The House met at 11 a.m.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before calling the order that we had arranged to have debated this morning, I have a motion I would like to make.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the standing private bills committee be authorized to sit concurrently with the House today.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I am sure all the members of the House would like to join with me in welcoming approximately 34 students from Blythwood Public School.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. May I just point out to the hon. minister that the procedure has been changed for some time now and we do not introduce schools. They are certainly welcome.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am sorry; this may be the last time. They are with their teacher, Mrs. Hamilton, in the east gallery.
Mr. Sweeney: You should know the rules and regulations.
Mr. Foulds: New boy!
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are always pleased --
Mrs. Campbell: The Attorney General doesn’t know the rules!
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This is not a very good display for our young visitors in the gallery, I assure you.
Mr. Ruston: It was not a very good display by the Attorney General either.
Mr. Deans: A typical Liberal display.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
SAULT STE. MARIE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND TEACHERS DISPUTE ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved second reading of Bill 52, An Act respecting the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Education and Teachers Dispute.
Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. minister wish to make a statement at the beginning?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, Bill 52 is a piece of legislation to bring to an end the collective bargaining dispute in Sault Ste. Marie, or to cause it to be brought to a conclusion.
Negotiations between the secondary school teachers, about 405 of them, and the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Education began back in March, 1975, and were for a contract which ended on Aug. 31, 1975. They proceeded through the usual stages and, as with some of the other matters we have debated in this House, the coming into effect of Bill 100 occurred in the midst of the negotiations.
After Bill 100 became law in this province, the procedures set down in Bill 100 were followed in this dispute. A fact-finder was appointed; Mr. George Ferguson. He carried out his duties and presented his report to the parties in late November. Various mediators appointed by the Education Relations Commission tried to assist the parties in arriving at a conclusion to this dispute. The fact-finder’s report was made public in December.
The matter was again negotiated and mediated. However, on Jan. 14, 1976, a vote was held in which 71.5 per cent of the teachers and this last offer was rejected. A vote was held in which 71.5 per cent of the teachers voted to take strike action against the Sault Ste. Marie board.
Again, a mediator was appointed by the Education Relations Commission after the strike vote was held and in the period from Jan. 80 to Feb. 5, mediation took place. However, it was not successful in helping the parties to reach a negotiated settlement and the official state of strike against the Sault Ste. Marie board began on Feb. 5.
At that time it took the form of a work to rule. On March 3, the strike changed course and rotating strikes occurred at different schools -- the seven secondary schools in Sault Ste. Marie -- at different times for a day at a time. Various of the schools were closed down in what as I say, Mr. Speaker, was a rotating strike. This changed to a full closing of all the schools on April 2 at which time all the schools, as I say, were closed and a complete state of strike was in effect against the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Education.
On April 7 the Education Relations Commission held a hearing in Sault Ste. Marie -- that’s a week ago -- and listened to presentations by both sides. I think it also had presentations from some students at that particular hearing. The report to me -- I should say the report to the government -- indicated, unlike other reports to the government, that the Commission was not recommending that the pupils’ programmes were in jeopardy and therefore it was not recommending that we take legislative action.
Today this strike is in, I guess, its ninth day; actually, if we take the rotating strikes into account, it’s about the 12th day. The pupils have missed 12 days of school.
Mr. Deans: It hardly justifies this bill.
Hon. Mr. Wells: However, there has also been some type of disruption because of the strikes occurring since Feb. 5, 1976.
I met with the parties, both of them, in Toronto on March 18 in an attempt to see if there wasn’t a way to resolve this matter. It seemed that the way to resolve it was through some kind of arbitration process, be it final offer selection or voluntary binding arbitration. The teachers at that meeting on March 18 seemed, from my impression, very willing to go to some form of third party settlement of this matter. The board, however, did not seem inclined to want to put the dispute to this kind of settlement.
Mr. Deans: There’s something wrong with the boards across this province.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It occurred to me, or it certainly was clear to me during my discussion, that there was a difference of opinion as to what really remained in dispute -- whether it was to be a one-year or two-year contract; whether there were 20 items besides the money or whether there were six items that were still in dispute. At that time, on March 18, I suggested a representative of the teachers and the board get together to try to whittle down and put on paper what were actually the matters that were in dispute. Then both sides could look at those and see if they couldn’t arrive at a basis for going to some kind of arbitration, since they appeared unable to negotiate a settlement themselves.
I just have to say, as I’ve said in every one of these matters, I believe that the best way for these disputes to be settled is through a negotiated settlement. Indeed, that is how most of them have been settled in this province, and let’s make that point very clear again. I think we’ve had 203 contracts since Sept. 1. We have talked about four or five in this House, and there are perhaps a few others that have caused enough problem to rise to a higher degree of attention than just in their local area. But that is a very small number compared with the number that have been settled. So let’s not think we are now interfering in the total process.
Even though we have brought legislation in, I draw to the attention of my friend that there have been many of these matters settled by negotiations between the boards and their teachers. In other words, everybody hasn’t stonewalled negotiations because we brought legislation in on the Metro Toronto teacher situation. There have been lots of settlements since then between the two parties working and bargaining in good faith.
Mr. Deans: Do you think what you are doing is really justified?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Everyone will have an opportunity to debate.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes, I do. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it was justified.
Mr. Laughren: It is just nine days.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Well, it’s not just nine days; it’s a dispute, or a contract negotiation, that has been going on since last March.
Mr. Foulds: Since last August.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The contract expired on Aug. 31.
Mr. Deans: So what?
Hon. Mr. Wells: There appears to be no way that this is going to be resolved. The members opposite are going to have to take my judgement on that as against theirs, and I agree they won’t take my judgement on that particular matter.
Mr. Laughren: Is this the new level? Nine days rather than 35 days?
Hon. Mr. Wells: But the fact of the matter is that there is another dimension to this dispute; there is another dimension that leads me to introduce this piece of legislation. I don’t agree with the things that have been done, but there have been certain things done in the bargaining up there, and probably on both sides -- and I think my friend talked about that in his remarks yesterday -- that are leading to a state of very bad relations between teachers and school boards.
Pay has been cut. Vice-principals have been taken and put in certain situations. Indeed, I got word yesterday that the teachers were going back and the schools would be open today. I now receive word that actually the board closed the schools today. In fact, instead of the schools being open today, they are closed, and I gather they will not open until next Tuesday as this bill suggests.
Mr. Foulds: The schools would be open today if you hadn’t brought this bill in.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, the schools wouldn’t be open today if I hadn’t brought the bill in. Yes, the schools would be open in the sense that the board wouldn’t have officially closed them, but there would be no teachers in the schools today.
Mr. Martel: It gets easier every time.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The situation is that in that community there is a kind of feeling developing that I don’t think we can let develop. The only way, and I reiterate it again, the only way we can have quality education in this province is to have good teachers in the schools and a high level of morale. That’s what we don’t have in some areas of this province and I’m not going to go into the reasons because the members opposite don’t agree; their perception of the reasons for that and mine will probably be different.
Mr. Deans: Maybe not.
