30e législature, 3e session

L123 - Fri 26 Nov 1976 / Ven 26 nov 1976

The House met at 10 a.m.


Mr. Samis: On a point of privilege. Yesterday, while inquiring and making arrangements for a group of French-language students to visit the Legislature, I was told by the appropriate staff here that there is, and there would be, no French-language literature available to students coming to the Legislature.

In view of the Premier’s commitment in 1971 and in view of a statement made and recorded in the Toronto Star by one no less than the Treasurer of Ontario which says, “The guarantees made to French Canadians at the time of Confederation must be honoured. Those guarantees were not offered as a privilege or a gift from the English-speaking people, they were solemn pledges, essential conditions to the establishment of a country. Those pledges must be kept,” I would ask you, sir, to take immediate action to see that nobody is discriminated against in either of the official languages when they come to visit this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker: I might say that’s not a point of personal privilege and no privilege of the member has been abrogated in any respect. I will take the information under consideration. It hasn’t been brought to my attention before. I will check into it.

Statements by the ministry.


Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to advise the House that the Ontario Milk Marketing Board and the Canadian Dairy Commission have reached agreement on the method to be used for allocating the additional 127.6 million pounds of industrial milk quota recently made available to Ontario.

Mr. Cassidy: Is this socialized agriculture?

Hon. Mr. Davis: You are being provocative early in the morning.

Hon. W. Newman: This quota, together with other quota which has accrued to the Ontario Milk Marketing Board, is now being distributed to Ontario producers and will be available for use in November.

Mr. Cassidy: Now he is talking out of the other side --

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

Hon. W. Newman: The December milk cheques to producers will reflect the increase in quota.

This quota distribution plan is intended to maximize the amount of industrial milk produced between now and the end of the current dairy year -- April 1, 1976, to March 31, 1977 -- in line with Ontario’s share of the national quota, and to distribute the quota among producers in the most equitable way. To achieve these objectives the Ontario Milk Marketing Board will also implement immediately a quota-lending programme between producers.

I am tabling the letter from the chairman of the Ontario Milk Marketing Board advising the Ontario milk producers of details of the programme.


Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I wish to announce recent development related to the prices charged for gasoline at service centres on Highways 400 and 401.

This matter goes back to last spring -- I believe it was May 13 -- when the hon. member for Elgin (Mr. McNeil) and, more recently, the hon. member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. Spence), I believe it is, questioned me about the differences in the price of gasoline between highway service centres on Highways 401 and 400 and the off-highway stations.

In my reply, I informed the hon. members I was aware of the higher prices being charged at the service centres on the expressways. I added that we were looking into the matter.

As this House is aware, these service centres operate under a lease agreement with the oil companies which tender for the award of such leases. I pointed out that all lease agreements call for a percentage of the gross revenues, not a per-gallon rate.

Mr. MacDonald: So the government shares in the ripoff?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I also informed the member for Elgin that when most of these leases or contracts were drawn up, fuel was at a much more reasonable price than it is today. As the costs increased, thanks partially to the additional federal excise tax of 10 cents per gallon, the sale price of the product increased dramatically.

Mr. Nixon: Did your 19-cent-a-gallon tax have anything to do with that?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: Your tax is almost double.

Hon. Mr. Snow: As a consequence, Highways 400 and 401 service centres have been paying their rental percentage on those inflated costs.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Do you think we should reduce it?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I further stated we would be negotiating with the oil companies in an attempt to alleviate a situation in which the price to the consumer went up along with increases in the amounts paid for leases since they were based on a percentage of gross sales.

Mr. Nixon: Those are provincial leases, aren’t they?

Hon. Mr. Snow: This was not the intention when the leases or contracts were awarded. It was the action by Ottawa in increasing the excise tax --

Mr. Peterson: You are worse than the Premier; you are awful.

Mr. S. Smith: Come off it.

Mr. Nixon: You are still going to keep ripping them off.

Mr. Breithaupt: You’re living off the avails.

Mr. Cassidy: You guys indulge in an orgy of self-justification. You had better change your speech writers.

Mr. Breithaupt: You can’t blame the municipalities for this one.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I shall start over.

Mr. Nixon: I am in bed with Beryl Plumptre; that’s what you said yesterday. Start over again and get it right this time.

Hon. Mr. Snow: As I said, it was not the intention when these leases or contracts were awarded. It was the action by Ottawa in increasing the excise tax, plus the action of the oil-producing countries demanding higher --

Mr. Breithaupt: Blame it on the Arabs.

Mr. S. Smith: And Lougheed’s province.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I am sure the young people in the galleries must be getting a wonderful impression this morning. Will the hon. minister continue?

Mr. Breithaupt: Only of the incompetence of the minister.

Mr. Nixon: If they were listening to the minister they would be disgusted.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister has the floor for his statement.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- plus the action of the oil- producing countries demanding higher wellhead prices and royalties, which have been largely responsible for the inflated price to the consumer and what might be called windfall gains in rental income from the service centres.

Today, I can tell the House that as a result of continuing negotiations between my ministry and the oil companies, Imperial Oil has agreed to lower the prices it charges motorists using service stations on Highways 400 and 401.

Mr. Samis: How much?

Hon. Mr. Snow: This has resulted from the fact that my ministry is committed to amending its agreement with the oil companies, allowing them to reduce their gross revenues by the amount we have determined to equal the increases since September, 1973 --

Mr. Edighoffer: Bargain with oil, boys.

Mr. Ruston: You had your finger in the till.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- increases stemming, as I noted earlier, from the increase in federal tax and the price of crude.

I can also state emphatically that our offer was conditional upon the agreement of the oil companies to pass on the full benefits to the motorists in the form of lower gasoline prices.

Mr. S. Smith: How much?

Mr. Renwick: How much?

Hon. Mr. Snow: If the hon members will just hold their breeches for one minute, they’ll find out.

Mr. Nixon: The reduction will be --

Mr. Breithaupt: That’s all you had to say in the first place.

Hon. Mr. Snow: The result, I’m pleased to report, is that as of November 23, Imperial Oil has been more than co-operative and the price of gasoline at Esso stations on Highways 400 and 401 has dropped anywhere from five to nine cents a gallon.

Mr. Nixon: Oh, rubbish.

Mr. S. Smith: What about the price of a gallon over the past three years?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Specifically, the price of a gallon of regular gas fell from 92.9 cents to 83.9 cents at Newcastle; at Maple it dropped from 92.9 cents to 85.9 cents, and at Ingersoll to 87.9 cents.

Mr. Nixon: That’s a steal.

Hon. Mr. Snow: The prices for unleaded and premium gasolines were reduced accordingly to maintain the normal trade differential. The reason for the variance in the lower prices relates, I understand, to market prices charged for gasoline in the specific areas mentioned.

Mr. Peterson: What about the other brands, Jim?


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, following my two recent announcements of major policy changes related to curriculum in the schools --

Mr. Peterson: You are ahead of your time, Tom.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I would today like to inform members that the Ministry of Education is taking a further step to refine and improve the quality of education in the elementary and secondary schools of Ontario.

Mr. Nixon: It’s an attempt to repair all that Davis damage.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Specifically, we are setting in motion a plan that will result in better testing and evaluation of pupil achievement at the classroom level and better reporting of pupil progress to parents.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Mr. Warner: Bill 22.

Hon. Mr. Wells: In recent years, as members are well aware, we have tended to move away from centralized, uniform testing towards an approach that places more reliance on the judgement of individual teachers. Such an approach has a number of virtues and is consistent with the more flexible curriculum that has applied in our schools.

Mr. Nixon: A great retreat.

Hon. Mr. Wells: But at the same time it clearly places more emphasis on subjective judgement and leads to variation from classroom to classroom and school to school.

Mr. S. Smith: Are you insulting the teachers?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Such variations are often interpreted by students, parents and teachers alike as creating uncertainties as to the standards achieved. Let me make it clear there is no question in my mind that the teaching profession of Ontario has continued to attain highly satisfactory standards in our schools.

Mr. Nixon: A year ago there was.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please!

Hon. Mr. Wells: Nevertheless, I can understand that little is accomplished by me or a local school board chairman, or school principal, or anyone else who has responsibility for our educational system, making such assertions and asking people to accept them on their own merit. That is no more helpful than hearing from the critics of our schools today who, for whatever purpose, tend to stand up and claim that standards have fallen without any concrete evidence to that effect.

Mr. Peterson: It’s all around you.

Mr. S. Smith: Why are you changing it?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. There’ll be an opportunity for questions in a moment.

Mr. Ruston: You are not retreating. You are in complete flight.

Mr. Speaker: Order!

Hon. Mr. Wells: Teachers and parents clearly want more objective information about how well pupils are achieving, and that is what we intend to provide.

Mr. S. Smith: That is taken right off page seven.

Hon. Mr. Wells: As a result, the area of evaluation and testing has been the subject of considerable study within the ministry for many months. Last May, in the midst of our investigations, the cabinet met with the executive of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, which presented at that time an extremely constructive and helpful brief on behalf of the teachers of Ontario.

Hon. Mr. Davis: A good submission.

Hon. Mr. Wells: In that submission, the federation stated: “There appears to be widespread concern about levels of academic progress and behavioural standards being achieved in the schools. We may have reached the time when a comprehensive survey of school standards is needed so that remedial measures may be taken should these apprehensions prove to be well-founded.”

This added further impetus to our own investigation and study. It was clear that we were not acting in a vacuum and that teachers had similar concerns.

Mr. S. Smith: How can you read that?

Mr. Breithaupt: Surprise, surprise.

Mr. Sweeney: We have been telling you that for 10 years.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Today, it is with a sense of appreciation and optimism that --

Mr. Nixon: Complete hypocrite.


Hon. Mr. Wells: -- I am able to report that the Ontario Teachers’ Federation has agreed to work very closely with us in an effort to devise a workable and educationally sound plan by which the evaluation --

Mr. S. Smith: You didn’t have a sound plan.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and reporting of pupil progress can be improved in this province.

In order to achieve this, a unique technical work group has been formed, and it is at this moment beginning its first meeting in the Mowat Block.

Mr. S. Smith: Don’t you have people in your ministry?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Chairing the group is Mrs. Claudette Foisy-Moon, who is executive assistant on the staff of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Relax.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Altogether, the group consists of 13 persons -- seven named by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, four ministry officials and two representatives of the Ontario Association of Education Administrative Officials.

Mr. S. Smith: The Premier couldn’t get a job as education consultant in Timbuktu.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The members of this technical working group are: Mr. Ross Andrew, president, Ontario Teachers’ Federation, who is on leave from the Ottawa Board of Education; Mrs. Debra Richardson, a teacher at Camilla Road Senior Public School, Mississauga, Ontario; Mr. Roger Des Groseilliers, teacher at École Secondaire Algonquin, North Bay; Mrs. Edna Gannon, principal, St. Gregory School, Oshawa; Mr. Jack Cronin, vice-president, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, Toronto, and a teacher at South Lincoln High School, Smithville; Mr. Jack Lever, English consultant with the Etobicoke Board of Education, Etobicoke; Mr. Emmerson Lavender, director of education, Halton Board of Education, Burlington; Mr. Frank Fowler, superintendent of schools, Frontenac-Lennox and Addington Roman Catholic Separate School Board Kingston.

