Friday 1 March 1991

Committee room 151

Canadian Hearing Society

East Indian Workers Association of Canada

Hindu Solidarity and Continuing Committee on Race Relations

Women Working with Immigrant Women

Voice of Women

Ontario Women's Action Coalition

Native Canadian Relations Resource Centre

Conseil des organismes francophones du Toronto métropolitain, Centre francophone do Toronto

Charles Caccia

Disabled Women's Network

Metro Tenants Legal Services

Toronto Aboriginal and Metis Association

Afternoon sitting

Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Daily Bread Food Bank, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Child Poverty Action Group. Bread not Circuses Coalition

Communist League Candidates for Mayor of Toronto and Montreal; Candidats de la Ligue communiste pour le poste de Maire de Toronto et de Montréal

Persons United for Self-Help in Ontario

Assembly of First Nations, Chiefs of Ontario

Association interculturelle franco-ontarienne

Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation



Chair: Silipo. Tony (Dovercourt NDP)

Acting Chair: Churley, Marilyn (Riverdale NDP)

Vice-Chair: Bisson. Gilles (Cochrane South NDP)

Beer, Charles (York North L)

Eves, Ernie L. (Parry Sound PC)

Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NDP)

Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North L)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa Rideau L)

Wilson, Fred (Frontenac-Addington NDP)

Winninger, David (London South NDP)


Wilson, Gary (Kingston and The Islands NDP) for Ms Harrington

Clerks pro tem:

Carozza, Franco

Deller, Deborah

Freedman, Lisa


Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee, in part, met at 0921 in room 151.

The Chair: If I can call the meeting to order and just explain so that you people who are here with us this morning in the audience, the audience which will no doubt be growing as the day goes on, that we are of course here in Toronto at the Legislative Building, and we are the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, or actually one half of the committee, because what we have done today, as we did last night, was to divide the committee into two sections, with the other half in another meeting room here in the Legislative Building, as a way to ensure that we could hear as many of the groups and individuals as wanted to be heard here in Toronto.

What we will also be doing for people who will be following us over the parliamentary channel is that the coverage of the meetings this morning and this afternoon will be alternating roughly every hour between the two halves of the committee. Then both sequences in complete duration will be shown, we believe, Monday and Tuesday so that people will have an opportunity to see both parts of both meetings this morning and this afternoon as well as the entire meetings of both committees on Monday and Tuesday of next week.


The Chair: So with that let me proceed. The first group on our list apparently has not arrived so we will ask the second group on our list, the Canadian Hearing Society, to come forward and make its presentation. And as just asked, I will remind people as we go through the day of the 15-minute time lines that we have allowed for presentations by groups; and, if possible, we would like within that to also have some time left for questions by the members of the committee.

Ms Boshes: Thank you all for giving me an opportunity to speak to you. I just want to point out that the Canadian Hearing Society is a social service agency that provides services to deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing people in this province. We provide a variety of services that are listed in this paper; I will not go through them. Contact with the consumers on our board gives us a lot of experience with the issues that relate to this group, and we feel that we can bring some of these concerns to you from our agency viewpoint.

In previous debates, special-needs groups have presented their concerns, those being the native Canadians and the francophone Canadians. We have a concern that there are many different special-interest groups -- deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing -- being different communities that have special needs, and we would hope that any future vision of Confederation protects the rights of all special-needs groups and that the Charter of Rights is preserved because it already provides some legal protection.

We would hope that as one of the special needs that has been pointed out, the language-rights issue, that the committee would recommend and support the deaf community's goal to have its language rights protected. Culturally, deaf people use American sign language and langue des signes québécois as their language of communication, and we feel that this language needs to be protected in the Constitution. This would ensure that educational approaches would be available in these languages, and that has been a very big concern for us and the deaf community and a demand of the deaf community in Ontario which has recently been recognized, but we would like to see this protected in the Constitution.

We also support maintaining national standards, especially when it comes to health, social services, vocational rehabilitation and employment equity. We feel that the current erosion of transfer payments jeopardizes maintaining these standards. How can the provinces be expected to live up to the expectations if they do not have the funds to do that? So we feel that the government should be increasing transfer payments instead of reducing them.

With respect to employment equity legislation, the Canadian Hearing Society was part of a group that pushed for stronger legislation on a federal level. Our desire for mandatory targets and time lines was not implemented in the federal legislation, and we feel that this is a concern. We would like to see stronger legislation, and we feel that the province can play a leadership role when it has its opportunity to implement employment equity legislation.

Our biggest concern, and I think you have heard this from the community itself, is the crisis in sign language interpreters. Right now we need to be creative and do what we can to end this crisis. One of the problems relates to the fact that people do not recognize the role that a sign language interpreter plays, nor do they want to pay for this service. An example is with the OHIP. There is no mechanism under the fee schedule to pay for a sign language interpreter, so a deaf person wanting to go to a doctor cannot expect that the doctor would provide an interpreter. It is true that the Canadian Hearing Society, through its Ontario interpreter services, gets some funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to provide some staff interpreters. We have 14 positions around the province, and even if we provide that service free, that certainly falls short of equal access to medical services for these citizens. So we are very concerned about this as well as the lack of access in many other areas.

How can we achieve employment equity without interpreters? If you want to go for a job interview, if you need to be present at a staff meeting, if you want to participate at all in your workplace and you use a sign language interpreter, that is your means for access. So we feel that there has to be much more recognition of the right of people to have an interpreter, and government has to accept responsibility to provide funding to pay for interpreters.

Furthermore, we have been offering an innovative program to provide some training for interpreters and we have been searching for the past three years through the federal and provincial governments to obtain funding for this program. Unfortunately, we do not seem to fit in any of the prescribed funding formulas and no one has yet come up with a creative solution for us. We are being forced to close this program, which just further limits the expansion of interpreters and adds to the crisis.

We are also concerned about the rigid use of definition when it is applied to deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing people. Some deaf people believe strongly about their cultural links and feel that their language and values make them a viable culture. However, government departments insist that they are a medical disability, and the philosophy that applies to the disabled groups in most of the government departments is integration. Many of the deaf people who use sign language want specialized services, and there is a Catch-22, because if they are not deemed as a culture but deemed as a medical disability they are expected to use the mainstream programs, and the specialized services that are required where they can communicate directly with the service provider are not available to them. So we ask that the groups themselves be able to designate whether they want to be treated as a culture or as a disability and that all these options be available. Specialized services need to be there for those people who want to use them.


A concern right now is with mental health services. We have one designated program in Toronto, called Connect, and we have had a semblance of a program at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry which has had a mandate to provide services on a provincial and even Canada-wide basis. We hear that that program is going to close. If that closes, the only people who will have access to specialized mental health services who use sign language are people in Toronto. That is very sad. There are people all over this province who need these kinds of services. Something has to be done about that.

We are also concerned that the specialized services that are required by hard-of-hearing and deafened individuals receive some recognition. For example, we have a seniors' outreach program where we provide service to seniors who are losing their hearing and help them maintain their independence. Again, there is difficulty in getting funding for this in some areas. People say: "Oh, you don't need specialized services. The other home support programs can provide services." And they do not recognize that there is a specialty in providing devices and educating the families about what it is to be hard of hearing, what it means to be losing your hearing, and this is a valued service.

There are other support services, specialized services, such as computerized note-taking, oral interpreters for oral deaf people, and so on, and these need to be given recognition and there needs to be funds available to provide access to the groups that need them in whatever way they need them.

There are many issues that we could bring forward, and I know that this committee cannot deal with all of these issues. There are such things as early identification. Some deaf children are not being identified until they are two years old and they have lost those critical years for language learning. We need more preschool and language training programs. Parents need support and so on.

I thank you for the opportunity to come here and talk to you. I know people around this table have other commitments and sit on other committees, so the Canadian Hearing Society would be happy to consult with you in any of these areas that you are working in to make sure that these groups have an opportunity to be represented in your other jurisdictions as well.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you for that very comprehensive presentation. One question that I have for you is regarding employment equity programs and whether you think that it can be successful without the foundation of interpreting. Is there anything that you think regarding that issue that we as a committee should be concentrating on'?

Ms Boshes: Again, for employment equity to be successful we need the sign language interpreters, you are right, because how can someone have equal access and equal opportunities to employment? It is an issue because, I guess as you know personally, the kind of interpreting that is required at times depends on the position that an individual holds, and often people are prevented from moving ahead, getting promotions, taking on supervisors' or management positions because they do not have access to that kind of interpreting or their employer cannot afford or does not understand that he should provide that kind of interpreting. We have a lot of that ourselves at the Canadian Hearing Society. We want to promote deaf managers; we work to promote deaf managers. We have an opportunity to provide as much as possible an accessible environment because our staff can learn sign language, but in other organizations and agencies an interpreter and access to interpreting is essential.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

Ms Boshes: Thank you.


The Chair: Could I call next the East Indian workers?

Mr Gosal: I would like to display my appreciation and my organization's appreciation that this process is a very good process. It is much better than we have seen in the past from 1987 till 1990: 11 people locked themselves in a room and brought a solution for Canada. It did not work, and we did say at that time that it would not work. We were working against that type of thing. What today we started in Ontario -- it is also going in Canada -- probably will bring fruitful results.

Just introducing what the East Indian Workers Association is doing: At this moment most of its work is civic participation. The new Canadians, we are urging them to become Canadian and leave everything else they brought from home; that is for the people at home. We have boxes in most of the labour movement; some are in the name of East Indians, the others are in the name of south Asians. When we come to politics, we do not stick to one political party. Which party fits to individuals, they are working in those political parties.

But that is an introduction. These notes were prepared when I was asked to present East Indians' concerns individually. Then, thanks to the wisdom of the committee, we were asked, "Bring your concern as from the group.

Canadian unity is tied to regional autonomy. A strong federal government does not mean complete centralization. There are certain powers which may be decentralized to the provinces. All provinces may not have equal powers, but an equitable system must be worked out between the federal government and the provinces as well as among the provincial governments. Canadians are required to respect, fundamentally, language and cultural duality; also aboriginal, women's and visible minority concerns are to be embedded in the Constitution. The Canadian Constitution needs overhauling -- everybody says that -- therefore Canadians must learn to accept change. Without accepting change, we may not accept the new ideas.

I was disturbed by French-only signs in Quebec, Quebec flag-stamping in Cornwall and English-only language resolutions by many municipalities of Ontario. It was distressing that the above incidents took place when the delicate negotiations and ratifications of the Meech Lake accord were in progress.

I understand the frustration of French Canadians in the past. The minorities even are suffering at the hands of the majority today. Inequity in economic, social, educational and political fields is disheartening. Now, French Canadians are not the targets -- other groups are -- at least not in Quebec. French Canadians in Quebec should be able to provide leadership to other provinces in Canada in equitable treatment to all Quebeckers. Experiences are the best teachers of humanities. Oppressed people, after achieving equity, must offer to work together for others. I am sure Canadians should and would create unity from diversity.

Some federal powers the federal government must retain -- that is "must" -- such as foreign affairs, defence and security, communication and transportation, finance, revenue and economics, environment, education, health and welfare and immigration. That is because you have to have some type of national standards. Unless the federal government has these powers, they will not be able to set the standards such as health, welfare, education and other environment, as I said.


Other powers may be shared by the provinces. This may vary from province to province. Provincial veto system for our constitutional changes should be replaced with the national referendum system. The Senate, of course, can be called upper House, elected upper House, not a selected one as present.

Let me talk about multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is a horticultural garden which produces different types of flowers; it can be said, a rainbow. Any plant that is not looked after equitably will produce thorns instead of flowers. At present, grants are given to the different groups for their cultural developments, not to learn from their culture. It would be nice if we use those funds to learn from each other's culture, ie, complete integration of cultures. For time to come, by implementing the above, there will be no different groups in Canada but all Canadians. As I say today. I am a proud Canadian, but I am a Sikh.

Indeed, we have moved a long way, ie, Chinese are not thrown in Fraser River as in 1885. Sikhs are no more greeted with bullets at Vancouver port as was the case in 1914 with the Kornagata Maru boat, but a long way to go. Canadian minorities will not tolerate window dressings any more, and neither will tokenism satisfy them. We mean business, like the founding cultures.

I just want to drop a note here, redistribution of wealth, that came to my mind when the federal government imposed a 3% ceiling on the federal civil servants for three years, where they had a hefty raise because they have the power in their hands. I think those powers should be taken out and some type of system should be embedded in our fundamental laws of the country. As I say, recent trends indicate that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the middle class. It is important to revise the tax system and include in the fundamental laws of the land that minimum taxes must be imposed on the rich and corporations. Canadian economic independence must be the goal, which is, I think, withering away.

Human rights in Ontario: Though we are talking about Confederation, I think Ontario has a leading role to play to show there are concerns about human rights in this province. Human rights are being eroded in Ontario. I do not have to spend much time on this. I refer your attention to read Toronto Star stories. I am attaching one sample as an example re "Job-Seekers Facing Silent Discrimination," Toronto Star of 17 February 1991. There are many other articles on racism published in the press. There are deep-rooted problems in the Ontario civil service as an institution regarding human rights and race relations. I, a worker in Ontario civil service, cannot speak in public on the specific examples, which is what is happening in Ontario civil service.

I would recommend a sincere inquiry, not like another inquiry which was held recently and nobody knows what happened to it -- a sincere inquiry on this subject. And as I say, these notes to speak were prepared for me. I voluntarily give my services, volunteer services, not paid services, to Human Resources Secretariat of Ontario, which I told them personally as well.

Bargaining unit workers are innocent and sincere in race relations. I may repeat that. Bargaining unit workers are innocent and sincere in race relations. It can be seen from the local and provincial leadership of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, part of which is from the minorities. Even the OPSEU president is from the minority. I am proud of my peers who always have elected me their leader in one form or the other. At present, I am the president of the largest local of Ministry of Correctional Services with Steve Offer. No, I am sorry, he was the Solicitor General. Some top executives make lame excuses to deal with elected leaders who happen to be from a visible minority -- it is still going on -- of our union. They are at a pain to accept us and negotiate with us on white workers' behalf. They have questions. That is a shame. Many active unionists from visible minorities are blacklisted and they are branded as radicals. Their only fault is they are fighting for their fellow workers' rights, and they will carry on.

Let me talk about employment equity, which I call window dressing. For years, employment equity has been much talked about. Finally, it appears that mandatory employment equity will soon be legislated. We applaud the Ontario government for this courageous step. It is recognition that our society acknowledges its inherent weaknesses and that drastic remedies are sometimes required to address such problems. The foul odour of discrimination, whether systemic or overt, must be cleansed from our midst. Employment equity legislation recognizes that at the heart of barriers facing minorities is the unwillingness of major institutions, the offenders, to become serious about tackling discrimination.

Our primary concern is the implementation of mandatory employment equity legislation. As you see, we cannot even find who to head the employment equity commission from Ontario: I do not want to say too much on that. We have observed with sadness the problem with existing statutes such as the Ontario Human Rights Code Act and Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, where the goal has been strangled by the ineffective means enacted to achieve that goal. The victim becomes frustrated, facing further abuse as suddenly he or she has to justify their rights to achieve redress. Many of us have experienced the phenomenon of blacklisting or allegations of radicalism merely because we have attempted to enforce our rights.

As I said, the East Indian Workers Association is not working in isolation, it is working with the labour movement. I want to talk about the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act; not much, but a little bit. As presently structured, the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act severely restricts the scope of collective bargaining. The Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act gives the employer the exclusive right to determine, in section 7 and subsection 18(1) -- there are 10 items: organization; complement, employment, appointment and assignment; the classification; work methods and procedures; discipline, suspension and dismissal; kinds and locations of equipment; the merit system; training and development; appraisal; superannuation. That is where the employers can do whatever they want and get away with it.

With the above, employers misuse their powers. Workers and the institutions suffer from ineffectiveness and inefficiency. Although the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act gives an employee the right to grieve against some of the above scopes, again, any employee who grieves is classed radical and is blacklisted. On top of that, the burden of proof is on the grieving employee because of CECBA. If that employee happens to be from a visible minority, then hell breaks loose upon him or her.

The Chair: Sir, if you would sum up, please. We are at the end of the time.

Mr Gosal: Well, summing up, I will leave that there. I want some redressing. You have got the brief notes.

We would love to see Canada independent of the world grouping and neutral, Canada in the world, which I saw when I decided to come to Canada. Canada was much respected in 60 countries I visited in my life. Today, Canada is not respected. Mr Chairman, we would like, through you, to give this indication to the federal constitutional committee which is the Spicer commission.


We have told Spicer. Fortunately, we will be giving them that type of brief.

Thanks very much.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We will move to the next group.


The Chair: From the Hindu Solidarity and Continuing Committee on Race Relations, Mr Kalevar. Mr Kalevar, we need to be clear about something. I gather you appeared last night before the other half of the committee.

Mr Kalevar: Yes, I wanted to catch the other half, on behalf of the groups.

The Chair: Okay, you appeared as an individual last night.

Mr Kalevar: That is right.

The Chair: And you are appearing here on behalf of these groups?

Mr Kalevar: That is right. My brief is on behalf of the group. First, I should tell you that since I talked to the clerk, I have been in contact with the peace residents of Queen's Park, peace campers, and they have also endorsed parts of my brief. My brief is entitled Canada, the Superpower of Peace and World Public Opinion.

Perhaps you can understand that I am occasionally recognized as the new Canadian Indian. Five hundred years ago, Christopher Columbus was lost looking for me. Well, here I am. So recommendation 1, to you as a committee:

The Ontario government should boycott the celebration of the discovery of America planned for 1992; instead, a recovery project be planned for the natives of Ontario and natives of Ontario get their due, self-government, as they should have got a long time ago.

Almost a decade ago, I had the occasion to hear an interesting poem at the native Canadian centre on Spadina. It goes something like this:

The white man came to our land

With the Bible in his hand

And now we have the Bible

And he has the land.

I normally do not wear this many T-shirts, but today I wish to perform before you a bit of a political striptease. I am what you call a T-shirt junkie, so bear with my T-shirts as I peel them off.

Recently, the Ontario Legislature chose to stick to the Lord's Prayer. I suggest that the Legislature follow the children of Ontario and follow prayers from all religious faiths.

Recommendation 3: We have had a problem with the human rights commission for a long time. I believe the Ontario Human Rights Commission should be above partisan politics so let the human rights commission report to an all-party committee of the House, not to a minister of the crown. In these days of jihad and just war, it is good for Ontario institutions to be not associated with any of those divisive symbols.

Recommendation 4: that section 16 of the Ontario Evidence Act, which basically gives primacy to the Bible in Ontario courts, be amended to be consistent with the charter. In my experience as somebody who has been challenging the use of the Bible in the courts, we have found that the justice system is rigid and very inaccessible. What is more important, the constitutional rights of Ontarians and Canadians are largely unaffordable to most Ontarians. It is only probably those who are members of the Granite Club who can really exercise their constitutional rights.

However, in spite of the justice system, constitutions are important and we should be looking at what kind of Constitution we should have. A Constitution is a document which does, in my opinion, three things. It is a bit of a history book. It is a bit of a trade deal in which we get profit potential and a road map for the future.

As a history book, we have come a long way from 1867 to 1991. At least one presentation previously I heard suggested that Canada has three founding nations, English, French and the natives. Well, it is a good start after Oka, but we still have a long way to go for all the other multicultural communities that are in Canada. I hope we do not allow these kinds of incidents to be repeated in Canada again. I am proud to be a Canadian, for Canada has been a participant in all UN peacekeeping forces. I do not wish to see a UN peacekeeping force located in Canada. I think we should start addressing the unity issues quickly.

As a trade deal, we should get on with the national unity questions and remove delineation of many of the provinces.

As a road map, the Constitution is a guide to our succeeding generations. It is the brightest light we can provide for them to face the dark, dim, uncertain but common future of all.

Canada is geographically located in the tough neighbourhood of the two superpowers. We cannot afford to split up and become two apple republics of the north, or 12 apple republics to the north.

We also get our cultural and linguistic bearing from the two imperial forces of the past. Remember, British, French, US, USSR are all veto-yielding powers. Out of this tough neighbourhood has come Canada, but Canada is a democrat at United Nations. That is again something to be proud of.

Canada has generally been generous to refugees. I believe, except for Brian Mulroney's Middle East muddle and his calling of the Parliament for a boatload of people on the east coast, Canada has done well generally.

I come from a country which extended from sea to sea and was multicultural, multilingual, multiracial. I hope to live in a country like that. As far as language is concerned, in India, the language is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, but education is a matter of national or federal jurisdiction.

I wrote to the Band C commission, the Bélanger-Campeau commission, saying that I wanted to appear before it. Of course, as a non-Quebecker, I did not get very far. Again, if they are going to hear only Quebeckers and if they want to decide on the future of Quebec, let them understand that when they decide on the future of Quebec, they are also deciding on the future of Canada. As a Canadian living outside of the province, I strenuously object to them deciding on the future of Canada when the rest of the Canadians have not been heard.


If Quebec as a province can claim to speak and decide on the future of Canada, will you tomorrow allow the Northwest Territories to do the same? Perhaps I should point out that at least the native view of Quebec is well presented in this map. As you can see -- these maps were not made by me; these were bought at political functions -- French Quebec is the belly button here and the rest of the land is still native. I hope it is clear that a country without a land is an impossibility. In the view of many natives, Quebec, if it separates and becomes independent, will be the largest squatter colony on the face of the earth, I think that is something even Quebeckers will have to contend with.

We are talking about diversity. I believe we need amicable diversity, but a diversity from the United States, the free trade agreement. I think that is what is perhaps best required.

Why should Canadians stay together then? Very simply, we have to face the global responsibilities in a tough neighbourhood, and there are not many countries who are in a position like Canada to do so. We are a member of the Commonwealth, of la Francophonie, the Organization of American States and the Granite Club of the world, the G-7. With our membership spanning all these important organizations, we are an important part of the glue of the world and we have an important role to play in planning the common future of the world.

This particular part has been, as I said, endorsed by the peace campers at Queen's Park and this is what I bring to you as a constitution of peace.

Let Ontario state unequivocally at constitutional talks on behalf of the peace movement of Canada that the Canadian Constitution shall not permit Canadian troops leaving Canada under any flag except the UN flag, and I do not mean a UN resolution passed at the behest of the United States and the war conducted by a smiling American general, in violation of all the UN charter provisions of how to conduct a war under the UN charter, assuming that that is the last resort necessary. Second, our Constitution shall not permit Canadian armed forces to enter the unceded territories of the natives at home. There is no reason why these two things cannot be followed by Canada.

If and when there is a war abroad and Canada has to take part, let Canadian participation begin by providing medical facilities on both sides of the war and let Canadian transportation knowhow be used to help the fleeing refugees from the war zones. Let that be the Canadian role abroad. Canada can then begin to see itself and project itself as the superpower of peace, which I believe no nation is capable of doing right now -- and certainly no one is doing right now -- and Canada has the capacity and the knowhow to do it, if only we do not elect Brian Mulroney again.

Again, let Ontario fight for a federal government with the capacity to establish and enforce uniform national standards, especially in the areas of environment, resources and waste.

Let Ontario help support an international satellite network for verification and reconnaissance of national armed forces, but reporting directly to the United Nations. There is no reason why we should be reporting it to our neighbour and playing the tail end of the dog.

Let Ontario, with Bob Rae as Premier and, perhaps, providing a ray of hope on the national scene, extend itself in asking the United States, the USSR, France, and Britain to give up their vetoes.

The Chair: Mr Kalevar, you are going to have to sum up, please.

Mr Kalevar: Okay. Last but not least, as part of the important part of the glue of the world, I think, let Canadians dare to become not only just the glue of the world but the Krazy-Glue of the world and plan the common future of the world, which as a totality is in danger. I hope you will take this message seriously and give it your due consideration and pass it on to the national and, perhaps, international forum, where it needs to be heard.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Kalevar. Could we move on, then, to the next group?


The Chair: Women Working with Immigrant Women? If you would, madam, when you start, just start with your name so that we have that for the record.

I can just say, also, for people who may be following us over the parliamentary channel, that we have switched now to coverage of this half of the committee, the committee of this morning being split into two groups to allow us to hear as many organizations and individuals as possible.

Ms Loucas: Good morning. My name is Salome Loucas and I am from Women Working with Immigrant Women. I have my presentation written down and I believe it will be made available to you, so parts I am going to read; parts I am just going to say what I have to say.

I would like to start by saying how we understand the Constitution of a country. What we understand a Constitution of a country to be is the founding document that sets out the fundamental principles which underlie the state. Most important, it embodies the countrys national identity and it reflects the values that people share and which define their relations.


In its present form and content, the Canadian Constitution reflects colonial values -- and I am sure you must have heard this a million times -- and it cannot be used as a national unifying tool, because it ignores the plurality that compounds the elements of history, origins and languages of the Canadian people, and these are the elements that are commonly used in defining a nation. If unchanged, the Canadian Constitution conditions the Canadian state and nation to racism, discrimination, and continuous crisis.

Because we believe that what unites nations are their history, their language and the values that people share, before we redistribute powers and redefine new identities we should decide what values we want to embody in these new identities and what histories they will validate.

Also, if we want democracy to emerge out of todays crisis, we should remember that democracy cannot be built on the exclusion of people and their interests. Such democracy will not survive the pressure from within, pressure that will be applied by those excluded. I would like to remind you that it was this pressure that caused democracy to collapse in its cradle in ancient Greece. I am of Greek origin and I know very well that history. From that democracy, which serves as a model to today's democracies around the world, there were excluded 300,000 slaves who were of Greek descent because that democracy was designed for citizens only, and only those who owned property and could afford to finance an army had the right to citizenship and the right to vote.

