The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
MUSKOKA AND PARRY SOUND TELEPHONE COMPANY
Hon. Mr. Snow: This morning at the appropriate time I will be introducing an act to provide the Ontario Telephone Development Corporation with the statutory means to acquire the assets of the Muskoka and Parry Sound Telephone Company Limited. This action is necessary because the company can neither provide reliable service to its 1,400 subscribers nor supply telephones to new subscribers.
Technical deterioration of the entire system and the company’s lack of financial resources to make major and necessary repairs have led to prolonged disruption of services and to an ever-growing number of complaints from subscribers. As recently as last February, my ministry had to provide the company with $50,000 to carry out emergency repairs so that service could be maintained to a limited number of subscribers. Despite our help, these subscribers are paying monthly rates comparable to rates in similar areas for a totally inadequate service.
We feel the two years allowed to this company either to put its affairs in order or negotiate a sale has been ample time to effect improvements. Unfortunately, there have been none. In fact, since July 1977 this company has rejected an offer of purchase from Bell Canada, rejected a proposal for financing and management restructuring by individuals representing other Ontario independent telephone companies and rejected an offer by my ministry to purchase its assets.
Therefore, I feel we have no recourse but to take this step to ensure that the residents of this 800 square mile area in Parry Sound district are provided with the kind of responsible telephone service to which they are entitled. The corporation will operate and maintain the telephone system only until such time as the assets can be sold by public tender to a company or companies which have proven competence in the operation and management of a telephone system.
At this point, I would like to stress that this is an exceptional case. On the whole, the independent telephone companies in this province provide excellent telephone service to the public they serve. In fact, some of them are pioneering improvements to the rural telephone system.
In view of the fact that there is some urgency in this matter, I would appreciate the assistance of the whole House in passing this bill as quickly as it can be scheduled.
HEAVY WATER PRODUCTION
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Minister of Energy: Can the minister give the answer to questions which I asked of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) in the minister’s absence yesterday and tell us specifically the degree of the anticipated surplus of heavy water which Ontario is now facing if they do continue with Bruce D, or if they don’t continue with Bruce D? What is the amount of the surplus; can the minister tell us what options he is looking at at this moment; and can he, particularly, tell us what the original anticipated demand was based on, what assumptions that demand was based on, and how those assumptions have gone wrong?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: When I returned from western Canada last night, where I had been meeting with the Minister of Energy and other officials of the government of Alberta, as well as with leaders of the oil and gas industry, I read the transcript of Hansard and the questions raised yesterday.
Had I been here last week, I would have indicated to this House my intention to table a statement, a very important statement --
Mr. Wildman: You’ve already done that.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- on the whole question of heavy water production in Canada. We have been working on that question for some weeks now; we are now prepared to table a statement. It is our intention to table it next week. I do not think it should be tabled on Monday, because on Monday we are still hoping to table the joint statement of the federal and provincial governments on irradiated fuels. But I do want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that this whole question of heavy water is a very serious one.
Mr. Wildman: Give us a two-hour statement on Thursday.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It is a major one. It is one I have been looking at very closely for the last two weeks. We fully intended to tell the members opposite, as well as every member of this House --
Mr. Wildman: Do you mean to say you’re going to table a statement on --
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- everything we know about the subject and also to ask for their support in some proposals we will be making. But I do not wish, sir, at this point to say anything further until that report is tabled next week.
Mr. Warner: We will have a two-hour statement on Thursday.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It will be either on Tuesday or on Thursday.
Mr. Kerrio: You haven’t said anything yet.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, given the fact that we are dealing with enterprises costing billions of dollars with many, many jobs involved and we are talking about the cancellation of one of these plants at this point, would the minister not agree that it has been and is his responsibility not merely to promise some statement some time next week, but to answer some very specific questions such as I have put to him regarding the amount of the surplus, what the original assumptions were based on, and when it first came to the minister’s attention that there might in fact be a surplus, that the original assumptions might in fact not be correct?
The minister speaks of having done something in the last couple of weeks. When did it first come to his attention that these original assumptions might be incorrect?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I think all of these questions, at least most of them, will be answered when we present the statement.
Mr. Deans: Answer them now.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I just want to underline one thing. It didn’t require a question from across the floor for us to realize this was a very serious and important issue --
Mr. S. Smith: I hope not.
Mr. Warner: Where’s your irradiated fuel?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We are on top of it, and we will fully share all the information we have. I hope that we will get the support from members opposite for the proposals we are about to make next week.
Mr. Peterson: Mostly you only respond when we ask questions.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Can the minister explain how it is that Ontario Hydro’s program for heavy water does not include any agreement with the federal government that we should be able to seek export markets for heavy water produced in this province; and why, as well, Quebec has been able to conclude an agreement with the federal government that involves the federal government buying any surplus heavy water whereas no such agreement exists with Ontario?
Mr. Kerrio: Asleep at the switch.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Once again that question will be answered when we present our report next week.
Mr. Nixon: What does that mean?
Mr. Warner: This is going to be quite a report.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would again like to say that it doesn’t require a member from across the House to ask the question. We’ve been asking that question ourselves and we will be talking about this in the report next week.
Mr. Warner: Ask yourself questions?
Mr. Kerrio: Stick to answers.
Mr. Nixon: What is the minister talking about?
Mr. Speaker: It’s quite obvious the Minister of Energy has said all he’s going to say at this time. I don’t think any further prodding would add to it. I’m going to recognize the Leader of the Opposition with his second question.
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question which is supplementary and which I think the minister could answer without the statement. It’s a very direct question; if he could answer yes or no to it.
Mr. Speaker: I’ve listened very carefully to the response to the initial question and to the two supplementaries. I don’t think you’re going to get any more information at this time.
Mr. J. Reed: Point of order.
Mr. Speaker: There’s nothing out of order in question period with regard to whether or not a minister chooses or doesn’t choose to answer a question. That is not a point of order. That’s strictly up to the discretion of the minister.
Mr. J. Reed: With respect, I was only going to ask the minister if, in his statement, he would make a specific inclusion.
Mr. Speaker: All right. Try it.
Mr. J. Reed: I wonder if the minister, when he is making his statement concerning the whole heavy-water situation, will specifically include in that statement the rated capacities of the heavy-water projects and the actual performance to date?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Obviously, the statement will include some statistical data.
Mr. Bolan: What are you trying to hide?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: But I’m not prepared to state in any detail at this point what will be included. Wait until next week and the member will find out.
Mr. S. Smith: I actually have a supplementary which I believe the minister could answer, but I won’t get into an argument with you, Mr. Speaker.
