1991-92 BUDGET















Tuesday 13 August 1991

1991-92 budget

Algoma District Mental Retardation Service; Sault Ste Marie Association for the Mentally Retarded

Sault Ste Marie and District Women for Women

Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition

Sault Ste Marie Health Care Institutions

Canadian Union of Public Employees--Ontario Division

Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce

Terry Ross

Canadian Union of Public Employees; Sault Ste Marie District Council

United Steel Workers of America

Victorian Order of Nurses

Ontario Metis Aboriginal Association

Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council



Chair: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln NDP)

Vice-Chair: Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford NDP)

Christopherson, David (Hamilton Centre NDP)

Jamison, Norm (Norfolk NDP)

Kwinter, Monte (Wilson Heights L)

Phillips, Gerry (Scarborough-Agincourt L)

Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

Stockwell, Chris (Etobicoke West PC)

Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

Ward, Brad (Brantford NDP)

Ward, Margery (Don Mills NDP)

Wiseman, Jim (Durham West NDP)


Mahoney, Steven W. (Mississauga West L) for Mr Phillips

Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie NDP) for Mr Wiseman

McLean, Allan K. (Simcoe East PC) for Mr Sterling

Murdoch, Bill (Grey PC) for Mr Stockwell

Clerk: Decker, Todd

Staff: Rampersad, David, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 0903 in the Water Tower Inn, Sault Ste Marie.

1991-92 BUDGET

Resuming consideration of the 1991-92 provincial budget.

The Chair: Good morning. We are here for the standing committee on finance and economic affairs to hear submissions into the budget hearings.


The Chair: The first group is the Algoma District Mental Retardation Service and Sault Ste Marie Association for the Mentally Retarded. Gentlemen, would you mind introducing yourselves for Hansard? You have half an hour for your presentation. Out of that half-hour, save some time for questions and answers from the three parties. You can begin.

Mr Hibbert: My name is Michael Hibbert. I am the executive administrator of the Algoma District Mental Retardation Service. I am presenting this morning with my counterpart.

Mr Tosello: I am Mario Tosello and I am here on behalf of Barb Jackson, who could not be available this morning. I am from the Sault Ste Marie Association for the Mentally Retarded.

Mr Hibbert: I would like to thank the Chairman and members of this committee for allowing us the time for this presentation. I believe you have copies of the presentation we are going to make in front of you. It is our hope that through this presentation our clients will continue to receive the province's full support through, to and including the budget.

The Sault Ste Marie Association for the Mentally Retarded and Algoma District Mental Retardation Service are presenting jointly due to like concerns arrived at through the provision of services. Algoma has an identified client group of 1,100 individuals with the condition of mental retardation who, along with their families, are eligible to receive services.

The provision of service is directly possible by funding of programs through the Ministry of Community and Social Services under relevant legislation, such as the Developmental Services Act, Homes for Retarded Persons Act, Child and Family Services Act, Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act, Day Nurseries Act and a number of others, obviously.

The MCSS new program directions for people with developmental handicaps are very encouraging. Within the ministry's new framework, there are issues which are not addressed in the provincial budget, however. One of those is the pay or wage equity. The principles of pay equity and wage equity are key issues for both agencies. Both organizations agree that it is unfair and unacceptable to undervalue certain occupations and sectors based on systemic discrimination.

One of the major areas requiring the government's attention is that of the impact of government on community and non-profit transfer payment organizations such as ours that rely on 98% of their funding from the government. The impact of changes like the pay equity legislation can be quite dramatic on organizations such as ours. The provincial budget states that a further $25 million will be provided in 1991-92 to assist other transfer agencies in meeting their pay equity obligations. However, MCSS has indicated that community transfer payment agencies, again such as ours, will receive no moneys for pay equity.

The majority of individuals who are mentally retarded now live in and receive services in the community. This means legislative changes, which have to be complied with, will reduce dollars available to client services, as spaces either have to be reduced or staff-client ratios increased. The money has to come from somewhere. MCSS facilities are to receive 10.6% wage increases over 1990-91 estimates, whereas transfer payment agencies, again like ourselves, are only getting 6%.

The point at issue exacerbates an already tenuous situation -- staff salary awards and the bump awards for community agencies. With the proposed pay equity awards and increase in wages, the gap between transfer payment and direct operating expenses salaries will continue to widen. In fact, this morning Mrs Jackson could not be here because she is in conciliation for that very issue.

Discrepancies in benefits for staff further widen the existing gap. The average benefits for transfer payment agencies are 16%, while MCSS benefits are 21.38%. We want to offer our employees similar benefits without penalizing our clients.

The entire issue of salary awards must again be reviewed by the Ontario government to ensure non-profit agencies in the north can compete for staff with the ministry. Recruitment of qualified people to the north is difficult at best but, given the salary discrepancies, the issues become even larger. Staff training dollars must be increased to assist employees in accessing the knowledge and training opportunities necessary to competently perform in meeting our consumer needs.

The GST has provided the agencies another fiscal and annualized financial headache. As you may be aware, transfer payment agencies can only claim back one half of the GST paid. Depending on the type of service offered, this can have a significant dollar impact. The net effect is that it costs the agencies almost 7% due to the requirement of additional administrative supports. No new dollars have been made available to transfer payment agencies for this reality, thereby again forcing agencies to look at cutting corners, if not services.

Mr Tosello: The multi-year plan: The service principles upon with the multi-year plan is based, the promotion of independence, protection, individual attention and quality programs, are consistent with those of our two organizations. Nevertheless, a number of concerns do exist.

The government fixed an amount of $159 million some five years ago to depopulate institutions. This amount is not inflation-indexed or sensitive to legislative changes. The purchasing power is thereby significantly reduced, again having to do more with less.

Currently, MCSS plans to spend $311,659,000 to service about 3,000 residents in the 1991-92 year in DOE facilities. This works out to $103,886 for each individual. The Ministry of Community and Social Services has earmarked $30,000 for each person being returned to the community from designated nursing homes. The total costs for DOE facilities exceeds the $103,886 amount. Not even this basic amount is being returned with the client to the community, as the fixed part of the $159 million has not been adjusted.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services, under vote 802, item 6, indicates a total of 11,672 spaces in the transfer payment agencies for sheltered workshops and life skills. It is known that many more individuals participate actively in supported employment programs at various levels of schooling and in private employment. Assuming a modest figure of 15,000 individuals throughout the province utilizing community-based services, the provincial cost per client for 1991-92 is an average of $36,648. The same clients in DOE-run facilities cost $103,886. These clients enjoy a number of services that community clients and those returning cannot or will not enjoy.

Algoma has no kinesiologist, no music therapist, no recreational therapist, two speech pathologists, one physiotherapist and one occupational therapist for 1,100 consumers. While the ministry has made a commitment to providing community living opportunities for people currently waiting to move from institutions and nursing homes, no such promise for additional supports has been made to the number of people presently residing in the community who require services. Those community individuals we serve should not be penalized because they have not left the community. New moneys are required for this group of consumers. The budget in future must address funding increases in the multi-year funding exercise if this initiative is to achieve its goal as well as those in the community.

Consumer needs: In terms of consumer needs, programs and services to assist families to better care for their developmentally handicapped children at home through parent relief, infant development and other forms of developmental programming must exist so that institutionalization will not occur. This is a new program direction of the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

The provincial budget does not address the underfunding of the special services at home program. The program has expanded to include adults with developmental handicaps, further straining budgets without the addition of new moneys. The assistive devices program under the Ministry of Health did provide for 75% funding to assist handicapped individuals with necessary aids. The special needs at home program funded the remaining 25%.

The changes in both programs have virtually eliminated funding for wheelchairs where individuals are unable to propel themselves. These are costly at $3,000 apiece and are no longer funded. Assessments in Toronto are no longer funded and unavailable for the north. Already scarce resources are further stretched by the government's budgetary decisions. No mention was made in the budget about increases to the residents' comfort allowance, which has not kept pace with inflation. The current allowance of $100 per month has not increased since 1986, at which time it was $77, I believe. It is our hope that future budgets will deal with legislated changes and reflect such in a more realistic manner.

The Algoma District Mental Retardation Service and the Sault Ste Marie Association for the Mentally Retarded would like to thank the provincial steering committee for its time and interest in hearing our concerns and we are open to any questions the committee might have.


The Chair: We have about six minutes for each party, starting off with Mr McLean.

Mr McLean: I would like to zero in on the transfer from the institutions to the community. Do you have a psychiatric facility here? I do not believe you do.

Mr Hibbert: The Plummer Memorial Public Hospital has a ward attached to the hospital.

Mr McLean: For chronic care?

Mr Hibbert: Riverview Centre provides some psychiatric care.

Mr McLean: Are any people being moved from our nursing homes out into the community here?

Mr Hibbert: In ADMRS, we have just received our second one from designated nursing homes with the ministry. Those people are being repatriated or brought back into the community at this point in time. This is why we have alluded to the moneys the government has set aside for that process, the $30,000 per head. What we tried to do in this particular presentation is to highlight the kinds of dollars that are being spent currently on these individuals. Those types of moneys are not forthcoming to the community, so we cannot provide the kinds of supports and the kind of care in the community that they are currently receiving in institutions. We believe the institutions are inappropriate places for these people to be.

We agree with the government and past governments, and the direction is great. However, the dollar should be coming with those people back to the community. The dollars originally set aside some five years ago have not been inflation-indexed and have not reflected the kinds of legislative changes we just talked about. Pay equity is one, but there are a number of other changes which have costs to us. We do not get the funds so we have had to cut corners, but we cannot cut any more corners.

Mr McLean: If it was costing $100,000 to keep them in the institution and it is only costing $30,000 in the community, there should be funds available to cover that. I mean, it is less money.

Mr Hibbert: We are hoping the government will see it that way.

Mr McLean: I have not heard before of people being transferred from nursing homes or homes for the aged into the community. Is this something new?

Mr Hibbert: These are initiatives the government undertook some time ago. They set some $30 million aside for that.

Mr McLean: It is amazing, because in the communities I represent I have not known a person who has been put into a nursing home and transferred back out into the community under the care of your association.

Mr Hibbert: You have to go back in time. Some of the people who were being repatriated have been in institutions since they were two or three years of age and they are now 40, 45 or 50 years old. These people were originally placed in the most appropriate facility available to them. In some cases the nursing home was the only facility available to them and they have been there until this time, and through government initiatives have been brought back into the community.

Mr Tosello: We also identified a few clients who could be transferred out of nursing homes in the Sault who would be going into community-based programs, but unfortunately there are no spaces available. The spaces that are available are filled by people who are returning from institutions. We tried to swap but we are playing with people's lives here.

Mr Martin: It is nice to see you again this morning. I really appreciate your taking the time out to come and present on behalf of the two associations in the city that deliver services to the developmentally handicapped. To continue the discussion we have had in my office around this issue, I suppose it is important to note that you continue to advocate on behalf of those who cannot advocate on their own. You probably realize the difficulty we are in as a government. We are certainly committed to the kinds of things you are committed to and the people you work with, trying to provide the very best we can, but in a time of recession we find ourselves with a limited number of dollars. You are probably aware too that out of the budget we presented that put us into deficit by $9.7 billion, $8.5 billion was just to keep in place the services we already experience.

I hear you saying here that if we simply took the money that is not being spent any more to institutionalize these folks and turn it back into the community, it would more than adequately meet the dollars needed to do the service that you would propose is needed to do, the multi-year program of deinstitutionalizing folks. Is that correct?

Mr Hibbert: It is correct to the extent that in our presentation we have talked about the $159 million that was originally set aside to depopulate all the institutions over a seven-year period. If you look at the people who are still remaining in the institutions -- and a good number have been deinstitutionalized; we have taken 30 people back between the two agencies here alone -- it is costing the government over $300 million to provide that service. There is not $159 million left, so what is happening is that for, say, $50 million we have to bring 3,000 people back. We cannot do that.

I am overstating it here, but the issue is one of the $311 million. If the institutions are being depopulated, the same kinds of moneys should be coming back to the community so we can pay the same type of salaries or similar salaries so we can attract competent, qualified staff, which we cannot do because we are in the north and it is difficult attracting people here. But then also we can provide the kinds of services like kinesiologists and recreational therapists and the type of day program supports that people are now getting. But when you are doing it on $36,000 versus $103,000, obviously you can buy more for your dollar. The original money set aside for the depopulation exercise is not inflation-indexed, so what was $159 million is still $159 million. So every year, even if inflation is 5%, it is 5% less that we can buy.

Mr Martin: What I hear you saying then, Mike, is that in order to do the job that you know you and your staff can do you need more money.

Mr Hibbert: We would like to see the government support, with dollars, the legislation, the initiatives, the guidelines it has instituted, because the government has done, in my mind, a good job and is taking the right direction. But we in the community would certainly like to get some of the financial support to implement it the way I think it is intended to be implemented.

Mr Mahoney: Good morning. I am trying to grasp exactly what it is you are telling us. As I read what you are saying, you have shown the government how it can actually cut its operating costs in the area of service to your client group by two thirds if it adopted a more aggressive policy of funding community-based mental health care. Is that accurate?

Mr Hibbert: I would say that we are currently doing that -- not to the degree that we would like and not to the level that they are currently enjoying in the institutions. We would like to see the appropriate amount -- it does not have to be the same dollars -- of support available to the individuals returning and to the community clients. There are no new moneys for those individuals who are not institutionalized. There is absolutely no new money.

So what happens is, if parents have kept their child at home and struggled and everything else, then the special needs program clicked in some years ago, which is a very positive step. But there are no new moneys for supports when parents are becoming older, can no longer care for their individual. We have no way of providing the kind of residential care, day program supports, other support services, social work, whatever, because the dollars are not there. If similar dollars that are currently being spent for DOE-run facilities were transferred to community agencies, then I would say we would be very well off.

Mr Mahoney: That is my exact point. You are saying $30,000 would cover the cost of service to a client in a residential setting, be it a group home or some form of residential care with a family or something of that nature. I assume that is what you are talking about. We have similar things in all communities. So for $30,000 you can provide that level of care but it is $103,000 to keep that same individual in an institution.


Mr Tosello: In an institution all these services are provided -- there is a physiotherapist; there is a speech therapist; there is a nurse -- which are not readily accessible to the person who lives in the community, plus, in addition, we also have community waiting lists. For example, I think between our two organizations our waiting lists have been about 80 people just for residential programs, and approximately the same number for day programs, which means life-skills services, supportive employment, sheltered workshops, and those people do not get any services or they get minimal services.

Mr Mahoney: Let me understand this. Are you saying that there are additional costs outside of the direct services that would have to be provided on a more global basis, such as the therapists, etc? What I hear you saying is identifying a way that the government can actually save money by redirecting the money to more appropriate sources, rather than simply asking the government for more money. I hear your pleas for some form of protection against inflation for your programs and that type of thing, but I also hear you saying that there are potential ways to save money. It seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Mr Hibbert: I do not know if the saving is the real issue for us as service providers. The issue for us as service providers --

Mr Mahoney: But you could provide better service for less money.

Mr Hibbert: We think we can provide better service. We would like to have some money to at least ensure that the standards they are now receiving are maintained when they come back to the community, and also for those community clients who were never sent away to institutions in the first place, so they also can get appropriate service. That is what we are saying. The bottom line throughout this whole thing is, we agree with the direction the government has been going in the past and now, and we agree with a lot of the legislative changes because they are very positive, but we need the dollars to be able to do it properly and not at the expense of the clients we serve. That is the bottom line for us.

Mr Mahoney: Sure. Do I still have time, Mr Chair?

The Chair: Yes, you have another two minutes.

Mr Mahoney: I enjoyed your presentation because for a change it is totally apolitical -- not a change from your perspective, but from what we have been hearing; they have been less than objective views of the budget. I think you have identified the problems that you face and some suggested solutions quite well.

With regard to your organization, do you yourself run residential facilities here in the Sault?

Mr Hibbert: Both organizations do.

Mr Mahoney: Both organizations do, and do you have difficulty in expanding that program? Do you have community resistance, or do you think that you can do more of that kind of thing?

Mr Tosello: We have had very little resistance at all. We have a set of guidelines that we go through, just so the public is aware of what residential programs are opening, even our day programs. Reluctance is not there. Once they see the ADMRS, it is not like the group homes with correctional facilities.

Mr McLean: This is a question I am not so sure you will be able to answer, but I would like to ask it. The five-year depopulation, the $159 million, would you have any idea of what is left out of that $159 million or what portion would have been spent? It is really a question for the government to answer, but --

Mr Hibbert: I can indicate to you from a meeting that I attended about a month ago now that it is my understanding that in northern Ontario there is about $4 million that has been set aside for this year's effort of the seven-year exercise, so $4 million has to be spread across northern Ontario to continue with this exercise. ADMRS has received funding for a new apartment-type program, group home. It is a little different, but a new program. However, again, it exemplifies the issue we are raising. So we are bringing in and providing service for seven new people and we have no additional administrative support dollars; we have no additional professional supports. We are talking about the occupational therapists, that kind of individual. We have received no dollars for that.

Mr McLean: You indicate that it costs an average of $36,648 now to provide cost, and that still does not include the therapist or any of that other --

Mr Hibbert: That is the average that we are showing on that particular point.

Mr McLean: I had another question -- it will come back to me, very likely.

Mr Tosello: Just to comment, the $36,648 is just on the 15,000, and that is just a rough number of people. It is not sure.

Mr McLean: When the program was brought in, I know there were a lot of people in institutions who were quite capable of being put back into the community, but I would have thought it would be more difficult now to find people who would qualify, in my estimation, because I think the institutions are still, for a lot of clients, the best there is. Are we getting into tougher situations now with the clients?

Mr Hibbert: ADMRS was one of the first places in the province where we took a lot of people who were in chronic care wards, a lot of children, and brought them back into the community, and for some time we have had children who have G-tubes and trachiotomies and have a variety of other different types of very serious health care needs. The Sault AMR has also opened recently a complex with health care needs, and we are able to do it, provided that the kind of supports are there that are currently being received in these institutions. We can do it in much smaller settings, more appropriate settings, and the development of the people who come back is just incredible, even though they have been in institutions for 40 years. We work with the individuals and the families, and over a year you can see dramatic changes, very positive changes, and the costs are comparable or less.

Mr McLean: Thank you for your brief. There is certainly some good information in there.

Mr Sutherland: I just wanted to ask you a little bit about your overall philosophy. In some of the discussions I have had with my local community living organizations, their philosophy now is again to move beyond the residential facilities or homes and try to get as many as possible of the high-functioning individuals into their own places and apartments and into as much of what we would call a normal lifestyle as possible. I was wondering if you could give us some indication as to where your organization is on that philosophy and whether there are cost savings that way as well.

Mr Hibbert: I am going to let Mario address this, but our organizations, even though we are different organizations, have pretty similar philosophies. The basic underlying fundamental is the principle of normalization, which you have mentioned, so that is a given, I think, across most agencies. Maybe, Mario, you want to address this one.

Mr Tosello: First, the question was providing better services in the community-based organization compared to an institution, right?

Mr Sutherland: Yes. I just want to know how far you are in terms of having people in individual apartments rather than a residential home setting.

Mr Tosello: Both organizations have been around for 25 years, I would say, and supported employment and supported independent living programs have been around for a long time. We are at the point right now where, with the deinstitutionalization, with people coming back, we also have community waiting lists, and we cannot provide residential programs or independent living programs because people who are returning get the first choice. First, spaces are created; that is where the money is coming from; then they get the spaces. If we can somehow make four spaces for two people, then two people from the community obviously are getting --

The Chair: I would like to thank you for your presentation. It was quite informative to the committee here. Thank you very much for attending.



The Chair: The next group is the Sault Ste Marie and District Women for Women and the sexual assault centre. Would you please come forward? Would you identify yourselves, please, for Hansard. You have one half-hour for presentation, with a question and answer period at the end within that half-hour.

Ms Coppel-Park: Hello. My name is Bryna Coppel-Park, and I am representing Sault Ste Marie and District Women for Women. I would like it struck from the record that I am representing the sexual assault centre, please, whoever is taking notes here.

The Chair: I made a mistake also. It is a 15-minute presentation. I am sorry. We made two mistakes.

Ms Coppel-Park: Okay. I am employed by the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital as the co-ordinator of the sexual assault centre, but very clearly I am here today representing Women for Women. Sometimes I get that a little mixed up in my mind, but I am speaking on behalf of an independent women's group.

I just rushed from the office all the way up here, so I am also glad to know that I am only required to sit in this chair for 15 minutes.

I am going to start out by making an apology to you. I have been very ill. I debated whether I should phone and say that I had to cancel today because I am not prepared in the way I had hoped to be, but I felt it was really important to come here today to address some of the financial issues around sexual assault and violence against women in general.

I know you are all perfectly aware of the financial commitment of the present government and the announcement in early May by Anne Swarbrick allocating even more funding to both the issue of sexual assault -- by sexual assault we mean an umbrella term "sexual assault," sexual abuse -- and also the issue of physical violence against women. So we are looking at a total financial commitment to violence in the lives of women, and by extension women and their children.

I do not want to bore you by quoting figures you can read yourselves, but I think the government has to be commended for understanding that the issue of violence in the lives of women and children is at the very core of many social problems. If money is not allocated, not only to address and treat women who have suffered violence in their lives, but also money that will be spent on education and prevention and hopefully eradication of violence in the lives of women and children, then very many other social problems do not have a chance. We can talk about pumping money into the education system or the social services system or this or that, but when we look at the reality of how women lead their lives, the fear in which women lead their lives, the dysfunction of families in which women and children need to live their lives, we look at the fact that it is very difficult to make other things in their lives work, like education or employment.

I think that in northern Ontario the situation is even more difficult, and I am glad to note that the government has made a commitment not only to increase funding for northern Ontario but for accessibility of services. It is one thing to offer services in Sault Ste Marie or Thunder Bay or Sudbury. What happens to all those people in between? What happens to the people who are in the more remote areas? I think the government should be congratulated for recognizing that funding needs to go into looking at ways of bringing services to women who are victims of violence, and sexual violence in particular, in those areas.

