The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
BEEF CALF INCOME STABILIZATION PROGRAM
Hon. W. Newman: I am pleased to announce that details of the 1978 beef calf income stabilization program have been finalized for the coming year. Last year the program paid out $12.1 million to 14,400 producers. Ontario beef calf operators registered nearly 350,000 cows in the plan. This year the support price for calves will be 51.5 cents per pound, as it was last year. The enrolment fee per cow remains the same at $8. Enrolment forms will be mailed this month to producers who participated in the 1977 program. Additional copies will be available from the offices of the agricultural representatives throughout the province.
There was a federal beef calf stabilization plan last year, but it seems very unlikely there will be a federal plan in 1978. Ontario’s beef calf income stabilization program is now four years old. It has proven extremely successful in evening out the income of our producers and is helping to ensure a viable beef industry in this province.
INCO VACATION PLAN
Mr. Nixon: I’d like to direct a question to the Minister of Labour in her capacity as a member of the special cabinet committee dealing with the short-term and long-term problems in Sudbury connected with the nickel industry.
Was she aware that Inco Metals was going to announce an extension of the summer vacation of two weeks, which is going to mean a further loss of $20 million from the pay packages of the regular employees? Was there nothing that either she or her cabinet colleagues or this special cabinet committee could have done to mitigate this further serious loss of income?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It is my understanding from the information which I have been given by the company that there will indeed be a minimal loss of income during the extension of the two-week vacation. The plan which Inco has, related to the increased vacation pay availability for Inco staff members, is one that can be utilized by almost all of those who will be given the extra two weeks’ extension and they will be receiving full pay for the extra two weeks of vacation if they choose to take it.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Does the minister mean that the union officials are incorrect when they predict there will be a $20-million loss in pay and that there is an alternative for those people who will have their vacation extended by two weeks so that they will not be losing any money? Since you permit only one supplementary in this connection, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would indicate the status of the special cabinet committee dealing with these matters?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The hon. member is correct in his assumption that those individuals will have vacation pay available to them and the amounts of money which were announced as potential losses for the community, I think, are grossly exaggerated at this time.
Mr. Wildman: The whole thing is gross.
Hon. B. Stephenson: If all of the steelworkers who are capable of achieving this extra two weeks’ pay at vacation time do not take advantage of it, then the loss to the community may be $20 million, but if most of them do take advantage of it it will be very much less than that.
Mr. Nixon: Where does that money come from?
Hon. B. Stephenson: It comes from a fund established during their negotiations by the company in collaboration with the union. The special cabinet committee on the mining communities is continuing its efforts. As a result of the visit of the chairman of that committee and the Premier (Mr. Davis) to Sudbury today, I think there will be statements made regarding some of the deliberations and conclusions which the committee has reached. We have not limited ourselves, as the member I’m sure very well knows, to the Sudbury area only. We are looking at a number of other communities as well.
Mr. Germa: I have a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Could I ask the minister if this further curtailment in production at Inco is as a result of the Treasurer’s new approach to the foreign processing allowance? Has the committee delved into that aspect of it?
Hon. B. Stephenson: We have most certainly looked at the budgetary factors which might influence the situation in mining areas. I would have to say that it is my understanding it has nothing to do with the Treasurer’s approach. It has to do with the market for nickel at this time.
Mr. Foulds: I have a supplementary. Had the committee been made aware of the impact that the cutbacks were going to have with regard to the Shebandowan mine? I believe they’re reducing to one shift for a loss of 50 jobs all told. Had she been made aware of that?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The Shebandowan mine will not close down for the extra two-week vacation, It will continue to function. The plan is, as the hon. member has suggested, to reduce the number of shifts to one and to allow attrition to take care of the extra staff which is there and which will not in fact be necessary. There will be no layoffs at Shebandowan.
Mr. Foulds: Didn’t the minister say that the market was a problem? Wasn’t there a price increase in nickel some 10 days ago and wouldn’t that have a positive effect on the mining in Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am informed that it has had a temporary effect, the effect of which on the long term for this year can certainly not as yet be judged with any degree of clarity or expertise. At the moment it would appear that the program which the company has established will result in a minimal impact on the community; that is that indeed there are to be no more layoffs from Inco, a matter which I think was concerning the Sudbury community very severely.
As an alternative to this, they have developed a program which they feel will have a lesser economic --
Mr. Cassidy: No more layoffs; they go on permanent holiday.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- impact on that community and will maintain the company’s capability to retain whatever competitive position it has in the world market at this time. But indeed the impact of that price rise has been beneficial over the very short term. It has been a very short-term period since it occurred and it is hoped that eventually it may have some effect; but it has in fact skewed the market slightly at this time and they don’t apparently have enough experience with this to know precisely what the long-term effect is going to be.
Mr. Cassidy: You screwed the workers as well.
SALE OF DIPLOMAS
Mr. Nixon: I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Did the minister read the article in the Globe and Mail this morning that reports on an organization called the Association of Commonwealth Universities in London indicating that there are six university degree mills operating in Canada and that the most effective and lucrative ones are operating in Ontario with such impressive names as the National University of the Dominion of Canada and the Royal College of Science and the Earl James’s National University College; and is the jurisdiction of Ontario going to take action to stop the fraudulent issuance of university degrees, such as a PhD upon the payment of $300?
Mr. Lewis: How much for an ordinary B.A? What is the cost for an ordinary B.A?
Mr. Nixon: The former leader of the NDP might finally achieve his academic goal.
Mr. Lewis: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I wish the member who asked that question would show the same amount of respect for real law degrees, as we are entitled to --
Mr. Worton: They’re not worth very much.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- rather than categorizing us with the ones that are purchased.
Mr. Nixon: They cost more than $300, and they give a bigger return too.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You have to learn the difference between real law degrees and purchased ones.
Mrs. Campbell: What is the difference?
Mr. Wildman: All lawyers are unreal.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I hope the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) heard that.
Mr. Breithaupt: Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: There have been two specific cases where my ministry took some action. The first case involved a firm in Mississauga, as it happens, and as soon as we --
Mr. Nixon: Why is the minister pointing to the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Jones)? Is he a graduate?
An hon. member: He is well dressed. It doesn’t matter.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Because I was protecting his constituents.
Mr. Breithaupt: Well, someone does.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In the case in Mississauga our investigators got in there and as soon as they started to nose around, the firm closed down and disappeared. The other case was a so-called sex therapist who had a wall full of the phoney diplomas and was treating patients. I don’t want to say my investigators started to “nose around” there -- as soon as my investigators started to investigate around there, those people also closed down.
The fact is that in the case of an actual sale of these phoney documents -- the whole endeavour being rather sleazy, in my opinion -- if a person is going in and buying a piece of paper to display on his wall to kid his friends with or whatever, then that may not amount to a fraudulent transaction -- that is the transaction between the person selling a joking piece of paper, as it were, to a person buying it, knowing it to be that.
In the specific case in which someone is selling a diploma suggesting that it has more behind it or carries more authenticity than it in fact does and thereby gets money that he or she is ordinarily not entitled to because the goods aren’t what they are held to be, then there’s action that we will take; and we are investigating each incident brought to our attention to see if that’s the case.
The other area where we may come in is when a person has foolishly purchased one of these bogus diplomas and then goes out and misrepresents himself to another consumer as being qualified, for example, to perform some therapy or to deliver some quality-type of product. In that case, in holding out to another consumer that this diploma makes him qualified, then he would be guilty of an unfair business practice under the Business Practices Act and we would prosecute that specific case.
Above and beyond all of this, of course, is this whole type of sleazy transaction is replete with instances of probable fraud --
Mr. Warner: But you haven’t done anything.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- and in those instances, of course, charges should and would be laid under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Mr. Warner: The toothless tiger attacks again.
Mr. Nixon: Is the minister aware that his director of investigation indicated that no action could be taken unless there was evidence of fraud? That is a safe thing to say, but surely there is evidence of fraud if, as it states in this article, the degrees, while they may not be of much use in Ontario, are of use in other jurisdictions. It is indicated, for example, that there is a great trade with the United States and Italy. It says, “Usually Canadians buy degrees from Singapore and Australia.” So I suppose if they get them far enough away they mean something. Where is the minister’s degree from?
But my point is that sorely there is evidence of a probable fraudulent activity here, and we should not be permitting these organizations to be selling these pieces of paper. They may be useless here, but evidently they are of some use elsewhere where the great reputation of our education system is highly respected -- probably more there than here.
Mr. Breithaupt: They will be looking into honorary degrees next.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I might consider a study mission to Singapore over the summer break in order to look into that aspect of it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is the wrong time to go.
Hon. B. Stephenson: A terrible time.
Mr. Breithaupt: The Ombudsman’s committee will cover it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: No doubt, no doubt.
Mr. Nixon: The Premier is due for another trip to Italy. Maybe he can look into it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I may go and study that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I can only repeat that the facts very much depend on what the purpose of the transaction is in each case.
To take an analogy from the Criminal Code -- a person can be walking down the street with a screwdriver and provided he is just going to fix his house rather than break into yours, he is not breaking the law.
Mr. Nixon: There cannot be any facts that substantiate that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: But if that screwdriver is in his pocket as he breaks into a house and he uses it, that -- as my friend from Kitchener will tell the House -- then becomes possession of burglary tools and becomes a criminal offence. And it’s not that much different -- I might say I’m giving the member this legal lesson with my real law degree -- that same item may or may not become a subject matter of a criminal offence. So very much depends on what the transaction involves.
Mr. Nixon: The minister is not going to do anything about this?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Specifically, I want to assure the House that those instances -- there were two of them in which we had very real evidence that the fraud was occurring here in Ontario -- our investigators got in on the act and simply by turning up on the scene the people disappeared. Where there are any other instances of a fraud occurring in Ontario, then I can assure members we will be on the scene. In fact, we are investigating each of those instances to see if any of them are fraudulent transactions or offences under the Business Practices Act. Where they are, we are there and will be there.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Aren’t you sorry you asked the question?
Mr. Nixon: Point of clarification: Did the minister finally say that they are investigating each of these institutions listed?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I couldn’t talk about each one of those institutions listed. I know that where specific ones have been drawn to our attention we have been looking into them.
Mr. Bolan: Why don’t you investigate them all, Larry?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We have looked into each specific complaint.
Mr. Nixon: The minister will consider them all.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: These having been brought to our attention in the last 24 hours, I have asked my people now to go in and investigate the others that have been brought to our attention. Where there is the slightest shred of evidence that they are carrying on a fraudulent endeavour --
Mr. Mancini: Don’t tell us any more than you have to.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- we will be there.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources: According to the ministry’s figures, there is going to be a 20 per cent increase over last year’s figures in the amount of Crown timber harvested this year. In fact, this year’s will be the largest harvest since before the First World War. Can the minister tell the House what, if any, the corresponding increase has been in the amount of Crown land receiving regeneration treatment?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I had the opportunity last week to meet about 150 foresters in Thunder Bay for three days on that very topic, and had perhaps one of the best meetings I’ve seen. I think the NDP critic, who was there for part of it, would say we made no attempt to hide any problems we had. In fact, we allowed the press to sit through the whole thing and listen to our problems.
In the years since the government got involved, I think from 1962 until this year, we’ve gone from virtually zero to about 170,000 acres a year regenerated. That still is nowhere near good enough, and the purpose of last week’s meeting was to find out what, in fact, were the limiting factors in improving that rate. Currently, it’s more likely to be our ability to produce seed and trees from our nurseries than anything else.
In the last two years’ budgets -- last year’s and the one I’ll be discussing with members very shortly -- we’ve been given all the moneys we asked for for improved regeneration, simply because that was all that could be meaningfully spent improving the base in the operation. We can’t suddenly plant trees until we have nurseries in place, and that’s where we had to focus our attention first.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Will the minister agree that, in fact, the ministry is shifting more and more to aerial seeding rather than the use of seedlings and that this is, in fact, a less effective means of regeneration and, therefore, the prospects of getting forests on those lands which he counts as being regenerated are less than they were before?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I wouldn’t even agree that seeding from the air is necessarily less effective. We drop about 20,000 seeds per acre when we do aerial seeding. They tell me nature drops about 80,000 seeds per acre under its own mechanisms when it does it, but before we do aerial seeding we generally do something that nature doesn’t and that’s site preparation. The seeds are dropped in and have somewhere to root a little better than they would if we simply dropped them on the top of the soil and they were subjected to the usual problems of taking root or animals eating them, for example, birds and so on.