Similarly today in Canada, the same model of democracy serves the interests and benefits only of those voting blocs of the Canadian society which dominate economically, politically and culturally. We feel it is important to relearn Canadian history, because the past created the present, and the present will become past and is going to design the future.

The Canadian state was founded on racism and exclusion, and racism has been perpetuated throughout its history. It was founded by the British and French colonizers, and the ground rules were set to consolidate their powers and to promote their interests. This resulted in the destruction of the economies, governing traditions and cultures of the first nations and in the genocide of the peoples whose resistance was overpowered by advanced armaments and nothing else. This destruction was used as a proof to confirm the superiority of the colonizers' governing traditions and to justify their claim to be the founding nations.

The binational identity that is embodied in the Canadian Constitution is the product of that destruction and caters to the racist mentality and values of Canadian society. This identity was further preserved by the Immigration Act, which was introduced to select the populations that Canada needed. The effort to keep Canada white is demonstrated by the history of Canadian immigration policies and regulations. Examples of these policies and regulations are the head tax on Chinese immigrants -- and Canadian governments made millions of dollars from that head tax -- the continuous journey from the country of origin regulation, which was introduced to stop the entry of East Indian immigrants, and the regulation concerning undesirables, which included the class of immigrants belonging to any race unsuited to the climate of Canada and which was introduced to stop the entry of black Americans.

These policies and regulations were developed on the principle that would-be immigrants had no fundamental human right to enter Canada, nor did immigrants have the right to Canadian citizenship once they were living in Canada. Immigration to Canada and Canadian nationalization were privileges, not rights. It was on this basis that the security system that emphasized virtually complete administrative discretion with no judicial or independent review and no recognition of natural justice for the individuals affected could operate quietly with little public notice. Based on this principle, immigrants were deported, segregated. denied the right to organize into unions and the right to vote.

It is this principle, which can be identified also in today's immigration policies, that continues to cater to the racist mentality of Canadian society. Accordingly, equality and human rights for racial minority Canadians are not priority constitutional items. This is because white Canadians, whatever their origin, see racial minority Canadians as outsiders, as immigrants, whether they have lived in this country for generations or whether they just got off the boat.

This mentality is demonstrated by the central preoccupation in constitutional discussions which attempt to define the relations between English-speaking Canada and Quebec only, and from the perspective of Canadians of British and French descent. This power struggle is defined by these groups to be the national question. All other peoples, their issues and interests, are put aside so as not to distract the reaching of an agreement on what the two groups define to be fundamental for the future of the country. With this approach one can only say that the mental colonization of the Canadian people continues, and these values will be reflected in the new societies.

To initiate the democratization of people's mentality and relations we need to adopt an inclusive approach. Racial and ethnic minorities should not have to compete for equality or have to prove they have a legitimate case before the issues we raise are included on the political agenda or in the discussions. This practice of putting our communities through this exercise suggests that we do not understand the issues, the Canadian politics, and we do not have the interest of Canada and her people in mind. If we were true Canadians, according to this suggestion, we would understand what is important and we would not have a different perspective.

This perspective has been developed from our economic status within Canadian society and the lack of political representation of our interests. This experience composes our history, which is part of the unwritten Canadian history. These histories are not acknowledged in conventional history books because acknowledging these histories would mean validating the economic contribution and political struggles of racial minorities. To validate these histories would mean addressing the demands of racial minorities for equality.

The demand that was put forward during the Meech Lake discussions by ethnic and racial minority groups to include multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of Canada had the objective to validate these histories and the cultures that had developed from these struggles. Multiculturalism should not be interpreted to mean protection of foreign cultures and traditions, because these traditions are part of the identity of a few million Canadians of non-British or -French traditions. To suggest that non-British or -French traditions are not Canadian is nothing more than blatant racism.

Another issue that caused controversy during those discussions was the equality clause, section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms was entrenched in the Constitution to protect the rights of the individual. It is, so far, the only written document which is subject to judicial interpretation that could provide protection of human rights for racial and ethnic minorities. I am sure that people know what section 15 says, so I am not going to read it.

These rights, however, are not guaranteed because of the exceptions under section 33, which reads:

"Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this charter."

What this translates into is that as long as a declaration is made, the Parliament or a provincial legislature can enact legislation which could violate these rights included in sections 2 and 7 to 15. According to this, no judicial body has the power to supersede the power of the Parliament. Such a declaration has effect for five years and it can be further re-enacted.

When racial and ethnic minority groups raised the issue that this application of the charter leaves unlimited room for violations of human rights, our concerns were met with the accusation that we were undermining unity in achieving the reaching of a satisfactory agreement on the national question -- more simply put, the political future of Quebec.


It is not the intention of racial and ethnic minorities to achieve equality at the expense of others. We are asked, though, to put our lives on hold indefinitely as a guarantee that the interests of those who are more Canadian than we are will materialize.

It appears that section 15 of the charter was included only to beautify the Constitution and to quiet the voices of minority peoples. It is nothing more than an attempt to ease the conscience of a racist society without endangering it.

The only protection against the violation of minority rights under these sections of the charter would be public opinion, something that racial minority people learned not to count on.

Recently, because of the war in the Gulf, the harassment of Arab people because of their background association, because of their religion, is an example of how these sections are implemented not by actually introducing legislation but in principle.

Canada has a history of human rights violations of her citizens who were driven to concentration camps and forced labour camps. This experience is shared by the Japanese and Italian Canadians as well as other Canadians of eastern European origin. We are certain that others will follow if there are no changes.

Racial and ethnic minority Canadians want nothing more than the benefit of the protection of the laws of Canada and equality in a society to which we have contributed socially and economically more than our share. The responsibility to deal with racism in Canadian society lies solely on the shoulders of white Canadians, who have to challenge their own values and address their racism.

We may not have given answers to all questions regarding the power struggle between the different levels of government, but this was not our intention. Our position on what we feel strongly about is as follows:

The right of first nations to self-determination is long overdue, and more than recognizing this right, racial and ethnic minorities pledge to work in solidarity with the first nations.

We recognize the right of the people of Quebec to decide their future and we will work in solidarity with the people of Quebec.

We envision a confederation of nations that can peacefully coexist with an English-speaking nation.

The societies we envision building within these nations are pluralistic societies, which means embodying the histories, origins, traditions and values of all peoples of those nations.

With regard to electoral systems, we would like to see a system that allows participation in decision-making and representation of the interests of our communities.

We would like to see a mechanism that would allow people to recall elected representatives who lose the people's support because of their policies or political agenda.

Economic development and planning should meet people's needs first.

In closing, we would like to say that the transition to democracy might be difficult but it cannot be prevented, and the best guide for the democratization of our society is the interest of the people.

Mr Offer: One of the things we are going to be grappling with in our deliberations is what role this province can play in these discussions which are ongoing, and I sense from your presentation that one message seems to come through loud and clear, and that is that the multicultural aspect of the country should be recognized in the Constitution. I am wondering if you can share with us what you feel the role of Ontario should be in these discussions and how it can best work to meet some of the concerns which you have raised in your presentation.

Ms Loucas: I will try to the best of my ability to answer your question.

I think that within the interpretation we give to multiculturalism it has to be recognized as a fundamental characteristic of this country. What Ontario can do -- a number of proposals have come from our groups. For example, employment equity is an issue that is very important. We would like to see some mandatory employment equity pro-crams, if that can answer part of your question. It is not an idea; to us, it is a value that has to be embodied in the thinking of the society: that multiculturalism is a benefit, it is an asset to this country.

Ms Churley: I have. I think, a pretty important question to ask you. On your last page you say, "a mechanism that would allow people to recall elected representatives who lose people's support." We hear that a lot, actually, in our travels. We are also hearing it from, for instance, people from the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada. I do not know if you know them as a group, but you can tell by the title what their position is on a lot of things. I have some concerns about the implications of that, particularly if a majority may not necessarily be in the interest sometimes of minority rights. I am just wondering, if you say that because you have enough faith in the majority of the people of Canada to elect the kinds of governments that will protect minority rights. How does that fit in with your agenda?

Ms Loucas: How fast can I say this? For example, if we look at what support our federal government has with the policies and its political agenda, my God, we should have a way of recalling them. When they involve us in their war, when people are around they cannot really have been opposing the GST but still they just shove it down our throats. The percentage of support they have is so low that one wonders, really, whom are they governing?

We should have some kind of mechanism, when governments do not have the support of the people because they introduce policies they never told us, or policies we say we do not want, a mechanism in the Constitution, something there where we could recall them.

Of course, there have to be changes also in the electoral system to make sure that there is representation of the people's interest and it is not -- anyway, yes.

Ms Churley: No, I understand what you are saying, that minority rights would be protected, because that is my concern about that kind of process you are talking about.

The Chair: It is no doubt an issue that we are going to have to have a lot more discussion about. Thank you very much for your presentation.


The Chair: Could I invite next the Voice of Women? We have, I gather, Kay Macpherson and Anne Adelson.

Ms Macpherson: Thank you, Mr Chairman, for letting us come for what we hope will be a discussion with you rather than a reading at you. My name is Kay Macpherson. I have been in the Voice of Women since practically the beginning, which is 30 years. Anne has been in for a great many years too, along with a number of other activities. I believe you might recognize her from last night.

We do appreciate this opportunity, and all I am going to say -- since I cannot read the paper; she is going to do all the hard work -- is that the Voice of Women, as you may know, was formed as a women's group to oppose force and violence and war and it has been doing that in various ways for the last 30 years. We put the emphasis first on the peace issue, but during the course of those 30 years we have learned that there is a different perspective which women have upon the subjects of national and international importance. This, joined with the growing feminist movement, if you can use that word, and it seems still dubious at some points -- but women do need to have their voices heard because there is a perspective which is missing from particularly, as we see lately, the international scene but also in every aspect of our society.


Our organization was one of the founding organizations of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. We have been involved in other areas of human rights right through our history, and so our concerns for the future of Canada are immense, to say the least. So I am not going to take more time to tell you any of our history, which you will get in the paper, but ask Anne to pick on the headings in the hope that we can perhaps discuss with you during the course of our presentation any aspects you would like us to clarify. So I will turn it over to Anne Adelson.

Ms Adelson: Thanks very much. We welcome this opportunity to express our voice in the ongoing discussion of the new Canada. Certainly we have always been committed to a new Canada, that is, one that recognizes the shared values we have but builds on it, so the new Canada is not yet and we hope it will be formed.

What we have done in this paper, which we hope you will have a chance to read at some stage, is try to connect our concerns to the questions you have raised, but as we have done that, recognize that the questions you have raised are not necessarily the ones we would have asked. So what we have tried to do is expand on the questions to reflect our perspective. I am going to gloss through it pretty quickly and hopefully leave a little time for questions.

Talking about the values we share as Canadians, we feel there are values we share. Some of them are our commitment to bilingualism and multiculturalism, protection of minority group rights, individual human rights, a commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our society. I think we have to remember that these values are not abstract concepts, but each one of them encapsulates a process of social struggle and development that committed groups and individuals went through to make sure that these values became part of the national consensus as well becoming entrenched in the laws in the Constitution. So we see the Constitution as part of a process, not as something that is closed, and it should both reflect and give impetus to the process.

We feel that at the very least the Constitution should unequivocally and clearly entrench the values and principles that we have up to now agreed on. That was one of the concerns we had with the Meech Lake accord. Certainly the clauses for equality of women, there was some doubt and some question that these were still in force and we do not want there to be any doubts on any of the issues that we have agreed on. There should not be any place in the Constitution for ambiguity.

But we think the Constitution should do more than just guard the consensus to date; we think it should allow room for growth. So to expand on the question, we would say:

How can the values we share as Canadians be reflected in our Constitution in an ongoing way? We feel really that the commitment should be to the process rather than to the product. After all, this is really what democracy is. It is a commitment to a process. And the process should be a public one that encourages the participation of a well-informed and empowered citizenry. We have a lot of items of unfinished business that we think should be, and hope will be, included in future Canadian constitutions. We have put a list of them, and no doubt other groups will have their own. But all we want to say here is that the process needs to include this future growth.

Going on to page 4 and talking about your second question, how we can secure our future in the international economy: Well, for us this is only a fraction of the real question, which is: How do we with other countries secure our common future internationally? There is a growing awareness that the current frameworks we have for describing, understanding and managing our social and political affairs are inadequate and we do not believe we can treat the international economy, the environment, peace and security, Third World development, any of these, as separate activities and problems that are the mandate of one particular government department or one particular country. All of these activities are aspects of a complex and interconnected whole and need to be dealt with in an integrated way both nationally and internationally. These concepts of interdependence and mutual security and a common future are hopefully going to become part of how we see ourselves in Canada. This is a complicated and complex call for co-ordinated political action and responsibility, and it is really part of a global agenda for change. We just think this needs a lot more work and attention and we have made just a very few suggestions in this regard.

One is that economic decisions must be made in the context of preserving the environment for present and future generations. Of course this is the principle of sustainable development of the Brundtland commission report, which governments are very quick to sign but not so quick to act on to make sure it becomes a political reality.

In Voice of Women we have a particular concern with the global problem of militarism. We see it as a dangerous drug that is draining our country and the world of money to do real things. I think if you look at the latest federal budget it is a case in point how money was found to fight the war but not for welfare, health and education. But the problem with this addiction to militarism is that it plays havoc with the economies of the developing world and creates the kind of unjust conditions that lead to unrest, repression, war and more military spending. We really have to break the cycle. I think we need to capitalize on the reputation we had and hopefully still have as a peace-keeper among nations. Let's look at what it would take for Canada to really become a peacemaker and the potential there. I think if we had the political will we could express this orientation in our political and economic decisions.

On the economy we need, I think, to become both more independent in Canada and more interdependent in the world as a whole, not just in the North American fortress, if we could put it that way.

We think there is a need for international laws and agreements to be incorporated into our Canadian Constitution so that these are not just things we agree on and think they sound nice, but we would like them to become part of real political decision-making. We were thinking in terms of the international rights of the child and the forward-looking strategies which were drawn up at the Nairobi conference at the end of the UN decade of women, again, which many countries have put their signature to but have not put into effect. One of the decisions of that forwardlooking strategy is for us to say that on negotiating tables 50% of the participants should be women. How I wish that had been put in place before the conditions that we now find ourselves in.

Then we get to the roles of the federal and provincial governments. You ask, "What roles should they play?" and we expand this and say, "and what roles should they not play?" We think this is important because we think that much of the present constitutional crisis and the challenges that you suggested in your report are facing us need not have happened. We believe the Constitution should belong to the people of Canada and we should not allow any governments in Canada to use it to further their own partisan interests. We feel that that is what Meech Lake did. There are certain safeguards against the recurrence of such a fiasco. One of the things you might want to look at are times and procedures for reviewing and amending the Constitution that are established independently of the particular government in power. Switzerland does this, for example, and there are other countries. I think we need to take it out of the realm of partisan political decision-making and back into belonging to the people.

We would like to see a broader perspective offered rather than just the 11 first ministers. I know you have heard other suggestions for a representative citizens' group. We would like to add our support for that as well, and we think it should include women, native people, new immigrants, among others. We think women have particular skills and experiences in decision-making and negotiation, part of what we have had to do in families. We have had to somehow make decisions that make everybody feel comfortable without destroying the family in the meantime. We would like to see these kinds of principles expanded to the global stage as well.


The native people I think have a lot to teach us. It would be kind of nice and interesting for us to make decisions that will last till the seventh generation hence as well, which is what many of them bring into their decision-making. So we very much feel there should be a public input into the whole question of the Constitution.

We believe in a strong central government to do things in Canada and for Canada. You talk about the principle of equalization payments to provinces; well, we have some real concerns about the latest budget that comes down. We feel that if the principle of equalization payments should be entrenched, so, too, should the standards for health care, education and minimum living standards. We do not think the federal government should just be able to decrease the level of the transfer payments in a way that may effectively erode these essential programs and services. We really feel all Canadians have a right to them.

We also believe that our national institutions should be protected in the Constitution. When you look at the history of the CBC and Via Rail and you see how they were designed to promote and protect national unity, we really do not believe any individual government should have the power to withdraw support for them on its own. They should be protected in the Constitution as well.

The Voice of Women questions the right of the federal cabinet on its own to be able to unilaterally commit Canadians to war. We think it is somewhat ironic that the boatload of Sikhs that arrived two years ago was enough of an emergency to recall Parliament, but the events in Oka and in the Persian Gulf somehow were not.

We, of course, in Voice of Women, have commitment to the principles of preventing war and non-military solutions to conflicts. We realize that, as yet, the rest of Canada has not been ready to make such commitments, but I think most Canadians would acknowledge that going to war, especially in the kind of world we have today, is not a decision to be taken lightly. It has many consequences, very far-reaching consequences. So we believe that the Constitution should be amended to ensure that this decision cannot be made by cabinet order in council. We think it requires at least the approval of the House of Commons. We have some concerns of the Senate, but while it is there, we think this is the kind of decision it should be making on a non-partisan basis, and we think there should be some sort of public input.

Your question 4 dealt with achieving justice for Canada's aboriginal people. We are very pleased this has become a priority of this present Ontario government, and we believe it should also be a priority of other provincial governments and the federal government, and that the necessary commitments to the process should be made in a Canadian Constitution. We would like to extend your question and say: How do we achieve justice and equality for all Canadians? Again, as a women's organization, we were sensitive to the exclusion of explicit commitment to women in the constitutional amendments, and we would not approve any constitutional amendment that failed to make this commitment to equality perfectly clear.

The Meech Lake accord talked about the French-English linguistic duality as a fundamental characteristic. We think, as well, the multicultural reality of Canada and the existence and contribution of aboriginal people should also be included as fundamental characteristics of Canada.

And while we recognize the contribution of the Charter of Rights in prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, disability -- and we would hope it eventually includes sexual orientation as well -- we also believe there must be a commitment, not only to rights, but to a more equal voice in decision-making for all of the non-dominant groups in Canadian society. This is important, not only because this is right and just, but also we think that the new Canada we spoke about at the beginning is going to need the inclusion of these voices.

When you get to your question of what does Ontario want, we shifted it around and we said: What do we want from Ontario? We think Ontario has a great potential to speak and act for the preservation of Confederation, and I do not believe we can entrust this role either to the present federal government or to the present Quebec government. So please take a leadership role in this. Not only the people of Ontario, but I think the citizens of Canada are behind you in this.

We would like Ontario to speak up for the involvement of the public in any future constitutional issues. As a little sideline on that, we think this process is a good one. We know that there are groups and individuals who have had complaints about being left out. Perhaps you should speak up for the need that people have to talk. Ask for an extension of the time line; do something to let people's voices be heard. There is a very strong need for Canadians to be heard.

Last, we would like to see Ontario -- and we think we have a historical moment of great potential here -- to be a role model for Canada in the way it deals with internal issues and also those affecting the rest of Canada and the world. So we invite you to take on that leadership role. You have our support in that, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you.

The Chair: Thank you very much for a comprehensive presentation. We will be reading the brief in detail. Let me just also make one brief comment with respect to the process that you have touched on a couple of times. As I think you heard me say, Ms Adelson, yesterday, we recognize very clearly that this is only the first step for us, as a committee and as a Legislature, in an ongoing process. We will be looking very clearly in the next stage of our work, following the interim report, for ways in which we can enhance that participation by the various members of our citizenry. We are quite conscious of that need, not just because it has been expressed to us, but because it is something we began with, very clearly wanting to open up the process as much as possible. The fact that we have had the extensive kinds of hearings that we have had, even with the problems that we have encountered, I hope is an indication of our willingness to try to open up the processes as much as possible.

We have gone slightly beyond the time, but I think people did want to try to get some questions. We will try to get to at least one.

Mr F. Wilson: Your organization has a well-deserved reputation for comprehensive and thought-provoking documents, presentations and papers, much like the one we have heard today, and I thank you for that. There are so many questions I would like to ask, but I am going to have to keep it to one very well-defined one and, on the other hand, so general. I wonder if you could tell this committee and watching Ontario, since you are a national organization, what are you hearing from the women of Quebec and aboriginals -- principally Quebec? How do they seem to be valuing Canada and perhaps the process that we are using here?

Ms Macpherson: It is very difficult to find out what the women in Quebec are doing. We did have a very big branch in Quebec up until the mid-1970s, when the preoccupations of women particularly took them into the status-of-women groups, and we lost touch with many of our sisters from there. It seems that the picture is confused. There are many, certainly, who wish to remain with the Canadian picture, but there are a great many who have been stimulated and given a chance to use their own voices and to make their own decisions, so that the opportunity for an independent point of view is certainly there. I cannot tell you the answer, but I do think what we must do and which did come up, I think, previously -- this is where Ontario might very well make more contacts and more communications. I think last night one of the teachers was discussing it, but did not follow up on the possibility of exchanges in much greater depth than have taken place in the teaching profession among students, among citizens, who could learn about each other in the way that we are trying to do here. In fact, if there were a possibility for some opportunities of this kind to take place between Quebec citizens and Ontario citizens it might add to our general knowledge, which we badly need, because we are very poorly informed about the feelings and the aspirations of our Quebec members. Sorry I cannot answer it any better than that.

Ms Adelson: Can I add something?

The Chair: Go ahead, yes.

Ms Adelson: We have always had a strong commitment to the -- we were active, French- and English-speaking members of our organization, in the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. I think we share a sense of sorrow in that the Meech Lake accord became something that pitted Canadians against each other, so we found that people, especially women in Quebec, had now divided loyalties. Should they speak for Quebec? Should they speak up as women? And I do not think that these concerns are mutually exclusive; the process made them so. We had no problems with the clauses dealing with Quebec in the Meech Lake accord. We did not think that the package deal had to also eliminate -- well, certainly put into question the rights of women, aboriginal people, multicultural groups and all the other concerns with it. That is why we did not support Meech Lake, not because they tried to address the concerns of Quebec, which have to be addressed, quite frankly.


The Chair: Okay, thank you very much. We will end there. Thank you.


The Chair: Could I invite next representatives from the Ontario Women's Action Coalition?

Dr Cameron: My name is Barbara Cameron and I am here with Janet Maher, who is a member of the co-ordinating committee of the Ontario Women's Action Coalition.

OWAC was founded in 1990 to co-ordinate advocacy of women's groups in Ontario on issues of primarily provincial concern. It is the parallel at the provincial level of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. It counts among members or applicants for membership Union culturelle des Franco-Ontariennes, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics, Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario and a broad range of other organizations.

We would like to begin by thanking the committee for the opportunity to present our views on the Constitution, and we want to emphasize that we see this as the beginning of a process. We think that much more debate and discussion is needed.

We feel that up until last June constitutional debates, particularly in English-speaking Canada, were the property of the political elites, and that a grass-roots discussion is just getting under way. For some time there has been a debate in Quebec and among the first nations, and they have arrived at some conclusions about constitutional changes that are needed for them. We think one of the challenges facing the committee will be to reconcile two quite different timetables. One is the timetable of the people of Quebec and the first nations, which is an urgent timetable to see a resolution of their long-standing concerns. The other timetable is of the rest of Canada, where a debate on the kind of political arrangements we want to have is just beginning. What we are concerned about is that we do not want decisions made which will preclude a far-reaching, grass-roots discussion in Ontario and the rest of English-speaking Canada.

What we would like to do is divide our brief into, first of all, our view of the way to address the concerns of Quebec and the first nations, and then to talk about the issues that we think are facing the rest of the country. Our views on the concerns of Quebec and first nations comes from the debates that have taken place within the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

We know that the women of the first nations see as an urgent priority a recognition of the right of native peoples to self-government and the settlement of land claims. For them this is the precondition for any progress on improving the position of women in aboriginal societies, and we want to urge the Ontario government to lend its support to the call of first nations for self-government and for the settlement of land claims. We think this is an urgent priority. These cannot be pushed to the bottom of the constitutional list, which is what was going to happen around the Meech Lake accord.

We know, too, that events in Quebec are moving very quickly. We are aware that la Fédération des femmes du Québec, the very well-established counterpart of our organization in Quebec, in its presentation to the Bélanger-Campeau commission, supported Quebec independence, and we understand that a number of other francophone Quebec women's organizations have supported Quebec independence.

From the debates and dialogue which took place within the National Action Committee on the Status of Women around the Meech Lake accord, we know this position comes from a strong belief that the Quebec government is the best defender of their interests, both as women and as Quebeckers. We respect the position of our sisters in Quebec and support their right to choose the form of government which best meets their aspirations. No matter what the outcome of the current constitutional round is in Canada, we are committed to retaining our links of solidarity with the women in Quebec and they have expressed that as well, that they wish to continue no matter what the outcome of the constitutional discussions is.

In debates which took place within the National Action Committee on the Status of Women around the Meech Lake accord, it was clear that the women of Quebec and the women of English Canada had quite different attitudes to the role of their respective provincial governments. The Quebec women tended to see the Quebec government not just as a provincial government but as their national government, and supported the increase of provincial powers implicit in the Meech Lake accord. The women from outside of Quebec, on the other hand, saw the federal government as the national government and were deeply concerned about the weakening of federal powers over social programs, which was one of the features of the accord.

Through a long and sometimes difficult process of dialogue between representatives of the women of Quebec and of English Canada, an awareness developed that the differences in attitude towards the two levels of government were not superficial but were deeply held, reflected quite different historical and modern-day experiences. In order to accommodate the aspirations of the women of both Quebec and English Canada, the National Action Committee adopted a position endorsing the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society and the five demands of Quebec for greater powers for its government, but rejected the extension of these same powers to the other provincial governments. On this basis, NAC rejected the Meech Lake accord.

I want to emphasize what the representatives of the Voice of Women said, that the position of the women's movement was never a rejection of the part of the Meech Lake accord that dealt with Quebec, that it was always a recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, but it was the decentralization for the rest of the country that was very strongly opposed.