I think the reality of the situation, and I am speaking only for Sault Ste Marie, is that while there is financial commitment on paper, there are virtually so few available kinds of helping services that the majority of women and children who have suffered sexual violence or physical violence because of the fact that they are women are on long waiting lists. It looks fine to say that there is $17 million more committed to the budget to do this, that and the other thing, but today in Sault Ste Marie it is really hard to get people the help they need that is more than just a stopgap help. Yes, we have come a very long way, and now with the creation and the funding of the sexual assault care centre through the Plummer hospital people have immediate medical crisis intervention, but then what happens? How long do they have to wait before they can have some help?

The other point that I wanted to make, and I am not going to talk much more, is that there is a very big problem and we can treat as many women and as many children as we want, we can treat a million women and children who are victims of sexual violence, but that will not stop sexual violence directed to women.

There is money pumped into programs that treat young offenders, and I say young offenders because I have come to understand -- I mean, I cannot really believe I am sitting here saying some of this to you, because a few years ago I would have thought: "Oh, what a waste of money. Just put the money into working with the women." The more I do this kind of work and the more I talk to other women, especially women who are victims of sexual violence, the more I see that it makes a whole lot of sense to look at funding programs.

I think that through the financial initiatives of this government there is some recognition of this, but we have to fund programs that can address the young men who are perpetrating these kinds of sexually violent crimes on women, because it is only there, along with education and prevention and everything else, that I think you really make a difference. You have to have the money there -- and yes, it is in the budget -- to treat the women and the children who are victims. They deserve every penny we have to give them, and more even than this government has allocated, but also we need to do something to stop the cycle. It is more than just education, and I think what I would like to emphasize is that it needs to be stopped with the very young perpetrators. They are the ones who can reverse their thinking and stop, and I think there needs to be some more money going into those kinds of programs.

The city of Sault Ste Marie does not have very much to offer along these lines, and with the kinds of funding available to the different agencies that are trying to provide this kind of service, with cutbacks etc, because of funding through United Way -- I suppose you are all aware of this; it is a situation right across the province, I am sure -- it is very difficult to find this kind of care for young perpetrators.

The Chair: Fine. A question on the government side, Ms Ward?

Ms M. Ward: You are talking about stopping the young perpetrators. Where are they identified? What age? I am trying to get a picture of that person. Is that someone who has already been involved in violence against women, or in a setting where it may have been?

Ms Coppel-Park: I think youthful perpetrators are identified in a number of ways, and I would also like to say at this point that very often they have been victims of violence or have witnessed violence themselves.

Ms M. Ward: That is what I was wondering.

Ms Coppel-Park: They are often picked up at the justice level. They are the kids who are getting into trouble. They are the ones who are on probation. They are the ones who are coming in front of family and juvenile court. They are the ones who are often wards of the children's aid society. They are often living in group homes. Things are often not working out for them in their lives. They are maybe leaving school early, having a great deal of difficulty in school. Sometimes it is a matter of just asking the right question to these kids when something is really wrong in their lives and we find out that, yes, this is what is going on. They are not always victims themselves but very often they are, and they are often identified because something is really wrong in their lives. That is how they come to the attention of different kinds of service providers.

Ms M. Ward: Are the services ready, basically developed, for those people? I do not necessarily mean are they widely available, because obviously that is what you are saying, that we need more, but is the expertise there to develop these services?


Ms Coppel-Park: I think it is a very underresearched area, although I know that individual organizations and agencies sort of struggle along on their own because they see a need and they try to provide a program to meet that need. There is some group work that is going on now in Sault Ste Marie, just because the need was recognized at the service provision level for kids who had been identified as juvenile offenders.

We are all really quick to judge these kids. I worked with juvenile delinquents for many years. That is how I started out my career, and I know that it is not easy to work with them. Lots of them break the law and lots of them do really awful things. I think that if we do not stop them, and that is not easy either, but if we start asking some of the right questions, at least to try to get to the bottom of things and to try to start to identify whether or not they were also victims or witnesses of this kind of violence themselves, I think we have a whole better chance.

Mrs Sullivan: I am interested in hearing more about what facilities are available for victims of violence, whether it is sexual assault or violence against women and children, family violence. Are there sexual assault centres outside of the hospital environment that people can access? I was also wondering about secure housing here for victims of family violence.

Ms Coppel-Park: Yes, there is a very beautiful, newly built shelter for women who are victims of physical violence. After years of being in an overcrowded, inappropriate house, they now have a very beautiful, adequate facility which is secure. There is only the sexual assault centre through the Plummer hospital which has as its mandate the provision of acute care, meaning the medical care, and also follow-up, meaning short- and longer-term counselling. There are some agencies, such as the Family Services Centre or Women's Outreach, which are very inadequately funded and understaffed and in spite of that do a very good job with long, long waiting lists. But there is no grass-roots, more indigenous sexual assault centre in the Sault. There was one up until about five years ago, but because of the lack of any kind of funding or government support, it folded. The volunteers just could not continue any longer.

Mrs Sullivan: Just to carry on from that, on the staffing and the professional services side, certainly in my community one of the things we have found is that the volunteer, community-based level of providing services, the provision of support, or professional support, is becoming more and more difficult as organizations have to compete with institutions, with hospitals, with Community and Social Services, for example. Are you facing the same thing here?

Ms Coppel-Park: Yes.

Mrs Sullivan: You are finding it difficult to pay people to provide those services?

Ms Coppel-Park: Yes. It is painful sometimes, because you have services that need to work together being pitted against each other for maybe one position. We went through this at the district health council not too long ago. So these financial initiatives by the present government give us some hope that there is recognition for individual communities.

There is another very big problem here. I am sorry, I cannot see your name, I am not sure where you are from, but in northern Ontario it is very difficult to attract people who are willing to do this kind of work. Over the summer there were three agencies advertising for professionals, for social workers to come to Sault Ste Marie to do this kind of work. First of all, the salaries are very inadequate compared to southern Ontario standards, and second, for someone to make a committment to come to northern Ontario --

The Chair: Okay, Mr McLean.

Mr McLean: How much time have I got?

The Chair: You have about two minutes.

Mr McLean: Thank you. You indicated that there is no place here in Sault Ste Marie for abused women to go?

Ms Coppel-Park: No, I am sorry, there is. There is a very secure facility for women who are victims of physical violence or women who are victims of sexual violence who have no place to go. It is a 24-bed, well-staffed, well-maintained facility.

Mr McLean: And it will be pretty well full all the time, like the others?

Ms Coppel-Park: I do not know off the top of my head what their statistics are, but pretty close to 100% full.

Mr McLean: That is all that I wanted to find out.

The Chair: Fine. Thank you for appearing before the hearings here.


The Chair: Next we will call on Rev Phyllis Dietrich. Good morning and welcome to the standing committee on finance and economics.

Miss Dietrich: Good morning. Whoever called me for the booking of time, I understand that you wanted copies. Is that correct?

The Chair: If you have the copies, that would be fine. We will hand them out to all of the members. Just wait a minute before you start so everybody has a copy. They can follow along then.

Miss Dietrich: Okay, I sure will. Just to remind you that I have copied this on both sides of the page to try to save some expense to my church.

Good morning, my name is Rev Phyllis Dietrich and I am an ordained minister with the United Church of Canada here in Sault Ste Marie. I became a member of the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition -- hereafter I will refer to that as ISARC -- in the city in the spring of 1990. ISARC is a branch of the provincial ISARC, which has met since 1986. The main objective of ISARC was to sponsor public hearings which would give people from low-income groups and organizations the opportunity to once again tell their stories of the continuing reality of hunger, homelessness and poverty. In Sault Ste Marie our committee was represented by several Christian denominations, Jews, health care professionals and educators. The stories we heard of our community in September 1990 were frightening. Some of the dilemmas people in the Sault found themselves in were nothing short of horror stories. I come today to speak in defence of the budget as laid out by our current government.

In 1988, after the Social Assistance Review Committee held hearings across Ontario to look at poverty, hunger and homelessness, a report called Transitions was issued to the Peterson government. In the report there were many reforms given to the current general welfare and family benefits system. By 1990, seeing that very few of the recommendations were acted upon, religious leaders took it upon themselves to encourage our government to rethink the social welfare system. You see, from time immemorial, clergy have dealt with the disadvantaged. In many aspects we are the experts. There is not a clergy person who has not dealt with a person whose welfare cheque has not gone far enough, and they have come to us as they know the church is one place where they will not be judged. We hear stories of what it is like to try to live on welfare in this province, and how one service worker will treat you one way while another will treat you with disdain.

The clergy, in many aspects, are becoming the experts of the government's system. We know a lot of the possibilities through which a person can access the system in the hope of finding some relief in a current life of extreme poverty. But despite what we can do at accessing the government's system to provide help for any individual in need, we too get frustrated with the current system. Most of the people we deal with who are on social assistance never can work their way out once they are in the system. Many people become junkies to the system. They cannot get out of it because a job would not pay them to. With the cost of day care and health care, once they have a minimum-wage job they are in a worse dilemma than they were before. They might as well stay on the welfare dole.

Many people I have seen become known for using the system are indeed only trapped by a system that seems to work at keeping people in an oppressive situation. By the time many helping institutions such as the religious organizations start to help some of these people, the individual has been through the gamut of the provincial spiderweb, getting caught or hung up on details so that they do not get ahead. We see people whose marriages have broken up, alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse and extreme depression, just to name a few of the problems that are results of the welfare trap. That is why clergy across Ontario have become involved in this matter. As a result of the hearings across Ontario in 1990, from the ISARC groups that met and from the thrust of the Transitions report, 88 action items became apparent that we would want any government to look at. If these items were implemented they would improve benefits, for example, by making special necessities such as medical supplies and basic dental needs mandatory rather than discretionary benefits; increase the personal needs allowance for people in need who live in institutions or hostels; streamline service delivery through such actions as authorizing pilot projects and self-declaration; set a service standard across Ontario that applications should be taken and eligibility determined within 48 hours of first contact with a welfare worker; give a voice to people who receive social assistance through the formation of a council of consumers.


They would make eligibility rules more equitable, less complex and more in tune with today's realities by, for example, making assistance available to people such as the working poor, self-employed people like farmers, or refugee claimants, on the basis of need rather than excluding them on the basis of category; begin implementing opportunity planning as advocated in Transitions to ensure that recipients are given the services and supports necessary to help them make the transition to independence; develop a community standard to measure adequacy of social assistance rates using a market-basket approach which prices a number of goods and services that people need to live; improve incentives to work by lowering the tax-back rate on earned income while making the rules about job searches fairer and more realistic; promote the rights of recipients by, for example, ensuring that they can have an advocate accompany or represent them in dealing with the system and ensuring also that they are notified in writing of decisions and their right to appeal those decisions; increase staff to improve services through, for example, agreement between the province and the municipalities on a reasonable client-to-staff ratio; improve funding for municipalities which deliver general welfare through 50% provincial cost-sharing of those administrative costs now borne exclusively by local governments; and create a special fund to promote relief to municipalities adversely affected financially by the reforms.

Those of us who have been involved with the ISARC hearings and the follow-up that has taken place understand that Ontario is in the midst of a recession and there are competing demands for public dollars. However, more than ever, social supports for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our society must be strengthened. The fact that more people are in need during hard economic times should make the momentum for reform more urgent.

Before I end my presentation, I would like to speak briefly about the poverty among those in our society recognized as young people or children. Through the ISARC findings, approximately 42% of those who depend on social assistance are children. Here in Sault Ste Marie we heard stories last September -- they were horror stories, let me tell you -- from our soup kitchen how three of our area schools send children to the soup kitchen because they come to school with no lunches or no availability for a meal at home on a regular basis.

As of yesterday, our Sault Ste Marie soup kitchen sees approximately 35 young people on a daily basis through the summer months. That is not counting the adults who go through the door. Some are accompanied by a parent. Leftover food from the day's meal at the kitchen is sent home with some of the more needy families. Sometimes some of the packaged macaroni and cheese food is sent home, but not much else. Milk is a near-scarcity.

Most of the people who come through the doors of the soup kitchen find it hard to secure reasonable housing for themselves and their children. They want to live like normal people. They want a little space and a place that perhaps they could grow a garden and try to take care of themselves. They want to live like the rest of us and I feel they deserve to.

If we do not act on the reforms the Transitions report made, we will have condemned yet another generation of children to a life of publicly supported poverty. In doing so, we will be undermining the social, economic and political future of this province.

The provincial budget as presented on April 29, 1991, to the Legislative Assembly, I believe, speaks and acts to this growing problem of poverty, homelessness and hunger in Ontario. This budget for many people is radical, but I believe Ontario is in a state where drastic measures must take place immediately in order that all who live in Ontario may enjoy the wealth this province possesses. Speaking through my vocation, which seeks justice for all people, this budget is the first budget in Ontario history that I can see addresses the same ideals the majority of religious groups hold dear.

It will take a great deal of money to correct the mistakes of the past. Religious leaders understand the amount of time -- and I will use a religious term for that -- and talent that will take. The budget has committed $215 million on a full-time basis to reform the social assistance system. Some of us, after seeing the state the system is in through individuals, wonder if that is even enough.

This government is committed to putting the reform process back on track through the implementation of those needs as described in the Transitions report and the Back on Track report. It is a major commitment. Some of us who really have not been affected by this current recession must also be committed, as our government is, to giving up a lot in order that others may just live: quality health care, greater possibility of employment, help for the working poor, greater assistance for the keepers of our land, that is, our farmers and our aboriginal people, but mostly the commitment of this budget to be the foreseen elimination of hunger, homelessness and poverty.

This budget in the eyes of all religious groups is definitely a sign of new hope. We hope the Legislature will allow us to get on with it, as we have many people in Ontario who need new hopes and new futures.

Thank you for allowing me this time to speak with you today about a topic that is very important to me and I know also important to our government.

The Chair: We have about one minute for each party caucus, starting off with the Liberal Party caucus.

Mrs Sullivan: Like you, we appreciate the commitment the government has made to the Transitions and SARC reports. I want it to be very clear on the record, however, that the government simply expanded and built upon a previous initiative of the previous government, which had originally committed $415 million, moving up to $600 million, over a very short period of time. The additional $215 million in this budget is simply an add-on to previous initiatives. Whether it goes far enough is certainly yet to be seen. I would like to know from you --

The Chair: Your time is up.

Mrs Sullivan: Too bad. I made my point.

Mr McLean: I have a question with regard to the food basket that you have.

Miss Dietrich: The soup kitchen.

Mr McLean: No, I am referring to your saying, "Develop a community standard...using a market-basket approach that prices a number of goods and services that people need to live." I have no problem with helping people pay rent and no problem with supplying food. In your opinion, in today's society, should there be some allotment or some place where alcohol and cigarettes are determined in the food basket?


Miss Dietrich: I guess I am speaking now from my religious vocation on that. I would say there would have to be a lot of study done on that. You are talking about where people on the welfare system would be going and purchasing alcohol and tobacco products?

Mr McLean: I am talking about the public moneys purchasing it.

Miss Dietrich: I honestly feel it is not up to me to determine how a person spends his money.

The Chair: On to the government party.

Mr Martin: Good morning. It is nice to see you again. Not so long ago the Transitions report, which you referred to in your report, came out. Everybody across the country, across the spectrum, supported that. We came out with Back on Track, which was to take the Transitions recommendations which the Liberal government did not have the courage to implement and put them back on track. Yet we are not getting the same kind of support. We are not committing as much money as we would like to. We are doing $250 million rather than the $450 million that we know is needed, yet we seem to be getting a backlash from the community out there against putting that kind of money into social assistance programs. Any idea why that is happening?

Miss Dietrich: I have no idea why it is happening, but I do know that there seems to be a undercurrent of a poor attitude that people are taking. It is not just towards government; we find it in church, we find it in volunteer groups. Maybe it is because we are in this recession, I am not sure, but it seems that people are saying, "This is mine; I am not going to share it with anybody." It seems to be running through everything right now, and I am not sure how to go about changing it.

The Chair: I would like to thank you for your presentation. We are running short of time. Thank you for attending our committee.


The Chair: The next group is Health Horizons, with Ross Reilly presenting, I believe. Would you come forward, please. Mr Reilly, take a seat, and your guests also. Would you identify yourselves for Hansard.

Mr Reilly: My name is Ross Reilly, and I am representing the Sault Ste Marie health care institutions. On my left is John Bennett, who is the chairman of the board of the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital, and on my right is Ray Yukich, who is the chairman of the board of the Group Health Centre. We also expect Dr Michael Nanne, who is, I believe, vice-chairman of the general hospital here, but he is tied up performing one of his usual functions, which happens at this time of the day. Whether he will make it or not, we do not know. May I begin, Mr Chairman?

The Chair: Yes, you can begin. You have a total of half an hour. Try to leave some time at the end of your presentation so the three parties can ask questions on your brief.

Mr Reilly: Right. Also, as backup, I might mention that we have Art Osborne from the Group Health Centre and Michael Marchbank from the Plummer.

Mr Chairman, on behalf of the General Hospital, the Group Health Centre and the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital, I would like to thank the all-party committee for agreeing to hear our presentation on health care and the recent budget. First, I would like to give you a sense of what health care in Sault Ste Marie means in economic terms.

The three health care institutions provide approximately 2,400 full-time and part-time jobs. These jobs are generally quite secure, non-cyclical in nature, and are paid at rates and receive benefits through a negotiated process in keeping with provincial standards. In addition, the jobs cover the spectrum from unskilled to highly skilled positions. It is fair to say that health care is a major engine of economic activity in our community.

The three organizations are working on collaborating to form one system of care in our community. While we do that, with the financial assistance of the city of Sault Ste Marie and funds designated for health care development, we need help, co-operation and funding from the ministry. The three institutions and the city of Sault Ste Marie are naturally concerned about any changes in funding which not only affect the ability of our health care system to serve our patients but also diminish its economic importance to the community, especially considering Sault Ste Marie's current difficult times.

The Ontario budget gave an overall increase of over 9% to health care; however, hospital base budgets received only a 6% increase. I am sure the Ontario Hospital Association has pointed out to you that this is not enough money for the system and, therefore, this increase will result in some decrease in patient care, either in quality or quantity.

I do not want to spend too much time covering ground that I am sure the committee and the Ministry of Health have heard from the OHA. I would now like to cover ground more specific to the institutions in Sault Ste Marie. There are major differences between Sault Ste Marie health care institutions and southern Ontario health care institutions.

Sault Ste Marie health care institutions are also feeling the results of a downsized major industry. While on the surface it may appear that the downsizing of Algoma Steel may not directly affect health care, it certainly does have an effect on hospital budgets. The effects are both short-term and long-term. I will deal with the short-term effects first.

Increase in benefits costs: When the strike and downsizing at Algoma occurred, a significant number of employees switched their benefit packages to the health care institutions. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in the benefit costs for each institution.

Reduction in revenues: Again, due to the strike and downsizing at Algoma Steel, there has been a significant reduction in other revenue sources for the institutions. Employees at Algoma Steel and other related companies often have semiprivate and private coverage. When an employee loses his or her job, their coverage ceases. This loss of coverage results in less people occupying semiprivate and private rooms, therefore reducing revenue to the hospitals. These increased costs and reduced revenues are fixed and they must be compensated for within the budget by reducing services, forcing some very tough choices.

High staff training costs: With Sault Ste Marie located far from major training centres, the cost of staff training is very expensive. Travel, accommodation and other expenses make it as much as twice as expensive for anyone here to attend southern Ontario sessions, compared to people living in those centres. With the changes in health care occurring so rapidly, staff training is a very important component of patient care. Without keeping professionals updated, patient care suffers.

Difficulty in recruitment: The difficulty in recruitment applies to professionals such as pharmacists and physiotherapists in health care institutions and also to physician specialists. While the government has set up programs to encourage physicians to locate in northern Ontario, there are still some serious gaps in service. Some enhancements to the current system should be examined, and we are prepared to work with the Ministry of Health to develop these.

The long-term effect deals with an aging population. As Algoma Steel downsizes, younger people will tend to move from the community, leaving a disproportionate number of older people in our community. As we all know, older people tend to require increased medical attention; therefore, the need for health care in Sault Ste Marie will not decrease at the same rate as our population.

Health care providers in Sault Ste Marie and district take great pride in the fact that 90% of those requiring health care treatment in Sault Ste Marie are provided with that care right here in their own community. We would like to be able to at least keep it that way or to increase our capabilities to keep patients near the support system of friends and families. Sault Ste Marie is not asking for special treatment. It is, however, asking for recognition of our problems and some steps to ameliorate those problems.


The final area I would like to touch on is the difficulties with capital development for our health care institutions. While the Plummer Memorial Public Hospital was pleased to receive its capital dollars for the renal dialysis expansion, there are other needs in our community which require capital-dollar infusions while the studies go on and on. While the three institutions realize that the district health council is sponsoring a systematic review of health care in our community, improvements in health care through capital expenditures cannot continue to be delayed while these studies go on. With the age of the facilities in Sault Ste Marie, major redevelopment must take place as quickly as possible so that we can meet the changes in health care, such as the move to ambulatory care.

In Sault Ste Marie, we are proud to have the Group Health Centre, the province's largest and longest-established health service organization. This HSO has provided 28 years of innovative ideas and service in this area that began with the initial investment of steelworkers and continued with the Ministry of Health as a partner. The Group Health Centre continues dialogue with the community health programs branch on matters of funding, and hopes for an early resolution. The centre's funding mechanism with the ministry needs adjustment, without which it will not be possible to continue provision of current services or to advance plans for the future.

Areas of concern have been documented and presented to the ministry. The committee is reminded of the February 1990 document Operation Critical: The Report of the New Democratic Task Force on Northern Health Care Issues. Group Health Centre was mentioned several times in the report as being part of the solution. The report concludes by stating, "The members must appreciate the fact that what is needed is action, not further review and study."

One area I would like to briefly touch upon before I conclude these remarks is the area of mental health services. Sault Ste Marie and Algoma are in need of a full range of mental health service professionals. These include psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. The three institutions would be more than willing to work with the ministry to recruit mental health professionals to our community.

In conclusion, we would like to reiterate our position that the budget provided a good increase in overall health care dollars. However, because of our special needs as a function of geography and our pressing needs due to the city's current economic challenges, a closer working relationship with the Ministry of Health is needed to deal with needs specific to health care in Sault Ste Marie. The needs of Sault Ste Marie and Algoma are now, and we need the solutions and actions now. Thank you.

Mr McLean: Have you seen any results of the report of the task force on northern health care since it was done?

