The House met at 2 p.m.
BOARD OF INTERNAL ECONOMY
Mr. Speaker: In accordance with section 82(2) of The Legislative Assembly Act, I am today tabling a copy of an order in council naming the following hon. members as members of the Board of Internal Economy: Hon. Mr. Welch, Hon. Mr. Auld, Hon. Mr. Henderson, Mr. Maeck, Mr. Breithaupt and Mr. Deans.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr. Speaker: In accordance with provisional order 36(e), the Clerk of the House has today conducted the ballot for precedence for the calling of private members’ public business and has today laid a copy of the list on the table.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
FIRE SAFETY IN JAILS
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: Mr. Speaker, I have the answer, by way of a statement, to a question asked of the Premier (Mr. Davis) in my absence in Ottawa on Tuesday of last week. The question was:
“In view of the large number of prisoners in Canada who have lost their lives over the past year while in prison, what investigations if any are being done with respect to safety features for prisoners in provincial penal institutions in the event of fire, and particularly in the older, district jails?”
The issue of fire safety raised by the member for Nipissing (Mr. Bolan) has always been a continuing concern of the staff of the Ministry of Correctional Services, and especially so in the older physical facilities which we have been replacing since assuming responsibility for them from counties and municipalities in 1968.
The three main areas of activity are: (1) rapid means of controlled egress from a facility in the event of fire; (2) staff training and development courses in the appropriate techniques; (3) as a result of recent experience, the physical provision of fire-retardant mattresses.
In terms of physical settings, our priority has been the former district and county jails of which the member speaks, together with all segregation and maximum-security areas in our more modern facilities from which egress could be difficult in the event of fire.
For example, the recently expressed concerns of the Toronto Fire Department in respect of the Toronto Jail have been complied with in almost all respects and we are working with the building committee to deal with its concerns as welt
More generally, throughout the province, whenever public institutions inspection panels report, their recommendations receive our immediate consideration. We invariably advise the sheriff in each location of what has been done to implement the PIP suggestions. Like the grand jury system before it, the public institutions inspection panel system is working very well. The panel members bring a necessary community perspective and make valuable recommendations. If, for any reason, a suggestion is impracticable, we tell the sheriff exactly why we believe it to be so.
After extensive research examination of mattress materials by the Ontario Research Foundation, we have adopted for use in our institutions a new type of fire-retardant mattress which we believe is constructed of the most effective fire-retardant materials available at present.
Meanwhile, private industry is working all out to deliver our initial orders for mattresses to our specifications. Distribution of these new cotton core mattresses has been evenly spread out throughout the province to maximum production capacity, and every provincial jail has now received its initial shipment of the new mattresses. Deliveries will be continuous, with segregation and maximum-security areas getting top priority, and with medium and minimum security facilities following in that order.
There are no padded cells anywhere in the facilities of the Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services, so that the question of replacing polyurethane wall materials has not arisen here.
It would not be in the public interest to fully describe to the Legislature the means we have adopted for the safe, rapid and efficient egress of inmates from our facilities in the event of fire, because to do so would involve serious security problems. The arrangements we have made represent a balance between individual and public safety -- the optimum balance in each separate institution. No two institutions are alike in the precise arrangements we have made.
I’d also point out that we are subject to independent inspection by competent fire and police authorities in this area of our operations.
Staff training and development is proceeding apace, both in the field and at the ministry’s regional and central staff training centre, with strong emphasis on the latest techniques and drills. Whenever incidents occur anywhere, there is a rapid and full exchange of information. Teaching and training materials and methods are exchanged and adapted as necessary to Ontario conditions.
At the field level, each institution is required to carry out a fire drill monthly, to have a fire equipment list available, to have a floor plan showing locations of all exits and fire equipment, together with the fire prevention and safety instructions.
In addition to the regular monthly fire drills, each institution must in future mount an additional fire drill during some of the frequent visits of our inspectors to our centres. These additional spontaneous drills are expected to contribute significantly to staff preparedness.
In all Institutions, staff members are required to test and visually inspect the alarm system weekly, and the firefighting equipment monthly. Backing this up, the Ministry of Government Services or a contract agency inspects the alarms and equipment annually. The local fire department safety inspector is invited to inspect the facilities within his area annually. Ministry of Government Services property management branch safety officers also visit Ministry of Correctional Services facilities regularly. When they do, they also examine fire equipment along with general building safety, checking each piece of fire equipment to see that it is of the proper type and in the proper location, according to fire legislation and codes.
All institutions are required to have a fire safety and accident committee, which must meet monthly to review the institutional situation.
Finally, all our institutions are equipped with an MSA air mask for evacuation purposes. Each institution has implemented a staff training program in its use on an intensive and priority basis, in co-operation with the local fire department.
Co-operation with the local police and the fire department staff is quite close, with both groups going through our institutions for familiarization tours.
Even with all the precautions we have taken, members should recognize we are dealing with a volatile segment of the population, sometimes containing violent and unstable elements. We are taking every precaution and have expedited and enlarged our staff training in safety areas. I appreciate what my predecessors in this portfolio have done and I intend to continue to update and modernize our facilities and equipment as rapidly as is reasonably possible.
ROBARTS REPORT ON METRO
Hon. Mr. Davis: This morning the Hon. John Robarts -- actually it was early this afternoon -- was kind enough to present me with a copy of the report of the royal commission on Metropolitan Toronto. It is a sincere and signal pleasure for me to now table that report in this assembly. I might also point out to the members of the House that Mr. Robarts, together with learned counsel and the secretary of the committee, are in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, learned counsellor being Mr. Rohmer and secretary to the commission, Mr. Cameron.
Mr. Breithaupt: It would be nice to have him back.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It might be a good influence on the member for Kitchener.
Mr. Breithaupt: It could be.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It might be an improvement.
The report of this royal commission, copies of which are being given to the members, is of great significance, not only because of the important issues it addresses but because of the stature of its author. It is, I think, particularly fitting that John Robarts should be the author of a report on the government of one of North America’s great cities. He began his career in this House in 1951 almost at the same time as the process which led to the establishment of Metropolitan Toronto was begun. As Premier 12 years later, he recognized that changes had occurred in Metro and that if Metro were to remain a world leader in urban government, it must adapt to those changes. He therefore commissioned Carl Goldenberg to review Metro, and it was Mr. Robarts who, after intensive public debate, introduced the legislation that resulted in the Metro government we have today.
I trust the House will indulge me if in tabling this report I take the time to set it in historical perspective. Metro has benefited from a system of local government unparalleled in any of the word’s cities. It has been and continues to be a vital and flexible system of government meeting the challenges of unprecedented growth and change as they arise. The fact that the original structure of Metro was not cast in stone but was modified and reformed as the need arose speaks highly of the people elected to serve in Metro and of the system itself.
On April 15, 1953, Metro Toronto came into existence. It was detached from York county following an exhaustive examination of the problems of the urban and urbanizing area carried out by the late Dr. Lorne Cumming. It was a federation of the 13 southern municipalities in York county and was given the power to deal on an area-wide basis with the services associated with rapid physical development of the area. By 1957, a commission of inquiry was able to pronounce Metro “a sound and practical approach to an acceptable and workable solution.” When viewed in relation to the chaotic state of most major North American cities, this was indeed high praise for Metro.
By 1963, when Carl Goldenberg began his examination of Metro, the need for some change was becoming apparent. He endorsed the Metro system but suggested a refinement of it to reflect the greatly increased mobility of its residents and the resulting increased interdependence of its units. On January 1, 1967, Metro, as we know it today was brought into being.
Times have changed once more. The days of rapid growth having largely passed, we are now faced with managing our urban areas in very different conditions. In 1953 and again in 1967, the changes wrought in Metro were designed to provide the services a growing metropolis needs. Now we are more concerned with the definition of the political institutions themselves. Can our urban government be held to account for their decisions? Can they assess and set priorities for the use of their resources? Are they accessible and responsive?
I have not yet read his report but I know how much effort and thought Mr. Robarts, his staff and all those who have contributed to the study have put into these and other questions and I am confident that the report will provide us with a basis for continued progress. Metro has been a leader in its form of government and has provided lessons for other municipalities over the years. I am sure that Mr. Robarts’ report will continue this trend and that the leaders of local governments in this province will look to his report as a reference as they seek answers to the governmental problems in their own areas.
In order that the report of the royal commission on Metropolitan Toronto can be thoroughly discussed by all interested parties before the province makes its decisions on it, the Treasurer has called for briefs and opinions to be submitted to him by October 30, 1977. I want to add my voice to this suggestion.
A great many people have an interest in the way Metro is governed, as witnessed by the interest generated by Mr. Robarts’ study. It is incumbent upon all those people and groups to examine Mr. Robarts’ views and let the government know of their reactions. These briefs will be studied carefully and I hope that by the spring of 1978 the province will be in a position to propose specific action on the Robarts report.
I know that this assembly will join me in thanking Mr. Robarts for his unstinting effort on this royal commission. It represents just one more example of his contribution to Canadian public life. While thanking him for his past service, I also want to wish him well on a proposed new and vital task.
If the press reports are correct, the Prime Minister of Canada has selected well in asking Mr. Robarts to advise him on those crucial matters related to Canada’s future. His immense contribution to Canada over the years established him as a great Canadian statesman. No lesser man should be called upon to help bind this country together today.
In some respects, the task on which he is embarking is similar to the one just completed. He has evaluated the political institutions that make up Metro and proposed changes to meet the challenges of the next decade. On a much broader front he will now be doing the same for Canada and its political institutions.
Mr. Speaker, the Hon. John Robarts has devoted much of his life to public service and has served this province well. Indeed, he has already contributed greatly to Canada and to the Canadian Confederation. Mr. Robarts has faced many challenges. Perhaps the one he now confronts is the most critical of all. I can assure him of this assembly’s support and encouragement in his new role.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question of the Premier, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that the report brought down by Mr. Comay and now the report by the Hon. Mr. Robarts have both confirmed the kind of criticism that we have been making regarding the delays and high costs resulting from the Ontario Municipal Board approval process and both recommend a curtailment of the Ontario Municipal Boards powers, is he planning to move quickly to curtail the powers of that board, at least insofar as Metropolitan Toronto is concerned? If not, can he give us some indication as to what his intentions are in this regard?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t read the report nor have I discussed it with Mr. Roberts. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has questioned my colleague, the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry), on two or three occasions regarding the situation in the city of Toronto and the present hearings of a specific bylaw -- or series of bylaws, I’m not familiar with all the legal niceties.
The part that concerns me, though, about the general direction of the questions is perhaps a lack of understanding that the hearing really is partially related to those people who are seeking exemptions from the bylaw, or differences from the bylaw, and if one were to curtail the activities of the Ontario Municipal Board and if we were to say by some legislative process that the city of Toronto would have total responsibility for its own bylaws and official plan amendments without some review process whereby an individual property owner could appeal the bylaws being proposed, then I’m not just sure how this mechanism would work.
The part that I don’t know that has emerged in some of these discussions is that a number of the job opportunities that we talk about in this House relate to those potential projects that certain people are seeking to have exempted from the bylaw. So, if we were to say, as a government, to the city of Toronto, “You can move ahead with that bylaw; it can go in place,” that may free up certain jobs, but I would say to the Leader of the Opposition -- I’m only guessing at this -- I would think that there would be a number of significant potential projects where the job opportunities would be very great, which is really what the hearing is dealing with, and this is where the problem becomes somewhat complex.
While Comay has suggested and while there may be some suggestion in this report that one curtails the responsibilities of the OMB, I think all members of this House would be reluctant to establish a mechanism whereby a municipality, whether it’s Toronto, Brampton or Hamilton, has the right by way of a bylaw of that municipality to move in and take away certain rights or impose certain bylaw restrictions on the member or me or anyone else as a property holder without some avenue of appeal.
That’s what this hearing at the present time is all about and that’s why the sometimes oversimplified suggestion that we just in some way in this House say to the city of Toronto “do away with the OMB hearing; your bylaw can stand in place,” would in fact discourage some of the economic activity that in potential terms exists and may result because of these bearings. I can’t prejudge what the OMB will say but that’s the difficulty we face when people say restrict the activities of the OMB. what do you say to those people whose rights are being affected in that process?
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, having every appreciation for the fact that any move is fraught with difficulty in as much as there are some people who would like to see the OMB stay in place and some who wouldn’t, the government has now had two reports. Could the Premier tell us whether he intends to move expeditiously on these two rather lengthy, expensive reports by two authorities, Mr Comay and the Hon. Mr. Robarts, to weaken the power of the OMB? Shouldn’t we be considering something along these lines either this session or very early in the next session of this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I didn’t hear in detail what the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) said about Mr. Comay’s report. Certainly as a government we are going to be studying it.
I am not sure whether we are talking about weakening the powers of the board. I think that would be an unfortunate phrase to use. I think what everybody is seeking is a more expeditious way to deal with some of the things that come before the Ontario Municipal Beard.
As I said in my statement, and I think the Treasurer has already indicated publicly, we are anxious to have submissions related to Mr. Robarts’ report. I will certainly check out those portions of it relating to the function of the Ontario Municipal Board. But I just caution the Leader of the Opposition once again that, while a lot of people I talk to would like to see things change with respect to the Ontario Municipal Board, I am still very concerned about the rights of people who can be affected by the municipalities without some avenue of appeal. I would think that the members opposite would share that concern.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the drift of those two reports that have been cited, and in view of the statements just made by the Premier about respecting local opinions but also respecting their right of appeal, can the Premier explain why the cabinet has decided to order a rehearing and start the whole process off from scratch again of the Pinecrest-Queensway rezoning in the Ottawa area --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: That’s not a supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are going into a completely separate question, a different direction. That’s a good question for later perhaps.
Mr. Cassidy: I believe this is germane. Speaker, if I could have an answer from the Premier.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. No, I think we should just restrict ourselves to a supplementary to the original question.
Mr. Deans: Given that the Premier indicated that the report and all of the recommendations were far-reaching in their implications, and I agree with him, doesn’t he feel it might be more appropriate to have the report sent to a committee of the Legislature in order that they could receive the submissions, not only from the affected Metropolitan Toronto areas but also from the rest of the province where that’s applicable, and then have the Treasurer review the recommendations of the committee rather than have the recommendations go directly to the Treasurer?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am only thinking out loud here. I think perhaps the procedure for this would be to have a proposed bill, which would be based upon Mr. Robarts’ report, go to a standing committee of the Legislature. Certainly this would be a very workable and practical way of dealing with it at that time.
I think it is the responsibility of the government to assess this report, to come up with certain recommendations that would flow from it in the form of legislation and then have this legislation go to a standing committee where that committee then in turn can discuss the proposed legislation with those who have this interest, with the various municipalities. I hadn’t anticipated this sort of a question but I think this really would be the practical way of approaching it.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary: Doesn’t the Premier feel that since the submissions that are made are more likely to be centred in Metropolitan Toronto, since the report itself speaks specifically about Metropolitan Toronto, but since we all recognize that the implications of it are province-wide, it would be easier to have the submissions submitted to the Legislature, to a committee of the Legislature, and allow the Treasurer then to get both the submissions that are being submitted to the committee and the deliberations of the committee before him in order that he might bring forward some concrete recommendations, which he then has understood to have had some widespread, rather than some isolated, discussion? Further, would he agree that if he chooses not to go that route, at least he will table in the Legislature the submissions of the various groups that are interested, so that we can see them too?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that the Treasurer would be quite prepared to make public whatever submissions are made to him by the municipalities, or whatever municipalities or groups react to it. I think it would be the understanding, of course, that whoever made a submission to the government made it clear to whoever receives that submission that they have no objection to having it made public.
I do point out to the hon. member that I am anxious for members of this House to have as much opportunity as possible to contribute on significant matters of this kind, but the responsibility for government, none the less, lies with the government; and I really think that from a practical standpoint it really is the government’s responsibility to assess the report, receive the submissions and then make a proposal by way of a bill to the members of this House.
If the hon. member wishes to see the submissions -- and I am sure there will be a number of them coming in -- related to this report, I will discuss it with the Treasurer. My own initial reaction is that they probably will be released in their own local community at the same time as they are submitted here, and I see no reason why, by and large, they would not be made available to the members when they discuss whatever it is that the government proposes to the House.
Mrs. Campbell: A supplementary: In view of the fact that the Hon. Mr. Robarts, in answering questions at the press conference stated that he had made certain assumptions based upon statements by the Premier and by the Treasurer, wouldn’t it therefore be significantly better if the whole matter were referred, as suggested, to a committee of this Legislature, rather than to have it go to the Treasurer, in the light of that important statement?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can only think of one statement -- there may have been others, of course -- that I have made or the Treasurer has made as it relates to government policy generally. I know there was one, in a very brief discussion I had within the last half hour with the author of this very excellent report, that was a matter of government policy. If the member for St. George is saying that she has convinced the member for York Centre (Mr. Stong) that she would like to move, by way of an amendment when we bring in a bill, that the boundaries of Metro take in part of his riding, being in Markham, and add it to a municipality here in Metro, I think that is something she should sort out with that member himself.
I confess, I said some years ago and I have said it more recently, that from my standpoint, and I think the Treasurer said the same thing, we have established three regional governments around Metro. I can recall going back even further than that, Mr. Speaker. I think I said at one stage that as long as I am a member from the region of Peel, Metropolitan Toronto stops on its western borders wherever it is -- I think I then included York -- and also to the east. That’s the only area, shall we say, of policy that I have mentioned. I repeat, I think Mr. Robarts sensed that his study was to relate to Metropolitan Toronto with its existing boundaries. I should alert the member for St. George that the member for York Centre feels very strongly that it should not go north. I can speak for the member for Brampton, and I think I can say for the members for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory), Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy) and Mississauga North (Mr. Jones), that they share that same sentiment.