Mr. Breithaupt: Nobody from Lambton?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Douglas Penny, Mr. Lloyd Thompson, Mr. Jacques Giroux, and Mr. Ian McHaffie, of the research and evaluation branch of the Ministry of Education.

Mr. S. Smith: The biggest ministry in the government and you can’t do your own curriculum planning.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I said this is a unique group. That is because it is not a study group in the ordinary sense but rather a group with a very specific mandate of great significance for the quality of education in our schools. To a large degree the study has been done over the past year.

What we want and expect now is a definite plan of action on how best to improve testing and evaluation in the classrooms, and how best to give teachers and parents a clear understanding of how their children are progressing so that they will be able to provide appropriate assistance and encouragement as required.

A second notable characteristic of this group is that it is dominated numerically by representatives of the teaching profession. Let me say only with the teachers’ help, we believe, can we make positively sure that the steps we take related to testing and evaluation will be in the best interests of pupils, their parents and the education system in general.

We know that the whole matter of testing and evaluation deserves urgent attention and I give credit to the Ontario Teachers’ Federation in sharing this concern and, more importantly, in joining us in coming to grips with it.

The group which I have named has a big job. Its task will be to come up with a feasible and sound plan by which the evaluation of pupil achievement can be improved so that both teachers and parents, as well as students themselves, can see where more efficient or different approaches may be required.

As it proceeds with its assignment, a considerable amount of research and background information will be available. For example, officials of our new research and evaluation branch have over the past year become very familiar with practices elsewhere.

Mr. Peterson: We forced you into it.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Also, the major research study dealing with the transition of students from secondary school to college or university --commonly called the interface study -- will be available soon. It, too, will provide some very important insights in regard to the whole matter of evaluation and examinations.

Further, we have another research study about to begin which will survey pupil tests which are presently available from publishers and other sources, and will examine methods by which test results are communicated to parents.

In establishing the work group, we have three primary objectives: First, we want to help teachers to diagnose better any specific deficiencies in the levels of pupil achievement, especially in the basic skills, to help them improve classroom instruction and to work with individual students as required.

Second, we want to give all levels in the education system practical information which will help determine whether curriculum objectives are being met, and to assist in bringing about improvements where required.

Third, we want to give parents clear and understandable information about their children’s progress and achievement, especially in the key basic skill areas, so that they can give assistance and encouragement at home, and more knowledgeably --

Mr. S. Smith: Word for word from our report. Suddenly inspired.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- discuss things in a constructive way with teachers. If there is a single overriding objective which we have in this renewed focus on evaluation and testing of pupil performance --

Mr. S. Smith: It’s to win votes.

Mr. Cassidy: It’s to stay in power.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- and achievement, it is that we want to ensure that “challenge” and success --


Hon. Mr. Davis: I mean, you are trying very hard, but is that true?

Mr. Sweeney: Would you like another copy of our report?

Mr. S. Smith: The road to Damascus.

Hon. Mr. Wells: -- are meaningful words in every classroom in this province. Challenge and success --

Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s right, none of this criticism.

Mr. S. Smith: Suddenly inspired.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Challenge and success, not failure.

Mr. Peterson: Sit and listen to that, Bill.

Mr. Sweeney: Plagiarism to the nth degree.

Mr. Peterson: You should be embarrassed.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Pupils have to be challenged to perform to the limit of their ability. Standards must be high. We must support our teachers in striving for and expecting top performance from their pupils, always remembering -- and I can’t stress this too much because it must be stressed -- that the capabilities of each individual student are unique and cannot be standardized or categorized only by neat marks on a chart or a report card.

Mr. Renwick: You should have put that first.

Hon. Mr. Wells: We obviously have high expectations for the technical work group which is meeting for the first time today. It is a large and significant mandate which we have given them, and one that will doubtless continue over a period of time.

However, it is our hope that by the end of March, 1977, some specific ideas and plans will be forthcoming, which will have application in our schools next fall.

Mr. Sweeney: That’s two thirds of the Liberal document. When are you going to take the last third?

Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.


Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation a question. In his statement he indicated that he was well satisfied with the co-operation he got from Esso. What became of the co-operation from the others? Is there a similar kind of reduction in prices forthcoming from the other oil companies that operate on the two routes mentioned?

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, a similar letter to the one that went to Imperial Oil Limited putting forward our proposal went to all the oil companies that hold leases on our freeway system. Imperial Oil has been the first one to react and reply to us and agree to these reductions.

Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: Has it ever occurred to the minister, since he has almost total control over who operates on these highways, that it might be in the best interests of the motoring public if he were to have some formula that would guarantee the maximum price to be charged, rather than leave it up to the whims of the oil companies and their discussions, one with the other, to decide what they want out of the public that buys from them?

Hon. Mr. Snow: That certainly is something that we looked into, and it has been the cause of one of the delays in coming to a solution to this problem. We were advised by my legal department that we should clarify any action that we would take with regard to the changes in the prices with the combines branch of the federal government. My legal staff took this matter up with Ottawa and we received back, I would say a month or two ago, correspondence -- which I don’t have with me this morning -- stating that it was the combines branch ruling that we would be contravening their regulation if we were in any way to enter into agreements with all the oil companies in an attempt to fix gasoline prices at these stations.

Mr. Renwick: You could do it.

Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Is the minister saying that if these other companies don’t voluntarily comply there is no action that he will take? Is he saying it’s voluntary on their behalf and he is not going to take any further action if they don’t voluntarily decide to comply with his wishes?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I think, following from my previous answer, we are not able, under the federal legislation, to fix prices at the service stations. The adjustments to be made to their lease costs, due to deleting these excessive increases from the price of the gasoline before the lease costs are calculated, are only going to be made if we are totally assured that the full saving is passed on to the motorist. If those stations decide to keep their costs at the higher price, they will not benefit -- I’m sure that obviously, because of competition, they will come to the altar.


Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Are you prepared to enforce that?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Germa: A supplementary: What sort of monitoring system has the minister in place to ensure that the remissions go to the benefit of the consumer and not to the benefit of the profit picture of Imperial Oil?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t know whether that question really deserves an answer or not. I’ve stated --


Hon. Mr. Snow: -- that the decrease in the amount of the lease will only take place if we know and have proof that the saving is being passed on to the consumer. We have the calculations from Imperial Oil on the decrease it will be making in the price of gasoline at its stations. We will be monitoring this to make sure that those prices stay at that rate.

Mr. Singer: Would the minister say that the opinion he got from the people in Ottawa went so far as to say he couldn’t fix the maximum price or fix a price? Surely it’s not an offence under the combines legislation to fix a maximum?

Mr. Renwick: Or a price for this government.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Rightfully or wrongfully I have taken the advice of my legal advisers within the ministry; I think rightfully. I have read the letter from the combines branch myself. Granted it was a couple of months ago and I don’t recall the exact details, but it was certainly the opinion of my ministry that we could not enter into agreements fixing prices.

Mr. Singer: I said “maximum.”

Hon. Mr. Snow: I believe that also falls into the same category.


Mr. Deans: One final supplementary question in regard to this matter: Given that it’s our opinion that The Combines Act does not bind the provincial government, how can the minister claim that the competitive aspects of the free market have any bearing on the prices on those controlled-access highways when the stations are strategically placed far enough apart that motorists cannot possibly pass them by in order to get to the next one? What nonsense.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all, I’m going to take the legal opinion of my solicitors before I take the member’s. That’s the first point. Secondly, those service centres are not that far apart that motorists have to stop at every service centre.

Mr. Shore: No, you don’t, not for gas anyway.

Mr. Breithaupt: It is handy, if they are near Tillsonburg.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Thirdly, I expect that the press will be reporting the fact that these decreases have taken place at the Imperial Oil stations and the public will be well aware of where they can buy their gas for less, if the other companies do not follow.


Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. Can the Minister of Education tell us whether or not, in conjunction with the study being undertaken or the direction being undertaken, he has given any consideration to a further evaluation of the per capita grant structure to try to bring the elementary school system closer to par with the secondary school system, in order that there can be a sufficient amount of money available within that system to give the basic grounding in education which is required?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, of course our grant system is always under review and as a matter of fact we are in the process of having a joint group look at the grant system for financing education in this province.

Mr. Mancini: Everything you do is under review.

Mr. Warner: It is getting worse.

Hon. Mr. Wells: They’ll be meeting shortly. It’s not a formal technical group like this; it’s an input group of trustees, teachers and experts in the finance field to study the whole idea of grant systems.

Mr. Peterson: You should legislate him right out of the ministry.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Certainly one of our objectives is to make sure the elementary system has the resources to do the kind of job we know it should do and is expected to do. In fact, my friend might be interested in knowing that the thrust that we have put in the elementary school system in the past several years has led to what I saw the other day, that the pupil-teacher ratio figures in the elementary schools, taking all those who have teaching certificates, are now just a little below 19 to one, compared with just about 16.8 to one in the secondary schools.

Mr. S. Smith: There are 36 in my kid’s class because the teachers are administrating.

Mr. Shore: Bright kids.

Hon. Mr. Wells: There is, in fact, only about a difference of three in the provincial pupil-teacher ratio between elementary schools and secondary schools in this province now.

Mr. Sweeney: That is 20 per cent.

Mr. Deans: A supplementary question: In this in-house review that he is conducting, would the minister be prepared to table with the Legislature the actual pupils per class per teacher actually teaching, rather than the overall ball-park figure, which takes into account a great number of people who are either administering or who are involved in other than teaching in the classroom?

Hon. Mr. Wells: Of course, I can’t table that figure for the hon. member, because what is done at the local level, pupil-teacher ratios having been set, is the responsibility of the local school board. We are in the midst of elections across this province right now --

Mr. Deans: You noticed that?

Hon. Mr. Wells: That’s right.

Hon. Mr. Snow: We thought the member was going to be involved.

Hon. Mr. Davis: He nearly was.

Hon. Mr. Wells: The very questions the hon. member is directing here should be directed by the people to the trustees they are electing, because to a great degree they are the ones who set that kind of policy. They are the ones who decide how many teachers will teach full-time in classrooms, how many will teach part-time, how many administrative staff they will have, what kind of consultant staff and so forth. The hon. member should be putting his thrust in that direction.

Mr. Mancini: High-paid administrators.

Ms. Moffatt: You decide that.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: I would like to ask the minister why the influence of the teachers’ professional organizations is so great now, when the report which called for these changes was available to him, as it was to us, and raised in the House in the spring of 1975? Why has there been this unconscionable delay in seeing that the direction --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Has this to do with the grant system, which was the subject of the first question?

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, the question that was put to the minister first said, “On the basis of his statement, I would like to ask what the standards are.” I submit, sir, that my comment is on the basis of the statement --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question had to do with the possible increase of grants for the elementary school system, and it seems to me the hon. member’s question is appropriate but not to this first question.

