our own neighbourhoods, and walked down to our parks and had our assemblies in our schools and remembered not just people who went before us but usually parents and grandparents and uncles and sometimes aunts. It was much more meaningful because it hit so close to home. So I think today in these times we have to work much harder to make sure that we do not forget those who gave up their lives for us during the great wars.
I just hope the young people across our province will take a moment in their schools on Monday to remember. Fortunately, in these days schools are still in session and there are times to remember. Probably each and every one of us will remember the times we had to at least say, sometimes by memory, the poem In Flanders Fields. I hope they are doing it on Monday.
The war came to an end at 11 am, November 11, 1918, some 70 years ago or more, and it was supposed to be the war that ended all wars. November 11 has since become an international day of remembrance in all the countries involved in that terrible war to commemorate those who made the supreme sacrifice.
Here in Canada we pay tribute to the more than 100,000 individuals who lost their lives not just in that war but in the Second World War and the Korean conflict. We also honour those who have served in our armed forces.
Fortunately our younger generation has not had to experience the horrors and tragedy of war themselves, but we all realize that with our modern weapons of total destruction, it is impossible for any country to win a war. We witnessed that just within the last year. That Great War that was supposed to be the end of all wars simply was not, and we continue to fight on behalf of families and parents and the world for peace.
Each year there are fewer and fewer veterans to march to the cenotaphs and deposit their poppies on the wreaths. Each year the memories of those wars become more distant and remote to many who were not there or who were not born at that time. Each year we must continue to remember and to make sure that our young people and those who come after us will never forget. Thus we wear our poppies.
The Speaker: In recognition of Remembrance Day I invite all members and visitors seated in the galleries to stand for a moment and bow our heads in silent prayer.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I am very pleased at this time to announce the release of the discussion paper on reform of the Labour Relations Act. Distribution of this document today marks the beginning of a full province-wide consultation which my ministry will conduct with business, labour and other interested groups. The goal of this government is to achieve greater fairness and equality in the workplace. We seek to modernize an important piece of legislation, to respond to Ontario's new economic and workplace realities and to include employees who are currently prevented from organizing by the law.
It has been 15 years since the Labour Relations Act was significantly amended. The collective bargaining process itself has withstood the test of time, but the government believes the act is in need of renewal. In our view, the act fails to deal with changes in the province's workplace and workforce. The Labour Relations Act was designed to serve an economy characterized by a stable, mostly male workforce employed in large factories and plants.
But times have changed, and the workplace and the workers themselves have also changed. Smaller companies in the service and retail sectors are taking over a larger role in our country's economic life. Workplaces are moving from traditional factories to small industrial parks and plazas. We have also seen the rapid growth of part-time and casual positions, particularly in the burgeoning service sector. These less secure and less-well-paid jobs are often filled by women, recent immigrants and visible minorities.
We believe the act should be revised to respond to this change in workplace and workforce. In particular, it must meet the needs of women, minorities and lower-paid workers. This government also believes that strong employee participation, made possible by independent representation and collective bargaining, can play a positive role in making the workplace more innovative and more productive.
Any reform of the act must seek to reduce the level of confrontation and antagonism that often characterizes labour-management relations. There are currently a number of elements in the existing legislation that prevent rather than encourage the kind of co-operative relationships that are needed to respond to rapid economic change in our country.
Beyond this, when labour-management disagreements do happen, as they will, we believe there are a number of ways to improve the bargaining process so that the parties can reach their own workable solution.
The government believes that giving a meaningful voice to employees through an improved collective bargaining process will make for greater industrial peace and improved efficiency. Such a result can play a major role in Ontario's economic renewal.
The government's commitment to reform of the Labour Relations Act fits hand in hand with the government's overall economic and social agenda. This agenda includes the newly introduced worker investment and ownership legislation, the upgrading and refocusing of worker training systems, continued investment in the province's physical infrastructure, employment equity and reform of the social assistance system to provide recipients with better access to training and employment.
Ontario's future prosperity will be based on successful efforts to maximize the ability of its workers to participate and be fairly treated.
This government believes that Ontario can move a long way towards achieving that goal by making it easier for workers to participate in collective bargaining.
Through the consultation process we want to hear from all sides on our reform ideas. The discussion paper makes proposals and focuses discussion on five key areas: (1) increasing co-operation between labour and management when a workplace is undergoing major change; (2) streamlining and improving the grievance arbitration process and the work of the Ontario Labour Relations Board; (3) improving the process by which first contracts are finalized; (4) removing some of the obstacles which hamper employees' ability to organize and giving the right to form unions to some employees currently barred from organizing, and (5) limiting the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout to existing on-site management.
I invite all to take part in these discussions.
Some business groups and individuals have expressed opposition to what they believed this discussion document would contain. I challenge them to deal with our proposals and ideas as they stand today.
I also ask all Ontarians to view this consultation process as a real opportunity for them to contribute to the reform of the Labour Relations Act.
We will not make any final decisions on the content of the reform legislation until we have heard from and considered the views of all interested parties.
Beginning today, there will be a period of more than three months in which interested individuals and groups can submit a written response. In order to allow ministry officials time to review these submissions and prepare draft legislation, I am asking people to submit their response by February 14, 1992. Before that date, senior ministry staff and I will meet directly with key business, labour and other groups in 10 locations around the province to discuss the ideas and proposals contained in the consultation paper.
We plan to introduce legislation in the spring and I expect that there will be an extensive and spirited debate in this House.
There will be further opportunities for public participation in the process when the legislation reaches the committee stage, including the likelihood of province-wide public hearings on our specific legislative proposals.
In effect, we are embarking today on a process of ongoing consultation which will last many months.
I look forward to hearing all points of view on a subject so crucial to the economic and social wellbeing of Ontario. By working together, I know we can forge new and better labour laws for the 1990s and beyond. I believe this is our opportunity to develop a much more co-operative partnership between business and labour. I am pleased to bring this forward and I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Mr Offer: I have three areas of concern over the statement made by the Minister of Labour today. I want to address them in the time allotted to me.
The first is, why has the government not provided us with any evidence as to the impact these legislative changes will have? Has the minister prepared an economic study? If not, then to press ahead with changes and proposals for change without knowing what the impact of those changes will be in terms of jobs, the creation and maintenance of jobs, is, I say, totally irresponsible.
If the Minister of Labour has that information, then he should stand up and provide it to the opposition so that we will be able to address those concerns that have been given to us from across the province. When we talk about the impact on jobs, we want to hear from the minister what the impact on jobs will be for people who are outside affected workplaces when unions will be permitted to organize and picket in shopping malls.
What does that mean in terms of job creation and job maintenance? How will other people conduct their businesses? What effect will be caused by permitting security guards to join the same union as the people they are watching over? How will the organization of front-line supervisors affect the ability of businesses to carry on, especially during strike situations? What we want to know from the minister is, has he looked at what the impact of those proposals means in terms of job creation and the maintenance of jobs in this province?
The second area of concern I have is that his paper fails to address the single greatest concern that business has voiced in this province: the necessity for change. His paper fails to talk about whether he will discuss that particular aspect, whether change is in fact necessary. The minister has shut the door on that type of consultative process and business has been calling for him to open the door to consultation. They have challenged him to say he is ready to listen as to whether change is or is not needed. That is what business has been asking the minister to do. His statement here today has clearly been to shut the door in the face of that process of consultation.
A third area of concern I have deals with the whole credibility of the process. The minister's cabinet submission spoke about the need to neutralize opposition to these reforms. He has spoken about consultation, yet his Premier has said at a United Steelworkers of America conference in Ontario that he vows to press ahead with the controversial overhaul of the Ontario Labour Relations Act. He speaks about consultation and the Premier has already vowed that these things are in fact going to happen.
The minister, in his previous cabinet submission, has said he is going to neutralize the opposition. I can tell the minister that we are going to continue to voice concerns about these changes and about the direction. We are going to be talking about the impact of those changes. We are going to be doing it in this Legislature and outside this Legislature until the message has been given to him about what impact these changes will have, what they mean to job creation and the maintenance of jobs in this province, and to the economy and the creation of wealth.
Mr Phillips: Just to follow up on my colleague's comments, we certainly will be looking at this in detail. The other day I raised the issue that the timing may be more than coincidence. With the Ontario Federation of Labour biannual meeting coming up in two and a half weeks, it looks suspiciously like this is a plan designed for the triumphant entry of the Minister of Labour.
The reason I raise this is that it clouds the perception of this plan, and these are some of the questions we will be asking. When we looked at the document the minister had prepared before, the fundamental objective was not a harmonious workplace; the fundamental objective was to increase union membership in Ontario. We are very interested in improving the workplace in Ontario. We are very interested in mechanisms that will help to do that. We are very interested in making certain the workers of this province are treated fairly and equitably. But an objective surely is not to increase union membership.
Our party will be doing the very best it can to look at what is going to be the impact of this. If we cannot get from the government the impact analysis, we will try, to the best of our ability, to do our own impact analysis. I also will say to members that we will be consulting broadly as well. I think a hallmark of this government is a very restrictive consultative process. Our party will be consulting broadly and attempting to be helpful in terms of improving this legislation.
Mrs Witmer: I disagree totally with the newspaper editorials today. Business will not be happy with this discussion paper. The minister has confirmed our worst fears. He has not backed away from any of his controversial proposals and he has totally ignored the economic reality. His new proposals will tighten the noose around the neck of all unemployed workers in this province and businesses is struggling to survive in this uncertain economic climate.
I have received hundreds of letters from business people and workers throughout this province and they tell me that this is going to result in a serious loss of investment opportunity in this province. The minister is creating a hostile business environment and is driving people south of this border, which will lead to a further loss of jobs. He is contributing to a loss of our industrial base. This document does not protect and promote individual freedom of expression and protection of privacy in the workplace. It is detrimental to the prospects for economic growth and renewal in Ontario and it is going to give our unions a new set of rights without any accompanying responsibilities.
I am very concerned that there was no consultation with business or any of the non-unionized workers. We have here a proposal that is the agenda of the labour unions. We have here a proposal for which no economic impact study was done. I cannot believe that is not going to happen.
The only areas that have been deleted by this government are areas where it had a fundamental problem with the implementation. Originally they proposed to restrict employer free speech, but that is gone because free speech is an integral component of a free and democratic society. They do not have a specific proposal for access to employee lists because it would have been a violation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. They do not have a specific proposal for access to an employer's property because it would be a violation of private property rights.
Their consultation paper today still contains the majority of the original 30-point agenda that they drafted for the Burkett committee. This government is making it easier to certify, but more difficult to conduct business in this province. There is not one single new proposal from the business community.
Today I will be introducing a private member's bill to amend the Labour Relations Act. It is going to require a mandatory secret ballot vote for certification-ratification and the decision to go on strike.
This bill today serves only the interests of organized labour. It forgets the other 66% of the workers in this province. It fails to recognize the legitimate concerns of business.
The minister has completely mismanaged this issue from the beginning. He allowed the Burkett report and the leaked cabinet document to circulate. This raised considerable fear and uncertainty within the business community without any formal response until today. That fear and that uncertainty that have been raised have already cost this province much needed investment, jobs and economic growth. If he proceeds with this plan without hearing the real concerns of business and individual workers in this province, I can assure him that more jobs will be lost and that the noose will be tightened for the unemployed workers and the struggling business people.
Mr Carr: As critic for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, I have had a chance to consult with business, and they are telling me that this will be the single biggest factor in the history of this province in driving jobs out. In speaking with them, some of the comments have been, "These proposals are shocking, highly discriminatory, economy-wrecking." This is what the businesses are saying: 80 replies from businesses in Oakville saying it will be the single biggest factor in destroying jobs here.
I say to this minister, the fight is on and the gloves are off. I want him to wake up at night dreaming about the job losses that are going to come as a result of this legislation. I guarantee him the fight is on now. I am not going to give up and I guarantee him I can beat the member for Welland-Thorold's record because I will stand and fight this thing longer than any other piece of legislation ever going through this Legislature.
The Speaker: It is time for oral questions: the member for St Catharines.
Mr Bradley: I have a question for the Premier but he is not here, so I will let my leader ask a question.
Mr Elston: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Today the government has announced its communication strategy to neutralize opposition to its changes in the Labour Relations Act. I want to know how this minister is going to respond to Ontario's new economic and workplace realities, when that reality is that some 240,000 jobs have been lost in the last year. Can he tell us how many jobs are going to be created by this legislation?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I think the leader of the official opposition will know the jobs that have been lost that he is talking about have been lost without these kinds of changes that want to involve workers. We intend to increase jobs, not lose them, as a result of the legislation.
Mr Elston: While we have lost over 240,000 jobs and while the Minister of Health celebrates the firing of several hundred nurses in this province, can the Minister of Labour tell us how many jobs are going to be created by the effort being placed in these labour relations amendments?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I would not even try to respond to such a simplistic question, but what I can tell the Leader of the Opposition is that when you take a look at free trade, when you take a look at the high dollar and GST, you can see where the jobs have gone.
Mr Elston: I would ask the minister to tell us how these labour relations amendments respond to the high interest, high taxes or any of the other issues he related to us as costing us jobs. How are these amendments responding to reduce the loss of jobs, and how many jobs are being created by this legislation?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I think it is obvious that if we have in this province a little more co-operative approach rather than a confrontational approach, and if we involve workers in the decisions, we can have a much more productive society than we currently have in Ontario.
Mr Elston: We give up with that guy.
Mr Elston: I would like to talk to the Solicitor General about public safety. We had a quote given to us yesterday from the Lindsay Daily Post that said, "But the safety of these communities in Victoria county is being threatened by these cutbacks." The minister responded by saying he was assured that there would be no threat to the public safety.
Again, we read in a Windsor Star of September of this year that the folks in Essex are also facing cutbacks that are taking community patrols off the road and may result in highway patrols being cancelled, which in fact does affect the public safety. Why will the Solicitor General not respond to the need to ensure public safety and why is he continuing to tell us a story about the effect of his fiscal cutbacks?
Hon Mr Pilkey: I want to say first of all that Commissioner O'Grady of the OPP has assured me that there will be no deterioration in service.
The Leader of the Opposition asked me if I would tell him a story. Am I ever pleased to tell him a story, because if he looks to his immediate left, his honourable member asked me yesterday a question on concerns about cutbacks in his particular area and riding. I note in today's newspaper an article which quotes from a Sergeant Peter Hamilton of that very detachment in which he suggests that the measures will not mean a reduction in service to the public:
"The number one thing is that we do not reduce our calls for service. That's the bottom line. In other words, if a member of the public calls, we will respond." He goes on to talk about the 108-kilometre limit that was suggested to be a concern. He says, "I haven't driven any more than 50 per shift, so there's a surplus." He goes on to indicate that if there are those officers driving more than 300 kilometres, he would like to know, and he is going to ask them what they are doing and where they have been.
I want to assure the member, with quotes from the officers themselves, that the problem that is allegedly being created is not a fact at all.
Mr Elston: I can tell the honourable member that the people of the various areas around Ontario have been hearing perhaps not the official line that is required of some people to straighten the record, to make the minister feel better, but hearing that in fact there are going to be more cuts. The fact is that a report out of Essex says there are already slower response times, less crime prevention and fewer community patrols in effect in Essex county as the OPP tries to cut spending.
They have indicated under the heading "OPP Cuts Branded Disaster" that they are concerned about the public safety because they are being restricted as to how much gasoline they can consume, along with other costs they are incurring.
While I am quite free to read my own copies of newspaper articles, I would ask the minister to come forward and tell us exactly how he is going to maintain the current level of service in all the communities and prevent the types of increases in crime statistics that have been indicated as being present in some communities around our province.
Hon Mr Pilkey: I was simply trying to indicate that I believe oppositions are wont to try to explode situations and, of course, that was attempted here yesterday and it is being attempted again today.
I do want to say, however, that there are concerns and I do take them seriously. I have met with Commissioner O'Grady. I will be continuing to meet with him and with other senior staff people of my ministry to ensure that the kind of quality service the OPP has provided to the people of this province in the past will continue into the future, and well into the future.
