Tuesday, February 21, 1978, being the first day of the second session of the 31st Parliament of the province of Ontario for the despatch of business pursuant to a proclamation of the Honourable P. M. McGibbon, Lieutenant Governor of the province.
The House met at 3 p.m.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, having entered the House and being seated upon the throne, was pleased to open the session with the following gracious speech.
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Hon. P. M. McGibbon (Lieutenant Governor): Pray be seated.
Mr. Speaker and members of the legislative assembly, the opening of the second session of the 31st Parliament of Ontario occurs at a time when Ontarians face clear and direct challenges to the continuing strength of our province and our nation.
The most crucial challenges are of an economic nature, running to the very heart of the forces that make our economy both prosperous and free, and that allow us to provide the many services that are essential to the well-being of all our citizens. Dealing with these basic challenges is not a task to be met simply through legislation or instant policy changes. It is a matter which requires at the outset an implicit belief in the kind of society we are seeking to preserve and enhance.
Nos actions doivent, d’abord et avant tout, se fonder sur la confiance. Certains, lorsqu’ils font allusion aux difficultés qui nous assaillent, parlent de crises. S’il existe une crise au Canada aujourd’hui, c’est bien une crise de confiance -- à l’égard de notre patrimoine, de nous-mêmes et de notre aptitude à bâtir sur des atouts qui font l’envie de beaucoup à travers le monde.
The foundation of our actions must, first and foremost, be confidence. There are those who refer to the difficulties that face us in terms of crises. If a crisis exists in Canada today, it is a crisis of confidence -- in our heritage, in ourselves and in our ability to build upon assets that are the envy of many throughout the world.
The health of the provincial economy, the security and generation of workers’ jobs and incomes will be the primary targets of government action during this session. These needs will largely be met through alternatives to a doctrinaire reliance on public spending. The government must assume a flexible and progressive role in shaping the economic framework on which the strength of the total society depends.
Since our current economic difficulties are related to circumstances that are both national and international in scope, every effort must be made to move towards full economic recovery through co-operation with our sister provinces and with the federal government. An important initial step in this direction was taken last week when the first ministers of this country gathered in Ottawa.
Relieving the current state of unemployment is, in many respects, beyond the control of a provincial jurisdiction. Ontario believes, therefore, that we must seek national answers to national problems and that we will strengthen Canadian responses to the larger economic challenge only through co-ordinated initiatives. In this context, the Ontario government presented a clear program for national action to the first ministers’ conference with specific proposals both for job creation in the short term and for a medium-term economic development strategy.
Among the several employment proposals on which there was agreement was the need for accelerated investment for major energy projects, and for new capital investments to improve Canada’s rail system, and automotive and fishing industries. As well, the conference endorsed the creative use of unemployment insurance for job creation and the provision of tax incentives or credits for industrial research and development.
It is clear that, from both provincial and national perspectives, we must continue to restrain government spending while encouraging the private sector to adopt, through all means at its disposal, measures that will assure domestic economic strength and international competitiveness. Program details must now be developed on the basis of the general agreement reached.
There are several key areas of initiative, notwithstanding the limits of provincial jurisdiction, on which Ontario is determined to act. The worst unemployment in Ontario -- as in Canada -- is among the youth. Lack of economic expansion and other structural difficulties have conspired to limit opportunity for the young people who are our future. Any meaningful response to unemployment in general must be spearheaded by a direct attack on the problem as it besets those under the age of 24.
Employment and placement of young people in productive occupations must receive a high priority within our entire economic system, and government must look to organized labour and the business sector to follow its lead.
Last year the Ontario government sponsored two programs which provide incentives to the private sector to create new jobs for young workers. The Ontario career action program encourages employers to provide on-the-job work experience. The Ontario youth employment program, for summer employment of students, provides a wage subsidy of $1 an hour by direct payment to the employer. My government will provide additional funds for these two programs in 1978 for the creation of 36,000 jobs at a total cost of $26 million.