I would suggest one of the things that came out loud and clear last week was the emphasis that any one route of regenerating the forests will not work across Ontario. We have to adapt our techniques to suit the site we’re dealing with.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that there has been a recent study by Environment Canada entitled Forest Management in Canada, which found that the forest resources inventory in Ontario has serious weaknesses and that it over estimates the volume of available timber by as much as one third, has the ministry made any effort to determine if the allowable cuts now being permitted are not too large and to ensure that this year’s record harvest won’t result in over-cutting that is too great to sustain for the future?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would welcome the member to come along some time, because he’s repeating some of the things that I even came into this ministry with as beliefs. It takes a little experience in talking to the foresters to discover, for example, that one of the major problems we face is over-mature stands in this province, which if not harvested are not only going to be worthless but are also an impediment to future regeneration.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: The minister has indicated that perhaps the hon. leader of the NDP should come along with him on one of those trips. Does the minister not agree that there may be a number of members, including myself and many others in this House, who have not had a recent opportunity to look at the programs that he is bringing forward --
Hon. B. Stephenson: Sorry, Bob, you can come too.
Mr. Foulds: Why didn’t you send your critic to Thunder Bay?
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I’m sure that you at least would be interested in this, because there are many matters of urgent public policy, including the blooming frees or not-blooming trees. For example, my colleague here says that if they are preparing the ground why don’t they plant the trees while they’re doing it? Why doesn’t the minister use his eminent position and his influence with his colleagues to make an occasion when this Legislature can go into northern Ontario for the first time in four or five years as a non-political body?
Mr. Havrot: Will you pay your own way?
Mr. Nixon: Let’s look at the Reed tract. Let’s look at Onakawana, and for heaven’s sake let’s go to Moonbeam and do some fishing.
An hon. member: I want to go to Minaki.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would be happy to. I am willing to do anything that would educate the chaps opposite.
Hon. F. S. Miller: One of the things I think we seriously should consider is the statistic I recently saw that says it now takes four and a half hours to catch a pickerel instead of four.
Mr. Nixon: We are going to cut that down.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister has thought through the proceedings of last weekend enough to give us an idea when he can expect the ministry and/or the companies involved to achieve a sustained yield basis of forest management in Ontario. Would he not think that the first step in getting his own credibility solid with the forces at that conference would be to repudiate the silly and irrational promise of the Premier of two trees for every one?
Hon. F. S. Miller: That is not as silly as a lot of people think it is. The truth is we plant a lot more than two for every one cut, and that is a statistic we can justify.
Mr. Foulds: They don’t survive though.
Hon. F. S. Miller: People like to make fun of catch phrases. I would suggest to the member that one of the problems I face was evidenced by the fact that the only members of the press who were there listening to a discussion about a vital resource in this province were those from Thunder Bay.
Mr. Foulds: It got regional coverage.
Hon. F. S. Miller: That justifies then, from time to time, the use of a phrase that is easily understood by a lot of people not normally connected with the forest.
Mr. Foulds: Not if it is misleading.
Mr. MacDonald: It is like 28 acres an hour of lost farm land.
Hon. F. S. Miller: If those who want to make fun of it, make fun of it, then fine. We are trying to get a message across to people who like to talk about other things.
Mr. Lewis: We have tried that ourselves. We are not beyond using the same tactic.
Mr. Cassidy: We will pursue this question of forestry again.
SALE OF MORTGAGES
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to raise with the Minister of Housing which follows up on some questions which we exchanged yesterday on the HOME mortgages which are now being sold off by the government I want to pursue this because it appears, from what the minister said inside and outside the House yesterday, the government intends that every OMC mortgage holder will have to move up to paying market rates at the end of the mortgage, and that this could apply as well to those people who took mortgages back in 1974 at 8.75 per cent and who will then be forced, it appears, to go into the private market --
Mr. Speaker: Is that a question?
Mr. Cassidy: -- at 10.5 and 10.75 per cent at the termination of their mortgage in 1979. Can the minister confirm whether that is what the government intends or whether the government will honour the moral commitment made to those borrowers four years ago when the term of their mortgage expires next year?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: The leader of the third party should start to realize that there is a difference between amortization and a term. The amortization period of some of the loans or mortgages is for a period of 25 or 35 years, but the terms have been set in five-year phases.
Just to clear the situation, the government very clearly said at the time that the mortgages were being put out, when we were trying to be helpful in supplying mortgage funding, which the federal government as well as the private sector had refused to do at that time, that there would be some mortgage interest advantages for five years or the first term. We expected that, as a result of increased income and as a result of increased equity positions in housing, people would be in a position to move back to market interest rates.
So that there is no misunderstanding, in the first $40 million that is presently on the market by Ontario Mortgage Corporation the interest rates vary, if I can correct the leader of the third party from yesterday, from 9.75 to 10.25 per cent. There is no one who will be affected in going back to the private market position for a minimum of two and three-quarter years and the lengthiest period will be about four and a half years from this point.
It is very clear. The government has said that the mortgage will go back to the free enterprise system, to the mortgage companies in this province, and that the terms and conditions, as we have entered into them, will stand. They will negotiate the terms of interest that will come in the second five-year term of their mortgage, if that happens to be the case, with the private lender.
Mr. Cassidy: In view of the fact that the government has made a decision to renege on the moral commitment that had been made to those families when it helped them to get financing in the last five years since OMC, the mortgage corporation, was set up in 1974, did the government give any thought at all to the impact on the families concerned by this budgetary sleight-of-hand before it was implemented in the course of the budget?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, let me just correct the leader of the third party: The government has not reneged on any of its promises or obligations under the mortgage corporation, to any of the people of this province.
Ms. Gigantes: Read the fine print.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: We have honoured the five-year commitment --
Mr. Swart: Five-year?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Yes, that’s correct. Most of them were for five years and the amortization was over a period of 35 years.
Mr. Germa: The old shell game.
Mr. Foulds: Did you say clearly in the fine print that after five years they were going to get gouged by the private sector?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Very clearly, we have not reneged and we are putting these back on the free market. There has been some assessment made, as I have already said in the first portion of my answer. We have taken into account, as they have under AHOP and various other programs where the loans have been made through government agencies, the equity factor in the real estate held by the individual and the rise in his income position over the next few years; and, I suppose taking into account that the federal government’s financial and monetary policies work out as they say, there should be no difficulty in these people meeting the new obligations.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Since it now appears that the government put a hooker in the fine print of the contracts in order to attract people in the same way as a used car salesman or something like that --
Hon. Mr. Henderson: A hooker?
Mr. Eaton: There’s no hooker; that’s what the contract says. Every mortgage has that.
Mr. Cassidy: -- can the minister say whether the government is taking any steps at all to inform the families who have OMC mortgages that it is breaking a commitment to lower their market financing that helped to entice them into home ownership in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, there is no hooker. It was very clearly spelled out, and I am sure each mortgage holder understood exactly what he or she was entering into.
Mr. Breithaupt: It is right in the Mortgages Act.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Secondly, the mortgage holders will be advised of the transfer of their mortgages in this case as they would be in any other private transaction.
Mr. Handleman: The same as anybody else.
CLOSING OF SCHOOLS
Mr. Bradley: My question is of the Minister of Education and it deals with declining enrolments and the closing of schools.
Hon. Mr. Davis: How many children have you got? I did my bit for declining enrolments. Have you people done your share?
Mr. Kerrio: He wants to be prepared.
Mr. Ruston: He hasn’t started yet, Bill.
Mr. Kerrio: He could do something about it.
Mr. Bradley: Taking into consideration the fact that trustees in many boards of education feel that the amount of money being provided by the provincial government in this particular fiscal year is less than perhaps they anticipated, and taking into consideration the fact that schools have to be closed in many areas to meet the obligations of declining enrolment, is the minister giving active consideration to permitting the boards of education to realize the profits -- call them that if you will -- from the sale of these buildings? I understand they get the profits from the sale of the lands, but I’m talking about them getting the complete profits from the sale of these buildings so they can channel these moneys back into the education system in that area.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My friend is quite right; we have made the arrangement where they can get the profits from the sale of the land. I would be happy to look at the matter of whether they should get complete profits or complete moneys received from the sale of the buildings. In a lot of cases, of course, the money comes back to the province. We pay a very large grant towards schools and towards sites, and we feel that if those facilities are sold that the taxpayers of all Ontario should really enjoy the proceeds, and not just the taxpayers of one particular area. But we have made exceptions in the case of sites for specific purposes, and we’ll look into the other.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: Recognizing that what the minister has said it true to a great extent, but also recognizing the cost of relocating students and of transportation -- because they are taking many students from the schools that have closed and then perhaps transporting them by bus to another school -- and taking into consideration the fact that there are certain fixed costs no matter how many schools you have, when the minister receives the report of the Jackson commission and if this is one of the recommendations from the Jackson commission, would he give consideration to making those payments retroactive to this particular fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would doubt very much that we would be able to make them retroactive to this fiscal year. I don’t know what would be involved. Of course, we could take a look at it, but I just caution the hon. member that it would probably be very difficult to make them retroactive.
Mr. Mackenzie: A question of the Minister of Labour: In view of the minister’s statements of December 5, 1977, concerning layoffs at Ford Oakville, is the minister aware of the continuing additional indefinite layoffs at Ford? Can the minister report, for example, on 33 additional indefinite layoffs two weeks ago on a Thursday, when on Friday the employees were required to work a 16-hour shift in the truck plant, or on the 30 more who were laid off indefinitely last week with the 48-hour work week still intact? Does the minister not agree that there’s something wrong with industry requiring overtime and 48-hour weeks against the wishes of both the union and employees while there is a weekly decline in the work force occurring? What does the minister intend to do about it?
Mr. Makarchuk: Nothing.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I’m not sure that I can say I agree with that. We are attempting to get the detailed information from Ford about the requirements for overtime.
Mr. Germa: He just gave it to you.
Hon. B. Stephenson: There are, of course, as the hon. member knows, two lines there, and apparently there is not sufficient flexibility to permit the shifting back and forth between the two lines, which might overcome some of the problem. I am still trying to get the detailed information for the hon. member, which I shall pursue and which I shall bring forward in the House.
Mr. Warner: He just gave you the details.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: On December 5, the minister was asked what portion of the 6,000 Ford Oakville workers were working the 48-hour week, and she has never responded to this, other than to snarl back that only 4,000 worked in the doggone plant. Is it the minister’s intention to respond to this and correct her statement, or does she intend to wait until it’s down to 4,000 so she can say she was right?
Hon. B. Stephenson: The hon. member knows that I am the soul of sweetness and light, and I never snarl.
Mr. Foulds: The soul, but not the body of.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I am aware of the fact there is a discrepancy in the two figures which we have mentioned, and the computation of the figures obviously was different from the member’s point of view than it was from the information which I had received. I do not intend to wait until there is a decreased staff at Ford. We are trying diligently --
Mr. Lewis: Oh, God.
Mr. MacDonald: You’ve waited three months already.
Hon. B. Stephenson: -- to get the accurate information, which is very difficult to get.
Mr. Warner: How many more months?
Ms. Gigantes: Four months?
Hon. B. Stephenson: As soon as I have it I shall report to the House.
Mr. Lewis: They toy with you; you let them.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: Would the minister consider the large numbers of unemployed in a community and the index of unemployment in that community; and ban overtime in communities where the index of unemployment is beyond a given number?
Hon. B. Stephenson: I would have to tell the hon. member we are looking at a number of factors related to overtime in a number of areas.
Mr. MacDonald: You’ve been doing that for years.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I haven’t been doing it for years, if I might say.
Mr. Lewis: Oh sure you have.
Mr. Cassidy: You and your predecessors.
Mr. Foulds: You have been minister for quite a long while.
Mr. MacDonald: We were raising this issue 10 years ago.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Because of the situation at the present time, we have already made some recommendations regarding overtime for government employees, and we’re hoping that indeed we will be able to sell this kind of idea to the private sector as a means of improving the present unemployment situation.
Mr. MacDonald: What do you mean, sell it?
Mr. Swart: Go cap in hand.
JAILING OF YOUTHS
Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, in absence of the Attorney General, I will direct this question to the Solicitor General. I noticed, from an article in the newspaper and correspondence I have received, that two young lads in the Bradford area were sentenced to 30 days in the Barrie jail for what was a charge of mischief flowing out of egg throwing on Hallowe’en. Would the Solicitor General --
Mr. Mancini: What do you think of that, Frank?
Mr. G. Taylor: -- be instructing his law officers to appeal that decision, since the boys have no money to afford lawyers to appeal?
Mr. Ruston: What is the matter with Legal Aid?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, the information which I received from a newspaper report is that the complaint is the length of the sentence rather than the conviction. I wouldn’t want to comment about a report of the trial in a newspaper article.
Mr. Bolan: Was the judge a defeated Tory candidate?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: However, I’m quite willing to get a copy of the transcript and any information about this matter. I understand that both young people had counsel at the hearings. As the hon. member knows, there is the right of appeal, but I will get what information I can and get back to the hon. member.