Mr Conway: I am not at all surprised that someone whose primary function is as a desk police officer would not be travelling around and about the countryside. That is no surprise at all. I have been talking to constables at that Killaloe detachment, and they tell me they are very concerned about what these budgetary cuts are doing to the quality and the range of policing they can provide in that part of rural Ontario. I quoted directly from a staff sergeant at Lindsay who was quoted in the Lindsay Daily Post as saying that policing is being threatened in those Victoria county towns of Bobcaygeon, Woodville and Dunsford.
Surely the top cop, the Solicitor General, would have to agree that when he limits police cruiser mileage to 108 kilometres per eight-hour shift in a large rural detachment, that cannot have any effect but that which the cops on the beat are telling me it is having, which is a reduction in the quality and extent of policing in rural Ontario. Would he not agree, and what is he as top cop going to do about the problems that the cops on the beat in Killaloe are complaining about?
Hon Mr Pilkey: Unless the newspaper reports and quotes are in error, I recommend to the member that he speak to people in his own riding, because if they are factual, the situation he paints is absolutely the reverse.
Mr Harris: I have a question for the Premier. I wonder if anybody can tell us where the Premier is.
The Speaker: The Premier is not in the chamber. Would the member place his question, please.
Mr Harris: I do want it on the record that the Premier is very rarely in the chamber. Whenever these silly, ridiculous proposals come forward, he is out somewhere else.
Mr Harris: I will then direct my question to the Minister of Labour. I believe, as many union members believe, in addition to a lot of people, that this is a sad day for Ontario. I also believe that our worst fears -- business's worst fears, investors' worst fears, and in fact workers' worst fears -- have come to fruition today with his statement in the House.
Despite the minister's best efforts to spin the story, this is not a balanced white paper. It is not a balanced consultation process. It is a process that will kill jobs and drive investment out of this province.
I would ask the minister to table today or share with us any evidence he has -- any study, any proposal, any independent analysis -- that what he has presented to us today will, as he states, play a major role in Ontario's economic renewal. In fact, if he has any independent evidence or study that says it will play even a minimal role in Ontario's economic renewal, could he share that information with us?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Surely the leader of the third party would understand that if we are going to turn around what is a very difficult situation in our province, we are going to have to have both business and labour working together. That is one of the essential parts of this document and the consultative process that we will go through.
Mr Harris: Everybody understands that. I just do not see a shred of evidence that what the minister has presented today is going to do that. In fact, I have umpteen pieces of evidence that it will do the opposite of that.
Let me ask the minister this, by way of supplementary: In his statement he says, "This government also believes that strong employee participation...and collective bargaining can play a positive role in making the workplace more innovative and productive." He says that. I agree that strong employee participation can make the workplace more innovative and productive, but the minister says it can only be done if those employees will devolve that responsibility from themselves, from their fellow co-workers, to some independent representation.
Can the minister show me one example in the history of the world where devolving that responsibility to some independent outsider has increased employee participation in making a positive role, in making the workplace more innovative and productive? Does he have that in any of his studies?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: Surely the leader of the third party understands that when workers organize, they organize so they can act collectively, and that is exactly what they do. If they are acting collectively, they also have some input into decisions that affect their lives.
Mr Harris: The whole premise of the minister's statement, the whole premise of his white paper, is based on somebody else knowing better than the employees in that plant how to deal with that plant and how to make it more productive. That is the false premise he is operating from.
By way of final supplementary, I would ask the minister, and I have asked him over and over before, to do an impact study. Businesses ask for that. Working men and women, union memberships are asking, when I talk to them: "Do they have any impact study on what their proposals are going to do? Can you tell us how many jobs we would gain or lose because of your proposals?" The minister has refused. Well, I have seen one done by Ernst and Young. They are the only ones who have done your homework for you. They found that up to half a million jobs and millions of dollars of investment would be at risk if the leaked document was what the minister was going to bring out as discussion, and it is exactly what he has brought out in his discussion paper.
I would ask the minister again, has he done any impact study other than the one that we have now, done by Ernst and Young? How many Ontario jobs is he willing to risk for the sake of making sure that the few that are left are unionized?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I thought the leader of the third party had read the leaked document, but I am presuming he either has not read that or he has not read the discussion paper that is out today.
Mr Harris: I, like the Liberal Party, give up on the Minister of Labour.
My second question is of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. We have heard from his co-minister, the Minister of Labour. We have heard him talk about consultation and co-operation, yet the document that was released today will impact greatly on both business and labour and, I suggest, on our economy and jobs.
I am having difficulty identifying anything in this document that will be good for business in the province. I wonder if the minister of Industry, Trade and Technology could tell us, as the minister for business and industry, as their advocate, how many of the proposals in this white paper were brought to the table by labour and how many of the proposals in this white paper were brought to the table by business.
Hon Mr Philip: There are a number of issues that have been brought to the table by business. If members look at the original consultation that has taken place over the last few months, they will see that in the press today business leaders are in fact complimenting this government on the way in which it has listened.
I refer members to the Globe and Mail article that says, "Among other business groups, however, the government has won compliments" on issues ranging from the environment to cross-border shopping, and also on the way in which it has listened about the Labour Relations Act.
We will have a year of consultation, in all, before the legislation is passed, three months initially on the paper and then on the legislation. I can say to the member that not only will the Minister of Labour and myself be listening to business but the whole cabinet and the caucus of this party will be listening to business.
Mr Harris: What I got from the minister were quotes of what was spun out by the NDP political machine as to what would be in the document. Now that business has seen the document and seen that it is virtually the same -- in fact in many ways worse than what was leaked out before -- it is a completely different story.
I asked the minister if there was one proposal out of these by business. He has not given me one. It confirms my fears and my suspicions and those of business that the consultation is on all the proposals that have been brought forth by labour.
I received from Project Economic Growth a letter to the Premier dated November 1. This group, representing over 250,000 jobs in the province, proposed a co-operative task force on the Ontario workplace. They offered to come to the table and said, "We want to discuss our concerns too, not just our reaction to 60, 80, 100, 30 or 20 labour concerns." They offered to do that in a consultative way. Why did this minister, the Minister of Labour and the Premier reject them out of hand?
Hon Mr Philip: Nothing has been rejected out of hand by anybody except the leader of the third party. He has rejected everything out of hand. The particular proposal he talks about was introduced only a few days ago. We are willing to consider that and any other proposal, including proposals the member may have, but I have not heard anything coming out of his mouth except doom and gloom over this province. By his doom and gloom, he is the one trying to decrease the jobs being created. That is all he has to offer.
Mr Harris: In this House or outside this House, I relay nothing that I have not heard from various people in Ontario. If they are leaving the province, if they are not investing, if they are losing their jobs, it is what they are telling me. It is not anything I am saying, I can tell the minister that.
I suggest to the minister that calling this document a discussion paper is a farce. He is asking business to discuss his proposals, his demands, his labour wish list. That is all he is asking them for input on. It is a document that will make the Premier, the Minister of Labour and Bob White very happy campers. There is nothing to be discussed that business would like to have discussed. They offered and the minister rejected them. I do not know how he has the nerve to ask for input from business now when he ignored it completely.
The minister is asking for suggestions. He is asking what I have to offer. Why is there no mention in his proposal and why is there going to be no discussion, no input on what over 86% of union members want, what business wants, what industry wants; that is, a secret ballot for certification, for strike and for ratification? Why is that not in the proposal?
Hon Mr Philip: The leader of the third party says there is nothing there that business wants. In fact, there is.
Hon Mr Philip: He does not want me to answer, obviously, because he does not like to hear the answer. He would rather spread misinformation about what is in the paper.
Mr Speaker: Would the minister take his seat.
Mr Speaker: I ask the House to come to order.
The Speaker: The member for York Mills is asked to come to order quickly. Has the minister concluded his response?
Hon Mr Philip: I was trying to start my response. I resent the fact that the leader of the third party has called my colleague the Minister of Labour stupid. The people in Moose Jaw did not call him stupid; they threw out both the leader and the Conservative Party in Saskatchewan.
He asks, what is in it for business? What is in it for business is a full discussion of work flexibility.
The Speaker: Order. This House stands recessed for 10 minutes.
The House recessed at 1436.
The Speaker: Have you finished your response?
Hon Mr Philip: Mr Speaker, I am waiting for the leader of the third party, but he has disappeared.
Mrs Cunningham: He has asked his question.
The Speaker: Has the minister concluded his response?
Hon Mr Philip: No, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Briefly.
Hon Mr Philip: I thought, out of deference to the leader of the third party, he should be here when I completed the response, but he has disappeared on the House. I am willing, with the permission of the member for London North, who no doubt is a leader in the Conservative Party, and a very good one at that --
The Speaker: Would the minister try to make it brief, please.
Hon Mr Philip: This is the first time in 15 years that any labour legislation has been reformed to any extent in this province, and this gives a unique opportunity for the business community -- we have invited the business community -- to come forward and talk about flexibility in the workplace and competitiveness. We have extended this opportunity to the business community and we hope it will have an opportunity to participate. In the same way that business cannot compete by using obsolete technology, so it cannot compete by using obsolete labour laws and that is why we have introduced this labour legislation.
The Speaker: Would the minister conclude his response, please.
Hon Mr Philip: The leader of the third party says that businesses are leaving the province. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you look at the figures, Statistics Canada has indicated that from March 1990 to March 1991, 76% of all investments by overseas companies or by foreign companies has been in Ontario, not in any other province, not provinces --
The Speaker: Would the minister conclude his remarks, please.
Hon Mr Philip: Between February and September of this year, 60% of all jobs that have been created in Canada have been created in this province.
The Speaker: Would the minister take his seat, please.
Mr McClelland: My question is for the Minister of Energy. As he is the minister responsible for energy, I would assume he is aware that PCBs were used by the electricity generating and handling industry for a substantial period of time before being banned in response to concerns about human and wildlife health effects. In fact, the Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish, a copy of which I have here, published by his government, contains a discussion paper on the dangers of PCBs.
Does the minister agree that releasing PCBs into the environment as a byproduct of the electricity generating and handling industry is something to be avoided and would be considered unhealthy and quite frankly a bad thing to do? Since the ministers of Natural Resources and the Environment are absent today and this minister has relevant jurisdiction, I want to know if he is prepared to assure this House that his government will do absolutely everything it possibly can to control the spread of PCBs into the waterways of Ontario.
Hon Mr Ferguson: This government recognizes the significant health hazards that PCBs present to the province, and not only to this province but in fact to the entire country, and I would agree with the member that we will do what we can.
Mr McClelland: That is good, because I am going to ask the minister to go to his cabinet colleagues, in particular to the Minister of the Environment and the Premier, and find out what they are going to do about the following situation. Under certificate A840278 issued by the Ministry of the Environment, eight barrels of PCB-contaminated soil were picked up from a transformer manufacturing site last Saturday. They were transported through the streets of Toronto and dumped in the Keele Valley landfill site. Two of those barrels exceeded the allowable limits. They pose a hazard. They would be deemed by the Ministry of the Environment to be hazardous material. Those barrels of PCB-contaminated soil are now under four and a half days worth of garbage.
Keele Valley, as the minister should know, is located at the source of the Don River. The waste water from the Keele Valley site flows into municipal sewers. The system is unable to control PCBs. It does not deal with it. The water ends up in Lake Ontario.
What is the minister going to do to ensure the safety of the public and concerns for wildlife and fish and birds in this province? What is he going to do, in other words, to clean up the problem that has been unveiled, a difficulty that arose within the last week, PCBs in Keele Valley? Are they prepared to bear the responsibility as a government?
It was a certificate issued under the Ministry of the Environment. What is he going to do, as spokesperson for his cabinet colleagues, to remedy this very dangerous situation for the people in and around Keele Valley, the residents of the area, and more important, people all across the province who are now at risk in terms of the quality of water and the safety factor that is involved here? What is the minister going to do? What commitment is he prepared to make in light of his statement just a moment ago that he sees this as a very serious issue?
Hon Mr Ferguson: If what the honourable member describes is factually correct and all the facts check out, I will be conferring with my cabinet colleagues on the matter and we will be taking appropriate action. Situations like that will not be tolerated in Ontario if in fact that is the case.
Mrs Witmer: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. His consultation document suggests that during a strike, management personnel would not be allowed to bring in other employees from offsite locations to the strike-bound plant. This measure is not contained in the replacement worker section of the Quebec Labour Code. In fact, there is no other jurisdiction in North America with this model. I ask the Minister of Labour, since he is always citing Quebec as his model, can he tell this House why he has gone beyond the province of Quebec's statute?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I do not think we are always using Quebec as the example. It is the one province that has some legislation in terms of strike situations. I think it is also obvious that what we have here is a consultation document that is out so that we can go through the recommendations that are there. Some of them, as the member will know, are specific, our idea of a direction; some of them raise a number of options, and some of them raise no direction whatsoever in areas that have been raised with us. I am not prepared to get into a discussion on the individual items in that consultative document until we have it out and deal with the people in the community.
Mrs Witmer: I would like to bring to the minister's attention that there are some plants in this province that need to be in continuous operation because of the cost of a shutdown or the threat to public safety. If the employees at Ontario Hydro went on strike, our nuclear plants would have to keep running. Hydro would need to bring in employees from another plant for public safety. Obviously the minister sees the problem with his proposal, and I would ask him, is he prepared to make the appropriate changes?
Hon Mr Mackenzie: I think that when we see the legislation, that would be dealt with, but I want to point out to the member, if she has any awareness of what goes on in the labour movement right now in plants, whether it is a Hydro plant, an industrial plant -- Stelco in my own community is a clear example -- that there are already arrangements made with the workers involved to shut down the furnaces. Where you have that kind of public concern, I think that is what the avenue is going to be in almost any contract that is signed.
Mr Fletcher: My question is for the Minister of Citizenship and human rights. On Tuesday the honourable minister released this government's --
The Speaker: Order. The member for Etobicoke West.
Mr Fletcher: On Tuesday the honourable minister released this government's employment --
The Speaker: The member for Guelph, this question is to whom?
Mr Fletcher: The Minister of Citizenship and human rights. On Tuesday, the honourable minister released this government's employment equity discussion paper and announced that public hearings would be held across Ontario.
We know that employment equity aims to remove barriers for fair hiring, training and also promotion for all workers, but we also know that there is a fear and misunderstanding about employment equity and that can be a major barrier in itself. If unaddressed, the fear and misunderstanding can turn into a backlash. Already constituents have written to me asking such questions as: "Does employment equity mean unqualified people will be hired because they belong to a designated group? Isn't employment equity just tokenism and reverse discrimination?"
How does this government plan to get its message out about this policy and what this policy will do for Ontario, especially when it is so needed?
Hon Ms Ziemba: My honourable colleague is absolutely right; there are always fears, misconceptions and myths that have arisen out of employment equity. What employment equity means is that we want to make sure we have a workplace that is reflective of all our society. Statistics and studies have shown us that people from those designated groups have often been discriminated against, do not have the opportunity for full employment and do not have the opportunity even to compete in employment or to be promoted.
What we are saying is that during our time of economic renewal, we must have the opportunity to use all our abilities, all the capabilities of our workforce, and this is the extreme importance of this particular type of legislation.
We will be doing educational outreach --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Ms Ziemba: Mr Speaker, this is very disconcerting. I am really pleased that the children who were present earlier today have left, because it has been very embarrassing for all of us to hear this type of outpouring every time somebody wants to answer a question.
Mr Fletcher: By coincidence, on the day the minister announced the discussion paper, the member for York East visited my riding of Guelph to speak at a lecture series designed to promote discussion of educational and also employment equity issues. The member made the point that equality and equity do not mean treating everybody the same, simply because everyone has different needs. He also pointed out that the people who advocate for the disabled and for women, aboriginal peoples and racial minorities are tired of rhetoric and lipservice. Can the minister tell us how soon public consultation will be complete and whether the legislation will have any teeth?
Hon Ms Ziemba: The member has brought up some very good points. Yes, this has been a long time coming, and we certainly need to have employment equity now, and we are moving towards that legislation. Our consultation process will take the form of going into two cities in December. We hope to wind up in the very beginning of February, and then we will have a mammoth consultation process for people who have been involved in the previous consultation. That will certainly help make sure that education takes place and that people understand what employment equity means so that we dispel the myths that the honourable member previously mentioned.
