The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
DEATH OF ADRIENNE PAQUETTE
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House of the completion of my ministry’s investigation into the management of the case of Adrienne Paquette, a victim of child abuse, who died in her own home and who had been in the care and under the supervision of the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society.
The ministry’s staff has now completed the review and forwarded to me a report which included their findings and recommendations. For the information of the members and the public, I am today making these findings and recommendations available along with this statement. The findings have identified a number of concerns about the society’s case management and supervisory practices, its policies and procedures and the adequacy of decision-making and services provided to the family. The recommendations propose a number of specific actions to be taken in order to address the concerns identified.
I see no basis in this report to justify the ordering of a judicial inquiry. The facts of the case are known and are agreed upon between the ministry and the society. The need for further action and the nature of that action are clearly identified in the findings and recommendations of the report. The most important aspect of the matter is now to ensure, with the co-operation and the assistance of the society, that appropriate steps are taken.
Following the completion of the review, a special meeting of the board of directors of the society was held at which the findings and recommendations were presented by the director of child welfare and the two staff members who conducted the review. I believe that meeting has laid the groundwork for an analysis by the society of the report’s implications for its services and for a commitment to the resolution of the problems identified. The board has appointed an ad hoc committee to work with ministry staff to this end. With this commitment to joint action by the ministry and the board, I am confident that everything possible will be done to prevent the occurrence of any similar circumstances in the future.
Mr. S. Smith: Can I have a copy of that? I don’t have a copy.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to inform the House of an important conference of forest regeneration taking place in Thunder Bay this week, beginning tomorrow. I have invited more than 150 representatives from the forest industry, the universities and the Ministry of Natural Resources -- and I might say I would be glad to have the official critics of the two opposition parties --
Mr. Reid: Now you ask.
Mr. Foulds: That’s a little late.
Hon. F. S. Miller: -- to meet and discuss all aspects of closing the gap between the number of trees harvested annually in Ontario and the number required for future use and enjoyment.
Mr. MacDonald: You’re 40 years too late.
Mr. Foulds: It’s not two for one.
Hon. F. S. Miller: As members know, my ministry estimates that of the licensed area cut over each year approximately two-thirds is adequately regenerated, leaving one-third which is not.
Mr. Foulds: That is not what your ministry estimates.
Hon. F. S. Miller: While that is an improvement over what it used to be, it’s still not good enough --
Mr. Foulds: You are right.
Mr. S. Smith: Two for one!
Hon. F. S. Miller: -- nor will it be good enough for the thousands of Ontario residents, in the south as well as in the north, who depend on trees for jobs, recreation and the well-being of their community.
We are at a critical point. We must satisfy ever-increasing demands for timber and fibre and yet guarantee that our forests will flourish. The participants at this Thunder Bay working conference have been asked in advance to come prepared to identify problems, present their views, talk frankly about possible solutions, and come to an agreement or consensus on certain basic realities and what should be done to close the regeneration gap.
I have also taken steps to ensure that what goes on at Thunder Bay is well publicized by inviting the news media in Ontario to send representatives to all general sessions and the sessions of the 14 working groups.
Mr. Reid: If you planted as many trees as you have news conferences, we wouldn’t have any problems.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Afterwards, there will be briefing sessions and plenty of opportunity to question delegates. I will also participate in the conference through its three days.
I expect that this will be a productive, exciting coming-together of experts who know our forests. These people collectively share more than 2,000 years of experience managing and working with our forest resources. I am confident they will be able to provide positive ideas to enable all those responsible to do the best job possible in managing our forests now and for the future.
ONTARIO ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED
Hon. Mrs. Birch: Mr. Speaker, earlier today I deposited with the clerk copies of the second annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped. It is not a statutory requirement that the report be tabled in the Legislature, but I did want to bring it to the attention of all the members of the House. The council, as you know, is made up of a group of very dedicated individuals who have done excellent work in bringing the concerns and aspirations of the physically handicapped to our attention. I am very happy to be associated with the council and want to express my appreciation for the outstanding job that they have done.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. The hon. member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. Reed) was quoted, both on CBC radio and in the Hamilton Spectator of March 17, as saying that the decision reconfirming the Bradley-to-Milton transmission line “was not made by the cabinet but was an informal decision made by the Minister of Energy.”
The member, as quoted in the Hamilton Spectator, said: “A couple of ministers apparently haven’t heard a thing about it. I have reason to believe there was never any formal presentation to cabinet on this matter. I suspect Mr. Baetz discussed it with Darcy McKeough and was told to go to blazes.”
Mr. Roy: Right on.
Mr. Reid: That’s a pretty safe bet.
Mr. Reed: You are right sometimes, Darcy.
Mr. S. Smith: Was Darcy ever that moderate? When did Darcy ever speak that moderately?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I continue the quote of the member for Halton-Burlington. He said: “He’s a very naive politician.”
I wish to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the government of Ontario does not function in such an irresponsible, arbitrary and ad hoc manner as the member has suggested.
Mr. Peterson: When did you change?
Mr. Bolan: How is the hot seat there, Reuben?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I wish the record to note that the decision on this transmission line route was reconfirmed by the Ontario cabinet subsequent to my meeting with interested citizens’ groups on March 6. This formal decision taken by cabinet reconfirmed earlier decisions taken by cabinet on the same transmission route. For any member to suggest publicly that this decision was taken in any other way is the height of irresponsibility, in my estimation.
Mr. Roy: Reuben, did he say you had an LLD?
Mr. Reed: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister is referring to a statement in his letter to the ICG where he referred to the fact that he had discussed the question with his cabinet colleagues, because that is the area of the letter to which I was referring. Information came to me from the ICG that some checking had been done, and certainly not all of the cabinet ministers were aware that contact had been made with cabinet.
Mr. Foulds: They were sleeping through that part of the cabinet meeting.
LAND SALE BY FORMER PC PRESIDENT
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a matter of privilege. I refer to a story and headline in the early edition of the Globe and Mail of Tuesday, March 28, which reads: “Order by McKeough helps Former PC President sell Money-Losing Site.” There are several inaccuracies in the story, and I am consulting my solicitors.
Mrs. Campbell: Did it help him?
INCREASE IN OHIP PREMIUMS
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: With regard to his budget statement of 1976, does he recall, when he raised premiums for OHIP by about 45 per cent then, making the following statement in budget paper B in 1976:
“Premiums will now generate approximately 28 per cent of the total financing of OHIP. This is a more appropriate level than the 23 per cent raised in 1975-76 and is a suitable long-run norm to maintain as health care costs increase in future years.”
Does he recall that statement? What was it based on, and why has he changed his mind?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, honestly I don’t recall that particular statement. Although most of the words in my budgets are indelibly engraved on my heart, I don’t frankly recall that.
Mr. Reid: Or don’t want to recall.
Mr. Foulds: Is it engraved on your brain?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: However, I would say to the hon. member that the committee on health costs, the Taylor committee, recommended approximately a third and I was guided by that advice.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: The Taylor committee made its recommendation based on two documents, a 1973 Ontario Council of Health report, and the 1976 budget statement of the Treasurer. Since it obviously came three years after the OCH report, they must have taken it into consideration. How can the Treasurer now justify moving to 34 per cent when he already said that 28 per cent was a legitimate goal? Does he agree that if he stuck to his original 28 per cent long-term goal -- which is the statement he made in 1976 -- he would only need to raise OHIP premiums, given this year’s estimate, approximately nine per cent and not 37.5 per cent?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I doubt the member’s arithmetic.
Mr. S. Smith: If the Treasurer doubts the arithmetic, I shall now read to him. Is he familiar with the fact that OHIP insured services include in the estimates, practitioners, ambulance services, hospitals, extended care and home care, totalling in this year’s estimates $3,289,002,600? Does he agree that 28 per cent of that total is $920,921,000, and that he is generating, by his increase, $199 million more than he would need according to that guideline, which he himself assured the people of this province two years ago was fair and reasonable?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Let me repeat myself. I said, apparently, in 1976, that that was an appropriate norm --
Mr. S. Smith: Long-term.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- a long-term norm. What I had been guided by was the report, as I have indicated, of the committee on health costs, which recommended about a third. I think we can play with percentages in any way we like if we wish to. The Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) points out that in terms of his total budget the cost met by premiums is something in the neighbourhood of 27 or 28 per cent. There is also a figure, which is used from time to time, that the cost to those who actually pay premiums as opposed to those -- the 1,800,000 or so people who do not pay premiums -- is in the neighbourhood of 47 or 48 per cent. But I would say now, irrespective of what I may have said in 1976, that about a third is an approximate figure and in my judgement, would be about right.
Mr. S. Smith: Would the Treasurer then admit that the numbers he is drawing out of a hat have no relationship, either to his own original estimate nor to the Taylor committee -- which only based its statement on his original statement -- and the preceding statement, which presumably it took into consideration? Will he now admit that he is looking for some place to raise an additional $200 million of revenue and picked on the OHIP premiums to do it, because he knows that people are worried about health and because it is a high-profile ministry behind which he can hide the fiscal irresponsibility which put him in this box in the first place?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: I don’t think it is fair to say that the Taylor committee relied only on a statement I may have made in 1973 or 1976. Those six or seven members of the committee went into all aspects of health costs and of premiums; they did an exhaustive study. I doubt very much that they only looked at my particular words of advice in 1976 or the view of someone in 1973. Therefore, ergo, the Leader of the Opposition’s question is based on a completely wrong assumption, like so much else that he says.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary, the hon. member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Conway: I would like to have the Treasurer reiterate whether or not he is prepared at this point to abandon the principle which he stated very clearly in his budget paper of 1976, that premiums would be expected to pay no more than 28 per cent of insured health services and that this would be an acceptable long-term norm. Is he saying today that 28 per cent is no longer an acceptable long-term norm, and that in fact 33 per cent is his new long-term norm?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, obviously if that’s what I said in the 1978 budget, then the member has the benefit of my latest thinking.
An hon. member: Which changes yearly.
Mr. Roy: We can’t rely on the Treasurer’s word. He changes his mind from one year to the next.
QUEBEC POLICY ON CONSTRUCTION HIRING
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the Quebec government is proposing to bar qualified Ontario construction workers from working in Quebec by regulation 77-587 section 12.14 -- to take effect in July, 1978 -- while, as the minister knows, Ontario permits qualified construction workers from Quebec to work here, which is only proper; will the minister indicate whether efforts to preserve the traditional common labour market in the Ottawa-Hull and Cornwall-Montreal areas might result in modifications to the proposed Quebec regulations? What is the present status of the negotiations which have been going on?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition that the barring of Ontario workers from construction jobs in the province of Quebec is not something of recent origin. In actual fact, the government before the PQ government brought in the kind of legislation which encouraged this activity; and indeed there was a great deal of movement which prevented much of the interchange which had been traditional for Ontario construction workers along the Ontario-Quebec border.
However, there is a certain refinement of that activity going on at this time, which is becoming, I think, much more obvious, and obviously much more painful to Ontario workers in a time of high unemployment in the construction industry. As a result of the concerns which have been expressed by members of the construction unions, by the Construction Industry Review Panel, by members of the unions in the Ottawa-Hull area and in Cornwall, we have indeed had a number of meetings with our opposite numbers in the province of Quebec -- the latest one having been about 10 days ago -- in an attempt to resolve this difficulty.
Mr. Speaker, I would have to say that I am not at this point hopeful we will be able to persuade the government of the province of Quebec to modify the regulation. I am sufficiently optimistic to hope that we can do something which will circumvent this problem, but I would have to say quite honestly at this point that I do not see a change in the drafting of that regulation as a solution to the problem. Therefore, we are moving on a different tack in order to attempt to solve the problem for the benefit of the workers in the province of Ontario.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, may I ask a brief, two-part question: One, what is this different tack; is the minister at liberty to share this with the members of this House? The second question: since all of us realize that retaliation is not the proper way to build a country, is the minister considering launching a legal challenge in concert with the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) against the constitutionality of the regulation 77-587 section 12.14 that I have brought to her attention?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would have to say that as soon as I feel that I am at liberty I would be pleased to share with the members of the House the route we are considering following. I would also remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition that, indeed, labour matters have been traditionally considered to be of provincial jurisdiction rather than federal jurisdiction, and whether indeed there is any challenge to the constitutional argument in this situation is something which we have explored. We have not as yet received an opinion from any of the learned gentlemen in this area which would give us any feeling of security that an argument on constitutional grounds would be a winning argument for the province of Ontario.
I would like to say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition, however, that in spite of having been urged by the now leader of the third party to draft retaliatory legislation, I have resisted this impulse, and will continue to do so --
Mr. Kerrio: Shameful.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- because I really do not believe, Mr. Speaker, that balkanizing Canada is the way in which we can unite Canada.
Mr. Martel: Your government didn’t tell Sun Life to stay at home.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: Recognizing the difficulty of the problem and recognizing as well the fact that in the spirit of this country retaliatory legislation is not the answer, would the minister advise, since we have been raising this problem since 1971, why we can’t work out some reciprocal arrangement with the province of Quebec, since we have had a problem in the Cornwall-Ottawa-Hull area since 1971? Why is it we can’t work out reciprocal agreements with them, especially in light of the fact that the benefit has been mostly one way as Hull workers were working in Ottawa? They are starting to get tough now when there is more construction on the Quebec side than there is on the Ontario side.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That is a delightful suggestion but I would remind the hon. member that it takes two to reciprocate. We have been trying since 1970-71 to develop some kind of reciprocal arrangement and it has not been possible to do so.
Mr. Roy: In view of the suggestion by my leader, has the minister received a constitutional opinion as to challenging the legislation in the courts? If she has, who is the author of that opinion; because we are somewhat suspicious at times of opinions coming from certain ministries, and I won’t be personal?
Mr. Speaker: That question has already been asked and answered.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes. Although I would support consistently the value of the opinions which arrive from the Ministry of the Attorney General and others, it was an independent, external opinion.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We got it from Ron Basford and we are suspicious of it.
Mr. Roy: He’s never wrong.
Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources: After the report prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources, entitled The Ontario Metal Mining Industry, which was tabled in February, 1977 and which warned, “unless the markets improve rapidly in the near future it is difficult to see how cuts in the Sudbury mine output can be avoided” -- to which the government failed to respond; what action is the government prepared to take now as a result of the Mohide report, entitled Towards a Nickel Policy for the Province of Ontario, wherein he recommends: “Encourage, through special Ontario income and mining tax adjustments, the adaptation and use of currently idle nickel refining capacity in Ontario and Alberta to refine part or all of the significant proportion of Ontario mine outputs of nickel which still goes to Wales and Norway in semi-refined forms for refining, so as to create jobs in Canada?”
Hon. F. S. Miller: In the mid-term break, this report received a fair amount of press. There were one or two conclusions apparently reached from it. One was that the Treasurer had not accepted the advice of my ministry as shown in that report. I think that was a misunderstanding. The very authors of that report and myself advocated to the Treasurer the kinds of policies he adopted in the budget. There is quite a difference between penalizing offshore processing and encouraging processing at home.
Mr. Laughren: Oh stop it.
Hon. F. S. Miller: We were penalizing offshore processing. We have strong encouragement for processing at home. The committee that studied the problems, the select committee of this House, amongst its recommendations did point out that we should encourage, wherever possible, the maximum employment of miners within Canada.
I have to say we are currently at a stage in the mining industry where any capital required for home processing is not available. Section 113 of the Act, which prohibits the export without our permission, will be used, whenever it is feasible, to produce and process those ores at home; it is our opinion that currently it is not.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary: Is it not a fact that there is excess capacity for refining purposes, both in Alberta and in Ontario, for nickels being exploited from the Sudbury basin; that those avenues have not been utilized but rather we have shipped the ores to Wales and Norway for refining, as opposed to using the capacity which exists in Canada?
Hon. F. S. Miller: One of the processing plants -- I think it’s the one out west -- doesn’t have the ability to extract the precious metals. The other one may or may not have, I’m not sure, but the fact is it is not geared up to handle Falconbridge ore, as I’m told; and in fact I was told, and I believe the committee was told, that the current investment requirement would be $30 million or more to allow it to process these ores.
Obviously, the hon. member and I share one common objective -- whether we agree upon the way of getting there or not remains to be seen -- and that is to protect the most jobs we can in Canada, the maximum number.
Mr. Foulds: Maybe create a few too.
Hon. F. S. Miller: We believe, currently, by judicious use of section 113 and the continuation of some processing offshore, which allows that metal to enter the European market -- don’t forget that, metal could be supplied by other mines in other parts of the world -- that in fact the maximum number of jobs are being protected here at home in Canada.
Mr. Reid: Supplementary: That’s the first justification I’ve heard of the $5 million gift to them. Can the minister explain if there was any commitment by Falconbridge or Inco that that $5 million credit the government is giving to them for their offshore refining in Norway and Wales is going to go into capital investment in Ontario or in Canada?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has assumed it comes from Inco and Falconbridge. The $5 million appraisal made by the Ministry of Treasury was based upon all of the allowances and all of the changes in the mining taxes mentioned in the budget, not just the offshore processing allowance. Right now, in the last year, I don’t think that would have had any effect upon the total revenues to the province. It would be in the future that it would have.
We are simply looking very carefully at the world markets, as the hon. member’s leader said we should -- I recall this very clearly in the opening debate -- the fact we hadn’t allowed matte to be exported in 1972 was --
Mr. S. Smith: Not to be refined elsewhere; only if it was to be used in the unrefined state.
