30e législature, 3e session

L010 - Mon 15 Mar 1976 / Lun 15 mar 1976

The House met at 2 p.m.


Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.


Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker on Friday last, the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lewis) asked a question of me concerning the acquisition of land in Gloucester township, near Ottawa. I would like to respond to that question by a statement today. As the hon. members --

Mr. Singer: Didn’t you say that you had already responded or your predecessor had?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has a statement to make.

Mr. Singer: Yes, that is exactly what you said.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I must respond to the interjection from somewhere on the other side of the House --

Mr. Deans: You don’t have to.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- that I did not state that I had responded to the question. I had said that the information had been tabled in this Legislature last May, and that information is correct.

Mr. Nixon: Now some additional information is available!

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: As the hon. members are aware, the Carlsbad Springs land assembly in Gloucester township, southeast of Ottawa, has been discussed in the Legislature and the previous Housing Minister tabled the pertinent details last spring, partially on May 16 and partially on May 27. However, as I am a relative newcomer to this ministry and because of the 20-20 hindsight a number of people have developed as a result of the judge’s remarks, perhaps the hon. members will allow me to review the matter.

Mr. Singer: Isn’t that awful!

Mr. Nixon: Don’t criticize the judge.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It was my understanding that in the spring of 1972, Ontario Housing Corp. identified the Carlsbad Springs site, about 10 miles from downtown Ottawa, as a potential growth centre. Approval was given for the assembly of 1,500 acres at a cost not to exceed $1,200 per acre, a price level that had been recommended by senior OHC land staff following an examination of real estate price levels in the area.

The acquisitions were negotiated on behalf of OHC by the Ottawa staff of A. E. LePage Ltd., and by late summer the firm had optioned about 1,500 acres at approximately $1,000 per acre. In the course of reviewing OHC’s land assembly proposals for financing purposes, Central Mortgage and Housing Corp. became aware of the Carlsbad Springs assembly. Central Mortgage and Housing recommended the expansion of the assembly to 5,000 acres and indicated a willingness to participate in the land purchase.

The National Capital Commission also endorsed the concept and committed itself to the acquisition of 4,000 additional acres around the site for greenbelt purposes.

A steering committee, which eventually included representatives of OHC, CMHC, the National Capital Commission, the federal Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, the regional and township municipalities, was formed to make decisions on the land assembly and its subsequent planning. The original committee met for the first time in September, 1972.

The steering committee continued to use the real estate firm to obtain the land through private negotiation with individual owners because the process was in place and producing the desired results. Critics claim the remaining lands should have been expropriated, but this route was not used because of the many obstacles posed by provincial expropriation legislation.

Mr. Singer: Such as?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: One of the major difficulties would have been in proving a specific need for the land -- remember, it had been identified only as a potential growth site.

Mr. Singer: Didn’t stop you in Milton or anywhere else. Awful.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Because of the increased size of the development and the increased activity in the area, land prices rose. As resistance grew, it became necessary for the steering committee -- which included the representatives of the various groups I have previously mentioned -- to review the negotiations and to authorize price limit increases.

From the $1,200 initial ceiling to a $1,500 to $1,700 range, the committee’s approved limit finally settled at the $2,000 per acre level. In only five of the 77 transactions was it necessary to exceed that limit, and then only by minimal amounts. Including the original OHC assembly, the partnership, when activity ceased in 1974, had acquired 5,518 acres at an average price of $1,486 per acre, for a total cost of $8,201,672.

I have already touched on the difficulties of expropriating land under provincial legislation. It is a process the Ontario government does not invoke lightly. Because of the safeguards provided for the owner under expropriation --

Mr. Singer: No matter what it might cost.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- it is not necessarily a less expensive way of acquiring land.

For those who would point to the lower prices awarded in the National Capital Commission expropriation judgement, which touched off criticism of our technique, I remind them that the partnership bought land for development purposes. The National Capital Commission, with wider powers of expropriation, is acquiring greenbelt land which has a lower market value.

Finally, I would add only that it was recognized there was a potential for paying higher prices towards the end of assembly because of strategic location or the quality of the holdings. The decision to proceed on individual purchases --

Mr. Singer: The word was out.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- was based on the best judgement of the time, and it resulted in a successful assembly.

Mr. Singer: Shame. You should be really ashamed to read that table of wanton neglect in this House.

Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.


Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Housing flowing from his statement. Does the minister recognize that in most cases where there is massive purchasing taking place, that the smallest, the weakest of the community are the ones who are approached first and who get the least; and that the largest, developers and otherwise, who assemble land are those who held out to the end because of the advice that they’re being given? Doesn’t the minister feel that a more appropriate policy ought to be developed and brought into the Legislature for the purposes of ensuring that the individual land holder, the smaller, individual land holder, is protected against the loss of revenue as a result of the government’s activities?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe that we can state that all of the land that was acquired from the very beginning was only in small land holdings. I do not have with me the breakdown of the exact purchases. That is available -- I can get it. I believe it was, in fact, tabled in the House, and would indicate that there were varying sizes of parcels of land bought -- from large holdings to small -- at the very beginning. It appears to me, from the information that I’ve been able to gather, that one of the major problems was that so many different agencies became involved, that it became public knowledge that the land was being purchased for development purposes and the prices went up. That’s what happened.

Mr. Singer: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the minister’s off-the-cuff remark -- it wasn’t in here -- about 20-20 hindsight, how is it in his statement he didn’t deal with the comments of Mr. Justice Addy and the very serious criticism? And wouldn’t it occur to the minister, in view of the South Milton incident and this one, that by now Ontario Housing should have some realistic programme of acquiring land which was fair to the taxpayers of Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: First of all, Mr. Speaker, let me say that the reference to 20-20 hindsight was not a reference to the judge, but reference to comments made by others since.

Mr. Singer: Or before?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Secondly, the hon. member knows full well that one does not stand in any public forum these days and make any comment about the statements made by judges --

Mr. Singer: Oh, nonsense, nonsense.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Unless he has a friend up in Sussex Dr.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Do I understand from the minister that he is saying that when the land was bought by OHC it didn’t know what he was going to do with it and that’s why it couldn’t use expropriation? Doesn’t that sound more like an excuse after the fact?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the Ontario Housing Corp. knew full well what they had planned to do with the property. As I said in the statement, it was as a potential development site and a potential growth centre. Under the Expropriation Act -- and I’m sure the hon. member is familiar with it -- if there is a question as to a hearing of necessity under the Expropriation Act, one very well might not be able to expropriate unless he can say that that particular land was to be needed immediately. It was looked upon as a potential site.

Mr. Singer: Oh, you don’t have to say that at all.

Mr. Cassidy: Does the minister not think that the legislation should be examined in order to ensure that when a large assembly like this is being made the first vendors are treated equally with the people who sell at the very end, rather than having some people paid $700 or $800 an acre while others who had the wisdom, foresight and business acumen and probably were not long-time holders, get $2,000 an acre or more?

Mr. Speaker: Order please. The hon. member has asked his question.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what Act he would be referring to, because if one is negotiating the purchase of the land, one goes in and negotiates with the owner and one pays what the willing seller is prepared to offer to the willing buyer. What Act is involved I don’t know. We’re not dealing with the Expropriation Act in that particular case.


Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Premier. At what point in the history of the province does the Premier feel he might be prepared to intervene on behalf of the consumers who are being ripped off by the insurance companies -- auto insurance companies in particular -- and provide for them the kinds of savings that he is at least attributed to have said ought to be there? This is a speech that he made over the weekend.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t say the savings that ought to be there. In fact, I think I made it fairly clear that we were very encouraged by the statistics, basically from Metro, in the first two months of the -- well, the Act actually wasn’t in operation. The speed limits were actually not in force, but I think people were starting to abide by the legislation as it was to be proclaimed, and by the speed limits.

I indicated then, in response to a question -- I can’t give the exact question -- on whether or not this would have an effect on insurance rates, I offered the opinion, not being an expert in the industry, that if these figures were to continue obviously it would have some impact. Whether that impact would reflect itself in a stabilization of rates, or even potentially a reduction in rates at some point in time, I am not qualified to comment. I did make it clear that while we were encouraged, it is still a little bit premature to start making judgements on the basis of the statistics from a two-month period.

I would also say, in reply to the question, that as a government we are obviously concerned about what consumers pay for insurance, but I’m also quite prepared to say in this House that the experience in this province is going to be that it’s going to remain in the private sector, unlike the experience they had in British Columbia, where everybody was being ripped off.

Mr. Deans: Supplementary: I wouldn’t have doubted that the Premier would want them to get the ripoff. What I’m interested in knowing is, at what point does he propose to ensure that the public of Ontario are not paying more for insurance than the actual incidence of accidents would require them to be paying? Is he going to take steps to ensure that the rates that are being charged are commensurate with the costs of insuring automobile drivers in the Province of Ontario, and if so, how and when?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the industry has functioned relatively well in this province.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Not like in BC.

Hon. Mr. Davis: We are not planning it, though I know the member for Wentworth -- and it is part of their philosophy -- as part of his policy, would have a totally state-controlled insurance system. I have to say that this government does not plan a state-run or -controlled insurance industry.


Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Premier would advise us if he is prepared to have his appropriate minister proclaim the sections in the Insurance Act, which have stood unproclaimed for maybe 35 years or more, which would allow the government to control insurance rates without taking over the industry?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think the member for Wilson Heights has asked that question of the appropriate minister on one or two occasions in this House, if memory serves me correctly. I don’t think his answer has changed.

Mr. Singer: How about yours?

Hon. Mr. Davis: If he would like to direct the question to the hon. minister, I’m sure he would be delighted. My answer hasn’t changed.

Mr. Speaker: Are there any further questions? The member for Wentworth.


Mr. Deans: Yes, I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Does the minister think that the statements of his parliamentary assistant have contributed anything to the ongoing debate over the protection of the tenants in the landlord-tenant disputes that are currently going on? Secondly, is the minister aware that many of those spokesmen for the tenant review boards, or the landlord review boards -- rental review boards -- are giving out misinformation with regard to whether or not tenants ought to or ought not to pay the rents that are being asked of them which exceed the eight per cent?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what comments of my parliamentary assistant are being referred to by the hon. member. I know he’s been very helpful in implementing the programme of rent review. He has been a very good spokesman for our ministry in dealing with this matter.

Mr. Deans: He hasn’t been.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: As far as the information being given out by rent review officers is concerned, I have met this morning with the executive director of the rent review programme. We are issuing instructions to them to obtain some kind of uniformity in their interpretation of the law. We also want to inform them that there is such a thing as an information, under which offences can be dealt with; and also that information officers who are employed by our ministry in each of the rent review offices will be fully instructed as to the interpretation of our ministry of the Act.

Mr. Deans: A further supplementary question: Is the minister prepared, on receiving information on landlords who are either not paying rebates or are demanding additional amounts over and above the eight per cent, to proceed on behalf of the tenants -- as the parliamentary assistant indicated the minister would -- and to lay the charges yourselves; and to take those people to court and to recover for the tenants the amount that they have been required to pay, and to protect them along the way?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I lost track after the first five questions.

Mr. Deans: You lost track?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: We are certainly prepared to take action in the case of offences under the Act. That would be the same as any other offence under any other Act. I’m sure the hon. member would not have a rent review officer act as a judge out of any concern for civil rights. That’s not his job. His job is to review the rent. His job, if necessary, is to provide the Crown attorney with the proper information which will enable the Crown attorney to lay a charge. Under the charge there is a fine. The legislation does not provide for the recovery of the rebate by either the rent review officer or the court.

Mr. Deans: Or the tenant.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: However, in the view of the ministry, if the courts levy a fine -- which means that the landlord is guilty of an offence -- it would be a very simple matter for the tenant to go to the small claims court and ask for a rebate. There is also the other method, which we are suggesting to them, and that is simply to withhold the amount of the rebate from future rents.

Mr. Deans: A supplementary question: Will the minister then protect the tenant in the event that they are taken to court with that advice -- that they should withhold the amount?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, if the landlord is found guilty of an offence under the rent review legislation, I find it very difficult to believe that he would have any kind of counsel that would advise him to take the tenant to court, after having been found guilty of an offence.

Mr. Cassidy: You are tying it all up in legal red tape again.

Mr. Speaker: Does the member for Wentworth have any further questions?

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: One final supplementary.

Mr. Wildman: In the light of those statements, would the minister be willing to advise the Minister of Government Services (Mrs. Scrivener) to discontinue the policy of breaking rent review laws by charging government employees renting government housing throughout the north rent increases of 40 per cent or more by payroll deduction?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That is not a supplementary to the original question.

Mr. Cassidy: That was a good question.


Mr. Deans: Could I ask the Minister of Health if he would be prepared to have tabled in the Legislature the basis for the decision by what he refers to as senior ministry personnel with regard to the possible conflict of interest, which is reportedly in the auditors’ statement in the Goderich Psychiatric Hospital, whereby they decided to try to recover only $1,000 of some $73,000 that appears to have been paid improperly to a doctor on staff?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea if the money was paid improperly or not.

Mr. Deans: I said, “which appears to be.”

Hon. F. S. Miller: I understand that they were OHIP billings for services that he rendered. However, I have no reason not to make the information available, providing legal counsel tell me it is in order to do so.


Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Health. Can the minister tell us how many reports he has received from within his ministry during the past five or six years warning of the potential for abuse in the private laboratory system, given the system of payment that the ministry has adopted?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I have been the minister for two years and almost a month. I don’t go past that point --

Mr. Singer: Are you resigning today?

Hon. F. S. Miller: After that amount of time you start counting your days. At least you hope you start counting your days.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t count on it.

Mr. Foulds: I take that as a vote of confidence.

Hon. F. S. Miller: That was a threat from the Premier.

Mr. S. Smith: There’s no need to count them; they’re numbered.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I am seeing who is clapping.

In any case, I have been aware of the need personally to look into the laboratory matters for upwards of a year and a half, and we have been doing so; in fact, while our actions weren’t followed by the press, I can tell the hon. member that we were and are prepared to step in in a number of ways to control rather loose billing practices.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Although the question was obviously not answered -- the question was very clear; I am simply repeating it -- how many reports has he received from within his ministry warning of the potential for abuse within the private labs, given his ministry’s present system of payment, and would he please tell us whether he is prepared to make these reports public and whether these reports contain any suggested alternative methods of payment for private laboratory services?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, at my request, a report was written. I had it in my hands in December. That report is being acted on now.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Will the minister make that report public so that we can all see what the suggested alternatives have been?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, once the cabinet has had the opportunity to look at the policy options, they will become known.


Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. Could he explain to us why Ontario was the only province to withhold support of proposed Canada Pension Plan changes which would have entitled spouses who work at home to be eligible for Canada Pension Plan benefits?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I think the leader of the third party is referring to negotiations that took place in February in Ottawa with the federal Minister of National Health and Welfare and the provincial ministers of welfare or my counterparts.

The position I took in dealing with that particular aspect of the negotiations was that I was concerned about adding another dimension to a number of income supplementation and support programmes that we had. I wasn’t convinced that we had a model that would reflect the financial implications of the proposal. There were a number of matters that had to be examined and for that reason, while I didn’t veto the proposal, I took the position that I could not support it until we had studied the matter further.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Perhaps I should ask for a translation rather than a supplementary question but --

Mr. Yakabuski: I thought you weren’t in bed with the feds? I thought you had dissociated yourself from the feds?

Mr. S. Smith: -- in view of the fact that Ontario by itself can, in fact, veto this legislation and in view of the fact that Ontario was the only province to dissent --

Mr. Yakabuski: You are in cahoots with the feds.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. S. Smith: Could the minister please explain to the House why he thought it would cost us a lot of money if Canada Pension Plan credits earned by spouses during marriage were split equally between the spouses on marriage dissolution? What would be so expensive about that? It’s something desired by all the provinces in the country and Ontario singlehandedly vetoed it for reasons nobody can fathom. Would you please explain yourself?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I will simply repeat that it was not vetoed. While Ontario could exercise that power, that was not done because further review was felt necessary, not only by this province. We have, of course, scheduled a new meeting in June at which the matter will be considered again. It wasn’t a question of vetoing the proposal but I think you’ll appreciate that there are many problems inherent in that.

It’s simplistic to say that we will take the pension plan of one spouse and automatically split that into two which may not be a viable pension for either party. There are also ramifications in terms of the current review of the whole area of family law and family property, what happens on dissolution of a marriage and so on. There are many aspects and ramifications which we felt should be considered before going off and supporting just a straight splitting.

I think the leader of the third party may appreciate that once you split, of course, you have to start building up the half pension so that it becomes viable. There are many inherent problems which we wanted to review.

Mr. R. S. Smith: Just admit you didn’t understand it. Face up to it.


Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member has a question.

An hon. member: Don’t count on it.

Mr. Williams: The Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority issued a statement over the weekend to the effect that GO Transit buses should unload their passengers at suburban subway terminals rather than run into the city in direct competition with the Toronto Transit Commission. This may seem to have some sense but does this mean that the present service from Keswick and Newmarket to Toronto via Woodbine Ave. and the Don Valley Parkway would be terminated prior to or in conjunction with the start-up of the Richmond Hill GO Transit rail service?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I can’t give an exact answer on that particular bus route. I do know that the chairman and members of the Toronto Area Transit Operating Authority have been having discussions with the TTC to eliminate, if at all possible, any duplication of bus routes when one system is travelling over the same routes as the other.

It is also, of course, our desire to fully utilize the subway system by having the passengers, where possible, utilize the subway system rather than bringing the buses downtown. I’ve not had an opportunity this morning to get a full report from the chairman but I will be doing so and I’ll report to the member.


Mr. Young: Mr. Speaker, a question of the hon. Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Could the minister inform the House as to what discussions took place between his department and Norwich Union Insurance group, prior to its announcement that it is getting out of the insurance business in Ontario almost immediately? Does his department have any concern, and perhaps some attitude of helpfulness, towards the 300 or so agents who have been tied in closely with the Norwich group and whose relationship is now terminating on Friday of this week, and for the policyholders who are being cut off and whose policies will not be renewed with that company as of May 1?


Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I think there were three questions there. In answer to the first, I’m not aware of there having been any discussion between Norwich and my ministry but I’d certainly be pleased to ensure that my statement is true.

The answer to the second part of the question is I think I understand Norwich’s decision. There was a question asked by the member’s colleague earlier today about how we look at insurance rates and Norwich has consistently lost money in this business and has made a business decision to remove itself from the industry. This is still a free province in a free country, where people can cease doing business as well as commence doing business.

As far as the agents are concerned, I am quite sure that other insurance companies will be seeking agents in those areas to fill the vacuum left by Norwich’s departure from the field and the same thing will apply to the policyholders -- others will be taking up their policies.

I can assure all members of the House that if anybody has difficulty, either a former Norwich customer or otherwise, in obtaining coverage, that our department of insurance is always prepared to assist in placing insurance.

Mr. Speaker: A supplementary question.

Mr. Young: Well, a supplementary to that I think. I take for granted that the minister and his department are ready to assist in this field. Certainly there are some policyholders who seem to be having difficulty in placing the insurance and so I would simply ask the minister again, will he and his department assist in placing such insurance which is having difficulty?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, that’s been the consistent policy of the department and it will continue.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary of the minister. Is the minister aware that many small insurance agents are having difficulty finding companies that will help them, or that will take them on as agents, and as a result may end up bankrupt?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, certainly we are aware of this. It is a reflection, I believe, of the situation of insurance underwriters in this province; many of them are leaving the province because they aren’t able to earn enough on their investment to warrant continuation of business.