URBAN TRANSPORTATION DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Mr. S. Smith: To the Minister of Transportation and Communications: The minister, in replying to a question -- a reply he tabled yesterday -- claims he is unable to provide to this House information regarding the monitoring which his ministry has been doing of the UTDC program, a monitoring program which, among other things, has cost $164,000 partly for the monitoring and partly for other things. He claims that all that information must be kept strictly confidential, even though my question originally asked for the no n-proprietary information.
Would the minister please explain to this House why he feels he is not able to provide the results of this monitoring as it deals with whether or not the project is meeting cost targets, whether the major specifications and time frames have been met? In other words, can he not tell us the non-proprietary aspects of what this monitoring program has shown with regard to UTDC, without giving away any trade secrets?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I would have to discuss with my technical staff whether there is any way to divide the monitoring aspects that are being carried out.
Under the agreement between the ministry and UTDC, UTDC is carrying out the development of the ICTS program. UTDC have many subcontracts with, for instance, Canadair and others. When they are developing a new technology, all those contracts require that the development of this technology should not be made public or should not be passed to ethers who should not have this information. After all, we’re developing a new concept, new research and development and, presumably, items that will eventually be covered by patent.
The monitoring of information that is being carried out includes the monitoring of all this technical information. I’m not sure that I can divide the monitoring. Things vary from month to month. One month a certain aspect may be running a week or two weeks behind schedule. The next month it may have caught up. It varies, as I understand it. The monitoring group within the ministry that is working with UTDC reports regularly to my deputy minister.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, since no one is asking for information regarding secret designs or drawings hieh may eventually be patented and so on; since all we are asking for are the regular reports as to whether the whole project is on cost target and on schedule and whether they’ve had to switch from their originally anticipated basic design thrusts into something totally different and so on; and since this is very basic information that the public ought to have because the public is funding it and also funding the monitoring, will the minister please explain why it is not possible for him to share with us those non-proprietary aspects of the information which has resulted from the monitoring which his ministry has been doing?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’ll take those specific questions of the Leader of the Opposition under consideration.
Mr. S. Smith: Further supplementary: Lest in his eventual answer to me the minister makes use of section 12.03 in the development and review agreement between his ministry and the UTDC which suggests that “the minister shall not disclose any information related to data and industrial property, the designs, drawings and related documents or any other information,” lest be decides to take shelter behind that, I would like him to explain why he would sign a document which prevents any kind of information, even non-proprietary information, from being given out?
Second, will he tell us whether the contingency fund and the inflation allowance, which are supposed to last the UTDC for another couple of years at least, have all been used up and if not, what remains in that fund?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I obviously signed the agreements on the advice of the government and the legal counsel of the ministry who worked at some length with UTDC in the development of this somewhat complicated agreement.
I will inquire as to the status of the program, and whether there are any aspects that are behind schedule. I will inquire as to the status of the contingency fund. As I understand now from the most recent report I had, everything was working out quite well as far as budget and schedule are concerned, although there was some delay in the overall schedule because of the delay in establishing the location of the test facility at Kingston. This may have the overall program somewhat behind what was originally announced some time ago.
I was in Montreal last week. I visited Canadair’s facilities and viewed some of the development work being carried out in the Canadair shops. I must say I was quite impressed with the progress being made.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Ottawa Centre with his first question.
Mr. Cassidy: I was going to ask a supplementary on the last one, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister undertake to table the non-proprietary information in his estimates since the estimates are coming forward within a couple of weeks, probably before the end of the session? Then the Legislature itself can be informed and can make decisions about how useful that material is.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I was going to suggest that a moment ago. I haven’t discussed with the House leader recently exactly where the estimate schedule is. The last I heard was that we will probably be before the committee in a week or two. The committee will no doubt be examining this in detail. Officials from UTDC will be available to the committee to answer any questions that they can, but I have to impress upon the m:embers of the House that this is a very highly technical development in competition with other industries and with other countries; the asset of the province of Ontario in developing this must be protected.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question to the Premier, arising out of what happened here in this chamber yesterday afternoon and in this building early in the evening. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, the sense we all had of participating in a historic occasion in the debate on Bill 89, and the very constructive kind of results that we thought ensued. I do want to express regret --
Mr. Speaker: You’ll have to do it by way of a question.
Mr. Cassidy: Okay. I do want to express regret about the decision of the Premier that was announced in the press release shortly thereafter. In view of the fact that the Premier’s press release on Bill 89 was obviously prepared well before the bill was voted upon at 5:50 yesterday, can the Premier tell the House who took the decision not to allow the bill to go beyond second reading, when that decision was taken and how, subsequently, the government could allow two of its senior ministers to speak and endorse the bill when they would have known that the government did not intend to proceed with the bill any further?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I will take a little longer to answer this question because --
Mr. Swart: Because there’s a lot to answer for.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- I understand that the member for Scarborough whatever --
Mr. Warner: Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- Scarborough-Ellesmere was concerned about matters of privilege. The former House leader for the Liberal Party, I think really quite accurately defined the question of the procedures of this House.
I would like to say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that as a matter of policy I have not involved myself in private members’ bills debates.
Mr. Kerrio: You’re too busy writing out statements.
Hon. Mr. Davis: At the same time, I think it is incumbent upon me, after listening to those debates, to state what is the policy of the government so that there is no misunderstanding. It was with that intent that the statement was issued after listening to the debate, which I did yesterday afternoon.
There is nothing in my statement that interferes with the procedures of this House. The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) has asked that this bill be referred to the justice committee, and there is nothing in my statement that precludes that happening. What I am anxious for the members of this House to understand and, perhaps just as important, the public of Ontario, is what the policy of the government is. That is my responsibility. I think it is fair to state that if I had made no statement, I would have been asked -- in fact, the phones were ringing in the office about 5:30 asking, “What is the position?”
This is not an unusual procedure. When the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) introduced his bill on the age of consumption of alcohol, I did not participate in that debate. But at the conclusion of that debate I did seize the opportunity to enunciate what the policy of the government was. Surely that is my responsibility.
It is fine for the leader of the New Democratic Party to say that I have usurped the privileges of the House. That is categorically untrue. I could have delayed this statement perhaps until the justice committee had dealt with it. I can hear the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere rising up on his Magna Carta and suggesting then that I had usurped the privileges of the members of the House.
I think that I have an obligation and a responsibility to enunciate what is the policy of the government I think it is important that the members of this House know what that policy is. I don’t want to see expectations or other than expectations developed in this process if ultimately what I said yesterday is going to be the position of the government, which it is.
Any reasonable person, in assessing this, can disagree with the policy. I don’t quarrel with that I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party, we know what his party’s policy is. They would declare this province to be legally and officially bilingual. I understand that.
Mr. Cassidy: I would make French an official language.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I understand that the hill introduced by the member for Ottawa East contained in it something that, as I listened to at the debate, all members of this House supported. That was the concept of providing services in the French language for the Franco-Ontarian citizens of tbis province. I don’t quarrel with that.