Hon. F. S. Miller: All right. The fact remains that the world markets for electrolytically-refined metals are shrinking as these other forms take their place. I think the hon. Leader of the Opposition would agree with me there.
Mr. S. Smith: Not to be refined elsewhere.
Hon. F. S. Miller: The fact remains that very low cost electricity is being used in Norway for the processing of the Falconbridge ores, electricity which Ontario currently does not have available, and which would cost more if it were available in Ontario. We believe that the combination of lower offshore costs and entry to the foreign markets is protecting jobs within the nickel industry in Ontario right now.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: Could the minister give us any reasons, other than self-serving or bureaucratic ones, as to why that Mohide report was not made available to the select committee on the layoffs, in view of the fact that the report was dated December, 1977? While the minister is on his feet, perhaps he could explain to us if he understands that there is unused capacity in the mineral refining industry in Ontario today?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Of course there’s some unused capacity; the fact is that every ore requires a different processing technique, and I’m sure the hon. member knows that.
Mr. Renwick: Do you know that?
Hon. F. S. Miller: As for the report, I can assure the hon. member that if it was dated December, 1977, it was because it was in typewritten form then and it certainly wasn’t even read by me at that point. Secondly, was it available for the committee? I read the transcript of that committee, because Dr. Mohide was present at the committee, and I read the comments made by Mr. Geddes -- Brooks, is it? --
Mr. Martel: Webster.
Hon. F. S. Miller: -- who referred to that report in the context and said that this report was available and had been examined by the committee. That was my understanding.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Does the minister not agree that it is important to draw a distinction between allowing exemptions to section 113 for the purpose of exporting into those markets which can use matte directly in the steel-making process, and therefore are going to shop around for such matte, as opposed to those possible markets that intend to further refine the matte outside the country? Does the minister not agree that it’s important to draw that distinction and to allow exemptions mainly in markets which otherwise could use unrefined matte from some other place, but not to further refine it outside the country?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the hon. Leader of the Opposition, providing that there was not an alternative source of the raw material for that particular refinery. It happens that the Wales’ operations of Inco can now process ores from other locations in the world; and the Falconbridge overseas operations can also.
Mr. Laughren: Where have you been all these years, Frank?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Therefore, we’re faced with other willing suppliers of the raw materials for those two refineries for entry to the European market. I still say it is much better to keep the seven to 10 jobs-per-ton of capacity through the mining process from going overseas, than to try to get back the one in the refining that is now overseas; because it’s that kind of a ratio, a 10-to-one ratio.
Mr. Speaker: We’ll have one final supplementary from the hon. member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: In view of the fact that the platinum group metals have been extracted for over 50 years and that nowhere in Canada, as yet, do we refine any of that, what action is the government prepared to undertake to ensure that those platinum group metals are finally refined in Canada?
Hon. F. S. Miller: For a change the member and I are going to agree. I think those should be refined in Canada. I have asked for an explanation as to the amount of investment that will be required and the number of jobs that would come back. I’m told that in the range of 50 to 60 jobs could come back to the Sudbury area or some other area. I would very much like to see the platinum group metals refined in Ontario and I intend to serve notice -- and have unofficially -- that I need that explanation before I’ll be prepared to continue exporting.
Mr. Laughren: We’ve lost over 1,000 jobs at Falconbridge refining and you dabble with 60 jobs.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Sudbury East has a second question.
Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Treasurer, in view of the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) absence today. Regarding the announcement by American Motors that 1,000 employees face two months’ layoff beginning in June, and some 350 will be terminated until such time as the Jeep line of production reaches the desired production rate, has the government of Ontario done any analysis to determine the production level which has to be achieved in order to restore the lost employment? How long will it take to reach the production level, which I think W. S. Pickett said would have to reach 70,000 or 80,000 to guarantee all the jobs which are being lost? Maybe I should direct that to the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Or the Minister of Labour.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I don’t believe we have done such an analysis. My understanding is, of course, that American Motors have done so and they are very confident that the future market for the Jeep product is such that with the product being made exclusively at the Brampton plant the total work force will come back to what it is at the present time, and perhaps even surpass that.
Mr. Martel: In how long?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, we have not done a total analysis of that subject.
Mr. Martel: A supplementary: In view of the Chrysler layoffs in Windsor and in view of the American Motors situation in Brampton, what steps has the government of Ontario taken by way of direct communication with the industry -- the four producers -- to insist on a fair share of auto production on first-line products for Canadian plants, as opposed to Jeeps and vans as is the case in those two areas?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I believe that certainly Jeeps and vans and what-have-you would be considered first-line, as compared to others; unless, of course, the member is referring only to the larger automobiles and family automobiles.
Mr. Martel: Cars and trucks.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: In discussions I had with American Motors, their feeling is that they are not able to capture the size of the automobile market that they would obviously like to have, and they could see a better future for their company, and more employment, by moving into the Jeep line as their most prominent product.
In the case of Chrysler, we are going to be meeting with the Chrysler people to discuss just what is happening as it relates to their operations in Windsor, and some of the discussion will be revolving around information that has been brought to my attention about what is happening to their facilities in Detroit.
Mr. Ruston: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While the minister is meeting with Chrysler, I assume he will also be asking them about their small cars, since they are now into the small car industry and going very well. Will he be proposing that some of their parts for small cars be made in Canada, even if the small cars are not made here?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Certainly we can make that proposal, but I think the member is aware of the fact that the whole matter is up for a considerable amount of discussion as it relates to the manufacture of parts -- well, the whole auto pact area. There is a lot of concern being expressed by the unions, by governments, and in some cases I think by the automobile manufacturers themselves, as to how this is going to work out; certainly the auto parts manufacturers have a great deal of concern. This whole matter is being discussed.
I certainly can suggest to Chrysler that we think this would be desirable. What effect that will have, I don’t know. I think right now that one of the things we are going to have to do is to enter into very serious discussions with my federal counterpart with a view to finding out just what is happening, if there is in fact severe political pressure being brought to bear on the major car manufacturers in the United States which is drawing some of the potential jobs out of Canada and into the United States.
Ms. Renwick: Of course there is.
Mr. Mackenzie: Don’t send the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) to find out.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I can agree with the hon. member when he says, “Of course there is”; but I think rather than simply standing and saying “of course there is,” let’s find out to what degree it is and whether or not the companies are prepared to recognize that they have a responsibility towards investment and the creation and the continuation of existing jobs in this country.
Mr. S. Smith: You still don’t know?
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, since the economy of Ontario is so dependent upon the auto industry, where 40 per cent of the work force in Ontario is either directly or very closely indirectly associated with the auto industry, and the minister has mentioned the non-operation in the proper sense of the auto pact, is it not time, in his opinion, that a committee of this Legislature should bring the auto companies before us and ask them and demand from them that the production in parts and finished products in Ontario equal the sales in Ontario, which was the intent of the auto pact, and find out why they have not done that to date?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I am not completely satisfied that a select committee of this Legislature is going to produce the sort of answers that are wanted. I am not saying it isn’t possible that that may be the way we want to go, but it does seem to me that we are in a position now where we must go -- and I am not saying this as a matter of passing the buck -- to the federal government, who have the responsibility to negotiate with the United States government as it relates to the auto pact, and to find out why we are not receiving our fair share, if we are not. The select committee will do nothing more than bring in the auto manufacturers, who will sit down and discuss with us what their situation is.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s where the power is.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It’s still a federal responsibility and we would like to work in conjunction with the federal government, but it’s really of no value for us to go off by ourselves in this thing.
Mr. Martel: They’ve been dragging their feet for years.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The opposition members continually want us to do things as a province which are really in the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: Would the minister not consider it right that he demand that industry immediately inform him whenever any substantial changes are contemplated by them that can adversely affect the work force in all communities in the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, that requirement is already there. The companies are required to notify the Ministry of Labour when there is any change that may affect the work force at those particular plants.
Mr. B. Newman: They didn’t know about the Chrysler layoff.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am the first to admit to the member that there seems to have been some lack of communication in that particular situation as it reflects on Chrysler, but that requirement is there -- that the reporting is supposed to be given by advance notice to the Minister of Labour.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, on March 13, the hon. member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) asked a question regarding the work force at Olivetti Canada on Don Mills Road.
Employment at the plant has been reduced. Three years ago 180 persons were employed at the plant; two years ago it was at 150; employment now stands at 88, not at the 55 that the hon. member stated. But dumping in Canada of offshore-produced typewriters cannot be blamed for this cut.
The reason for the reduction in staff over the past three years is twofold and hinges on market conditions. First, electric typewriters are increasingly popular, which has caused the sales of manual typewriters to fall off by 50 per cent. Secondly economic and competitive conditions have caused the sale of Olivetti’s electric typewriters to suffer. If the sales of electric typewriters were as had been projected, I am informed that employment at Olivetti would be approximately 128.
Perhaps the question of dumping would be relevant if Olivetti’s competitors were importing at lower prices. But Olivetti is not complaining of this, nor are this company’s competitors complaining that Olivetti’s overseas plants are dumping in Canada -- at least, no official complaint has been registered with the federal Department of Revenue anti-dumping directorate.
Olivetti does not anticipate any further plant layoffs and the company does not intend to close the operation on Don Mills Road.
Regarding the question from the hon. member on government purchases, I would like to explain that although each ministry makes its own purchase decisions, government-wide purchasing and supply arrangements for typewriters, as well as other products, are made by the Ministry of Government Services. Government purchasing policies are established by my colleague, the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson), and I would suggest that the hon. member’s question on the purchase of typewriters should be placed as a question on the order paper.
Mr. Roy: I have a question of the Solicitor General: Would the Solicitor General advise whether we have here in Ontario a policy whereby the use of and access to criminal files and records are limited to accredited police forces or Crown agencies? Do we have a policy like that here or not?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, Mr. Speaker, criminal records are only available formally to the police and to solicitors -- for example, to defence counsel for trial -- and in cases such as mentioned by the hon. member.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary: Then how does the Solicitor General justify the fact that a situation has been allowed to exist, in Ottawa at least -- and I am not naive enough to think that it is limited to Ottawa; it probably goes on right across the province -- whereby a private agency -- in the case of Ottawa it is called the Universal Investigation Services -- were allowed to get access to these criminal files and records and then turn around and sell this information to such agencies or stores as Hudson’s Bay, Eatons, and so on, to check on their employees?
How is it that this situation was allowed to exist for five years in Ottawa -- and, I suspect, across the province -- and how is it that if it has been going on for that period of time the Solicitor General’s ministry is not aware of it; and if the ministry is aware of it, what has been done about it?
Hon. Ms. Kerr: The procedure, as the hon. member explains it, is not proper. I noticed just this morning a press report on the incident in Ottawa and have asked for a full report from the people within my ministry. I would therefore expect to report to the hon. member later.
Mr. Roy: May I ask one further supplementary?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister will report back when he has a full report.
Mr. Roy: There is one other aspect to this that I wanted to ask the minister about, if I may, Mr. Speaker. An important --
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member originally asked a come-on question and then he had a three-part supplementary. Surely the hon. member can organize his questions in such a way that he doesn’t pre-empt too much time of the question period.
Mr. Roy: I don’t think I’ve taken up --
Mr. Speaker: You can’t naturally assume that you are going to get three supplementaries to every question.
Mr. Roy: I appreciate that. It’s an important question and that’s why I want to ask about one aspect of it, if I may.
Could the minister advise on, and investigate as well, the fact that in the Ottawa situation there appeared to be a distribution of juvenile records? I understood that in this province police forces did not keep what are called “juvenile records.”
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I can’t agree with the hon. member that juvenile records are not available. But as I indicated in my previous answer, records of that nature certainly should not be circulated in the way the hon. member has mentioned. I will look into that, and also into the additional information he has given me, and will report back to him.
THUNDER BAY HEALTH REPORT
Mr. Foulds: A question for the Minister of Health: Has the minister had an opportunity to examine the Thunder Bay District Health Council report, Panorama of Mortality, which shows that mortality rates in Thunder Bay District are in excess of those for the province by 20 per cent overall, and in some subcategories up to 112 and 139 per cent? Can he indicate to the House what his initial response is and what initiatives the ministry might take with regard to that report?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I received the report minutes before I walked into the House, along with the letter of conveyance from Mr. Lester, the executive director of the Thunder Bay District Health Council. I may say, too, that in a separate letter accompanying the letter of conveyance he indicates that the council itself will be forwarding a brief making specific recommendations. In the meantime, while we await that further indication from the district health council of what concrete action they suggest should be taken, the ministry staff have begun a review of the report.
If the member looks at the conclusions -- I always start at the end of a book and work my way to the front -- there are three areas that they indicate need some further study, one being respiratory diseases. This is an area which is already under study with a grant from the ministry. We’ll have more to say on this in the future, I’m sure.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: I wonder if while the ministry is examining the report the minister could take a look at two other areas other than those recommended in the conclusions of the health council report? Particularly I would ask whether it is worthy of consideration that ambulance service and air ambulance service in northwestern Ontario be upgraded in view of the high accident rate; and whether or not it is important to look at the infant mortality rate, which is 30 per cent higher generally, and particularly the 93 per cent excess from “symptoms and ill-defined conditions.” Would that not seem to indicate that early diagnosis is called for, an up-grading of pediatric service and perhaps more prenatal classes and early child care?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: The second part of that question, I’m sure, will form part of the review by the health council of its task force report. The first part of that question is under review by the five district health councils in northern Ontario, subsequent to a proposal which was inaugurated by Mayor Piche of Kapuskasing.
FIRE DAMAGE ASSISTANCE
Mr. O’Neil: In the absence of the Premier, I’d like to direct a question to the Solicitor General. During this past weekend the town of Trenton suffered a very severe fire which destroyed a large section of the downtown commercial district. This has resulted in many businesses and people being displaced and will result in extreme hardships for many. Could I ask the Solicitor General what type of aid is available to assist these citizens of Trenton?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: A disaster of this kind would be looked at on an individual basis. We don’t have any policy or precedent for situations of this kind. In the event of a disaster, for example a snowstorm or a flood, we have a policy of assisting during the term of that disaster, with manpower, equipment -- things of that nature.
This was, as the hon. member has said, a very serious fire. It involved a number of commercial enterprises and some apartment buildings, I understand. I would have to look into this.
The Fire Marshal at the present time is undertaking an investigation; as the hon. member knows, arson is suspected in these fires. However, I will discuss it with the Premier, because it would have to be assistance by way of order in council and a decision of cabinet; so I’ll get back to the hon. member.
Mr. Turner: Supplementary question to the Solicitor General: Having regard to the recent disastrous fire in the town of Bancroft, may I ask the Solicitor General if he is considering any assistance --
Mr. Foulds: Is this your maiden speech?
Mr. Turner: -- either to the town or to the individuals involved in that fire?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The answer would be similar to the one I gave to the hon. member for Quinte. This is also under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s office, so I would reply to him in the same manner.
TAGGART SERVICE LIMITED
Mr. Philip: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications: Is the minister aware that Taggart Service Limited is presently running west of Toronto on privileges of Jones Transport, a subsidiary of that company? Is the minister aware that Jones Transport is presently undergoing a legal strike and that Taggart is running on Jones’ routes by authorization of a power interchange authority issued by the Ontario Highway Transport Board?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, Mr. Speaker, I wasn’t aware of that.
Mr. Laughren: What are you going to do about it?
Mr. Philip: I wonder if the minister then can tell us, is it not his understanding that a power of interchange authority is issued to take care of overflow situations and not for strike-breaking purposes? And is the minister therefore prepared to advise the transport board to withdraw the temporary power of interchange authority from Taggart Service Limited, since the transport board in this case is presently an accomplice in strikebreaking?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I haven’t been made aware of any of the matters that the hon. member refers to. I am most interested in the comments he has made and I’ll certainly look into the whole matter.
Mr. Philip: One last supplementary, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: The hon. minister has promised to look into the whole question and to get back to you.
Mr. Bradley: My question, in the absence of the Premier, is for the Minister of Labour. Since the mayor of the city of St. Catharines has stated, to that travelling road show known as the Conservative task force on employment, that the unemployment rate in the city of St. Catharines is now very close to 12 per cent, which according to his calculations would be the highest in Ontario, would the minister indicate what specific program of direct job creation her government is prepared to proceed with to alleviate this critical situation?
An hon. member: None.
Mrs. Campbell: Zilch.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that is not the role of the Ministry of Labour --
Mr. Laughren: You’re not kidding!
Mr. Makarchuk: What is your role?
Hon. B. Stephenson: However, I might counter with a question about the effect of the road show on industry and tourism, and the road show on regional government which the opposition party has been running.
Mr. Makarchuk: Why don’t both of you hit the road?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: How about your road show in Quebec?
Mr. Laughren: That’s different.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: Would the minister be prepared to speak to the cabinet favourably to have the timetable moved forward for any provincial government capital works in St. Catharines and the remainder of the Niagara Peninsula in order that jobs can be created in the construction industry and allied industries; for example by authorizing the immediate construction of the very much-needed courthouse in the city of St. Catharines? In other words, would she speak to her cabinet colleagues concerning this?
Mr. Makarchuk: As was done by the socialist government of Saskatchewan.
Mr. Foulds: They’ll build you a courthouse like the one in Thunder Bay.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I will most certainly look into the interesting suggestions made by the hon. member.
Hon. Mr. Welch: What’s the federal member for St. Catharines doing to get our area designated for federal help?
Mr. Mancini: You are the last one to go by.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Jim, what’s the federal member for St. Catharines doing to get our area designated for federal help? What’s he doing?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Read the editorial last night.