Mr. Nixon: On the point that you raise, Mr. Speaker, I will of course be governed by your statement. But do you recall the hon. member who asked the question saying, “On the basis of his statement -- ”?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I have made my ruling on that. It had to do strictly with the possible increase of grants.

Mr. Mancini: Why don’t you listen to what he says?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: The question wasn’t based on the statement, Bob.


Mr. Deans: I have one final question, for the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Has the ministry done any calculation to show what the likely increase in subsidy will be if, as and when Trailways and Greyhound move into the more lucrative routes of the Gray Coach Lines?

Hon. Mr. Snow: No, we have not carried out any such study because, of course, we do not subsidize Gray Coach, Greyhound, Trailways, Stock Brothers or whoever else the hon. member is inquiring about.

Mr. Deans: Doesn’t the minister realize that many of the routes that are being provided by Greyhound --

Hon. Mr. Snow: Gray Coach.

Mr. Deans: Gray Coach, I am sorry -- are being subsidized directly from the more profitable routes that are likely to be handed over in part, if not in total, to Trailways and Greyhound --

Mr. Breithaupt: They’ve got stickers on the door.

Mr. Deans: -- and it is eventually going to have to come to the government for assistance or this public company will not be able to operate in the areas where it is needed?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t accept that fact at all --

Mr. Breaugh: Which facts do you accept?

Hon. Mr. Snow: The intercity passenger business is surviving and doing very well in the province of Ontario. I don’t believe there’s necessarily any reason that there would be any necessity for subsidies in the intercity bus systems.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary --

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Hamilton West may call it a supplementary or his main question. It is his turn now anyway.

Mr. S. Smith: I’ll call it a supplementary because that is what it is. Is the minister not aware of the public statement made by the head of the TTC, which owns Gray Coach, that it may well have to cut back the routes to Beaverton and Owen Sound and other rural and inter-urban routes because the $2 million to $3 million profit which it makes on the Sudbury and Buffalo lines will now likely be denied it and that as a consequence it will be in a losing position? Since it is owned by the TTC, the TTC deficit picture will therefore likely increase. Does the minister not see that connection?

Hon. Mr. Snow: No, I don’t. First of all --

Mr. Kerrio: Buy more stickers to advertise the loss.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- the granting by the Highway Transport Board of partial parallel privileges to other operators does not take away anything at all from the operating rights of Gray Coach Lines.

Mr. Deans: It is not going to carry the same number of passengers.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I was very surprised when several times, many times, during the estimates of my ministry members of the third party made a very strong point as to service to the public in transportation and the requirement for competition in both the bus and truck industries.

Mr. MacDonald: They are as mixed up as you are.

Hon. Mr. Snow: The Highway Transport Board considered all the evidence put forward -- the representations of many municipalities involved in this and, I think, some 70 presentations from private citizens relating to service. On the basis of its mandate, the board decided in the public interest that these additional licences should be granted.

Mr. Speaker: A final supplementary on this question.

Mr. Deans: Doesn’t the minister feel that as a matter of policy those routes which are most lucrative should not be granted to private companies over public companies unless they are prepared to take their share of the less lucrative routes along with them?

Hon. Mr. Snow: It is only natural, I think, that the hon. member’s philosophy regarding private companies and public companies and mine differ considerably.

Mr. MacDonald: It is your philosophy that is now willing to undermine public enterprise after it has been established.

Mr. Peterson: Answer the question.

Mr. Breithaupt: Who is to service the others?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I believe the companies involved --

Mr. S. Smith: Did Eddie Goodman offer to service Owen Sound too?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- offer many services on many different routes throughout this province and throughout Canada.


Mr. S. Smith: I will ask a new question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Is there any government policy whatsoever governing the movement of people by bus? Has there been any adoption in particular of the following two points. One, is there or is there not a policy in Ontario which seems to have been for one carrier on one route? Two, is the government now trying in some way to discourage urban transportation operators from getting into or staying in the inter-urban and rural fields of transportation?

Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all the policy of the government is set forth in The Public Vehicles Act under which the Highway Transport Board carries out its duties. To my knowledge, there have been no changes recently to that Act which would change any policy. In many cases, only one operator has been or is licensed to operate over a particular route. On the other hand, public bus intercity transportation has been growing considerably. It is being encouraged. It is becoming a more major mode of passenger transportation. There is no reason when service demands it, that there should not be more than one operator on any particular route.

Mr. Cassidy: There is no policy.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary: Since it seems perfectly obvious that in the recent decision by the Highway Transport Board there is a genuine threat, not only to the taxpayers inasmuch as the financial position of Gray Coach has been seriously weakened -- even as a company to sell to private enterprise -- but inasmuch as the routes in the rural areas and in the smaller areas of Ontario are now seriously threatened, will the minister delay signing the certificate which comes his way from the Ontario Highway Transport Board and is required prior to the granting of a licence, after which the appeal could take place? Would he delay signing that certificate and permit Gray Coach to make its case before some possible committee of the Legislature or before even the minister or his cabinet, so that there can be a public transportation policy in Ontario prior to this policy being made by tribunal, which is what’s happening now?

Hon. Mr. Davis: One day you want a tribunal, the next day you don’t.

Hon. Mr. Snow: No. First of all, I do not have to sign any certificate. The certificate to operate has been issued by the Highway Transport Board. It would be a normal process for my ministry on the presentation of that operating certificate to issue the operating licence. As I think I stated yesterday, under the provisions of the Act either party or any party in the action can appeal to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to delay the issuing of every licence under a certificate of the Highway Transport Board for 60 days to see whether there was going to be an appeal or not. This would delay the whole operation of the issuance of licences.

Mr. Nixon: This one you should.

Mr. Deans: Does the minister feel that maybe it would be appropriate for the government to establish a policy with regard to public transportation and set out clearly what it expects from any carrier given any licence in the province of Ontario?

Hon. Mr. Snow: That policy is very plain.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of final supplementary, is the minister not clear that we’re not asking for review of every case that comes before the board? But in this particular case, would he consider a new public hearing, as he’s permitted to do under 21(b) of the Act? Would he consider a public hearing in this case because it appears that policy is being made basically in a vacuum? Because there’s no government policy, policy is being made by an administrative tribunal.

Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all, that is totally incorrect.

Mr. S. Smith: It is completely correct.

Hon. Mr. Snow: It is totally incorrect.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Totally. That means completely incorrect.

Mr. S. Smith: I will stand on this any time.

Hon. Mr. Snow: The mandate of the Highway Transport Board in dealing with applications for operating authority under either The Public Commercial Vehicles Act or The Public Vehicles Act is related to evidence that is presented before that board.

Mr. S. Smith: You don’t care about the small sectors, do you, as long as your friends do okay?

Hon. Mr. Snow: It is related to the need to serve the public over the particular routes that are under consideration. The Highway Transport Board issued the certificate based on a great deal of evidence, on seven days of hearings, evidence put forward by both Gray Coach and the various applicants, evidence from municipal councils, resolutions, I believe, from municipal councils and evidence from the public that additional and improved service was needed on these routes. As I stated, there is a provision in the Act for an appeal to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. If that takes place, of course it will be considered.

Mr. Cunningham: Given the minister’s predisposition on this particular case, will he disqualify himself from any appeal that may go to cabinet?

Hon. Mr. Snow: I would say no to that because I have not taken any previous position at all.

Mr. Cunningham: You just said so on TV yesterday.

Hon. Mr. Snow: I have said that personally as a minister I am not about to delay the certificate that was granted by the board --

Mr. Cunningham: That’s not what you said.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- and that there are proper provisions for the dealing with this matter.

Mr. S. Smith: That’s not what he said on television.

Mr. Conway: That is not a position.

Hon. Mr. Snow: If Gray Coach is so inclined, it can appeal the decision in the proper manner.



Mr. S. Smith: A question to the Minister of Community and Social Services: Can he confirm that 60 officials from his ministry recently attended a conference in Ottawa, held by the National Association for the Mentally Retarded during the weekend of October 16, in which 14 of them were scheduled to take an active part? Does the minister feel that that is showing admirable restraint at a time when the Children’s Aid Societies and other social services are very much in need of extra dollars?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They can be flown in by Otto Lang as a courtesy trip.

Mr. Breithaupt: Does that make it right?

Mr. Nixon: They wouldn’t have to use Otto’s plane. They could use the plane that goes to Chatham every weekend.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: How about the helicopter coming to your farm?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: No, I cannot confirm that.

Mr. S. Smith: A brief supplementary: Will the minister be kind enough to look into this matter and then table all expenses related to this conference, including travel, accommodation and registration costs?

Hon. Mr. Taylor: I’d be delighted to review that particular situation and afford the member the necessary information.


Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Treasurer. Given the Treasurer’s own somewhat publicized remarks that the land transfer tax has been under review by his staff and given the dismal state of housing starts, particularly multiple-dwelling accommodation under his regime, can he explain please why he did not include in his mini-budget the removal of the land transfer tax, at least as it applies to the building of apartment buildings or other multiple-dwelling units?

Hon. Mr. Davis: There goes the support of the Star.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think it was two weeks ago that I indicated I had instructed my officials, who are working with Consumer and Commercial Relations, Industry and Tourism and Revenue, to review these two taxes to see if changes are needed. That review is not yet complete. In the meantime, I would point out -- and it must be obvious to the leader of the third party -- that we have been dealing with a number of situations by way of exemptions because we are concerned about housing in this province.

Mr. Breithaupt: Louder.

Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, directly pertinent to the temperate remarks of the Treasurer, do I take it then that the only policy the Treasurer is able to come up with to stimulate housing and multiple-dwelling accommodation is to continue by way of exemption in the hope that people will apply for these particular exemptions, and that there is no other policy to stimulate housing and construction in the province of Ontario at this time, other than these particular exemptions which the Lieutenant Governor in Council grants at its own pleasure from time to time?

Mr. Moffatt: Go get ’em.

Mr. Nixon: Did the Treasurer really get Ronto its exemption?


Mr. MacDonald: Calm down.

Mr. Speaker: Meanwhile back to the question.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The temptation is great.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re all waiting for the answer.

Mr. S. Smith: He needs time to think.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The minister has the floor and he can answer the question.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my understanding that my colleague, the Minister of Housing, spent some days before the resources development committee of the Legislature. I’m sure at that time he was able to put in front of that committee, and through them to the Legislature --

An hon. member: You should have been there.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- our record in terms of house construction, which this year is going to be up. Starts are up slightly over last year.

Mr. Nixon: It speaks for itself.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Our record in terms of a proportion in Canada is a good one. We’re disturbed that there are unsold houses in Metropolitan Toronto and elsewhere in the province in large numbers. The problem is not as much one of supply; it is one of demand. My own view would be that interest rates are having a very substantial effect on moving new housing units today. Interest rates are not something that are in the responsibility of this Legislature or this government. But I’m sure that if the leader of the third party has something constructive to add to this ongoing debate about housing construction, the Minister of Housing would be pleased to engage in that debate with him.