Mr. Nixon: They say ready, aye ready.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s right. No, they say it to me.
Mr. Cunningham: Supplementary: Given that it is going to be over three years before any of these recommendations will be implemented by way of legislation, does the Premier not find that to be a long and cumbersome period of time to respond to the problems that must exist in a local government structure?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t quite understand the question. I thought I indicated in the statement we hoped to have legislation in the spring of 1978. That, if my calendar is correct, is almost nine months which is a normal gestation period, I think, for anything of great significance, at least on this side of the House. I don’t know about over there.
An hon. member: It’s not quite enough for an elephant, but otherwise it’s fine.
An hon. member: Give us twins.
Mr. Breithaupt: Better nine than five.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can speak five times.
OHTB BUS LICENCE
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question which I hope will be equally pregnant with meaning for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Can he tell us whether the findings of the Ontario Highway Transport Board concerning the Greyhound-Gray Coach matter has been submitted to cabinet? Bearing in mind his promise of April 19 that that report would eventually be made public, could he tell us when it will be made public and explain why it won’t be made public the day he receives it?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I think there are a number of assumptions there, especially the last one. I understand the report is almost completed. The chairman has had a lengthy job in writing the report. I believe there were some 7,000 pages of transcript from the lengthy hearings. As I understand from him, the report is almost ready to go to the printers. As far as I’m concerned, as soon as the report is received back from the printers I’m prepared to make it public. As to the statement by the Leader of the Opposition as to why it won’t be made public the day it is received, I really don’t know what that means.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: I may begin my question by reading from Hansard, April 19, when the minister said: “I can assure him the report will be made public, but I can’t give him the assurance it will be made public the moment I receive it.” What I want to know by way of supplementary is simply has he been in touch with the chairman of the board and indicated to him the fact that this delay is causing a severe loss for a publicly owned carrier each day that the report is delayed? Has he done anything to hurry up this report which has been buried for a rather long time?
Hon. Mr. Snow: There was a somewhat detailed process that the different parties went through following the completion of the hearings. The counsel for Gray Coach had a certain period of time -- I believe two weeks or some such period of time -- to submit his windup to the hearings. He was given the option either to submit it at that time or his two weeks would start from the time the transcript was all complete, typed and ready. The counsel preferred to wait until the transcript was ready. Then he submitted his response, the opposition submitted their response and then he had five days to respond to that before the actual hearing was complete.
Since that time, the chairman has been considering these positions put forward by legal counsel for the two or three main parties to the hearing. As I just stated, the report, I understand, is in its final stages and will be going to the printer very shortly.
WILD RICE HARVESTING
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Premier. What action does the Premier plan to take with regard to the concerns expressed by Mr. Kelly, the president of Grand Council Treaty No. 3, as they apply to a request by the Manomin Co-operative over the possibility of mechanical harvesters being used to harvest wild rice within the Treaty No. 3 jurisdiction?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I say to the House leader of the NDP that I will endeavour to get an answer for him to that question tomorrow. I can’t give him an answer at the moment because I don’t know the answer but I will get the answer.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: In order that the government can take into account all of the problem, has it received communication from Mr. Kelly, and is it ware that Mr. Kelly is vitally concerned that the individual who is going to use the mechanical harvester is out to exploit and rob the native peoples of the Treaty No. 3 area? Is the government also aware that such action will have a very detrimental effect on the economy of the Indian peoples in that area, who are accustomed to growing and harvesting the wild rice and that it is, in the main, the major part of their livelihood?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am very aware of the dependence of the native people of that particular resource. As I said to the House leader, I will endeavour to get an answer to that question for him tomorrow.
RENFREW NURSING HOME
Mr. Deans: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Will the Minister of Health review the recent takeover of the Renfrew Nursing Home with an eye to determining two things: Whether the information I have -- that there has been a drastic cutback in the number of employees as a result of the takeover -- is true; and whether, as a result of that cutback, there is adequate staff provision to take care of the elderly in the nursing home? And, finally, a question which might be jointly shared by the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Health: Since those employees had been granted collective bargaining tights recently, just prior to the takeover, should some form of successor right be imposed to ensure that employees can’t be fired? Some of them have been as the result of the sale and purchase of the home.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The latter part of the question should properly be addressed to my colleague, the Minister of Labour.
Mr. Deans: I understand that.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: With regard to the standard of care, my colleague, the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman), my parliamentary assistant, had a call on Saturday, I believe, from the member for Renfrew South (Mr. Yakabuski) who expressed concern about the difficulties at that particular nursing home. My parliamentary assistant arranged to have an inspector visit the home yesterday. He reports that everything in the regulations is being met as far as the standard of care, food, staffing and so forth is concerned, but to be doubly sure the supervisor for eastern Ontario is going there today. will report back once we have all the reports, both from the inspector’s visit yesterday and the supervisor’s visit today.
Mr. Speaker: Is the hon. minister referring the latter part of the question to another minister?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, there is no answer to the question at the moment. CUPE was the union certified for the full-time employees within that nursing home on May 27 of this year, but the part-time unit’s application was dismissed by the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
The takeover apparently occurred during the hearings before the board. I am not really sure what has transpired as a result of this.
At any rate, I do know that there is a single application before the hospital’s arbitration committee, regarding one employee who was “unfairly discharged” -- as he is alleged to have said. That is being investigated at the moment. I am not precisely sure what the status of the contract negotiations is, but we have the division of mediation and conciliation investigating this situation right now.
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question to the Minister of Health: Would the minister investigate, or have investigated when the chief inspector looks into it, the suggestion that they have now reduced the number of staff from 43 to 28, and to make a determination as to how it can be that if it previously required 43 people to comply with the Act and provide the level of necessary care how can they now get by with 28?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The hon. member posing the question really bases it on certain assumptions. I’ll wait for the reports. As I say, the report I had this morning, via my parliamentary assistant, was that in the opinion of the inspector the home was meeting the requirements of the Act and its regulations. But I think it would really be proper for us to wait for both reports to come in and then make an assessment ourselves.
Mr. Deans: Will you make that public?
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary on this.
Mr. Mackenzie: I am wondering if the Minister of Labour, in her response to part of the question, could indicate whether we can expect some kind of successor rights legislation to cover situations like this in the new labour omnibus bill?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am happy to hear that we are having a new labour omnibus bill. To my knowledge we are having an omnibus health and safety Act, but no labour omnibus bill that I am aware of.
There are successor rights presently protected within the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The extension to a first bargaining situation is something which has been requested in the past. It is a problem which we are examining at the moment.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the minister would undertake to make it mandatory for the Workmen’s Compensation Board to notify all injured workers who after eight weeks of making a claim have not received a ruling as to why they have not received a ruling and when they could receive a ruling?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I would if I could, ask the hon. member whether he is talking about a claim or an appeal on a pension, or just precisely what it is he is talking about?
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I said the word “claim” three times. I would ask the minister if she would make it mandatory for the board to notify all injured workers who after eight weeks of making a claim have not been notified by the board as to why they have not had a ruling?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would gather that it’s a medical assistance claim or a compensation claim based on an injury, rather than a pension that the hon. member is speaking about.
Mr. Speaker, we attempt very vigorously to ensure that all such claims are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. If there are instances in which it is taking that length of time to notify the individual workman that problems have arisen and no payment is forthcoming, then I shall most certainly take the suggestion of the hen, member under advisement.
SAFETY IN WORK PLACE
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that a major stumbling block in the negotiations of Local 326 Brewery Workers, in the provincial jurisdiction is the question of the safety and health of their members, and that a majority of the injuries that occur in that local are on deliveries to hotels not within the jurisdiction of Brewers’ Warehousing itself, and they are not covered under Bill 139? I’m wondering if there is a chance that we can see this particular loophole in the law plugged so that safety on the job, and not necessarily where you are, is the criterion?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am aware that the employees of Brewers’ Warehousing have made that specific information available to us, and it is a matter which we are examining in the drafting of the new health and safety legislation. There are many work places in Ontario which are not covered by the present Bill 139 or other Acts which apply to occupational health and safety, and it is our intention, and has been our intention, to examine each of those work places to see whether they are appropriate for inclusion under the Act.
Mr. Eakins: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Given the impression that he left this House with last week, that he as the minister would be content just to maintain a market position in tourism equal to last year’s, which was a disastrous year for tourism in Ontario, can the minister offer any explanation for the drop in visitors to Ontario from outside of Canada for the first quarter of this year, which is down a further eight per cent over the first quarter of 1976?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I don’t think there is any question about it that Ontario does not stand alone in the slump that we’ve experienced in the tourist market. Obviously there has been a reduced amount of disposable income put aside for the purpose of travelling. Even with Ontario’s good advertising program in the United States, and indeed in other parts of this country, we have not been successful in luring into this province an increased number of tourists, any more than they have into a great number of states in the United States --
Mr. Nixon: Who has that advertising contract?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: This past weekend and over the past couple of weeks it appears that there has been a change in direction and that the volume of American tourists coming into this province in the last period of time appears to be on the increase, exactly what we have been working for -- higher spending by tourists in the province.
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary: In the light of the minister’s reply to a question last week on the decreasing number of visitors to Ontario, when he stated that the situation has been supplemented in its numbers by Ontarians staying at home for their holidays, is he aware that in the first quarter of this year, the number of Ontarians choosing to travel outside of Canada has, in contrast to his statement, increased and that the average increase since 1974 has been 8.5 per cent? Is the ministry doing anything to encourage people now residing in the province also to vacation here?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We certainly are. We’ve been encouraging the tourist promoters, hotels, motels and other people associated with the tourist industry to put together more packages. If one reads the statistics about Ontarians going out of the province in the first quarter of the year -- and I trust the members all realize there happens to be a climatic condition in this province that does not really present quite as favourable an opportunity as it does in other parts of this North American continent --
Mr. Riddell: No, tell us about it.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: As a result, the prices in some parts of the United States are less than they happen to be in Ontario.
Mr. S. Smith: What about all the cabinet ministers going abroad?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: That we all recognize. We’ve listened to the third party talk about what it would do to stimulate traffic in the tourist industry by going to a $4 minimum wage position, which would be an even further disaster for the problem we have in this province.
Mr. Foulds: We could certainly reduce the minister’s salary to that.
Mr. Warner: Give him what he is worth -- nothing.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we can learn by the experience of the American market in putting packages together to lure tourists into the particular area where you wish to have them. Ontario has been doing a rather successful marketing job. I think the way the tourist industry has responded to putting package deals together means we’ll see a marked improvement in tourist traffic in the second and third quarters of this year.
Mr. Swart: I have a two-part question to the Minister of Community and Social Services relative to recipients of disability pensions. First, I would like to ask if he is going to permit income earned by disabled persons above the pension level plus the $60 to be deducted from the pension payable at 50 per cent rather than the 75 per cent, as recommended by his Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped. Secondly, recognizing that in reply to my previous question to allow Workmen s Compensation Board disability payments as earned income so they might also be able to retain some income over and above the limited amount that is paid to them, the minister’s reply to that was “no,” because the federal government didn’t permit it, null he be making an approach to the federal government to change that policy?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Both of those matters are under consideration by the ministry at the present time and I will report to the hon. member as soon as I have something further to say on the subject.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary: In view of the fact that this policy has been in force now for several years, doesn’t the minister think there is need for some special consideration with regard to these groups that at this time might require the provincial government at least to allow its share, even though the federal government wouldn’t permit it?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure what the member is suggesting. If he is suggesting that the provincial government proceed on a non-cost-shared basis in this particular area, then obviously I suppose that’s one option that may be open to us. But I’m not prepared, without further consideration of the matter, to make any specific commitment to him at this time. I would point out to the hon. member that although this policy and agreement between the federal and provincial governments has been in place for a number of years, I haven’t, so please give me an opportunity to look into it a little further.
Mr. Deans: That’s how you happen to avoid responsibilities; change ministers.
Mr. Bradley: A question for the Minister of the Environment; In the light of the fact that a leakage of polychlorinated hiphenyls, better known as PCBs -- highly toxic, cancer-causing and difficult-to-eliminate chemicals -- occurred in the city of St. Catharines on June 29, would the minister assure the House that his ministry will take immediate steps to require that all containers transporting polychlorinated biphenyls be lined with protective material designed to prevent leakage?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, tracks or transports hauling PCBs are expected to have special safety equipment so that in the event they are involved in an accident, such as happened in the St. Catharines area, there won’t be the type of spill that apparently occurred. I will look into that aspect of the hon. member’s question. I understand the cleanup has been successful and there hasn’t been any extra contamination as a result of that spill.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary; Since the cost and inconvenience of the cleanup that occurred because of this spill is a hardship on the particular community involved, is the minister prepared to assist by means of his ministry in the financial aspect of this?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: In a spill of this kind, Mr. Speaker, the company that is responsible for the spill is expected to compensate the municipality in the event the municipality is put to that expense.
Mr. Reed: Does my memory serve me correctly or did the minister not make a statement in this House about a year ago declaring that he was outlawing the sale and distribution and manufacture of PCBs in Ontario? Why are they still being transported within the province?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The member’s question was that there was material containing PCBs -- I believe that was the hon. member’s question. I’m not sure where, in fact, the track was going but I assume that it was for some type of disposal.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the member for Niagara Falls.
Mr. Kerrio: Is the minister aware that in that cleanup in St. Catharines the authorities spread sand on it and fired it and that it’s accepted that you cannot destroy the polychlorinated biphenyls until you fire them to 2,500 degrees in a kiln? I wonder if the minister wouldn’t take it upon himself to direct those people who are responsible for cleanups of this nature as to how to dispose of the polychlorinated biphenyls?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The hon. member is talking about destroying PCBs in furnaces -- in some sort of a contained area. It’s difficult to do it in that manner where there is a spill on the highway.
Our information is that the method they use is the safest and possibly the only method that is known to our people. Not only is there a cleanup but there is constant monitoring after that cleanup takes place to make sure that there is no contamination of the surrounding area. The soil will be monitored to see that, in fact the cleanup has been successful. But I will take the hon. member’s suggestion under advisement and discuss it with my people.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Welland-Thorold. Is this a supplementary?
Mr. Swart: Yes.
Mr. Speaker: We’ll allow this final, final supplementary on this one.
Mr. Swart: I would like to put the question to the minister; If I understood him correctly, he said that they expected the trucking company to have equipment that wouldn’t leak. Could he tell us what specific rules there are and regulations with regard to equipment handling these very toxic chemicals?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: My information is that it is a type of transport that is used in the transport of any type of hazardous material. It is contained, and it has certain extra safety devices in the event that the truck is involved in an accident so that it won’t, for example, be easily damaged in such a way that there would be a spill --
Mr. Foulds: But you don’t have standards.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Naturally this would depend to a great extent on the degree of damage. For example there was a truck in northern Ontario that was hit by a train and it’s pretty difficult not to have some type of spill from a situation such as that. But in normal conditions when there is an accident in which the truck turns over, it is supposed to be able to survive that type of accident much more than an ordinary vehicle not having this extraordinary requirement as to hazardous material.
I will be happy to get more details for the hon. member that would indicate the type of transport and the type of enclosure required for this and other types of material.
MACLAREN HOUSE NURSING HOME
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health: I would like to know if the minister can explain to this House why his ministry is permitting the continued operation of MacLaren House Nursing Home as a licensed nursing home under new ownership, when MacLaren House has never melt the standards established in The Nursing Home Act amendments of 1972?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: When MacLaren House was sold recently to a Mr. Bordo, one of the requirements of the transfer of the licence was that the present facility, which is as the hon. member says not up to the standards of the 1972 Act, he replaced. We are presently reviewing plans for its replacement.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister explain to the House why all requests to the ministry for information about the future of MacLaren House and another residence, Bellevue Residence, also owned by Mr. Bordo, are met with advice to call the new owner, Mr. Bordo? I’d like to know, in other words, why the ministry continues to leave the major responsibility for planning adequate services for elderly in the Ottawa-Carleton area in the hands of an individual businessman?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, that last assertion is completely erroneous. If the hon. member had ever taken the trouble to phone my office, I would have given her whatever information she required.
Mr. Deans: Why should she have to?
Mr. Cassidy: Why should she have to?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The point of the question is that when the facility came up for sale our staff in the inspection branch met with the prospective purchasers and made it clear that, they were to go through with the purchase, they would have to either bring the facility up to the standards of the 1972 Act or replace it. The sale went through and they are required to replace it. They have filed with our staff, and our staff are reviewing plans for a new facility: at the site of the Bellevue House I believe, to house the people presently in the MacLaren facility.
Mr. Speaker: One final supplementary. The member for Carleton East.
Ms. Gigantes: I’d like to ask the minister why, when I’ve done all I was told to do by the top officials of his ministry, that is get in touch with the new owner, not even he could describe what the new plans for those residences were going to be? Doesn’t he consider it a kind, of inadequate planning service to have a situation where a man controls three nursing homes of the 17 in the Ottawa area within a 40-mile radius but --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think the question’s been asked. It’s almost a repetition of the second one.
Ms. Gigantes: -- ministry officials can’t explain what the plans are for these residences?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The hon. member, as is the style of that party, takes a wide brush and smears all of my staff. That’s typical of her party.
Mr. Renwick: That’s not so. You don’t like being questioned, that’s the trouble.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The member for Riverdale should get off his perch.
Mr. Renwick: I have known the minister a long time and he doesn’t like being questioned.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: If one of my staff has made a mistake or has not given sufficient information, which is readily available, then if the member will let me know who it is then I’ll make sure that it’s investigated. If they are at fault they’ll be reprimanded. But don’t try to smear the whole Ministry of Health. If the member has a complaint with an individual, let me know who it is, and let me look into it.
Mr. Warner: The complaint is with you.