Hon. Mr. Wells: But the fact of the matter is that I have to believe that in Sault Ste. Marie at this point in time this is the best way to start getting back to that kind of situation and that state of education in Sault Ste. Marie. We have got to get the bargaining dispute out of the way; we’ve got to get a fair deal for everyone; we’ve got to get education started without this other matter hanging over it and concerning the whole community. We’ve got to get parents again feeling supportive of their school system.
Mr. Deans: What responsibilities do trustees have?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Trustees have a lot of responsibility, and I back them up. But I have to tell the member I don’t agree with some of their stances in these particular areas. I am not going to comment on Sault Ste. Marie, but my friend commented on the trustees’ council memorandum to boards; I think that was a very ill-advised document. I have always said in this House that every dispute has to be looked at individually and different criteria applied to each particular situation.
In other words, the making of blanket assertions about which course of action should be followed or not, such as a blanket assertion that a board should never agree to go to voluntary arbitration or final offer selection, period, and I think they put a qualifier in there on other than monetary matters. That is an ill-advised kind of statement. Because in a particular dispute at a particular time, one of those avenues as provided in Bill 100 may be the very way they should take. I think we have to accept that.
Mr. Martel: They don’t believe in Bill 100.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please; everyone can enter the debate later.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They better believe in Bill 100, because it’s going to be around for a while.
I was just handed a note now, which I guess further shows the state that exists in Sault Ste. Marie. Mr. Douglas Lawless, the executive-director of the Education Relations Commission, flew up to the Soo this morning to meet with the parties, or at least hoping to meet with the parties, to see if he couldn’t get things rolling even as this legislation was being passed. The Education Relations Commission believes even still that there would be an opportunity to get the parties together, and perhaps reach some conclusion. This is a view which, as I say, I don’t share, having listened to all sides. I get the report now that the board has indicated they won’t even meet with Mr. Lawless today; and he is up in the Soo waiting to meet with them.
Mr. Martel: They are unbelievable.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Now his comment to me is that it is out a strike up there anymore; it’s open warfare. Well I have to say that if that’s the case, we just can’t let the situation go on.
Mr. Mattel: It is the fault of the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes).
Mr. Deans: Are you going to tell the electorate there that that is what happened?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Now listen, I don’t want the member to think, though --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I will tell you who it was; because of guys like you.
Mr. Martel: It was you.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t want members to think, and it’s wrong to assume, for instance because of some particular situations or actions I have mentioned today, that it’s all the board’s fault; because that is not so.
Mr. Deans: I am not saying that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There has been a situation between the two parties up there that has not allowed negotiations to proceed the way we had hoped they would proceed.
Mr. Deans: But surely the public should make a judgement on that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: And fault can probably be laid, I am sure, fault can be laid on both sides.
Mr. Foulds: Equally.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Probably equally.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think fewer interjections would get on with the business of the House.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The situation is that at this point in time I think most people want to see a resolution of the problem. Given that kind of a climate, even though you say it’s only eight or 12 days, whichever way you look at it --
Mr. Good: Address your remarks to the Chair.
Mr. Ruston: Address your remarks to the Chair.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s 12 days if you take the rotating strike, and let’s use that figure. It’s only 12 days of school that have been missed in total by students up there. Remember, again, that all these students, as I understand it, are on the semester system. After Easter we will be into the late part of April and we are coming up to the end of school. Again, as I say, as a responsible government, we can take no other action in this particular situation than to bring forward this bill which says the schools will open on Tuesday and that matters will be put to quick, speedy arbitration.
Now you may ask why arbitration here and not final offer selection as in the central Algoma dispute. There is still a difference of opinion as to what are the matters in dispute; whether it be a one or a two year contract and what other matters are in dispute apart from the monetary matters. It is not as clear cut as central Algoma. Therefore, I don’t think that final offer selection can be used in this particular case. I am convinced that is so and that it needs speedy arbitration, again as we did in the other disputes, with a one-man arbitrator appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. I think that can help to bring back to Sault Ste. Marie a climate in which quality education, good education, for the students in that area, can again be established.
It’s not the kind of legislation that is going to be accepted by everyone. Teachers are not necessarily going to be happy with it, the board is not necessarily going to be happy with it, but I think the majority of the public of Sault Ste. Marie expect a responsible government to come in and say: “Look, enough is enough. Let’s get back down to business. Let’s get a fair deal for everyone through an independent arbitrator. Let’s bring an end to this dispute. Let’s bring an end to what has elevated into some kind of warfare between two parties. Let’s get things back on course and let the students have a proper education.”
Therefore, I’m presenting this bill today in the House that all members of the House will support it.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry the minister took so long in his opening statement because the group the Attorney General tried to introduce was from Blythwood Public School and I would have liked to have joined him in welcoming them.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose the bill. The reasons for our opposition to this kind of legislation have been put lengthily and strenuously by our party over the last several months. We put them in the Metro Toronto dispute, in the Kirkland Lake dispute and, as recently as yesterday, in the central Algoma dispute, and I do not intend to repeat those reasons. However, on behalf of my colleagues, I do want to emphasize as strongly as I can that we feel as strongly about this dispute as we did about the others, and we oppose this kind of solution because we do not see it as a viable solution to the collective bargaining process. A bad principle is a bad principle, and when a law such as this one breaks good legislation and breaches the principles of collective bargaining under Bill 100, we oppose it.
Personally, I felt that I did not in fact want to dignify this piece of legislation by debating it in this Legislature, because I think the continual use of this Legislature by introducing these bills, one by one, is an abuse of the Legislature and is an abuse of the government’s power. I think that is particularly true in this case in view of the Education Relations Commission report; and I want to quote a couple of paragraphs from that report:
“It is the view of the commission that in arriving at an opinion, it must have regard to the situation existing as of the date of its determination. In addition, the commission must also be concerned as to whether the parties will be able to resolve the dispute trough negotiation before the students affected by the dispute are actually placed in jeopardy. Necessarily, therefore, we must make some judgements about both the state of negotiations and the impact of the dispute upon the students.”
Recent developments indicate that some bargaining has taken place, and the minister did not explain in his opening statement what has taken place to change that. Further, the commission said: it is our opinion that an impasse has not yet been reached and the successful completion of courses by the students affected is not in jeopardy.
Finally, the commission said:
“The commission remains firm in its belief that the principle of self-regulation through collective bargaining or consensual resolution to presenting legislated impasse procedures can best serve the long-term interests of the Ontario school system.”
The minister pays lip-service to that principle, he pays lip-service to Bill 100, but by his actions ye shall know him. And by bringing this kind of bill into the Legislature, he abrogates the principles of Bill 100.
Whey then do we face this bill so suddenly at this time? I don’t think there is any doubt that the ritual war-dance, if you like, between the school board and the teachers; the clash over the grade 13 school that an attempt was made to establish, the withdrawal by the vice-principals of their services, have both had something to do with that.
Does this bill need to be proceeded with? I suspect not, Mr. Speaker, because the mediation session that was set for 10:30 this morning was set before the legislation came in. The subsequent break-off or refusal to participate in that by the board came as a result of the fact that this legislation was introduced yesterday and did get the board off the hook.