Mr Yukich: Nothing specific. In so far as the Group Health Centre is concerned -- as was indicated in Mr Reilly's presentation, it was mentioned three or four times -- we continue to get soothing words from the Ministry of Health saying: "You're doing a good job and we don't want to see you fail. Keep it up. You are doing a good job." Other than that -- there are just words.

Mr McLean: What area does your district health council cover? Is it only this catchment area here? What area does it cover, other than Sault Ste Marie?

Mr Reilly: Sault Ste Marie and Algoma.

Mr McLean: And Algoma, okay. Is it in phase 1 of its studies or phase 2 or phase 3? I know these just seem to go on for ever. Are they making any recommendations? Have they come to any conclusion whereby they are making recommendations to the ministry that it should be proceeding with rehabilitation of your hospital?

Mr Bennett: They had just received funding a short time ago for their consulting people, so basically what they are trying to put together now are some of the answers for the city and Algoma.

Mr McLean: You were talking about a major redevelopment. Did you have any commitments with regard to an addition or a new facility from the previous administration? What is the background there?

Mr Bennett: The background on the capital redevelopment of the institutions is that we had developed a central core system some time back and basically did not receive approval in the final configuration of this central core between two of the institutions.

Mr McLean: Do you feel you will have a computerized axial tomography scanner here?

Mr Bennett: Yes.

Mr McLean: Do you feel that the district health council is going to be an improvement or a detriment to you as far as dealing with the ministry is concerned? Last week in committee I know we dealt with two different district health councils in the province. The indications I felt we got from those district health councils were that some of the hospitals are bypassing the district health council in going for approvals.

Mr Bennett: Perhaps I could answer that by saying we are in the process of attempting to rather speed up the process, the three institutions forming a corporate body to start with. We have asked for funding from the municipality to conduct our own process, to form a group composed of the three institutions to perhaps put together the structure the three institutions themselves could present to district health in a co-ordinated way; that as the district health process moves along, at some stage within their process they would be able to say they have a one-voice, one-body group that is together for the three institutions to work together.

Mr McLean: The final question is, do you have a major fund-raising campaign going on in Sault Ste Marie for the private sector part of it?

Mr Bennett: No, we do not.

Mr Reilly: But I guess it is fair to say that we generally always have. Between the three institutions we are always raising funds.

Mr Yukich: Yes, that is right.

Mr McLean: But you have no set target. You have an addition for $50 million and you are trying to raise $10 million.

Mr Bennett: At present we have an ongoing campaign to raise money for the renal dialysis process. The capital expenditure from the ministry has been approved but we have not reached our local target and are still in that process.


Mr Martin: It is nice to see you this morning. It does not surprise me to see you here. I do not think there is another group in the city that calls me as often and lobbies as hard as you do on behalf of the people of the community and Algoma around the question of health care. I want you to know I certainly appreciate that and consider you a partner as I bring your concerns to the government.

You realize, as I do, that the health budget of the province is humongous and growing in leaps and bounds as time goes on. It is a real challenge for us to try to bring it under some degree of control and certainly we need assistance in that. In going into deficit with the last budget, we are not happy to have to do that. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, we are not advocates of deficits, but if we have to in order to serve people, we will.

In this community there are some parallel studies going on to try to rationalize the delivery of health service. Certainly the group you represent today, Health Horizons, is probably one of the most interesting and exciting for us who have lived here and watched the three institutions at one time compete with each other and now eventually get to a point where you are sitting down around the same table wanting to move forward; and the district health council's effort to look at health in the broadest sense, and in that way maybe bring in some things that would assist the government in bringing down the amounts of dollars that need to be put into delivering health and perhaps doing it in more innovative and creative ways. Could you speak a little about that and how we as a government might facilitate the rationalization of services in a way that would be beneficial, most of all to the people who live here?

Mr Reilly: You could say it is something in this community that has been attempted probably for at least a decade, I would think. It is a significant and major step. The three institutions, that have different philosophies and different backgrounds, have taken the position of sitting down together and agreeing to develop one institution and studying the possibility of putting our institutions together in some form. What format that will take we do not know, but it is really a big move.

I do not think it is a move that has been taken within the province, to the best of my knowledge, certainly not where it involves a public hospital, a Catholic hospital and health service organization such as the Group Health Centre. I do not believe that has ever been done in this province. It is a very innovative step and it is going to require a lot of hard work. I think it is going to yield a much more efficient form of health care in the community and the community is going to benefit mightily from it.

We are treading into unknown waters, really. Where we will end up is pure speculation at this point. I think the significant thing is that we are working on it and the city itself has committed funds to enable us to proceed along this route. It is a big step in this province and one which the province will watch very closely.

Mr B. Ward: Our government made a commitment during these tough times to attempt to maintain our health services, our health programs as well as our social programs, and we have been criticized for that by some groups. If we had made a decision to cut our health programs, where instead of a 6% increase as the Ontario Hospital Association got it was a 15% cut, can you give us some examples of what that impact would have on the health care system for the people of Sault Ste Marie? I recognize this is hypothetical but you must know some areas that would be forced to be closed or cut.

Mr Bennett: I think it would be safe to say that even at the moment, with the present budget and the present allocation of the 6% to the institutions within our city -- and I do not think that is any surprise to anybody -- all three institutions are looking at financial difficulties with that 6%. If it had been a 15% reduction, across the board, totally, a range of services would have to have been reduced because we may even be in that position now with the increase.

Mr Mahoney: I am delighted to see a presentation on health care that looks at health care, to quote from your presentation, as "a major engine of economic activity in our community." I think that is a very healthy, appropriate way of looking at the provision of services.

For your interest, I should tell you that my dad, Bill Mahoney, was very actively involved in the development of the health centre along with Johnny Barker and everyone in the steelworkers. That health centre is really a model that unfortunately has not been expanded by any government and should be, particularly as it was built without the government. It was built by the steelworkers and has since forged a partnership. I have been attempting to convince the Chinguacousy health services board in my part of the world to adopt that health centre model.

I should also tell you that I am delighted to see the three service providers working together. I do not know that that has always been the case in Sault Ste Marie. I have heard some interesting stories of some differences over the years.

The perception of the health care services in the Sault would obviously not stand scrutiny with your presentation this morning. The perception is two major hospitals, the finest Group Health Centre probably in Canada, good service provision for 78,000 people working well together, etc. I am somewhat disappointed to learn that level of service would appear to be somewhat superficial. Would you have any comments on that?

Mr Reilly: I do not think the level of service is at all superficial. The level of service in this community is really of a very high calibre. The three institutions have had rivalries in the past; that is quite true. But I think we are growing out of that. For instance, the Group Health Centre right now is trying to get funding, backed by the two hospitals, to look at the possibility of forming a community comprehensive health organization. They are not having much success with that, but of course anybody is not having success with funding these days. There is just never enough money to go around and we all recognize those facts. That is just a fact of life in our changing society.

I think we are taking some positive steps here and that we have an excellent care system in this community which has a foundation of improving even more.

Mr Mahoney: I am delighted to hear that. I was under that impression, but I was concerned by some of your remarks that there might have been some slippage. One of the things we are investigating, aside from provision of health services, of course, on an ongoing basis, is the impact of this budget on the economy in general.

One of my grave concerns in this whole process is that very clearly the deficit financing plan of the NDP government shows an increase in the level of the debt from $39 billion to at least $76 billion by the end of their term in office. On a per capita basis that is approximating the federal deficit and would seem to me to leave future governments with severe restrictions in their ability to finance new programs or expand existing programs.

Your cost of debt service could increase to as high as 20 cents on the dollar from the nine cents it was when our party was in power, which will also restrict the ability to move, and flexibility for governments, whether it is for capital services or ongoing operational expansion or for any level of service.

Do you share any of those concerns about deficit financing, about simply taking the deficit, which could be likened to an overdraft or a line of credit, and plowing it on to the debt, which could be likened to the mortgage on the province, and doing that successively each year so we could wind up with $76 billion? And that is assuming that the revenue projections are not somewhat larger than they would appear in reality. My own personal feeling is that it will be $80 billion, $85 billion, maybe even $90 billion in debt. How are we going to fund services if all of our dollars are going to service debt?

Mr Reilly: That is a pretty tough one. Yes, I suppose everybody is concerned about deficit. We have lived in this country with a federal deficit for decades. I think of Japan. They have been deficit financing for decades. You can live with deficits. It may not be the best way to go. I suppose everybody has concerns. Everybody would like to run at a surplus. But if you have the fundamental structure underneath to recover from deficit financing, then we have a fundamentally healthy province. If we keep ourselves economically healthy, then we can pull out of a deficit situation.

Here in Sault Ste Marie we certainly have to look at that type of situation, probably more than other areas in the country. We are taking steps to try to stave off what could be disasters brought about by deficit financing. But I am optimistic; we will turn this community around. We will be asking for some government help to do that, mind you. We want you all to recognize that fact. We will be visiting you.

Mr McLean: I have a couple of short questions. There is a hospital in Ontario that has started a practice where, when they give patients pills in the hospital, they will charge them for those pills. Do you see that as an avenue for some of the health care centres recouping some of their costs for supplying those services they would normally go to the drugstore and pay for? Now they are paying for them when they are coming out of the hospital.

Mr Bennett: I have noticed, Mr McLean, that there has been continual dialogue within health care and within government at all levels. I guess the importance put to that kind of fee, for anything perhaps, is not so much what can be recouped financially but to discourage very heavy involvement of patients in that sort of thing. I think there seems to be a real dichotomy throughout the political scene and certainly throughout the health care scene as to whether our --

The Chair: Excuse me. Time has run out. Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentation before this committee, and have a good day.



The Chair: The next group is CUPE. Would you come forward, and when you are seated would you identify yourselves for Hansard. The presentation will be for one half-hour. Just leave enough time at the end of your presentation, if you can, for questions from the three parties; it will be split equally among the three parties for questions and answers.

Mrs Rickaby: Good morning. I am Jean Rickaby, CUPE Ontario vice-president. On my left is Richard Balnis, the CUPE national research officer, and seated on my right is Brian Blakeley, the CUPE Ontario political liaison officer. We have quite a lengthy document, which is before you, and we shall try to summarize it for you.

The Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees welcomes this opportunity to offer our comments on the budget.

With over 400,000 members, CUPE is the largest labour union in Canada. The Ontario division of CUPE represents more than 151,000 members employed in both the public and private sectors in all regions of Ontario. CUPE Ontario members work in a wide range of settings, including municipalities, hospitals, public utilities, Ontario Hydro, school boards, rest and retirement homes, nursing homes, homes for the aged, social service agencies, the Ontario Housing Corp, the Workers' Compensation Board, and universities.

The current recession is, without question, the worst to have hit Ontario since the Great Depression. Job losses in the province have totalled 214,000 in the first year of this recession, compared to 89,000 in the first year of the 1981-82 recession. Many of these jobs are gone for ever. In 1990, 65% of reported permanent layoffs were due to partial or complete plant closures. In the first five months of this year, 59% were due to partial or complete plant closures. By contrast, in 1982 only 24% of permanent layoffs were due to shutdowns; the remainder were the result of companies temporarily reducing the number of their employees.

The loss of jobs and the resulting rise in the unemployment rate has brought about an unprecedented, in recent memory, increase in the level of social assistance cases in the province. Between May 1990 and May of this year the social assistance case load has increased by more than 70% in the province.

The current economic crisis facing Ontario represents the coming of age of several major ideals of the neoconservative political economy that took hold of this province in 1975. This policy of fiscal restraint was ostensibly designed to reduce inflationary pressures and deliberately allow the private sector room to expand. It emphasized the size of the political deficit as the most pressing policy matter.

In November of 1975, release of the Report of the Special Program Review, the McKeough-Henderson report, introduced the notions of too much and too big into the political rhetoric of the Tory and Liberal governments of Ontario and Canada. This rhetoric is echoed in 1991 by those who wrongly claim that the Ontario government's 1991 budget produces a deficit that is too big and contains too much government spending.

The publication of the McKeough-Henderson report marked Canada's first formal adoption of the doctrine of fiscal restraint in a systematic fashion. It is therefore important to understand the major features of this ideological commitment and how it has shaped the economic policy choices of past Ontario governments.

The theory of fiscal restraint holds that it is the excessive burden of government which has weighed down the economy and made it unable to function efficiently. Governments supposedly have established a whole range of non-productive social services which the economy can no longer afford. As a result, according to this logic, the share of the economy accounted for by the government must be cut to provide room for private sector expansion. The solution is felt to lie with major cutbacks in government spending.

The theory also holds that many services currently provided by the public sector should be given over to the private sector on the assumption that there will be a major improvement in provincial economic performance if the free trade market is given enough scope to operate.

The record of the Mulroney Tory government in Ottawa clearly illustrates the bankruptcy and false promises of the policy of fiscal restraint. As the last few years have shown us, cutbacks in public services do not result in a smaller tax burden on the population. Taxation on working people has been increased to allow the government to finance the free-enterprise pipe dreams of its corporate supporters.

Mr Balnis: To continue on: The principles of fiscal restraint have influenced relations between Ontario and the federal government in a dramatic fashion. In particular, past Ontario governments have long advocated fiscal disentanglement and the end to conditional cost-shared financing arrangements with the federal government for health, post-secondary education and social services. Today, in many respects, it appears that Ontario has finally been granted its wish.

As a result of the federal government cutbacks, Ontario over the next five years will experience a funding shortfall of $11.2 billion for established programs financing. It now appears that the federal Mulroney government has launched the same attack on the Canada assistance plan, or CAP, the only remaining open-ended cost-shared social program in Canada.

The Mulroney government's Bill C-69 introduced a 5% per year limit on the increases in CAP for two years for Ontario. Ontario stands to lose $3.9 billion. As a result of these changes, CAP will no longer be a guaranteed flexible source of money to help provinces adjust in times of high unemployment, poverty and homelessness caused in this most recent recession. In fact, Ontario's planned welfare reform has been seriously impeded by these cuts to CAP.

In the face of this double bind of the fiscal squeeze by the federal government and the economic squeeze of the current recession, the worst since the Great Depression, as we have noted, the NDP government of Ontario introduced its first provincial budget. This budget, in our view, represents the first denunciation of the principles of the neoconservative philosophy of fiscal restraint by a provincial government in Ontario since the introduction of the McKeough-Henderson report and its myths in 1975.

In putting the wellbeing of people before the deficit, the NDP government moved in the opposite direction from the federal and provincial Tories. Mulroney's answer has been to raise taxes for working Ontarians and cut services to those in need and thereby make the recession worse.

As you can see on pages 12, 13 and 14 of our brief, we indicate the measures the Ontario government has taken to fight the recession. In our view -- on page 15 of our brief -- this budget clearly states the intention of the government of Ontario to fight the recession head-on. The willingness of the government to accept the $9.7-billion deficit resulting from this budget is evidence of its courage and conviction to protect the interests of working people and the majority of Ontario's citizens in a time of economic hardship.


Contrary to the hysteria generated by the corporate media, the reality of the situation is that the projected Ontario deficit of $9.7 billion is moderate if considered from the perspective of recent Conservative deficits from other Canadian jurisdictions.

On page 16 of our submission we provide that comparison. In our view, the Ontario deficit, to emphasize, represents the rejection of the fundamental principles of the theory of fiscal restraint by the government of the largest province in Canada to meet the needs of the bulk of the province's population, something, in our view, that has been deliberately ignored since at least 1975.

We have found support in our position from groups such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and even the Conference Board of Canada, and we provide that evidence for you on page 17 of our submission.

CUPE Ontario is also pleased to note that the budget did not introduce any overt forms of public sector wage control, unlike the federal government, which is using its cuts in federal transfers. Budget announcements in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia indicate their desire for wage controls. Fortunately the Ontario government did not follow that course of action. In fact, the budget of the Ontario government contained a much different message. In response to the Treasurer's challenge we are taking this opportunity to suggest ways to meet the challenges identified in the budget.

While the legacy of fiscal restraint is strong, the need to challenge this approach has never been greater. The Ontario government's 1991 budget, in our view, is a brave and positive step in the right direction. Admittedly, Ontario's independent capacity to plan the economy of the province, to seek full employment and to seek the development of an integrated manufacturing economy able to supply the domestic market has been jeopardized by the Canada/US free trade agreement. It will be reduced even further by a trilateral free trade agreement including Mexico. None the less, the creation and continuance of 70,000 Ontario job opportunities by this 1991 Ontario budget stands in sharp contrast to the statistics on job creation since the free trade agreement was forced on Ontario by the Mulroney government.

In the long term, action must be taken in a number of other areas, in our view, including taxation, the role of the private sector and, perhaps most important, enhanced democracy and public accountability. It is gratifying to note that the Ontario government has already embarked on initiatives in all of these areas. We look forward to participating in the work of the government's Fair Tax Commission.

Meeting real human needs, not simply pandering to business, must be the ultimate goal of the Ontario government's economic strategy. We must seek full employment as our primary objective rather than using mass unemployment as a way of lowering wages and weakening unions. We must seek improved public services rather than eroding already inadequate benefits and programs and we must use public policies and public investment to control our economic development.

In our view a significant first step is to win back the terrain lost to the McKeough-Henderson big lie concerning the public sector. The public sector contributes to economic development just as the private sector does. If the private sector cannot create permanent decently paying jobs or satisfy the pressing needs of Ontarians, we must be prepared to use the public sector as a catalyst for the economic development of this province.

The problem is not that we have too much public spending, but rather we do not have enough. Moreover, too much of the public spending we do have is of the wrong kind, that is, its purpose is purely to bolster business development in the private sector. An economic policy that gives priority to the social, economic and human needs of ordinary Ontarians is what is required. The goal of establishing a more favourable investment climate at the expense of the job security and living standards of our citizens must be reversed.

Our strategy has two aspects. The first strategy is a commitment to public investment: the expansion of socially necessary public services. On pages 28 and 29 of our submission we provide a listing of measures to improve public sector programs and services.

Unfortunately, adequate funding and a political commitment to the public sector, while necessary, are not sufficient by themselves to produce the long-term transformation and renewal of the Ontario public sector that is so urgently needed. Ontario's public sector has been both underfunded and unplanned. Moreover, no effective mechanism exists to implement long-term and democratic planning.

The real solution to the crisis facing Ontario's public sector that has existed since 1975 lies beyond the simple redeployment of existing and new resources. CUPE's alternative strategy seeks democratic control of economic development to promote the objectives and needs of ordinary people. We need much more involvement in the economic planning and decision-making process, which in turn will require the creation of new methods of public input. Citizen participation in economic decision-making is vital both to make an alternative economic strategy work and to give it the political support necessary to succeed.

In the conclusion of our brief we talk of what could be seen in the post-secondary education sector, for example, a legislative commission. We then speak on page 32 of health care, with our concerns about deinstitutionalization and decentralization. If it is proceeded in a planned and co-ordinated manner with full consultation we believe that process can work. In the area of social services we need adequate funding, planning, clear lines of accountability and a political commitment to the provision of a comprehensive, universally accessible social service system.

Mrs Rickaby: In conclusion, CUPE Ontario is pleased with the initiatives of the Ontario government contained in and reinforced by this budget. The government has taken a positive first step in the right direction to putting the economy of Ontario back on track. But, as we have stated, the government must do more and move to ensure that all community interests are represented in the decision-making process for the expenditure of public funds.

CUPE Ontario therefore calls for increased democratization of the public sector in Ontario. To this end, we urge the Ontario government to ensure that any agency or institution that is in receipt of public funds for its operation must be run by a governing body that is genuinely representative of the community and the clients the organization serves. These representative bodies must include representatives of their staff and their unions. Recognizing the need for community input into the operation of publicly funded organizations will ensure that these services can be best adapted to meet the social needs of the communities that they are intended to service. This process will go a long way to improving delivery of these much-needed public services during this recession and through this decade into the next century. All of which is respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of CUPE.

The Chair: Thank you. We are starting off with the government. Mr Ward.

Mr B. Ward: Thank you for your brief. You appear to have put a lot of work into it, as all groups have that have come before us, and we appreciate that. You mentioned in your brief our government's decision to fight the recession rather than fight the deficit, because we felt the recession was more important during these tough economic times to try to wrestle to the ground from an economic standpoint. Could you give some examples from your -- assuming you all live in the Sault area, is that right?

Mr Balnis: Actually not. I am from our Ottawa office, and Brian is from Toronto, so it is a range.

Mr B. Ward: So I understand where you are. The anti-recession package included $700 million in capital for improving our infrastructure across Ontario. Can you give some examples or your views on whether this was effective spending, because, as I have said before, we have been criticized by groups and organizations for the deficit. People have been saying we should be cutting back, whether it is health care, whether it is social services or in fact our capital expenditures to rebuild our infrastructure. From your point of view, is it wise to spend capital dollars during tough economic times to rebuild our roads, to improve our facilities, whether it is schools, whether it is hospitals? Could you comment on that from your perspective as Ontario representatives of CUPE?

Mr Balnis: From our perspective it is sound economic strategy. We spend some time in our document talking about the estimate by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, where Ontario's public infrastructure of roads, bridges, sewers and urban transportation facilities must be improved. Spending on maintaining social services in a recession makes eminent sense to us.

Mr B. Ward: Especially during tough times. That is when we should be putting dollars into job creation and rebuilding our infrastructure.

Mr Balnis: Precisely. I think we are also looking at a situation where Ontario since 1975 has prided itself as being the province that spends the least on social services. The McKeough-Henderson report, the report of the special committee there, has put Ontario for a decade into a bind that also must be addressed. We are not asking that you do it overnight, but in tough times you must spend on capital spending and you must also be prepared, as we suggest in our brief, to look at expanding the role of the public sector in the long term to address the damage that has been done since 1975.

Mr B. Ward: I think the gist of your brief, as we head into recovery -- according to Mulroney the recession is over, but ask the unemployed and they have a different point of view. But as we look into the future, into the 1990s -- and this is really a non-budgetary question -- for us to be successful as a province, do you think there has to be greater co-operation, trust and partnership between organizations like CUPE and business and government, a greater dialogue and a working together? That is the direction we would like to head in as a government. Do you thing that is a proper direction?

Mr Blakeley: I think that is a very appropriate direction, tying into your previous question. If you take public funds, and improve the infrastructure of the province during a time of economic downturn, when the money is not in the private sector, then you not only address the recession, you get people working. You also improve the infrastructure, the transportation systems, the community organizations that we need to take advantage of an upturn when it comes along so that we have a transportation system, we have the infrastructure to allow business to then take over and generate the involvement and the economic activity that they have always wanted to generate.