Mr. B. Newman: I have a question of the Ministry of Health. In view of the recent findings of the report of the Essex County Lung Association indicating that the incidence of all serious respiratory problems, such as asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, was consistently greater among 50 children tested in the city of Windsor than it was among 50 tested of the same age category and grade category in the city of London, is the minister prepared to implement a fairly substantial and systematic large-scale investigation of the possibility that air pollution may be responsible for the problems associated with the Windsor children as opposed to the London children?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I’ll wait until I have seen the report. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll find out where it is and review it.
Mr. Foulds: I have a question of the Minister of the Environment. What steps is his ministry taking in view of the research of John Wood of the Fresh Water Biological Institute of Minneapolis that positively indicates mercury pollution can be traced directly to coal-burning power plants? What steps is his ministry taking to see if unexplained mercury-contamination of many lakes in northern Ontario may be contamination by ambient vapourized mercury particles from coal-fired stations in the US and perhaps from Nanticoke?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: As the hon. member now knows, there are a number of lakes in Ontario generally, as well as northern Ontario, where there is no known source of mercury contamination. There is a theory that some of it may be by way of emissions that are airborne from as much as 200 or 300 miles away. We have a group of people who have been working since Fast year, particularly in the recreational lakes, Lake Simcoe and the Muskokas as well as northern Ontario, to see whether air emissions of that kind from anywhere on the northeastern seaboard may be responsible for the high levels of mercury in some fish
That includes all types of Hydro generating stations as well as the known or conventional industries such as Inco, Falconbridge, the steel industries, and industries of that kind where there would be a high degree of emissions over a wide area. Hopefully, we will be able to arrive at some conclusions.
I’m not completely satisfied that a lot of this mercury we’re finding is necessarily from natural rock formation. I think it is from some other man-made source and that’s why we are following up on that. But we are told by the experts that some of these emissions may be coming from as far as 300 and 400 miles away, and therefore the problem would be international in some cases.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, if I may: If the indications are of a positive nature, what action is the government willing to take or to contemplate with regard to the treaty of 1909 that set up the International Joint Commission, and which specifically agrees to a prohibition of transboundary shipments of pollution? Is the minister’s team specifically looking at the research that is already published from the Fresh Water Biological Institute in Minneapolis?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I would assume they are. I must say frankly I don’t know if our people are aware of or have looked at that specific study. I would hope there’s enough continuous communication between people in this field that they -are aware of it. Certainly it is the subject of continuous conversation and discussion at all International Joint Commission meetings, as well as committees of the IJC, the Great Lakes commission, and other such bodies that are concerned about trans-boundary pollution, and of course concerned about the condition of some of our fish as far as PCBs, mercury and mirex are concerned.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister inform the House what effect his statements today will have and what communications he will have with the Minister of Energy (Mr. J. A. Taylor) with regard to Ontario Hydro’s development of thermal, coal-fired plants at Marmion Lake and the expansion at Thunder Bay?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I don’t want the hon. member to come to some conclusion I don’t intend him to make. All I am saying is that because of the inability to pinpoint the source of mercury in many of our lakes, we are looking at all possible sources. I am not saying that a coal-fired generating station may be a source, or an oil-fired generating station may be a source, but we are looking at these in order to have a complete inventory of any possibility of mercury contamination.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker, I would direct this question to the Premier because the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch) isn’t here. It’s rather significant and I would like to ask the Premier if he is aware of the difficulty experienced in fund raising by many worthwhile charities and public service groups because of the competition from the provincial lotteries, specifically the muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis groups that are now having very great difficulty?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the Minister of Culture and Recreation to get a detailed response for the hon. member for tomorrow. He is not very far away. There have been representations made to me, to other members of the government, and I am sure to some members opposite, with respect to some volunteer organizations and their difficulty in finding ways to raise funds.
I guess the counter-argument, which we have discussed in this House on many occasions, is fine, if the decision is for us to abandon the lottery field will that in turn solve the problem, secondly, does that then do something with respect to our own cultural and recreational programs here? A number of members opposite have participated in these discussions; and they have written supporting various applications. I think the member to the left of the member who asked the question has one or two in mind right now. I just say to the hon. member it is one of the difficulties -- I see him smiling, he knows that I know --
Mr. Peterson: You know everything, Bill.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I don’t; I wish I did.
Mr. Peterson: Yes, you do.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Unlike the member for London Centre, I haven’t reached that point yet I am still trying. I work very hard, I am still trying. Anyway, I will get the Minister of Culture and Recreation to make a response. It has been raised with us by other organizations.
Mr. Peterson: May was a heavy month for Wintario.
Mr. Kerrio: Thank you, Mr. Premier. The Premier led me directly to my supplementary. Is the government prepared to assist such groups in providing much-needed funds for their various health, fitness and related community services if in fact we find that we have taken from them the ability to raise funds?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to try to help any group that has a worthwhile cause.
I give the hon. member a suggestion. Does he know what I did locally? I bought the first new Provincial Lottery ticket, but I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to keep that ticket because if I happened to win somebody across the House would say --
Mr. S. Smith: The Premier doesn’t need the money anyway.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Anyway, I gave it to the local firemen who were running a telethon for muscular dystrophy.
Mr. Deans: That’s not really a very adequate way, to have everyone buy a ticket and hand them out.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Unfortunately, that ticket wasn’t drawn, so it didn’t reap any rewards for them. But I am quite prepared, within the limits of our budget and government policy, to try and help any group that has a worthwhile cause. The hon. member knows all the limitations imposed upon us; certainly anything we would consider giving couldn’t exceed eight or 10 per cent, or whatever limitations his leader would like to impose on all of us.
Mr. Renwick: Supplementary: What about the Riverdale New Democratic Party Riding Association?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Not very worthy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I said any worthwhile organization. I don’t think you can extend it that far.
An hon. member: It’s for the needy, not the greedy.
Mr. S. Smith: They are not charitable but they are the handicapped.
As a final supplementary, would the Premier and the Minister of Culture and Recreation -- when they are considering this -- give serious consideration to the possibility of matching funds from Wintario Lottery and from the Provincial Lottery to go to some of these particularly worthwhile projects, and for that matter even to go to the united community appeals, inasmuch as there does seem to be evidence that the Wintario and other lotteries are cuffing into the kind of collection these charities could otherwise make?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not sure the last part of that statement is right. I am not quarrelling with the Leader of the Opposition. I would only make this general observation. I can, perhaps, understand Wintario cutting into those organizations that have traditionally run lotteries. But I would find it hard to understand that because we have Wintario, the Peel United Appeal is less successful. I think that would be a criticism that would reflect on all of us -- if we were to reduce our contributions because there happened to be lotteries available.
I don’t think the answer to that would be to increase the amount going from lotteries to the united appeal. I think the answer to that is, surely, to impress upon people that we do have an obligation to contribute to organizations such as that; and surely we don’t offset that by some form of government grant to the lottery.
Mr. Warner: My question is for the Minister of Health, anticipating that he wants to respond to the question which was redirected to him on Wednesday last by the Minister of Labour, I might only add to that question that the proposal has since been supported by the Hon. John Robarts --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please --
Mr. Warner: Well the question is already in Hansard, but I will repeat it. Is the minister now ready to right the inequities of funding as it applies to the public health boards within the boroughs of Metropolitan Toronto, to raise the funding level from 25 per cent to 75 per cent; and is he now persuaded since Wednesday last -- with the support of John Robarts behind me -- that this should take place immediately?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have always maintained, as has my predecessor, that we would wait to review the Robarts report on the provision of health care and then make a decision. Maybe you have read the report; I haven’t even seen it yet.
Mr. Epp: I have a question for the Solicitor General: Because various regional municipalities have requested the opportunity to appoint the majority of members to police commissions, and in view of the recommendation in the report of the Hon. John Robarts to give these responsibilities to Metropolitan council, would the minister consider bringing in legislation in the near future to give the added responsibility and autonomy to regional councils?
Hon. Mr. MacBeth: I still hope, sometime in the near future, to deal with the Police Act in a general sort of way.
The hen, member is asking specifically about regional governments. The original thought was that we would deal with regional governments after we dealt with the general municipalities concerning the structure of police commissions. However, I don’t know how it happens that so many on the other side of the House seem to have seen the Robarts report; I have not seen it yet. I know we are under-privileged in many ways on this side, but as soon as I have had an opportunity of reading the report, it may be that this will change our priorities.
Mr. Makarchuk: Under-privileged to the extent of about seven members.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to suggest that the minister could have been at the lockup this morning to receive the information.
Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Attorney General. Is the Attorney General aware that the city of Toronto’s report on places of amusement and the adult entertainment industry recommends that the province establish a royal commission to investigate the involvement of organized crime in the adult entertainment industry and asks for provincial enabling legislation to help the city to deal with the serious problems created by this industry and its possible connection with organized crime in the city of Toronto? Does he not think that an inquiry into organized crime would assist greatly in deciding on appropriate enabling legislation and action by the city?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the first part of the question is yes; and to the second part, no.
INVERHURON PROVINCIAL PARK
Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Would the minister indicate the ministry’s view with respect to the removal of the last gas shelter at Inverhuron Provincial Park? Does this signal the closing of the park to public use?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, since I don’t know the details the member is talking about, I’ll check and answer later.
Mr. Cassidy: A question of the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker. Did an official of the Attorney General’s ministry become aware last spring of evidence suggesting that certain corporations sought improperly to influence the awarding of contracts by Ontario Hydro on its Madawaska and Douglas Point contracts? Did the official inform the minister, and if so, when?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I wonder if that first part of the question could be repeated? I didn’t really understand it, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cassidy: Did an official of the Attorney General’s ministry become aware last spring of evidence that suggested that certain corporations sought improperly to influence the awarding of contracts by Ontario Hydro on its Madawaska and Douglas Point contracts? Did the official inform the minister, and if so, when?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The answer to the question is no, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Warner: He’s full of information today.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Has the minister subsequently become aware of such evidence; and if so what actions did he take?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m not aware of any such evidence, Mr. Speaker.
PSI MIND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE
Mr. Sweeney: A question of the Minister of Health: Before this Legislature closed down prior to the election I asked a question as to the ministry’s intentions with respect to the PSI Mind Development Institute. I have not yet received an answer from either the minister or any of his ministry officials. I understand that the Attorney General’s office has become involved in some way, but we still don’t know what’s happening. Could the minister please advise us?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, this was made dear by my leader, the Premier, some weeks ago, that there is an investigation under way under the auspices of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary: Will the minister be able to present to the House before the summer adjournment a statement as to the progress so far or as to the intentions of the ministry with respect to this organization?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: That should be redirected to the Attorney General, I think, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister redirects it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to provide the Legislature with a progress report as to how far the investigation has reached, within the obvious limitations that would be upon me considering the fact that it will probably be an ongoing investigation.
BECKER MILK DISPUTE
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Since she now knows, three months after it began, that the Becker Milk Company has no intention of bargaining in good faith nor negotiating in any way, what initiative is she going to use to make sure that both sides are at the bargaining table so that this dispute can be resolved?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the division of mediation and conciliation has been working very diligently with both sides in this dispute for the past three months. If there are complaints of lack of bargaining in good faith, the parties to that dispute know that they can avail themselves of the Ontario Labour Relations Board --
Mr. Cassidy: They know how useless that is.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- and that indeed they can resolve that problem. I can promise the hon. member that the mediators within my ministry will continue to work as vigorously as they possibly can with both parties to try to resolve this.
Mr. Warner: Supplementary: Since the minister does not have any new initiatives to offer, would it seem reasonable to her that one method of getting Becker’s to the bargaining table would be to ask the cabinet to cut off the flow of milk supply from the Milk Marketing Board to the Becker Milk Company; would she agree that that would ensure that Becker’s would come to the table to negotiate?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It has always been my understanding that the members of the third party were in strong support of free collective bargaining. I am not sure that the kind of stipulations suggested by the hon. member would be a part of that kind of process.
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Premier:
I wonder if he could enlighten us as to the intentions of his government with regard to the at-the-moment-off-but-perhaps-to-be-on-again Pickering airport? I ask this question in light of the statement on Friday by the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) and the statement in March by the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) that the Pickering airport is still very much alive in the government’s thinking.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am not sure they phrase it that way at all, really.
Mr. Peterson: Rephrase it your own way.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will. I always endeavour to phrase it in my own way, if the member for London Centre will bear with me, the patient man that he is some days. As far as I am concerned the status quo exists with respect to the Pickering airport.
Mr. S. Smith: Now that he has put it so clearly in his own words could the Premier tell this House whether his government is seriously considering the building of that Pickering airport and the provision of the various services that are required? If not, can he explain the meaning of the statement by the Minister of Housing on Friday that said there is “every possibility of considerable reconsideration taking place as relating to the airport”; and the statement in March by the Minister of Transportation and Communications that the airport might well be built following a study that is presently under way?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I really think the Minister of Housing as I recall his observations, was suggesting that we were awaiting, and this includes the government of Canada, the transportation study report. I don’t think there was any other indication at all. We don’t build the airport. It is the member’s colleagues in Ottawa who would undertake this undertaking if they undertook it.
Mr. Conway: Remember your national unity call.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh no, we don’t build airports.
Mr. Speaker: Please ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We help in the northwest and we help in the north. We do build and help with some airstrips, but I have to tell the member that when it comes to the prior suggestion at Pickering we don’t build that kind of airport, we don’t build at Malton. The only point I want to make, speaking on behalf of my local riding, no matter what decisions are made somewhere down the road with respect to Pickering, we don’t want to see any further runway expansion at Malton international.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE CROWN AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Kennedy moved first reading of Bill 33, An Act to amend The Proceedings Against the Crown Act
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Kennedy: This bill is exactly the same as the one introduced at the final session of the 30th Legislature. The purpose is to clarify the law with respect to the right to garnishee the wages of a Crown employee, who is employed by a Crown agency and whose salary or wages are not paid from the consolidated revenue fund, by providing that a Crown agency is subject to garnishment proceedings.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PERSONAL PROPERTY SECURITY AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Handleman moved second reading of Bill 24, An Act to amend The Personal Property Security Act.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple, straightforward bill designed to augment the personal property security system by enabling inquiry on the basis of the serial numbers of the property, whereas until now it has only been allowed by the name of the debtor.
Mr. Edighoffer: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a very brief comment on Bill 24. This bill, of course, was introduced in the earlier session this year. In the meantime I checked with a number of legal people in my riding who deal to some extent with the personal property registration branch and they certainly feel that the change would allow persons easier access to the information and would lessen the complexity of conducting a search. Today we are certainly dealing with a sophisticated computerized system and we in this party certainly agree with the change.
Actually, this amendment changes section 44 of the Act by setting out more clearly that the person may search an individual debtor index, a business debtor index and a motor vehicle serial number index.
The only other comment I would like to make is that I just received on my desk the other day a report of the director of land registration for 1974-75-76, and I noticed in that report it was already recorded that this legislation would be in effect. So we in this party certainly wouldn’t want to hinder it in any way.
I know the election delayed the legislation. We will support it, hopefully to streamline the registration and make it much more accessible to the public.
Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a brief comment. Obviously this bill is simply a rationalization of the procedure under The Personal Property Security Act. We, therefore, would support it, because obviously when a person is making a search he should make the search under the particular record which is kept with respect to the matter which is being inquired into by the person requesting the search.
We, therefore, support the bill. We also agree with the provision that the bill will come into force on April 1, 1977, and we see no need for the bill to go into committee.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Any further discussion on second reading of Bill 24? The hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank the spokesmen for the opposition in supporting this bill, and certainly I see no need for it to go to committee either. I think we are unanimous in support of the bill.
Mr. Cassidy: It doesn’t mean we support you.
Hon. Mr. Handleman: You don’t have to.
Mr. Kennedy: The people do.
Motion agreed to.
The following bill was given third reading on motion:
Bill 24, An Act to amend The Personal Property Security Act
ONTARIO YOUTH EMPLOYMENT ACT (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 11, An Act to provide Employment Opportunities for Youth in Ontario.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, I’d first of all like to say that I am very pleased to be part of this body and representing the riding that I do, Windsor-Riverside, a riding that has been represented for 10 years by the NDP and I am sure will be represented for many more years by our party.
I am especially pleased to be able to speak on this particular bill as I am probably the only member of the Legislature who fits into this age bracket. Our party supports the bill, but we support it reluctantly because we feel that something is better than nothing.
Quite frankly I’m very surprised at the very limited approach the government has taken to the youth unemployment problem, especially when one considers that 50 per cent of Ontario’s unemployed people fall within this age bracket. As I recall in going through school myself, my parents, my teachers, everyone in our society, encouraged people in the 15-to-24 age bracket to go through school to get a good education. If we did this we were told we’d be guaranteed security in Our society.
Now, in 1977 we see that this just is not true. We see now that many nurses in Ontario, and many teachers, are unemployed. We see the placements out of community colleges are down. Quite frankly, the situation is very critical in Ontario and our young people must be very dissatisfied. Younger people who do not have as much education, who have not graduated from community college or university, are in an even more desperate situation.
Let me give you an example from my practice as a social worker with the Children’s Aid Society in Essex county. I was working with a 17-year-old boy who had been looking for a job. He had left school and was looking for a job for approximately one year and was unsuccessful. During that year he looked very diligently for a job, but pretty well gave up as there were just no jobs to find. During that year the boy got involved in drugs and alcohol, and he also got in trouble with the law by stealing a car. I think that’s something that’s very typical and that if the situation is not remedied very quickly the social problems end the ramifications are just horrendous.
I think anybody who criticizes the bill must come up with alternatives. I have one suggestion: In working with this 17-year-old and many other boys and girls in that age bracket, I found that many of them did not have the basic life skills or job searching techniques. I think it would be very important for a government to introduce a program that would teach people in this bracket how to look for a job, how to keep a job, and just basic life skills.