Mr. Bolan: Frank, why don’t you give them a pass?
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Could the minister confirm to the House that there were undoubtedly actions in his own youth on Hallowe’en night that would have put him in jail in the same way?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: More than eggs, too.
Mr. Bolan: He’d still be there.
Mr. Conway: My question is to the Premier and it concerns the recently issued report of the federal Commissioner of Official Languages. Given the commissioner’s comments about our universities and secondary schools, and I quote very briefly from one of his comments, that these institutions “should reflect on their responsibility to provide their students with the best possible tools with which to enter future careers, and at this time they are doing their student population a great disservice by not insisting on the acquisition of some fluency in the second official language of the country”; and the accompanying chart which demonstrates that in Ontario in the past eight years enrolment in French-language courses has dropped from 48.9 per cent of the secondary school student population to 34.5 per cent, which gives this province, Ontario, the second lowest percentage of students taking French-language courses in Canada; what are the Premier’s responses to that kind of statement and what is he, on behalf of his government, prepared to do in so far as reversing what appears to be a shocking trend?
Hon. Mr. Davis: As far as it relates to the universities I think the hon. member is fully aware of the responsibilities of those institutions. If the hon. member is asking me in general terms, do I feel there should be more French being taught in our schools, the answer to that is very simply yes. The Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) has already made that point quite clear. If he would like to find out in a more definitive fashion what the Minister of Education might have in mind, I would suggest the hon. member might ask him.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary to that, I would prefer to deal with the Premier since he has had certain relations with the Ministry of Education in his time. Considering that the federal government is phasing out its program of teaching its employees French, is the government giving consideration to making French a compulsory subject at the secondary level in order to assist any students coming from Ontario’s educational system in seeking jobs within the federal civil service?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I know there are some who would recommend that French be made a compulsory subject in the secondary schools. I will revert to my brief experience as the Minister of Education and point out to the hon. member, while I fully support increases in French in the secondary school program, to suggest that as of September 1, 1978, we would have compulsory French in the secondary schools throughout the five-year period really would mean we would have many thousands of youngsters moving into grade 9 who may have had a variety of French in terms of the amount at the grade 6, 7 and 8 level. We also face the somewhat difficult problem, for instance here in Metropolitan Toronto, where traditionally we have had young people moving into the school system from other countries, say at the grade 11, 12, or even 13 level, with no facility in French. Would it be expected that this would become compulsory for somebody who has had no former experience in the French language?
I think this is something the universities, too, consider when they determine their admission requirements, because of the great mix of the population. I would say to the hon. member he should also assess this as we discuss what should be and should not be compulsory, particularly for university admission. One can have students -- and I have met some in my limited career, as perhaps the hon. member has -- who have had great ability in science and mathematics but who have some, shall we say slight disability even in English as it relates perhaps to their mother tongue, because they are fairly recent Canadians. Do we prejudice them by saying they must have certain academic requirements when they show a really great facility in some subject areas?
I think there still has to be a certain measure of flexibility. We can’t become too rigid. We can’t say everybody must do something, necessarily. I think this applies to French. The member will not get me saying I don’t think students should take French. I try to encourage my own children, even though they have some difficulty. One has to be careful before one says: “Sure, this would be a great thing. Let’s have compulsory French for everybody in the secondary school program.” That might not be the right thing to do as it relates to their own academic abilities or experience or future.
Mr. Conway: Supplementary to that, would the Premier comment then upon government policy as it relates to the university situation, since that does seem to be very pertinent to people coming onto the job market. Has his government given any consideration to making some French compulsory for people who are going to graduate in, let us say the arts field, having full regard to the problems that might be confronted by people in a science area; has the government any policy on making some fluency in the French language a requirement for graduation in university at the arts level?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I really haven’t time this morning to refer to the volumes behind the Speaker’s chair, but I think I could get the member some very relevant statements made by his former leader and now House leader. I could get some very relevant statements made by the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) in the days prior to the present discussion, which reminded me with great vigour, with great relevance, with enthusiasm, and almost some knowledge, of the need to retain the autonomy of our universities. They spoke about how this was crucial in terms of the functioning of the universities of this province.
Mr. Nixon: I feel another one coming on.
Mr. Conway: But there is no language policy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can’t speak for the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott), but I don’t think that we have decided to pass legislation that would say to any university of this province, “before you grant a degree, you must give to a student a particular qualification in a particular subject area.” I think it is also true that this is the policy in most democratic societies; but if the hon. member has information that would change this, I’d be delighted to hear from him. I hadn’t heard, prior to this morning, that the Liberal Party of Ontario wants us to legislate the degree qualifications for our great universities in this province.
Mr. Breithaupt: Can the member ask a question? The Premier hasn’t heard it today either.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I don’t think I did.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker. I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In light of his statement this morning, is the minister aware of the exchange that took place in the House of Commons this week, when apparently the federal Minister of Agriculture was unable to give a definite assurance that the import restrictions on oceanic beef would remain to protect the beef industry in Canada?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I’m well aware of everything that he says, and I’m well aware of the fact that we’ve asked for a beef import law in this province. We have been pushing for it for three years. We have said that we should do the same thing that the US has done. All they do is by negotiation at this point in time. If we had appropriate legislation in place we could deal with it much better.
Mr. Wildman: A supplementary: Has the minister, since that exchange this week, had any contact with the federal minister to again put the position of the Ontario government and the argument that the Ontario beef producers need protection through legislation?
Hon. W. Newman: The hon. member is saying that we need protection through legislation and I’m just saying that the legislation should be in place. No I haven’t contacted the federal minister, but I can tell him that I brought it up in three federal-provincial conferences. I guess there’s a file that thick. I don’t think I have to say any more to him than I’ve already said.
Mr. Mancini: You are a weak Minister of Agriculture and Food.
Mr. Lane: Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In view of the fact that producers were asking for a greater guaranteed price this year -- and going back to his statement of this morning he indicated that he is not prepared to do that -- can he tell us, at this time, what the total payout has been from this program over the past three years by this government; and secondly by the federal government?
Hon. W. Nemman: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The total payout by the province of Ontario to the cow-calf producers in the last three years -- 1975, 1976 and 1977 -- is approximately, give or take a few dollars, $55 million. The payout to the province this year by the federal program is approximately $1.4 million.
Mr. MacDonald: That was a nice setup.
Mr. Riddell: A supplementary: Just for the sake of curiosity, why will there not be a federal subsidy this year?
Hon. W. Newman: Quite obviously the member didn’t hear my statement this morning. I said that it is unlikely that there will be a federal program this year.
Mr. Nixon: Why?
Hon. W. Newman: Because the price of calves is up. The hon. member knows the answer to that. Why does he ask?
Mr. Nixon: Because the price is going up. Does the minister regret that?
Hon. W. Newman: Not a bit. So it should be up. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Why doesn’t the hon. member buy a few calves?
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the minister’s question, I’m in the business of selling them and I just sold them at a good price.
Mr. Havrot: And that’s a lot of bull.
Hon. W. Newman: As long as you don’t have a conflict of interest.
Mr. Nixon: What do you think about Gene Whalen? Gene Whalen is doing a darn good job. The farmers think so whether you do or not.
An hon. member: The only way he’d get into trouble is if he listened to you.
METRIC HIGHWAY SIGNS
Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes), I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation and Communications a question. In our desire to increase tourism in Ontario, and to create good public relations with our American friends, what action is his ministry taking to alert the people in the United States as to the change to kilometers per hour from miles per hour?
Mr. Kerrio: There’s a sign in Niagara Falls.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I recall we had some lengthy discussion on this at the time we passed the legislation changing to the metric system. We do have signs at all the border points entering from the United States to advise people that the road signs and speed limits are metric in the province of Ontario. All our road distance signs have for a period of time contained the small km sign tagged on to remind people that it is kilometers.
The new road maps that were developed last year are all in metric measurements. The 1978 map, which will be available in a few weeks’ time, is also modified to more adequately show the metric system.
So I think we have done about all that we possibly can do. What the Minister of Industry and Tourism is doing in addition to that, I can’t say.
Mr. Eakins: I have on my desk a copy of a summons which one of the distributors at the Sportsmen’s Show received because he was not aware of the change and I just want to ensure that the minister is working closely with the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, especially at the shows which Ontario is represented at in the United States.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I am not aware of any presence that we have at those shows, but I will certainly discuss that with the minister.
Mr. Lewis: A question of the Minister of Education: What precise plans does the minister have to deal with the transfer of children who are in the special education program at Surrey Place Centre; and what undertakings is he giving to the several hundred families who now feel dislocated, since he has indicated termination of staff at Surrey Place, but absolutely no specifics around the alternatives?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sorry there appears to be a misunderstanding about the situation at Surrey Place Centre. What is happening is that the services available at Surrey Place Centre are going to continue to be available. They are going to be provided by teachers based in Thistletown; there will be at least three or four teachers who will be available on the same basis.
There seems to be some misunderstanding about exactly how that service is going to be provided. I have told my people that the same kind of service that was available before, service that involved not only assessment but also visitations, with in-classroom programs that could assist teachers to develop those programs and help them to carry them out, will continue to be available. We all agree on that and we are now working towards that kind of accommodation there.
So that really the service at Surrey Place Centre is not being phased out. It is going to be handled in a different way; and although there will no longer be a complement of, I think it is nine teachers attached to the Surrey Place Centre, there will still be educational teachers available to do the job with the patients and people who come into that centre.
Mr. Lewis: May I ask why it is that the person in charge of special education at Thistletown has had nothing in writing from the ministry, has had no consultation about the cases to be transferred, has as yet formulated no program, and that all the families involved have not as yet been given any direction as to where they should turn? A number of these children being in quite intensive contact with the counsellors at Surrey Place, is there no way of doing these things without leaving everyone in limbo?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I agree with my friend. I think that some of the things that he said may have occurred. If they have, they will be corrected and they will not occur again.
Mr. Lewis: Thank you.
FARM LABOUR SUBSIDY
Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In view of the unemployment and the need for jobs, and because of the amount of energy or man-hours required to harvest the fruit of our soil, and because prices for many farm products have not risen since 1975 -- in fact some products have decreased rather than increased -- and because the cost of input has increased; would the minister consider reviewing the guidelines to get assistance of $1.25-an-hour student help for the farming industry?
Hon. W. Newman: I am not exactly sure of the question. Is the hon. member suggesting that more than $1.25 an hour should be paid by the province to those who hire students?
Mr. Nixon: It should be easier to get.
Hon. W. Newman: If that’s what the hon. member is suggesting, the program has been announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) whereby there will be assistance of $1.25 an hour for any of those people who hire students this summer.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Supplementary: I was wondering, does the minister realize that many employers in the farming industry have to stretch the truth to qualify for that particular $1.25 an hour and that I am asking the minister to review it?
Hon. W. Newman: The hon. member is talking about the form that was sent out by Manpower last year. I believe -- maybe the Treasurer could correct me -- that the program will be run by the province this year. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Yes.
Mr. Makarchuk: If the minister is giving away money, I’m sure the Treasurer will correct him.
Hon. W. Newman: I have already looked at the forms from last year, and I realize there are two parts of those forms that do create problems for farmers signing them. We have looked at them and I believe that is going to be corrected. But that question more correctly should be directed to the Treasurer.
Mr. Riddell: Supplementary: The minister has more or less led me into part of the supplementary I wanted to ask; that is, has some of the ambiguity been taken out of the questions on the application form, such as “the jobs outlined above would not have been created without the funding under the program”? Surely the minister is aware that practically every job conceivable exists already on the farm, whether it be this year or 10 years down the road; and that the farmers, in giving an honest answer to this question, were denied funding under the program.
Secondly, will farm family labour be eligible for funding under the program this year? In other words, can farmers hire their sons and get the $1.25-an-hour subsidy?
Mr. Conway: So much for the family farm.
Hon. W. Newman: That question more properly should be directed to somebody else.
Mr. Deans: Anybody else!
Mr. Ruston: Why not the Treasurer?
Hon. W. Newman: I understand the question. No, I cannot hire my daughter, or my son or my other daughter under this program.
Mr. Riddell: I am not asking whether the minister hires; I want to know whether they can.
Hon. W. Newman: No, the member can’t either. Okay?
Hon. Mr. Davis: You can hire his son.
Mr. Nixon: I just want to ask the minister, in this whole matter about the grant being payable only to jobs that would otherwise not have existed, is he not aware that many farmers, when they look at that, think: “What are we supposed to do? Go out and plant sunflowers in the fence row? Because that’s the only job we otherwise wouldn’t be doing”? Doesn’t the minister agree that money would be extremely useful to the farm community if that requirement were removed? Surely it would be a subsidy to the young people in this province, and to the farmers, to get them working in an area where we need them. What’s the matter with the word “subsidy”?