What we are going to do is bring in legislation in the spring of 1992. It will be good legislation. It will be fair. It will be practical. But most important, it will be effective. It will have an implementation process, and we will make sure we use all the abilities and all the capabilities of our people in this province.
ONTARIO HYDRO RATES
Mr McGuinty: Two days ago in this House, under rigorous cross-examination by a member from his own party, the Minister of Energy, in response to a particularly devastating question -- maybe I should repeat that question so we will see just how devastating it was in its impact.
The question was, "I wonder whether the minister has some comment." Obviously the minister was reduced to a quivering mass at that point in time, and he offered the following. He said, "The fact of the matter is that Hydro rates will not be increasing 44% over the next three years." He went on to add, "The increases, in fact, will be much lower than that."
The minister will know that the people of Ontario, home owners, tenants, owners of businesses, are very concerned about our hydro rates. Businesses are already planning their hydro budgets. But we are confused about what is going to happen, because the minister's well-paid Hydro chair has indicated that rates are in fact going up 44%. To relieve this confusion, I am going to ask the minister to confirm, first of all, that his chairman is incorrect and that the minister himself is correct and he can assure us absolutely that rates will not go up by 44% during the next three years.
Hon Mr Ferguson: What I tried to clarify is that the 44% figure --
Mr Elston: Slow down, Will.
Hon Mr Ferguson: If the honourable members will hold on for a minute. I listened to the question. I expect the honourable members to listen to the answer. That is the way we do it in here.
The 44% figure that was dropped is pure speculation. That is all it is.
Mr McGuinty: Just to remove any doubt from the minister's mind, I have here a copy of a very reputable source of news, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record -- I am going to ask a page to take it over to the minister -- which clearly attributes the 44% rate increase to the chairman. That is dated July 17, 1991. I note that is now four months ago, and during that period of time Mr Eliesen has not once attempted to correct the record. The minister also, during that four months, has done nothing to correct the record. That headline has appeared in newspapers, we have heard about it on TV, we have listened to it on the radio, and we have debated it in this House for quite some time.
Perhaps the minister and the chairman could get together and talk energy policy at some point. But let's assume the minister is correct and the chairman is wrong. I ask the minister specifically how he can guarantee an increase of less than 44% and what specific actions he will take to guarantee this promise to the ratepayers of Ontario.
Hon Mr Ferguson: In the article the member has sent over, this is the quote attributed to Mr Eliesen: "From what I have been able to assess, Ontario Hydro is looking at the possibility of a double-digit rate increase for the next two to three years." That is all he said. It does not attribute a 44% figure to Mr Eliesen at all.
We are going to do everything we possibly can to ensure that rates do not escalate any more than necessary over the next two to three years, over the short term or over the long term, because quite frankly Ontario's economy cannot afford it.
I point out to the honourable member that the reason we are in the mess we are in today is because people forgot to plan for the future when they spent $13.5 billion on a nuclear plant that operates at only 60% efficiency. That is why we are in the situation we are in today.
Mr McGuinty: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The minister is being very irresponsible in selectively quoting from this article. He should go on to read --
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat. The member does not have a point of order.
Mr Jordan: My question is for the Minister of Energy. The vice-president of Ontario Hydro feels it is his duty to persuade me that two lightbulbs per customer at a cost of $7 million is a good deal. Due to the fact the minister is directing Ontario Hydro, not the vice-president, my question is, would the minister please leave his lights on bright and tell this House the formula he is using to establish the number of kilowatt-hours saved by a resident each day for three to five hours' use of that bulb?
Hon Mr Ferguson: Probably not surprising to the member, I do not have that information at my fingertips, but I would be more than happy to provide it to him.
What has become abundantly clear here in Ontario is that residents of this province are not aware of the number of energy-saving devices that are on the market. We are trying to make them aware.
The member for Lanark-Renfrew has continually been critical of this particular program. If he does not want the residents of his constituency to participate in the program, there are 129 other constituencies that gladly would take up the allotment that is supposed to go to his residents. Would he please tell me?
Mr Jordan: Mr Speaker, 16 days ago the minister in this House informed me that he was not a computer when I asked what conservation programs were available, the costs and the kilowatt-hours saved. I think it is time for the minister to stop functioning at 52 watts and provide this House with some details of this plan. An eight-watt saving for one hour is equal to 0.008 kilowatt-hours, or six cents a month or 75 cents a year, and the bulb costs 85 cents.
Hon Mr Ferguson: When I have had time to figure out what the question was, I will be able to give a response.
Mr Frankford: As the Minister of Health is no doubt aware, this week has been designated Pharmacy Awareness Week in Ontario. With this year's theme, "Before you take it, talk about it," pharmacists across the province wish to generate some awareness among health consumers for the need to be informed about the proper use of prescribed medications.
I am sure the minister will agree that it is to everyone's benefit to balance the benefits of effective pharmacological agents against the potential hazards, especially among more vulnerable groups such as seniors. Inappropriate mixing of drugs, often obtained from multiple sources, is one real concern. Can the minister tell this House how her ministry can assist pharmacists and other health practitioners in promoting more rational use of drugs in this province?
Hon Ms Lankin: I am glad the member raises this question, particularly because it gives me an opportunity to highlight Pharmacy Awareness Week. I have had the occasion to meet with the Ontario Pharmacists' Association this week and to endorse the work it is trying to do to bring good information to the consumer about the need to think about drug utilization.
The theme of the week, "Before you take it, talk about it," underlines the role pharmacists can play in our system. Next to doctors, the pharmacist certainly is the person to whom we can speak to find out about medication, the side-effects of medication and about the effectiveness of it. It is an incredibly important role, and I am glad they are willing to take up that role and play it, particularly because we know there is a lot of evidence from the Lowy commission and others that there is inappropriate drug utilization, both in terms of physicians' prescription patterns and in terms of consumers' use. We know it is particularly a problem among our seniors, and I am endorsing the pharmacists in the work they are doing. I hope to be able to work with them in setting up a process to do a more effective drug utilization review.
Mr Daigeler: Mr Speaker, I am sure you would want to know what the Minister of Energy left out in his earlier answer to the member for Ottawa South. "Mr Eliesen" -- I am quoting from the newspaper -- "suggested increases could be 13% each year, adding up to 44% when compounded over three years."
The Speaker: Would you stop the clock for a minute, please. Would the member take his seat. Order, please. I have stopped the clock.
The member for Nepean should know that when a member rises to place a question, he immediately identifies to whom he wishes to place the question and then he goes ahead with the background information. I was under the assumption that you were asking a question of the Minister of Energy.
I will allow the member to place a question. I will remind the member that he has already utilized some time, so I ask him to make his question succinct.
Mr Daigeler: Mr Speaker, you know my questions are always very succinct, because they are to the point.
My question is to the Treasurer. Two weeks ago I asked the Minister of Colleges and Universities whether he was aware that the Treasurer's ministry was studying ways to turn --
The Speaker: Order. The Minister of Energy, a point of order.
Hon Mr Ferguson: Very clearly, Mr Eliesen said "could," and that is what I have said in this House from day one: "could." That is the operative word, my friend.
The Speaker: The minister does not have a point of order. The member for Nepean.
ONTARIO STUDENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Mr Daigeler: I will try again with the Treasurer. I was flabbergasted when I noted that the Minister of Colleges and Universities refused to dissociate himself from the Treasurer's plans to turn the OSAP program into a loans-only program.
I have now further confirmation that this government is abandoning the students, even though many of them put their faith in the NDP last year in the election. I am told that today his ministry is recommending to the cabinet committee on social policy that OSAP become a loans-only program. Why is the Treasurer out to destroy the OSAP program?
Hon Mr Laughren: The question is inappropriately directed to me and should be to the Minister of Colleges and Universities.
Hon Mr Allen: It is obvious the member for Nepean has a mole somewhere, but he will know, if his mole is quite effective and telling him the whole story, that in government at the moment, as in past governments of his own party and the third party, there are periodic wholesale program reviews that take place where all the options of government are laid out and looked at systematically and, in time, some decision is made. Some things are proposed, many things are rejected, and this is precisely the order of events he has managed to tap into.
Mr Daigeler: First of all, I can assure the minister that the mole he is talking about may be his own communications assistant, because his own communications assistant said in an interview with the Varsity, "Yes, we are studying the prospect of going to a loans-only system." If the minister does not know what is going on in the Treasury, perhaps he should check with what is going on in that ministry.
In the spring he announced with much fanfare that there is a consultation on about changing OSAP. Now, however, we are finding out that he has completely undercut the work of this committee.
Here is what one of the committee members, Deanne Fisher, said when she heard of his plans: "I feel completely betrayed. This summer I was on a committee that was studying OSAP reform, and we never once discussed going to a loans-only system. I feel like I've wasted my whole summer." This is what one of the minister's own committee members said. Is that the minister's idea of consultation: Let the people discuss cosmetic changes to OSAP but keep them in the dark on his real plans to dismantle the OSAP program?
Hon Mr Allen: The member of course has read an article that I have read in the Varsity student newspaper, which has also heard something somewhere. I am not going to exercise thought control in my ministry so that people cannot think out options, but I am also not announcing in advance anything of any decision which will come down the road.
As far as the OSAP process is concerned, that consultation went through to the middle of the summer. We collected all the results of the consultation, put them in a document, circulated them throughout the university system, received comments back the middle of last month, two weeks ago. We are working vigorously on all the proposals to see what we can do to improve access through OSAP or any other means for the students of Ontario to all our universities and colleges.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Education. We have been made aware -- and I am sure the minister knows all about it -- of a provincial symposium on the restructuring of education to be held December 16 and 17, 1991, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Approximately 1,300 participants representing teachers, principals, administrators, school board trustees, professional associations, parents, students, visible minorities, labour, industry and business will attend the event.
As far as I am concerned, and the minister may agree with me on this, being a former school board trustee and chairperson as I was, I do not remember anything like this being held to announce a restructuring of education, certainly in my time. I am going to have to ask the minister what he is planning to spend on this event.
Hon Mr Silipo: The question is actually very timely because later this afternoon I will be discussing this matter with my officials. The symposium is part of the process of discussion that is going on with respect to the restructuring years. As the member has indicated, the attempt is to bring together on those days a number of people from the various school boards and the various sectors that are involved in this to get a report on the kinds of things that have been discussed to date and to hopefully set some further directions in the discussion process.
Mrs Cunningham: I am timely then, and I do not have a mole. I want the minister to know that when he talks about concurrent sessions on restructuring topics, it is on the agenda twice. Other than that, it is representatives of the ministry and the minister speaking.
With regard to the minister's midyear adjustment, there was $50 million for the education transfer payment allocation to school boards which will affect programs. The minister remembers the money that was set aside as a saving because boards were not taking advantage of it. He must be pretty desperate when he starts looking at that, and I am sure he is.
We are setting a tone in this province right now and I think we have to be setting an example. My view is that in the past we may have asked every board to send a representative. I am not certain, but I would ask the minister to take that into consideration. I would also ask him right now to advise this House that he will look at the cost-effectiveness of a symposium where local boards have to spend money, like for a two-hour session the night before, just to come down for one evening. He may want to take a look at that. I think all of us are thinking of austerity in education right now.
Hon Mr Silipo: I certainly do not believe the member opposite has a mole, but I do believe that, as usual, she is on top of the job she does as an effective critic. I can tell her that the kinds of issues she has raised are exactly the kinds of issues I am discussing with my officials this afternoon.
Mr Wiseman: My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. I come from Durham region and in our region we have Durham College, which has some 40,000 to 45,000 full- and part-time students. We are receiving inquiries as to reforms that are necessary in the college system --
Mr Wiseman: Mr Speaker, my constituents are just as interested in what this question deals with as the members' constituents are in the questions they deliver in this House, and they consistently ignore the questions from the backbenchers over here. My constituents have a right to have these questions heard and answered just as much as their constituents do.
The Speaker: Would the member place his question, please.
Mr Wiseman: My question is to the Minister of Colleges and Universities about the state of reform that is necessary in the college system. I would like to ask him, at what stage are these reforms and can he give me some further information?
Hon Mr Allen: I thank the member for Durham West for his question. He has frequently come to me with advocacy for that college and he is very active on its behalf.
The three principal problems that exist in an otherwise extremely effective delivery mechanism for training in this province are:
First, that in their response to local communities, they have often developed programs which are not exactly transferable or which are not equivalent to others. Therefore it has been important to put in place a mechanism which will develop some degree of standardization to enhance mobility back and forth in the system for students.
Second, there are many students who try to get access to programs who have prior learning that they have acquired in one experience, in a workplace or in another place of learning or even in another country. They cannot get that recognized in order to get access to student programs, so we have put in place an initiative around prior learning to try to credit it, again to enhance the accessibility of the system.
Third, there is an increasing number of programs in which one needs advanced training, and we are undertaking a new initiative to facilitate the relationship between colleges and universities to provide advanced training programs for students.
Mr Wiseman: The colleges of Ontario are very diverse. They come from many different regions and they have many different concerns. The other part of this question is: How have these announcements been received by all of the colleges across the province? How are they coming along in terms of getting a consensus?
Hon Mr Allen: The reforms are well in hand. The cabinet has allocated $2 million to developing them. There is an active implementation team in the first project, there is a group working on the terms of reference for the second, and there has been a commission put in place, headed by Walter Pitman, that will be looking at what is called An Institute Without Walls: Special Relationships Between Colleges and Universities. The entire system is very enthusiastic, having proposed these reforms in the first place through the major study of the system called Vision 2000, which members, I think, participated in.
Mrs Sullivan: I have with me a copy of the Minister of Health's announcement of October 4 relating to long-term care funding and I have a question to her relating to that announcement. The announcement indicates that there will be $12.1 million in additional dollars in this fiscal year for nursing homes and charitable homes for the aged. Discussions with representatives of those bodies lead us to believe that this amount will translate into an increase of about $1.30 per resident per day in a nursing home. To date the money, which the minister indicated in this release would flow on September 1, has not been seen. But the new money still leaves a gap of $35 a day between the two systems, a gap that continues to ensure inequities in the quality of care delivered in homes for the aged and nursing homes.
I am asking the minister if she can explain her disregard for the 30,000 residents who are seniors in nursing homes and who the minister has already admitted require the same level of care, no matter where they are housed?
Hon Ms Lankin: I find the question interesting because the member who asks it was a member of the government that for a number of years took no action to resolve this problem of the difference in per diems between the rates of nursing homes and homes for the aged. I agree with her there is a problem and there is a disparity between the rates. I agree with her that it is a pressing problem that needs to be addressed. Where I disagree with her is that somehow I have abandoned these people. I, in fact, am the first minister who has taken steps to try to address the problem.
We have done three things. We have provided some money for this year that will be, we hope, a bridge to the future to try to stabilize the industry, acknowledging that there are serious problems. We are in discussions this very week again with the association trying to flow that money. We have provided a guarantee of an increase in it for next year, which is a bridge to level-of-care requirement funding which we have guaranteed will be in place by January 1993.
Mrs Sullivan: Just on those points, if members look at the long-term care document the minister presented, what we see is that the New Democratic Party is looking at committing $207 million to the system, $150 million of which will come out of the residents' own pockets. Members can see that on page 33 of that report.
I also understand the minister will require nursing homes, under the new funding arrangement, to provide 2.5 hours of personal and nursing care per resident per day. This translates, members should know, for the average nursing home to about four or five additional minutes of care every 24 hours.
In the October 4 announcement, the minister said that nursing homes and homes for the aged "must be better equipped to deal with the increasingly complex service requirements of their residents." The minister has built expectations in this area. Will she explain to those residents how those four or five minutes of extra care will mean that nursing home residents "have their quality of life significantly improved by these enhanced levels of service"? Those enhanced levels of service are four or five minutes every 24 hours.
Hon Ms Lankin: I think the member raises a good question, but it is a bit out of context in that what we are moving to is a level-of-care requirement in which each client-patient within a nursing home will have his or her actual individual needs assessed and the per diems and the money that flows to that home will be based on that level-of-care requirement.
