30e législature, 3e session

L076 - Mon 7 Jun 1976 / Lun 7 jun 1976

The House met at 2 p.m.


Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.


Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement on some comments on the recent report relating to the dairy industry.

I was interested, perplexed, and frankly, angry at Mr. Trudeau’s comments on the Betty Kennedy show which were later reported in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail. In this newspaper the Prime Minister blamed provincial mismanagement for dairy surpluses.

An hon. member: You are complaining?

Hon. W. Newman: What a switch from Mr. Trudeau’s earlier comments to the House of Commons on Sept. 4, 1973 --


Mr. Nixon: What did he say in 1971?

Hon. W. Newman: I quote: “Increased food production in Canada, encouraged by measures to bring more stability and security of prices to producers -- ”

Mr. Kerrio: The statute of limitations has run out.

Hon. W. Newman: “ -- strikes at the heart of high food prices now being faced by consumers.”


Hon. W. Newman: To continue:

“Therefore, the government is prepared to put in place measures such as higher support payments for agricultural commodities, advanced payments on a wide range of agricultural products, commodity- oriented government-producer financed income stabilization programmes and such other measures as might evolve after the September conference.

“The September conference referred to by Mr. Trudeau is the federal-provincial ministerial meeting on food production policies held in Ottawa on Sept. 27, 1973, and explicitly convened by Mr. Whelan with direct orders from Mr. Trudeau.”

At that conference the Ontario government presented a policy paper which stated categorically, and I quote:

“The Ontario position is that the several governments of Canada, provincial and federal, should encourage an increase in agricultural production in Canada, provided that producers receive guarantees that this increased production will not impinge upon their incomes.”

The paper went on to say:

“If governments take over-active steps to stimulate production and then, in the absence of realistic price guarantees, prices fall toward historically unattractive levels, governments will quite properly be held responsible by Canadian farmers. We welcome the Prime Minister’s comment that his government will put in place higher support levels for agricultural products.

“Ontario believes that the producers should be encouraged to expand production to fill assured markets, whether they be domestic or export, but this production should be geared to provide the security and confidence so urgently needed by the industry.”

After all that, Mr. Trudeau has the nerve to suggest provincial mismanagement for dairy surpluses.

An hon. member: What a shame.

Hon. W. Newman: Our IMPIP was implemented in 1973 because the federal government was trying to make the Canadian dairy industry as nearly self-sufficient as possible, and the provinces were responding to its calls for increased production. However, as Ontario’s output increased, part of our market share quota was automatically transferred to other provinces annually.

One fact that Mr. Trudeau fails to realize is that even with our IMPIP programme, our milk output was only 97 per cent of what Ottawa has asked us to produce in the 1975-1976 dairy year.

Yes, the dairy industry is facing problems, but we must work in a spirit of co-operation to resolve the present problem. Let Mr. Trudeau get the facts straight before he comments on a subject which he knows little about and should better leave to his Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Whelan.


Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, before oral questions, I wonder, in view of the seriousness of the fire hazard in northern Ontario, if perhaps the Chairman of Cabinet (Mr. Brunelle) could give us a report in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier) as to the occurrences there.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I noticed the Minister of Natural Resources was out in the lobby talking to his deputy about that very subject. I expect he will be in shortly.

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps it could be raised as a question --

Mr. Reid: Could we revert to statements when the minister comes in?

Mr. Speaker: Yes. Or perhaps it might come up in a question addressed to the minister when he arrives, if he does not have a statement prepared.

Mr. Lewis: Why take the time of question period?

Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, due to the importance of the whole situation, I would ask for unanimous consent of the House to revert to statements when the minister comes in.

Mr. Speaker: Do we have such unanimous consent if the minister has something to say on this? I am sure he will have. Thank you.

Oral questions.


Mr. Lewis: A question first for the Solicitor General, if I may: Can he report on his espionage inquiry into Grassy Narrows?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I received a report just about one minute ago; I haven’t had an opportunity of looking it over, but I will do so now.

Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, since a charge of sabotage was put, involving a major reserve in the northwest, could he possibly just read -- that’s only on one page; I imagine it clarifies it pretty easily.

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I would like the opportunity of reading it myself first. I don’t know who made the charge of sabotage. It wasn’t made by me --

Mr. Lewis: The Minister of Natural Resources.

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I want to read this over. It’s a police report and I will read it.

Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, may I have the agreement of the House to revert to ministerial statements when the minister has read his report?

Mr. Speaker: If the minister has a statement to make.

Hon Mr. MacBeth: I don’t intend to make any statement at this point. It may warrant a statement tomorrow or at some time in the future, but I have no intention of making a statement on it today.

Mr. Lewis: If it’s a whole page, suppose the minister reads it and I will come back to it.


Mr. Lewis: Can I ask the Minister of the Environment what happened in the case of the Stouffville dump and York Sanitation, which initially caused the government so much anxiety in giving the dump the right to pursue its processes? Now the ministry finds in two separate tests that in fact there are polluted wells and that information is not shared with the public but is shared only in private with the council. Can the minister explain that?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: As the hon. member knows, there was a lengthy hearing dealing with that site. The board approved the establishment of the dump, based on the satisfying of certain conditions that were laid down by the board. One of the conditions was the concern of leaching from the dump which may affect some private wells. There was some indication of some contamination. That is being held up until the operator of that facility can satisfy the ministry.

I’m not aware that this information isn’t public, Mr. Speaker; I assumed it was public information. It’s referred to in the report and certainly the conditions laid down by the board are public information.

If there are some specific wells owned by people living in that area who are concerned about whether or not they are affected I’d be happy to get that information.

Mr. Lewis: Is the minister not aware that within the last 10 days senior environmental officer Paul Isles met with Mayor Gordon Ratcliff and members of the council in secret and revealed that tests have shown aquifer pollution in two wells tested by the ministry, and that this information had been kept private for a month? Indeed, he may have met with the council almost a month ago. I’d like to know when the tests will be made public and what action the ministry will take.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether or not they met in secret. I imagine it would be an informal meeting --

Mr. Lewis: The council admits it.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- in somebody’s office, possibly. I don’t know if they met with the full council or not. There have been ongoing meetings between my ministry and the representatives of the council to find out whether or not they wish to have that site operating and plan to meet our conditions. If the hon. member wants a report on the wells I’d be happy to bring it to the Legislature.

Mr. Lewis: Thank you.


Mr. Lewis: A question, if I may, to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations: Can he comment today on the Marisa Zorsitto case, the jury award of $349,000 because of an automobile accident and the motor accident indemnity fund providing a maximum of $50,000? Can he discuss the government’s position on this kind of unhappy situation?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, of course, I think everybody sympathizes with the very tragic circumstances the young lady finds herself in. The statute provides for a maximum of $50,000 out of the fund. I would prefer not to deal with it in a very haphazard way but to see whether or not there are alternatives whereby this one unfortunate circumstance can be dealt with, rather than saying, “Yes, we can pay more.” We can’t, under the law. The law limits it to $50,000; I’m sure every member is aware of that.

I would like to be able to put together some of the thoughts there may be on the subject -- those appearing in the press and elsewhere -- to see whether or not, first of all, the young lady’s situation can be dealt with and whether similar situations in the future can be dealt with in a more orderly rather than an ad hoc fashion.

Mr. Lewis: A supplementary, if I may: Given the clear injustice of this case and the insufficiency of the fund to deal with situations like this, why is the minister’s philosophic rigidity preventing him from recognizing that if there were compulsory automobile insurance in Ontario, appropriately enforced and administered, with a high enough minimum, this kind of case could never occur?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to point out to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that philosophical flexibility would not result in anything more in any other province, regardless of the political stripe of its government.

Mr. Lewis: Come on!

Hon. Mr. Handleman: The maximum being paid under compulsory insurance is $50,000 unless the driver wishes to obtain more. That’s open to any driver in this province, too. I don’t see that the philosophic rigidity --

Mr. Lewis: Change the minimums.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: -- the hon. member refers to has any bearing whatsoever. Again, I would like to say that I don’t want to reject this proposition out of hand but I certainly can’t ad hoc it either. I think we have to take a careful look at it.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: In the particular case being referred to, is the minister aware that the $50,000 maximum will hardly even pay for this very unfortunate person’s medical and rehabilitative expenses, to say nothing of the grave difficulty she now faces for the rest of her life in attempting to carry on her profession? Can he not bring in an increased limit to the fund and make it retroactive to cover this case or have some other means of handling the situation?


Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I don’t want it to appear as though nobody on this side of the House has any sympathy whatsoever for the situation the young lady finds herself in but, again, I should point out that this is an isolated incident. To change the fund -- which could be done, of course -- to suit one particular case of an injustice might not be the best course of action. It may very well be necessary to deal with it as an individual case.

But I would like to point out that if we were to raise the fund or to impose compulsory insurance with amounts of $100,000 or $200,000 or $300,000 or $500,000, there would always be a case of a judgement higher than that. There was a judgement recently in Ottawa of $1 million, and the question is whether or not the public is ready to pay more for the isolated instances.

We recognize the injustice to an individual, but whether or not that creates a situation whereby the whole system has to be changed is another matter. We are certainly sympathetic to that case.

Mr. Singer: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Quite apart from the ad hoc-ery that the minister is talking about, isn’t he of an opinion -- inflation being such and cost of everything being such -- that the time has now come to raise the $50,000 limit right across the board, both for the fund and for the minimum amount, and make it at least $ 100,000, and perhaps more, depending on what the select committee might later advise? Would the minister agree that $50,000, in light of the circumstances existing today, is far too low?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I would probably agree to that in principle, and I’m pleased that the chairman of the select committee has relieved us of the responsibility of waiting for the report.

Mr. Singer: Bring it up to $100,000.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Certainly, I think it is worthy of consideration. Again, the question of the additional premium is one that we would have to consider and whether the public is prepared to pay, because somebody is going to have to pay for the additional coverage. The other aspect, of course, is that the higher that amount, the more likely the courts are to make higher awards, and it becomes a snowballing effect. However, I think we can take a look at that and deal with it on its merits.

Mr. Lewis: Supplementary, if I may, in two short parts: To avoid the snowballing effect the minister describes, just how many drivers are covered by the motor accident indemnity fund, and can the minister later make a statement to the House as to how he might make up the discrepancy between the $50,000 presently available under the law and the $350,000 which the court awarded?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t made any commitment at all to make up the difference between the $50,000 --

Mr. Lewis: Well, the minister said he wanted to talk about it.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: I said we would like to look at the circumstances to see whether or not some relief can be given to the individual involved. Whether or not that means paying out of public funds the full amount of the award might very well be something that I would want to give second thoughts to.

Certainly, the number of drivers who contribute to the motor vehicle accident claims fund is less, in our view, than three per cent of the drivers on the road in Ontario. So we have more than 97 per cent of our drivers who are insured, but they may be underinsured, too, and that’s another point that we would have to look at. I was hoping, of course, that the select committee would deal with that in its deliberations. But if it is an urgent matter that has to be dealt with, then I’m sure the government will do that.

Mr. Lewis: Can we revert to the Minister of Natural Resources? I have one question.

Mr. Speaker: I might point out to the hon. Minister of Natural Resources that there has been a request that perhaps he might be in a position to make a statement about the forest fire situation. If that is so, he has the unanimous consent of the House to do so.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I regret to inform the House that the situation continues to be very grave and very serious, particularly in northwestern Ontario. I believe I referred to it on the weekend as an explosive situation. At the present time, we have 165 fires raging in northwestern Ontario. There were 65 new ones yesterday. We were able, with our forces, to extinguish 32. As a matter of comparison, this year we have had 928 fires to date, and the normal for this time of the year is about 400 -- so you can see the seriousness of the situation from those figures.

The weather conditions are encouraging. There is a weather system north of Red Lake causing some cloud formation. There was very little precipitation in the northwest last night -- more electrical storms. At the present time about 300,000 acres of prime forest land are burning in northwestern Ontario. One further aircraft has gone down, following my report of last week, at White Cliff. No fatality. Two of our staff are in the Sioux Lookout district hospital with minor injuries.

The community giving us some concern at the present time is Pickle Lake. There is a fire of about 12,000 acres just south of Pickle Lake, and that is receiving our full effort and is a top priority with our staff at the present time. Rounds Lake was in danger for a short period of time, but I have to admit and I am thankful that the federal government has assisted us in bringing a special force to that particular community, along with our own forces, and we’ve been able to hold the fires in around that community.

Allan Water has been evacuated and 70-odd people have been brought to Armstrong. A number of summer cottages have been destroyed in the Allan Water area; we haven’t got the exact details at this time.

I might say we are receiving some tremendous co-operation from other jurisdictions. Alberta is sending us nine 28-men crews that are completely qualified and experienced in firefighting, along with their equipment. They will be arriving today. Also, from Boise, Idaho, we’re receiving some infrared camera equipment and some mobile weather detecting units which will assist us in combatting the serious situation in northwestern Ontario.

On the weekend I asked for the co-operation of the public at large. My own ministry has curtailed all work activities in the forests of northwestern Ontario such as tree planting and silviculture programmes. We have cancelled temporarily any roadbuilding programmes. We have asked the private sector to do likewise. We have had excellent cooperation to date from the tourist industry. The indications from the woods industry are that we will receive that same co-operation.

At the present time, we have sufficient access to firefighters and that particular resource. When the sawmills and the logging industry shut down, this will give us further ample supply, so I don’t see any particular shortage in that respect. If we do not get the co-operation to the fullest extent with regard to the curtailing of forest operations, I indicated yesterday at Dryden that I’m prepared to enact further stricter measures and controls under section 23 of the Forest Fires Prevention Act, but I hope we won’t have to do this. It will depend on the cooperation of the public in that particular area. The time and effort that are spent taking people out of the bush in hazardous areas are causing us some concern. As an example, in the Sioux Lookout district alone on Saturday, we spent more time evacuating people and looking for people who we knew were in that general area than we did in actually combatting the fire. We think that with the co-operation and the continued effort of our staff and the industry, both the tourist industry and the logging industry, we can come to grips with it if we get a little rain.

Mr. Reid: May I ask a question for clarification, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker: There will be an opportunity for questions in a moment, please. I judge the statement to have been about four minutes long.


Mr. Lewis: I would like to ask the Solicitor General whether, having looked at his one-page statement, he is able to establish sabotage at Grassy Narrows?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Yes, I’m prepared to read this report with one or two admissions -- omissions.

Mr. Lewis: Selective editing, eh?

Mr. Moffatt: Admissions?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Not admissions -- omissions. I want to leave out the name of a youth involved and what the next step may be. It’s a report from Inspector Douglas Civil “re: Freezer and Fish, Grassy Narrows Indian Reserve”:

“On June 1, 1976, I was assigned to investigate the loss of several thousand pounds of fish contained in the freezer on the Grassy Narrows Indian Reserve located 60 miles north of Kenora. Both the freezer and fish were supplied by the Ontario government in the “Fish for Food” programme due to the pollution by mercury of the English-Wabigoon River system.

“On May 31, 1976, Stephen Lewis, leader of the New Democratic Party, claimed that the freezer in question had not been functional since mid-May. Lewis said that Natural Resources personnel failed to respond to a complaint made by the reserve. The Hon. Leo Bernier, Minister of Natural Resources denied that his personnel had received a complaint and [said] that the freezer had been deliberately sabotaged. Bernier requested police investigation through the Solicitor General, Hon. John MacBeth.

“My investigation revealed that no report of a non-functional freezer had been received by Natural Resources, or the freezer installer, Northwind Refrigeration Co., Kenora. This information comes from Chief Joseph Quoquat, Grassy Narrows, and council. Investigation revealed that the two compressor switches were in the tripped position. The two fan switches and one louvre switch were in the off position. The above would indicate that there was no ventilation in the compressor room; therefore, the compressor motor would overheat” --

I’m having some trouble. The police used a machine to send this through and reading it is not that easy.

-- “and short the breaker switch into the tripped position as found. Hugh Murray, of Northwind Refrigeration, verifies the above findings and I inspected the freezer with Natural Resources personnel.

“On Friday, June 5, 1976, [This is where I’m leaving out the name and date of birth] aged 13 years, admitted that on the evening of May 22 he broke and entered the freezer. The youth played with the switches for the fan, turning them on and off. He would throw stones into the fan blades and watch them be thrown about. He also played with the light switches, leaving all switches in the off position when he left the building, locking the door that he had slipped. A statement has been obtained from [so-and-so] in the presence of his uncle. [There is a little description of the uncle.]

“I should point out that the fish were tested on May 18, 1976, by Health and Welfare Canada. The fish were found to be unfit for human consumption. A letter dated May 28, 1976, from Dr. T. C. Kershaw, programme medical officer, 34 North Cumberland St., Thunder Bay, verifies this fact.

“[So-and-so] acted alone in this situation and did so without realizing the seriousness of his act or the consequences. The youth entered the building to play with the equipment and still fails to realize the connection between the fans and the compressor units. A total of 7,500 lb of whitefish has been disposed of from the freezer in question.”

Then there was another paragraph in connection with the reference to the Crown attorney.

Mr. Lewis: I start with a point of personal privilege, if I may, Mr. Speaker, to say that I regret I accepted the information given to me that MNR was phoned if, in fact, there was no such phone call made. Having said that, I now want to seek certain points of clarification which, frankly, stun me a little.

Did the minister say that on May 18, 1976, Health and Welfare Canada said that the fish was unfit for consumption?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: The report stated:

“I should point out that the fish were tested on May 18, 1976, by Health and Welfare Canada. The fish were found to be unfit for human consumption. A letter dated May 28, 1976, from Dr. T. G. Kershaw, programme medical officer, 34 North Cumberland St., Thunder Bay, verifies this fact.”

Mr. Lewis: If the minister thinks I was bewildered when I was up there he doesn’t know how I feel now. I presume there will be a further statement?

May I ask the minister to speak to his colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, or the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) and try to clear up for us why no one was told or knew at a meeting on May 20, at which National Health and Welfare was represented, that the fish was unfit for human consumption and nothing was said in the presence of all the Indians gathered? Second, am I right in having heard the minister say that the number of pounds of fish destroyed was in excess of 7,000?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Seven thousand five hundred.

Mr. Lewis: Seven thousand five hundred; so that, in fact, what the Indians said was valid on that occasion? Finally, do I take it that the young boy involved was not, in the minister’s mind, guilty of sabotage but rather one of those unhappy and destructive adolescent pranks which occur from time to time? Is that a fair distinction?