The Chair: I will have to cut you short. Mrs Sullivan.

Mrs Sullivan: Thank you. I wanted to follow up on your recommendations on page 27, that some of the recommendations of the AMO be followed and, indeed, that there be significant infrastructure investment throughout the province. One of the things that is very clear from this budget is that long-term capital investment is not included. There is no increase in funding available for municipal sewerage, which is desperately required. There is no follow-up on the initiative of the water and sewage corporation, which would have allowed leveraging additional funding to improve the municipal sewer infrastructure. There is minimal increase in the capital transfers to universities. By example, the backlog capital requirements at the University of Toronto cannot even be met by the entire increase in the capital funding for colleges and universities. What I do not see in this budget is long-term capital investment that will indeed solve the infrastructure problems that have been identified by municipalities, by colleges, by universities, by health care institutions, nor, as a result of the failure of addressing those infrastructure problems, is there any long-term job creation. How do you come to terms with those issues with the kind of brief that you have submitted?

Mr Balnis: You have identified exactly the source of our problems. You mentioned the backlog at the University of Toronto, which I attended a long time ago. Where did that backlog come from? Right now, this Ontario budget is under fantastic attack for spending too much, and you are expecting a government in one budget to correct, in our view, 15 years of omission, backlogs, underfunding, lack of strategy, no long-terms plans. I put the question back to you and say, why are we in the mess in the first place? As Mr Ward indicated, I think it has been a long time coming where we can be consulted to work co-operatively to look at the Ontario public sector and work to rebuild it. It is not going to happen quickly, and we will participate in that process. To be quite frank, I do not think we are going to turn around and say, "You didn't do enough in this budget." It is a first step. We will work with you to make it better.

Mrs Sullivan: One of the things that is interesting is that a large part of the deficit created here is as a result of operating deficit, not capital deficit, which would have made, in terms of long-term economic recovery, probably far more sense. You have talked about the capital needs. What is your response on that? Are you willing to accept continuing operating deficits to add to the long-term debt?

Mr Blakeley: Our response is that we see a situation where a number of policies have led us to the situation where a large number of Canadians in Ontario are in need of social assistance, are in need of work, and the government has looked at the long-term buildup of capital shortfall, has looked at the university system, has looked at the province and seen a lot of need and has recognized, and I think properly, that the immediate need of the people takes priority over a long-term need to increase the deficit, at this moment, for capital funding. I think the initiatives in the budget address the long term.

Mr McLean: Your brief is very comprehensive and very well done. It expresses concerns that you have relayed very thoroughly, and I have no questions for clarification.

Mr Sutherland: Mr Chair, just before the next group comes on, I understand that we have a cancellation this afternoon at 1 o'clock?

The Chair: Yes, we did.

Mr Sutherland: It has come to my attention that the social planning council has a brief that it was going to submit in written form. I was wondering, if we had all-party agreement, whether they could present that at 1 o'clock in verbal form, since we have had a cancellation.

The Chair: Mr McLean, do you agree?

Mr McLean: The majority rules.

The Chair: Okay. No problem.



The Chair: Would the Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce please come forward for a presentation. Welcome to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs and to the budget hearings here. You have one half-hour to make your presentation. In your presentation, leave enough time at the end for questions from the three parties, and you can start right now, sir. Identify who you are for Hansard, please.

Mr Lajambe: Ken Lajambe, president of the Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce. It is great to be here. We did a hearing similar to this in Sudbury last week on another issue, and we had a lot of fun there, did we not, Tony?

Mr Martin: Yes, we did.

Mr Lajambe: It was a good meeting and we hope this will be as good. We appreciate the opportunity, of course, of being here. How is it broken out today? Where are all the people?

Mr Martin: We are in the Sault.

Mr Lajambe: I noticed that, Tony.

We have about 600 members in our Sault chamber. We are down from some 900. I do not have to tell you why that is. A lot of things have happened in the last two years, in particular in terms of Algoma Steel's problem, which we will deal with in the brief. I would like to thank you once again for allowing this opportunity to be here to talk to you about our concerns regarding the provincial budget which was released, of course, in April of this year.

I also do not think I have to go into a lot of detail on what is happening in the economic conditions in Sault Ste Marie. However, I do feel it is important to provide you with an up-to-date overview of our dire situation. Algoma Steel, of course, is our primary employer. Its future is uncertain at best. The chamber of commerce is very hopeful that the company, its employees and shareholders will be able to restructure by the October 31 deadline and that Algoma Steel will continue as a viable operation in our community.

What this restructuring has done in essence is waiting for the other shoe to fall. Our business community is very nervous about what is going to happen and so too are our customers. Consumers based in Sault Ste Marie do not have their hands in their pockets, because they are waiting for another shoe to fall. This constant delaying has certainly put us in great jeopardy, even further than what the recession has done, just the inability to sit back and wait.

Cross-border shopping continues to increase and losses created as a result of this problem are staggering. A study conducted by Ernst and Young in 1990 which the chamber commissioned indicated that the Sault has lost over $140 million in income and over 1,000 jobs have been lost in the community as a direct result of cross-border shopping. There is no end in sight to this trend.

Our unemployment insurance and welfare rolls continue to put a tremendous strain on our social system. Business closures and personal bankruptcies have taken their toll on hundreds of people in our community. The only people employed now are a lot of carpenters boarding up businesses.

Regarding the budget, the surtax to be levied on small businesses earning over $200,000 will affect many of our local business people. These businesses and their owners are already struggling to make a profit and this unfair tax will in many cases mean the difference between making money and losing money, and more important, will reduce or eliminate the ability of business owners to provide much-needed jobs for our residents and contribute to the municipal, provincial and federal tax base.

Second, of the $700 million the provincial government plans to spend on municipal improvement projects announced earlier, only $20,400,000 has been allocated to the district of Algoma, where the welfare case load has increased by over 63% and the unemployment rate is approximately 15%. The $20,400,000 represents a mere 2.9% of the total anti-recession fund.

Third, the 1991 budget does nothing to assist Sault Ste Marie as a border community. In fact, it goes a long way to reducing our ability to compete. The most pervasive economic challenge for all businesses in the 1990s is that ability to compete.

The increase in gasoline taxes, which was a little surprising in the last budget, will have a further devastating effect on this community. We tie that to the Ernst and Young study commissioned by the chamber, where it concluded that the primary reason that Sault Ste Marie residents crossed the border to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, was to purchase gasoline. That is still in fact an absolute. They also purchase significant volumes of other consumer goods, including groceries, alcohol and cigarettes, all products, except groceries, which are subject to considerable taxes.

With gas taxes predicted to rise 30% over the next six months and taxes on alcohol and tobacco at a record high level, not only is the Ontario government encouraging Sault Ste Marie and Ontario residents to shop across the border, it is also sending a clear message to American tourists, Sault Ste Marie's primary visitor drawing area, that Ontario is too expensive to visit.

Fourth, the Ontario government has failed to provide much-needed funding for the four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway throughout northern Ontario. This roadway is a disgrace and has been compared to a cow path in certain areas. When we are struggling to compete, wanting to attract visitors to the north and eager to move products throughout the province, this highway is an integral link to existing and potential new markets which the north must capitalize on for our survival.

It is not good enough to say in terms of the highway that there is not enough traffic to warrant it. I think it is the chicken and the egg. If we had highway that could support additional traffic, we would probably in all likelihood very quickly realize the market that would bring to Sault Ste Marie. Without a first-class highway transportation system, we are at an extreme disadvantage with our southern Ontario and US counterparts.

Fifth, there have been no specific program announcements to deal with the loss of resource and manufacturing jobs in northern Ontario. This province has for decades benefited greatly by the varied natural resources and tremendous talents provided by northern Ontario residents, with very little capital reinvested in the north. The previous government made a commitment to decentralization of the public service and the Sault has benefited with the relocation of the Ontario Lottery Corp and the Ontario Forest Research Institute. However, with the continuing expected loss of jobs in Sault Ste Marie, similar programs are essential to allow us to properly diversify our collapsing economy.

Finally, in the state of Michigan, retail stores are open seven days a week and in Sault, Michigan, some stores are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If the NDP government prohibits Sunday shopping in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, we will be hurt in two ways: First, American tourists will not stay in Sault, Ontario, where they cannot shop during half of the weekend; second, residents from small communities in the district of Algoma who come to the Sault to visit on a weekend would certainly drive to Michigan to shop, where the stores are always open and waiting for their business. This proposed bill, coupled with the devastating impact of the 1991 budget, will put the final nail in the coffin for Sault Ste Marie.

As president of the Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce, I am frighteningly aware of the growing number of business people who are giving up the struggle or are trying to sell a business no one wants to buy. They feel it is hopeless to try and ride out the recession, because even if they are able to survive the recession, they will surely not survive the taxes.

The NDP government has attacked the very core of business psychology, the ability to predict and to plan. We are desperately afraid because we do not know what to expect. All we know is that people who risked their life savings, and the people who work for them, are suddenly the bad guys. You cannot expect business people to take risks, to take creative leaps of faith, if they are made to feel like the enemy. Unless the provincial government puts less emphasis on the arbitrary rights of citizens and more on our responsibility to remain prosperous together, there will be no one left to pay for the NDP's regressive policies.

Thank you again for this opportunity.

Mr Kwinter: Ken, I was pretty taken with one of the things you have said, because I have felt all along that with this present government, everything is either black or white and there is no room for anything in between. I particularly want to talk about page 5, where you say, "All we know is that people who risked their life savings, and the people who work for them, are suddenly the bad guys," and that, "You cannot expect business people to take risks, to take creative leaps of faith, if they are made to feel like the enemy."

In the presentation that was just made before us, and I unfortunately did not have time to question the presenter, on page 5, in the very last paragraph, it says, "Instead, as public services are reduced, taxation on working people has been increased to allow the government to finance the `free-enterprise pipe dreams' of its corporate supporters through giveaways and tax concessions." I want to ask you, as the president of the chamber of commerce in Sault Ste Marie, do you agree with that? How do you relate that to what they are trying to do with Algoma right now?

The reason I am asking is because it is my feeling that it depends who it is who is asking. When it is the business sector, these guys are bad guys and it is corporate pipe dreams. When it is labour, then it is great: "Let's give them some money. Let's help them restructure. Let's give them tax concessions. Let's do all of these things because we have to help them." But if it is business, they are bad guys: "We don't have to help them. We shouldn't be giving them anything." What do you feel about that?

Mr Lajambe: If I had to say, I do not think the business community really is on the New Democratic Party's agenda. I think we are there, but I just do not know where the hell we are at. I guess it is criticism of the system, but I can only relate to feelings. I cannot relate statistics that are going to tell you what is right or what is wrong with the presentation prior to my own presentation, except that in Algoma Steel's case the restructuring, to a large degree governmentally, has put the lid on spending in Sault Ste Marie because we do not know what is happening next. The reason we do not know what is happening next is that the union has come up with a plan, and it is all being regurgitated through the system and some day they are going to make a decision, the same as the federal government did not make the decision on the other $10-million financing which would have bridged this a lot quicker and got things off faster. So that kind of interference in the process, without the due process of helping, is hurting.

In the business community, in my view, the feelings on this are that we have not had the consultant process which was promised at the outset by Bob Rae. We have not been consulted on any of the legislation to date. It is always after the fact, that I know of, and I am sure there have been some consultations during the process.

In any event, the final result of all the proposed legislation that is coming from this government contains an adversarial component. That is the thing I have a hard time with, and we are going through it again now with Sunday shopping, which puts us in a contentious position, which the union has not commented on, with the proposed legislation on the minimum wage. It is all great, but it is going to drive an absolute, horrendous nail through this business community. These are things that have not come to pass, but they are certainly coming to the fore.


Where we stand as a business community related to the activities of this government with the labour community remains to be seen. I have a hard time with it personally, and as president of the chamber I speak for the businesses that have indicated their concerns over where we are going with this government. We have four years of this yet. We are not content that we are on the same damn wavelength. I do not think that is an accident at times.

If we are not consulted as a business community, we are not going to make it as a province. You and I, the business community and the government, are going to be left in a hell of a position in four and a half years. If something happens to the New Democratic government in four years, what are we going to be left with? It is not a joint socialist movement. It needs to be considered as something that everybody wants. Damn it, we cannot continue to be the enemy. When we see our members, we usually see them on some picket line in a lot of cases, with all due respect. We saw the Premier when he was chained to a tree or a bulldozer at Temagami where he was protesting. This is against business.

How the hell do you change overnight? We need to be partners and we are not. We are the enemy. I do not know where the hell they think the jobs are going to come from. They have to come from the business sector. There is no other place to get them. Where do we get money to support your programs? From the business sector. Where the hell else do you get it? At some point in time, we have to get together. I am concerned we have not done it, and that is why we are here. It is after the fact.

Consultation today is not going to change Floyd's budget. Conciliation or consultation last week is not going to change Sunday shopping. It is in the process, but it is not going to change a hell of a lot unless this means something. This meeting has to mean something to you as much as it means to me, and if it does not, we are wasting a hell of a lot of time here.

The members of the opposition in the Ontario government are doing the best they can, I am sure, to reflect the views of the business people, but I do not think they are falling on fertile ground. I sometimes think decisions are already made that are not in the best interests of the business community. If we cannot do this together, I tell you, we will never do it apart, because there will always be that adversarial component which drives people apart and just cannot make for good relationships.

"Algoma is going to be restructured into a position that is going to make it worth while. If this works, it will be a model for this province and probably for this country, and it can happen." That optimism, to me, is far too optimistic. I do not think we will see that kind of large facility, but, "If we make this work, it will mean that business and the union and the labour people can work together."

This is what I see as the downfall of the system today. We are all human beings. We are all dressed the same. We look the same in underwear. We have different principles, but we have to get it together. We are not the enemy. We are the people who make things happen in this province. We create the jobs. We want to be innovative and go out with the capital we earn and do some more things, but everybody is hanging by a God-damned thread. There is not a happy businessman in this community that I know of, who can say he has been a full partner in the affairs of this government.

I do not apologize for the things I am saying about how I feel. They are not statistically provable, but the question was asked. That is how I feel as an individual. That is how I think my business community feels. I am hoping this government will take some credence from the things I am saying today, not individually but collectively, for my group, and make a difference. We have to make a difference and we want the difference to be something we can look back on and say that this government did a hell of a good job in the final analysis.

The Chair: You have half a minute, Mr Kwinter.

Mr Lajambe: I guess I used up all the time. I have things from the heart that mean a lot to me, and I am hoping that in talking to people they mean the same to them.

Mr Kwinter: I want to thank you. It really indicates that you are speaking from the heart and I think it is important.

How do you see the cross-border shopping resolving itself?

Mr Lajambe: Is this okay?

The Chair: You can go ahead. You have about 15 seconds. Maybe Mr McLean can ask that question.

Mr Lajambe: We had a meeting in Toronto yesterday with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology and it was very positive. We appreciated that very much. The gasoline taxes still did it.

Mr McLean: Is the Sault open now on Sundays for shopping? What effect do you think the legislation with regard to a common pause day will have on the Sault?

Mr Lajambe: It will be terrible for us. We have proven that there is new money being spent on Sundays, on Sunday shopping, by very measurable proportions. If there is a common pause day -- I think in a city like Sault Ste Marie, where we have shift workers and they are off every single day of the week, any day is a pause day the day they are off. In Sudbury they have chosen not to have Sunday shopping. I do not know what the clergy think there. I do not know who was the catalyst or what group promoted a re-look at Sunday shopping. If there was a common pause day in Sault Ste Marie and it was on a Sunday, it is not a good day for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr McLean: We had a presentation previously from CUPE and it was not mentioned. Are they in favour of Sunday shopping or not?

Mr Lajambe: I brought it up in Sudbury at this discussion and the union in this city had not been heard from one way or the other. I see reason for that, because it is good. There is more employment -- it is proven -- and I do not think any union in its right mind would take issue with that.

Mr McLean: In the public hearings we have had in Toronto, very clearly the unions that have appeared there are very definitely opposed to it.

Mr Lajambe: Sunday shopping?

Mr McLean: That is right. They want a common pause day. Nobody has determined for me what a common pause day is, whether it is going to be Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Mr Lajambe: It is the day you have off, to me, at the plant. Sudbury is a shift-worker city. Sault Ste Marie is a shift-worker city in the main, at least it was. There was no presentation in Sudbury from a labour group that I know of. As far as I am concerned, the common pause day is the day you have off. The religious groups were initially not in favour of it, and we have never heard a thing since we started Sunday shopping. Probably it is a model for the province.

Mr McLean: Gas tax is an issue that many people have had to come to grips with in the north. However, they got the same increase as everybody else got, 1.7 cents twice for the year. We had a brief yesterday supporting the policy of increased gas prices so that they would have fewer big cars on the road, the gas guzzler tax; they support that. I am concerned with regard to the tourism and trucking business in the north. How are they going to survive with an increase in the price of fuel from a government that had indicated it wanted to level the price across the province?

Mr Lajambe: We have a major problem, as you know. I do not know where your hearing was yesterday, but if it had been in the Sault, there would have been a lot more people out in the hall here than there were today in terms of gas and fuel, if that was the issue to be discussed. The truckers did a big job in Toronto on their thoughts about fuel prices. As a border city, in our business community our gas stations are in serious trouble. They are selling $5 bits of gas to get people across the river. In the Niagara Peninsula, at a meeting yesterday, they said all they are selling is $2 worth. It is tough. It is tough on tourism. It is not only tough on local merchants; it is tough on getting tourists here, which percolates down to the tourism business. It is a disaster.

With one stroke of the pen, Shelley Wark-Martyn indicated at one of the meetings a couple of months ago that this government may look at a shift of taxes to accommodate less tax on gas. Gas to us is a very precipitous thing and it triggers a whole pile of things. Number one, it takes you across the river and you can be there in five minutes; not coming any more but going. Once you are there: "What the hell, let's go out for supper. Let's go up to the grocery store. Let's get some milk." Remember, we have been cross-border shopping since day one here. It is not new, but the extent of it is terrible. We have a lot of people coming here every day. I cannot get into the whole cross-border shopping thing because it is not part of this.

Mr McLean: Has tourism in the Sault increased over the past year or gone down?

Mr Lajambe: It is down considerably. It is down 30% this year.

Mr McLean: I heard it was up 21%.

Mr Lajambe: The lock tour traffic is down 30% this year over this time last year.


Mr Christopherson: Thank you very much, Mr Lajambe, both for a passionate and comprehensive brief and responses to some very interesting questions. I always enjoy the dialogue with the chambers across the province.

In listening to your comments about Algoma, I got mixed messages. On the one hand, you were concerned that business is not on the NDP agenda, then there were some negative feelings about our participation with Algoma and then I think you ended the comments with the hope that if it does work, it could be a model for the province. I suspect in terms of co-operation and wanting to work together, we are probably singing from the same hymn book. If we could lower the volume between us -- I place equal blame in terms of why we are at this stage -- I think we could close that gap and perhaps work together on more issues.

I must say that the feeling among most of us is that in the Algoma situation, we have played as positive a role as anyone could expect a provincial government to play. We responded immediately. Tony Martin, the member here, responded immediately to the issues as they were breaking. The Premier has been involved, as have the appropriate ministers. It has been our perception that we have been doing everything we can to try to bring some kind of resolve to that. However, I will leave that there.

I would like to move to a question. I found it interesting that you talked about the anti-recession program of the provincial government and stated that the Sault got $20 million and that was not enough. I can appreciate that every community feels that way in one regard or another. The interesting thing is that in addition, to that concern, you expressed concern that there still was not funding for the four-laning of the highway. Nothing I saw here comes close to making the argument about or against the deficits that we have heard from virtually all other chambers of commerce and what I thought was the provincial position of the chambers of commerce, that they were opposed to that and that sacrifices should be made.

I have two questions for you. The first would be, is your position the same as your sister chambers across the province or do you have a different viewpoint about deficit spending and kickstarting the economy?

Mr Lajambe: We did discuss the budget deficit at great length immediately following the budget, when of course no one had a lot of information except those who were privy to it earlier, but I think the position at the moment is that inasmuch as decifit budgeting is now in place, with this government, then all we have to talk about is what can we do about it. Whether it was a good thing or not is now irrelevant. I think it has been said by Conrad Black and others that it was not a good thing to do. I am not a rocket-scientist financier and I do not intend to discuss the financial logistics of it other than to say that in Tom Corcoran's assessment of it for the Ontario chamber, the deficit budget was a mistake and that has to be proven or disproven over time. I cannot comment for all the other chambers. Tom's position was it was wrong.

Mr Christopherson: I can appreciate that. Thank you very much. I really do appreciate your forthright answers.

The second part of my question would be more specific. I will make you a little more comfortable by talking about the Sault situation. Of the approximately $20 million that is coming into the Sault, about $640,000 is going to the YMCA for expansion of child care there. Local road construction and maintenance is $500,000, and upgrading the E-wing of Sault College is another $1.4 million. Those kinds of expenditures are consistent with our belief that we need to invest in our infrastructure because we are only going to survive as an economy if we can compete in high value added areas.

I would like to ask you if you agree that this is the kind of spending that should take place and the kind of investment we should be making in our future?

Mr Lajambe: I have no problem at all with where that money went locally. I just have a problem with where the rest of it is.

Mr Jamison: I find your presentation interesting and I certainly equate to where the community is. I came out of basic steel myself and worked there 20 years and I can only imagine what this community is going through at this point.

Because we are talking about expenditures and I would like to carry on from where Mr Christopherson left off, could you put into perspective what things would have been like for this community if -- for example, there is a strong relationship to transfer payments -- I guess we all talk about that -- from one level of government to another to the municipalities. The municipalities, of course, apply a tax levy. I know the city here is under large duress because of that, but what would have happened if we had, as the federal government did to us, frozen or capped the amounts at the levels of previous years rather than offer an increase? What would have happened to Algoma? I know Algoma Steel is in arrears at this point in paying its municipal property taxes and so forth. What shape would this city be in if we had not increased the expenditures through the budget to municipalities?

Mr Lajambe: The obvious.

Mr Jamison: What would they be?

Mr Lajambe: A lot worse.

Mr Jamison: What would the effect be on this community?

Mr Lajambe: Just getting the transfer payments or dealing with Algoma Steel?

Mr Jamison: Dealing with the transfer payments and Algoma Steel.