Secondly, I think it’s very important that there be a job skills program that teaches students what they need to know so that their jobs match the market. Right now we are turning out teachers and nurses, as I have mentioned, and we just don’t need them. If you follow the suggestion of our federal government, I guess they would just all go to another country; as our Prime Minister has said, maybe they can just leave Canada; that’s not our position.
In summary, then, I think this program will do very little to solve the problem. I don’t think there is any guarantee there will be 20,000 brand new jobs created from this program. In any case, even if there are 20,000, they’re not long term jobs. They’re jobs that will most likely disappear in the fall. So the jobs will be short-term; they won’t solve the unemployment problem for our young people and they are not the approach that this government or this province should be taking. Thank you.
Mr. Nixon: I wanted to make a couple of brief comments on the program, since I’ve had a number of complaints from the agricultural community in my own constituency.
With the news of the program to assist in hiring additional help for summer employment, the first reaction was good, until the farmers concerned attempted to use it. In attempting to prove that the young people they were hiring were in addition to those they ordinarily would have hired, they found that that proof became practically impossible. The only place where it would apply was in instances where farmers had hired offshore help, usually Jamaican help, in the years previous and this year, instead of the offshore help being hired, because the federal policy is changing and these people are not being allowed to come into Canada for the harvest, they had an opportunity then to hire Canadian people to do the same jobs that were done by others the previous year.
Then, of course, they had a bona fide case in which they were hiring Canadians who were not hired previously and evidently the money was paid. But neighbours who had been hiring young Canadians last year or the year before were not eligible for assistance because the jobs were not new. it’s an instance, it seems to me where the program had been established without sufficient thought. There have been other instances involving the farm community where it becomes obvious that it simply is impossible to apply it in any reasonable and meaningful way.
I wanted to quote briefly from a letter that appeared in the Windsor Star on June 21 under the Letters to the Editor column, entitled: “Youth Employment Program More Tory Window-Dressing?” Of course, I would leave you to answer that, Mr. Speaker, yourself. It was signed by Edith Woodbridge and Edwin Woodbridge. I want to quote briefly from it:
“Sir: We are perplexed about the government’s Ontario Youth Employment Program. As potato growers anti shippers, we applied for student harvest workers in various job descriptions even though the application forms seemed to be ambiguous. We were asked on the form if we had previously hired seasonal student workers and, of course, we had. Now we have received a phone call from a Mr. Ball and an associate who were trying to decide if we qualified to receive approval for this subsidy. After some discussion, they decided we did not qualify but they did not seem to have adequate answers for our questions.”
Without reading the whole letter, I can simply read from the summary in their own letter.
“Our specific questions now are: How can a farmer create new harvest work of sufficient quantity to engage a person or persons in the above-described time blocks that has never been done by summer workers before? What farmer could replace himself with one or even six untrained students who know very little about farming? What farmer can afford to replace himself as a worker even at a subsidized rate? How can you give a job description of the many special tasks that a farmer does in a day, a week or a season? And finally, will the public even be given a list of those farmers who manage to qualify, along with a complete job description of the jobs filled?”
That’s the end of my quote from the letter from Mr. and Mrs. Woodbridge. It’s a well-written letter and I intend to send a copy of it to the hon. member who is looking after the legislation and applying the program.
I hope he has received other complaints from the farm community, because I feel the concept was a good one as far as stimulating employment in farm work is concerned, and providing at the same time some assistance to hard-pressed farmers who would like to employ young people locally but feel that under the circumstances they cannot manage the expense. I feel that if no changes can be made in the program for this present season, and I would hope certain changes could be made, that there can be an improvement in the situation so that it would be more useful in the agricultural community.
There are many young people who want jobs on the farm and if we can arrange the regulations and the application of the program to encourage that, certainly I, as a farmer myself and as an employer of young people in certain aspects of the harvest, would be very glad to assist.
The last point that I would like to make has to do with my own operation. The time when we employ young people on a per-hour basis is during the hay season and bringing in straw bales to put in the barn. It’s rather haphazard as far as time blocks are concerned and if there were some convenient way whereby this assistance would be made available to farmers -- not myself but to the farmers who operate in our area in this particular way -- then I would be glad to give the benefit of my experience to the minister or anyone else who is looking for ways to amend the bill and the regulations to make it more useful.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the bill, with a number of reservations. The bill itself seems to be extremely vague and the situation with young people is serious enough that you’re almost forced to support anything the minister brings forward that might provide jobs. But really, it is an ineffective, almost Mickey Mouse type of operation. The grants, as I read the bill, seem to be very strictly on application, and the control and enforcement are almost non-existent. I don’t see what kind of an investigative procedure the government will have to ensure there is not deliberate misuse of the program.
I can’t see where the program will provide any permanent jobs for young people. It’s a very temporary measure. The jobs are likely to be almost entirely at the lowest rate of pay, at the lowest pay level. There is almost no way I can perceive of this program leading to any real permanent employment or permanent jobs for young people. I have an uneasy feeling that the program is likely to amount to no more than a taxpayer subsidy to either marginal small businesses or to those well enough established to be able to pay their own way and with enough expertise to take advantage of every tax break that’s possible.
There’s really nothing in the bill that gives any incentive to the development of jobs that have any real purpose, either in a productive way or in a socially useful way. As a matter of fact, I suspect that there is more likelihood of it being used by smaller fly-by-night or non-productive operators than by legitimate businesses. I wonder how many pinball machine operators will be applying for help under this particular bill.
I want to say that the fear, and perception, of misuse is very real and I’m serious when I raise this in the House. I’ve had a number of complaints raised with me already and I’m not sure just how we go about investigating them. For example, self-service gas station operators in the city of Hamilton and restaurants in the city of Hamilton have laid off people working in most cases at the minimum wage and told them to come back at the end of September or early October; and the replacements are mostly students. The people who are coming into these places tell me that the people they’re hiring are students. Whether or not they’re getting the dollar-an-hour subsidy I’m not sure; but if they are, then it sounds to me very much of a ripoff. I just don’t see what kind of a guarantee we have that such abuses won’t exist; and what is the likelihood of prosecution in the event that they are? The possibility of success in a prosecution is probably even more of a question mark.
Surely there should be a more permanent and more productive approach to jobs for young people. Why didn’t we take a look at this or why couldn’t we? I don’t think it requires an awful lot of ability to take a look at services to people and somehow gear the jobs to older or handicapped or mentally-retarded people. We know there is a problem in the reforestation area. Why couldn’t we put more emphasis in this particular area and have young people’s jobs in this particular field?
The environmental cleanup program is another area where we could have made some direct use of this kind of program and the jobs could have meant something. To business and service operators who provide real service, why not offer an ongoing incentive, for example, to provide those of dedication and proven effort with continuing employment at maybe better rates as they finish the initial period? Finally, why not also make provisions for the use of this kind of a program for one area that’s caused me an awful lot of problems in my constituency that is those people with physical handicaps of a variety of natures, or epilepsy, who’ve gone through 60 or 70 job searches and still found nobody who would take a chance on them? Why couldn’t we have used this kind of a program with some of the emphasis in that particular area?
Surely a subsidy bill should give hope to some of those in real need and in many cases it could provide surprisingly committed workers. I hope it provides a few jobs. I’m really wondering if we’re not just switching jobs around in this particular bill. I’m amazed at the government’s lack of ability to come up with a really good program that does recognize some of the needs and some of the socially useful jobs that could be pi aced out there to help people who could be placed in socially useful jobs.
Mr. Mancini: I am pleased to rise to speak on this bill, An Act to provide Employment Opportunities for Youth in Ontario. I would like to take this opportunity to say I’m very pleased that my colleague from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) read the letter in the Windsor Star as I believe the individuals who wrote that letter were from the great riding of Essex South. I also would take the opportunity to say there are many other farmers in my constituency who brought the same problems to my attention. If this type of program is going to be envisioned as any type of success at all on the farms, I hope the people in charge are going to take immediate action to make changes
I also would like to mention that many of the individuals I know in the service industries, such as restaurants and take-out counters and other businesses of that sort, find it very difficult to use this program. I believe the reason is that due to the tourist season, which is a summer season, business in some sections of the towns and townships of my riding is on the increase and therefore they have to hire more staff, but not necessarily more staff than they had to hire the year before; or else they have had to lay off staff due to the tourist season being down. If we are ever going to support small businesses and if we are ever going to get serious about helping small businesses, I think that we are going to have to make our legislation tailored around the needs of these individuals I have mentioned.
I also would like to say I have had some of the same problems brought to my attention by the people who operate golf courses. I just wonder whether more consideration could be given to them.
Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I too want to make a few brief comments on this bill, which previous speakers from our party have indicated we intend to support, but we support it I think rather grudgingly because it is so meagre and inadequate.
Times have changed so dramatically in such a short period of time. When I graduated from school in the mid-sixties we went into a veritable cornucopia of jobs. Jobs abounded for young people in this province. It was only five years later that the first emergency job-creation program for young people was brought into effect by the federal government -- the LIP program. The situation had changed that dramatically in that short period of time. Today, six years after that, we are into what you could call YEP, son of LIP, another temporary and in many respects irrelevant job-creation program.
The tragedy of youth unemployment is not going to be solved by LIP-type programs or YEP-type programs or any other short-term emergency ad hoc programs. The problem of youth unemployment is not going to be addressed until we begin as provincial and federal governments to address ourselves to the real structural problems of the Canadian economy; until we begin to deal with branch plantism and continentalism; until we deal with the very real facts of the withering of Ontario’s manufacturing industry; until we deal with the folly of our resource management policies which consign us to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the advanced industrial economies in other parts of the world. Until we address ourselves to those problems, we are not going to be able to provide jobs for our own young people.
This isn’t the time to get into a full-scale debate about that whole set of concerns. But it needs to be said, or at least alluded to, because that’s the issue and that’s the question that this bill or any other temporary job-creation program fails to address itself to.
I have some very specific concerns that I want to touch on in relation to accountability. Other speakers have expressed the apprehension and anxiety that this scheme, rather than leading to creation of new jobs, will simply be a transfer of existing jobs from presently employed workers to young people seeking summer employment because of the opportunities for subsidization. There are no real accountabilities built into the program to prevent that kind of thing from happening. There will be after-the-fact auditing, as there was with the first-time home owner grants, but it is not good enough.
We have said in this party for a good many years that there is a place for Ontario in manpower policy and manpower programs. We have tried to outline that role as having a special concern for hard-to-place target populations especially vulnerable to unemployment, one of those target populations obviously being young people. There is a role for Ontario in manpower policy and manpower programming with respect to young people in this province. One of the sine qua nons of a job-creation program, it seems to me, ought to be an integration of the program with some kind of placement service. In the long run, we have called for Ontario to set up its own facilities for target groups:
For young people, for ethnic minorities, for the handicapped, for cultural and ethnic minority groups.
In the short term it would be possible to have a program such as this linked with Canada Manpower. There are all kinds of advantages which would have been possible had this program been integrated from the outset with Canada Manpower. There would have been a screening capacity built into the program right from the start to prevent the laying off of currently-employed workers and their replacement by temporary summer students. It would have been possible, secondly, for young people who are looking for work to be able easily to avail themselves of a job in a community like mine, in an urban industrial area, unlike many other parts of the province.
It’s a totally baffling and bewildering process to obtain summer employment, to know where these jobs are, to know how to hook yourself up with a job. It’s entirely feasible for somebody to spend, without exaggerating too much, the entire 16-week period trudging around looking for a place that has one of these wonderful jobs available. It would have made a lot more sense to me had the program been integrated with Canada Manpower right off the bat and these jobs specially earmarked and advertised so that applicants would have been easily able to obtain these jobs.
I think we are going to find that in the absence of an adequate placement facility there have been abuses on a fairly large scale; abuses of job transfer, abuses of layoff, abuses of people taking advantage of the subsidy to replace existing workers and to avail themselves of subsidized and low-cost summer employment over a 16-week period.
Despite all of these derogatory remarks, we intend, nevertheless, to support it on the principle that, as has been said, something is better than nothing; but it’s not much better than nothing.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Lake Nipigon.
Mr. Stokes: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I would like to compliment you on your election to the role of Deputy Speaker in this House. I know that we served in the last Parliament and you co-operated very well with me. I want to wish you well in your new post and I am sure you will do an adequate job on behalf of all members of the Legislature.
Mr. Cassidy: We hope you match the lustre that the member for Lake Nipigon gave the post.
Mr. Stokes: I want to speak to Bill 11, and it’s very very difficult to speak to a bill of this nature when one would like to draw attention to an area that it doesn’t cover rather than an area that it does. I see the Clerk of the House grinning, knowing full well that on previous occasions I have had to be watchful that people were speaking to the principle of a particular bill.
But I think it is incumbent upon me, as a representative of a riding in northern Ontario with special, specific and unique situations; where in some respects we have the same problems of providing youth employment as is the case whether it be in Bellwoods or Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, but they are unique in as much as it really doesn’t require a subsidy such as is outlined in the provisions of Bill No. 11. It does require a large degree of co-ordination between all of the ministries and agencies of the provincial government in concert with their counterparts at the federal government level, if these job-creating programs are going to work.
One in particular I would have liked to have drawn to the attention of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller), and it’s most ironic that it doesn’t require a subsidy at all, it requires the dispatching of available manpower to areas of the province where there is a great need for employees. In this case it could enlist the aid of students, whether they be secondary school students or post-secondary school students.
I think it incumbent upon me to remind all members of the Legislature that we are spending several millions of dollars on extra firefighting forces for a contingency or an emergency that was to have developed this summer as a result of very low water levels and predicted very low levels of precipitation. That hasn’t happened in many areas of northern Ontario at the present time. We have expended large amounts of funds and we have people standing by in the event we should have a serious outbreak of fires jeopardizing our forestry resources. Those moneys are being spent by the forest protection section of the Ministry of Natural Resources when the timber branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources are experiencing extreme difficulty in recruiting a labour force in order to plant thousands and thousands of trees that are going to have to be burned or buried --
Mr. Conway: Along with the charter.
Mr. Stokes: -- yes -- because of our inability to recruit a sufficient labour force in order to perform those tasks.
So on one hand you’ve got the Ministry of Natural Resources spending millions and millions of dollars on emergency fire-fighting forces standing at the ready for fires that really aren’t developing as a result of heavy rainfall in the last few weeks, while another branch of the same ministry is crying for people to plant trees that are going to spoil if we don’t get them into the ground within the next few weeks.
So I’m not asking you to spend more money at all. I’m asking you to talk to your colleagues; particularly in the Ministry of Natural Resources, where if you talk to the district managers, if you talk to the unit foresters, they would give their right arm in order to be able to enlist the services of these people you’re trying to attract. It doesn’t even require a subsidy. You’re talking about offering a subsidy of $1 per hour for every student who qualifies under this program. We have a minimum need of at least 150 people, just in my own area of the province where students can make between $45 and $50 a day planting up to 1,000 trees in an eight-hour period.
It doesn’t require a subsidy. As a matter of fact, if you don’t rationalize your efforts and co-ordinate your efforts with other agencies and ministries of this government and their federal counterparts, you’re going to be sitting by spending millions of dollars on emergency fire-fighting forces that aren’t being used for the purposes for which they are intended simply because somebody goofed -- and I suppose it was the weatherman. On the other hand, you’re going to have literally millions in nursery stock that have been pulled cut of the ground, that have been kept in cold storage, that are going to outlive their usefulness; and you’re losing money on both ends of the spectrum.
So all I’m saying, Mr. Speaker, is that we’re spending an awful lot of money trying to create jobs by this Act to provide Employment Opportunities for Youth in Ontario and all you have to do is get in touch with the Ministry of Natural Resources, all the district offices and say how many youth do you require? All it will require will be a movement up to Geraldton, Terrace Bay, Nipigon, Atikokan or any place where there are district offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources. You will be providing job opportunities for many youths across the province and you will be doing a great service to the Ministry of Natural Resources in allowing them to recruit the necessary staff to plant trees.
In keeping with the recent announcement contained in the charter that was announced by the Premier (Mr. Davis) during the last election campaign, let me remind you, Mr. Speaker, there was a commitment that two trees will be planted for every one cut down.
Mr. Conway: I think that was just Tory hyperbole.
Mr. Nixon: Did that make a great impression up in your area?
Mr. Stokes: That was the impression that was given by the charter.
Mr. Nixon: That’s what it said.
Mr. Stokes: Yes; but I am told the ministry people consider it completely unrealistic, and now I understand the Ministry of Natural Resources is starting to hedge on that commitment.
Mr. Gaunt: So much for the charter. money is involved in this at all. I am offering the government a solution that will provide many jobs for youth in the province of Ontario without spending a cent, other than perhaps a little bit of assistance, even a loan, to get them into the area where we need people so badly for such useful undertaking as planting trees. All I am saying is that if there was some more co-ordination within the various ministries of government we could be satisfying the employment needs of a good many youths across the province and it wouldn’t cost us a penny. All the ministries have to do is talk to one another about it.
Mr. Makarchuk: I just have a few points I wish to make on this bill which stem from my being a member of the public accounts committee. It seems to me whenever the government embarks upon some major giveaway program it always develops into abuses. It seems that every ripoff artist in Ontario manages to take advantage of the program. Part of it -- and this was pointed out in the Auditor’s report -- is the matter of just sloppy mismanagement that goes on when the government embarks on a program that is not well planned, is not well designed and for which it is not prepared. By and large, in many cases the programs are designed more as election gimmicks or to meet what the government considers rather temporary situations or to alleviate some of the temporary problems. Consequently, what the government ends up with is handing out money to people who really do not deserve the money and who do not qualify under its regulations.