Mr. MacDonald: But it was all after the fish had spoiled.

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I think that’s fair. They suggested here that the young lad didn’t know the consequences of what he was doing. “He would throw stones into the fan blades and watch them be thrown about. He also played with the light switches leaving all switches in the off position.” Somewhere else there’s reference to that.

Mr. Lewis: By way of one quick supplementary: This isn’t much solace or salvation but I take it that the boy’s prank was inconsequential anyway, since the fish were unfit for human consumption on May 18, several days before his act of delinquency?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I’m not prepared to say that because I don’t think this report gives us the date of the first time he went in to play with the fan in that way. I don’t think that date is given so I’m not so sure it was inconsequential.

Mr. Lewis: The minister has a mess over there and he is going to have to clear it up at some point.



Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. Regarding the soil from Port Hope and the possibility of putting it in Base Borden, what studies have been undertaken of the Base Borden area, in view of the sandy soil and the inevitability of leaching action into two of southern Ontario’s best trout streams, to support the minister’s reported statement a week or two ago that the base would be an ideal site to dump radioactive waste?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, regarding Camp Borden, as far as I am aware there hasn’t been any testing or checking or analysing of that particular location or that particular camp as far as its being a disposal site is concerned. All I was attempting to say, indicated in the discussions with the press after my statement in the Legislature, was that this type of site might be ideal for the disposal of radioactive waste.

First of all, it is owned by the federal government, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to dispose of this radioactive waste. It is a large tract of land, usually with a great deal of empty space adjoining the buildings and hangars and the barracks and things of that kind, and therefore it could be ideal from the point of view of being isolated from the public generally and from housing generally. But as far as specifying that the site was acceptable, I had no intention of doing that.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, as Minister of the Environment, doesn’t the minister feel it would be wise to get some advice about aspects other than simply distance from housing? And could the minister tell us please where in relation to the Mad and the Nottawasaga rivers and the Minesing Swamp and the village of Angus his site was located? Is it not the minister’s job to make sure that the public understands that the dumping of radioactive fill requires more than just physical distance from houses, and that soil conditions and streams are probably the most important aspect?

Hon Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member has had a great deal of correspondence and possibly even a telephone call or two since that statement was made. Certainly we satisfy ourselves before a site is acceptable and designated for disposal of waste of any kind. As I just said to the hon. member, that was used as an example. There are hundreds of such sites across this country owned by the federal government that were used for armed forces training, and the point I wanted to make was that such a site is owned by the federal government and, therefore, it doesn’t require costly acquisition or expropriation of land in some other way.


Mr. S. Smith: Another question of the Minister of the Environment on an unrelated topic, Mr. Speaker: Could the minister provide us with the most recent findings concerning the testing of municipally treated water for the presence of chloro-organic compounds, particularly chloroform and the like, especially in view of the recent report from the United States indicating that birth defects may be caused by pollutants of this nature?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I am sorry, I didn’t hear the first part. Is the member talking about water purification plants?

Mr. S. Smith: Yes -- the chloro-organic compounds; chloroform in the water. As the minister knows, the level is very high in Brantford and certain other areas in the province.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: I’ll get that information. I am not aware of any problem as far as our own filtration or purification plants are concerned. Our water is tested at these plants as being acceptable for drinking purposes and I would assume there is no problem. However, I will get that information.

Mr. S. Smith: Just by way of supplementary, is the minister aware that Belleville has, it seems, topped the province in chloroform counts, and is he aware that in a recent article on May 31, reprinted from the Washington Star, chloroform was directly linked with cancer and with birth defects in several American cities? Perhaps he would like to look into this and report to us about that?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, it is always a dangerous thing to relate existing circumstances with respect to a plant in Ontario with some article that is written in the United States. The cause of chloroform in water may be as the hon. member relates, but the question of clean drinking water is a very sensitive thing. I think the hon. member should be careful before he alleges there are any problems in any community in Ontario.

Mr. S. Smith: Yes, I will be careful. I am still hoping the minister will give an answer.


Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Minister of Education, following up on the question in estimates asked by my colleague, the member for London South (Mr. Ferris) on Thursday. Given the rather expensive nature of the interface study being conducted under the auspices of his ministry, how can the minister have confidence that the standards being tested represent a meaningful average for the secondary school population, when there is reason to believe that a certain group among the school population is simply choosing not to bother to take these tests and the sample may well be skewed with those who are more interested in achievement and more inclined toward this form of testing?

Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, as I said the other night during the estimates when my friend was not present, this is a very extensive research study that is going on.

Mr. S. Smith: I am sure the Premier was present at the time.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: My goodness, you are testy.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It’s being done by competent researchers and they know their business better than you or I know the research business. I’m sure if there is something happening that is going to skewer the study, then that will not go ahead. I have confidence they will do it in such a way that the results they present will be meaningful and that we will be able to draw some conclusions from them. I don’t think I can say any more than that. I’m not personally running the study; it’s being done by three groups of competent researchers.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, would the minister assure the House that he will kindly contact these researchers, as we have done, and find out from them whether they are concerned that this expensive study might show nothing, because of such a bias, and report the results of that inquiry to the House?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I am kind of amazed, if the member has been in contact with these researchers and they’ve reported this to him, that we, who are supposedly hiring them, have not been alerted to this fact. I think they probably have alerted us to the fact that they may be having certain problems, but all I would have to say is I think the onus should be on them to report to us.

Mr. S. Smith: So the minister won’t report to the House. He’s invested in interface.


Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Attorney General: Can the minister assure us that the OPP investigation into Browndale will be reported to this House sometime before we rise for the summer recess, and can he explain why the OPP has not simply gone in and taken the figures it requires to carry out its investigation? Why do we have to wait at the pleasure of Debbie Brown?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have not had a recent report in relation to the investigation into Browndale, part of the reason being in respect to certain of my responsibilities last week in Ottawa. What I would endeavour to do is obtain for the leader of the Liberal Party some information in respect to what stage the investigation is in and as to whether or not it is reasonable to assume there will be any report made to the Legislature before the Legislature rises. I simply can’t answer the question at this time, but hopefully I’ll be able to do so within the next day or two.


Mr. Angus: A question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food: As his colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, will tell him, the climatic conditions in northwestern Ontario are very severe and have led to a situation of almost crisis proportions to the farmers, particularly dairy farmers in Thunder Bay. Is the minister aware that they have only approximately two weeks’ supply of feed left for the cattle? Would he investigate the matter and table a report to the Legislature as to what emergency measures he will take to protect their investments?

Hon. W. Newman: I’m very aware of the problems in northwestern Ontario and the extreme drought conditions that have created some problems for the agricultural community up there. I’m also aware of the fact that we do have a northern Ontario fund, which is allocated to the various farmers in the areas and which, if I remember correctly, is somewhere over $400,000. Certainly we realize that if the drought continues there’s going to be a serious problem for the farmers up there. I’m not going to get a lengthy report, but I will get a report on it.

Mr. Angus: Supplementary: Would it be possible for the minister’s staff to meet with the farmers in the area within the week to ascertain how serious the problem may be, so that before they do run out of feed they can have some brought in?

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, my staff are always available for meetings and I’m sure if the member contacts our office up there they’d be glad to sit down and discuss those concerns with the farmers in the area.

Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Is the minister thinking of a possible programme such as the one, I think, that had to be implemented two years ago, of flying in hay, feed and special emergency supplies? It was just prior to the election, I believe.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I think two years ago when we moved some hay into some of the areas this was because of a shortage of hay for the winter. That was the problem they were faced with at that point in time. I think there was some assistance in moving the hay. We’ve had the same sort of programme in the past, not in that area, but in some other areas. We look forward to the farmers meeting with our people up there and as soon as I get a report, certainly we’ll look into it.


Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Energy (Mr. Timbrell), I’d like to direct a question to the Premier. Is the Premier aware that a very similar report to that of the Isbister commission was published in the Province of British Columbia, with very similar terms of reference, coming to dramatically different conclusions from those of the Isbister report? Is the Premier aware of that BC report?

Hon. Mr. Davis: No, Mr. Speaker, I’m not aware of it. I must confess I wouldn’t be totally surprised that with two different people you could have two different reports. If the hon. member would like to send it to me --

Mr. MacDonald: One took the facts into account and the other didn’t.

Hon. Mr. Davis: -- I’ll make sure the Minister of Energy gets a copy of it. I’d like to read it myself.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: In view of the dramatically different conclusions, and also in view of the Minister of Energy’s statement that he’s looking for public input after the fact, after the report is published, would the Premier consider having a debate in this House on the results of the Isbister commission?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure there need be a debate. I don’t know whether the hon. member has spoken yet in the budget debate to express his thoughts on matters of energy, though I know he has some. I don’t know whether the estimates for the Ministry of Energy have been passed, but that might be a good opportunity. However, if he would send me a copy of the report, I’ll make sure the minister gets it. As I say, I’d like to see it as well.

I really think I’ve heard the hon. member on two or three occasions give us his views on energy, but if these need to be updated now, I’d be delighted to receive those too.

Mr. Peterson: You can hear them right now.

Hon. Mr. Davis: And I know what they are.

Mr. Mancini: Everything’s a laughing matter.


Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food on the federal government’s very real lack of concern for the farmers, particularly as witnessed by the recent federal budget which placed tariff burdens on fruits and vegetables --

An hon. member: Question?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Hodgson: -- and a certain variety of meat products: What is the minister prepared to do to bring trade equity between the farmers’ products and those coming into the province from outside this country? I have a very real concern, Mr. Speaker, particularly for the area that I represent. In the Holland Marsh, where the lettuce and stuff is coming on to the market, they’ve already lost a great deal of money on this --

An hon. member: Speech!

Mr. Speaker: I think the question has been put.

Mr. Conway: Straighten him out, Darcy.

Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’m sure this House is well aware of the fact we were very much concerned about the federal budget that was brought down just recently.

Mr. Conway: Darcy thought it was a very good one.

Hon. W. Newman: We have set up a special ministerial committee regarding the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in the Province of Ontario. We’ve had several meetings. We’ve also had the Ministry of Industry and Tourism involved in our discussions because we are concerned about the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and how the Ontario farmers are being ripped off --


Hon. W. Newman: -- and I say ripped off, by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, because we’re still living in the 1930s as far as tariffs are concerned.

Mr. Nixon: I hear you are going to let them bring in grape concentrates.

Hon. W. Newman: To bring out this budget reducing tariffs on fruits and vegetables and on some pork products just puts an extra burden on the producers in this province.

We may talk about stabilization and saving farmlands, but I’ll say this, if we don’t have some equity in the border control we’re going to have some real problems.


Mr. Conway: Go to Quebec.

Hon. W. Newman: So, we are heading up to Ottawa on June 25, the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett) and I.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Mancini: Why don’t you go to Washington?

Mr. Hodgson: You are not concerned, eh?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There was a question asked and it is being answered.

Hon. W. Newman: The Minister of Industry and Tourism and myself are leading a delegation to Ottawa on June 25 to meet with Mr. Eugene Whelan, the Minister of Agriculture; Mr. Donald Macdonald, the Minister of Finance; and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, Mr. -- I have forgotten his name for a moment; sorry about that.

Mr. Conway: Alvin Hamilton!

Hon. W. Newman: Anyway, we are going to meet with them in Ottawa to discuss the problems that we are faced with here in the Province of Ontario.

We are not asking for anything more than equity. We are not asking them to put a barrier around this province of ours, but it is time we got some fair treatment for the agricultural industry in the Province of Ontario as far as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is concerned.


Mr. Mackenzie: A question to the Attorney General: Would the minister inform this House as to the status of the 12 to 15 cases of OHIP billing which Mr. Featherstone told the public accounts committee last Thursday looked like obvious cases of fraud and had been referred to the Attorney General’s department but, with possibly one exception, have never come to court?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have no information at all relating to these matters, but I will inquire from the officials in my ministry and report to the House accordingly.

Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would the minister, at the same time, let us know why some of these cases go back almost two years and why the ministry officials themselves have not been informed as to the reasons for them not going to court?

Mr. Makarchuk: You don’t hesitate to rap the welfare guys.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have nothing further to add, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. A final supplementary on this; the member for High Park- Swansea.

Mr. Ziemba: A supplementary for the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker: Is he considering laying charges as a result of the information that I turned over to Insp. Manneke three weeks ago?

Mr. Speaker: Does that have anything to do with this question?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No.

Mr. Speaker: I didn’t think so.


Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Based on the best legal advice I can afford, I understand the government’s authority to close arenas in the province under sections 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 of the Industrial Safety Act is even more tenuous than it was with the hospital closings, which basically means that the government doesn’t have the authority to close arenas. Since some communities are thinking of taking legal action, would the minister consider lifting the closure orders -- now winter is over and certainly the greatest danger has passed in that respect -- and, as an alternative, undertake to work with the communities affected to see if the necessary improvements cannot be made by next fall, thus avoiding the heavy-handed attitude which has been undertaken by the minister?

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, there has been anything but a heavy-handed attitude regarding the closing of arenas.

Mr. Smith: These guys are recidivists.

Hon. B. Stephenson: In 1969, municipalities were warned that their arenas would not, in fact, be fit for human habitation for short periods of time as a result of the lack of structural capability of their roofs.

In 1970, they were notified again. They were asked to send in engineering reports in 1971, 1972 and 1973. We requested that information because of our concern for the public safety. We did, in fact, get very little response from the municipalities. This year, in 1975 at least, at a meeting of PMLC, the municipalities suggested we send letters to the heads of all of the municipalities outlining the fact that we really were concerned and that there were certain requirements which had to be met under the Industrial Safety Act.

That Industrial Safety Act, I would remind my learned colleague, was changed last year in order to give the province the authority to close the arenas, should this situation arise. When we heard from the various municipalities, and they did submit engineering reports -- and those reports supported the fact that the arenas were not worthy of being kept open under snow loads and wind loads -- we simply sent out letters requesting that they close the arenas in the interest of safety.

My friend across the way knows very well, because I have had many discussions with him, that many of the arenas that have an engineers’ report, saying they are capable of withstanding a certain wind stress, may remain open until Oct. 15 of this year in order to accommodate certain summer activities which apparently are going on. We are not being heavy-handed. We are certainly trying to be charitable, but it’s a little difficult to be excessively charitable when human safety is involved.

Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: Since I can cite an example to the minister of an arena that was built only two years ago and is supported entirely by steel trusses, which seems to me to be a pretty safe construction, and still doesn’t meet the standards of the National Building Code of 75 lb per square foot, I believe, does the minister not consider it somewhat unfair to apply the standards of the National Building Code retroactively?

Hon. B. Stephenson: I have great difficulty in being less concerned about the safety of the children who might play hockey in that arena than I am about the children who might play hockey in another arena. I would think that if, in fact, that building has been built within such a short span of time, it would not take much in the way of extra trussing to support that roof so that it would be safe and I am wondering if the engineer, whose report we must have within the ministry about this, has not suggested such a move.

Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary?

Mr. McKessock: Supplementary?

Mr. Speaker: I think the member for Grey was on his feet first for a supplementary.

Mr. McKessock: In view of the fact that we do take a lot of chances in this life and we know that if we reduced the speed limit to 20 miles an hour we would do away with traffic deaths, and in view of the fact that we are in a time of restraint and it’s a long shot that any of these arenas will ever fall down -- if there are no other alternatives -- would the minister consider giving them at least five years to replace these buildings before she closes their doors?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: And pay all the damages?

Hon. B. Stephenson: We have had examples in which arenas have collapsed in this province and unfortunately we have had some examples where buildings such as arenas collapsed with loss of life. We really do not wish to repeat this when it is possible to prevent it. The Ministry of Labour has a committee set up with the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, and we will be very happy to work with any of the municipal elected representatives who would like to discuss the possibility of supportive funding for repair or modification of their arenas, or replacement thereof.

Mr. Singer: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker: This will be the final supplementary on this. They seem to be repetitive. They seem to be the same questions in different words, getting the same answers. I will allow a supplementary by the member for Wilson Heights. Perhaps he has a new thought.

Mr. Singer: I wonder if the minister would consider, as her inspectors make these reports, making available to the municipalities the corrections that would be necessary to bring them within the required standards? I would expect the local municipality often might not know what it has to do, and if it had the information from the ministry, it would be easier to go about the task of making the buildings safe.

Hon. B. Stephenson: The decisions made by the Ministry of Labour are based upon reports of engineers in the local area hired by the municipalities themselves to report on the safety of the structure. If the municipalities don’t know what the reports are, I would be very much surprised, but we will most certainly ensure that they are aware of the way in which these structures do not comply with the Building Code --

Mr. Singer: And what they have to do to bring them up -- that’s different.

Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and what might have to be done in order to bring the up to standard.


Mr. McClellan: I have a question for the Attorney General. I have a copy here of “Bended Elbow, Part II,” which I obtained on my recent visit to Kenora with the Leader of the Opposition. I don’t know whether this has been brought to the Attorney General’s attention, but in view of his comments this weekend around his desire to try to deal with the growth of racial bigotry in this province, may I ask him to study this book with a view to making recommendations to his federal counterpart and, secondly, to discuss with his colleague, the Minister of Labour, the need for a Human Rights Commission investigation into the sale and distribution of this scurrilous and racist book through tourist establishments in the Kenora area?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have not yet seen “Bended Elbow II.” I have asked that a copy be obtained. I agree with the hon. member for Bellwoods that “Bended Elbow I” can be described as scurrilous and racist material, and I share his concern in relation to what can be a similar characterization of “Bended Elbow II”. I certainly appreciate him sending us his copy and we will be reviewing it very carefully.

Mr. Lewis: No. 1 was moderate by comparison.

Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I’d ask the Attorney General -- because it bothers me somewhat that he’s going around making all these statements about what is racist and what is prejudiced and what isn’t -- can he give the House a set of guidelines or the guidelines he gave the federal people as to how he would define what is racist and biased? He’s setting himself up as a judge and jury and I’d like to know what guidelines he’s using.

Mr. Conway: Speak to some of the eastern Ontario members.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I gather the member for Rainy River obviously doesn’t consider this a problem and obviously doesn’t consider this as a matter over which to be concerned.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Let him ask a sensible question and he’ll get an answer but I consider --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Reid: If that isn’t the very kind of attitude that the people you’re talking about --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think a more specific question would be better than a general one, during our question period. The member for --

An hon. member: Ask the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Morrow); he’s got specific ideas.