Mr Lajambe: We just have a delay in $4 million to $6 million of the taxes from Algoma and that has already resulted in a 2% discount or at least immediate budgetary decrease. All of the tentacles from city hall are dependent on that funding, including the chamber of commerce. We do not get funding, but we do get payment to operate tourism information centres. So that is the first indication.

Mr Jamison: It would have had an effect on your municipal taxes, of course.

Mr Lajambe: Obviously. Immediately. No question about it.

Mr Sutherland: I want to deal with your comment about consultation and the government's agenda. There seems to be a perception -- Mr Christopherson dealt with it a little bit -- that this government is anti-business. Maybe Mr Christopherson's analogy is there, but you mentioned that there is no consultation going on, yet at the same time you talked about yesterday you were in Toronto at a meeting with MITT regarding cross-border shopping.

We have heard about Algoma and how this government wanted to get involved in the process in terms of being one of the partners with the different partners in the community, whether that be labour, business, the elected representatives, because Algoma's survival and success is in the best interest of everyone in the community, participating in that when the federal government has decided not to.

The Treasurer met with many business groups before the budget. He has met with many after. We have had the Canadian Federation of Independent Business before this committee which said that they were being consulted to death. My concern is that there seems to be a growing sense we are not consulting, yet we are doing lots of consulting with people.

I would like to know your comments. What do you define as consultation? Can you expect the government or the Treasurer to consult with every single chamber of commerce on every issue, or every minister to come to every single chamber of commerce? How are you defining consultation, given what has gone on here in this community?

Mr Lajambe: I would like to think that this kind of situation we are enjoying here today would have taken place prior to the formulation of the first or second reading of a certain bill. That is what I would say is consultative. I know Tom Corcoran from the Ontario chamber is in Toronto quite regularly and I know that Gillespie from the Canadian chamber and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business also see the government.

Do not get me wrong. It is not all wrong. It is perceptually wrong. There are good things happening every day because we all have the same objective here. It is to survive and to go ahead. That is the bottom line.

I am saying that things that affect northern communities particularly cannot be fed and watered from Toronto continually. We need to know what is happening up here. That is the consultative process I am talking about. There are not too many of us up in the north. We need things differently than southern Ontario does. We are fortunate in the Sault having two members of the government, one a minister and perhaps a to-be minister one day. Federally we have a New Democrat, so this is New Democratic country to a large degree. I think, based on that, we should be seeing a hell of a lot more of a consultative process, having to do with the problems that are unique to northern Ontario. The uniqueness of northern Ontario is not being addressed in Toronto, in my view and in the view of the northern Ontario chambers.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation on behalf of the Sault Ste Marie Chamber of Commerce. This committee will take your concerns and review them.



The Chair: Next we have Terry Ross, professor of political science at Algoma University College, Welcome to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs and the budget hearings. You have one half-hour for your presentation. At the end of your presentation the time remaining in that half-hour will be given to the three parties equally for questions on your brief.

Dr Ross: Good morning to you and thank you for the welcome. I want to clear up any misunderstanding. I am not speaking on behalf of my home university, Algoma University College, today. I think after my comments you will understand that some of the views I will be expressing may not be shared by all.

It is truly a welcome to you as members of the standing committee on finance to come to Sault Ste Marie. I think it is important for the government and for Parliament to reach out to the people. You are in a tough business these days. You are all aware that politics and politicians are held by many people to be less than a perfectly good game, that there is a great deal of cynicism about politics and the political process. It is widespread and it is very deep. I was struck by how deep that cynicism was last autumn when I was campaigning in the provincial election and knocking on doors. I have done that for over 20 years and I have never found people so angry, so upset, so disenchanted by politicians of every political stripe.

There is cynicism, and that cynicism works two ways. The people are suspicious and untrusting of the politicians. If they were not, we would not have the Reform Party making such strides and gains today. We would not have the kind of support that Glen Kealey is receiving today. You have to be aware that the people are unhappy. It is a two-way street because I think the politicians too often are transparently cynical of the people you ostensibly represent: too many broken promises, too many attitudes that you know what is good for the people. So I am happy you have come to the north. I am happy you are listening to a cross-section of groups and individuals from the north. That is important.

As I walked into the hotel this morning, a fellow sitting in a cab called out to me, an old friend of mine. He drives for Checker Cab. He has a BA degree, but he does not have a job with it in driving a cab. He asked me what I was doing and I said I was coming in to make a brief to the standing committee on finance on the Ontario budget. I said, "What do you think of the budget?" He said, "Well, it is better than the federal budget." That is really what I want to talk about, I want to compare the two a little bit and talk a little bit about budgets. I am going to be brief because I would rather have some exchange between you and myself.

Budgets are not really hot topics around the dinner table, but in the game of politics the budget is the most important and telling story there is. The budget tells us what the priorities of government are; not promises but actual dollars and cents, what is going to be spent and where, and equally telling, from whose pocket money is going to come to pay for the expenditures.

Election campaigns are never as illuminating as budgets. This spring the residents of Ontario had the budget story told to them twice, first by Michael Wilson in Ottawa and later by Floyd Laughren in Toronto. The two budgets, federal and provincial, are a study of contrasts, two distinct approaches to macroeconomic policy reflecting, in my view, significant ideological differences. One is driven by the modern guru of monetary theory, Milton Friedman; the other informed by the late Lord Keynes.

It is useful to pause here and just take a look at what the two approaches to economic policy are that we are confronted with as residents of Ontario at the moment. New classical economics, or monetarism, or supply-side economics which is how it is usually referred to, is associated almost universally with political conservatism. This school believes in the inherent stability of the private sector and a very limited role for government, what some refer to as the night watchman state. The market is sacrosanct. Left to its own, the market will regulate all economic activity. Conservative governments in Britain, the United States, Germany and Canada, and even a labour government in New Zealand -- I spent a year in New Zealand a year ago and was aware of the policies of that government -- all adopted or embraced in one fashion or another the doctrine of monetarism with policies of privatization, liberalizing trade, deregulation, major cutbacks in social programs and very often union bashing.

Keynesian economics is associated with the interventionist state or what some call the welfare state; others call it the positive state. Proponents of this school call into question the role of the market as a primary regulator of the economy. Because of periodic cycles in the economy, booms followed by downturns or busts, Keynes argued that the state would have to intervene to restabilize the economy, heat up the economy when needed, dampen down when required, largely through public spending and taxation.

The Liberal government of Mackenzie King was the first western government to give concrete expression to Keynes's ideas. In 1945, the Department of Finance prepared a white paper which was called Policy, Unemployment and Incomes. That set out a specific plan for a government-managed economy which remained the keystone of government economic policy until the ascension of the Conservative government in 1984. According to Peter Newman, whom we are all familiar with, Mackenzie King saw Keynes's prescription as a way of purging capitalism of its defects without having to turn to socialism.

It is interesting to think of the kind of attacks we have witnessed on the Ontario budget of this spring, and how it is following policy so out of sync with current economic theory, yet the postwar period saw almost universal adoption of those very policies the government of Ontario is following at this time.

The federal Tories, not surprisingly, are attached to the monetarist school. When you examine the two budgets, the one thing that seems to come out -- I heard it this morning in the dialogue, especially with the briefs by CUPE and the chamber of commerce -- is the concern about the deficit. That continues to come up over and over again, that we are spending ourselves into the poorhouse.

Let's just take a look at the deficit. Quite simply, a deficit is a shortfall between what a government raises during a year and what it spends. That is the simple part. We all know about that. Each one of us has to operate our own budget, our own family income. But there is a distinction between a deficit economists refer to as a cyclical deficit and one which is a structural deficit.


A cyclical deficit is that part of the shortfall caused by variations in expenditures and taxes related to the state of the economy. A structural deficit, or what is often referred to as a cyclical-adjusted deficit, is the shortfall that would have occurred if the level of economic activity had been normal; that is, if the fluctuations in the business cycle had been ironed out.

This distinction is crucial for two reasons. The cyclical-adjusted deficit provides the correct measure of a government's discretionary fiscal policy. Weaker-than-normal economic circumstances cause lower tax revenues and higher claims on public spending, through such statutory income maintenance programs as unemployment insurance and welfare.

Second, the cyclical-adjusted deficit is much smaller than the overall deficit. The large deficits that become a chronic feature of public finance in Canada are very largely due to weak economic conditions and political limits on levels of taxation, rather than a product of excess generosity by the two levels of government.

None of this should deny the importance of the deficit, where one in three dollars spent by the federal government goes to service the accumulated debt, but in emphasizing spending cuts as the solution to chronic deficits, we are left with the impression that the debt problem is one of excessively generous social programs rather than a poor economic performance, high interest rates, and a failure to increase the level of taxation, especially of business and the wealthy to keep pace with expenditure growth. In fact, there have been no major new social programs introduced since 1975. The cost of these programs has increased mainly because of weak economic performance during much of the period since the 1970s.

High interest rates, I think, are the real villain, but I do not have time to go into that here; the CUPE brief probably speaks to that. But debt and deficit reduction has become a national obsession; it is the number one issue.

I teach a course in public administration at Algoma University College and I had my students engage in an exercise, a case study last year, in which they pretended they were a provincial government faced with declining revenues and increased expenditures, and they were asked to come up with a new scenario. Almost all of them chose a scenario that involved deficit reduction. It has become the dominant agenda in the late 1980s. It has become common for people to think in terms of the need to tighten their belts, that the government is too big and too expensive.

Increasingly, popular thinking is driven by the agenda of the rich and the powerful. I would like to quote a couple of lines from an article by Neil Brooks, with whom I think some of you are familiar. He teaches tax law at Osgoode, and I believe is vice-chair of the Fair Tax Commission. Brooks says: "The most obvious way that the rich control the agenda is through their almost total ownership of the mainstream media, and the funding of research think tanks. Their huge advertising budgets not only allow certain lifestyles and images to be sold to the public, but also provide a virtual veto over the presentation of alternative ideas in advertising-dependent media."

Equally important is the ability of the rich and powerful to impose their vocabulary on the discussion of public issues. When people adopt the vocabulary of the powerful, they unconsciously find themselves unable to imagine, or even easily discuss, alternatives. So we have now adopted the language of restraint, the language of deficits.

I heard that today. I heard the view that this government is antibusiness, that this government has an adversarial relationship with the business community. That is not surprising, because the corporate community has historically had an adversarial relationship to any party that espouses views similar to the NDP. We can go back to the days of J. S. Woodsworth and the creation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and see how the corporate community bleats, and the minions in the media accept the views of the corporate community each time there are steps made to have a fair and a more just society.

Budgets are about priorities, and as I said earlier, budgets make transparent the priorities of government. The federal government, led by Michael Wilson, has over the past seven years sought to restrict the role of government and create the image, both nationally and internationally, of a government operating in a fiscally responsible manner. Wilson's deficit-reducing budget of 1991 closely followed the advice of that senior voice of business in Canada, the Business Council on National Issues. Wilson's deficit-reducing package included cuts to social, cultural and environmental programs, a heavy blow against social justice where one out of every four Canadians lives below the poverty line.

Budgets result in winners and losers. Some pay more than others. The Wilson budget rewarded the rich and the powerful. The least advantaged in Canada, those with the weakest voice, will be paying more through reduced services, opportunities and social support.

The Ontario budget, in contrast, tracks in a different direction. Some people say the federal government is operating on a corporate agenda; I think that is largely true. It is said that the Ontario budget is tracking on the people's agenda; I hope that is true.

"Premier Bob is keen to convince the business community that his government is not wacko," and I think the quote comes from Bud Wildman. His Treasurer, Floyd Laughren, has brought down a budget which is responsive to the needs of people: women, students, native people, the unemployed, the homeless, and people of northern communities.

As a resident of a northern community, this last point is important to me, and this is where I would like to conclude. I would like to direct your attention to comments by the editor of a community newspaper in Sault Ste Marie, Sault This Week. The editor is Randy Russon, and on page 2a of the current issue, he asks a series of questions about Sault Ste Marie. For example, "What has Tony Martin done for Sault Ste Marie since being elected as our MPP 10 months ago?" But the one I really found interesting was this, "When the New Democrats formed Ontario's opposition party, it proclaimed more than once how it was for the people of northern Ontario, but what has Bob Rae done for the north since taking power?"

We have heard a bit today of the $700 million the Ontario government has allocated under the anti-recession program, and these figures -- I am not sure how accurate they are, but these are rough figures -- $210 million of that $700 million has come north; $58 million of it has come to Algoma; over $20 million has come to Sault Ste Marie, and $3.1 million has come to my own Algoma University College.

I have yet to see any of the local media, electronic or print, acknowledge the money that has come into the north. That tells you something about the media. When Algoma Steel needed bridge financing, what government came through with $10 million and what government did not?


Mr McLean: Whose views are right, yours or your students?

Dr Ross: I beg your pardon?

Mr McLean: You had a test done in your school where, I think you indicated, your students said they did not like to see a deficit.

Dr Ross: That is right.

Mr McLean: You do.

Dr Ross: No, I am saying I am not keen on a deficit, because I believe a deficit creates intergenerational inequality inasmuch as if we do not do something about this deficit then it is passed on to our children, and I do not like that. I am saying that if you take a look at the serious problems this country and this province are facing at the moment, I do not believe deficit reduction is the number one priority.

Mr McLean: So your students' views are not what you feel is appropriate.

Dr Ross: That is right.

Mr B. Murdoch: I would like to congratulate you. You brought the NDP philosophy to this committee and you have done a pretty good job of bringing NDP views to us. I guess that is what you have been told to do and it is --

Dr Ross: No, I have not been told to do that.

Mr B. Murdoch: Well, obviously.

Dr Ross: I am not driven by instructions.

Mr B. Murdoch: I am sure you had a very dynamic speech to give us. We hear this all the time; let's just hear it once more. You did not really say that, but I assume you like more government, that you feel the government is going to look after everybody, so you are in favour of more civil servants and the government being involved in people's lives. Is that true?

Dr Ross: No, I would not say I favour more government. I would favour more effective government and a fairer society with a fair system of taxes. I do not think in every case more government is good government. In fact, I think ultimately what we have to do is consider ways and means by which people in their own individual communities can assume the responsibilities that have hitherto been performed by the government at one level or another.

I think we have to build greater responsibility within individuals rather than dependency on whomever it may be. But that is a slow process and I do not think we are currently on that trend. I do not think the state is more evil than any of the other institutions in life, quite frankly.

Mr Martin: I would like to thank you for the obvious preparation that went into what you delivered today and to say that, in my experience, I have never heard the story presented quite so eloquently and so clearly. It was an education for me to sit and listen to you.

I would like to ask you two questions, Dr Ross. One is -- because an allegation has been made -- why are you here today? What motivated you to come before this committee? Number two is a more technical question re your presentation, and the whole concept of consumer confidence in the middle of a recession and how that impacts on the economic activity and therefore sometimes the need for a government to get into, as we have, deficit spending. It seems to me that consumer confidence is very much based on the amount of money a consumer has in his pocket and whether he is willing to spend that or not. If we do not put money in the pockets of people the business community in turn winds up in trouble, and therefore the whole system is thrown into a tailspin and we actually have what we have arrived at today.

Dr Ross: I will answer the last question first. My preference with respect to macro economic policy is Keynesian policy. I do not believe that in the long term monetarist supply-side economics is going to work. That is my position. I think, yes, you have to put money into the pockets of individual people during hard times to keep the economy moving.

Fifty-odd years ago we had Bible Bill Aberhart out in Alberta in the Social Credit movement and he said the money system was like the circulatory system in the body: If it dried up, and there was no money, then everything would go bankrupt. I think, to some extent, Aberhart was right. His approach was a little odd. That is perhaps an understatement. There certainly is a need not only to keep the cash registers ringing, but are we or are we not a highly developed civilized country, and Ontario the most developed within the country? If we cannot share the resources of this nation evenly in some fashion, then I think there is a real problem.

Why do I appear before the committee and who instructed me to say the words that I said? No one. I have been a New Democrat off and on over the years. Often I have been very unhappy with the policies of the New Democratic Party. To me, they lean far too close to the centre. I think their historical role should be to the left. That is one of the things I like about Floyd Laughren, the Treasurer. To me, he was poured in the mould of a classical New Democrat and CCFer. He believes that the social programs that individual and average Canadians have struggled so damn hard to build and to get should not be sacrificed. I applaud him for that.

I hope that he and his colleagues are able to maintain a persistent struggle against those who would like, in the language of disentanglement or whatever else it may be, transfers to the provinces, decentralization. We have to understand that there are certain basics that we as Canadians have and that make us distinct from our American cousins. We know damn well our American cousins look at us with great envy.

Teddy Kennedy came to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, about 10 years ago.

The Chair: Excuse me, I am going to have to cut you short because we are dividing the time equally between the three parties and Mrs Sullivan has a question.

Mrs Sullivan: We have no questions.

The Chair: No questions? Then you can finish your answer.

Dr Ross: I will be very brief. Kennedy looked across and he said, "Across the river they have a health care program that is the envy of most Americans, and I wish we had it here." Do we want to see that dismantled? No. I do not think Floyd wants to see it dismantled either, and I do not.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation. The committee will be recessed until 1:30. The social planning council will not be appearing.

The committee recessed at 1200.


The committee resumed at 1339.


The Chair: I guess we can get started. We will resume our budget hearings at the standing committee on finance and economic affairs. Welcome to the committee hearings here. You are from the Canadian Union of Public Employees district council. Would you please introduce yourself for Hansard. You have half an hour. The first part will be your presentation and the last part of the half-hour will be divided among the three parties on questions and answers.

Ms Primeau: I would like to begin by thanking the committee for the opportunity to come forward and speak on the topic of the NDP's proposed budget for Ontario. The topic is of such a magnitude and the input will so affect all our lives that I cannot imagine anyone remaining silent on the issue. As such I have come forward to have my views heard. My name is Louise Primeau. I am a mother of three and a grandmother of a 14-month-old toddler. I am a trade unionist and I am president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees local for the Algoma Health Unit. I have not finished worrying about my own offspring, their education, their health and their future, but I must begin to be that much more concerned for my grandchildren, who seem to have even less opportunities than our generation had.

I used to be an ostrich by trade, thinking very clearly that these issues around us were not my concern, that they simply did not affect me. In the recent past I have taken a change in that attitude. I now am an activist, a grandparent, a parent and a social worker. These have influenced me to be involved, and so I am here to talk for all those in my life who are looking for answers. I am here to speak on behalf of the silent ones, all the ones who are most vulnerable when it comes time to talk about possible budgetary restraints or program cuts. I am here to talk for our expected grandchild, due in February, maybe one of the last fortunate ones to be delivered into the world in the secure place of a hospital setting, especially should there be any further health care cuts.

I am not an Ontarian who wants to be on a waiting list for medical care should further hospital cutbacks continue. I am not the sister who would be pleased to visit her brother in Toronto because he cannot receive the necessary chemotherapy in Sault Ste Marie. I am not the daughter who would be understanding if my mother were not to receive lifesaving treatment for cardiopulmonary distress here in Sault Ste Marie. In these cases I turn to the provincial government and say people must come first.

I am in agreement with the direction the government wishes to take. I agree with the personalized way the NDP is looking at the budget. There was a time when I thought you had to be an economist to even have a basic understanding about economics or provincial government. Perhaps that is the case, or perhaps many would have us believe that is the case. Perhaps that is why the average Canadian remains silent on the topic, for fear of sounding uneducated or unknowledgeable or for fear that his opinion does not count. Not enough people speak out. I felt very similarly until recently.

I am therefore pleased that the hearings are being staged around the province giving people an opportunity to participate. I do not hesitate to say I still do not understand the budget completely, or any budget for that matter. It seems simple enough in principle, but obviously has far-reaching implications when the magnitude involves the whole province and its population. One could argue that the fundamental purpose of the exercise is simply to ensure that the expenditures do not outweigh the income, that the left side of the ledger balances against the right side of the ledger. So the discussion continues endlessly in institutions, in business, in our homes and deliberately in government.

The NDP at present is in a very precarious position to say the least, one that should be no surprise to the masses. Their philosophy is people and not numbers on a page. The presiding government is taking a people focus, and I am here to talk about that and to affirm its position. I am here to support the provincial government of today and at the same time bring some criticism forward.

My first position is, who could argue with a government that wants to keep people employed and to keep food on their table? Who could possibly argue with minimizing any further devastation created by unemployment and program cutbacks? I have never been convinced that reducing jobs results in savings or benefits the community. It is simple for me to say I do not see any possible alternative at this time for the government to take. No one, including the NDP, likes that the bill is going to cost us a deficit of $9.7 billion. However, given the reality of our current economic picture, the public realizes that to just maintain the present status quo means deficit spending at the very least. The NDP started in office with a deficit. They were very clear throughout their campaign about their vision in governing. They clearly underlined in their platform: people first.

The NDP is not so reckless as to want to take political positions that are not consistent with its election promises. We knew what those results would bring. There is no doubt in my mind that this is precisely what the appeal was in the September 6 election. The people of this province wanted a fresh approach. They wanted a new direction and a new vision. The NDP promised that. They therefore have an obligation to live up to those promises. Simply said, the NDP must live up to the obligations they made during that election. The NDP came forward and tabled a plan. The voters liked that plan. They liked the ideas and the leadership. They voted accordingly. The voters endorsed the NDP's platform by giving the party a majority government. The voters have dictated a mandate to this government. Mr Mike Harris seems apprehensive about following the wishes of the people of this province. The delays in implementation of policies will not be honoured or tolerated indefinitely, and that is my criticism today. I understand as a voter that the NDP is governing for the very first time in the province and that it takes time to be comfortable in that role. However, the government will be painted with the same brush if it drags its feet on all action. They have been given a resounding mandate to govern and so they must. Mike Harris should save further tax dollars by getting on with the business of the government. The voters are expecting leadership and the present budget demonstrates to me that the government is proceeding in a responsible fashion. That is my message to the hearings today, so let's move on from here.

I would like to briefly speak about housing and my understanding about what the proposal is as far as the budget goes. On a more favourable note, I would like to comment on the proposed plan for non-profit housing in this province.

This government has announced the provision of another 10,000 non-profit units, which will in turn stimulate the construction industry by creating 20,000 jobs, jobs that we need very desperately. Being in the business of social services, I see on a daily basis the need for safe, central and affordable housing. I am pleased with the government's direction and initiative in this regard. In future, when our circumstances improve, I would like to see further programs implemented that would assist young families, with home ownership programs made easier. Ownership often changes attitudes and instils a sense of pride and involvement.