Hon. W. Newman: What the hon. member is saying, I believe, refers to the form’s last question about a new kind of work -- and on the farm there is no new kind of work; it’s all a new kind of work.
Mr. Nixon: That’s right. We do everything from sunrise to past sunset.
Hon. W. Newman: I have drawn that to the attention of the member; also, that anybody who hired students last year can hire them again this year. I think this program will be much more flexible since we are running it ourselves without interference from Ottawa.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, well. That’s certainly some guarantee. You’re running it? That is some guarantee.
Mr. Swart: My question is to the Minister of Education. Is the minister aware that the administrator under the Anti-Inflation Act, by order dated February 3, 1978, rolled back the salaries of the secondary school teachers of the Niagara South Board of Education by $264,000 to just under a seven per cent increase; and that he levied a fine of $100,000, payable to the federal government? This order has now been confirmed by the federal cabinet.
Does the minister know that the $100,000 fine was levied against the teachers for the reputed overpayment between the seven per cent and the eight per cent, and the eight per cent had previously been set by the Anti-Inflation Board in April 1977; and that the teachers and the board had complied with it, although appealing it to the Anti-Inflation Board administrator in July 1977?
Because this fine is the only case of its kind in Ontario, because the Niagara South teachers are among the lowest paid in the province and because the fine will come out of the pockets of the taxpayers of Niagara region, will the minister make representation to the Anti-Inflation Board and the federal government that the fine be waived or, if it has already been paid, turned back?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would be glad to look into this matter. I must say I have not heard about it and I am happy that I have now heard about it from the hon. member.
I would suggest that the teachers and he, and all concerned, should make very vigorous representations to their federal representatives from that particular area, particularly if the federal cabinet was dealing with the matter and upheld it.
Mr. Swart: By way of a short supplementary, could I ask that even if this unjust fine against the teachers is not waived, would the minister not agree that the $100,000 should come back to the board, rather than go to the federal government; and urge that this be done. I presume the minister will be willing to meet with the teachers and the board relative to this matter.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I don’t want to give any assurances that I will become involved in it, because as I say no one has made any representations to me.
Mr. Wildman: He just did.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m not sure that it is particularly a matter we should be involved in as a ministry or as a government, since it involves actions of a servant of the federal government in carrying out his duties. However, I’ll look into it and I’ll let the member know after I have a chance to look into it. But I reiterate that if it’s gone so far and as high as the federal cabinet, representations should probably be made in that particular area. The federal cabinet perhaps could by some device of its own decide that the board should get the money rather than the federal government.
FOODLAND ONTARIO PROGRAM
Mr. Kerrio: I have a question of the Minister of Agriculture and Food. In answer to a question by the member for Welland-Thorold, regarding advertising under the logo of Foodland Ontario, the minister answered that he was nitpicking and that there were some mistakes. Is the minister aware of an ad that was in the Niagara Falls Review Tuesday last under the Foodland Ontario logo that advertised PEI potatoes, Arizona oranges, Washington apples, California pears and Florida celery? I want to tell the minister they are six for six. If he thinks that’s nitpicking, I’d like to hear his answer.
Mr. Nixon: And nothing else! Is Mr. Whelan responsible for that?
Hon. W. Newman: Mr. Speaker, you know, I don’t read all 600 or 700 newspapers. We do some monitoring across the province. I would appreciate having that, by the way.
Mr. Swart: The minister said there were only four mistakes.
Hon. W. Newman: I said only four that I knew about in the Toronto papers.
Mr. Warner: You’re not very knowledgeable.
Hon. W. Newman: I want to answer this question. I think it’s very important. We have a foodland promotion program and it has been very successful in this province.
Mr. Conway: Successful for Florida.
Hon. W. Newman: You fellows always want to knock success, don’t you?
Hon. Mr. Davis: How much apple juice do they drink?
Hon. W. Newman: I want to keep the co-operation of the food chain, from the producer right through to the final selling person. I will be meeting with all the heads of chain stores this coming Monday night.
Mr. Warner: You tell them.
Mr. Kerrio: Supplementary: Is the minister considering --
Mr. Nixon: Resigning.
Mr. Kerrio: -- regulations and possibly penalties for the misuse of the logo?
Hon. W. Newman: I’m not planning any legislation now. I’m planning on co-operation and co-ordination, which we have had, by and large.
Mr. Nixon: Try to get it right.
An hon. member: What if they don’t cooperate?
Hon. W. Newman: If the member would send that over I will make sure I will deal with the appropriate people who did that, whatever it was or whatever store it was.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you tell the newspapers they just can’t do this?
Mr. Swart: Supplementary: Is the minister not aware that perhaps even more serious than the misuse of the logo -- and that is serious -- is that in the advertisements and in the display of many Ontario farm products the logo is not used, perhaps in the majority of them? Therefore, this has caused the logo to be discredited and is doing very little to help the sale of the Ontario farm produce. Will he adopt regulations or a program which will provide that the logo be used on all Ontario farm produce?
Mr. Warner: And only on those products.
Hon. W. Newman: As I said, there may be a few mistakes. The member said it’s discrediting the sales.
Mr. Swart: It is the misuse of it.
Hon. W. Newman: I’m going to read something into the record. I’ve had this in my pocket for two weeks and I’ve been waiting. I’d like to point out on our winter vegetable promotion program --
Mr. Foulds: Is this a ministerial statement?
Mr. Cassidy: Is this from your campaign literature?
Hon. W. Newman: -- chain store number one sales during that promotion period for onions were up 121 per cent, carrots, 46 per cent; potatoes, 40 per cent; rutabagas, 40 per cent; parsnips, 50 per cent, and mushrooms 12.5 per cent.
Mr. Swart: Are these from California?
Mr. Conway: Idaho potatoes?
Mr. Warner: How about oranges?
Hon. W. Newman: Just listen.
Ms. Gigantes: Where are they from?
Hon. W. Newman: In chain store number two, onion sales in 10-pound bags increased 1,200 per cent; carrots in five-pound bags -- I’m talking about Ontario produce -- increased 614 per cent. I could go on and on and on. I have other figures for you.
Mr. Nixon: Yes, you certainly can.
Hon. W. Newman: Don’t knock success. You want to save the farmer and then you want to destroy farm land.
COCHRANE-TIMISKAMING RESOURCE CENTRE
Mr. Foulds: I have a question of the Minister of Correctional Services. I wonder if I could ask the minister what happened to his plan, announced in Timmins on the weekend of December 18, to take over two-thirds of the Cochrane-Timiskaming Resource Centre by Monday, December 19? Did he run into a road-block from his colleague, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton)? Did he run into opposition from the local member?
Hon. Mr. Drea: No, Mr. Speaker. First of all, the difficulty we have in northern Ontario -- and I made this quite plain before -- is that we do not offer all the facilities to inmates of the correctional centres in northern Ontario that we do in southern Ontario. They are not entitled to assessment and classification.
Mr. MacDonald: Penalizing the north again.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Yes, that is why I am changing it. In order not to strip the resources of the north, and bearing in mind that there are no locked facilities in the two psychiatric institutions at North Bay and at the Lakehead -- and I am sure the member is aware of my difficulties in Thunder Bay because of locked health facilities -- for the past four months, and as late as Wednesday, we in our ministry have been trying to develop with the federal Solicitor General a program that would allow for assessment classification, partial treatment for our northern Ontario inmates.
Bearing in mind that we are aware of the priority needs for those professional resources by other areas of the community, my friend, the Minister of Community and Social Services, does now have specific plans for some of that building and the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) has plans for it. We are maybe going to tag in on a building -- I think it is the old nurses’ residence -- and we will use inmate labour for whatever conversions we need to bring it up to the professional standards we want.
LIBERAL NOMINATION MEETING
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. I wonder if over the weekend, sir, you could give consideration to allowing backbenchers and other members to ask questions of former ministers of the government, because I would like to ask the former Minister of Revenue (Mrs. Scrivener) how she enjoyed the large Liberal nomination in Rosedale last night.
An hon. member: Doesn’t mean a thing.
Mr. Ruston: Some people follow the winner.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES (CONTINUED)
House in committee of supply.
On vote 802, provision of accommodation program; item 4, real property acquisition:
Mr. Chairman: The member for Essex North.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Chairman, I have a few comments for the minister. Yesterday he was kind enough to supply me with a notice of some new locations that were opened up in the city of Belleville, one for the provincial family court and the other for the land registry office. I understand that the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr. Rollins) tried to make this announcement in the Legislature yesterday. I wonder if I could have some clarification on it.
I think the minister is aware that some time ago in the Legislature I asked a question concerning the tendering for space, and I know that we discussed it briefly last evening, but I wonder if I could possibly have it on the record. At that time I expressed my concern that sometimes when his ministry is looking for rental space in a certain location, the property may not always be tendered for. I think at the time my concern was that if it was under 5,000 square feet it was not always tendered for; and I wonder if I could get some explanation of that, because it is my feeling that no matter what space is tendered for -- whether it be 1,000, 2,000 or whatever the amount -- a public tender should go out for it.
The announcements were made by the press last evening and this morning concerning this space in Belleville, and I have had a call from one of the other people who tendered on the particular family court space, saying that there were five tenders below the price that was awarded to the Century Place people for the family court space. They were questioning this and I wondered whether the ministry could supply that information for me either today in the Legislature or some time in the future so that I can get back to these people. When the tenders were put out they were asked to supply 25 exclusive parking spaces and it has been questioned whether or not the people awarded the tender could supply that.
I realize the minister was away yesterday afternoon when this announcement was made and he did mention that the circulars concerning the awarding of the space had been set out to me, Sometimes it can be a little embarrassing for the member of a certain area -- in this case Belleville and the Trenton area which I represent -- when the announcement is not made to me prior to it being made by another member in the Legislature. It is a matter of courtesy. I know the minister is new in the portfolio but it is something that I would like to see him consider, even though he was very considerate last night in getting it for me.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Firstly, I explained to the hon. member last night that I had to leave my office at 25 minutes after 12 yesterday. The people sitting here in front of me were in my office at that time. They were preparing the statement that I gave you last night. At that time I instructed Mrs. Smiley, my executive assistant, to prepare the statement, to finish it and to take your announcement and the announcement for the member for Hastings-Peterborough to the post office so that you could both pick them up. Following that, at 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon they were to be distributed to the press gallery.
I have checked with my executive assistant -- and I think you were there last night, although she didn’t recognize you, I’m sorry -- and I asked her if your copy was put in the post office; she certified that she had carried out that responsibility. I realize what happened after that. I spoke to Mr. Rollins. He informs me that he went down to the post office, saw the letter in his box and got it, and as you tell me and as other people have told me, an announcement was made here in the House. I was some 200 miles away at the time.
Taking them to the post office is the usual way of notifying the members. I would agree that I could easily have picked up the phone and phoned either one of the members --
Mr. Wildman: Or come and heard Clarke make the announcement in the House.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: -- but then I am sure you would suggest that I would likely phone the Tory member first. You would suggest that. So I felt this was the easiest way, to give it to both of them through the post office and leave it up to the post office to decide.
To get on with answering your other question, I have had calls from three different people who advanced tenders. The lowest tender on this was from an area that was not within the prescribed area. I’m sure the hon. member is fully acquainted with the area that was defined in the most recent tender. When we sized up all the other tenders, and everything being equal -- parking building, main floor, fourth floor and what have you -- the tender we chose supplied all the services that were requested and it was the cheapest to tender.
Two or three weeks ago -- I don’t have the actual date -- the hon. member did question me about this. At that time I was not aware that it was this particular project he was questioning me on. I had several in my mind that day. But I answered him at that time that any projects of this nature and of this size were tendered.
The policy of the ministry is that when space of this nature is required, staff are sent out to investigate the supply in the area. When it’s found that there is sufficient supply, at that time tenders are called for the supply that has been requested by the ministry concerned -- in this case, as the hon. member knows, the Ministry of the Attorney General for the family courts and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations for the registry office.
I believe that answers the question. If there are further questions, I’ll try to answer them.
Mr. O’Neil: Yes, I have some further questions for the minister for clarification, if I might ask them. As I say, I know he is new in the ministry, but I do believe that the minister and his ministry should provide further guidelines for those people who go out looking for space in the different communities.
The minister mentioned that if they go out and find there is sufficient space, they will then tender for that space. What I am suggesting is that I don’t believe it should be left up to those individual people who go out into the areas, whether it may be for one reason or another. I would suggest to the minister that what should be done in these cases is that all space should be tendered for.
It is my understanding that when one of these locations was questioned, that it was originally -- that the people from his ministry were looking --
Mr. Chairman: The hon. member may continue.