We urge the select committee to recommend to the Ontario government that it support the constitutional recognition of the distinct nature of Quebec and of the extension to the Quebec government of special powers, at the same time that it strongly endorses the maintenance of a strong role for the federal government in social and economic programs for the rest of the country.

I should say on this that I am not completely clear on what the position of the current government is. I know what the tradition historically has been of the NDP on this, but I do not know if there is a moving towards more support for decentralization, which we would strongly oppose. We think it is very dangerous. We also think that it is part of the agenda of business and Conservatives who want to erode social programs, and we would strongly oppose that position.

I would like to move on now -- I am sorry I am going so fast, but we do not have much time -- to talk about the agenda, which we consider a more long-term agenda, around rethinking the rest of Canada.

The situation in English Canada is quite different than in Quebec and among the first nations. Here there is no consensus around an agenda for constitutional reform. This does not, however, mean that there is not a widespread consensus around the kind of society Canadians would like to see and the kind of values that Canadians share. I think that the presentations both of Salome Loucas from Women Working with Immigrant Women and Kay Macpherson and the other representatives from the Voice of Women confirm this, that there are certain values we share.

Despite six and a half years of concerted effort by the federal Conservative government, Canadians retain a strong commitment to a society in which everyone is guaranteed a minimum level of social security and the resources of government are directed towards ensuring greater social equality. The inability of the Tories and their supporters among big business to reverse this commitment has forced them to proceed with the dismantling of Canada's welfare programs through the back door. Their strategy to achieve this has included the Canada-US free trade agreement, the partial de-indexation of old-age pensions and family allowances, and cuts in transfer payments to the provinces. I understand that the presentation of the National Action Committee went into this in some detail around unemployment insurance.

A positive vision of the kind of society that Canadians want to see is articulated most clearly and consistently in the demands put forward by women's organizations and other popular organizations in this province. At the centre of this vision of what kind of society we want is the value of equality. A fundamental commitment of the women's movement is a commitment not only to sexual equality but to racial and social equality. Another basic commitment of women's organizations is to the protection of the rights of minorities, whether these be linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, racial or ethnic minorities, and that was stressed in the previous briefs, too.

Connected to these values is the view that the appropriate role of government is to create the conditions which will bring about social, sexual and racial equality, which will allow individuals to realize their full potential as human beings, free from discrimination. The achievement of a society based on these values should be the end of all government policy whether that policy be concerned with industrial strategy taxation, trade or human rights. From this perspective, the question which is just beginning to be addressed is this: Do current constitutional arrangements and political institutions facilitate or obstruct the achievement of the objective of greater social equality?


Looked at from the perspective of grass-roots women's organization, the answer to this question has to be that political institutions hinder rather than help the achievement of the objective of social equality. We just want to run through a couple of examples. One is child care. There is a desperate and growing need for quality accessible child care services in Ontario. There is also widespread public support for the expansion of such services, yet parents and others advocating the expansion of child care services find themselves shunted between the municipal, provincial and federal governments with each claiming the other is to blame for the miserable level of services currently available.

The same is true of welfare. A single mother on welfare who wishes to become involved politically in the fight for a decent standard of living for herself and her family must become an expert on complicated formulas for the sharing of costs between different levels of government.

Under this system, politicians at all levels are able to escape responsibility, as it becomes almost impossible to figure out which level of government to hold accountable. The frustration people experience attempting to bring about change leads to feelings of powerlessness and alienation from political life.

The Constitution itself is an example of the way Canadian political institutions are an obstacle to the achievement of greater social equality. How many Canadians are aware of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments? How many understand the way social programs are funded? In the debate around the Meech Lake accord, how many people actually knew what the federal spending power was?

The recent federal budget is an example of the problems with our existing constitutional arrangements. Despite widespread opposition to the decentralization inherent in the Meech Lake accord, the federal Conservatives are winding down federal responsibility for social programs and shifting the financial burden on to the provincial governments. The Conservative government is counting on the lack of public understanding of federal-provincial arrangements to deflect opposition. A frontal attack on social programs would have aroused instant anger; putting a cap on transfer payments accomplishes the same end.

By phasing out direct federal financial responsibility for social programs, the Conservatives are eroding the capacity of the federal government to impose country-wide standards. Finance Minister Wilson's stated intention to bring in legislation enforcing national standards is a cheap propaganda trick designed to mislead Canadians about the government's intentions.

The complexity of Canada's constitutional arrangements contributes to feelings of powerlessness and discourages the participation in political life of women, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and the poor. For the most part, politics remains the playground for the privileged elites.

Cutbacks in government spending further contribute to the alienation of Canadians from their governments. With each cutback, the quality of service declines as the pressure on the public service workers delivering the service increases. Government becomes less and less accessible to the people who need it most. Immigrant workers attempting to pursue a claim under employment standards, for example, find themselves caught in a maze of bureaucracy. Unemployed workers have to wait for weeks and weeks before they see their first cheque.

Women feel the effects of these cutbacks both as the recipients of government services and as workers in the public sector.

A result of this situation is a deep cynicism about politics and about politicians and an erosion of support for government institutions. This alienation is something right-wing politicians are trying to pick up on and turn into sentiment against government. If government is acting only in the interest of a few, why support government?

The point we wish to emphasize with these examples is that there is a growing frustration with government in Ontario and the rest of the country and that this frustration is related to constitutional arrangements even though it is not usually expressed in those terms.

To a great extent, the growing complexity of federal-provincial relations is related to the inability of governments in Canada to address the concerns of Quebec. A refusal to recognize that the situation of Quebec is different from that of other provinces has been a barrier to a sensible rethinking of the division of powers among governments in Canada. Instead, we have been subjected to elaborate federal-provincial funding arrangements and endless behind-closed-doors negotiating sessions where provincial politicians promote agendas which often do not enjoy the support of their citizens.

It is our view that once the urgent concerns of Quebec and the first nations are addressed, then attention must be turned in constitutional discussions to a democratization of political institutions in the rest of Canada. The kind of political institutions we wish to create will require widespread public debate.

Based on the discussions which have taken place to date in the women's movement, we would like to make some proposals as a contribution to the debate about the kind of Constitution and political institutions needed.

1. An effective central government capable of ensuring the existence of common standards for social programs and of putting in place economic strategies which will create the conditions for equality and eliminate regional disparity.

2. Measures to improve representation of regions within the government of Ontario and of Canada, including consideration of an electoral system based on proportional representation.

3. Affirmative action measures to ensure greater representation in political institutions of women, visible ethnic and linguistic minorities and people with disabilities. I should say here that the points raised by Salome Loucas from Women Working with Immigrant Women about multiculturalism also need to be part of the discussion and included in a vision of the kind of political arrangements we want in English-speaking Canada.

4. Measures to allow both the users and deliverers of government services input into the design and delivery of those services, reform of bodies such as the advisory council on the status of women to ensure that they are accountable to the constituency they purport to represent and act as advocates for that constituency rather than as a buffer between it and the government.

5. The democratization of the boards of hospitals, post-secondary institutions and of police and other commissions to include representation from all sectors of the community affected, not just business. And we should point out that there is a long-standing demand of the visible minority community in Toronto for greater control of the bodies investigating police, which is something that the Ontario government could act on immediately.

6. The strengthening within the Constitution of the rights of women and of minorities, including francophone, racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities and expansion of constitutionally protected rights to include the right of women to reproductive choice, the right to housing, the right to employment and other social rights.

7. Measures to restore public confidence in the fairness of government, including a reform of the tax system and the restoration of adequate levels of funding for education and health care and the introduction of a system of universal child care as a basic public service.

We would like to point out that one of the obstacles to democratic debate in Ontario and the rest of Canada is a lack of resources that many grass-roots organizations have to conduct debate about the future of Canada's Constitution and our political institutions. I would just like to reinforce what Kay Macpherson said about the difficulty of having dialogue with women in Quebec, that one positive suggestion out of this select committee could be a fund to which organizations could apply to get resources to invite their counterparts from Quebec and from among the first nations to come and talk to their organizations. Also the idea that Kay Macpherson talked about exchanges: If you are not a university student, an average working person does not have very much opportunity to go to Quebec or to learn the language by going to Quebec, and that would be a positive contribution the government can make.

The Chair: If I could just interrupt to say that we have gone past the time, if you would sum up.

Dr Cameron: Okay, we have our summary on the last page, which I will not go through. It just sums up the points we have made.

The Chair: All right, thank you very much for your presentation, once again a very comprehensive and very positive outline of some of the things that we need to address. Thank you very much.

Dr Cameron: We do not get any questions?

The Chair: Let me just see. I do not know whether there were. Mr Offer actually did want one question. We will do it very quickly, hopefully.

Mr Offer: In your presentation you have brought forward a theme which I think is very important. It talks about the two different timetables. I think that is crucially important, especially in terms of the role that the province of Ontario should play in this area. I am wondering if you can share with us whether these two timetables should be linked. I am not saying one should be a condition of another -- for instance, the negotiations ongoing with Quebec should be conditioned on whether there will be constitutional entrenchment of, let's say, multicultural rights -- but whether there is some connection that you see as mandatory.


The reason I ask this is because I have a concern that potentially there is a possibility that the Quebec issues may, of course, be resolved without constitutional amendment, yet all of the presentations which we have heard before this committee on the basis of constitutional change -- if not for women then for multicultural groups and first nations -- all seem to have not been addressed. I think that you have spoken to this in these two different timetables, but I am wondering if you can share with me whether you have thought about how those timetables can or should be connected.

Dr Cameron: The first point I would like to make on that is that they are connected in the sense that decisions should not be made which cut off a debate in English-speaking Canada, and I am thinking about the proposals that are coming forward from academics who are connected to business and from business organizations in favour of decentralization. For some people this seems like a very neat way to address the concerns of Quebec. It is the formula that was in Meech Lake, that we give all the regions or all the provinces additional powers.

That may seem like a simple solution, but our experience in the women's movement is that in English-speaking Canada that is widely opposed, and that if we have time for a grass-roots discussion we will find out that it is widely opposed. What I am very afraid of right now is that the elites are going to impose that not only because it meets the needs of Quebec, which I think is a secondary concern, but that it fits in with a business agenda of eroding social programs and eroding the federal role in social programs. That is a linkage we do not want made. We do not want them to move with decentralization in English-speaking Canada without finding out whether or not that is what people want.

The other point I want to make is that because our Constitution has become so complicated, it is very difficult for us to address some of what we need to about the kind of institutions we want in English-speaking Canada until the issue around Quebec is settled, because we have to know what Quebec's relationship is to the federal government. My sense is that, if that is settled, English-speaking Canadians are going to want a fairly radical rethinking of the division of powers between the two levels of government. But as long as the centre of those discussions is Quebec's relationship with the federal government, I do not think we can get on with the debate in English-speaking Canada. So, I would worry about putting off addressing the concerns of Quebec. I think that is the priority, and we can get about disentangling the complicated arrangements that have been set up as a way to address Quebec's concerns.


The Chair: Could I call next the representatives from the Native Canadian Relations Resource Centre. If you could identify yourselves for the record. I would appreciate that.

Ms D. McGregor: Hi. I am Deborah McGregor from the native Canadian relations theme area at York University.

Ms Metson: I am Maria Metson from the Native Skills Centre in Toronto.

Ms L McGregor: I am Leslie McGregor, and I am from the Native Skills Centre here in Toronto.

The Chair: Welcome. Carry on, please.

Ms D. McGregor: Okay. The native Canadian relations theme area focuses on the relationship between the native community and its organizations in broader Canadian society. That tends to be our focus, and a review of what we are going to talk about is: Maria will address general concerns, her observations of current aboriginal and Canadian relations in Canada; I will talk about why aboriginal people may not wish to participate in Canadian society; and Leslie will talk about what is required for aboriginal people in Canada to be able to participate effectively.

Ms Metson: First of all, my observations are based primarily on my experience working at the Native Skills Centre. It is based in Toronto and it is an employment program where native people learn computer skills. They have work placements into the business sector and government.

My observation has been, yes, native people do want to participate, they do want to get jobs and participate fully in the benefits the Toronto economy can provide, but there is an alienation with that society. They do not want to become the same as Canadians. There is that alienation there, and I think there is a sense that becoming Canadian means selling out their native culture. I find that very disturbing that they cannot maintain the identity of being Canadian and being native at the same time, and I think there are a lot of things that have been happening and a lot of historical reasons why that is happening. My colleagues here at the table are going to be addressing those issues.

Ms D. McGregor: It is hard to talk about the nature of relations now without talking about the past, and that is that from day one aboriginal people had always been willing to share and welcome the people who came here. I do not think that should ever change. We are still always going to be that way. It is not us who have to change, it is Canadian society, probably in a reflection in the Constitution.

There were the treaties, and that was two nations making a treaty. I do not know if the Constitution really reflects that now, recognizing first nations as being a separate nation and trying to make an agreement. It is kind of like: "We're doing you a favour. Maybe we'll mention you," so that kind of attitude has to change.

Most government policy in the past was geared towards assimilation, even though it was called, "We'd like you to participate fully and economically in Canadian society." It usually meant you had to change a lot and you had to become a part of something you did not particularly want to. I think that is a lot of what self-government is about. We want to participate, but in our own way, and that has to be reflected in the Constitution. I think it is important to know, and I am very proud of this, that native people have survived for so long despite the oppression and for, I do not know, 500 years or so, we have still managed to survive, and I think it is about time Canada recognized that, hopefully in the Constitution.

I think what is there is inadequate and it is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone, the two little paragraphs -- and Meech Lake. My comment on that is that it is very liberal of Canada to recognize Quebec and the French concerns as legitimate, but the same consideration should have been extended to aboriginal people. I think that is a reflection of the attitude and that has to change.

I do not think new legislation can just be created and new parts put into the Constitution without even looking at how to redress the past and the past treaties and those kinds of things. That will always come up. People are going to say: "We don't want you to get rid of them. We don't want our relationship to change." As far as those original at that time, 200 years ago, whenever those agreements were made, we are still a first nation, we are still going to look at you the same way, and can you offer the same kind of consideration.

I just want to stress the point again that aboriginal people have a unique relationship with Canada. It is different from other groups. There are treaties, there are rights and those must be recognized.

What else did I have? Again, just to reiterate the point that it is Canada that has to change its attitude. The current structures in Canada, institutions, do not support aboriginal aspirations at this point, such as self-government. I think Canada has a few things to work out for itself before it can become desirable for us to want to be part of it.

That is what I have to say, other than that the nature of the relationship definitely has to change and it will have to be reflected in the Constitution but in a different way, with a different kind of attitude and approach. Leslie will talk about what is the requirement in order to make Canada rather desirable to be part of.

Ms L. McGregor: I think what is most important and what is most obvious here, as Deb talks about, is the idea of assimilation as opposed to participation. Native people do not want to lose their culture. It is very unique for us, it is very supportive to our own development. For instance, what we do at the Native Skills Centre is try to let people maintain their own identity, maintain their own culture while participating in the work culture, and a lot of it is in non-native organizations in the city. It is a lot of work to do to make people proud of this heritage that so often has been called down. You are looking at employers who have this perception of native people being -- again, I am generalizing -- lazy, or they see these people out on the street and feel it is a result of the people themselves rather than as a result of something that has been put on them.


I think it is important for native people to maintain their identity and for Canadian society abroad, whether it is new nations coming from other countries, to understand that Canada does have a unique relationship with native people and that they have to respect it, because I do not think the respect is there. I think a lot of it has to come through education. In the history books when we are learning history throughout high school, you are not really learning about native people; you are learning about the French and the English, and what does that say for the native students going through the education system? They are just not learning it. Even for the immigrant people coming into the country, a lot of them do not know about the native people in Canada, and they are just wondering what we are and why we get these special rights when we should be so thankful that we are in Canada altogether. That is basically what I have to say.

The Chair: Maybe I could just ask you to comment a little about what kinds of things you think we can do as a government, particularly in this area of the last point you made about ways in which we can make sure that people in the communities at large are more aware of the special role and the place of native peoples in our society. What kinds of things can we do as a government, beyond rectifying the injustices that have been perpetrated over the years against native peoples? We obviously know that a lot of it would be in addressing those injustices, but just in terms of general public awareness, what more can we be doing?

Ms L. McGregor: First of all, I think different nations have to be comfortable with themselves in order to respect other nations. Whether it is non-native, Italian, Portuguese -- they have to have a respect for their own culture before they can respect other ones.

In terms of what the government can do, I think there needs to be more programs such as ours. We are giving people marketable skills to go back into the workforce, but we are also giving them something that is really important, which is their self-confidence, and I think the self-confidence of the people right now is really low. Just basically more programs like that.

Ms Metson: Also, as Leslie mentioned about the education system, if the curriculum was put into the schools at the public school level, understanding from a very young age what the historical relationship has been with native people, understanding why they had the special rights, I think would do a lot for the native people and for Canadian society to understand better what native people are fighting for.

The Chair: Thanks very much for coming before us.



The Chair: I call then representatives from le Centre francophone. Si vous voulez bien nous donner vos noms.

M. D'Aigle : Bonjour. Mon nom est Claude-Reno D'Aigle.

Je vous remercie de m'accorder votre attention aujourd'hui. Je suis, comme je viens de le dire, Claude-Reno D'Aigle, président du conseil d'administration du COFTM/Centre francophone à Toronto. COFTM veut dire Conseil des organismes francophones du Toronto métropolitain. À mes côtés est Anne Rich, la directrice générale au Centre francophone.

Le COFTM/Centre francophone regroupe 60 organismes membres et 200 individus membres. Ayant été fondé en 1977, il est le plus ancien et le plus grand regroupement de son genre dans la communauté urbaine de Toronto. Nous desservons une population d'individus parlant le français qui se chiffre aux environs de 350 000.

L'Ontario doit devenir un leader pour la cause du français au Canada, mais pour cela il faut que le gouvernement reconnaisse le caractère unique de la culture française en Ontario et qu'il cesse de la considérer comme une francophonie dépendante du Québec.

Dans l'ensemble du pays, à l'heure actuelle l'attention est portée sur l'avenir du Québec, oubliant que la francophonie existe non seulement au Québec mais à travers tout le pays. Il ne faudrait pas oublier que si le Québec est aujourd'hui ce qu'il est, c'est en partie grace à deux frontières de forces humaines, c'est-à-dire les francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick, les Acadiens et nous les francophones de l'Ontario. Cet isolement naturel a aidé le Québec à protéger sa culture de l'influence anglophone.

D'une certaine façon, la première ligne de défense de cette culture sont les francophones hors Québec, ces cadavres encore chauds qui, eux, vivent quotidiennement cette dualité entre francophones et anglophones.

Nous ne sommes plus des colonies de la France et de la Grande-Bretagne. Nous formons un pays unique fondé à l'origine par trois peuples distincts : les Amérindiens, les Français et les Anglais. Ceci constitue la fondation sur laquelle il faut construire notre pays. Nous proposons de préserver notre fondation et de réparer les murs de notre patrimoine. Tant que les francophones hors Québec défendront leurs droits, le Québec sera protégé dans ce pays.

Revenons maintenant à notre préoccupation majeure dans l'immédiat, la cause de la langue française en Ontario et plus précisement dans notre capitale, Toronto.

Afin de mieux situer et structurer la réflexion qui va suivre, voici les points spécifiques sur lesquels j'aimerais attirer votre attention.

Il faut que l'Ontario devienne un partenaire d'égale importance en obtenant la considération qu'il mérite concernant le fait français au Canada. Par exemple, ce que je veux dire c'est qu'on participe également avec le Québec, le Nouveau-Brunswick et les gros noyaux francophones au fait français au pays.

II faut que les francophones hors Québec se prennent en main et qu'ils fassent pression sur le gouvernement fédéral afin qu'il respecte ses obligations à l'égard des minorités francophones.

En Ontario, le gouvernement provincial nous donne son appui dans nos revendications par l'entremise de la Loi 8. Il manque présentement l'appui fédéral qui, par son attitude, laisse supposer que le Québec est la seule province avec une culture française viable. Par exemple, tout récemment dans le domaine des communications, le gouvernement fédéral a décidé que l'Ontario n'avait pas droit à sa propre station de télévision française. On oblige l'Ontario français à se joindre à l'ouest québécois pour recevoir des services de télévision en français.

Nous avions notre propre station, mais pour remercier les Franco-Ontariens de leurs douze années de travail acharné, on nous a enlevé la station CBLFT Toronto, Ontario. Les francophones de l'Ontario se voient donc en quelque sorte jetés dans la gueule du loup en étant laissés à l'anglicisation et l'influence québécoise. Le danger qui guette cette partie de la francophonie est donc celui de l'assimilation à plus ou moins long terme en raison de l'absence de communication interrégionale.

Il faudra donc que l'Ontario développe un meilleur système de protection de sa minorité francophone pour contrebalancer l'impact des mauvaises décisions de certaines institutions fédérales et pour se protéger des forces antianglophones.


Mme Rich : Nous, Franco-Ontariens, sommes prèts, et depuis longtemps, à prendre en main notre système d'éducation. À ce titre, nous voulons des collèges communautaires et une université à notre image. J'ajouterais aussi des projets de formation pour adultes qui existent déjà par l'entremise du Centre francophone. Nous croyons que l'Ontario devrait, comme le Nouveau-Brunswick, reconnaître les droits de ses citoyens francophones et faire le nécessaire pour que le financement soit disponible.

L'Ontario doit s'efforcer d'éviter toute séparation de ce pays parce que la francophonie s'en trouverait divisée et par conséquent affaiblie à un degré dangereux.

L'Ontario doit défendre l'importance d'être Canadien et promouvoir le fait qu'être Canadien, c'est avant tout de pouvoir accepter notre diversité dans son ensemble et reconnaître à part égale les trois peuples fondateurs.

L'Ontario doit aussi servir de modèle pour la promotion des bienfaits du multiculturalisme.

Enfin, l'Ontario doit être un leader pour répondre à la réalité autochtone, afin de faire reconnaître son importance dans ce pays et assurer une participation réelle de ses véritables peuples fondateurs.

M. D'Aigle : Voilà la volonté francophone des organismes du Toronto métropolitain. Nous répétons encore que le mot «francophone» englobe ici tous les francophones de l'Ontario, indépendamment de leurs origines culturelles ou ethniques.

Étant moi-même originaire de l'Acadie, c'est-à-dire de Edmunston, au Nouveau-Brunswick, je suis à Toronto depuis 22 ans. J'y ai fait grandir ma famille en français et je suis la preuve vivante que tout est possible. Je tiens à vous faire remarquer que j'ai découvert l'importance de ma langue ici en Ontario.

Je vous remercie de nous avoir reçus et j'ose espérer que nos commentaires pourront guider votre commission à formuler le rôle que devra jouer l'Ontario dans la Confédération canadienne.

M. le Président : Merci bien.


The Chair: I invite next Charles Caccia, MP for Davenport, to come forward.

M. Caccia : Merci, Monsieur le Président et membres du comité. Je voudrais tout d'abord vous remercier de me donner votre attention cet avant-midi. Je voudrais aussi vous féliciter pour le bon travail que vous avez fait jusqu'à date. Votre tâche n'est pas facile. Je voudrais aussi vous souhaiter un bon travail d'ici le 21 mars, votre date finale pour préparer un rapport qui, j'en suis très sûr, sera un rapport pas facile à écrire mais de grande importance.

The submission is going to be only partial. I will go slowly because simultaneous translators also have rights, and I will only deal with a few points -- first with process. As you may have heard already in other sittings, Canadians have on a variety of occasions indicated that they reject the process of deals between politicians. That has been hammered on a number of occasions.

Second, again on process -- it deals already with some substance -- there seems to be a notion out there that you either have a strong federal government and weak provinces or a weak federal government and strong provinces. I submit to you that you can have a strong federal government and strong provinces in a healthy federation. Today in the Globe and Mail there is an article that again raises the notion of decentralization as strong provinces, weak federal government. I reject that notion as being false.

Third, your report will be read outside Ontario with equal if not greater attention, and not only in Quebec but in the west, and not only in Quebec and in the west but also north of 60, so your message is of the greatest importance.

It seems to me that at this stage what we want to say out of Ontario is something not within the context of a divorce situation but within the context of a mutually reinforcing situation. That task is not an easy one. You are up to the challenge, I am sure, and I am certain from my limited knowledge of Quebec and the west that they are dying to hear something positive coming out of Ontario that reaches out. In other words, you will be speaking or writing or communicating with your report on a political mandate which is much broader than the province of Ontario. You will be really talking as national politicians. So much for process.

On the substance, a lot is being said these days on the changes in the distribution of powers. I would like to submit a few principles, if I may: that the changes in the distribution of powers, or that any change in such, should guarantee the rights of freedoms of citizens; second, that any change in the distribution of powers should ensure that the two main linguistic communities in this country are not only maintained but also strengthened; third, that any change in the distribution of powers must guarantee respect for and the growth of our aboriginal peoples, as we heard a short while ago; fourth, that any change in the distribution of powers should promote both the rights and the growth of cultural communities -- you will be really designing the new Canada perhaps in your report, not the Canada of 1910 but the Canada of the year 2000; fifth, any change in the distribution of powers should endeavour at least to maximize the quality of living and standards of living across the nation; sixth, any change in the distribution of powers should facilitate the working of the Canadian economic union.

Very briefly, a few more points: the entrenchment of aboriginal rights is still an unfinished business since 1982. We heard a few moments ago voices to that effect, perhaps expressed in a different manner. Entrenchment of aboriginal rights is something that we must do.

Official bilingualism until last night I thought ought to be raised here this morning, but the news reports have somehow pre-empted what the Premier of Ontario has said, or is reported as saying in the news. That is a most unfortunate development because Ontario has actually done extremely well over the years, first under Conservative and then under Liberal and now under NDP government, in moving closer and closer to official bilingualism. There is still one step to be taken and it is not an easy one, politically speaking, and you must have heard quite strong polarized views on this subject, judging from newspaper reports. Nevertheless, somehow Canada is waiting for Ontario to make a generous gesture, and I thought until this morning that official bilingualism could have been that kind of gesture.