We are concerned about the agents who are unable to find underwriters for their customers and I can say that our department of insurance is assisting any agent who is unable to place insurance. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be able to find a place for them all, but we certainly will assist as many as possible in placing insurance for their customers.


Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. Since the minister’s predecessor, the gentleman who sits to his right there, indicated on March 14, 1975, that the government would give the Ontario soft drink industry 12 months to start using more refillable pop containers or face legislation, and since the same minister has indicated on one or more occasions that the industry was not cooperating, what action is the minister proposing in this respect?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I have just received a copy of the waste management advisory board’s report and its recommendations based on the year’s experience as a result of my predecessor’s edict in March of 1975.

Mr. Foulds: Edict?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I hope to table that report this week and also to comment briefly on some of its recommendations.

Mr. Gaunt: A supplementary question?

Mr. Speaker: Yes.

Mr. Gaunt: Is the minister considering legislation in this particular field and does the report recommend that course of action?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: The report does recommend that certain regulations be drafted and in some cases approved by the government. I don’t want to make any comment on that at the present time until we have had a chance to look at those recommendations --

Mr. Reid: You are going to keep dragging your feet.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- and I have had an opportunity to discuss them with my colleagues.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Solicitor General has the answer to a question asked previously.


Hon. Mr. MacBeth: On Friday, March 12, the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) asked me why regulation 679 under the Police Act, which relates to police weaponry, was amended as it was on Nov. 14, 1975.

The reason, fundamentally, is to provide a more effective firearms package for police constables with increased safety both for the constable and the public. The ammunition previously in use had been unchanged since 1902. It was designed for a type of weapon no longer used and was not satisfactory for modem conditions. In particular, its penetration capacity was such that it ricocheted badly, particularly in situations were modern laminated windshields were involved.

Members will understand that this was an unsatisfactory situation. Because of this generally perceived problem in the policing community, a study was initiated by the Ontario Police Commission, using a team of professional armourers and experts from the Centre of Forensic Sciences. As a result, a new package regulation was developed, altering the projectile shape from the oval formerly used to what is known as a truncated cone. This indeed has a flat tip but this is not its salient feature.

In conjunction with the change in ammunition, the regulations concerning the weapon were changed to provide for a maximum muzzle velocity, a minimum barrel length and all-steel construction. I would also emphasize that the severe restrictions on the use of weapons were unchanged. Fundamentally, the constable may only use his weapon as a last resort for the saving of his own life or the life of another citizen and, as hon. members know, in every single instance where a policeman in this province uses a weapon, an investigation is made into the circumstances by the Ontario Police Commission.

I think everyone will agree that the new regulation is in the interests of everyone in the policing community and amongst the public at large, and I am pleased to have had this opportunity to allay any concerns which this updating may have raised.


Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services, in the light of the earlier statements by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations about rent review and tenants’ problems with high rents if she intends to discontinue the policy of breaking the rent review law by charging rent increases of about 40 per cent and more by payroll deduction to government employees renting government housing throughout the north?

Some hon. members: Shame.

Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, I would require more information on this subject before answering the member.

Mr. Foulds: Are you going to get it?


Mr. Haggerty: I would like to direct a question to the Premier. Is the Premier prepared to consider special financial assistance for those municipalities that were on the receiving end of a serious ice storm on March 2 and 3 that has caused considerable damage to property and hydro services and, as a result, the municipalities of the town of Fort Erie and the city of Port Colborne have been declared disaster areas?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I think this question should be properly answered by the Treasurer and the Minister of Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs, who has responsibility for the municipalities.

Mr. Speaker: Do you wish to redirect it?

Mr. Haggerty: Yes.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge, we have only received a request from one municipality requesting designation. I believe the only municipality I have heard from to date is the town of Blenheim. Whether other municipalities have in fact applied for designation, I am not sure.

The committee within the government which looks at these things is assessing the situation, and I think the member will be aware that a great deal of the burden of the storm, if I can put it that way, was borne by Ontario Hydro and by Bell Telephone; those are agencies that would not normally be reimbursed for storm damage, and I can’t conceive of them being reimbursed for such damage. Certainly local utilities have had some heavy bills to pay, and whether that is an appropriate reimbursement, I don’t know.

There is some property damage in my own part of Ontario, but not as much as one might have expected in a storm of that size. There isn’t that much damage to buildings, but there is some; and some of it is insurable. The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) has met with the Crop Insurance Commission, and with farmers from Essex and Kent, with respect to damage to the cherry trees and the peach trees, and some discussion is under way on that matter with the federal Minister of Agriculture. But I think it would be premature at this point for us to say generally that some sort of extraordinary assistance was going to be provided. It is under study and, when a decision is made, it will be communicated.


Mr. Moffatt: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Health; it is a two-part question. First of all, I would like to know whether the task force which the federal government has implemented in order to deal with the radiation situation in the town of Port Hope fills the requirement of a public inquiry as apparently asked for by the minister about two months ago? Secondly, what are the criteria being used to decide which houses will be offered agreements to repair and which houses will not be offered them? Is there a specific radon gas level which the house has to meet before the owner is offered an agreement to repair that building?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, on the first part of the question, I can’t say that the task force does or does not meet all our needs. I’m not sure yet because I haven’t seen all the terms of reference that it’s operating under. I never called for an inquiry; I may well have been quoted as saying so. In fact, one of the things I was concerned about was, really, the short-comings of legislation as it deals with radiation hazards between our government and the federal government.

The second part of it: We were recommending to anyone who was in a house with a radon level of more than 50 picocuries that they not wait for spring or any other more convenient time to absent themselves from their facilities. That’s strictly an empirical decision; it shouldn’t be taken as a scientifically-based decision. But staff, after a lot of thought, arrived at that figure as one which they should not allow people to remain in until conditions in the weather improve.

Since, again, the province played no part in the payment for any of these repairs; it was strictly done, as I understand it, with an Eldorado Nuclear -- I think the term used was slush fund.

Mr. Peterson: You’re the only guys with those.

Hon. F. S. Miller: We really didn’t have anything to say about what the criteria were. We weren’t involved in the payments, therefore it was not our responsibility to determine who got covered and who didn’t. We simply helped notify or helped locate those houses which, in our opinion, were unsafe for human habitation.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary.

Mr. Moffatt: Supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: Supplementary; the member for Durham East first of all.

Mr. Moffat: Mr. Speaker, in response to the answer, two points: One, would the minister please clarify with the member for Northumberland (Mr. Rowe) whether the minister did or did not call for a public inquiry, since he is on record in Port Hope as having indicated that?

Mr. Speaker: That’s what I understood.

Mr. Moffatt: Secondly, as I understand it, there are members from the Health Ministry on the task force. Is that a fact or not?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I said I was personally not aware of the details. I will make myself keenly aware of the details. That doesn’t mean that my staff aren’t very competently handling it. But I would point out to you, with a staff of 14,000 or thereabouts, I am not always aware of all the details that they are aware of.

Mr. Singer: Keenly?

Mr. Shore: Get rid of a few thousand.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for London Centre with a supplementary.

Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, the minister has just said he agreed to this task force, but he’s not sure of the requirements. He has put his staff on it and if he is not happy he’ll do something about it. Now, could the minister tell us those requirements that he requires personally as the Minister of Health responsible for that area, and what kinds of terms of reference does he want to see from the federal task force? And if they don’t meet up to that, what is the minister prepared to do about it as a provincial matter?

Hon. F. S. Miller: First, I defend the provincial record anytime -- the fact is that we acted while others did not.

Mr. Reid: And you don’t know what it is.

Mr. S. Smith: Oh, come on. There has to be an inquiry.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon F. S. Miller: I am fully aware of what we did while others talked -- and there’s a big difference. We went around locating the places where people were at risk and recommending that they move in the absence of any federal action. Now, that seems to me an important point.

Mr. Reid: What are you doing now?

Mr. Yakabuski: Shame on the feds.

Mr. S. Smith: You will run on anybody’s record except your own.

Hon. F. S. Miller: I was very concerned about the laws as they existed, because I was unable to get a clear definition from some of my staff as to where our responsibilities began and ended. I felt we had to know where other potential sites were in Canada. That information, I am told, was given by the federal minister. I understand, too, that the federal member for the general Northumberland area has argued about the full disclosure of that information, so I can’t tell whether it’s full or not. Certainly, he named a number of sites apart from Port Hope. The task force was, I understood, primarily going to be looking at correction of existing sites and location of others, and possibly would have other duties.

Mr. S. Smith: You are running on everybody’s record but your own.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I suggest that was a final supplementary. Is this a different supplementary now?

Mr. Peterson: It is a different supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: In view of the circumstances, I think I’d better allow this supplementary.


Mr. Peterson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In that you were involved, I compliment you on that one.

Would the minister tell this House what steps he and his ministry have taken to guarantee voluntary testing of anyone involved in the community who wants to have that kind of testing for lung disease as well as for potential genetic harm over the years?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, first of all, you may recall that a family named Lewis, I believe, who were in the house with the highest density for over 20 years, were subjected to very thorough tests -- not just tests that were accepted as medically significant but, I am told, a whole series of research tests -- at the Princess Margaret Hospital, at the University of Toronto, and by any other persons who come along suggesting they might help.

I heard arguments, first of all, that the work at Princess Margaret was of an informational nature rather than a diagnostic nature. I heard comments that the overall body scan recommended by the University of Toronto would show nothing; it did not. But, rather than argue, these people were willing to go along to be checked; and we were quite willing to have them checked if other sources or other groups wanted to do it.

I was delighted when, I understand, they were given a clean bill of health within the last week or so, at least according to Mr. Lewis himself in the newspapers.

Mr. Peterson: According to the Globe and Mail.

Hon. F. S. Miller: That’s correct. I tried to find information on these tests and I was excluded from it, because the doctors felt it was strictly the kind of thing that they would deal with their patient about. I was not entitled to know the results. I have to honour that kind of confidentiality if a doctor insists on it.

Mr. Peterson: What about all of the other people in Port Hope? What are you going to do with them?


Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General. Could the Attorney General tell us, in view of the attendance of his official, Mr. Howard, at the inquiry in Sudbury, and what must have been Mr. Howard’s reports to the Attorney General, and in view of Mr. Lebel’s evidence, when are appropriate charges going to be laid against Mr. Lebel for his actions in connection with the Laurentian Hospital?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am of course aware of that inquiry, but I have seen no report and in my view it would be premature to consider whether or not any charges should be laid in respect to any of the evidence or as a result of any of the evidence adduced at that inquiry. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but I did not catch the name of the gentleman who the hon. member said attended from my ministry.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Howard.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Howard? Well, he was the counsel to the commissioner. He is not a member of our ministry; he was counsel to the commissioner, Judge Waisberg. He is in private practice in Toronto.

Mr. Singer: Well, by way of supplementary, does the minister not have available to him transcripts of the evidence -- at least the transcript of Lebel’s evidence -- and isn’t it apparent that a charge of some sort should be laid in view of the actions that are described there?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, it would be premature for me to express an opinion, except to assure the hon. member that the transcripts will be carefully reviewed.


Mr. Davison: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of the Environment. Now that the ministry officials have traced the source of the coal dust that fell on the Hamilton Beach, Feb. 7 and 8, to an untreated coal pile at Dominion Foundries and Steel company, would the minister inform the House as to what action will be taken against Dofasco for its damage-causing negligence?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, steps have been taken by the company as a result of instructions of my ministry in Hamilton --

Mr. Martel: Any charges?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- in that that particular incident won’t happen again. If the aggrieved individuals feel that they should lay charges --

Mr. Warner: Why don’t you?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- we of course will assist them. But in a case like this, where we don’t feel this incident was necessarily the negligence of the company, we don’t feel that charges should be laid in this instance.

Mr. Laughren: Like Inco all over again.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: But we have taken steps to cover by spraying that particular stockpile in the hope that that type of incident won’t happen again.

Mr. Martel: Do you feel charges should be laid?


Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Recreation. Can the minister advise me whether or not any decision has been made by his ministry concerning the application made to Wintario back in the fall of 1975 from the Belleville Yardsmen’s Benefit Fund Inc. concerning the Quinte Sports Complex in Belleville, Ont. These gentlemen are prepared to put $2.5 million into this project; can the minister assure me that politics has not or will not enter into this decision?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, you understand how shocked I am with the last part of that particular question. My father is a retired CNR brakeman; why would I be against yardsmen at all?

The answer to the first part of that question is that no decision has yet been made; and the answer to the second part is yes, I can assure him that such is not an influential factor in making this consideration.

Mr. O’Neil: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Has the minister or his officials met, or are they to meet this week, with a Conservative candidate in Quinte concerning this application?

Hon. Mr. Welch: I’m not aware of any such meeting, Mr. Speaker, and I might say in my very quiet way that I resent such implications. I defy any member of this House, on any side of the House, to give me any evidence where partisanship has, in fact, had any bearing with respect to any of these applications.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Who is the candidate?


Mr. Bounsall: A question of the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker: Is the Attorney General not very concerned that no programmes from his ministry were accepted by the Experience ’76 programme, particularly the programme of last year for senior law students to staff the community legal aid clinics associated with the universities, a programme which provides an invaluable service to the community and which must fold this summer if they don’t get that summer student funding?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t aware that there had been any final determination of that matter. I only learned the other day for the first time that my ministry might not be involved. I’ve asked for a meeting with the appropriate officials to pursue the matter, because I am concerned about it. I assure the hon. members I’m concerned with relation to the value of these law student services in these community clinics, because as a ministry we’ve worked very hard to ensure that these community clinics continue to be funded by the Law Society.

Mr. Bounsall: I gather then that the minister will be approaching the Management Board of Cabinet in a very forceful way to get this programme restored? Will the minister try and ensure that there are more positions made available in the programme this summer, because of the success of last summer’s programme? In the intervening time, funded through the law schools as part of their training programme, they are handling a much higher caseload at the moment than they did last summer.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t think I have anything to add to my previous answer, other than to say that I am concerned about the matter. It is being reviewed and I’ll have some further information for the hon. member opposite within the next day or two.

Ms. Speaker: The question period has expired.


Presenting reports.

Clerk of the House: Mr. Edighoffer, from the standing miscellaneous estimates committee, reports the following resolution:

RESOLVED: That supply in the following supplementary amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Government Service be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1976:

Ministry of Government Services

Supply and services programme $2,650,000

Ministry of Housing

Home buyers grant programme $6,000,000

Mr. Speaker: Motions.

Introduction of bills.


Mr. MacDonald moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information.

Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.

Mr. MacDonald: The purpose of this bill is to provide the public access without cost to government documents. Its underlying principle can be simply stated. Governments, in the past, have tended to operate on the assumption that all information is secret except what they choose to make public. The reverse, in my view, should be the case. All information should be public except for certain kinds of information.

Mr. Speaker: I’m afraid the hon. member is debating the bill. He’s given the principle of the bill.

Mr. MacDonald: No, I am right on the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: You may state the principle but not debate the principle, if I may clarify it.

Mr. MacDonald: That’s right. The reverse should be the case. All information should be public except for certain categories which can be legitimately kept secret and the bill sets forth those exemptions.


Mr. B. Newman moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to prevent discrimination on the basis of a physical handicap when the physical handicap does not prevent the individual from performing the duties and responsibilities of the employment opportunity. Such legislation has been operative in Nova Scotia for over a year.

Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, notice was sent around with regard to the estimates committee meeting immediately after the question period. I just want to make it clear to the members of the committee there is an understanding that the estimates committee will not, in fact, meet today, tomorrow or on Wednesday until after the three leaders have had their opportunity to reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Mr. Breithaupt: Yes, that has been agreed to, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I believe that’s the agreement; that’s right.

Orders of the day.

Clerk of the House: The first order, resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.


Mr. Lewis: Here we go again, Mr. Speaker, once more into the fray on the ides of March, a propitious day to begin the reply to the Speech from the Throne, with the Premier (Mr. Davis) speaking on St. Patrick’s Day and the leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. S. Smith), as always, happily in between.

I guess, having made that unnecessarily gratuitous reference, I want to acknowledge the new leader of the Liberal Party a little more formally than was possible on the day the House reconvened.

We will clash often in the House, I have no doubt, and there will be profound differences, but I must say to the leader of the Liberal Party that I don’t underestimate his job or his role one drop. It’s an unbelievable piece of work to try to embrace the Province of Ontario, to cover it, to absorb its nuances and move in a period of years let alone a period of months or less. I fully sympathize with the leader of the Liberal Party as he tries to encompass everything in such a short period of time.


In the last three or four weeks I myself have been in the communities of Sharbot Lake, Dresden and Iron Bridge. I thought to myself that after 12 to 13 years in politics that was the first time I had been into those three separate communities for any length of time in the entire period. What an extraordinarily large province it is and how difficult it is to get around. Some of us understand the relentlessness of it all.

However, the leader of the Liberal Party is not entirely an unknown quantity as he takes his seat in the House. We have had glimpses of insight into some of his attitudes and approaches, three of which I want briefly to mention, and then launch into the government where the real adversary lies.

First of all, about the Liberal leader, I was extremely gratified to read that he is really more a Tory than a Liberal. That was reassuring, It was the wise man of the fourth estate, Harold Greer, in the Hamilton Spectator, doubtless circulated --


Mr. Lewis: What is all the coughing for? An inestimably perceptive man, Harold Greer, in those rare columns with which we agree. This one is headed, “Smith’s Philosophy Not Far from That of the Conservatives,” and it contains a quote from the member for Hamilton West, who said shortly after his election as leader: “Philosophically, I suppose there are not too many differences between the Conservatives and the sort of Liberal Party I would like to see shaping up under my leadership.”

Hon. Mr. Davis: There is room over here.

Mr. Lewis: “The difference, however, may not be in philosophy but in practice.”

Mr. Foulds: There sure is; we’ll be over.

Mr. S. Smith: We will be occupying that room pretty soon.

Mr. Lewis: This rump over here was rather the way it was between 1971 and 1975. The members can envisage them as brethren if they would.

Hon. Mr. Davis: We envisage everybody as brethren.

Mr. Lewis: If it is just a difference in practice, I wondered why the voters would choose a learned fellow from Hamilton West rather than a learned fellow from Brampton.

Hon. Mr. Davis: They won’t. The answer to that is obvious: they won’t.

Mr. Lewis: That’s right. In that choice they will continue choosing the member for Brampton, I agree. There is, happily, another choice.

“Of course,” said the member for Hamilton West, “many of the criticisms of the Conservative government might also be levelled at the federal Liberal government, but I can assure you that if they deserve those criticisms I will be glad to make them.” And Harold Greer says: “So a Liberal is a Conservative is a Liberal. Now, where does that get us? More important, where does it leave a lonely Liberal like me?”

Mr. Shore: Where do you start defining that one?

Mr. Lewis: We all have compassion for dear Harold. But he has struck an interesting note as the free enterprisers on my left rush to embrace the free enterprisers across the way in their negotiation of the throne.