The government’s own internal administration is very sloppy in these cases. This is pointed out particularly in the first-time home buyer’s program. I have a feeling when the smoke on this particular program settles down -- and the Auditor may look at the program, and perhaps it might be advisable to ask him to look at how this program was managed -- we are going to find the same kind of problem developing in this program.
I think some of the recipients of the program, and this has been discussed earlier by my colleagues from Hamilton, do not qualify for it; and some of the people who are getting money are laying off other people in order to take advantage of the program, which as I understand it is against regulations of the program. I would hope this time the government cautions these people and advises them that when the day of reckoning comes, when it has the time
Mr. Stokes: I am just wondering why are we playing around. I don’t know how much and the staff to leek at these things, if they are abusing the program now there is no way they are going to get away with it in the future and that they will be forced into positions where they will have to pay back the money. I think it is advisable to caution them now. It happened in the first-time home buyer’s program where everybody went into it. It looked like a good deal. Then when they were advised they did not qualify for the home buyer’s grant or some strings were attached or some red tape problems developed, then all sorts of other problems developed. The government ran into a very great difficulty collecting some of the money.
So just a word of caution, I hope the government administers this program in a better way than it did before. There is something about the Tory party in terms of handling public funds that even when it is giving them away it manages to abuse the system, it really cannot do it properly. What I am asking in this program is to try to bring some sense to it now and see where the money goes instead of having to deal with the problem later on.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to pass along my congratulations to you on your selection as Deputy Speaker of the House. I know you will rule with a firm hand and do a fine job for all of us. I for one appreciate the efforts you have put into the job.
I think perhaps the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) and the youth secretary (Mr. Jones) could join together and call themselves Johnson and Johnson, since they, better than anyone else around here, can produce Band-Aids. I have yet to see anything more than a Band-Aid approach from this government towards what has to be the most serious situation that faces this province.
If I take it that the base of an industrial society is the work force, and the base for economic growth is having the citizens at work in useful employment, then I take it this government has a disgraceful record -- particularly disgraceful in light of the fact that this is supposedly the richest province in this country of ours. Yet for all its riches, we are faced with some Band-Aid approaches.
We are faced with trying to rectify a situation whereby annually we have tens of thousands of young people out of work. I don’t know how long it is going to take before the government comes to grips with the real problem. It cannot expect because one piece of legislation supposedly is going to supply 20,000 jobs in a small period of time, that somehow it is going to solve what is a greater problem.
I don’t know how long it will take before this government finally comes to the realization that youth jobs are part of an overall labour picture, that they are part of long-term planning process, and that if one wants to employ specifically students for a specified period of time, the most useful way to do that 15 to involve them in a larger, broader program.
If, for example, we are talking about the development of housing and recognizing that we have a desperate need for an adequate supply of affordable housing, whatever program we set out for the construction of that housing is going to have a youth component to it -- a student component, a section whereby students will be employed. We are going to plan that; we are going to work out the arrangements with the construction trades involved; we are going to work out the arrangements with the people who are constructing the houses, and we are going to ensure that a certain percentage of the total work force will be students and that they will have a specified number of jobs to perform over a particular period of time. The same would take place in reforestation and in every major section of our economy.
There is a drawback to it, a very serious drawback. To date this government has never recognized that it has to have development of secondary industries related to the natural resources. Until it comes to that, until it is ready to settle upon developing those secondary industries and having some Canadian control over them so that it is not going to allow those jobs to be drained off to the United States, then it can’t ever address the total problem of helping to employ students. It can’t possibly do that.
If, on the other hand, the government can take a firm grip of the whole thing and can say it is going to ensure those secondary industries are developed, and it is going to ensure the jobs are here in Canada and they are not exported to Norway and the United States and Japan, then it frees the government up to make the kind of planning that it needs to make. That frees it to plan out those jobs.
They needn’t all be in the summer. No one ever said they had to be. The government probably realizes now that many school systems have started into a semestering system whereby students are freed up at various times of the year, not just in the summer, and that there are certain types of jobs that lend themselves to being done in times other than the summer.
But the government has ignored all of that. Instead it has concentrated on the Band-Aid we have in front of us. My fear is that this can he used very easily by someone to ripoff the government.
It’s very important that the dollar subsidy is not going to the student but to the employer. Because you offer an extra dollar doesn’t mean that a student is going to get more than minimum wage. In fact if it is possible for an employer to do so, he will hire at the lowest rate possible, which could be part-time students. The student is going to work 40 hours a week -- for whatever, 16 weeks -- and get classified as part-time and be paid less than $2.65 an hour; and the company is going to get $1 an hour. It’s costing them what -- $1.50 an hour to pay the student? If there is some way to relieve full-the workers of their jobs that’s what will happen.
Someone mentioned there’s a very legitimate -- I know, the secretary’s all upset over there because he looks on page 3 and sees there will be inspection and there are powers of the inspector. But I submit, Mr. Speaker, that it is entirely possible for someone to say, “Business fell off in the month of June and I had to let someone go. I had to let two or three people go. But miraculously, business picked up in July and so I had to hire more people and I hired those students who would be subsidized by the government.”
That’s all very convenient and I don’t know how you prove that’s an incorrect or an invalid statement. I suspect it’s a very difficult job for whoever is doing the inspection to prove that the person’s statement is incorrect, to prove that business did not fall off and that he was undermining the work load and the work efforts of the people who had previously been hired full time. I think it’s a very dangerous situation.
What disturbs me more than the potential abuse -- because one way or another through the public accounts committee or whatever that abuse hopefully is going to be turned out and dealt with and those people who inflicted the abuse upon us would be dealt with properly -- what bothers me more than anything else is the principle of this whole thing. I think it’s wrong that we should segment student work; deal with one year at a time or one season at a time; with no continuity, with no sense of where we’re going, no sense of what the purpose behind all of this is.
What is the government trying to do? Is it trying to keep students off the street? It is obviously not trying to supply them with a decent wage. It will find that many of the students who are working this summer will not earn a sufficient amount of money to meet the OSAP requirements set out by this government. One government program does not supply enough money to meet the earning requirements of another government program in order to continue post-secondary school education, so the government is obviously not gearing up its program to meet the financial needs of the students. I really wonder why it is bothering.
The program is going to make a small dent in the total number out of work. Perhaps the secretary has figures different than mine but I submit that we are probably looking at 100,000 young students, young people, out of work this summer, and he’s got a program that ostensibly provides 20,000 jobs. That’s different from 20,000 people employed full time for 16 weeks. I would prefer some clarification, Mr. Speaker, as to how many weeks of work we’re talking about, not just 20,000 jobs. Is each one of those jobs for 16 weeks and what fraction of the total unemployment figure for young people will that reach?
Then of course the question that automatically follows: What about the rest? What is the government going to do about the remaining number of students who are unemployed? For example, if those students are going on through university is the government going to continue the inequity that they cannot claim having been unemployed in the summer as a reason for still receiving a grant in the OSAP program? Will that penalty still be in place?
The government is saying that the best they can do is provide 20,000 jobs. But there may be 100,000 out of work, and some of the remaining 80,000 will be post-secondary school students who still require money in order to attend their college or university, and now of course they will require more money because they haven’t been employed for the summer. Will the inequities still remain in that OSAP program? Perhaps the secretary has a suggestion. Perhaps he’s very forcibly going to present to the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott) the suggestion that those students who have made a job search, those students who have met all the requirements of the Canada Manpower office will not be penalized, that they will be able to receive their grant and loan at the levels they had originally applied for.
I know that you, as well as the rest of us in here, are very concerned about the level of unemployment, not just for today but because of what it does for the future. When I think of what those young people must be going through -- to be unemployed, not just last summer but the summer before, and again this summer; and then with the aid of a heavy loan or help from relatives to continue their education at a post-secondary institution; and then to graduate without hope of being able to get a job in the field for which they are trained. I wonder what kind of an impression that leaves on the mind of that young person?
I suggest that as this Legislature applies the Band-Aid put out in front of us, we may solve the problems for 20,000 people this summer but we’ll be back here again next summer applying another Band-Aid. This government has failed, and failed miserably, to develop a long-range policy for jobs and to develop an adequate policy to meet the needs of young people who really want to work. The jobs aren’t there.
These are people who really want to contribute to our society and it seems that every time they turn they’re pushed aside by this government. The government throws up its hands and says we can’t do anything about losing jobs. We can’t do anything about the jobs going to the United States or Norway or Japan, because that’s the free market and we wouldn’t want to disturb it one lime bit. So we come back time after time and examine one Band-Aid after another.
At some point in time we’re obviously going to run out of Band-Aids and the patient is going to die. Before that happens, my only hope is that this government dies.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Conway: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Like my predecessors in this debate, I would like to congratulate you on your elevation. You shall, I know, grace this chamber with your avuncular wisdom and very careful judgement in the not-too-distant future.
I didn’t want to enter into this debate on such a morbid note as was placed by my hon. colleague from Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Nixon: He said everybody’s dying, didn’t he?
Mr. Conway: Yes. There was a terribly, terribly morbid quality about that.
I want to take this opportunity, as someone not too far removed from eligibility to this youth employment program, to speak about the general problem of youth unemployment.
Mr. Nixon: He is too young to be a member.
Mr. Conway: Well it proved in 1975, at least for one member of this House, to be an answer to the problems of youth unemployment.
But this is a serious conundrum, not only for those involved in government but also for those in the private sector.
Mr. Cassidy: God save us if that became a general answer to the problem.
An hon. member: Put your teeth back in your chin.
Mr. Conway: Michael, not for a moment would I wish to talk about what it is I’d like God to save us from in this Legislature.
Seriously, and I think obviously as Statistics Canada’s studies of spring 1917 have indicated, we face in this western industrial society of which Ontario is a part serious problems in the next generation insofar as employment of a permanent nature for the young in the society is concerned. While I can share with all the members of the Legislature the obvious inadequacies of this or any other government program I must support the import of Bill 11, having full regard to an excellent contribution made by my hon. and distinguished colleague, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), who drew particular, and I thought very careful, attention to the inadequacies as they relate to the agricultural community.
I also want to say that I thought the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) made a very good point when he talked about the need for co-ordination. I listened the other day with a great deal of interest to a report from one of the leading northern Ontario foresters who made very clearly the point that the quotas established for this year by the Ministry of Natural Resources in reforestation -- which as we all know was a matter of some significance in the debate of May-June of this year -- are not going to be met. They’re not going to be met, apparently, because they simply are not able to have the manpower to do that. That seems to me a real shame.
The lack of priority in Bill 11 is, I think, bothersome. There does not seem to be any focus or any clear indication as to a series of priorities which the government might have in the public sector -- or, as this bill would direct, in the private sector. It is, to that extent, a very ad hoc proposition which I think is failing in that respect.
I answered, this morning, a letter I thought rather interesting from a senior municipal official in my riding who has served on the minister’s advisory board of LIP. He made a series of comments that I thought were especially pertinent.
I regret that I don’t have that letter with me, Mr. Speaker, but one of the things he was very concerned about was this lack of co-ordination in many of these youth programs. He was speaking of the young Canada works program or whatever the specific title of that program is. I think there is a real need -- I know there is in my own area -- for a real co-ordination at all levels of government, and certainly of the private sector, to provide some degree of focus to these programs, make-work or otherwise.
One problem we have in the Ottawa Valley, certainly in Renfrew North -- and I know many of my colleagues in the more remote sections of the province face this difficulty always in dealing with government in particular -- is getting the message across. I must give the government credit for a fairly successful advertising program in this respect. I must admit a certain degree of cynicism during May and June when I kept seeing these large, splashy ads relating to this particular program in all of the newspapers in the county and surrounding areas offering the goodness of one William C. Davis to the people who also, at the time, were exercising their franchise -- and who did so so very wisely.
I would encourage a continuance -- in fact, a stepping up -- of that campaign because we do have a problem with many of our people not being aware of the program, particularly in the smaller communities where the communication is not as immediate as it is in the larger centres. I realize there is an obvious difficulty in that, but I would urge the minister to do the utmost, to the best of his ability, to convey this to all parts of the province. I know that many of the people in my riding who could benefit from this are in very small and remote areas, involved in the natural resource economy in particular. They may not -- the goodness and diligence of their member in the Legislature notwithstanding -- be fully aware of the programs that are being introduced to improve the employment situation for young people.
Again, the co-ordination of these programs is extremely important. One of the things I think we’re facing more and more as this kind of a program becomes more common is a lack of public confidence in the capacity of government to effectively administer this kind of program. The member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) I thought very appropriately drew attention to this and this government’s particular inabilities to function administratively in this respect.
There is a growing cynicism among the public, particularly the business sector, that this particular government simply lacks the administrative competence to see a program like this through to something of a positive conclusion.
Ms. Bryden: This bill deals with only one part of what was presented in the April 19 budget as a youth employment program. Now, Mr. Speaker, in May, there were 134,000 people in Ontario between the ages of 15 and 24 who were unemployed. There were about 300,000 total unemployed, so the youth employment problem amounts to almost 50 per cent of the total unemployment problem.
It is very serious that that many young people in our province are unable to find work, but it seems that the government just doesn’t really care. If you look at their program in the budget, it doesn’t add up to very much.
There is first the Experience 77 program, which was first advertised to produce 10,400 jobs. In the budget they added a mere additional 2,350 jobs, making a total of 11,492 according to the budget. If you add the figures they gave originally, of 10,400 and add 2,350 you don’t get 2,350 jobs added, so their statistics seem to be a bit out of whack.
The second part of their package is what they call their normal summer replacement program which last year was 9,300 jobs. In the budget they promised to add another 700 -- not a very great addition.
Their third program was to add 1,000 jobs to the Ontario Career Action program which originally was only going to provide 1,300 jobs. This is a program that is supposed to help young people gain experience, but it certainly only scratches the surface if there were only 1,300 planned and only 2,300 under the budget.
Their fourth program was something called Home Services for students to help the aged and the handicapped. All they are offering in this very important area is 250 jobs. It is supposed to be a new program but I have had a number of inquiries in my riding from students who would like to participate in this program and we have been unable to find where one gets an application or what sort of services it covers.
You get referred by the ministry to your local municipal social service administration, because they are to administer this program. But I discovered when I approached the Metro social services that really this wasn’t a new program at all; that there had been a program announced last fall by the Minister of Community and Social Services to help senior citizens stay in their own homes. There was no particular dollar figure announced on that, but he was going to have a great program to save the province money by keeping senior citizens in their homes and keeping them out of homes for the aged and nursing homes.
Well, this program apparently has been working its way through the municipal planning and social service department, but in Metro Toronto it hasn’t even got off the ground because the ministry finally said that they would give them a certain sum of money but it would stop on March 28. The Metro social services department thought that a program that was announced last August and hadn’t really got going and was going to run out of money on March 28, 1977, was hardly worth getting going.
Now, in the budget on April 19, they have reannounced in different words what appears to be the same program, but Metro social services still is not ready to accept any applications, has no application forms and, while students expected to be employed in this program during the summer, the summer will be gone before they even get an application form. So that is another part of the youth employment package that appears to be rather a bust.
We come to the one that is covered by this bill, the Ontario Youth Employment Program. It is supposed to provide up to 20,000 jobs. In the previous programs that I have listed the total increase in jobs was 4,300, so this is how the minister gets up to approximately 25,000 new jobs provided through the budget. As I have shown, some of the 4,300 aren’t going to materialize and I am not very sure about the 20,000. We all know that nobody is going to hire people unless they feel they are going to be able to sell the goods or services that they provide, and in the present state of the economy there is not very much prospect for expansion.
In fact in the provincial Treasurer’s (Mr. McKeough) latest statement, which he calls reaffirming Ontario’s budget strategy for 1977, he admits, and I quote: “Significant levels of unemployment still exist in Ontario. High levels of unemployment are concentrated among the young, often those with no skills and little experience.” Then he goes on to say: “Although Ontario unemployment in May remained high at 7.3 per cent, this was attributable entirely to many more people than expected entering the labour force. As a consequence, I have had to revise upward my forecast of average unemployment for the year to 6.7 per cent.”
In his original budget, he estimated an average of 6.3 per cent; and that was only last April, before the election. It seems to me that what we should be having before us is not this bill but a bill to provide a much more comprehensive program to put our 134,000 young people to work. Offering, as the budget does, 25,000 jobs, many of which may never materialize, is only, as my colleague said, a Band-Aid for 134,000 young people out of work.
The government just doesn’t seem to care that we have trained school teachers coming out of training colleges: we have trained nurses coming out of nursing colleges; we have librarians coming out of library school -- I was told that only half the class that came out this year at the university have jobs so far. The nurses’ situation is much worse, and the teachers’ also; in fact we are facing teacher layoffs, as we all know. Community college graduates are having great trouble finding jobs. We have all these trained young people coming out and we are not going to make use of their services, we are going to let them be underemployed or unemployed. Mr. Speaker, that is the greatest waste of human resources that we can contemplate.
It seems to me that it would pay in the long run to put these people to work, to use their talents and their training and to get them started gaining experience in their careers. They could be used in the services that have been starved by cutbacks and that need additional help, rather than spending the money on this kind of a program, which in my opinion will probably mainly subsidize business profits.
Let me point out some of the flaws in this proposal: In the first place, there is no aid to any public sector activity at all. As I have just mentioned, the young people who are teachers, nurses, librarians and many community college graduates, are trained for jobs in the public sector, jobs that are badly needed in this country; but this program will not give a penny to any public sector employment; it only goes to businesses and to farms.