To conclude, two more items on substance: This province is fortunate to have an outstanding Environment minister. She has spoken on a number of occasions of a bill of rights on the environment. You have an opportunity to translate some of those thoughts into a clause that would clarify the present Constitution in a manner that environmental rights are embodied in Canada's Constitution.

Finally, Senate reform, which in itself could warrant a set of hearings across the nation and which is the subject of very intense, hot feelings, has to be addressed as part of the unfinished business. My historical recollection since 1982 as to what was said then is that the unfinished business did not relate to the sharing of powers. No, it related to reform of existing Canadian institutions: the Senate, the Supreme Court, you name it. However, there has been a rewriting of history in recent times, and therefore I felt it necessary to make that point. The Senate, the Supreme Court and the entrenchment of aboriginal rights were the main items that had not been given the desirable attention at that time.


Mr Chairman, this ends my presentation because I know you are overworked, tired and have other witnesses to hear. I want to thank you for the opportunity of appearing before you.

Mr Offer: Mr Caccia, thank you for your presentation. As you know, we have been travelling the province hearing a great many opinions, concerns and hopes. I would like to ask for your reaction to something which has been emerging, and that is in the area of the capping, or in fact the reduction, of federal government transfer payments to the province, resulting in two conclusions. The first is that it in many ways emphasizes decentralization, or in fact will allow the federal government to get out of that particular area of responsibility; or second, putting the legal aspect aside, it morally creates a barrier in a federal government imposing a national standard in an area where it is no longer contributing to its financial capacity. I am wondering if you could share with us your reaction to that proposition.

Mr Caccia: As you realize, Mr Chairman, this is a highly political question.

Mr Offer: It was not meant to be.

Mr Caccia: Being in Ottawa, where we sit, it would be a terrific opportunity to say what I think of the last budget, but I will refrain from such a temptation in saying that whenever you apply different standards in capping with the rich provinces on the one hand and the less well-to-do provinces on the other, you inevitably balkanize the nation. That is in the end the result. We have heard already what the Minister of Health and Social Services for Quebec has said about medicare. Therefore, Mr Offer is quite right to raise it within the context of a constitutional debate.

But having said that, I am a strong believer -- rightly or wrongly -- that economic issues are not capable of being solved simply by constitutional reform. Mr Wilson has announced his budget within the powers given to the federal government at the present time. It is a policy decision that is rooted in fiscal philosophy, so to say. It can be achieved under the present system. Do we want in the Constitution of the future a phrase that will say that capping cannot be imposed -- probably that is the bottom question -- in order to ensure that national standards, be they in health or environment or you name it, are secured? It may be that that is something we should look at. I had not thought of that before.

The Chair: Okay. Thank you very much. We will have to end at that point


The Chair: Could I invite next representatives from the Disabled Women's Network?

Ms Stimpson: My name is Liz Stimpson. I am chairperson of the Disabled Women's Network, Toronto. Because I am blind, I cannot read the brief. My friend, Margaret Best, will read it. She was the person who helped me write it and she was the person who put this together. Because of her, we are here.

Ms Best: I will start with the introduction. This brief to the select committee on Ontario in Confederation is presented by the Disabled Women's Network, Toronto. We are the voice of disabled women in Metro Toronto. This brief will address itself to most of the issues in the document known as Changing for the Better: An Invitation to Talk About a New Canada.

In this document, Premier Rae has asked us to look around at our neighbours, at our communities, and then to think about what we share as Ontarians and as Canadians.

Unfortunately, it is not that easy. As I look around at my neighbours, or in my case come to meet my neighbours, I realize there is work to be done, inequalities to overcome, balances to be redressed, before I can begin to think, let alone expect my neighbours to think, just what it is we share as Ontarians and Canadians.

You see, my neighbours are black, they are aboriginal, they are disabled, they are lesbians; in fact, most of them are women. They may be Ontarians and they may be Canadians but they cannot yet afford to celebrate those facts, let alone their differences, until the obstacles of discrimination and inequity are first removed.

Ontario is a diverse province; Canada a diverse country. If we want to rediscover consensus, if we want Canadians to be unified and passionate in their support of a strong Canada, we must give all our people an equal footing, the same platform from which to address the issues facing Canada and Confederation. Taking care of our people -- all of them -- is essential to taking care of Canada.

Realistically, you cannot expect a passionate shout for a unified Canada from people who are trying to overcome more basic, rudimentary obstacles. Unfortunately, if you are a woman, black, Asian, aboriginal or disabled, you are faced with some more immediate, bleak and daily obstacles of discrimination before you can honestly afford the luxury of sharing a vision of Canada. We are talking about trust, about dignity, about treating each other as equals.

My concern is primarily for disabled women. To some, this may seem a limited parameter. But believe me, as disabled women, we are your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your partners. Anyone can become disabled. It affects us regardless of income, race or creed. Approximately 500,000 Ontarians are disabled. One in six Canadians is disabled.

Therefore, in trying to envision a new Canada, we believe we must first lay the foundations of trust and dignity for all the peoples of Canada, We can start this process by taking a look at this very committee.

Once again, women have been shafted. Rather than having a woman as the chairperson or, dare we imagine at the very least, women making up half of the members of this committee, we are again underrepresented. When we say this, it is not meant to detract from women like Ms Churley -- who I think has left the room temporarily -- whose fighting spirit and high intelligence is well known throughout this city. To the best of our knowledge, there are no aboriginal people sitting here on this committee, nor are there any people of colour. We can only assume that aboriginal people, people of colour and women are not a serious part of this province's plan for Canada in the future although we make up most of the population. There really is no excuse for this.

May we remind this committee that this is the second time around for the women of this province to be summoned to appear and speak about the Constitution and Canada, and during the first round we were not listened to? We want to ask this committee: Do you really want to hear what the women of this province have to say on the future of this country?

We would now like to try to address a few of the discussion topics which have been listed in the Ontario government's document known as Changing for the Better. I believe that the first topic for discussion -- What are the values we share as Canadians? -- has been dealt with already in our introductory comments.


1. What roles should the federal and provincial governments play? In any Constitution, the Charter of Rights must take precedence over any other document or clause because the Charter of Rights is the only protection which physically and mentally disabled persons have in this country. We might add, for this committee's interest, that Canada is the only country in the world which has such a provision in its Charter of Rights, and we think it makes a difference. But what good is this wonderful Charter of Rights with clauses 15 and 28 if there is no guarantee that it will be applied and upheld equally from Newfoundland to British Columbia?

We do not agree with all the powers resting with the provinces, leaving a federal government stripped of most of its powers. We would hope that the patriarchy is not once again controlling the lives of women with disabilities, our aboriginal sisters and our sisters of colour.

When the Meech Lake accord was presented in this Legislature, only a handful of members voted against it. The now Premier of this province voted in favour of the Meech Lake accord. The premiers of this country have invariably treated women's equality in a most capricious manner, starting with the Women's Franchise Act of 1918 up to November 1981 and on until June 1990. Women constitutional experts advised us at that time that the Charter of Rights was in jeopardy if the Meech Lake accord should pass.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has said -- and I will faithfully leave it up to each of you to substitute his use of the word "man" with a term more all-encompassing -- "The social aspirations of man cannot attain full originality and full value, except in a society which respects man's personal integrity." Is the Ontario government prepared to sell off democracy and women's equality rights at any cost? Do we have any guarantee that an NDP government will listen to our concerns and support us in protecting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms this time?

Our worst fears were realized after the Supreme Court decision making the abortion law illegal. Three provinces across the country, arrogating health care to themselves, denied women equal access to health care. It is this precise contempt for the law that makes these kinds of powers in the hands of individual provinces a horror show for women.

For disabled women, this horror which threatens us could be a total disaster. Many of us are on medication which we get through welfare, and some of us must use a family physician plus specialists as well as well as having hospital care. Could we trust any party in provincial power to respect the initiatives of the federal government and/or obey the rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada, should it come to that? It is a neat myth to think that the federal government would have either the will or the capacity in bureaucrats to monitor the health care, welfare, day care or any other such programs in every province.

Disabled women depend on the health care system to also provide them with assistive devices such as wheelchairs and crutches and medical equipment such as compressors for asthma, etc. What guarantee do we have that we will still be receiving these services unless the provincial government listens to us and takes a strong stand in any provincial-federal negotiations?

All things such as health care, day care, welfare and education impact on the lives of disabled women, and nowhere are we given any assurances that we will still be getting these. The Premier of this province has promised us that social services will not be cut, but disabled women will remain uneasy until this becomes a fact, enshrined and secure. Put our trust in the premiers? They have always sold us out.

We believe in a strong federal government and provinces and territories which share powers equally. We also believe in a federal government which should be accountable for its responsibilities to the provinces, ie, transfer payments. This is one of the cornerstones of the Constitution. As we have all no doubt seen by now in the recent 26 February 1991 budget announcement, the transfer payments have yet again been cut, in areas of health and welfare in particular. Add to this the inherited situation of our present Ontario government, which was left with a large deficit and two cuts in transfer payments over the past year, and we are faced with cuts to the safety nets for the poor, unemployed, disabled and elderly. What good are safety nets full of holes? If anything, they are a hazard to safety and health. There is no doubt in my mind as to the sinister and deliberate move on the part of the Tory government in Ottawa to gradually cut off all transfer payments and to put in place a program whereby each province will be left to set up its own health and welfare programs. This obviously will cause an inequity between the poorest provinces, such as Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, and the better-off, such as Quebec and Ontario.

Canada has prided itself on its social programs. However, when each province is left to its own programs we may end up with a country which has negligible programs in many of the provinces. In my original submission of 1988 one of my deepest fears was that the federal government would be divested of its powers, being left primarily to dole out the moneys and orchestrate a tenuous foreign policy. As is becoming clear, the federal government is no longer doling out any moneys and we have seen just how tenuous our foreign policy has become.

2. How do we achieve justice for Canada's aboriginal peoples? We will never achieve justice for aboriginal peoples as long as they are excluded from and/or not taken seriously in provincial and federal decision-making processes. As we have noted already, it angers us that there are no aboriginal people sitting on this committee today, as would be appropriate. Aboriginal people are promised equal rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and although the present Tory government is making a mockery of these rights, it is also the responsibility of the provincial government of Ontario to step in and assist aboriginal people who live in Ontario. We are very afraid that if the aboriginal people do not receive a guarantee of their rights from Ontario they will never receive it from the present federal Tory government.

Justice for aboriginal people would include, among the highest priorities, adequate education at the secondary school level in a non-racist atmosphere. The power in our society lies in the now white, male-dominated professions such as law, medicine and corporate business. Aboriginal people must have access to these same avenues of power in order to utilize, humanize and sensitize them. Our aboriginal sisters need good secondary education so that they can enter university with a fair amount of knowledge and ease. It goes without saying that foremost on the agenda of aboriginal people is their right to their lands. Justice for aboriginal people would obviously lie first in a consultation process through which they tell us where their priorities lie and how they want to go about achieving these priorities.

3. What is Quebec's future in Canada? I do not think I am the right person to talk about Quebec. However, disabled women do not appreciate the trauma which this country has gone through over one province while other issues have been shelved, neglected and written off. As I have already mentioned, one in six people in this country is disabled. There are approximately 500,000 disabled people in the province of Ontario. We can assume that over half of these people are women. What would happen, I wonder, if disabled women held up the Canadian government for almost five years? Based on experience, we can only surmise that they would not fight to keep us, and, if we threatened to leave, they would hold open the door. We can be fairly certain that they would not be falling over each other in the mad rush to meet our demands. We make these comments only to illustrate the disproportionate amount of time which has gone into altering the Constitution to the detriment of Canada's marginalized people, ie, women, the disabled, aboriginals, people of colour, the multicultural community, the aging, and lesbians.

4. What is the place of the west, the north and the Atlantic region? During the constitutional crisis of 1990 many of us expected leadership to come from the traditional provinces of power. Is it not odd that the true leadership during that crisis came from such marginalized regions and people as Newfoundland and Elijah Harper, an aboriginal person?


As a result, nothing could be more patently obvious than that we need the Atlantic provinces, we need our aboriginal people, we need the west, we need the whole breadth of vision upon which Canada and its institutions, or more accurately what is left of them, have been built. And, of course, we need women. As Canada becomes dismantled piece by piece, it will be left to women to ensure that we do not come apart at the seams: old women, young women, French and English women, women from our multicultural communities, disabled women, aboriginal women, lesbians, women of colour, all women and from every region of this country.

We need women because our vision remains uncompromised and we have spent 100 years fighting against overwhelming odds to finally arrive today with equality rights, which are an essential building block in the rebuilding of our country. We will not stand by and see all this undone. I think Liz has a final word to say.

Ms Stimpson: I received this document on 8 February. I was given my time and my date on the 26th of bloody February. That left me with almost three days to get this bloody brief together. This is a disgrace, a total disgrace. I am so angry I could scream, but I will not scream.

What the hell is going on here? I am a disabled woman. I do not have the resources to get a brief together, to get my thoughts together, to write it, dictate it, have it typed and rush off to have it copied. What is going on here with this place? We voted for you people. We love you people. We thought you were with us. You promised that you would respect and respond to the grass roots in your communities. But you are not; you are kicking us in the face.

You did not listen to us the last time and as far as I can see you are not listening to us this time. But we will not take it, because we will be back to keep you in line. Now listen, we love you people and, as I said, we voted for you. We want to be with you people, but if you do not care about us, then what the hell can we do about this? I do not expect ever to have this happen to me again. This is the second time this has happened to me in a week.

The Chair: Let me just say, madam, that we understand your feelings on that and we are trying very hard to do our best to improve the process as we go along. This has been, even with all of its flaws, the most extensive discussion process and consultation process that any committee of the Legislature has ever undertaken on any issue, and we have been the first to say that this is only the beginning of the discussion. We know that there have been problems in the process along the way. We are trying to address those problems and trying to do our best.

Quite frankly, we were not necessarily looking for polished, long presentations. We were looking to give the people of the province an opportunity to talk to us about their feelings, about their aspirations for the future of the country and the province, and I think we have gotten that, quite clearly, even though people have not had as much time as they would have liked to prepare their presentations.

As long as we remain committed to that ideal of continuing the discussion and ensuring that all of us, women and men also, understand the needs of the various constituencies -- and I think we should not assume, for example, as I think you have done earlier on, that only women can properly necessarily address all of the issues that face women. Obviously, women understand those issues in a much different and better way than men ever can, but it is necessary for men to understand those issues as well, I think, if we are going to come to any conclusions and any useful resolutions of all those. So we accept the criticism and we are doing our best to try to improve the process as we go along.

Ms Stimpson: I would just like to mention one thing. This document is a provincial document, is it not?

The Chair: Yes, it is.

Ms Stimpson: Fine, then I did not get this in the alternate print and that is my right. This is the law of this province. I had to ask the consultant several times. He was in touch with me; he was the only contact I had. I phoned the clerk's office; Margaret phoned the clerk's office. We only got rudeness. Now listen, I should have had this on tape before the middle of this month. Now that is another thing.

The Chair: Again, we realize that those are some of the problems you have identified correctly. Some of those were not within the purview of this committee to monitor and decide upon, but I realize that in terms of the public that does not make any difference. There are some problems that we have identified, as I said, along the way, and we will try to do our best to make sure that they are not repeated. Thanks very much for your presentation.


The Chair: Could I call next Metro Tenants Legal Services?

Ms Robinson: Hi, my name is Leslie Robinson. I am with Metro Tenants Legal Services. Before I begin the presentation I have prepared for this committee, I want to say that I have been quite moved by the presentation that came before me by the Disabled Women's Network. I am quite honoured that I had the opportunity to hear their presentation before mine and I personally support both the substance of the presentation that was made and the frustration with the timing and scheduling of these committee hearings.

Metro Tenants Legal Services represents and advocates for low-income tenants in Metropolitan Toronto. From that perspective, we are also involved in a number of coalition groups that advocate for housing rights and generally for social and economic rights in Ontario, in Canada and internationally.

We also received the Changing for the Better paper and saw that the terms of reference for this select committee are to review and report on the social and economic interests and aspirations of all the people of Ontario within Confederation, and what form of Confederation can most effectively meet the social and economic aspirations of the people of Ontario. So those are the terms that I have attempted to address in my submission.

However, when speaking with low-income tenants in Ontario, their experience is that the Constitution of Canada has very little impact on their day-to-day lives. Most low-income people in Canada are more concerned with obtaining adequate housing, food and clothing than with the relationships among the provinces and with the federal government.

We are here today to address the concerns communicated to us by our clients, specifically to address housing rights. We believe that housing rights are relevant to Canada's Constitution, to the province's role in Confederation and to Canadians who are not adequately housed.

The CMHC reported in its November 1990 housing market report that 1.26 million households in Canada were in core housing need in 1988, and core housing need is defined as being in one of three situations: either living in substandard housing that is in need of severe repair or without plumbing facilities; living in housing that is overcrowded, more than three or four people per bedroom; or living in housing for which a household is paying more than 30% of household income for housing costs.

I would also point out that the same CMHC report indicated that senior-led households were twice as likely to be in core housing need as non-senior-led households, that renters were over four times more likely than owners to be in core housing need, and that single parents were about six times more likely than two-parent families and were the most likely of all households to be in need. One out of every three single-parent families in Canada is in core housing need as defined by the CMHC.

It is our position that Canada's Constitution could and should address the needs of our constituency. While the Constitution does give residents in Canada the right to security of the person, it does not specify what that right entails. But we ask the question: How can a person have security if that person is homeless or hungry?

Canada and all the provinces and territories have agreed that all who live in Canada have the right to housing. We have made that agreement through Canada's signature to the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and all the provinces and territories agreed before Canada signed that covenant. Through the covenant, Canada has agreed with the 90 other countries that also ratified the covenant that everyone in Canada has the right to an adequate standard of living for him or herself and his or her family, including adequate food, clothing and housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. But while it has agreed with these 90 other countries that Canadians have the right to housing, Canada has not made the same commitment to the people of Canada.


Amending the Constitution to specifically guarantee the right to adequate food, clothing and housing would be a good first step towards implementation of this international covenant, and I want to note that last May, in Ottawa, an international conference was held on housing rights, and the participants came from around the world, mostly from Canada, also from a lot of Third World countries. The overwhelming consensus at that conference was that we all had to go back to our own countries and push for the inclusion of the right to housing in our charters and in our constitutions, so that is what I am doing here before you today.

Metro Tenants Legal Services shares a concern with other housing advocacy groups across the country that the federal government has been stepping away from its responsibilities to fund housing. Since 1938, when the government of Canada passed the National Housing Act, the federal government has undertaken to provide funding support for the provision of housing, to address housing need in Canada. In the past decade, however, federal contributions to housing spending have been reduced and programs for non-profit housing and the rehabilitation of rental housing have been cut. Not just cut back, but cut out. More and more, the responsibility to fund housing programs has been shifting to the provinces.

I do not know how many people know this, but in Ontario the very first non-profit housing program that was fully funded by the province was introduced in 1986 and was called Project 3000, to build 3,000 units. The next year, in 1987, Homes Now was introduced by the province and was also fully funded by the provincial budget. Provincially funded housing programs in Ontario appear to be the new norm. However, residents in many other provinces in this country are not so fortunate. Most provinces have not responded to federal cutbacks with provincially funded programs, either because funding is not available or because the political commitment does not exist.

Inclusion of the right to housing in Canada's Constitution could give back to the federal government the responsibility to ensure that non-profit housing supply programs are adequately funded and that the 1.26 million households in Canada who are in core housing need have their needs addressed.

We have this morning some specific recommendations for Ontario to ensure that the right to security of the person, as set out in our Constitution, ensures the right to housing, and we want to recommend four things.

The first is that Ontario initiate the amendment of the Constitution to include specifically the right to housing. The second is that Ontario initiate pressure from all of the provinces and territories on the federal government to reduce the number of households in core housing need in Canada by adequately funding non-profit housing programs. The third is to fulfil the province of Ontario's commitment to the right to housing and to reduce the number of households in core housing need that live in Ontario by providing adequate funding for non-profit housing programs, starting with the 1991 Ontario budget. The fourth is to fulfil the province of Ontario's commitment to the right to housing and to reduce the number of households in core housing need in Ontario by immediately enacting Bill 4, which would amend the Residential Rent Regulation Act to protect tenants against excessively large rent increases.

We sincerely hope that this committee will focus on the real and daily needs of Canadians, which can be met by amending the Constitution to include rights such as the right to housing. We believe that by understanding and addressing the pressing needs of the people of Canada, the governments of Canada, the provinces and the territories will be better focused to address the relationships between those governments. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.


The Chair: Could I invite next our final speakers for this morning's session, the Toronto Aboriginal and Metis Association.

Mr Yake: Mr Chairman, committee members, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Indian and Metis people of the Toronto area, I am pleased to welcome you to our homeland, which you call Ontario. Our nations have always lived here and we have always welcomed settlers and visitors to our land. Unfortunately, settlers have not always been so good to us. That is the problem I want to speak to you about today.

Let me begin by telling you a little about aboriginal people. Most Ontarians, even most Ontario MPPs, probably think of reserves when they think of aboriginal people, and they probably think of band councils and the Indian Act when they think of aboriginal political organizations and aboriginal governments. Let me give you a few facts about aboriginal peoples. There are over 250,000 aboriginal people in Ontario. Aboriginal people are defined in the Canadian Constitution as the Indian, Inuit and Metis people of Canada. Of Ontario's 250,000 Indian and Metis people, only about 50,000 are registered status Indians living on reserves. Only these 50,000 are allowed to vote or run for office in band council elections. The rest of us, the 200,000 Indian and Metis people who live off reserves, are prohibited by the Indian Act from participating in band council elections in any way. They cannot vote or run in band council elections. This means that the band councils, which are registered under the Indian Act, represent only about 20% of Ontario's aboriginal people. The rest of us, the 200,000 off-reserve people, have our own political representatives. Unfortunately, both the governments of Canada and Ontario continually and totally ignore us.

A brief history lesson is necessary for you to understand how' the situation came to he. When settlers from Europe first arrived in the land that you now call Ontario, they found it occupied by powerful, self-governing nations, the Iroquois, the Algonquin, the Ojibway and the Cree. Each nation had its own territory, its own laws and governments and its own culture and values.

As settlers and fur traders came to Ontario, many married Indian wives. Thus, by the mid-1700s, distinct self-governing Metis communities existed throughout Ontario. Our nations welcomed settlers. We merely asked, as any host nation would, that you respect our laws and customs. For a while you did respect our laws and customs, but as more settlers came, you decided that you needed your own government and your own land. We understood this desire and we offered to share our land with you. We therefore made treaties in which each sovereign nation agreed to respect each other's autonomy.

As settlers came to think of themselves as a nation instead of simply as English and French colonists, they eventually sought independence from England. In 1867, England gave Canada its independence, and the Canadian nation, which had developed over only a few generations, became independent. We did not object.

When Canada became independent and self-governing in 1867, it inherited the obligations of the Crown under treaties made with our nations. Unfortunately, Canada almost immediately started breaking its treaties. In 1876, the first Indian Act appeared -- that is only nine years -- and all subsequent versions of it were intended to destroy our governments and our cultures. The Indian Act therefore classified aboriginal people as either status or non-status. Those who were registered as status Indians could live on reserves. Those who were not registered could not. Families and communities were ruthlessly split, all so that we could be assimilated into your superior European society.

When treaties were signed, we had kept some land to ourselves. These lands, called reserves, have shrunk over the years as a result of land grabs by big business and their allies in Ottawa and the provincial capitals. As reserves shrunk they became poorer and poorer. Many Indian and Metis people were therefore forced to leave reserves to find employment. After they had been away a few years, they found themselves removed from the list of status Indians. These people whose parents and grandparents had signed treaties on their behalf now had their treaty rights ignored and trampled on, merely because they were not registered as status Indians under the Indian Act.


Many other Indian people left reserves to attend residential schools, which were also intended to assimilate us. As more and more aboriginal people left reserves out of economic necessity or because they were now stripped of status under the Indian Act, some did assimilate into white society. Many, however, did not give up their rights or their culture when they left reserves. Instead, they became part of many Metis communities which had developed throughout Ontario since the early 1700s. Today, therefore, there are about 200,000 Indian and Metis people living off reserve in Ontario. Some of us are now status Indians because the Indian Act was amended in 1985 to allow some non-status Indians to become registered.

Of the 200,000 off-reserve native people, about 40,000 are status Indians. They are not represented by the registered band councils, however, because they are not allowed to participate in band council politics, and because they have their own communities and their own political organizations. Not all people with Indian blood are aboriginal. When we say there are 160,000 Metis and non-status Indians in Ontario, we mean only those people who have Indian blood, self-identify as native, Indian or Metis, and are considered by a native community to be native.

We are represented at the community level by local associations called locals and at the provincial level by the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association, called OMAA, the umbrella organization of locals. Both Canada and Ontario ignore OMAA, however. For no reason, both governments behave as if only band councils represent aboriginal peoples. Neither government will negotiate land claims with our people. Why? Neither government will recognize our right to decide how our children are cared for and educated. Why? I could go on, but the point is that we are ignored and have never been told why we are ignored.

The most frustrating thing about this is that we are only asking the federal and provincial governments to obey their own laws. Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution recognizes and entrenches the aboriginal and treaty rights of all aboriginal peoples. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that section 35 should be read broadly, yet both governments still refuse all of OMAA's offers to negotiate, to identify our rights and to implement laws which respect our rights. Why? We are not asking for a new constitutional arrangement; we are just asking you to respect the Constitution as it now is.