Mr. O’Neil: I just wanted to make sure that the minister did hear me. When these people went out looking for the space, originally they had asked for space of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 square feet; therefore, they did not tender for it. It was awarded for this specific location. Then this space grew from 4,000 or 5,000 square feet to approximately 9,000 square feet, and that was never tendered for until I raised a bit of a fuss with people from this ministry.
I would say to the minister, as a protection both to himself and to the government, as well as to the people of this province, that any space being looked for by this ministry should always be tendered for, and not awarded on the basis of whether or not some of the people from this ministry feel there is sufficient space. As to whether or not it should be advertised, I do believe, as protection for everyone, that it should be advertised to the public so that all people can look at it.
As the minister has received several calls this morning -- and I understand there has been a great deal of lobbying of his ministry on behalf of some of these people who are looking to be awarded this contract -- and so that I will have some of this information available when they call me, I would ask whether it would be possible to have some of his ministry officials supply me with information about the basis on which these particular people were awarded the contract rather than the other people, so that I can have a look at it and judge for myself, and relate to these people the basis on which it was awarded.
I should also make it very clear that I have no axe to grind whatsoever with the people who were awarded this particular contract. I think I know most of the people who have applied for the two spaces in particular. I have no axe to grind with the ones who were awarded the contract or the ones who weren’t, and I don’t intend to solicit support on behalf of any of them, because I am a firm believer in the tender system where everything is put out for tender and is awarded to the people who supply the best terms and conditions for the government to award that.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, let me make it clear that I did not know any of the people tendering. They are all strangers to me. I personally looked on the tenders on the basis of their likelihood of completing the job and on the services that were supplied. I believe I misunderstood you, or my staff informed me that I must have misunderstood you. Did you make the statement that when it was down below the 20,000 square foot mark they did enter into an agreement? That’s what I was questioning when you were speaking. You left me with that.
Mr. O’Neil: It was my understanding when I spoke with people from your ministry that in some cases where they were looking for under 5,000 square feet they did not always tender for that space, yes.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: That clarifies it for me, because you left me with the impression that my staff had entered into an agreement and then had to cancel. That was not the case? No, well, then let me clarify it again.
Our people did go to Belleville, did look around with the thought that there would be 4,000 feet required. But after they got into it in more detail it was found out that additional space would be needed, and you know what happened in the tendering system.
We’ll accept your recommendation and we’ll look at your proposals. However, there are times when it is a small building and there is only one building available in the town and let’s say it’s an old building and you can rent it at $4 a foot, and if somebody is going to build a new one that’s going to cost $7 or $8 a foot, I am sure it would be a waste of money to tender. But we will look at your proposals.
Mr. O’Neil: Again, Mr. Minister, with all respect, I realize there could be a delay and there might be some small cost, but I believe that no matter where it is that your ministry is looking for available space -- whether it is new or somebody might come up with something in some other store or upstairs, or they might be able to build a building -- that in all cases it should be on a tendering basis. It should not be awarded by people from within your ministry, sometimes even without your full knowledge that this has been done. There could be certain repercussions both to you, sir, and to your ministry and to the government.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, let me correct that. I sign all the leases. None of them is done without my knowledge. The minister signs all leases and the minister makes himself aware of what’s happened on all these leases. The minister does have a statement -- similar to what I am holding up here at this moment respecting Belleville. When he signs the lease he is aware of all the tenders and knows all the facts, so it is not done without my knowledge.
Mr. M. Davidson: I am given to understand, Mr. Minister, that on real property acquisition your ministry does not normally purchase property without having a definite program for which it is to be used? I am wondering if there are on board at the moment any large property acquisitions taking place. If so, could you tell us which ministry you would be purchasing the property on behalf of?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Our largest purchase recently -- I am speaking since I became minister and I think I could refer back for a year or two years, maybe three years -- has been the parkway belt, the green belt around the city of Toronto that we purchased for the highways division of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications -- I think we went over that last week did we not, or Monday of this week? We mentioned that we are also purchasing for Hydro in the parkway belt.
Mr. M. Davidson: The point I am trying to make, Mr. Minister, is that Mr. Thatcher during the last estimates made the statement that we don’t normally hold land indefinitely without having a specific purpose, without having a schedule to put something on it. I am referring to the Edwardsburgh tract of land and also the 3,000 to 4,000 acres that are north of Cambridge and Highway 401. Those parcels of land have been sitting there for quite some time. They are in the hands of the government of the province of Ontario and yet I see nothing specifically being designated as to what, if anything, is going to happen to those acres. Could the minister give us some idea of what may take place with those parcels of land?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, the Edwardsburgh site was purchased for the Ministry of Industry and Tourism with long-term thoughts of an industrial park.
I do have answers to several questions that were asked the other day. One of them was: “Has the Grandview School in Cambridge been declared surplus by the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea)?”
The answer is: “Not entirely. Of the approximately 69-acre parcel, the Ministry of Correctional Services has only declared a seven-acre parcel, without buildings, fronting on Highway 24 as surplus. As most of this site is now vacant, this ministry is studying alternate uses with all interested ministries and will make recommendations on completion of the study.”
Mr. Chairman, could I have your consent to answer these other questions that we had during the estimates last week? I have five or six.
Mr. Chairman: Certainly, I’m sure the committee would agree.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The next question -- this is the one the member asked me about right now -- is: “Are the Ontario Housing lands north of Highway 401 in Cambridge, south-east of Kitchener, surplus?”
Answer: “We have checked with the Ministry of Housing and OHC and have been advised that these lands have not been declared surplus.”
The next question is: “Why does the hospital at Aurora require all the land presently owned by the Ministry of Government Services and why is it not developed to a higher use?” I believe that was one that was asked of me Monday of this week.
The answer: “The total property of the Aurora Hospital consists of 107 acres and is divided into three areas. The front 60 acres is used by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which administers the institution, and is required for servicing the main institution as well as the recreational facilities. The 24 acres to the immediate rear of that is used for sewer lagoon purposes. The remaining 25 acres at the rear is at present not being used. This remaining 25 acres could not, at the present time, be used for development because of the lagoon site located adjacent to it.
“The setbacks from the lagoon site for the Ministry of the Environment would have left approximately only five acres to the rear which could be redeveloped. It is hoped that in approximately 1990, when the hospital will be serviced by municipal services, it may be possible that the rear 50 acres, including the lagoon site and the portion not being used, could be available for alternate uses.”
The next question is: “Why is the government building in Windsor now only six storeys when it was rumoured that it was originally planned to be 11 storeys?” I believe Mr. Newman of Windsor-Walkerville asked that question.
Answer: “The new government building in Windsor was designed to a maximum height of six storeys or 75 feet as per the city of Windsor bylaw covering the urban renewal area in which the site is located. The building was originally planned to go to a site closer to a tourism bureau which was leased to the city for a park site. If this site had been used, because of the smaller area of property, the building may possibly have had construction higher than six storeys. However, with the arrangement with the city of Windsor regarding the exchange of land, the larger land area acquired allowed for a larger floor area building to be of a lesser height to comply with the city of Windsor bylaw.”
The next question dealt with the Richmond Hill provincial lease: Are we going to lease space there to be used as a traffic court? The member for York Centre (Mr. Stong), I believe, requested that information. In the new lease program for 1978-79 for the Ministry of the Attorney General, there is a request that new leased space be found for the Ministry of the Attorney General to be used as a traffic court. Investigations are well under way and it is proposed to occupy space in midsummer.
Question: “How much land does the province of Ontario own?” Answer: This ministry can only advise on how much land is owned by the Ministry of Government Services. At the present time, the ministry owns approximately 3.8 million acres. There are other ministries and agencies which own land and which would have to be contacted for the estimated amounts that are owned by them, mainly Transportation and Communications, Natural Resources, Ontario Hydro, Environment, the Ontario Land Corporation and several agencies, boards and commissions.
Those are the questions that were asked but I did not answer earlier this week.
Mr. M. Davidson: With your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, I would like to follow up on the last answer the minister has just given us.
It was my understanding that the Ministry of Government Services was in the process, during consideration of the last estimates, of getting all of the land owned by the government or the province of Ontario on a computer and that that program was supposed to take some six months. We were told at that time that this was being done and that it would take about six months to complete. Are we getting anywhere closer to getting all the land owned by the government on the computer or are we still waiting for that to happen?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The answer I gave -- 3.8 million acres -- is the land that is owned by the Ministry of Government Services. I am not sure what answer the hon. member was given previously. The answer I have given relates to land owned by the Ministry of Government Services and came about as a result of the fact that we have that information in the computer. The figure of 3.8 million acres is for the Ministry of Government Services -- not any other ministry, because I can’t answer about their land assembly.
May I go on and reply to the other question now? You will remember, Mr. Chairman, that on Monday someone questioned me about the Bronte sports complex -- I am not sure who it was, but maybe you will remember. Anyhow, the answer comes through the Ministry of Culture and Recreation. The Ontario sports training centre, phase one, has involved the following expenditures as of April 4, 1978: 535 acres of land at a cost of $5,818,000, legal fees associated with this of $19,100, surveyors’ charges of $26,100, for a total cost of $5,863,200. Other items are preliminary site services, access roads and parking lot, $219,000; architects’ fees of $1,314,700 for the drawings that we have; supervision, $13,000; and inspection and testing, $1,900. Total expenditures on the complete project to date are $7,412,100.
Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the minister some questions relating to the courthouse and courtroom facilities in North Bay. I am quite certain that the minister is aware of the problems which exist there or, if he’s not aware of them, that he has been or will be made aware of them shortly. Briefly the situation, if I might go back into history a bit before asking you the question, Mr. Minister, is that around 1960 the courthouse facilities at the city of North Bay were number one on the list as far as obtaining a new courthouse was concerned. At that time the building was some 60 years old and was in constant need of repair. Since then, I am told we have gone from number one to number two to number three; and that as of last year we were down to around number 10. There are those who are facetious enough to say we don’t have our courtroom yet because since 1959 we have continually elected a Liberal member. I for one don’t accept that argument of course; I think it is very wrong, and it certainly is not in keeping with the good taste of the Progressive Conservative government over the past -- well, since 1960.
In any event, the situation which we have now is quite deplorable. Up until the time the grand jury system went out in the province, every grand jury report condemned the courthouse facilities. This was over a period of some 16 years. These reports were made twice a year. It was the same litany time after time -- courthouse facilities were atrocious, working conditions were atrocious. It reached a point where in 1960 the magistrate’s court, as it was then called, used to be held on top of the old city hall -- in fact, in the city hall chambers.
They changed that in 1970, and the provincial court is now being held in a building outside the courthouse. The courthouse itself has very inadequate courtroom facilities; in fact, it has only one courtroom. When, for example, the Supreme Court is in session and there are other court matters which have to go on, such as in district court or small claims court, the court is transferred to a room on top of a beverage room in one of the local hotels. That, of course, adds an awful lot to the feeling that not only must justice be done, but it must be seen to be done.
It certainly has come under much criticism over the past number of years. In addition to this, the provincial court facilities are rather inadequate. I was involved in a rather notorious murder case some three years ago. One of the accused was the infamous Donald Kelly. I was not acting for him; I was acting for one of the other accused, who incidentally was eventually acquitted.
Mr. Nixon: Naturally.
Mr. B. Newman: Good lawyer.
Mr. Bolan: However, during the course of the preliminary hearing, something very unusual happened -- this is for Mr. Drea’s benefit as well. During the preliminary hearing the accused Kelly as well as the other two accused were in the district jail. They were there in custody pending the determination of the trial. During the course of the preliminary hearing, somebody broke in the provincial court and stole the exhibits which had been filed.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Was it your client?
Mr. Bolan: Of course, they couldn’t blame Mr. Kelly, because he was in jail; although what with his Houdini-like methods of getting out of jail over the past three years one would not have put it past him to have done the break-in -- or break-out, whatever the case may be. This, I think, reflects quite badly on the government when it tolerates a situation like that.
There are also a large number of drug trafficking cases in North Bay which seem to have developed there over the past number of years and I prosecuted a number of those drug cases. At the end of the day we’re left in the unfortunate situation where we don’t know what to do with about 30 or 35 pounds of hash, because there is no proper place to put it in a lock-up.
Mr. Nixon: Take it home.
Mr. Bolan: Well, the judge has suggested that on certain occasions, but we have managed to dissuade him from it. The end result of it is that the investigating officers who are in charge of the case have to take drugs to their own lockup. This can create some problems in the event of anything happening to something which is already entered as evidence.
I point these things out to you, Mr. Minister, to apprise you of the rather sad situation we have in North Bay.
Some time around 1967, I believe, a positive move was instituted by the ministry at that time to acquire the necessary land to build the new courthouse, about 10 years ago. As a result of this, the province then spent large sums of money in acquiring about 10 or 12 houses in a block adjacent to the courthouse facilities. All of these homes were torn down and the land right now is more or less lying fallow while the government decides when to build the courthouse.