Mr. Roy: In a statutory framework.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Certainly the difference is the question of I the statutory framework. I don’t argue this. I am anxious that the members, and just as importantly the public, understand this.
If the Liberal Party of Ontario wants to disagree, if they want to pursue the question of the statutory framework, that is right and proper, and there is nothing to preclude the justice committee. But I think I have to make one or two other observations: I am totally in support of the concept of the private members’ hour.
Mrs. Campbell: Ha.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for St. George can give her cynical laugh, and smile in her rather cynical way, but I have supported the concept. We have not raised what I think are on occasion some fairly fundamental issues that arise out of the private members’ bills that do involve some pretty extensive expenditure of funds. I think it is fair to state that some private bills have probably gone beyond that which was intended in terms of the functioning of private members’ bills.
I would also doubt if the leader of the New Democratic Party thought this through carefully. He anticipated that on a matter of this sensitivity and importance, if a decision were made that this was the right route to go. It is obvious this matter would be introduced by way of a government bill.
This takes nothing away from the interest -- I believe a sincere interest -- on the part of the member for Ottawa East It takes nothing away from this being a proper mechanism to discuss this issue in the House, to bring this to the attention of the public of this province. But we do not operate under a congressional system of government. Government under our system must assume the ultimate responsibility.
On a matter that is this sensitive, a matter that is of interest to the vast majority of people in this province, I think it would have been hypocritical of me to turn it around on some who were saying the other. If I had stayed quiet for another two or three weeks, or a month and let the committee go through its process, it would have been wrong to then say, “The policy of the government is such and such.”
I extend my appreciation to the Leader of the Opposition because he went far further than I thought he would in supporting the present policy of the government of this province. I must confess I was both pleased and somewhat surprised to hear it.
Mr. Worton: That’s what fooled you.
Mr. Roy: That’s why we were so disappointed.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The member for Ottawa East I know has a personal interest in this. I believe it is a sincere interest.
Mr. Peterson: We have all got a personal interest -- every one of us.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s fine. All right, we all have a personal interest.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Just ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Davis: The difference of opinion is the vehicle we use, or the approach we take to attain those objectives that members of this House supported yesterday. Surely that is where the difference of point of view exists. There is nothing to preclude, in the rules of this House, the justice committee taking that bill.
But I think it is only fair for the members to know and the public to know that we believe the policy we have under way, to which we are totally committed, is working and working relatively well. It has worked without any significant divisiveness. It has been, I think, in general terms, acceptable, and this is the route that the government feels we should proceed with.
So with great respect to his motion for adjournment last night, the questions raised as to the privileges of members of this House, I have never intentionally abused, nor shall I abuse, the privileges of the members of this House. I say, with respect, in this instance, in procedural terms Or in any other terms, these privileges have not been abused.
The debate yesterday was on a private member’s bill. I heard newscasts yesterday morning saying “government bill for the entrenchment or enshrinement of French-language rights to be debated.” There is not the same perception or understanding by even some people in the media, and certainly not in terms of the general public, as to the differential between a private member’s bill, and a government bill. I think it is fair to state most members in this House understand if it is a matter of real substance it should be discussed. But as to the initiative, or lack of initiative, whichever way you wish to phrase it, that ultimate responsibility must fall upon the government.
That is how our system works. There is nothing in what I said yesterday, there is nothing in what I am saying this morning, that in any way, in my view, prejudices the privileges of the members of the House.
The leader of the New Democratic Party can say I am wrong in my statement. He can say his position is right. He can say to the public of this province that this province should become officially or legally bilingual. That’s his right. I don’t happen to agree with it. That is my right. As leader of the government I think I have an obligation to state it so that there isn’t any misunderstanding.
Perhaps the position of the Liberal Party of Ontario is to enshrine or entrench these rights in a statutory form. I don’t quarrel with that, but that is not the present policy of this government. I think that is what the discussion is about That is what I hope my statement makes very clear. It does not in any way -- and I hope my statement made this clear -- detract from the motivation of the sincerity of what we are doing for the Franco-Ontarian population. I’ll take a back seat to no one in this House in terms of my commitment to the provision of these French-language services to Franco-Ontarians.
Mr. di Santo: That’s not what the Franco-Ontarians want.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say that I take some pride in what has been accomplished. Some can debate whether it has gone fast enough or far enough. That’s a matter of judgement. It’s not an easy issue for me to deal with because not only are the rights of the Franco-Ontarians of great concern to me, but there is also the concern of the general public of this province, and their acceptance to a certain extent. I think that is the responsibility of government too. I can’t ignore that sensitivity either.
I would say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that if the committee in its wisdom wishes to pursue discussion of the bill of the member for Ottawa East --
Mr. di Santo: It’s a waste of time. Hon. Mr. Davis: -- there is nothing in the rules of this House to preclude it. I have not in any way prejudiced the rights of the members. I cannot have that process go ahead with people assuming that that bill is automatically going to be passed with or without amendment, when I know that is not the policy of the government I say with respect to have done anything else would have been hypocritical. I think it is important for the members of this House and the members of the public to understand the position of the government. That’s why the statement was issued late yesterday afternoon.
I would only say in conclusion that in answer to the question I hope I have touched upon those matters of privilege that were raised by two or three members. I just overheard the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) who has had a fair amount of experience. I think he summed it up very well. The rights of the members have not been prejudiced. Under the rules, it can go to committee. What I did in my statement was make it clear what the policy or position of the government of the province of Ontario was on this issue. To have done anything else would have been hypocritical and would have perhaps abused the privileges of the members of this House. That is why I determined to make that statement.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Because of the importance the House is placing on this issue, and because I have given the Premier more latitude than ordinarily, I’m going to add six minutes to the question period.
Mr. S. Smith: He should have issued a statement.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary; I want to say that I think if the Minister of Education and the minister responsible for Franco-Ontarian affairs looked ashen, it is because what the Premier has said was in complete contradiction of a number of points they made in the Legislature yesterday.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Nonsense.
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Cassidy: I also want to express concern that by saying the government will not proceed with this bill, that is in fact a direct interference with the procedures of the House.
Instead of using the parliamentary devices which are available under the new private members’ rules in order to vote against a bill, or state the government’s intentions in not proceeding with the bill, or have 20 members of the government party stand in order to prevent the bill being voted upon -- all of which are devices which are open to the government -- is it the government’s policy in future to toy with the Legislature and impose the kind of hip-pocket veto which the Premier imposed last night by coming out with his statement after the Legislature had debated the bill rather than before or during the debate?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can almost conjure up without much difficulty the rhetoric that would have been used by the leader of the New Democratic Party if I had made such a statement prior to the discussions yesterday afternoon.