The new government has made many speeches and promises to us in this regard. All I ask is that you keep your promises and respect our loss. OMAA has made many proposals to Ontario for establishing a forum for negotiating on the identification of the constitutional rights of off-reserve aboriginal peoples and the implementation of new institutions, programs and services which respect those rights. Is it not high time that Ontario accepted OMAA's offers to negotiate?

In the Ontario region there are 23 locals. There are four locals in the Metro area and there are 33 native organizations in Toronto that are service organizations, of which we are one. The Toronto Aboriginal and Metis Association is a community-based organization which tries to provide a referral service to programs and services for native people while keeping a native perspective. We see growth in other areas and are looking for the right challenge.

I would like to name the other groups. They are the Humber Valley Metis and Aboriginal Association, the Metro Metis, York Metis and ourselves. I would also like to mention to the Chair that it has been suggested that the best process for the government to deal with groups in the area would be with democratically elected organizations with a paid membership, or with a formal claims commission with a steering committee.

I guess there is one last thing I would like to add here, because the government is not talking to our main body and the only representative it appears to be talking to are the Chiefs of Ontario; at present they do not represent Metis or non-status people, so I think some effort should be made for the government to deal with us.

Also, funding is a must. Core funding for OMAA as the umbrella organization for Ontario should be a priority for the provincial government, using some sort of fast-track process. Thank you, Mr Chairman, thank you, committee members.

The Chair: Thank you very much, sir. That concludes our session for this morning. We will recess until 2 o'clock this afternoon.

The committee recessed at 1227.


The committee, in part, resumed at 1414 in room 151.

The Chair: Welcome back. We are back in session, and we should point out again for people who are here in the audience and people who will be following these proceedings over the parliamentary network that we have today, in our last day of hearings of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, divided the committee into two halves in order to try to complete the deputants who want to speak to us. The coverage that is going out over the parliamentary network now will be in sections, alternating every hour, roughly, between the two halves of the committee, but also all of the sessions are being taped and will be replayed in complete sequence on Monday and Tuesday of this coming week.

Ms Churley: I cannot wait.

The Chair: So for any of the ones that people out there missed, they can get the whole gamut.


The Chair: We want to start this afternoon with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and to remind speakers again of the 15-minute time limit we have had to place in order to get through, again, as many organizations and people as we can.

Mr Bilideau: My name is Paul Bilideau. I am the communications officer for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and I am here today on behalf of the 105,000 members of our union across Ontario. The president of our union, Fred Upshaw, would have liked to have been here but he had two prior commitments today and he just could not break away. There was some confusion as to when he would be appearing before the committee, so we are sorry he could not be here, but I will present in his stead our brief, which is I think in your hands, entitled The Wolf at the Door: How Federal Cuts Endanger Canada.

It is the position of the union that public service programs form an essential part of the Canadian fabric and indeed the Ontario experience, and it is our position that the current federal government is the main threat to a united Canada, and until the main threat is eliminated, so to speak, we are not going to get anywhere with any kind of constitutional reorganization or a preservation of what we consider is essential in Canada. We believe that in many ways our public service programs and institutions define what Canada is and what Canada could be.

I am not going to read you the entire brief today. I am going to be quite brief, but I will underscore the bottom line again. It is our submission that the biggest threat to Canada is the imminent destruction of our public service system and the biggest destroyer of the system is the current federal government. We contend that the federal government is the main obstacle to the preservation of Canada, and our brief documents the many ways those in power in Ottawa have systematically destroyed the foundation of Canada's public institutions and its social programs. In the name of cutbacks and privatization,

Mulroney's government has sold out Canada to the private interests. Many of them are not part of this country. As the title of our brief indicates, the Mulroney government is the wolf at Canada's door.

We believe that the main threat to Canada's future is not the prospect of a separate Quebec, however onerous that may prove to be. Whatever our brothers and sisters in Quebec decide, we in Ontario and the rest of Canada still have to deal with the main threat. The wolf is at the door. Indeed, the wolf has entered the kitchen and has begun to greedily devour the spoils, the fundamental foundations of Canada, the social programs.

Mulroney and his neoconservative henchmen do not share our vision of Canada. They do not understand the need for universal health and social programs and they seek to destroy them. We contend that public sector programs and institutions can provide Canadians with concrete examples of how the country works, but in the Mulroney years Canada has moved backwards into disaster.

About 3.5 million people in Canada now live in poverty. Poorer citizens are paying more than 75% of their income on shelter alone in the Toronto area. In Toronto 100,000 people a month line up at food banks.

Over the past three years Canadians have witnessed destructive events caused by Ottawa: the free trade agreement with the United States, the crisis at Oka, the failure of the Meech Lake accord. All these were caused, in our opinion, by the current federal government, and now the government wants to go another step further, free trade with Mexico.

We believe that these events are symptoms of the disease that is destroying Canada: a relentless attack by politicians and a neoconservative ideology that is foreign to this country to destroy our fundamental health, social services, education, housing programs, native rights and public corporations.

Mulroney's Bill C-69 is the best example of that. It placed a cap on the Canada assistance plan that transferred payments to the provinces. This week's budget is further proof that the Tories are out to destroy our ability to deliver public programs provincially and municipally.

Public programs are an intrinsic part of our national identity. The government undermines Canada's national identity every time it reduces funding. The government is eliminating programs that bind the country together. If we do not have a federal government, we might as well have 10 countries. A country must represent more than just a flag, a national anthem or a capital city. Citizens must be able to clearly see the value of citizenship and be able to readily identify with the source of the benefits. Programs funded and delivered by government represent the physical evidence of the value of citizenship. The ability to identify the source of public benefits strengthens the bond between the citizen and his country.


The private sector does not give Canada its identity. Multinational corporations are just that; they do not care what country they operate in so long as the wages are low.

They do not foster national identity. In many ways, they work against it. Mulroney is the proof of that. Mulroney, backed by a small group of people who pay only 8.6% of the federal budget, is listening to them 99.9% of the time. Our Canadian identity is reflected in our national institutions and programs. He is getting rid of them.

If we are to preserve our country, we must stop the rape of our social programs and our public institutions. People ask us: "How are we going to pay for that? People already pay too much tax in Canada." We agree that people pay too much tax, but corporations do not. Canada has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the industrial world.

We think that the decline of Canada is best characterized by Mulroney's tax policy. His so-called tax reform placed a greater burden on working people, the members of our union, while rich people and corporations pay less than their fair share, and sometimes nothing at all. According to this week's budget, as I have said, corporations pay only 8.6% of federal taxes, individuals pay most of the rest. In 1984, when Mulroney was first elected, individuals were paying about $3 in income tax for every dollar paid by corporations. Now individuals pay S5 for every dollar paid by corporations. The result is that funding for essential public services falls mainly on the overly taxed low- and middle-income Canadians. This erodes broad public support to pay for public services, the very programs that keep this country together.

No matter what happens in Quebec, Canadians need a government that respects Canada. We need a new economic strategy provincially and federally. Full employment must be the cornerstone of the strategy. The creation of good. secure, well-paying jobs, combined with training, will assure productive use of the workforce.

Through public programs and institutions, the majority of Canadians have enjoyed an improved standard of living. We need new programs to end discrimination in work and pay for women, for immigrants, for visible minorities and for disabled people, and we need to protect our existing services and programs. Only when you do that will Canada regain its appeal for all its citizens. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Are there any questions? Thank you.





The Chair: We have next a joint presentation by four different organizations which have come together, and we have extended the time for that to half an hour. They are the Daily Bread Food Bank, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Child Poverty Action Group and Bread Not Circuses Coalition, if they would come forward now. You can just pull up a couple of additional chairs, if we need them, from the side here.

Mr Sweeney: My name is Derek Sweeney and I am here today to read a statement that was prepared by the Bread Not Circuses Coalition, the Daily Bread Food Bank, the Child Poverty Action Group and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

The four people who will present testimony over the next 30 minutes represent four different antipoverty advocacy groups. All four are separate and have separate perspectives on poverty issues. Children, housing, hunger and the rights of the poor are interrelated issues, but each is also distinct in many ways.

For that reason, we must open this testimony with a protest. We were lumped together to present a joint testimony in what felt to us like an arbitrary manner. Even realizing the time constraints under which we know you are operating, we still believe that, given their complexity, issues of poverty and inequality deserve a more complete hearing. But it feels as if someone said: "Well, these are just the poverty people. We'll put them all together because they are all the same."

Make no mistake, we do have common concerns and we work together on many of these concerns. For instance, we are all concerned that economic and social rights be included in the Constitution. We are also different and want to be seen as distinct. The wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of low-income people across this province, indeed across Canada, deserves something better.

Mr Shapcott: That having been said, my name is Michael Shapcott. With me is Jan Borowy. We are with the Bread Not Circuses Coalition. We have a written presentation, which I understand will be circulated to you. The bulk of our presentation is a series of documents from the European Community to which I will be making some reference.

We wanted in particular to highlight three issues for the committee as you are considering Confederation.

First of all, we wanted to begin with a political concern. We are concerned that issues around the Constitution tend to come up and politicians tend to wrap themselves in the flag at times of economic stress, at times when there are social crises, and they are often used as a way to divert public attention from social issues and social crises. We saw just recently the rather regrettable spectacle of our Prime Minister coming to Toronto and wrapping himself in the flag and saying that he would not preside over the dismantling of this country, only a couple of weeks later to see his Finance minister proceed to dismantle this country and in particular to dismantle social programs, unemployment insurance and so on. We think this kind of double dealing by politicians is regrettable and that the Constitution is often used by politicians as a way to divert public attention.

We think in fact the constitutional question has to be put on its head -- back from its head to its feet -- and that the constitutional process should be geared not to meet the political interests and needs of politicians but the real needs of people and look at the real crises in people's lives.

Therefore, and this is my second point, we believe that any Constitution for Canada, any Charter of Rights for Canada, has to include a social and economic dimension. We think it is quite appropriate that our charter includes rights that affect people in the criminal system and we think it is appropriate that our charter has rights around freedom of expression and so on, but it ignores the biggest reality of most people's lives, and that is the social and economic reality.

Attached to our brief are copies of the original social charter of the European Community, which was originally passed more than 30 years ago, in 1961. We would invite committee members to take some time to read over that, because when you look at the detail of the kinds of social rights, in particular they spent a fair bit of time in their social charter looking at employment issues and workers' rights and they go into such detail as paid maternity leave for women, they guarantee full employment, they talk about vocational programs for workers, they talk about protecting children from moral hazard, and the lists go on and on. It is quite a comprehensive document, especially as it relates to employment issues, and we think that Canada in its constitutional considerations should be looking at expanding the charter to include a social and economic dimension.

In addition in our presentation, we have also included some commentary on the social charter by the European Trade Union Confederation. This was a statement adopted by the executive committee of that confederation in 1988 called Creating the European Social Dimension in the Internal Market. In particular, they talk about the need for what they call incorporating social realities and necessities into the liberal context of free trade. I think that it is especially important in Canada, as we talk about continuing the lunacy of free trade and extending it south to Mexico, that we talk about social realities and social necessities. They talk about social cohesion in this document, and again I would commend to committee members this particular document from the European Trade Union Confederation as raising a number of social and economic issues.

Finally, we have included a document from the European Community, a resolution of the European Parliament dated 13 September 1990, which is its social charter and community action plan, and again, this charter deals with a number of issues. We think that it is quite crucial that as we look at Confederation in Canada we look at extending our charter to include social and economic dimensions.

Finally, I would like to say very briefly that we believe it is important, in addition to looking at substantive issues around social and economic rights, it is also critical that this committee look at extending democratic rights. Under our current charter the only democratic right that is given to Canadians is the right to vote in elections. Beyond that, there are no democratic rights to participate in important decision-making processes of government.

We saw the consequence of that in terms of Meech Lake, where 11 men were locked up in a room and were given the task of redesigning this country. Clearly that was a process most Canadians found abhorrent, but it happens on a daily basis with many other decisions. We think that a charter has to recognize the right of Canadians to participate in decision-making processes. And I say in conclusion that part of that right of participation has to include resources to social advocacy groups and an expansion of the current, very limited program of intervenor funding in various aspects of government issues so that communities can begin to organize, identify in a comprehensive way their needs, their concerns, and be able to make much more effective interventions at the government level.


So we want to say that in addition to substantive rights in terms of a social and economic charter, we also think there has to be a recognition of democratic rights. In addition, these democratic rights have to extend not simply in terms of individuals' dealings with government but also democratic rights in the workplace, democratic rights in the marketplace and even democratic rights in the home sphere. In all those issues, we think it is very, very important that our Constitution take up those concerns.

Ms Borowy: Just following from what Michael has said, Bread Not Circuses has always made two points when we question what the priorities are: First, we have asked which issues are on top of the agenda and in whose terms those issues are actually defined; and, second, we have asked how much control people really have in the decision-making process and how the voices of historically oppressed people -- from the native community, francophones, labour, women, different race and ethnic groups, gays and lesbians -- have been heard.

Unfortunately, although the Silipo commission appears to be a step in the right direction, we would argue that to simply focus on historically defined questions of biculturalism, of francophones versus anglophones, and on questions of region is in fact a misguided approach to understanding our Constitution. Our argument, following from what Michael has said, is that we have to recognize that we are in a time of crisis, and that crisis is not a constitutional one but a crisis of everyday living. There are as many as 20,000 people homeless in the city of Toronto alone. As Gerard will explain, there are over 120,000 people lining up at food banks each month. There is a plant shutting down at the rate of one a week, at least in Toronto, and what is happening is that the industrial and manufacturing base is being replaced by short-term, low-wage service and tourist sector jobs.

So our point is simply this, that in the face of this crisis of everyday living we should not be concentrating on the new cultural megaproject of trying to figure out where francophones fit in, where the different regions fit in, but we have to refocus the entire debate in terms of basic social and economic questions. Following from that, we are arguing that we need a very specific social and economic charter to take over the dominant discussion and that part and parcel with that is the refocusing of democratic rights through the use of intervenor funding which puts real resources into people's hands, directly into their hands, as the process that has to be followed up.

Having said that, it is over to Colin.

Mr Hughes: Hi, my name is Colin Hughes and I am with the Child Poverty Action Group.

Canadians have become increasingly aware of the fact of child poverty and its terrible consequences. Children are the single-largest group of poor people in Canada today. On average, one Canadian child in six faces the risk of the theft of their future. There is nothing mysterious about child poverty or why it exists: Children are poor because their parents are poor. Children are poverty's youngest victims.

Poverty and inequality are interrelated, and this should be a primary concern for Canadians. Children in low-income families, aboriginal children and children from economically deprived regions of Canada have been the primary victims. Canada has already agreed to international laws on economic, social and cultural rights and the rights of children. These laws assert rights around an adequate standard of living, adequate food, clothing, housing, health, education, child care and so on. Entrenching economic and social equality in Canada should be a basic aspiration of the people of Ontario.

In November 1989 members of Parliament voted unanimously in favour of a motion to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000. To achieve this goal, national policies will need to be in place by the year 1996. Eliminating child poverty in Canada requires the introduction of effective social and economic policies that can address the economic conditions of families with children. A social floor of economic opportunities and public entitlements would endow families, would keep them in the economic mainstream and would keep them from falling into poverty in the first place.

The following are essential national policies: first, a social floor of economic opportunities consisting of adequate employment income, government income security programs and a fair and progressive taxation system that recognizes the presence of children; second, appropriate and affordable family housing; third, universally accessible, high-quality child care and parental and family responsibility leave; and, finally, access to essential health and social services that are racially and culturally sensitive.

The province of Ontario must adopt and promote public policies aimed at eliminating child poverty as a nationally shared interest. This is all the more important given that this federal government is headed in the opposite policy direction. The federal government has been dismantling existing social policies, particularly those that support families. For example, the federal government has de-indexed family allowances and introduced the claw-back, it has cut back on unemployment insurance by making fewer people eligible and it has capped the Canada assistance plan. There are other examples. The recent federal government announcement of further cuts to national programs makes matters even worse. The dismantling of Canada's social programs creates greater economic hardship for families with children. Instead of working to eliminate child poverty, this federal government's policies will increase the incidence, depth and persistence of child poverty. To quote the Vancouver-based group End Legislated Poverty, `if the federal government wants to end child poverty, stop creating it."

There are also implications for national unity. Canada's social programs are among the strings that bind us together as a nation. Ensuring comparable program standards and portability nationally in areas such as income security, health care and education is a very concrete example of nationhood for most people. To decrease the federal contribution and role in these programs will lead to a patchwork of programs and entitlements across Canada and this will provide less reason to be committed to Canada. The federal government simply cannot have it both ways. They cannot simultaneously unify and dismember a country. Ontario should provide leadership in convincing the federal government to play a unifying role.

We thank the select committee for allowing us a few moments to advocate that eliminating poverty nationally, which translates into social and economic justice, be an important consideration of Ontario in Confederation.

Mr Kennedy: My name is Gerard Kennedy. I am with an organization called the Daily Bread Food Bank. We welcome this limited opportunity to take part in the committee and hope to bring to you a perspective that may not be coming up from any other source. Only part of that is the work that we do on a day-to-day basis.

You are looking at the Constitution, the future of Canada. For the people who are attending food banks, for the people who are serving them on the other side of the counter, it seems very distant and very removed, yet there is a palpable feeling that there has to be something in your mandate today that is worth fighting for.

When you look at the challenge that is presented today, an extra 50,000 children attending food banks in the last six months, we have something in the order of 590,000 people -- 225,000 children -- part of a food bank experience in this country in the past year, and Ontario has 108,000 of those children. In this province 275,000 Ontarians are begging for food because of our lack of national social and community purpose.

I would not concede my ability to represent certainly the people who are turning to food banks, but my observation from the window that food banks provide on natural hardship in our community is that that leadership is a component that has to be factored into any way you frame your findings from the hearings you are holding. There is a strong feeling on the part of the people that they are disfranchised, that it is a complete disfranchisement when in this type of modern society we reach below a certain level of economic entitlement. The definition of that, whether it reaches into a charter or an elaborate charter of the type that was mentioned by Michael Shapcott, needs to be considered not just on the sour or negative aspect of deteriorating social conditions but on a positive basis. We have to decide where we are going to agree, and the fundamentals that we talk about as a country cannot be more fundamental than that, than providing for those who are most vulnerable.

When we look across the cross-section of people who have been disfranchised by social and economic policies over the last several years, the undereducated, the people who have health and family circumstances which make them vulnerable, it adds up to an aggression on the part of the rest of society that does not fit well with the way those people were led to believe they could participate in society.


The other perspective I would bring in, perhaps with a little bit more confidence, is on the side of a constituency of people out there who are bloody well concerned with the state of the country, and those are the kind of people who have been, by some sort of act of nature, almost supporting the food banks. There is nothing organized or industrialized about the food bank industry. It is happening because it taps into a reservoir that you should really be aware of. It is an attitude on the part of citizens in this country that we can do much, much, much better than giving people handouts, that there is something missing not just from the traditions that we have talked about, as having a kinder, gentler country, but for the forward direction of where we are going to go.

There are not dozens of those people; there are hundreds and thousands of people who have taken part in food drives. And they are doing it -- and in recent times it is even more pronounced -- not just for their own feelings of self-worth; it really is based out of almost a desperate need to help define this country in terms of its attitudes towards all of its citizens. That feeling is, again, something very palpable that we are a conduit for at food banks. It is something that you need to be aware of, and yet we are stymied in terms of where government leadership is going to take us in terms of its authority to implement programs. Rather than look at things on a fiscal, economic, calculated accountant-type basis, there need to be some values in terms where we are going to present ourselves, and that is what people are at the same time distrusting government to bring forward in terms of being able to spend their money and bring about those results and yet desperately looking for.

If you want to understand the food bank phenomenon, one of those is as an outlet for that type of almost anxious need on the part of many, many Canadians. The social human dimension needs to have a framework, and it needs to be part of the basic framework. I strongly believe, out of my seven years of involvement in this field, that is something that many Canadians are yearning for. It cuts across language and geographic barriers. When we look at the overall context of trying to adapt with a level of humanitarianism to the rapid changes that are taking place economically and socially, we need to have a framework where people are sure of plugging in, of participating. As food banks, as people who have been seeing a tragedy happening on a day-to-day basis, we have not had that place to plug in. There is a very poor sense that there is a way for people to listen, that there is a way for active people to participate. We have doctors, lawyers, engineers and poor people working side by side packing food. That energy has to go someplace else. It has to have a place in whatever you come up with as a framework, and you as a committee have to not be afraid to talk about values and the dimensions of things that other people would call soft and fuzzy.

Because it is not all going to be done legally, it is not all going to be done economically, and when the proposition time comes to speak to Quebec and to the other parts of the country, things like a national plan to deal with poverty and, as was said, a social floor of entitlements for this country should be put on the table. Ontario should be prepared to make that a national issue, a binding national issue, because the jurisdictionism around social programs and the balkanization there has already taken place. and it is part of the lassitude that people have in terms of their confidence in this country. I think you will find those kinds of views if you make the time and take the time to listen to more of the people who are affected by poverty and more of the people who have taken an active interest in it. I would certainly recommend to you on the rest of your agenda to make an extra effort to involve more groups than the ones that are before you today.

Ms Hayes: My name is Marnie Haves and I am speaking on behalf of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty this afternoon. For those of you who do not know, the coalition against poverty is made up of a number of grass-roots antipoverty groups across the province, and we are here, as are, I guess, all the other groups on your agenda this afternoon, many of them, to speak to you about the growing situation of poverty. The groups that were before me quoted many statistics that sort of set the tone to remind you of the crisis situation of poverty that we have in Ontario and in Canada at this time. We would like to say that as the federal government proceeds with its conservative agenda we believe it is incumbent on Ontario to take the lead in ensuring that the right to adequate housing, food and clothing is afforded to all the citizens of Ontario.

As we look at justice and equality in our Constitution, they are very important elements in our democratic society, and our right to be protected from discrimination, as enshrined in both the Constitution and in the Ontario Human Rights Code, is a very noble principle. However, concepts like equality and freedom and things that have been pointed out by the people before me, those terms can be mere rhetoric to a single mother, for example, who is living on welfare and who is required to get a letter of permission from her welfare worker in order to get a bag of groceries from the local food bank to feed her children. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms must serve all the people of Canada, by guaranteeing economic and social rights as well as civil and political rights. Different schemes have been outlined before me. I believe someone spoke to you this morning about the fact that Canada and Ontario are signatories to the United Nations declaration on economic, social and cultural rights. We believe that Ontario, starting with this committee, should take the lead in pointing that out and in using that as a mechanism to ensure all Ontarians the right to adequate housing, food and clothing.

I am wearing a button that says, "Housing is a Right," but in fact housing -- as we see, there are more than 40,000 homeless people living in Ontario -- is not indeed a right. We believe that it is clearly a question of priorities and political will in order to alleviate poverty in this province, and while the elimination of poverty can be done in Ontario, we believe Ontario must take a clear stand in doing that.

In terms of the Constitution and in terms of this committee's mandate, we believe it is important that you consider the rights of all citizens, but at the same time we believe that the upcoming provincial budget should be a place where the government puts its money where its mouth is, so to speak, and actually puts money into alleviating the suffering that poor people are dealing with on a daily basis right now.

For example, the Ontario government should put more money into affordable housing and into increasing the welfare rates, as well as enshrining rights into the Constitution, but actually put money immediately into those priorities.

The Chair: Are there other speakers? We will have time for questions, actually. I appreciate the fact that you have left some time.

Let me just say to you that we accept the criticism at the beginning of your presentation in asking you to come together in this way, but let me also say to you that I think, having listened to what you have told us, that from our perspective as a committee it has actually been more powerful and more useful for that to have happened, because you have focused for us very clearly an area that I think we recognize we need to spend more time on. Although we had heard from other organizations throughout our hearings on some of the issues you have discussed, bringing organizations like yours that deal with the effect of poverty on people and different kinds of people, from children to families to adults, together in this way has been quite useful for us.

I have a question in terms of some process we want to follow, but I want to let the other members of the committee get their questions in first.

Mr Beer: Thank you for the presentation. I would just concur that I think having all in one fell swoop really allows us to focus on it.

Two things: When we deal with the Constitution issue it can often sound sort of airy-fairy, something that only certain people deal with. But I think in terms of the mandate of this committee and what we were asked to go out and do, we were to find out what people's economic and social concerns were. I think that was done with a point, so what you were talking about is every bit as valid as constitutional material, if you like, as the more traditional things, and I think there is an acceptance by all of us that those are areas we have to deal with, and Michael, the things you drew our attention to, I think we have to look at those.


I would only say that as we do that, which is, if you like, perhaps somewhat new, or at least we have not done that much of it, we still do have to grapple with some of the more perhaps standard issues that have faced us in the country, because with all of the problems you have referred to, it is my view that in the event that Quebec separated, the consequences of that for the whole country, certainly in the short and middle term, would just exacerbate every economic and social issue and problem we are facing in terms of all of those unknowns.

I guess my only point is that I think what you are speaking to is very much at the heart of what we are doing and I think when we come to our final report we are going to have to be dealing with some of those issues, because we are talking about values.

Again, Gerard, when you talked about the sort of energy and the people you see through your window, both those who are using the food banks and those who come and work and provide their time and effort, the kinds of concerns they are expressing -- I mean, those are real. They are being expressed by other people who come before us.

So I think it is important to meet you, I hope, at that point where you are speaking from.

The issue, then, is the extent to which, in enshrining those economic and social rights within the Constitution versus the things that, quite frankly, we could be doing or ought to be doing, whether it was us pre-September 6 or the present government, in terms of alleviating the broad range of poverty concerns that you speak to -- would I be right in saying that the key thing about having those enshrined as they have in Europe is simply that it means there is something to really speak to, something to link the legislative proposals, the government programs and policies you want to see us follow, because in fact you can go back to that charter and show very clearly, "Look, there's a reference to a right to housing," to certain economic rights that may be spelled out, whatever those would be?