There is another aspect to the leader of the Liberal Party that I just wanted to spend a word on, and that is that I noticed early on in the leadership race he said he was going to stand toe to toe and slug it out with the leader of the NDP.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Right out there.

Mr. Lewis: I want the House to know, I concede in advance. I always thought I was capable of greater rhetorical excesses than most people in the Legislature. I always thought I had a gift for outrageous hyperbole second to none. But I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, I have met my match and I want to show honourable concession in advance. I met my match, I guess, two or three weeks ago it was, when the leader of the Liberal Party held a press conference early in the afternoon, just after lunch, and said of the Minister of Health -- he who had been closing down hospitals and reforming the health services -- “You are a courageous man and I congratulate you for it; humane, decent, courageous.”

Hon. F. S. Miller: He was right.

Mr. Lewis: And then the leader of the Liberal Party went to speak to the faithful at dinner and he said the Minister of Health was the bubonic plague. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, courage for lunch and the plague for dinner, and not even intellectual indigestion along the way. I have to bow, not just to a peer, but to a master --

Mr. Shore: The Leader of the Opposition is still the champ.

Mr. Lewis: -- and I do so with great pleasure.

The leader of the Liberal Party is upset with the NDP. We appreciate that. I had some information related to surveys recently which makes me feel fairly good about that obsession. He feels that we don’t understand the climate. I have only one observation which came to me from some unhappy party supporters from the Sarnia Observer, Dec. 3, 1975, when the various Liberal leadership candidates were vying for the finale:

“Dr. Stuart Smith said to the meeting the economies of the NDP ‘has not changed one iota from the time of Karl Marx.’”

That’s in quotes. Well, I mean he discerns the difference between Groucho and Karl and I’ve always felt that at least is one useful step.

“He said he doubted if some of the NDP understood Marx’s philosophy. ‘The NDP is depressed over the fact that people are competitive by nature,’ he said. ‘We don’t take over a person’s life when we liberate them.’”

Are you ready for the next sentence, my colleagues?

“‘We don’t liberate them the way the Russians liberated Latvia.’”

Mr. Martel: He needs a psychiatrist.

Mr. S. Smith: If the Premier wants to borrow the line, it is his; it is okay.

Mr. Good: That didn’t bring a very good response.

Mr. Lewis: There we are. As a matter of fact, the only other fellow in the House who used the relationship to the Russians latterly, is another chap from Hamilton who represents the Mountain. I thought to myself whatever else politics brings in Ontario in the next little while I hope it is rather less of that stuff than more.

In any event, were not now the government cherishing its 36 per cent -- is that what it got -- 36 per cent of the popular vote in September, 1975?

Mr. Shore: What percentage did you get?

Mr. Lewis: Twenty-nine, as a matter of fact, which for us was an extraordinary achievement.

Mr. Breithaupt: We got one per cent more.

Mr. Lewis: And it is still going up, although I wouldn’t have believed it. But then I’ll come back to that at the end of my remarks.

Mr. R. S. Smith: Have you polled your household?

Mr. Lewis: The honeymoon period of the Legislature that characterized the fall of 1975 is obviously very much over. I said that once and people thought that it was sabre rattling. They felt that I was immediately implying the Legislature or the government would somehow come to an end and threatening to do so. I want the Premier and others in the Legislature to know that I always felt that was a simple statement of fact rather than a statement of provocation.

I think it’s probably true that the effort to overcome differences in the immediate wake of the minority outcome in September, 1975 allowed for some very productive and useful legislative activity in the later fall and that every party in the Legislature moved hard to do that. But the events in the interim have caused fundamental divisions, at least between the government and ourselves, divisions on matters of philosophy, approach and attitudes. It doesn’t mean that minority governments won’t work for some considerable time. It does mean, however, that we will have to oppose and want to oppose a number of the initiatives which the government has taken and will take and that the euphoria which was characteristic of post-September is simply not enough. No one on this side of the Legislature in the official opposition feels particularly uptight about that reality. It is, I think, simply a reality and has to be faced.

Because a lot has happened between Dec. 18, and March 9, other than that brief and largely unreal couple of days when we ordered the Metropolitan Toronto teachers back to work, I want to deal this afternoon with a number of things that have happened, to which we have taken exception, and a number of things that haven’t happened which we think should have occurred. I want to deal with Health and the Minister of Health. I would like to deal with Community and Social Services. I want to deal a little with agriculture since it is the special penchant of the Premier. Oh, yes, 26 acres an hour; that’s not just penchant with the Premier, it’s paranoia. So I’ll spend a little time on it. I want also to deal with some environmental hazards as they relate to government. But, Mr. Speaker, primarily, I want to focus initially on the restraint programme of the government -- so-called -- as it affects health and hospitals.

Mr. Speaker, pretty simply put, at the heart of the storm of public feeling and political opposition, lies the closing of small community hospitals. And even though it has been done before, though not frequently in this Legislature, I want to review some of the aspects of that controversy. I must say that the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) -- is that the riding? -- spoke feelingly about his own community. And my own colleague from Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta) I thought put it extremely well on the lead off to the supplementary Health estimates last week.

But, let me very briefly try to recapitulate a number of grounds as to why we, in the New Democratic Party caucus, feel so strongly about what occurred.

First, there was about the whole episode a profoundly undemocratic character. If the government is going to undertake a startling and dislocating redefinition of health services to the extent that it involves the closing down of small community hospitals, then the Legislature should be much in session for much of the minister’s activity. We should be able to debate it in this forum as it is proceeding, or before it takes place, so that there is some sense in the province generally that there exists a focus for discontent.

The minister’s refusal to set it out before the Legislature before Dec. 18 -- as a matter of fact, with great respect, the duplicity inherent in the Legislature closing on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 18, and the telegrams going to Goderich and Northeastern and the four public health labs on Friday, Dec. 19, is a particular blemish on the behaviour of the government. It tends to show up in the public mind, if I may say -- and I don’t expect the minister to agree -- the kind of anti-democratic, almost insolent political behaviour for which a great many of us are now rebuked, government and politicians generally.

The second thing I wanted to say to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is that we oppose the closing down of the community hospitals also because of the lack of consultation and the incredible arbitrariness with which it was conducted.

I had never understood a position quite so incredible as that which the Minister of Health engaged in during the couple of months that he ran around the province closing down hospitals. I must admit that I, myself, went from community to community with a fear and anxiety that they might be next on the list. It was strong and compelling. The minister induced in the Province of Ontario a sense of unease unparalleled in a number of years, and he did it in a way which made everything appear to be a fait accompli and the entire process to appear to be senseless, insensitive and unfeeling.

We disagree with the rationale that the minister provided for the closings. Even so, it was sorely unnecessary to approach it in that fashion. I know the minister has made the argument again and again that had he taken time to consult in advance, it wouldn’t have worked. I know that Mr. Chatfield, in his interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail, said that the more people you consult with the harder it is to reach a consensus.


If you will forgive me, Mr. Minister, to the Speaker, those are the words of a bureaucrat who is both skilled and knowledgeable, but they should not be the patterns of behaviour of a politician. The minister’s refusal to consult the community in advance engendered such anger and frustration and rage that I have not seen its like in some time. I remember getting the letter from the doctors at the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital in Goderich and I just wanted to put it on the record, because I could hardly credit it then and I can hardly credit it now. This is the county of Charlie MacNaughton; this is the county where people used to be Tory and this is the county where people are not given to extremes or to immoderation. It is to Frank Miller:

“Hon. Sir:

“At a special meeting of the medical staff of the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital, Goderich, Ontario, the following resolution was passed unanimously:

“The ministerial decision to close the Goderich Psychiatric Hospital has been without due consultation of local health professionals and seriously endangers adequate provision of total psychiatric care in Huron county. We believe this represents an unbridled, unilateral use of force of the government without consultation, compassion or reason. The planned closure of general hospital beds in Huron county threatens the right of the people in Huron county to adequate health care and the method used by the provincial government in planning these closures is totally undemocratic.

“Therefore, we call upon the Minister of Health to: (1) Reverse his decision on the closure of the Goderich Psychiatric Hospital; (2) Withdraw plans for closure of general hospital beds in Huron county; (3) Commit himself and his ministry to decision by consultation with representatives at local levels; or, failing responsible actions on these lines, we call upon the minister, the hon. Frank Miller, the deputy minister, Mr. Allan Backley, and their institutional advisors to resign immediately.

“The Medical Staff”

I was really flummoxed by the extent of feeling which this letter conveys.

I think the feelings are real and are legitimate because the government showed absolutely no regard for the capacities of local communities to participate in decisions which profoundly affect their very survival. It’s another example of the contempt -- maybe that’s too strong a word -- of the indifference, profound and unrelenting, which the government has developed over the last few years toward small communities in rural Ontario.

I think that’s why the Conservative base is eroding in rural Ontario, and that leads me to the third point I wanted to make very briefly.

Apart from the atmosphere of execution which accompanied the closing of the hospitals, there was an equal atmosphere of no concern for the human consequences, which were approached as though the Minister of Health -- to use a memorable phrase that a socialist colleague of mine once used in another jurisdiction -- was some desiccated, calculating machine. Everything was beds and everything was dollars and nothing was the human consequence.

When, again, the interview was given to the newspapers, it was said how difficult it was to measure these things in human terms. It is a most extraordinary sequence of events, when we have such dramatic consequences for patients, and even more dramatic consequences for staff, that it is impossible for the ministry to measure those consequences but to deal only with beds and financial savings. That, too, spread enormous disillusion through the communities affected.

We knew the Minister of Health conveyed a kind of martyrdom about it all. We know that the Minister of Health said: “I am doing something I don’t really want to do, which is terribly unpopular, and if you pelt me with snowballs, I will understand.” But it was, when all is said and done, an irrational way to behave in Ontario.

Ontario is a reasonable province. It is made up of reasonable, intelligent, thinking people; and it is time that the government responded in kind rather than stamping on their rationality.

The fourth point I want to make about the execution is that the government engendered a kind of despair in these small communities and in vulnerable and isolated ethnic communities; at least they have their own sense of isolation. In downtown Toronto, in the case of Doctors Hospital, the government engendered that kind of despair which simply didn’t make sense and, in its own way, is unforgivable. I don’t think it’s necessary to push small communities that way.

I myself met with a number of the boards and staff and representatives of citizens groups. My colleagues, along with members of the Liberal caucus, attended mass community meetings in Goderich and in Kingston and in Durham. It really makes one wonder why it’s necessary for the government to push communities beyond the breaking point. When the delegation from the community of Durham came to visit the caucuses here at Queen’s Park -- I don’t know whether they met with the government caucus, but they did meet with the NDP and I believe they met with the Liberal caucus, they set out before us the saga of Durham, which the member can put better than I. They pointed out that Durham lost its high school, Durham has lost a nursing home, Durham has lost an arena, Durham has lost its public library -- Durham even lost its name to a larger regional municipality -- and then you take away the hospital.

An hon. member: How much did it save?

Mr. Lewis: I want to tell you, that’s just too much to rain down on a small community in western Ontario. It doesn’t make sense. These are the factors that are worthy of measurement by a political party and by a government.

Your total saving on behalf of Durham, so you said, would be $550,000. If you want a straight response, Mr. Minister, through the Chair, it just isn’t worth it. To do what you’re doing to Durham isn’t worth a saving of $550,000.

That community has felt itself under siege for the last two or three years, non-stop. Those of you who were there during the time of the main controversy know what the community felt like. Those of you who know the results in Durham in the last provincial election, in the little village of Durham, know how it changed its political allegiance, largely because of the pressure it felt it was subject to; and it’s just not worth upsetting it again. There’s more to life than that.

Let me say to the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) through the Chair: $550,000 you can get from one private lab in this province, you don’t have to close down Durham.

I must say that the 1,000 or more people who turned out at the Durham meeting -- virtually the whole town -- felt again that it’s just not a civilized way to behave. You don’t have to be a romantic, you don’t have to spend your whole life believing in consultation, you just have to know that you can only lacerate and abuse small communities for so long before they rise in opposition to the government. You are gradually, systematically, eroding the confidence of small communities, and therefore, their confidence in your government, or whatever is now left of it.

The last point I wanted to make about the execution of it, briefly, is that you focused your attack on primary care models, and that’s the most irrational dimension of all. Not only didn’t you consult, not only didn’t you provide information, not only did you do it insensitively, not only did you engender fear and anxiety on the part of the communities, but you chose those communities which had first rate primary care models.

Both opposition parties have been saying to the government for years it spends too much time depending on the medical model for specialized care, make of the medical model a community health centre. Ironically, in cases like Durham and Clinton and Paris-Willett and Doctors, you had created primary care models with clinics near the hospital, with much greater outpatient loads than inpatient loads with a real sense of the hospital relationship to the community -- and that’s exactly the model you choose to decimate.

It’s just not rational. It doesn’t make sense. For the saving of money involved, it just doesn’t add up. One of the reasons that it doesn’t add up is because the saving of money is an illusion.

We oppose you on all those small closings for that whole complex of reasons, largely related to the way in which you went about it and the hospitals which you chose. I want to say to the Premier (Mr. Davis) that it is a matter of some considerable conviction, even of principle, around the delivery of health care services that you chose those hospitals and the two psychiatric centres at Goderich and Northeastern to zero in on. It speaks to a philosophy of government which we find abhorrent.

The whole process of appeal is equally ludicrous, because you relent only on your terms and you cause the community extraordinary anxiety in the process, so that they don’t really feel they’ve regained anything; they only feel an increased sense of aggravation and everyone scrambles frantically to plan in some way that will satisfy the appetites of the Minister of Health. Is there anything they can provide which will appease the minister and rescue their hospital and, therefore, their community? For places like Durham and Clinton we are not talking about beds, we are talking about a community. The government approached it as though it were beds, but they built the hospital; they contributed to it; they depend on it. It represents economic security for them and the government dashes it to the ground.

For all of that complex of reasons we don’t think it makes any sense for the government to behave in Ontario the way it behaves. But let me take it a step further which is, in economic terms, that much more compelling.

The government hasn’t even been able to prove the financial savings. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t even been able to provide with accuracy the bare amounts. We will be able to get into this in the supplementary estimates of the Ministry of Health tonight, tomorrow night, Wednesday night, whenever it comes and how long it takes. Very briefly, I want to point out a couple of things which I really didn’t understand myself and maybe I can share them with the House.

Every time we turn around the Ministry of Health is issuing new financial statements on cost savings. The Minister of Health issued fact sheets on all of the hospital cutbacks in the last very few days and those fact sheets again amend the original intent. I can’t remember any more what the original figure was that the government was going to save from the closing of Goderich and Northeastern. Can the minister remember what it was now?

Hon. F. S. Miller: About $4 million.

Mr. Lewis: Yes, $4 million or so, in round figures, was what he was going to save but with every week that passes since Dec. 19, the figure is eroded.

I want to provide figures for Goderich and Northeastern which show that the government is going to lose money on both. The figures are irrefutable because they are the government’s. I want to tell the minister I rely on his figures when it’s useful to rely upon them. I want to tell him I have looked long and hard for the evidence -- I didn’t expect it to fall into my lap -- but here is his fact sheet on Goderich Psychiatric Hospital. If he has a pen or pencil in front of him I would like him to join with me in a little arithmetical calculation.

By the way, there is, of course, a mistake in his figures which we had to find for him and send to his office today to get corrected. That’s very sloppy; it’s not even nice. I want to urge the minister that when he is putting out figures which involve the closing down of communities and community hospitals, he gets them right.

Mr. Lawlor: Get another adding machine.

Mr. Lewis: The figures are these. The annual cost of operating Goderich Psychiatric is $4,754,000. Then the minister says: Expenditures necessary to implement and maintain the proposed programmes are -- I will give you the right figure here -- $1.48 million, salaries for staff and variable costs at London and Owen Sound; $1 million, adult ward psychiatric units at Stratford and Goderich; $187,000, child and adolescent programme costs at Goderich. Now here is the one that really gets to one -- the minister has before Management Board at this moment the estimated cost for the mental retardation resource centre at Goderich $2,615,000 -- given to us this morning courtesy of an excellent person whose name I will not use for fear he expunges him from the public service of Ontario. The exact total expenditure at Goderich therefore becomes $5,282,200; the total cost before was $4,754,000. The minister’s net saving is a loss of $527,000. My congratulations to him.

Mr. Shore: He should be able to handle that.

Mr. Peterson: That’s an easy one.

Hon. F. S. Miller: With great respect that’s the kind of arithmetic --

Mr. Lewis: Well, tell me where I’m wrong. Go ahead. I’ll sit down and tell me where I’m wrong.


Hon. F. S. Miller: For one thing, it comes from the federal government. That’s the reason, because he’s comparing two entirely different programmes; a programme which is in another ministry, occupying space which otherwise would have been vacant, but which had been provided.

Mr. Lewis: Come on. Well that’s really an interesting matter.

Mr. MacDonald: I thought this was a government restriction.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: You are opposed to accepting federal money for retardation; is that what you are saying?

Mr. Martel: Where is the money?


Mr. Lewis: As a matter of fact, if the minister wants a direct answer to his question, we are all opposed to turning the Goderich psychiatric facilities into an adult institution for the mentally retarded. It’s not only the caucuses on this side of the House which are opposed to it, but the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded is opposed to it. The working group associated with Huron and London related counties says: “The decision to use the Goderich institution as a mental retardation facility was made in an arbitrary and political manner without any consultation whatsoever with the Ontario Association for the Mentally Retarded or the London district working group.”

They refused to participate with the minister on it -- because they want no part of that.

Now first talk to us about the ministry’s restraint programme. Does the minister mean it is all right to cut back in the Ministry of Health, and then the government can spend further in the Ministry of Community and Social Services? Does the minister know why he opened up Goderich as a facility for the adult mentally retarded? For the worst possible reasons; so he could get 50 per cent of the cost funded by the federal government. That’s the motive.

He’s already got four major centres for the mentally retarded in the vicinity of Goderich. Nobody in the world suggests he should be setting up a centre for 150 adult retarded of Goderich. What kind of community value is that? What kind of good faith is that for the mentally retarded?

Mr. MacDonald: They’ll close it down next year.

Mr. Lewis: The fact of the matter is that the minister has rationalized his services as follows: He destroyed an excellent psychiatric unit, he dislocated a community, he has thrown a number of adolescents and children who were in treatment out of the continuity of treatment, he has set out a centre for the adult retarded at Goderich which is not wanted and makes no sense in economic or human terms; and he ends up spending $527,000 more than he spent before. The figures are exact and I challenge the minister to deny them. He wouldn’t give them to me.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You are wrong.

Mr. Lewis: When I wrote to him, he wouldn’t give them to me. I had to phone the civil servants to find out what they were.

I just want to go to my speech for a few minutes, just to show the minister what he has done. In Northeastern, these are the figures.

By the way, what I didn’t say, because it was a moment of charity, is that these figures do not include the alcoholic services, which he is committed to allocate in other locations in Goderich. All of these figures don’t even include that; in fact it will cost much more. He dismantled a psychiatric model of a first rate kind and ended up spending more of the taxpayers’ money to do it; and got less both for psychiatry and retardation. His people are economic incompetents.