Mr. Warner: He is called the minister without housing.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: There is a time and a place to do it. I would say to the member that his question is refreshing because it indicates a concern for something other than the wild goose chases he’s been on for the last few days.


Mr. Speaker: Order. We’ll have a supplementary from the member for Ottawa Centre first of all.

Mr. Ruston: Jack Miner’s got lots of geese.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: He has lots of geese. Send them to your leader.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the Treasurer. Perhaps I could put the question in more general terms. Could he assure the House that his government now agrees with the Liberal Party that Ontario should once again become a happy hunting ground for foreign land speculators?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That’s not supplementary.



Mr. S. Smith: A final question following directly upon the Treasurer’s remarks: Since his exact words were that housing starts are up slightly and that the record is a good one vis-à-vis the rest of Canada --

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Stop the world. I want to get off.

Mr. S. Smith: -- and since he blames interest rates which, after all, apply equally throughout the country, how can he therefore say such things? How does he account for the fact that in Ontario urban starts in the first 10 months of this year have increased only eight per cent whereas in the rest of Canada, with the same interest rates, with the same problems in the economy, urban starts are running 20 per cent ahead of last year? Why doesn’t he admit he has no policy in housing?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Because there was a shortage but --

Mr. S. Smith: Is that a good record?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: If the member knew anything he would know that we have led this country in housing starts for a number of years. We are getting to the point where the rest of the country is starting to catch up somewhat.

Mr. Conway: Louder.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: He is not --

Mr. Conway: A little louder.


Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I would simply say --

Mr. Riddell: Have you had your shots for distemper yet?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- that this province is not always going to be ahead of other provinces in terms of growth. If we sincerely believe in this country --

Mr. Peterson: Dismally behind.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- in doing something about regional disparities, we will not always lead the rate of growth.

Mr. S. Smith: But stimulate housing, for God’s sake.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Our rate of growth in housing as a proportion of the total over the last few years --

Mr. Warner: Switch to building court houses.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- and again this year is very good. If the member would stop nitpicking and look at some of the facts which the Minister of Housing puts in front of the House, he’d be a lot better off. He’s not going to get anywhere going around with this gloom and doom --

Mr. S. Smith: Gloom and doom?


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That was the final supplementary. It’s developing into a debate. The hon. member will take his seat.

Mr. S. Smith: The incompetence of the ministry is unbelievable.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This has developed into a debate. Does the hon. member for Hamilton West have a separate question or was that the final one?

Mr. S. Smith: That’s the final question.

Mr. Singer: Shouldn’t you call the Treasurer to order after a dissertation like that?


Mr. Lupusella: To the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker: Now that the Minister of Labour has a clear view of the situation with regard to Premier Picture Frame and the injured workers being fired by the company since --

Mr. Kerrio: Darcy has given up trying for the leadership.

Mr. Lupusella: -- on November 10, 1976, I raised a question in the Legislature as to whether or not the Minister of Labour was ready to reinstate full compensation to those injured workers who lost their jobs as a result of that action and consequently were cut down by the board to 50 per cent in some cases and totally in some others --

Mr. Mancini: Speech.

Mr. Lupusella: -- can the minister tell the House what she has been doing with the Workmen’s Compensation Board to make sure those injured workers will get full compensation as soon as possible until such time as suitable employment is found by the rehabilitation department of the board?

Mr. S. Smith: You are doing well in Education and Housing, you guys. Keep it up.

Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member well knows, some of the employees who were retired from the Premier Picture Frame Company had that action taken because of their incapacity to do the job as a result of their physical limitations.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. B. Stephenson: If they agree to return to the rehabilitation process they will, of course, receive full compensation benefits during that process and until suitable employment is found. Those who were injured or reinjured themselves on the job are, of course, being compensated.

I can tell the member as well that the vocational rehabilitation officer of the Workmen’s Compensation Board is spending a good deal of time specifically with that company in order to improve the situation as much as possible for the workers who are employed there as a result of the direct action of the injured worker who is the president of the company.

Mr. Lupusella: Supplementary: Can the minister tell the House whether the board has an organized method for evaluating the quality of jobs offered to injured workers by prospective employers? Is there a blacklist of such employers and how much supervision does the board do of employers of injured workers so that the same situation found at Premier Picture Frame won’t happen again?

Hon. B. Stephenson: There is investigation of the plants themselves, of the motivation of the employers, of the kinds of jobs which are going to be made available. There are inspections carried out by the rehabilitation officers as well which are reported to the rehabilitation programme at the Workmen’s Compensation Board.

This situation, I gather, has been unique in the experience of the board and it’s one which it is looking at very carefully. We are attempting to ensure that any aberrant situation does not occur in this kind of programme but it’s a unique programme and it’s one which both the board and, I think, the employers are trying very hard to make work.


Mr. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General. Since the Bradley-Georgetown corridor hearings of necessity were called off at noon yesterday to obtain a judicial ruling on admissibility of evidence, would the Attorney General avail himself of the time between now and next April, which is the date of recall, to study the revelations made there in the last few days; namely, the evidence that Dr. Solandt owned property close to one of the corridor options in the study, an option which was dropped, and that the lawyer representing Hydro is on loan from the office of the Attorney General, as is the hearing chairman, and no such loan of personnel was offered to the farmers and landowners? Would the Attorney General satisfy himself and this House that these revelations do not constitute any conflict of interest?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am not aware of the details related to these hearings of the past two days. I assume the member is making an allegation of conflict of interest --

Mr. Eakins: No, he is just asking a question.

Mr. Mancini: He didn’t say that.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- in typical third-party fashion, creating or trying to create a cloud of suspicion and innuendo about people who are serving the public of this province to the best of their ability.


Hon. Mr. Kerr: Old Wintermeyer Smith.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will look into it.

Mr. S. Smith: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, this House has been through some very difficult days recently and I know I have played my own part in it as well, but, really, can opposition members not question the government about events which are going on which could involve possible conflict of interest -- about which we do not have information but simply suspicions from time to time -- can we not raise these questions without accusing anybody and not be accused ourselves of muckraking? Is it to be absolutely impossible to question this government?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, but don’t slough it off on a back-bencher.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question was allowed. No one denied that.

Mr. S. Smith: But we were accused. Call him to order.

Mr. Speaker: I might say that there have been innuendoes passed back and forth on both sides of the House and, really, it lowers the dignity of the chamber and the question period.

Mr. Cassidy: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Mr. S. Smith: Why don’t you ever look that way?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That behaviour doesn’t help any either, I might say. I mean the interjections. Order, please. I’m talking to everyone. I’m headed this way because the microphone is this way.

Mr. Reed: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege, I would like to make it clear to this House that I was not indulging in any innuendo. I was simply relaying information which was presented as evidence at the corridor hearings in Acton this week.

An hon. member: The Attorney General should withdraw that statement.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Attorney General said he would look into it, I’m sure.


Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources is on his way out of the chamber. I wonder if I could put a question to him?

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps he can hear you on the way back to his seat.


Mr. Germa: Is it the minister’s intention to conduct a complete review of the Frood Mine No. 3 shaft operation, as recommended by the coroner when inquiring into the death of Mr. James Cullen last week in the city of Sudbury?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I didn’t hear the first part of the question, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Could you repeat it?

Mr. Germa: Is it the minister’s intention to conduct a complete review of the operation at Frood No. 3 shaft, as recommended by the coroner’s jury in its inquiry into the death of Mr. James Cullen last week?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is our definite intention.

Mr. Germa: Could I ask the minister when the review will be getting under way?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I’ll ask my staff to give me a date on that. I should have the information by Monday next as to when it can get under way.


Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Solicitor General: Is the minister aware that OPP officers were called to Pelee Island at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 20, following a violent incident and they did not arrive on the island until November 22, which was Monday? Also, is the minister aware that because of the islanders’ frustration due to lack of adequate police protection they are threatening to form small vigilante groups?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of part of what the hon. member has asked, but certainly not all of it. I haven’t heard that last part at all. Our problem with Pelee Island is that it has a population of 644 people. During the summer months and in the fall of the year, especially during the pheasant hunting season, a large number of American and Canadian tourist-hunters frequent the island, but during the rest of the season it is relatively quiet. There is limited transportation to Pelee Island. The size of population doesn’t in itself warrant a police officer to be stationed there all the time.

I admit there are problems in getting back and forth. If there is an emergency we will fly an officer over, but that becomes a very costly operation. We are presently trying to see what we can do about improving the situation. There is a ferry that goes once a day or so in the off season, and I admit that’s the way that our police officers ordinarily have to go across. We will do what we can to give better patrol of the island, sir.

Mr. Mancini: Supplementary: Is the minister prepared to tell this House why it took two days for an officer to get over to the island, and is he prepared to report to this House what kind of police protection he is ready to offer these islanders?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had given some explanation of why it took a little time to get over to the island.

Mr. Conway: Might you send Lorne down?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I suppose we could supply them with a helicopter just to go over to Pelee Island, but I don’t think the opposition is really asking that. I have said we would see what we could do to improve it. It is not an easy situation, but I will investigate this particular matter that the member has asked about.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Should I come down, Remo?

Mr. Nixon: You spend most of your time there except when you are in Grand Bend.

Mr. Bounsall: A supplementary to the Solicitor General on this matter: Being as the residents of Pelee Island pay taxes for adequate police protection and being as it is not being provided easily in this case, would the minister consider arranging a rebate of taxes --

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I cannot hear the entire question.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We can’t hear the question here with the cross-conversations going on. Please!

Mr. Bounsall: -- so that they could at least hire some adequate officers themselves if they can’t be serviced in the normal way by the OPP?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I couldn’t hear the entire question, but I gathered it was, would we subsidize some other officers over there. Was that the question?

Mr. Bounsall: Rebate the taxes, yes. Being as there are difficulties with the OPP properly servicing that island, being as those residents pay taxes as well, would the minister consider an arrangement whereby some provincial tax rebates could go to that island in order that the people be able to provide adequate protection themselves?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: No. We will give them adequate police protection and they have adequate police protection. All I’m saying is that we can’t get an officer over there in five minutes. There are many other parts -- let’s be realistic about it; sometimes in this House the hon. members opposite just don’t realize the realities of life.


Mr. Speaker: Is there any other response to this question?

Hon. Mr. MacBeth: There are many areas where we can’t give immediate police service or where we can’t give immediate fire service. All I’m saying is we will do the best we can. But as for giving any tax rebate that’s utter nonsense.

Mr. Speaker: The member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr. Breithaupt: Why can’t we take one supplementary question?

Mr. Speaker: There was a final supplementary. This is the next turn.

Mr. Breithaupt: That was a new question, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Burr: I have a question of the Minister of Health regarding the Victoria flu vaccine, of which there are no supplies available in Ontario this fall. Since many heart patients are being advised by their physicians not to take the swine flu shots but to take their regular annual Victoria flu shots, can the minister predict when supplies will be available in Ontario?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I’m very discouraged if doctors are recommending to someone not to take the bivalent shot, because it contains the Victoria vaccine. In fact, it’s one of the safest vaccines that has been produced yet. It has a lower reaction rate, I am told, than any of the other previous vaccines have had.