There have been considerable moneys expended on the existing courthouse over the past 20 years. I don’t know the amount of money which has been spent, but I can assure you that it has been quite considerable, and it’s reached the point that there is no safety in lockup for an accused person who is in the court room or in the courthouse during the trial. As a result of this they’ve placed bars on certain windows and a certain part of the building to prevent anyone from escaping. All in all, it certainly is very inadequate.
My question to you, Mr. Minister, is what proposals does your ministry have with respect to the construction of the new courthouse in North Bay? When can we expect this to get under way? What proposals do you have with respect to improving the court room facilities in the event that you don’t proceed with the building of a new courthouse? I would appreciate your comments on those points which I’ve raised.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Firstly, in response to the hon. member, I’m glad that he cleared up his position. I was beginning to become concerned at his involvement with the court. May I first tell you that some seven years ago the Ministry of Government Services acquired a site for a courthouse. Second, may I tell you that the estimated cost of this courthouse that I have here is $6.2 million. Third, we do have drawings in the process.
When I get down to the real punch line I would have to remind the hon. member again that it is the Ministry of the Attorney General that schedules projects of this nature. It is not this ministry. This ministry carries out the work, once the Ministry of the Attorney General puts it in the time slot. The hon. member did refer to slots A, B, and C.
He said some of the people in the area suggested there should have been a member of another party elected in that area.
Mr. Bolan: No.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Oh, you didn’t agree there should have been? Oh, I thought you were agreeing that another party should have been represented from that area.
Mr. Nixon: There isn’t another party up there.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I misunderstood that part of the question. That was my understanding of the hon. member’s statement and I was ready to agree that a member of this Party should have been elected to that area. But of course --
Mr. Bolan: We have more faith in the government than that. We don’t believe in blackmail, Lorne.
Mr. B. Newman: The people there can read.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I was just looking at the area and I note, maybe not completely but within the last few months, we have completed a Ministry of Transportation and Communications building at a cost of $1.27 million. We have completed a material testing laboratory at a cost of $580,000. We have completed many other projects. There was one completed in February 1976, $12,000.
Mr. Bolan: We deserve it.
Mr. Nixon: Brant is the only one you don’t spend a nickel on.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Correctional Services -- under construction, $31,000. The Culture and Recreation one, January 1977, $33,000, and I could go on and read --
Mr. Bolan: I am not complaining.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I have four or five pages I can show the hon. member. But if he is interested in projects that we have completed, I’d be very happy to supply him with that information. Have I answered your question? Fine.
Mr. Bolan: One other question: I take it the minister has had no direction from the Ministry of the Attorney General with respect to following up on the implementation of the plans for the building of a courthouse in North Bay, is that right?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, I am certainly part of the cabinet, but it is up to the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) to bring his recommendations to cabinet before I have input on the priority of this building. At that level I will certainly have my input, the same as 25 other members of the government.
Mr. Bolan: I take it then as a member of the cabinet, as a member of the government, you are not aware of anything brought forward to cabinet by the Attorney General with respect to the implementation of the new courthouse in North Bay?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: My only response, Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Bolan: Yes or no.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: My response is this. The Attorney General has many projects. The Attorney General has spoken to me privately about them. It is not one that he has on this year’s priority.
Mr. Bolan: Thank you.
Mr. Bradley: My question to the minister deals with some land that has been acquired by his ministry already in the city of St. Catharines for a courthouse. The land known as the Wright property was purchased first from private sources and, secondly, a property on which the public library was located in the city of St. Catharines was purchased when that old library was demolished. It was expected that commencement of construction of a courthouse on that property would begin almost immediately.
I know the minister is very much aware of this. As he indicated to me in the House the other day he has received a lecture on the very great need for a courthouse from the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch), who also represents a portion of the city of St. Catharines. I won’t go through the same speech I went through for the Attorney General. I must say to the Minister of Government Services the Attorney General sat and nodded as I went through the description of the old courthouse in the city of St. Catharines, and the fact that it is absolutely a disgrace in terms of a justice facility.
The reason I am asking whether you are going to put this property to use in the very near future by commencing the construction of the courthouse this year is that besides the obvious need for a reasonable justice facility in the city of St. Catharines, a need which has been known for many years, there is also the fact that the unemployment rate in the construction industry is perhaps relatively high compared to some other areas. This would be a distinct boost to the construction industry.
Last, it would also indicate -- and I think the province has done this in other ways -- the faith that the province has in the city of St. Catharines in its desire to boost the revitalization of the downtown area, not only through the excellent program the province is providing, but also through the construction of this courthouse.
So I would ask the minister if he can comment on when he feels the commencement of this courthouse would take place? Second, is he going to be meeting with the task force on downtown revitalization and others, as invited by a resolution of the council of the city of St. Catharines?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: May I respond to your last question first? I am not aware of any resolution. Maybe I have missed something, but I don’t remember getting that resolution.
Mr. Bradley: It probably hasn’t arrived yet.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It’s recent, is it? Okay. As far as I know I don’t have it.
Next, I don’t think the hon. member wants us to use this piece of property for anything but the courthouse; is that pretty well agreed? I did mention in my estimates on Monday of this week that when we have surplus property first we circulate it among all other government departments. Following this we go to the local governing authority to see if they have any use for it.
Respecting this particular piece of property, I wouldn’t want to tie it up to someone other than the Attorney General. The Attorney General is actively considering this building; it’s not a dead horse by any means. As I mentioned to you a week ago, it seems to me that every week the member for Brock suggests to me, “Mr. Minister, get on with the courthouse in St. Catharines. We need it.”
The estimated cost of this project is $13.5 million. It is active in our list. It is listed at the moment under C, but it is not a dead issue by any means. I just repeat, it seems to me that every week the member for Brock brings this to my attention, as you did a few days ago. But to actually go to another building, I haven’t considered anything different.
I did mention on Monday in my estimates that the government is certainly looking at the unemployment situation all over Ontario. I mentioned on Monday the Sudbury building is a result of this. Our negotiations are going on in Hamilton as a result of looking at the unemployment situation. There was the announcement this morning respecting Belleville; it is hoped that this will assist in relieving unemployment. So we are ready to consider any proposals that come forth that will help in the present economic situation.
Mr. Bradley: This is supplementary, I suppose. I was in another committee at the time your last estimates were before the House so I was unable to be present to discuss them, but -- and I suppose we are really under capital when we talk about this. The priority seems to shift, Mr. Minister. At one time we in St. Catharines were led to believe that the St. Catharines courthouse was a number one priority, or at least there were no others that had a greater priority in terms of commencement of construction.
Would you care to evaluate where you would place it now? Just looking at courthouses -- not at other buildings, but only in terms of the courthouses to be constructed -- is it first, second, third, fourth or 24th?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, the only response that I could give to that is this, that in our department we have, A, buildings going to tender; B, buildings with plans under way; C, buildings that are not scheduled; they are under consideration. The Attorney General is the only one who can really answer your question. I hate to answer you this way as it looks as if I am trying to pass the buck, but I am not. The Attorney General is the only one who can answer your question honestly and fairly.
Mr. J. Reed: With the Chair’s approval I would like to bring up once again a subject that we got into debate on late in the afternoon last Monday. It is the parkway belt and the ministry’s action there in expropriating land for Ontario Hydro. The debate, of course, was adjourned that day at 5:55. Some questions had been asked and I wondered if the minister had apprised himself of his ministry’s actions there since that time.
My particular concern revolves around the evaluation of land within the parkway belt for purposes of expropriation, considering that the parkway belt is in draft plan form and is only that -- it is not, as I understand it, legislation although it may be quite legal. But the offers that have been made to the land owners in the parkway belt do not reflect the values of the land just outside the parkway belt which, in this case, is less than a concession road distance, both on the easterly side and the westerly side. The exact location of the property I’m referring to is south of Derry Road and in the ninth concession of Halton. It would appear that the appraisals being made are being made on the basis of this imposed situation that is called the parkway belt.
I wonder if the minister could shed any more light on this very vexing problem and if he considers it a correct action on the part of his ministry to use that kind of evaluation which, as I understand it to this date, has no basis in legislation?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: On Monday we did get into this in a minor way, I would agree. I personally have put a great deal of study into the parkway belt. I’m well aware of the area you are referring to. Let me reverse my answer; you ask, is there legislation or where does the legality for this come from. It comes about as a policy of cabinet, of Management Board, of government. As I mentioned to you last week -- or not last week -- Monday of this week -- it seems like weeks ago but it was just five days ago -- the value which applies is that of a certain date in 1973 -- in fact, I believe, June 3, 1973 -- or today’s value, whichever is the higher; that is the price that’s being used. I believe the hon. member for Halton-Burlington was the one speaking on this on Monday?
Mr. J. Reed: Yes.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: And I believe you were the one who questioned me on Bronte.
Mr. J. Reed: No, it wasn’t me.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It wasn’t you? Oh, I’m sorry. You were here though when I gave the answers on Bronte. When we were speaking about this Monday, you suggested that you could take me to properties a mile or two miles out of the parkway. I don’t deny this. I’ve been made aware of some of these things. I’m ready to answer any questions; if you have further questions, feel free.
Mr. J. Reed: I suppose what I’m trying to get at is the question of how property can be successfully devalued by virtue of cabinet policy, rather than by virtue of legislation. We do zone property all the time; we do it in the urban areas, I think I said Monday. But we do it through bylaw. We do it by elected councillors who pass a bylaw and, as a result, certain property is zoned or given a certain designation and the truth is if the people aren’t satisfied with the bylaw, at least it has been done by the elected body.
Here’s a case of simply the imposition of cabinet policy coming along and saying to all of those people who own that property, “Well, we are declaring you to be thus and so.” I don’t care what you call it, whether you call it the parkway belt or the utility corridor or the recreation area for some particular municipality. The truth is it’s an imposed designation and the result is that the property is being evaluated and appraised on the basis of that imposed designation, obviously a calculated manoeuvre on the part of cabinet in order to provide themselves with some cheap corridors and some cheap land, if that was the case in time.
I am just astounded, if it is so, that a government, which on the surface is so supportive of a free society and exchanges between willing buyers and willing sellers and all of this sort of thing that we are constantly being lambasted with over here on this side, would turn around and make this kind of designation which is tantamount to confiscation of property. These people have no alternative, and they have also been told -- at least, I have been apprised by them that they have been told -- that the government may very well need some more of the land in a few years down the road and they can expect probably to get the same 1973 price for it, a little further down.
To make matters worse, the land cannot be used in any other way. It is frozen. What you have done is eliminate from that selective area any of the normal expectations of land values in the future. I am not looking at this from the point of view of whether a speculator got hurt or whether he didn’t get hurt or whatever. A lot of those people are individual home owners. They are farmers who have lived there all their lives and farmed all their lives. Now the government has undertaken not only to freeze their property, but also to come along with the final humiliation and expropriate it at this so-called frozen period of time.
Surely, in the name of justice, the government has no business freezing property in this way. If the government wants to designate some sort of thing, why is it not brought to the Legislature and made into a bill? Then we can debate it and, if we decide to support it, we can support it, or, if we decide to vote against, we will vote against it. For heaven’s sake, it is pure and simple injustice.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I believe the hon. member was elected on September 18, 1975. If his memory could go back to 1973, which yours does, Mr. Chairman, he would remember that an Act went through this House, the Parkway Belt Planning and Development Act. That Act was debated on the floor of the House and was carried through the House. Following the designation of that Act the government had authority to act as it did in the parkway belt. On June 3, 1973, the plan, as you know, was filed. I say to you that all members of this House are elected people, the same as your municipal council. In fact, they are a senior body to your municipal council. This Act had every consideration in the House and the House did see fit to give this authority to the government.
I would have to differ with the thought that it was done without elected politicians being involved. I would go on further to speak with regard to the valuation. Again, may I refer to the present policy, which is the value of the land on June 3, 1973, or today’s value, whichever is the higher. If the June 3 value is higher than today’s value, then they will get that value. I would agree that the amount they get may not have gone up, but it has not gone down. They will get whatever it was valued at the date of the registering of the plan.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Minister, I appreciate the information about the Planning and Development Act, but I submit to you that in the evaluation method you are using in this case -- you’re talking about the higher of the values between 1973 and now -- you’re talking about the higher of the values within that designated area. You’re not relating the values to any normal kind of evaluation, that goes on when land is being appraised.
In this case, that parkway belt is one concession wide and property on both sides in the next concession is trading at much higher prices. It’s true that the value of the land has not gone down since 1973; that is very correct. But the truth is that it hasn’t gone up either, and it can’t go up because of this draft plan, according to policy of cabinet, as you have said.
I’m not as familiar with the Planning and Development Act as I should be and you can be sure that I will apprise myself of the details of it.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It’s a very short Act. You can read it some evening.