Mr. Martel: Control the government House leader; Robert, stay cool.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Yes.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary: Would the minister be aware that at that road show in St. Catharines the allegation was made by Conservative sources that a GM auto parts plant was going to go to Quebec instead of coming to Ontario? Is she familiar with this and has she made any representation to GM about getting that parts plant in this province?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly obvious that this question should be directed to my colleague, the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
Mr. Martel: Come on, John, give us an answer. But you were in the Bahamas.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Do you want an answer?
Mr. Lewis: Before you answer you had better speak to the government House leader.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, can I redirect the supplementary to the Minister of Industry and Tourism?
Mr. Speaker: If the minister is prepared to accept it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member has obviously been hearing some of the stories that have been going around in that particular area.
Mr. Laughren: Our area too.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: There is reason to believe that General Motors has been looking for a site in various jurisdictions, one being Ontario and the other being Quebec, as well as in some United States areas. It is my understanding that the federal government, through their Department of Regional Economic Expansion, are prepared to make financial assistance available to General Motors if they were to locate in those areas where this money is available; and in this particular case, of course, that would probably be within the province of Quebec.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Certainly not in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Martel: Poor little GM.
DEATH OF ADRIENNE PAQUETTE
Mr. McClellan: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services with respect to his statement and the report that he tabled today on the Paquette case. May I ask the minister, in view of what can only be described as shocking incompetence and mismanagement on the part of the Ottawa CAS, whether he will reconsider his decision to have an in-house, closed-doors, secret review of the matter between himself and the ministry, and instead appoint a full, public judicial inquiry which will, through a process of public hearings, come up with a set of publicly determined recommendations with respect to handling child abuse in the Ottawa society and in other societies in this province?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, there is a task force that has been established by me and headed by Dean Garber which is presently undertaking just such a review, not as a judicial inquiry --
Mr. McClellan: It’s not such a review at all.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- but it is looking at those very questions the hon. member raises, the questions of the practices and procedures and policies that are presently being followed by Children’s Aid Societies in cases of child abuse in the province. It is the mandate of that task force to make recommendations with respect to improved procedures where they see such improvements as being desirable and possible, and also to make recommendations with respect to improved training programs for child-care workers, specifically directed to the question of dealing with child abuse cases.
I fail to see what additional advantage would be gained by the public --
Mr. Lewis: A public advantage; a public disclosure.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- by establishing a judicial inquiry to do that very thing at this point in time.
Mr. McClellan: Let me ask, just on one part of the report, by way of supplementary: Three of the recommendations deal with the total inadequacy of French-language services in the area --
Mr. Lewis: Shocking; incredible in all.
Mr. McClellan: Just appalling. I want to ask the minister whether he has any specific proposals or recommendations or plans to address that intolerable lack of services to the French community by that society?
Hon. Mr. Norton: First of all, with respect to this specific case, or this specific society, as the recommendations indicate, we will be immediately addressing ourselves to that issue and others with the society with a view to developing some plan --
Mr. Swart: You’re faltering.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- by which we can assist the society in order to improve the francophone services. Part of the problem is something that is not entirely within the control of the society. There is a question, as I understand, or a problem, in terms of the availability of trained francophone personnel in that community, surprisingly enough.
Mr. McClellan: Ridiculously enough.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Apparently a number have sought in our neighbour province of Quebec, and there is apparently a shortage of such personnel in the Ottawa area.
Mr. McClellan: That’s absurd.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Specifically with respect to the matter of services, I will be making an announcement within the next day or two with respect to something that doesn’t arise out of this -- our plans for improved French-language services for children in eastern Ontario -- which clearly will impact upon such agencies as the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society. I will give the details of that within the next day or two.
Mr. Roy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: May I ask the minister, apart from his lack of initiative in relation to French-language services for the Ottawa area, how can he possibly justify the fact that in the case of Adrienne Paquette, apparently she was returned to her parents because in fact they could not find what they called “French-speaking foster parents”? How can that possibly be, considering the population in Ottawa? And what steps has the minister taken since this case to accelerate the finding of foster parents who speak French?
Hon. Mr. Norton: At this point in time I don’t know the answer to that question.
Mr. Martel: That tells us something about that Children’s Aid Society.
Mr. McClellan: Neither you nor the agency know the answers.
Mr. Swart: That’s why you need a public hearing.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The child was at one point in a French-speaking home, which according to the information I have was less than an adequate home, apparently --
Mr. Lewis: Right.
Mr. McClellan: The child was neglected in the home.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- which led to the child being returned to her biological parents. I don’t know specifically why there has been a problem in that area in encouraging or interesting French-speaking families in taking children in as foster children.
Mr. Laughren: How are you going to solve it internally then?
Mr. Roy: Don’t you think we need an inquiry to find out?
Hon. Mr. Norton: We don’t need an inquiry. What we need is to get to the root of the problem and that’s precisely what we’ll do.
Mr. Lewis: As you perceive it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Some high-profile judicial inquiry is not going to resolve that.
Mr. Lewis: What? But that’s what does it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We will be dealing with that problem along with the society in trying to find out what the problem is in terms of the provision of such services, and take whatever steps are necessary in order to see that it’s remedied.
Mr. McClellan: You don’t understand.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary: In view of the answers which the minister is giving today, where he is clearly floundering as much as the society itself, would he not consider reconsidering the decision and the statement that he made today? Does he not feel that the indictment of the society laid out before him is one of the strongest he has received in recent times over the administrative procedures of any specific Children’s Aid Society in the province, and surely it cries out for a judicial inquiry or something fairly explicit rather than another little, cosy, in-house review between the minister and the society, which has led to this problem that we’re dealing with today?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Balderdash.
Mr. Lewis: It isn’t balderdash; that’s what happens.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to the hon. member opposite, I think that’s nonsense. I think there are ways in which --
Mr. McClellan: This report you’ve tabled is nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Obviously, it would be desirable for certain members on the opposite side to see some high-profile judicial inquiry crossing the province that may bring in recommendations two or three years down the road.
Mr. Roy: Sure, we want to solve the problem.
Mr. McClellan: What are you so afraid of?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am interested in resolving these problems as quickly and as cooperatively as possible.
Mr. Lewis: But you’re not doing it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I do not see a long-term judicial inquiry that’s going to be holding hearings across this province --
Mr. Lewis: You can do it in 60 days, for heaven’s sake.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- bringing in recommendations two or three years hence, as resolving these problems. We’ll see that they’re resolved.
Mr. Martel: Your solution is five years down the road for dealing with kids. You’ll give us another green paper.
Mr. Hall: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of tile Treasurer in the absence of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Has the government, as a government, asked the federal government for DREE designation in areas of high unemployment such as the Niagara Peninsula?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: To the best of my knowledge, not for the Niagara Peninsula. We have been asking for some time for an extension of the DREE area into eastern Ontario -- Renfrew, Pembroke and that part of the province -- and indeed on several occasions have said that a good portion of eastern Ontario should be included in the designated area. As late as last night, I looked at a letter from Mr. Lessard, the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion, saying no. Whether his view or their view would be different with respect to the Niagara region, I don’t know. It’s something which is worthwhile pursuing.
Mr. Hall: I am wondering if the Minister of Industry and Tourism could comment on this, inasmuch as he was out when I directed the question to the Treasurer. At what point would he consider it worthwhile to approach the federal government for DREE designation of this or any other area, but particularly talking about the Niagara Peninsula?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I would think it probably is worthwhile to approach them considering the fact that the criteria for designation seem to be very flexible. If Metropolitan Montreal can be designated as a depressed area, certainly the Niagara Peninsula could be too.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Right; precisely.
Mr. Laughren: Why haven’t you done it then?
An hon. member: Why can’t you designate it for the $10 licence plates?
Mr. Roy: You are supposed to be the government over there.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: What do you know about government?
Mr. Swart: Who’s the government in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: We have, as I indicated, been turned down on several occasions with respect to eastern Ontario, where the long-term unemployment figures have been much higher than they have been in the Peninsula, which is a relatively recent event. I might say we were in touch with DREE as recently as two or three months ago, once again on the basis that we felt eastern Ontario should be included in the area at the highest rate of the new employment programme -- the programme announced by Mr. Chretien and I believe being undertaken by Mr. Cullen. We pointed out that the unemployment figure in eastern Ontario would qualify for the top percentage -- seven, I think, or eight; the highest figure -- and we were again told that eastern Ontario would not qualify. If members opposite lave some greater influence than we do, I would be delighted if they would use it.
Mr. Roy: Would you give us credit for it?
Mr. Ruston: Did you get anywhere with Joe who?
EMPLOYEES’ HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Mackenzie: Would the Minister of Labour inform the House as to whether or not she intends to bring Bill 70 on safety and health back into the House in the form in which it left the committee, or are there any grounds to the widespread and persistent rumours that the minister intends to change or withdraw sections of the bill, or indeed the bill itself?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I think the answer to that question is a very definite perhaps.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary: Does the minister not think it is totally unfair that she should dangle that legislation in front of this Legislature for three years, have it sent to an all-party committee of this Legislature and then back down?
Mr. MacDonald: Then defy the majority.
Hon. W. Newman: Who fouled it up? You fouled it up. Yes, you did.
Mr. S. Smith: Start telling the truth.
Hon. W. Newman: You take the responsibility, because that’s where it belongs.
Mr. Speaker: Order, I can’t hear the answer.
An hon. member: That’s what minority government is all about, Bill.
Hon. B. Stephenson: To refresh the memory of the hon. member, Bill 70 has been dangled only since October of 1977. We have been working diligently upon it, I must admit, for the past year and a half, and it is not my intention to abandon such important legislation.
Mr. Lewis: By way of supplementary, if I may: Since the minister must know that there are very widespread rumours circulating, some of them from within her own ministry, that sections of the bill will never be reintroduced into this Legislature, that there is a great deal of research being done to indicate that sections of the bill are financially impossible to implement, in other words to discredit the intent of some of the legislative amendments which the opposition introduced, since her colleagues are positively apoplectic every time we raise this question in the House, can she not indicate to us in advance what it is she intends to do with the bill prior to its reintroduction so that some work can be done in the public arena to prepare the ground?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, first, I would have to deny that any of my colleagues in the cabinet or in the caucus have been apoplectic at all.
Mr. Ruston: Newman is.
Mr. Roy: Take his blood pressure.
Hon. B. Stephenson: They have all been extremely supportive of the bill as it was originally written. They are not supportive of some of the significant amendments which were made by the opposition parties, nor are some of the client groups particularly supportive of those amendments. I am examining those amendments, and all of the implications thereof, extremely carefully and we shall be very responsible in whatever action we take regarding Bill 70, but, as I said before, it is too important a piece of legislation to abandon.
LANGSTAFF LAND FREEZE
Mr. Stong: I have a question of the Treasurer. Assuming that there is nothing unusual in changing the permitted uses of the Eagleson property, which was purchased in the town of Markham in the parkway belt after it was established and apparently for speculative purposes, when will the minister give the people of Langstaff in that same town, in that same parkway belt, some relief? They have been seeking it for three years and their homes and jobs are at stake.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I think that question might be put to the Chairman of the Cabinet, who is not here --
An hon. member: Yes, he is.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes, he is here, but I don’t know what his timetable is. The parkway belt obviously has left my hands and is now before the legislation committee of cabinet and the member might want to direct that question to him.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, I understood that the order was made last month and that type of change would still be in the hands of this minister. The people of Langstaff are continually after him for change. When will he take it upon himself to assist them?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t heard from them, to my knowledge, for some months now. I heard from them after the draft plan and they were satisfied. I don’t believe I have heard from them, nor have I heard from the members of recent days, but I will be glad to check that.
Mr. Stong: Mr. Speaker, may I redirect that question for an answer for those people?
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
WORKMEN’S COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Laughren moved first reading of Bill 46, An Act to amend the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Laughren: The purpose of the bill is to increase and index the level of benefits payable under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. In addition, the bill removes the ceiling on average earnings and provides for a new ceiling based on the calculation of a maximum wage rate. The bill also provides for the continued payment of disability compensation for five years following the death of a recipient, where the amount of the disability compensation exceeds the amount that would otherwise be paid to dependants as a dependant’s allowance.
AGE OF RETIREMENT ACT
Mr. Leluk moved first reading of Bill 47, An Act respecting the Age of Mandatory Retirement.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Leluk: The purpose of the bill is to ensure that no person shall be required to retire before reaching the age of 70, where the person is willing and capable of performing his or her job. This is achieved by amendments to the following statutes: the Employment Standards Act, 1974; the Ontario Human Rights Code; the Pension Benefits Act, and the Public Service Act.
Mr. Martel: Put him underground for three years -- he would rewrite that so fast it wouldn’t be funny. That’s what it is when you have never worked a day in your life.
An hon. member: You never worked a day in your life, Nick.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Look who is talking about working.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before you call the orders of the day: On Thursday, March 16, I neglected to indicate which committees would be meeting on Wednesday morning of this week. If I could take this opportunity to report to the House, the standing committee on resources development will meet tomorrow morning at 10 to continue the consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of the Environment. That means that this week the standing resources development committee will meet tonight, tomorrow morning and Thursday night, with the estimates of the Ministry of Environment. The standing committee on social development will meet this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon to consider the estimates of the Ministry of Culture and Recreation.
ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 15, 16, 17 and 18, and the interim answer to question 19 standing on the notice paper.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
LAND TITLES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 33, An Act to amend the Land Titles Act.
Mr. Lawlor: It is basically a housekeeping matter flowing directly out of the family law legislation, the same as Bill 59. Nevertheless, I think that rather than take time on second reading -- we do agree with the principle of the bill -- it would be better to send it into committee.
I simply say on this occasion that I wonder if this is the best way to have done it, particularly with respect to section 1. It is one way of doing it and, therefore, we don’t take exception to it. I don’t know if it was the better way to have done it. I would have thought that a section which spelled out in the legislation what the right in question was, having to do with matrimonial domicile, would have been more apropos, or possibly one could have done both to make that determination.
On subsection 2, the problem of uses, as I say, in committee I will be asking the minister why be concentrated only upon subsections 8 and 9 and not the other subsections of section 96. There are two or three others. I think the definition aspect should stay. But I would be interested in learning from the Attorney General, in effect, does he see the sum area as retention of the deed to uses concept -- outside, of course, of the matrimonial domicile situation -- and is that the reason these other sections are retained?
Finally, within section 132, I would direct his attention to the cluster of sections under that heading of dower and courtesy -- sections 130, 131 and 133. Ought they not to be either revised or deleted also? Why the segmenting out of section 132, which certainly has to be dealt with? The others might have been considered too. Those are the only thoughts I have on this bill.
Mrs. Campbell: I too rise basically to support this amendment. It is unfortunate that the whole bill, together with the Land Titles Act itself, couldn’t go to committee. It would seem to me, having passed the other legislation, it would create some chaos if we were to defer or adjourn the conclusion to this particular bill. I do have some rather serious concerns about the companion piece to this, but we are not opposing the amendments to the Land Titles Act.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In response to the questions of the member for Lakeshore on the manner in which this bill was drafted, it might have been of greater assistance perhaps to have followed the course suggested by him. I’m really not in a position to make that judgement. As the member for St. George points out, there is some degree of urgency with respect to passing these amendments, in view of the fact that the family law reform bill will take effect on March 31. I imagine a very large number of real estate transactions will be closed on that day which will be affected.
In so far as the transfer to uses is concerned, I understand that it’s simply overridden by the provisions of the Family Law Reform Act. I think persons can still use the transfer to uses method, subject of course to the provisions of the Family Law Reform Act. The member for Lakeshore had a question in relation to section 132 of the bill. I think the question was why weren’t other sections repealed as well as 132.
Mrs. Campbell: It’s a little hurried, shall we say?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m looking at section 133 now. I must confess that conveyancing is an area of the law in which I never had the pleasure of practising --
Mrs. Campbell: For which we are truly thankful.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and for which I am reasonably grateful. But perhaps we might have an answer in relation to that.
Mrs. Campbell: It was just overlooked.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Perhaps it would be best just to let it go to committee. I gather this was the wish.
Mr. Lawlor: On a point of order, if I may get in under that pretext, Mr. Speaker, there is urgency in the matter. If it is going to hold this bill up beyond April 1, then it would be most unwise. We can deal with these other matters afterwards. I would let it go through. Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes. I am very delighted to have that assistance.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
REGISTRY AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. McMurtry moved second reading of Bill 34, An Act to amend the Registry Act.
Mrs. Campbell: I indicated that I was more concerned about this bill, partly because here again it is quite apparent with the haste with which these amendments have been brought forth that they really don’t correct all of the problems within the old Registry Act. We still have retained references to dower and so forth. I am sorry to see sloppy legislation going through.
I presume we have to approve it on the same basis because I don’t think I want to be part of the kind of chaos that might result if we delayed the passing of this legislation. I would like to point out, however, that this one does take me into my problems, as indicated in the debate on the old Bill 59, in that we now have direct references to redefinition of wills as they relate to the Succession Law Reform Act or what I call Bill 60.
We have developed in this province at this point in time a great deal of scepticism as to the bona fides of the government in looking at that particular piece of legislation. I suppose all I can do is once more to ask the Attorney General if we can have a date set so that both the member for Lakeshore and I may meet with him on an urgent matter as soon as he returns to Ontario. I trust that if he might not return for some considerable period of time someone else might be appointed in the interim to discuss it. I trust that he will not be interned or have any other such problems as he proceeds on his tours with the Advocates’ Society.