I mentioned yesterday that we had ordered from some Canadian sources of supply. I’ve learned since that that contained Hong Kong and A-Victoria 75 as the basic content and that that material did arrive in Ontario -- I think 100,000 doses -- and was available through the central pharmacy. I would still say that if a doctor thinks any patient in this province with a chronic lung or heart disease requires A-Victoria 75, then that doctor should be recommending that they take the free bivalent swine flu, Victoria vaccine.

Mr. Burr: They know that.


Mr. Sweeney: I have a question of the Minister of Colleges and Universities with reference to his statement yesterday in which he claimed that the current tuition fee increase represents about 14 per cent of the costs going up to 16 per cent. On that basis how can he justify any increase for undergraduate university students, who are currently paying 26 per cent of their costs, which will rise to 30 per cent?

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I would think the member would have to indicate the particular undergraduate course that he had in mind.

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.


Mr. Riddell: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, I asked you yesterday if you would look into a matter and I thought you might come back with a report today. My question to you was, would you ascertain whether a member of Parliament can arrange a press conference for a constituent in this building, using the facilities here, at public expense?

Mr. Speaker: No, I really have nothing to say about that.

Mr. Reed: On a point of privilege, during the question period the Attorney General in reply to my question accused me -- and I can’t relay the exact words -- of indulging in innuendo --

Mr. Speaker: I think we discussed that and the member should have brought it up at the time.

Mr. Nixon: He did.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The point of privilege should have been raised immediately.

Mr. Reed: I did raise it and I was cut off, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Speaker: It is very difficult to hear with all the interference. I’ll listen to the hon. member.

Mr. Reed: Thank you. I was accused of indulging in innuendo over simply stating some revelations that were made at these hearings. I was there when those revelations were made by the lawyers. I have not got the information second-hand; I was witness to this. I think, Mr. Speaker, that the Attorney General should withdraw that accusation.

Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. Attorney General have any comment on the statement of the member?

Mr. Peterson: A withdrawal.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I certainly have nothing to withdraw, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Presenting reports.


Hon. F. S. Miller presented the annual report of the Ontario Cancer Institute for the year ended December 30, 1975.

Hon. J. R. Smith presented the annual report of the Ministry of Correctional Services for the year 1975-76.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know whether this constitutes a report but I think I said to the member for Wentworth that I had sent a certain letter. I said earlier in the week that I would table a copy of the letter I sent, so I am tabling a copy of the letter which was sent to the boards of health and those connected with it.

Mr. Deans: Will the Premier table the answer when he gets it?

Hon. Mr. McKeough presented Volume 1, Financial Statement, Public Accounts, 1975-76.

Mr. Speaker: Motions. Introduction of bills.


Hon. F. S. Miller moved first reading of Bill 171, The Funeral Services Act, 1976.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, this bill is a revision of the present Embalmers and Funeral Directors Act. The new bill does away with the distinction between funeral directors and embalmers. It creates only one type of professional, namely the funeral director.

For the information of the members, I would point out that all funeral directors in the past were embalmers.

The funeral directors will be governed in much the same way as other professionals are under The Health Disciplines Act, 1974. The bill also provides for the first time that funeral service establishments be licensed in order to control better the operations of such establishments. Hearings and appeals are provided for in all licensing matters.

Complaints by the public against licensed funeral directors or funeral service establishments will be dealt with in the same manner as under The Health Disciplines Act, 1974. The bill provides for the making of regulations governing the display of funeral supplies.


Mr. Cassidy moved first reading of Bill 172, An Act respecting Municipal Elections Finances Reform.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Cassidy: With your consent, Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer in a short statement to two other bills which I will be introducing in a minute. One is an Act respecting municipal candidates and the other one is an Act respecting the establishment of ward boundaries.

The three bills are being introduced in order to bring about a significant reform of Ontario municipal elections. There are other things which may be needed as well, including a change in the municipal elections’ date, but these are matters of great urgency.

When less than 30 per cent of the electorate normally turns out to vote, municipal government is in deep trouble. The aim of the proposals in these three bills is to provide better municipal representation; to make candidates for municipal office more accessible for people of modest means; to remove the undue advantage enjoyed by incumbents in elections which are held at large; and to prevent developers and other large contributors from exerting undue influence on municipal government.

The first bill, The Municipal Elections Finances Bill, provides spending limits for municipal campaigns which range from a maximum of $1,000 for a ward campaign in a small city to $20,000 for a big city campaign for mayor. Campaign contributions which exceed 10 per cent of the spending limit for the office being sought would be prohibited.

A candidate who violated the Act would risk losing his seat on council or, if he had been unsuccessful, he would risk losing his right to stand at the next election. In certain cases where there was a gross violation, the seat would be automatically declared vacant.


The need for this bill is demonstrated by the situation we now have in the city of Ottawa, where, by municipal bylaw, there is a spending limit of $10,000 on board of control campaigns, but where one candidate, Pat Nicol, is spending $25,000 or more on a very lush and rich campaign --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Would you please stick to the principle of the bill, don’t debate it.

Mr. Cassidy: -- violating the rules, and this demonstrates that it is not possible within present municipal powers to have an enforceable spending limit.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member is debating it now.

Mr. Cassidy: The Municipal Candidates Act, the second of the bills, is intended to make it easier for ordinary citizens to seek and hold municipal office by discouraging them from being discouraged by their employers. The bill guarantees municipal candidates the right to leave of absence from their jobs when they campaign between the nomination day and the election day. It protects them against dismissal or other disciplinary action by their employer. If someone is elected who works for a firm employing more than 25 people, he or she would have the right to leave of absence for up to five years, and thereafter to return to the job within that period.

The third bill, The Ward Boundaries Act, requires any city or municipality with a population of 25,000 or more to be divided into wards for the purpose of a municipal election, again to improve representation and to improve the access to municipal office for ordinary citizens of the province. I hope that these bills will be debated and hopefully accepted by the government.


Mr. Cassidy moved first reading of Bill 173, An Act respecting Municipal Candidates.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Cassidy moved first reading of Bill 174, An Act respecting the establishment of Ward Boundaries.

Motion agreed to.

House in committee of supply.


Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, we have two specific items in the supplementary estimates for which we would appreciate your concurrence. One item under vote 2301, item 8, is a $250,000 amount, as was announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) Monday last. It is the funds for the Isolated Communities Assistance Programme, and just to give you a brief review of how we arrived at this particular point in time with this particular package, you will recall about three years ago we introduced Bill 102 dealing with a new idea, or a structured piece of legislation that would put into place some form of minimal municipal structure in many of the now unorganized communities of the north. That was given first reading and then it was circulated to those various communities. Assistance was given to establish committees and organizations that could look at it in a very broad way to see how it would fit into their particular field and to their particular liking.

It was obvious, after they looked at it, that it left the door open for too much structure. I think that’s about as simple as I can put it. They were concerned that they didn’t have the assessment, they didn’t have the expertise, within the smaller communities, to go the route suggested in this particular bill.

They have responded with the idea, and we’ve accepted it, that we move ahead on an ad hoc basis. In other words, with a fund which could be administered by one ministry, which would be very simple to get at and one with a programme which would deal with the specific needs and the priorities of these smaller communities.

As the members fully realize, there are a number of programmes now within the various ministries of the government designed to assist the unorganized communities. I refer to the statutory labour board and the local roads board under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and recreational grants available through the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. There are a number of similar such programmes which do help the unorganized communities but there are areas in which they cannot get assistance because they have no formal municipal structure.

This particular programme is designed to meet that urgent need. I have not a specific method to announce on how it will be administered or funded. It’ll be handled by my particular ministry.

I had thought it would come under the purview of the NORT committee on which my colleague, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes), and my other colleague from northern Ontario, the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Brunelle) from Cochrane North, sit now. They would be the committee which would give final approval as the cabinet committee.

That has not been finalized yet. It’s a suggestion I’m going to make to the two groups, UCANO east and UCANO west, whom I’ve contacted and asked to sit down with me and my staff to work out the procedures.

I have to make it very clear that I want to make the procedures as simple as possible so that they can come forward with their requests. I don’t intend this particular programme to be a straight handout or welfare programme.

Mr. Ferrier: They don’t want that.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I want to make sure there is local participation, local support, for any request which comes forward.

Mr. Ferrier: They just want a return on their taxes.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s right. I’m fully prepared to do that. I see the programme as one which deals basically with capital requirements and I am going to give my priority to fire protection. I think that has to be a No. 1 priority in the isolated communities.

Of course, in this vein, the participation aspect, I think they have to be involved. The desire has to be there. They should form, maybe, a volunteer fire department as an example. We may ask them to put up a certain amount of community funds and we, of course, could put up the bulk of it to provide them with the necessary facilities and the equipment they would require to give them some fire protection.

There are a number of other areas I envisage us moving into -- possibly street lighting in the smaller communities; maybe garbage disposal; a community well. I’m sure that as we go down the road and meet with the people of the isolated communities, they will have a number of other suggestions to make to us as to how this fund can be very productive.

Mr. Laughren: Count on that.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: As the Treasurer indicated to the Legislature, this $250,000 is for this fiscal year to the end of March. In next year’s budget he has planned to put a further half a million dollars so that in the next 16 months we will have $750,000 to put into the isolated communities of this particular province -- those communities, as I said, which don’t have a municipal structure.

I’m looking forward to those discussions with the groups. We’re going to work very closely with them to get their input and to pull together a programme which is effective, simple and productive.

The next item would be under vote 2302, item 4. That’s for an amount of $19,750,000 for extra fire-fighting expenditures incurred during this past season. I’d just like to read into the record some of the reasons for these extra expenditures. The 1976 season has been by far the worst on record for forest fires. To date, some 3,981 fires have occurred, about 800 more than ever before, which burned over approximately 1.3 million acres of forest land. A period of about two years of much below average precipitation, associated with a continuous flurry of dry lightning storms which caused 2,057 fires, created a situation where instant fire starts and rapid fire spread caused very difficult fire control situations. A total of $1.5 million of private property was lost this past summer including tourist outfitters’ headquarters, summer cottages, cut timber, logging equipment, etc. The Crown timber losses are not known at this time but they are significant. We estimate those to be at about $21 million but that is only a guesstimate at this particular time.

Without the expenditure for which we are asking approval today in these supplementary estimates, the probability of human life losses and a great increase in the private property losses and the Crown timber losses would surely have resulted. That view is acceptable to the general public also. The extra fire-fighting expenditures this year were spent as follows: salaries -- $8.3 million; aircraft rental, both fixed-wing and helicopters -- about $8 million plus; replacement of fire suppression equipment -- approximately $700,000; and purchase of chemicals and fire-retardant liquids -- $500,000. The remaining $4 million was expended on supplies, communications equipment and cost of transportation of equipment and personnel.