Despite the numbers of unemployed and under-employed, a shortage of skilled tradesmen has been recurring in the manufacturing sector. This paradox can only be resolved by a training program especially geared to satisfying the manpower needs of industry. Development of such a program will be given the highest priority during the year. The new training scheme will emphasize employer-centred training and will provide the required level of skills in the shortest possible time.
The labour market information program begun last fall will assist the private sector in matching jobs with people to achieve higher employment, by identifying and analysing the critical supply and demand requirements of the provincial labour market. To ensure the effectiveness of this program, and a fully co-ordinated effort by those involved, the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) will, in the near future, convene a conference with college and university personnel, representatives of labour and business, as well as provincial and federal officials directly concerned.
National economic recovery will not be attained without the full and harmonious support of all segments of our population. The withdrawal of the federal anti-inflation program this spring must be replaced by effective self-discipline on the part of price setters and wage earners alike, both in the public and private sectors. There will be a need for new levels of industrial harmony in striving for the commonly held goals of limited inflation and increased employment.
The Ministry of Labour will continue efforts to improve employees’ working conditions throughout Ontario through the help of the quality of working life advisory committee, composed of senior representatives of labour and management. Support will be provided through the allocation of funds for research, promotion and training, as well as pilot projects in industry. These projects will give employees more involvement in, and responsibility for, their total working environment. While the primary aim is to increase job satisfaction, improved productivity -- as one of the keys to economic recovery -- should be a beneficial by-product of a successful program.
Good-faith bargaining and respect for the mutually critical roles of labour and management will be basic to continuing economic recovery. The government expects to receive a report from the Kelly Commission on Grievance Arbitration whose recommendations, it is anticipated, will aid the resolution of collective bargaining disputes in a fair, expeditious and less costly manner.
Ontario supports the decision of the first ministers that, for a limited period following termination of controls, the Economic Council of Canada be asked to play a key role in analysing price and cost developments. For its part, the province will set fair and firm guidelines with respect to public sector spending and is confident that compensation for public servants will be moderated accordingly.
As announced last September, increased provincial government spending for the coming fiscal year will be held well below revenue increases to strengthen Ontario’s economic position further in the move towards a balanced budget. Specific measures in the 1978 Ontario budget, to be presented by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) on March 7, will provide the leadership and example required of government in seeking the co-operation of the overall community in this area.
We must strengthen our industrial structure in order to be competitive on an international scale. Ontario’s involvement in the search for solutions beyond our borders has included consultations with the federal government for the current Geneva negotiations on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. While we recognize that certain sectors of our economy will benefit from freer and fairer trade, we remain concerned about the likelihood of real reciprocity being achieved, particularly with respect to secondary manufacturers. We must, therefore, ensure that Canadian-based industries are given adequate protection through periods of adjustment and possible rationalization in the years immediately ahead.
In this respect, agreement was reached at the first ministers’ meeting on the need for early establishment of adjustment mechanisms to protect Canadian industry and labour from short-term economic dislocation resulting from tariff changes. The aim is to improve our balance of payments, reverse our deficit position in such fields as tourism, and help us to identify import replacement opportunities. Increasing efforts will be made to find new export markets for Canadian products and Canadian technology.
Capital investment is a key factor in job creation and improved productivity within the growing Ontario labour force. In the face of the slower rate of industrial investment over the past few years, other jurisdictions, particularly northern states and municipalities in the United States, have initiated more aggressive industrial development programs.
In order to remain competitive with these jurisdictions, the government of Ontario will introduce measures to provide appropriate incentives and to promote Ontario as a desirable investment location.
New initiatives will be developed to sell more of our food commodities abroad.
An amendment to the Public Commercial Vehicles Act, while facilitating the movement of Ontario produce within the province, will enhance export opportunities to the United States.
Ontario will continue to press for a reduction in the trade imbalance under the Auto Pact and will examine other possibilities for encouraging a mutually beneficial flow of trade. With the assistance of the federal government, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that a fair share of future development in North American auto and auto parts manufacturing takes place in our province.
At home, Ontario’s participation in the Buy Canada campaign will cover all sectors of consumer and business activity. We must, as a province and nation, realize the full potential of the Canadian market. Support for domestic products in manufacturing and agriculture is absolutely basic to fighting inflation and to building demand and economic strength. This program, proposed as a fundamental precept of our strategy for economic recovery, will be pursued as a joint federal-provincial initiative.