I do have this concern in this particular case. We have unresolved questions as far as they relate to Bill 60 and before this matter goes to a vote I would like to hear from the Attorney General. I must say I do not share the scepticism of others. I have felt his commitment was a very real commitment. But I think at this point I have to ask for a further statement from him since we are referring so specifically in these amendments to the Succession Law Reform Act.
Other than that, I can’t quarrel with what I see as housekeeping. I just wish that perhaps we had someone doing a little better housekeeping in bringing forward the amendments to this Act.
Mr. Lawlor: Just two or three niggling points about this particular legislation. Again, because of the urgency and because a number of conveyances and dealings with real property are in the air at the present time, it would be wiser, to say the least, not to force this matter possibly beyond the first of the month.
A couple of points: Isn’t it curious that whereas this legislation, the Registry Act itself, makes specific provisions for particular types of affidavit, there is nothing similar in the previous bill that we put through, that is in the Land Titles Act. I suppose that’s done under the section on regulations dealing with forms being conducted under the Land Titles Act, over against the spelling out in this particular piece of legislation of precisely what those forms will say, and the specific wording of the forms.
The main point in this clean-up piece of legislation has to do with the definition of spouse. It’s been broadened. It covers the situation of the voidable marriage and the void marriage, where cohabitation continues to exist for a period of time, and encompasses one of the individuals in that within the definition of a spouse.
I make a wry comment that our constant alteration of the basic forms provides not only continuing subsistence for the law stationers of the province of Ontario, but I suspect it is something of a bonanza even at this stage. We all order vast quantities of conveyancing paper, et cetera. I’m sure all law firms do, whether they’re directly engaged in that work or not. Every two or three months the process of reordering and the destroying of the old must go on apace -- either the shredding or the burning -- and so you have to get another thousand of the forms having to do with conveyancing because the affidavit has been somewhat minutely changed.
The change in the one case is the business of when no spouse is mentioned; the affidavit has to say whether the person has a spouse. Previously it had to say whether he was unmarried, a widower or what not, but that old form is now being interred in the course of passing this particular legislation.
The only other question I have to bring to the Attorney General’s attention, which would normally be done in committee, is section 2, subsection 4 -- right at the end, where he is revising the contents of subsection 10 of section 42 of the Act as it is at present. Down at the end it says, “ ... any other person who may be designated by regulation.”
Has the Attorney General any notion at all of who these other persons might possibly be? If not, why does he give this kind of blanket -- and, I feel, somewhat questionable -- phraseology?
That’s all I have to say on that, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Firstly, I can only express the hope that my distinguished colleagues, the Justice critics for the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, have created a hospitable atmosphere in the State of Israel by reason of their visit there earlier in the year and, as a result of the very favourable impression that I know was left by them, both the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and myself will be reasonably well received as we journey to that distinguished fine little nation at the end of this week.
Mr. Laughren: Is the minister taking his parliamentary assistant (Mr. Sterling) with him? Take him.
Mr. Lawlor: We did nothing to bring any peace.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I want to make it clear that my commitment in relation to the Succession Law Reform Act, stands, naturally; and upon our return which, hopefully, would be approximately 10 days after our departure, we’ll be able to arrange an early meeting. I would hope that the member for St. George would at least be content to await my return. I am very interested in the matter and while I am quite prepared to have people meet with the member for St. George in my absence, in view of my own personal commitment I would be pleased to be part of that. I can again give her my assurance that it should be possible to arrange such a meeting very shortly after my return.
The niggling matters being raised by the member for Lakeshore may be to him niggling matters but are always to me matters of great pith and substance, matters of great moment, and it is certainly always an opportunity for me to --
Mr. Lawlor: The Attorney General must be going away.
Mr. Laughren: Just go away, just go away.
Mr. Lawlor: Even the Attorney General can’t turn molehills into mountains.
Mr. Laughren: It’s the other way around.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Now, just where was I?
Mrs. Campbell: That’s unusual for you, Roy.
Mr. Laughren: On your way.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The references to dower, in the Registry Act, are retained in certain places in that Act simply by reason of the fact that in certain cases, of course, dower has vested, and so it’s necessary to retain the use of that term.
I’m afraid there was a question from the member for Lakeshore about one of the subsections. I had a little difficulty following it. I was looking for it in the amendments. Perhaps he might assist me by directing my attention again to that particular question; I would appreciate it.
Mr. Lawlor: It’s section 2, subsection 4.
Mr. Speaker: This is second reading. Do you have a response?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Hopefully. It might be of assistance to me if the member for Lakeshore would direct his query to me again. I must admit, I just haven’t been able to follow it, and that’s my problem. I’m quite prepared to recognize his greater degree of familiarity with this legislation.
Mr. Lawlor: There is just a minor difficulty between you and me. Somebody by the name of the Speaker somehow obtrudes or stands between our proper forms of communication, so I would ask for his indulgence.
Mr. Speaker: The Speaker is living up to your rules and not his own. It’s traditional that everybody has his say on second reading and the sponsor of the bill winds up the debate. If you want to relax the rules because you’re into something fairly complex, far be it from me to intrude further.
Mr. Lawlor: In an endeavour to expedite proceedings, I would ask to stretch a point very slightly. It has to do with subsection 4, the new 10, and at the end, these affidavits which are set out in the bill as having to be taken and saying whether a spouse is a spouse or not a spouse and that sort of thing. The bill excludes a whole host of individuals under the present subsections 5 and 6, and then at the end it says, “ ... and any other person who may be designated by regulation.” I went through this carefully, and I think the minister has excluded pretty well everybody he possibly can. It has been in the legislation for an awful long time; if there was any other undreamed-of individual or corporation -- and I wouldn’t think it would really apply to a corporation anyway -- who might it be? Why did the Attorney General put that in?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It has been explained to me that this is really a form of escape clause inasmuch as we are concerned about situations which may simply not have been contemplated at the present time because we haven’t had an opportunity of considering all the ramifications that may arise as a result of Bill 59.
Motion agreed to.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might rise on a point of clarification to explain something.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: If it’s a very, very brief point.
Mrs. Campbell: Yes. I think the Attorney General misunderstood what I was saying. I did not ask to meet with anyone in his absence. I was just made aware of the fact that there were certain conditions prevailing in the country to which he was going which might not permit him to return, and I was therefore trying to provide for some alternative in that event.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 23, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr. Reid: Mr. Speaker, having gone through this bill and found a great many errors in transposing to the metric system, I thought I should draw those to the minister’s attention.
As far as I can gather, this bill is strictly to change the markings of highways and the regulations relating to mobile homes, street signs and so on into the metric system. We have no quarrel with that, of course, except to wonder whether the minister could come up with some easy way for the public to be able to translate into the metric system. But we will support this bill.
Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, we see this as a housekeeping bill that is in keeping with other similar translations into the metric system and we support the bill.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. members of the parties opposite for their support for this bill.
Mr. Foulds: Reluctant in some cases.
Hon. Mr. Snow: As you know, sir, last fall we introduced amendments to the Highway Traffic Act converting the speed limits and distances to metric. This bill completes the conversion of the Highway Traffic Act to the metric system.
Mr. Foulds: Why don’t we distribute a free conversion kit for each speedometer?
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
Hon. Mr. McKeough moved resolution 10:
That the Treasurer of Ontario be authorized to pay the salaries of the civil servants and other necessary payments pending the voting of supply for the period commencing April 1, 1978 and ending June 30, 1978, such payments to be charged to the proper appropriation following the voting of supply.
Mr. Reid: This is the chance to give my budget address but I will forgo that pleasure. I do want to make a note of the fact that the Treasurer has seen fit to follow our recommendation of some two years ago in cutting down the length of time for which he is coming to the House for supply in advance of the estimates being passed by this Legislature. It was the custom of the government to try to get six months’ supply under this motion. I am glad to see we have at least cut that down to three months.
There are a number of matters I would like to discuss, but to facilitate the work of the House I will leave it at that for now.
Mr. Laughren: I too wish to expedite the matters of the House, but I do think I will make a few more comments than are normal when the interim supply motion is introduced by the Treasurer. We were pleased in this party when the motion indicated it was a three months’ notice of motion for supply rather than the traditional six months. I would hope that that is not just a one-shot, three-month time period and that in future it will be either three or four months -- perhaps four months. I think the select committee on the Camp commission recommended that it be introduced three times a year rather than twice a year, in which case four months would be appropriate.
What bothers us in this party a great deal about the way interim supply motions are dealt with is the amount of money that is involved. If we do it on a pro rata basis, we are talking here of roughly $3.5 billion or $1 billion a month that this provides for the government to expend. That is a considerable amount of money. I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t take a look -- I know we should -- at the relationship between the interim supply motion and the estimates debates, which will go on for many months now right through until probably the end of December. We should take a look at the whole budget debate. The budget debate has already started and will continue probably until the last day of the session in December 1978. That is something else that seems to be a contradiction, in handing the Treasurer these kinds of funds to dispose of now and then to debate the budget all during the interim periods.
It makes one wonder about a no-confidence motion. The OHIP motion, which we will be debating a week from today, is one which involves the expenditure of provincial funds as well. At the same time, we are handing the Treasurer his interim supply motion. I think it is time we seriously thought about that and gave the committees examining the various spending estimates a different role to play, perhaps gave them more staff and also disciplined them more in terms of time during their debate. This interim supply motion in effect pre-empts a lot of what goes on in the estimates committees.
It’s become a tradition almost for this government, particularly since it became a minority government back in 1975, to set up various committees that suit its purpose. In other words, they will establish a select committee when they wish to delay making a decision. They will refer something to a standing committee when it suits their purposes to do so. These are all part of the moneys out of the interim supply, of course, Mr. Speaker. I know you understand that
I think it’s time we realize that the government is manipulating this Legislature. They’re giving the Legislature itself power when it suits their purposes and they’re taking it away when it doesn’t suit their purposes. The committee that was just established with the Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Wiseman) as chairman is a good example of that. As opposed to that, they’ll establish a committee to look into the whole process of rent review. That’s what I would call political manipulation of a minority Legislature, and I don’t think it’s what minority government should be all about. We need to watch very carefully when the government attempts to do something like that.
We are going to support this interim supply motion. I’ll tell you, Mr. Speaker, we’re unhappy about supporting it, but to refuse to support it would be to introduce some kind of fiscal paralysis in Ontario and we simply can’t do that. We’re going to support this supply motion, but at the same time we’ve put forth on the order paper a notice that we are not satisfied with the Treasurer’s budget -- and indeed we’ve expressed no-confidence in his budget. We’ve expressed no-confidence in his handling of OHIP premiums and at the same time we end up supporting an interim supply motion like this.
What bothers us is that this interim supply motion doesn’t mean simply that we’re saying to the Treasurer, “Here’s your blank cheque.” It is, in effect, endorsing some of the things the Treasurer is doing; or, conversely, some of the things the Treasurer is not doing. For example, we are really giving tacit support to much of what’s in the budget when we support the two, three or four different supply motions that are brought before this Legislature. Whether it’s an OHIP premium increase or whether it’s the exemptions to the Mining Tax Act, that is the form of tacit support that we are giving. Whether or not one imposes a tax or whether or not one exempts one, in effect it’s the same thing. If one exempts someone from paying taxes, in effect it is causing the government to spend moneys they would otherwise have collected. That’s what this kind of motion allows this government to do.
We’re unhappy with it because with that $1 billion a month that this interim supply motion provides to the Treasurer they are going to continue the same kind of programs that we’ve indicated we’re unhappy with. For example, they’re going to continue to ignore the kind of structural problems that we’ve got in this province, despite our indication that we’re not happy with it. Despite, as a matter of fact, the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) indication in his very tough letter to Prime Minister Trudeau in March that he’s not happy with the way things are, the Treasurer sits on the sidelines and doesn’t do anything about it either.
This kind of supply motion allows the Treasurer to continue to enact policies or not enact policies as he sees fit. It allows the Treasurer to continue to ignore the problems that we in northern Ontario face with the way our non-renewable resources are handled. The Treasurer apparently still doesn’t understand that problem because he exempts the processing allowance in the mining industry to allow them to continue to ship out resources when we know they should be processed here, and indeed the experts in the Ministry of Natural Resources agree with that.
By passing this supply motion we are saying to the Treasurer, “You don’t have to do anything meaningful in job creation in the province of Ontario other than what you’ve already promised in your budget, which is in effect 13,000 part-time jobs for this summer.” That’s simply not good enough and yet this interim supply motion allows the Treasurer to continue to do that.
It allows the Treasurer to continue to ignore what’s happening in the auto industry. We see vans and Jeeps being produced in this province -- not small cars, not parts for small cars, not the retooling for the small car market that’s going to be needed. That’s being done in the United States. We end up dealing with the fads, like Jeeps and vans. That’s what we end up dealing with. That is not good long-run planning in the auto industry.
Yet the Treasurer sits back and watches this happen. We are not very happy with this kind of approach to running the province, and yet that is what this motion of interim supply allows the Treasurer to do. We think that with $1 billion a month the Treasurer has more of an obligation to the province than he is displaying. We are allowing the Treasurer with this motion to continue to preside over and to perpetuate an inequitable tax structure in the province. We know that despite 30 years of supply motions we still have an inequitable tax system.
It is very strange the way the Treasurer has done it. He sets up something that makes the system less regressive, such as a property tax credit, and then he does something to take it away, such as increasing the sales tax or increasing the OHIP premium. On one hand, he says, “We are attempting to make the system less regressive,” and then he does something with the other hand to make it more regressive.
That is why statistically, in the last 30 some years while this government has been in power in Ontario, there has been no redistribution of income despite what the Treasurer would have the people believe. There simply has been no redistribution of income and wealth, and we don’t think that is right. That is another reason why it bothers us that we are supporting an interim supply motion.
The Wiseman committee is, I believe, a self-serving committee and really a thinly disguised anti-public-sector committee and the Henderson committee, which the government set up two years ago, was a thinly disguised attempt to justify what it was going into the 1975 election with. We think those are the kinds of committees that are abusing the system.
There is another one too: The Ontario Economic Council is going to get some of this interim supply money that we are voting today, and that bothers me. I used to be a fan of the Ontario Economic Council and of the Economic Council of Canada. I thought they did some good, impartial reporting and analysis. But when I see what is happening with the Ontario Economic Council now I am greatly disturbed. I think it is not right.
John Smith notwithstanding, and his views on the Economic Council, I thought for example that the comments of the council on property tax not being a regressive tax were ill-timed. They were not ill-timed for the Treasurer’s purpose, any more than were the comments of the chairman, Mr. Reuber, about the effect of the minimum wage on unemployment. Those two comments, I believe, were timed to coincide with the wishes of the government -- both in terms of the minimum wage and the problem with unemployment, and in terms of the property tax reform when the Treasurer was bringing in market value assessment.
I think that is not the role of a so-called autonomous body such as the Ontario Economic Council. That really bothers me because there is a real opportunity to do good economic analysis there. And they have done some good economic analysis. But I am very concerned that they will become used by the Treasurer. The document they did on the sales tax exemption is a good example. There was no way that document would have been released for the budget if it had not been a self-serving document beyond 1978. As it is, it shows a loss of 15,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector for 1978, and then the Treasurer says, “That is all right because in the years down the road we will all benefit by it.” That is simply not right, to use a body like the Ontario Economic Council to suit the political purposes of the Treasurer. That is the kind of thing we would like to see changed.
Rather than setting up those kinds of committees, perhaps the Treasurer and his colleagues should consider setting up the kind of committee that the United States Congress has set up -- I think it is called a joint economic committee -- in which they look at who benefits from government expenditures and who pays. Maybe we should find out who benefits from the distribution of government moneys as it is spent in Ontario. Perhaps it is time we had something like that, rather than these other committees which are set up almost as a sell-fulfilling prophecy on the part of the Treasurer and his colleagues. Why doesn’t the government set up a committee to do some meaningful research and analysis? We would all be better served by that. You might not like some of their findings but at least it would be good honest research and not self-serving. Perhaps it’s time that we in Ontario had something like that.
So, while this interim supply motion is traditionally considered a ritual -- and we will support it today -- it still bothers us that it’s treated like the budget debate and, perhaps, like the Throne Speech debate as well. I think there’s room for improvement in the handling of interim supply, and I would hope that members of this Legislature would give it serious consideration.
Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to make some comments on this motion -- which we will support, as the member for Nickel Belt has already stated -- to point out some of the rather serious difficulties that we’ve got, even with our new provisional orders, of dealing with the expenditure of funds by this government. The member for Nickel Belt went on at some length; I won’t go quite to that degree, but I do want to point out a couple of things in all of this.
Here is an amount of money, really for rather unstipulated purposes. As members of this House attempt to investigate how the government spends its funds and for what purposes each allocated amount will be used, it becomes more and more difficult. There is a good deal of sham and ritual involved in many of the things we do around this House, and I’m afraid that this is one of them. This is, in fact, one of the very specific votes that members will have -- where we have an amount of money which is not already spent -- although to determine in our mind how this money will be spent is a rather difficult process, because one would have to go through various ministries and determine who will be spending what moneys over the next three-month period. That’s difficult to do.
The one particular point I wanted to raise was this matter of looking at how money is spent by this government and whether the members of this House really have much of an opportunity to make an accurate assessment of how the money is spent, and whether or not it’s well spent. I was one of the members of this House who was fortunate enough to have, for a short period of time, a parliamentary intern, a very intelligent and competent young woman by the name of Gail Hogarth, who worked out of my office for about a three-month period. It brought to the office an added dimension for an opposition back-bencher -- someone who could do some research, who had the time to pore through government reports and provide the member with additional information. It is often very difficult in a member’s schedule to sit down and do that kind of academic work.