Let me tell you what he did at Northeastern, because here again the Ministry of Community and Social Services was good enough to give us the figures. One day they will give the minister the figures, then he’ll be able to understand; if the ministry ever develops the figures itself for the minister.

In the Northeastern example, the total annual cost for Northeastern, when he closed it down, was $3,445,000. The expenditures necessary to implement and maintain the proposed programmes are: $1,272,000 for staff and variable costs at North Bay and vicinity; $500,000 adult ward psychiatric unit at Northeastern -- that’s 20 beds -- and child and adolescent programme costs at Northeastern, $398,000. The cost of the mental retardation resource centre, from the ministry, is $1.4 million budgeted, giving a total cost for Northeastern of $3,571,000; which is exactly $126,000 more than he said he was originally paying.

Don’t give me this intellectual hokum, this financial nitwittery about if it is moved into Community and Social Services it’s all right. Again, the minister is setting up a mental retardation institution in a place where it was not sought and it is costing more money. For all I know, the minister is going to get a schedule 2 facility so he is not going to call it a schedule 1 facility.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, it’s a resource centre. It’s not schedule 1 or 2.

Mr. Lewis: They were forced to the alternative.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s not what the member said in my office. Remember, I was there.

Mr. Lewis: The working group in Timmins-Porcupine said they would have a psychiatric and retardation facility of equal beds or more beds than the psychiatric side. They never agreed to an institution which is primarily for the retarded. That was the government’s doing. They have to accept it to save jobs.

Mr. Riddell: Perhaps they didn’t like the system.

Mr. Lewis: That’s what the government told them.

But let me come back for a moment. What isn’t included in this, because again we didn’t feel it necessary to drive the nail through the wall is the cost of the alcoholism programme which the minister says will retain its current level of service. It doesn’t include, let me read from the minister’s release: “Regional psychiatric teams, staffed by health workers from the communities being served, will provide outpatient and daycare service for residents of Timmins, Kapuskasing and Timiskaming.” Where are the costs for that?

At the very least the attacks on Northeastern and Goderich result in a loss overall -- or in an additional expenditure, because I suppose more money spent on people isn’t a loss -- but an additional expenditure of something close to $¾ million. Now that takes some doing, and it’s going to be more when we add in all these ancillary facilities. It’s something that we warned the minister about at the outset and he laughed it off at the time. Let me not belabour it further.

Mr. Riddell: Even Charlie MacNaughton warned you of the fallacies of your system.

Mr. Lewis: Who was that excellent lawyer in Goderich?

Mr. Gaunt: Jim Donnelly.

Mr. Lewis: Jim Donnelly, who was before the Workmen’s Compensation committee; I think he’s another good Tory.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t hold your breath.

Mr. Lewis: Jim Donnelly was positively ashen at the --

Mr. Nixon: The Donnellys are all going Liberal.

Mr. Lewis: That’s all right, because the Liberals are all coming to us. It matters not as long as it’s an even flow.

Mr. Nixon: If we get the Tories and you get the Liberals we are ahead of you, buddy.

Mr. Lewis: Let me just move quickly to Durham.

One of the things the minister didn’t point out -- I don’t know whether it was pointed out to the Premier -- was that Durham is one of the very few hospitals in this province which showed a budgetary surplus, which has come in under budget every single year since 1971. It saved the Province of Ontario $58,000 in 1971; $53,000 in 1972; $39,000 in 1973; $14,000 in 1974; and $20,000 in 1975. It saved a total of almost $200,000 over five years on budgets which had been approved by the ministry; and as a way of thanks, the minister closed them down. That’s appreciation and a half. That’s a smart way to deal with a small community hospital.

Mr. Shore: That is why they are closing them down; they don’t want any of that stuff.

Mr. Lewis: The minister sent them letters saying there is a chronic care shortage of some 34 beds in the county and then pointed out that their rate of chronic occupancy was running at about 29 per cent. Anyone else might have tried to mesh the two.

For their surpluses the minister penalizes them; for their chronic care vacancies he penalizes them. There was no rationality when it came to Durham.

At Clinton, the minister took the single, most efficient hospital in the entire Huron county community, and because it was efficient and because it was the centre geographically, he closed it down. Again, it’s very hard to comprehend the behaviour of the ministry. The minister said that if every hospital was operating at 90 per cent level of efficiency in the surrounding area they might be able to absorb the patient flow from Clinton.

Mr. Nixon: Maybe Charlie MacNaughton had something to do with that.

Mr. Lewis: Ninety per cent efficiency is five to 10 per cent higher than the Handbook of Hospital Administration recommends, and it is clearly not the kind of rationale on which to base a hospital closing. The Clinton closing, which I want to discuss more fully when we get into the estimates again, is a really serious violation of good health delivery.

Then there is Paris-Willett. The member who represents the community will doubtless be engaging in debate with the Minister of Health at some point during the supplementary Health estimates, Mr. Speaker, but you know, again your Ministry of Health is really quite something. Brant county is right in the midst of a long-term care study. It is chaired by a lawyer in Brantford -- what’s his name?

Mr. Nixon: Lefebvre.

Mr. Lewis: It is chaired by Mark Lefebvre in Brantford. They have just produced their first set of figures. It’s one of the best health care studies of the county you could find, and right in the midst of it, without so much as an inkling of what was coming, the minister closed down Paris-Willett. Did the minister look at the material provided in the process? Does he realize that he has a memo from the Ministry of Health to the long-term care study group, dated Jan. 12, 1976, and another memo to the long-term care study group dated March 1, 1976; and does he know that those memos contain different figures? Does he know that those memos, prepared by his own Ministry of Health staff, contradict, directly the bed-use allocations which the long-term care study group had provided -- bed by bed, chronic instance by chronic instance -- and that it shows that the minister’s calculations are entirely off base?

Does the minister know that he uses different population estimates in the various memos which he provided for the hospital and for the long-term care study? Does he know that he says in one of his memos that the Paris population in this last year dropped by 800 people? Is that so? Did Paris’s population decline by something like 800?

Mr. Nixon: No.

Mr. Lewis: Who would have thought it?

Mr. Nixon: Serious error in the statistics in the ministry.

Mr. Lewis: Is there a serious error? I would have thought it was an error. It is not so much in my mind whether it’s serious or dramatic.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: You haven’t left town yet.

Mr. Lewis: It is rather interesting that the minister underestimated Brantford’s population sufficiently to have elicited a letter from the city protesting what the minister had done.

Mr. Nixon: Ten Tories left. They finally gave up.

Mr. Lewis: The minister underestimated Paris’s population sufficiently to make one wonder about the closing down of the hospital, and yet he goes ahead and closes it. As I say, we will get into the figures later on, but it is really a matter of some interest that that is the way his outfit operates.

Then we come to Doctors Hospital. Doctors Hospital shouldn’t have been closed, in our submission, for the simple matter of the ethnic and immigrant community which it served, which no other hospital can serve as well. You don’t take low income, terribly vulnerable groups of people like these living in the area to which Doctors Hospital was most supportive, and close down Doctors Hospital.

Mr. Martel: Maybe the Premier can take them over to Italy next year.

Mr. Lewis: I want to point out to the minister that, again, he keeps changing his figures. He might think it is highly comical, but it is not comical to those who have to deal with it.

In his speech back in February the minister said there were some 400 surplus beds available in the city of Toronto. In the note which he sent out he uses the figure 512. Henderson says there was a deficit in his report.

Sometimes the minister says city of Toronto, sometimes he says Metro Toronto. He uses different and interchangeable figures with different definitions every time one reads him, and he does it all with bravado and panache; but none of it compensates for throwing 554 people out of work, hardly any of whom will have an opportunity to find re-employment in the hospital system; none of them.

The minister says so easily that the patients can go to the hospitals in the surrounding vicinity. Again, we were kind of interested in that. So we phoned every single hospital in the city of Toronto and spoke to the administrator, and where we could we broke it down ward by ward, based on the minister’s calculation of occupancy rates.


Perhaps we could agree with something at the outset. When the immigrant community were asked which were the hospitals to which they would most likely go if Doctors closed down, the only three hospitals of which people were aware in the whole Kensington area were Western, St. Joe’s and TGH. There was some sense, vaguely, of Sick Kids. But those were the hospitals. I think the minister would agree with me that the hospital they would primarily be aware of is Western because it’s closer and it speaks to an adjacent population.

Can I tell you something about Western? Western is running at 90 per cent occupancy now. The average beds in daily use at Western are 516 for every single ward and area of the hospital. There are six beds available before you reach 90 per cent in the obstetrical and gynecological ward, and that’s it. The one hospital to which all of Doctors is most likely to be referred is running at 90 per cent occupancy now. Does that make sense to you? It makes no sense to us at all, none at all.

The next hospital, St. Joe’s, would have a surplus of 70 beds on a 90 per cent occupancy rating. But those 70 beds are kind of illusory when one remembers that the ministry just reduced St. Joe’s budget by $1,229,000. What’s that going to mean in terms of beds and staff?

At the Toronto General Hospital, which is already largely outside the appropriate area, there are 61 beds available at a 90 per cent occupancy rate, but the ministry just cut Toronto General by $913,000. What’s that going to mean to beds and staff?

No matter how you look at it, the 90 per cent occupancy formula itself doesn’t satisfy the patient need for Doctors Hospital. I raise it, not because patients won’t be cared for, because in the Minister of Health’s (Mr. F. S. Miller) tough and, if I may say, fairly roughshod way, patients will obviously find their way somewhere, however excessive the additional costs may be.

What the minister of Health never took into account was a serious appraisal of the alternatives. He didn’t take it into account before he closed down the hospital. He closed down Doctors Hospital and said to them: “We will do everything we can to find alternative jobs for you.” That came from the Minister of Health.

I was in that hospital one month later and in the entire month not a single member of the ministry’s staff had been in touch with anyone from Doctors Hospital to see about alternative job placement. Does the minister call that good faith? He walks into a hospital and says: “You are closed down April 1, or as close to it as we can achieve,” then an entire month goes by and he doesn’t look at the placement of staff.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Do you know why?

Mr. Lewis: I don’t know why.

Hon. F. S. Miller: They are waiting to see the Premier (Mr. Davis).

Mr. Lewis: Oh, they are waiting to see the Premier, doubtless to receive a reprieve from the Premier. It is just a terribly cynical way of approaching the closing of community hospitals.

Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege, I think as the member of this Legislature who up until this point has certainly been most vocal in opposing that closing --


Mr. Grossman: Just wait until you hear the point of privilege. I certainly will be carrying this forward when we do get to the Health estimates. I think it’s only fair to point out to this House that specifically in my discussions with the minister I have understood that that right of appeal was indeed still open until the board of directors goes in and sees the Premier, which is shortly. Until that time, as the member for the area, right or wrong, I have said to the minister that I don’t want to discuss alternatives until it becomes final, I have said to him, “Please don’t discuss alternatives. Leave the hospital intact, because if the hospital is broken up by way of some of those people finding alternative jobs, then the thing is useless.”

Mr. Speaker: This is becoming a speech not a point of privilege.

Mr. Lewis: All right.

Mr. Riddell: Maybe I should get up now, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Lewis: Why not? To you I would defer willingly on such a matter as this.

I must say to you, Mr. Speaker, that the behaviour of the minister varies depending on the institution. In the case of Goderich, which also had the right of appeal, the minister was in there so fast with his personnel directors, setting out what he calls quaintly enough, “staff surplus forms.” I visited the hospital on the day the minister was doing the interviews with staff surplus forms while he was still allegedly reconsidering what was going on. It just depends on where the pressure comes from and how the minister might respond.

The fact of the matter is that Doctors Hospital has been dealt with in bad faith from beginning to end. Even the business about rebuilding at a cost of $15 million is largely misrepresentation, because the rebuilding which Doctors Hospital was after had the approval of the Ministry of Health as a new model -- as a new experiment -- for the delivery of family medical services within a hospital setting. It was not a rebuilding in any sense in the classic rebuilt hospital tradition. And the minister has used that -- worked out in good faith with him -- as a club to beat them about the head with.

These hospital closings have no rhyme, no reason; they are costly, they are futile, they are destructive in human terms. I don’t understand why the minister has pursued them. When it was raised with him in the Legislature the other day, the minister said, “Don’t laugh at $9 million. You have to start somewhere.”

Mr. Speaker, that kind of thing pretty nicely sticks in the craw of a lot of members of the opposition. If we are dealing with health, I can tell you we would start somewhere else. But even if we are not dealing with health, it was quite fascinating to pick up the press reports on the weekend on the Provincial Auditor’s report and to find that the German loan we had negotiated several years ago cost the people of Ontario an additional $9 million this year.

Mr. Martel: Morty warned you.

Mr. Lewis: I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I saw how the figures were coincident. Like my colleague from Sudbury East, I remember back to the days in this Legislature when the then member for High Park said to Charles MacNaughton, John White and Darcy McKeough, “It is going to cost Ontario millions to engage in this West German loan.” And he was laughed at and ridiculed.

The fact of the matter is that at precisely the moment the government saves $9 million on small community hospitals, it throws it out on a loan that never should have been negotiated in the first place and about which the government had plenty of advance warning.

Mr. Martel: They had all the answers. They are so bloody arrogant --

Mr. Lewis: It is absolute and total fiscal mismanagement in every sense. Everything that has been done in the Ministry of Health, with respect, has been done impulsively and to compensate for past transgressions. I want to tell the minister that we do not agree with his ward cutbacks or his budget staff cutbacks either, because we have not seen the justification for any of it yet in a serious and documented fashion and we will not embrace it under any circumstances until we do. I know the leader of the Liberal Party said to the minister, through the press conference, that he was sure the minister had the material and hoped he would reveal it some day, but we haven’t seen it.

I would imagine that the fellow from Owen Sound who sits over in the Liberal Party wonders how the minister can cut another $443,000 from the Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital, as the minister announced a few days ago at precisely the same moment that he closed down Durham and Chesley. Now there is an artful achievement! A hospital has been running at overcapacity, the minister closes down two hospitals nearby and cuts its budget by nearly half a million.

I imagine the people in Peterborough wonder about the cutting of the Peterborough General Hospital by $550,000 when there were 412 psychiatric admissions last year to medical and surgical beds in Peterborough, so pressed were the circumstances. And the minister cut back in Whitby and in Kingston, and the extension of the Peterborough psychiatric wing from 25 to 68 beds is not taking place. There is no rationality even in the minister’s individual cutbacks -- at least not that we have been able to see.

Mr. Martel: How about Parry Sound?

Mr. Lewis: So the reality is that the minister shouldn’t ask us to support any of what he has done. And when he calls on my colleague from Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta) and talks about what he said about one out of five beds, let me remind the minister, since he has quoted him out of context so often, what it sounds like when one quotes him in context. This is what he said on page 11 of the speech which he delivered in November in leading off the Health estimates debates:

“However, let me tell you very plainly, Mr. Minister, that although you and I both agree that this type of patient does not belong in hospital, that is, chronic or convalescent patients, you cannot cut one in five beds until you provide alternative community-based services. You are taking a real risk with your heedless unplanned economizing.”

That’s the part of the member for Parkdale that the minister never read. So “one out of five beds,” he read, but that he should not cut them until he has alternatives, that he is always willing to overlook. That of course is central to the position we have taken. If you want to rationalize something to do with beds, you have got to provide the alternatives and that is clearly the heart of the matter. There is no fundamental planning in the minister’s whole health system. There is no courage to come to grips with the health delivery system generally. He has chosen to cut back on hospital beds but not to deal in a principled and single-minded fashion with the real problems within the system. The minister is not willing, in other words, to deal with the doctors.

Well, I want to tell the minister, that we think health costs in Ontario are probably about right. I don’t think we are willing to panic. I don’t think they can skyrocket but the minister knows that, as a percentage of the gross provincial product, health costs in 1971 were 4.7 per cent and, as a percentage of the gross provincial product, health costs in 1975 are 4.8 per cent. That’s hardly a dramatic leap, is it? Around five per cent of the gross provincial product. That’s not unfair for health. The minister will know that in 1971, as a percentage of the total budget, health represented 29.7 per cent, and in 1975 estimates for health will represent 26.3 per cent -- a budget percentage of 25, 26, 27 per cent; around a quarter of the expenditures for health, I don’t think that’s unreasonable, so long as we continue to rationalize and economize, within the system, in a way which makes sense. Those are the ways which take some courage and those are the ways which you, as a ministry, are not prepared to engage in.

We talked often in the past few days -- if I may recall to the minister’s mind, because I want to deal briefly with one area of cutbacks -- of private labs and I want to do a calculation for him, a very simple calculation. If the private lab costs, through OHIP, have gone up 15 per cent a year as they should have at maximum from 1972, we would have saved, in this province, $65 million. Even this year, had they gone up 15 per cent, we would have saved between $35 million and $40 million, this year alone. That’s equivalent to all the minister’s cost-cutting, inflated though it may be, right across Ontario and yet he let it happen. We continue to pay, on this side of the House, for the transgressions of his government.

I wonder if he remembers the words of Dick Potter in the Legislature on June 20, 1972? May they haunt the government for some time to come. My colleague from Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) had just engaged in questioning the then Minister of Health about the private labs and about the regulations and this is what Mr. Potter said:

“As was asked here a minute or two ago, under section (f) of these regulations ‘prescribing classes of persons who shall not be owners of laboratories or have also interest therein,’ I for one do not believe that any physician, any practising physician, who is practising medicine should be involved in any connection with laboratories, any more than I think he should have anything to do with nursing homes.

“This is one of the reasons we have put this in the regulations...By the same token, under section (m), which was questioned, ‘instituting of a system for the payment, by the province, of all or any part of the annual expenditures of laboratories...’ I think this is one method that I would like to consider [the budget method] for the private laboratories to get away from the fee-for-service basis. Under a system such as this we could get away from the suggestion that was made here earlier today of the kickback and this type of thing.

“I think that the public must be made aware that health facilities and health services, as we are providing them for the citizens of Ontario, are for the citizens; that we are not providing them as a method of making a fast buck or as a convenience for either the physician or the patient; that we are providing them as a needed service and as such we are not going to stand by and see some individuals make a racket out of it or make a lot of money out of it. I expect anyone to make a decent salary and a fair profit, but I don’t expect people to make a killing out of some of these things that are necessary for the rest of the citizens of Ontario.”


June 20, 1972, to March 1975; the people of Ontario have thrown $65 million down the drain in the interim, courtesy the government of Ontario. It has closed small community hospitals. There is something really wrong with the government. I have never understood how ineffective, incompetent, inadequate, and inefficient its members are as managers. They’ve planned the economy badly. They accrue enormous deficits but still pay no attention to any commitment they make to the Legislature at any time.

By working away at it, needling at it, constantly riding it, we end up finding out that Goderich and Northeastern will cost more, and the labs have saved nothing and cost a lot more. This government goes from profligacy to spendthriftery one day after the other as only the Tories can manage.

I want to say to the government, neologism aside, that I really don’t think the government does itself any credit by discontinuance. There is something profoundly repugnant in the operations of the Ministry of Health that it should have closed down those four little public health labs without ever trying to rationalize them within the system for a saving, so-called, of $400,000 while it trifled away $65 million -- $35 million of it this year.

Where are the scruples of the Ministry of Health? Where are the regulations? When is it going to behave reasonably in a reasonable province?