My government is determined to remove unnecessary encumbrances that hinder appropriate industrial expansion or efficient business operation. With this in view, all ministries will undertake a thorough examination of the statutes, regulations and related policies that currently govern business practices and procedures, and will modify or eliminate outmoded and restrictive requirements. This exercise in cutting red tape, usually referred to as deregulation, should benefit big and small business alike, and also individual members of the public who all have dealings with government in one way or another.
In addition, the government will establish a mechanism to review the operation of agencies, boards and commissions, which have responsibility for many of the regulatory functions that are now carried out.
New measures relative to regional and resource development are proposed to provide direct assistance to northern and eastern Ontario as priority areas in the overall economic thrust of Ontario’s growth and development.
High transportation costs, particularly in the north, have long been a concern with shippers and consumers. Programs have been introduced at various times to help resolve this and related difficulties. The government has concluded that the adoption of a policy for selective deregulation of the trucking industry will go a long way to removing the inequities that remain. Additional benefits should derive from the effects on the cost of doing business and in terms of encouraging the expansion of secondary industry.
The select committee on highway transportation of goods, which reported to the Legislature last year, advised against the disruption of transportation patterns or services which non-licensed operators have established with the shipping public. The committee recommended that truckers who have operated services without licence between October 1974 and October 1976 be allowed to obtain operating authority under the Public Commercial Vehicles Act. The law will be amended during this session to follow these recommendations.
The North Bay restriction, imposed in the 1930s to protect the developing trucking industry but which now only adds to costs for shipment or receipt of goods, will be removed from public commercial vehicle licences. A further amendment to the Act to exempt the transportation of lumber and lumber by-products will help encourage processing of these products at the source.
A highway link will be constructed between Atikokan and Ignace to encourage new resource industry activity. A special northern program to allow the purchase of Crown land for private recreational use will help increase jobs in the construction and building trades.
There will be increased efforts on the part of Ontario to advance tripartite negotiations involving the federal government and native organizations, aimed at rationalizing the delivery of services to status Indians, resolving land claims and dealing with aboriginal rights.
A series of studies relating to a commuter air service for eastern Ontario, linking key agricultural and urban areas to other parts of the province, will be undertaken by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to pursue both private and public options for air travel in that area.
Work will be started on co-ordination and implementation of a large-scale drainage, reclamation and resource development project covering the 1,500-square-mile South Nation River watershed. This will enhance the economic productivity of 900,000 acres of agricultural and forest land in eastern Ontario.
Ontario has a body of environmental protections under law of which we can be justly proud, but a proper and careful balance must be struck between the short-term and long-term good. It remains for us, therefore, to summon the technology, the sense of responsibility and the will to reconcile both environmental protection and resource development in order to create productive jobs and a safe, healthy and habitable climate for our people.
Secure and adequate energy supplies are crucial to our social and economic future. Nuclear power and other conventional sources of energy will continue to play a key role in Ontario. At the same time, the government will increase its investment in energy conservation and renewable projects and, during this session, will set out a program to develop our renewable energy resources.
Despite production and supply initiatives related to all forms of energy, it remains as important as ever that government, industry and the general public continue unremitting efforts to conserve energy and to reduce the rate of growth in our demand for energy.
It must be re-emphasized that the realities we face today require changing attitudes by the public at large, as well as by government. In many of our institutions -- schools, universities, hospitals -- the challenge of coping with the unprecedented growth of the 1960s has been replaced by the need for a reordering of priorities, to do better with relatively less.
Yet, even with the need for fiscal restraint, progress, in qualitative terms, must continue. At this time, therefore, the government will seize the opportunity to place an increasing emphasis on special education in our elementary and secondary schools.
A plan of increased funding has been introduced to stimulate and support expanded special education programs and services at the local school board level. Initiatives will be taken to place more emphasis on early identification of children with learning disabilities, and to ensure that all school boards provide appropriate levels of service for all students within their jurisdictions, regardless of their disabilities and handicaps.