Currently, we have an unfortunate situation where, as a result of years of inaction on behalf of governments, we have nursing home clients receiving very varied levels of hours of care. What we are trying to do is take the first step to standardize that to a higher level than what the provincial average is right now. That standardization is going to take the infusion of money that we have indicated for this year and next, and we will be moving to full level-of-care requirement in January 1993.
Hon Mr Cooke moved that the following substitutions be made:
On the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, Ms Akande for Mr Hansen; on the standing committee on estimates, Mr Hansen for Mr Farnan; on the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, Mr Farnan for Mr Jamison; on the standing committee on regulations and private bills, Mr Drainville for Mr Fletcher.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Jordan: I wish to table a petition which reads:
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas on November 16, 1986, the French Language Services Act of Ontario had been passed in French and implementation procedures were not publicized for the awareness of the general public, and because 70 elected members were absent in the House on the above date, the majority of citizens of Ontario were not represented; and
"Whereas at no time have the people of Ontario chosen to become officially bilingual by giving a mandate to the government or by referendum; and
"Whereas the vast majority of Ontarians speak English fluently; and
"Whereas the implementation of Bill 8 is proceeding with enormous cost to the taxpayer while cutbacks are being made in the funding of health care, education, environment, etc; and
"Whereas one official language is a practical necessity;
"We, the undersigned citizens of Ontario, hereby affirm that we desire English to be the one and only official language and, furthermore, petition the government of Ontario to repeal Bill 8, the French Language Services Act of Ontario, without delay and keep English the only official language in this province.
"We further respectfully request the above-mentioned member of Parliament to stand and read this petition, imploring every member of the House to study this law and demand a copy of its implementation procedures manual and to bravely reveal the contents of both law and implementation to his/her constituents who may then be able to intelligently take a personal stand on this issue as soon as possible."
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
Mr J. Wilson: I have the pleasure to present 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."
That is signed by a number of good people in my riding of Simcoe West, from the town of Stayner and the town of Collingwood, and I too have affixed my name to this petition.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT / COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES SOCIALES
Mrs Caplan from the standing committee on social development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Mme Caplan du Comité permanent des affaires sociales présente le rapport suivant et propose son adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills with certain amendments:
Bill 43, An Act respecting the regulation of Health Professions and other matters concerning Health Professions/Projet de loi43, Loi concernant la réglementation des professions de la santé et d'autres questions relatives aux professions de la santé;
Bill 44, An Act respecting the regulation of the Professions of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology/Projet de loi44, Loi concernant la réglementation des professions d'audiologue et d'orthophoniste;
Bill 45, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Chiropody/Projet de loi45, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de podologue;
Bill 46, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Chiropractic/Projet de loi46, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de chiropraticien;
Bill 47, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Dental Hygiene/Projet de loi47, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession d'hygiéniste dentaire;
Bill 48, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Dental Technology/Projet de loi 48, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de technologue dentaire;
Bill 49, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Dentistry/Projet de loi49, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de dentiste;
Bill 50, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Denturism/Projet de loi50, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de denturologiste;
Bill 51, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Dietetics/Projet de loi 51, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de diététiste;
Bill 52, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Massage Therapy/Projet de loi52, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de massothérapeute;
Bill 53, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Medical Laboratory Technology/Projet de loi 53, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de technologiste de laboratoire médical;
Bill 54, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Medical Radiation Technology/Projet de loi 54, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de technologue en radiation médicale.
Bill 55, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Medicine/Projet de loi 55, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de médecin;
Bill 56, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Midwifery/Projet de loi 56, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de sage-femme;
Bill 57, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Nursing/Projet de loi 57, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession d'infirmière ou d'infirmier;
Bill 58, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Occupational Therapy/Projet de loi58, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession d'ergothérapeute;
Bill 59, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Opticianry/Projet de loi59, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession d'opticien;
Bill 60, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Optometry/Projet de loi60, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession d'optométriste;
Bill 61, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Pharmacy/Projet de loi61, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de pharmacien;
Bill 62, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Physiotherapy/Projet de loi62, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de physiothérapeute;
Bill 63, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Psychology/Projet de loi63, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession de psychologue;
Bill 64, An Act respecting the regulation of the Profession of Respiratory Therapy/Projet de loi64, Loi concernant la réglementation de la profession d'inhalothérapeute.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Bills ordered for third reading.
Les projets de loi devront passer à l'étape de troisième lecture.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LA RETRAITE DES EMPLOYÉS MUNICIPAUX
Mr Cooke moved first reading of Bill 151, An Act to amend the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Act and the Municipal Act.
M. Cooke propose la première lecture du projet de loi 151, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le régime de retraite des employés municipaux de l'Ontario et la Loi sur les municipalités.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Hon Mr Cooke: This is the legislation I announced by ministerial statement last week.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES RELATIONS DE TRAVAIL
Mrs Witmer moved first reading of Bill 152, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Mme Witmer propose la première lecture du projet de loi152, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les relations de travail.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Mrs Witmer: The purposes of this bill are to provide that representation, strike votes and ratification votes of a collective agreement are mandatory in all cases and to require secret ballots in all such votes.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
FIRE MARSHALS AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES COMMISSAIRES DES INCENDIES
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 131, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act.
Suite du débat ajourné sur la motion visant la deuxième lecture du projet de loi131, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les commissaires des incendies.
Mr Runciman: I want to say with respect to Bill 131, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act, that our party, the Conservative Party of Ontario, has made an effort to contact the interested groups affected by this legislation and I must say we have had no negative feedback whatsoever, that indeed all the parties involved are very positive about the legislation as introduced and the impact it is going to have in respect of the ability of fire marshals and fire authorities throughout this province to do a much more effective job.
In that respect, I want to say we in the opposition have been criticized from time to time by the government as being too critical and perhaps petty about government legislation. I want to indicate that when we have legislation like Bill 131, which is constructive, progressive and helpful to the community at large, we can be very supportive and co-operative in ensuring quick passage.
Today my remarks are going to be really nothing further than to indicate our support for this legislation, and we are prepared to see it go to third reading today and have royal assent as quickly as possible. I move adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr Runciman, the debate was adjourned.
A la suite d'une motion présentée par M.Runciman, le débat est ajourné.
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 sur la motion 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.
Mr Runciman: I am going to make my remarks on this bill relatively brief today. Although I had some inclination, as I expressed yesterday during the debate, to filibuster this bill because I think in essence this whole agreement with the government and the OMA is not in the best interests of health care consumers in this province, I have been convinced that perhaps it is not in the best interests of this House and the business of this House that I engage in a filibuster.
I advertised the phone number of my office yesterday during my comments on this and we did get a significant number of calls, some from members of the medical profession. The calls I received from doctors -- I have not had an opportunity to get back to all of them -- not surprisingly were in disagreement with what I was saying.
One doctor's wife from Sarnia, whom I will not name, felt I was being extremely harsh with respect to doctors and the approach they take to providing health care in this province, and she may be correct. I expressed some reservations last night in terms of tarring all doctors with the same brush, and I acknowledge that there are members of the medical community very much devoted to providing the best possible health care to the people within their community.
At the same time, a lot of my criticisms and concerns are lodged with the Ontario Medical Association, the body representing doctors across this province -- now representing all doctors whether they like it or not -- and I am not going to backtrack on the things I said related to the OMA and what I describe as a sweetheart deal with the socialist government that in my view is not in the best interests of the health care consumers or taxpayers of this province.
I had a call from a doctor in Toronto who took issue with the fact that I said doctors were the highest-paid profession in the province. I said that if I had made an error on that I would correct it. I was able to get the latest statistics, the 1990 taxation statistics from Revenue Canada, and self-employed medical doctors and surgeons are by far the highest-paid professionals. There is no question about it, so I do not have to apologize. I understand that doctor's concerns. He indicated to me he is working 60 to 70 hours a week --
Mr Miclash: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: We have not seen the Premier here for days on end, and we do not have enough members to make up the quorum. Might I remind the government members that they are responsible for keeping a quorum in this House. I call for a quorum call.
The Deputy Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr Runciman: I was talking about the doctors being the highest-paid profession and having a doctor call me and be critical of that. Revenue Canada indicates that self-employed medical doctors and surgeons are the highest-paid profession, followed not too closely by self-employed dentists and, at an even farther distance, by self-employed lawyers and notaries, so they are indeed the highest-paid profession. But many of them, there is no question, earn the incomes they are generating and devote a significant amount of time to their patients in the health care system.
But by and large, I have concerns which I expressed last night and I am not going to apologize for the way in which I expressed them, despite the criticism that has been coming over my phone lines for the past 12 hours from doctors and members of doctors' families.
An hon member: Don't get sick, Bob.
Mr Runciman: Absolutely. I will have to stay away from illness for the next few years until memories fade, I guess.
I had a call from a nurse at Toronto Western Hospital who was very supportive of what I was saying last night and she mentioned a specialist, a spinal surgeon, who has developed a number of innovations in medical treatment respecting fusions, who developed a rod for the spinal column of patients with scoliosis. He had patients coming from all over Canada and the United States. He has now moved to Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States. The other spinal surgeon at that hospital is contemplating a move to the United States. We are seeing specialists moving out of this province at a rate which should concern us all.
This individual suggested that in her 10 years of working in the health care system of Ontario, things are simply changing for the worse year after year. Quality of care is no longer there like it was when she first came to the health care system in Ontario 10 years ago. She talked about the fact that it is difficult for patients even to get time in the operating room. She says that at Toronto General Hospital they have patients frequently coming in two or three days in advance of the operation and then having that operation cancelled. There is simply not enough staff. Surgeons are overbooked. They are limited on time available in operating rooms. They do not even have intensive-care time available for some of the patients and they have to be put into general wards. It is a situation which should concern us all.
I am going to sum up very quickly and talk about the elements of this deal that most concerns me, the fact that the OMA has now become, to all intents and purposes, a union. We are talking about a professional organization which has now turned itself, through agreement with this government, into a union. I do not think that is appropriate and I do not think that is in the best interests of health care consumers.
The OMA has also reached an agreement with the government where, if indeed it cannot reach some sort of settlement in respect of fee for services, we are going to be submitted to binding arbitration. Again, we are talking about a figure in excess of $5 billion -- next year probably $6 billion -- of taxpayers' money which has a potential, in terms of the decision-making process, of being taken out of the hands of the government, the Treasury and elected officials of this assembly. I do not believe, again, that is in the best interests of Ontario taxpayers.
Finally, on the management team that has been established -- I do not have the papers in front of me -- with respect to making long-term decisions on how to make the health care system more effective, more efficient in this province, those responsibilities are now being lodged with the medical community through the OMA and the government, excluding all other health care providers in this province. Again, I do not think that is appropriate, because we have not seen the OMA clean up its own act with respect to the operations of surgeons and the waste that occurs within physicians' offices and within hospitals under responsibilities which come within the direct control of physicians in this province.
I do not think it is wise for us to put all our chips on the medical community to be making those kinds of decisions, or to be monitoring the health care system in order to make recommendations that are going to impact on all of us in the years to come. I think this is a bad deal for all of us as taxpayers. We in this assembly should be very much concerned that, for all intents and purposes, we have been excluded from this process and that for years to come we will be totally excluded from having any role to play in a meaningful way.
Mrs Cunningham: I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to Bill 135. I want to speak with a specific issue in mind. The specific issue is one that has been brought to the concern of probably many members of this Legislative Assembly in a letter dated October 3 -- certainly to myself, and I am aware of the member for London South having the same letter; I am not aware of others. But anyone who has anything to do with the University of Western Ontario in southwest Ontario should know that the faculty association at the university is very concerned about this legislation, and it is just one of a larger organization called OCUFA, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
To put it bluntly, the concerns with regard to this government's agreement with the Ontario Medical Association are more to do with the process, and reflect directly on the professors in the teaching hospitals who are also physicians.
"There are legally constituted faculty bargaining units at the five Ontario universities with medical schools." I am quoting here from a letter dated October 3 from OCUFA. These units represent physicians who would now be defined as OMA members under the current wording of Bill 135. "In some quarters this legislation has been called an illegal raid of faculty bargaining units." In the cases of at least two faculty units there is a possibility of a significant loss of membership.
This has not been treated lightly by the universities, certainly aware of the concerns at Western. I have before me a document noting considerable deliberations by the faculty of medicine at the University of Western Ontario and affiliated teaching hospitals, academic health centres, and it is called A Plan for Staffing and Funding of Clinical Academic Units. It talks about negotiation rights. It also has recommendations, which I plan to give to the Minister of Health, because I think these are the kinds of things that really upset the community, when all aspects of an agreement such as this, and ramifications of such, have not been taken into consideration by a government.
I continue to read:
"The situation on each of the five campuses varies dramatically. These are complex situations which can only be handled on a local basis. Four of five of the bargaining units represent clinicians to some extent. There are a range of physician duties as professors on each campus: those who do only research, those who do research and teach, those who have cross-appointments with hospitals and universities, and those who teach as clinicians on an occasional basis.
"Faculty association bargaining units have traditionally represented faculty on a wide range of issues, including promotion and tenure."
I will not go on. It is quite a lengthy letter. At the very end they say, "OCUFA had discussed this situation with the OMA and has proposed an amendment to section 1 of Bill 135 as follows:
"'This act does not apply to individuals represented by faculty bargaining units in Ontario universities.'
"In addition, we have suggested that the legislation contain an exception to the above: that where the OMA and the faculty bargaining units have an agreement to negotiate (together or on agreed-upon terms) with the university administration, the act would apply."
Now, we have been asked to ensure that the above amendments are included in Bill 135 at second reading. That is a difficult thing to do when we are not a member of the government, but we give this a go every once in a while. I will advise certainly the government members that it is our intent in the Conservative caucus to have this bill referred to committee of the whole House so that this particular amendment can be deliberated upon fairly.
I want to make it clear that my preference would have been to have this in a standing committee of the Legislative Assembly because, in fairness to the Ontario Medical Association, it did agree that it thought this would be appropriate for a day's hearings. Since OCUFA does not feel it has had fair hearings, the Ontario Medical Association thought if we saved this one amendment and that OCUFA were the sole spokesperson at a committee meeting for one day, it would have been an opportunity for government representatives and representatives of the faculty associations at those hospitals to have a fair exchange, which they feel they have not had.
The government House leader said he would not agree to that. It is very difficult for us to force this into committee this afternoon, so we will have to be satisfied with getting it into the committee of the whole House, which we can deliberate upon in another week.
With those comments, I have certainly spoken to the intent of our referral later on this afternoon. I should say that when we are going into these kinds of negotiations in the future, I think the government is at great risk, given what it says it stands for and not taking the time to discuss openly the kinds of amendments that the faculty associations would like to have seen at least some fair consideration for.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to put my remarks on the record. Hopefully the government will take another look at this next week and perhaps we can come to some conclusions to solve the problems, which I think are very real. I would advise this government to meet in the next week with the OMA and OCUFA, and see if the government and the minister cannot come to some kind of agreement around an amendment to alleviate the concern of so many of the physicians who belong to the teaching hospital faculties, the university faculties, across the province of Ontario. It would be refreshing if that could happen.
Mr Callahan: I got distracted when the member for London North was speaking. Is this a group of people who will be required to pay fees to the Ontario Medical Association even though they are not practising, and did they have an opportunity to appear or to be involved in the negotiations between the minister and the OMA?
Again, I did not have an opportunity to get an explanation of that. It would seem to me that any collective bargaining, which is really what this was -- members can call it what they like, but I call it collective bargaining between the minister and the Ontario Medical Association, and I am sure that if we were to suggest collective bargaining should take place without all the parties at the table, the government opposite would go absolutely wrangy. In fact, the member for Hamilton East, the Minister of Labour, who has always been a stalwart of ensuring that labour is properly represented at the bargaining table, would certainly be the most exercised. I find it passing strange that the Minister of Health, in negotiating this agreement with the Ontario Medical Association, would not have made certain that all parties were represented at the table.