As we look at the cost-cutting that could have been done, like that of the private labs, lo and behold, we discover unnecessary surgery in Ontario coming forward as yet another nightmare situation.

I’m sure the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) read the comments of Sidney Katz in the Toronto Star on Saturday and today, and doubtless for the next three or four days. Our hope, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, is that he noticed that it is felt OHIP spends about $124 million a year more than it need spend on unnecessary operations.

I have no horror stories for the House; I don’t know of any. I must say that I cannot make all of the assessment. Obviously, none of us can, but the experts can.

Katz has approached the experts. Some have made appropriate surgical comparisons. It is obviously clear that we could be saving an enormous amount of money for health in Ontario on unnecessary surgical procedures if we were willing to do anything about this field.

But we’re not, are we? It’s like every other field. It means taking the doctors on. It means dealing with the medical profession. It means dealing fundamentally with the health delivery system. How much easier it is to trot, canter, or race into some little community, meet with its defenceless board of directors, and close it down. That’s a lot easier than confronting the problems and excesses of the system itself because nothing ever happens when you deal with the major thing. All we get are general homilies and general promises.

On Friday morning last, if I’m correct, the leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. S. Smith) dealt with statistical data on unnecessary surgery and referred specifically to Dr. Eugene Vayda who practices in Hamilton and who teaches, I guess, at McMaster. He had done a five-year analysis of surgical rates in the Canadian provinces. His analysis of surgical rate comparisons, the minister will know, is a very complex and difficult one, requiring skill and expertise. Dr. Vayda’s paper of the period 1968 to 1972 submitted to the American Public Health Association, 104th annual meeting on Nov. 18, 1975, is a milestone in the field of a succession of papers. I call it a milestone. It was his second study; the first was the comparisons with England and Wales. It wasn’t just Dr. Vayda’s paper, it was also submitted by Mary Morrison, MA, and Gary D. Anderson, PhD. The reason I mention that with some considerable pride is that Mary Morrison, MA, is now working with the New Democratic research group. She was good enough to use the expertise gathered in this paper, which she submitted with Dr. Vayda, to do a number of comparable analyses for us on the related jurisdictional comparisons. I would like to share some of them with you.

I must say that it has been quite a learning experience for me. I didn’t realize the extraordinary range of studies that have been done in this field in surgical rate comparisons. These comparisons have been related to disease incidence, to differing indications for surgery, for the organization of practice, to the degree of internal audit, to the characteristics of personnel doing surgery, to social class, and to availability of hospital beds and surgeons. In other words, there is an enormous literature and some awfully good studies, and many of them tend to show the same kind of things.

Hastings and Co., who did the study in 1970 of the Sault Ste. Marie plan on health insurance, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, pointed out the extraordinary savings in the group health plan for the performance of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. It was Pearson who, in the Lancet magazine in 1968, compared the hospital caseloads in Liverpool, England, and in Upsala, for tonsillectomy, appendectomy, hysterectomy, and gall bladder. I am not going to try to pronounce cholecystectomy -- although I didn’t do badly on that particular effort.

The minister will also know that in Saskatchewan, in 1970, the range of hysterectomy operations being performed really worried that province. So they set up an audit committee at the centre composed of representatives from the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons and the government. Slowly but dramatically the rate of those hysterectomy operations has been dropping from 1970 to 1973, so that now the rates are significantly below those of Ontario.

The minister will know perhaps that in the American Journal of Public Health there was a special study on the steelworkers; you may know that the Science Journal, 1973, carried a study of variations in health delivery parameters among regions in Vermont, on tonsillectomy, appendectomy, gall bladder and hysterectomy; that a chap named Lewis, in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1969, did the same among various regions in Kansas. Then there was Dr. Vayda’s major study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1973; and on England and Wales in 1968.

If you take the rate ratios between 1968 and 1972, as they compare among provinces, or as they compare between Ontario and the United States, or between Ontario and England and Wales -- not the rates, but the ratios, which are the important factors here -- then you find for the Province of Ontario a fascinating number of areas of improvement. For instance, the ratio of surgery in the United States for Ontario, Ontario surgical procedures in the area of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, are 1.36 times that of the US across the board; appendectomy 1.34; hysterectomy 1.1; gall-bladder operations 2.01.

Now take that ratio and compare it to the total operations done in the United States and in Ontario on equivalent years and assume that even if there are changes in years, the ratios remain the same. If you look at the dollars you would save through doctors’ fees, and the dollars you would save on hospital days -- let me show the House how it works out, because it might interest the members.

On tonsillectomies, we would save a total in doctors’ fees of $715,000 and a total in hospital days, in dollars, of $2,755,000. In hysterectomies and appendectomies, we would save in doctors’ fees, $434,000, and in hospital days, $2,719,000. In hysterectomies we would save in doctors’ fees, $419,000, and in dollars in hospital days, $2,445,000. In cholecystectomies -- gall bladders, that is -- we would save in doctors’ fees, $3,027,000, and in hospital beds, $17,244,000, for a total saving for the Province of Ontario of $29,761,000 in medical fees and days saved from hospital on a comparison of the 1972 Ontario rates -- actually it’s the 1974 operations but the rate relationship with the States is 1971-1972. The United States is considered to have high surgical rates because of the absence of health insurance and because of the fee-for-service practice and the entrepreneurial activity and behaviour of the States.

Let me take it a step further. If you make those comparisons Ontario with England and Wales -- and they standardized for both; I won’t go into the details, I would like to send it to you -- your savings on tonsillectomy, hysterectomy and gall bladder in this jurisdiction would be $57,170,000 if we used operative rates here that they use in England and Wales, based on the ratios that these doctors have related.

We also did a comparison with every single province in Canada for those operations where the ratio of the performing of the operation, the number of operations performed relative to population, was lower in those provinces than it was in the Province of Ontario, and it might interest you to know the cost savings that would occur. By comparison with British Columbia, we could save $4,674,000; with Alberta, $624,000; with Saskatchewan, $129,000 -- but that’s without realizing the extraordinary drop in their hysterectomy rates, which would mean a much greater saving for Ontario; with Manitoba, $8 million; Quebec, $4,698,000; New Brunswick, $971,000; Nova Scotia, $1,710,000. The Newfoundland comparison is probably not fair, because the ratio of surgeons to population is so much lower that that would account for a low rate of surgery. But the other comparisons, on the basis of the actual surgical rates in given procedures, are fair.

It raises the very important question: Can and should Ontario be saving significant amounts of money by an attempt to scrupulously audit and monitor excess or unnecessary operations performed in this province? I think we should and my caucus colleagues think we should. It may be that you think we should, but if you do, it means that the medical profession as a profession must be confronted head on with the reality of what is occurring. Because if we want to save several million dollars on the basis of a comparison with another province, or as much as $29 million in a comparison with the States, or even more if we choose jurisdictions further afield, then it is absolutely vital that you confront the medical profession and that your confrontation with the medical profession doesn’t consist solely of unnecessary operations but ranges over the whole field.

My colleague from Parkdale (Mr. Dukszta) had said, in his very recent presentation to you last week, and I quote:

“Health care spending is controlled by doctors. Virtually every single service which the Ministry of Health budget pays for is accessible only through a doctor. Why then, to cut spending, are we only cutting hospital beds, public health labs and psychiatric services?”

The question, it seems to me, is unanswerable. The question is unanswerable. So we would wish to cut services by using the private labs; we would wish to cut costs by using the reduction in unnecessary operations and we provide for the minister the following:


A careful examination of the excess in the major teaching hospitals; a scrupulous review of the teaching hospitals and the way the money is being used rather than the smaller community hospitals. We commend to the minister, second, a whole assessment of the specialist concentration in Ontario, because specialists who emerge through tertiary care teaching hospital facilities perpetuate the syndrome endlessly and invariably the costs are higher than they need be. That requires, again, a confrontation of all the health care deliveries which the minister has not been prepared to make.

We ask the minister to take a look at the nurse practitioner and paramedical personnel, independent of their subordination to the medical profession and particularly the surgical profession, in order to see where costs can be cut. We suggest to you home care and community clinics, which are hardly off the ground. Ontario has not experimented seriously in one-day surgery or in day care for those not requiring 24-hour care.

Ontario has not made a serious effort to control drug reactions in hospital, which eat up an enormous number of hospital days and may be as unnecessary with more scrupulous supervision as are unnecessary operations. We ask you to review the whole of the fee-for-service argument and, naturally, to effect that range of chronic and convalescent care facilities which will take the pressure off active treatment beds and lower costs.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, what we’re saying is, take on the whole health delivery system. Don’t just eat away at the most vulnerable edges in community hospitals and ward and bed cutbacks. Don’t throw 5,000 people out of work on to the unemployment insurance rolls in the name of cost saving, because it will not wash and it makes no sense and it’s positively cruel to boot.

We’re saying to the minister, call the medical profession in and talk to them and deal with them. I’ve always felt that if that was ever done in a serious way they might help greatly in rationalizing the health care delivery system in Ontario. What we’re really saying to the minister, in brief, is that he is dealing with a massive system purely by way of trivia in a fashion that is destructive and harmful. If we have a health care delivery system which needs alteration then for God’s sake deal with the fundamentals of the system; deal with the profession; reduce the costs dramatically and stop throwing people out of work and closing down hospitals illegitimately.

Although the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) has taken his leave he’s a man who, like the Minister of Health, tends to run to excess on certain things. This is what’s interesting about the Tory party -- if I can be provided an aside, and I guess I can because I’m speaking. I don’t really understand why it’s kind of out of control. I don’t understand why it takes a position and then drives it past the point of no return.

I just don’t understand why it is not possible any longer to deal in the realm of reason rather than the realm of irrationality. And when the Tories take hold of something they tend to run to excess and health care has moved to services to people, where they are reducing services, frontally, in what can only be described as a welfare-bashing technique. They’re handling it with the same arbitrariness and unilateral behaviour as health. I noticed over the weekend the Premier (Mr. Davis) was trying to explain to some young Tories that the Minister of Community and Social Services wasn’t really understood. I should say the minister is obtuse and incomprehensible, and those are words used with affection.

I must say to the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), who is here handling the front row in the absence of the Premier for the moment, that I don’t particularly want to extricate the Minister of Community and Social Services from the trenches where he is fighting his personal war against services to people. Some day the minister is going to be able to tell us where that 5.5 per cent figure came from -- what tree he plucked it from. His revenues are going to be 15.7 per cent up in the next fiscal year. His budget is going to be 10 per cent up. The municipalities are going to get 8.1 per cent. He is providing 5.5 per cent.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Some day you are going to be interested in the facts, instead of political posturing.

Mr. Lewis: That is not fact?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I will provide you with facts if you want to ask me questions.

Mr. Lewis: I will provide the minister with facts as we go along -- and then he can refute them.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Lewis: The minister’s 5.5 per cent increase has been applied most damagingly to the most vulnerable areas. And in its own way, the single most vulnerable area, if I may say, are the Children’s Aid Societies -- and the minister is really quite something. He never really changes his position. He only pretends to change his position by that phenomenal embroidering of language; that discursive use of words which tries to convey something slightly different to everyone who hears -- and usually does. But does he recall his statement on Feb. 16 last? He said under Children’s Aid Societies: “In this area it is anticipated that all societies can live within the guidelines.” He then went on and said that it isn’t understandable why the Metro Children’s Aid Societies cannot live within the guidelines when others can.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Read the rest of it.

Mr. Lewis: Well, that’s a fair interpretation. The minister then went on to mention section 8 of the Training Schools Act, and --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: “And that no persons,” etc.

Mr. Lewis: And that no person, etc., would be damaged.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Would suffer -- and they won’t.

Mr. Lewis: He said that every Children’s Aid Society can live within the 5.5 per cent. Then when he was under public pressure, and he spoke to the Catholic Children’s Aid Society, he said that maybe he would have to provide special support for the society.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I said consistently for two months that I was seeking additional funding.

Mr. Lewis: Sure, you said that if you got some more money from section 8. And then the Toronto Star goes to you and you got a story on Saturday which says: “No Change On Ceilings: Taylor.” Your picture is there too -- yes, an excellent picture. It says --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Not a bad one, either.

Mr. Lewis: “ -- James Taylor, Social Services Minister, yesterday angrily denied he has altered his stand on provincial spending ceilings for Children’s Aid Societies.” Is that correct? Did you angrily deny it?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I am never angered.

Mr. Lewis: No.

Mr. Bounsall: Did you deny it?

An hon. member: Did you happily deny it?

Mr. Lewis: As a matter of fact --

Mr. Foulds: Hysterical but never angry.

Mr. Lewis: -- you said it is “bloody nonsense” to suggest that you were intimidated into reducing the ceilings. “Bloody nonsense.” If that is not anger, it is at least petulance -- and it speaks a lot of the way you have been handling this issue.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I had you in mind at the time.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I wonder if the hon. member would speak through the Chair. Thank you.

Mr. Lewis: Yes, I am speaking through the Chair, Mr. Speaker.

The fact of the matter is that no one can trust what the minister is doing in the area of services to people. No one can trust what he is doing in that area. The 5.5 per cent limitation is obviously going to be upheld; he may provide some few additional dollars under the Training Schools Act. We’ll wait and see how his meeting with the Metro Toronto Children’s Aid Society tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. works out. We will wait to hear the reports on that.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: There will be sensitivity and compassion.

Mr. Lewis: But it may be said, Mr. Speaker, that any minister -- I wish I could pick up all those interjections so they would be enshrined in Hansard rather than lost to eternity.

Mr. Nixon: That is somebody else’s responsibility.

Mr. Bullbrook: We can and you are not missing anything.

Mr. Lewis: Can you pick them up? Thank you.

Mr. Bullbrook: He should really sit back and quietly squirm.

Mr. Lewis: All right. The damage that is being done by this minister and his ministry to services to people across the province can’t really be described adequately, but it continues day in and day out, and it’s based on bad faith and outright political dishonesty --


Mr. Lewis: -- not attributable to any one person but attributable to the character and conduct of the negotiations.

I want to read the minister something for the Metropolitan Toronto Children’s Aid Society which the minister sent to them on Dec. 16, 1975, and it picks up in a discussion we were having in the Legislature at question period a couple of days ago. He said:

“The report of the child welfare review committee on the 1975 estimates of the Children’s Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto was submitted to me by W. R. McMurtry, QC on Nov. 28, 1975.

“I have now had an opportunity to review the report in detail and I wish to advise you that I’m accepting the recommendations of the committee, which in monetary terms amount to $19,431,000, and to recommend to Management Board the approval of your gross estimate to the amount of $19,431,000.”

The minister recommended it to Management Board based on Bill McMurtry’s report. Then he goes on in the very next paragraph and says:

“In making the decision outlined above I must advise you that we have continued concerns about the 1975 growth rate of the Metro Children’s Aid Society and its effect on child welfare expenditures across the province and I have therefore directed that the guidelines for 1976 growth in child welfare are to be applied to your agency on the basis of the ministry’s original recommendation to approve your 1975 estimate at $19,006,000.”

In other words, you recommend to Management Board, on the basis of a review chaired by none other than Bill McMurtry and signed by the majority, the figure of $19,431,000 and you say that an increase will be based on $19,006,000. Do you know what that is? That’s gross bad taste. That’s what it is.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: That is what you say.

Mr. Lewis: It is utter, unrelieved irresponsibility. It is very, very depressing in some ways. I just can’t imagine the way the minister operates. But clearly there is something wrong with his ministry, at its soul, in the fashion in which it is dealing with these various Children’s Aid Societies.

I want to say to the minister that I met with the board and senior staff of the Metro Toronto Children’s Aid Society some time last week -- I can’t remember the day -- or the week before. When they had set out for me and my research colleagues the kind of cost-cutting they would have to experience, courtesy of you, I honestly felt like coming into the Legislature -- I know this sounds peculiar -- I felt like coming to see the Premier and saying: “Look, if you want your bloody majority, take it, but for God’s sake stop doing what you are doing to services to people, because it makes no sense at all.”

The minister is just dismantling social services all over this province, their infrastructure of preventive services, which all of us have developed over the years, including some of his predecessors, with whom we disagreed, including the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Brunelle), with whom we disagreed. This minister is in the process of doing more damage to services to people, and particularly the Children’s Aid Societies, in two or three short months than his colleagues did in the previous decade. What the devil is wrong with him anyway?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s nonsense and you know it.

Mr. Cassidy: It’s not nonsense.

Mr. Lewis: Look at the consequences of what the minister is doing for the Metropolitan Toronto Children’s Aid Society, to whom by the way, he is giving only a 1.3 per cent increase; they’ll be lucky to get up to 5.5 from him. But suppose they did get up to 5.5, suppose he gave them that much -- and we’ll wait tomorrow to see if he does -- do you know what it means, Mr. Speaker? It means that they’ll have to eliminate five group homes with five children in each. Who can look after them? Is his ministry personally going to look after them? It means that they have to reduce their child population in care by 35 to 40 children. What’s going to happen to those kids? Where do they go? What conceivable sense does that make?


Mr. Wildman: They have to get a job.

Mr. Lewis: It means they have to close an admission and assessment facility. They reduced the staff at the York Cottage, two court positions are gone, additional staff of 101 positions are gone. And this is a society whose admission rate for teenagers -- I’m working from memory -- jumped from something like 430 to 780 or thereabouts, between 1974 and 1975. We have the most excruciatingly difficult and disturbed adolescent/child population coming into care we have ever laid eyes on. This is the society the minister is going to cut back, the 5.5 per cent? That will mean a substantial increase tomorrow morning to get them up to 5.5 per cent. What is the government doing in this field? Can I read to --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: We are dealing with it very sensitively.

Mr. Lewis: You are dealing with it with the sensitivity of lead boots. Can I read from the Children’s Aid Society of Essex the effects of the provincial financial restraint? Let me just read it.

“To meet the reduced budget we must:

“1. Immediately stop placement of all children in treatment institutions to whom we pay a per diem.

“2. Leave these children -- we placed 62 children in such institutions in 1975 -- in inappropriate and damaging environments.

“3. Remove at least 20 children from these treatment institutions by the end of June.

“4. Return these children to inappropriate and damaging environments.

“5. Pray [listen to this] that 5.5 per cent restraints on other social service programmes will not result in a sudden increase in the number of children having to come into our care.”

Do members know what it means for the Kingston Children’s Aid Society? It means that in Kingston, they are reducing the food budget for the adolescents in the group homes by $1 a day. Does that make sense to the minister?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: If it doesn’t make sense to you, you know it --

Mr. Lewis: I know it doesn’t make sense to me.

Mr. Bounsall: Disturbed children will not be treated; they will have no place to go.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I wonder if the hon. Leader of the Opposition would direct his remarks through the Chair please?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You know you are not interested in the facts.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. minister please refrain from interjections.

Mr. Deans: That’s very stupid of him.

Mr. Lewis: The hon. minister insists on saying I am not interested in the facts.

Mr. Cassidy: This guy is preposterous.

Mr. Lewis: I am giving him the statement -- I have Xeroxed it -- from the Children’s Aid Society of Essex.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I know what they say.

Mr. Lewis: Oh, thanks very much! You just don’t give a damn!

Mr. Cassidy: You don’t give a damn, do you?


Hon. Mr. Taylor: Do you put the young children up to writing to me?