The board members know they no longer have to negotiate; the government will legislate a settlement and get them off the hook.
I suggest to the minister that he leave the bill on the order paper but suspend the debate and we do not at this time need to proceed with the debate. Mr. Lawless up in the Soo can get negotiations moving.
I think one of the things which has emerged in this dispute is the fallacy that has arisen in the Legislature about final offer selection being an innovative procedure. In fact, the board and the teachers in their last dispute went to final offer selection. The selector found in favour of the teachers and, therefore, the board has refused to go the arbitration route voluntarily. They have been burned by final offer selection and want no part of it.
This bill helps the board to avoid its responsibilities. The minister said yesterday, and he said again this morning, that Bill 100 will be around for a long time. What I would like him to clarify in his response on this debate is in what shape Bill 100 will be to be around for a long time. When he talked about technical refinements yesterday did he mean refinements which would remove the right to strike from that bill? I would like to get that on the record. The minister shakes his head no and I hope he will say that positively in his response.
I say that with a remote though real chance, a real possibility, that negotiations could be resumed if the debate on this bill were suspended, our reasoned amendment makes eminent good sense. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I am putting the reasoned amendment to the House at this time.
Mr. Foulds moved that Bill 52 be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time one hour hence and it now be referred back to have incorporated therein the following amendments:
“Section 1, 1(a) be deleted and all subsequent clauses of section 1 renumbered.
“Section 2, subsection 2 to be deleted and the following substituted therefor: During the period from and including the first Tuesday after the day this Act comes into force until an agreement as defined under the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act, 1975, comes into effect, no teacher shall take part in a strike against the board of education and no board of education shall lock out the teacher.
“Section 3, subsections 1, 2, 3 and 5 to be deleted.
“Subsection 4 to be amended to read as follows: The parties shall each give written notice to the Minister of Education within seven days after the day this Act comes into force setting out all matters the parties have agreed upon for inclusion in an agreement and the matters remaining in dispute between the parties and the notice shall be deemed to be notice to the commission and thereafter except as provided in section 57 of the School Boards and Teachers Collective Negotiations Act, 1975, a party shall not withdraw from the negotiations hereinafter provided for,
“Section 4, subsections 1 and 2 to be deleted and the following to be substituted therefor: The parties involved are instructed to resume forthwith negotiations in good faith in order to resolve all matters remaining in dispute.”
Mr. Martel: You had better try something new, Tom, or you won’t have Bill 100 around. When is your next meeting?
Mr. Speaker: The member for London South.
Mr. Ferris: Once again we do our daily act. It has become almost a horrible fate to come in here each day as we come once again to support the position of the government in legislating these teachers back to work.
Mr. Martel: You are killing Bill 100.
Mr. Laughren: And other legislation as well.
Mr. Ferris: We will oppose once again the reasoned amendment. I’m sure all my friends to the right understand all the reasons why we are doing that. We have gone over them so many times lately.
Mr. Martel: That’s right. What have you proved?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please, the hon. member for London South has the floor.
Mr. Ferris: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We do this on the grounds that we believe that the education of the children is much more important. If we must make a distinction between collective bargaining and the arbitration process and having children educated, then the children will win in my opinion, and they must win.
The third party is the person who is suffering in this dispute. My friends on the right certainly know that, especially at this time of the year when we are getting so close to the end of the term. The conditions of this bill are very similar to Kirkland Lake and Toronto with the exception of a people of minor points. I think we talked yesterday about the PD days. I look at this bill and the minister has not chosen to include the clause to make these instructional days.
Mr. Wildman: They’ve already had them.
Mr. Ferris: It is my understanding they have not and I believe the minister’s understanding is also the same, except that the minister has said he believes in what Metro Toronto is doing and thinks their strike of 38 days did not cause an elimination of these three PD days at the end of the year.
Certainly this strike has only caused a closure of schools for eight days. But I believe that the disruption of classes on rotating strikes is sometimes a much worse factor than the absolute closing. It is so uncertain as to what is really going to happen every day when you have to listen to the radio and find out the day before whether you are going the next day. It is not a good experience and so we have looked at a 33-day strike.
The part that really bothers me -- and the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds) from the NDP has talked about it -- is the attitude of the ERC, that protector of the innocent and the party that is used consistently by the minister who says: “I must be advised by them.” Throughout Metro it was always: “The ERC must tell me.” The ERC told the minister there was no cause to bring this dispute to an end in this manner and yet we have legislation in front of us. I can’t quite understand the reasoning behind that.
I asked the minister yesterday, based on a previous statement that he had made, to table the conditions and the ground rules that the ERC worked under. I asked him either to table those kinds of ground rules so we could be familiar with them or at least comment. I think that might be even more particularly important here, because obviously he has disagreed with some of those criteria. In fact with justification, I believe, he has in some respect taken this to the cabinet and they have ruled on it.
We set up the ERC, a learned body of people in the education field, totally familiar with collective bargaining, to advise the cabinet. They advised the cabinet and the minister, and then they go the other way. So obviously the cabinet knows more about when a programme is in jeopardy than the ERC. That poses a very serious question in my mind about the effectiveness of the ERC.
Mr. Wildman: That’s true.
Mr. Ferris: I also stated yesterday that it is very important to look at individual situations, and once again we come back to the fact, that individual situations obviously have been looked at here because the cabinet has decided that unlike any other strike this one in central Algoma, a semestered system, was allowed to go for 35 days. In this one the ERC says: “We don’t need to call a halt to this strike. Let them proceed in their normal fashion.” But the cabinet in its wisdom says it must end this.
I have a problem, because I believe those children’s programmes have been hurt and I must support the legislation. But I think we are making a bit of a mockery out of Bill 100 by giving latitude to play around with this. That’s why I sincerely hope the minister will tell us what the criterion is that the ERC works under, what kind of various situations it looks at, and perhaps explain to us how the cabinet could see this differently.
As I said, we will oppose the reasoned amendment. There is no point in going into a long discussion about the processes of arbitration, how badly they’re being used here, and who’s at fault or anything like this. We will oppose the reasoned amendment and we will support the bill.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, I’m not going to speak at length. I just really have a number of questions which I hope the minister will be able to answer.
Uppermost with me, as with the last speaker, is, why is it the cabinet has seen fit to ignore the advice given it by the ERC and to introduce legislation at this stage? Every other bit of legislation that this government has introduced in regard to educational disputes has followed a recommendation by the Education Relations Commission. In this case, the Education Relations Commission specifically said the students’ progress was not in jeopardy after 12 days of strike. But the government has seen fit to introduce the legislation.
Mr. Wildman: All right, that is the big question in my mind. I have other questions. What is the difference between Sault Ste. Marie and central Algoma? Why is it that Sault Ste. Marie is treated by this government so differently from central Algoma? Both are on semestered systems. Perhaps it is that there’s only one school in central Algoma. Perhaps there are not too many students or teachers involved. I really wonder about that.