I happen to chair a committee that has now been charged by this House with reviewing a number of boards, agencies and commissions. It struck us that one of our most difficult tasks would be to conduct such a review without any kind of staff at all, because we are now dependent on the Clerk’s office to provide us with a clerk, and we also have the services of the legislative counsel. We have asked for one researcher, which does not seem to be for a terribly large amount of money, and we have some assurances that we will have some accommodation made so that we can do some research.
It’s interesting to note that while a committee of the Legislature, charged by the Legislature with doing this kind of review, has no actual funds allocated for research -- and in fact may have some difficulty in getting that allocation made, though it may yet happen -- we have at the same time the government, the Premier (Mr. Davis) himself, appointing a committee of his own, of four members of his own party -- not giving any consideration to other members of the House -- to operate, supposedly without any funding. That’s hardly a realistic expectation. It is true, in the newspaper articles that I have before me, that the Premier made a point of saying that the members of that particular committee would not be paid. That’s probably all well and good, except that one could probably make the case that they are already being paid as members of this House and, in particular, some of those members are getting additional allowances for additional responsibilities.
But there is a committee which will function, supposedly, almost as part of this Legislature but not quite, and which will conduct a review entirely outside this House. It would be rather difficult for the members of this House to get an accurate assessment of how those costs will be borne. They certainly won’t get any information under this kind of motion which provides blanket amounts of money for the government to spend. But there, I dare say, is a quasi-agency of the Legislature, four members of the government party doing an investigation of boards, agencies and commissions over a nine-month period. Someone will do that research; someone will do that typing; someone will print up that report. It will probably be seen by a select group before the minister -- or the Premier, in this instance, if he so desires -- makes any kind of public statement at all. All of that, undoubtedly, will be done at government expense. Where in the world could you find an estimation even of how that money will be allocated? Under which ministry will that money be spent? How much will it cost? How will it be done?
The members of this House have a very difficult time in determining in a very specific way how moneys will be spent. In fact, the members of this House have a most difficult time in doing so before the money is actually spent. We in this House have great difficulties in examining government expenditures of any kind and, in particular, in examining this kind of supply motion which provides to the government, almost in a moment of urgency, the necessary funds to carry on its business as it sees fit without any serious questioning possible by members of the opposition.
We on this side of the House have made a long and arduous argument to have more accountability on the part of the government. We have attempted, with a revision of the rules of the House, to see if we can determine some technique that really would allow opposition members to investigate expenditures of funds on the part of the government in a detailed and ongoing manner, but that becomes increasingly difficult.
In the instance of this supply motion we would be simply punishing those who least deserve the punishment if we withhold our support. Yet this form of interim supply motion continues to provide us with a very difficult problem -- that of supporting the government in a program we disagree with, involving agencies, boards and commissions which we know virtually nothing about. Really, it is asking us to support the financing of an entire mode of government operation and a type of government expenditure where we’re not terribly sure what is going on and where we’re not terribly sure of how the money will be spent.
We understand that government must continue and that is important to us so we wouldn’t want to take this opportunity to deny our support. But I think it does point out several rather clear instances, and in particular the one I mentioned -- where a committee of this Legislature, charged by the Legislature to deal with a specific task, is having difficulty finding the funding. It is important to us that we are given the tools, as members of the opposition, to allow us to do our job and, at the same time, to allow the government to continue its business.
We have no desire to stop the business of the province of Ontario or to see that people who work for the government of Ontario are punished unduly, but we are still seeking a means of investigating expenditures of government moneys that allow us to see very clearly and very directly how this government spends its money before the money is spent.
Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, may I just emphasize at the outset the importance of this debate that is now taking place. There is an historic right on the part of members of Parliament that is time-honoured, in fact, century-honoured. It is that when the government seeks supply of the money with which to carry on its operations, that provides an opportunity for members of Parliament to present grievances and to seek some redress of those grievances.
In this Legislature, for years even the motion to go into committee of supply, which is historically the opportunity to move a want of confidence motion in the government, withered to a point of non-operation, but in my recollection, and I think I’m correct, in some 22 years around this Legislature I don’t think there’s ever been a debate other than the ritualistic support of a motion to grant interim supply. Therefore, I just want to underline at the outset the importance of this debate in terms of reclaiming for members of the Legislature a really historic right of Parliament. I want to do it with reference to just one grievance -- one grievance alone that has been referred to by the last speaker, the hon. member for Oshawa.
In recent years and particularly in recent months, we have been increasingly disturbed with the growing proliferation of agencies, boards and commissions in the province of Ontario. They’ve grown like Topsy. Some of them have been around since the First World War. Nobody knows exactly what they do. The means of accountability have not been clearly established. There’s a grave suspicion, in some instances, that they’re really accountable to nobody and from where they get their finances for their continued operations is again another matter of mystery.
Therefore, as this government leads the public concern over the size of government, there has grown up even in its own ranks an interest in so-called sunset laws that would provide a mechanism for the review of these existing boards and agencies so that we can find out whether or not some of them aren’t so dedundant that they should be wiped out, or whether some of them aren’t a duplicate of other organizations so that they should be amalgamated, or whether some of them might more efficiently be drawn back into one or another of the ministries and not have this particular emanation of the Crown because, may I remind you, Mr. Speaker, there are, I understand, from 360 to 370 of them.
That’s the general background, but there’s an interesting conflict which is emerging which I want to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker. What has built up in this province over the last 40 or 50 years is a dismantling of the historic bureaucracy of patronage, one which is related to the Civil Service Commission. We have moved increasingly to a professional Civil Service Commission by which appointments are made on the basis of ability, experience and training, except at top levels in close relationship to ministers, and not on the basis of friends of the government.
However, at precisely the time we have been dismantling what I would describe as the historic bureaucracy of patronage, this government has been building up a new patronage system in relationship to these 360 agencies, boards and commissions. There are, in the estimation of at least one person, as many as 7,000 to 8,000 people across the province of Ontario who are appointed by the government to an agency, a board or a commission and continue to work without that measure of accountability that I think is necessary and which I noted a moment ago simply doesn’t exist.
Who appoints them? Last fall when we had a debate on the resolution that was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) with regard to sunset legislation, we discovered, and it was drawn firmly to the attention of the House, that the appointments to these agencies, boards and commissions of these thousands of people, this new patronage bureaucracy, is made by a so-called appointments committee. And what is the appointments committee? It is chaired by the deputy minister in the Premier’s office, Dr. Stewart. It is staffed by a range of people all of whom are party people, from Mr. Kelly, the bagman, to the gentleman whose name escapes me for the moment who is the organizer for the Conservative Party, and so on. It is exclusively the appointment of people on a patronage basis by the Conservative Party.
If we are going to do something about implementation of a sunset law and the dismantling of this great new patronage bureaucracy, obviously it is a matter of great sensitivity from the government point of view. I wonder if the hon. member for London South (Mr. Walker), who introduced the bill last fall about implementing sunset law, realized the extent to which he was moving into a very tender and sensitive area.
The story in the Globe and Mail that announced the appointment of this new four-man committee last week noted there was a bit of a contrast between what they described as the McKeough approach and the Davis approach. The McKeough approach characteristically was to barge ahead with the sunset law, to review these agencies, boards and commissions and come to some conclusion as to whether they had any legitimacy for continued existence.
The Davis approach is the somewhat more sensitive political approach. He is going to have them reviewed. And who is he going to have them reviewed by? Is it going to be by a committee of this Legislature that would be representative of all parties? No, it is going to be reviewed by what one of the news stories rather euphemistically refers to as the Wiseman group -- a group of four Tories, not responsible to this Legislature. It's really a party committee. It’s a party committee which is going to review this sensitive area as to how to dismantle this great patronage bureaucracy which the government has built up over the last 40 or 50 years, for most of which it has been in power.
Mr. Laughren: I will believe it when I see it.
Mr. MacDonald: That’s one aspect of it. The second aspect of it is that this committee appointed unilaterally, appointed without any consultation with the House, officers of the House, House leaders or anybody else, is now going to move into an area which has all the appearances of being in conflict with a standing committee of this Legislature.
Mr. Foulds: Shameful.
Mr. MacDonald: Last year this government introduced a motion which referred to the standing committee on procedural affairs, chaired by my colleague from Oshawa, the 106 agencies, boards and commissions which are statutorily obligated to table an annual report in this Legislature. In fact, last fall, in the debate on the sunset resolution introduced by the Liberal Party, they tried to extend it to include all 360 agencies, boards and commissions. But the government blocked that.
At least the standing committee on procedural affairs has the obligation of taking a look at those 106 ABCs which must table a report. In the motion that was introduced by the government House leader (Mr. Welch), and passed by this House, establishing the jurisdiction of that committee, it specifically said that one of its responsibilities was to examine the operation of these agencies, boards and commissions that tabled annual reports, and to make recommendations with regard to the legitimacy of their continued existence. Are they redundant and should they be abolished? Should they be amalgamated? Should they be absorbed in one or other of the ministries?
The government now moves unilaterally and sets up a party committee, an all-Tory committee, which presumably is going to usurp something of the responsibilities, if not the total responsibilities, of the standing committee of the Legislature. I acknowledge that the Premier is quoted in the Globe and Mail story on May 24 in this fashion: “In announcing the Wiseman group, Premier Davis said it would not infringe on the legislative authority of the standing committee.” I think it’s about time this House had some explanation as to how it is not going to encroach on the authority of the standing committee.
Is the standing committee now going to be restricted to a routine review of the annual report and excluded from a review of the legitimacy of the continued existence of that agency, board or commission? If it is, I suggest that is an encroachment on the operation of the standing committee.
Mr. Foulds: Shameful.
Mr. MacDonald: We have had no explanation of it, though. I am not going to take any more time of the House. Sure, this government has to operate, it has to pay civil servants and it has to carry on the business of the province. I hope sometime soon it is going to get away from the chaotic pattern of the presentation of business to this House which has resulted in estimates often coming up in October or November of the year when two-thirds -- indeed, sometimes three-quarters -- of those estimates have already been spent, making a farce of the whole consideration of estimates.
I hope it will get to the point that estimates will be put in the early stages of each session, and will be considered between the budget and the end of June, in the first quarter or so of the year. I know we have very little right to change any estimate, but let’s not make such a total farce of it that we don’t even have a consideration to take a look at the estimate until the year is two-thirds or three-quarters over.
Apart from all of that, what we now have is an opportunity to say to the government, “We are voting you interim supply to continue the business of the province, but we are raising with you in pretty sharp and firm fashion the questions as to what you are doing with regard to the whole issue of agencies, boards and commissions.”
I want to suggest two basic principles: First, if we are going to finally get around to examining this bureaucratic monstrosity which the government has been responsible for building up, this new patronage bureaucracy which reaches out into almost every community in the province of Ontario, then it should be done by an all-party committee, not by an exclusively Tory committee operating in this sensitive area with a report back to the government that nobody will see the substance of, quite possibly.
Second, it should be done within the framework of the Legislature, within the standing committees of the Legislature. Since it has already referred to the standing committee on procedural affairs at least a certain area of this responsibility, I repeat, I think that ultimately that’s where the responsibility should be given in total.
Ms. Foulds: I rise to speak on this motion for interim supply. To start off, I would certainly like to second the comments of the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and those who have spoken about the boards, agencies and commissions problem.
I want to shift the debate slightly, because I would like to take a moment or two to focus on the cost of health care, and the health care problem. As I look at Ontario’s provincial budget, we spend 28 cents of the budget dollar on health care. The Health estimates, as I understand it, won’t be up for debate for a considerable period of time. I want to bring to this House a problem that I consider to be urgent and pressing as it affects the residents of Thunder Bay district.
We have had in the past number of years, starting with the present Minister of Health’s predecessor, Draconian measures with regard to expenditure and cutbacks in health care in terms of active treatment beds, and extended care beds in northwestern Ontario. We have had recently in the Treasurer’s budget -- and he’s asking for interim supply based on some of the budgetary measures in that budget for the next three months -- OHIP increases that are, to say the least, shocking, shameful and outrageous. We have premium increases. We have an increased payment for health care, and yet we are getting in terms of that health care less for more.
Last week in Thunder Bay the Thunder Bay District Health Council released a report called “Panorama of Mortality.” That report was a good report. I believe that report was a sound report. As referred to by my colleague from Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), it was a good honest research report. It was done by a body that is basically funded through government funding from some of the moneys that will be spent over the next three months in this interim supply motion. It was done by a health council that I think is not a tame committee responding merely to the wishes of the central health bureaucracy here in Queen’s Park, but one which responds to some genuine concerns and needs of the people in the district of Thunder Bay. It is the kind of health council we should have throughout the province.
What that report showed was that in every category except one the mortality rate in the district of Thunder Bay was greater than that for the province as a whole. There were a number of specific areas. Overall the rate for all ages between 71 and 74 for Thunder Bay was 20 per cent higher than it was for the province as a whole. In several subcategories the rate went up as high as 139 per cent greater than the rate for the province as a whole. Those are serious figures.
I won’t go into detail on every item, but I think the report deserves some analysis by the ministry, a further report by the health council itself and some personal examination by the minister.
Mr. Speaker: I don’t want to interrupt the hon. member but I think that that commitment was given by the minister during question period.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, if I may say to you, I think that some of the answer the minister gave was not fully informed. I was just getting into that. The minister indicated that he had only received the report a few minutes before coming into the House. It is my understanding that the health council sent the report to the minister or if not the ministry, by courier service the moment it was released. It should have been received by the ministry no later than yesterday; and, by courier, presumably it should have been received late last week.
The minister indicated in his answer this afternoon that the district health council would be doing a review of its own report. It is my understanding that they will be making a submission to the minister for some funding to carry out a study as to the reasons for the findings in this initial report. That is, this initial report tells us what people are dying of in the district and at what ages; what we don’t know is why. If the review which the minister referred to is the one that I think the district health council intends to undertake, it falls very much within the whole problem of financing in the Ministry of Health in the next three months and subsequently.
For example, the report indicates that, for whatever reasons, we do have a need for more active treatment beds in Thunder Bay district and that, for whatever reasons, we are experiencing a high death rate in the province as a whole. Although the provision of more active treatment beds won’t solve the long-range problem -- I admit that -- it would alleviate some immediate suffering and it might mean that some of those people who now are dying prematurely could, through various measures, have their lives extended.
It seems to me that, in terms of budgetary matters, the Ministry of Health should be looking at funding for other district health councils throughout the province to provide the kind of study that this report provides for the district of Thunder Bay, so that, to analyse the statistics properly, we could have a location-to-location comparison, and not merely a comparison between the district of Thunder Bay and the province as a whole.
I’ll give one small example of what I mean. If, for example, in Metropolitan Toronto and the surrounding areas, because of its high population density and perhaps because of the availability of specialist medical services, for example, the death rate is substantially lower than the rate for the province, then it stands to reason that the rate in most other places in the province will be higher and there is therefore not much to panic about in Thunder Bay.
While there should be no cause for panic, I think there is cause for concern and action on the part of the ministry. If we had the comparison, say with Oshawa, Peterborough or Hamilton, perhaps we could get a better idea of the health care system as it is working throughout the province.
Regarding the report, and especially with relation to the Ministry of Health -- and the reason I am speaking on this interim supply motion is that, unless we deal with them in interim supply, these problems will not be able to be debated in detail until, as my colleagues from York South indicated, the ministry’s estimates come up in the fall -- it may mean, for example, that something like the high infant mortality rate needs to be looked at in detail. It is particularly worrying to me that there is an extremely high rate -- 93 per cent over the figure for the rate for the province -- of deaths in infants from “symptoms and ill-defined conditions.” From that, it seems to me that we need to have better early diagnosis, that we need to have additional help for the existing pediatric care and that we probably need more prenatal training. It may mean that we need to have more training for midwives and that we need to have more training for nurse practitioners, because they may be the only people in the remote parts of the district who are available to have a look at early symptoms that are now ignored.
I think it is important that we do a thorough review -- and this is one thing that the minister did not mention, I’m afraid. He mentioned the review with respiratory diseases. What he didn’t mention is that the current study is looking only at grain handlers exposed to dust. I think it needs to look at the entire work place and the populace as a whole, and I think it would be very useful if the minister would look favourably upon the speeding up of the present study, if that’s possible -- if it’s possible to do it validly and scientifically and still maintain valid results -- but also to include also residents of the district.
My former colleague, the former member for Fort William, Mr. Angus --
Mr. Laughren: Ah, great, great member.
Mr. Foulds: -- has fought for many years and continues to fight as a private citizen -- and I hope soon a public citizen again -- on the whole question of respiratory diseases. He has indicated, for example, that there may be some concern with regard not merely to the grain industry but to the pulp and paper industry. That may be something that the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health should be co-ordinating.
Basically, Mr. Speaker, I’m sure you would concur that most of us who live in the Thunder Bay district agree that it’s a very fine place to live. We like it there. We live there by choice. But it seems to me that the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) should look at areas like research and immediate support for immediate problems, such as some additional active treatment beds, such as, for example, upgrading of services, psychiatric services, social work services, counselling services for young people -- because of the very high suicide rate in the district. These should be looked at and they should be looked at for the coming year. If, over the next three months, we pre-empt too much of the Health budget, that may not be possible. There has to be some flexibility, it seems to me, in the Ministry of Health budget.