Mr. Lewis: What was that?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Are you putting the young children up to writing to me?

Mr. Lewis: Am I putting young children up to writing you?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Are you?

Mr. Lewis: They are writing you letters?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Are you using the youngsters of the province --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Deans: That’s absurd!

Mr. Speaker: Order, could we get back to a proper debate here?

Mr. Lewis: Yes, first I have a question and then a comment.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Lewis: Who reads the letters to you? That’s the first question. The second, through the Speaker to the minister, is: What is wrong --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You had better retract that. That is worse than being simple.

Mr. Lewis: As a matter of fact, so it is.

Mr. Foulds: You are worse than being simple.

Mr. Deans: You are the equivalent of being simple.

Mr. Wildman: It’s a children’s plot.

Mr. Lewis: Do you object? Did it ever occur to you --


Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, can I just put it this way? Did it ever occur to the minister that some of the letters he is getting from some of the kids who are writing -- I have seen none of them and I know nothing about it -- did it ever occur to him that some of those kids might be writing out of genuine anxiety about themselves or their own support?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I understand exploitation of young people when I see it.

Mr. Lewis: Exploitation? Letters to the minister from kids is exploitation, is it? The ministry -- that’s what makes me want to put these things on the record because as I am standing here, and I think everybody on the opposition side understands this, the minister is not going to give on this one. He is going to hammer these societies into submission and damn the consequences. At least the consequences have to be known.

In the case of the Kingston Children’s Aid Society it means $1 a day reduction in the food for the kids in the group homes.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: No one is going to suffer and you know it.

Mr. Lewis: They are now getting -- just for information -- $2.98 a day for food. They will be down to $1.98. It means that already one ward over 16 was refused dental treatment and a decision has been made that a child requiring orthodontic work will have to wait. It means that the camp will have to be closed. It means that the special professional foster homes will be reduced from six or seven to two or three.

Let me tell members about a case in Kingston this week that has to do with a young 14-year-old girl, pregnant and involved in drugs, who continually runs away from foster homes. She was found last week and placed in the family court temporary holding centre. There was an opening in a treatment home but it costs $29.50 a day.

The Children’s Aid Society didn’t feel it could afford it and there is no place under the Children’s Mental Health Centres Act, so she is to be returned to another foster home from where she will invariably run again.

Let me tell the minister about Lambton county, which wrote to him in February, 1976, and said:

“We can see no way of cutting back to the arbitrary level set by your ministry without decimating our service to the community.”

They are nowhere near the 5.5 per cent, but they can’t come anywhere near that without decimating their service.

“Once again, we would reiterate that there has been no fat to cut in the society’s budget. For many years we have operated with one of the -- ”

Mr. Bullbrook: They had a $65,000 deficit last year.

Mr. Lewis: A $65,000 deficit last year. Right. They said:

“This was detailed in our brief to your department in the spring of 1975. Even then we were understaffed by a figure of some six workers. On top of this, we informed you at that time that Lambton county was facing a massive population expansion due to the construction of several huge chemical plants. This in fact is now under way.”

They go on and on and on as to the increase in numbers.

“Our present budget is based on continuance of the current number of children in care and allows for no increase due to population explosion. This is highly unrealistic. For several years we have been developing -- ”

I want the minister to listen to this paragraph because this speaks directly to everything they are putting.

“For several years we have been developing a basic preventive programme using a combination of ministry and outside funds. Due to your cutbacks and the termination of federal government programmes, we now must eliminate this programme almost entirely for 1976. In order to reach the 105.5 per cent of the 1975 approved estimate level, there are only two cost areas which could be cut -- children in care and staff. To attain the necessary further savings of $63,000, we would have to discharge at least 31 of our current children in care for a full six-month period.”

You know, they say that they will be engaged in constant contravention of the Child Welfare Act.

Does the minister know what it means for Kenora?

Kenora has what it calls its insanity list; that’s how it’s known in the Children’s Aid Society. For Kenora to come anywhere near the minister’s constraints, the “insanity list” means closing all those group homes, dismissing five staff, closing two full-time and two part-time offices, decreasing foster home payments, no staff salary increases and they are already at a caseload of 42 to one.

Does the minister know what it means to the society in Kapuskasing, in the riding of the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Brunelle), which serves an area of 100,000 square miles with 13 social workers and five group home workers? Let me tell him what it means. It means a staff reduction of 6.5, dropping a planned group home for treatment of adolescents, dropping all summer camp programmes, dropping all preventive programmes.

Does the minister want me to go on?

Society after society in this province is on the ropes. They are on the ropes at 10 per cent, at 12 per cent and at 15 per cent, because they are required by law to look after children that are sent for care. They have no opportunity. They can’t do as the minister is doing, which is to break the law.

When the minister says to the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto that he will only pay 5.5 per cent more on the basis of general welfare assistance or other social allowances this year over last, he is breaking a contractual arrangement, as the lead editorial in the Globe and Mail pointed out to him. The Children’s Aid Societies can’t break a statutory obligation; they have to provide the services.

Whether it is Toronto or Ottawa -- Ottawa is talking about needing to discharge 75 staff if they have to come back to 5.5 per cent and closing six special facilities with 36 beds.

Does the minister understand what he is doing? He is engendering fear and uncertainty in preventive services right across Ontario. He is acting as though there is no tomorrow. His statements are confusing and contradictory. The societies have their backs against the wall. And when the minister’s restraint programme operates at the expense of children --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: It doesn’t.

Mr. Lewis: -- then it is not only wrong, but it is unbalanced.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: It doesn’t -- and it won’t. And you know it.

Mr. Lewis: It is unbalanced.

Mr. Warner: You don’t care one iota.

Mr. Lewis: And so long as any of us in this party have anything to do with preventive services in the community, we will oppose the minister every step of the way on this 5.5 per cent cutback. We will fight him here in the Legislature. We will fight him in the presence of the societies. And if we have to, and with pleasure, we will fight him on the hustings over it.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Now you’ll start to say something.

Mr. Lewis: I await the minister’s reply and acquiesce in its logic and power.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: For once you’re right.

Mr. Lewis: When the minister gets carried away, boy, he gets carried away. He breaks the law. The Globe and Mail has indicated he is breaking the law.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: That’s nonsense.

Mr. Lewis: Oh, it isn’t nonsense. My God, man, it’s in an editorial in the Globe and Mail. Therefore, it’s true!

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Do you believe everything you read?

Mr. Lewis: The Liberals are pathological about Claire Hoy. The minister is berserk about the Globe and Mail. I love the Star. It couldn’t be better. When a person like the minister is let out alone, on the loose, as it were, without parental supervision, as the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) would wish it, and begins to embrace, in other words, forgiving the rhetorical spasms, the fetish of restraint as to dependency of the Conservative Party, it is carried too far.

Now it has been carried into what one columnist, I guess it was Norm Webster, called “welfare bashing.” The minister and the Minister of Correctional Services collaborated to say things about social allowance recipients which were really profoundly unfair and destructive.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: If they were unfair I wouldn’t say them.

Mr. Martel: Vote-getting until they get in.

Mr. Lewis: Yes, and they were even stupid. The work-for-welfare proposition which played to every hardhat sentiment in Ontario -- which we understand, and there is some gain to be had from that I know -- is an attempt in combination with some other Tories to recapture public support for the Conservative Party. I suppose it’s fair game, and God knows we’ve said it too, that if adult males receiving welfare can work and there’s a job available, clearly they should. There’s no question about that.

Nobody over here likes welfare abuse any more than the minister does. As a matter of fact, we feel so strongly about the way the programme was manhandled, and I’m about to point that out in a moment, that we’d really like to do something about cleaning up the way in which the whole categorical aid and general welfare assistance programme works. We have a particular philosophic commitment to this area. We don’t like the way it is being handled by the minister and his associates.

Mr. Warner: Who is the government?

Mr. Lewis: What the minister has done, of course, is to malign a whole group of people and he didn’t really know what he was talking about.

This fascinated some of us a good deal. We turned to those colleagues of ours in research and asked them to dig up some information on general welfare recipients because it’s time we stopped talking generalities and started to talk particulars. There are a number of interesting things which, I must admit to the minister, I simply wasn’t aware of. I want to put some of it on the record today.

The first, of course, is that it is possible to work out and tabulate the average monthly caseload in any given year from 1970 on. For 1974 and 1975, the tabulation can be done month by month, although the 1975 figures are available only up to June. There is, in fact, a figure division in the average caseload between employable and unemployable. That is very helpful. And in 1975, for what it’s worth, amongst single males there were 8,700 employables and 7,500 unemployables for a total -- I’m rounding off -- of about 16,200. That, incidentally, was higher than the previous two years, although just about the same as 1971 and 1972.


The minister will recall a number of people were transferred from permanently unemployable to physically disabled under the GAINS programme --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I gave you all those figures.

Mr. Lewis: -- but, by and large, we’re still below what we were in 1971 and 1972. For single females, the employable figure in 1975 is 4,000, and the unemployable is 9,350 for a total roughly of 13,300. This is slightly higher than last year on a monthly average, but not disproportionately so. For a male family head the employable were 7,700, roughly, and the unemployable were 4,600, as an average month’s caseload for 1975, for a total of 12,300. This incidentally is lower than 1970, 1971, and 1972 by a long shot, and not up all that much.

For the female family head, employable -- these are interesting figures -- 1,120; unemployable, 14,014, for a total caseload of 15,134. This is a significant jump over previous years and shows the pressures against which single-parent families, woman-led, are now working.

The big question then becomes, having divided it into employables and unemployables, courtesy of your statistical method, how do we get information on the people involved? In our research group, Beatrice Schriever -- I mention her name to you because I am going to ask her to be the person who looks at the files which you offered to show us in the Legislature -- .

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I offered to show them to you, with the cognizance of the recipient, but no one else.


Mr. Lewis: Oh, I see. Oh, a caveat; I wondered about that.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I can stand up to you.

Mr. Lewis: Can Beatrice come along? Just so that she can gain experience in this?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Only with the consent of --

Mr. Lewis: We’ll get back to that in a moment. The minister talks so much gobbledy gook and hokum in this House it’s almost indigestible.

But one of the things that we learned was as follows -- I want to quote to the minister from the memo that was prepared for me because I think they described the frustrations perfectly.

Under “Profile of Recipients” he writes:

“Information, either analytical or descriptive, about GWA recipients is hard to come by. Considering the many years during which the provincial government has ultimately been responsible for welfare, the bureaucratization of the system at the local level from the applicant’s point of view, and the millions of dollars spent in social assistance, there is a remarkable paucity of survey material for us to analyse, and for the government to use for policy-planning purposes. I suspect this is an outgrowth of the attitude which says, “We begrudgingly will support these people, but there is nothing much which can be done to improve the situation -- i.e., improve the people -- so why bother collecting information?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the government were more scrupulous in maintaining records about expenditures on road construction.”

I must say that I think he has probably hit it right on the head. When we looked for some information on the profile of these people, there is very little around. However, by a piece of extraordinary luck we fastened on something important, and that is the annual survey that the minister does in March of each year -- my colleague from Sudbury East would know about it, my colleague from Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan), who has been in this field, would know about it. I didn’t realize it existed, nor that the figures for 1973 were all available. And someone in the ministry, bless him or her, gave us the figures for 1975 as well, in their tentative -- well, I guess they are in their final state now.

The profile of the general welfare recipient which emerges in your March data shows that the unemployable category is almost exclusively confined to two groups: Dependent mothers with children -- those who are just divorced, just separated, just deserted, are on the way to family benefits, or in the process of reconciliation, but in a very vulnerable position and therefore clearly not appropriate for the work force -- and ill health. In case you are interested in the statistical breakdown on ill health, so that one sees it isn’t just some kind of frippery, let me tell you about it.

Out of the 17,000 surveyed, 4,000 had mental illness, 2,800 heart and blood disease, 1,900 defined specific illnesses, 1,600 digestive system diseases, 1,600 respiratory diseases, 1,482 diseases of bones and joints, 1,478 arthritis, 1,292 accidents resulting in disability. So clearly the unemployable so defined are in fact unemployable. And what does that leave us with? That leaves us with about 35 to 38 per cent of the general welfare recipients, both on the 1973 figures and on the 1975 figures, who are employable.

When you look at the 35 to 38 per cent who are employable, men and women, you find that about one-fifth of them cannot be immediately employed for reasons of temporary illness or emotional disturbance, alcoholism, things of that kind. But that 83.2 per cent are classified by the workers reporting to your ministry under the descriptive rubric, “inability to find employment.” That’s the characterization. “Inability to find employment.”

Now, does the minister know what “inability to find employment” means in the simplest words? There just aren’t any jobs. That’s what it means. Let me go further. It may mean that somebody of low skills can’t correspond to a high-skilled job. It may mean that they’re in the wrong geographic location. It may mean that they have inadequate educational status. It may mean any one of 101 things, but it is a genuine characterization. The jobs aren’t there or the suitability for the jobs isn’t there.

Despite the discursive way in which these applications are tabulated, or these surveys are tabulated, this is filled out by people in the field making appraisals of the recipient and not by the recipients themselves. Do the members want to know something else that’s positively astonishing? In the entire range of service material, there is not a single case which was brought to our attention where someone was said to be receiving welfare for reasons of sloth or abuse, or simple ne’er-do-wellism. No one. There is no category in the whole survey which applies to such a group of people.

Because the minister challenged us to speak to municipal welfare officers across the province, we called Toronto, we called Ottawa, we called London, we called Frontenac-Addington, we called St. Catharines, and we called -- there was one other as I recall -- Hamilton. We called six municipalities, and it might interest the minister to know that those municipalities laughed at the proposition which he is bringing before the Legislature and that he is stating publicly. Why? The proposition is that there are a number of abusers out there who, if made to work, will have to work. Why do they laugh? Because of all the comments from the material we compiled indicate those people are already being refused welfare if they refuse a job. And the minister is pulling a gigantic red herring across the scene. The fact of the matter is the minister has 83 per cent of the recipients who are employable, who simply cannot find jobs for whatever reason imaginable.

Now, can I take a look at that for a moment; because, if in fact --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: All you are saying is there isn’t any abuse in the system.

Mr. Lewis: I am not saying there is no abuse. I’m saying that the abusers are already weeded out without the minister’s gratuitous intervention. Does the minister know why he wants to intervene? Because he wants to fasten on a negligible group of people already being kicked out of the system by the welfare administrators around the province, who could save Ontario very little money --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Then there is no need to tighten up the system.

Mr. Lewis: -- because he doesn’t want to deal with the real job of finding work for the people who want to work. And that’s what this issue is about my friend. This issue isn’t welfare, this issue is jobs. That’s what it is.

Now, if one takes a look -- and I’ll send it over to the minister because it is really a fascinating graph -- and I have it visually and I’ll pass it to my colleague. If you take a look at the unemployables in Ontario, Mr. Speaker, you will see that they remain static on a graph. If you take a look at the employables, you’ll see that the graph relationship corresponds remarkably to the rises in the unemployment rates. That’s what we are talking about. Does the minister know what he, the great saver, is costing Ontario? If, in fact, he was to do anything about the people who want to work and can’t, this is what he’d save. For single males per month, he’d save $1,235,000 based on present welfare payments; for single females, $568,000; for family-head males, $2,412,000; and for female family heads, $351,000. He would save $4.5 million a month, if he could take all those people off welfare and provide work for them that most of them would do.

Clearly, there’s no panacea. Nobody can do that spontaneously or easily. It takes some time, but that’s where the energy should be directed and that’s exactly where the minister won’t direct it. So, in Ontario we pay $54 million a year for unemployed employables because we cannot create jobs for them or match their skills to jobs in the existing market.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that in January, 1976, there were 273,000 people unemployed in Ontario? Do you know that there were job vacancies of 19,800 recorded in the third quarter of 1975? Does the minister see the problem which his government has created? The issue isn’t welfare; the issue is work; the issue is jobs; the issue is job-creative programmes. The Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) throws them out of work and this minister abuses them. Hydro cuts back -- I’m pleased in many ways that it’s happened -- but of the 2,000 to 3,000 people who will lose jobs there are no alternatives to go to. It’s a matter of job creation.

Barry Swadron, Conservative federal candidate, could tell you, based on his remarkable report, I guess, of 1971 or 1972, which my colleague, the member for Sudbury East, used in the Legislature often, the problem is the simple creation of jobs; it’s not the question of the welfare recipient. Can I quote what he said in his report, just to remind the minister, since he’s a leading federal Conservative?

“There is good evidence that the greater numbers of employable welfare recipients are on public assistance because they cannot get a job, not because they do not want a job. We wish to make it clear that in our opinion deliberate avoidance of work by welfare recipients is not a major problem. Lack of jobs, involuntary unemployment, is the problem.”

Mr. Warner: He doesn’t understand it.

Mr. Martel: He thinks because they are out of work that they don’t want to work.

Mr. Lewis: What is the government doing? Does it have a housing policy to create jobs? No. Does it have an environmental programme in order to create jobs? No. The government is cutting back on services to people which create jobs, yet what is the use of that? Do you know what you have, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: The strongest economy in Canada, that’s what we have.


Mr. Lewis: I am beginning to enjoy this and since I’m finishing tomorrow I have a good deal more to enjoy. You have in Ontario work activity projects. These are projects designed to deal with not just the hard-core unemployed but people who want to work and have some kind of disability by way of skill or occupation or education or whatever.

Let me tell the minister about the government’s activity projects in Ontario. We’ve been following all this through. It really makes for fascinating and incredibly indicting stuff. It’s 50 per cent funded under the Canada Assistance Plan. The government usually grabs everything that has a federal cost-sharing component.

“Work activity is designed to provide work acculturation to hard-core unemployed. The director in your ministry expects us to have 17 projects this coming year. [I’m not sure it’s your ministry.]

“Last year 561 persons were served. A follow-up of graduates at three months after leaving revealed a surprising rate of rehabilitation; 34.5 per cent were gainfully employed; 11.8 per cent were in training and 11.8 per cent were living independently. In other words, over 50 per cent re-entered the work force and the province spent a grand total of $578,000.”

There’s a commentary in Ontario. In Manitoba, the province spends $1.5 million whose equivalent here would be $12 million and they brought people back to work in large numbers. Now, the beauty of it is that we even have in Ontario --


Hon. Mr. Taylor: What community are you talking about? There is only one work activity programme. There are all kinds of municipalities.

Mr. Lewis: Oh, the minister has the chutzpah to talk about the municipalities. Okay, let me go to the municipalities. How nice of him to lead to my next point with such a kind of cultured fluency.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I like to help if I can.

Mr. Lewis: The municipalities are engaged in these programmes. The Metropolitan Toronto municipality had 113 work activity participants surveyed in the first six months of 1975. You know what the basis for the survey was, Mr. Speaker? Let me read the quote:

“In conformity with economic benefit guidelines established for the Management Board of Cabinet, government of Ontario, the total benefit to the community in dollars was $271,914. The total expenditure on the programme was $69,600. The cost benefits for six mouths was $202,000. The net savings, per person, was $1,789 a person.”

And that study is just out -- $1,789 a person saved from the public purse because of a work activity project, measured not by the province but by the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Which we support.

Mr. Lewis: -- but the government won’t give more than $563,000 in any given year. It prefers to spend $4.5 million a month to keep people on welfare.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: That is not so.