I would only be too pleased to answer any questions that the members may have on these specific figures.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Perhaps we could deal with this vote by vote. The Chair did permit the minister to comment on both votes, but I think we should deal now individually with them.

On vote 2301, ministry administration programme; item 8, northern affairs:

Mr. Deputy Chairman: The hon. member for Nickel Belt.

Mr. Conway: Knuckle bolt.

Mr. Breithaupt: Loud and thunderous applause.

Mr. Laughren: The minister quite appropriately sketched a little bit of the background to the problems of the unorganized communities and the government’s introduction of Bill 102, which I thought was a very useful exercise. I thought they started out the right way by taking the bill across northern Ontario. At that point, I think we diverged on our analysis. I read that whole exercise, starting out in good faith but not ending up the same way. When this task force went across the north, into about 30 communities, I think they didn’t realize the enormity of the problem as they headed out; when they became aware of the enormity, they started to back off from the implementation of such a bill. I think that the citizens in those communities expressed in no uncertain terms what their expectations were from the government. The bill itself would not have fulfilled those expectations.

It’s a very difficult problem. While in opposition we still recognize, no matter who is the government in this province, that to tackle the problems of the unorganized communities is a very difficult and a very extensive problem. We have some suggestions to make. People sometimes think that it’s just northern Ontario alienation talking again, that people are just dissatisfied in northern Ontario and that that dissatisfaction is expressed through their opposition members of the Ontario Legislature. They really wonder whether or not there is that much substance to the complaints.


I think this minister, being from the north, should understand that it’s not just alienation; that the problems are real and in some cases are quite serious. In the background paper entitled, Proposals for Improving Opportunities for Local Government Services in Northern Ontario, which the minister tabled, I was struck by what was written in appendix B, where they were reiterating the problems that the communities expressed themselves when those meetings were held. I would like to quote from a section called, Local Problems and Needs:

“Among the problems discussed or noted were: land problems (small lots in old sites, poor drainage); poor physical services (expensive hydro, no communal water or sewer services); long distances from major centres and facilities (and therefore, for example, poor medical services); lack of resources for community services (fire protection, recreation, commercial outlets); low or seasonal income, ageing populations; confusion about government due to isolation.” They might have added that the government is confused about their isolation as well, because at this point it really has not come to grips with it.

In the riding that I represent, Nickel Belt, there are many examples or models that could be used for the unorganized communities. The minister is aware of some of them, like Foleyet, Gogama and Sultan, where all of those problems are present. And they are not communities of 50 people; they are communities of 500 or 600 people, which is a substantial size.

In the Legislature, I’ve always used Gogama as the example of the severity of their problems, because it’s a relatively sophisticated community compared to a lot of communities across northern Ontario. They have a Ministry of Natural Resources complex there, the Ontario Provincial Police, and a number of private homes; it’s a railway town. The government has been aware for some time that there are serious problems in that community in terms of the water supply being polluted with nitrates; and, as the minister might know, nitrates are not something that you can filter or boil out of the water. The problem is serious.

I must say that just this morning the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr) sent a note across to me containing a letter of thanks from Gogama dealing with the installation of a hydrant in the town. Shortly after the hydrant was installed, there was a major fire in the community and a service station burned down. Had the hydrant not been there -- and it’s only been there for a couple of weeks -- there is no question in my mind, and in the minds of the people who were there at the fire, that the main street would have gone up in flames in Gogama -- certainly some other dwellings around it. The people in Gogama, therefore, were expressing their appreciation for that hydrant. I said in a note to the Minister of the Environment that he should understand his ability to do good in those small communities by the installation of things such as fire hydrants and other kinds of water services.

The solution has not been resolved there yet. The former Minister of the Environment (Mr. W. Newman), when he realized the problem of the nitrates, decided that the solution was a community task. That is as close to being an insult, and as close to recognizing a double standard in this province, as I can think of. I cannot think of a community in southern Ontario where we would put in a community tap. I can’t imagine that, but that was the government’s solution to the water supply problem in Gogama.

Mr. Conway: Lorne has a community tap, but it’s a different kind.

Mr. Laughren: It’s located inside a large barrel.

Mr. Breithaupt: It’s not a tap, it’s a pump.

Mr. Laughren: The government still has not come to grips with that problem. These supplementary estimates and its northern assistance fund are not going to solve the problem. I’m worried about it, because there is no statement of principle associated with this new northern assistance fund. It’s merely that supplementary estimates that will be supplied -- $250,000 this year and $500,000 the next year. That’s not saying, for example, to the people in the small communities of northern Ontario that we believe there is a minimum level of services to which they are entitled. There is no statement like that in what either the minister or the Treasurer has said in their announcement. The $500,000 that is going to be allocated next year, to do a proper job that would service Gogama, because for the water supply we talked about a quarter of a million and if you ever put in a sewage system as well, there goes your half million dollars -- probably more.

I think that the minister should look at alternative methods of providing those kinds of services. I’ll be specific.

If, for example, in a community such as Gogama there is a potable water problem -- and we all know there is one there, and in lots of other communities -- then I think we should look at, first of all, communal water supply, which is not as expensive as getting into the full sewage system programme. Also, there is something offensive about allowing a water table to remain polluted, even though the people are not drinking the water.

In Gogama, for example, that water table is becoming increasingly polluted and the pollution is working toward the lake. Every year when they do their tests, the pollution is closer and closer to the lake so that eventually we feel that lake is going to become polluted.

It is not good enough to say, “Well, we will put in a communal water supply and you can go on using your open-bottomed septic tanks.” In the railway towns, a lot of the people have taken railway ties and built open-bottomed septic tanks. The ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, should be looking at things like the humus toilets and chemical toilets that have been developed. I think they cost around $1,000 each and I am sure the government could arrange a better deal than that. That would be much less than the subsidy that would go for a sewage treatment plant. I think it should be looked at in a serious way.

This is what is bothering me about this new programme the minister has announced. There is a subsidy of up to 75 per cent for sewer and water projects in organized municipalities. Here there is no indication of providing subsidies to the isolated communities. I think that the minister should understand that with the amount of money the ministry has, the line-up at his doorstep is going to be long, because $500,000 isn’t going to go far. If it is simply a pork barrel from which will come $10,000 for this community and $10,000 for that community, then it is not going to solve any of the serious problems.

Sure there will be recreation grants spread across northern Ontario and I suppose the minister will see it as politically advantageous to be able to hand out a $10,000 cheque to a small community. But, for example, if that was done in Gogama the people would accept the $10,000 and they would still have their water problem, they would still have their sewage problem, they would still have their fire protection problem, they would still have poor medical services, still have expensive hydro, and all the minister would be doing would be putting little Band-Aids all across northern Ontario when we all know that major surgery is what is required.

The problem has existed for 30 years and leaving it will only make it worse. I divide the problems up there into two areas. One is the areas like Sault North and the area around North Bay, which are not isolated but where the problems may even be more serious and more complex than those in the isolated communities because of the proximity to large communities and the pressures on development in those areas. In the small communities the problems are serious, but they can be looked at as a unit and other communities are not involved in the solution to those problems.

But I think that if we leave them -- and this is what is really bothering me about this -- if we leave the problems as they are now and disburse this money in $10,000 amounts all across the north, those problems of pollution and development and medical services which I outlined are going to get worse in the next 30 years. I hope that the minister, when he meets with the Unorganized Communities Association of Northern Ontario, east and west, that he will really emphasize to them the need for them to establish their own priorities.

I really think that is what is needed -- to say to those people, “Look, you’ve got 30 communities in your association, now you get together and you decide what the priorities are and then come to talk to us and we will split up the money as best we can,” rather than this other system of just handing it out according to the applications which are mailed in.

That’s not a priority system and I sure hope they will allow the Unorganized Communities Associations to establish the priorities. There’ll be some in-fighting within those associations, we can be sure, because each of those communities regards its problems as being very serious, and that’s true. I think it’s terribly important that the money not be frittered away in $10,000 amounts all across the north.

The debate has been almost friendly so far but I can tell members I’m concerned about this ministry and this minister having charge of this programme because increasingly this minister is the symbol of this Ontario government all across northern Ontario. He is the symbol of northern Ontario, more than the other northern members, because he’s a high profile minister and his responsibilities are enormous in northern Ontario. It bothers me because he does not seem to have the kind of appreciation of the problems in the north that I think he should have.

For example, it’s his ministry which is pulling out of some of the very small communities in northern Ontario. He’s pulling out his little division offices, or the little district offices. I could give a couple of examples just in Nickel Belt, Sultan and Foleyet where they are phasing out the Ministry of Natural Resources offices.

Mr. Ferrier: Out of Foleyet?

Mr. Laughren: Yes, they are phasing it out and there is almost nothing left there now.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member for Cochrane South (Mr. Ferrier) is insisting that they go to Timmins.

Mr. Laughren: No, he’s not. He’s not saying they close out the small communities like Foleyet and Sultan. It needs to be understood that in those small communities a natural resources complex, even if it employs only 10 or 15 people, is terribly important to that community, way beyond the payroll represented by those people. Symbolically it’s important as an indication that the government is aware and has a presence in that community. For them to be pulling out is a slap in the face.

I think the minister’s record on resource depletion is terrible. Whether we’re talking about mines or whether we are talking about forests and the lack of reforestation, he has not done the job he should have been doing in northern Ontario.

On the health and safety of miners in northern Ontario, the Minister of Natural Resources is very closely identified with the problems of safety in the mines. The minister has a major responsibility for that.

The trampling on the rights of native peoples is becoming identified with this minister as well because of his cavalier attitude toward their problems in northwestern Ontario in particular.

The plight of the unorganized communities is something this minister could have done something about a long time ago because of his presence in the Ontario cabinet.

We are worried about this minister administering the programme. We think his record of partisan politics is not what’s required to solve the problems in the small communities. As a matter of fact, I’ve often thought that the best friend Ed Deagle has is the Minister of Natural Resources.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: He’d love to hear that.

Mr. Laughren: The minister has encouraged that alienation in northern Ontario. He has allowed people like Ed Deagle, or has encouraged people like Ed Deagle and given him credibility across northern Ontario. The minister has increased the alienation more than any other minister in that cabinet -- more than anyone else, he has done it.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: You are being provocative.

Mr. Laughren: In northern Ontario’s isolated communities we’ll take that $500,000 and hopefully the priorities they establish will be the right ones. I don’t think that’s for the minister or me to determine; I think they should do that.

We think the real solution is for the minister, first of all, to establish a minimum level of services to which he thinks the people are entitled. The minister mentioned fire protection -- I agree that’s terribly important. There are medical services of some kind. It doesn’t have to be a medical practitioner in every small community of 500 people but there are such things as nurse practitioners or ambulance services for those people.

There is the provision of some kind of sewage and water system where there’s a potable water problem. I think that’s something which is terribly important. There are recreation facilities, of course, as well. We think the minister could establish a minimum level in principle, not that he would provide it immediately; no government could do that overnight, but he hasn’t even established that principle.