Mr Shapcott: If I could take up that issue -- maybe George wants to jump in as well -- I think it is important to say that one of the reasons these need to be identified as issues is first of all to even get on the public agenda. At the moment there is a certain view that seems to be a dominant view, within the federal government anyway, that poverty is the fault of the individual, that people merely need to exert a bit of initiative and they can lift themselves by their bootstraps, and we hear that in 100 different ways. The actual process of putting these rights into the Constitution is saying no, these are in fact broad issues which society is broadly concerned about, and when there are poor people in our society it is not simply something a poor person needs to be concerned about but is in fact a social concern,

It is quite true that the mere fact of putting these kinds of rights into charters does not solve the problem. I would be willing to guess that in Europe there are all sorts of pressing social, political and economic issues, notwithstanding all of the wonderful language they have in their various social charters, both the old one and the most recent one. Nevertheless, it provides an important focus.

But I think we also have to understand -- and we tried to make this point perhaps too quickly in our presentation, Gerard made some reference to this in his presentation -- that you have to couple rights with resources for people to be able to realize those rights in very tangible ways, that it does no good simply to give rights in the abstract and then not give people the ability to access them. When you were minister I am sure you found this to be the case: The voice of poor people in our society is a very marginalized voice, it is often very silent, and what is needed is to provide resources to allow poor people to begin to more clearly articulate both their concerns and, more important, to be part of the agents for the solution. So we think that enshrining both substantive rights and also democratic rights, expanding the notion of democratic rights and resources to realize those rights, will in fact move us ahead very, very substantially.

Ms Borowy: I would also just like to pick up the point of democratic rights. Part of that is the right to self-determination, and if we are to extend that most fully, that may include the people of Quebec. Workers of Quebec and others of Quebec may say, "To meet our full nature, to empower ourselves, to meet our creative potential, our route may be very different than the one joining Canada."

So part and parcel of our point around democratic rights is, first, that those democratic rights are more than simply enshrined, that actual resources are given to people directly, as Michael has spoken to, and second, that is to recognize the right of self-determination. That means that instead of listening to the insurance companies and others which have traditionally gotten the voice because they have the resources, it is absolutely crucial that a wider variety of people, of repressed groups, have those rights and the right to determine what they want to do with their lives.

Mr Kennedy: In a society like this, where you have a minority poverty population, like any other minority you have to talk about rights they can depend on. The sensibilities of the average Canadian are the type that you have to put them on the spot in order to get an answer about how important something like poverty and hunger is. It is the kind of thing you could settle; you could make part of a constitutional discussion, you could make that have something that was an entitlement that people can draw on when they enter into that realm of disfranchisement.

I do not think a glory statement in the Constitution is something that should be sought. What I would recommend is that, based on the side of so many people who have been put on that spot, challenged to say what they would believe in -- it has been a standing assumption, and unfortunately what we have found in the last several years is that the assumption that Canada provides, that there is compassion and caring and beyond that some sense of justice, has been proven to be false.

If you look at just what has happened to the Canada assistance plan, legislation that was a point of departure in 1967 is not good enough, because what the Supreme Court rules on that may show us that we do not have even that practical feature. We do not have, in 10 years of a Charter of Rights, a single challenge on socioeconomic status. We do not have protection for discrimination against people on socioeconomic grounds. Those are practical, meat and potato things that could be employed on a day-to-day basis and used.

The other thing I would like to add is that while self-determination can be brought right down to the community level, I think we also have to have mind for what fundamental things would be part of any agreement between peoples, and I think the social nature -- some basic definition of that is something I would strongly recommend would both find support and is necessary right across the country.

Ms Churley: I think you answered my question when somebody said you have to couple rights with resources, so I will not ask the question. What I will say is, thanks for putting what I believe this is all about in perspective. Somebody said it seems like it is all soft and fuzzy, and we talk about asymmetrical democracy and amending formulas and things like that a lot, and there is a sense that if you talk about, say, the soft and fuzzy, then you are not serious and you are not really to be taken seriously. I guess I just wanted to say that you have put it in perspective and what this is really all about is for people.

So my question now is, given that this is the beginning of a process of bringing people in, do you have any recommendations, or do you want to think about that, beyond what you have said about the process from here on in, in terms of making sure that the voices you are talking about are heard and that this does not get lost in the shuffle?

The Chair: Let me mention before you answer, because that was along the lines of what I wanted to ask, and maybe explain, because it might help in terms of how you address that point, the hearings that will conclude today for us will lead to an interim report that we will put together by 21 March. Following that and the end of June, there will be as part of our process some further discussions. We are at the point in the next couple of weeks of trying to think about what kind of shape that process of discussion should take, and one of the things we have begun to take a look at are ways of bringing people from different particular perspectives and interests and constituencies together, just to put that in a framework in asking for your feedback on that.


Mr Shapcott: This is something Bread Not Circuses has felt very strongly about for some time. Indeed, when our coalition formed, as people may be aware, our concerns were about some megaprojects being proposed in the city of Toronto. Marilyn Churley was on the city council. Our principal concern then was that people had been effectively excluded form the process, and one of the big issues that we were working with Marilyn Churley on when she was on council, and others, was to try to create an effective process to allow people to have some sort of meaningful role in the process and not just simply to be a token consultation and then off in whatever direction the politicians were intending to go anyway.

We think there are a number of elements that are useful in terms of an ongoing process that provides some meaningful intervention on the part of people. We think in essence it has to be seen as a two-way process, that there is a responsibility that this government and this committee has to communicate information out to people to identify issues this committee through its work to date and the government have identified as being concerns they want people to consider. So information flyers in a variety of forms and languages and so on to get information out to people and to be widely distributed is certainly a first part of the process.

We think there has to be some provision made for something that, for lack of a better word, we have called in the past and we called at the city of Toronto "intervenor funding." What we mean by intervenor funding is the kind of practical resources to allow communities of interest to be able to come together, to, if necessary, hire experts to look into issues they think are important, but more important, just to give them the practical resources to come together within their own community of interests to study issues and then to begin to propose solutions and make proposals to the committee. We think that will then make this a two-way process. It is not simply this committee and this government and the Legislature sending material out into the great void, but it is also people out in various communities having the ability and the resources to be able to create a more articulate response and feed material back in.

That is what we mean by a two-way process, and call it an intervenor fund if you want. That seems to be something familiar to government because it does that in other issues. Whether it is energy hearings or so on, it allows communities of interest to organize themselves and to make more effective interventions. We think that is part of it.

We certainly think there is a need for an ongoing consultation process that may include as part of it information hearings and other formal hearings along this line, but we would also say that this process only gets you a certain distance.

Jan may want to jump in in terms of specifics, but I think what we found in terms of our work with the city of Toronto was that although we do not think the process ultimately was a perfect process, it certainly was an attempt to create a two-way flow of information to get important information into the hands of people in a form that was accessible and available to them and to give people the resources to be able to respond and feed back in the process. So we think that is what is necessary.

Ms Borowy: I would just like to add that on page 3 of our brief we have outlined -- the other hat, I should mention, I wear is that I am a political scientist, a graduate student up at York University, and the point I would like to make is a historical one in supporting the notion of direct intervenor funding and resources going straight into the hands of the various repressed and marginalized groups.

Historically Canada has been largely divided along regional lines, so that has meant that many of the marginalized groups have so often advocated positions based on issues of region, and it seems to me that one thing that is absolutely crucial is that the marginalized groups from Ontario -- the poor, women, workers -- are able to consistently talk to each other across this country and across other provinces as they begin to define what is most urgent.

Now the social charter is one point, and it can be seen as a very important starting point for those discussions, but what then needs to happen is the final resources, to even simply send out mailings, which is something that many people forget is an extraordinarily expensive process, to even begin that process must be done with very direct resources. One idea we used to throw around was the notion of conference calls. For a businessman it is very simple; you pick up the phone and you organize a conference call. Marginalized people do not have that option, so we need firm and concrete resources directly into the hands of many of the groups to start to organize along these questions.

The Chair: Any other comments?

Mr Kennedy: I would just reflect that Mr Beer was part of a meeting that was organized by various community groups, people on welfare and people who had some observations: 200 people showed up and I think gave a perspective at a church downtown.

I think there are two things. You are going to have to make the invitation and you are going to have to do it in a way that is meaningful, because most of the people we are talking about in terms of the people who need to be factored in are not organized, and some considerable effort has to go into that; not necessarily making them organized, but getting access to them. Going to them is one way you can do that, and going to them in a straight up fashion that starts to speak to the sense of disfranchisement they feel.

However, making the invitation means your recognition that that point of view is important, and I would include in this the people who are in the church and community groups that are holding up the end for governments that cannot make up their mind whether they want to support basic social programs or not. You are going to have to reach out to them. You are going to have to show them that your concerns include that feature of society, and I do not think right now anybody would associate the constitutional dialogue with social conditions in this country. I think you, as elected politicians, have both a moral and an obvious responsibility to do that.

The Chair: Once again, thanks very much. You have put before us, as I said before, very clearly some important issues that I think we need to address very squarely. I expect that we will be talking to you directly about some of the details of how we can approach both the issues and the process around some of those suggestions you have given to us.



The Chair: I invite our next presenters, the Communist League candidates for mayor of Toronto and Montreal.

Mr Dugré: Mr Chair, members of the committee, I would like to start first with a few words in French.

Je m'appelle Michel Dugré. J'étais candidat de la Ligue communiste aux élections à la mairie de Montréal qui urn eu lieu à l'automne dernier et je suis membre des Métallurgistes unis d'Amérique. Ici à mes cöté il y a Joe Young, qui est le candidat de la Ligue communiste aux élections à la mairie qui vont avoir lieu à Toronto cet automne et il est membre de l'Association internationale des machinistes.

On a pensé que c'était important qu'un syndicaliste comme moi et un travailleur québécois viennent ici en Ontario pour défendre les droits des Québécois, en particulier contre les politiques qui ont été suivies jusqu'à maintenant par le gouvernement de l'Ontario.

One aspect of these policies is the denial by the Ontario government of the right of Québécois to determine their own future. But the support among Québécois for Quebec sovereignty has now reached the highest level ever. In a poll that was published last Saturday, 83% of Québécois questioned said they were supporting either a form of very profound autonomy of Quebec inside the Canadian federation or Quebec independence, which was totally new. So far the governments outside Quebec, especially in Ottawa and Toronto, have said they would never accept separation of Quebec.

The first point to make on that is that the question of the future of Quebec will not be decided or determined by the Ontario government or the Canadian government. This is not to these governments to decide on the future of Quebec. That is the fundamental question. The question is who is going to decide, and we say that Québécois alone should have the right to decide their own future.

The government of Ontario has expressed concern about the rights of anglophones in Quebec, and many politicians in Canada, both in Quebec and outside Quebec, have expressed support for the rights of oppressed nationalities in the Soviet Union, for example. The hypocrisy of this position is just to illustrate once again that, closer to home, the same politicians do not respect the rights of oppressed nationalities either in Quebec or here with the Franco-Ontarian, who do not have one tenth of the rights of the anglophones in Quebec.


What is at stake here is not a question of minority, it is not a question of provinces' rights or power, it is not a question of geography or territory. It is above all essentially a question of democracy. Do we support the right of oppressed nationalities in Canada to decide their own future? That is the question; there is nothing else. And we say that from Lithuania to Quebec, we support the rights of all oppressed nations to determine their own future.

Québécois are an oppressed nationality that suffers systematic discrimination simply because we are a French-speaking minority within Canada. In 1985, anglophones in Quebec earned on average more than $3,000 more than francophones. Even unilingual anglophones earned more than bilingual francophones. In 1968, while the population of Quebec represented a little bit more than a quarter of the population in Canada, almost one third of all Canadians living below the poverty line lived in Quebec and 36.6% of those living on welfare were also living in Quebec.

Since this country was founded, Québécois have never had the governmental powers necessary to overcome the systematic oppression. They never had the right to freely determine their own future. For example, the British North America Act of 1867 imposed a segregated school system on Quebec divided along both language and religious lines. At the same time, it declared any efforts by the people of Quebec to change this segregated and religious character of its schools, including according to the Constitution of 1982, unconstitutional. It is because of this systematic denial of their rights within the Canadian federal system that today the large majority of Québécois support the demand for political sovereignty.

Reflecting this reality, the Quebec Liberal Party in Allaire's report proposed that the Quebec government be granted full sovereignty over 22 areas of government jurisdiction currently shared with or under the domain of Ottawa. We support these demands as the minimum necessary for recognition of Quebec's rights. The idea of a cross-Canada referendum to determine Quebec's relationship to Canada is completely undemocratic. It is only the people of Quebec who should have the right to decide their own future relationship to Canada.

In the same vein, we also support the rights of native peoples, whose land was stolen from them, initially by this country's British and French colonial rulers and subsequently by the government of the new Canadian Confederation. The majority of the native peoples in this country live in Third World conditions. They are subjected to systematic. institutionalized racism. The rate of unemployment is extremely high. The life expectancy is eight years less than the average for the Canadian population as a whole. We fully support native land claims and demands for political sovereignty, which are preconditions for their capacity to overcome the degrading system of oppression that has been imposed on them by force and violence.

Now Joe will end this presentation.

Mr Young: Mr Chair, committee members, my name is Joe Young. I am the Communist League candidate for mayor of Toronto.

First I would like to say I agree entirely with what Michel said on the right of the Québécois to determine their own future with no outside interference.

Today the Globe and Mail reports that Robert Rae has refused to make Ontario a bilingual province, and I would like to condemn that stand, which is also the stand of all the other parties in the Legislature, a stand that refuses to recognize the rights of Franco-Ontarians. At the same time, the Premier and the other parties dare to lecture Quebec on staying in Canada.

Franco-Ontarians, as I am sure this committee has heard many times, are subjected to discrimination on the basis of their language, as are francophones across Canada. This committee has been the witness to the chauvinist campaign of various groups that campaign for so-called English rights. But the fact is, as Michel explained, while anglophones in Quebec enjoy a wide range of rights and privileges -- except for blacks, for example -- Franco-Ontarians continue to be assimilated in large numbers because of the oppression of their rights.

A majority of Franco-Ontarian children do not have access to French-language schools. The rate of illiteracy is much higher among Franco-Ontarians. Far fewer finish high school, university. They are concentrated in unskilled, low-paying jobs. They suffer from higher unemployment.

The facts are clear. This is why the Communist League supports recognizing French as an official language in Ontario. We call for the extension of the public French-language school system on all levels, including community colleges and universities, that is, French-language universities, French-language community colleges. We think that French-language schools should be built wherever there is a demand for them and not with this limit that exists now of where there are 5,000 francophones or 10% of the population. The teaching of a second language should be available wherever there is a need for it.

We also think there should be affirmative action programs to ensure that Franco-Ontarians have access to better-paying jobs.

Taking a stand against discrimination in this country must also include the defence of our Arab brothers and sisters who are being subjected to arrest and harassment in the context of Washington-London-Ottawa's war against the people of Iraq. For example, two Iraqis have been held since 9 January right here in Toronto by order of Barbara McDougall, who is the Minister of Employment and Immigration, despite the fact that an immigration adjudicator ordered their release, and scores of homes of people of Arab origin have been visited by agents of CSIS, which is Canada's political police.

The fact is that there is a long history in Canada of fighters for the rights of Québécois, the rights of native people, people who oppose war, unionists, being spied upon and harassed by police agencies. The dirty tricks of the RCMP against the Quebec independence movement are very well known. We know also that CSIS has extensive files on the peace movement, on unionists, that native people are continually being spied upon, harassed, if not arrested and even killed by the police.

I myself am a victim of CSIS harassment at the airport, where I work for Air Canada, and I am a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. For 16 months I have been denied security clearance at the airport. I have been interrogated by two CSIS agents who asked me questions about my political views, about my sexual orientation and other questions.

Here is just a little example of the kind of questions they posed. They asked me, "Are you an adherent of or in favour of the democratic system of government as practised in Canada?" I asked them, "What is the purpose of that?" "Well, for example, if you're not a proponent of the system of government we enjoy here and you supported a foreign government which espoused a political ideology which was a threat to ours, you may be willing to work for that government against Canada." I replied that that was not a pertinent question; they did not have the right to ask me that question. In fact I have copies of this interrogation which I got from CSIS, if committee members or others here want to see it.

So I feel that part of recognizing the rights of those who suffer discrimination and oppression in this country is putting an end to this victimization. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you very much, sir. Are there any questions?

Mr Beer: I think a lot of the rights you speak to are certainly valid ones and ones that we are concerned about. I have to take exception at least to what I understand you to say about Quebec and the rest of the country in terms of the discussions we are going through right now. It seems to me very legitimate and I can see having not only an interest but a democratic interest in talking with my friends and relatives and others in Quebec about a decision that at some point they may well vote on. I have not heard anybody saying that Quebec does not have a right to have a referendum regarding its future, and clearly, even if we were to say, "You can't do that," they could go ahead and do it. But we are still at this point all Canadians. We are still part of the same country, and I do not think it is a question of interference if individual Canadians want to become involved in that debate and to work in a democratic and open way with other Quebeckers who may bring about a decision different from separation. I may have misunderstood you, but it seemed to me that you were suggesting that we had no legitimate role in that decision, and it seems to me we do.


Mr Dugré: I think discussing this question outside Quebec is good. It is extremely important. In fact, I am absolutely convinced that in the end we will succeed in convincing the vast majority of the population outside Quebec of the right of Québécois to decide and determine their own future. I think having this discussion is good.

But the fact is that this right to decide is not recognized to Québécois, and the experience of the last 10 years -- not to go back to the conscription crisis of 1942, but just the last 10 years -- shows that. Every step that has been made by the Canadian government and other governments in Canada was to reduce the rights of Québécois, not to increase their rights. The Constitution of 1982, the heart of that new so-called democratic Constitution, was to reduce the rights of the Québécois on the central question, the right to control education and language, clause 23 of the famous Charter of Rights. And even the little things that were in the Meech Lake agreement were denied to the Québécois, and for many people outside Quebec, because there was too much given to the Québécois. It is these experiences, this experience of the so-called democratic Constitution of 1982 -- what was its real content -- and the experience of Meech Lake and the experience of the Canadian Supreme Court denying the right of the Quebec government to legislate on language. Denying the content of law 101, for example, is just that, a denying of the right of Québécois to decide for themselves, and that is the history of Canada. That is why a vast majority of people today in Quebec support the sovereignty of Quebec, because they do not see any other solution inside this federal system.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you for presenting to us today.

I just want to clarify two points specifically. You talked about the rights of francophone Ontarians being in a worse state than anglophones in Quebec, even though we do have Bill 101 and Bill 178 in Quebec and those in many ways deny anglophones' rights. You drew that parallel. I would like you to clarify that, and also the second point: you have said that you think the committee should consider the rights of the choice of freedom preference for any political group, that that should be entrenched in the Constitution. Is that right?

Mr Young: Could you just repeat that last question?

Mr Malkowski: You were saying that you wanted the committee to put within the Constitution that any group should be allowed to have preference to appoint any political group. Is that correct?

Mr Young: Preference to appoint any political group?

Mr Malkowski: You had talked about CSIS agents and so on harassing you and that you should have a right to any political views.

Mr Young: Okay. First, on the situation of anglophones -- other than blacks, who I do think suffer discrimination in Quebec -- I do not agree with Bill 178, which says that exterior signs can only be in French. I think that is a violation of democratic rights and that as long as signs are in French in Quebec, I think people should be able to put signs up in any language that they wish. I think that is a democratic position to take.

That being said, when you look at the position of anglophones in Quebec, and I lived there for 15 years, and you look at the institutions that are available, the whole separate school system in English, the hospitals and so on, it is very clear that the situation of anglophones in Quebec is not one of denial of rights but in fact their socioeconomic position, their wages, unemployment, you name it, is much better than, for example, Franco-Ontarians, who do suffer, in my opinion, a very serious discrimination. Any comparison I think will show that.

On the question of political views, certainly I do not think anyone should be harassed, spied upon, what have you, for their political views. I mean, CSIS has alleged no criminal acts, nothing of this kind. All this has to do with my political opinions, my personal life. They asked me about my sexual proclivity; I do not know where they found that particular word. That is a violation of rights, for example, of people who are gay in this country to say that, "You might be a risk to the security of this country because of your sexual orientation, because of your political views and so on." I think it is outrageous that someone should be denied security clearance working at the airport, where it is a real problem for my work, and I am not the only one. Other members of my union, the international association of machinists, have been subjected to this. My union has taken this up and it is continuing to fight this, but I think it is something that should clearly be an established right in this country.

The Chair: Okay, thank you very much. We will end there.

Mr Young: Thank you.


The Chair: Could I invite next representatives from Persons United for Self-Help.

Mr Decter: My name is Richard Decter. I am here in the place of Francine Arsenault, who is the co-ordinator of PUSH, who has a family emergency. We also would like to apologize before we start for not having our brief. We have had a few computer problems in preparing it, but one will be forthcoming.

I would like to introduce John Southern, who is on staff at PUSH, and also Sam Savona, who is also on staff at PUSH. John and I are going to be speaking on behalf of our organization. I think that the most important thing to start with is to have John introduce, to those who are not familiar with us, what Persons United for Self-Help is.

Mr Southern: Could I ask the committee to introduce itself? I would just like to know how many people I am talking to and things like that.

Mr F. Wilson: Fred Wilson. I am MPP for Frontenac-Addington, which is down by Kingston area.

Mr Malkowski: Gary Malkowski, you are hearing from the right, but I am sitting on the left.

The Acting Chair (Ms Churley): And I am Marilyn Churley, who has taken over the Chair from Tony Silipo, who had to walk out for a few minutes.

Mr Beer: I am Charles Beer from York North, and, John, we have had the pleasure of meeting before. Nice to see you again.

Mr Southern: Thank you very much. Just for those who do not know, and I know Gary could tell you this, could do my presentation for me probably, PUSH Ontario is cross-disability. That means we are made up of all disabilities, as many as we can get involved, anyway, of disabled people in the province of Ontario. We are a provincial-wide organization. We have been formed for 10 years now.

I guess the major difference in our group is that we try to ensure that persons with disabilities control their own lives, have their own say in their own lives and lobby or advocate for themselves for what they think is important. Up until the mid-1970s, there was no such thing as self-help, or very little of it, for disabled people in Canada, and I think the self-help movement has achieved a lot, although we have still got a long way to go. The only groups that were around were groups for disabled people. We are of disabled people. I think there is a big difference that needs to be made. The groups for disabled people, like the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the March of Dimes, are charitable organizations that provide services to disabled people but for the most part have never involved disabled people in the major decision-making in their organizations. I guess we thought that was wrong, and that is why we decided, various disabled people in the province, to try and right that somewhat and advocate on our own behalf.

PUSH links nationally to a group called the Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped. COPOH is a co-ordinating body that tries to bring all the provincial groups together on issues of importance. COPOH has made presentations nationally on the Constitution, and Richard will highlight some of their presentations in his presentation.

I will pass it over to Richard Decter. We have tried to decide what he actually is, but I guess he co-ordinates and manages our office and tries to keep us all in check, although sometimes we have to keep him in check.


Mr Decter: I think one of the first things to point out is that it is doubly important that people with disabilities be directly represented in the process of reform of the Constitution, because people with disabilities are discriminated against on a regular basis in the electoral process and chronically underrepresented in the Legislature. Despite the presence of Mr Malkowski here, that is true even in the Ontario Legislature. Statistically, between 10% and 14% of the general population has a significant disability. If between 10% and 14% of the Ontario Legislature had a significant disability, we would be dealing with more than a dozen members.

More pertinent, perhaps, is that, believe it or not, even as we are sitting here the city of Toronto has appealed to the Legislative Assembly for an exemption to the Municipal Act so that polling stations will not have to be made wheelchair-accessible in the next municipal election. If one assumes that in a democracy the right to govern rests on the consent of the governed, this is a direct attempt to make the system undemocratic, or not to make it democratic. I am certainly hoping that the members of the Legislature will reject the application.

As far as the constitutional debate to date is concerned, one of the most important things in our view, and the view of COPOH, which is the national organization we belong to, is that there be a specific reference to the preservation of the rights of people with disabilities in any reform package on the Constitution. What I mean by that is that in section 15 of the existing Constitution the rights of people with disabilities are specifically mentioned. Given the historic discrimination against people with disabilities, this would seem a natural addition to the Constitution. However, it was not in the original draft of the document and I think John was among the people who were in Ottawa lobbying for that at the time. I do not know if you want to talk about that, but the Canadian Disability Rights Council and COPOH and PUSH were all involved in the fight to get that clause added, which specifically said people with physical and mental disabilities.

When the Meech Lake accord was drawn up, it was felt necessary to add to the accord, while it was being prepared, a clause that said nothing in the accord will detrimentally affect the rights of aboriginal peoples or the multicultural communities. There was no mention made -- and we feel this omission was not accidental -- that the accord would not affect the rights of people with disabilities or women. Again, when Premier McKenna responded with his companion proposal, he rightly included women in the groups whose rights would not be affected by Meech Lake, but once again people with disabilities were left off the list. We do not feel this is accidental; we think it has to do with the fact that people with disabilities are not present when these negotiations take place, just as there were very few women, if any, represented when Meech Lake was drawn up.

Mr Southern: I think we should maybe re-emphasize that part and underline that disabled people are more often than not absent when these kinds of negotiations take place.

Mr Decter: It is our position that even in 1991 people with disabilities are subject to widespread discrimination, and that the process of constitutional reform should not make that any easier than it presently is.