Secondly, there is no requirement as to how long one must employ a student or a young person if one takes them on under this program. One can take them on for a couple of weeks and collect the subsidy. There is no permanent job provided and even no summer job provided, but an employer is simply subsidized for a very short period. As most people know -- and students particularly know this -- if one wishes to apply for OSAP, student aid, one is expected to have worked for 16 weeks in the summer. In the calculations of financial need they allow for earnings over 16 weeks. It seems to me this bill should tie in with that requirement and that anybody who qualifies for this subsidy should be required to provide at least 16 weeks employment.
Thirdly, there is no protection in this bill against abuse whereby an employer can lay off some of his present employees and hire new young people and have their wages subsidized by $1 an hour. This will not make any change in the unemployment picture but will simply displace people who are not in the 15 to 24 age group. There is no guarantee, in other words, that it will mean any new jobs. I think it symbolizes the type of approach this government takes to stimulating the economy and to solving problems of employment. It simply subsidizes business profit without putting any strings on the handing out of the money to make sure its objectives are reached.
One of the things that young people need is what might be called a leg up or a career start. We need a great deal more of that and there is some virtue in a subsidy program to encourage employers to take on young people in jobs that will become permanent so that the employers can train them on the job. It seems to me that would have been a much more sensible way of meeting this problem than this particular kind of hand-out.
I do want to point out also that in connection with this legislation the government has displayed a rather typical form of arrogance as well in that this proposal was in the April 19 budget, but the bill for establishing it, as we all know, died when the election was called. Yet on April 29, the day the writs were issued, the Minister of Revenue (Mrs. Scrivener) issued this bulletin: “Though there will be no legislation to authorize the $1 per hour grant for summer jobs, simple common sense dictates that we honour this commitment to our youth. Employer application forms are already available at Canada Manpower offices and thousands of prospective employees have already responded to this vital incentive.”
In other words, it sounds as though it’s business as usual and assume that the legislation will go through. On May 10, in the Toronto Star, this ad appeared: “Ontario’s youth want to work this summer. Ontario will help yen pay their salaries. Here’s how it works: Employers get in your applications. Employees you may apply and be hired”; and so on. “Duration: The program is in effect from May 30 to September 16.”
We’re now passing the legislation to put this program into effect, on July 4. It seems to me the government really was presuming to assume that we would pass this legislation, without any justification.
Actually, they could have had this program in effect long ago, long before the election was called; or an even better package. We have been urging them for over a year to provide a youth employment program, because unemployment among our young people is not a new problem. The rate is twice as high as the regular unemployment rate for the province as a whole. We have been pointing this out for over a year, and suggesting that it was time to provide for these people who were going to be coming out of our community colleges and our universities and our schools. But nothing has happened, until finally we are suddenly faced with what looks like retroactive legislation.
The only other thing I would like to say is that any program for providing employment for our young people will not work unless we actually get the Ontario economy going. Just straight job creation is not enough. We have to stimulate the economy through programs that will put purchasing power in the hands of people, such as tax cuts, and will provide incentives for business and for the co-operatives, and will provide housing and other things that we need, such as insulation programs. There are all sorts of things that need to be done. There are also all the municipal public works that have been postponed. But this sort of approach where government simply subsidizes business and does not go in for the other programs that are needed to get the economy going will not solve our youth employment problem.
Mr. Bounsall: May I take this opportunity to congratulate you, sir, on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and wish you well in that position. I’m sure you will do a very fine job of keeping us in control and I look forward to those times in which you will be bringing us to order and our having some fun with you over the procedural matters in the House. I have a feeling, though, that you will handle all that very capably, and congratulate you beforehand on the good job you will continue to do.
In rising to speak to this bill, An Act to provide Employment Opportunities for Youth in Ontario, I do so saying that I will not be opposing this bill. But I do get a little tired of bills like this coming before us, which in my opinion does not really do very much at all for the people wanting some sort of jobs in Ontario, looking to some sort of future in Ontario, or looking for a decent summer job in Ontario. Therefore it’s a bill that is only a marginal step forward in meeting the employment needs and a bill that is almost counter-productive in terms of meeting the legitimate desires of our youth, particularly our students, hoping to get employment as students somewhere in the area of the particular expertise for which they are partially trained.
This bill, in my opinion, doesn’t meet that situation whatsoever. I do get a little tired of seeing bills before us that almost makes me scream because of their inadequacy, but because it does hope to provide some jobs which may not now be there, we’re in a position of muting our opposition to it.
I’m concerned over this bill and a couple of things that have already been mentioned by some speakers. One is the starting time of the program. Certainly I think the employers in Ontario break down into two distinct categories with respect to this. One is those who haven’t heard of it yet. With the starting time on this bill and the fact that it is just before us now and that the forms aren’t widely distributed, there are some employers who, if this had been in place some three months ago, would in fact have had time to make employment plans and some expansion in their own job opportunities but now find it too late for them to do that and therefore job opportunities are lost. I don’t think, therefore, that will come anywhere close to meeting the objectives set forward by the ministry and by the parliamentary assistant in the number of jobs which are going to be created. And, of course, because they are jobs for the summer, we are talking basically about jobs for students, rather than for those who are not students and part of the permanent youth unemployment in Ontario.
The second concern I have with respect to the employers is that group of employers who in fact picked up on the idea immediately and are already thinking of ways by which they can profit under this particular Act -- that is, get for themselves a dollar an hour for work which is already in progress. The bill, of course, is very clear on this in section 4. It says, with respect to those eligible for employment under it, it’s those persons who can be employed where their employment “does not result in the dismissal, layoff or reduction in regular hours or period of work for any existing employees.”
But this is very open to abuse. I have already run into some abuses of this. At the moment they are still suspected abuses and many of my colleagues who have spoken or will speak on this bill have had similar suspected abuses reported to them, and they are very concerned as I am.
One type of abuse which they are running into is the person who has been employed for some months who has come to us and feels he has been jockeyed into the position of quitting because the working conditions have somehow become very severely intolerable for a whole variety of reasons. Or they have been fired outright, and they suspect very strongly that their employer did so so that, under a different job position name and a different job description, they will in fact be replaced by a student being hired by their employer to get this subsidy. The employer can then claim of course that, “No, it is a completely different job. I didn’t need that job. I phased that job out, but now, all of a sudden, I found this other job.” Of the three people who have already approached me, two of them have said this employer is quite capable of being able to shuffle around the various positions which he has in his establishment so that the jobs, in fact, look very new and different to the jobs from which they and, they suspect, others in that particular concerns have been let go.
I turn to section 3 of the Act and I see under subsection 1 there penalties of $2,000 per employer and not more than $10,000 for the corporation which cover abuses. But I have a real concern that there be a followup on the suspected abuses which I have mentioned. At the moment they can only be suspected. We are going to have to sit back and see how many students are hired and just what sort of job description shuffling has gone on.
I suspect that the ministry has, in fact, not laid on any real capability for checking into precisely this situation and that we, as MPPs, arc going to have to act in the traditional ombudsman role and laboriously pull all this data together. And then when this is done, where does it really go? I mean, is the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs going to lay on these inspectors, these field workers, who are then going to go out and follow it up?
Has the Treasurer handed it over, or will he be handing it over, to the employment standards branch of the Ministry of Labour to do this for him? If so, I don’t think they have enough employees in their ministry. I know they don’t, in terms of the length of time it takes them to work their way through the abuses that occur normally in Ontario. From the length of time it takes them to work through those, I know they do not have the staff to check into this at this moment.
When I talked to my local office in Windsor about the cases I bring there, I am told, took, we are doing our best. It’s going to take four or five months. We simply do not have the staff that allows us to follow up and keep on top of, and follow on a weekly basis what should be done in all of these cases that come before us.” This was said in a conversation not more than three months ago with the local staff of the Ministry of Labour in the Windsor office.
They do not have the manpower to do the checking for you. Just how many employers, may I ask the parliamentary assistant, is the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs going to lay off; to cheek into this kind of abuse that I’ve mentioned and see that it doesn’t occur with the unscrupulous employers in Ontario.
If the member checks with the employment standards branch they have files, some of them quite bulky, on employers in Ontario. They have a case or two each year with those employers responsible for abuses under the normal Employment Standards Act. Has the parliamentary assistant checked with that branch of the Ministry of Labour to get those employers’ names, to take a very critical look at the very start with respect to any applications that those employers are making with respect to this program? This is precisely the type of employer which is of concern to me over this point I mention.
The second concern which has been brought to my attention by young people in my area, is that they were about to be hired, but somehow the job has fallen through. They have not been hired where they had some reasonable prospect of being hired. They’ve come to me with some degree of deflation and concern over the fact that they themselves will now remain unemployed until sometime in late September or October or even November.
Because they are technically not students and because this program aims at summer jobs and in particular for students, they feel the positions they would have been hired for are going to students. One can’t argue about that, but it certainly has cut down their opportunity to be employed. One can only say, “Well that’s very difficult to prove.” I don’t think in that category one could ever prove that this went on, this hiring of one person rather than another.
You have some 21, 22 and 23-year-olds who traditionally, because of their lack of training or perhaps an emotional problem, have difficulty getting a job. In some cases they have a physical disability. I have one case of an epileptic who is in this category, who feels very strongly that the reason he did not get a job is that he has been put in abeyance until perhaps some person with a few less problems, someone who does not happen to have epilepsy -- even though he has not had a heavy seizure for some three or four years -- will be taking that job until the program presumably runs out or that person is now back in school. Then he may be considered again for it.
This is the kind of thing which, I suppose, is not directly an abuse under the Act, but it certainly causes me some real concern in respect to how this program is going to operate.
I say to the parliamentary assistant, he sat with us on the select committee on highway safety and heard time and time again, certainly in the written reports which I’m sure that the member has read, about how much followup money is needed to be added to any program in order to study the effects of it all and to see whether the program has in fact achieved anything.
I ask the parliamentary assistant very directly how much money is to be spent and how thorough a followup study is going to be done on every employer and on every student employed in this to see whether or not these abuses have occurred, whether or not the student feels -- or the person hired feels -- that it’s been a valid summer job and a valid use of his or her time in that employment? Although they were paid, was it really a job which they felt contributed to the economic health of the province of Ontario at this particular time?
If he wanted to sit down, we could enumerate 12 or 14 points and areas which should be thoroughly investigated and followed up in order to say something meaningful about the program. I would like to see that sort of data collected.
We are still in the same position. We’re now in this program, suspecting a bunch of things about it, unless this very detailed analysis is made from here on until the end of this program.
I’d like to hear in detail from the parliamentary assistant just what sort of surveys are going on throughout and what sort of surveys take place at the end that will answer some of these questions for all of us in the House. I would love to have some of my suspicions proven unfounded by his facts. But he’s going to have to take the survey very carefully; he’s going to have to hire someone, if he hasn’t already hired someone, or take someone for some period of time into his ministry, into this program, to make sure that the proper kind of survey is drawn up which will yield answers to specific questions.
I know that on a personal basis that no doubt appeals to the parliamentary assistant. It is a program which he will personally feel important. But has he been able to sell this idea to his colleagues in terms of having money provided for that sort of followup study, which I feel is very necessary?
I’ve outlined what kind of surveys I think should be done. I’ll just end very quickly by stating a general concern.
What basically is wrong is the economy. If this were a healthy economy, then the government would he having all kinds of summer employment in the very areas of expertise that these students in colleges and universities, for example, are being trained for. We’ve got to, in Ontario, do something very basic about our economy.
One could get into a whole economic argument here about what should be done, but basically we’ve got to get all our resources processed here in Ontario, as a start. If we don’t start to move at some time to ensure that all our resources, be they from mining or from lumbering and the whole processing of trees and the whole refining of our ores, if that isn’t done in the province and a start made to ensure that it’s all done in the province, we’re losing not only permanent jobs but all those summer student replacement jobs in the highly trained field as well.
When I went through my undergraduate training as an engineer, there was no problem whatsoever in obtaining a summer jobs -- fairly high paying -- in the engineering field. With the buoyant economy, with each and every company virtually doing some research and development in connection with that company’s head office, there were all sorts of summer replacement jobs. These were not just replacement for holiday vacation but replacement jobs which allowed the particular engineer or scientist in that plant to be able to do something further in R and D, while they kept on with an already well established R and D project and so on.
Virtually all of that has disappeared, and that’s one of the main faults in our economy. The first thing should be to take that sort of step to ensure that some R and D is done in Ontario and, second that have returned all those scientific jobs associated with the refining of ores and the processing of our wood here in Ontario. Then we’ll have a definite, long-lasting, productive summer job program. If we don’t move towards that, we’re continually going to find ourselves with this type of program before us each summer. Essentially, I suspect, many of the jobs will be dead-end. And although it’s not the direct responsibility of this particular parliamentary assistant or, tangentially, only with respect to TEIGA, I might follow on one of the points which my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine brought up.
We are concerned about the lack of employment for many of our trained people. Our nurses, for example -- our teachers, for example. But I would hope that the parliamentary assistant, with his particular responsibility for youth, would be pushing very hard within the cabinet for programs of training of what’s referred to as skilled people in the trades. We are still in the position of having to import skilled tradesmen. We do not have at all any proper program in our college program to meet the demand for skilled tradesmen in the province.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. I wonder if the hon. member would return to the principle of this bill, please.
Mr. Bounsall: This provides permanent jobs, Mr. Speaker, for both our summer students as replacements and permanent jobs in the future for our youth which should be a much more valid expenditure of funds by the province of Ontario than this program which we have before us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McGuigan: As a fruit farmer I have some expertise, I think, in this subject, and a very personal interest in the subject of youth employment on farms for the summer season. Certainly, I and many of the people I represent would welcome a wage subsidy to help Ontario fruit producers meet the challenge of imported products which are produced in the United States with a minimum wage of $2.20 per hour, versus our $2.65. It’s a minimum wage that’s very poorly enforced in some of the states.
Also, they have the problem in the United States of the alien workers -- they estimate there are as many as 10 million aliens in the United States and they’re very poorly policed as to the minimum wage.
We would welcome a wage subsidy in Ontario to help meet that challenge, but in this bill I find myself very perplexed as to how I would use it -- what tests I would apply to its use. Do they have to have a birth certificate? Would I have to photostat it? What sort of records would I have to prove that these people fell within the proper age of 15 to 25? And there would be a question of whether it was new work, or whether it was old work. I can give you an example: as I left this morning we were picking cherries, with probably about 25 young people. The year before, in 1976, we had a crop failure. So, do the people I employ this year represent new people, or would they not be new people due to the crop failure last year? If this very confusing system is adopted by some growers and is used to the utmost and perhaps abused, then do I too have to abuse the system in order to stay competitive and stay within the industry?
I think, in its present form, this question of eligibility makes it a very bad bill, and it’s going to cause ill feeling among farmers. Perhaps those who do qualify are people who are just coming into the industry or have planted cherries, say, a few years ago and this is their first harvest this year -- they’re going to have the ill-will of their neighbour who has been in the business for many years and who would not qualify. So I can see farmer being set upon farmer as to the eligibility of this program.
I would certainly urge that, as a practical person involved in this question, a great deal more study and a great deal more clarification be given. It would be my feeling that if we’re going to have a wage subsidy then it should be open and free to all, so we not have this. terrible administrative problem.
Mr. Cassidy: I had two or three comments to make, Mr. Speaker about this particular bill. I have to say that we have reservations about it although we’re going to support it, and I think a number of my colleagues have talked, as well, about some of the problems which we anticipate in the bill
This is the dollar-an-hour subsidy. The government says it will provide 20,000 jobs. In fact, this particular program is so circumscribed that we don’t really know how many jobs will be provided and, as far as the political mentors for the government are concerned, they don’t particularly care. They’re much more concerned about the public relations impact of this program on the electorate during the recent election, and about what they can say in speeches -- such as the Treasurer’s speech of the other day -- than they are of providing real, long-term, sustained assistance in helping young people get jobs in the province.
I think that the basic approach we would take would be as simple as that. We support this because it’s better than nothing. We support it because we don’t expect to get much else from the government. Our past experience tells us that they provide little, they provide it late, they provide it in a rather ungenerous kind of way and this program is no particular exception.
The government’s own statements indicate that very little will be done to monitor and to ensure the jobs that are created under the bill are new jobs rather than jobs that would have been created anyway. The time limits, as I have mentioned, also indicate that the 1-week program, so called, in fact will amount to jobs which last for an awful lot less time than that.
I want to suggest, Mr. Speaker -- and I want to say this quite seriously to the parliamentary secretary who is responsible for the Youth Secretariat -- I think that this parliamentary secretary has got a difficult job in front of him and a challenging job and I wish him well. I don’t think there is anybody else on the government side who is particularly concerned about the enormous problems of young people trying to get themselves established in careers and in the work force.
Now, I don't know the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Jones) well. I do know that he has this responsibility. He is an up and coming member on the government side and this is his opportunity to make his mark on behalf of his own career and on behalf of the people who are, in a sense, his constituents among the population of the province -- that is workers between the ages of 15 and 24 or 25. Nobody else has certainly shown any indication on the government side of giving much of a damn about the plight of young workers and that’s why I repose a certain amount of hope in this particular member, Mr. Speaker. That is his responsibility, in the same way that, regardless of the attitude that the Minister of Labour may express to organized labour from time to time, she remains the only hope within the government side because if she won’t fight on behalf of the rights of collective bargaining, the rights of organized working people in the province, it’s for damn sure that nobody else on the government side is going to.
I think it’s significant, Mr. Speaker, that in all of this debate that has gone on since Thursday -- not that long a debate, but all the same we have had a couple of hours to discuss the question of youth employment -- I think it’s significant in all that time, I believe only the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) has had the temerity to speak from the government side on the matter of youth employment.