Whenever I drive down to Toronto, I drive down Avenue Road. Last week was a good example. I was in Gogama on the weekend and I drove around and went to the site of the fire and met with the people, came back down here and when I am driving down under the bypass on Avenue Road, I drive under a bypass not far north of here, and there I look out the car window, the traffic was slow, and there were pretty blue bathroom-like tiles on the walls of the underpass and I thought, my goodness, I have come from Gogama to Metro Toronto, and I have come from the problems that they have with their water supply and all those other problems which I have talked about, to a community that can tile its underpasses.

There is some kind of double standard there. I think that the minister really is only playing with the system, and as for the $500,000, I am sure he would admit that if he could get more from the treasury board, he would get more, but the fact is that at some point we have got to say that the double standard of service is simply not acceptable, establish that in principle and get on with the job of providing the kind of services that the people in the north are entitled to.

Mr. Conway: I shall try to confine my remarks to a reasonably brief period. I believe we are adjourning at noon. Just to begin --

Mr. B. Newman: Are you two sitting together?

Mr. Conway: I must begin at the end, so to speak, when I recall what my friend from Nickel Belt had to say about the symbolic importance of the profile of the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier) as somehow being more significant perhaps than that of the good and honourable member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes). A symbolic comparison like that I cannot imagine, and I don’t quite see how it is that the member for Kenora could somehow be more important in northern Ontario than our good and honourable friend from Sault Ste. Marie.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: More profile but not near the talent.

Mr. Laughren: Profiles do you more harm than good.

Mr. Conway: I certainly want to lend my support and the support of my party to the fund that has been spoken of. I have a personal experience of perhaps a slightly different kind than that of my good friend from Nickel Belt. My riding, perhaps like the riding of my good friend from Parry Sound (Mr. Haeck), whom I see seated across from me this morning, is one of those ridings which straddle that no man’s land almost, the buffer zone between southern and northern Ontario. I speak in this particular matter as a person with a foot in both camps, because my riding is anchored in the heartland of good and solid eastern Ontario but there are northern reaches which extend into the district of Nipissing and therefore put us into the geographic designation of northern Ontario. I bring to this discussion perhaps a very keen sense of some of what has been talked about, because my own background is closer to the district of Nipissing. One community in particular I think of here is Whitney, which has 1,000 people, located at the bottom end of the district of Nipissing, a community that is probably best known for being the east gate and the east entrance to Algonquin Provincial Park; a community that, as I said, has about 1,000 people and a community that really draws its basic raison d’être from the presence longstandingly of the Ministry of Natural Resources. So it is with that particular and peculiar experience that I approach this discussion this morning. Before going on at any great length, I wanted to make one or two comments about both the statement introduced on Monday or Tuesday of this past week by his worshipful Treasurer, the member for Chatham-Kent, and subsequent to that the comments made on Tuesday by the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Bernier).

In the comments of the hon. Treasurer there are just three or four points to which I wanted to make a very brief comment.

The first related to a comment on page two in which the Treasurer noted: “In many communities, no amount of rationalizing of local government institutions will make up for their resource deficiencies,” and I use that simply as a starting point to support what my good friend from Nickel Belt, who I see has left us at the present time, was saying.

Mr. B. Newman: The fine member for Cochrane South.

Mr. Conway: With the fine member for Cochrane South.

I think that that’s important, because, quite obviously, for those of us who understand the problems of the isolated communities in northern Ontario, we do not come to this discussion with a lack of appreciation for the obvious and sometimes tragic reality of the problems that these communities face. I make no apologies for that. I know the government, like the opposition, takes a reasonable approach to the historic and ongoing economic difficulties and economic realities of the scattered communities across northern Ontario. I want to begin my discussion on this with a recognition of that.

Further on in his statement, the Treasurer indicates how this fund is going to operate. I wanted, again, just to underscore the point he made on page 9 of his statement where he talks about this programme and this fund being at the “discretion of the Minister of Natural Resources.” I have to agree with my colleague from the New Democratic Party, the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), when I too express the reservation of my party and myself with respect to the discretion, not only of the minister in this case but also this department.

It has been my experience -- and it has been a personal one in many instances, having to reside in a county where we now have the presence of the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Yakabuski) -- that it is a tradition that the discretionary powers of the government at large and the former Ministry of Lands and Forests, lately called the Ministry of Natural Resources, have a political impact that sometimes I think does not operate in the public interest of the people of Ontario.

Mr. Laughren: Right on. A Tory millstone.

Mr. Conway: I hope that the situations we have seen in the past, certainly in my part of eastern Ontario, will be mitigated by less partisan concerns.

Mr. Bernier: That discretion is used mostly in Kenora.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: They are not very discreet in Timmins.

Mr. Conway: The points I have raised in this have been an ongoing concern, for example, in connection with some of the appointments made to the board of directors of the Algonquin Forestry Authority. I know many good solid Progressive Conservatives in Renfrew county and I would gladly recommend one or two to the Ministry of Natural Resources, but I am not happy with some of the appointments that were made there. I have said this many times before. That is the kind of discretionary concern of which I speak from a personal experience.

Mr. Breithaupt: If you have to do it, at least make the selection a good one.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It sounds as though you are not happy.

Mr. Kerrio: You know what the Indians say about you?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Are you unhappy too?

Mr. Kerrio: Always.

Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please.

Mr. Conway: We have had some comments from the Treasurer in his statement as to how the fund will be applied to fire protection, water provision and perhaps in a few cases to sewage or water treatment and so on. Then on page 10 he indicates perhaps a broadening of this to include support for local road boards, boards of education, community centre boards and so on. I think for me that is perhaps the most important aspect of this. In a particular case in my riding, I think again of the community of Whitney where there is a specific concern and obvious need for a broadening of some of those services that, for example, relate to education. Perhaps there should be provision of some kind of education complex that might serve the broader interests of the community, where most of the people involved are working for the Ministry of Natural Resources and where some of these needs are presently being addressed by the Ministry of Culture and Recreation.

I want to make the comment that I think and I hope that in the administration of this particular fund there will be consultation with the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. I personally am very greatly concerned about what I see as the piecemeal disbursement of small amounts to support some recreation in parts of the northern reaches of my riding, which are not going to solve any problems and which are not going to be realized because the matching payments that are required to support the installation of a much needed facility will never be arrived at. I hope and I really think there should be a close liaison between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Culture and Recreation in the operation of this fund to dovetail support; for example for a community like Whitney in establishing a new education complex that will serve a far broader constituency than just the education community.

I go on briefly, then, to a concern I have about some of the comments made by the Minister of Natural Resources in a two-page statement on Tuesday, November 23, 1976. In about the bottom paragraph of page 1, he said: “To ensure that we have covered all bases, I have already made contact with two unorganized community associations of northern Ontario.” He then talked more specifically about the prioritization of some of these concerns. I hope there is a success here that has, unfortunately, eluded this government in some areas in the past and that that prioritization has a keen sense of the many competing concerns there will be for this very limited supply of government dollars in this case. I suppose we’re caught here between two millstones, and that is, on the one hand --

Mr. Laughren: There they are, right there.

Mr. Kerrio: That’s very appropriate.


Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, please. The hon. member will continue.

Mr. Conway: We, on the one hand, in the responsible and reasonable opposition that these benches have always represented, would naturally support any amount of money for poor, forgotten northern Ontario, of that there could be no doubt. On the other hand, we must say, as the hon. member for Nickel Belt did, with his usual eloquence and impassioned commitment, that $750,000 --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Do you fellows hold hands afterwards?

Mr. Conway: -- at the most is really an insult. I can imagine in my own case the number of concerns and the number of applications that will be forthcoming. Given the discretionary role in all of this of the Minister of Natural Resources, who may or may not operate in that discretion with or without the help of the hon. member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson), I think there’s going to be a difficulty here that will no doubt at times have a political construction, whereby we could have as many as 500 applicants -- and I think the hon. member for Nickel Belt would perhaps agree that that would be a minimal amount -- for what, $500,000 or $250,000 this year? Supposing we allowed 10, 20 or 30 of those, that reduces itself to what I think is an ineffectual pittance that couldn’t begin to hope to assist the kinds of projects to which and about which the government has identified and expressed an understandable and justifiable concern in these instances.

Take for example the community I spoke of in my riding, Whitney; if it wanted to take advantage of and prosper because of this isolated communities fund then we would be looking at, to say the very least, $50,000 or $100,000 to do anything worthwhile. I can’t imagine that fund being effective in the 16-month period with the limited amount of dollars that are being provided.

I know the government is going to respond by saying that the opposition is being irresponsible, on the other hand, by calling for this kind of programme, and on the other hand by lamenting the amount of dollars that their restraint orientation has previously called for. I say to the minister there is a very serious question here, because he holds out a carrot to northern Ontario, to communities that I may send to him, hopefully, through my office.

I was interested to note again in his statement the very inviting and positive invitation which concludes his statement, that is: “I would urge any unorganized community seeking help with local servicing problems to contact their nearest Ministry of Natural Resources office, or, and perhaps better, to write directly to me in Toronto.”

I hope that they will, in my community, see fit to come to my office first so we can moderate, perhaps get to you on a more governmental level without having concern for local political considerations.

Mr. Laughren: No, no; you sure are nonpartisan.

Mr. Conway: Of course, non-political and non-partisan as I’ve always been. Unlike the member for Sault Ste. Marie I’ve always known only one kind of party politics.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: But you have known a lot of different policies.

Mr. Conway: But it seems to me there has to be a certain direction to this. There must be, on behalf of this government, a commitment either to a specific number of priorities or a far greater number of dollars. Because I’ll tell you, the impact of this programme as it now stands is going to mean, I think, a great deal of disappointment to a great number of unorganized communities in northern Ontario, which will take the government at face value, which will say that, yes, they are trying to do something and only go to find that there are, not even dollars and cents but a few loose pennies for many of the projects that would require a great number of dollars.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: In your riding they should go and see the member for Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski); he has some influence.


Mr. Conway: I’m glad to see the concern of the member for Kenora, who may be the symbolic indication of the lack of concern that this government has had in northern Ontario. But I’m telling the minister, if I come to him with a community like Whitney, we will probably want all the $250,000 he’s got until March of 1977. I’m telling him, without insulting northern Ontario, he’s either going to have to make a very specific commitment to a very limited number of projects; either that or convince the hon. Treasurer, for a variety of good and solid reasons, that a substantial number of increased dollars are going to have to be made available if the minister and his government are going to be seen to be anything more than a patch-up operation to many of these serious problems that this isolated communities fund surely must direct itself to.

With those remarks, brief and non-partisan as they have been, I would conclude by expressing, not only support in principle for the government’s proposal as outlined by the two ministers, but certainly the hope that my particular constituency will be able to materially benefit therefrom.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Chairman, I want to take part very briefly in the discussion of these particular estimates for two reasons. First, I am one who does represent a riding in northern Ontario; obviously my riding does not include any of the so-called isolated communities, but in very near proximity to that community we do have a number of these communities which I feel will certainly be interested in applying for this type of assistance.