Mr. Lewis: Well, of course it is so.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: That is not so and you know it.

Mr. Deans: You like to have people on welfare.

Mr. Lewis: I am giving you the exact fact. You like to have social welfare recipients. You haven’t the faintest idea how to get them back to work.

Mr. Deans: You developed the programmes that locked them in.

Mr. Martel: You get headlines.

Mr. Lewis: Yes, you do get headlines for it.

Mr. Martel: You get headlines and that is the whole thing.

Mr. Lewis: I will admit that.

Mr. Martel: You gain headlines.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You do because of your distortions.

Mr. Martel: You destroy people but anything for power.

Mr. Lewis: I won’t go into it any further except --

Mr. Cassidy: You are really unbelievable, aren’t you?

Mr. Lewis: -- except to say to you, as the minister, through the Chair, and maybe I had better turn my attention to the Chair since I will probably proceed a little more quickly that way, is simply this. The New Democratic Party as a party, Mr. Speaker, has no more use for, and would countenance even less sympathetically, illegitimate and unnecessary abuse of social allowances. We are committed to the social allowance programmes but we know that by virtue of the administration of welfare in municipalities across the province that those abuses are necessarily low now. What must be turned to is a job-creating programme which gets the other 80 per cent of the employables off the rolls, into the work force, earning money, paying taxes, providing a cost benefit for Ontario and stop the endless flow of welfare funds unnecessarily to which the minister, and him alone, is addicted. That’s all I’m saying.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to pull together therefore the fundamental points that the entire restraint package is by no means a response -- and if anybody wants to take a stretch or smoke or anything else, please go ahead, because I’ll be here for a while. After all, we have been away for almost three months; I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, Mr. Speaker.

The entire restraint package is not a response to inflation. It’s time we set that mythology to rest. The entire restraint programme is a response to debt -- that is what it is -- to the accumulated debt of this government and it is therefore frantic, reckless and self-serving. If you take a look at the economic indices from 1965 to 1975 you will find that from 1965 to 1970 the normal indicators increased only marginally, though extraordinary leaps in debt and in budget and in expenditures occurred in, if I may say it, the William Davis years and the comparison with Smith of the old tax committee is something to see. The government’s response is cutbacks in areas which are damaging to people, uncreative and often illusory. Its response is inflation and unemployment.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You keep pushing us to spend more money.

Mr. Foulds: Go back to your cage, Mr. Taylor.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: What do you want to do, increase the debt?

Mr. Lewis: Worse still, even though we’ve showed the government where we can save money in health, even though we’ve showed it where it can create jobs and save money in welfare services, still, it has, or the Treasurer has, the incorrigible brass to raise taxes -- the property tax, primarily, perhaps others as well -- by up to 20 per cent, in what can only be described as a desperate clutch for political survival.

As I said at the outset, I’ve now seen some figures which make me understand that political survival is not around the corner for the Tory party. They are in more trouble than I ever thought they were.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You don’t believe that.

Mr. Lewis: Believe me, I believe it. I am one of the greatest pessimists politically that the minister has ever come across.

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You don’t believe what you are saying.

Mr. Lewis: The question is, will the government pull off this amalgam of property tax increases on the one hand and absurd and self-defeating expenditures on the other and a lot of unhappy human consequences as well? I doubt it. There is still profound mistrust and skepticism in the Conservative Party across Ontario. The theme may be attractive but the government is not. It’s as simple as that.

These are really matters which are more appropriate to the budget debate and I’m leaving them to my colleague to enter into in the budget debate. But we feel, over the next few weeks, that we can continue to document alternate areas of restraint, previous mismanagement, sensible cost benefit savings and a much improved tax mix.

One of the other things we’ve had a chance to do over the last few months is an assessment and an analysis of every single tax in Ontario, tax by tax. When the budget comes we think we are going to be able to show the government, as a responsible opposition, the kinds of tax mix in Ontario which doesn’t have to touch income tax or sales tax or OHIP premiums or any of the other things the government has been raising in the past, but can deal in both sectors which will restore equity to the tax system -- like resource taxation, corporate tax, the plugging of certain loopholes in exemptions we’ve provided, capital gains -- a scrupulous appraisal, tax by tax.

In other words I must say, Mr. Speaker, speaking personally just between the two of us, that what I’m becoming increasingly comfortable about -- and that’s why I’m glad the session is back in session -- is our capacity to make a useful critique of the government’s policy, to point out its weaknesses, to continue to provide the alternatives and to do so in a way which embraces a pretty efficient style of governing or managing Ontario’s economy and also a creative use of alternate tax revenue. So that the legitimate increases for social service expenditures or public transit or police, when you are dealing with the vexing problem of municipalities, as I said will probably be highlighted in the budget.

When you’re dealing with those things, they need no longer hang us up. Ontario has within it, if it deals with it honourably, a capacity to budget itself in a way which makes sense and to appeal to alternative sources in a way which makes sense. The more work we do and the more material we put together, the more confident I am that we’re going to be able to go to the people of this province whenever that happens -- this year or next or the year after -- with a programme and an alternative which is really quite substantial and need not in any way be defensive.

The restraint programme, we feel, is wrong in its choice of priorities and crude in its implementation. There is enough in all I’ve outlined -- and I admit I’ve taken time -- we think, to defeat a government. But there is in fact, much, much more, because there is another whole field which I shall deal with very briefly since I understand and can see that I’ve gone on at length and time is running out.

Those people over there have failed to respond to the issues which were raised in the campaign of 1975. I want to remind them that not only will we take them on on their grounds, but we’re going to take them on on our grounds as well. I want them to know that. We are going to re-establish our grounds in no uncertain terms and I want to give you a flavour of what is meant -- my colleagues, in their own gentle way, saying, “the sooner the better.”

Hon. Mr. Taylor: You lose on your own ground.

Mr. Lewis: The first area -- I am just trying to introduce a note of caution among the enthusiasts, Mr. Speaker.

The first area, and I want to come back because there are only two I am going to discuss as exemplifications of this government’s total delinquency in the last few months since September and it appears not to have learned any lesson. The first area is agriculture.

I have never seen a man more vexed or paranoid or distressed or concerned than the Premier about that 26 acres an hour figure. If I had known that it would give him so much discomfort, I would never have used it. I would never have used it. I would have said 25, 27, almost anything else, but certainly not the figure which has him --

Hon. W. Newman: Anything else but the right figures, right?

Mr. Lewis: Oh, the Minister of Agriculture and Food is here; well I am definitely going on into the evening then.

Mr. Samis: You arouse us over here, Bill.

Mr. Lewis: The Premier and the minister have extreme irritation about the impact of that figure. They wanted to dispute it directly but they didn’t know how to go about it; they didn’t know how to dispute it. So they came at it in two different ways.

First they said; “What we are really talking about is productivity on existing improved land. What you don’t understand, you New Democrats, is that productivity is increasing so fast that it’s really nothing to worry about.” That is the first avenue of attack; the Premier used that on the great debate we had together.

The second avenue of the attack was: “Why, you scoundrels you. The 26 acres an hour may be going out of production but it is not going out as concrete. It just lies there fallow and yearning to be ploughed and one day we will restore it.”

Mr. Wildman: If you can get around to some of this land.

Mr. Lewis: “We will restore it so don’t pretend it is really a loss.”

Hon. W. Newman: You have been up to Guelph for a week. You have been up there a week talking to our people, now you must know --

Mr. Lewis: My people; I haven’t talked to your people!

Hon. W. Newman: Your research people have been up there. You must know the true facts so why don’t you look at them squarely?

Mr. Lewis: What do you mean our research people have been up there? Can you be a little more specific in your allegations?

Hon. W. Newman: Come on, you know the true facts, so don’t take advantage of me.

Mr. Lewis: I’ll get to where our research people have been in just a moment if you will just hold --

Mr. Wildman: Hold your horses.

Mr. Lewis: -- hold your horses for a second. What the government requires, however, is policy not argument. Every time it turns around the position of the Tories is dealt another blow because it really doesn’t have logic or persuasion or arguments on its side.

The most recent blow, as my colleague from York South never tires of pointing out, was handed the government by the Ontario agrologists who have put out “Food, Land: Preservation or Starvation?” -- and it actually emerged after the election campaign. That’s pretty high-powered stuff. The group of agrologists includes Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food people; they have tremendous representation.

Hon. W. Newman: I am a member too.

Mr. Lewis: The minister is a member too? That kind of tears it, Mr. Speaker, under the circumstances I cannot be sure of the figures I am about to read. Nonetheless, I want to quote to you from pages 13 and 14 of the agrologists’ booklet dealing with Ontario land and food needs:

“The area of improved farm land in the province has declined by 2.5 million acres in the past 30 years. Even more striking is the fact that almost half of this decline, 1.2 million acres, took place in the last five years of the period 1966 to 1971.

“This means that an average of some 200,000 acres of improved farmland per year went out of food production during that period and the trend continues.

“Earlier it was estimated for our Canadian standards that [listen to this, Mr. Minister] even with an increase in productivity of 70 per cent over the next 25 years, we would require an average of one acre per person to feed our population. This would mean a requirement of 12 million acres for food production to feed the Ontario population by 2000 AD. There were only 10.9 million acres of improved land in 1971 and in the ensuing four years this has probably been reduced to a little more than 10 million acres at the present time.”

They accept our interpretation of the improved farm land going out of production.


Hon. W. Newman: Let’s make sure the facts are right.

Mr. Wildman: The rest is going up in poplar bush.

Mr. Lewis: Our facts are always right. It merely depends who witnesses them. At this point in time I would like to interpret them. They correspond exactly to what the agrologists have been saying in their studies. Their point is a powerful one. it is essential to restore two million acres of crop land which has been going out of production and it must be done by the year 2000. The ministry people, and the governments, are scurrying around frantically trying to repute the 26 acres. The minister has a UDI report which says 13 acres. The ministry is looking at it now and has some field workers looking at possible land appraisals. There have been a couple of aerial surveys of interest to the minister.

Hon. W. Newman: Have there?

Mr. Lewis: Yes, there have. I have never seen so much frantic scrambling to fix on an acreage figure which doesn’t suit the opposition.

Let me give three examples we recently happened upon which speak to the case we have been making. They were interesting to me and I think they probably will be of interest to the minister because it is his ministry and I know he is concerned. I have had an opportunity, probably for the first time in my political life, to start spending time at the Ontario Agricultural College, and particularly at the soil science centre.

Hon. W. Newman: Great, maybe you will learn something.

Mr. Lewis: As a matter of fact, maybe I will learn something. I am about to reveal some of the things I have learned.

Mr. Bain: The Leader of the Opposition is willing to learn, the minister is not.

Mr. Lewis: As a matter of fact, I spent a couple of hours touring and a number of hours in discussion. Our own research group made return visits and pulled material together.

It’s interesting to me that a similar kind of intense study visit has not been carried out by cabinet ministers before. I would heartily recommend it; the soil research group are an incredible fund of information. They do all of the best stuff in the province. They have Agriculture Canada there as well.

When we were there we wandered up to the third flour where Agriculture Canada was doing its latest survey; lo and behold, we stumbled on a new soil analysis for the Townsend site at Haldimand-Norfolk. I was really fascinated. The ministry has had the soil analysis for some little time. What the analysis showed, and this is instructive, was that the Canada Land Inventory, at full valuation in Ontario, was simply not worth very much. In the notes on agriculture produced in centennial year -- and which were reproduced in November of 1975 -- Ed McIntosh points out in an article called “The Role of Physical Resources in Rural Land Use Planning,” and I quote:

“It is not impossible, for example, to make decisions concerning 100- to 200-acre parcels of land from the Canadian land inventory maps. These maps have been generally published to the scale of one to 50,000 and do not show individual parcels of land less than about 600 acres in size.”

I must admit I hadn’t realized how out of kilter the Canada Land Inventory maps were, because the land inventory maps for Haldimand-Norfolk done in 1928 showed there was only seven per cent class 1 agricultural land in the Townsend site. The new soil testing, 1974-1975, showed 37 per cent of the land for the Townsend site is class 1 agricultural land.

I want to tell you that the people at the Ontario Agricultural College are heart broken about what is happening in Haldimand-Norfolk, because it now looks as though we will lose 50,000 acres directly to the economic expansion and industrial corridor which we have unleashed. The vast proportion of it is absolutely first rate class 1 and class 2 agricultural land; and the class 1 land is on a basis and in proportions and percentages we never realized.

Mr. Laughren: Can you justify that?

Mr. Lewis: They have produced a map suggesting certain counties or regions of southern Ontario are urgently in need of resurveying. They have Kent, Elgin, Norfolk, Haldimand, Welland, Metropolitan Toronto area and Durham so designated. They don’t have the money. They’ve got two pedologists on staff. They’ll have it all done, at present rate, by 1987.

They also told us while we were there that there had been a study by the Soil Institute in Ottawa of 8,000 acres of Gloucester and Nepean townships, which acreage encompassed both part of Carlsbad Springs and part of the private development. When they did the recent soil testing they found that the Carlsbad Springs project, government-owned, is all low-class land, likely unfit for agricultural use. They found that the private land is 35 per cent class 1, class 2 agricultural land, and that’s the land the government has designated for urban and suburban expansion. Again they were just confounded by the absurdity of the government’s position.

They’ve done something else at the Soil Sciences Centre in Guelph, a more fascinating place I’ve not spent time at. They took a Ministry of Transportation and Communications map -- really a TEIGA map -- for 1964, for the Golden Horseshoe area. They superimposed upon it a 1974 TEIGA growth map, and they overlaid on that the Canada Land Inventory soil map.

They found -- let me give you the exact figures, I think I can remember them -- they found that in the period of 10 years they had lost 94,500 acres of land in the Golden Horseshoe alone -- that’s between 1964 and 1974 -- 94 per cent of which was class 1 to class 3 land.

Can you believe it?

And then, because those maps don’t deal with strip development, they realized they should probably double the figure, because in fact it doesn’t even include areas like Malton in the survey.

So in fact, based on the new soil testing in Haldimand-Norfolk, the new soil testing in Ottawa and the transposition of the Canada land inventory maps, which are not refined sufficiently and don’t show as much as they should, on the whole Golden Horseshoe area, we are losing agricultural land in this province at a breathtaking rate. What it also shows is that it’s not just good, improved crop land going out of production, it shows that some of it is in fact going under concrete, to be irreparably lost.

They’ve done some other things which I will save for another time on Markham, Pickering and Oakville; a comparison of land values, speculative control, some of the implications for other counties, which show similarly jarring trends. When we take together all that the Canada Land Inventory, Agriculture Canada and the pedologists have done, and look at the various research papers, then one has to come back to what the agrologists say right at the beginning of their study. I read it and I agree with it:

“That the government of Ontario, within the next year, pass legislation designating class 1, 2, 3 and special crop land as food land or land for agricultural production, and reserving such land for present or future production of food. The institute recognizes some occasions may arise where use of some food lands for other purposes can be justified; however, it recommends that other potential users be required to prove their need cannot be met by use of other land; and further, that where at all feasible, they be required to use the poorer classes of food land.”

I repeat it because it is a position to which this party gives complete adherence; and if the day ever came when we could do anything about it this is the position that would be taken: That the government of Ontario, within the next year, pass legislation designating class 1, 2, 3 and special crop land as food land, and reserving it for present or future production of food.

Hon. W. Newman: You are saying you would freeze all?

Mr. Lewis: You used the word, perish the thought.

Hon. W. Newman: You said you would freeze it.

Mr. Lewis: Because this agricultural land business, this has a very important impact on Ontario and on the farmers.

Hon. W. Newman: You bet it does; and you’re playing around with the figures too.

Mr. Lewis: Never mind; I bet it does too. If the minister does that, in conjunction with a farm income stabilization plan; and let us say with an agricultural land bank in Ontario which allows farmers to sell at the point at which they want to retire -- they want to make a reasonable income, their retirement income -- and then lease it back in much the fashion that ARDA has been doing for years; in other words principles that are perfectly consonant with Ontario growth but which preserve agricultural land.

We say to the minister, through the Speaker, he had his chance in the election of September, 1975, to come to grips with agricultural land. He flubbed it then, he has flubbed it now, and we will confront him in the next round on the same issue until he does something about it.

Hon. W. Newman: I will look forward to that.

Mr. Moffatt: Was it 115 votes last time?

Mr. Lewis: That leads me in a natural way to the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller).

Mr. Martel: Back to Frank.

Mr. Lewis: There is a certain logic in all of that which the minister sees even if others are unable to discern it, right?

Mr. Eakins: You are a favourite, Frank.

Mr. Lewis: One of the other matters which was raised during the election campaign in 1975 and never had sufficient attention paid to it was the whole question of occupational and industrial health and the working environment. I thought we might have made some impact; I see we haven’t.

The minister talks about political motivation when he deals with some of his responses to the media; I want to talk about some of the realities. I was really surprised and disconcerted when I realized that United Asbestos at Matachewan simply seemed to be a repeat of all the follies of the past and, therefore, to the minister through the Speaker, I simply don’t understand it.

Rajhans is the best man the minister has on staff -- the man who made the tests -- and his report was virtually ignored. The question has to be asked: Why? Rajhans’ report was not posted. The question has to be asked: Why? There was no recheck of the readings, despite the fact that five months lapsed and Rajhans asked for it. The question has to be asked: Why?

There is still no clear authority line among Health and the other ministries. The question has to be asked: Why? There was no serious cleanup in that Matachewan plant until March 4 -- or the weekend before March 4 -- when, in order to proceed with new tests on the Thursday, the cleanup took place between midnight Friday and midnight Monday.

I don’t understand how these various ministries are behaving. More accurately, I don’t understand why the Ministry of Health is prepared to put up with or to tolerate the Ministry of Natural Resources in its perverse and often criminal behaviour about the health and safety of workers.

I want to tell the minister, through the Speaker, that United Asbestos Co. doesn’t have a good reputation as a company. When he released that file to the media, not only was there a lot of fascinating material in it about the state of the plant of United Asbestos at Matachewan, there was also, let it be said, fascinating material from the Ministry of the Environment showing that somehow the asbestos fibres in the air had carried six miles in the wind to descend on the temporary work camp of the employees.

I am sending to the minister, across the floor of the House, three pictures taken at approximately the time that Rajhans visited United Asbestos; they were given to my colleague from Sudbury East. The minister is not going to believe these pictures but they show the asbestos fibres pouring out of the conveyor belt, supposedly wetted for the tailings down below. They are just pouring out like some kind of gale, travelling downstream to where the temporary work camp was located. I would like him to see these pictures for himself because he will find it hard to believe them.


Just one second. I also want to send across to him pictures from the Northern Daily News of March 3, 1976 -- showing the conditions inside the plant after the issue broke -- which the workers themselves took when they visited that plant. I just can’t believe it. It is impossible to believe that such working conditions would exist; that you have asbestos physically piled up around the pilings in the plant, covering the bottoms of ladders, littered everywhere on the floor -- and I gather the reproduction of these photos is hardly good enough to show what was really true of the originals.

So in the one instance you had it pouring out into the air, in the other instance you have it inside the plant; and we are told somehow that it is not dangerous. I’ll come to that in a moment. Let me send the pictures over to the minister to take a good look at. He’s over there in the corner.