Here we have a situation where 200,000 young people are coming on to the labour market on a full-time basis from high school, community college and university, effective in April or May of this year; where in April and May there were around 140,000 young people who were unemployed, not just for the summer, but on a full-time basis; where there were God knows how many hundreds of thousands of students looking for work over the summer. In many oases it was absolutely vital to their future because if they couldn’t get a job then they couldn’t qualify for student assistance and they couldn’t continue with the training for the careers that they had picked out for themselves in life. Yet not a single one of the Conservative members, with the exception of the member for Fort William, saw fit to raise --
Mr. Maeck: What has that got to do with the principle of the bill?
Mr. Cassidy: It just seems to me interesting that not a single Conservative member, apart from the one exception, saw anything wrong with the government’s program about youth employment. Nobody got up to say, as they could have, “We wish we could do more but there isn’t enough money.” That’s not sustainable, but at least it’s a defensible kind of position.
Nobody got up to suggest to the Treasurer and to the youth secretariat that something more be done for their particular riding, or their particular region, or the particular industry that they had the honour to represent. The young lions who were elected this time for the first time -- the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling) for example; the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe); the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg), he isn’t here right now -- the young lions were curiously muted, Mr. Speaker. You know and I know that if they don’t speak up in their first weeks of being in the Legislature, they are never going to do it subsequently. They are very quickly tamed. Here’s the member for Wilson Heights right now and he’s obviously very quickly tamed as well, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please! Would the hon. member return to the principle of the bill as quickly as possible?
Mr. Cassidy: Of course, Mr. Speaker. I am suggesting that there are a lot of young people in the riding of Wilson Heights who are currently unemployed, who were not able to benefit from this particular bill because of the inadequacies of the bill. Although we are supporting the bill I think that the member from Wilson Heights had a duty and a responsibility to his constituents to get up and say what it’s like in his riding and why he would hope that somehow the Treasurer would find a --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. Any direction the hon. member might give to the hon. member for Wilson Heights is out of order. Perhaps he would return to the principle of the bill.,
Mr. Cassidy: Well okay, Mr. Speaker. You will agree that the purposes of the bill are extraordinarily broad, because it pertains to the creation of a youth employment program. In fact, section 2 of the bill says, “The purpose of this Act is to provide for the establishment of a youth employment program.” Young people are defined, I suppose. Anyway, we know the age of young people, and I think it is quite open to talk about youth employment problems in any riding of the province, or in a general way.
Mr. Gaunt: I think the Minister of Labour feels a speech coming on.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I want to take issue with the youth secretary because there are several things that I would like him to reply to when it is his turn to speak on this particular bill.
Back on April 25 -- and how long ago that seems to be -- the member for Mississauga North had a press conference talking about the youth employment plan. That was just a day or so after the budget, if not on budget day itself. At that time, he referred repeatedly to studies and surveys that had been conducted by the Youth Secretariat, which pointed to the need for this youth employment program. The repute of the researchers of the NDP is known across the province.
Mr. Cassidy: However, our researchers were completely unable to find out from the Youth Secretariat, or any other source, what was available. And as they report, there was either nothing available, or else nothing had been prepared, or else nothing was being made available. This is certainly contradictory to the new rules around this Legislature which say that that kind of background information should be made open to public consumption, and I hoped that the youth secretary would have a few words to say about what those reports and studies were.
All that we received were the brochure, the ad, the employer application form, the bill, and the budget reference to the youth-employment program. And nothing else.
The Globe and Mail reported that the parliamentary assistant responsible for the Youth Secretariat thought that 11,000 of the subsidized positions would turn into permanent jobs after September 16. Our researcher understood him to say, alternatively, one-quarter or three-quarters of the total number of jobs would be made permanent. Now, I would like him to comment on that.
If he believes that 11,000 of these jobs will become permanent, then I think that we deserve an explanation. As far as we can see, this is purely conjecture, because there is absolutely no way of making such predictions. And as far as we can establish, no research has been done, or in fact could be done on this particular matter.
The program administrators tell us that they hope that young people will be able to “show their stuff,” to demonstrate their worth and to prove themselves indispensable. The claims of the government, Mr. Speaker, appear to be based on nothing else but hope.
Second, I wish that the youth secretary, now in consultation with the Minister of Labour, would say how many of these summer jobs, and it is a summer employment program, will go to students and how many to the permanent youth labour force. Again, it is not possible to predict, and I suppose that they will have no data until the end of the program. However, if you take the estimated 250,000 person-weeks -- which it said that this program will create in an ideal kind of a setting, with $10 million being spent -- and divide that among 140,000 or so young people who were unemployed in April and May, you get all of two weeks of work on average for all those people, which isn’t very much when one considers the kind of need that actually exists.
If all of the jobs go to students -- which we think is very likely -- then there will be no dent made at all in the permanent youth unemployed. And none of those permanently unemployed young people will even have the chance to prove their mettle in order to be hired, if anybody is going to be hired on a permanent basis as a result of the program.
Third, I hope that the youth secretary, or the parliamentary assistant responsible for the Youth Secretariat, will reply to the points that we have raised about the very real prospect of abuse which exist with this program.
I have to say, and with regret, that the election results have created an unfortunate situation for people who are unemployed in the province. I hope that they all got out to vote. I am not sure that they did -- some of them have become so cynical and turned off on politics that maybe they stayed home just this time. The election results certainly revealed a lack of concern by the government about the employment program which is not, I believe, reflected in the opinions of the population at large.
I’ve just been reviewing the results of a questionnaire which I sent out to my constituents just prior to the election -- a riding report which went out to them at the end of March. Out of about 500 replies, approximately three-quarters indicated that unemployment was a key issue, and close to half of the people who replied said that unemployment was the key issue in Ontario today, or at least in the great riding of Ottawa Centre.
I submit that the unemployed, and particularly young people who are unemployed, are one of the very large groups who are permanently excluded from the political process in this province because of the perpetuation of the minority rule of the government based on between 40 to 45 per cent of the electorate. I think that’s an unhealthy state of affairs, Mr. Speaker, not that a particular government happens to get elected with less than 50 per cent of the electorate, because that happens from time to time and place to place. It’s almost inevitable if you have more than two parties in a parliamentary system.
What does bother me though is that it is the same 40 per cent who keep on electing this particular party to power, and only one or two hands are there at the wheel, such as the parliamentary assistant, the member for Mississauga North, to try and ensure that the needs of the people who are not reflected in that 40 per cent somehow get a hearing and get action from the government.
I don’t know what happens up in Mississauga North or in Brampton or in Chatham-Kent or in places like that, but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have had almost nothing but employment problems coming into my riding office since the election, and they’re mainly among workers under the age of 25 who are, therefore, young workers.
The other day I think I had five or six people in direct succession come through to see me to talk about jobs and to ask me if there was anything I could do in order to ease their plight. It’s really rather pathetic. One of the things they say to me is, “Look, is there any way you can get me a job as a messenger up on Parliament Hill?” Well, if everybody in Ottawa who wanted a job as a messenger on Parliament Hill were to get it, there wouldn’t be any room for the parliamentarians.
But it is a reflection of a situation where even in Ottawa, which has traditionally been quite prosperous, there is now a very severe unemployment problem and it is affecting young workers.
About five months ago, in February, I placed an advertisement in the Ottawa Citizen to seek a constituency assistant in my riding. When people called up we told them the salary, which at that time was $9,000. It wasn’t princely, to put it mildly. I think it amounted to something about $4 an hour or thereabouts. A demanding, difficult, skilled job with a low salary.
Mr. Cunningham: Did you put your name on the ad?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please!
Mr. Cassidy: When we advertised that job a year and a half earlier, I believe we had about five or six applications. In February of this year when we advertised that job, Mr. Speaker, we had 70 applications. And the people who applied had a wide range of experience, background and qualifications. What was notable though was that for the most part they were all well qualified, even if not particularly qualified in every case for the job that we happened to be advertising. All of them would normally, or most all of them would normally have qualified for jobs at a much higher salary than what the province was paying at that time in remuneration for the riding assistants.
Again, it was sad, it was pathetic. People who were married, who had kids, who had family responsibilities came in. Young workers who had worked for two or three or five years and now found themselves unemployed came in. People who had worked 20 or 25 years came in and they were out of regular full-time employment. They had found themselves up against the wall in very difficult and unexpected economic circumstances.
I have to say that I find it difficult to accept that not a single Conservative, apart from the new member for Fort William, can have a word to say about the adequacy or otherwise of the government program.
I can tell the parliamentary assistant of another phenomenon which we see in Ottawa and which I believe my colleagues from other ridings are seeing as well. It is that young people are unnecessarily taking additional training because there’s nothing else for them to do. I recall, for example, the other day running into somebody who recently graduated from Carleton with a bachelor’s degree in English or something like that, and who was about to enter the law enforcement program at Algonquin College for two or three more years in hopes of thereby becoming eligible for a job as a policeman.
The number of students who are now applying for Master’s degrees, for MA programs, and even for PhD programs, at enormous cost to the Ontario taxpayer, is legion. And if you ask them why are they doing it, the increasing response is: “It is not because I Want to do it; it is because I can’t think of anything better to do.”
The university is a kind of cocoon. It is a pleasant place to be. The qualification may Or may not be useful in the future. What the heck, you may as well stay at university for another year or two because that is an awful lot better than driving a cab or simply being unemployed, or having to admit that you can’t get a job and having to live off your spouse -- if your spouse happens to be employed.
What this does in terms of human dignity, in terms of people’s sense of self-worth, in terms of the normal career paths through life, is very hard to put down here in the Legislature. But I think that the results are serious. I think it is very serious to frustrate the desire and the willingness to work.
I think the secretary for youth should be bending his mind to find better ways to use that talent and imagination -- that energy which exists in our young people -- than in having them stay in the study force rather than work force for want of anything better to do.
I also find another phenomenon which I have to say is very worrying. When people come to me in my riding office in order to talk about the problems of being unemployed, I find that increasingly I, as an elected member, have to tell them how life really works in a Tory Ontario. They say to me that it is not very fair. And I tell them that I know it is not very fair; nevertheless, that is the way it goes.
If you are a cabinet minister’s son or daughter; if you are the son or daughter of somebody in North Toronto or the better end of Ottawa then the chances are that when you are looking for summer work it comes. If you are simply the son or daughter of an ordinary family, looking for summer work, or if you are a young worker who has finished with college and you don’t have any pull, as it is called, then you are adrift on your own. And it may take you several years before you begin to find your moorings, to find a way.
The normal route that people have been told to take by guidance counsellors and people like that is to submit applications, keep their nose dean and to watch the advertisements in the newspaper. That is about the least effective way of finding a job. The only less effective way is to go to a Canada Manpower Centre and ask them for help in finding a job. They have neither the job listings, nor accurate and helpful advice about how people should find a job. And that is true, whether you want summer work or want full-time employment.
I think that Ontario, which has some knowledge about these things, should be applying pressure on the federal government in order to provide a more effective job-seeking mechanism through the Canada Manpower service. We might even consider taking the whole thing over ourselves and running it on a provincial basis by agreement with the feds. I think we might do a better job than they do.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. May I point out to the hon. member that I see nothing about those remarks and that philosophy in this particular bill. We should be discussing this particular bill as to how to provide employment opportunities for youth in Ontario.
Mr. Cassidy: That’s right.
Mr. Speaker: So the hon. member should not wander this far afield and come up with all your own ideas because we are discussing this particular bill. Would the hon. member return to this bill, please.
Mr. Cassidy: I am on this bill, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Well, it doesn’t sound so to me. That is a word of caution which the hon. member should hearken to. Discuss this bill please.
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, Mr. Speaker. You have become unduly suspicious of me over the last couple of years.
Mr. Nixon: With good reason.
Mr. Cassidy: The point is, though, that whatever the job finding process is, and however much I, as a member, tell people what they have to do in terms of using the informal channels of finding jobs, there have to be jobs available in the economy or it is all pretty damn fruitless. All I can tell them is how to make their chances a bit better, compared to people who already enjoy influence and pull, as it is called, in getting jobs. But personally, as an elected member, all I can do in terms of job creation is to come down here and tell this government -- which, apart from the member for Mississauga North, is completely insensitive to the issue -- that it has to be providing job opportunities in the province.
That means the government has to have a healthier economy than it has right now. It simply can’t go on with an economy tolerating the level of unemployment that we have right now and say that it is taking any meaningful approach towards providing jobs for young people in the province.
I want to say that the government talks out of both sides of its mouth when it talks about youth employment. They told us in the spring that every citizen should be able to participate fully in all aspects of life in Ontario, but young workers can’t if they can’t have a job. They said in the Throne Speech they wanted to ensure full opportunity and a bright future for our people by expanding the job-creating sectors of the Ontario and national economics. The government can’t do that when it has 200,000 people permanently unemployed, of whom many will be young people.
They said they would complement federal action to create jobs. They’ve done so by creating a paltry number of summer jobs with this particular program. They talked about special funding to create jobs in both the private and public sectors. Then they have introduced this program, which does nothing to provide jobs in the public sector or the municipal level where it is our contention there may well have been many opportunities to provide work in a responsible way and respecting the municipal need not to overload the local taxpayers.
They called their economic program a program of confidence in the future of our province and nation and then in their employment programs reflected a lack of confidence in our future as a province and as a nation. They talked about protecting our natural and human resources. Whatever they are doing for the natural resources, they don’t protect human resources when they have so many young people unemployed and so few for whom work is being found either directly or indirectly as a result of this bill and as a result of the other actions on the part of the government.
I draw the parliamentary assistant’s attention to budget paper A which relates to this problem of youth unemployment. I want to ask him in particular when he speaks on this bill that he repudiate the efforts by the Treasurer to categorize workers under the age of 25 as being members of the secondary labour force in the province of Ontario, a second-class labour force, a labour force whose needs in the opinion of the Treasurer are apparently far less worthy of concern than the needs of providing jobs for male workers aged between 25 and 55.
I have to say to the parliamentary assistant I am very concerned an upset that young people, be they male or female, who are supporting themselves full-time who are responsibly pursuing careers, who in many cases are actually breadwinners and supporting families of their own, should be categorized as having needs for employment that are far less important than the needs of people who are aged over 25. I want to suggest that this is a demeaning way of treating young workers, that it is not an acceptable way and that tie youth secretary in the province of Ontario should be using every effort, publicly as well as privately, in order to change that decision. He should start now in this particular debate by repudiating all of the contents of budget paper A.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member has not got back to the principle of this bill yet. I have given him a great deal of time.
Mr. Cassidy: I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker. On the point of order, I am repeatedly referring to the question of youth employment and youth employment programs, and that is precisely within the meaning of the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member is talking about the employment opportunities and the assistance to solve the problem of those aged 25 to 55. That is not in this bill. Would the hon. member just stick to the principles as espoused in this particular bill?
Mr. Nixon: In a short speech.
Mr. Cunningham: He hasn’t read the bill.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I’m sorry, if I had gone on a lengthy digression about the problems of adult unemployment for people over 25, I would understand your intervention. But it surely is possible to refer to the context.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member is debating the remarks of the Speaker. Will the hon. member please discuss this particular bill?
Mr. Cassidy: Okay. In the reference to young workers in the budget, there were several points which I think are worth recalling in this particular debate. In the first place the Treasurer acknowledges that since 1975, the rate of growth of young workers in the labour force has significantly slowed down to the point where it is less than the growth of the labour force in general.
Mr. Speaker: Order please. This particular bill is not really elaborating on budget paper A, B, or whatever it was you said. There’s a proposal in this bill and this is the bill which should be discussed, not general remarks about the whole worldwide situation. if the hon. member would please concentrate on whatever measures there are in this particular bill.
Mr. Cassidy: With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I am talking about the question of youth employment and this is the one opportunity in the course of this bill --
Mr. Speaker: Order please. That matter is discussed in here but you should be discussing these matters in here, and not the whole field. The hon. member may continue.
Mr. Cassidy: I fail to understand you, Mr. Speaker, I’m very sorry.
Mr. Speaker: I think I made myself quite plain.
Mr. Cassidy: Yes.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member will discuss this particular bill.
Mr. Cassidy: Fine, and this bill, Mr. Speaker, deals with the government’s response to the youth employment program. The parliamentary assistant who is responsible for youth is listening with attentive interest. I appreciate his concern and the fact that he’s been present for the entire debate. I ask him to repudiate the idea that young people are secondary members of the labour force. I hope that he responds to that particular point.
I point out to him, Mr. Speaker, that none of the evidence which has been suggested in various discussions about this issue including speeches by the Treasurer, the Premier and in the budget papers, substantiate the view that somehow the entry of young people into the labour force has created particular reasons for redefining the permitted level of employment in the province to the point where we can tolerate 200,000 people permanently unemployed. If that is now the position of the government, we repudiate that and we ask the youth secretary to repudiate that as well
The statistics which have been presented by the government and by other authorities indicate that youth unemployment does tend to be higher than unemployment in general in the economy. There are very good reasons (or that. Young people lack experience, young people are moving from job to job as they try to find out what is particularly suited to their needs. Young people are lowest on the seniority list and therefore they are the ones who are the last to get hired and who tend to be the first who get fired.
All of that, however, still suggests that the real reason that youth unemployment is high right now is not the reasons which the Treasurer gave, suggesting it’s a lack of experience on the part of young people. It is the fact that the economy as a whole is not performing up to par, and therefore there are not enough jobs generally and therefore there are too many young people seeking work which just isn’t there. We think it wrong that rather than getting the economy back on its potential path, the government simply tries to redefine the problem in order to pretend that it isn’t there at all.
We find in particular the argument that young people are entering the labour force in increasing numbers in order to take advantage of the unemployment insurance scheme to be particularly distasteful, as well as unfounded and not based on the facts.
I would point out for example that in February of this year, young people in Ontario represented 45 per cent of the unemployed, but only 33 per cent of beneficiaries of unemployment insurance. In February of this year there were 69,000 young people collecting benefits, but there were 143,000 people who were unemployed. That does not suggest to us that young people have been entering the labour force in order to benefit, or rip off the taxpayer, through the unemployment insurance system.