There are students from my riding involved in this dispute because, as far north as Montreal River, students are bused to Sault Ste. Marie to go to the secondary school. They travel about 50 miles one way each day, and certainly the rotating strikes did have a great deal of effect on them. When it came to the stage when the strikes were not announced, students had been bused for a whole hour into school and then had to turn around and go home. There is no question that this is a serious dispute, but at the same time the ERC looked at the progress of the students, which is what the special hearings are for, according to the legislation, to determine whether or not their progress is in jeopardy, and it decided that it was not in jeopardy.
It’s also true that the teachers have been willing to go to third party arbitration or some sort of settlement along those lines for a long time and the board has not been willing to do so. As the minister says, there are many disputes in this province and the vast majority have been settled without legislation. Having that in mind, there was a mediation session set up this week before the legislation was introduced, the ERC had said it didn’t think the students were in jeopardy and as a matter of fact they thought that legislation was unnecessary because negotiations could continue and they thought that a settlement could be reached that way.
Is it because of this legislation that the board has decided not to participate in the mediation session that was set up today? Is it because of this legislation that the board, in essence, has locked out the students today? Basically that’s all I really want to know. I want some answers to these questions. Why is it that the minister ignored the ERC? Why is it that this dispute is treated so differently from the dispute in central Algoma? And why is it that mediation which was planned and which the ERC felt could be successful has been jeopardized -- it has been jeopardized -- by this legislation?
I hope the minister can answer those questions for us.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, in discussing the first three bills that were introduced on this subject, I made a very pointed statement of suggesting that the ministry had waited too long to act. I think I would find myself in a contradictory position right now by saying that it would appear on the surface that they are acting too hastily at the other end of the scale.
I think the record will show that in speaking to these previous three bills I have not made any comments or tried to lay any blame on either side. I think this situation, however, is qualitatively different. I had the opportunity of being in Sault Ste. Marie just a few short weeks ago to look into the Algoma College situation.
Mr. Moffatt: Did you enjoy it?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: He liked it there.
Mr. Martel: Is he going back?
Mr. Sweeney: I did.
Mr. Foulds: He would like to better himself.
Mr. Sweeney: I would like to go back to help your opposition.
Mr. Martel: Smith did all that for you.
Mr. Sweeney: Yes, they need it.
Mr. Riddell: He won’t need any help.
Mr. Moffatt: Particularly the opposition that he’s talking about.
Mr. Riddell: Maybe you will see the light and change back.
Mr. Sweeney: During that stay I had the opportunity to talk to teachers of the public school board, to a number of parents who had children in the secondary schools, and to teachers of the separate school board who had friends and children in the other schools. I also tried to speak to some of the board members, because by a strange anomaly some of the board members of the public school board are also on the board of Algoma College and so are some of the administrators. All I can suggest is that they are as intransigent in this situation as they were in that one. It is easy to understand what the problem is.
What I am trying to get at is that I got the very clear feeling that the board in this particular situation was being particularly difficult. I would have to concur with the point made by the minister that even though the Education Relations Commission has not ruled that the students’ education is in jeopardy, it would certainly appear from all the facts that are available on the surface at least -- and I don’t pretend to know any more than that -- that this board would continue to be intransigent and that a successful conclusion to this, under the normal bargaining process, would not happen in a relatively short period of time. The board has demonstrated this in two or three different ways, and both my colleague to my right and the minister have referred to those and I won’t repeat them.
The point I would make is that normally I would concur with my colleagues to the right that this is a hasty action. I think, though, that it is qualitatively different, that there is no evidence that it will be solved in a very short period of time, and there doesn’t appear to be any good reason to let it go on and on as we have with the others for upwards of 44 days.
I would ask the minister one question, however. In the first bill that we put out we left it to the arbitrator to decide whether it should be a one- or two-year settlement. In the one that we just settled in the last couple of days it was specified that it would be a one-year settlement. In this particular case it is being specified as a two-year settlement. There are three different settlements and I would ask the minister to explain the rationale. I am sure there must be one.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I want to enter into this debate because of the obvious interest that I have with the particular situation being in the riding that I represent in this House.
I want to state first of all, as I have on numerous occasions in the past, as it relates to any sort of dispute or disagreement that involves negotiations of contracts, that I believe the way to resolve them is through proper negotiations. Bust we have seen what has happened in the city of Sault Ste. Marie over the past number of years, not only over this last particular time period, but over the past number of years. It seems to those of us who have had youngsters attending the school system that there has been a continuing growing animosity -- I place no blame on either side -- but a growing animosity between the two parties involved. Many of us who live in that community and have lived there all our lives are concerned about what is happening to the education that was being provided for our youngsters in the systems in that community.
When this situation came on to the scene, and when the services were starting to be withdrawn -- first of all, though work to rule; secondly, with the rotating strikes, and finally into the full strike -- the sides were drawn and people in the community started to take sides. What I am concerned about is some of the attitudes that are being reflected by people in the community who, under ordinary circumstances, would never take sides, would never stand up and take sides at all. They would sit in their own way and assess what was happening in their own minds and probably come to certain conclusions, but never get involved in taking sides. Yet, this time they are.
Mr. Foulds: Are you against taking sides?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The unfortunate part of that is that the teaching profession in our community was being attacked from all sides --
Mr. Foulds: They were not attacked in Toronto?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They were being attacked by the media, by the phone-in shows on radio and by letters to the editor.
Mr. Deans: Are those unfair attacks?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They are, in my opinion, when only one side is attacked in this sort of dispute.
Mr. Deans: Are you standing up and defending the policy of the Sault Ste. Marie board?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What I am saying is that the community itself was giving very strong support to the position that was being taken by the board.
Mr. Deans: Are you standing up and defending them?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What I am saying is that all I am interested in is that we get the teachers and the students back into the schools and that the educational process continue with the good relations that have existed for many years in that community. What one has to do is talk to the students, the parents, the teachers and members of the school board, and one gets quite a variety of answers from all those different sources.
The students, through their inter-school council, which represents all of the secondary schools, contacted me immediately -- in fact, as soon as the rotating strike started -- demanding that something be done to settle it. Obviously we aren’t going to jump into a dispute at that early stage; but to say that this strike has only lasted nine, 10 or 11 days is not correct.
Mr. Deans: That’s what the minister said.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The system in Sault Ste. Marie has been disrupted; it has been disrupted in that community since early March. I find now in that community -- and I have talked to all sides -- that practically all sides involved want to see it come to an end, but firm positions have been taken. There just is no way that it is going to end. Nothing would be gained -- and I think members opposite well realize this -- nothing would be gained by allowing this strike to go on another 30 or 40 days, because the positions would not have altered at all. One can tell by what has happened in the community up to this date. Nothing will change.
I was in the company of the minister when we met with both parties here in Toronto, and one could tell at that time -- and that’s not that long ago -- that there was no way that either side was going to bend. Their positions were dug in. We will gain absolutely nothing by allowing it go for another 30 or 40 days. The only answer is to pass this legislation, send the parties to arbitration and have the matter resolved.
I don’t understand why anybody would want to prolong this strike. I can’t understand the members of the New Democratic Party in appearing to want to prolong this situation in that community.