Mr. Reid: I will ask him the guidelines.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Reid: Does he decide every day on what’s racist and what isn’t?


Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, the gist of my question, I think, might cover both the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations and the Ministry of Housing and they’ll have to decide who’s to take it. Is the appropriate minister aware that up to 30,000 tenants of OHC housing have been asked to make rebates in their rents and that, given the economic conditions these people find themselves in, it’s a pretty precarious situation?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the situation the hon. member’s referring to, in particular the story which originated from his area of Kitchener. The position of OHC is that certainly no one will be placed in the position of having the rent inflated in order to make up any back payments. All the rents which have been or will be charged in Ontario Housing Corp. units will be on the rent-geared-to-income basis and only on that basis. Therefore, I see nothing wrong with the structure as it has been established.

Mr. Sweeney: The point I’m trying to make is that what was done on May 21 was not the fault of these people; they had no idea they were going to have to make payments back to Jan. 1. Can the minister not change the ruling of the ministry so that this thing becomes effective on May 21 and not Jan. 1? One constituent of mine has to pay back $63 a month for the next six months; he simply can’t afford it because he’s a low income earner. I don’t think the members of this House were aware of that.

Mr. Warner: Why did you vote for it anyway?


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The particular case the hon. member is referring to would indicate that this individual’s income had increased to the point where he would have been expected to pay an extra $63 a month, based upon the geared-to-income formula. That’s the only possible way his rent could have been increased by that amount. There’s no other way because from the very beginning, even with rent control on the building and on the units, we’ve indicated that the rents would not be increased beyond the regular rent-geared-to-income formula.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, it is the retroactive clause I am talking about. That’s what’s wrong.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, the rent- geared-to-income formula was in effect during the period of retroactivity as well and they knew it.

Mr. Lewis: And during the debate the Liberals supported you.


Mr. Lupusella: A question of the Minister of the Environment: In view of the fact that in May, 1976, the divisional court ruled that the control order issued by the Minister of the Environment was valid and denied the attack made upon it by counsel for Kelson Spring Products Ltd., how does the minister propose to implement the control order of his ministry now?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry; I assume the member mentioned some company and I didn’t get the name of the company.

Mr. Lupusella: Kelson Spring Products Ltd., which is located in Dovercourt.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, I believe, asked a question about this before and I indicated that the ministry was appealing a decision of a lower court to the division court and the date is set sometime this month for that appeal. In the meantime, efforts are being made --


Mr. Lupusella: As a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I stated in my statement that the divisional court ruled that the control order issued by the Minister of the Environment was in fact valid and denied the attack made upon it by Kelson Spring Products Ltd.

Now what is the minister going to do with regard to this particular programme?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: If the divisional court, which is the appeal court in this instance, has ruled that the control order is valid -- is that what the hon. member said? -- then we will enforce the control order.

Mr. Lupusella: By way of a supplementary: Can the minister assure the House that prompt action will be taken in this regard, so that the area residents can be assured of not enduring another noisy summer when the plant opens its windows for ventilation with the warm weather ahead?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, if the divisional court has upheld the control order it will be enforced. I assure the hon. member that it will be enforced.


Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Is the minister aware of the accident on Bob-Lo Island on Saturday of last week in which two young ladies were hurt as a result of an amusement ride -- a ride called the Galaxy -- and that the fact the municipality does not have inspectors who are capable of assessing the safety of these rides may be the reason why the amusement ride failed and the young ladies were injured?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I’m not aware of the circumstances of the accident. I’ll look into it and report back, but I don’t want to assume the reasons for the accident before I’ve looked into it.

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.



Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege, if I may. In the light of what emerged today from the statement of the Solicitor General, is it possible for the Minister of Natural Resources (a) to withdraw his remark about apparently deliberate sabotage, which was directed against an entire reserve in the northwest; and (b) indicate to the House whether -- when he made his statement on May 31; a matter of privilege that he made involving statements attributed to me -- he knew of the condemned fish as of May 18? In the two-week interim, was he aware of any problem when he made his statement?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware of the comments in the police report about the fish being contaminated on May 18 and certainly the other statement awaits further study.

Mr. MacDonald: Do some better research. The research is a little faulty.

Mr. McClellan: What about the other part? What about the sabotage?

Mr. Lewis: What about sabotage?

Mr. Speaker: Presenting reports.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I have a short statement to make in connection with the report I intend to table. I wonder if we could go back to statements.

Mr. Lewis: What about a statement dealing with the sabotage at Grassy Narrows?

Mr. McClellan: Aren’t you going to apologize?

Mr. Lewis: You made one statement of privilege -- how about another?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. the hon. minister is presenting a report.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I intend in a few moments to table the first annual report of the Provincial Parks Council. This is part of the requirement stipulated in order-in-council 3236-74 by which the council was established and the members appointed. The members represent the public viewpoint, which is so essential in the present day park administration. These people were selected from widely separated parts of the province. They have a diversity of backgrounds and experience and they have demonstrated to me that they are able to examine objectively and impartially matters directed to them. I believe that they are able to meet with people in public meetings and discuss problems and viewpoints which might not otherwise be given adequate consideration.

The report will afford you, sir, and the members of this Legislature an opportunity to look briefly into the matters of business which came before the council during its first year of activity. I will say, also, that this group has approached the assignments with a measure of enthusiasm and dedication which is a credit not only to my Ministry of Natural Resources and to this Legislature, but also to the people of the Province of Ontario. I am very grateful to them for giving me the benefit of their wisdom.

I am pleased to inform you that some members of the council are present in the gallery today. Dr. George Priddle, the chairman, and the other members of the council have provided my ministry with recommendations and advice regarding parks and recreation which is of great value in the planning and management of one of the largest and most progressive park systems to be found anywhere.

Mr. Lewis: How about an inquiry into the two-week lapse before you were informed?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Bernier presented the first annual report of the Ontario Provincial Parks Council and the 89th annual report of the Niagara Parks Commission.

Mr. McClellan: Let’s hope it is your last report.

Mr. Lewis: Where is your interest now that was so high on May 21? You were so concerned.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It will be there long after yours is gone. It won’t be for political purposes either.

Mr. Lewis: Why don’t you apologize now?

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

Mr. Lewis: Why don’t you ask someone who knew when no one was told?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Cut it, Steve, you are losing.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Introduction of bills.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of bill intituled, An Act to amend the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, 1972.

Motion agreed to; first reading of the bill.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, briefly, in section 1 amending subsection 4 of the bill, the effect of the amendment is to provide that a council member who is the member of a board, commission or other body does not have an indirect pecuniary interest by reason of that fact only, provided he is a member of such board or commission as an appointee of any council.

Subsection 2 of the amended statute governs the situation where several members of a council may be employees of a person or body with whom the council is dealing. Such members are deemed to have an indirect pecuniary interest and may not participate in the proceedings. Where the number of members so affected is such that the remainder of a council does not constitute a quorum, the subsection provides that the remaining number of members, provided it is not less than two, is deemed to constitute a quorum.

The new subsections 5(a) and 5(b) will permit a council in the case where all, or all but one, of the members of the council are employees of a person or body to apply to a judge for an order permitting the council to deal with such employer in any specific matter coming before the council as though the indirect pecuniary interest does not exist.

In section 2, the amending section permits a judge to relieve a council member of the penalties imposed by the Act where he finds that the interest of a member who failed to disclose it was so remote or insignificant as not reasonably to be likely to influence the member in his consideration or voting on the subject matter.

Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.

Clerk of the House: The 22nd order, House in committee of supply.


On vote 2902:

Mr. Deputy Chairman: I gather when the committee rose we had completed section 1 of vote 2902. We will deal with section 2.

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, I understand that we’re on the section dealing with curriculum development. I would like to make a few comments on it.

First of all, I would like to support the statement made by the minister which, I believe, paraphrasing it, was something to the effect that the curriculum is the heart of the educational system. I also note that the recent publication of the ministry, entitled “Education in the Primary and Junior Divisions”, says on page 3, “The Ministry of Education views curriculum as all of those experiences of the child for which the school is responsible.”

That’s a pretty wide-ranging definition and I think it will give us the opportunity to touch a few bases. I would like to begin by saying that the Minister of Education certainly has demonstrated that he is a man of ability and concern and conscientiousness as far as education in this province is concerned.

On the other hand, whenever we speak in terms of curriculum or basics or standards or norms, this minister seems to take on a somewhat defensive attitude. Perhaps, given the amount of personal effort and time and attention he has put into his ministry, that is somewhat understandable. It does make it a little bit difficult to debate the issue in this House because the point I think we have tried to make several times, and I am going to speak to again very briefly this afternoon, is that although we have the basis of a fine educational system in this province there are places where change needs to be made, where emphasis needs to be re-examined. At the risk of repeating comments I have made earlier, I believe these things need to be said once again.

Your ministry certainly cannot be faulted for what it has attempted to do in this province over the last number of years. They have poured many millions -- indeed, billions -- of dollars into the educational structure and establishment and systems of this province. As a matter of fact, if we take the $1.9 billion in the budget this year and add to that approximately another $1.3 billion, which is raised at the local municipal level, we have a total somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3.2 billion of public tax money being used to support elementary and secondary education in this province. We have also been talking of in excess of another billion for post-secondary education so we are certainly talking of a very expensive structure.

The minister himself pointed out to us the last time we met that a recent world-wide study indicated that Ontario spends as much, if not more, money per capita on education as any other jurisdiction in the world. We know there is a lot of money put into it.

Secondly, we know that the minister has put a great deal of resource people in the ministry and a great deal of resource personnel into the educational system of this province, both at the central level here in Toronto and in the various regional offices. Therefore, if money and people could solve all the problems the ministry has made some attempt to do so.

The ministry has also come out over the last few years with many curriculum guides of one type or another in some attempt to give direction to the teachers and the school boards across this province. Once again, if money and people and printed matter would solve the problems certainly we should have a system which has no difficulties whatsoever. But we don’t have that kind of system because I would suggest there are a few basic flaws in this whole approach. That is, perhaps, what we have to take a look at.

First of all, again going back to the minister’s own words in his opening statement, I think money will not solve this problem. Simply pouring more and more dollars into it is not the answer because some of the problems we are facing today are the same problems we faced three, four, five or six years ago, and many more dollars have been poured in in that interval. They didn’t meet the problem.

Secondly, I think this ministry has an idea that bigness -- big schools, big school systems, big school boards -- all the way down the line and a very large Ministry of Education somehow was going to help solve these problems. I believe it has been amply demonstrated that that is not the solution either.

We certainly have to give credit, however, and I think this ministry has taken a very enlightened direction toward the children of this province. It said very clearly that we have an obligation to provide an educational opportunity for every child at the level of ability that he or she possesses and can take advantage of.


We have said that this should be a child-centred educational structure right across this whole province. These are basically good ideals. They are certainly goals that are worth aiming for. They are certainly goals that are worth achieving. But contained within these are certain flaws as well, because ideas and activities have flowed from them that I believe are coming under question today.

For example, I believe we have to question the basic assumption that the individual needs of a child and his ability to learn at a certain rate should be our primary guide. I think we’re beginning to see through advanced study in child psychology and the way in which children learn that that itself can be a limitation, that if we just use what the child believes or what the teacher perceives is the distance that a child can go, the rate at which he can learn, then we may be putting inherent limitations on it.

I’m becoming less and less convinced in my own mind, both from prior education experience and the experience of being in this Legislature, that we shouldn’t take another hard look at that. We know that that was the central theme running through the “Living and Learning” report that was presented to this government and upon which much of the educational structure of this province is based today. But I believe there are some of those underlying themes we have to look at again.

I think also that we have failed to introduce into our system, albeit maybe not intentionally, but it’s there anyway, the whole concept of hard work as a factor in learning, the whole concept of being pushed a little bit as a factor in learning, the whole concept of being able to accept failure from time to time. Not the student as a failure but the failure to be able to do something as an important component. Yet within many of our school systems today it would seem as if these are being downplayed. I’m suggesting that maybe that’s part of the total malaise that we have to address ourselves to once again.

There are parents, employers and university teachers who are saying to us that the students coming out of our schools display and put forward this kind of an attitude; “I can’t fail. I’m not really prepared to work hard to achieve something.” We’ve got to take a look at that. I’m lumping it in at this particular point in time, because what I’m trying to get at is that perhaps the underlying philosophy of many of the things we are doing in our schools today may not be correct, or perhaps we’ve given too much attention to that philosophy and maybe we have to take a look at them once again.

One of the things I would like to make very clear in my following remarks -- and I think this was suggested the last time I spoke on this matter -- is that I am not suggesting we go back to the so-called good old days. I’m not suggesting we go back 20, 25 or 30 years and repeat the same kinds of concerns we had then. We know the educational structure at that time was not a perfect one. We know those of us who were involved in it at that time were not satisfied with it. We know it was too rigid and that it was too inflexible. We know there was an overemphasis on content and not enough emphasis on understanding. We know there was an overemphasis on the group, on the class, on the grade, if you will, and not enough emphasis on the individual. We know those particular situations existed, and I am not recommending we go back to that point.

At the same time we have also recognized that many good things have flowed from the changes in the educational system in this province over the last 15, 20 and 25 years. We know our children today, the graduates of our schools today, have a deeper social awareness. We know they can discuss many of the social problems more intelligently and sometimes more articulately than former graduates can. We know the whole system has improved in many ways. That’s basically the point I’m trying to make. But, as has so often happened in education, not only in this province but all over the world -- and I think maybe this is what many people are speaking to -- perhaps the pendulum has swung too far.

If I can quote from The Educational Courier of 1975, which I think is a respected teacher educational journal of this province, maybe the point I’m trying to make is made even more clearly there. I’m looking at the November, 1975 edition, and there is this paragraph in it:

“As the 1960s gave way to the 1970s, our financial resources dwindled, our progressive visions dimmed and we discovered that university students couldn’t add and subtract accurately, used ‘like’ and ‘you know’ too frequently, and could barely write legibly. We realized that something had gone wrong somewhere.”

That’s one point. I would suggest that something has gone wrong somewhere and we must address ourselves to it. Farther along there’s a note of hope and optimism, and I would like to address that as well.

“The majority of people do not doubt the tremendous value that the life skills are to the child. They just want a little more substance behind them. [And further on:] The pendulum has swung in both directions, from the rigid to the lax. With the experience of the two systems, we can begin to construct an educational system that combines the best of both.”

That’s what I’m trying to suggest to the minister, Mr. Chairman.

Let us look at the two places we’ve been, the two swings of the pendulum, if you will, and try to address ourselves to the question: What can we do at this point in time to get as close as we can to the best of those two worlds? In doing so we have to appreciate the kind of insecurity and uncertainty of the world that we live in now, and insecurity and uncertainty that doesn’t just affect the educational establishment, but all social groups. It’s affecting our governments, it’s affecting business, it’s affecting our churches -- and it’s certainly affecting our schools, where people are taking a hard look at the situation. This is nothing to be wary of; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just simply recognizing the situation we find ourselves in and asking where do we go from here. Okay.

The last time I spoke I suggested to the minister that there was a feeling out there that things were not as good as they should be. At that time, and several times in the interval, you have spoken as if this was just a figment of the imagination of the people of this side of the House, that there was no substance to support them. It has been suggested the basics were being done well, that there was no real problem out there, that our students are better today than they’ve ever been before -- and, therefore, why were we all upset.

I would like to draw your attention to several sources that I’m sure the minister has come across as well. But I think, cumulatively, they make their point. The first one is the recent brief of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. The very first recommendation they make under curriculum is that there will be the “creation of a course curriculum, including instruction in the basic skills and the study of our Canadian heritage.”

If the teachers of this province believed that it was already there, then they wouldn’t make this as one of their first recommendations. The very fact that they say that is an indication that they don’t believe it’s there; they don’t perceive it’s there. You say that it is. You’re saying to the rest of us, “Believe that it is.” But here are the teachers in the classrooms themselves who are suggesting that perhaps it isn’t.

I’ll just make one other reference in making a point in this same document. On page 13 it says that:

“The OTF developed and published curriculum guidelines for the junior kindergarten, now widely used throughout the province, because no such guidelines were available and they were needed by the teachers of Ontario.”

The ministry didn’t provide it. The teachers of Ontario felt it was needed, and they provided it.

There is another more recent document that the minister, himself, has referred to. “At What Price?” is a brief prepared by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

Mr. Foulds: “At What Cost?”

Mr. Sweeney: “At What Cost?” -- excuse me. Maybe “At What Price?” would be a better title. The minister referred to one of my colleagues and asked us if we knew what the recommendations were in this report. Let’s take a look at the very first one: “That the Ministry of Education establish a core curriculum in the areas of English, mathematics, science, history” -- and so on.

Once again, a teaching group that’s asking as its first recommendation that we establish a core curriculum. They obviously don’t believe that it’s there -- at least to their satisfaction.

Hon. Mr. Wells: What do you think they mean by that statement?

Mr. Sweeney: I think they mean a clear statement of what is expected of them from the ministry. We will get into this whole business of autonomy in a few minutes, because I know the minister will address himself to that --

Hon. Mr. Wells: Do you think they mean that pupils should take those programmes or that there should be a common core in the programmes given across the province?

Mr. Sweeney: I believe they mean -- this is what I mean, and I believe that’s what they mean -- that there is a common core that every student should take. Those students who are not able to take it -- and I would underline those words -- should by far be the exception, but everyone else should take it. I think that’s what they mean, that every student in this province should be asked and should be expected to take a common core curriculum. Now, whether I or you would agree with what they would include in the core curriculum is open to debate. I respect that, Mr. Minister.

Again, I am looking at page 18 of the report, and in italics it says: “We propose therefore a core curriculum, especially in years 1 and 2 of the secondary school.” Going over to the next column of the same page -- they are talking here of examinations, which I would like to refer to in a few minutes -- the report states: “Thus many features of the examination were alien to the changing philosophy” -- and I think this is the key phrase -- “but the remedy was to kill off the entire system rather than to cut out the offending parts.” I would suggest that that has taken place in more situations than this, that in fact there has been a killing-off rather than a basic change.