Ownership might help minimize the oft-times unhealthy circumstances festering in highly populated housing projects. The decentralization of the units would help to integrate the targeted group into a more normalized way of living without identifying people on the basis of their income. The integration process alone helps to create a new environment where children attend neighbourhood schools with all social classes, all ethnic and religious backgrounds. We are committed to integration and normalization of handicapped people. Why then would we not be committed to the same philosophy of integration and normalization in housing? It only makes sense.

On the topic of violence against women, the Conservative Party in particular appears to be disenchanted with the government's proposed budget. No one argues that $9.7 billion is a high deficit. No one disputes that if there were another way to proceed, the government would do so. But no one wants to argue against the proposed initiatives tabled by the NDP.

Who wants to argue against funding for treatment centres for women and children who have experienced crimes of violence against them? Who in the population wants to put the victims back into further risk? Who wants to deny a woman in an emergency shelter a bed that she has long waited for when she has just experienced wife assault and has no other place to go? Who would want to tell that woman, "I'm sorry, you just have to go back home because there is no bed for you"? My feelings on the topic of abuse are that abuse is by omission or commission. Our omission would be just as abusive by overlooking this very critical need in our society. There is no forgiveness for that.

In the same vein, the pay equity legislation needs radical surgery. In principle the legislation at least makes the political statement that our society needs to review our practices and agrees that historically we have undervalued women's work. That is great in theory. We have built into our structure a system that allows systemic discrimination. Pay equity legislation, although flawed practically in its entirety, makes a statement that we recognize our error and wish to correct these inequities.

But that is not enough. The legislation does not address the inequities in all places of employment for women in this province. The government has a moral obligation to take the legislation all the way to the end of the exercise. The government must continue to find equitable resolve for all injustice arising from paying women on the basis of their gender. Pay equity was a critical issue during the last election. Promises have been made by the NDP to expand the legislation, which would allow for proxy or proportionate comparisons for the workplaces that do not have male comparators. At present this is the very least that can be done to compensate women whose work has been undervalued for far too long.


On the topic of employment equity, during difficult times there is always the temptation to overly criticize government for new initiatives. The employment equity legislation is progressive in nature. It is most regretful that individuals would even require protection that ensures employees have equitable representation and reduces systemic barriers to recruitment, retention and promotion. In an ideal world we would not require such legislation, but as we know, this is oftentimes less than an ideal world. Employers most often are compelled to do the very least required by the legislation. In fact, some would not even make certain provisions unless they were legislated. As such, the employment equity legislation, in my mind, is an extension of the human rights legislation. It is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and grants aboriginal people, people with disabilities, francophones, racial minorities and women the same access to the workplace as others. To me, that is the right thing to do.

On the topic of social assistance reform, it is difficult, particularly at this time, to talk about the necessary reforms, but the topic of social assistance is most contentious at best, even during non-recessionary times. Having been a direct beneficiary of the social welfare programs, I lend my voice with pleasure to the proposed reforms. I am pleased to see that recipients are treated with dignity and with expediency. I am particularly pleased that mechanisms are in place for reviews, such as a Social Assistance Review Board.

My criticism on this topic, however, has to do with ownership. I believe very firmly that the state is only one element in supporting a family through difficult times. I believe that there are other key players who have to date been overlooked in meeting their obligations.

As we know, when there is a family breakdown, the frequent practice to date has been for children to reside with their mothers, although this trend has been changing in recent time. Nevertheless, I believe the courts and our systems are too lenient in encouraging financial obligations from the children's fathers. I believe we should be much more consistent in having the absent parents meet their responsibility in both financial and emotional support for dependants.

All fathers should be expected to make contributions, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. These contributions should not be negotiated through the children's mother. Regardless of the marital status of the couple, a financial review should be mandated on a very regular basis. I stress the financial component of the father's contribution should be apart from that of the family, as this often leads to further reprieve. The onus is on both parents to provide for their offspring, and I am convinced that there is still not an equal distribution of responsibility and of obligation.

At the same time, I am an advocate for fathers' involvement in rearing the children. When circumstances permit, I believe emphatically the father has the right to be involved in the child's life. All of society benefits in this picture. Education is the key factor in changing deeply entrenched attitudes and practices that have prevailed.

Transfer payments to agencies: It is redundant to say that we are smack in the middle of a recession. We all know that. The NDP has elected to fight the recession and not the deficit. I agree that this is the right approach to take. I have been particularly pleased with the government's emphasis on partnership in governing, with the reaching out to business and labour. I therefore believe the government must be just as consistent in its relationship with those it sponsors through transfer payments. I believe, since the government's intention is to fight the recession, not the deficit, it in turn must advocate for wise spending.

They must advocate that agencies enter into compulsory reviews. The purpose of the review is not to cut jobs in any way, but to ensure that the services are cost-effective and streamlined. The compulsory reviews have a new accountability. The accountability does not come exclusively from management slicing of programs. It must rather come from a joint effort between management and labour. Both forces must assume a responsible, mutual ownership for the problems. The government must discourage and even probably abolish the hierarchy structure that has far too often resulted in top-heavy decisions.

All agencies should be compelled to review how they can improve providing services to the recipients. The focus of the review is the emphasis to be placed on clients' needs, rather than on paper focus. Every staff member must be encouraged to participate in this process. That will inevitably improve the service and ultimately save tax dollars. The thrust of the review is on self-assessment.

This government has emphasized its belief in people, its belief in the importance of people. I am convinced the reviews will likely result in creation of new jobs because of the cost-saving measures on all fronts of the business.

In summary, what I would like say is that I am pleased you are here to listen to the people and that I am confident you will do just that.

The ultimate message I would like to feed back to the provincial hearings is that there was no mistake in the September 6 election. The results were because of careful orchestration between the New Democratic Party and the voters. There is, further, no doubt about it that the results were contingent upon a long-standing discontent from the voters in this province.

The NDP could not have done this alone, however. This must give thanks to the Tories, and the Liberals as well. Their governing provincially and federally has resulted in widespread turmoil. I am convinced that unless there is significant change in direction on a federal level as well, we will see the same sweeping effect in the next election. Very few are pleased with the favours provided through the Tories with the implementation of the GST, free trade, deregulation and privatization. The civil service is less than enthusiastic about the possible wage freezes being recommended.

The NDP has done its homework to get it this far in the process. Winning the election, however, was only step 1 in the vision. Fighting the recession is step 2, and governing is definitely its obligation. The NDP has been hired to do the job, and that is exactly what it must do. I am confident that we are well on the way to the road to recovery when we walk in joint partnership in governing. That is the thrust of my presentation, the joint partnership.

Mr Martin: I want to first of all thank you for your presentation and for coming today and participating in this consultation. To me, it is the essence of democracy.

We were certainly criticized resoundingly before the budget by the opposition and those who would normally criticize, and actually even by some of our own people, for not doing enough, for not living up to the promises we made on September 6. There was a statement that went across the floor in the House, "That was then and this is now." Well, this is now.

In the budget we proposed to do some things that spoke to that agenda. However, you have come today and I think affirmed us in that, but challenged us that we really have not gone quite the distance yet and that there is more to be done. I heard that loud and clear.

The one I wanted to focus on, though, in terms of maybe some comment from yourself, is your concern about your grandchildren. There are those out there who tell us we have made a mistake by putting the price of the deficit on the backs of our grandchildren. You are coming today to share that concern, I think from a different perspective. If we do not get into the housing programs you mentioned, if we do not get into the pay equity programs you mentioned, your female grandchild may pay for the deficit or non-deficit in a different way. Perhaps you might want to expand on that.


Ms Primeau: What I would like to do is clarify a little bit about my position. I guess there are a multitude of factors that are influencing me in taking the positions that I have. First of all, I am not a number-oriented person. I truly believe that sometimes placing a certain emphasis on numbers is somewhat of a fictitious exercise, although I realize numbers place limitations on what governments are able to do.

At the same time, as I said very clearly, I am a grandparent and I am concerned about my grandchildren. I am concerned about my own son, who does not have a job and who depends on certain programs. I am concerned that there is nowhere to go and no possible future at the rate we are going. I rely on the government to help those who are underprivileged and assume that they are going to be able to eat today and tomorrow.

Ultimately, the thrust of my paper, in talking about a budget, as I said very clearly, there was a time I would not have come forward. I thought it was none of my business and that to achieve harmony in your life, you just go and mind your own business and these things do not impact on us. I have recently had a very serious change of heart, because I think unless we come forward and say something -- I am impressed with where the government wants to go, and as a result, I voted accordingly in the last election. I believe very seriously that the true resource in this province is the people and that we have to lend an ear to what is going on, that we have to support them through a recession and that we have to be attentive to their needs in the community.

Sault Ste Marie undoubtedly is in the middle of a crisis. How long-term it is going to be I do not know. None the less, I think that at this time I see no other alternative for the government, regardless of what government was presiding right now. I feel very confident that there are no choices. To not focus on the programs, to place more attention on the deficit in the programs, means cutbacks, means placing more people on welfare and more people on unemployment. To me, that is not the right way to go.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Primeau. The research staff just asked, are you making this presentation on your behalf or on behalf of the union?

Ms Primeau: On my behalf and on behalf of the union. It is joint.

Mr Mahoney: I quite enjoyed your frankness at least. You have not hidden the fact that you are an NDP supporter and voted that way in the last election, unlike some of the other deputants who have come before us with very strident partisan views, trying to pretend they were just citizens off the street, when indeed they were here in support of the government with very partisan views. At least your honesty is refreshing, if nothing else.

I too would have concerns for your grandchildren. I found some of your statements quite interesting. I think even Bob Rae would admit to you that no one was more surprised in this province on September 6 than Bob Rae, and it was not a result, I submit to you, of some well-conceived plan of communication between the NDP and the people. Most of the men and women who got elected in their ridings frankly did so by accident, did not do so by design, in my respectful submission to you. Having said that, that is democracy and that is the way life goes and we live with that and we respect that.

The one area where we do agree is in your comments about Mr Harris and the fact that we should be getting on with it. In fact, these hearings are nothing more than a sham and are not the essence of democracy by any stretch of the imagination. The budget is in place, the decisions have been made and presumably the money will start flowing, if the government ever gets off its collective duff and starts to implement some of the programs.

But the reality is there will not be changes in the budget as a result of these hearings. There will not be changes in any of the legislation or the programs as a result of these hearings. We are simply here because the Tories decided to hold up the democratic process in the Legislature. Our party was not part of that process. However, we are part of the legislative process, and as a result, we go along with the will of the Legislature and the Premier, in his wisdom, in kowtowing to the leader of the third party, who decided to conduct these hearings as some form of democratic process that has become merely laughable.

When you look at the agenda in Thunder Bay yesterday, and here today and tomorrow in Sudbury, you can quite clearly see that the research people of the government party have done a tremendous amount of homework on the ground, and I complimented them yesterday on doing that. They did not sit back, unfortunately; they went out and, frankly, stacked the hearings with people who were sympathetic to their budget.

Having said that, and recognizing --

Mr Sutherland: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Just for the record, do you remember that all three parties had input on deciding who the presenters would be at the hearings in all the communities?

Mr Mahoney: Having said that, and recognizing that the democratic process is at least attempting, I suppose, to listen to people, we all know what is not going to come of it.

You say, who could argue with the government, with all its laudable goals? Frankly, I quite agree. What we are arguing about is the method. What this budget has done is set forth a course for doubling the total debt. Let's separate deficit, which is like an overdraft, and debt, which is like a mortgage. They have doubled --

The Chair: Mr Mahoney, could you get to your question?

Mr Mahoney: If I want to ask a question, I will. I may; I may not.

The Chair: Well, your time has run out.

Mr Mahoney: Three minutes is up?

The Chair: Yes.

Mr Mahoney: That is good. I do not have a question.

The Chair: Okay. I just thought maybe you had a quick question.

Ms Primeau: Am I able to respond then?

Mr Mahoney: Just think about your grandchildren, ma'am. They are going to be in serious trouble.

The Chair: Mr McLean.

Mr McLean: I have a question for our witness. When the budget was introduced and read that evening, the price of cigarettes went up, alcohol went up, on July 1 gas went up. Can you name me one thing in that budget that has not taken place through the normal process because of Mike Harris?

Ms Primeau: At this particular time?

Mr McLean: Yes.

Ms Primeau: No, I cannot. What I can say is that in observing what was going on in the process, it was somewhat entertaining to a degree.

Mr McLean: You said you were pleased to be here and to listen and to make --

Ms Primeau: To be heard.

Mr McLean: To be heard and make your presentation. Would you not want to give Mike Harris any credit for allowing that to happen?

Ms Primeau: I would give him that credit, but to that I would like to add that no one came looking for me, nor do I feel I have been part of a stacked deck. No one called me up and said, "Would you attend?" I felt quite delighted in having an opportunity to be here and submit to you what my views are as an individual and as part of an organization.

Mr McLean: I am very pleased you are here and you made a great presentation.

The Chair: Thank you.


The Chair: The next group before the committee is the United Steelworkers of America. Would they come forward, please. Welcome to the standing committee on finance and economics, the budget hearings. Would you identify yourself for Hansard, please.

Mr Ostroski: I am Jack Ostroski, and I am the president of Local 2251. I will go through that in my presentation, which I am prepared to distribute, but you have already euchred me. It was my understanding that Mr Wiseman was Chair.

The Chair: He was.

Mr Ostroski: The document I have is addressed to him as Chair. This will not be a lengthy presentation. I am sure you will appreciate that. I was solicited to see if I wished to appear by the local labour council. In any event, for the Chair, for Mr Wiseman, I have a bound copy, if somebody would pass that up. The rest of the committee I thought would be satisfied with photostats.

In any event, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, my name is Jack Ostroski. I am president of Local Union 2251, United Steelworkers of America. Our members, approximately 3,600, are employed at Algoma Steel Corp Ltd in the production and maintenance unit. Over 2,000 other members are on layoff.

Ten years ago this month the numbers were 8,100-plus members in our local union. No member was laid off. In fact, the company was hiring permanent and vacation replacement employees; quite a contrast. A large number were permanently displaced the following year as a result of that recession, and the numbers have fluctuated over recent years according to the business conditions in the steel industry.

The current recession has affected employment opportunity at Algoma and at other steel producers in Ontario, as well as other areas in Canada. Talk of an economic recovery has not resulted in the reality of an economic recovery in the markets the steel industry depends upon, and in my view will not likely improve to any great extent until the new year.


What has all this got to do with the provincial budget? Not much, unless the government of Ontario had followed the example of the federal and other provincial governments in slashing spending and reducing services to their constituents.

Ontario, recognized and envied as the major engine of the Canadian economy, correctly chose not to exacerbate the steadily worsening downturn in all sectors of the economy, particularly in this province. The government's decision to invest in the province and the people in it will not be and has not been applauded by much of the business and financial interests in this country and elsewhere. There are many who recognize that bold measures are needed when the alternatives, in human terms, are more acceptable.

The Conrad Blacks and the Gucci coalitions protest in the press and at Queen's Park only when they perceive their ox being gored, making dire predictions about the severe consequences of the government's budget down the road. What they are mostly concerned about is that when the eventual turnaround occurs in the economy, they will be required to pay their fair share towards reducing the new debt. They also conveniently forget to mention that the NDP government did not invent deficit budgets, either provincially or federally, and have been disproportionate beneficiaries in the area of taxation, compared to the working poor and the workers generally, who do not have the luxury of tax and investment write-offs.

Yes, the other parties constantly campaign on and advocate tax reform. Frankly, the average taxpayer is sick and tired of such reforms, and is at the stage of advocating tax revolt to ease our burden. The critics fail to emphasize that this government inherited over 85% of the current budget deficit from the former government that crowed about the surplus during the campaign of 1990. We all should recall how the former Treasurer backpedalled time after time until the truth of the matter was revealed towards the end and after the election was over. It seems there were some slight miscalculations.

The main purpose, however, of this presentation is to encourage and support the direction this government proposes in the budget yet to be debated and enacted. Investing in improving the circumstances for the people of Ontario -- the worker training, housing and infrastructure, the commitment to support improvements to educational facilities and other training -- will provide long-term benefit and return, more so than if the decisions had been taken to reduce and curtail such measures.

I have always been supportive of having to pay my fair share for education, for the social network and the government services we require. I do not support paying taxes when any government abuses taxpayers by providing largess for their friends and supports, throws vast amounts of money into bailouts of financial institutions and their investors, or seemingly gives away plants, facilities and whole industries which the taxpayers originally developed and financed, all in the name of privatization. At the same time, the federal government contributes to the provincial deficits by reducing the transfer payments to the provinces, particularly in the most costly areas of the provincial budgets: education and health care.

Health care in northern Ontario is particularly costly to citizens because of distance and the fact that every community does not have a full range of medical and hospital services at hand. Some specialties are only available if one travels for hours to a major city. A neglected aspect of health care costs that must be addressed with regard to travel costs exists in dental care specialties. Orthodonty and periodonty, for instance, are not readily available here in Sault Ste Marie. Consequently, parents must take time off from work to travel to Sudbury from the Sault for over three hours each way, at their own expense for travelling.

Ontario does not have a safe and convenient four-lane highway system across the north to connect the four-lane systems at Ottawa and the Manitoba border. Still, we pay higher gasoline prices and taxes, as well as the tax on tires, while receiving fewer of the amenities of travel. While Highway 400 keeps being extended northward past Barrie to provide safer and faster access for southern Ontarians to cottage country, we northerners have to follow long lineups of tractor-trailers, campers and Sunday drivers until the next passing lane where one to three may be able to pass the slower vehicles. Too, and most recently, innocent oncoming drivers have been killed or have taken to ditches to avoid coils of steel. Another such incident was reported today.

A commitment to finish a four-lane system across Ontario, in stages, would prevent the killing and maiming, while at the same time contributing to the economies over those routes in each community across northern Ontario. This issue should be addressed now and in future budgets.

Education and skills training plus support in the development of secondary and tertiary industry associated with resource and manufacturing capabilities and similar potential must continue to be a high priority, both in government policy and budgets. Sault Ste Marie and area are well positioned geographically and demographically for the development of markets southward for extensive trading opportunities. This area is closer to millions of American customers than we are to Canadian markets to the east of us. With proper planning, this area can exploit such potential and become a significant contributor to the provincial and federal economies. The highway and waterway advantages could greatly complement future penetration of southern markets.

There are other areas of the budget that we could address, but I am sure that others have done so at the various sessions of the committee held so far. The main point being made in this presentation is that, while the economy and world market conditions currently are in the doldrums, such events are cyclical. What has to be done is to provide for the forthcoming turnaround without savaging the population and the communities they live in, by contributing in a positive way. Many communities and individuals are benefiting from the decisions taken by the provincial government in this budget. This community and area certainly has projects under way that contribute to employment, keep people off welfare rolls and alleviate some of the despair associated with the circumstances at Algoma Steel. Those are also being addressed. The provincial task force established in support of the restructuring requirements at Algoma Steel has contributed in no small way towards keeping the company going until alternatives to severe downsizing or bankruptcy can be negotiated. So far the result has been in the interests of this area, in maintaining operations providing much-needed employment and contributing to the local and provincial economies. We are grateful for these actions by the government as well. We appreciate the opportunity to make this presentation. Thank you all very much.

In case it is going to be raised, I am not only a member of the NDP, but also a member of the CCF. Some of you younger people may not remember that party. In any event, I have been a northerner all my life. My home town is Espanola, just down the road. You are going to be driving past it. I have been here for over 41 years. I started at Algoma Steel on June 15, 1950. In a variety of ways, except for the most recent 6 years where I was in Kingston as a staff representative for the steelworkers, I have been involved not only in this community but other communities in a variety of ways. I am approaching my 25th year as a full-time union officer or representative. I am quite aware of some of the problems we have, not only in the steel industry, but in other parts of the economy as well. Certainly, allowing Algoma Steel to go bankrupt is not going to contribute to what we believe is a necessary resolution of that problem, and certainly will be of no assistance to this community, or to the economies of Ontario or of Canada. We are not going to let that company fail. We are not going to downsize this community by a third to one half of its population, because that would be the result of it. I did not write all of this but I just wanted to make that point. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you. Mr Mahoney, to start off with. We have approximately four and a half or five minutes.

Mr Mahoney: That is all? I will leave some time for Mr Kwinter. Thanks, Jack, I know you are obviously under a lot of stress these days in the ongoing negotiations and the concerns.

Mr Ostroski: I do not get ulcers. I give them.

Mr Mahoney: Yes, I am sure you do. I do appreciate your position in the community. I know you are highly respected and have a long history of working with my dad and with others in days gone by with the steelworkers. I appreciate that. I found your presentation interesting once we got over the partisan shots and all of the stuff and a little bit of the politics and got down to some really good ideas. I do not know where you get the figure of 85% of the current budget coming from us. That is not true. I do not know where that fact comes from. It is not even close.

Mr Ostroski: Excuse me, if I can just interrupt for a second. I did not see all the bottom-line numbers, but it was somewhere in the area, and a very rich area, of about $8 billion.

Mr Mahoney: No, I am sorry. We could go through all that, but $4.5 billion -- maybe Mr Kwinter will give you those figures. I can give them to you as well, but not even close. I think your ideas on the road construction and on the economy are good. I think they are interesting. What I find really interesting, however, is that none of them are in the budget. They are things that you are saying should have been, in reality, and should be done from a safety point of view, from an industrial point of view and for tourism and the benefits of the north. This being my home town originally, I well understand that northern Ontario is a different kettle of fish from the Mississaugas and the Torontos of this world. There are very specific problems. I am concerned, though. I understand your boss, Mr Gerard -- I do not know if he is your boss or not -- is now poised to move into the national director's chair, formerly held by my dad, and with some of the advice that has been given I would just tell you that it gives me a lot of concern. I fear for the steelworkers, I fear for this town and I am delighted to hear your commitment to try to save the plant, and to save the Sault, because it is a great spot. I know Mr Kwinter might have some questions.


Mr Ostroski: Could I just comment? I attended the last session of the policy conference when your dad was chairman in 1977, and on behalf of the local union and his fellow workers, because he came from Algoma Steel originally, as a member of Local 2251. Certainly we had a long and I thought an educational relationship because I learned a lot from him.