We have some other views to do with the effect of the Meech Lake accord or the previously suggested bundle of constitutional changes on the provision of social services and programs in Canada. Do you want to take that, John?

Mr Southern: I guess we were concerned that social assistance programs across Canada -- well, certainly at that time we believed that federal legislation kept them at a reasonable standard. We are starting to wonder about that now. Nevertheless, I think the relationship under the Canada assistance plan and the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act does ensure that there are some standards that are lived up to when it comes to social assistance. If the provinces were given more power to design their own programs, a province like Ontario, we hope it would be to the good, but we do not always know what kind of government we are going to have in power or what other provinces would do. I think it is necessary to ensure that these programs, particularly social assistance, in which I am particularly interested, are not eroded.

I think other programs could suffer too. Transportation is still high on PUSH's agenda. Provincially, we have been lobbying for years for good, accessible intercity transportation and even good transportation right here in Metro, accessible transportation. I think it is about time that disabled people or persons with disabilities were given some dignity. There are some buses where, if you have a manual wheelchair, you can fold it up and put it in the boot but you are still left to bum up the stairs on the bus. It is not very dignifying to have to board transportation that way, and I am sure Sam here could spend half a day telling you his experiences with Via Rail and the airlines in our country. If we are going to have a country, all Canadians should have access to it, and that means improved transportation.

Mr Decter: I want to underline John's point about inaccessible intercity bus transportation in Canada. There are models of wheelchair-accessible buses available in service in other countries.

Mr Southern: And in Canada, by the way.

Mr Decter: Yes, and there is no regularly scheduled, accessible bus service between Canadian cities. With the Via Rail cuts, the problem has become that people who do not drive are unable to leave their communities, particularly seeing that with deregulation of the airline industry smaller and smaller planes are being used for small communities.

The way this is relevant to the Constitution is that, to a large extent, the entire area of interprovincial bus transportation has been let slide into provincial jurisdiction, even though it remains constitutionally a matter for the federal government, and, in effect, no one is dealing with this issue.

The other point that I want to stress from what John was saying is that 60% to 90% of people with disabilities in Canada are unemployed. That means that whether they like it or not, they are currently dependent upon various forms of social assistance and income support programs for their food and shelter. When minimum standards are not enforced, people at the bottom are the ones who pay the price, and if inadvertently in the process of constitutional reform those standards are let go, then it is going to be people with disabilities, who are among the groups most commonly present on social assistance and at food banks, who are going to pay for it. I do not believe that is the intention of constitutional reform, but it should not be one of the results.

We have a couple of other points we would like to make.

Mr Southern: One point, for example: I think the rights of the disabled need to be entrenched in the Constitution because although we, being disabled people, got coverage under the Ontario Human Rights Code in 1981, and it has been improved from then to now, nevertheless the Ontario Human Rights Commission needs an awful lot of money to help deal with the cases, and it is pretty well ineffective dealing with cases of discrimination against disabled people. So I think disabled people's rights really should be strongly entrenched in a national Constitution.


Mr Decter: One of the ways we would like the federal government to look at that is through the idea of reasonable accommodation. The "distinct society" clause is, in a certain sense, an attempt to reasonably accommodate the differences of Quebeckers, and it is our view that what is right for Quebeckers is also right for people with disabilities. By that we mean that if justice is a kind of equality, then for people in different situations true equality is not the same treatment but treatment that corresponds equitably to their situation. Giving a single example, Mr Malkowski here is receiving sign language interpretation. That is so that he has an equal understanding of what is going on in the room. To give him the same treatment as everybody else is an equality, and we feel that applies to a large number of disabilities.

What we would like to see is some form of reasonable accommodation. The principle of reasonable accommodation, which John can explain, is in the Human Rights Code. Unfortunately, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, in its present form, is incapable of enforcing reasonable accommodation in an effective way, so we would like to see reform of that. But we would like to see reasonable accommodation in the Canadian Constitution. Maybe John can explain a bit what that means.

Mr Southern: I think your example was pretty good, but I guess reasonable accommodation -- I do not know if I really like the word "reasonable," but anyway, we definitely should have good accommodation. For example, Sam might need some equipment so he can access the computer, something as inexpensive as a headpiece, a band he puts on his head with a pointer so he can access the keyboard, which costs about $200. I think that is reasonable for anybody. On the other hand, if I want to access the computer, I need a voice output, one of these software programs to allow me to do that, which costs considerably more, but nevertheless accommodation should be made.

I do not know if in the Constitution there should be a clause that emphasizes the rights of disabled people to work, because certainly all the kinds of legislation that have been brought forward so far, both provincially and federally, have done very little to improve the lot of disabled people when it comes to employment.

I think, just to wrap this part up, every time there is anything discussed in Canada, be it human rights legislation or the Constitution or whatever legislation is before the public in this country, there are two groups tacked on at the end of all the groups that are sharing the spotlight. Native peoples and disabled people seem to be an afterthought. I cannot speak on behalf of native peoples, but certainly on behalf of disabled people it is unacceptable.

Disabled people want, and in fact demand, that we be included in Canadian society if this country is to survive.

Mr Savona: I just want to pick up on reasonable accommodation and being able to work. I have been on social assistance all my life, and I just want to point out to you how great it feels to wake up in the morning and know that I am going to work rather than sitting at home collecting welfare. So I think it is very important that we get reasonable accommodation.

Mr Decter: Did everyone get that? I guess that is all we have to say.

The Chair: We are beyond the time, but Mr Malkowski, we can have one brief question. I should point out that the Chair of the committee, Tony Silipo, is back in the chair.

Mr Malkowski: We have a male interpreter's voice at this point. Well, we have three interpreters, but what you are listening to now is a male interpreter's voice.

You have been emphasizing for us to consider the recognition of disabled people in the Constitution and to have that entrenched. Do you think it should be the right of disabled people to have accessible education, transportation, participation in activities and barrier-free discrimination? Do you think it would also entail any financial commitment to cover the cost for reasonable accommodation? Or do you think it should be similar to the omnibus legislation? How can you help us with the specific concepts that you would like us to incorporate into the Constitution?

Mr Southern: I am not overly familiar, Gary, with the omnibus legislation. For one thing, I do not have an awful lot of faith in it. This is just a personal point of view; there are people around PUSH who think otherwise. Anyway, I do believe in all of those things you mentioned. We should have guaranteed access to good education, housing, work, whatever, obviously. And it is going to cost money, but so what? It costs money to employ anybody. I am tired of people saying, "Oh, you know, we've got to spend $1,300 or whatever to employ you." People go into work and sit down at the computers and never think that somebody has to buy that computer for them. There are costs of accommodating anybody in our society. There might be some added costs involved, but I think that if we were to accommodate persons with disabilities into our society, in the long run the benefits would outstrip the initial cost anyway. It would lower the numbers on social assistance.

For example, Gains-D is the social assistance most disabled people live on in this province. There are 104,000 disabled people on Gains-D. Do you not think that is criminal? Do you not think it is wrong? I get so incensed when I think of that number. For people who do not know, I was a member of SARC, which produced Transitions. I just mention that because why I got involved in that was to try and reduce that number. Unfortunately, the damned number has gone up by 24,000 since we finished the report. I am personally incensed by that. I do not care which government is in power. They have to damn well get those figures down. And those 104,000 disabled people are not all incapable of work. I do not want to put a figure on it, but I would go so far as to say that at least half of them would love to work, or maybe even more, and should be given the opportunity.

Mr Decter: I would like to add one quick thing. If people are worried about the cost of reasonable accommodation, first, in the Ontario Human Rights Code it does say that where the financial viability of an enterprise would be threatened reasonable accommodation is not mandatory.

The other point is that if anyone has ever sat down and tried to calculate how much he would have to pay someone to make sure that when he begins a job he is not worse off than he is under social assistance with the various shelter subsidies and other subsidies involved, you realize that you are paying an enormous amount to people not to work, most of whom do want to work, and we have members in our organization who have been looking for work for 10 and 20 years.

Mr Southern: And I do think that when it comes to cost, how you can justify it if you need to -- and I do not believe you do, but anyway, if you want to justify it, it is worth reminding people it does not matter what group you belong to native people, women, visible minorities; you can all become, at any given moment in time, disabled. It is worth remembering that, so when you are helping people with disabilities, you could be helping yourself in the long run, if you want to take a greedy attitude looking at the issue.


The Chair: Okay. Thank you very much.


The Chair: The next organization on our list, for the members of the committee, is being heard by our other half, so we will go to the Assembly of First Nations and Chiefs of Ontario. I invite Mr Peters to come forward. Good afternoon.

Mr Peters: Good afternoon. I guess first of all, if everybody is prepared and ready, I was going to introduce myself. My name is Gordon Peters. I am the regional chief of the first nations in Ontario. On my right is Chief Roger Jones.

We did not bring a written brief to this committee because we thought that within the bounds of what happens in these committee hearings you should be well apprised of all the briefs that we have submitted over a number of years to a variety of committees in Ontario that have talked about constitutional reform, that have talked about where we fit as the aboriginal people into the scheme of things. We have dealt with the Meech Lake committee and other things, so a lot of our documentation is here.

I guess we are simply here again to utilize this forum as another way to express to people within the province of Ontario and to the new government that is currently running the activities for the province of Ontario that, again, one of the fundamental things that we are striving to deal with is have people recognize that we are the aboriginal people of this country, that there are issues that we would like to talk about in term of our relationship and our relationship only, but that is not to say that those other issues are to be left untouched, because the fundamental discussions that we would like to talk about if you are talking about a constitutional process is the relationship that we have, as the original people of this land, to any governments that have come to occupy these territories and now make laws and impose those laws upon our citizens and in our territories and utilize our resources.

The relationship we talk about, we know and most people know that it stems from our existence, and that is the thing we have been battling. The inherent rights we have are the things that we are trying to protect, and that means our basic survival as a people is what we are trying to protect. We are trying to protect our languages, we are trying to protect our culture, we are trying to protect our way of life that we have as a people, and we will do whatever is necessary to protect that life so that we are able to survive. I guess right now the constitutional discussions that are here are one of the ways that we are going to have to utilize as a forum to deal with.

We understand very clearly that there is a constitutional trauma in this country, and I guess it is beyond the constitutional trauma, because you are dealing with people. For some reason, there does not seem to be an acknowledgement that you are dealing with people. We understand the dilemma that the average citizen has when governments come together and they talk about amending formulas and they talk about policies and they talk about economic unions and all of those other things that they talk about, but they never talk about people, because we have been left out of this process as well as the ordinary person has been left out of this process and has no say in terms of what is necessary for him to survive. I guess since 1867, when Canada became a federated state, it has been clear to us that the negotiations, for 125 years-plus, have brought us no closer as the aboriginal people to being involved in any kind of decision-making in this country.

So we come to this committee and we ask again: Are you talking about trying to find a way to incorporate the aboriginal people in decision-making or are you saying that you recognize that we, as the aboriginal people in this country, have a role to play in the decision-making? That has been unclear to us before, and we have continually asked people: Are you saying that you are trying to find a way to get us in or are we already in and we are part of the discussions?

Our experience has told us that we are not in this process. Across the country right now there are a number of committees and commissions that have been established to talk about the future of Canada. You have the Bélanger-Campeau commission in Quebec, you have the Allaire report, you have also such things as this select committee here in Ontario. You have the Lortie commission that is talking about the electoral rules of this country as well, which directly impacts upon us and what we see as our relationship in this country. None of those processes we have access to. We have the opportunity to say, "Yes, we'd like to make a report" or "We'd like to have the opportunity to express our views," and that is the extent of our participation in this country.

I guess for us the struggle has been one that has been characterized as very fast and furious in our minds. We went through the 1980s with what was called the first ministers' conference on aboriginal and treaty rights. They decided that in a five-year period somehow this relationship between ourselves and the federal and provincial governments was going to be remedied. We looked back, we saw Canada, what it went through since the late 1800s until the early 1980s when they finally patriated the Constitution, 90-some years of struggle, of trying to determine how they were going to work together, yet they asked us to determine what that was going to be in five years and they asked us to be able to sit down and resolve this problem in five years.

It was our point of view that as long as it was continuing to be looked at as being a problem in this country, we were not going to be able to come up with a solution. So now I guess we are back at the same point.

We are asking again, how do you recognize the original title of this land, that is, aboriginal title? How does the government of Ontario deal with our aboriginal rights and our treaty rights, and how does it begin to roll back its jurisdictions in being able to have us exercise the rights of our governments to be able to exist? How can we talk about a constitutional process until some of those things become remedied so that we have an active voice?

We talk about the constitutional process, and the last time we sat at the table they said. "Okay, Assembly of First Nations, you have two people, you sit over here." But we have probably 53 distinct groups across Canada, 53 distinct nations across Canada of people, and how are they represented through two people?

You know, we talked the last time about coming back to the table, and we said, "If this is going to be a true constitutional process and decisions are made, is it the government and the Premier of Ontario who are going to recognize and represent the citizens of the province of Ontario and are we going to have first nations represent themselves as well so that there is an equal partnership in Ontario?"

The response we got in the 1980s was very clear, that the government of Ontario represents all citizens and included us as citizens of the province of Ontario and, as such, the Premier represented us. We said that was unacceptable, and today we come to these forums and we say that is still not acceptable, that we have an inherent right to represent ourselves as part of our inherent jurisdictions, as part of our inherent governments, as part of our title to our lands and to our resources.

And yes, we think that the province of Ontario does have some responsibilities, and yes, we are now talking to the NDP government about those responsibilities that we think it holds.

We acknowledge the fact that the Ontario government cannot speak to us on a nation-to-nation basis, but it can talk to us on a government-to-government basis. We acknowledge that the province of Ontario cannot deal alone with the aboriginal title to our lands, but we know it can deal with the overlying jurisdiction, which means it can deal with justice, it can deal with policing, it can deal with social programs and all of those areas where it currently occupies some field of jurisdiction. Those can be relinquished and those can be rolled back and those can be occupied and dealt with by the first nations in this country. I think that is what we are talking about when we are talking about the obligations on the part of the provincial government.


But in terms of how the constitutional structure applies right now, we think and we know very clearly that our primary and fundamental responsibility is still tied to the government of Canada, and no matter how many times you tell us about the divisibility of the crown and the obligations and ability to transfer those jurisdictions to the provincial governments, we will not accept that. And some of the ideas we have seen about the five regions across the country in this new constitutional process -- the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, the western provinces and first nations territories being recognized in the constitutional process -- we still have to remind people that there cannot be any transfer of any jurisdiction, of any kind of obligations on the part of the federal government, to any other regions of this country without our consent. Until we have some access to a process, how is anyone to know whether or not that is even a viable proposal on our part?

We would also like to acknowledge here today that in terms of that access we are talking about, after the crisis this summer in Kanesatake, I guess what you are calling the Oka crisis, we said very clearly to the government of Canada that the 1990s are rolling around and we need to be able to sit down and to look forward to what is going to happen so that we can prevent more crises like what took place this summer. The government of Canada basically said no to us again in this process, because the Prime Minister of this country refused to meet with us. We were saddled with the department of Indian affairs, which said to us again that it knows the problems we face and it could provide the best solution. The Prime Minister gave the four pillars, and we have said very clearly that there has been no change in our discussions with the federal government to this point in time.

The land claim process they have offered changes the policy very minimally and does not meet any of the standards that have been set out from our side. There has been very little done in social programming, but I guess the only things the public will see is that we are being exempted from some of the budgetary cuts that are going on within the federal government.

But the whole question of our relationship has no process for dialogue. The only thing that is created now because of those situations is more frustration, because people saw very clearly this past summer that they did have a voice and they did have a capacity to be able to express their own opinions and they did have another means of being able to exercise their right, as opposed to simply sitting down and talking with governments.

So we would like some of those questions answered for us as part of what happens with this committee on where the constitutional discussions go nationally. Are we in or are we out, and if we are in, what is the Ontario government prepared to do in terms of accommodating that? What is the role that is going to be played by the first nations in those constitutional dialogues that will occur?

Roger, do you have any other comments you would like to make?

Mr Jones: I am Chief Jones from Shawanaga first nation. I come from the heart of the tourist country up in Parry Sound, God's country. It is beautiful there.

I would like to say that this forum, I was not even aware of it until this morning when I did come to the chief's office, indicating that you were going to have the opportunity to speak on the reform of Canada.

As far as the province of Ontario is concerned, I think we have to be able to deal with grass-roots issues in the province of Ontario first before we can even talk about reform across the country.

Our concern is of course people and the land. I honestly feel that the investment is in the people, and I am talking about all people in the province of Ontario. We have to be able to create awareness of aboriginal issues in the general public in a proper manner so that we understand one another, from which side we sit on, and I think we have to be able to sit together in the future and be able to move ahead and along together in the future. At least, this is what we envision has to happen.

What goes along with that, of course, is everything else, all of those things that mean very much to us to exist on this planet. As native people, we believe that the Creator put us here on Turtle Island, which is North America. We do not wish to break that down, right down to just the Indian reserve that I come from: we believe that we have an investment in all of Canada and of course of North America and the rest of the world.

We truly believe that the way things are going, automation, we have to backtrack a little bit and have a look at the things we are doing to ourselves, the damage we are doing to our environment, to the water, the very water we drink and we depend on to survive. If those waters are polluted to the extent that they cannot be drunk, all life will not exist and of course reform will not mean a thing to us. We can reform all we want, but if we are not going to look after the things that we have to exist in our way of life, we might as well forget it.

It was very disheartening to hear that the federal government announced just after the war was over that with the financial budget that came through it extended another year on the environmental project it had. They had a five-year program. It is now a six-year program with the same amount of money. It is very important that these dollars are spent to fix our environment, and we are concerned about that -- corporations devastating the land in the way of development of large dams, flooding of land, hydro projects where there is pollution from nuclear waste, those kinds of things. We have to be able to address those things very, very sincerely.

Of the total land in the province, 15% of that is privatized, and within that 15%, 1% is privatized to the extent of federally owned crown land, which includes Indian reserves within the province of Ontario. So you can see that the Indian lands that are owned are less than 1% in this province. The other 85% of the land that is crown-owned being leased out to corporations that are not managing this land very well. They are damaging the land in many ways through strip logging and all of those kinds of things.

I guess really what I want to say is I want to highlight it to this committee in regard to reform that we cannot move into the future without the land base. We need those land claims that we are pushing forward to extend our boundaries within our communities so that we have the room to exist the way we wish to exist, and we have every right to do that. You know, we were given the right by our Creator to be here. He gave us our language. He gave us the land that we were going to be existing on. He gave us all of the things that we ever would need. We did not need money way back when to exist. We did not need materialistic things. And I am not saying that we go back and live in tepees. I am saying we pick up those values, the culture that we have and those traditions, and we bring them forward into the 1990s and the year 2000 so that we are able to understand one another.


I would like to see the province of Ontario make room for the aboriginal people in this province, to have their voice heard throughout the province, so that we can sit down and talk about those very important issues of self-government and our inherent rights. With the Premier making the statement that he agreed about our inherent rights, we now have to get the Premier to not just talk those issues but walk those issues. When we talk anything we have to walk it in our daily life, and we expect that the Premier will do the same.

I came down to Toronto here because there was a convention down at the Westin. The NDP is having a convention there, and most certainly I wanted to be a participant of that convention, to have a voice, to speak in the convention so our voice and concern could be heard by the NDP. My understanding was that there are rules, you have rules, you have to be a party member for so long before you can speak on the floor and there are all kinds of things that you have to do. Most certainly that is where we always get penalized; because we do not pick up on how other governments operate, we are not able to truly give our voice and be heard on an equal basis.

It is more or less tokenism on how we are being heard, and Gord was saying that. Gord was saying, "Are we in or are we not in?" We think that we are in, and if we are talking about a reform of government in Canada, we are talking about a third order of government where we have powers as well as the province of Ontario and the federal government.

I do not think that we can sway from that. I do not think it is the powers which the province can give us or what the federal government can give us; I think it is the powers on which we are willing to move ahead in the future in harmony and co-exist, so that these issues are addressed once and for all.

Gordon, do you have anything?

The Chair: Thank you very much. We are beyond the time, but I will allow questions. Go ahead, Mr Beer.

Mr Beer: Just one comment perhaps to you both: I think one of the things that has struck us as we have gone around in our hearings is -- I may be wrong, but I would say it has been almost unanimous; native, non-native - we have got to deal with these issues now, that whatever came through the summer, and what we have heard as a committee, is that we have got to sit down and come to grips with the land issues, whatever is out on the table.

Perhaps in a sense in answer to the question of are you in or are we talking about how you might be, perhaps the message that has been brought to this committee is that we should make that assumption, that jump, which says that yes, you must be in and in on the terms that you have set out. But it really has struck. I am not quite sure what I was expecting, but I did not expect the kind of unanimity right across a whole broad section of people in the non-native communities who have said: "Look, we've reached a point where we have got to sit down and sort out these issues because we can't continue to go on in this way." In the long run one of the things that comes out of this summer is that somehow what happened then acted as a kind of a kickstarter for the non-native community. Now obviously actions speak louder than words, but I think it is fair to say that is the message that we have had from the people who have come before this committee.

Mr Peters: Well, I am glad you have gotten that message from people other than just the aboriginal people, because a lot of times when we say things nobody listens to the words we speak. I think it is crucial. One of the things you seek in going through this process is certainty, and there will be no certainty in this country as long as the issues of our people are not dealt with, because that will linger with you and you will undoubtedly hear from us for the rest of time, because until those issues are dealt with we certainly do not have any plans to go away. And we are not going away after that either, so we had better learn how to live together.

The Chair: I do not think we want you to, anyhow. I think I just echo what Mr Beer said in terms of that consensus that is out there. Obviously in the following stages of our work as a committee we will want to talk with you and with other native leaders about how we best ensure that that process continues. Obviously your discussions with the representatives of the government will also continue as well. Thank you very much for coming.


M. le Président : Je voudrais maintenant inviter les représentants de l'Association interculturelle franco-ontarienne à nous adresser la parole.

M. Britini : Les membres du comité exécutif de l'Association interculturelle franco-ontarienne tiennent à remercier les membres du comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération de nous avoir donné l'occasion d'exprimer le point de vue des membres des associations et des communautés ethnoculturelles franco-ontariennes sur l'avenir de la Confédération.

L'AIFO, l'acronyme de notre association, est le nouveau-né de la francophonie ontarienne. Elle est un organisme parapluie à but non lucratif. L'AIFO regroupe et représente d'une facon légitime les droits et intérêts des associations et des communautés ethnoculturelles franco-ontariennes. Nous voulons préserver notre héritage culturel et en même temps nous intégrer et nous épanouir dans la francophonie ontarienne et de ce fait la renforcer et l'enrichir.

Si on veut résumer les objectifs de l'AIFO, on peut les catégoriser dans trois points. Je laisserai à Emna Dhahak, qui est notre secrétaire, de faire le résumé des objectifs de l'AIFO.

Mme Dhahak : Nous voulons faciliter et promouvoir l'intégration de nos communautés au sein de la société ontarienne et plus particulièrement au sein de la communauté franco-ontarienne.

Nous voulons oeuvrer pour l'acceptation et l'insertion de nos communautés respectives par la communauté franco-ontarienne et la sensibiliser au fait culturel.

Enfin, nous voulons collaborer étroitement avec la communauté et les organismes franco-ontariens dans tous les domaines d'intérêt général.

M. Britini : Ce qui fait que nous visons l'étroite collaboration entre nos membres, les organismes franco-ontariens et la communauté franco-ontarienne dans sa complexité.

L'AIFO est partie prenante de la francophonie ontarienne. Nos membres sont doublement minoritaires, c'est-à-dire appartenant aux deux catégories suivantes : d'une part, la minorité linguistique que représente la francophonie en Ontario et d'autre part, la minorité ethnique visible, dont nous sommes fiers. Nous sommes ainsi minoritaires et par la langue et par la race. Cependant, nous nous considérons alliés de la francophonie ontarienne parce que nos membres ont fait un choix, celui d'y vivre en français et en Ontario.

L'AIFO est désireuse de représenter et de refléter les opinions et les aspirations légitimes des communautés ethnoculturelles franco-ontariennes concernant leur avenir en tant que communauté à l'intérieur d'un Canada en pleine mutation.

Le comité exécutif de I'AIFO organisa le 28 février dernier un forum public où les membres des communautés ethnoculturelles franco-ontariennes discutèrent et échangèrent des idées sur leur vision de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération canadienne. Ce débat nous a permis de développer et de vous présenter une position commune et concertée qui reflète notre vision, nos besoins et nos intérêts concernant le débat constitutionnel.

Ce mémoire est le résultat de cette consultation. D'ailleurs, nous tenons à remercier le président du comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération, Tony Silipo, d'être venu et d'avoir participé à cette discussion et de nous avoir aussi donné son point de vue sur cette question. Au nom de toutes les participantes et de tous les participants, nous vous remercions.


Les questions suivantes sont des exemples des questions dont nous avons discuté lors de ce forum. La première question : quelles sont les valeurs que nous partageons comme résidents de l'Ontario qui parlons le français ? Que pensez-vous du fait que le Canada ait deux langues officielles ? Quelles repercussions l'indépendence du Québec aura-t-elle sur nous ? Que pensez-vous du rapport qui existe entre les autochtones et les autres Canadiens ? Que pensez-vous de la diversité culturelle et ethnique qui existe au Canada ? Quels sont les rôles du français et de l'anglais au Canada ? Et, en fin de compte, que veut l'Ontario ?

Nous croyons que les autochtones méritent plus que le traitement honteux qui leur a été infligé jusqu'à présent. Cela va sans dire qu'ils ont été victimes d'injustice et d'incompréhension. Quand on parle de deux peuples fondateurs -- les Français et les Anglais -- eux, les premiers habitants de cette terre, sont complètement ignorés.