I also took a quick look at the bill. It seems to me there is no provision there either for people who perhaps are semi-retired. Are they required? I would ask the minister that question, but she is not here so I cannot get an answer. Perhaps the member for London North can provide me with that answer.
What provision is there in here for doctors who are perhaps in retirement or semi-retirement in terms of their having to continue to pay their fees?
The Deputy Speaker: Are there any further questions or comments?
Mrs Cunningham: This is a comment. It is appropriate.
The Deputy Speaker: You will have an opportunity at the end.
Mr Henderson: I think it bears on some of the comments of the member for Brampton North and the previous commentator that the OMA -- I am doing this from impression; I do not have the information in front of me. Most medical associations make provision for different levels of fee and membership for different categories of physicians, including retired physicians, sometimes part-time physicians. I suspect it does not need to be spelled out in the legislation. I suspect it is covered by the OMA schedule of dues that are type-rated according to the position of the physician.
Mrs Cunningham: I certainly agree with the concerns as relayed to me by my colleague the member for Brampton South, and I think he should pursue the responses to his questions with the minister.
I can only tell him what I know, given both the letters I have had from the Ontario Medical Association and from the faculty associations, and they are concerned about the opportunity they had for input, and they are more concerned about the lack of response they have had to their concerns. I spoke to the government House leader about getting this into a committee for a day just on this one issue, because I feel we are not really in a position right now to jeopardize an agreement. That is not why I am standing up here, but to amend one subsequently or to in some way satisfy the concerns of these teaching physicians would, I think, be an appropriate and responsible action on behalf of the government.
I raise this in all seriousness because there is great concern, and what we have really done is pitted the Ontario Medical Association against the faculty associations. Now we have two groups arguing with each other about something one group did not even know was happening, or if they did know it was happening, they thought perhaps they could have been represented in some way at that table. If they were, they are not aware of it.
I think the questions from the member for Brampton South are quite legitimate. I believe we should put this in to the committee so we can take a look at it just for one day. We would appreciate that kind of support from the government.
Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to rise today to debate Bill 135, An Act to Provide for the Payment of Physicians' Dues and Other Amounts to the Ontario Medical Association.
I believe this bill is very much in the interests of the Ontario Medical Association, but it is not in the interests of individual doctors in this province. I support the request from the member for London North, who has suggested that one day of public hearings is appropriate for those members of the profession who wish to come to put on the record their feelings about this piece of legislation.
I point out -- and I have had some experience in matters of this kind -- that this piece of legislation is part of a broad framework agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the government of the day, the New Democratic government, in this province.
There are some very significant portions of this particular act which I think are noteworthy. Section 1:
"(1) This act applies to physicians licensed under part III (Medicine) of the Health Disciplines Act who are engaged in the practice of medicine in Ontario or who conduct health research in Ontario."
What this effectively does is to require all licensed doctors in Ontario to pay dues to the Ontario Medical Association, whether or not they are members of that association.
I remember back in 1986, I think it was, when there was quite a discussion about freedom for doctors in Ontario. I remember how passionately many doctors felt about their rights. I remember as well that we had a lot of discussions at that time about what freedoms doctors had and what freedoms within our medicare system had been somewhat compromised in the public interest.
This is a very significant loss of freedom for individual doctors in this province. Under this piece of legislation, they do not even have checkoff. They do not have the right to say, "We want our dues to go," or, "We don't want to pay dues." Under this legislation, every doctor licensed in Ontario will have the dues deducted automatically from his or her OHIP billings. That is what this legislation does. What this act says very clearly in section 2 is, "Every physician who is a member of the Ontario Medical Association shall pay the association's dues and assessments."
Section 3 says:
"(1) Every physician who is not a member of the Ontario Medical Association shall pay the association amounts equal to the dues and assessments that the association would charge if the physician were a member."
Subsection 3(2) says that the amounts required include an amount for membership fees for the Canadian Medical Association "but do not include amounts for insurance, pensions or other benefits that are available only to members of the Ontario Medical Association."
What this does is to say to all the doctors of the province, "You're going to pay the dues whether you are a member or not, but you are not going to get any of the other benefits in the way of pension or insurance or anything else."
I believe there are many doctors in the province who support this legislation and who support the agreement negotiated between the New Democrats and the Ontario Medical Association, but I believe that many of the doctors in this province do not fully understand the implications of this legislation.
I remember back almost a year and a half ago when the Ontario Medical Association, in its negotiations with the Liberal government of the day, of which I was Minister of Health, made its request for the Rand formula -- which this is -- which creates a trade union within the Ontario Medical Association that requires every doctor licensed in this province to have fees deducted on his behalf by the government of Ontario from his OHIP billings and submitted directly to the Ontario Medical Association.
I remember when the association made that request of our government, and I personally felt very strongly that the Rand formula was not in the interests of individual physicians. It was not in the interests of the doctors of this province to be seen as labour. It was not in the interests of the doctors of this province, in my opinion, to be part of a trade union. It was my view that doctors should be seen as part of a management team and should not have their freedom taken away to decide whether they wanted their dues paid to the Ontario Medical Association. In a way, it was co-opting all members.
There are almost 20,000 doctors in Ontario. As I said, I know that many of them support this legislation. But I know many of them do not support the legislation requiring a deduction from their OHIP billings to be paid on their behalf directly to the Ontario Medical Association. I resisted very strongly, and the Liberal government resisted, the request for the Rand formula. We told the OMA that we did not believe every doctor should be forced to pay dues to the OMA whether he or she was a member or not. We did not believe that was in the interests of better health. We did not believe it was in the interests of individual doctors.
We believed, further, that it would create a labour model in this province for a profession which did not consider itself to be employees. Time and again, I heard doctors in this province tell me that the OMA did not represent their point of view and they wanted the freedom to express directly to government, both through negotiations of their fees and through discussions on health policy matters, the issues that were of concern to them.
First reading of this piece of legislation took place on June 26, 1991. We know that OHIP payments comprise about 32% of Ontario's spending on health services. We know as well that the total budget of the Ministry of Health now approaches $17 billion, which is almost a full one third of the provincial budget. We know that the total for physicians' fees, the total of the OHIP vote, is more than $4 billion, and we know that the cost of the agreement reached between the New Democratic government and the Ontario Medical Association was in the area of $480 million. That is a very significant amount of money, particularly at this particular time in the province.
As I see this piece of legislation before the House, I think there are some very significant things that should be pointed out as part of this overall agreement, although it is not significantly part of this legislation.
We know that as well as granting the Ontario Medical Association the right not just to collect the dues but to receive the dues directly from the government, the government now recognizes the Ontario Medical Association as the sole representative of all doctors in this province in negotiating amounts payable for insured services or in negotiating facility fees under the Independent Health Facilities Act.
We know there is an automatic Ontario Medical Association representation right that has been extended to doctors, physician-sponsored health service organizations, all government-employed doctors covered by the government psychiatric agreement -- the OMA is now the sole representative -- the Workers' Compensation Board, as well as to doctors working in independent health facilities.
We know that in the overall agreement that has been negotiated, the Ontario Medical Association must earn the right, by a vote, to represent doctors in community health centres and non-doctors who are working in health service organizations, hospitals and universities; that is, non-physician-sponsored health service organizations and those health service organizations which are not physician-sponsored but which are sponsored by hospitals, universities and community groups.
Prior to this agreement, for the purpose of negotiations, the Ontario Medical Association represented only those doctors who were practising fee-for-service medicine. At that point in time it was about 95% of the profession that the association represented as it was negotiating a fee-for-service contract with the government.
In extending representation rights to doctors who work in health service organizations, community health centres and teaching hospitals, the government really has acknowledged the Ontario Medical Association fears that were expressed during negotiations around the loss of influence as alternative payment mechanisms and alternative payment compensation were negotiated with the province, whether it was with faculties in hospitals or faculties of medicine in clinical teaching units, where the universities had very significant influence as well. Certainly more and more were interested in alternative payment because that was a way of protecting physician income as they looked at alternative ways of providing service.
In its agreement the government agreed to both introduce and support legislation before June 30, and it did so. I believe many of the doctors in this province, and many members on the government benches, do not fully understand the implications of the agreement they entered into.
Through the discussion of this piece of legislation, we have an opportunity, for the only time in this Legislature, to really fully explore and discuss some of the features of that which are cause for concern for both doctors and taxpayers in this province. To a large degree, I agree with some of the statements made by editorial boards across the province, and I want to put them on the record.
For example, on May 23, 1991, the Globe and Mail stated, "The Ontario Medical Association has stripped individual doctors of control over their earnings, their right to secret ballot, their right to free association and ultimately their ability to determine how they practise medicine."
Another very significant Globe and Mail quote on May 23 stated, "The Ontario Medical Association executive has assumed powers that no trade union executive should enjoy, and effectively turned the association into a trade union, the Ontario medical workers' union, in which members do not have union membership rights."
Further, a report to the Toronto board of health on the payment of Ontario physicians dated February 6, 1991, said that if the government was really acting the part of the employer, it would raise the payment for services it wanted and reduce payment for those services it felt were being provided too frequently. "With binding arbitration and the Rand formula, the Ontario Medical Association has gained the rights of a trade union without the government gaining the right of the employer to set hours and conditions of work." That was from a report to the Toronto board of health on the payment of Ontario physicians dated February 1991.
I think those quotes raise some of the concerns that both doctors and the people of Ontario should have about this agreement. In many aspects, the Ontario Medical Association will have a veto over further health reform policies in this province. At the same time as the Ontario Medical Association has achieved that kind of health policy veto, the government of Ontario did not gain the opportunity to influence the structural reforms that are so badly needed in this province.
I understand that since this agreement was negotiated, I believe almost 10 months ago now, there have been no alternative payment agreements signed, because it imposes the Ontario Medical Association as the sole bargaining agent for doctors in universities, in clinical teaching units, who do not wish to have the Ontario Medical Association as their sole bargaining agent. It is my understanding -- I stand to be corrected -- that this agreement has interfered with the process that was well under way in negotiating alternative payment mechanisms with clinical teaching units in this province, in negotiating additional health service organizations.
I understand there has been a complete halt to the negotiation of additional health service organizations in this province. I am aware of a letter that was sent out from the new Deputy Minister of Health to all health service organization physicians saying, "Everything is on hold and we are renegotiating your contract with the Ontario Medical Association."
I think there are many surprises contained in this piece of legislation that the government has said heralds a new time of co-operation. I want to say that I hope there will be that co-operation. Certainly it is my view that it is in the interests of the people of this province for the doctors to be working in co-operation with the government.
I know it might surprise many people in this Legislature when I make the statement that when I was at the Ministry of Health, I believe that on most health policy issues we found the participation and involvement of doctors right across this province a very important and significant contribution to the development of health reform policies. Doctors were involved in virtually every committee within the Ministry of Health while I was there. Doctors, whether they were members of the Ontario Medical Association or not, were involved in the development of reform strategies at the Ministry of Health and served on virtually every advisory committee within the ministry. We had quite a good working relationship with individual doctors in this province. That does not mean we agreed on everything; we certainly did not.
We had a reasonable working relationship with the Ontario Medical Association until it came to the question of powers for the Ontario Medical Association, the powers under the Rand formula. Representation rights were a very significant sticky issue, because on that we simply did not agree. I did not agree that the doctors in this province would want to be part of a trade union. I did not believe and did not agree that the Ontario Medical Association should be interposed and have automatic representation rights for people who were not its members, without their right. I felt that was a freedom the doctors of this province should not have to give up without having a vote and a say. I did not believe that was in the best interests of the development of health policy.
Labour models of negotiation tend to be quite adversarial: the union versus management. Those models are adversarial models. It is my feeling that the doctors of this province do not want to be part of labour, that they do not want to be part or forced to be part of a trade union. It is my feeling that the doctors of this province would prefer to be part of management, rather than be part of labour.
When I see Bill 135 before us in the Legislature, which deals primarily with money and power for the Ontario Medical Association, I feel that perhaps the doctors of this province are not fully aware of the implications of this piece of legislation. I believe that over the medium to long term the doctors of this province and the people of Ontario will not be well served by the labour relations model that has been set in place and by the creation of a trade union for the Ontario Medical Association by this piece of legislation.
It is my belief, as I said earlier, that the leadership of the Ontario Medical Association supports this legislation and that it is in the interests of the Ontario Medical Association, but I do not believe this piece of legislation is in the interests of good health policy. I do not believe it is in the interests of the people of Ontario and I do not believe it is in the interests of individual doctors who are going to have their dues to the Ontario Medical Association automatically deducted from their OHIP billings, regardless of whether they are members of the Ontario Medical Association. They are going to have money deducted from their OHIP billings without their consent.
This legislation is a significant loss of freedom for the doctors in this province. As I rise today to participate in the debate on Bill 135, I feel that those doctors who do not support this should have the opportunity at committee to come forward for a day and speak their minds and say how they feel about this.
While the piece of legislation before us today conforms with the spirit of an agreement that was entered into, I believe the government of the day, the New Democratic Party, before too long will realize this is not in the interests of the people of Ontario and we will see that agreement discussed again in this Legislature in the not-too-distant future, when the agreement stands in the way of health reform and when the doctors of this province realize that the powers that have been given to the Ontario Medical Association are not in the interests of either the rank-and-file members or those who are not members. I do not believe this legislation is in the interests of the doctors who are licensed to practise in Ontario.
Mr Callahan: I think the suggestion made by my colleague the member for Oriole that this matter go to a committee was also briefly echoed by the member for London North, in order to allow these people, who apparently have not been heard in what had to appear to have been a collective agreement negotiated by the Minister of Health with the OMA, to be heard.
It strikes me as strange. There is a principle of natural justice that says all sides should be heard. If the government of the day rejects that and forces it into committee of the whole, that deprives these people of the opportunity to be heard.
It flies in the face of the principle of natural justice that all sides should be heard. It reinforces something I find very remarkable. This government would scream if in a collective bargaining scenario all parties were not present at the table, yet that is exactly what I understand to be the case in the comments of the member for Oriole and the member for London North, that there are people who were not at the bargaining table and did not have an opportunity to put their views forward as to whether or not they wished to have this type of legislation take place, whether it be an automatic checkoff of their fees or a pre-deduction from their OHIP payments.
I suggest the government of the day, in espousing and backing up the philosophy it has that in a collective agreement -- that is all the minister was having with the OMA; she was negotiating an agreement -- all parties should be heard, would have the good grace to refer this matter to a committee. It does not have to be for very long, perhaps for one day or half a day, to allow these people who have not been heard to be heard.
I think that is a matter of justice and fairness. I would expect this government would do that and not require that it go to committee of the whole House where people are not allowed to come into this chamber and address us.
Mrs Caplan: In the last few minutes of this debate, I think it is important to note two quotes. One is from Dr Berger in the May 27 Globe and Mail. It says: "This is a generous arrangement for doctors in these economic times. In this time of recession, why do hospitals, nurses and patients have to suffer because the government has negotiated this agreement with the doctors?" The second quote is from the Globe and Mail of May 13 and states, "While the government says that fiscal management is at the heart of the deal with the doctors, taxpayers remain to be convinced."
I believe, because of the generous nature of this agreement, that the doctors have overlooked the implications of Bill 135 and the effect it will have on their individual freedoms in this province. As I said earlier, it is my belief that while Bill 135 is in the interest of the Ontario Medical Association, it is not in the interest of the individual doctors in this province.
Mr Arnott: I am very pleased to rise this afternoon to speak to Bill 135, An Act to provide for the Payment of Physicians' Dues and Other Amounts to the Ontario Medical Association.
As explained in the explanatory note: "The purpose of this bill is to make the payment of amounts for the Ontario Medical Association's dues and assessments compulsory for all practising physicians. The amounts are a debt that the association can enforce in court. The bill applies to dues and assessments due on and after the 26th day of June, 1991.
"Sections 5 and 6 provide, in certain circumstances, for the amounts to be deducted at the source of a physician's income and paid directly to the Ontario Medical Association. Section 5 provides for the deduction from a physician's Ontario health insurance plan accounts. Section 6 provides for the deduction from physicians' compensation under an agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the province or a provincially funded body."