Mr. Deans: No one wants to prolong it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That’s exactly what they are doing. Those members are talking about prolonging it.
Mr. Deans: In fact, we are prepared to have --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: For some reason they want a strike to go on in that community.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The minister hit it on the nose when he said the public in that community has said, “Enough is enough.” They haven’t taken sides. I haven’t taken sides, and I don’t intend to take sides in this dispute. I don’t know who is right and who is wrong. It is not proper for me to take sides.
Mr. Deans: Of course not.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am concerned about the third party involved in this, and that’s the many hundreds of students who are out of the classrooms right now. Their education, I feel, has been affected, despite what the Education Relations Commission may have said. I feel the system right now is causing a disruption in the educational process of those students. The people want these schools opened again. They want them to get on now.
An hon. member talked about the distances that students must travel, but what sort of disruption is involved when students being bused to school -- and the member for Algoma mentioned this -- get to the school and find that it’s closed by a rotating strike? They may come 60 or 70 miles by bus only to be sent back home again, not knowing if their school is going to be open the next day. That’s disrupting the system. That’s a disruption for the students, for the families, for the whole thing.
Mr. Deans: No one denies it.
Mr. Martel: So is the destruction of Bill 100.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We should bring that to an end, and it can be brought to an end by passing this bill. If the hon. members opposite think for one minute that the people in that community want to see this strike continue, they are dead wrong.
Mr. Deans: Nobody said that. That’s untrue.
Mr. Martel: Who do you think wants to see the strike continue?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. members opposite certainly think it should continue by the very way they are talking about it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Mr. Bullbrook: Elie is taking himself seriously again. You have to stop that.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It appears to me from the comments that have been made that they would like to see this situation continue -- and I don’t want to see it continue.
Mr. Wildman: We would like to see mediation work.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I will tell the hon. members something else. Their position is rather strange when one considers the fact that there are at least 17 of them sitting over there who have some sort of interest in what’s happening in the educational system, being ex-teachers themselves.
Mr. Bain: We all have an interest. Don’t the members from your caucus have an interest?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the amendment should not be supported.
Mr. Ferrier: Bill 100 is --
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I hadn’t intended to speak on the debate but what the minister said is not entirely true.
Mr. Foulds: Provocative, too.
Mr. Deans: In fact, it isn’t true at all with regard to anyone’s desire to have the strike prolonged. The amendment we put before the House would put an end to the work stoppage and for the minister to say other than that is not acceptable in this House. I want to have him and anyone who listens understand that we are as concerned, Mr. Speaker, about the effect of a strike on the pupils as you are.
Mr. Bounsall: More, in fact.
Mr. Deans: The one thing we are worried about is that it is time in this province for trustees to do their job and I am personally fed up with having to do the work they will not do. It’s time the people in the community had it told to them that the responsibility for the education system in that community rests with the trustees -- the trustees whom they elect. If they don’t like the way things are going in that system they must go to those trustees and tell them. Those trustees have a responsibility to them to provide an education system and to make sure that no unnecessary disruption takes place. It is not our responsibility. It is not the minister’s responsibility. It isn’t anyone’s responsibility here to jump into the dispute after a few days and to say it must be terminated.
What I would like to see is the minister go back to Sault Ste. Marie and stay there but since I can’t have that happen I’d like to see him go back to Sault Ste. Marie and at least have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and tell the public of Sault Ste. Marie that if they don’t like what the school board is doing, if they don’t like the system, get a new school board.
The school board in Sault Ste. Marie hired those teachers. The school board of Sault Ste. Marie has the responsibility of determining what the working conditions ought to be in conjunction with the teachers they hired. The school board has the responsibility of assessing the costs of education to the taxpayers of Sault Ste. Marie and it has the responsibility of determining, on behalf of those taxpayers, whether or not they will negotiate with the teachers and whether or not they will, given the willingness of teachers to go into the classroom, allow them to go in and provide education for the kids.
If the board members decide, as they did today, to close the doors to the teachers who are prepared to go back and educate the children, let me tell the House something -- they should answer to their electorate for that.
Ms. Gigantes: And the teachers.
Mr. Deans: They should answer. The minister shouldn’t be sitting down here saying, “I’m neutral.” Neutral? He’s not neutral -- he’s taking sides.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am pro-student, that is what I am.
Mr. Deans: Pro-student?
An hon. member: That’s a copout, John.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Don’t give me that phoney boloney. That’s why you’re in here instead of back in the classroom. You are not pro-student.
Mr. Deans: I want the minister to understand clearly that he is destroying the very process he’s trying to preserve.
Mr. Wildman: What are you doing to the ERC?
Mr. Deans: The government sends the ERC there to make a determination as to the effect of this dispute on the pupils and the ERC says it is not affecting them detrimentally to the point where we ought to be intervening.
Ms. Gigantes: The Minister of Housing knows best.
Mr. Deans: In spite of that, the neutral minister from Sault Ste. Marie says otherwise.
Mr. Bounsall: You’ve got more power than the ERC.
Mr. Deans: What’s the point of having an ERC if the government is not going to pay any attention to it? What’s the point? The minister is taking it upon himself to make decisions on behalf of people who have been trained to make those decisions and who have already made them. He puts pressure on the Minister of Education to do what I know he doesn’t want to do because he doesn’t believe it necessary.
I suggest the minister go back to Sault Ste. Marie, stand up and be counted and tell the people it’s time they got to their trustees. It’s time they said to them that if the teachers are prepared to teach, let them teach. That’s the issue.
It’s time he said to them that if negotiations can’t be resolved in Sault Ste. Marie, go and take part in the process that elected those people because they have a responsibility. Who’s going to interfere? Who’s going to intervene when there’s a strike in the civil service in the Province of Ontario, if there is one? Is the government going to let the federal government come and order us and them to arbitration?
It’s ridiculous what the government is doing. It’s time that the government gave the local people the opportunity to have their say, and made it clear to them that we aren’t going to bail them out when the going gets tough. Sometimes the going does get tough, and the only way to resolve a dispute is to allow it to come to its natural conclusion.
If there was some problem with regard to the education of those kids, okay; put the teachers back in the classroom according to the suggestion we make. But tell both parties:
“Sit down, my friends, and do your job; sit down and do your job.” On the one side, trustees want more money for the job they are doing; on the other side, teachers want more money for the job they are doing. The trustees can vote themselves a raise any time they like; the teachers have to negotiate with the same trustees.
I am suggesting to the minister that it is time we made it clear across this province that if you run for public office and you take on certain responsibilities as a result of being elected, live up to them.
Mr. Riddell: How have you lasted so long?
Mr. Deans: That responsibility, as far as school trustees are concerned, is to try to find solutions to problems in regard to that educational system over which they have jurisdiction.
So long as we are prepared, and leave the impression that we are prepared to come back here and resolve each dispute with a piece of legislation, then the minister is destroying the process that he is trying to preserve. I just disagree with him absolutely; totally. He is wrong; dead wrong.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Your disagreeing with me doesn’t make me wrong, I will tell you.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, in commenting on some of the things that have been said during debate on this bill -- and I don’t intend to go over the things I said a few minutes ago in introducing debate on this second reading -- I would just like to tell my friend that what I was talking about last night, and will again say today concerning technical changes in Bill 100, certainly, in my view, are just exactly that -- technical changes.