Mr. Martel: That’s where he belongs.

Mr. Foulds: Reeling from the blows.

Mr. Lewis: No, the minister doesn’t reel from blows. He invites them and loves them. He adores blows, in whatever form.

Mr. Martel: Even snowballs.

Mr. Lewis: I suggest he see the film “Swept Away”; it will give him a full sense of the extremities of masochism, political or otherwise.

The reality, Mr. Speaker, is that the hazards of asbestos are better and better known, and I don’t understand how all of this is happening.

Last Friday morning I appeared on a panel with Dr. Fitch of the occupational health branch, Ministry of Health. I guess he is the assistant to the director now, is he?

I want to tell you, I was really quite disconcerted by that experience. Dr. Fitch said two things which really threw me a little. The first was that when they did X-rays and tests of workers they liked to give the information to the physicians because the workers might be disturbed by it or might not know how to handle it. It’s that old medical elitism, and a lot of workers really find it offensive that the minister and the ministry and others should make assumptions about their health and be so blessed patronizing that the results can’t be shared.

Dr. Fitch said something else that threw me; and that was that they don’t post all the test results, particularly if some of them don’t look too good or they are not sure of their quality. They like to retest and take them again. That is to say that things are posted selectively, in a way which becomes almost self serving even in the best hands.

Dr. Fitch is a very able man, he’s obviously a master of his field; but the attitudes concern me. They particularly concern me when I hear that Dr. Ralph Robertson, who was at the Ontario Federation of Labour Conference on occupational health over this weekend and gave most of his lecture on -- do you know what he gave most of his lecture on? -- you won’t believe which epidemiological study and disease he chose to analyse for the trade unionists who were there -- scurvy. This minister is the best advised minister on scurvy in Canada. Dr. Ralph Robertson, who is head of his advisory occupational health institute, gave a lecture on scurvy to people who came trying to learn about environmental health.

I want to tell the minister, through the Speaker, I want to tell him, through the Chair -- admittedly he said it was a long time ago, that it was a problem some time ago, he hadn’t quite brought himself up to date -- I want to tell the minister that his ministry has a big job on its hands, because he’s got to deal with Natural Resources, and Natural Resources deals with no man.

That’s the problem. So let me tell the minister, as briefly as I can, the saga of the Reeves Mine, because it speaks directly to United Asbestos.

United Asbestos opened in the fall. The Reeves Mine closed down in the spring. You would think, by God, you would think there would be some control on United Asbestos after knowing what happened in the Reeves Mine.

Reeves ran for eight years. You remember that, Mr. Speaker. It opened in June of 1968 and was in full production by December, 1968. Monthly dust and fibre readings were carried out by a company ventilation engineer from January, 1969, to January, 1973. There is no explanation why they stopped at that time, although I am sure you recall that the plant itself closed down from about December, 1973, to October, 1974, for some major alteration of machinery and equipment and then kept going until April of 1975.

We couldn’t get the readings. That aggravates me. I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, it aggravates me. We asked for them in the House; no one had them. I remember my colleague from Nickel Belt asking about a particular reading which he judged to be very high. The minister said yes, he thought the readings he had seen were in that range but he didn’t have access to the material. I can remember trying to get my hands on the material and not being able to.

Then there came to us, during the course of the election campaign, the survey that was done in November, 1974, of the Reeves mine which showed the highest reading ever recorded in an asbestos mine in North America. Thank the Lord it was closed down in April, 1975.

Then when it’s all over and it’s closed down, Mr. Leo Bernier suddenly said: “Oh yes, we have the readings.”

I didn’t know we had the readings until I phoned Denver, Colorado, and spoke to the vice-president in charge of health and safety for Johns-Manville. I said I want those readings.

As a matter of fact I was pretty offensive about it. I was presumptuous in a way which doesn’t appeal to me. I said to him there was a minority government in Ontario now. We’d had a shakeup in the relationship of the parties and I thought it would be very useful for Johns-Manville and everybody else if they started dealing squarely with the members of the Legislature and stopped dealing in duplicity and secretiveness behind the scenes.

He said: “Don’t ask me. Those readings were taken every single month since 1968 and they’re with the Ministry of Natural Resources.” I said: “You’ve got to be kidding.” He said: “No, they’re with the Ministry of Natural Resources.”

So Leo Bernier was asked about it in the House; and suddenly, just like the 18 years of readings at Elliot Lake, they are exhumed from the bowels of the Ministry of Natural Resources; and Linda Jolley again goes through this episodic study of hers, of dust results and fibre counts, which she seems to encounter from time to time.

I can’t, in the period available, summarize everything, but I can do it best by going back to our good friend Rajhans.

On April 21, 1969, he toured that Reeves mine and he wrote a tough report what had to be done. He didn’t go back until August 15, 1972. Let me tell you what Rajhans’ report said on that date. This is from the Bernier file:

“In general, the dust conditions are much worse than found on the previous occasion. [This was three years later.]

“The housekeeping throughout the mill and crusher buildings was considered to be extremely poor, especially the fourth floor of the mill building where the dust on the floor was ankle deep.

“None of the vacuum cleaner arrangements were working and this, perhaps, was the main cause of the poor housekeeping. I was amazed to see the amount of dry sweeping still being carried out in the mill building. In my last report, dated April 21, 1969, a comment had been made on the poor practice of dry sweeping. It appears that the company had paid no attention to my recommendation.

“It was pointed out to me that the employees engaged in dry sweeping wore respirators and hence dry sweeping should not affect them. It should, however, be realized that no respirators, including the approved types, are 100 per cent efficient. In fact, most of them are only 50 to 60 per cent efficient for fibrous dust. The dust concentration could get extremely high and any respirator would be ineffective in highly concentrated dust clouds.

“A comparison of the threshold limit value at two fibres per cc with the sampling results showed that all the results are higher than the TLV, with one result as high as 11 times the threshold limit value.”

He talked about the samples taken in the crusher building being high. He talked about the exhaust system being broken down. He talked about the amount of dust accumulated under the belt conveyors. He talked about the exhausted air still recirculated in the mill building. He said, almost pointedly: “It has to be understood by them that asbestos is far more hazardous than silica because silica does not induce neoplasms” -- cancer.

His conclusion was:

“No improvement in the dust condition has been made since my last visit in 1969. In fact, the conditions have become worse. There appears to be no concern among the company’s officials about the deteriorating condition. This was pretty obvious from the poor maintenance of the exhaust system. It is my feeling that if the conditions are allowed to continue it would not be too long before a case of asbestos disease would develop. All the recommendations of my previous report, dated April 21, 1969, still apply.”

I read it bitterly, because the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier), whether intentionally or unintentionally, has said time and again that things get better after startup. You’ve heard him, Mr. Speaker; he said things get better after start-up, and that is a nonsensical statement if ever I heard one. People more unkind would call it an outright fabrication.

Things get worse in an asbestos mining and milling operation. In order to prove it to you on the basis of the Reeves Mines, let me point out to you, just taking readings in an average month, that in May of 1969, at start-up, the fibre counts in the Reeves mine were two fibres per cubic centimetre; in May of 1970 they had jumped to seven fibres per cubic centimetre; in May of 1971 to 8.3 fibres per cubic centimetre; in May of 1972 to 12.4 fibres per cubic centimetre; and November of 1974 to 14.7 fibres per cubic centimetre.

Those are averages, most of them in years when the threshold limit value was five fibres or two fibres. It was two fibres from August, 1972 on.

I want to ask a very simple question: What is the moral responsibility on the minister’s government when the men who work at the Reeves mine were doing so under conditions everybody knew to be hazardous to human health, on the basis of figures in the ministry’s possession? What happened? Where is the moral responsibility when those men contract asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma? And at the levels of exposure, 50 per cent of them are going to, in one form or another.

Every single study we have demonstrates it. I can’t even begin to read to you some of the sampling.

I am going to send this to the minister, because Linda has set it out month by month, sample by sample. It’s really worth noting that in 1970 readings in that plant were 27.5 fibres, 30 fibres, 44 fibres, 24, 40, 29, 41, 51, 46, 35, 43, 68, 60, 36, 27, 30. In 1972, they were 21, 46, 84, 34. In the first months of the new threshold limit value in June of 1972, 31 of the readings, or 91.1 per cent, were above the permissible level. Whose responsibility is it?

When I went to see Selikoff in New York, he said to me: “Ask them about criminal negligence. Sue them. Do something.” How do you handle something like that? He said: “If you had a vat of sulphuric acid in a chemical plant marked dangerous and you took off the danger sign and you replaced it with a sign which said ‘wash here’, and someone washed, would it be criminal negligence?”

Of course it would be criminal negligence. And when people work in those conditions, with the full knowledge of what is at stake and the full complicity of the Ministry of Natural Resources, whose responsibility is it for what is going to happen about six or seven or eight years from now?

Mr. Ferrier: What kind of people are you over there?

Mr. Lewis: I don’t understand all of that. And I’ll tell you what else all of this conveys to me, became I want to put it to the minister. It speaks strongly to the question of United Asbestos of Matachewan now. I wish I could document it.

There was a struggle. There was an undignified fight, from the early 1970s through to the closing of that plant in the spring of 1975, I say to the minister, through the Chair, there was an undignified fight between his occupational health branch and the Ministry of Natural Resources. They abuse each other in the correspondence, and the Ministry of Natural Resources refuses to pay attention to what the occupational health branch says.

When Rajhans informed the company that the threshold limit value was to come down to two fibres per cubic centimetre, nobody paid any attention. The company disputed it, and incredibly enough, the Ministry of Natural Resources disputed it. Though I hate to say so, Mr. Peter McCrodan, who is even now director of mines engineering, is the man whose record on this score is least enviable because he resisted it throughout, forever reporting to Mr. Jewett, he of Rio Algom, now executive director, division of mines.



Mr. Lewis: The Health ministry couldn’t get through to them; nobody would listen. I have the letter; I have the extract. Finally on Feb. 4, 1975, Dr. Tidey of your ministry wrote to Peter McCrodan in a kind of query -- he was really put out -- and he said,

“Results of air sampling shall be compared with a threshold limit value of two fibres based on a count of fibres greater than five microns in length, and not with five fibres as the schedule suggests. We have adopted a TLV of the two fibres for some time now. The reasons have been explained in one of the reports referred to above. Rajhans’ report back in 1972 explained why it had to be two. The limit was also adopted in 1972.”

He goes on to say other things. He said:

“In August, 1972, Mr. Rajhans revisited these mines for air sampling and ventilation survey. He showed all the results were above the threshold limit value. In view of the above facts I find the statement that you’ve made about the way it is measured [about fixe fibres per cubic centimeter] very interesting because of the fact that it took the company and your branch so long to come to this agreement.”

“The company and your branch.” If you would believe it, as late as Feb. 11, 1975, McCrodan was still writing to Jewett in a memo, “Management admitted that dust levels were above the threshold limit value of five fibres per cubic centimetre” when he knew that the threshold limit value had been two fibres per cubic centimetre for three years.

Finally, no less a person than the minister had to intervene. I have a letter the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) sent to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier). It is a very formal letter and I don’t blame him because I don’t know how in the hell one gets through to those people.

“Dear Mr. Bernier:

“The occupational health protection branch of my ministry has been using a standard for asbestos in air of two fibres per cubit centimetre, greater than five microns in length. This has been in effect since 1972. [The letter to the hon. Minister of Natural Resources is dated Feb. 28, 1975.] Recent discussions within the branch have led, etc. ...

“The above values have been mentioned in various reports and memoranda that have been passed to the mines division of your ministry in the past year.”

Finally when the Minister of Health, in effect, said to his colleague, “You damn well comply,” the Ministry of Natural Resources did something.

In the process, I remind him of the dust readings -- for which occupational health was not responsible -- for which the Ministry of Natural Resources was responsible. I remind him of the consequences he knows will occur and I plead with him to find the 800 to 1,000 workers who went through that mine and mill, exhume the nominal roles, track them down, begin to give them periodic X-rays and lung function tests and monitor them carefully, and watch the wives and children because they at least have to have a break.

Even if he reduces the malignancy pattern or asbestosis by 10 per cent, five per cent, one case, that’s worth doing. Somebody has to keep after those men. Not a simple little survey to which they are invited but a scrupulous almost fanatic drive to locate them and deal with them medically because it is a combination of government ministries, with all the respect in the world, which is directly responsible for what’s happened.

Mr. Ferrier: What kind of people are they over there?

Mr. Lewis: I can say to him therefore, about United Asbestos in Matachewan, don’t be reassured by low fibre counts. Contrary to what the Minister of Natural Resources said, the fibre counts are low at the outset but they rise dramatically over time -- terribly dramatically over time in an asbestos mining and milling operation.

We are also learning that a level of two is not adequate; the occupational health branch now recommends one fibre per cc. The scientists say 1/100 fibre per cc because they’re learning that fibres shorter than five microns in length appear to lead to malignancies in the same fashion.

They are also learning that the dust count, heavy early on in a new mine and mill can be as damaging; and the dust counts, quite apart from the fibre counts, at Matachewan are obviously very high, judging from Rajhan’s report and judging from the pictures the minister has in front of him.

I simply appeal to the minister, yet again, to overcome one of the most sordid sagas of indifference and negligence which this government has to its discredit. I think it has been documented and that the material is there. I don’t see why the minister, of all people, should have to put up with it for another minute. The minister has said he has an agreement or accord with the ministries of Health and Natural Resources and Labour. I plead with the minister and with Labour to sit on them. I don’t know about natural resources, don’t trust them. Nothing has been done since the middle 1950s in uranium or asbestos which hasn’t compromised the lives and health of working people. Something has to be done about it.

Mr. Speaker, that was a subject which also followed from the 1975 campaign and which we will continue to pursue until it is removed as an area for debate. If it is removed as an area for debate, I will concede to it so happily you will be surprised at the speed with which it occurs.

If the colleague from Natural Resources really cleans up those operations and gives protection to the men in all of these hazardous environments, the Minister will never get a cavil from the New Democratic Party. We will be with the minister every step of the way. But, as long as the policies of the government endanger them we will be on the minister’s back every day during this budget discussion.

There were a number of other issues in 1975 with which I don’t want to deal, but my excellent and friendly colleagues will during the Throne Speech debate. There have been no initiatives in housing; there’s been no decentralizing in a way which makes small communities feel better about Queen’s Park. I am tired of speaking to the mayor of Smiths Falls one day, and the mayor of Sarnia the next, as they describe to me, often lucidly and persuasively, the bureaucracy and impenetrability of this monolith that calls itself a government. There is no feeling in northern or eastern Ontario, other than new tax exemptions for exploration, that the government is serious about doing anything for those communities.

The government has joined the federal government on wage and price guidelines but there has not been a single price rollback since Pierre Trudeau’s Thanksgiving speech. The government has never intervened to protect the consumers of Ontario from price increases, whether it’s automobile insurance, home insurance, the cost of lumber, or a number of other items which we will be introducing into the Legislature in the next number of weeks.

They are all, Mr. Speaker, unlimited grounds on which to oppose this government. I will therefore, in approximately four minutes time, be moving an amendment of nonconfidence. But, before I do, and very briefly, let me reflect on the question of an election which such an amendment implies and which I think must be faced.

Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party feels entirely philosophic about the question of an election; neither anxious to have one, nor at all hassled if we do. We will not engage, as I stated, in any unnecessary confrontation. We simply have deep differences of opinion with this government. We have not been able to persuade the government. It is therefore important for us to provide a sense of opposition and a sense of our alternatives. Some day that will be resolved in the election place. When it comes, it will come in its own good time. I think the government remains profoundly unpopular. It still represents only a minority view in Ontario.

I felt very confident speaking today. I have spoken too long, but I felt very confident speaking today because I think the current restraint programme is generally viewed as wrong in Ontario, even though the object may be viewed as right. I think the government’s failure to deal with some other fields, which many of us dramatize time and time again, is seen as a failure by Ontario.

I have reason to believe today, as I did not last week, that the fortunes of the Conservative Party are on the decline, and that the fortunes of the New Democratic Party are a little better. In fact, I now understand a bit more readily why the Premier’s profile has been quite as low as it has although presumably it will be rejuvenated on Wednesday.

We believe, as we look at this government being fashioned that the government should be more measured, more planned, more consultative, that you have to have, in Ontario, less upheaval, less provocation, less compensation, but somehow the government has forgotten, particularly where it concerns the smaller communities of this province, that they are reasonable communities and that the government is behaving unreasonably and that people intuit that. It is almost a process of osmosis. Everybody understands that the Tories went off the rails and they have not yet got themselves back on the rails and it is because of the arbitrariness, the sheer arbitrariness of it all. This government will never match Pierre Trudeau for cosmic insolence when it comes to the democratic process but they do pretty well as amateurs on their own and that sense is everywhere woven into the body politic.

I also want to say to the government that we are not terribly worried about polarization in Ontario. If it wants to try it, it is welcome to it but we don’t think it will work. We don’t think it will work any better than we thought it would work when the Premier tried it before a Stanfield dinner and it bombed even amongst the faithful. If it is on to fight, on bashing the NDP, be our guests. We have a very strong feeling that there is enough vulnerability in this government, enough areas that we can point to and criticize and provide alternatives to, solutions for, enough alternatives to restraint on the one hand and additional revenues on the other, enough issues which are central to the life of Ontario that we can take it on. About all that we feel reasonably competent, not provocative but ready to deal with the issues one by one as they emerge in the Legislature and simply take the consequences, and, in that spirit, because of the matter of conviction, we must oppose what the government is doing and reform what it has not done.

Mr. Lewis moved that the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Hon. the Lieutenant Governor now before the Legislature be amended by adding thereto the following words:

But this Legislature regrets the inability of this government to meet its responsibility for necessary programmes as a result of the deterioration of the fiscal capacity of the province during successive Progressive Conservative governments;

And further, this Legislature regrets the failure of the government to provide, in the Speech from the Throne, any significant proposals to deal with the pressing problems of: (a) occupational health and the lack of adequate safeguards for the health and safety of workers; (b) need to preserve agricultural land; (c) move for a more equitable distribution of economic opportunity throughout the province and, in particular, to northern and eastern Ontario; (d) need for job creation to offset rising unemployment; (e) inadequate housing supply and rising mortgage interest rates;

And this Legislature, moreover, regrets the mismanagement of the government’s restraint programme leading to: (a) the failure to develop an overall policy for the delivery of health care services especially as exemplified by the closing of small community hospitals and public laboratories; (b) the failure to respond adequately to financial needs for vital social services particularly as exemplified by the inadequate funding arrangements offered to Children’s Aid Societies;

And further still, this Legislature is opposed to the endless burdening of Ontario taxpayers, exemplified both by the excessive increase in municipal property taxes, which will result directly from this government’s policy, and by the additional concessions to the mining industry specifically set out in the speech of the Hon. the Lieutenant Governor.

Therefore, the government has lost the confidence of this House.

Mr. Speaker: I don’t usually get that applause when I rise. Is it agreed to dispense with the reading of the full motion? Thank you.

Would the hon. member for Hamilton West care to move the adjournment of the debate?

Mr. S. Smith moved the adjournment of the debate.

Clerk of the House: The 20th order, House in committee of supply.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.