Mr Mahoney: So did I.

Mr Kwinter: Mr Ostroski, I just want to set the record straight about the deficit and the problems with it. There is a misconception, and it seems to be shared by the government members, but they actually had control of the Treasury for six months of the last fiscal period. The election was September 6, the fiscal period ends March 31, so for six months of that period they were in control of it. The headlines screamed, right after the election, $750-million deficit, and everybody yelled and screamed about what a terrible thing happened that this government had left this $750-million deficit. Floyd Laughren appeared before our committee in pre-budget hearings and said, in February, that the deficit was going to be $2.5 billion. That was six weeks before the end of the fiscal period. He then had to stand up in the House and say that it would now be $3.5 billion. So, in a matter of about three weeks he had miscalculated by $1 billion -- in three weeks.

Where you get this $8.3 billion they were left with, I do not know. But I can tell you this, he had the option, he chose to write down SkyDome, he chose to write down UTDC to inflate the deficit then. That was his decision. It was not anybody else's, and the deficit -- I am not condemning him for it. I have to say, in defence of Floyd Laughren, he has stood up publicly on several occasions and has said that this deficit has got nothing to do with the Liberal government per se; it was the result of the recession and anticipated revenues that did not come in. Now, he has said that, and he has never, ever pointed a finger. Yet every single group that comes in here that is critical tries to lay the blame -- this is the highest figure I have seen yet, where you suddenly said that $8.3 billion was left by the former government. This is just not true.

Mr Ostroski: No matter what you write down, if the cost in principal and interest in most cases in business -- my economics is not the equivalent of Economics 101 -- is that all of the bills have to be paid. My understanding from what I have read, and I read it in the Toronto papers so it must be true, is that those are the numbers that have been --

Mr Kwinter: Most people do not believe anything they read in the Toronto papers.

Mr Ostroski: I do, because they are so much smarter than us plow jockeys up north. I am not going to debate the numbers because I have a hard time managing my own budget at the office, without worrying about the federal or provincial government. I am sure other people would debate that question with you. In any event, the scaremongering, if I can use that term, about mortgaging everybody's future, and including my children, 6, my grandchildren, 9.4, is really not productive in the situation in which this economy and this country and this province and this community are found. Certainly, I believe we all have spent beyond our means at one time or another. I know I did. I came that close to bankruptcy when I was in business in Elliot Lake the first time Elliot Lake went down the tubes, so I have some experience in regard. Certainly, from the ox I have been gored by, Algoma Steel, I have had nothing but numbers and numbers and numbers for the last four months. In any event, the deficit spending by government has probably paralleled here the deficit spending by Algoma Steel. It puts them in the same position. However, people do not foreclose on governments. They foreclose on companies.

Mr McLean: I thank you for your presentation. The thing I like about it most is the highway proposal. That I think is an investment in the future for tourism, and not only that, but it will create a lot of jobs and get people working instead of being unemployed.

Does your union agree with the common pause day as proposed in the legislation?

Mr Ostroski: Yes, it does. We initiated it. You are talking about April 29?

Mr McLean: No, I am talking about the Sunday shopping bill.

Mr Ostroski: I am sorry; I am thinking of the day of mourning. Yes, working people have to have time to be with their families, the children and grandchildren the presenter before me mentioned. Also, as a part of our policy, we negotiate time off, days off during the week, vacation periods, statutory holidays. So certainly it is not in any conflict with what we do in the workplace.

Mr McLean: I have a problem trying to determine which is the common pause day, and nobody has indicated to me yet what is the common pause day. Is it Saturday, Sunday, Monday? I am one who used to work seven days a week too, so I know all about the opportunity to have some time with my family.

Mr Jamison: You do not now?

Mr McLean: And I still do now, that is right. But the fact is, the business in this community relies on a lot of tourism and shopping and one of the presentations we had this morning certainly indicated that they wanted to open Sundays.

Mr Ostroski: You have to understand that I just returned back to Sault Ste Marie on May 12. That debate has been going on. I personally shop very little across the river and I only do it -- I buy my gas if I am on a trip. I do not go over there and shop for anything. I have the gas receipts and everything else. My clothes, my car, everything I own that I can possibly buy, made in Canada is the policy. My children have been told if they bring a foreign car to my driveway I burn it. That is how serious I am about that. It does not help the steel industry at all.

Mr McLean: I am glad to hear you because I am the same way. In other words, you disagree with the business community? They want to be open and your union feels they should not.

Mr Ostroski: I am not really certain if the local union, prior to my return -- our first membership meeting was May 15 of this year -- has taken a position on the common pause day because I have not had a chance to read all the minute books yet. But I believe there has to be a common pause day and wide open -- whether it is for tourists or for business purposes, I do not know how anybody can spend more money in seven days than they can afford to spend in six days, or for that matter in five days.

Mr McLean: Is the steel plant open on Sundays?

Mr Ostroski: Yes. It is the nature of the beast.

Mr Jamison: Welcome, Jack. I am pleased to see you here today and I echo Mr Mahoney's sentiments, that you are a very respected member of the community.

Mr Ostroski: I wish you would all stop buttering me up.

Mr Jamison: I have been visiting here since 1981 and for people who do not know, I have gone through probably a few sets of negotiations with Jack and through the steelworkers. I cannot help but think of the situation that Algoma is in because, coming from the basic steel end of things, I know how I would feel and how this community would feel at this point in time. I think about the fight over free trade and how we have participated on the opposite end of things there and companies were saying that it would relieve us of voluntary restraint agreements and things like that. Certainly the Americans share much more of our steel market today than then. I would like to commend you on your work in bringing that partnership together in the restructuring area and heading down a road that has to be travelled, and working very hard at that.

My question, Jack, to you concerns your membership and your community and the budget. If we had followed the Conservative philosophy that the federal government had hoped we would follow, if we had frozen transfer payments to the community, if we had ignored the need for restructuring in infrastructure, what effects would there have been, Jack, on this community, a community that is already going through some tremendous change and potential for change?


Mr Ostroski: Certainly I am aware of some of the funding that has gone into programs in this community and the surrounding area. The one I guess you can go and take a look at is the one outside the Holiday Inn, where they are putting in the current walkway and the retaining walls, etc. The report I heard on that last night was somewhere in the area of a $3-million project, a lot of it funded by the federal -- or provincial government; a Freudian slip.

From what I have heard our mayor speak about and when I read the local paper, which I have not done for over a week, I am aware generally, but I do not have time to do a tally. Some of the numbers, and it may be disputed because I do not have the actual numbers -- I believe for this community and surrounding area, somewhere in the neighbourhood of $20 million to $27 million are figures I have heard -- you can correct me on it -- that have been made available through a variety of grants and transfer payments, whether it is to do with schools or other municipal works, not only in the city but in the surrounding area that have contributed significantly to the reduction of the number of people who would probably be laid off or on welfare. That is the information I have read. Of course, if I read it, I know it must be true.

Mr Martin: I as well, Jack, appreciate your being here today and I certainly also appreciate the change in tone and comment of Mr Mahoney as he spoke to you. Perhaps it was his father's influence, I am not sure --

Mr Mahoney: Do you want to hear some other stuff?

Mr Martin: -- as it stacked up beside his comments and attitude towards the previous speaker.

Mr Mahoney: I know a gentleman when I see one.

Mr Martin: I wanted to speak to you also about the budget deficit and perhaps throw some clarity on that question. Certainly $8.5 billion of that deficit would have been in place no matter what government took over this province and I think that is probably where your percentage comes from. The other thing I would like to thank you for is your comment, as well, around Algoma Steel. This morning we heard from the chamber of commerce that perhaps the Ontario government's participation had somehow fuzzied the waters in that process. Maybe you could comment to us about the Ontario government's role?

Mr Ostroski: The task force that was established is the catalyst for all of the things that have occurred since then, the interim funding in the first stages, starting in February, and also assisting in the loan guarantee as one of the stakeholders and I believe a significant stakeholder. They represent the people not only of the province, but of Sault Ste Marie. That, along with what the banks did, Dofasco did and the employees did, and the federal government chose not to assist, is ensuring the plant can keep operating at least until the end of October, by which time we hope to have a restructuring plan in place.

Restructuring Algoma Steel is going to take significant sacrifice by a lot of people, including all of the stakeholders. On the other hand, the consequences of the proposed Algoma/Dofasco restructuring plan or bankruptcy, because we are currently in a bankruptcy court -- I do not even want to stare that one in the eye. If that plant goes down it will never be restarted. Some people think that somebody will come along and pick up the pieces, but that is not what is going to occur. Nobody is building integrated steel mills any more. They are building mini-mills. The overhead and the cost associated with vast debt and everything else has to be restructured, otherwise this plant will go down as well. It is as simple as that.

The Chair: Thank you for attending and your submission to the committee on the budget review hearings.


The Chair: The next group is the Victorian Order of Nurses. Would you come forward, please? Welcome to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, the budget hearings. You have a half an hour for your presentation, if you can leave some time at the very end for questions and answers from the three political parties, which will be divided equally. Would you please introduce yourselves so Hansard has a record?

Mrs Blunt: Thank you. My name is Antoinette Blunt, and I am the executive director of the Victorian Order of Nurses, Sault Ste Marie branch, and this is Mr Leslie Barber, our business manager.

I am very pleased to be able to make this presentation today on behalf of the Victorian Order of Nurses. Following my presentation I will respond to your questions. However, if I do not have the appropriate information, I will ensure it is forwarded to you as soon as possible.

The 1990s are proving to be very difficult times for the residents of Ontario. The economic recession has impacted on the lives of individuals and businesses both small and large. Costs have continued to escalate in many areas. Unemployment is also escalating and is especially prevalent in Sault Ste Marie. Such factors as these place significant demands on our government's budget, yet the government has a responsibility to meet the needs of the people they serve.

VON in Sault Ste Marie is striving as well to meet the needs of the people we serve. In the past couple of years, the health care budget has been under intensive scrutiny. We recognize costs must be decreased to save our universal health care system. In an attempt to accomplish this, the trend has been to focus care in the community sector versus the institutional sector.

The trend to community care is one that VON believes in. Our mission is to provide leadership across Canada in the development of health and social policy, the delivery of innovative community-based nursing and other health care and support services, based on the principles of primary health care.

Many nursing and support services are not available in all communities in Ontario. The institution of these services is mandatory to meet the needs of individuals if care in the community is to be successful. There will be initial costs for program development and training to ensure long-term success of these programs. Such is the case with specialty services in VON Sault Ste Marie. These services provide for care of the terminally ill and their families, a 24-hour, on-call service as well as increased technical skills and intravenous therapy programs. In the past, many of these services were only available in the hospital sector.

VON recommends the availability of a minimal number of services in all communities. We recognize that such services should depend on the specific needs of communities, and that introduction of such services be phased in. These changes will show economic advantages in the future. At present, however, they are creating a significant demand on community nursing and related service organizations such as VON, whose staff require training and support.

With many generous donations from the people of Sault Ste Marie and from our United Way, VON in Sault Ste Marie has been able to initiate some of these much-needed services. With unemployment so high and our future shaky, to say the least, we need the support of our government to develop and continue to provide these services.

Looking ahead, it is quite evident that our population is aging. Again, in order to save our health care system, we must plan and prepare now to meet these needs.

With the thrust in patient care from hospitals to communities, there is a need to ensure a firm foundation on which to build a new system. Historically we have seen an individual program approach and not a system-wide approach. A system-wide approach, such as one that would encompass home care, social services, the placement co-ordination services, and other general home support services, would be more effective.

VON is a not-for-profit organization. This enhances our position as the key player to economical, community-based care. Our position also allows us to focus our attention and services on the individuals in our communities. The volunteer board of directors of our organization is representative of those we serve. Their hours of hard work and dedication and their insight into the needs of the people of Sault Ste Marie provide added value to the community.


The board of directors assists the staff in developing cost-effective measures of operations that allow VON to reinvest in more services for our community.

Not-for-profits have also, in the last number of years, begun to recognize the need for fair employment policies. In terms of visiting nursing, VON has committed itself to parity in the community nursing field with hospital wages. This policy was taken as a direct result of the recognition that nurses working in the community have additional responsibilities. The scope of practice of community nursing is enlarging to include acute procedures, previously done only in a hospital setting, as I mentioned earlier.

On June 26, 1991, VON Ontario, which is our provincial body, was officially informed by the division of community health and support services that the VON rate increase for the fiscal year 1991-92 would be 6%. However, 12% was considered the requirement to meet VON's needs and to operate without a deficit. A shortfall in the rate adjustment and the ensuing inability to meet a fair wage settlement will have serious implications for VON.

Not-for-profits have traditionally stood for quality in service, as the focus of care is on the communities we serve. VON believes in quality as well as cost-effectiveness. The government should develop quality assurance criteria that ensures efficient services which recognize the needs of standardization of care.

One recommendation is a system-wide utilization review of community services and outcome assessments. There is a need to determine utilization patterns and rates. A basis for developing a systematic approach to services must be determined. There needs to be, as well, some basis of developing a systematic approach to services. Following this, an appropriate formula can be developed for funding, with appropriate rates that will form the foundation for building an effective community-based system. The government should then encourage all community provider agencies to meet these standards.

VON is acutely aware of the need to control the escalation of health care costs and recognizes not only meeting community needs with quality services but meeting these needs at a reasonable cost.

During these times of transition, VON supports the funding requirements that will build a strong foundation for community services to meet the needs of Ontarians in the future. Thank you.

Mr McLean: Has your organization made any recommendations to the overall organization with regard to more services that you could provide which would keep people out of various institutions?

Mrs Blunt: One of the things VON has been addressing is looking at the needs of individuals we serve and providing the service at the level of need, and with that we have instituted the use of registered nursing assistants in the community to help keep costs down.

Mr McLean: Are you affiliated with the district health council? Is there a health council here? We have county boards of health. Is there a board of health here that buys services from you?

Mrs Blunt: The services we provide in the Sault are purchased from Algoma home care, which is part of the Ministry of Health. They would purchase the services from us and we provide the care. The rate of pay for service is established provincially in Ontario.

Mr McLean: I have been an advocate for a long time with regard to getting people out of the hospitals, the chronic care units, and into more like a home setting or in a community, whether it is a rest home or what it is, that purchase services from you people to supply the nursing care that would be provided. Have you indicated any support in that direction, whereby your organization would become involved if they moved some of those people out of those hospitals?

Mrs Blunt: We have made a tremendous number of changes in VON in the last couple of years. In the last year and a half in Sault Ste Marie we instituted the 24-hour service. We started training nurses in specialty areas, to certify them in special procedures to deal with more advanced acute procedures in the community. We received no funding assistance for this, and all the training we have done in the Sault up to this date has been done with donations from people, and some small donations from United Way as well.

Our concern is that, especially in the last six months or so, we have seen more demand from physicians to discharge patients sooner and not to admit patients if they do not need to be admitted. But the type of care these patients require is much more advanced than was ever required before. We can do it. We need to prepare our staff, to train the staff and set up appropriate programs to keep these people at home. It can be done, but we need some funds to prepare us to deal with this type of patient in the community.

Mr McLean: I appreciate your coming today. I really support what you do. Keep up the good work.

Mrs Blunt: Thank you.

Mr Sutherland: I want to echo Mr McLean's comments about it being great that you are here. I do not believe we will be hearing from any other nurses throughout the hearings, so this presents a unique opportunity from your organization.

You mentioned in your presentation that you probably needed 12% to fully maintain the level of service and you were granted 6%. It seems to me you are like some of the other organizations we heard yesterday in Thunder Bay and are hearing again today, that although we have attempted to maintain the level of services, there is still a growing need out there and we are not meeting all those demands.

Mrs Blunt: That is correct.

Mr Sutherland: Given the nature with long-term care reform and the move to providing care outside an institutional setting, what do you think the result would have been if you had a 0% increase this year? What would the impact have been on the people here in the Sault Ste Marie community?

Mrs Blunt: If there was a 0% increase in the budget, then I am afraid our organization would not be able to operate. We would be in such a deficit position if we received no increase that we would probably face closure, or we would have to look at specific services.

The most costly services to provide in visiting nursing are the services to the terminally ill patients in this community. Right now our nurses are making, in the city of Sault Ste Marie alone -- and that does not include the district areas we service -- 650 to 700 visits per month to people with terminal illnesses, many of whom decide they want to stay at home rather than in hospital while they have a few months left to live. Some of them have decided they wish to die at home rather than in hospital. That service in itself is very costly because they require more nursing care at home. There is no government funding for more than a visit.

A visit covers 58.8 minutes of service in the community. We do not walk out the door at the end of 58.8 minutes. Most visits to terminally ill patients can be an hour and a half or more, but we do not get funded for more than one visit. We may go more than once a day, but there is a time factor involved. It is a very costly program, but I feel it is a very needed program. In the past year and a half it has grown tremendously, but it has also allowed many people more dignity, a greater quality of life, the ability to be at home with their families, and it has provided a lot of support to family members who wish to have a loved one at home.

Mr Martin: That is a good line of questioning. I just wanted to follow up by saying that certainly the whole delivery of health services is under review at the moment in the province, and we can probably look back to the Liberal government and say that it initiated it, because the cost of delivering health services is out of sight in some instances. However, it is still going to be costly, no matter how we deliver it, and our government chose to resolve some of the most obvious outstanding issues of settling with the doctors and increasing the pay to some of the nurses within institutional settings. At the grass-roots level, we are continuing an initiative of the Liberal government by promoting district health councils and having them look at the whole question of health, not just health service delivery, but health, and Sault Ste Marie is doing a review. Are you participating in that?


Mrs Blunt: I am not directly involved in it, no.

Mr Martin: Do you see anything evolving out of that that will enhance your ability to do your work?

Mrs Blunt: I do not really know at this point if there will be. I certainly think there is a very valid place for our organization in that review. However, we were not invited to participate.

Mr Martin: On the review panel itself.

Mrs Blunt: That is right.

Mr Martin: But hopefully, if they do not contact you, you will contact them.

Mrs Blunt: Yes, we have been trying to be involved.

As well, I had mentioned earlier about the utilization of RNAs. One other thing that our organization supports provincially is the utilization of other levels of care providers, such as a health care aide; that the care should be provided at the level of need of the individual. There is no legislation that allows home care in this province to utilize that other level of care provider. That would help keep costs down, as well.

The Chair: Okay, you are out of time now. Mrs Sullivan.

Mrs Sullivan: I should just tell you that I have enormous affection for the VON. Certainly in my community the services that are provided through the VON are extraordinary, and with the last funding crisis that the VON went through, our home care workers were providing travel in their own cars at their expense just to ensure the service was delivered. That means a lot.

I am very impressed with the portion of your brief which speaks about the utilization review. I think that is a singularly important recommendation, particularly as we are moving into more home care issues, more deinstitutionalization issues, and it is one that my district health council has included on the agenda for all of the home care services. You may well be interested in following up on Mr Martin's suggestion about working with the DHC here in terms of its utilization review on a community base.

I wanted to ask you if the 12% which you feel is the requirement to meet your operating needs, as opposed to the 6%, includes the effect of pay equity and/or the parity programs that you are introducing to ensure your staff is compensated at the same level as hospital staff.

Mrs Blunt: At this point in time, it includes parity. It does not address the issue of pay equity.

Mrs Sullivan: Parity, then, will only last for the time period until the pay equity comes in for the nurses.

Mrs Blunt: That is correct.

Mrs Sullivan: Right, so then you will be behind again.

This morning we heard from the association for the mentally retarded, which talked about the difficulty it is facing in terms of its funding levels. When people are in institutions the funding levels are, I think, at the level of $103,000 per patient on average per year. When the patient is treated by the association, services in their homes or in a group home, the funding that is provided is $30,000. Are you finding the same gap in the funding available from the province for treatment in and out of homes or -- it would not be the same gap because you are dealing with a different kind of institutional setting usually, but are you finding that what is being paid for your services is able to meet the professional requirements, the training requirements, at the same level that they would be met for the patients if the patients were in an institution?

Mrs Blunt: It certainly is not equal. I really believe that the problems we are experiencing with lack of funds for training and for program development are based on the funding model. This is something we feel really needs to be addressed.

There is a provincial average time per visit and rate per visit that are established, yet there are many differences in all areas of the province. For example, one of the problems that we have in Sault Ste Marie is servicing the outlying areas. The standard time per visit of 58.8 minutes and the one-visit fee do not cover it. If it takes my nurse half an hour to drive to Searchmont or Goulais River and a half-hour back, we are already in the hole just from travel alone. It does not cover the hour she might spend in the home doing care. So there are inequities in the funding system.

Mrs Sullivan: My riding is the same, where there are distances that have to be covered. Do we have time for one more question?

The Chair: One more short one.

Mrs Sullivan: Okay, great. I wanted to ask you about training. Several of the other presenters today talked about the necessity of leaving the community for training for their professional people. The additional cost -- for example, of training in southern Ontario on even a short-term basis -- is substantially higher than for training which would be received by a southern-located organization. Do you send your nurses out for training or do you do most of your training here?

Mrs Blunt: Whenever possible, we train locally, but there have been instances where we have had to send nurses away. One example is when we had a nurse trained as an enterostomal therapist. The only location for that training was in Toronto. Our enterostomal therapist is the only certified therapist for the community of Sault Ste Marie outside of the hospital sector. It took six weeks in Toronto, so there were travel expenses plus her expenses while she was there for a month and a half. That was the only place we could get the training. Wherever possible, we train locally.

Mrs Sullivan: Is there a provision for northern training? Is there an extra fee that you get?

Mrs Blunt: No. There are no training dollars specifically allocated in our fee.

The Chair: I would like to thank you for coming before this committee to give us an insight.

The committee recessed at 1458.



The Chair: The standing committee on finance and economic affairs will resume. Welcome to the standing committee on the budget hearings. Mr Daniels, will you identify yourself for Hansard, and your associate and the organization you represent.

Mr Bjornaa: I will handle that part. I am the president of the Ontario Metis Aboriginal Association, Olaf Bjornaa, and Mr Daniels is our assistant here too. He will give the presentation this afternoon.

The Chair: You have half an hour.

Mr Daniels: We will not take quite so long.

My name is Harry Daniels. I am the chief negotiator for the Ontario Metis Aboriginal Association. I must apologize because I am not the financial wizard of the place. There was a long time in getting a response from the committee and our financial consultant took a holiday. I am sitting in in his place as chief negotiator and I will do the best I can.