There are things like certain time limits in Bill 100. There are things like the role that fact-finders should play and how they should operate. There are matters such as that, which have come to light during the operation of the bill, since it became law last summer, that need to be looked at, based on the situations that have occurred over the past few months in arriving at contracts with the help of the ERC and using the procedures of Bill 100 -- contracts that have been arrived at; situations that have occurred that would lead me to believe we should look at certain technical things in the bill.
I am not talking about looking at the principles of the bill, such as what should be negotiated, and how, and what procedures are there for the solving of impasses. For example, because the school trustees’ council says, “We will never go to arbitrary binding arbitration or final offer selection,” we are not going to take that out of the bill. We are not going to change the section of the bill that gives teachers the right to withdraw their services, having followed the procedures in the bill. We are not going to change the section that says what shall be negotiated.
Indeed, I might say it’s an interesting thing that that particular section at one time was viewed as a section that the teachers wanted and the trustees were adamantly opposed to. I can recall disputes where the trustees were saying, “That is not negotiable. That item is not negotiable, and we don’t even want to put it on the table to talk about it in these discussions.”
Of course, since the advent of Bill 100 anything that can be construed as a working condition is negotiable. I do see, though, in some situations now, where teachers are saying on the other side, “But, look, we got that in a contract; that particular point was in there last year -- we don’t want to negotiate that next year.” And trustees are saying, “But wait a minute; everything’s negotiable -- therefore that has to be negotiable.”
I have to say to teachers, as we said to boards, “Even if you won something in a contract last year, and the board wants to put it on the table next year, it is negotiable. You don’t sit there and say it’s non-negotiable.” But I can tell you, as you know in some disputes, that is part of the problem.
I think part of the problem in Windsor is hinging on whether something that was in the 1975 contract is really up for negotiation again this year. The board has taken the position that it is; but certainly it --
Mr. Bounsall: That it should be continued.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Pardon?
Mr. Bounsall: That it should be continued.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That it should be continued. But you can’t say that the fact that it was in a contract, it’s really not negotiable -- that you just automatically continue it on.
Mr. Bounsall: That is not their point.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The point I’m making is that Bill 100 says the terms and conditions of employment are negotiable, and for both sides that means in the making of a new contract they are negotiable.
Mr. Bounsall: We agree.
Hon. Mr. Wells: So what I am saying is that, however, some of the technical things in the bill will be looked at. My feeling is that we will have a meeting with the school trustees’ council and the Ontario Teachers Federation some time in the next couple of months, or perhaps in the summer, to talk about what has gone on. We will also meet with the ERC. We’ll get all the opinions about how the bills work, and from that we will move to drafting a bill that will perhaps suggest some technical changes, if they are important enough to need to be brought in to change the legislation.
On the point that has been made by the speakers for the Liberal Party, particularly the member for London South, I thought I gave an answer to it in my opening remarks but perhaps it wasn’t completely clear. Why have we acted rather than pay attention to the report that has been given to us by the Education Relations Commission? I think I said in other debates in this House that the first and primary purpose of the Education Relations Commission is to help the parties, the teachers and the board, arrive at a settlement -- that’s their first and primary function -- and to provide the backup, the procedures, the personnel, the mediators, whatever, to help the parties if they need it to get a settlement.
Of necessity, that means their primary concern is with the collective bargaining process, but in bringing in Bill 100 we gave to them also an added function, and that was the right or the authority to hold a hearing at a certain time, if an impasse was occurring because of a strike or a lock-out, and to advise the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the cabinet, as to whether the pupils’ programmes were in jeopardy. That was added because in our experience, before Bill 100, we had strikes in this province and there was always the question as to whether the government should or should not act, and there was no third party to provide any advice to the government. That was not put into Bill 100 as the primary main purpose for the ERC. It was put in as another function which they could perform and which could be helpful to the government.
I will be glad to send my friend -- I don’t have it here now -- the ground rules which the ERC has worked out as to how it would proceed and to handle this particular function. Specifically, I think their ground rules provide that after an impasse has gone on for 21 days, they will then give consideration to holding hearings in the particular jurisdiction to see if pupils’ progress is being jeopardized by that impasse, but basically they have laid out in their ground rules that until 21 days have occurred they would not normally be taking any action. There may be special circumstances that would cause them to violate that, or to change or to act differently.
They also, in their ground rules, have said that if the minister at any time asks them to hold a hearing or give the government their advice on a particular dispute, they will then do it, 21 days having gone by or not. As members will recall, in the Kirkland Lake dispute we asked them if they would hold a hearing and give us the benefit of their advice.
I verbally asked them if they would hold a hearing in Sault Ste. Marie and give me their opinion on the dispute there. The result of that hearing -- which was held, of course, not after 21 days of actual dosage of those schools, but easily 21 days after the whole matter of a state of strike had begun -- was the report that they presented here today. The report, as has been indicated and as I have indicated -- and the report has been made public -- doesn’t suggest that the pupils’ programmes of study are in jeopardy. That is the opinion of the ERC. I respect that opinion, but that is just an opinion to the cabinet of this province. It is not something that says that we cannot act. We have to take responsibility. We are accountable. If we get a recommendation from the ERC that says pupils’ programmes are in jeopardy and if we decide not to take action, as the official opposition has suggested we should have done in a lot of these disputes --
Mr. Bain: That is not true.
Mr. Foulds: We suggested a specific course of action.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: There is a difference of opinion there. The suggestion is that really the member’s party would like us not to take action but wants to stand with its feet on both sides of the question.
Mr. Foulds: No, there is a specific course of action.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Their amendment doesn’t jibe with their words. That is what really bothers me.
Mr. Foulds: It would re-open the schools.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Yes: it re-opens the schools.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the hon. member for Port Arthur restrain himself please?
Hon. Mr. Wells: That is what I say, but I think the Premier handled that in the Metro Toronto dispute when the member’s leader got up at the end to try to have it both ways.
Mr. Bain: We are not.
Mr. Foulds: No, no.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They want to appear to the public that they are in favour of re-opening the schools.
Mr. Foulds: We are.
Mr. Bain: We are.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right, but in doing that they are also violating one of the principles of Bill 100, if they are going to use that language about what we are doing.
They are taking away the right to strike or lockout from those people at this particular time. Right? Their piece of legislation -- in this particular case -- says that as of next Tuesday the right to strike or lockout is taken away.
Mr. Foulds: It doesn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It says they shall not strike or lockout from next Tuesday until an agreement is arrived at. Once an agreement is arrived at, they can’t strike or lockout under the terms of the agreement. So effectively the party opposite is taking away that right from those groups. Then it is putting in what is known as compulsory bargaining. I just have to believe that compulsory bargaining violates all the principles that I know about bargaining. How does one force a person to bargain compulsorily?
Mr. Warner: Is compulsory arbitration better?
Mr. Bounsall: Let them off the book and they will bargain.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Where is the member’s amendment? I want to see it.