In other words, the legislation makes the payment of amounts for the Ontario Medical Association's dues and assessments compulsory for all practising physicians. Interns and residents are excluded, and the OMA may waive payment for specific physicians if it decides collecting the dues would bring financial hardship to the physician.
The general manager of OHIP, Dr MacMillan, will collect OMA dues from the billings of fee-for-service physicians prior to January 1 each year and will pay the deducted amount to the OMA. Where applicable, other governances that compensate physicians will collect dues for the OMA. The OMA will have the right to use the courts to collect unpaid dues.
This bill is before the Legislature this afternoon for debate, and I must say, when I look at this bill, as I do others when I determine whether I can support the government's initiative on behalf of my constituents, I must look and see how it affects my constituents in Wellington county, as well as people across the province. That must be the litmus test in my mind. I must ask the question, "Does this bill in any way enhance the delivery of health care services which are available to my constituents, as well as the people across the province, or will it in fact detract from the delivery of health care services in our area?"
I fear that it does the latter. I do not see how this bill will in any way enhance the delivery of health care services to the people in my riding. In fact, I am quite sure that services will be lessened as a result of this initiative and other policies that are coming forward from this government at the present time.
I would like to take a few minutes now to very briefly bring to the attention of the House some of the specific concerns that are affecting my constituents, partly as a result of this bill, but partly as a result of some of the other initiatives that are coming forward from the government. In our riding, in Wellington county, we have three hospitals: Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest, Palmerston and District Hospital in Palmerston and Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus. Many of my constituents are also served by the hospitals in Guelph, Guelph General Hospital and St Joseph's Hospital.
We have considerable concerns about the way the government is proceeding in the area of health care. The Louise Marshall Hospital in Mount Forest -- I was speaking to the Minister of Health about it this afternoon in requesting an opportunity for the administration and the board of that hospital to meet with the minister, and I certainly hope she will give consent to do that -- is facing a very significant and difficult time with its budget. They have a unique circumstance there in that for many years a large Mennonite population in the area was using that hospital and was paying cash for services rendered. Now that has gone by the wayside as a result of some of the initiatives that have been taken recently and the Mennonites are not paying cash for service. It has resulted in a considerable loss of income to this hospital, in the order of over $100,000, I believe, and its result is serious strains on the budget of the hospital.
Palmerston and District Hospital is a very well-run hospital, as they all are in my area. They have had difficulty in recruiting a qualified physiotherapist. There just do not seem to be enough physiotherapists who are qualified. They have recruited across the province, across the world, and they cannot seem to find physiotherapists to look after the needs of that area.
The Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus has been under stress lately because of government lack of funding.
In Guelph -- I do not need to remind the member for Oriole; she will remember that situation quite well -- there has been an effort for the last 20 years to try and bring forward a solution to the hospital redevelopment problems of Guelph. The former government appointed Mr William Blundell to look into the matter and to discuss the matter with the people of the area and come forward with a recommendation for hospital redevelopment. I understand that is nearing completion. It will be with the minister, I think within the next couple of months, if not sooner, and I certainly hope the minister will look favourably upon the recommendations that are brought forward at that time. We have waited a long time for hospital redevelopment.
We had a very bizarre situation during the election campaign. The Liberal candidate for Guelph had brought forward his own ideas for a solution to the hospital redevelopment issue. There were a number of different flip-flops with respect to the government's position, and we had the very bizarre situation whereby the sitting member for Guelph, who was running for re-election, in the midst of the campaign called for the resignation of his own Minister of Health, presently the member for Oriole. That was quite a considerable surprise to me as I was out on the election trail.
I would also draw attention to the fact that there is a need for a CAT scanner in Guelph. I know many of the other areas around the province are hoping to put together the necessary proposal for a CAT scanner, and I hope the minister will look favourably upon that when it is presented. It was unfortunate --
The Acting Speaker (Mr Farnan): Order. I know the member will relate his remarks to the bill before the House.
Mr Arnott: Yes, Mr Speaker, I am relating my remarks to Bill 135. I just want to talk once again about the significant, considerable needs in my riding that are not being met by this bill and frankly by policies like that.
I think at this point I would like to go into some of the concerns I have with respect to the agreement that was signed with the Ontario Medical Association and the government of Ontario. Of course, this bill is part and parcel of that particular agreement.
If we go back a few months, to last spring, April 12, a tentative deal was reached between the negotiating teams for the OMA and the government. It included a fairly significant fee-for-service rate increase. Of course, the doctors had been very concerned that their fees had not increased for some time under the former government.
As part and parcel of that agreement, I assume there was a commitment made that this government would bring forward this particular bill, and the OMA was, I am sure, absolutely delighted that this bill was going to be coming forward, which would ensure that money would be flowing into its bank account for many years to come.
It is a six-year agreement, running from April 1, 1991, to March 31, 1997, and it also provides for binding arbitration to both parties if there is a dispute that cannot be settled.
The OMA, through this bill, is recognized as the sole representative of physicians in Ontario in negotiating and determining doctors' fees. I guess that gives me my greatest concern, because I do not believe that the OMA represents the interests of all physicians in this province. Indeed it was quite evident and clear when the fact was presented and we saw the vote the physicians took to determine whether they would accept this agreement. I believe 13% of them did not support the agreement that was negotiated because they believe the agreement did not adequately address their concerns.
A great many of those doctors, I would submit, are the highly skilled specialists we have in Ontario, a great many of them feeling that their work is not being adequately rewarded, that there is not enough opportunity in this province presently. That concerns me greatly, because, as I said, getting back specifically to this bill, when you see that doctors are leaving the province, in many cases they are the most highly skilled physicians we have who are leaving this province because of lack of opportunity. They are heading south. There have been a great many of them in the past few years.
The OMA does not negotiate for many doctors in this province, and that is why I think a lot of the physicians feel that the OMA does not necessarily represent their interests. If you are looking at industrial physicians who may work in industry or for insurance companies and collect a salary, the OMA does not negotiate their salary and will not negotiate their salary, in spite of this bill, as far as I know. Lab physicians are also salaried employees who do not work fee-for-service and therefore will not be represented by the OMA in terms of negotiating their salaries or their moneys that are given to them. We know there are a great many doctors employed at the Workers' Compensation Board to assess whether claims are legitimate. Those doctors do not make fees for service. They make a salary, generally speaking. There are a great many doctors employed by the Ministry of Health of Ontario and Canada, and their money is not fees for service. They obtain a salary as well. Teaching doctors who are involved in research and teaching at our fine teaching hospitals, tertiary care centres, are not included. They will not be represented through this bill.
I have given this a great deal of research, and I found that in the area of cranial-facial surgery, which is one of the highest subspecialties of plastic surgery, we have lost a great many of our best, most highly skilled surgeons in the past couple of years. I cannot say why they left, because only they can indicate that. But my concern is that many of them may have left because they felt there was a lack of opportunity in this province, and they felt that going elsewhere they would have more opportunities to utilize their skills in a better way.
Actually, the father of cranial-facial surgery, Dr Monro, left this province about five years ago. Another very well-known doctor in this field, Dr Uldis Bite, left about one and a half years ago to go to the Mayo Clinic to the south, and Dr Joe Gruss, who was in Toronto, left recently to go to the University of Washington in Seattle, because he felt there was more there for him, I assume. Dr Hugh Bailey left for California.
These are some of the most highly skilled surgeons we had in the most highly trained subspecialty, cranial-facial surgery. We have lost them, and we have to give consideration to how we are going to replace these people.
I know that University Hospital in London has been trying for many months to recruit a qualified cranial-facial surgeon of the calibre that these people I mentioned were and are, and they have been unable to do so -- the same with the University of Toronto, I understand.
It concerns me greatly that these people have felt they had to move south, for whatever reason, and that we in Ontario are not able to keep these most highly skilled surgeons here, and that comes right back to my own constituents. When my constituents require health care service, if it is something beyond what is offered locally, many of them end up coming to Toronto. My own mother spent many months in hospitals in Toronto. That is a reality we face in rural Ontario, because there is not the same sort of service available locally, so we end up coming to Toronto.
It concerns me greatly when we see that these people have not even stayed in Toronto because they felt it was not here for them. When people go to places like the Mayo Clinic and the University of Washington in Seattle, you know those are some of the best medical institutions in the world and you know that those doctors who have been recruited there are of very high calibre and quality or they would not have been recruited by those institutions.
I also understand that of the total number of plastic surgeons who are presently practising in Toronto, 20% to 25% are contemplating leaving or planning to leave or have left in the past few months.
Teaching surgeons are some of the ones that are most likely to leave because, again, there is not the opportunity here. If we look at that aspect, we can see things are not going to get better in the short term or the long term, when we understand that as many teaching surgeons as we need probably are not going to be staying.
This comes back to the issue of excellence once again. My concern is that this government does not seem to understand adequately the absolute need for pursuing excellence and rewarding excellence. I cannot recall a single initiative that has been taken by this government that is cognizant of that very important reality.
I have probably made all the points I would like to make this afternoon, but I am certainly very disappointed in this bill. I cannot support it. I will not be supporting it. I hope the government will, in fact, respond to the request that was made earlier this afternoon by a number of different members, including my colleague the member for London North, to refer this bill not to the committee of the whole but to a standing committee of this Legislature, so we can have people coming forward who may feel that this bill is not in their best interests either and who may be able to give us some information that will help us as we work to respond to the health care needs of the province.
Mr J. Wilson: I thought the comments from my colleague the member for Wellington were excellent, and I want to take a minute and a half to commend him and to point out that it is surprising that the government is giving this sweetheart deal to the Ontario Medical Association. I said this in my remarks the other day. I will be supporting the bill for a number of other reasons, but many of my colleagues have grave concerns about this, and we are asking that the bill go to a standing committee of the Legislature. It will be interesting to see the OMA come forward and defend this deal it has struck with the government.
Just a few minutes ago, the Minister of Health was given a report by the investigators who were investigating the finances and structure of St Michael's Hospital. The investigators found that St Michael's debt as at March 31, 1991, was $63 million and that St Michael's operating deficit for its fiscal year ended March 31, 1991, was $16.6 million. That is big news, and that will be headline news tonight and tomorrow, I am sure.
It is a staggering amount of money for just one hospital to be in debt. It is a new fact, because yesterday when we were debating that hospitals were in debt some $200 million across the province, we did not know the specifics on St Michael's, so the $200 million figure has just been raised substantially.
This deal takes a great deal of money out of taxpayers' pockets. It is going to be a severe drain on taxpayers. The binding arbitration aspect is one that I know from past experience is going to be very costly. We look forward to the debate in standing committee and we hope the government will support us in our efforts to have the bill sent to the standing committee.
Mr Stockwell: I thought the member for Wellington's comments were both insightful and somewhat provocative. They are well-thought-out, in my opinion.
It is very interesting to see this government reacting to the debts owed from the 1990 election. We have seen systematically this government pay off its IOUs to organizations and to special interest groups and advocates. This and a few other bills appear to be the doctors' payoff for their support.
Today we heard the announcement by the Minister of Labour. Here is the union payoff announced today about how it is going to unionize and organize, and of course we know full well there is a double payoff there as well, because for everybody who organizes and forms a union, money automatically gets funnelled back through the system into the coffers of the NDP itself. The teachers as well have seen their payoff.
These are the kinds of things that I think set a very dangerous precedent. When we have governments being elected by advocates, by special interest groups and so on, they no longer think about the good of the people when they get involved, the good of everyone in the province. They think about their buddies who happen to be the union people. Teachers are paid off, the medical doctors, the medical profession, and it is very discouraging to sit on this side of the House and see it.
It is less than honourable in my opinion. It certainly sacrifices the benefits of many in this province for a select few. What is becoming more and more obvious is that if you happen to endorse this government through participation or financial help at election time, you can expect your payoff to come with legislation in the not too distant future.
Apparently, as the member for Wellington pointed out, this is the payoff to the doctors. It is a sad commentary.
Mrs Caplan: I think it is important for me to clarify one matter, that what has been negotiated is substantially different than what originally had been requested by the Ontario Medical Association of the government some two years ago. The original request of the Ontario Medical Association was that any doctor who refused to pay dues to the Ontario Medical Association would lose his licence to practise in Ontario. That was the original closed-shop Rand formula requested by the Ontario Medical Association.
While I think the doctors of the province might consider this would be an improvement over what had originally been requested, this bill says doctors do not even have the right to challenge in court that the OMA automatically receives a deduction from what doctors are expecting to receive from the OHIP account according to their billing. I felt it should be on the record that what the Ontario Medical Association originally wanted to do, not only to their own members but to all doctors in this province, was to say that if they did not pay dues to the Ontario Medical Association, whether they were members or not, they would lose their licence to practise medicine in Ontario.
I think what was negotiated by this government was an improvement over that. That was totally unacceptable to me, both on behalf of the doctors and the government some two years ago. I believe the process in place which takes the money automatically from the doctors, while it is equally offensive to many doctors in this province, means at least none of them will lose their licence to practise because they refuse to send their dues to the Ontario Medical Association.
Mr Turnbull: I want to compliment my colleague the member for Wellington. I would like to add a few points. We are forcing doctors into unions. For the first time the OMA becomes the official union and they must belong to it. A lot of specialists do not want to belong to a trade union and it is unprecedented that the government should be gathering trade union dues. Is this an indication of what is going to happen in the future, after they have all their legislation to make sure everybody is unionized, that they are going to collect the dues for them? Further, are they going to give a fee to the government for collecting the union dues for them, or is this going to be free of charge?
The Acting Speaker: Order. Will the member take his seat. This kind of interjection is unacceptable. It is unacceptable from the Solicitor General. It is unacceptable from other members of the government benches. The member must be given the floor.
Mr Turnbull: It apparently is a sore spot with the government when we talk about forcing people to be members of a union, and that is what our party is against. We have seen it today with the proposed legislation. They want to bring in labour legislation and make it easier to join unions. In fact, it is not just making it easier to join unions; it is forcing people into unions and we are on a slippery slope in this province when we do that.
The idea of collecting union dues on behalf of somebody through the government is absolutely incredible. Is the government going to be reimbursed for that? Is the government going to start collecting union dues for any union it has anything to do with?
The Acting Speaker: The member for Wellington may wish to use up the two minutes to respond to comments and questions.
Mr Arnott: I am disappointed my colleague did not have an opportunity to speak to this, but I want to thank my colleagues in my caucus for their compliments. I appreciate that.
Another issue that has to be reaffirmed at this point is the issue of government accessibility. When we talk about forcing this bill to a standing committee of the Legislature -- I should not say forcing it perhaps, but referring it so as to give one day of opportunity for some of the physicians or anyone who is interested, as my colleague the member for Simcoe West indicated. The OMA, I am sure, would be interested in putting its position on this matter. I certainly hope the government will allow that to happen.
Second, on the issue of accessibility, I know the Minister of Health is very busy looking after her responsibilities as best she can, but I also know that I have a hospital in my riding seeking a meeting with the minister. As I indicated earlier, I am advocating on its behalf to get through the door to see the minister and we hope that will come about very soon.
Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: There is not a quorum in the House on this very important issue and I ask that it be checked.
The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.
Mr Arnott: I would like to reiterate my hope and my feeling that the government should allow this bill to go to a standing committee of this Legislature so we can put forward our views, the concerns out there that may have remained unaddressed. I certainly hope the government will assent to that this afternoon. I have said about as much on this bill as I intend to this afternoon and I thank members.
Mr Cousens: Just this last week we saw the importance a doctor can play in providing the kind of service that really touches the needs of people. When we saw the dedication of Wilma DeGroot in the accident in Canada's northland, we began to see the kinds of skills that were there. The other evening when I saw her interviewed on CBC, I began to have a great sense of pride not only for the people who serve in Canada's armed forces, but in particular for this young person, 25 or 26 years of age, recently graduated from Queen's University, now doing her three-year stint with the armed forces.
There she was in this Hercules airplane caught in the north. When it was broken up and on the ground, there was a person ready to serve and look after the people who were injured; marvellous dedication, which to me embodies so much of what the medical profession is all about.
So often, when we come into this House to examine one of these dry bills that has been prepared by the ministry, we somehow lose the touch of the humanity that is very much a part of what it is all about. We are dealing with the people who make the system work.