My second interest, of course, is in relation to the responsibilities I have in the Ministry of Housing and how this programme is going to assist, as I think, and complement some of the things that we have been hoping to do in the smaller or unorganized communities in Ontario. There have been problems there that my ministry has been having difficulty with in terms or severances of land, provision of lots and, in particular, attempting to provide lots that could be adequately serviced where people want to build new homes and be able to live a more comfortable life in these smaller communities.

Part of the problem in some of these communities, as I see it, is that because they are unorganized and because they do not have sufficient funds to provide the basic services, it has been difficult to authorize people to upgrade their particular homes by allowing them to build on another lot, because those lots are not available.

The one thing that I am interested in, and I have discussed this with the minister as well as with the Treasurer, is the definition of an isolated community. As I understand this, the isolated communities will be those that are without municipal structure and are not in a position to be taken into a larger form of municipal government or municipal structure.

One of the things I am concerned about in particular as this applies to northern Ontario is that in those areas referred to by the member for Nickel Belt, other than say the North Bay or Sault North areas, there are just so many miles between these small municipalities that I will continue to urge that we do not form a very large region just for the purposes of establishing some sort of municipal structure.

We do have to provide basic services in these communities. The people are there. They are resource-oriented communities that have been established as a result of the jobs that are available for them. They are in need of water services, of fire protection or ambulance services. But before we get too caught up in this, we must maintain a considerable degree of flexibility within this programme; there must be the ability for these communities to be part of the decision-making process as to what type of service they consider to be the priority. That obviously will have to be done in conjunction with the ministry. But I say to the minister here in the House, for the record, as I have said to him privately, that I do not feel that this programme can operate totally successfully if there is going to be an army of civil servants going around with programme analyses and all of the various types of things that are carried on with a view to providing these services. I think we can do it quickly by allowing flexibility in the programme and by letting the communities set their priorities and go ahead to get the services they need.

We need different types of services in the north. I’ve gone to many smaller communities, both unorganized and organized, where they simply cannot hope to have in the future the types of services that have become conventional in other parts of this province. I’m referring specifically to water lines and sewer lines, where you have problems of excavation and the high cost of getting these in. As these communities look at the type of servicing they need -- in particular, I’m interested in water and sewer services -- I think they should be allowed to find innovative ways of handling it, as referred to by the member for Nickel Belt. The types of sewage disposal units which are coming on the market have to be looked at positively as being a part of it and acceptable to the Ministry of Environment. As well, there are the new types of on-ground services available for carrying both sewage and water to and from particular units and into a municipal service without our having to dig through the massive rock you’ll find in many parts of northern Ontario.

I think this is a good programme. I’m not going to say that I think it’s adequate funding but we all recognize there has to be a start. I recognize, as the member for Renfrew South has indicated, that there may be a great many people coming looking for money. Obviously, when you announce a programme everyone would like to get a piece of the action.

That’s the time when the member can play a real part. As he suggests, he can have them come to his office and analyse where the greatest need is, recognizing there is a limited amount of money to be applied.

There are not that many of these communities, with respect. He suggests 500 applications. There are not that many such communities in northern Ontario. We can probably handle it -- there simply aren’t.

Can the member for Timiskaming tell me if there are 500 such unorganized communities in northern Ontario? He knows full well there aren’t and that’s what I’m referring to. I regret he missed the earlier part of the debate. I am simply saying there are not 500 such communities, considerably less.

I think this is a step in the right direction to doing something for those communities. As I said at the outset, my concern is that we have services which will serve a mixed sort of development in these communities. If you talk about Sault North and the North Bay area, there are three types of residents in those areas. You have permanent residents who have their homes and own their property and live there year round. You have the cottage dwellers who use it for recreational purposes and now you have the sort in-between, the mobile home dwellers, who live in mobile home parks. These people have to be considered when you’re talking about the types of services which are going to go in and the size of these parks and where they are going to be located and how you’re going to service them.

I wanted to be on record as a northern member and as the Minister of Housing. I think this programme is definitely a step in the right direction and I join with the other members in saying that it’s --

Mr. Laughren: You must admit it is not enough.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Of course, that has been the story of the New Democratic Party since the year one -- there’s never enough.

Mr. Laughren: That is why you have nothing left in northern Ontario as well.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The only thing we’ve got enough of in this House is New Democratic members. Too many. Another thing we have enough of is the negative approach you take to everything that comes into this Legislature.

Mr. Laughren: There is ample --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Just once in my time in this House I would love to hear someone in that party stand up and say, without any reservation or qualification, “That is a good programme” --

Mr. Bain: We love you, John Rhodes.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- “carry on. We think you are doing all right.” You look for holes with the most negative attitude you’ve ever seen.

Mr. Laughren: No. That is positive. We are saying do something.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What you want to do is have everything run by a big office somewhere with King Stephen sitting at the top of it and all of you flunkies bowing down and offering up alms to his office.

Mr. Laughren: You set the example for that, not us. Yours is the party that has governed for 30 years. This is your government, not ours.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Somewhere along the line you are going to recognize that this side of the House is doing more in this province on behalf of the people than you would ever do if you were in power because you’d be so busy setting up your bureaucratic structures you’d break the province in six months.

Mr. Laughren: You are the ones who set them up.

Mr. Bain: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a few comments about the isolated communities funds. I think it is appropriate and shows that we are moving in the right direction but I feel there are some areas where constructive criticism should be made.

I have a reservation even about the title. I think the title shows the bias of the government -- isolated communities. They are not isolated communities. They are unorganized communities.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, if I may interrupt, perhaps the hon. member would give us some suggestions as to what the programme could be called.

Mr. Bain: Call it the unorganized communities fund. I think that would be much more appropriate and it wouldn’t be what I feel is a little condescending.

I think the name probably was drawn up by the Treasurer. I found some of his statements in the House on November 22, when he made the announcement, most offensive in regard to unorganized communities. For example, he said such things as people move out to unorganized communities to get away from paying taxes. Surely to goodness, the Minister of Natural Resources knows that is not true. I don’t think the Treasurer should have made such a statement in this House and misled the people of this province in such a way.

The unorganized communities of this province are important communities and vital communities, and another statement the Treasurer made shows the government’s bias.

He said the unorganized communities in many instances should be incorporated into larger municipal units. What does that mean? Shove them into a regional government. I don’t think this is appropriate. Many unorganized communities have a right to exist and prosper the same as any other communities do. Perhaps with the passage of time they might become improvement districts, but certainly there shouldn’t be any indication from your government that the best thing to do with unorganized communities is to lump them in with some other larger regional municipality.

The unorganized communities that I have in my riding are in many cases older than some of the organized communities and they have just as much esprit de corps, just as much of a soul as any organized community. The problem has been, in unorganized communities, that the government really hasn’t set up an appropriate structure. We had hoped that Bill 102 when it was introduced back in 1974 was going to accomplish this, but it seems that when you finally took it to the people of the unorganized communities you saw that it wasn’t appropriate and you started to rework it. I still look forward to a substitute for Bill 102. I think it is very much needed by the unorganized communities. I think the unorganized communities have a right to exist. The member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Rhodes) mentioned I wasn’t here for the beginning of the debate; I notice he has now left after having spoken and he won’t be here for the end and he will miss a constructive contribution.

No. 1, the title should be changed from isolated communities fund to unorganized communities fund, and No. 2, there has to be more money. You cannot conceivably say that $250,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year and $500,000 for the next fiscal year is enough money. I hope the Minister of Natural Resources will agree with us and that he will go after his colleagues in the cabinet and get more money. We certainly believe that excess spending by the government has to be trimmed, but no money that you put into the unorganized communities could ever be said to be excess spending by anyone. Thank you.

Mr. Maeck: I will be very brief; I see the clock says 12:13. However, I rise to support this particular programme. Many people in this House are probably not aware that the district of Parry Sound has 27 unorganized townships and seven or eight unorganized communities; communities such as Port Loring, Pointe au Baril, Britt, Byng Inlet and so on. These communities over the years have had a great deal of difficulty in getting any kind of community assistance. It has been very difficult for them. Anything they have done up to this point in time has been done through community effort only, through contributions from the local people. I recall going through at least three different fire-fighting association meetings with unorganized communities trying to form their own fire-fighting associations. They had no assistance whatsoever from the provincial government. They had no way of taxation at all other than to collect money for local roads, and every dollar that was raised had to be raised locally.

Mr. Laughren: Any tiled underpasses in Parry Sound?

Mr. Maeck: No, not in the unorganized areas, unfortunately.

Mr. Conway: Surely not? That will make Darcy squirm.

Mr. Maeck: For many years these people have been complaining and rightfully so. They are paying taxes to the Ministry of Revenue in the province of Ontario and they have no say at all as to how they are spent. Certainly I would have favoured some form of local government if that had been possible. I know the bill that came before the House was not acceptable to most of these communities, and was not really acceptable to me either in its form, but some day I hope these municipalities or these communities will have a little more to say about their own destiny than what they have today. But I do think we are making a start.


Mr. Conway: That will make the Treasurer squirm.

Mr. Laughren: If they make you Minister of Natural Resources that will solve the problem.

Mr. Maeck: That’s of course the opinion of the NDP but not necessarily the opinion of the member for Parry Sound. Thank you very much.

However, these people have had problems over the years. I think this is a start but a start only. I realize the funding is relatively small. It’s $250,000 for the remainder of this year and $500,000 for next year. That’s a small amount of money, but I have a little bit more faith in the government than probably the members opposite in feeling that if we need more money we should make it available to them. Certainly I’ll be working towards that effort.

Mr. Kerrio: That is because we are looking at them all the time.

Mr. Conway: Do you know more than we do?

Hon. Mr. Meen: He’s bound to know more than you do.

Mr. Maeck: I extend my commendations to the minister and I make a suggestion to him that if he follows through with the suggestion that the funding be done with advice from the northern Ontario community associations, I would remind him that the district of Parry Sound is not in northern Ontario. I would certainly like to have representation if he is going to go that route from the area that is affected in the Parry Sound riding.

Mr. Laughren: Tell them to join the association.

Mr. Acting Chairman: Shall vote 2301 carry?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, if I may, just before the vote is passed, I would like to recognize, and I’m sorry the members opposite in the New Democratic Party did not recognize the efforts of their own colleague, the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes). I just want to indicate and I want the record to show, that I’ve discussed this particular programme with him. As members know, he’s been a great advocate of a programme to assist the unorganized and unstructured communities.

Mr. Conway: Building a new alliance.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I just want to recognize his effort and his thrust in what he has done for his particular riding and for the people of northern Ontario.

Mr. Laughren: We will pass those remarks on to him.

Mr. Conway: Is he crossing the floor?

Votes 2301 and 2302 agreed to.

The committee of supply on motion by Hon. Mr. Meen reported certain resolutions and asked for leave to sit again.

Report agreed to.

On motion by Hon. Mr. Meen, the House adjourned at 12:20 p.m.