Mr. Martel: If the legislation gets them off the hook, why should they have to bargain?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The member is adopting a very strange principle really. The principle he is suggesting we accept in his amendment is that by taking away the rights of sanction in Bill 100 the parties are forced to bargain by this legislation, and if they don’t bargain they are going to be fined because the penalty section would apply. Both of them are going to be fined.
Mr. Foulds: It is called good-faith bargaining. Doesn’t the minister believe in that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s a rather strange principle because how does one force people by this legislation to bargain?
Mr. Foulds: Doesn’t the minister believe in good-faith bargaining?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I believe in bargaining but I believe that good-faith bargaining doesn’t take place under compulsion. Let’s get this whole thing boiled down to what we are really talking about. He and I both agree the schools should open. He and I both agree that the strike should end. He has said that by legislation the strike should end and the lockout should end.
Mr. Foulds: It is the only way we can move procedurally once we have the legislation.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The only thing that we are talking about is how do we finalize the matter? The member is saying he would finalize it by forcing the people to bargain and if they won’t bargain he would fine them. There is really no end to the thing. He is also forcing on the board the last offer that was offered by them. He is saying that automatically is paid.
Mr. Foulds: Not in this one.
Mr. Martel: The minister said that himself. He has done that himself.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The member has left that out of this one. We are saying the best way at this point in time is to give the parties a chance to put the matter to a third person who will arbitrate it,
Mr. Deans: They have that opportunity now.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They have that opportunity but they are not taking advantage of it.
Mr. Deans: And if they choose not to, that is their choice.
Hon. Mr. Wells: They are not using it. As I said last night, there comes a time when we can’t wait around for them to take advantage of that offer. The party opposite agrees with that because it is in favour of back-to-work legislation in its bill. We have both not disagreed on that. All we have disagreed on is how do we come to a finality of the matter.
Mr. Bounsall: And it is important.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Certainly it is important. I have to believe, knowing that they have been negotiating since March, 1975, that negotiations are not going to be fruitful, particularly forced compulsory negotiations. If we accepted the opposition’s bill we are going to be faced with somehow having to find the solution to the problem although, of course, the immediacy of it is going to vanish because the schools are going to be opened and the sanctions which both sides could apply are going to vanish.
I have to believe that the NDP’s suggestion in its amendment is not the kind of thing which is going to work in this particular situation.
Mr. Foulds: Try it once.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I believe that what is going to work is to put the matter to some kind of third person selection or arbitration so that the sides can get the matter settled once and for all.
Mr. Grande: See if it works.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My position, though, is that if both sides want to continue bargaining, of course they can. There’s nothing in this bill which says they can’t. We’re both agreed the schools will open on Tuesday. Both sides can sit down and bargain at any time. They’re going to have to decide -- or they should, in order to prepare for the arbitration -- what is still in dispute. There is the chance for them to continue bargaining. They can continue bargaining through the arbitration; non-compulsory bargaining can continue until arbitration settles the matter.
The fact of the matter is that the state of affairs in Sault Ste. Marie suggests to me that there has to be some process of finality to this dispute at this time, much more definite than just saying, “Compulsory bargaining with a fine if you don’t get to the bargaining table.”
Mr. Martel: You will say the same for Windsor next week.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m sure what NDP members would like is to have the board not come to the bargaining table, if the amendment was passed, and have them fined.
Mr. Deans: No, I would like it resolved.
Hon. Mr. Wells: What’s that going to solve? That’s not going to solve anything.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s not going to solve anything.
Mr. Deans: You are being silly; let’s vote.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m not being silly, I’m just trying to indicate and to talk about your amendment.
Mr. Deans: You are being silly.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m not being silly.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The interjections are not adding to the debate.
Mr. Deans: You are being silly. Of course you are.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I haven’t made any sillier remarks than you’ve made on some of these things.
Mr. Bullbrook: Will you make a ruling on that business of silly? I cannot make up my mind.
Mr. Moffatt: You are silly.
Mr. Deans: Pretty deep for you, Jim.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All right I think maybe I have answered the question. I want to put this on the record: The reason we wanted the advice of the Education Relations Commission but decided to act in a contrary manner to what it recommended, was the general state of affairs in the Soo area.
Hon. Mr. Wells: And we desired to get things back to normal as soon as possible. It was a desire to re-establish a state in which quality education can come about in Sault Ste. Marie, because of the lateness in the school year and because of the fact this is a semester system.
Mr. Mattel: So we can come back next week for the next bill.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I think I have certainly convinced most of the members of this House that this is a necessary piece of legislation; I hope. I would like to believe for once -- I’m sure they’ll stand up today; we couldn’t in any way get them to want to record themselves as being opposed to the central Algoma bill last night.
Mr. Bounsall: You could have stood. You could have called the vote.
Hon. Mr. Wells: All I suggest is they save a little time today and let this bill proceed with second reading.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You ran like a rabbit.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s a rather strange situation. Why didn’t you want to be put on record as being opposed to the central Algoma bill last night?
Mr. Foulds: We are on record.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Let’s get on with the business of the House.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: You are trying to save Wildman’s seat, that’s what you are doing.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Nobody wanted to have that recorded in Hansard.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Nobody wanted to.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Point of order.
Mr. Foulds: Do you have to get unanimous consent of the House to last night’s proceedings? If the minister wants a divided vote we can stack it with this one.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: That’s a good idea.
Hon Mr. Wells: I’m not going to proceed with that because that’s a silly suggestion.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I asked you last night if you really didn’t want to vote with us on the bill to stand up and have a division.
Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s a silly suggestion. I asked you last night, if you really didn’t want to vote with us on the bill, to stand up and have a division last night on central Algoma, but you didn’t want it.
Mr. Foulds: We have given you unanimous consent to revert --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. The bill has already passed.
Mr. Bullbrook: Is that how you get unanimous consent?
Mr. Bounsall: You’re calling for a standing vote on this one. We’ll give it to you.
Mr. Deans: Why is he filibustering? Why doesn’t he vote?
Hon. Mr. Wells: You people over there make a great thing about it when we assume that kind of a position, but --
Mr. Martel: It gets easier for you every time over there.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- you also call divisions on a lot more trivial things, and I just think it has to be recorded that --
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Saving your hide, Bud.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order please. Let’s get on with the business of the House.
Hon. Mr. Wells: You really again wanted to be on both sides of the issue last night. You really want people to believe you were in favour of our bill, but yet you spoke against it.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Hon. Mr. Wells Reed has moved second reading of Bill 52. Mr. Foulds had moved a reasoned amendment. The question is, shall Bill 52 be now read a second time?
The House divided on the motion for second reading of Bill 52, which was approved on the following vote:
Smith (Hamilton Mountain)
Worton -- 67.
Davison (Hamilton Centre)
Ziemba -- 32.
Clerk of the House: Mr. Speaker, “ayes” are 67, the “nays” are 32.
Motion agreed to; second reading of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Shall this bill be ordered for third reading?
Hon. Mr. Wells moved third reading of Bill 52, An Act respecting the Sault Ste. Marie Board of Education and Teachers Dispute.