I think we have to meet some very real health care problems that have been pinpointed in the district of Thunder Bay. They have to be looked at seriously. I would hope that the minister, during this period of interim supply, would not hide behind his traditional defence: “We’ve got a committee of the ministry looking at that; we’ve got this committee looking at that; that needs a review; we don’t have the scientific data.”
Mr. Speaker, you know what surprises me? Statistics about death are absolute. You don’t have to take a sample. They are all recorded. What surprises me is that this information is not readily available either to the ministry or through the ministry, and this kind of information has not been made public before by the ministry. It would seem to me that the district health council has performed a valuable function by bringing this important and grave information before the public.
Specifically, then, I want to emphasize two points. First, I want to emphasize that in the short term the Minister of Health should not say, carte blanche, that he has no funds whatever. He should say, in the case of a request that came to him last week for more extended care beds in order to free up 60 additional active treatment beds in Thunder Bay, that that should happen immediately.
Secondly, he should agree to provide the necessary funds for the further studies that the district health council needs to undertake to find out why these statistics, these mortality rates, are so high in Thunder Bay in comparison to the province as a whole.
Mrs. Campbell: It seems to me that this is, perhaps, an important debate and an important moment in time, because it is through this particular motion that the funding of this province can continue for the next few months. I am of the opinion that those of us in the opposition must certainly take this opportunity to express our deep concern with the kind of incompetency which we see in this government at this point in time.
I had a series of questions on the order paper which would be within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Government Services but, obviously, from his reply, not within the minister’s competence. One of the questions asked, for example, was: “Has Professor Eric Arthur prepared any reports dealing with the legislative building?” This minister can’t answer. He needs more time.
“Will the minister table the reports prepared by Professor Eric Arthur?” This minister is incapable of answering without getting more time.
The answers given in this House by ministers of the Crown are deplorable for the most part; they are hiding behind their opportunity to take more time to answer the simplest question.
The situation in this building is urgent. The problems relating to committees and committee work are urgent, and yet this minister doesn’t even appear to know that he has no jurisdiction whatsoever, as it relates to committees and the committee function. But he’s going to take the time until, perhaps, somebody can get through to him that we don’t need to take delays in the matter. We could, perhaps, cut out some of the waste if we could get someone acting competently on behalf of the members of this Legislature.
This, of course, is one aspect of our problems -- when you have people who don’t understand; when the minister can’t even answer the question: “Has the minister personally familiarized himself with the provisions of sections 93 and 94 of the Legislative Assembly Act?” He needs more time to answer that kind of a question. This, of course, is pettifoggery of the worst type, and why we would be countenancing any interim supply to someone who is unable to answer the simplest questions, I don’t know.
Reference has been made here today about the Premier’s appointment of a one-party committee to look at boards, agencies and commissions. I would like to know just how much money is allocated to that committee, since the committee on procedural affairs which is vested with that authority has no money to make that kind of an investigation. Yet, we’re asked to sit here and approve interim supply for what? I don’t know. It’s time we started looking at the operation of a government which loves to hide its courses of action any way it can.
Of course, look at the Treasurer’s performance with reference to OHIP. Reference was made to that today by my leader and others, and we see, again, the complete contempt of this Treasurer for this House in apparently seeking to raise revenues for general purposes out of the OHIP premiums so that he doesn’t have to appear and answer to the House or to the public or to anyone else, and yet he wants us to approve interim supply to carry on the work of this government.
We heard today from the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton). Here we have one of the most blatant inadequacies of any ministry as we discuss the matter of the abused child or the battered child. We have seen committees appointed by this ministry and apparently they got lost some place. Certainly there’s no accountability from them as to what they found or what they propose. Then they are suddenly replaced by a task force. In the meantime, children are being battered.
I don’t support those Children’s Aid Societies which undoubtedly and apparently made some bad decisions about children who have been battered. But I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I don’t condemn them either in the same way that others do because they don’t get the funding they need to do the kind of protective work that is essential in this area.
Mr. Speaker, you may recall some time ago when the hon. member -- and I am sorry, I keep thinking of Moonbeam -- for Cochrane North (Mr. Brunelle) was the Minister of Community and Social Services, we raised with him -- and he’s now three ministers ago -- the whole question of the prevention of this kind of abuse. We had a meeting which he called -- in fairness at the insistence of not only the opposition but other concerned people in the community. Nothing really came of that meeting. Nothing happened. Children have continued to be abused.
I wonder what money was wasted in all of these delays in attacking the problem. I can recall addressing his successor, who is no longer with us as a minister, and pleading with him to at least do some decent funding through the Sick Children’s Hospital so that we could then have a base from which there could be an operation as a network across the province in order to try to cope with this whole horrible problem in our society. An election was coming along and so we dribbled here and there with a little money to this group and a little money to that group, none of which was adequate for any of them, so that they could start all over again doing what there was already expertise for in the Sick Children’s Hospital.
This is the way in which we spend money, wastefully, unconcerned with the problem and certainly unconcerned with attacking the problems as they exist. I would love to have each and every member of the government sit in a court and listen to the evidence from doctors and others and look at the photographs of these battered children. Maybe then they would start looking at some way to spend some money usefully in trying to prevent this kind of tragedy. As long as members of the government sit in here, as long as they don’t get out there and see it, then they can go on stumbling from one thing to another, always short of enough money to be effective in trying to cure a problem. What the government does, of course, is cost itself more money, and the people of the province more money, because when it spends money inadequately that is what happens. It then has all of the cost taken up in all sorts of different areas. It doesn’t really have to examine the financial costs because it can spread it from one ministry to another. But I will tell you something, Mr. Speaker, it doesn’t spread those social costs quite the same way, and it is responsible for those social costs, because it has been in charge all these years when these problems have developed and there has been no real attention to them.
In speaking of the participation of the member for Cochrane North, I am not trying to impugn his motives in calling the committee -- I think we were all very much aware of his deep concern -- but, unfortunately, as he sits there with some of these others who have less concern, he hasn’t had the clout that perhaps the Treasurer has in getting through the kinds of things that he desires.
Mr. Laughren: Is that true, Rene?
Mrs. Campbell: No, he’s no longer there -- that’s the point -- and the Treasurer is forever with us.
Mr. Haggerty: There is no hope.
Mrs. Campbell: Then we are looking at the situation of money as it pertains to municipalities. We have seen this Treasurer backing off a commitment made. It’s funny. He worries so much about irresponsible municipal officials, but municipal officials have a sense of honour and when a commitment is made they do their very level best to carry out that commitment. They don’t sit proudly in the front row reneging on every single possible commitment to municipalities on the basis that they might be encouraged to overspend and blame the provincial government.
Let’s just look at what has happened. I can recall seeing the same Treasurer, some years ago, to point out the problems of a municipality such as Toronto with the kind of funding that was available to it. Of course, he didn’t see fit at that time to take any heed of the proposals we made and the concerns which were expressed. He did, I think a year or so later, with a new budget chief at the city, perhaps more malleable than I was, but he did make some kinds of commitments to the city of Toronto.
He was warned that if we did not get some relief we would find ourselves in the position where the city of Toronto, at least, would be funding certain very important functions on the backs of the taxpayers. He didn’t, of course, believe that either. One of the interesting things about this particular Treasurer is that he has all sorts of very strange approaches to prognostications. It wasn’t ever going to happen. Last year it did happen, and the city of Toronto did fund its education out of its taxpayers, including its levy at Metro.
I haven’t seen this Treasurer yet come forward and say, “All right, that has happened; therefore, we will have to pay to the city of Toronto that portion of the tax which is for educational purposes.” Of course not. One is trying to be as niggardly as possible in order to protect one’s own position. That is difficult, and I have sympathy with the Treasurer, in that it is always difficult to cover up your errors, unless, of course, you can find some whipping boy to take that kind of punishment. Of course, in this government you always have those irresponsible municipal people to play that role.
It is time that this government faced up to its very long record -- not all the time, I won’t say this, but latterly -- of inefficiency and wastefulness. Yet we are asked to be here to approve interim supply to carry on the purposes -- and I wonder, you know, if this government thinks they’re the purposes of the people of Ontario or the purposes of this Legislature, or if that supply isn’t only for the government’s purposes, because this government has a very strange way of trying to differentiate between what it wants and what it thinks the rest of the province is interested in.
Mr. Laughren: They don’t believe in minority government.
Mrs. Campbell: No, they don’t.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I could go on at length. I recognize the fact that this is in essence an exercise in futility, first of all because the motion will pass after all our protestations because those of us who are responsible people couldn’t place this province in the kind of chaotic position it would be in if we didn’t. Secondly, because I don’t think there’s a person over there -- certainly sitting there at this point in the front row -- who is prepared even to listen to what is wrong with the way in which this government functions today.
I have tried to point out some of the inadequacies. I have tried to point out some of the contempt which I believe the Premier and certainly the cabinet have for this Legislature. And I have tried in some small way to express my concern for those who are really not able to address this House themselves -- particularly, as I say, those children who really need our concern and are not getting it because whenever this government wants to delay an issue or has no concern in an issue it appoints task forces and others. Or if it wants to try to take credit for something which has been the initiative of the opposition members, such as the sunset law, then they will appoint people to function in this area.
There is nothing we’re voting on at this point which gives any kind of hope to those people who are without jobs. There is nothing in this particular budget to do anything other than allow this government to stumble along for the next three months with very little -- very little -- encouragement for either the members of this House in their attempts to create some efficiencies or for the people of the province.
I am very saddened that this is so, because I think times are such that all parties in this House, all members in the House, should be pulling together to try to make some improvement in the quality of life for people right across this province. It shouldn’t be a partisan approach at all, because the issues are far too serious for the kind of gamesmanship we see here. But I suppose in the nature of things that’s exactly what we’re going to face. So, Mr. Speaker, I have spoken. I suppose perhaps the member for Cochrane North would recognize the fact that I conclude -- as I have heard many of our very fine native people conclude -- with some hopelessness and some deep depression about the state of things. Mr. Speaker, I have spoken.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the spokesmen from the opposite side who indicated they would be supporting this particular motion of the government and that the bills will be paid.
The member for Rainy River -- not Rainy River; no, he spoke very briefly. He was the soul of --
Mr. Reid: Brevity.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- brevity today. But the members for Nickel Belt, St. George, Oshawa, York South wandered far and wide in their various comments. Some of them were helpful, some interesting and illuminating, I say to my friends opposite. Of course, as the member for York South correctly pointed out, this is traditional on a supply motion of any kind.
The budget motion itself is really a supply motion. I’m looking at the Clerk who is nodding his head, I think. I suppose that is why the budget motion really is in the same way a wide-ranging debate. The tradition has grown, as the member for York South correctly has pointed out, over I suppose hundreds of years, that on supply, members can say what they want -- some of it helpful, some of it not so helpful.
I will only answer just one small point. I was interested in the remarks from the member for York South. I am sorry he is not here to hear what is a very brief and will be a very inadequate reply to the rhetoric of what he had to say about the new committee which the Premier (Mr. Davis) announced last week. The committee has obviously upset the member for York South and several other members in his own party. Finally the member for St. George picked up that refrain as well and echoed it -- to some extent at any rate.
I would simply point out the genesis of the committee. It was over a year ago, as I recall, that members agreed to enhance responsibilities for the standing committees, which has been referred to. It is my understanding that committee last session was first to be chaired by the member for York South. It is now being chaired by the member for Oshawa and the member for York South has assumed the position of vice-chairman. I’ll come back to that.
During the debate last fall on the sunset resolution of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith), the government -- we were referred to earlier today as being apoplectic and perhaps that isn’t far off the mark. In listening to the Leader of the Opposition, he was calling for legislation which was going to have committees, boards, agencies, commissions, ABCs -- called continually before some committee and sunset them all. There was no orderly progression as to what he wanted to do. If we became apoplectic over the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, so be it.
But we were not comforted by his particular approach to the very serious matter of getting down to looking at whether some agencies or boards need changing, combining, are redundant, or are doing the job that was originally set out for them by the Legislature -- whether it was still necessary that that job today be carried out. This is a very serious business indeed, and one which should not be taken lightly. We certainly were not impressed by the scatter-gun approach that the Leader of the Opposition was proposing in examining that whole subject.
Mr. Reid: Well, it got you moving.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Then during that debate on sunset, as I recall, the House leader (Mr. Welch) made an undertaking that virtually any report tabled here could be referred -- and I think automatically -- to the standing committee chaired now by the member for Oshawa. I will close by saying to the member for York South, who chaired that committee previously and who spoke so long and so eloquently today --
Mr. Laughren: Not so long.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- I say to the member for Oshawa who now chairs the committee -- he was shorter and not as eloquent but he did speak on the same subject -- as the chairmen of that committee in successive years, what have they done about it? What annual reports have they looked at? It’s fine to stand here and criticize the appointment of four government members to get on with the job. But the member for York South should look at his own diary, refer to his own notes, to see just how many meetings of the committee he called and what he did about getting on with what is obviously a very important job.
Mr. Laughren: You can’t transfer guilt that easily.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: The member for York South was talking out of both sides of his mouth --
Mr. Laughren: You are too.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- and the new chairman of the committee, the member for Oshawa, is going to follow in the same footsteps, it would appear.
Mr. Foulds: That’s a complete fabrication and you know it. That is a complete fabrication.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: And, therefore, with no expenditure of government funds --
Mr. Laughren: It’s your responsibility. You’re the government.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: They haven’t even met.
Mr. Foulds: You guys were so obstructionist it took us six months to get a letter. You don’t even know how many boards, agencies and commissions you’ve got. You don’t even have a list of them in the Premier’s office.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Listen, I’ve dealt with a lot more boards, agencies and commissions than that committee which has yet to call anybody in front of it. You’re just talk over there, just talk.
Mr. Laughren: You set them up.
Mr. Foulds: You’re just wind.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: You’re abusing the time of this House in the historic voting of supply on an interim basis by talking such rubbish over there, because your former leader and your near leader, the member for Oshawa, have never got down to the business at hand.
Mr. Foulds: How are you going to finance that committee? Are you going to finance it out of your party hacks’ contributions? Or are you going to do it out of government funding?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Now, within our responsibility --
Mr. Foulds: If there is government funding for your hack committee, why isn’t there for the procedural affairs committee?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- we discard and reject the scatter-gun approach of the Leader of the Opposition. We simply can’t wait for that tired old socialist chairman of the committee, past or present, to get under way, so we appointed our own committee of fine, well-spoken, albeit Tory, members, who are going to do a very fine job --
Mr. Foulds: How do you know?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- of doing what your former leader twice removed was supposed to have done, and what your near leader -- who has just come into the House -- is thinking about doing. While they are talking, we’ll get on with the job.
Mr. Foulds: You’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth and the back of your neck at the same time.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, again, thank you for your kindness, for your forbearance, and I thank my colleagues opposite for agreeing to vote supply. Civil servants will be paid. Stationery will be ordered.
Mr. Germa: Don’t hide behind the skirts of civil servants.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: People, paper and things will be looked after. And last, but not least, the member for Rainy River, high tax bracket that he finds himself in -- by his own choice, I might say, because he could do something about it; he could move into a much higher range of deductions --
Mr. Reid: That’s true. I will suffer along with the higher taxes.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- something which is available to all of us. The member for Rainy River will be able to look forward to receiving his cheque after April 1, which is something all of us can go to bed feeling a great deal happier about tonight. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Foulds: Bombast and bereft of substance.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Motion agreed to.
TOBACCO TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 25, An Act to amend the Tobacco Tax Act.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I have a very short opening statement, Mr. Speaker. Bill 25 proposes amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act to reflect the objectives announced in the Treasurer’s (Mr. McKeough) March 7 budget. Specifically, this bill increases the rate of tax on cigarettes, cigars and cut tobacco products. It also increases the compensation paid after April 1, 1978, to appointed tobacco tax collectors.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to add a few comments to Bill 25, and to support it. I’m not too happy about supporting any government tax increase, but I understand the difficulties that the Treasurer is in with the province of Ontario with deficit spending and deficit financing.
Mr. Laughren: If it’s regressive, you’ll support it, Ray.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s a luxury tax that is perhaps acceptable to a great number of people in the province of Ontario, and it has little effect or little impact upon the tax increase in this particular area. It’s one area where the government can have access to this additional revenue, and this is the area they chose to go to this year in raising some $30 million.
The minister did mention something about the section that applies to the collectors, I believe it is, in the province of Ontario. Just how many collectors do we have in this particular area and what would their income be?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Perhaps the hon. minister can make a note of that and reply at the appropriate time.
Mr. Haggerty: Those are all the comments I have, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, we in this party are also going to support this bill in principle. However, there are a number of concerns that we have with the bill. We are happy, for example, to see the increased payment to those who collect the taxes; and I suppose we are able to accept the increases in taxes that the minister has laid out. Unfortunately, the minister has failed to note in his opening statement that this bill is not all increase. That’s where our concern comes in.
We understand the government’s need to raise additional revenues. We also understand all of the arguments that have been used over the year about tobacco being a luxury product and the need to tax luxury products or luxury commodities. However, the bill contains one major contradiction. The contradiction is in the area of the proposed taxes on cigars and specifically in subsection 1(f) of the bill.
Subsection 1(c) of the bill proposes that the tax on cigars whose retail price before tax is seven cents or less shall remain unchanged.
Mr. Laughren: That’s a disgrace, Lorne.