Mr. di Santo: The Premier was bluffing.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would only repeat what I said. On these issues which I think are sensitive -- and I was anxious to have the discussions on this bill yesterday -- it would have been, in my view, improper for me to say at the outset of the debate that this is the policy, that there is no point in having any discussion, having these views aired in this Legislature. The leader of the New Democratic Party would then be using language that might then be unparliamentary in terms of his reaction.
I would only say to the leader of the New Democratic Party, he can call it what he wants. What I issued last night was a statement made in conscience, one with a full knowledge of the concern and sensitivity of the issue, the concern that this government has, the policy it has with respect to our Franco-Ontarians; and it was issued with that completely in front of us.
Mr. Swart: After Handleman got to you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We can debate this here, Mr. Speaker, the leader of the New Democratic Party and myself. He can be as sarcastic as he wishes. He can suspect my motivation but, Mr. Speaker, I will look at what has been done for the past number of years. I will assess very carefully what we have done in terms of programs for the Franco-Ontarians, and I will not take a back seat to the leader of the New Democratic Party on that issue one bit.
Mr. Roy: A supplementary to the Premier:
This is not a question, Mr. Speaker; I say this very bluntly. There is such a gap between what the Premier sometimes says standing, viva voce, as we say, and his brutal statements.
In view of his position which, apparently, has changed -- because in February be did not exclude the statutory framework -- why would the Premier allow two of his members of cabinet to at least leave us with the impression that they were in support of this bill?
Secondly, in view of the good faith that be is trying to put forward here this morning, why would he put out a statement which reflected some things that were never intended in this bill? For instance, on page two:
“Neither shall we be taking any steps to declare French an official language in Ontario.” That is something that the bill did not talk about, did not intend. Why would he put out a statement which said that this government is going to avoid the kind of bitterness and intemperate debate that has all too often accompanied the bilingual programs of our federal counterparts? That is something which we again wanted to avoid and something that the debate yesterday clearly avoided.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I thought the member for Ottawa East would really be more perceptive than has been indicated here this morning.
As I understand -- because there is another party in this House in opposition besides his own -- the official position of the New Democratic Party in the province of Ontario is, in fact, to have two official languages in the province of Ontario.
Mr. di Santo: That had nothing to do with the bill.
Mr. Roy: It was not their bill. It was our bill.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am restating and did restate in this statement that if the New Democrats want to be at all consistent, if that bill goes to committee and they don’t move an amendment to make French an official language in the province of Ontario, then they have to be described as being totally hypocritical. I didn’t want any one in this province to feel that we were in the process or would support any such amendment if this bill goes to committee.
An hon. member: Bill, that’s their problem.
Mr. Martel: You were playing a waiting game.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In my statement I was not dealing with the precise terms of the bill. I was dealing with the policy of this government, I was dealing with what is the proposed policy of the New Democrats, and to have ignored that in any statement, I think would have been improper. In fact I am surprised the member for Ottawa East isn’t delighted that I included that statement in, so it makes it very clear why it is there.
What was the second point the member raised? I think the answer to the first is very obvious.
Mr. Lewis: There were two cabinet ministers involved.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Once again, this relates to the debate that has taken place on “official bilingualism.” Once again the New Democrats, in order to be consistent, would have to, in any discussion of this bill in committee, move amendments that would move in the direction of their stated policy. Under their democratic party system although the previous leader took --
Mr. Mackenzie: We sure don’t need your advice to run this party.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have to tell those members this: Their previous leader had the intestinal fortitude to depart from party policy on occasion. That’s why he had the measure of success -- thank heavens, not too successful
-- that he had. Their present leader is hide-bound and totally --
Mr. Swart: You only got minority government the second time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right, but look where you people moved. You moved further to the left than you were before.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order. I don’t know whether the Premier has an answer to the specific question that the member for Ottawa East posed. That was with regard to the participation of two ministers in the debate yesterday. If the Premier has a brief answer to that, I will hear it. If not, I am going to allow two more supplementaries, one from each of the two opposition parties and then we will move on to another subject.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to what my two colleagues said. I think if honourable members will reread what they said, they will find nothing inconsistent with the observations that I made in my statement or here in the House this morning.
Mr. Lewis: What about your cabinet colleagues?
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s what I mean.
Mr. Cassidy: Is the Premier aware that the most constructive thing that could have come from the debate yesterday would have been a commitment by the government that, given the unanimous view of the Legislature about legislative enshrinement of French-language rights, the government would bring forward a bill and have it enacted by the end of the year? Is he aware that the most destructive consequence arising out of the debate on Bill 89 was the way in which the Premier handled this issue and that it will ring for a long time in a very damaging way in terms of the future of the country and be seen as being very destructive in Quebec?
Mr. Speaker: Is that a question?
Mr. Cassidy: In the second place --
Mr. Speaker: Is that a question?
Mr. Cassidy: It’s half a question. The second half of the question, Mr. Speaker, is:
Is the Premier aware that by his actions yesterday, he has totally emasculated the private members’ hour process here and therefore abrogated the rights of the members of this Legislature?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I will answer both questions and I will answer the second part of the question first. I answer it without any reservation whatsoever. I will repeat what I said: As head of government on an issue of this sensitivity, if I had not made my statement I think it would have been unwise and I think it would have been unfair to the members of this House. My stating the position of the government related to a private member’s bill does not emasculate, as he used the term, the private members’ hour in this Legislature. I think he knew the answer to that question before he asked it.
With respect to the first part of the question, it’s very difficult to assess the impact of whatever decision is made in terms of the direction of the rights our Franco-Ontarians may have with respect to the rest of the country. But no one has worked more carefully than I to see that this sensitivity is understood and that this province and this government does not take steps to make the situation more difficult.
I would only say to the leader of the New Democratic Party, whose private member once again has introduced a bill which I know some of my colleagues -- because they happen to live in the same geographic area -- would be moved to support with respect to retaliation -- there is no other word for it -- for some of the policies of the government of the province of Quebec, he can’t have it both ways. He can’t urge me to show this contradiction and at the same time urge his own memhers to introduce legislation that is totally retaliatory in nature and, which I say with respect, might achieve the same degree of misunderstanding in our sister province of Quebec as the member suggests my statement of last evening might do. I say there is a slight contradiction in his own approach to this rather important issue.