I would point out in contrast, and the Ministry of Labour of this province itself has pointed this out in relation to the youth employment question, that it is not a weaker labour force attachment of young people that creates their higher unemployment rate, but they have a weaker labour force attachment because of the fact that they have less attractive job opportunities than people who are older.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. As the hon. member must realize, he’s making a general speech on a matter which is of great importance -- yes. But how are those problems being dealt with in this bill? It’s this bill which we’re discussing at this particular time. Now will the hon. member discuss the principles as contained in this particular bill, not the general, worldwide situation, please?
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, the study of the --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I want to do that now.
Mr. Cassidy: Yes, that’s what I’m doing.
Mr. Speaker: You haven’t yet.
Mr. Cassidy: My own --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please I Just get to this bill and never mind the general situation, please.
Mr. Cassidy: Well, with great respect, Mr. Speaker, you do seem to have one set of rules for me and another set for other members of the House.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please!
Mr. Speaker: I think the hon. member should withdraw those remarks.
Some hon. members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I do withdraw those remarks, but I do have to say that as the critic for Treasury of my party, I think I am entitled to talk at some length on these matters. Also as the closing speaker for my party, I wanted to resume a number of points that have been made in this debate and make some ones which were not made by my colleagues.
Mr. Speaker: It’s been pointed out to the hon. member that this is the bill we’re debating, not the general situation, please.
Mr. Cassidy: Okay. Okay.
Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, if I can conclude my quotation from the Ontario Minister of Labour’s comments on youth employment --
Mr. Speaker: No, I think they’re concluded. Will the hon. member get immediately to this particular bill?
Mr. Cassidy: With respect, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Speaker: Order, please! The hon. member, I’m sure, understands English. Would he get to this particular bill without any further delay? We’ve allowed him to stray and discuss the matter in general throughout the whole worldwide situation practically. Now would he please discuss this particular bill.
Mr. Cassidy: Well, Mr. Speaker, obviously I bow to your particular rulings, and I will talk, as you will, about the very specific aspects of this particular bill.
Mr. Breithaupt: The member should talk about youth unemployment.
Mr. Cassidy: I have been talking about youth unemployment. As the hon. House leader for the official opposition is well aware --
Mr. Stokes: Obviously, you’re not listening.
Mr. Cassidy: Yes.
Mr. Nixon: Neither are you.
Mr. Stokes: Yes, I am.
Mr. Cassidy: We have expressed concern that this is a skeleton bill and leaves an enormous amount of discretion in the hands of the government. We are concerned about the fact that municipalities are completely excluded from this particular bill. We are concerned about the policing of this particular bill. It is so paltry that we are going to get into the same situation with this set of grants as we got into, Mr. Speaker, with the housing grants, the first-time home buyers grants, of a year or two ago.
We are concerned, Mr. Speaker, and I want to put some specific figures on to the record. The bill is meant to be a 16-week program and when it was introduced we were told, in fact, that it would be a 16-week program providing up to 20,000 jobs. Between May 30 and September 16 is a period of not 16 weeks but is, to be very specific, 15-5/7 weeks. In other words, the introduction of the bill assumes a complete take-up prior to May 30, that the employers in question all had jobs available to take effect starting on May 30 and that they would then take people for the period of 16 weeks that ensued. That’s unrealistic.
We’re concerned, as well, that the promises about 20,000 jobs aren’t matched by the funding which is available. There isn’t funding for 16-week jobs for 20,000 people. There’s funding for 15,600 fobs over 16 weeks, or for 20,000 which will last an average of 12½ weeks. As various of my colleagues have pointed out, Mr. Speaker, the student aid program, in fact, requires students to have worked for a total of 16 weeks, which means that those who get hired for the average period of time which is called for under this particular bill will not fulfill the requirements for student aid and run the risk of being knocked out when they go and apply for their student loans and grants in the ensuing year.
The Treasurer stated in his statement of a few days ago that approximately 10,000 applications have been received for this particular program by June 27, and that they averaged two jobs apiece. That’s all very well. It’s significant that the day he chose of June 27 was a month after the introductory date of this particular program.
I wish that the parliamentary assistant for the Youth Secretariat would tell us how many of these jobs have, in fact, been approved; how many are in the pipeline now; what wage rates are being paid for these particular jobs; how long a period is represented by each particular application or what is the average length of job which i’s entailed; and whether he would go back to the questions that we raised initially about how many of these jobs will in fact come out to be permanent jobs on a full-time basis.
I would remind the parliamentary assistant that over the course of the last two or three months we’ve made a number of very specific proposals about youth employment, which we believe would have a far longer lasting impact that this particular program.
I recall, personally -- and I think this is worth pursuing at a future date, Mr. Speaker -- when I was just out of university I spent some time in West Germany in Offenbach, near Frankfurt. I lived in an apprentice’s hostel and worked in a factory.
At that time, it was the custom that every young person who left school at the age of 15 or 16 in Germany took an apprenticeship for a period of two or three years. They continued to go to the equivalent of the local community college for one day a week. They took training on the job and by the time they were 18 or 19, they had the opportunity to go back into community college on a full-time basis, without the need for qualification that we require in this province, and they also lad a trade and a skill -- and -- perhaps, by that age, some better understanding of the need to acquire a trade and a skill. That’s because the early attractions of the big money that they thought they would earn from getting into a job quickly paled when they found out the real cost of living in the world outside.
I think that we in this province should consider ensuring that not just some young people get an apprenticeship, but that we provide that kind of training for every young person, whether it be on-the-job training or sandwich courses in the community colleges, or full-time training in the community colleges.
I think that’s a goal that we should look forward to, Mr. Speaker. We can certainly afford the time, because young people right now are whiling their time away. There’s 14 per cent of them out of a job right now, probably more if we didn’t fail to count the thousands and thousands of young people who will simply not enter the labour force at all due to the lack of employment opportunities in the province and due to the inadequacies of this particular program.
I think that the government should take very seriously the youth careers program which we advocated during the budget debate and which we also advocated during the course of the debate on economic matters that took place during the election campaign. We suggested that could provide 8,000 or 9,000 full-time jobs. Again, it’s not an adequate response with the number of unemployed people that we have, but it’s certainly an awful lot better to have 8,000 or 9,000 people introduced into jobs which you have a fair certainty will become full-time jobs than to have 20,000 young people for 10, or 12 or 13 weeks with no assurance that anything will continue -- and, in certain cases, with students even taking up the job of full-time workers who have been put into a forced holiday situation over the course of the summer.
I think we will probably put this bill into committee in order to pursue some of these questions in more detail. If the parliamentary assistant for youth matters can answer these questions during the course of this debate, I would have thought that would assist in helping us get through the more particular matters during the course of the committee.
To repeat, we think that this bill isn’t enough. We have to support it because it’s the only thing we have any hopes of getting from this government and we wish the youth secretary, or the assistant for youth matters, well. He’s got an uphill battle to fight within the cabinet and within the government. But he alone has any chance, I would submit, of making any impact within the government on behalf of 140,000 unemployed young people -- and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of young people who are affected, in addition, by the underemployment and unemployment situation in the province right now.
Mr. Williams: I can well recall the last session of the last Legislature when the whole concept of providing job opportunities for youth was brought forward at the time of the Speech from the Throne. I recall that particularly because I think that was the first occasion that I can recall when a Speech from the Throne was presented in the House and there was applause, albeit mild, from the opposition benches.
At that time the Throne Speech identified, very clearly, the high incidence of unemployment that existed, particularly among this age bracket of people in the work force, or potential work force. So, it was interesting to find immediate response from the opposition members, and the manner in which the government wanted to take the initiative in involving the private sector in resolving this critical problem with regard to those who were potential employees in the age bracket 15 to 24. When this was more clearly spelled out in the budget presentation by the Treasurer, again I think there was some surprise shown by the members on this side of the House by the enthusiasm that was shown by the members of the opposition, even from amongst our socialist friends. That indeed was a unique situation.
Today as we have come to translate the specifics of the program as spelled out in the budget paper in this Bill 11, we find now that there is continuing support in principle for the bill. However, I do find it regrettable that more than enough scepticism is being displayed by the members of the opposition as to whether the bill in fact is really workable, notwithstanding the fact that the opposition members did not hesitate to point out the numbers of youth who have already enrolled for the program and the number of employers who have hired on students and young adults to participate in the program. In fact, probably the only area in which there is not a lineup of eligible employees waiting for the job opportunities is probably in that area of the farming sector which relates to the keeping of bees. Outside of that area, I don’t know of any where there is a shortage of potential employees.
The initiative taken here by the government and the initiative taken by the private sector in responding to the bill have been most encouraging. Any suggestion that has been made by members of the opposition that it has taken only the initiative of the albeit capable member for Mississauga North to bring this matter into the House today I think belies the facts, because it is well known that all members on this side of the House spoke most heatedly on and fully endorsed this program not only before but also during the election period when it was very much a matter of concern by the voters in Ontario.
The problem having been identified by our government and the initiative having been taken by the private sector, as I have indicated, have been very heart-warming. The fact that the government has seen the need to involve the private sector such as it has never done before is a new trend that is likely to continue after the success of this program has been proven. One can only prime the public pump for so long and with so much additional funds being put into it to provide short term make-work programs that have no lasting beneficial or tangible effects.
I suggest there is a substantial difference that arises in this type of program where we have the private sector putting up the front-end money. That is where with the help of the subsidy from the government this program will succeed like no other that we have had, and I am not in any way belittling our Experience 77 or 76 or 75 programs, or belittling the other programs where we have provided direct seasonal employment through the public sector and through that initiative alone.
This new initiative is bound to have not only the short-term desirable effects but, more important, the long-term lasting effects, as has been suggested, While this has been refuted by some of the opposition members suggesting there will be no long-term, lasting effects, even though the program is barely off the ground, I am sure many of the young students and young adults who take advantage of this program will remain in the work force and probably many of them will continue as permanent employees of their new employers.
The scepticism I referred to that has been enunciated by some is ill-founded -- to suggest that there will be many of those who will try, as the terms has been used, to rip off the system. A number of members have tried to relate this program to the first-time home buyers program where there was some evidence of abuses being made of the system. I suggest in this instance there is a substantial difference. Here, as I mentioned a few moments ago, the employer is putting up the front-end of the money. Even though they are receiving the benefits of a provincial grant, they have as a profit-making enterprise the necessity of operating an efficient business operation. Simply because a provincial grant is available, they are not going to hire unnecessarily additional staff.
The comment was made earlier by several of the members of the opposition that if our economy wasn’t in the state that it has been in the past year or two with the international inflationary picture before us, this program perhaps would not need to have been introduced. Frankly, I don’t think any member in the House would argue with that suggestion. If we had a healthy economy and many more people were in the work force today, of course the need would not be there to endeavour to stimulate the economic pump this time in the private as contrasted to the public sector. But we are all well aware of an ailing economy, and this is an initiative taken by the government that is suited for the difficult economic times. In fact, I suggest many of the companies would not be hiring these students without the availability of that additional $1 because of the fact, as has been discussed many times during the budget debate and prior thereto, that small businesses particularly in this province are finding themselves priced out of the international marketplace.
Discussion, comment, and debate have taken place with regard to a number of small manufacturing businesses, a number of which have been located in our border cities, where the businesses have had to either close down or to reduce the number of their employees. It has been found that in most of those instances the reason has been that the employers have found that they could not compete with businesses of similar size with similar objectives, manufacturing similar types of products, on the other side of the river, where they were paying employees as much as 65 cents an hour less than what they had to pay employees on this side of the border.
While the wage levels in the United States are allowed to catch up through this 12-month period, perhaps this program will assist our small businesses to survive during that catch-up period. With the support of this provincial grant to assist those ailing small businesses, I am sure this is the way and means by which a lot of our small businesses will survive during the next 12-month period, during which period hopefully our whole economy will turn around into a more productive, positive period.
I think that this bill, for those several reasons, has to be one that does deserve the support of this House.
Mr. Mancini: Is the parliamentary assistant taking all this down?
Mr. Williams: The scepticism that has been shown with regard to possible abuses, I think is totally conjecture. As has been pointed out, in the bill there are a number of built-in safeguards whereby there are very heavy fines imposed upon those who are found to be fraudulently providing information that would make them qualify, when evidence might show that to be to the contrary. And I would suggest that by and large the businesses in this province will in good faith take full advantage of this program and that not only will the youth and the young adults of this province benefit from the program on the short-term basis, but many of them will remain in the work force. I’d suggest further that many of the small businesses as well as some of the larger will continue to prosper and benefit as well from this program.
I think that this bill before us today will prove to be a landmark in the support it can give to the private sector and it is one which I think will prove to be copied in other provincial jurisdictions in the coming months and years ahead. In stating that, however; I’m hopeful that this does not mean it will become a permanent institution by reason of the fact that we will find ourselves in better economic times in the very near future.
Mr. Stokes: We wouldn’t want it to continue too long -- it might be construed as socialism.
Mr. Williams: Some concern has been expressed, Mr. Speaker, with regard to --
Mr. Conway: Who was that masked man?
Mr. Williams: -- section 4(2) of the bill which deals with the definition of related persons. I think that some concern has been expressed as to whether there is more latitude that exists with regard to incorporated companies hiring next of kin, or the sons or daughters, or brothers or sisters, of senior management of incorporated companies, whereas with regard to unincorporated companies there is absolutely no means by which a relative could be employed by that company. I think that the parliamentary assistant should make it absolutely clear that restrictions do apply, even where the employer is a body corporate as spelled out in section 4(2)(iii).
Mr. Conway: Since when are the Tories against nepotism?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re wasting time here.
Mr. Williams: Subject to that one technical comment, Mr. Speaker, the bill does give meaning to the initial comments that came forward in the Throne Speech and which were more clearly identified at the time of the budget. I think now that we should not hesitate to enact this legislation and let the benefits flow therefrom for the private industries of our province.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. Any other hon. members to speak to this bill? If not, the parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to thank all the members that have contributed to the debate.
Mr. Breithaupt: Now you are being provocative.
Mr. Jones: I have had an opportunity to keep notes, and I recognize some of the comments and suggestions made as having flowed from the Throne debate and from the budget debate of earlier times. The one main thing that I kept seeing come from various of the members was some fact that seemed to be a little bit out of sync as to things that we’ve made into this program -- specifically and with a considerable amount of thought.
For example, we keep hearing over and over again such catch phrases as “make-work programs,” and we keep hearing about student programs, all in the context of the program set out in this bill. I’d just like to clarify some of those for the members.
For example, “make-work” kept coming up from the very start when the member for London Centre -- I believe he was the first speaker -- touched upon it, and then we’ve heard it through several speakers since. We have heard it this afternoon from the members for Hamilton Mountain, Hamilton East, Brantford, Scarborough-Ellesmere and others. They kept insisting that this was a make-work project.
I would like to remind the House, as the last speaker from Oriole has, that this program is in concert with the private sector, the businessmen and farmers, who have the largest percentage of investment in the particular hourly salary or the weekly salary. I can tell you that any of us who do come from a business background know that this is hardly their inclination, as businessmen in this day’s climate, to once having made that investment then make a make-work project. It just doesn’t happen, and that isn’t happening with these examples that we are having a chance to review, to visit and examine in concert with businessmen.
Rather, what is happening is what we designed and hoped for with this as one program, where this government could give considerable assistance to the young people of this province who find themselves caught up, as we have heard today, in a very tight job market, and particularly a market that works disproportionate numbers of unemployed for their numbers.
We did hear the member for Ottawa Centre speak of the situation in his riding, and while he didn’t presume to know the situation in Mississauga North or Brampton or some of the other ridings he mentioned, I have had the privilege of travelling the province with Youth Secretariat work and visiting in concert with businessmen, on the campuses, in the high schools, talking with the young people who are faced with both a job need for this summer and, of course those young unemployed that are both looking for jobs and are about to or have just recently graduated and are in the job search process.
But one major thing we did keep running into. I know there is a big subject called mismatch of jobs, and I can understand, because we are working with it, the need for all kinds of apprenticeship programs. Yet one major thing was missing. We needed a stimulus for the private sector.
Many members have talked about the young people coming into their respective constituency offices; feeling the frustration in a tight market; being the first people to be asked that important question, “Do you have experience?”, and then, of course, all too often told, “We’ll call you.” What was needed was some kind of a stimulus, some kind of an assistance to the private sector so they might help the labour component of their cost makeups. Thus they would give an opportunity to young people for that short period when they are first gaining their experience to be introduced to the private sector. They would have an opportunity to prove their worth and have of course, an opportunity to gain the most essential thing needed -- namely, experience in the real world of work where 90 per cent of them are going to end up working anyway, with the private sector, be it in business or be it in the farm community.
The next thing that we heard mentioned over and over in the debate, was the talk about abuses. There was almost, I suppose, a paranoia about bad businessmen who are for sure going to -- and the term was there again, overused all so often -- be ripping off. That certainly isn’t the kind of social concern that we have run into as we have worked with businessmen throughout the province, as we travelled in our career development program, for example, where we met with representatives of business in the form of chambers of commerce, of boards of trade, who have shared with us some of the suggestions that have gone into the design of this particular program.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please! May I inquire of the hon. parliamentary assistant if he will be much longer? Should he maybe take an extra couple of minutes to finish now, or will he have a lengthy remark?
Mr. Jones: There are a number of questions, Mr. Speaker, that might take a few moments more than 6 o’clock.
Mr. Nixon: It is 6 of the clock.
Mr. Breithaupt: Perhaps that could be done in committee.
Mr. Kerrio: Dispense.
Mr. Speaker: I await the direction of the House leader.
Hon. Mr. Welch: We will call it 6.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.