In addition, a demonstration school will be established for limited numbers of children with severe learning disabilities who require services which can only be provided in a residential facility.
The need for reforms in meeting the economic demands of our social systems is equally clear in the field of health care. My government’s approach in tempering these demands will be sensible and sensitive.
The future strength of the health system lies in its redirection away from institutional care and toward community and residential forms of care. The commitment to maintain the quality of the system remains at the heart of the government’s policy. In turn, by assuming more personal responsibilities for the demands they place on it, members of the public as well as of the health professions can do their part to ensure that ours remains one of the finest health care delivery systems anywhere in the world.
Legislation will be reintroduced for interim improvements to the Mental Health Act and to ensure the highest standards of design and operation in the province’s mental health facilities.
The obligation of the individual to the community is rooted in and nurtured by that single most important social institution -- the family. Ontario families, like families in other parts of the world, have undergone profound and rapid change in the last quarter century. There has been increasing full-time participation in the labour force by women. Traditional parental roles have changed, as have the functions of the extended family, including grandparents, aunts and uncles and other relatives outside the immediate family circle.
While these changes in family living have, for the most part, enhanced family life and encouraged the fuller development of individual members, they have also created uncertainty about the traditional strength of the family and its role in society.
My government shares the concerns of thoughtful citizens who see a need for concerted action, and is prepared to take a leading part in supporting and strengthening the family in Ontario.
First, the government will undertake a comprehensive review of its policies and programs as they affect the family, with the aim of making appropriate changes to enhance the role and authority of the family unit. Better understanding and appreciation of family concerns will be fostered through special attention to the needs of single-parent families, working mothers and their children; and family care for the handicapped, the sick and the elderly. All of these efforts will be co-ordinated by the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch).
As well, the government will encourage full participation by municipalities, community groups and private organizations in launching a variety of activities during May, which has traditionally been Family Unity Month.
Renewed focus on the family in Ontario throughout 1978 can also serve to direct our attention more toward children within the family unit, rather than in isolation, as we prepare for next year’s observation of the Year of the Child, a world-wide event that will be sponsored by the United Nations.
The ongoing commitment of the government to resources for education and its emphasis on children’s services are but two symbols of a passionate belief and confident hope in the future of this province. Significant protections for children will be included in legislation to implement recommendations of the consultation paper on children’s services which was tabled in the House last December. The main areas of concern relate to child abuse, improvements in licensing of group homes for children and additional protection of the rights of children in residential care facilities.
Human behaviour and social mores are not at the will of governments to dictate; but while times change, basic codes of behaviour remain constant inasmuch as they are fashioned by public consensus. This principle is reflected in Ontario’s comprehensive family law reform legislation which will receive final reading and proclamation at this session.
New legislation will be introduced to protect children caught up in family disputes. The bill will deal with custody and access proceedings and with the increasing problem of kidnapping of children by parents. Steps will also be taken to explore the use of independent legal representation as a means of protecting the interests of children in family law cases.
The support of the House will be sought for a series of initiatives towards an overall approach to combat alcohol abuse in our society. These will include proposals pertaining to liquor advertising, enforcement of liquor legislation, drunken driving and the drinking age.
My ministers have approved in principle the introduction of compulsory automobile insurance in Ontario with a view to implementation in December 1979. The program, to be developed by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, will take into account recommendations of the select committee on company law whose report on the enforcement aspects of such a plan is expected soon.
Only by maintaining and improving the processes in the administration of justice can the rights enjoyed by all citizens be adequately protected and the claim of each citizen to equal justice under the law be guaranteed. My government will introduce a new Provincial Offences Act as part of the overall program to streamline and support the justice system. This legislation will simplify trial procedures for offences against provincial law, cases whose numbers currently threaten to overburden the courts. Under the simplified procedure, citizens will be able to have their cases dealt with more efficiently while preserving their legal rights.
The superior courts will be made more accessible to citizens and steps will be taken to enhance the capacity of the Supreme Court of Ontario to hear cases in all parts of the province.
Several new pilot projects will be introduced in the community work program of the Ministry of Correctional Services.