Mr. Bounsall: It is a totally different issue.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Is the minister aware that at the Status of Women Joint Councils conference which is being held this week, the Ontario Status of Women Council has expressed concern about the new employer-centred training program and has recommended specifically that a training program be set up with specific emphasis on recruiting women to prepare them for entry into the non-traditional trade areas from which they are almost totally excluded in apprenticeship programs today; and that it has recommended that governments work with employers and unions to set targets for the entry of women into apprenticeship schemes?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I am not aware of that specific issue. I do say, however, that in the last year and a half to two years there have been some very significant breakthroughs in the role of women in our society in programs that have not heretofore seen the entry of women as apprentices. We could give you all kinds of illustrations of that fact. The new hrochure we had printed not too long ago puts a high profile on that very fact.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Given the fact that last year there were about 10 women in apprenticeship programs in carpentry, electricians’ work, ironwork, motor vehicle maintenance, auto body and electrical and fuel, as compared to about 15,000 men in those particular programs, would the minister not agree that the progress, if any, has been infinitesimal? Can he indicate the means by which he will ensure that the new employer-centred program will not perpetuate the existing pattern of discrimination against women in apprenticeship programs?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: We’ve discussed this item in this House before. On that occasion and again today, I take considerable exception to the thought that there is discrimination, especially as it relates to our ministry. To the very contrary, we have made a conscious effort to give equal opportunity. The member asks what I will do to ensure that. That’s precisely what we’re going to do -- to ensure that there is that equal opportunity that now exists. If the women of our society choose to do otherwise, it is tbeir right to I do so.
I am not about to say that there will be 50-50 representation in each apprenticeship program; that would not ensure very much equality to anyone. We will give them the opportunity; if they choose to exercise it, that will be just fine by us.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Can the minister say just what specific steps will be taken, given the fact that whether or not tbe opportunity has existed in the past, it has clearly been virtually meaningless since almost no women have gained entry to tbose particular apprenticeship programs?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I will have to repeat myself. We are advertising. We are making that program known in a very extensive way for the women of Ontario to have those opportunities. They will have to take the next step. They must come forward and offer themselves as candidates in the apprenticeship programs. We can’t take that step for them, and I am certainly not going to propose that we legislate that kind of activity.
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSIONS
Mr. Epp: I have a quesion of the Minister of Energy with respect to public utilities commissions. Now that the minister has informed us that there are 19 mayors serving in seven regions on public utilities commissions who have not been elected for many years, some dating back to the early 1970s, would he share his views with us whether this is democratically right and what his intentions are with respect to correcting this situation?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I think the basic principle governing the question of whether the local public utilities commission members should be elected or appointed is a basic question that we feel should be left to local governments. We know there is a strong tradition for elected commission members. We also know in some communities there is an equally strong tradition for locally appointed members. In some places one works best, in other places the other system works best. Frankly, our policy continues to be to have local option, if one may use that term, exercised on this matter.
As the honourable member opposite has indicated, there are some rather curious statistics and what appears to us at least to be a rather curious arrangement. But we assume, especially in regions such as the sophisticated one of Kitchener-Waterloo, where sound judgement always prevails among the fine people of that region --
Ms. Breithaupt: They always vote Liberal.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- all relatives of mine --
Mr. Conway: You almost ended up there, Reuben. Remember that?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- that the system, as it prevails, is working and it’s working well.
Mr. Gaunt: You would have been a Liberal in Kitchener, you know.
Mr. Epp: I want to thank the minister for his compliments with respect to the Waterloo area. Since I served on a restructuring committee of the public utilities commission and on a public utilities commission where we had ex-mayors who were defeated at the polls and no longer had the support of the public, and with the embarrassed public standing back a little and viewing this situation and wondering what the position of the government was going to be on this, does the minister really believe that these people should continue to serve on public utilities commissions despite the fact that they were defeated some six, seven or eight years ago and no longer have the confidence of the public? Does he stand here in support of those?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Have you checked the Senate lately?
Mr. Epp: Or is he going to give this House the benefit of introducing legislation to correct these anomalies, in view of the fact that we had two bills dealing with public utilities restructuring passed last July and only one is before us this year?
Mr. J. Reed: Old Tories never die. They sit on PUCs.
Hon. B. Stephenson: At least they don’t lose their faculties as old Liberals do.
Mr. Conway: You’ve been on both sides, Bette.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I’m rather surprised that the honourable member would address these questions -- and they may be very good and real questions -- to the Minister of Energy for this province. I think he ought to be addressing these questions to the local government, because they have the option. If the system looks like a bit of pork-barrelling, then, for heaven’s sake, change the system. But it’s up to the good burghers of Waterloo to do so.
Mr. J. Reed: That is what you are supposed to do.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, may I try to correct the record here? I think the minister --
Mr. Speaker: If you have a question, yes.
Mr. Epp: In view of the fact that we have a restructured public utility in the region of Waterloo, will the minister please correct the record with respect to that and give us the benefit of his views with respect to the questions I asked earlier?
Mr. Mancini: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I can’t answer the question in a clearer way.
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s the problem.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: You have the law, and you make up your mind in that region whether you want to elect or appoint these people.
Mr. Bounsail: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Labour: Has the minister yet received the final copies of the last five chapters of the report on the financial restructuring of the Workmen’s Compensation Board which she indicated on Monday she expected to receive today?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker. They arrived at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon.
Mr. Bounsall: Supplementary: Now that she has it; will she table that report so we may all see it and have the same opportunity as the minister has had to peruse the recommendations? Secondly, in the consideration she will be making for the presentation of the bill we expect to receive in June, will she ensure that the pensions of the totally permanently disabled, the minimums thereof, be adjusted by at least the cost of living, if not the same percentage increase in salaries and wages, and that the widows’ and widowers’ pensions, for some years exactly equal to those minimum fully disabled pensions, be restored to that level?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is my intention, as I mentioned in this House, to table this document as soon as we have enough copies available. We are in the process of printing them for the members of the House right at the present time. I would think that probably by the end of next week we shall have sufficient copies to distribute to all members.
I don’t think I can outline the exact amounts of increases in benefits specifically today, but certainly my concern is that, indeed, those areas in which benefits need to be increased rather dramatically should receive our attention immediately, and that with the co-operation of all parties in this House those amendments could be put through the House in very short order.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s been three years.
Mr. Mancini: Supplementary: Could the minister give assurance to this House that she will no longer carry out a policy of making the injured workers wait three years for their increase in pensions? Could she also assure the House that she will have a policy of annual increments for the injured workers as far as their pensions are concerned?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Various methods of ensuring the increment of benefits for pensioners of the Workmen’s Compensation Board have been proposed by the joint consultative committee, by The Wyatt Company and by others, and all of these methods are being examined. Whether we will have the final presentation regarding that method ready before the end of June, I can’t say at this point. I do think we should move ahead with the improved benefits at this time, at any rate.