D'autre part, nous sommes contents que l'Ontario ait participé au dernier Sommet de la francophonie, cependant, cette participation discrète, quoique positive et prometteuse, est loin de répondre aux aspirations de nos communautés qui tendent à voir un rôle et une participation beaucoup plus actifs de l'Ontario dans ce domaine-là. À l'ère du village global où nous vivons, nous jugeons de première importance que l'Ontario développe des liens plus étroits et privilégiés avec les pays de la francophonie qui sont nos pays d'origine. Cela aurait comme résultat de renfoncer les liens entre l'Ontario et ces pays de la francophonie et de diversifier en même temps nos échanges et nos relations commerciales.

Je vous cite deux exemples d'échanges qui existent présentement qui sont en cours entre des compagnies canadiennes et ontariennes avec le Maroc, qui est mon pays d'origine, et qui sont très intéressants. Bell Canada international, qui a son siège social à Ottawa, a un projet de deux milliards de dollars au Maroc pour une période de deux ans. Ce projet a commencé il y a trois ans. Northern Telecom vient d'avoir un projet de 250 millions de dollars avec le Maroc. Nous croyons que c'est très positif et nous, la francophonie ontanienne, pouvons jouer le rôle de développer des niches pour l'Ontario dans ce marché de compétition globale.

Nous voulons que le français ait le statut de langue officielle en Ontario afin de nous permettre la pleine participation dans les sommets, les jeux culturels et sportifs et d'autres échanges avec la francophonie internationale.

Un autre point qui nous tient à coeur c'est ce qui concerne nos francophones d'origine ethnique qui n'ont pas pu se prévaloir automatiquement du droit d'être recensés comme électeurs et contribuables francophones. Ainsi plusieurs des membres de nos communautés ont été classés comme anglophones lors des élections scolaires de 1988. Nous avons eu des indications que ce problème d'énumération ne sera pas réglé pour les prochaines élections municipales de novembre prochain ; je parle des élections municipales et scolaires. Nous demandons aux ministères de l'Éducation et du Revenu de prendre les mesures nécessaires afin de corriger cette injustice le plutôt possible pour permettre aux membres de nos communautés de faire leur choix démocratique comme électeurs et contribuables lors des prochaines élections scolaires.

Nous demandons au gouvernement de l'Ontario de jouer on rôle de leadership et de médiateur dans ce débat constitutionnel. N'oublions pas que l'Ontario est la province la plus peuplée et la plus riche du Canada et, de ce fait même, nous devons jouer le rôle qui nous revient pour façonner l'avenir de ce pays.

Nous sommes bénis comme Canadiens et Canadiennes de vivre dans un pays bilingue. Nous sommes d'avis que le fait d'avoir deux langues officielles est on aspect positif et important pour l'image de marque que le monde se fait de notre pays. II est important que l'Ontario reconnaisse le caractère distinct du Québec et que nous travaillions d'une manière acharnée afin de l'accommoder dans notre Confédération.

Il va sans dire que la diversité culturelle offre des avantages immenses pour l'Ontario et le Canada. D'ailleurs, le gouvernement de l'Ontario reconnaît d'une façon générale que la diversité de la collectivité ontarienne constitue une source d'enrichissement culturel, social et économique pour la province et ses habitants. La gouvernement de l'Ontario s'est engagé à poursuivre l'égalité de traitement et de chances pour toutes les Ontariennes et Ontariens et reconnaît qu'un climat social, racial et harmonieux est essentiel à la prospérité et au bien-être de la province.

Nous avons fait quelques recommandations que nous aimerions bien vous communiquer.

1. Que l'Ontario se declare une province officiellement bilingue et qu'elle affiche sans hésitation son appui à la dualité linguistique du Canada. Cette déclaration permettra à l'Ontario de devenir membre officiel de la francophonie et nous pourrons bénéficier des avantages économiques, politiques, culturels et autres que nous ouvrira cette tribune.

2. Que l'Ontario mette son pied des institutions de langue française gérées par et pour les Franco-Ontariennes et Franco-Ontariens pour assurer le plein épanouissement de la communauté francophone.

3. Que l'Ontario prenne des mesures concrètes concernant nos communautés ethnoculturelles. Nous demandons une loi sur l'équité d'emploi et sur l'équité raciale et ethnoculturelle afin d'enrayer toutes les formes de discrimination dans notre société.

4. Que l'Ontario ne fasse pas de discrimination envers les futurs immigrants des pays francophones comme nous laisse indiquer un article qui est apparu dans le Toronto Star du 16 janvier dernier. Dans cet article la ministre des Affaires civiques de l'Ontario a indiqué que le gouvernement de l'Ontario veut rapatrier des pouvoirs, particulièrement un pouvoir dans le cadre de l'immigration. Nous voulons nous assurer que, si on va faire des négociations avec le fédéral, on devrait laisser la porte ouverte afin d'avoir des immigrants, afin qu'on tienne en considération le caractère linguistique pour la réception ou pour avoir des immigrants en Ontario. Nos institutions francophones ont besoin de personnel qualifié et nous croyons que nous pouvons avoir des immigrants de ces pays de la francophonie afin de continuer à maintenir l'équilibre de la société ontarienne où la communauté francophone serait toujours épanouie et existe avec tout son dynamisme et ses activités.

5. Que l'Ontario fasse des amendements à la Loi sur l'éducation afin de rectifier la définition de francophone en Ontario et d'élargir le droit à l'éducation en langue française à toutes les Franco-Ontariennes et Franco-Ontariens de la province.

6. Que l'Ontario reconnaisse l'apport des peuples autochtones et prenne les mesures nécessaires pour leur donner la liberté de gérer leur présent et de contrôler leur avenir, à savoir leur autodétermination.

7.Que l'Ontario accepte la décentralisation de plus de pouvoirs du fédéral aux gouvernements provinciaux. C'est le prix qu'on devrait payer pour maintenir un Canada uni.

M. Beer : Est-ce que vous pensez qu'il y a un rôle pour une association comme la vôtre de se lien aux francophones du Québec qui sont venus d'autres pays ? On a maintenant en Ontario un assez grand nombre de Canadiens qui sont venus d'un peu partout, comme l'indique le nom de votre association, un groupe interculturel. On se pose la question des fois s'il y a des liens entre vous ici en Ontario et un autre groupe pareil au Québec, surtout pour discuter des questions constitutionnelles, l'avenir du pays et tout ça ? Est-ce que ça existe ou est-ce que vous pensez que ça peut être utile pour les discussions que nous entreprenons ?


M. Django : Oui, personnellement, nous pensons que ça peut être utile. Mais pour l'instant, pour être honnête, ii n'y a pas de relations formelles entre notre association qui est toute nouvelle et la communauté francophone du Québec.

Toutefois, comme nous l'avons souligné dans l'exposé qui a été fait tout à l'heure, ça peut nous être utile dans la mesure où nous pensons que quel que soit notre épanouissement dans cette province, nous sommes et nous demeurerons toujours francophones. Ceci étant, nous n'oublions pas que les francophones du Québec sont reflétés dans ce que nous faisons quotidiennement. Il n'y a pas de rapports formels en tant que tel, mais nous pensons aussi que notre association, comme son nom l'indique, peut être utile non seulement pour l'Ontario, mais aussi le Canada dans la mesure où d'autres pays invitent l'Ontario et le Canada à cause de son multiculturalisme. Nous constituons un élément fondamental de ce multiculturalisme. Notre association, justement, nous cherchons à joindre toutes les associations, non pas individuellement, c'est-à-dire des éléments de chaque association, mais nous cherchons à rejoindre les associations en tant qu'un tout, formant un tout pour que chacun se sente à l'aise dans cet Ontario que nous avons choisi de faire et de vivre.

M. Brimini : Je pense aussi que nous croyons en la collaboration. Nous n'avons pas, pour le moment, de relations formelles avec des associations ethnoculturelles au Québec mais c'est quelque chose, si les circonstances et les moyens nous sont permis, je pense que nous devrions faire parce que nous avons démontré le fait que nous pouvons nous épanouir en Ontario au sein de la communauté franco-ontarienne et de la société d'une façon générale. Nous pouvons en effet être un lien avec des communautés francophones ethnoculturelles au Québec afin de voir c'est quoi le rôle que nous pouvons faire ensemble pour garder ce pays uni. Je crois que ce serait très important qu'on élargisse le débat et la collaboration parce que plus qu'on va communiquer, plus on va se connaître davantage et il n'y aura pas beaucoup de malentendus sur ce que nous désirons avoir comme pays dans l'avenir.

The Chair: We have two other organizations scheduled. Homes First Society? Okay, we will just take a minute to give the witness an opportunity to come forward.

Clerk of the Committee: In place of Homes First, it is the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation.


Mr Porter: I have actually distributed submissions from two separate organizations, the Canadian Non-Profit Housing Foundation, which was slotted for this spot, and one from my own, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation. Bill Bosworth sends his regrets. He was unable to make it on behalf of the Canadian Non-Profit Housing Foundation, but they have made submissions in writing which I would invite you to look at, and I may have the chance to summarize it at the end of my presentation.

I am sure that by 5 o'clock on the last day of your hearings the honourable members are somewhat weary. I know you have heard many important submissions addressing the unacceptable levels of poverty, homelessness and inequality in this province among native people, Franco-Ontarians, women, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, single parents, children, youths, the elderly, the unemployed and other marginalized groups.

These are in fact the groups that CERA, my own organization, works with. We assist those who have been denied access to appropriate housing to advance human rights claims, primarily under Ontario's Human Rights Code, but also using the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international human rights instruments. We assist over 500 such claimants each year. About half of these claimants are single parents, three quarters are women, over a third rely on social assistance and almost one fifth are people with disabilities. Many are members of racial and ethnic minorities.

I could easily use up my allotted time trying to convey to you the extent to which Ontario as a society has failed these constituencies. I would be urging you to examine the number of obstacles that are placed in their way, the various forms of discrimination and violence they face, particularly in trying to find adequate housing, and the ineffectiveness of our human rights and housing systems in addressing these barriers. However, I feel that what you need at this point in the hearings is less a recitation of the problems Ontario faces than the proposal of some possible solutions that fall within the mandate of this committee to examine Ontario's role in Confederation and the possibility of constitutional reform.

I am hoping to use our position at the end of hearings to our advantage. Although you are weary. I think you might be desperate for some way of trying to bring together so many of the disparate concerns you have heard over these several weeks. I am going to focus, then, on only one solution and hope that by emphasizing that one it sticks in your mind and you take it seriously. It is not a novel idea; it is one you have heard from many other groups which represent interests and constituencies similar to ours. It is an idea that just seems to keep being batted around and never taken very seriously. It is an idea that we tend to put into our speeches. It has a pleasant ring to it. We have even adopted it in international law but we have not put it into action.

The idea is this: that an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, is a human right and a constitutional issue. I want to try to convince you to take this idea seriously and to issue a clean recommendation that this right be put into human rights law in Ontario, into the equality rights section of the Constitution and that it form the basis of any international economic agreements that Canada or Ontario enters into. We are urging, in short, that Ontario's major role in the upcoming constitutional discussions be that of pressing for a new constitutional and economic relationship incorporating recognized social and economic rights.

The right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, is what is referred to as a "social and economic right." These rights have been recognized in international human rights law, particularly in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Canada has ratified, unlike our neighbour to the south, and which Ontario as a province has agreed to comply with.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to hold Canada and the provinces to this internationally binding agreement. Canada and Ontario will be reporting next year on what they have done to ensure that everyone in this country has an adequate standard of living and has access to adequate housing. Perhaps the United Nations committee, on hearing the evidence of Canada's non-compliance, will cite Canada for being in violation of this international human rights instrument, but still we have no way of claiming these rights within Canadian law or in provincial human rights statutes. Where rights are not claimable, they are removed from the groups which ought to be protected by them. They become, in all honesty, paternalistic platitudes.

One of the reasons that these rights have not been made claimable in law is that we tend to think of social and economic rights as at best guiding principles or worthy aims of public policy. So when the Minister of Housing states that it is public policy in this province that housing is a right, he is really saying that he would like to ensure that everyone is adequately housed if the government only had resources to do it. He would probably be worried about the idea of entrenching such a right in law because the government might then be legally obliged to instantaneously provide everyone with adequate housing, which of course it could not do.

With respect, we would suggest that claimable social and economic rights would not lead to instantaneous bankruptcy of the province or of the federal government, and, unfortunately, it would not lead to instant housing or prosperity for everyone in Canada or the province either. Such an outcome would be as unlikely as instant equality resulting from the equality guarantees in the charter. Recognizing and entrenching claimable social and economic rights, however, would lead to the gradual transformation of our society to one which assumes certain standards of equality which are presently ignored.


Social and economic rights do not simply place an additional burden on the government to provide for people. They place some responsibilities on governments, but they also mainly establish parameters within which governments, corporations, individuals and all other actors must operate, just as accepted civil and political rights do. At present we assume, for example, that the government will not decide against holding elections in order to save money or that a corporation will not prevent workers from voting or from taking time off for jury duty. These are assumptions that have been built into the way governments, corporations and individuals behave by the entrenchment in Canada of internationally recognized civil and political rights. Of course, we also have legal recourse if these rights are violated.

Entrenching social and economic rights in our human rights legislation and in the charter would simply put in place the same assumptions and legal basis for a society in which we agree that in so for as possible no one should be homeless, hungry or inadequately remunerated far work. Governments would change, policies would be altered, but any policy which resulted in people being homeless or hungry or without adequate income or security would be open to challenge. In some cases the policy challenged would relate to the inadequate allocation of resources to meet particular needs. In other cases, the issue would be regulatory. A pregnant woman, for example, evicted for landlord's own use under the Landlord and Tenant Act might challenge the inadequate protection of security of tenure in this province. A low-income community evicted by a developer with no provision made for alternative housing might make claims against a municipality on a developer to have a decision reversed.

Social and economic rights are equality rights, quite indistinguishable, except by their absence, from the equality rights which are recognized in the charter and in human rights codes. Indeed, in the absence of social and economic rights, existing equality protections become almost meaningless for those who are the most marginalized and disadvantaged in our society. As the Ottawa Council for Low-Income Support Services stated on a button it produced a few years ago, "Poverty Stops Equality/Equality Stops Poverty." All people living in poverty will tell you that poverty is a form of violence and discrimination. The problem is that it is presently a legal form of violence and discrimination and that is what must change.

Our work at CERA makes it clear to us that social and economic rights are simply equality rights that are missing from our statutes. A single mother, for example, will call CERA and say that a landlord will not rent to her because the landlord does not want to rent to people on welfare, and we can say quite simply that that is illegal under the Human Rights Code. Another will call in and say she was refused by a landlord because the landlord says that people on welfare do not make enough money and that they do not want to rent to people who make less than a certain amount of income. We can say that is probably illegal under the code, because the effect of such a policy is similar to excluding social assistance recipients in an outright fashion. We can make that argument under the code.

But we are not sure what to do when a woman calls from Ottawa and says that that municipality will not provide welfare recipients with first and last months' rent and every landlord in town is insisting on that, as is their right under the Landlord and Tenant Act. In this case, we are not sure whether it is the municipality's policy that is resulting in the exclusion of social assistance recipients from housing on the landlord's. Then when a mother of four relying on welfare to supplement the income of her and her husband as temporary farm labourers to somewhat less than half the poverty line phones us and tells us that she is unable to find housing for her family because they can only afford $400 a month on rent and all they can get with that is a one-bedroom apartment and no landlord will rent a one-bedroom apartment to a family of six, cleanly at this point we are into the aspect of poverty itself resulting in the exclusion of people on social assistance from housing. What do we say in such a case?

Surely the government-mandated poverty in the last two cases is of the same order as the actions of landlords in the first two cases. All of these women were denied access to appropriate housing and the underlying cause of these actions was the same kinds of prejudices and attitudes that are responsible for blatant discrimination: an undervaluing of women's work, a denigration of single mothers on the basis of their source of income or their marital status. These kinds of attitudes can be reflected in blatant discrimination or in inadequate levels of social assistance. The resulting inequality is of the same order.

In fact, all of the examples I have given are true cases. In the last one, the family with four children had to give up their children to the children's aid society because they were unable to find housing and only managed to get their children back when they were lent a tent by the children's aid society in order for the family of six to live in a tent trailer. We filed a human rights claim for that family alleging that the government policies of providing inadequate levels of social assistance are in contravention of the Human Rights Code. That was two years ago and we are still waiting for a response from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. We are hoping that the present government will be supportive of this family's claim in trying to advance the notion that housing and an adequate standard of living are fundamental rights in Ontario.

However, regardless of what we can accomplish with cases like that, we can only advance so far with existing human rights and charter protections. We should not have to work so hard to prove that poverty is a farm of discrimination. The inclusion of social and economic rights in the Human Rights Code and the charter would issue clear instructions to courts that inequality in all of its dimensions is open to judicial scrutiny and may be the subject of equality claims advanced by impoverished groups and individuals.

We emphasize that social and economic rights must be entrenched as equality rights. It must be made explicit that such rights are for the protection of disadvantaged groups and never to be used to the detriment of these groups. An amendment to section 15 of the charter should clarify that this is the case for existing equality protections as well.

We are asking that Ontario play a lead role in this area. First, we should set an example nationally and internationally, putting into law a provincial charter of equality rights which includes internationally recognized social and economic rights. Second, Ontario should work in the national arena to develop a social charter that would apply to all member provinces of Confederation, whatever their status.

Finally, Ontario should work internationally to press for broad recognition of social rights.

The European Community has had a social charter in place since 1961. As they move towards further reunification next year and the year after, social and economic rights have been placed high on the agenda. Constitutional and economic change is not proceeding there without full consideration of how to entrench social and economic rights as claimable rights within the law of the European Community.

In North America and in Canada, however, we have so far made no attempt to constitute economic and political relations among states and provinces around shared commitments to social and economic rights. International relations have become increasingly dominated by economic competition, slowly eroding the very concept of fundamental social rights. In the new prosperity and the new economic order, we have only seen poverty and homelessness increase. We must resist in the strongest way possible the notion that we can forge new constitutional and economic relationships in Canada without addressing social and economic rights and all other equality rights. These are not just public policy issues; they are constitutional issues at the heart of the mandate of this committee, perhaps the most fundamental of all aspects of relationships among nations and between various jurisdictions within Confederation. We urge the government of Ontario to move decisively on several fronts -- provincially, nationally and internationally -- to achieve claimable and effective social and economic rights as the basis for any new constitutional and economic relations within Canada.

I have appended to my submission a draft declaration of the right to adequate housing, which I believe you may have received from other organizations that have endorsed that declaration. It is also appended to the submissions from the Canadian Non-Profit Housing Foundation, along with a kind of similar declaration or itemization of what it considers the fundamental aspects of a recognized right to housing. In their submissions you will see that, from the perspective of an organization involved in providing and creating non-profit housing, they have come to the conclusion that housing must be recognized as a fundamental human right and implemented as such in the Constitution and in human rights legislation.

The Chair: Thank you for focusing as you did on some ways in which we can address these issues. We had just earlier this afternoon, in fact, come before us a group of organizations, the Daily Bread Food Bank, the Child Poverty Action Group, Bread Not Circuses and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, which addressed for us also in this kind of same focused way some of the issues that you have addressed as well. I think it has helped us to look at how we could be addressing these social and economic concerns that affect many people in our society in a direct way.

Mr Beer: I think the Chair mentioned some of these same issues were raised earlier. It seems to me that we have not heard a lot up until recently about the whole area of social and economic rights and how we go about including them. I am glad that you raised it as well in terms of people saying, as we do, "Well, yes, we think everybody should have adequate housing," and perhaps get kind of nervous if we are going to enshrine it somehow, because we recognize that tomorrow morning we could not meet that. I can recall a lot of discussions around social service issues where you get into that sort of thing, how you can really enshrine that kind of right in the same way that you do others, yet you have a sense, "Look, other countries are doing that, so how do we move to meet that?" I think we have seen in the examples that were given to us earlier today that there are a number of examples where that has happened.

I wanted to link that in my question just to the fact that in terms of legislation over the last number of years, we have started looking at changes to social and economic legislation, that it should include within it as well some kind of preamble or perhaps statement of principles so that when people are looking at that legislation -- it is in the Child and Family Services Act, for example, and I believe next week, when the Community and Social Services minister is going to be releasing a working paper on changes to the basic social legislation, one of the things they were looking at was trying to set out principles in that legislation that could be interpreted; I mean before a court.

Cleanly that is still legislation that is something that a future government can change and what you are after here is something mare fundamental and basic. I would suspect that the kind of thing you would like to see is some of those rights that have been enshrined in the Constitution, but in terms of legislation that we develop around some of these issues, do you see that as being equally important? Again, there is that question of resources. I mean, you have the principles or the rights enshrined, but how do we make sure that in fact there are the resources to back up those rights?

Mr Porter: I think you raise the fundamental question about social and economic rights, because they bring within the purview of the human rights movement all sorts of aspects of public policy which have previously been outside of the legal world or the world of constitutional guarantees. I think certainly from my organization's standpoint. we are very much aware of the dangers of an overly litigious approach to public policy issues. The courts are not always the best places to have these issues decided.

So I think the kinds of things that you raise are important, that a rights-based approach to social and economic issues will not simply be reflected in a constitutional arrangement, although it certainly has to be reflected there, but it will also be reflected in the kind of legislation and the kind of public policy which we develop that addresses those kinds of issues, and I think there are certain elements to those kinds of public policies which will be recognized, a certain recognition of the voice of the people who are affected by a policy, an ability built in for them to identify their own needs and to approach these kinds of services from the standpoint of entitlement, as opposed to, for example, charity. Those kinds of reorientations to the way we approach social issues I think would be part and parcel of any recognition of an adequate standard of living and housing and these kinds of things as fundamental human rights.

Mr Beer: Just in passing, it is interesting to me that in the report Children First that was released before Christmas they talk about entitlements there, what are a basic list of sort of fundamental entitlements around children, and it speaks very much to issues of poverty and developing an equal playing field, and I think that is all in the same line as you are addressing.

The Chair: Okay, thank you very much, sir.

Mr Porter: Thank you very much.

The Chair: We do have one last organization scheduled for 5 o'clock. We are a little ahead of time and they have not yet arrived, as far as we know, so I think we will need to wait a few minutes to give them an opportunity to join us. Perhaps what we can do is recess briefly, and if we can get the other members of the committee in, we can maybe just gather around someplace and deal with a couple of business issues for next week while we have the time, as opposed to doing that later. If we can just recess briefly, we can come back shortly after five when our last deputant arrives.

The committee recessed at 1654.


The Chair: Okay, we are back, and it seems that the presenters we were waiting for are not going to appear before us, so we will end at this point with our public hearings.

I think it is appropriate at this time to thank, first of all, all of the presenters who have come before us. We lost track of the number of people we did hear from, but I think even at rough count we certainly have heard from close to, if not over, 500 different groups and organizations and individuals, and I think that certainly bodes well for the kind of consultative process we wanted to embark upon in this first stage.

I think we will underline again, as we have done throughout the process, that this indeed is a first stage and that as we now work towards preparing our interim report over the next couple of weeks and preparing that for 21 March, we will also, as part of that, address the issue of a continuing process of discussion with the people of the province, as well as addressing in some detail some of the many issues that have been put before us.

There was certainly a wide range of views expressed, but indeed there were also a number of unifying statements that have come across, particularly with respect to issues affecting native peoples, and I think generally the understanding that is out there among the population of the province that we are at an important crossroads in our history as a country and that they want some leadership from us and from our governments, but they also want to make sure that we find ways to continue to ensure that they are also involved in these processes of discussions and decisions. In that respect we recognize that, and the process in that sense has also been quite useful in bringing those feelings out and putting them before us as legislators.

Given the extensive travelling we have done, we would be remiss if we did not recognize at this point the tremendous amount of work that has gone into this whole month of activities. I am conscious that we actually have gone from February into March without even noticing, I suppose, but I want to thank all of the staff who have been associated with us, from the clerks' office to Hansard to the translators to the research staff to the signers to the technical crew who have made it possible for us --

Mr Malkowski: And the interpreters.

The Chair: And the interpreters, yes, who have made it possible for us to be seen and heard across the province and to all of the many, many people who have worked with us in ensuring that these hearings were able to be seen and heard across the province. And our thanks to all of the communities that have welcomed us in the various parts of the province.

If there are any other comments from members of the committee, it certainly would be appropriate to do that now. Mr Beer? No? Okay. Ms Churley.

Ms Churley: I will be happy to make a comment. I think we are all talked out here. I could not believe it when Mr Beer did not immediately jump up to take the opportunity, but I certainly would just like to reiterate your thanks.

I think I would also like to thank the clerks who helped us as we stumbled from bus to plane and made sure that we all made it to the right bus at the right time and the right plane at the right time. They have been tremendous.

It has been certainly an incredible opportunity for me to see the province, to hear from people. I feel, and I think everybody shares this feeling, that our perspective, certainly for the newcomers, anyway, to this government, on Ontario has changed as a result of this, that there is more of an understanding of the issues that people have brought to us. It has been a unique and really special experience and I look forward to the second stage.

The Chair: Any other comments? Mr Malkowski.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you, Mr Chair. I would like to just add that I certainly have been very impressed with all of the people who have come to speak to us and all of the groups: native people, francophones, various community organizations, deaf and disabled organizations. I think it has been very important that people have had the opportunity to share with us and that we have been able to understand their various perspectives.

I also want to thank all of the members here and the clerks, interpreters, translators and so on, because they have really brought a tremendous service. I really look forward to the rest of the work that we have to do and the hope for the new Ontario and the shared vision very shortly.

The Chair: Thank you. Any other comments? All right, once again, with our thanks to everyone who has participated in this process to date and looking forward to continuing these discussions, we are adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1721.