The measure of tolerance and respect that citizens can expect from the community is of central importance to the overall social balance. The sense of fairness that defines our view of society in Ontario and much of the tolerance that we cherish are set out in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Consideration is currently being given to the range of recommendations concerning the code and the role of the commission that emanated from the most recent review. In the meantime, however, the government will move to protect the rights of the physically handicapped. The status of affirmative action and equal opportunity programs will be clarified, so that they are not deemed to conflict with the provisions of the code.
Greater attention will be devoted to the promotion of harmonious race relations among all the people of Ontario through a closer partnership between government and the community.
It need hardly be stated that Ontario’s cultural pluralism is a vital force in, and integral to, the day to day life of the province. The focus of our multicultural groups and organizations, like that of individual Ontarians, is anxiously directed towards the need for the strengthening and reaffirmation of the Canadian identity.
The Ministry of Culture and Recreation is offering funding support for public conferences, seminars and community activities towards this end through the new Canadian cultural identity and citizenship program which already is earning wide and satisfying response.
The fundamental rights of Franco-Ontarians to education in the French language have long been recognized in Ontario. Franco-Ontarians also have a commitment from the government for the expansion of government services in the French language in accordance with need and population distribution.
We shall continue to build upon the strong foundation already laid in the field of education to ensure that French-language programs are available at all levels, where practicable, to French-speaking Ontarians. At the same time, the expansion of opportunities for English-speaking pupils to develop French-language capacity remains a priority.
During this session, there will be legislation to increase the availability of French-language court trials in areas of the province where this service is needed. Amendments to the Judicature Act and the Juries Act will guarantee the steps taken in this direction. As well, the government will review proposals related to the use of French in regulatory and other administrative tribunals.
Present government translation services will be augmented to make more public documents, publications and forms available in both French and English. Of particular importance, a special section will be established to begin work on translating Ontario’s statutes into French.
All ministries will undertake a program to identify government buildings and give highway directions in both English and French in predominantly francophone areas.
The appointment of full-time co-ordinators of French-language services in an additional number of ministries will enhance the capability of the government in responding to the community.
Minority language rights in the larger national context must be viewed from a national perspective. The spirit of the St. Andrews meeting of provincial premiers, in the consensus reached on economic matters and the advancement of minority-language education, should give us much hope. Ontario will be an active participant when the premiers meet again later this week to pursue these discussions and will continue to advance the case for minority-language educational guarantees as a matter that falls more appropriately within the context of constitutional change.
Ontario shares with the other provinces the fortune of belonging to one of the most favoured nations in the world. Our society will continue to thrive if we give heed to shifting priorities within the context of the new realities that are upon us.
The goals which my government has outlined -- to reduce inflation, increase employment opportunities, move towards economic recovery and restore public confidence -- may all be considered important in their own right. But they are also of utmost importance to the cause of a united Canada.
My government is firmly convinced that the assurance of a secure future and fair opportunity for all citizens of Canada are essential ingredients to a harmonious and unified nation. There seems little doubt that to satisfy such requirements, both constitutional restructuring and economic realignment will be necessary.
Ontario stands ready to play its part, in the full awareness and confidence that all sides of this House will work together towards these objectives. There cannot be any doubt that it is within the capacity of this Legislature, in its day-to-day undertakings, to exert a positive influence throughout Ontario and the nation as a whole, to build and strengthen our future.
Honourable members, my government presents these measures, which are now subject to your consideration and judgement, as being in the best interests of the people of Ontario. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.
In our Sovereign’s name, I thank you.
God bless the Queen and Canada.
The Honourable the Lieutenant Governor was then pleased to retire from the chamber.
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that to prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy of Her Honour’s speech, which I shall now read.
Reading dispensed with.
TRUSTEE AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved first reading of Bill 1, An Act to amend the Trustee Act.
Motion agreed to.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. O’Neil moved first reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 1974.
Motion agreed to.
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor to this House be taken into consideration tomorrow.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Davis moved that the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) be deputy chairman of the committee of the whole House for this session.
Motion agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Davis, the House adjourned at 3:50 p.m.