Mr. di Santo: Supplementary: Can the minister indicate to this House if, in the bill which she is going to present to the House, there is any particular section which is going to deal with those pension increases?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Communications. Given the fact that the 6,500-acre industrial park and Stelco steelmaking complex at Nanticoke will be in production by the year 1980, and given the fact that the Texaco oil refinery will be in production this year, and in view of the fact that the traffic through Caledonia causes enormous problems at present, could the minister inform me of the current development stage of the Highway 6 corridor?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’m sure the honourable member is aware that in our green book of our construction program for the last fiscal year we did show the Caledonia bypass as a part of our program for that year. Unfortunately, it was not built or started during last year’s program because we did not receive the approval and the board orders for the two railway grade separations involved in the bypass.
We have again shown the bypass in our program for the current year. As of this date, we have still not got the final approval for those grade separations, although I did have a letter about 10 days ago from the Honourable Otto Lang advising that there would be approval coming through in the reasonably near future for about 18 grade separations throughout the province, among which the two on the Caledonia bypass were included. He forewarned me at that time not to award any contracts for any of these jobs, because if we did so before getting his final approval that would disqualify them for any grants. I’m still not in a position to proceed with the advertising of the contracts for the Caledonia bypass.
I will tell the honourable member that Wednesday tenders closed for a resurfacing contract on Highway 6 from the north boundary of the town of Caledonia, or the built-up section of Caledonia, to the Hamilton-Wentworth boundary. This is for resurfacing and intersection improvements on that section of the highway. The tenders were received Wednesday and I expect the contract will be awarded probably early next week.
That is all we have planned on the Highway 6 corridor at this time.
CENTRAL PARK HOUSING PROJECT
Mr. Philip: I have a question for the Premier concerning the decision by the Ontario Municipal Board and the cabinet to approve a 450-unit housing development known as Central Park to be built less than a mile south of the airport. Has the Premier read the allegations of Alderman O’Brien of Etobicoke, as reported in the Toronto Star, that the OMB and the cabinet made decisions which were reached on the basis of inaccurate information concerning noise levels? If so, has he done any investigation of these allegations?
Can the Premier give the House any reason why the cabinet has gone against the wishes of the Etobicoke council and the residents in the area and is in fact allowing housing rather than industry in this area, which the mayor has described as being “so close to the flight path that living there will be the equivalent of having a propeller next to one’s ear”?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Where’s your propeller in your ear?
Hon. B. Stephenson: They’ll elect a new member.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I had an observation that the Minister of Transportation and Communications wanted me to pass on but I won’t.
I will look into that for the honourable member. I am only going by memory, but my recollection is that the cabinet, on the appeal, supported the decision of the OMB. I will check that out and get any information that I can for the member.
Mr. Philip: If the Premier’s information is correct, I would hope that in the light of the council’s objection and the objection of the residents he might review that decision.
I wonder if the Premier agrees with Mayor Flynn’s statement, also reported in the press, that were the Etobicoke council to ignore or delay implementing the OMB and cabinet decision, as suggested by some council members, the council would be open to a contempt charge. The borough’s solicitor, John Reble has also said, and I quote, “The borough would risk incurring the wrath of the OMB that could be reflected in future decisions.” Does the minister feel revenge should be a factor influencing OMB decisions, as seems to be suggested by Mr. Reble?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Oh, that’s a lawyer’s opinion.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Not only should it not be, I am satisfied that it is not.
OHIP CLAIMS PROCEDURE
Mr. Conway: My question is to the Minister of Health. In the matter of the case of Dr. Takahashi, I am wondering if the minister could indicate to the House, and through the House to the patients involved, how it is exactly they will be reimbursed through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and when they will be reimbursed? As he knows, a good number of those patients have been out of pocket, in some cases for a considerable period of time, and in other cases for considerable amounts of money.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As the honourable member knows, under the usual methods of processing claims an opted-out physician would send us a claim card, and based on that we would send a cheque to the patient. In this case, and this is really what the whole matter revolves around, the physician, for whatever reasons, has not done that with his patients -- I think we had only one claim card from Dr. Takahashi.
With regard to the people affected in this case, we are trying to reconstruct their claims based either on receipts or cancelled cheques that they might have, or where none of this exists, on sworn affidavits of what was paid. We hope to begin sending out cheques within the next two weeks to these patients.
As you know as well, the doctor in question was before the college yesterday and his licence has been suspended.
Mrs. Campbell: In view of the hardships which have been occasioned by this practice, has the minister any statement to make to this House as to what procedures he would institute to ensure that it cannot happen again?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In answer to the member for St. George, I believe that when the matter first arose I indicated that I would move to amend the act -- this will probably be in the fall -- to require the filing with the plan within a given period of time. I believe in this present case that we are looking at cards for six months.
I would emphasize that this is one doctor out of close to 15,000. It is the first time it has happened in the nine years we have in that business, so to speak, and considering we processed 53 million claims last year that should not be taken as a criticism of the whole profession, but we must ensure that there is something in there so that if anybody else has the idea that they would like to try to pull this they won’t be able to.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halton-Burlington (Mr. J. Reed) -- and I didn’t have an opportunity to give this information to the Minister of Energy, because I knew he was pursuing the other questions raised with the Treasurer yesterday -- asked me a day or two ago, in a rather slow period, since a certain Mr. Wright -- who will become manager of the northeastern region -- was with energy conservation and he was moving, whether Hydro would not be interested in energy conservation.
The same press report that contained Mr. Wright’s move stated in the last paragraph -- I’ll just read it to the honourable member so that he will have a comfortable weekend:
“The high priority that has been given to energy conservation by the corporation will continue. The reassignment of responsibility for this important work will be announced later.”
Mr. J. Reed: As a supplementary, during this slow period, is the position of director of energy conservation going to be kept open? It seems to me the press release says the responsibility will be reassigned. My concern is that the importance that has been attached to this office in the past may not be in the future because of a reassignment or a lumping of this responsibility in with somebody else.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can’t answer that. I am sure the Ministry of Energy will get that specific information. I think the relevant part of the press release was: “The high priority that has been given to energy conservation by the corporation will continue.” I think that was really the basis of the question of the honourable member, as to whether this would continue as a priority. The statement says clearly it does.
Mr. J. Reed: The question is, one wonders whether it will continue with the same priority as has been given in the past, and there is no indication in that press release that the same level of activity or the same priority will be continued.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I can’t argue the content of the press release from Hydro. All I can say is that it says “the high priority” -- I think high is probably as good a descriptive word as one can use -- “will continue.” I am sure the minister will provide more specific information at the beginning of the week, but I think the member can be assured that the corporation is not moving away from its conservation approach.
Mr. S. Smith: I know the minister’s views on conservation.
Mr. J. Reed: I will not rest easy this weekend.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: You will have your information next week.
WOMEN’S HEALTH SERVICES
Ms. Bryden: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question of the Minister of Health. Yesterday the Ontario Status of Women Council issued a very disturbing report on the health care that women in this province are receiving, and the way they are being short-changed in the delivery of health care and are being exposed to very serious health hazards, both in the workplace and in the kind of treatment they are receiving.