There are some observations that I want to make first here. Everybody is getting an increase in your budget. Operating expenditures get increases, some as high as 122.7% for labour. Nowhere do I see an increase for aboriginal people. But we will deal with that maybe in the question and answer period if you wish.

On behalf of the forgotten people of this province, the Metis and those Indian people who do not live on reserve, first, I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak at this annual ritual to which our people have never had anything to say. The Ontario Metis Aboriginal Association represents approximately 200,000 of the 280,000 to 300,000 aboriginal people living in this province, or, according to government statistics, 72% of the aboriginal people of the province of Ontario.

In my opening remarks, I stated that we are the forgotten people. Our reasoning is very simple. The first nations, status people, who live on reserve fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. If you read page 14 -- not 16 as indicated in the table of contents -- of the Ontario budget, all three paragraphs with the title Equity for Aboriginal People refer to the first nations twice, with no mention whatsoever about the Metis or those Indians who do not live on reserves or the Inuit people. Even here we are lost between the pages. The federal government tells us that we are not its responsibility and the provincial government chooses to ignore us. Therefore, you understand why we are called the forgotten people.

In our letter of July 15, 1991, addressed to this committee, we have stated that we will speak in favour of the budget. Certainly this budget, for the first time in the history of the province, acknowledges that there are aboriginal people living here, but only the first nations, which number approximately 60,000 to 80,000 people. The 200,000 or more do not exist; the Metis are not even mentioned.

Unfortunately, our presentation does not sound like a financial budget commentary, but a comedy of errors. Nobody wants to tell us where we belong or whose responsibility we are. We think it is time that we should tell you that we are truly the first Canadians, committed to stay here for a long time, to fight for our aboriginal rights, may they be they political, social, economical, educational, health, ad infinitum.

Let's go to the business of the budget. As I said before, this budget has good parts and also not-so-good parts. We would like to commend this government for stating that this budget "is taking tangible steps towards equity" for aboriginal people. This sounds like a great commitment, but the dollar figures attached to the statements are only tokenism and are not directed to us; they are directed only to the first nations. We are ignored once more.

The budget states that $48 million in 1991-92 are committed to improve the quality of life "that is long overdue for the aboriginal people of this land." We have gone through a very simple mathematical exercise. As stated before, there are approximately 280,000 to 300,000 aboriginal people in Ontario. Allocating the $48 million, this means approximately $160 to $171.42 per annum for each aboriginal person living in this province. From the $48 million, $20 million is allocated to building community infrastructures, mostly on reserves, such as water, sewer systems, housing and electrical power.

Here we want you to understand that there are still a very great number of aboriginal people living in this province who do not have decent housing, water, sewage and electricity -- this in a province and country which claims it has a standard of living in the top 10 countries in the world and its citizens are ready for the 21st century.

Let's go back to the figures. From the $160 to $171.42, this time $66.66 to $71.42 will go for native community infrastructures. This leaves us $93.34 to $100 for an improved quality of life.

But there is more; $5 million is allocated to the first nation communities for 400 new day care spaces on reserves. This means that an additional $16.66 to $17.85 are gone from the original $160, leaving us with a balance of $50 to a maximum of $53.57 per individual for the groundwork for self-government, resolution of long-standing land claims, economic development, education initiatives at all levels and, let us not forget, an improved quality of life that is long overdue, with the last $50 per individual.

All these objectives do not even address our people, the Metis and those Indian people who do not live on reserve. This is all for first nations. It does not address the other 200,000 people, that $48 million. It does not come close to it. There is no indication it will ever get to us. It is all earmarked for a federal responsibility, treaty and status Indians, who get billions of dollars every year in infrastructure, social welfare payments, all kinds of things, and have a massive bureaucracy.

Yet when this government comes forward with a $48-million budget, what does it do? When you break it down vis-à-vis infrastructures, day care spaces, the groundwork for self-government, the resolution of long-standing land claims, economic development, educational initiatives, none of it is earmarked for us, when there is a massive education budget for status Indians at the federal level, money for them for day care spaces on reserves, money for them for infrastructures, but this government chooses to ignore and become inconsistent with the Constitution of Canada.

The Constitution of Canada states in section 35 that the aboriginal peoples of this country are the Indians, Inuit and Metis, yet the only federal responsibility they will accept is for Indians under the Indian Act and section 91.24 of the 1867 British North America Act and the 1939 in re Eskimo case whereby the Inuit people -- then known as Eskimos, erroneously -- are Indians for the Indian Act.


Now this government takes its money and puts it out, but it is for first nations. Are we to assume that "first nations" means all aboriginal peoples in the province? I think not. Why? Because the AFN, the Assembly of First Nations, only deals with status Indians. "First nations" has become synonymous with treaty and status Indians. So the forgotten people, as we have been calling ourselves for lo these many years, are forgotten again even in the Ontario budget. It may be an oversight. We do not know this. Maybe there are things going to be done, but not in this budget. We will have to wait now until the 1992-93 budget to accommodate us. What do we do in the meantime is our question.

Our people do not want handouts and/or tokenism. We work and pay our taxes like every citizen of this province. We are taxpayers. We have no write-offs for treaty status or anything. We are taxpayers in this province, 200,000 of us. We need economic development dollars to take care of our own needs.

In the last few years, the federal government, under the Canadian aboriginal economic development strategy, has invested in this province, in the native business community, $45 million to $50 million. This very substantial investment was made by the federal government, which claims it is not responsible for us. The province, which maybe could not be responsible for us, invested only approximately $6 million in business for Metis and Indians who live off reserve. This represents only an investment of 12% to 16% compared to the federal government, but every day we hear about matching contributions. What happens to matching contributions? Are we so obtuse that we do not understand simple mathematics? If you give Mr Bjornaa $50 million, give Harry Daniels $50 million. Do not give him $12 million or $6 million. But I only got 12% of what he got.

We do not want handouts. What we require is some real, tangible support to be able to raise money for economic development. This is the assistance we need. With your and the federal government's support, we may be able to go to the private sector and sell them, let's say, some 10- or 15-year native economic development bonds or launch a native economic development fund. This could provide all the money we need for economic development of our people and communities.

We and our people want to work and generate private and community wealth. We were the first people who worked with the first settlers to teach them how to live and do business in this country. We were the first ones to teach you people how to do business here, nobody else, but we got lost in the shuffle somewhere.

A federal government study states that if the native communities' standard of living could be brought up to the level of Canadian communities, the gross national product would increase by 2%. If our standard of living was brought up, we could increase the projected Ontario 1991 gross domestic product by approximately $8.5 billion -- not millions, but billions. If we used those kinds of standards and those kinds of equalization payments and those kinds of moneys to bring people up in their standard of living, we could bring up the gross domestic product of this province by $8.5 billion.

With this type of economic activity each year, we could take care of our people and our communities, and furthermore, we could contribute more to the province and federal coffers. Let us not forget that we are taxpayers.

We are also against the policy of increasing social assistance by 40%, which doubled compared to two years ago, from $2.5 billion to $4.9 billion, justified as necessary because of recessionary pressures. The economic future of this province and the country depends on increasing the economic development potential, not the social welfare system. Certain social programs ought to be maintained, but not social welfare. We do not want social welfare for our people; we want economic development. Transfer social welfare money. Instead of maintaining your bureaucracy that is going to spend that money on our people and to watchdog them, give us some money. We will create economic development for it. We will watchdog them and help them pay taxes and become business people in this province, or else at least have a job, because you cannot have everybody being a business person, or a business human or earthling, whatever we say nowadays.

The amount of $2.4 billion invested in economic development could generate tens of thousands of jobs and eliminate the necessity of increasing the social assistance programs. Only $5 million in loans made by our development corporation in the last 2.5 years -- we have a development corporation; we have loaned out $5 million -- has helped establish and expand approximately 80 small native enterprises, which has taken out of the social welfare net at least 400 people. This is money provided to us by the federal government.

Using the same ratios and performance, if the $2.4 billion increase in social programs were invested in native economic development, 38,400 new native enterprises could be developed and approximately 190,000 to 200,000 jobs could be created, therefore solving totally our people's economic problems with one decision and one stroke of the pen. Certainly it would take time, but you reinvest the money. You do not keep people on the lower end of the social strata, or at one end of the spectrum. We are not asking for that.

We are not asking for welfare. This country owes us something. Our ancestors owned this country. You people have come here as immigrants, and you are sons and daughters of immigrants and third and fourth generations, "This is my country now." Certainly it is; we will share it with you. But you have lived off our gross national product for 300 years and we cannot become part of the structure because you prefer to keep us in social programs. Granted, there are great steps being taken forward with the $48 million and other things like this, but we are sick and tired of it.

We have been approaching people for a long time. Mr Bjornaa here and our vice-presidents have been trying unsuccessfully to get a lot of money. The memorandum of understanding you have signed may be different.

As I stated, changing the $2.4 billion of social programs, using the formulas that the governments use, we could solve totally our whole economic development problem and take everybody off welfare and they would all be working, every last one of them, theoretically. This would be called real economic development, and the improved quality of life that is long overdue, as stated in the budget, would become reality.

Let's go back to reality. The employment equity action taken in this budget will be helpful in the long run. In the short term, training and retraining of our people is a greater priority.

The tripartite Canada-Ontario-OMAA memorandum of understanding signed on April 21, 1991, calls for the creation of a partnership to support the economic development of OMAA membership and the communities we live in. Notwithstanding that this document was signed after the budget was launched, we hope that the provisions contained in this unique agreement will overcome some of the deficiencies relating to OMAA and our people in this budget.

All we are asking is that you take some of that money and redirect it, make equalization payments and lateral transfer payments to us. Instead of supporting a bureaucracy in government, transfer some people to us, some resources, financial resources. We will take care of it. We were the business people here long before anybody else. The Metis were the interlocutors between the Indians and the white people for years because we were mixed bloods.

Go anywhere from here to the west, in any community: Who did the business in native communities until recently when all these big economic developments came for Indians? It was Metis people, the business people of this country. Who ran the fur trade? The Metis people. Sure, the control was with the Hudson's Bay Co or the North West Co, but who ran it? We have been in business for a long time, and although the door slammed shut because we are supposed to be a conquered people, all we are saying is, just open the door, let us back in. We will compete. Thank you very much.


Mr Kwinter: Mr Daniels, I want to thank you for your presentation. I found it very interesting. I was particularly interested because, just by coincidence, I was reading in the paper this morning that an ex-deputy minister of mine has just been appointed to head up the Canadian Council for Native Business.

I do not know how effective that is, but give me a better idea of the structure of the Metis business community. You say you are the forgotten people. The people who are on reserves, of course, are a finite number because that is where they are. How do you operate as a community? Are you together or are you dispersed throughout the general population? In order to be effective, to direct it right at the Metis, there has to be some knowledge of the exact structure of the Metis business community. Can you spend a minute telling me about that?

Mr Daniels: That is a copout to say you cannot identify us. We can identify ourselves. Why do we always have to answer to somebody? Name all your people? Do you ask the Jews to do that? Do you ask the Scots people to name all their people when you finance their joints? No.

I am not being angry with you. All I am saying is this: The principle is what we are talking about. Government has established that 72% of those people live off reserve and we represent them. Let's get the formula there, establish the principle. Who asked anybody in here or any recent immigrants to name their numbers unless they go out and do it themselves? Does anybody ask them to come up with a census -- there are so many Jews in Canada, so many Ukrainians? They do not.

Mr Kwinter: I am not asking you for the number. You are saying: "Instead of setting up these programs for us, give us the money." I am asking, are you saying we give the money to Harry Daniels and let him do what should be done with it?

Mr Daniels: He would drink it up.

Mr Kwinter: No, no, the point I am making is, what is the structure? When you come forward, what is the structure to deal with that?

Mr Daniels: We have the structure already. We have the ODC, the Ontario Development Corp, which hands out millions of dollars every year. I am not being frivolous and I apologize if I have insulted you.

Mr Kwinter: You have not insulted me at all.

Mr Daniels: We have a structure already in place; perhaps, Olaf, you want to tell them about a few of those things.

Mr Bjornaa: We have a structure here within Ontario. It is hard to believe, to sit here and find government people who do not know that OMAA has a structure. We have been here for 20 years fighting with you, saying that. We have five zones within Ontario. We have zone 1 up in the north, we have zone 2, zone 3, zone 4 and zone 5. Each structure has a president, a vice-president, a secretary-treasurer, and they have their own board of directors who pull things together.

It is like yesterday. We were in Toronto, at the committee on the Constitution, and we were asked, "How do we know what the native population is in the urban area?" I said, "When I go to Toronto, I turn the TV on." They say: "Well, here's the Jewish population. Over here is the Polish" -- and you could go on and on -- "the Finnish area and here is the Chinese area." You identified us. You have been doing that for years. You say, "When a school bus comes into a community, there is the Indian bus, there is the white bus." You have identified us, put a label on us.

We have an inner structure. We have an ODC put together; we lend funds out. We took how many people off the welfare lines, put them into jobs and gave them something to be proud of. Once you get economic development, you get better homes, you get better education, better health care. You name it. We have proved this, we have done this. Each person we put to work, this government gets a return on its dollar. I do not know why the government is scared to put a dollar into OMAA, into our people. Every time you put a dollar there, it is not lost in the system; it comes back many times over.

Mr McLean: What effect will the agreement that was signed here a week or so ago with the Premier and Mr Wildman have on you?

Mr Bjornaa: I think he should sign likewise with the Metis people as well as the first nations.

Mr McLean: Why were they not included?

Mr Bjornaa: I guess they chose not to.

Mr McLean: The 400 new day cares on reserves: How long has that been there? Is that just established?

Mr Daniels: I think the budget states -- I have a mind like a steel trap -- 400 new day care spaces. That is in the new budget. They have more. These are new; we are supposed to be taking new day care spaces, and I would assume they are new.

Mr McLean: Are your present day care spaces filled to capacity?

Mr Daniels: I would say yes. We do not have anything to do with the reserves.

Mr McLean: What type of enterprises would they be, the 80 new enterprises that were established? Marinas or resorts?

Mr Daniels: Owning some of the hydro that is coming in. Owning it, being partners in it.

Mr McLean: Partners with Kakabeka Falls?

Mr Daniels: The government.

Mr McLean: That is owned, I guess, by Ontario.

Mr Daniels: All the new structures coming out -- why can we not be partners in this? It is on our land. We are saying, "Let's be partners in that." You are taking our resources. We lived on it for centuries and centuries --

Mr McLean: But my question was about the 80 enterprises that, you indicated in your brief, have kept 400 natives off welfare. I am wondering what type of businesses they would be.

Mr Bjornaa: What type of business? The logging business; people own stores. We are no different from you people. We are not just qualified to go out and trap and do a bit of fishing and stuff. We are qualified for almost any kind of business that is available. The logging business, we have people there. We have people who own stores. People have gone into the fur business, some went into the tourist business. I could go on about the many businesses they went into. Our people have much knowledge. Some people have gone into consultant work.

Mr McLean: The last question I have for you is about water systems within your reserves. Who supplies the funding?

Mr Bjornaa: We have no reserves.

Mr McLean: Not for Metis, no.

Mr Martin: I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your appearing here today and challenging us in the way that you have. I would hope and I am sure you will continue to do so.

I attended your assembly here in these hallowed halls a short while ago and was very impressed by some of the activity and the discussion that was going on around a myriad of issues. I was actually very moved to read the stories of some of the people who have risen to great heights in our communities and served in very professional ways, and who do well both in business and as part of the government structure in some instances.

I would certainly want to encourage our government to participate in whatever way it could to ensure that continues to happen.

I also read a letter that you wrote to the Sault Star not so long ago talking about the relationship you have developed with Mr Wildman and the Ministry of Natural Resources and this government, which speaks to some hope and development. Would you care to elaborate further on that?

Mr Bjornaa: I have stated very many times, because I met with different ministers, that I felt this new government that has come in -- with the Metis people there has been a recession. The Sault and Canada right now are in a recession, they say. I felt that right here in Ontario with this new government and with the right kind of support, maybe the Metis people are coming out of the recession. Maybe we are going to see a light at the end of the tunnel and some real good will come out of this.

As we said before, the federal government has given us something, but the Ontario government has left us out in the cold. All we are asking is that the Ontario government recognize us as business people, as workers, as taxpayers, give us an equal chance, give us the right funds to work with.

The Chair: I would like to thank you for appearing before the committee.

Mr Daniels: I just wanted to say one thing: Metaphorically speaking, I hope the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.



The Chair: We have 10 minutes on the schedule for the Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council, so you can just make a brief runthrough of your presentation or a question and answer period. That is all the time we have left. Please identify yourself for Hansard.

Mrs Graham: My name is Sharon Graham. I am the president of the Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council. You all have a written presentation in front of you. Since time is of the essence, I will just skirt over a few of the items we covered in here.

We talked about the all-party committee. We are glad you are here and we hope this is more than lipservice. We hope the agenda is not already etched in stone -- the final results -- as we felt it has been on some past committee sittings under previous governments.

We know there is an uproar going on about this budget. We would like to see everybody set their differences aside and let's get on with it. If people at the end of your term are not satisfied, they know where to put their X on the ballot. They should give this an opportunity to go through.

September 6 will be the first-year anniversary of the New Democrats, and part of what this brief deals with is the fact that it is not going to be a successful checkpoint, because there has been such a concerted effort by big business to put down and criticize this particular budget. The reason we believe they are doing this is because of the pending elections in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and the federal one coming down the road. What would happen if this budget were successful? How could they deal with that?

We did not deal a lot with the figures in this particular brief because we know you have been inundated with figures, and you will be until the end of your hearings. We wanted to talk about what we saw as the root of some of the problems and concerns in areas that you are going to have to work with, in the ambitious agenda of the provincial budget.

We address the federal cutback of transfer payments, the free trade agreement and the GST, how they have been selling it to us and how it is impacting on us on a local basis. We were glad you did not go into capping the salaries of the public sector workers. On the federal agenda, they are doing that with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and we are very concerned about what direction that is going to go in and the kind of message that signals to Canadians as a whole.

We are concerned about the upcoming postal strike. We hope the provincial government will not be promoting the use of the mail services during that time. We know you are between a rock and a hard place. We know you do not entertain the interest of labour exclusively and you have to be all things to all people in the province, but Canada Post spent $190 million during the last struggle, and we do not want to be a part of helping them to get the union out or part of other problems that are going to happen.

One of the major things we are really concerned about in the downturn in our economy and the things that are happening is the fact that people are so desperate. In the last recession there were jobs, there were places to go to. This time around there is not. If there is no job, there is nothing else to go to.

One of the things we were looking at on a national level was a national day of protest. We were all going to travel to Toronto or Ottawa, but we decided against it because the reality is we would be pitting worker against worker. There is so little for people to go to. We were concerned that if someone took a day off to go to this protest, people would be lining up to take their jobs for a day. So we have decided, if we are going to do anything, it will be done on a local basis.

We talked about the inflated interest rates and the impact they are having. One of the things you will read here is about a local fellow who is involved in part of the Canadian Steel Trades Employment Congress training program that the steelworkers have going on here in conjunction with Sault College. He was trying to prepare for the downturn in his own family economy by refinancing his mortgage payment to make it lower. He went to the bank and he was told, "Let's wait till you miss your first payment; then we'll deal with it," which just makes it clear to us that the banks, when it is sunny and shining, give you an umbrella, and when it is raining they take it away.

We are really concerned about some of the attitudes that are happening. We realize you cannot do anything in your budget about that, but we feel it is impacting on the acceptance and the implementation of your budget.

We are concerned, back again about the GST, about the millions of dollars that were spent to sell this issue to us. Then it was lowered to 7% from 9%. We are concerned that as soon as there is another election and if he manages to squeak through, how much will that GST be and how much more will that impact on our budgets?

We are concerned about deregulation of our transportation system, which has caused a lot of problems all across this nation. One that is a real issue to us right now is going into Toronto and having us land in Hamilton. In order to do that, we know there has to be some kind of improved transportation system on ground travel between those two centres.

We are concerned about the provincial funding, if that part of the budget is going to be on those roads or that improved system, and hope they will get those moneys from the federal government. They have taken everything else away from us. We should hope that if it is being changed because of their initiative, they should be responsible for it.

We know the auto insurance is going to be a major concern. There are 46 labour councils in the province. Ours is only one of them and we have received no less than seven calls from one public relations firm asking us if we want an expert speaker on auto insurance from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. There are a lot of dollars being spent on that and I can see that you are going to have to spend a lot of dollars of your budget to try to implement whatever program we come up with.

We are concerned municipally about what has happened with the UI bill and the increase in our local payments to the welfare system. With this introduction of this federal policy, you have to work longer to collect less for a shorter period of time. That is really impacting on Ontario.

We are glad that the Conference Board of Canada has seen some pluses in your budget. May others soon see their wisdom too. The same naysayers who screamed that we were off track about free trade are now criticizing the budget. I believe some of them are suffering from free trade and I cannot believe they are not trying to give this a chance. They know we all talked against free trade and it went through and they are having problems. If they just let this go on, it might be interesting.

I was sorry to see that Mr Harris is not here today. I wanted to encourage him to get on the track of serving his constituents rather than his federal counterpart's agenda. I also wanted to ask him how I got on his mailing list, if anybody can answer that for me.

In closing, I would just like to reiterate that the standing committee on finance and economic affairs certainly has a frustrating and, I am sure, enlightening task ahead of it. There has probably never been any provincial budget under such careful scrutiny from so many different interest groups and the media. It is truly a trailblazing budget.

A member of our local media challenged us, through one of his commentaries, saying that the labour movement and the New Democrats are not supporting this budget publicly and fighting back against big business for all its attacks. He said that if we did not take a stand, the reality could be that the New Democrats would be a one-time aberration on the map of Ontario.

I would just like to say that labour is here to rise to the occasion to publicly support the budget as a whole. Some parts of labour are not satisfied with it entirely, but it is a heck of a lot better than what we have ever been presented before. We wish you continued success on the implementation of this and will be of assistance in any way we can.

The Chair: Does the committee want to ask one question each? The time has expired for the presentation. It is up to the committee. I am just the Chairman here.

Mrs Sullivan: We have to get to the airport now.

The Chair: Okay. Thank you for your presentation before the committee. It is too bad other things came up and that you were not able to be here on time. This committee is dismissed.

The committee adjourned at 1600.