Mr. Charlton: Subsection 1(d) of the bill proposes a one-cent tax increase on cigars retailing for more than seven cents but not more than 10 cents before taxes. Subsection 1(e) proposes an increase in tax of one cent for all cigars whose retail price is greater than 10 cents but not greater than 90 cents before taxes.
The contradiction comes in subsection 1(f), which puts a maximum on the tax of 39 cents for all cigars whose retail price before taxes is more than 90 cents.
Mr. Breaugh: It’s those Tueros; do you know them?
Mr. Laughren: You’ve been had by the Treasurer again, Lorne -- like every preceding Minister of Revenue.
Mr. Charlton: The contradiction is twofold. Firstly, in the Tobacco Tax Act as it now exists, the tax on cigars is fairly uniform throughout, with a maximum tax of 40 per cent against the cost of any cigar. The tax is assessed on a five-cent price range, or any portion thereof; so the tax fluctuates slightly as a percentage of the retail cost, depending upon whether the price is the first or the last cent of a five-cent range. However, the tax at present is fairly uniform and the maximum is 40 per cent on all cigars.
In this new bill, the tax on cigars is fairly uniform as a percentage of retail cost up to 90 cents, although the tax does decrease slightly as the price increases. However, as the retail price of cigars before taxes goes over 90 cents, the decrease in taxes as a percentage of the retail price is dramatic.
Mr. Reid: Now we know what the NDP researchers have been doing for the last month.
Mr. Charlton: With this Bill 25, we have a situation where the taxes on cigars between zero and 90 cents will range between 40 and 50 per cent of their retail price before taxes. Cigars whose retail price before taxes is greater than 90 cents will receive a significant decrease in taxes, both as a percentage of their cost and in actual cents.
Mr. Foulds: Shameful.
Mr. Laughren: Typical.
Mr. Foulds: A typical Tory cigar tax.
Mr. Charlton: We have a situation where, in the case of a cigar whose retail price is $1, the tax will actually be one cent less than it is under the bill as it now exists and it drops below the 40 per cent level that we had before.
Mr. Reed: How much does the Premier pay for his cigars?
An hon. member: He smokes a pipe now.
Mr. Charlton: On a cigar whose retail price is $2 --
Mr. Breaugh: Whew, I saw one once.
Mr. Charlton: -- there will be 41 cents less in tax payable than under the present bill, or only 19½ per cent on its retail cost before taxes. The contradiction is that this luxury, cigars, will be more costly for those who can least afford it and less costly for those who can best afford it.
Mr. Foulds: Typical Tory taxation.
Mr. Breaugh: They are caught with their hands in the humidor.
Mr. Charlton: Surely people who buy cigars that cost 90 cents or greater, plus tax, have more disposable income and more excess income to spend on luxuries than those who buy 10-cent cigars.
Mr. Reed: You better start smoking better cigars.
Mr. Charlton: I am terribly upset with this proposal. I am upset because it reflects for me the government’s whole approach to increased revenues. Time and time again this government has used methods to increase revenues that are regressive and which hit hardest those who can least afford it. We have only to take a look at some of the other measures in the present budget to realize that -- the OHIP increases and so on.
Mr. Germa: Shame.
Mr. Charlton: We in this party cannot accept this kind of proposal, to increase taxes at the bottom end and decrease taxes at the top end. During the committee stage we will be moving amendments that we hope will rectify this problem. We ask our Liberal friends beside us at least to have a serious look at --
Mr. Breaugh: This will be a test.
Mr. Charlton: -- what this government is doing. Although he’s not here now, we ask the Treasurer to have a serious thought about his role in this whole thing as well.
Mr. Reed: The government may fall on a 90-cent cigar.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The member for Sudbury East.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Nickel Belt.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Sorry, Nickel Belt.
Mr. Laughren: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Minister of Revenue for drawing it to your attention as well.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I know where the member comes from.
Mr. Laughren: I know there were some smiles in this chamber when my colleague from Hamilton Mountain was talking about the tax on cigars, as though it were a trivial matter. What bothers us about this is that the government never makes this kind of mistake the other way. The Treasurer has consistently used the Minister of Revenue to defend the indefensible in years gone by, and he has continued to do it with the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck). We don’t think that’s right, but as long as the Minister of Revenue has to defend the tax bills of the Treasurer, I guess it will always be so. It’s really strange, isn’t it, that the --
Mr. Foulds: Would you name the man sitting in the government House leader’s seat, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Kerrio: It is highly irregular.
Mr. Laughren: It may not seem significant but when this bill becomes law someone who buys a $2 cigar pays 41 cents less, I believe, than he does at present. I think that is important because it reveals the kind of attitude the government has towards regressive taxation. That simply is regressive taxation. I think this is a mistake by the way. It’s hard to believe the Treasurer would be so foolish as to put in tax legislation that would make someone who buys a $2 cigar pay less than he does at the present time, when the sole purpose of the legislation is to increase revenues to the province of Ontario by $30 million.
Mr. Ruston: An imported cigar too, probably.
Mr. Laughren: I am convinced that this is a mistake. I find it hard to believe that the Treasurer is suggesting that people in Ontario buy more Cuban cigars. I know what his doctrinaire economic philosophy is. He wouldn’t for a moment suggest we buy Cuban cigars that sell for $1 or more. He simply wouldn’t do it.
I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Revenue should seriously consider the amendment that will be put by my colleague from Hamilton Mountain. If the Minister of Revenue chooses not to accept the amendment by my colleague -- and I have one as well which would go partially towards accomplishing the same goal, except that my amendment does not impose a new tax -- then I would suggest to the minister that what he has got himself into is a bind because the Treasurer has slipped one by him.
That always happens. I have been here six and a half years and I have yet to see a debate on tax bills go through in which the Minister of Revenue is not embarrassed by something the Treasurer has slipped by him. I would suggest that that’s exactly what’s happened here and that the Minister of Revenue should right here and now dig in his heels and say, “I will not be a hack or a flunky to the Treasurer any more. As Minister of Revenue, I have my rights too.”
Mr. Makarchuk: Yes, assert yourself.
Mr. Laughren: I want to tell the minister that we will support him. I am sure our colleagues in the Liberal Party --
Mr. Haggerty: I smoke $2 cigars.
Mr. Laughren: -- see the insanity of lowering taxes on $2 cigars when the purpose of the bill is to increase revenues to the province of Ontario. I don’t know how anyone can resist the kind of logic that is inherent in the amendment that will be put by my colleague for Hamilton Mountain, and I would encourage members to support it.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I, too, would like to speak on the increase in the tobacco tax. If you are not aware, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make you aware that I do represent an area that produces much of the tobacco in Ontario. Norfolk county was the first county to produce tobacco to any extent, and that goes back many years, I think to the twenties. It has provided a good return for the agriculture industry there, and it has been the backbone in the last 25 to 30 years. If anyone has the opportunity to come down to that part of Ontario, I think he will realize what it has contributed to the economy of this great province of ours.
I was just going over Hansard, and it was only last June 29 that we were discussing this very same issue. At that time, there was an increase of about 40 per cent in the tax on tobacco. Now again, less than a year later, I see another increase of approximately 20 per cent. I would like to point out that it is an agricultural product that we are taxing, and I think that while it is somewhat of a controversial issue our party has said it will support it.
I would like to make it very clear what it has contributed to Ontario. It is an agricultural product, and it does concern me a little bit that only the Premier can smoke those big fat cigars. I used to like them myself. Since the fact that a Marguerite and a White Owl, the average guy’s cigars, are up to about $1.75 a pack, it does seem a little extravagant. Consequently, I have got out of the habit, although I do use a pipe and smoke the odd cigarette.
As was indicated, we do import our cigars from Cuba and other areas offshore, and with unemployment the way it is maybe the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) should take a look at producing a cigar from our own tobacco, and maybe we could look for new markets. I think that is the direction in which we should be going. To the average smoker, a pack of 25 cigarettes costs about $1.10 now. It doesn’t matter what wage bracket you are in, it creates a hardship. I think we have to take that into consideration, too. While a balanced budget is what the Treasurer is leaning towards, I don’t think we should do it at the expense of a flourishing industry such as the tobacco industry.
I think we should be encouraging production. Last year, I think we were utilizing the tobacco rights at about 46 per cent. While they did have a good crop in 1977, one of the better crops, and they are finding the markets exceptionally good, perhaps because of the devaluation of the dollar, which has been helpful, I still think we could encourage an acreage increase and look for export markets to expand that industry rather than tax it out of existence.
I am pleased to speak on behalf of my producers, the tobacco farmers in my area. Hopefully, the government will take this into consideration and at least keep the tax increase within the same guidelines as those affecting wages and rent increases. I would hope in the future that this would be given greater consideration.
Mr. Foulds: I just want to say a few words. First of all, I would really like to call to the minister’s attention the brilliance of the point put by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Mountain, with regard to this particular task. I think although individual members might have some reservations, all parties in the Legislature generally look upon tobacco tax as a luxury tax. That is one of the major arguments that is used that makes us accept it.
I sometimes think we may be getting to the point that we’re taxing anything that is considered to be slightly sinful or slightly fun, or both.
Mr. Reed: The wages of sin.
Mr. Foulds: It’s not popular for legislators to oppose an increase in taxes on tobacco because of the arguments put about how harmful this is and how it increases our hospitalization costs and it creates diseases by choice.
Mr. Reed: The government is living off the avails.
Mr. Foulds: That’s exactly the point that I want to make. I thank the member for putting it so succinctly. The government itself is living off the avails of these vices, if you like. It seems to me that as a Minister of Revenue and as a Treasurer they have to give some consideration to this continual taxing of a so-called luxury. If it is considered a luxury tax, then it seems to me that the government must be consistent and carry that all the way through, so the point that my colleague from Hamilton Mountain makes is that you really tax the luxury items of the luxurious -- the $2 cigars.
Mr. Laughren: They tax them less.
Mr. Foulds: What happens is that instead of doing that, instead of really taxing those luxurious luxuries, the government is taxing more heavily the common or garden variety of cigars, if I may say so, and letting the orchids go free.
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is really a matter of degree.
Mr. Foulds: In a nutshell, this particular tax encapsulates the whole Tory philosophy of taxation: Hit the low-income and the middle-income groups; leave the high-income groups. You put a ceiling on it so you can have a regressive form of taxation.
Mr. Turner: That is ridiculous.
Hon. B. Stephenson: That’s nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: How many of the low-income group smoke cigars?
Mr. Mancini: Do you smoke cigars?
Mr. Foulds: In this one little tax with this clause 1(s) you have a most regressive form of taxation. I want to say that I have no vested interest in this particular bill.
Mr. Haggerty: How many $2 cigars do you smoke?
Mr. Foulds: I don’t smoke a five-cent cigar, let alone a $2 cigar.
Mr. Makarchuk: I wouldn’t smoke a five-cent cigar anyway.
Mr. Turner: You smoke a pipe though.
Mr. Foulds: I think the minister should accept the proposal that is going to be put forward by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Mountain. It will certainly make the tax more sensible. It will certainly make the tax more progressive, and it may even avoid the contradiction in this kind of taxation; one of the theories is they’re used as deterrent taxes and that as one increases taxes on this kind of item the revenue will decrease.
We all know that those who can buy $2 or $3 cigars or what have you will continue to buy them because they’ll be able to afford them, whereas as my friend from Haldimand Norfolk indicated the guy who buys a pack of White Owl or Old Port may cut down and therefore cut down the government’s revenue and cut down on the avails that it lives off through this form of taxation.
So I would strongly recommend that when we get to committee stage, if the minister accepts the proposed amendment, he should perhaps have a huddled conference with his colleague, the Treasurer. I’m sure that the Treasurer will be glad to know that opposition parties are in favour of one portion of one tax increasing. It may even get him some additional revenue so that he can meet that mystical, magic moment that he wants to make in 1981, a balanced budget. The additional revenue can be obtained this way, in some small way, by the suggestion by my colleague from Hamilton Mountain. I’m sure that the minister should accept it.
I just want to say one last thing, because I think for the first time since I’ve been a member of this Legislature we have as Minister of Revenue a man of some courage and a man of some thoughtfulness and a man of some competence. I want to underline the points that my colleague from Nickel Belt made. We have generally had as a Minister of Revenue a front man --
Mr. Laughren: Or lady.
Mr. Foulds: -- or lady, a front person for the Treasurer, a minister who simply takes the flak on the tax bills that the Treasurer imposes. This particular minister, when he was chief government whip, had the courage to chew out his then so-called superior cabinet ministers for not attending to their duties in the Legislature. I think it is time this minister chewed out the Treasurer for not thinking through his taxes and having to carry the can for him.
Mr. Makarchuk: He might set a tradition that would be appreciated over there.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any other members who wish to participate in this debate? If not, the hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the members opposite realize that tax policies in the province of Ontario are brought in by the Treasurer --
Mr. Laughren: All too well; we know it all too well.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: -- and implemented by the Minister of Revenue. I am sure that they are aware that that is the way it has been in the past and probably that’s the way it will be in the future or the Minister of Revenue wouldn’t need to be here at all, I suppose.
Mr. Laughren: Well, you suggested it.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: It wasn’t really a mistake.
Mr. Laughren: That’s even worse.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: There are some reasons that we adopted the policy we now have before the House in the legislation. One of the main reasons is simply that even with taking the 90 per cent maximum in cigars we are away beyond any of the other provinces. All of them are much below that. We are much higher than any other province. In other words, we are collecting taxes on cigars at a higher price than any other province at the present time.
Mr. Laughren: We are just asking you to be consistent.
Mr. Makarchuk: It didn’t stop you in the case of OHIP.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We talked about the fact that expensive cigars are imported, and some of them are, but not all of them are. Many of them are hand made here in Ontario and Quebec, and if we increase the taxes we are then going to be perhaps putting the small manufacturer in a bad position.
Mr. Laughren: All OHIP bills are paid here in Ontario, Lorne.
Mr. Reed: Is that the Canadian tobacco firm?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Yes. Let me also say that cigars as a total represent only three per cent of the revenue from the Tobacco Tax Act. It is a very small amount.
Mr. Laughren: It’s the principle involved.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Last year we collected something like $150 million in this branch of the ministry; only $4.5 million of it was from the tobacco tax -- at least, from cigars.
Mr. Laughren: The principle is offensive. It’s the ability to pay.
Mr. Foulds: It’s an offensive principle you have established.
Mr. Reed: It keeps the superministries going.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Forty per cent of cigars sold sell for seven cents or less and that’s the area that has the smallest percentage of taxes.
Mr. G. I. Miller: They are just big cigarettes.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The tax is two cents and that has remained unchanged. We haven’t increased that at all. The member for Port Arthur suggested that it would be the low income group that would be hit mostly by these taxes. It really isn’t so, because we didn’t increase the tax on the seven-cent cigar.
Mr. Makarchuk: For seven cents, you are not going to get much of a cigar.
Mr. Foulds: Do you have any brand names? Are these known as Brand X?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The other thing is, how many people on low incomes smoke cigars to start with? There aren’t that many. The member for Erie asked about the number of collectors there are in the province. There are 146 collectors. With the new legislation it would cost in the neighbourhood of $90,000. That’s what they would receive.
Mr. Foulds: I don’t think those cigars use tobacco.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I have very little extra to add. I am not at this point in time going to debate the proposed amendments. I want to see whether they are, in fact, introduced. I would question whether or not the Speaker or the Chairman would find that those amendments were in order.
Mr. Foulds: You can introduce them.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I would refer the hon. members to section 86 of the standing orders.
Mr. Laughren: Lorne, don’t be petty.
Mr. Foulds: Quit hiding behind the rules.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I believe that we are justified in going ahead with the proposals as they now stand. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Laughren: I am surprised.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered to committee of the whole House.
RETAIL SALES TAX AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Maeck moved second reading of Bill 27, An Act to amend the Retail Sales Tax Act.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: Bill 27 proposes amendments to the Retail Sales Tax Act to attain certain budgetary policy objectives, and specifically these are to further assist Ontario in coming to grips with the need for energy conservation. This bill proposes to expand existing exemptions for energy conservation materials and equipment to include storm doors and windows.
Mr. Laughren: That again.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: The bill strengthens the hospitality industry’s competitive position within Canada and internationally. Retail sales tax will be removed from all accommodation, including the full price of hospitality services sold at an all-inclusive price under the American plan until the end of 1979.
In order to narrow the disparity existing in the taxation of the various forms of land transportation, and to further meet the objectives of the budgetary policies, this bill proposes the removal of existing exemptions for railway rolling stock. This includes railways, subways, railways in mines, and other such items.
The bill also includes an expansion of the definition of fair value designed to produce greater equity among retailers of similar products. Most retailers must sell their products at an all-inclusive price. The amendment will cause all retailers to collect tax on the same basis.
There are also several other important amendments contained in this bill and these deal with the matter of promotional giveaways, catalogues and suchlike. Members may be aware of a recent decision in the Supreme Court of Canada concerning the application of the New Brunswick retail sales tax to catalogues. The court found that the New Brunswick tax did not apply. In Ontario, we have held since 1961 that the retail sales tax applies to catalogues and other promotional distributions and that the consumer of these items is the promotional distributor.
The purpose of the amendments in this area is to reaffirm and clarify Ontario’s policy. The amendments in no way reflect any change in policy. Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, the amendments clarify what is a promotional distribution, who is a promotional distributor, and they make clear that the purchaser of such materials is a distributor and the distributor must pay the tax. In addition, the bill clarifies that the recipient of this type of material, when he or she receives it free, is not liable for tax.