I would like to ask the minister what steps he is taking to see that affirmative action programs are developed in the whole health delivery field to ensure that more women are in positions where their views and concerns will be considered in decision making on delivery of programs?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I haven’t seen the final version of that report -- it hasn’t got to me today -- although I would point out that I did direct that the ministry provide in excess of $4,000 to assist the council on the status of women and the publication of that report.
There are two primary issues that concern me the most, and which are being acted on. The first is the question of the use of drugs. That is a matter that is under regular review by the Addiction Research Foundation, and it is a matter which I know concerns all professional educators in medicine and in all the colleges, not just the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The second has to do with the question of unnecessary surgery. The honourable member may know that we have established a task force with the medical profession to look at the question of unnecessary surgery, not lust as it relates to surgery on women, but On everyone.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary: Can the minister tell us what action he is taking in the form of affirmative action to get more women involved in decision making in the health delivery field? That was really my question.
I don’t think he has answered it. Also, regarding the question of women in the workplace, what is he doing about the dangerous chemicals to which women are exposed and which may affect their future children?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: As the honourable member knows, environmental and occupational health matters, while they are of continuing interest to me and to the Ministry of Health, are matters for which the responsibility rests with two of my colleagues.
As far as the question of affirmative action is concerned, within the ministry itself we do have a very strong and active affirmative action program under Ms. Betty Pie. She, working with our management development group under Mr. Rand, based on the latest affirmative action report on our ministry, is really starting to make progress.
I’m sure the member is aware that within the profession itself the numbers of undergraduate female students in medicine is, to the best of my knowledge, as high or higher than it has ever been. About a third or better of the undergraduate enrolment in medicine is female. That’s very encouraging, plus the growing emphasis in medical education in this province on family practice, on the concerns of prevention and of family practice.
Mr. Kerrio: I have a question of the Minister of Energy. I raised this question some time ago with the then Minister of Energy and it relates to the Hydro building at 620 University Avenue. Does the minister have any plans for that building?
Mr. Roy: Oh, yes, for the last four or five years.
Mr. Kerrio: Or does he expect that we’re going to have another three years of that great white elephant lying empty there?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, as far as government plans for that are concerned, that would be a question for my colleague, the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson).
Mr. Kerrio: Is the minister aware of the fact the said minister is out attempting to rent and lease office space?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I would be exaggerating and not telling the truth if I tried to say here that I knew everything my colleague, the Minister of Government Services, was up to.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVIEWS
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. As a result of a report which came yesterday, it would appear that the cabinet will be determining on Wednesday next the fate of the Stewart commission report as it relates to Hamilton-Wentworth and regional government. Given that the final date for submissions is June 5, which is Monday, and even the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) with all his ability would, I think, have difficulty in digesting all of the information which may well flow as a result of the submissions, is it proper to proceed with this degree of haste, if the report is correct?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m not sure that the report is accurate. There may be some updating of the discussion on the Stewart commission report. I think the honourable member recognizes the Treasurer of this province does have that capacity to digest a lot of this information in a hurry.
Mr. Deans: Not quite that much.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t know the volume of the amount of material that has been submitted.
Mr. Deans: I do.
Hon. Mr. Davis: However, I think the Treasurer is also --
Mr. S. Smith: He chews things up well, but whether he digests them is another question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the leader of the Liberal Party that he knows more about digestive tracts than I do. I’m not expert in these matters. I can’t offer any comment.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would say to the honourable member the government wants to be, as it always is, reasonable. If there is a larger volume of information than can be dealt with in those two days, I don’t recall that we are committed to next Wednesday. I think it’s quite obvious that it could receive some discussion.
Mr. Cunningham: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: While I appreciate that the Treasurer is a great little digester --
Mr. Makarchuk: More like a shredder, actually.
Mr. Cunningham: -- I wonder if there is a possibility that the Premier might give greater consideration to the people and to the citizens in the respective areas so that they may be given the time to respond to this particular commission, so that he might be afforded their sincere desires for whatever structural reform may be required in the Hamilton-Wentworth region?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would once again ask the honourable member if he has submitted his solution to the problem by way of a brief to the Treasurer? I’m sure that will receive very careful consideration.
The only point I would make to the honourable member is that we are sensitive to the concerns of the people in Hamilton-Wentworth. We’re sensitive to what has been suggested over the years -- the suggestions by members of his own party, that there be an objective impartial review. That review has taken place. It has come up with a solution that is not totally acceptable -- and understandably so -- to the people of Wentworth; perhaps it has some measure of acceptability to the people of Hamilton. I question whether there is a solution that will be totally acceptable, to everybody.
That, of course, is one of the difficulties and responsibilities of government, but I can assure the member that we are aware and sensitive to the concerns of people in Wentworth, as we are aware and sensitive to the concerns of the people of the city of Hamilton.
PRESS GALLERY DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: Yesterday during the question period, I referred to the fact that a member of the press gallery had a copy of a confidential cabinet document and said that it infringed on the privileges of the members of this House and was an affront to the members of this House. Upon subsequent investigation of the events, I would like to withdraw any implication that may have been cast by them on the member of the press gallery.
I find that I must, as minister, take responsibility for this document having been in the press gallery and, indeed, there were more than one in the press gallery through a mistake on the part of a messenger --
Mr. Roy: We accept your apology.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- from our ministry who was to deliver the documents to a cabinet committee meeting in room 363.
Mr. McClellan: Freedom of information.
Mr. J. Reed: Is he working today?
Mr. Roy: We understand. There has been bungling before.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m sorry, I shouldn’t say was to deliver the documents to Room 363 but they ended up in the press gallery. So, as I said to the members of the press, they had an opportunity, in a very first-hand way, to see the very full research and type of submission that is made on all-important business in this province.
Mr. Epp: Are you going to set up a commission to study that now?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No.
An hon. member: Is there anything else you said yesterday which you want to withdraw?
APPEAL OF SENTENCES
Mr. C. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, may I present a petition on behalf of the mayor of the town of Bradford and two individuals, Allan Lee and Paul Harrison?
“In condemnation of the unfair judgement sentenced upon Allan Lee and Paul Harrison, the undersigned petitioners do hereby protest the severity, in the face of such a minute and insignificant Hallowe’en prank. In the opinion of the signators to the petition, the extremity of such a sentence is an unjustifiable mockery of our judicial system. Your prompt attention and followup to remedy which is, obviously, a blatant miscarriage of justice should be and would be most appreciated.”
I present that petition to this Legislature on behalf of the two individuals and the mayor of the town of Bradford.