Mr. J. Reed: But I would ask you if the Planning and Development Act allows you to make this kind of confiscation. I really would question that the members of this House voted in that Act with that kind of intent. I very much doubt it.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, in responding to the hon. member, the Act is quite a short Act. I’ll be honest with you; I read it on Tuesday night of this week, it’s that short. I was in a meeting and I read the Act itself. It had nothing to do with other responsibilities that I have. The member has a good argument from his point and from his position, but let me answer him in this way.
We, as the government, have established this position, and I would think that the only way there will be a change is for the courts to establish that we are wrong. You might well be right. We think we’re right. You have a good argument, but we felt that when we established this method we were being fair.
On your argument about higher prices a mile away, I’m aware of these prices. I don’t argue a bit. My only response is that I think no doubt someone from the Land Compensation Board will establish whether we’re right or wrong.
Item 4 agreed to.
Item 5 agreed to.
On item 6, lease-purchase:
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if the minister has any statement with regard to the lease-purchase arrangements we have.
I mentioned in my leadoff speech that I would be questioning him. Does he have any studies on the method of lease-purchasing compared to owning buildings from day one instead of leasing and then taking over ownership after 25 years? Does the minister have any figures to compare the cost of this to owning at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I have a few words I would like to put forth with respect to this. It will take me a couple of minutes to present it but I think it’s very important.
“In times of financial restraint and from a short-term perspective, leasing offers enormous flexibility in these terms -- negotiated rates, cancellation clauses and so forth. In most municipalities, facilities can be obtained much more quickly by leasing them than by construction. No capital outlay, building design time nor construction followup is needed for the building itself, although alterations in the interior are generally required.
“Leasing can provide flexibility in space management and inventory which in these days of rapid organizational changes is not possible through construction. The lack of any response to a construction tender or short duration of space need makes the leasing mechanism economically preferable.
“There is little question, however, that when the same space quality is compared, leasing in the long term is the more expensive alternative. Nevertheless, part of our inventory should always be in leasing, in situations where the above advantages outweigh those of construction. The present inventory is approximately 16 per cent in conventional leases.
“Construction, on the other hand, permits the province to design, provide, maintain, repair and operate a facility according to the government standards of quality and energy conservation. In the form of a consolidated office building. the construction mode can provide to the public greater visibility and accessibility. It permits the province to actively support and influence urban renewal schemes and municipal plans by associating the project with them.
“The land on which the building is situated is government owned and the design is carried out by the Ministry of Government Services staff or an associated architect. Construction has the advantage of providing a more immediate and substantial stimulus to the local construction and its employment component, than does short-term leasing.
“The ‘hands on’ approach that a government owned facility permits can be expected to result in improved internal space management and administration, improved service levels within the building and maintenance of the facility to government standards. In some localities where suitable leased space is unavailable, construction becomes the only viable mechanism.
“The financing of construction projects may come from the government’s own capital funds or through a lease-purchase contract. Tendering on lease-purchase projects is very similar to the procedure for tendering on capital construction projects, the major difference being that instead of calling for a lump sum price, the tenderer is required to finance construction of the basic project. The province, apart from initial leasehold improvements and the furniture costs, enters into a lease-purchase agreement under which the province pays rent for a fixed term with the building becoming the property of the province on completion of the agreed form. The agreement on a net lease basis means that the province will pay all operating and maintenance costs and a developer will pay initial construction costs only.
“Use of the lease-purchase mechanism adds greater flexibility to the number of ways in which accommodation facilities can be provided. The use of the mechanism has historically been confined to consolidated office buildings in which the Ontario government is the sole occupant, and comprises approximately three per cent of our inventory.
“Capital construction can generally be expected to be more economical than lease-purchasing a facility in the long run. However, in the short, the cash flow for capital construction projects is very high and in relative terms much greater than the lease-purchase mechanism. Thus, in times of fiscal constraint, it is much more advantageous to use the lease-purchase mechanism which spreads the cost of the construction of the project over 20 years or so, whatever period of time, may be proclaimed on each project.”
Mr. M. Davidson: I notice in the booklet which you were so kind as to provide us with, Mr. Minister, under the lease-purchase program you indicate most of the agreements are signed for a 25-year period. Would that vary? Would there be agreements signed for longer or shorter periods of time?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Twenty-five years is the preferred term. On a small building we reduce it to 20 years, and I believe on Thunder Bay courthouse we have 30 years. So that’s 20, 25 and 30 years.
Mr. M. Davidson: I take it the Thunder Bay courthouse is the one that’s slowly sinking into oblivion. In a situation like that, if it is leased property, is there any guarantee in that lease that if a situation such as what is happening to the Thunder Bay courthouse takes place that the government can, in fact, break that lease and get out of it?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We own the property. The building is on our property. It’s a first mortgage on the property and very difficult to get out of. I wouldn’t know any way to get out of it. My only other comment is the building in Thunder Bay is not sinking very fast. If you read the report, over the next 20 years, up to 1998, it will sink one inch.
Mr. M. Davidson: It may sink one inch and then again it may, as I said, sink right into oblivion, but at least then you will be left with the property which you own and will not necessarily have to pay the leasing price on the building.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I don’t think the hon. member wanted a response to that. We’re not happy with the construction project, and I am sure you are aware of the financial position the company that built this building is now in, with mechanics’ liens and what have you. I only say to you that this building was built five years ago and it would be a very cheap building today. It’s worth twice as much today. It’s going to take a quarter of a million dollars to make it a number one building, but then it will be worth twice as much as it is actually costing us on today’s market.
Mr. B. Newman: I wanted to ask the minister about the new provincial public building in the city of Windsor. That is on a lease basis, is it?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes, lease-purchase.
Mr. B. Newman: The purchase is $1, is that it, after the lease expires?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes.
Mr. B. Newman: What is the rental per annum on the building? While your official is looking for the rental figure is the length of the lease the normal 25-year period?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Rental is $7,202 per month for a period of 25 years. I really haven’t spoken to the contractor to request why he did that. It is a very interesting figure.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Chairman, that is approximately $84,000 a year; am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Quick mathematics would tell me it’s about $86,500 a year.
Mr. B. Newman: It’s not as reported in the press as $500,000 per year for 25 years?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: No. I haven’t seen that report in the press. If that is in the press, it is wrong.
Mr. B. Newman: It struck me as being an unusually large figure and I didn’t think you, as minister, would come along and tolerate a rental like that, would you?
Mr. Worton: Nobody from Lambton.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I would have to admit to the hon. member that I have not been in the building, but I take the word of the hon. member that the $86,000 is a reasonable and fair figure. The $500,000 that he suggested is out of order. If that was the figure, we would be investigating it. I would hope that the hon. member will be at the official opening.
Mr. B. Newman: It’s exactly two weeks from today and we’ll see you there.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes. About right now we’ll be having coffee.
Mr. B. Newman: You know when that building was originally planned, don’t you?
Mr. Worton: About 20 years ago.
Mr. Ruston: In 1955.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: The hon. member last Monday suggested to me -- was it a figure of 12 years?
Mr. Worton: Before your time.
Mr. B. Newman: It was really in 1957, because I fought the 1959 campaign on that.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: You used that for a campaign? That is 21 years ago. I was warden of my county that year. That’s getting back into history.
Mr. Ruston: It took a long time to build it.
Mr. B. Newman: So you can see you eventually listen to us.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: You and I have been around a long while.
Mr. B. Newman: You’re slow learners but you eventually pay attention. We appreciate the building in there and we look forward to seeing you down there and cutting the official ribbon and declaring the building officially open.
Mr. Worton: Are you going to cut a red ribbon or a blue ribbon?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We will have coffee together.
Mr. B. Newman: I understand that you are also going to expend some $20,000 on some internal renovations. Why would not that have been probably foreseen in the original plan of accommodation being provided for various ministries?
Mr. Worton: Twenty-two years is a long time. Things are bound to change.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, I want to correct the record. I have given the member wrong figures. The payment is split between the builder and the company that holds the mortgage. There are two payments and I only gave you one payment. The overall figure is not $500,000, but it’s $499,368.
Let me answer the balance of your question.
Mr. B. Newman: It’s this much less, is it?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It’s not $500,000. That’s all I said.
Mr. B. Newman: Even the figure in the press indicated $498,804 a year. I would assume that even the figure you’re giving me is probably not exactly accurate because your officials probably used a computer in which the battery had run down.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: No. They just put them together. They realized they had given me the wrong information.
Mr. B. Newman: Okay.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Let me tell you what the payments are again so that they will be corrected. The one figure is $92,424.
Mr. Worton: Don’t worry. Money is only a medium of exchange.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I’ve got it right now. Please accept them as being right. These are per month figures I’m giving you. The first one is to the mortgage company, $33,912 per month and to the owner, $7,702 per month for a total monthly payment of $41,614. Multiply that by the figure of 12 --
Mr. Worton: That’s where we get into trouble.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: -- and we get $499,368. Those are our figures and we think they’re right. It’s in there.
Mr. B. Newman: It’s nice to know. Having had your figures corrected, I think you could probably qualify for one of those certificates that the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Grossman) is looking into today.
Mr. Worton: In mathematics.
Mr. B. Newman: Maybe a PhD from one of these exotic universities.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Could I interrupt the member? You did suggest earlier -- and I didn’t get around to answering it -- the expenditure of some additional $20,000.
Mr. B. Newman: Yes, that’s right.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I don’t want to interfere but I think I should answer that.
In all buildings that we rent -- no matter where they are -- we put the partitions and the furnishings in. We make the offices to fit our needs. So that is not part of the building. That is the $20,000 you are referring to.
Mr. B. Newman: I look at it because that is under the new lease-purchase project. So that would fit in just as you explained, Mr. Minister. By the way, who is the owner?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Some company by the name of Ellis-Don.
Mr. Worton: Oh, they are coming back again, eh!
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Would you people over there know them by any chance? I don’t think these people would.
Mr. B. Newman: I don’t know him from Adam.
Mr. Worton: We have heard of that one.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It wouldn’t surprise me that you people might know them.
Mr. B. Newman: But I do appreciate you giving me that information. The only other thing I would encourage you to do is to look seriously at the vacant property that is behind the provincial public building. You will have a chance to see it in two weeks. Its purchase would be an asset to the building, to the officials working in the building as well as to the public.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I depend on the hon. member personally bringing that to my attention two weeks from about right now.
Mr. B. Newman: You can’t help but see it, Mr. Minister.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Okay, thank you.
Mr. Worton: Take your cheque book with you.
Mr. Ruston: This is a six storey building; what is the square footage of that building?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It’s 69,587 rentable square feet.
Mr. B. Newman: That’s 110,000 in total.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Did I hear the member for Windsor-Walkerville suggest 110,000?
Mr. B. Newman: Yes, the square footage of the building being a total of 110,000. That is from an article that I am reading.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: That is not the record we have. The figure I gave you is the record we have. I doubt it if you would get 110,000 gross building out of a 69,000 feet that we are renting.
Mr. B. Newman: All I can say to you is that in an article of February 1, 1978, Gerry Glos of Glos Associates Limited in Windsor, architects of the building, said: “The cost would be returned over a few years in air-conditioning savings, as the drapes will stop the loss of cool air in the 110,000 square foot building.”
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, I hope the hon. member is correct and that we are paying for 69,000 feet and are getting 110,000. I’ll accept that as a gift.
Mr. B. Newman: They are counting the roof, Mr. Minister.
Mr. M. Davidson: In any of these lease- purchase agreements which your government has negotiated on behalf of your ministry, do any of them contain a clause whereby the rental fee can be renegotiated after a period of time?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Worton: Boy, you strike a hard bargain.
Item 6 agreed to.
Items 7 and 8 agreed to.
Vote 802 agreed to.
On vote 803, upkeep of accommodation program:
Item 1 agreed to.
On item 2, repairs, operations and maintenance:
Mr. Ruston: With regard to maintenance, Mr. Chairman. Earlier, I mentioned briefly the Burwash situation -- as did the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). You sold some property to the federal government. What is the maintenance cost of that now? In 1975 the maintenance cost was $108,000; in 1976, $347,000; 1977, $380,000; and April 1977 to March 1978, estimated, $247,000. How much did the part you sold to the federal government decrease your cost of maintenance?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, firstly let me make it clear, one portion of this particular property referred to as Bison Camp has been turned over to the federal government for their use. We got paid for that. That is not costing us any money.
Now, I am not sure that we have the balance of your question here. We’ll see in a minute.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member read out some figures. You will note the last item he read out -- or I believe he did; I didn’t have these figures before me at the time. Let me repeat it: April 1, 1976, to March 31, 1977, the actual cost was $380,000. April 1, 1977, to March 31, 1978, the estimated cost when this was prepared was $247,450. Those are the most up-to-date figures we have at this time. But I just repeat that the federal government is responsible for that portion that they have acquired.