Wilma DeGroot, as a physician, is there, and seeing her interviewed the other evening, as one dedicated to serving her fellow human beings, at personal risk and doing those right things, first of all, she had the compassion, but beyond that, she had the training. She did not have the equipment. When they were in that situation in the northland, they did not have all that was needed to help the wounds and the burns, and certainly nothing to handle the terrible cold. None the less she was there, committed to serving her fellow passengers in that flight of death.
That illustrates to me something that is not all that uncommon. What is uncommon is that we as a society fail so often to pause and reflect about what she did and what doctors are doing just around the corner right now in the Hospital for Sick Children, the Toronto General Hospital, Women's College Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, the Wellesley Hospital: serving those people who are part and parcel of the community of Ontario. When a person goes through for medicine and becomes someone who is given that special licence to treat people and care for them after many years of service and training, he or she has a chance to go out and participate in society and hopefully help make it a healthier place for people.
In commenting on Bill 135, I want to start by complimenting the medical profession. We start with doctors, and there is not one of us who does not have at least one doctor. As you get older, I suppose you end up having more and more to look after your different needs and problems. We have the great fortune also in Ontario that if we are not satisfied with the kind of treatment and care we receive, we can select another doctor. We are not required to stay in that one physician's care. We have the freedom to choose the kind of medical service we want to have. I believe so much of it begins with the physician and the care he or she is able to give us.
I am concerned about the long-term impact that will affect the care and treatment we receive because of the implications this bill will have on the medical profession. I believe genuinely that there will be more Wilma DeGroots who will go through for medicine. When young people come into the medical profession, they do it out of the idealism of medicine, what it is to put on that gown, take those instruments and learn all the intricacies of their profession in order to become the very best.
It is a profession that has been under attack for quite a number of years, ever since 1986, when the doctors lined up out here on Queen's Park Crescent. It was probably one of the largest turnouts I have ever seen. The profession represented itself very well, saying at that time it was opposed to extra-billing. They formed a tremendous body of people and came out here because they saw their profession under attack.
The extra-billing issue has been put aside for a while and we are now in a position where people in the medical profession are virtually civil servants. The compensation they receive for the job they do, the performance of looking after people, is something where they are reimbursed through OHIP. It is largely that way.
There are some doctors who are probably still extra-billing. I have heard of instances where some doctors at least have extra charges for services that are not so perfectly defined by the province in its billing statements. So doctors will charge for phoned-in prescriptions, for sending a medical examination to another doctor or sending a file to another doctor. There are certain services they will charge for on top of the OHIP schedule. I think that is unfortunate, but they are probably very selective about whom they charge. Some people obviously do not have the funds to pay for some of these extra services. I think the intent of our medical system is that everybody has free health care. My only point here is that there is a small percentage of doctors I have heard of who are going outside that box and charging for services.
That is not the real issue. The real issue comes down to the medical profession having one of the most important responsibilities, as do all the professions, but theirs is to care for our physical, emotional and psychological needs. There are so many ways in which the medical profession can do that.
Having an understanding then of their intention to go into the profession and why they are there, it is rather a hurtful experience to talk to so many doctors over the last five years, since the extra-billing debacle, and find they are still hurt to such a degree that now they do not have the sense of freedom of being independent business people having a sense of total responsibility over the running of their business or their office and seeing their office and the delivery of a health care services as also being a business. There is a sense in which they feel enslaved to the system, to the guidelines of the Ontario Ministry of Health, under which they fall. The billing and that part of their business which was previously an entrepreneurial type of thing now is all defined. Everything is delineated and defined by the government under OHIP.
We are now in a position where we are saying: "Not only are you totally controlled by the Ontario government, now, through the government, we're also going to collect your fees for the Ontario Medical Association. In fact, what it really comes to is that you're becoming more and more like a union member."
I was listening to the member for York Mills, and his comments following up the member for Wellington really touched the heart of that problem: how tragic that physicians and surgeons and doctors are all falling now into that category of being part of the unions in Ontario.
We saw today new legislation that is coming forward. It will come because of the majority of the New Democrats. They are going to be able to force through heinous legislation that will set back Ontario many years. When Europe is going the other way and opening up and moving to democracy, we in this socialist state of Ontario are moving into a totally other kind of restrictive, controlled, legislated, regulated environment where the independent freedom of individuals is being taken away and the government is going to have that master control over it. The problem we have is that the doctors now will fall more and more into that category, and that is part of the tragedy of the new Ontario. The rest of the world seems to be moving into another stream as Ontario moves into the socialist stream.
I know British Columbia is gone, Saskatchewan is gone, Yukon has gone socialist, and who knows what is going to happen in the next federal election. There is a real sense that this country seems to want socialism, but I do not think it wants it as badly as these guys who are running the government of Ontario.
One of my purposes here as a member of the opposition is to try to at least remind the government and the governing party that what it is doing does not have unanimous support. If they come through with some policy that I like, I am going to tell them, and there have been a few; I would have a hard time thinking of them right now. But I want them to know that if they are going to continue to push Ontario back into the Middle Ages and into a socialist regime that others are trying to get out of, then we are going to do everything we can to remind them of another approach.
Mr Mills: You want us to collect tax on commission. That's the Roman days.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Villeneuve): Order, please. Interjections are out of order. The honourable member should just address the Chair.
Mr Cousens: I think the member is just saying what the doctors make does not matter a tinker's to him. He wants to see them suffer as much as possible. I would say that is not where we are coming from on this whole issue. That is absolutely the wrong direction.
What I see happening here is that as you look back to it, the cost of health care in Ontario is in excess of $5 billion, just allocated for OHIP payments in this fiscal year 1991-92. That is an awful lot of money. Then we also realize that doctors have not had a fee increase since 1989. So what we are now dealing with is, how do we deal with future negotiations with doctors?
The problem we have is that the doctors' positions are now going to be handled far more as a union-type negotiation. The OMA will become the speaking body for the doctors and the issues as presented by the OMA will be dealt with through a government body. Then if there is a breakdown in negotiations, that breakdown will mean they can go to a third party to have an arbitrated settlement.
When you start thinking about giving that kind of power to a group outside the Legislature, outside the control and power of the elected officials of Ontario, through an act that we will be passing here in this House shortly, it really means that we are giving away our sense of responsibility for to how the money is going to be spent.
I went through a number of negotiations in my life when I was on the school board, and I think one of the hardest things for the negotiating sides is to give up their negotiating rights to a third party to resolve it. Third-party arbitration is always one of the most difficult things, because if you cannot work it through yourselves, it just becomes a horrible moment. Negotiations are the best way of having it, but what will happen is that when the doctors have a breakdown in the negotiation procedures between themselves and the province of Ontario, there will be a third-party arbitration board that begins to solve those problems.
That should not be the case. Those problems should be addressed here in the House by all members. When you are dealing with the kinds of dollars I am referring to -- you are talking of in excess of $5 billion when dealing with OHIP billings -- those kinds of dollars really should not be, and to the Liberals' credit were not allowed to be, put off to some other party to decide. This group is going to move in a direction that allows some arbitrary third-party group to pass these things.
We are moving, in a way, towards socialism. If the people of Ontario only knew what they were doing on September 6, 1990, in electing the Premier and the socialist horde to Queen's Park, they might have had second thoughts as to how much they disliked Mr Peterson, or maybe they would have given a second look at the member for Nipissing to see what the Taxfighter would do for Ontario.
But the die was cast, and since that die was cast, we in Ontario, at least in the Legislature, now have to put up with the kind of legislation we are dealing with today, legislation that is not that well thought out, that is giving more and more power to an independent group, that is making one of the most important professional bodies in Ontario just like another union, not by name, but by act, by deed, by appearances, by virtue of saying, "The province will now collect your fees for the OMA."
What about those doctors in Ontario who do not want to be members of that? I have been led to believe there are some 3,000 doctors who are presently not members of the OMA. Are we now going to make it compulsory that they be members of the Ontario Medical Association? Is that what we are requiring, I ask the member for Durham Centre?
Mr White: No.
Mr Cousens: No? Well, what are we doing then? He does not know. That is part of the problem. The government backbenchers do not know what this legislation really means. That is what concerns me.
Mr White: Make them pay their dues.
Mr Cousens: He maybe has an answer now.
The Acting Speaker: Please address your comments to the Chair.
Mr Cousens: It was a test question and they failed, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: The honourable member from the government side will have the opportunity, when you have completed your remarks, to participate.
Mr Cousens: I just do not think they understand how serious it is for those doctors who are not members of the OMA to now be required by Bill 135 to have all their fees gathered and collected and submitted through the Ontario government plan. If you have ever seen something that has the earmarks of Big Brother and control over a profession, you are starting to see it. You can make a lot of points on what I am trying to do. In fact, in reading through Hansard, I have seen some of the best speeches by members of our caucus that I have seen in a long time.
In her comments the other day, the member for Mississauga South -- her husband is a dentist and I think she has been close to the medical profession for a long time -- had some of the most astute statements to make with regard to this bill. The comments yesterday by the member for Leeds-Grenville pointing out the ramifications of the bill also brought up an awful lot of background.
I noticed the Liberals coming out of their shell a little bit through the discussions on this bill, trying to find some rationale for at least disagreeing with the socialists for once. But I commend the members of our caucus for the way in which they have come forward and had very strong points to make with regard to it.
What can we do? I feel extremely frustrated as a member of the Legislature, because the only thing I am able to do is to stand up and argue the case and say -- maybe I am taking too long to say it --
Mr Cousens: They all agree that I have taken too long to say it, but we are continuing to put down professions one at a time. For us now to be in the terrible position of boxing in the medical profession -- the government is just beginning to put the bow on it with this kind of bill. I feel that is a tragedy that is not deserved by those people who are such an integral part of our health care system.
There are so many other things this government could be doing in dealing with health care, but it has not begun to address them. If only it could begin to make sure the quality was there throughout the system. If only it could begin to make sure that those people who are abusing the system right now could be stopped. If only there were ways in which we could have professional laypeople getting involved in the health care system to see where more economies could be found.
I stand here in this House as one who continues to read about doctors who are moving to other jurisdictions because they have given up on practising here in Canada. I had an article by another doctor who blames the health care system for driving him out. This is just another one who has decided he is not going to stay in Canada; he is going to move on to the United States.
We are developing them here. We bring them through our educational system, train them and help them become the very best professionals they could possibly be, and then we have a system installed under Queen's Park that discourages them and sends them off to the States or Europe or some other place. I do not mind seeing us do our share to help Third World countries, but I do not want to see us drive the profession away from our own country unnecessarily. Let's begin to do something about it.
I am grateful for the attention that has been given to this. I have a number of other points to make, but I understand there are a sufficient number of people who would like to see this bill voted on. I can assure members that I will be voting against it. It sounds innocuous as it is, but it is not. It is a bill that begins a further step of erosion of a profession that I value too highly to see put down the way this is doing. The dippers in Ontario will win this bill, but I hope that through the public dialogue in committee and through other processes, we can at least get the people to understand that we care deeply about our health care profession and the delivery of health care in Ontario, and we are not just going to let them destroy it.
Hon Mr Philip: Listening to the honourable member for Markham -- whom I have been, I think I can honestly say, a friend of for a number of years -- one has to ask whether or not he has read the bill. Clearly there is nothing in this legislation that requires anyone -- any doctor, any physician -- to be a member of the Ontario Medical Association.
What it does is what other organizations do that have collective bargaining rights; namely, that you have to pay for a service you are getting. Surely that makes sense. Why should someone get a free ride when others are paying? It does allow for that payment, under what would be a traditional Rand system, under section 3. But under section 4 it also allows the board of directors of the Ontario Medical Association to waive that fee if there is a particular problem with a physician, if there is an illness or an economic problem with the physician. It would allow, for example, a physician who was involved in missionary work or other types of work where he or she was not receiving remuneration to have that fee waived.
Surely it makes sense, when 87% of the physicians in Ontario have voted for a system that they think will work, to listen to the physicians of Ontario. That is what this government has done and that is reflected in this. There may be some people who do not want to be members of the Ontario Medical Association for a variety of reasons. Some are on the left of the Ontario Medical Association and some are on the right, but I think that if you asked a lot of those people, they would still say: "We don't want a free ride. We accept that this is the body that at the present point in time does represent a majority of the doctors in Ontario. It is acting on behalf of a majority of doctors in Ontario, and therefore we should pay for that." They may not want to belong for various reasons, but this bill does not force them to join.
Mr Cousens: I appreciate the remarks of the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. I do not agree with them. I think what has happened is they are going to pay the bill but they do not have any rights under the OMA. The government now is taking special control over the OMA by collecting fees. It now puts the OMA into a special category. It puts all doctors into a closer relationship with the government than ever before.
Mr Stockwell: Whether they want to be or not; no more freedoms.
Mr Cousens: Whether they want to be or not, they are now forced into a new relationship with their association and with the government. I have to say I do not support that philosophy. I think the honourable Minister of Transportation believes very much what he is saying. I would say that is part of the philosophy where you put everybody into a box and then you have them that way. I go more for freedom of people to believe and do what they want to do. The OMA does negotiate but there may be other groups within the OMA that believe different things and that can fight for them.
Mr Tilson: It is called freedom of choice.
Mr Cousens: Yes, it is called freedom of choice. It is not the kind of forced existence that this government is bringing forward in this country now. There are enough doctors out there who need to have someone to defend them. I think they will all be defended if we come along and take away the controls and regimentation this government is trying to put around them. They should let them have some of the freedoms again and also come back and bring in other factors that are going to make sure we have quality in our hospitals. We have quality in our doctors, but the whole system needs to have a real strong review. Somehow or other it is not working right now. I have more complaints from people than ever before about a carefree attitude.
It starts with the doctors somehow becoming jaundiced. They are losing something of that idealism they started with when they started out in the profession. Let's go back to some of the things that made this province great and made the health care profession great. This is not the kind of thing that adds to strength.
Mr Wessenger: I am very pleased to make what I hope are some concluding remarks with respect to second reading of this legislation. First, I would like to comment with respect to the matter on the compulsory payment of dues. This legislation is not unique in Canada. Already there is the compulsory payment of dues in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, and formerly Manitoba had legislation to this effect. I do not think this particular legislation is what is so significant for debate. I think it is the whole question of the agreement between the government of Ontario and the Ontario Medical Association.
I would agree with the member for Renfrew North who said this agreement was of great significance. I think it is of great significance because it is the first time in Canada we have ever had the medical profession agreeing to maintain the principles of medicare, including universality and accessibility. I think that is a great advance. It is a great compliment to our medical profession that they have come out in full support of our universal and accessible medicare system.
Second, I think it is also of significance in the whole question of controlling health care costs in this province. I think we all recognize the health care budget has been escalating and taking a greater percentage of the provincial budget. It has now gone up to approximately one third of the total budget. I think all members surely recognize the need to control the extent of the health care budget. We certainly do not want to go the way of the American situation where it has gone to an extent of 12% of the budget and leaves 37 million people unprotected, a very unsatisfactory and highly expensive inefficient system.
What this agreement does with its joint management committee is attempt to address some of the major problems with respect to the cost of health care. It recognizes in this whole question of controlling the cost of health care that the medical profession plays the key role. We have to recognize that the medical profession is the key player in this. They have agreed to co-operate with the government of Ontario in trying to bring the cost of medical care into control in order to have a more efficient system and more value in the system.
The joint management committee is going to look at such things as what areas appropriately should or should not be insured under our system. They are taking action with respect to the whole problem of utilization, that is, the increase in the number of physicians in the province, which is putting increased strain on our costs, and also the degree of utilization we have had per physician, which has been increasing dramatically. We brought measures in this agreement to try to cap that increase.
Also, if we look at the role physicians play in health care, our drug benefit program is almost out of control with a 15% to 18% increase in costs over a year. Again the medical profession plays a key role in the question of drug costs.
We should look at the whole question of lab tests running at an increase of 20% a year. Again the medical profession is a key player in keeping these costs under control.
Then we look at the whole question of hospital costs, which have been going up and escalating. We have the highest level in Canada with respect to hospital utilization. Who controls hospital admission and who controls the length of stay in hospitals but the medical profession?