Mr. Speaker: All those in favour of Bill 52 being read the third time will please say aye.
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “ayes” have it.
Motion agreed to; third reading of the bill.
Clerk of the House: The second order, House in committee of the whole.
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
House in committee on Bill 46, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Hon. Mr. Meen: just before we get into the section by section discussion of the bill, I would like to advise boo, members that I have two substantive amendments to propose. One arises from nor extension of the exemption regarding mobile homes to the area covered by modular homes. This is a conclusion that the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) and I have reached over the last few days after talking with the industry, and I would expect that hon. members would find this extension of the exemption to be an attractive one. I will send down to the Chairman a copy of that amendment in a moment. That entails an amendment to section 1 by the addition of a reference to modular homes and then an addition to that section defining taxable value.
Then I have a second amendment to propose to section 3, subsection 4 of the bill, which refers to authority in the minister to define a newspaper for purposes of what would be exempt from tax and what would not be exempt from tax in that area. I am concerned, as we expressed in the debate en second reading -- I think all members felt there was some concern about this -- and since my staff has been unable to satisfy me that at this stage we are in a position to come up with a definition that is sharp enough to exclude the legitimate daily and weekly newspapers from taxation, I have concluded that for the present time we should withdraw this section and revert to the present provision, which is certainly less than satisfactory. Perhaps in the next few months we will be able to come up with some kind of definition which can then give us a line as to how we should amend this section.
There is a third amendment proposed to section 13, which is of a housekeeping nature, resulting from the removal of the amendment with respect to the newspapers.
On section 1:
Mr. Chairman: Would the hon. minister indicate to the committee which subsection of section 1 he is going to amend?
Hon. Mr. Meen: Yes, Mr. Chairman, it’s subsection 1 and subsection 2 of section 1. I expect the best routine would be if I were to make the motion right now on that first amendment.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Meen moves that subsections 1 and 2 of section 1 of the bill he deleted and the following subsection substituted therefor:
1. Paragraph 4 of section 1 of the Retail Sales Tax Act, being chapter 415 of the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1970, is amended by adding at the end thereof, “except that in the case of either a mobile home or a modular home sold for the first time at a retail price after April 6, 1976, fair value means the taxable value of such mobile home or modular home as the case may be.”
2. The said section 1, as amended by the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1973, chapter 23, section 1, and 1975, chapter 9, section 1, is further amended by adding thereto the following paragraphs:
5(a) “Mobile home” means a vehicular portable structure that
(a) is defined to be a mobile home, a multiple-section mobile home or a swing-out and expandable room section mobile home for the purposes of the Z240 series of standards prescribed by the Canadian Standards Association and
(b) complies with the requirements of a mobile home, multiple-section mobile home or swing-out and expandable room section mobile home contained in that series of standards and bears the seal of the Canadian Standards Association attesting to such compliance.
5(b) “Modular home” means a house that is intended for residential purposes and that is constructed by assembling manufactured modular units, each of which comprises of at least one room or living area, has been manufactured to comply with the A277 series of standards prescribed by the Canadian Standards Association and bears the seal of the association attesting to such compliance.
Mr. B. Newman: I want to make mention something that involves this section and actually also pertains to section 2; that is, we now have the minister making mention of a code, that being Z240 of the Canadian Standards Association. I’m wondering if exactly the same thing is going to apply to the modular homes, because a lot of people who bought mobile homes found that their homes met the Canadian Standards Association, but not necessarily Z240, with the result that they were not eligible for the first-time home buyer grant because the Z was not in front of the CSA rating.
Hon. Mr. Meen: I may need some clarification from the hon. member, but I would just repeat that the modular home definition does bear a specific reference to a GSA standard; A277 is the number to which we have made reference in this amendment. Perhaps I could re-read that section to the hon. member.
We are defining a modular home as being a house that is intended for residential purposes -- so obviously this doesn’t apply to commercial or other use of the premises -- that is constructed by assembling manufactured modular units, each of which comprises of at least one room or living area, that has been manufactured to comply with the A277 series of standards prescribed by the CSA and bears the seal of the association.
The hon. member expressed some concern that we may have the same sort of problem as we experienced with the home buyer grant designation of the Z240 series. I realize what he’s saying, but I would hope when people are buying modular homes for assembly that they will be careful to see they qualify. They will see right on the bill itself the amount of tax that is payable. So it should be clear to them as to whether they’re paying the regular seven per cent or whether they are able to pay what works out to -- and I’ll explain this later -- 55 per cent of seven per cent of the tax on the purchase price of the modular home delivered to the site.
Mr. Good: Subsection 1 which you have substituted for the original amendment now refers to its taxable value. Before the reference was to one-half of such retail sales price as determined by including all those things. What implication does that have as to the amount of tax that will be charged on that mobile home?
Hon. Mr. Meen: The staff determined they had to change the reference and use the term “taxable value” when we went to the question of modular homes. It has no real significance. You’re taking the sale price -- that’s the taxable value -- and then you’re taking 50 per cent, or you’re taking 55 per cent of it in the case of a modular home.
Mr. Good: So the 50 per cent still remains. Is that 50 per cent of the taxable value or the sale price?
Hon. Mr. Meen: For mobile homes, yes.
Mr. Renwick: I believe I understand the changes the minister has made by the amendments which he proposes. Could I ask the more fundamental question on why be considers it necessary to collect sales tax calculated on 50 per cent of the value of the mobile home and 55 per cent on the value of the modular home in the first instance?
Hon. Mr. Meen: The attempt is to equate the amount of tax which shows up, in effect, in the final price of a modular home assembled at the site or a mobile home installed at the site, with the approximate amount of tax that reflects in the sale price when you buy a house that’s completely built on site. Where the contractor has purchased lumber and other materials, he has paid the tax on those articles as he purchased those pieces of construction material that went into the construction. He has paid tax on those. There is no retail sales tax on the finished product when sold to the purchaser, but obviously it is buried somewhere in the sale price as a part of the cost incurred by the contractor in the construction.
The 50 per cent figure for mobile homes is an approximation to equate it as nearly as possible to the amount of tax which would be payable on a comparably-sized and priced home if constructed on the site. In the case of a modular home, there is somewhat more labour at the site than in the case of a mobile home, which it’s virtually completed and arrives on the site and is installed. In that case, the percentage is somewhat higher and it has been established that 55 per cent is a pretty realistic figure to use.
Mr. Chairman, it had been agreed that House would rise between 1 and 2 o’clock and it is virtually 1 o’clock now.
Hon. Mr. Meen moved that the committee rise and report.
Mr. Chairman: Shall the motion carry?
Mr. Wildman: No.
Ms. Gigantes: No.
Mr. Renwick: Aren’t you in favour that the committee rise and report? Can’t we go to lunch? We can come back to that.
Mr. Wildman: I have some questions.
Mr. Chairman: All those in favour of the committee rising and reporting will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the “ayes” have it.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member for Riverdale is in total control.
The House resumed, Mr. Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of the whole House reports progress and asks for leave to sit again.
Report agreed to.
The House recessed at 1 p.m.