In a report that the minister is well aware of, I am sure, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, “Report on the Basic Educational Skills.” What we have had first of all were reports from teachers. Now we are talking of a report that was commissioned, supported and distributed by the businessmen of this province; as a matter of fact, of all of Canada. On page 7, under the “Nature of Deterioration,” it says: “There has been a deterioration of the basic communication and computational skills. The opinion that this has come about is almost unanimous.” That’s what the businessmen of the province say.

Mr. Foulds: You will notice they said “opinion.”

Mr. Sweeney: Granted, granted.

Mr. Foulds: They didn’t have any research in support, in fact.

Mr. Sweeney: We are looking now at the Ontario Economic Council, a council which I understand the Treasurer of this province has praised fairly highly in the last few days. I don’t think he agrees with all of their recommendations, but nevertheless he has drawn it to their attention. On page 12 they talk about basic skills in this province: “There is evidence that students leaving the secondary education system are not adequately equipped with basic arithmetic and communication skills.” There are several other references of the same type. I won’t read them all, Mr. Minister. You are familiar with them.

We have referred in this House several times to OISE. As a matter of fact, Mr. Minister, very recently in the debate I understood you to be praising OISE fairly highly, to be accepting the kind of research work that’s done there, to believe that that kind of research work is necessary. Yet in 1972 and 1973 there was a report from OISE that said very clearly that parents and teachers were uneasy and disturbed about what they saw happening in this province. That was 1972 and 1973. Here we have the teacher report in 1975; this was a survey, and the respondents were teachers, parents and students -- a complete cross-section. The same thing is there, only it’s intensified; the words “frustrated,” “disappointed” and “disturbed” are in this report. So we see the same thing happening.

Recently OISE was commissioned -- and I don’t know by whom -- to do an overall comparison of the norms or standards of the Dominion Test of Basic Skills over the last 10 years. The report, which has been made public, says very clearly that there has been a definite deterioration of the skill acquisition of students in this province over that period of time. There has been some question as to exactly what they are testing, but we are talking of basic skills. Can the kids read and write and add and subtract the way they used to be able to? This report suggests that they cannot.

I am also looking at another report from OISE, by Prof. Holmes, which points out very clearly that one of the guiding lights for the thrust in this province -- one of them; not the only one -- was a book by Goodlad and Anderson, “The Non-Graded Elementary School,” from California I believe it was and many of the Ontario schools followed this particular form. Back in 1963 when the book was originally written everything was fine. Later on, it appeared as if things weren’t quite so fine and we read this, by Mr. Goodlad himself, the same one who authored the original book: “The non-graded students will learn slightly less.” And farther on: “A good non-graded school will show a drop in achievement.”


This was 1968. We were warned even in 1968 that some of the thrusts that were taking place in the schools of this province could result in a lowering of achievement. Now perhaps at that time we weren’t concerned about that, but nevertheless we were warned.

I have an interesting press statement here, Mr. Chairman, from the former Minister of Colleges and Universities, the Hon. Mr. Auld. This was just about a year ago, April, 1975, and he says this:

“Ontario has limited revenue for education. When there is a financial pinch you can’t help but wonder whether standards are being relaxed more than they should be.”

That’s a minister of your own government.

A few days ago I referred to a report by President Fleck of the Ontario College of Art in which he refers to the remedial education courses now being set up in the universities. At that time the key phrase was, and I would like to repeat it again, “We are talking here of students who have come through the normal educational system and who are deficient in the basic writing skills which that system ought normally to teach them.” We are not talking of special education students. We are not talking of students who have particular problems. We are talking of the normal kids coming through the system who did not get the kinds of skills that they should be expected to get.

I have another report here, Mr. Chairman, which shows something unusual when we talk in terms of the autonomy of the board or some of the things that have happened since the ministry has withdrawn some of its own standards and norms. Mr. Minister, are you aware, for example, that in 1971 the number of grade 13 students in Ontario was a little over 56,600; in 1971 the number of Ontario Scholars was 6,900. By 1975, the number of grade 13 students had decreased to 56,300 and yet the number of Ontario Scholars, strangely enough, had increased to 9,100. There’s a rather interesting kind of thing happening there. We have to really wonder what’s happened to the standards over those three or four years when you have a decrease in the number of students and a rather dramatic increase, I would suggest, over 30 per cent, in the number of Ontario Scholars. What’s the basis of the judgement? What are the criteria? What are the norms?

I am also sure you are aware of a statement, Mr. Minister, from the University of Waterloo which shows a -- and I guess the only word I can use is soaring -- soaring failure rate of first-year engineering students at that school. And I believe that that is the leading engineering school in the province at the present time.

In 1968, when there was a common standard in this province for mathematics, the failure rate was 5.8 per cent. It progressively increased over the next few years from 5.8 per cent up to 10.2 per cent. And then to 14.4 per cent. And then to 20.4 per cent. And finally to 23.1 per cent -- year after year after year.

We can go on and on and on, but the point I’m trying to make is that whether we are talking about teachers, whether we are talking about the businessmen of this province -- and I have a whole file of press clippings, and I am sure you do too, from all sources, from trustees, from teachers, from businessmen, from university teachers, from parents, from editorial writers, all the way down the scale. What I’m trying to suggest is that there is an overwhelming cross-section of opinion -- and I will underline the word “opinion;” I’ll underline it -- but the fact is, it’s there. That is the perception.

The point I’m trying to get at is that at the present time there is a very wide credibility gap in our society about the effectiveness of our schools to teach the basics, to provide for norms and standards. And I don’t think rhetoric is going to wipe it away.

Surely, we have one of two responsibilities: Either to demonstrate so clearly that all those people are wrong -- those parents are wrong, the teachers of the province are wrong, the businessmen are wrong, the university professors are wrong, the editorial writers are wrong; surely we have an obligation to demonstrate, to document, to show evidence that they’re all wrong -- or we have an obligation to find out whether or not they might be right and to do something about it?

By doing something about it, Mr. Minister, I mean very clearly a statement from the Ministry of Education that very clearly points out what the guidelines are for, if nothing else, the basics of this province; a very clear statement saying this is what we expect the children of this province, at the various division levels, to learn. Here’s what we expect them to have achieved by a certain point in time, and here is a testing, or evaluation guideline. I’m not talking about a very clear guideline as to how you evaluate. I would suggest to you, Mr. Minister, that what we have now does not provide that.

I have, for example, “The Formative Years.” I’m looking for the primary division. For the primary division, under the heading of arithmetic, we have half a page of a very small booklet which suggests to the teachers of this province what they should be teaching in arithmetic over a four-year period in primary division. I would suggest to you, Mr. Minister, that just simply isn’t enough. I’m not the one who is suggesting it. Ask the teachers in the province and they’ll tell you it isn’t enough either, especially when there are six points and one point reads something like this: “Acquire an understanding of the concepts of simple fractions” -- that’s clear enough -- “and decimals.”

Surely we need to say more than that? We can go through the whole book. Mr. Minister, this is a good statement but it simply isn’t enough. That’s the point I’m trying to make. We talk about evaluation. There’s nothing in this book on evaluation at all. It isn’t mentioned. It is mentioned in this one, “Education in the Primary and Junior Division.” As a matter of fact, it is mentioned five times, but let’s look at the way in which it’s mentioned. Let’s just take a look. For example, on page 57, this is one of the five references in the entire book to evaluation, testing or whatever you want to call it:

“It is often wise to refrain from immediately correcting errors in spelling and punctuation. For example, over-emphasis on correctness in spelling can inhibit the children’s experimentation with new words and ultimately may lead to the overuse of simple words that they know how to spell.”

That’s a fair statement. I’m not quarreling with it, but that doesn’t tell the teachers what to do. Let me read one more, and you can pick any one of the five if you wish, Mr. Minister. On page 51, under the heading of “Comprehension:”

“One of the teachers’ main concerns is to ascertain the degree to which the children have understood what they read. Paraphrasing is one of the best indicators of comprehension.”

It goes on to talk about paraphrasing. That’s one of the indicators, but it is not nearly enough. That’s the point I’m trying to make. In terms of the statement of what we expect children to learn and what we expect them to have accomplished by a given period of time, in terms of a statement of how you evaluate, what we have put out now is not nearly enough.

Mr. Warner: Describe local autonomy; let’s talk about local autonomy.

Mr. Sweeney: Okay. Mr. Minister, what I’m trying to get at is to suggest that we have basically a good educational system but it has flaws in it and part of those flaws are due to the philosophy of the system that we have to take another look at; part of the flaws are the procedures that we carry out, and part of the flaws are the directions and guidance that come from the ministry.

Okay, let’s go on one step further. Let’s go to the teachers. First of all, teacher education in terms of curriculum. Teacher education comes up later on in this vote, I know that. But Mr. Minister, are you aware of the fact that right now, with the optional programmes in our teachers’ colleges -- first of all we had the optional programmes in the secondary school and I guess it was only a matter of time before they’d be in the teachers’ colleges as well -- it’s possible for a teacher in a one-year programme to get through teachers’ college and get very little and perhaps no skills in such basic subjects as reading because of the way in which the programme is set up at the present time?

I was speaking very recently to a superintendent who was interviewing teachers in February. At the end of that interview, and we’re talking now about half way through the year, he was so frustrated trying to find out from the teacher what pedagogical learning had taken place, what teaching and learning skills they had acquired, that he finally said; “Well, you tell me what you’ve covered in school and then maybe I’ll know what to talk to you about.”

If we wonder what some of the problems are with the actual learning that’s taking place in the school maybe that’s where we have to start; maybe we have to take another hard look at the kinds of training our teachers are getting. I’d like to come back to that later on when we talk about teacher training.

I’d like to address myself very briefly, under the heading of curriculum to two areas specifically, Canadian studies and French. I would suggest to you we’re not doing a very good job in our schools under Canadian studies. I made this observation the last time I spoke on this and the minister very graciously -- and I thank him for it -- replied to the comments I made.

I would like to come back with just one sentence out of your comments. You said: “in connection with Canadian studies, I should point out that it was never our intention to focus narrowly on history and geography.” That’s a fair statement and I think it says something. The point I was trying to make at that time, and the point I would make again now, is that those two subject areas are so overwhelmingly important that we must focus on them much more strongly than we are at the present time.

Very recently the head of curriculum studies for the Etobicoke Board of Education made an observation, if I can quote it again. John Biddell, who is the curriculum superintendent -- and I checked with him on this -- told the Etobicoke Board of Education committee that the province’s definition of Canadian studies is too vague. He said the ministry has started to clarify it in the last few months but it is still inadequate.

We also had a statement made at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation very recently, on May 18 of this year, in which much the same thing was said. We had a recent study across this country, including this province, by Mel Hurtig, which demonstrates in several different ways the woeful lack of knowledge of our students as far as their own country and their own geography are concerned.

I just don’t think we’re doing a job here. I don’t think we can leave that up to chance. By the minister’s own definition, Canadian studies in our secondary schools and at the grade 7 and 8 level -- let’s stick with the secondary schools -- does not necessarily imply a study of Canadian history or geography. We can have a student who would go through the system without taking Canadian history and geography, and I don’t think that should happen. I would have to question if there is any jurisdiction, anywhere, that is as lax with the demands made upon its students for knowledge of the history and geography of their country.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me ask a question. Are you saying that students in this province can go through without taking any Canadian history or geography?

Mr. Sweeney: I’m talking of secondary schools; and the answer is yes.

Hon. Mr. Wells: But they do get Canadian history and geography in the elementary schools.

Mr. Sweeney: My understanding of the curriculum is that they get it at grades 7 and 8; but I would draw your attention to the comment I made earlier about the superintendent of curriculum of a large board in this province that even there the direction from the ministry is perceived to be vague and inadequate, even at that level.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I would dispute that. But let me just say that if such is taking place, and it can be demonstrated that it’s taking place in the secondary school, we will change the requirement for Canadian studies to make it mandatory that they be Canadian history and Canadian geography, because I feel just as strongly as you do about it. If the schools are watering down what I feel is a mandate to take things like that, which are really of basic concern to Canadians, we’ll change it, believe me.


Mr. Sweeney: Thank you. I would certainly argue favourably that a student should not go through our secondary schools -- I just don’t think they should be able to -- without that background. I’m glad to hear the minister make that statement because it is happening at the present time.

Maybe that’s enough for history and geography. Something has been happening very recently, for the last year or so, which concerns me a little bit and I think perhaps this is the appropriate time, under curriculums, to draw it to your attention. If I could refer to a very recent piece of legislation, an amendment to the Act, whereby the minister said they would encourage -- that isn’t the word I want; permit, I guess, is the word -- permit school boards to set up immersion programmes or make it easier for school boards to set up immersion programmes in French. We know the boards have been doing it lately. The thing that concerns me is if the ministry goes on record as making it easier for these things to happen, it may be perceived as also encouraging it to happen; whether that is a fact or not, I’m suggesting it may be perceived to do that.

I wonder if any serious research has been done by the ministry as to the effects on a large segment of our students if immersion programmes were put in by the bulk of the boards of this province. Once again, I’m referring to a report which was done by a primary consultant of one of the larger local boards, It’s a report, by the way, which was commissioned by the board and is part of its overall study. It says, “This forced immersion programme could damage a child’s social and academic development.”

It goes on -- and I have a couple of other clippings to the same effect -- to point out there is a significant number of students, in the primary grades particularly, who may be harmed if they are enrolled in such a programme. If it’s made to appear too appealing or if it’s made to appear too socially acceptable, the thing to do, and therefore parents are encouraged to enrol their children in it, whether or not they should be enrolled in it, we may be doing considerable harm to some students.

The point I’m trying to get at is that I’m not in any way objecting to immersion programmes in our schools but I am concerned that an action by the ministry, past, present or future, may have an effect in some of our school systems which could be damaging to our students. Before that is encouraged -- before it appears to be encouraged -- maybe more and careful study needs to be done by this ministry, if it has not already been done, to be sure we know exactly what the effect is.

I would like to close with one more quote from the “Courier” I referred to earlier and I think it sums up what I’m trying to say. The very last paragraph is, “Wouldn’t parents be surprised if their kids could not only add and spell but also come home from school with an awareness of themselves as individuals in this world?”

That’s what I’m arguing for -- a little bit of both: A good dose of the basics and a good dose of humaneness and individual understanding. I don’t think that at the present time the balance in our schools is as clear and as well-defined as it should be.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does the hon. minister wish to respond?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I think some of the other members wish to speak.

Mr. Foulds: My colleague from Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) had hoped to participate in the debate with some specific questions about native education and he will be up in 90 seconds, I’m sure.

I have a couple of specific questions on curriculum development that I’d like to ask the minister. First of all, I would like to ask him at what stage of development are the units, I guess, being developed for labour studies in high school? I think there is some research material which the OFL is developing and about which it has had contacts, I believe, with the ministry. I think they’re getting a fairly good contact there. I wonder if the minister could bring us up to date on that -- on the acceptability to the ministry of the labour curriculum studies which have been developed by the OFL? I believe they have one publication, Morden Lazarus’ book, accepted as a research document. I believe they are now working on actually developing units of study and I would like to know what the ministry view is of those and where they are in their communication with the OFL on that.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The Morden Lazarus book is published now and I think there was a grant from the ministry of $20,000 to help them with the publishing of that book. I am not aware of any other things that are happening at the minute, except, perhaps, that the Federation of Labour are coming in to see us very shortly to talk about some further things and I think that may be what the hon. member is talking about. But I think that is to be the subject of a meeting we are having in the very near future -- some further curriculum things they wish to suggest.

Mr. Foulds: Could I make a couple of positive suggestions with regard to this? I think there are two ways in which we can get a more realistic and objective view of labour in the schools. In the past I think it is fair to say that, by and large, the text references have been only to violent strikes, which is not the whole history or even contribution of labour. We look to, if you like, a two-pronged approach -- perhaps developing a specific optional course in labour history that could be offered as one of the options in history departments throughout the province, or the development as well of units within a whole range of courses from man in society, to politics, to history. I think that we should look at both approaches and not merely for four-year students in science, technology and trades or in commercial and business.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, if I may just make reference to the subject the hon. member has raised. I had an opportunity to look at an excellent course outline that was presented at least in part by the Federation of Labour. The reason I was particularly interested in it is a former teacher from Paris, a Mr. Murtaugh, was one of the people who had worked on it. I felt that it was an excellent course outline. I am rather surprised that the minister hasn’t had a chance to have a look at it since it was already presented to the Brant county board, I believe, for their approval. I would hope that it would be supported by the ministry in each occasion where their opinion is asked.

Mr. Foulds: I think they have completed the outline and have the first two units fully developed.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It is, of course, quite possible that the Brant county board is offering it as an experimental course. This is something that our programme of flexibility allows. If the guideline is there and certain teachers have a greater interest in these particular subject areas than others they may, having that course available, develop that as an experimental course in their own schools and it could be it is being offered there.

As I say, at the Ontario Federation of Labour meeting with the cabinet a few weeks ago some of the members of the federation and myself had a brief discussion afterwards. They and their education committee are coming in for another meeting with us to talk more about these matters. Our people don’t have any contact or anything in the way of a guideline at the present time.

Mr. Wildman: I wanted to follow up with some of the comments made last week by the member from Oakwood (Mr. Grande) about multiculturalism. I wanted to speak specifically about native education, which is very important in my riding and throughout the north as well as in parts of southern Ontario, and what appears to be really a complete failure of the ministry to come to grips with the problems of native education. We can go back right to the point where, when we had the resident schools, people were punished for speaking their own languages. At least we’ve come away from that and we now have some Ojibway and Cree classes.

I think it is up to the particular board to decide whether they are going to have them as sort of an extracurricular thing to try to maintain some of the native culture, but there isn’t really very much being done to try to stop the phenomenal dropout rate of native children from our educational system. I don’t think the comment made earlier about the need for standards really has much to do with this particular problem, in that obviously our education, our standards and what we’re doing in education has very little relevance to the native children because very few of them are staying in school.

There have been recent comments in the press about teachers in the Kenora area, for instance, who feel that the Ministry of Education has done nothing to deal with things like the fact that the time for trapping, to go out on the trap lines, has no connection whatever with school holidays in the north.

I see one of your officials leafing through the booklet, which I’ve read, on native culture and so on, and I’m happy that the ministry is doing that. I’m concerned in the wider aspect of the fact that very few native children ever make it out of high school. As a matter of fact, the dropout rate between grade 9 and 10 is just terrible.