As I noted earlier, Mr. Speaker, these changes concerning promotional giveaways are for clarification and greater certainty and do not represent any change in the taxation policy of the government.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I want to add a few comments to Bill 27, and thank the minister for his explanatory notes.
I agree, and I think our party will, with the principle of the amendments. I’m concerned about the matter of the retail sales tax, and I thought perhaps the minister might go a little bit further -- perhaps the Treasurer should have gone a little bit further -- in reducing the whole provincial sales tax.
We do welcome the extension of the exemption, I guess it is, of the sales tax on insulation and energy conservation programs, such as relates to storm doors and windows. I mentioned, I think a year ago, during the estimates of the ministry, that I thought this area alone would create a number of jobs in the province of Ontario, particularly as it relates to the storm doors and storm windows. It’s pretty labour-intensive and I’m sure that it will add to the employment opportunities in Ontario.
I also thought the minister might have included thermal pane windows. I thought they should have been included in here, since I’m sure they will conserve energy.
Regarding the matter of the exemption available at present for railway rolling stock and repairs thereto, I’m a little bit sceptical about that particular section of the bill. There’s no doubt that the cost of the taxes generated by this provision will be passed on to those persons using GO trains and GO buses, and the additional cost will be reflected in fares to help supplement the seven per cent increase in sales tax. Although it will raise approximately $359 million between the loan and trust companies, it’s quite an amount that’s going to be raised by this particular tax levy. I question at this time of energy conservation whether we should be hitting the pocketbook of those persons using the GO Transit system and even of those using bus service in the province of Ontario. No doubt this will have some impact on the fare rates.
The matter of the tax break given to the travel and tourist industry is welcomed by the tourist industry in the province of Ontario in that the sales tax on meals and rooms is being removed. While I think that will be some help, again the government comes back and increases the taxes on alcohol. The government takes it from one hand and puts it in the other; it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. I don’t know whether this is going to help the tourist industry or not. I think the government is going to move further in this particular area.
The government is talking about increasing the building of new tourist establishments and the renovating of older establishments. This should create employment, but I don’t think this is going to be good enough. If the government really wants to increase employment in this particular area it’s going to have to remove the sales tax in this area also to encourage the upgrading of our tourist establishments in the province of Ontario. We pay perhaps the highest, in this area, of any of the provinces, and even in comparison to the United States. The room rates are still away beyond the ability of the travelling public to handle. I suggest that the government, in looking at the area of employment and job creation programs, should be considering removal of the sales tax in this whole industry. I think that’s the area the government should be looking at. If it really wants to get the tourist industry to move, the government should be moving in this direction.
I’ve heard an old saying that as soon as the Canadian dollar is devalued, as it was, say five per cent, a few years ago, that it encourages tourists to travel into Ontario and into Canada. Today, the Canadian dollar is at its lowest level and yet we’re not bringing the tourists in from other countries. If we are going to encourage bringing in tourists into Ontario, the government is going to have to take harder measures than it has to relieve the taxes in this area.
My other area of concern is that the Treasurer should have brought in some amendments to the Retail Sales Tax Act. The bill indicates there are areas where the government is going to create jobs. If the government is looking at having a balanced budget and full employment in the economy, it isn’t going to happen in the province of Ontario. We can’t have further layoffs across the province with unemployment as high as it is now. Questions were asked about the Niagara region this afternoon during the question period; there is unemployment of about 11.5 per cent to 12 per cent in that area, and yet it’s supposed to be a highly industrialized area.
One can find industry closing down and phasing out jobs all across Ontario, yet we have nothing definite in here to say that we’re going to do something to create jobs. We can’t have industry building huge inventories if the general public is not buying. To 1975, when the Treasurer reduced the sales tax on automobiles to five per cent at that time, there was a boom in sales of automobiles. There is no doubt that in the long run it did generate extra revenue for the province because more people were buying. As long as the government is going to have high sales tax here in Ontario, I don’t think it is going to have an upswing in the economy. Until it takes some drastic action to reduce the sales tax, it is not going to encourage public spending.
If the government isn’t going to be spending money in projects, then it has to look to the private sector. But we must have some thing there to encourage the private sector and to encourage the consumer to buy their products. I suggest to the minister if he wants to get rid of the lagging economy in Ontario that he should be taking this approach. There’s no doubt the Treasurer will have to bring in a supplementary budget because we have been in a recession now since 1944 with no improvement in our economy, no jobs.
Mr. Foulds: What have the federal Liberals been doing about that?
Mr. Haggerty: We will let them worry about that. I am not elected at the federal level; I am elected here. I think one of the problems here is the responsibility of this government --
Mr. Mancini: Like a fish out of water.
Mr. Haggerty: -- to get the economy rolling. It is not good enough for the Premier of Ontario to go to Ottawa and come up with a program and say, “I have a program here that’s going to create 500,000 new jobs.” Then he talks about energy programs out in Alberta and in the Northwest Territories which have little impact on employment for the people of Ontario. We will get a certain break out of it but I think the matter rests with this government here, if we are serious in the matter of unemployment.
It is going to have to take a second look at reducing the sales tax. In the overall picture, as I said before, we can’t have a huge inventory. Almost every manufacturing firm in Ontario has a large inventory, and if we don’t have the consumers to purchase it, the government is going to lose additional sales tax. One way to generate more revenue and more employment is to reduce the sales tax. I think the Canadian Manufacturer’s Association suggested that to the government, and the Chamber of Commerce in the province has suggested that too, and I think it is going to have to take a good hard look at it.
But we support the bill in principle. It doesn’t go quite far enough, but we will support it.
Mr. Charlton: Again we find ourselves in the position where we are going to have to support the principles that this bill expresses. But we have a number of serious reservations and a number of questions that we feel should be answered before the bill is passed.
The reason we have these reservations and questions is that our support for some of the proposals in the bill is based on a lot of “ifs” and “mays.” First, with the repeal of the exemption presently available for railway rolling stock and repairs, has the government done any studies which clearly show what effect the removal of this tax exemption is going to have on the industries that produce the rolling stock in this province? We have Canadian Car in Thunder Bay and National Steel Car in Hamilton that are producing rolling stock and providing jobs in the province.
I don’t know whether the Minister of Revenue can answer the question or not since the tax changes are obviously being proposed by the Treasurer. But has the government, has the Treasurer, has anybody done studies which will show what effect the removal of this tax exemption is going to have on the competitive position of those industries? How is it going to affect jobs? I haven’t seen anything which indicates the answers to those questions and I am sure everybody on this side of the House would be more than happy to see some answers.
There’s another question related to rolling stock: Has the government done any studies or does the government have any figures to show how the removal of this tax exemption is going to affect a city like Metropolitan Toronto where they rely rather heavily on railway rolling stock in their public transit system? Does the government know how many additional dollars this is going to cost the city of Toronto, and the province as well, in order to pay that tax on rolling stock?
Secondly, in the case of the proposal to exempt the rental price of rooms in hotels and motels, et cetera, again we are going to support this proposal for the dollars it may generate in the tourist industry -- and I emphasize the “may” -- and the new jobs it may create in the tourist industry -- and again I emphasize the “may.”
I go back for a moment to a point that was raised by the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty). The government gives a tax exemption to the hotel industry and then it turns around, raises the taxes on alcohol and takes some more money out of their revenue. It sometimes seems like taking the money from one hand and putting it into the other. The only problem is that the government ends up adding costs in between. Has the government done any studies which project how many dollars this tax exemption will create in the tourist industry or how many jobs this tax exemption will create in the tourist industry? I haven’t seen any such studies; none of us on this side of the House has.
The Canadian dollar is down right now. That’s obviously going to add some potential for stimulus in the tourist industry. But it is really questionable how much stimulus this tax exemption is going to provide. I would really be interested in seeing any facts or any studies the government has done on the effects of this tax exemption. At the same time that it is giving this exemption, it is allowing gasoline prices to go up in the province of Ontario, and the tourists have to get here somehow. Campsite fees are all going up this year, and it’s all an integral part of the tourist industry in this province. I would really like to see something on just what effect this tax exemption is going to have.
I think all of us on this side of the House are probably happy to see the tax exemption for storm doors, storm windows and screens and so on. But it is not really a huge stimulus to the consumer sector of this province and it is not really the answer to the economic problems we are having. I don’t really see anything in this bill that is going to provide a great stimulus across the province to job creation or to the overall economy.
Before we finish third reading of this bill, I would seriously like to see some facts and figures and some projections on exactly what the government expects these proposals to accomplish.
Mr. Reed: I would like to dwell for a few minutes on one section of the bill as it pertains to energy conservation and to point out that we welcome the addition of the tax exemption for storm doors and windows. While my friend to the left has suggested that it won’t create any stampede in this direction, it does represent at least a symbolic gesture towards encouraging energy conservation in the home.
I would like to point out an area here that perhaps has been overlooked by the minister or perhaps not -- and it would be interesting to have his comments. There is now a group of exemptions pertaining to energy conservation. They involve insulation, wood stoves and so on. But a number of the necessary accessories to some of these purchases are not exempt from taxation. One example would be chimneys. One can buy a wood stove tax-exempt but when one buys the chimney, he pays taxes on it. This creates something of a difficulty for the retailer who really doesn’t know whether he should be exempting a product or not. This has resulted in a certain amount of confusion in the manufacturing industry.
For instance, there is a heat exchanger which is being sold for installation in existing fireplaces. The effect of the heat exchanger is to raise the thermal efficiency of what is a grossly inefficient combustion unit from about eight to 12 per cent up to about 25 or 30 per cent. Yet, that Thermo-grade -- as it is called -- that’s one of the brand names for it -- is taxed. It is not tax exempt, and yet it is one of the very direct ways in which energy can be saved in a great number of homes.
As we know, fireplaces have been built in thousands upon thousands of homes across Ontario and only a small percentage as yet contain any form of efficiency raising device such as the things we commonly understand as -- I think one brand name is Heatilator. Here is another heat exchanger unit which is an add-on to an existing fireplace. It’s a very practical thing, a very good idea, and yet the manufacturer feels compelled to charge the tax through to the retailer and the retailer is compelled to charge the provincial sales tax.
This has created confusion in my riding. I have now, in one small area, three new businesses that have started in the last year which are devoted solely to the conservation of energy and to the related hardware, and yet some of the goods that they sell are tax exempt and some of them are not. I would hope the minister would take it upon himself when he's making his windup statement on this bill to clarify this situation, either to recognize that these things might have been genuinely overlooked when they were being considered or whether he would, in fact, consider them for future addition.
Mr. Foulds: It is a little difficult to speak on principle on a bill such as this, which is really a dog’s breakfast in terms of what it does, because it increases taxes in some areas and exempts taxes in other areas and they all have to do with the retail sales tax.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: All housekeeping.
Mr. Foulds: There are three particular items that I would like to speak on. As my colleague has indicated, our party will be supporting the bill on second reading, although we have some questions, and I think even though we don’t have any amendments to this bill, we will ask for the bill to go into committee to get some specific questions answered with regard to certain sections of the bill.
First of all, we do approve wholeheartedly the exemption on storm doors and windows. One of my particular worries is that, as has been raised by the previous speaker -- to whom I give credit in terms of his continuing battle, both in committee of this Legislature and in the House, on conservation matters in terms of energy; there are members of the House who have similar concerns, but I think he expresses those particularly ably and well -- I notice that in the definition of the change in the legislation they say “storm windows and storm doors as defined by the minister.”
I would hope that in the definition that comes out in the regulations, Thermopane, as the previous speaker mentioned, is included, because in the area that I come from in northern Ontario many ordinary people that I’ve talked to are looking at triple glazing. I think that obviously should be one of the things that is allowed and encouraged in terms of conservation of energy. I don’t know, in this bill, whether that will be, because we haven’t seen the regulations yet. We don’t know what definitions the minister is going to attack. If he includes those and gives us a commitment on that, I would feel much happier.
I’d like to make one quibble. While I approve, particularly as a northerner, the exemption granted to storm doors and windows, isn’t it a pity that so many young married couples in their twenties, just starting out to raise a family, can’t afford to build a house behind those storm doors and windows because of other budgetary measures of the Treasurer?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The other budgetary measures?
Mr. Breaugh: He just pointed out that you were against young families.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I think that is very serious.
Mr. Foulds: The point is that there was nothing in the Treasurer’s budget or in the budgetary measures he brought down to encourage the development of housing for young married couples starting out. Absolutely none.
Hon. B. Stephenson: How about the removal of the federal sales tax on building materials?
An hon. member: Masters at passing the buck over there.
Mr. Foulds: They may be able to buy a storm door and a storm window and store them in the little locker in the basement of their apartment. But it is going to take them some time to actually buy a home.
Mr. Speaker: I think the hon. member is speaking about what is not in the bill, not about what is in the bill.
Mr. Foulds: That’s true. Right on, Mr. Speaker. Your accuracy, your acumen --
Mr. Martel: Perception.
Mr. Foulds: -- your perception is first rate.
Mr. Roy: You are out of order. That’s not going to get you anyplace.
Mr. Reid: You are still out of order.
Mr. Foulds: I simply want to point out the dichotomy, the sort of dog’s breakfast -- the phrase I used at the beginning of the debate on the principle of this bill -- that is the Treasurer’s budget, and which is involved to some small extent in this bill. So, while we support that, I think it is important for the House to recognize that it is a modest provision, a limited provision.
Mr. Breaugh: One might even say it’s meagre.
Mr. Foulds: Meagre, my colleague from Oshawa suggests. He was the housing spokesman for this party and knows whereof he speaks.
Mr. Bradley: He’s health now.
Mr. Foulds: I want to move to another section of the bill about which I have much stronger reservations. In fact, when we get to the clause by clause stage I may feel myself moved to vote against that provision of the bill which lifts the exemption on the sales tax on railway rolling stock, because it seems to me this is an area that should be exempt from taxation. Here we are exempting the tax on storm doors and windows; good. But here we are removing that exemption -- in other words, imposing that sales tax on railway rolling stock.
Mr. Martel: That’s terrible.
Mr. Foulds: What particularly worries me about that is not so much the Treasurer’s neat move to tax the feds through the CPR and the CNR, but the effect that that will have on public transit, because the taxation will be levied on railway rolling stock used by the TTC and by GO Transit. It seems to me that those are areas that we should be encouraging, the use of public transit. Once again, if we are interested in energy conservation we should be cutting down on the use of the automobile, and should be encouraging the use of public transit.
I raised with the Treasurer -- I think it was just before we adjourned -- the effect that the tax would have on manufacturers. My colleague mentions the plant in Hamilton and I want to spend a few moments on the plants in Thunder Bay -- Canada Car. While the Treasurer says it won’t put them in a disadvantageous position in terms of bidding on contracts -- and I think the Treasurer is right there that it won’t affect sales, although this bill embodies certain contradictions --
Mr. Bradley: I can see the headline now, “The Treasurer is right.”
Mr. Foulds: -- it seems to me that the Toronto Transit Commission with an additional 7.5 per cent cost to them on the purchase of railway rolling stock for the subway system will look again. My colleague, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), has some interesting statistics about the additional costs that it would have entailed for the TTC in 1972, 1973 and 1974. It seems to me that they amount to several million dollars in each case. If that happens on future contracts, then it seems to me that what we are doing is putting an inhibition, we are creating an inhibition on the development and the purchase of railway rolling stock for public transit. By doing so, we will be cutting back on the manufacture of those cars, therefore we will have a kind of domino effect: We’ll have fewer cars purchased for public transit within Ontario; we will have fewer cars manufactured for public transit within Ontario; in large urban centres such as Toronto and in the golden horseshoe where public transit should be developing, we will have the consumer, the user of public transit, crowded, made uncomfortable --
Mr. Bradley: The horseshoe is no longer so golden.
Mr. Foulds: Right; it’s a little bronzed these days, it’s gone to bronze.
We will have an inhibition on usage because that usage will be less attractive and there will be a possible decrease in use, certainly not an increase in use; and on the other hand we will have, in the manufacturing sector, a decrease in the amount of units to be produced. That will affect the development, the continuance in the creation of jobs, in Canada Car and in the Hamilton plant. That seems to me to be something that we should be avoiding. We should be developing secondary industry; this particular secondary industry is a vital one that should be developed, the development of rapid transit cars. So I have severe reservations, Mr. Speaker, about that particular clause in this bill.
Finally I want to say a few words, if I might, about the effect on the hospitality industry, and I believe I can complete my remarks before the clock --
Hon. B. Stephenson: In 30 seconds?
Mr. Foulds: -- reaches 6.
Mr. Martel: It’s the angle, Bette; from our angle it’s two minutes.
Mr. Foulds: That’s true, as a matter of fact.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There’s something wrong with your vision.
Mr. Foulds: I think it is one of the few measures that the Treasurer has taken and this minister is carrying out, that does make an attempt to stimulate the hospitality industry.
Mr. Reid: Time! Gong!
Mr. Foulds: However, the questions my colleague from Hamilton Mountain raises are good ones, because I don’t think studies have been done. We don’t know how much the hospitality industry is going to be encouraged by the removal of the sales tax; we don’t know how much that will be in the interest of visitors from outside the province and how much it will benefit commercial use that would take place in any event. We don’t know how much it benefits the hospitality industry in the large urban centres, such as Toronto, and how much it benefits the industry in the rural and northern parts of the province.
It seems to me that it is the minister’s responsibility, and the Treasurer’s responsibility, to bring that kind of information before the House. I would like to see the minister do that before the conclusion of this debate, Mr. Speaker.
The House recessed at 6 p.m.