Mr. M. Davidson: I believe even though the property still is in the hands of the Ministry of Correctional Services that you in fact are responsible for repairs et cetera, to the buildings that exist on the Grandview School property.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Are you referring to the Grandview School?
Mr. M. Davidson: Right. Not Churchill House, the remaining property.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: It’s in the hands of Correctional Services.
Mr. M. Davidson: Yes, I understand that. And are they responsible for the maintenance and repair?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Yes.
Mr. M. Davidson: Okay, fine. Thank you.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Minister, I notice in your public accounts design and construction program for 1978-79 that you list the fire alarm services at the Windsor Jail. When do you plan on starting the installation of those services and how long do you anticipate it will take to complete that?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We will have to get that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. B. Newman: While they are looking that up, Mr. Minister, I will also ask you about the installation of standby power for essential equipment at the laboratory building in the community. I have the same questions concerning that. When do you plan on starting and how long will you take to take care of what are contemplated as minor capital projects in the city of Windsor?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We will have to acquire that. If we don’t have it today I will have it on Monday, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. M. Davidson: Under the same listing the member for Windsor-Walkerville was looking at, could you explain the amounts that are going to be spent or the program that is going to be taken in the Kitchener county courthouse -- first floor reorganization? And is that the new courthouse that just opened recently?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We will have to get that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Shall item 2, vote 803, carry on the understanding the minister will supply the information requested?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Item 2 agreed to.
Vote 803 agreed to.
On vote 804, supply and services program:
Items 1 and 2 agreed to.
On item 3, printing and stationery services:
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, the ministry in the past has been trying in some ways to reduce the number of its forms and, to some extent, the number in government at all levels. A few years ago, I believe the number was around 50,000, and they reduced it to 46,000. I’m just wondering what progress is being made in retiring some forms and amalgamating some others, and whether the ministry is finding that it’s making any particular savings in these.
Everyone is concerned about the number of forms that governments use, because it sometimes seems that they multiply by themselves.
This was discussed a few years ago, I believe. I’m just wondering if this is a continuing thing and whether the ministry is making any progress in it.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I would respond this way, Mr. Chairman: We started this program back in the early 1970s. We are working with other ministries in trying to develop a common form that will serve a group of ministries instead of individual forms for each ministry. We are making progress, but I don’t have the figures here this morning to be able to tell the hon. member what the actual reduction is. I would leave it at that except the hon. member requests more information. He knows the number of forms we have; he mentioned it. We have certain people working on this all the time.
Mr. Ruston: At one time, I believe, the Ministry of Health had around 6,000 different forms in conjunction with the study being done in Government Services. I’m wondering if there’s anything specific to report on that particular one.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, the only forms I am involved with are the ones where there is a multiple of ministries. The ones the member refers to, the 6,000 of the Ministry of Health, I would not have jurisdiction over. But I do know that the Ministry of Health is also working towards this end.
Perhaps the hon. member will remember the suggestion in the Throne Speech that we’re reducing overall our needs, regulations and what have you. Also, I believe there was an announcement a week ago or so about the member for Lanark (Mr. Wiseman), who is the Minister without Portfolio, being appointed as chairman of a committee, with the member for Humber (Mr. MacBeth) and the member for London South (Mr. Walker) on the committee, to review all forms of this nature in all ministries, and to report back by the end of this year.
Item 3 agreed to.
On item 4, collection services:
Mr. Worton: Mr. Chairman, would the minister describe the collection services? What do they do and what are their responsibilities? Also, what are they collecting?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: For the collection services activity the budget is estimated at $283,200. The classified staff is 14 man-years. The unclassified staff is two man-years. The goal is to provide a complete central collection service to all ministries for the collection of debts owed to the Ontario government on a profitable basis where collection efforts in the ministries have been exhausted. The activity will provide central collection service for ministries and agencies of the Ontario government, administrative support and direction for special services branch of the ministry. These are some of the significant issues. Due to the existing backlog of 15 man-years of collection service accounts awaiting process in the legal branch, a special committee on collection activities recommended the return to client ministries of approximately $1.7 million in accounts is uncollectable. This reduction will be offset by an anticipated growth in new accounts of approximately $1.775 million. The net effect will be a reduction of $1.5 million in outstanding accounts.
Mr. Worton: You are saying that is for all government agencies, except the Attorney General’s department in regard to unpaid fines. Are you collecting for Community and Social Services or is this for debts owing for projects under Government Services? Give us maybe a brief outline of what ministries you are collecting for and some of the things you would be collecting.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: These are uncollectable grants. Student loans are in it. I can think of one that has caused me some concern personally in my own riding. That is the adverse weather grants to some farmers who were not successful and were not able to pay them. Now it’s come back to haunt them.
Mr. B. Newman: What about first-time home buyer grants?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We don’t have them. The department concerned goes through a process of collection. When they get to the point they feel they have exhausted the process, they are turned over to our department
Mr B. Newman: You’re the court of last resort.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: That’s more or less the case. Then, as I mentioned, we will turn close to $2 million back in accounts to the departments to tell them the process is exhausted. They, in turn, will have to write them off. I could list some of them here, though these are old figures: Colleges and Universities, Ontario Career Action, $1,005.95; Agriculture and Food, beef heifer program, $24,847; Solicitor General, miscellaneous, $60.33; Agriculture and Food, IMPIP, $34,000; Agriculture and Food, provincial-federal, adverse weather -- that’s the one I referred to -- $8,000. I could go on. If you want it, I will read it. It’s a full page. If you want to look at it, that’s fine. I don’t think we should take up the time now.
Mr. Worton: I mentioned the Attorney General’s department.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: That’s $60.33. I can’t tell off-hand what it is for but that’s all it is. I might say it’s the lowest one. No, there is another one from the Attorney General for a few dollars.
Mr. Weston: We have now adopted a program where, if you don’t pay your fine, you have a possibility of losing your licence. In fact, you do. You are not involved with that program, are you?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: No, but I don’t believe the program you mention is in full effect yet, is it?
Mr. Worton: Quite a few of my residents phone me up and say they are in jail and have lost their licence.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I thought it was the member who sat down ahead of you who had that problem a few months ago with his licence and his driving activities.
Mr. Worton: No, generally, when my friends go to jail there is some other reason too. I understand there was one family with some $12 million in fines that were outstanding. They may now pick a driver up for non-payment but I thought that was through the Attorney General’s collection agency.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Apparently I didn’t make myself completely clear. The department concerned, whether it be Agriculture and Food, Attorney General or Colleges and Universities, does everything it can to exhaust the process. They go to the dead end. Then when they give up the idea that it can be collected, they hand it over to us as the last post. So we would not be aware of this $12 million. We’re only aware of through the same sources.
Mr. Worton: When it gets to you it is pretty well like getting blood out of a stone, eh?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Pretty well. Yes, you’ve guessed it right.
Mr. M. Davidson: I must apologize to you, Mr. Minister. I was in conversation with my colleague from Algoma (Mr. Wildman) when you read out the student loan portion of that list and I didn’t catch the amount that came under student loans.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You will have to read it in Hansard if you don’t pay attention.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: “Colleges and Universities, Ontario Career Action: Original amount of debt was $835.95. The amount outstanding as of May 31, 1977, was $1,005.95. Colleges and Universities, Ontario student loans, the original amount was $7,725.53. As of May 31, 1977, it was $7,916.26. Colleges and Universities Experience ’75, $23,127. As of May 31, 1977, it was $23,854.50. Colleges and Universities, student loans, $54,181.09 -- I don’t have the year here, but the amount outstanding as of May 31, 1977, $50,415.49. Education, student aid, $87,172.49; outstanding as of May 31, 1977, $39,976.88.
That is an example that was handed to us. As the hon. member suggested, it is almost a dead end now. We had $87,172.49 handed to us. That has been reduced to $39,976.82, so there was a fair piece of money collected there.
Colleges and Universities, graduate fellowships was $28,092. The amount outstanding in May, 1977, $14,332. That was another fair piece of collection. Colleges and Universities student awards, $1,945,871.06. I’ll stay away from the hundreds just so you can digest the bigger figures. The amount outstanding as of May 31, 1977, was $1.465 million. So you see, we collected about a half a million bucks because it’s under $1.5 million there. So at a cost of slightly under $300,000, it is paying big dividends.
Mr. M. Davidson: The reason I asked for some of those figures, Mr. Minister, was that in the public accounts committee, it was recommended by the auditor and, I think by the public accounts, that some of these debts, particularly relating to student loans, go back, I believe, into the 1959 area.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, we in our department who are here this morning don’t have that information. It might well be. You would get that through the public accounts better than through our department.
Mr. M. Davidson: But the amount of money that was owed in that category was very considerable and I’m very pleased to see that you are taking some action in this direction and are making some recovery of the money that is outstanding. When you find someone, for example, who has held a loan, say, since 1965 and has made no attempt whatsoever to make any repayment to the government, is interest charged on that money?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, I am only speaking from memory. As I remember the student loan program, the interest starts once school ceases.
Mr. Worton: It is news to me that you have that responsibility, and evidently your ministry is doing a good job under the conditions when it has gone through all other ministries first before it gets to you. However, I always had the impression that somewhere along the line the federal government had backed these loans, and I have had cases where it has also taken action.
The other thing I would like to raise, Mr. Minister, is the fact that last night I spoke with a young lady who had been to both the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Welch) and the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott) about a grant she had been given in 1973-74 and they have now asked her for repayment of some $1,400. The unusual part about it is they have still made another grant to her this year and she has no way of meeting these obligations. Where do you enter into it with the federal government in regard to collections?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: I am not in a position to answer that. Maybe I should be, but I will be very honest with you, I have not been involved in those negotiations. I would suggest that you ask the Minister of Colleges and Universities or even the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough). It doesn’t come under our department. I can’t answer your question. It is not under our jurisdiction.
Mr. M. Davidson: Regarding the money that the province provides through the student loan programs, would all of the money that was outstanding and that had been owed, say, for two years, be recorded under those figures now, or would the ministry still be attempting to recover some of that money?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Chairman, the ministry only gives to us what it thinks is not recoverable, so again I can’t give you a straight answer. I wish I could, but I really can’t. If they think there’s a chance of collecting some, they keep it until they exhaust their means of collections. I can’t give you a positive answer. I think you understand that.
Mr. B. Newman: Is there no fixed period of time in which the ministry attempts to collect the money? For example, say the Ministry of Colleges and Universities might have eight years or so to collect the funds and when it can’t collect them, turn them over to you. There’s no such period as that, is there?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Not to our knowledge. You would think that maybe seven years would be a logical tune, but I would think that as long as they are able to collect some they will keep it within their department. Some of them turn them over after six months. Some are written off. Where the individual has gone into receivership or something, the department would be quick to realize that it is not going to collect and it turns them over to us immediately. We do get some at six months.
Mr. Worton: You are the chief bill collector of the province, eh?
Item 4 agreed to.
On item 5, vehicle repair and trucking services.
Mr. M. Davidson: I see there is quite an increase in the estimate for this year over last year, and I am just wondering what the reason for that would be.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Under our present procedures all recoveries from all departments go to the Treasury. And in this particular case, Treasury is getting some of the recoveries. So that automatically puts our expenditure higher. It makes a difference in the total changes of $59,900; the $9,900 is increased cost, the $50,000 is accounting.
Mr. B. Newman: Vehicle repair and trucking services is only dealing with vehicles belonging to your ministry, or do you do some vehicle repair for other ministries?
Hon. Mr. Henderson: There are other ministries associated with this. Not the Ministry of Transportation and communications. There are some others; I don’t have them all here this morning. Could we get that to you?
Mr. B. Newman: The reason I ask is that I wonder why this wouldn’t have been done under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications rather than your ministry. I would think that they have so much to do in there, that maybe the necessary equipment plus the expertise would be a little greater with them than it would be with your ministry; unless you have sufficient work there and too much work is being funnelled to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Maybe when you concentrate it in one ministry, there is greater efficiency and greater productivity.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: We have a repair and service centre at Mimico. It is very convenient for the people who are downtown to go there for their repair service. I couldn’t disagree with your suggestion that it perhaps should be under Transportation and Communications; but it is under our ministry, and the reason is for the availability of it here in Mimico.
Mr. B. Newman: You generally have to carry such an inventory of certain types of parts when you are in the repair business, that if it is concentrated in one ministry I would think it would be more efficient and more practical. I know that you will use your good judgement in deciding.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: Your recommendations will be considered. As I say, I can’t differ with you; I couldn’t argue with you over the point.
Item 5 agreed to.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Henderson, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Grossman, the House adjourned at 1 p.m.