If a student has other interests and other skills, what are we doing to try to develop those? What are we doing in the north to try to give the native person the kind of skills that he might use when he finishes school, rather than teaching him about the kind of things that are useful to an urban-oriented child but really have very little relevance to him? What skills do we want to develop for our native people in the north in their education system? What relevance are we giving the north?

I’m not just talking about native study programmes -- I think they’re useful and good because they can teach not only native people but also white students the value of native culture -- but, overall, what are we doing in education to make it more relevant to native children? What counselling are we giving native children to try to keep them in schools, to deal with their home problems or their personal problems that may contribute to the dropout rate?

Recently, I wrote to the Ministry of Education regarding a particular community in my riding, and I asked about counselling for native people, not just the students but the families as well, to keep students in school and help them make it through to high school and to graduate out of high school. This was in response to a request I had from a Mrs. Madieros, who herself is a native person in Hornepayne. I got a reply from a Mr. Maudsley in Sudbury. His letter was basically just a covering statement.

Obviously he had followed up on my request and had written the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa and asked them about this. He writes back saying, “I believe the attached letter represents a satisfactory response to a request for a native attendance counsellor.” I was talking about attendance but I was talking about a wider problem too, of the whole thing of dropouts, of course. I just want to read a short portion from this letter that Mr. Maudsley received from a Mr. Gibbs, district superintendent of education, Nakina district, Department of Indian Affairs. He says:

A member of our staff has now visited Hornepayne schools and talked to the principals and teachers. The enrolment of those children who are ethnically Indian is broken down as follows: Holy Name Separate School 10; Hornepayne Public School 13; Hornepayne High School 0; for a total of 23.”

That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Hornepayne High School zero. There’s a significant population of native people in this town, but there are absolutely no native children in the high school. He goes on to say:

“Of the 23 pupils noted above, we have been able to identify 15 as being registered band members. The remaining eight are not carried on our records and we, therefore, presume they are non-status.”

This is something that’s important, because I anticipate the answer we might get from the minister is that treaty Indians are the responsibility of the federal government. I agree with that, that’s certainly true, but I’m not just talking about treaty Indians, I’m talking about native people, which includes a large number of non-status people, people who are not the responsibility of the federal government, and the Minister without Portfolio sitting behind you, Mr. Wells, certainly knows and understands the difference. The importance here is not legal terms like status and non-status but education of native people.


What is this government doing either to prod the Ministry of Indian Affairs to do more for status people, for treaty Indians, or what is it doing itself to ensure that non-status people are getting the kind of education which has some relevance to their experience? If we continue to have education which, as was recently quoted in the press, talks about the dangerous Indian massacres in Canadian or American history, what on earth is that doing to encourage native people to stay in our schools? If we continue to have education systems geared for the technology and the society of an urban-oriented community, what on earth is that doing for people living in northwestern Ontario?

I’d like to know what is being done here. I’d like to know what’s being done to deal with things like trapping and hunting seasons as regards holidays. I’d like to know what is being done in the studies of Canadian history to give a more honest view but, perhaps, an uncomfortable one for the white community, of our Canadian history.

What are we doing about native studies in particular? What are we doing to expand that into the whole realm of education in general, to encourage more and more native people to stay in school? I’d like to know how many native people are in your ministry. I’d like to know how many specialists in native education are in your ministry. I’d like to know how much money you are spending to ensure that we clean up this mess.

Hon. Mr. Wells: To answer that, of course, it’s very easy to criticize. It’s much more difficult to be actually in there, trying to cope with what is not an easy problem but one which I think people in my ministry, working with others, have been dealing with very effectively -- certainly not to arrive at the utopian point my friend sees perhaps but certainly we are aware of the problems. We have people from the ministers down who are sincerely trying to cope with those particular problems.

First of all, as my friend notes, there is a split responsibility for education as far as native peoples in this province are concerned. We would be far better off if we didn’t have that split responsibility as far as I am concerned. It would be far better if education were the responsibility of the province as it is for all the other children in this community.

However, I say that as a personal opinion because I think if that decision is to be made it must be made by the native people themselves. While we may say that is what should be done, when you go and ask them, they don’t always agree that that’s what should be done. Far be it from me to say that that’s how we think it should be handled until they themselves come to some determination on this matter and the federal government also comes to some determination on this matter and doesn’t just say “Fine, We’ll wash our hands of it; you take it over” without, in some way, entering into agreements to compensate for what is basically its responsibility -- in other words the whole problem of the federal responsibility for native people vis-à-vis the provincial and the ministerial responsibility.

Living with that, of course, we have to try to do those things which can make our system as effective as possible and to guarantee to the children of those native peoples an advancement in the educational system in keeping with what other children are able to receive. We have two people in our ministry who might be classified as native people. They are doing an excellent job. They are working with many people around this province to develop programmes which can help attack this problem.

You have already commented on the resource guide for native studies which, of course, is not just for native education but is in order to help all children in the schools on the whole subject of the native peoples in this country.

We also embarked upon a programme two years ago to make it possible for native peoples to become teachers in the north. I think about 96 people enrolled in that programme and 82 graduated from that programme.

Mr. Grande: How many have jobs?

Hon. Mr. Wells: All of them except those who went to university.

Mr. Shore: Give us a straight answer.

Hon. Mr. Wells: What you want to know now is how many went to university.

Mr. Samis: You don’t need us.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Off-hand, about eight. That programme hasn’t been repeated. The point is that we were under strong opposition at the time from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation for even implementing that programme because it was an attempt to take in people who did not have university degrees, which is the requirement for entrance to teachers’ colleges or teacher training institutions in this province. It was an attempt to bring native peoples into this programme because, as you have rightly said, there are very few who have university degrees. If we were to wait until we had enough who had university degrees to institute a special teacher training programme or put them in the regular programme, we wouldn’t have any of these people. The outreach of that particular programme is being evaluated and there is no reason why it can’t be repeated if it is proving effective. My staff says we are likely going to get a recommendation to repeat it and that will probably mean another hassle with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation over it.

Mr. Foulds: You won’t default on it?

Hon. Mr. Wells: But I must say in this particular area we have to be firm in saying that in the schools where native people are attending, the over-riding concern is to have native teachers there, Therefore, we will look with favour on that. However, we will listen to the comments of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation about it and that will come.

We also had been encouraging the use, and there has been a pilot project going on in Thunder Bay, of counsellors to try to encourage young people to move from the elementary system into the secondary system. There is no question that it is a problem. They are not motivated and they are not oriented toward secondary education. I am hopeful that the new James Bay Secondary School will encourage more in that particular area to take secondary education.

There are presently those attending schools on a resident basis in a lot of areas across the north. I don’t have the complete number in secondary schools. It is a difficult situation for a lot of them, being uprooted completely from their homes and having to board or stay with someone in a strange community and go to school, perhaps with some of their friends and perhaps not. That’s not perhaps the best situation but it does offer an opportunity for these people to be students in a secondary school and they receive grants for their transportation and for their living accommodation.

We have been also seconded a number of people of native ancestry to work with our regional offices in the implementation of our curriculum programme, Resource Guide on People of Native Ancestry, and these are working out at the regions now.

I was hopeful to have a resource package that was prepared in the Sudbury area but it has not arrived yet. I think it is an excellent resource package that has been prepared. Again probably it is more helpful for use in school generally rather than just for children of native ancestry.

We’ve given $105,000 to OISE who are working with the Ojibway Tribal Education group; they’re doing a research study at the present time. We’ve also given money to the Canadian Association in Support of Native Peoples for the development of curriculum material. Those are a few of the things that are happening.

I want to assure my friend that we haven’t arrived at perfection, and I think we all know the problems are there, but I just don’t want him to think there isn’t a lot of activity going on. There’s money being spent in this area, although money isn’t the complete answer, as is also true in a lot of areas, but there are a lot of things going on to try to come to grips with the kinds of problems that the hon. member has been talking about in the area of native education.

Mr. Wildman: Thank you. I’d just like to ask a couple of questions. First, I appreciate the work that’s being done by teachers and by the ministry to try to develop native studies programmes, but again my question was a bit wider than that in that I wanted to talk about how we might change the overall approach in schools where there is a significant native population, so that we don’t just have native studies programmes for native people and other students. I think that’s important, because perhaps then we’ll have mare understanding and we won’t get tripe like “Bended Elbow.”

But it’s more than that; it’s changing the whole atmosphere and attitude in the school to be more relevant to native persons. As you mentioned, there are people in Sault Ste. Marie that I’ve taught who’ve come from Moosonee to go to school. They’re brought into a completely new environment. They may go home for a Christmas holiday or a summer holiday, so after five years in that environment, they’re somewhere in the middle. They don’t fit into the urban environment and they don’t fit into their home environment. They’re completely in limbo. The kids don’t have much in common with their parents, and yet they don’t feel completely at home with their white friends.

I know it’s not an easy question, and I’m not criticizing the ministry. I didn’t try to give the impression of criticizing the ministry. I know it’s a very difficult question. I know also that there’s a split jurisdiction with the federal government. But specifically I’m talking more about non-status people for whom the federal government does not take responsibility, who live in communities outside of reserves, usually in the poorer areas of those communities, with a tremendous amount of unemployment and a lot of social problems. It’s very difficult to deal with the children of those families and to try to get them into a position where they can excel in school.

I think counselling is very important, and one reason I got a little bit upset was when Mr. Maudsley said that he thought this was a satisfactory answer. Basically what the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development said was that because there are no students in the high school, it doesn’t appear that counselling is necessary. That’s the whole problem. There are no students in the high schools. What are they doing to change it?

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Chairman, I will be brief on this particular vote as I have expressed my opinions on it several times, but as one who left the school system not that long ago, Mr. Minister, I would like to leave with you my sincere feelings about what I consider to be a situation that is getting possibly increasingly worse.

As I’m sure all the members in the House do, I have a number of young people who come to me on a continuing basis who I guess are obviously very poorly prepared to participate in industry or in the business community in Ontario. In spending some time with them, you find that they are quite seriously lacking in basic skills -- reading, writing and mathematics. I think that the time has come possibly where we, on a nonpartisan basis, must recognize --

Mr. McClellan: Non-partisan?

Mr. Cunningham: Certainly on a non-partisan basis, because we’re all concerned about the future of the children in the Province of Ontario.

Mr. McClellan: The little red school house is all yours.

Mr. Mancini: Aren’t you concerned?


Mr. Cunningham: I think the time may have come when we really should seriously consider having a task force of some form to look into, not just the curriculum as it exists today, but also the whole administration of a student’s time in school.

In travelling to the various schools and speaking at them, you really see kind of a country club type of existence. I began to see the advent of this during the last few years of my time at high school, and it seemingly appears to be even more prevalent today. I have a younger brother who is in his last year or second last year, and he really only requires about four or five classes a day. That is the total of his participation at the school.

From my point of view, I don’t think we are maximizing either our facilities, our teachers, or the abilities of our students through that kind of system. The free time possibly is good for the superior student, but for that student who needs greater direction, I think more time and more direction are required.

Strictly on a curriculum basis, I am very concerned about the basic ignorance of so many of our students about Canadian studies and, as I have said before, about the study of our own heritage here in Ontario -- one that I know very many of us feel to be an extremely rich one. It is one that could compete with that of other countries, and certainly that of the United States with very little difficulty, if it was brought forth to the students. Possibly the difficulty that we have there, the reluctance by teachers to teach Ontario history, is a lack of interest, maybe the lack of a compulsory incentive -- and, as well, maybe a lack of training by our teachers in that particular area.

In any event, I think you could say, without being excessively general in your comments, that the inability or the reluctance of our teachers to teach Ontario and Canadian studies is somewhat like a cycle in the nature of poverty -- we are poor because we are poor. When our teachers aren’t being trained in this particular area, it is a self-perpetuating type of problem.

Those of us who live in areas close to the United States and are served by American television should have cause to be very concerned about this, because it’s the kind of trend I think will erode our heritage and one that will not serve our national interests very well.

On the subject of mathematics, I think very few of us would disagree that some of our students are lacking the basic fundamentals in that regard. The fact that the universities are offering a number of --

Mr. Foulds: Some kids can’t tell time.

Mr. Cunningham: -- remedial courses at the universities to bring them up to a standard that would be acceptable, I think is evidence of this. I think the same thing holds true in English. I certainly found during my years in high school that there was only half of one year dedicated to the study of basic English grammar and the balance was for English literature. I think this is an area where some standard across the province might be invoked and some greater consideration be given for the general English principles, business letter writing, and so on. These are the kind of things that would leave a person so much better trained when they leave the secondary system. People are not necessarily university-bound as a result of their participation in high school. That may be all the education they require at that time. Certainly everybody who leaves a system of education after 13 or 14 years should be properly educated in that regard.

I certainly think a number of members probably have had problems with people who have been ripped off by various consumer gimmicks, and so on. They find it increasingly more difficult to live on a fixed income or a low income as a result of a poor education. Possibly we should consider a greater emphasis on consumer education courses within our high schools.

It was only the other day that I had a young couple come in to see me who have been married for, I think, three or four years. They haven’t had the time to buy a house, and to this date they are in debt somewhere in the area of $7,000 or $8,000. At one time the debt figure was $10,000. I think their dilemma stems from just basic ignorance. Possibly some consumer education on their part during their high school years would have helped them to a great extent.

I am concerned, as well, about the reluctance of the ministry to see that wherever possible physical fitness, physical education, is a compulsory type of programme right up to grade 13. Associated with this, I think some form of health studies or a contemporary morals course would be --

Mr. Shore: What about egg-throwing contests?

Mr. Cunningham: Is that what they do there now? Those would be of benefit to our students and more appropriately, I think, would serve us all in later years in life. I think these are habits which would be very helpful.

One of the drawbacks of participating in debate as a new member here is the fundamental discourtesy I see from several of the members of the opposition. The member for Port Arthur who is currently pounding his desk in a very appropriate and skilled fashion, I want to tell you, is one of the most controversial members in this particular regard and one who, I think, demonstrates that discourtesy on a regular basis. To that end I want to thank him for his participation.

Before I do conclude --

Mr. Foulds: On a point of privilege, Mr. Chairman, it was my understanding that we had an agreement between the parties that we would leave at least an hour for the $1.7 billion we’re spending on school business and finance. That agreement was shot to blazes by the Liberal Party on Thursday night and again this afternoon.

Mr. Ferris: On a point of privilege, Mr. Chairman, we agreed to split an hour and a half of the time left when we made the agreement -- that would be 45 minutes each -- and I do recognize that a slight discrepancy has occurred.

Mr. McClellan: Slight?

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Chairman, if I may continue for about a minute and a half, I would like to say to the member that my function here isn’t to participate in some sort of deal that my House leader or your House leader or the government --

Mr. Foulds: As long as it is on the record that the House leader made a commitment that your members --

Mr. Cunningham: That’s going on the record, my friend, because I want to tell you my function in this Legislature is to represent the people of Wentworth North and I will not be party to some deal that my House leader or your House leader or the government House leader has made. My function isn’t to be responsible to them; it is to be responsible to the people of Wentworth North.

Mr. Foulds: Terrific. That’s just great.

Mr. Warner: Why don’t you run as an independent?

Mr. Foulds: Why don’t you do like Ron Knight, the former member for Port Arthur, and declare yourself independent?

Mr. Acting Chairman: Order, please.

Mr. Cunningham: I would like to say before I conclude, if the members will afford me that opportunity --

Mr. Bullbrook: The same thing happened last week. We gave Lewis 45 minutes when he wasn’t entitled to it.

Mr. Cunningham: -- I would conclude very briefly by expressing my concern about the lack of testing or monitoring which occurs in the province. I think the areas of Ontario which are poorly served by this lack of testing are possibly the areas in the rural communities and more specifically in northern Ontario. I think that if we had some small part of the student’s assessment to be judged, maybe initially on a voluntary basis, but very quickly, I would hope, on some compulsory basis, we might identify those areas which are not being served well and where certainly some improvements could be made to make sure that no student in the Province of Ontario is put in a position of disadvantage by virtue of his residence. I think the sooner we move to that kind of system, the sooner we’ll be doing a better service to our provincial education system as a whole. Thank you very much.

Mr. Acting Chairman: Has any other member any discussion on item 2?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I want to make a couple of quick replies to some of those comments, Mr. Chairman. I didn’t reply immediately following the comments of the member for Kitchener-Wilmot. I think he gave a very balanced presentation although in some areas perhaps he tended to stray over the line a bit, based on opinions of people which are not substantiated by any particular research.

I think, overall, his comments were balanced and he certainly stayed away from some of the more hysterical comments which some of his colleagues used in talking about this particular area, that is the area of the curriculum. Of course, he should, since he’s been a director of education for a school board in this province and he himself was directly responsible for the academic achievement and the learning of the basics of the group of children in that particular area of Waterloo over which he had control. I’ve never heard that there have been any fewer criticisms from that area or any more criticisms. I guess Waterloo, as with any other area in this province, has criticisms about the way the basics are being taught in the schools or not being taught in the schools.

We talked a year ago about “The Formative Years” and he then gave some illustrations I think I wrote him a letter back based on some of the comments he made at that time about the things that are in “The Formative Years.” It is not intended to be a detailed day by day guidebook for teachers; rather it is an outline of the expectations and the aims and objectives of those years.

I really fail to see how anybody can say that the objectives of our school system are not outlined in that book. Perhaps you think it needs to be a 100-page book rather than a 36-page book, but I have talked to people who have said it is probably one of the clearest outlines of what the school system should be doing in the first six years and that it is pretty hard to argue that the basics are not indicated in there -- that is the aims and objectives and the guidelines. A lot of work has to be done from there on in by people like you used to be -- as directors of education and principals and teachers in schools -- to develop the whole day-to-day programme that implements those objectives.

I think that that’s what has been happening. You read a lot of quotations and I would like to read a quotation here. This is from the News; it says:

“Teachers are more dedicated today than ever. Never before have we offered such a variety of programmes and such a range of learning opportunities. As I travel about the province I am constantly inspired by the excellence of elementary programming I see.

“Teachers are better today than ever. We know more about the science of teaching. We push fewer students out of school. Students today read as well as, or better than ever and have a sense of personal worth and ability unsurpassed at any time. The public is overwhelmingly supportive. My experience on radio phone-in shows leads me to believe the supporters far outnumber the critics.”