If we want to control the costs of medical care in this province, we have to work in co-operation with the medical profession. I am very pleased we are the first government that has signed an agreement to work in co-operation with them. I know we can improve our medicare system because of that.
With respect to the question of arbitration, we believe as a government in collective bargaining. When collective bargaining does not work, you can have an unsatisfactory situation occur in an area of the health field such as the provision of medical services by physicians, such as a strike. I think a strike is unacceptable as a method of determining the matter of compensation for physicians. Arbitration was the model recommended by Mr Justice Hall and it is the model we have accepted.
I might add that in the agreement there are guidelines with respect to arbitration. The guidelines include that the compensation has to be in light of prevailing economic conditions in the province and the overall state of the provincial economy. They also include cost changes in the actual cost of practice for the physician, the level of physician payments and methods of payments in other Canadian provinces, the growth or decline in real per capita income and the Ontario cost-of-living increase.
With those restrictions I have confidence the arbitration system will work reasonably, being fair both to the province of Ontario and to the medical profession. I would therefore urge members to support this legislation as being a key part of this agreement.
Mrs Caplan: In his summation, the parliamentary assistant stressed the fiscal levers the government is using. He talked about what they are going to ensure, what they are not going to ensure, and he talked about income caps, all of which are part of this legislation.
I want to say to him at this point in time that I believe we afford in this province to give the people of Ontario the care they really need. I think we can afford accessible, appropriate care. I do not believe we have a problem that is related only to cost. I do believe we have a problem with the level of inappropriate care and the number of things that are being done in this province which are completely unnecessary or wasteful. That is considered inappropriate care. I have not seen any initiative taken by the government in this agreement or in this piece of legislation which would address that issue.
I am very concerned that the message the government is sending out to people is that the problems within the health care system have to do with affordability. It is my view that we can afford to give people in this province the care that is going to improve their health and that will make them well when they are sick, in an effective and appropriate way.
I want to say to the parliamentary assistant that I find distressing in the extreme his focus on the fiscal levers, his focus simply on affordability, his focus which removes from health policy the desire to improve appropriate care and to improve the quality and to say to the people of this province that the government is going to commit itself to ensuring that people who are sick and who are in need of care will get the care they need.
I repeat again that we can afford in this province for people to have high-quality, appropriate care when they are sick.
Mrs Marland: The irony in the comments of the parliamentary assistant is the fact that this piece of legislation has nothing to do with guaranteeing any level of health care to the patients in this province. All this legislation does, as I have said on two previous days this week, is unionize doctors. What will that do either to solve the high cost of health care in this province or to give any assurance that when people are sick, we will have dedicated, committed physicians who are still here with all their qualifications to treat those sick people?
What this bill does is insult the medical profession in this province. This bill that makes doctors union members -- no matter what other words you want to use, that is what it does -- does nothing to deal with the problems that are associated with major health care deficiencies in this province.
This bill will not bring back one single bed that has been closed in this province in the last five years. It will not do anything to ensure jobs for nurses who are now out of work because this government is cutting back on the funding to hospitals and hospitals are having to close beds. All this bill does is further alienate the professionals on whom we are dependent for the provision of health care. It is a further focus on saying, "Let's blame the doctors for the health care costs in this province," which is not the case.
Mr Callahan: I had not intended to join in this debate again, except that the comments by the member for Mississauga South struck a chord.
The Acting Speaker: I want to remind the honourable member that we are commenting on the member for Simcoe Centre's comments.
Mr Callahan: The member for Mississauga South indicated that the member for Simcoe Centre had indicated this does great things for the health care system, but the thing that really struck me was when she indicated that this was in fact unionizing the doctors.
I guess the question I have to ask is -- and I am not going to use the full two minutes -- what will be the follow-up on this, recognizing that the Minister of Labour, within his package of proposed amendments, I believe, has a provision whereby if there is a strike, the business cannot carry on? Does this mean that if the doctors struck, if in fact this does create a union, hospitals would not be able to carry on, that they would be left to close? I really do not know the answer to that. I guess maybe the parliamentary assistant is the one who would have to reply to it, but it certainly smacks unfavourably and I think is something that should have been considered.
The final thing is that I understand people do not necessarily have to belong to the association but they have to pay their dues, so they get all of the obligations but none of the benefits. If in fact their dues are taken from them, they do not get the right to the pension benefits that are available through the OMA. What is happening is that they are paying and getting nothing in return for it.
The Acting Speaker: We can accommodate one more participant in questions or comments. Seeing none, the honourable parliamentary assistant, the member for Simcoe Centre.
Mr Wessenger: I have nothing further to say.
The Acting Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Pursuant to standing order 27(g), I request that the vote on the motion by the Honourable Frances Lankin for second reading of Bill 135, An Act to provide for the Payment of Physicians' Dues and Other Amounts to the Ontario Medical Association, be deferred until immediately following routine proceedings on Monday, November 18, 1991.
Mr Cousens: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would think that what has just happened here is that the voice vote could easily carry. If you were to ask for the vote again on that bill, it might just carry this time and a deferral may not be required.
The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Do we have unanimous consent that we carry on this vote again?
The Acting Speaker: All those in favour, please say "aye."
All those opposed, please say "nay"
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Bill ordered for standing committee on social development.
Le projet de loi est déféré au comité permanent des affaires sociales.
FIRE MARSHALS AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES COMMISSAIRES DES INCENDIES
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 131, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act.
Suite du débat ajourné sur la motion visant la deuxième lecture du projet de loi 131, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les commissaires des incendies.
The Acting Speaker: When we last debated this bill, the honourable member for Leeds-Grenville had the floor. I do not see the honourable member present. Are there any other members wishing to participate?
Mr Callahan: I will be relatively brief, and I can hear of a sigh of relief from members, but this is really a piece of legislation that once again was a Liberal government initiative, and once again is in the same vein as the discussions yesterday and probably for days past, when numerous bills have been brought forward by this government that were in fact bills that were instituted by the Liberal government. I guess what they are trying to do is to clear the decks of legislation that was well thought out and was sensitive and was going to address the needs of the people of the province, and for that I commend them. That is showing good judgement.
However, having said that, we recognize that our fire departments are made up, as we all know, of components of those who are full-time, those who are volunteers and those in municipalities where it is part volunteer and part full-time. We figure that we have 34 full-time departments that are staffed entirely by salaried firefighters, 100 composite departments that consist of a contingent of salaried firefighters as well as a number of volunteer firefighters and that we have 522 volunteer departments staffed entirely by volunteer firefighters.
I think it is important that the Solicitor General would have brought forward, or at least revealed to the House in a statement, many of the things that were decided by a consensus body put together by the Liberal government, a group of people from various backgrounds similar to the body that was put together to discuss the question of police reform prior to the police bill being brought in. It was really an innovative way of getting various groups to sit down and try to come up with at least a minimum amount of consensus and report back to the minister.
The former minister, the member for Cambridge, in a speech to the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs at their 39th annual conference, refers to this report and says he expects that he will be able to do something before the end of the year. We are not seeing anything from the present Solicitor General. In fairness, he did take over sort of in mid-stream, but one would think the importance of firefighting in this province, the importance of a number of things that were discussed by this consultative body, would have been addressed well before this.
We are approaching the end of this sitting. We are approaching the end of the year. Still we see nothing before this Legislature in terms of some of the very important issues, ie, the question of training of volunteers and ensuring that training takes place as close as possible to home, since it was agreed that we did not want to inconvenience these people who serve Ontario so faithfully by requiring them to go to locations that might involve a good deal of travel.
We have heard nothing about that. We have a very excellent report by Justice John Webber, who happens to be the chief judge of the courthouse in my jurisdiction, which was rendered in 1981. It was in the matter of high-rise fires and it arose out of a very tragic fire just shortly before that. There were some very excellent recommendations made in that report and we have not seen anything brought forward by the Solicitor General who is responsible for this piece of legislation.
As I said at the outset, we will be supporting the amendments per se because they are really relatively minor. In a sense they could be considered to be housekeeping, although there are some, particularly dealing with hazardous waste, that are of some importance. The fact is that there has not been anything else brought forward by this government, other than legislation that was already on the books or was to be brought forward by the previous Liberal government before the election.
I have to wonder, is this indicative of what is happening with the government of the day? Has it no new ideas of its own? Are they not moving ahead on initiatives either on their own or good initiatives that were instituted by the previous government? Are they bankrupt of ideas? Are they simply going to make statements in the House that scare the living daylights out of the residents of Ontario, such as the document dealing with the proposed labour matters, or are they moving ahead and are they good managers of this province?
I suggest this is another indication that there is no agenda. There is no rudder. The sails have been taken down and the ship of state is now moving in an erratic fashion hither and yon and there is no one at the helm. We have not seen the captain in here for days. The captain of the Good Ship Lollipop has not been in the Legislature for four or five days, and he is the captain of the ship.
I have grave concern, as do many of the members in the opposition and third parties. I think there probably are even people in the government who are sort of scratching their heads and saying: "This is not getting on with what we ran for and what we got elected for." They are not getting on with the agenda we thought they would have, the Agenda for People.
Each time a bill is brought in that was thought out by the previous government, where not one letter or period or comma has been taken out, identical to what was brought forward by the previous Liberal government, one has to wonder what is going on in the minds of people in the government. These good people ran for office anticipating that a lot of good things would be done, that they would be able to get these good things done for the constituents in their ridings. Yet day after day we see this type of legislation brought forward that is not their legislation. What they have done is to reintroduce the same bill -- hopefully they have photostated it to save expense to the taxpayers of this province -- put the name of a minister of the present government on it and claimed ownership of it.
The other day, the third party critic for the Ministry of the Attorney General was talking about two or three bills that were brought in by the Attorney General which were really bills that had been introduced by the former Attorney General, again hopefully photostated with the new Attorney General's name put on them. I think anyone who is an ardent follower of this Legislature has to take it as déjà vu. If they really followed it closely and saw these bills being introduced by the former Liberal government, they would realize that exactly the same bills are being introduced, albeit 14 months later, by this government that is supposed to be managing and steering the ship of state.
I have to say it does not give me a serious feeling of comfort when I go to bed at night, knowing all we are really getting over there is recycled material. That is interesting, because we have heard nothing from the Minister of the Environment about the plan she is going to use to solve the problem of waste management in this province. We heard her in opposition. She was ferocious. She has not done one thing. The garbage just continues to mount.
What really concerns me is that if they are not photostating these bills that were formerly introduced by the Liberal government and putting the name of the new minister on them, that means they are throwing them away. If they are throwing them away, that means the Minister of the Environment had better get moving very quickly, because the amount of garbage that is now coming to the fore is even greater. That gives me concern.
The question of the fire department is as important as the police department. These are people who risk their lives to protect the citizens of this province, just as our police force does. By reason of a consensus committee that went out and came back with recommendations for the minister, we were able to put together a Police Act which, as I recall, was supported to a large degree by many members of the House. It was a matter that had actually achieved a purpose and brought together people who perhaps had divergent opinions at the outset but were able to come together in a way that allowed the bill to be put forward. I would like to see the same thing with the fire department.
As I said, the former Solicitor General in the Liberal government did in fact put together just that type of consultative body. We have not heard from the present Solicitor General yet as to what the results of that consultative process were. One would think that if they were ones that he was going to implement, he would stand up in the House in a very proud fashion and deliver a ministerial statement telling us that so we could then get on to the next step of putting together a bill similar to the police bill, a comprehensive bill that would ensure that the fire protection in this province is second to none. As the changes take place, particularly in cities such as Toronto with high-rises going up every day, we would be able to combat a fire and have all the tools to do that. But we do not see that.
I urge the Solicitor General to put our bill forward, because that is important and because he considers it to be a good bill, but at the same time, on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of all the constituents of the members of this assembly, to please get moving with the report, or tell us what the results of the consultative committee were. They should please get legislation in place, even if it is only introduced in first reading, so that we can look at it and the citizens of this province will recognize that they put a high priority on the question of fire protection in this province. I urge them to do that.
I understand that one other of my colleagues would like to speak on this and I will yield to her. As I say, we will be supporting this bill, but I felt it was necessary to make those comments. I tried to be evenhanded. I suppose I was a bit pejorative in the first part of it, but I meant it in a very positive way, that it is important to get on with this business and to demonstrate to the people of Ontario that in fact the ship of state is not rudderless. If it is rudderless, we have a problem.
Mrs Marland: In rising to speak to Bill 131, An Act to amend the Fire Marshals Act, I actually want to commend the government for this piece of legislation. I only wish similar legislation had been in place at the time of the Hagersville tire fire, for example, because there was a situation that the community and the local fire departments had been concerned about for a number of years. In fact, there had been court orders to the owner of that tire dump at Hagersville to make his operations safe.
The Ministry of the Environment had been in and the fire departments had been in and the owner had been ordered to establish what they call fire lanes. In other words, instead of having one huge pile of tires, he was to separate them and have lane widths in between these piles of tires that were wide enough for a firefighting vehicle, if necessary, to have access, and if there should be a fire started, there would be at least some space so the fire would not necessarily leap from one pile of tires to another.
In that particular case it was such a tragedy because it was not something the fire departments were not concerned about. As I say, they were so concerned that they required the owner to comply with their direction. They then took him to court to have the order issued. Then the owner simply appealed the court order.
In the meantime, those tires at Hagersville just continued to pile in the way the owner permitted them to be piled. As a result, of course, the next thing that happened we all are aware of and is now history. It was a tremendous risk to the environment, yet with the existing legislation at that time, the government and other agencies were powerless to prevent it.
If you have someone who is irresponsible in the operation of a plant or any facility that may be a fire risk and you know what precautions and what steps need to be taken to remedy that risk and hopefully to eliminate that risk, until this piece of legislation, there has been no power for the Fire Code Commission to authorize any other steps.
With this bill, the Fire Code Commission can authorize the fire marshal or an officer of the fire marshal to take whatever action is required, even if there is a court order that is under appeal and even if the owner of the property or the operation or the factory or whatever the facility is that is involved says: "I don't have any money. I can't afford trucks to come in and, in this case, create fire lanes between the piles of tires."
Fortunately now with this legislation, under subsection 18a(4), "The Fire Code Commission may authorize the fire marshal or an officer to cause to be done any thing required to be done by an order made under" some other subsections. In particular the one we are happy to see in this piece of legislation is clause 18a(4)(b), which says, "in the commission's opinion, failure to do the thing would seriously endanger the health or safety of any person or the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it."
Under subsection 18b(1), "If a justice of the peace is satisfied on evidence under oath that there is reasonable ground to believe that entry on certain land or premises is necessary for the purpose of doing a thing authorized to be done under section 18a," -- the section I just read -- "the justice of the peace may issue a warrant authorizing the person named in the warrant to enter and do the thing on the land or premises."
We congratulate the government for this bill and know that the provisions contained herein will eliminate some of the risks and some of the actual fire events that have happened in the past.
The Acting Speaker: Does the Solicitor General have some summation remarks?
Hon Mr Pilkey: No, I believe the vote could be called on second reading.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
La motion de troisième lecture est également adoptée.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Cooke: Pursuant to standing order 53, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the week following the constituency week.
On Monday, November 18, we will consider second reading of Bill 73, the John Graves Simcoe Memorial Foundation Repeal Act, and third reading of Bill 75, the Law Society Amendment Act, and Bill 76, the Fraudulent Debtors Arrest Repeal Act. We will give committee of the whole consideration of Bill 42, the Arbitration Act; consider second reading of Bill 146, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, Bill 28, the Class Proceedings Act, and Bill 29, the Law Society Amendment Act.
On Tuesday, November 19, and Wednesday, November 20, we will give second reading consideration to Bill 143, An Act respecting the Management of Waste in the Greater Toronto Area and to amend the Environmental Protection Act.
On Thursday, November 21, in the morning we will deal with private members' business: ballot item 45 standing in the name of the member for Mississauga South and ballot item 46 standing in the name of the member for Wentworth East. In the afternoon we will deal with third reading of Bill 115, the Retail Business Establishments Statute Law Amendment Act.
The House adjourned at 1801.