That quotation is from Neil Davis, the president of the Ontario Public School Men Teachers’ Federation, a very fine teacher -- certainly not a political supporter of mine --

Mr. Foulds: I am not surprised. I think he even ran against the Premier once.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and a person who I think is a very objective and very good commentator on the educational scene. I would suggest that you perhaps read the whole article in there which perhaps gives another balance to this whole situation.

I am not trying to suggest that there are no problems. I think you and I agree that there are problem areas; there are places that need correction; there are things that need to be done in order to allay public fears in some areas and to reinforce programmes in the schools in others. I think we agree on that. To that end we in the ministry are taking steps to correct such areas.

I am just pointing out that the correcting doesn’t involve taking the pendulum from away over here and pushing it away back over here. It really is a system of refinements and of corrections and of redirections.

I think the Canadian history situation that we talked about is a good one. When we said there should be two mandatory programmes of Canadian studies, it certainly was my idea -- if you will read my comments at the time -- and it was our idea in the ministry, that we were re-emphasizing the necessity of people having an understanding about Canada, the Canadian history and the Canadian way of life so that it could reinforce them as Canadian citizens. If that has gone astray, we will take steps to correct that. But that is not a drastic new direction, it is just really being sure that we define very carefully what the two credits in Canadian studies are and that people at the schools are aware of them.

There is a whole vast array of things that are happening. They are happening, not with lightning speed because as I said earlier in my remarks, there are a lot of people involved in the education system in this province. You don’t do things by just suddenly saying, “That’s the way it will be.” You have to involve teachers and trustees and administrators in the programmes and those things are happening now.

The whole area of evaluation is the subject of great study in our ministry and will be the subject of discussions over the next few months with people in the educational community as we work out a programme of solid and effective evaluation. That is what we are going to have in this province -- not something that’s designed for some expediency of the minute, but rather something that’s educationally sound and will be of some value, not just for some political advantage of the minutes.


I realize we want to get on, Mr. Chairman, so before I sit down, I don’t know whether we will get an opportunity --

Mr. Bullbrook: I think your response was somewhat hysterical.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I may not get an opportunity to comment on this before these estimates end but I’d like to introduce to members of the House one of our advisers in the Ministry of Education, who’s here with us in the House today and who has done yeoman work as a consultant over quite a number of years.

We welcome many people to this House who’ve been here of recent vintage and are now doing other things in this province. This gentleman sat in this House, over here on the government benches, from 1943 to 1948. During that time he was Minister of Public Welfare and Minister of Health. His name is Dr. Percy Vivian and he was from the riding of Durham where he has lived all his life.

He’s been working as a consultant in our ministry for the last four or five years and, as I say, is doing a very fine job particularly with the Windsor early identification project. He is liaising on that and he’s now doing yeoman work in implementing this whole idea of early identification around this province. During these estimates, I wanted to introduce him to the House. He’s sitting in the gallery up here and I’m happy that he’s here today.

Mr. Acting Chairman: Shall item 2 of vote 2902 carry? Carried.

On item 3, planning and research.

Mr. McClellan: Very quickly, in not more than five minutes, I want to try to bring a problem to the minister’s attention, at least initially. I feel slightly desperate because of the shortage of time so I’ll follow it up privately between the minister and me.

I want to raise the question of your priorities, within the context of your restraint programme, on planning for physical plant, for new school construction, it’s my understanding that you have assigned priority to where there is new housing development -- under AHAP, etc. -- and that is at present the only new school construction you’re willing to consider.

I want simply to bring to your attention a major problem in communities where there have been major demographic changes as a result of successive waves of immigration. I speak particularly of the downtown west end of Toronto. If I can try to be specific, the recent immigration of the Portuguese community into the downtown west end has fundamentally and dramatically altered the composition of a number of communities -- that of my own riding of Bellwoods; St. Andrew-St. Patrick; Dovercourt; and Parkdale -- and that shows up in the schools.

I want to point out and maybe use it as an example, Senhor Santo Cristo School, which is on the boundary of Bellwoods and Dovercourt ridings. It services the Portuguese community. It’s a Roman Catholic separate school. About 90 per cent of the kids are of Portuguese background. The school consists entirely of portables. They are spread out over two locations with a main permanent portable and a number of satellite portables. There’s a third location, a converted church across the road. It has been necessary to develop this facility because, as I’ve said, of the educational needs of the Portuguese community and the change in the composition of the community within the last five to 10 years.

Frankly, I doubt whether any other community in the province has such inadequate facilities as does the community serviced by Santo Cristo school. The portables, as I said, are spread over three locations and are separated by a major traffic artery, Dovercourt Rd., which the kids have to cross eight times a day. A tremendous amount of time is lost simply in travel. For the classrooms, particularly in the converted church, there are no security facilities and it’s impossible to keep hoodlums and thugs out of the school. It simply wasn’t designed as a school. Thugs and drunks have entered the classrooms and disrupted the classes. They have entered the washrooms and lain in wait for kids in the washrooms. I can go on and on, but because of time constraints I won’t.

That is the result of a failure to address- yourself, as a ministry, to the kinds of problems that occur when recent demographic changes are not taken into account and when communities which have experienced those kinds of changes are not accorded a priority in school construction. I point to that as an example. It’s the most awful that’s come to my attention.

We do not have an edifice complex, at least in this caucus, and we are not urging you to undertake an enormous programme of school construction. Generally, we’re not too uncomfortable with the restraint, but we have to take into account real problems in real communities. I will send you additional material with respect to this particular community and ask you to give a consideration in establishing your priorities for new schools to the reality of new immigration to this community and to other communities across the province.

Mr. Conway: Just a brief comment, Mr. Chairman, and I’ll allow others to participate in this debate as it winds to an end.

I just want to isolate one particular matter, a very serious concern to not only school and teaching officials in the county which I represent, Renfrew, but to others in the neighbouring county of Lanark who have communicated with me.

You probably have in your possession, or should have, a letter from the chairman of the Renfrew County Board of Education, dated May 19, 1976. Without taking a great deal of time, I want to register my very strong disapproval of the lack of communication which your ministry has seen fit to offer to the people of Renfrew county, who have been arguing with you since that meeting in February in Ottawa where they made a very determined argument for special consideration, given the nature of the far-flung reaches of our unique county, with particular reference to the lack of assessment.

It grieves me no little bit, and it disappoints the members of the educational community in Renfrew county to a very considerable degree, to think that the negotiations undertaken at that time, whereby you and various officials, including your parliamentary assistant, suggested that there would be perhaps special consideration for the unique problems faced by the board in Renfrew county and in neighbouring Lanark, paying particular attention to the problems of transportation and the like. That you have not deemed it fit or advisable to communicate a definite answer some three months subsequent to the initial inquiry is, I think, a condemnatory position and one of which I shall take pain to remind you and the government of which you are a member at the appropriate time in the future. I want to tell you that the good people of Renfrew and Lanark counties have every reason to feel and to believe that you are not particularly interested in reacting or willing to react to the unique and special problems of those counties.

I do hope that you find time between now and the very near future to respond to the board chairman’s letter of May 19 and any other communications which relate thereto, because I think the special problems of our particular area deserve, if not the accommodation of the government, at least the expected courtesy of a response. I thank you.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me say, Mr. Chairman, it’s one thing to communicate; it’s another thing to give people what they want. I have been in communication with people in both those areas and we’ve looked very carefully at their particular problems. I’m sorry if they felt that somehow some special accommodation was going to be made. I think that we have told everybody in this province that no special accommodations can be made -- that the grant plans which were announced were the same plan that we talked about around the province in meetings with the various trustees. I personally met someone from the Renfrew county board down here. The member for Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski) has been very diligent in talking to me about the problems of Renfrew county daily --

Mr. Conway: That sabbatical stuff?

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and indeed brought down one of the trustees --

Mr. Conway: That’s the kind of commitment --

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor.

Mr. Conway: Sabbaticals! What about them?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me just say to my friend, when he can equal the kind of service that the member for Renfrew South has given --

Mr. Conway: I hope I never see the day.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- to this province. Well, I tell you when you are young and wet behind the ears, it is very --

Mr. Bullbrook: I find that hysterical. I find that hysterical.

Hon. Mr. Wells: All right, it is very --

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please.

Mr. Conway: How can you say that? What about the sabbaticals?

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. Let’s return to the estimates.

Hon. Mr. Wells: It is very easy to make comments like that, but when you --

Mr. Conway: What about the sabbaticals?

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- have had the years of service of the member for --

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Perhaps we could return to the estimates.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- Renfrew South, perhaps then you can consider making the kind of comments that you have made about him.

Mr. Conway: If you can support that sabbatical statement --

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. Let’s return to the estimates of this ministry and this vote.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We are not talking about sabbaticals. We are talking about a member of this House discharging his duty, to make known to the minister the concerns of the people of Renfrew county and the concerns of the board of education for Renfrew county. I am telling you that those concerns are made daily to me by that member.

Mr. Conway: Why don’t you write the board chairman?

Hon. Mr. Wells: And we have talked about that and I have talked about --

Mr. Conway: Why support --

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order. Will the hon. member restrain himself and would the minister continue?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I have talked about it with others in the area, and the director of education has been communicated with. Similar things have happened in Lanark. It is very nice to be able to come in here and try to make a great case out of the fact --


Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- that some letter hasn’t been answered, but I tell you the message has been transmitted. Now, it has to be said that the concerns that were outlined by Renfrew and Lanark counties -- and other areas in this province -- about inequities in this year’s grant regulations will be taken into consideration for next year. Certain things like transportation grants and other things that may be causing a problem in these particular areas will be considered for next year.

Mr. Conway: It may be causing problems at their expense.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Let me say, Mr. Chairman --

Mr. Conway: You lost one seat!

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- let me just say, Mr. Chairman, that my friend from Bellwoods certainly raises a very valid point. I guess we have spent more time talking about school accommodation problems in west Toronto than anywhere else in the Province of Ontario. I am sure he is aware that over the last couple of years, many meetings have been held -- and I have been present at most of them -- with public and separate school boards concerning the total accommodation problems in the west section of Toronto. It’s an area where sharing needs to be considered, but has not been accepted fully by either board, although they have made great accommodations. However, and after much study they have arrived at what I think are some very helpful situations that will allow us to accommodate students at much less cost than would be necessary if we had to go completely without some of the sharing concept.

Now, I had meetings with the Metro school board about their capital programmes about a week and a half ago, and will be meeting with the separate school board this Friday, if I recall. We will be talking about Senhor Santo Cristo and the other capital projects that they have. I am sure, as my friend understands, the Metro board has a total programme which it has put into us, and the priorities that it establishes also have to mesh with ours, realizing that we can’t build everything that everybody wants and, therefore --

Mr. McClellan: Sharing is not the whole answer. That’s the only point that I was trying to make.

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, sharing is not the whole answer, and it isn’t one of the answers in Senhor Santo Cristo. But I can tell you in the other situations that we have been looking at, there is going to have to be some building done. Six million dollars in building with the sharing agreements can satisfy all the problems, if those sharing agreements go by the board, to do everything that everybody wanted would cost $13 million. When you take the two, I think there should be an accommodation. The sharing arrangement should be able to work and we should be able to build those three schools that we’re talking about by sharing and save nearly $7 million.


Mr. Deputy Chairman: Item 3 agreed to.

On item 4, vote 2902.

Mr. Stong: In view of the constraints on our time, while I do have quite a few remarks to make with respect to this aspect of special education that deals with children with specific learning disabilities, I’ll restrict myself to a simple question.

In light of the fact that experts tell us that specific learning disabilities involve 10 per cent of our student population which is about three in each classroom; in light of a study that was made in the United States very recently, concerning three different states which brought to light that between 80 and 90 per cent of inmates incarcerated in penal institutions suffer from specific learning disabilities; in light particularly of the fact that I have letters in my file over the signature of the Minister of Education wherein he passes the responsibility of educating children with specific learning disabilities to the Ministry of Social and Community Services, which he knows very well refuses to accept the responsibility under vocational rehabilitation because these children are not being specifically trained for induction into the employment market; in light of all these situations, what is the ministry intending to do this year with respect to setting up extended teacher training so that there will be early diagnosis of these children and early treatment in the lower grades?

I’m not asking that we set up a programme of segregation. We are interested in a programme of integration into the existing facilities. What is the minister doing in this regard on this vote?

Hon. Mr. Wells: The ministry has six summer courses in special education going on in six different locations in this province. As I mentioned earlier, we have just completed the Windsor early identification project, which was a pilot project conducted in the Windsor area having to do with the early identification of children with learning disabilities and special education problems. There is presently an implementation programme going on across this province to encourage boards using this as a prototype to embark upon a programme of early identification in their particular jurisdiction. There is no question that it is a very top priority and a very vital concern that teachers and boards have programmes to identify students with learning disability problems in the very early years of education.

There is also a compulsory part of the basic programme at our OTEC institutions at Hamilton and Toronto concerned with special education, that will be implemented in those programmes this fall. I could go and on. There are many things happening in our area of special education. The area that the member alluded to concerning responsibilities of the Ministry of Community and Social Services is really in regard to a very narrow number of students. It is an area where there is concern by parents that the only programme that can help those students is in a residential school, usually outside of this country. In some cases there is a difference of opinion in school boards as to whether or not they can provide an adequate kind of programme.

Let me say that, while we haven’t reached perfection here, certainly we haven’t, there are many special education programmes going on across this province. There are about 211,000 students in some form of special education. There is special money available through the special education weighting factor to boards, money which goes above their grants and which they wouldn’t be receiving if they didn’t have those programmes.

Our special education branch is constantly working with the local school boards which, of course, must initiate and administer the programmes in special education. There is a lot going on and a lot more will be happening.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Shall item 4 carry?

On item 5. Any discussion?

On item 6, educational programmes and the developmental centres.

On item 7:

Mr. Mancini: I am sorry, I thought it was item 8. I am after item 8, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Shall item 7 carry?

On item 8:

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Chairman, I am going to take only about 30 seconds. I realize the minister probably has met with some teacher groups concerning the certification and the green contract. Due to what I believe has been a misuse of this green contract, I would like the minister to give us an update on what’s going on. If he feels he doesn’t want to take the time now, I would be glad to speak to him after. Does he propose to make any changes or introduce any special legislation so this never happens again?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, let me say that I met with the teachers from the Essex county board, the Essex county Roman Catholic separate school board, the Lincoln county board and the Roman Catholic separate school board on Friday evening. I have also had discussion with some of the members of the Lincoln Roman Catholic separate school board and the director of the Essex Roman Catholic separate school board. There is certainly a very confused situation here.

There appear to be some areas of obvious concern about the use of the probationary contract and it is my intention to appoint someone to look into this matter quickly within the next week, I intend to appoint someone in the next few days to look into this matter and report back to me on whether there were abuses of the green contract, abuses of hiring procedures and whether we should establish some different ground rules for hiring from teachers’ colleges and so forth.

We need more information, however, on these particular areas to clarify the facts. I have discussed this course of action with the teachers in the area and they were agreeable to this and indicated they would co-operate completely.

Mr. B. Newman: On the same item, Mr. Chairman, a very brief question of the minister which relates to certification of teachers of a third language.

The minister is aware of the concern of certain ethnic groups that they have certified teachers in their specific languages so that they could get credit courses in their languages in the secondary schools. How has that progressed?

Hon. Mr. Wells: We don’t have that information. I had better get it for the hon. member.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Is there any further discussion on any other item in vote 2902, from 9 to 13?

Mr. Foulds: Yes, Mr. Chairman, on item 11.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: We will assume that 9 and 10 are carried. On item 11, the hon. member for Port Arthur.

Mr. Foulds: I have about an hour and a quarter, Mr. Chairman, but I will cram it into the next five minutes. I feel very strongly about what has happened in these estimates. Here we have item 11 for $1.7 billion, out of a budget of $1.9 billion. It’s not through the ministry’s fault but the fault of the Legislature itself that we will be passing this vote in five minutes; that seems to me to be disgraceful.

We have spent considerable time and considerable energy researching what has happened because it seems to me that if you look at this document, the spending estimates of the ministry, and you look at this vote and you wanted to talk about the power structure of the ministry versus boards you’d say the boards get all the money, therefore that is where the power must lie. But if you look at the Education Act, which is the legislation which distributes the power, you obviously know that the power lies within the ministry.

I have before me considerable documentation about the effects of the minister’s statement of Dec. 18. I won’t give you the framework and the assumptions that we had to make, because it would take me five minutes to do that, but basically one of the things that we have found is that if you look across the province in the elementary public school panel, the board assessments per pupil at the elementary level increases at the local level about 25 per cent. It affects what we call the rich and the poor boards about equally, ranging from Ottawa, which appears to be the wealthiest board at the elementary panel level, with an increase of 24.9 per cent per pupil at the local levy, to 23.3 per cent at Hornepayne, which is the poorest at the local levy.

But that takes into account only the recognized ordinary expenditure increase. The interesting thing, it seems to me, is that in the secondary school panel the levy per pupil increases dramatically from the so-called rich boards -- the ones with high local assessments at Metro -- where the increased levy per pupil is an increase of 18.1 per cent while Hornepayne, the board least able to afford it, has to levy an increase of 42.7 per cent at the local level per pupil. That is the change they have to implement simply to keep up with the kind of programmes that they were administering last year and, assuming that they are spending at the ceiling level -- to keep it consistent so your comparisons can be consistent -- Hornepayne has to increase the local levy per pupil by 42.7 per cent.

What that shows to us is that as the relative wealth of a board decreases the property tax portion increase over last year rises and levels off in that panel at about 30 per cent. It seems that all boards with average or higher assessments benefited from the 95 per cent guarantee. It is this fact and this guarantee which causes the disparity between the rich and poor boards. Rich and poor actually mean urban and rural, since it is the absence of a significant amount of commercial and industrial assessment that makes a so-called poor board poor.

Specifically, the 95 per cent guarantee is not a bad idea and it causes us in the opposition some problems, since we should not be opposed to it. Without it boards such as Metro, which is now receiving fewer dollars per student than last year, would be getting even less. Assuming Metro spent to the ceiling this year and last, the 95 per cent guarantees that Metro would be getting $39.55 less per pupil in 1976 than in 1975. Without the guarantee, had the straight rate of grant been applied, Metro would be receiving $154.36 less, and such an abrupt decrease would be intolerable.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Could I draw to the hon. members’ attention that the time for committee has expired? Shall this vote carry?


Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, may I rise on a point of order? My point of order is that an agreement had been made to spend one hour of discussion of education financing. We have spent just about five minutes on this matter of $3 billion being spent by the school boards of this province with some 40 per cent of that being raised in taxation. This year we have a substantial change in policy to shift a substantial percentage of the expenditure of boards back to the property tax.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Would the member state his point of order?

Mr. Swart: We should honour the agreement that was made and that we should have another hour of this House to spend on this very important subject.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Chairman, I am speaking now not as the person presenting these estimates but in my role as acting House leader today. If the proposition is being put forward to do that, I think there’s no objection as long as everybody agrees as to exactly what that entails. It means that the parties are agreeable to taking an hour off something else and we continue on with these estimates on Thursday at 3 o’clock rather than beginning the estimates of the Ministry of Health.

If that’s agreeable, then I think that that’s all right, but we have to realize that that’s what it entails.

Mr. Breithaupt: The difficulty is the one raised by the Minister of Education, particularly in that there is a very short amount of time left to deal with the estimates in this policy field. I am prepared to discuss it with the government House leader and with the House leader of the New Democratic Party and, if an agreement can be reached, we could continue for that hour. We shall make sure that that is discussed well in advance so that the minister will be able to give the necessary notice to the members of his staff who would otherwise be inconvenienced, if they had to show up here and find that we were not going to deal with the matter.

It will depend particularly on what other area is to be cut. It may not prove to be practical to make the change but we’ll certainly discuss it.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: In view of the discussion raised, I would suggest that the committee rise and report pending consultation among the three House leaders.

Mr. Foulds: Before the committee rises and reports, I should point out, and it may be something that the House leaders could take into effect for the coming year, that the Education estimates have never been in committee in the five years that I’ve been in the House. It might be worthwhile next year to put Education estimates into committee rather than in the House.

Hon. Mr. Wells moved the committee rise and report.

Motion agreed to.

The House resumed, Mr. Speaker in the chair.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Speaker, the committee of supply begs to report progress and asks for leave to sit again.

Report agreed to.


Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in her chambers.

Clerk of the House: The following are the titles of the bills to which Her Honour has assented:

Bill 25, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.

Bill 62, An Act to amend the Planning Act.

Bill 76, An Act to amend the Personal Property Security Act.

Bill 77, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act.

Bill 82, An Act to amend the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act.

Bill Pr7, An Act respecting McMaster University.



Mr. MacDonald moved second reading of Bill 22, An Act to provide for Freedom of Information.

Mr. MacDonald: On Friday at adjournment hour, the government House leader (Mr. Welch) outlined the business for this week. In noting that we were going to have a private members’ hour at 5 o’clock on Monday, he said it was going to be an historic debate. I am a little curious as to exactly what he had in mind, but in my final words this afternoon I have a suggestion for him as to how he can really make his words prophetic and turn this into an historic debate.

A year ago, on June 9, as recorded on pages 2733 to 2743 in Hansard, this bill was last debated. I note that date and that place in Hansard for purposes of continuity and for assistance to those who have a continuing interest in this topic. At that time, spokesmen for all parties supported the principle of the bill.

During the past year, I must say I have been most interested and deeply encouraged by the kind of response I’ve had to this bill from all across the country -- from organizations ranging from the Ontario Press Council to the Law Reform Commissions in several of the provinces; from a growing number of politicians, officials, students, undergraduate students and staff members at university level, as well as members of the general citizenry. There have been letters and telephone calls of query, seeking copies of the debate, seeking a copy of the bill.

It’s no exaggeration, I am convinced, to say that all across this nation, at both the provincial and the federal levels, there is a growing consensus -- not only an interest but a growing consensus -- that we’ve reached a point where there is need for a statute, a freedom of information law.

Therefore, I am a little puzzled, quite frankly, and I’ve reason to believe a lot of people share that puzzlement, as to why there is such reluctance on the part of governments to move in that direction.

The principle of the bill can be simply stated. Governments have tended to operate on the assumption that all information is secret except what they choose to make public. Precisely the reverse should be the case -- all information should be public except for certain categories which may legitimately be kept secret. That was the principle of the bill last year and that, in essence, in summary, is the principle of the bill which the House is going to deal with this year.

I’m not going to take the time to go into a great detailing of the one area in which I concede there can be room for controversy, for disagreement. That is the area for exemptions. Admittedly, when one is striking a balance between the public’s right to be informed and its right to be protected against the abuse of that information, there is a judgemental area where honest disagreement can take place.

This bill draws on the considerable experience of other jurisdictions where similar legislation has been on the statute books for some time. I would invite those who are interested to go back and to read my views and the views of others on the area of exemptions. I’m not going to repeat them today because I think there’s a lot of new material which should be brought into the picture.

Secondly, I would like to note that this bill, once again, opts for the use of the Ombudsman as the arbiter when there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not information can legitimately, under the statute, be made public. Hon. members of the House may be aware of the fact that in the United States there is an alternative option; that is, they go to the courts. That can be lengthy; it usually is costly and, as this bill points out in section 4,

“Where a person has requested an official document that is exempt under section 3 [that’s where the exemptions are listed] and that document is not produced, the person may apply to the Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act, 1975, for review as to whether the document should continue to be exempt under section 3.”

One other point, that I think should be borne in mind, is that the exemptions are spelled out but I don’t think they need to be treated as a straitjacket. In other words, it may well be, as section 4 of the Act notes, that changing circumstances will make a piece of information which has been legitimately secret now eligible for public revelation. Therefore, it seems to me that the executive can, at any point, decide that those circumstances are changed or, for any other reason it deems appropriate, reveal certain information so that the public will have the benefit of it.

Without going into any further detail of the bill, which can be read from last year’s record, in the remainder of my time I’d like to move into discussing the broader political context.

In recent years all governments, at least practically all governments, have been reviewing their communication policy. I remind the House that one of the areas in which the Committee on Government Productivity, the so-called COGP, made a rather thorough investigation, as reported in interim report No. 7, was the communication policy of the Province of Ontario. They deplored it for being in desperate need of some overhauling or some streamlining. They noted the reasons why there is traditionally an atmosphere of secrecy with regard to government information in the British tradition, and why we should move in the direction of reducing that secrecy as much as possible.

In Ottawa, there have been a number of approaches to the problem. The last and perhaps the most comprehensive was the so-called Wall report, which looked into the whole issue and made some recommendations. It’s interesting to note that all of these studies, particularly the COGP here in Ontario and the Wall report in Ottawa, came to the same conclusion. They stressed the need for a statement of policy, but then they stopped short of the need for a statute, such as the House is now considering. To be fair, the COGP didn’t speak to the issue directly. They didn’t even discuss whether or not a statute might be an appropriate way of enshrining a statement of policy. They just called for the statement of policy. In the instance of the Wall report, they did come to the conclusion that at least at this stage a statute was not necessary.

I am puzzled by that conclusion. Quite frankly the logic of it rather escapes me. Surely we are past the stage where the public’s right to information, a basic need in any working democracy, should be left to a general statement, no matter how eloquent that statement may be. Surely the time has come to enshrine this principle, not only in a statement of communication policy, but also in a statute which sets forth as clearly as possible what those rights are and how they can be upheld.

Having said that, I want to move now to some acknowledgement of what appears to be the position of perhaps the most important man in this government, namely the Premier. At the conclusion of last year’s debate, the hon. member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Gaunt) was speaking, and he said, to be found on page 2743 of Hansard:

“I think that all members, if they stop to think about it, would support this kind of legislation. In view of the fact government members have indicated that support, I would suggest that next session round, if the government is still of the same mind” --

And at that point he was cut off by his neighbour, the Hon. E. A. Winkler, the late and perhaps lamented Chairman of Management Board, who said, “We will be” -- namely of the same mind. “We will be, we will; don’t worry.”

Now, I assume, since Mr. Winkler was Chairman of Management Board, and therefore a key person in the cabinet, that he was speaking for what might be described as the executive council view on this.

Mr. Worton: Incidentally, he is still in good health. I saw him a week ago.

Mr. MacDonald: He is not only in good health, but I think he’ll be back in the fray. You might just remind your friend behind you of that, if he needs it.

I am puzzled, because there have been a number of statements by the Premier (Mr. Davis) during the past year suggesting, not too explicitly, that there was not need for a freedom of information Act. A clincher was, perhaps, a CFTO special documentary or special telecast that was done some three or four weeks ago in which they brought in Jed Baldwin, who has been pursuing this issue in Ottawa, myself, and then Premier Davis. I just want to give you two quotes from the transcripts of that debate or that interview. Premier Davis said at one point:

“I don’t think there is, but I think there are some people who feel there is too much secrecy. I think actually there is a great deal of public information. In fact, more public information than probably either the media or the public can assimilate.”

Well, Mr. Speaker, it may be that in that Niagara of information that pours out from this government in all its various ministries, there is too much and the public are a little confused. But, surely, that doesn’t remove the necessity or the right of a person to get information on a specific point that they are interested in. Let me read you the next quote of the Premier:


“You wouldn’t have people who want to give their personal views who are in government to cabinet, say for debate or a discussion, who then want to be identified in a personal way with these points of view. I think it would make the whole decision making process more difficult. I think it would inhibit it and I don’t think you get as good material coming to cabinet or in the budget process or anywhere else, if the moment after these decisions are made, you would then have to release the documentation and justify it on the basis of any printed material you might have.”

In other words, the position of the Premier was that we really have too much information now and, secondly, that it would be inhibiting in the decision-making process, if it was believed that all of the background material that the government used in coming to a decision was going to be made public for the consideration of the legislators or for the consideration of the general public.

In striking contrast to that, I want to draw the attention of the House, in case they missed it, to the study paper that was presented to the annual meeting of the Conservative Party on May 14 to 16 of this year.

Mr. Breaugh: What was the vote on that?

Mr. MacDonald: It indicates that there was general support for this proposition. It was a study paper prepared by Bill Neville who used to be in PR work with the government here and is now chief of staff in Joe Clark’s office in Ottawa. He’s moved from one area of the Tory hierarchy to another.

Let me quote, because I think it gives it most succinctly in the first two or three paragraphs of the Globe and Mail’s story on Monday morning, May 17.

“Pressure to open to the public more of the files of the Ontario Government is mounting within the Progressive Conservative Party.

“Greater openness in government has long been demanded by the opposition parties, but the idea of special legislation to guarantee freedom of information drew surprisingly little objection at a policy session at a weekend conference of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Association.”

Mr. Conway: Gord Walker thought it was a Communist plot.

Mr. MacDonald: The report says:

“It’s healthier to face the embarrassment of misinformation than to go ahead with policies founded on wrong information and data,” said Darwin Kealey, former chief researcher for Premier William Davis and a defeated Tory candidate in the last provincial election.

The Premier, he noted, talked about freedom during his major speech to the conference on Friday night.

“There’s another freedom -- the freedom to be informed. The whole process has to be a little more open.”

The interesting thing, and again I just want to give you a couple of brief quotes, is that this study paper which apparently drew the general approval of at least those who bothered to come to consider the study paper at that clambake the Conservatives held, dealt with two things. One was the right of the public to be able to share in the decision-making process by having information in advance. For example, let me quote from the study paper:

“The question is not that governments and legislatures should give up their right and their responsibility to make decisions; the issue is the right of citizens to have the opportunity, when they so wish, to have input to and influence upon those decisions.

“The first requirement, if that legitimate goal is to be met, is that citizens know that decisions on issues of concern to them are under consideration. Consultation after government has made up its mind and is firmly committed to a particular course of action is no consultation at all. Therefore, there is a need for openness by government at the front end of the process in letting the public know what is on the decision-making agenda at any point in time. [That was point 1. Then he moved on:]

“If the agenda is known, the next major requirement is for access to information. Citizens and interest groups can hardly have a meaningful policy discussion with government if one side [meaning the government] jealously guards the data on which the policy response supposedly will be based. We need a freedom of information policy and perhaps freedom of information legislation.

“Freedom of information, lest there be any doubt, does not mean” --

And I note this because there have been articles in the Globe and Mail and elsewhere with regard to this kind of statute in the United States, suggesting that it created a horrendous bureaucracy and was very costly --

-- “an expensive and wasteful programme in which government bombards its citizenry with reams of policy paper. In most cases, frankly, citizens aren’t that interested. The key is to ensure full access to information when citizens themselves take the initiative in wanting to participate in a policy discussion which they feel is of significant interest to them.

“Freedom of information is above all to move away from the current tendencies, where virtually all information is de facto unavailable to the public unless there is a special decision to make it public and where the rationale for such confidentiality often amounts to little more than a bureaucratic disinclination to permit their work to stand the test of public scrutiny.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. And that comes from a study paper that received the general approval of the Conservatives at their annual meeting.

I suggest that the time has come for this government to respond to the growing public concerns in this area. Here is a chance for the government of Ontario to pioneer. It speaks of itself as being a leading province.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: True.

Mr. MacDonald: Surely it is time for it to lead. Here, if we are going to make this an historic debate and therefore make the words of the government House leader prophetic, that it is going to be an historic debate, it really can be by our moving to accept this bill. Change it as you see fit, because I would be the first to say that experience will be our best guide as to certain of those controversial areas of exemption. Let the government bring in its own bill, and pass it so that the Province of Ontario can pioneer in being the first jurisdiction in this country, federal or provincial, in having a Freedom of Information Act.

Mr. Bounsall: It’s usually seventh or eighth.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand in support of the principle which has just been capably outlined by the preceding speaker and I want to make a few comments pertinent to this particular bill.

I feel, as a new leader and as a person relatively new in politics as well, that one of the things that has most shocked me has been the degree to which ordinary information, which is available to the government, which is paid for by the tax moneys of every citizen of this province, information gained by consultants who take time out from their university or their industrial jobs and work with the government to help it achieve better policy -- that the information of all these people can be kept secret for no reason whatsoever other than the protection of the government from embarrassment.

I think this is one of the things that has shocked me, as a sort of outsider who has come into politics, more than perhaps it has shocked some of the seasoned veterans such as the learned gentleman who presented this excellent bill. I think the citizens of this province just don’t realize the extent to which the government can cynically withhold information which could do no harm to the public and to our system of government were it to become general knowledge, but would merely be useful for all of us so that we could understand the basis on which the government reaches its difficult decisions. We could, in fact, criticize intelligently and constructively, because we would have the same data in front of us.

I think it is really a pathetic situation that in 1976, the United States, with all its Watergate history and so on, should have freedom of information and in this great country and in this province -- and frankly I criticize the federal government as much as the provincial government in this regard -- should not have freedom of information, the very fundamentals upon which democracy can only be based.

With regard to the actual bill I have a few questions about it. I am not sure that the information should be made available without cost. It might be better to have a moderate cost to cover these things.

I am also a little concerned about subsection 8 of section 3, because I feel that “Documents relating to policy decisions under consideration but not yet finalized” could be stretched to cover virtually everything, because heaven knows what policies might eventually be developed -- and so on. I think personally I would rather have a council of some kind, a tribunal rather than the Ombudsman. But I could live with it the way it is here as well.

Those are trivial matters. In essence I am in complete agreement with the hon. member who has presented this particular bill, the member for York South.

I would like to quote what a professor at McGill University who studied this matter has pointed out -- Professor Weigel: Today’s secrecy is more political than anything else. It is used to serve and sustain the government in power.

I would like to point out that Mr. Jed Baldwin, the federal House leader of the Conservatives -- and, of course, this is shared by Mr. Clark, the federal leader of that party -- points out that the access challenge had been met in Sweden more than 100 years ago and government information has become a way of life in other Scandinavian countries and the United States. We have to reverse the present situation, he says, in which information in possession of the government starts off by being confidential and is not released until the government says so. Mr. Maloney, the Ombudsman, has made similar comments.

I want to give members an example of what happens when we have a government which can manipulate information. I can appreciate the distinction drawn between information and intelligence and I can understand why the Minister for Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) would not want too much intelligence to be given out from his ministry. Intelligence, after all, is a commodity in very short supply in that ministry.

Still the fact is that there was an interesting example which I want to present to the House. Now that Bill 59 on private labs has been withdrawn, I thought the House and the one minister in the House might be interested in listening to this particular story. Members might want to know that on behalf of the citizens of Ontario, on Nov. 20, 1975, I asked the Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller):

“The Ministry has within its possession right now, and has not seen fit to release to the public, a report indicating that regionalized, publicly-oriented laboratories of a specialized nature are much more efficient and much cheaper than privately run ones. On some misguided notion that it is supporting private enterprise when it supports publicly paid for but privately-run laboratories the government refuses to make that report public. I look forward to seeing that report being tabled in this House.”

Needless to say it was kept secret. On March 15, I asked again.

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

Again, we didn’t receive it. He said there was no such thing.

On April 26, I asked again and finally we had an answer on April 26, from the acting Minister of Health (B. Stephenson) at that time. He asked me three days ago about a report of the Council of Health [I asked no such thing] about funding for lab services which purported to recommend tendering for that service.” She went on to say there had been some reports from the Council of Health but there was nothing about tendering and she couldn’t find anything at all. I said “I want to know the reports that have been produced by civil servants, between four and six reports, touching on the question of laboratory finances.” Again there was no answer.

Finally, some days later, I had an answer saying, “Extract from the recommendations of the October, 1972, report of the task force on cost controls for medical laboratories.” I was sent one sentence, beautifully centred on a piece of blank paper, by the acting Minister of Health. The sentence is that, “Too many technical problems exist to attempt to introduce the universal tendering system of payment for laboratory services.”

That might be interesting except, as it happens, that report has now fallen into my hands, not necessarily from the ministry but it happens that many outside people were involved in this particular report as well. That interesting sentence which was quoted, the one sentence I was sent, is part of a paragraph. The second sentence of the same paragraph reads, “This does not, of course, preclude the possibility of centralizing certain procedures in selected laboratories in the province.” That was 4½ years ago.

It is interesting that with this particular report, if the acting Minister of Health had gone back one page, she would see all the deficiencies. Let me read what it says so that members will get the idea of what this means.

“After examining the existing cost control measures exercised over laboratory costs, members unanimously felt that the following deficiencies existed [they list here eight deficiencies including] no control over the OMA fees set; no control over the number of laboratory procedures listed; no control over the growth of private and commercial labs.”

And so on; there are eight of them. I won’t read them all out because it is not the topic under discussion. The House was deliberately misled. Day after day I asked for the report. Day after day I was told it didn’t exist, and eventually I was sent one sentence when --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I never deliberately misled the House.

Mr. Speaker: I think the hon. member knows he can’t make statements like that in the House. I’d ask him to withdraw those remarks that the House was misled. It’s really a statement which is not allowed in here. I know it was unintentional, but I’ll ask him to withdraw it.

Mr. S. Smith: I’ll substitute for those statements: The House was given information which clearly was so partial in its nature that one could reasonably conclude that there was no genuine effort to inform the House fully of the matter which was being sought on behalf of the people of Ontario.

In point of fact, this goes on every day. There is a report, the so-called interministerial report, which shows the awful situation existing in the group homes of this province; it shows the way in which we are overpaying for them under the Ministry of Health. Millions of dollars of public money are going down the drain every year on that particular matter. That report is being withheld, not because it can be in any way harmful to the public interest for that report to be given to us to look at, but simply because it would embarrass the government and show the kind of poor policy that they have had.

Mr. Speaker: Thirty seconds left.

Mr. S. Smith: As far as I’m concerned, I believe the citizens of this province would be shocked if they really understood the degree to which their millions of dollars have been spent for civil servants and consultants to produce facts which are withheld from them and from their elected representatives for no reason other than the protection of the government from embarrassment. That is a shocking, shocking indictment of this government and its attitudes towards the democratic process.

I support the principle of this bill.

Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it this bill provides for public access to government documents, but more importantly, it deals with the citizen and his relationship to government. It opens up the whole question of the rights of citizens to influence the decisions of their government on matters of direct concern to them.

The bill underlines the essence of participatory democracy as I understand it, a democracy where people have the opportunity, when they wish, to have input into the influence upon those decisions made by their elected representatives. I have to refute and reject the comments just concluded by the leader of the Liberal Party in his pretence that the protection of the government is the reason and the only reason that some documents are not made public, as he puts out. Rather, I would like to remind the House that our government has recognized the need for openness before a course of action is taken.

Mrs. Campbell: When?

Mr. Jones: We’ve utilized such techniques as white papers --

Mr. Shore: Brown papers.

Mr. Jones: -- draft legislation -- yes, even brown paper. As the leader of the Liberal Party just outlined, it sounds as if he’s having no problem getting papers and reports and information. But the legitimate techniques being used by this government, such as proposals for reaction and discussion and response, are ample. We’ve utilized legislative committees for public hearings of reports before the government decides on a specific policy action.

For example, our rent review committee brought a forum for that legislation, through a legislative committee, for all sides to express their views, Subsequent to this public participation, amendments to the original legislation were made to reflect the consensus which was reached.

Mr. Haggerty: That’s because you are a minority government.

Mr. Jones: This same format was used during the last session before the minority government that the member mentioned. We can come to this session and look at Bill 5 where representatives with widely divergent views presented their suggestions and opinions on the proposed legislation. As a member of that committee I remember them well; they were a cross-section of our community within this province.

Mr. Mancini: What about Ontario Housing?

Mrs. Campbell: Yes, what about Ontario Housing?

Mr. Jones: But citizens can hardly have a meaningful policy discussion with government if one side, government -- and I make this admission -- jealously guards the data on which the responsible policy is to be based. We need a freedom of information policy, I agree; and I would support freedom of information legislation.

Mr. Conway: Actions speak louder than words.

Mr. Jones: Now, the mover of this bill spoke to the paper presented at the recent party deliberations at the Inn on the Park, and I hope that this would not mean an expensive and wasteful programme, as he referred to, of government bombarding the citizens with endless reams of policy papers.

Also, along the lines that he mentioned as he read from this paper No. 7, it is important that the key would be to ensure full access to information when citizens themselves take the initiative in wanting to participate in policy discussions, which they feel are of significant interest to them.

There would, of course, be specific exceptions to the rule. There is, of course, the one on national security, reported in Hansard the last time this was debated in this House. Also, there are the very important sections on personal privacy, and the like. But I feel, the hon. member from York South has well documented those exceptions.

I would like to point out at this time some things that we have accomplished in moving towards this freedom of information goal, as he has outlined for us this afternoon -- more especially the individual participation in the decision-making process.

Mechanisms, such as royal commissions and task forces, have played a definite role in our system. We could take the Porter commission on Hydro, for example. It has held preliminary public meetings since last year, and those meetings have been a form of public participation in the long-range planning concept of Ontario Hydro for the period 1983 to 1993, and beyond.

Mr. Haggerty: Tell us in 1985.

Mr. Jones: The people affected in this area have been given the opportunity to participate fully in --

Mr. Reed: Why don’t you tell the truth?

Mr. Jones: -- in just what direction this province will take in the terms of Hydro planning. The Isbister commission, too, has involved the public in petroleum products pricing. The Election Finances Reform Act perhaps is the most pertinent example of government really opening up the whole system of financing during campaigns.

Mr. Shore: They have really snowed you.

Mr. Conway: Is it true Roy McMurtry supports motherhood?

Mr. Jones: And now any individual is at liberty to go through the files of each candidate in each constituency for information regarding expenditures and donations. One area that I would like to touch on this afternoon outlines even more fully just how our government is going to the people; going to those who will be affected --

Mr. Mancini: Come to my riding.

Mr. Jones: -- before implementing legislation. We on this side of the House, did go to the public on a subject called alcohol and youth. I know I certainly have made my views clear. But there are a lot of members from that side and parties who would prefer to set it aside, I would suspect, in order to make a little political hay.

Mr. S. Smith: You are going to consult us about hospitals? How about consulting us about the AIB?

Mr. Jones: We went with an openness on this subject.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Shore: Did you ask for this job, or did you get conscripted?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There is a time limit on each member’s speech, and it’s unfair to be interrupting as the members are. The hon. member will continue for another two minutes.

Mr. Gregory: The member for London North should behave himself.

Mr. Jones: As was referred to in the policy paper at our party’s recent convention, we did indeed go to the public at large, who do have a right to know how their elected representatives will be approaching something as basic and as large a social concern as this subject is, and on whose behalf we do have to reach decisions. We did speak out rather clearly and make our thoughts known from one of the sections of our government as to what kind of recommendations we were making to this cabinet. It seems to me that this interaction between governments and special interest groups should take place and should be a pattern for the future on every opportunity that’s possible in public on the broadest possible public basis.

It means. I would think -- and again I’m talking to the member as I have read this bill and talked to it -- that one thing that would have to be guarded as we approach this principle is that we would have to make certain that the interest or certain groups of citizens who would speak would have to give some evidence that they speak for the groups that they purport to be speaking for.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member has just 30 seconds left.

Mr. Jones: In fact, it would mean a consideration of a lobbying registration legislation, legislation for that matter which was suggested by the federal Progressive Conservative caucus. In closing, I’d like to suggest that the whole issue of individual participation in government decision-making go even further.

Mr. Moffatt: Do you support the bill?

Mr. Samis: He didn’t say so.

Mr. Jones: If we are to have citizen involvement in the decision-making process, then we should look perhaps to providing some funding so that legitimate citizens’ concerns can be heard and considered before the decisions are finalized.

Mr. Renwick: I know there are others who want to take part in the debate and I’ll try to speak as rapidly as I can and deal with the bill.

First of all, I want to commend my colleague, not only because he is my colleague but also for his persistence in bringing this bill before the assembly time and time again, because at some point in time an equivalent of this bill will be enacted either by the present government or by the successor to that government.

An hon. member: We will look after it.

Mr. Renwick: I want to make three or four points which I think will be of significance, whether the bill is passed or whether it’s not passed, in making certain distinctions which are involved in this bill. The bill only goes part way, and I agree that it should only go part way in the first instance. The key word is that an individual may request an identifiable document. Of course, that doesn’t answer the problem of how you identify the document if it’s hidden within the closets of the government.

The United States legislation attempts to deal with that further problem. I think we should be wise in this assembly if we took the first step proposed by the member for York South and tried to deal with it on an individual basis for a request for an identifiable document rather than for some form of register of all documentation within the government so that persons could see readily what the government did have available to it, and which might be of interest to an individual citizen of the community.

The next point, however, that I want to make more than any other is that, with the greatest respect for ourselves as politicians in the assembly, we as individuals have no greater right to override the public interest as the public interest may appear than anyone else does so that there is a legitimate problem which is faced by any government in deciding what information is to be available.

I think our problem is that it should not have taken so long for a bill to have been drafted which would have spoken to this question. I refer to comments because I think that whoever is called upon to make the decision, be it the Ombudsman or the court as to whether a document should or shouldn’t be produced in the event of a dispute, would be governed by the decisions of a case in the House of Lords as long ago as 1942.

Ad libbing just a little bit in relation to what the House of Lords said, Viscount Simon stated “the principle to be applied in every case is that the document must not be produced if the public interest requires that it should be withheld.” I pause there for a moment to say that the course of events has led to us requiring a statutory change in the emphasis of that statement.


The principle today should, of course, be that the principle to be applied in every case is that documents must be produced unless the public interest requires that they should be withheld. It goes on to state what the test would be, and I think this is inherent in the bill of my colleague, the member for York South:

“The test may be found to be satisfied either (A), by having regard for the contents of the particular documents, or (B), by the fact that the documents belong to a class which, on grounds of public interest, most, as a class, be withheld from production.”

It sets it forth clearly, I think, in the various exemptions which are set out in the statutes. It uses both those tests as a method of determining which document should be exempt from the requirement of production and which should be produced if the public interest is not affected by it. It also goes on to say:

“The essential matter is that the decision should be taken by the minister who is the political head of the department and he should have seen and considered the contents of the documents and himself have formed the view that on grounds of public interest they ought not to be produced either because of their actual contents or because of the class of documents to which they belong.”

I think the point which has been of such concern to us sitting on this side of the House, over a long period of time, and which we believe reflects a very real concern by individual citizens and groups of citizens outside this assembly and in the Province of Ontario who want information, is that we believe we are obstructed in obtaining that kind of information by an arbitrary subconscious desire by the government to keep as much secret as possible.

I do want to point out to the government that should it choose to introduce this kind of legislation, the words of Viscount Simon are of significant importance. I quote:

“I do not think it is out of place to indicate the sort of grounds which would not afford to the minister an adequate justification for objecting to the disclosure of documents.

“It is not a sufficient ground that the documents are state documents or are official or marked confidential. It would not be a good ground that if they were produced the consequences might involve the department or the government in parliamentary discussion or in public criticism or might necessitate the attendance as witnesses or otherwise of officials who have pressing duties elsewhere.

“Neither would it be a good ground that the production might tend to expose a want of efficiency in the administration or tend to lay the department open to claims for compensation.

“In a word, it is not enough that the minister or the department does not want to have the documents produced. The minister, in deciding whether it his duty to object, should bear these considerations in mind for he ought not to take the responsibility of withholding production except in cases where the public interest would otherwise be affected adversely.

“[He goes on at a later time:] After all, the public interest is also the interest of every subject, and while in these exceptional cases the private citizen may seem to be denied what is to his immediate advantage he, like the rest of us, would suffer if the needs of protecting the interest of the country as a whole were not ranked as a prior obligation.”

It does seem to me that the case, so long ago -- it was 1942 -- had very much the criteria, the indicia and the words which are required to give substance to the bill introduced by my colleague, the member for York South. I only reiterate what I began with -- that we are always concerned, sitting in opposition, that a rule which has become a negative role, which prohibits the disclosure of information or inhibits the disclosure of information, should be reversed by statute with proper safeguards to protect the public interest -- which is the interest of all of us -- but at the same time ensures that each individual in the society or any group of individuals in society, who believe themselves to have a legitimate interest in a matter which is of government concern and concern to the society, should have the widest amplitude of documentation available to them for the purpose of furthering their views.

My own personal preference, of course, would be for the matter to go by an expeditious route before a judge of the divisional court. I think the divisional court, sitting as a single judge in the high court, would be quite a proper and appropriate place for the question of whether or not that disclosure would come within the terms of a statute adequately framed. That is the place where it should be done. It may well be that the assembly in its wisdom would decide that the Ombudsman is the person who should make that kind of decision, but whatever the decision and whatever the procedure is I urge the government -- I am glad that the member for Mississauga West did indeed -- did I get that right?

Mr. Gregory: North.

Mr. Jones: North.

Mr. Renwick: -- Mississauga North (Mr. Jones) -- would urge his colleagues to make certain that we do get this kind of bill before the assembly and get it passed, because it is of immense importance.

My last comment is I don’t want anyone to think that it will necessarily solve the problem, because if you don’t know of the existence of the identifiable document it is very difficult to ask for it, and a bill framed in this way will not really permit someone to go upon a fishing expedition. It may be that at some later time a further statute would be required requiring some public form of registry, public documentation registry, to be kept of those documents which are available and those which are available but not subject to being available to the public for reason that they are claimed to be within an exempt clause. But certainly as a first step -- and as a major step, not as a first step, because in many cases the first step is the major step, we, of course, support the bill which is before the assembly.

Mr. Singer: Mr. Speaker, with a great deal of pleasure I join this debate to support the bill that is before us, to support the comments of my leader and to wonder aloud about the comments of the member for Mississauga North, because I find difficulty in following him in the light of the performance by so many of his colleagues.

Let me go back and tell you, Mr. Speaker, you know with me the problems we’ve had in trying to find what the records of the Ontario Housing Corp. have had to say. There was a man Stan Randall; he wouldn’t tell anybody anything. He was followed by a fellow named Allan Grossman; I’ve got a wonderful exchange of correspondence with Grossman over the years saying, “If you will tell me which particular act of corruption you are looking for I will let you see the minute in relation to that one.”

The Minister without Portfolio now from --


Mr. Worton: Mr. Whatchamacallit.

Mr. Conway: The member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson).

Mr. Singer: -- well, who succeeded Mr. Grossman. He wasn’t conveying any more information than anyone else. And so it came as somewhat of a substantial surprise that the present Minister of Housing, the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes), made a prepared statement to a committee dealing with his estimates saying there was hope and maybe we could look at the minutes of Ontario Housing, and I commend him for that. It’s the first ray of light we’ve had from the ministry in connection with freedom of information.

But you know what it took? It took someone like Mr. Justice Addy to ask, how can Ontario Housing act in the way it does and spend those exorbitant prices for land when by expropriation it would have saved the public millions of dollars? It took research by the Liberal caucus to show the tragedy of allowing people to make millions of dollars on public land purchases in a few months’ period in South Milton. That’s the kind of thing it took.

Have they learned their lesson? Of course they haven’t learned their lesson. The divine right to govern still pervades their minds. I had this memo -- and the hon. Leader of the Opposition referred to it earlier -- this memo under the hand of James Taylor, QC, Minister of Community and Social Services. It’s a beautiful thing. A document designed to shield from the public any information that it possibly could want. Just let me read two paragraphs of it:

“The public, including the media, have a right to know the dimensions and parameters of ministry services; facilities; the text of regulations ... ” Isn’t that generous? We can see what the text of regulation is “under statutes.” We can look at those too.

“Availability and qualification for services, etc.” In other words, I suppose, if someone is competing for a position he can find out whether it is available and what the qualifications are. Again, such generosity!

“Such information should be generally available through (a) approved publications; (b) information news releases; and (c) factual response by ministry representatives to media queries.” And he draws the distinction between something called “information” and something else called intelligence; that’s information.

Now we come to the next beautiful, beautiful paragraph. The member for Mississauga West --

Mr. Jones: You want to be careful. It’s Mississauga North.

Mr. Singer: I wonder did he help draft this beautiful paragraph:

“Reports, correspondence, conceptual ideas, proposals, programmes, projects, procedures and any other source or basis for communication that is subject to the authority of the minister will be deemed confidential until approved by him for publication. Such intelligence is not to be public knowledge unless and until considered by the minister.”

The divine right to rule.

And there is the Minister for Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith) who is in the middle, I gather, of some discussion with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman investigated, not a pleasant offence, but an offence that took place in one of our penal institutions, gave a report to the minister as he is compelled to under the statute, and asked for the minister’s permission to release it. The minister said no, he can’t release that. It has nasty implications because it was a nasty offence. So we can’t let the public know what the Ombudsman has found out about an offence that took place in one of our public institutions.

Mr. Breithaupt: Did they use bad words?

Mr. Singer: I don’t know what kind of words they used because, until the Minister of Correctional Services deems it appropriate that the public can look at what happened and listen to the recommendations of the Ombudsman, lo, we are not going to know about it.

Mr. Conway: Pray, don’t tell the Attorney General.

Mr. Singer: Again the hon. member for Mississauga North pointed with pride and beat his breast with pleasure about the glories of the Election Finances Reform Act, and the right we have to look into what has been going on. It is a pity he wasn’t here during the debates that took place when that Act went through the House and heard the discussions about the Tory war chest, how much was there and how it was going to be used in the future. When there was a Tory majority in this House, they made quite sure that we would never see how much was in that fund or how it was going to be spent, how big it was or where it was going. We didn’t even want to know where it came from; we just wanted to know how big it was and how much was going to be spent.

Maybe the winds of change are beginning to blow, and maybe what the Minister of Housing has had to say is beginning to be a concept of a government that believes that the people have some right to know. That’s what it is all about. Is there a right to know or is there a divine right to keep information away from the people of Ontario, the people we are talking about governing?

Unless we get away from people like the Minister of Community and Social Services and his farcical memo about the difference between intelligence and information, unless we can get away from people like the Minister of Correctional Services who deems it offensive that we should see a report from the Ombudsman, unless we can get into the records of OHC and all these other agencies, then really we are governing, even in a minority House, with one hand tied behind our back. We are saying to the public you have no right to know, and that’s wrong.

Therefore, the bill that is before us, to me, and to my colleagues makes abundant good sense. Whether it is in its present form or with some amendments doesn’t really matter. I would like to see the government take the initiative put to it by the hon. member for Sault Ste. Marie, the Minister of Housing, and say what is there in those minutes that isn’t and shouldn’t be made public to the people of Ontario? What is there in these reports and ideas and so on which shouldn’t be made public to the people of Ontario, that we are governing? That is what we are here for. The people have a right to know, and this is what this bill is all about.

If the government members believe the governed have a right to know as well as the governors, they will support this bill or bring in one of their own at the first possible opportunity.

Mr. Speaker: This order of business is now discharged.

Clerk of the House: The second order, committee of the whole House.

The House recessed at 6 p.m.