An hon. member: Are you going to introduce a private member’s bill on that? You should.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MUSKOKA AND PARRY SOUND TELEPHONE COMPANY LIMITED ACQUISITION ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 108, An Act to acquire the assets of the Muskoka and Parry Sound Telephone Company Limited.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. McClellan: Nationalization.
Mr. Germa: Socialism. Red-eyed Socialism.
LABOUR RELATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Haggerty moved first reading of Bill 109, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to provide a mechanism whereby the Lieutenant Governor in Council can order a 60-day suspension of a strike or lockout and order a return to work where the strike or lockout constitutes an immediate and serious danger to life, health or safety or seriously disrupts the economy of the province or an area of the province. The bill provides that the Minister of Labour must appoint a conciliation officer when an order suspending a strike or lockout has been made and may subsequently appoint a conciliation board where the efforts of the conciliation officer to effect a collective agreement is unsuccessful. If the conciliation efforts are unsuccessful, the strike or lockout may be resumed without a further strike vote.
Perhaps the amendment would provide an alternative measure to settle labour negotiations in the provincial educational system allowing students to complete their school year. It also would remove the confrontation of labour disputes in a municipality, such as in the case of the Fleck industry, thus reducing and further impasse in labour bargaining.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, I would like to table the answers to questions 48 and 63 to 81 standing on the notice paper.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF NORTHERN AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On vote 902, northern communities assistance program; item 2, isolated communities:
Mr. Martel: I want to go back to where the minister and I left off last time when we were discussing the unorganized communities. I want to make sure that I didn’t leave with the minister an impression that I was suggesting some type of municipal structure as we see in an organized municipality. I certainly wasn’t indicating that we should introduce some type of committee to represent the communities which, in fact, would give that community the status of a municipality.
What I am trying to get the minister to do, if he has the power, is to recognize some group within the community -- it could he elected as we elect local roads boards -- which represents the community. In fact, as local roads boards do, it could have the right for disbursing funds and come together occasionally to discuss what the priorities are in roads or other priorities or needs within the community itself.
My concern is that I think at the present time there are some communities where two or three groups are vying for money and there are occasions when, inadvertently, because the government can’t look at all of the minute details, although I am sure it tries, the priority item might not be the one that was best documented, let’s put it that way. Maybe the case wasn’t made as well by whoever was representing the community. So we have two or three groups within a community vying for the same number of dollars and that might not be in the best interests of the community.
What I am saying is I would like somehow to see one group where the community knew that this was the group elected in some way -- you might call it a community council and not a municipal council, you might call it a local roads board, you might call it anything you want, but in fact, it represents the community and it meets to advance to government what the biggest priorities are in that community. it might well be a fire truck, as the ministry is now doing, although I have written them as of a month and a half ago and I can’t get an answer whether they are going to supply us with a fire truck for one of my communities. I will have to talk to the deputy minister --
Mr. Bolan: What about a pail?
Mr. Martel: A pail? Well, we would need lots of them, but we could put some wheels on them.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Your colleague hasn’t done badly.
Mr. Martel: That’s right, I haven’t got as much drag as my colleagues have, unfortunately.
What I want is some kind of organizational structure which doesn’t make it a municipality that meets and decides this is our priority. I talked about the firefighting equipment because I have a community in which one wants a community centre and someone else thinks in terms of a fire truck and I think that should be sorted out. Then, rather than asking for five things when they know they are only going to get one, they can put the emphasis on the priority item.
That way we can get away from too many groups vying for very few dollars’ and maybe not the best ones being approved. That way they could decide what would be the number one item each year, or two years. They would determine the first two, three or five priorities, it really doesn’t matter.
Otherwise that can be so helter-skelter -- we all know what interest groups are like; all of us around here are subjected to pressures from interest groups, and they all present a good case -- that I think if we go through one body, the unorganized community will in fact be better served.
I have asked the minister and he might want to give that power to the local roads board, the one group, I think, that each of these communities now has that can handle funding. In other words, they get the funding from MTC for their local roads board. MTC matches their funding two for one but they are the ones who handle the money. Maybe you would want to use them as the group who would come to you.
I think it would simplify it too for the ministry in dealing with a representative group of the community. You would know who those groups were, your staff across the north would, and you wouldn’t have such a massive number of small groups looking for funding. It would be easier for your ministry to make decisions and I encourage the minister to give that consideration, because I think it would be extremely beneficial both to the communities and to the government.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, may I respond briefly? I certainly appreciate the honourable member’s view and I have to say to him that we are not that far apart, really.
I think he has made it quite explicit that we must have some form of structure and I think it has to be done through a legislative process. I think this Legislature has to do something either through a separate bill or piggybacking on some other bill; in what way, I am not sure. But I do share his views as to the different interest groups. Some may be interested, as he correctly points out, in a recreational facility, others interested in a fire department, others interested in garbage collection; a number of different interests and different interest groups.
Let us be honest, there is a certain amount of politics played in small communities. People in small communities are related to each other, there are likes and dislikes, little factions, little groups, as he well knows. Some of the problems that can surface in a small community I guess are condensed from those of a big community, really. I share his view and I have to repeat what I said the last time we were discussing this issue, that we are approaching this issue in that vein, in that tone.
We have asked you candidly to come forward with some suggestions. I think as the honourable member points out that the unorganized communities fear that municipal structure. This was shown very clearly in Bill 120. They don’t want that formalization, we both agree, excepting the local roads boards.
The local roads boards in many instances are the four or five real strong people within a small community. They have a secretary who sends out their annual assessments and does the collecting, so basically the very simple structure is in place. Certainly we will look at that during the course of the next few months. I’m most anxious to come forward with some form of legislation early in the fall to get on with the job of putting those people into place.
I think that while we can assist them with capital dollars for fire trucks, for fire equipment, there has to be some responsibility at the community level to maintain that equipment, to house it, to look after it and have a personal interest or some involvement financially to make you feel it’s yours rather than a handout from us.
With all due respect and credit to UCANO, they have taken the same attitude. They say, “Don’t give us anything for nothing. We have to pull our communities together and pay our fair share.” With that attitude, I think we’re all on the same track. If we can just pull it together, we can get on with the legislation in the fall. I appreciate your views.
Mr. Germa: Could I ask the minister to bring us up to date on the figures? I understand there were some cuts in vote 902. I don’t think you gave us the details of what the estimate is now as a result of Mr. McKeough’s cut of $9 million in your overall budget, but I understand that the northern communities assistance program will be affected. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. The cutback was $9 million in all. We are reducing our expenditures in the community priorities by $5 million; in the regional priorities by $3 million; and in the highway capital construction program by $1 million.
As I said to the press in Thunder Bay recently, we looked at these cuts very carefully. I think I mentioned earlier that our program has been in place for some considerable time now. We felt it was perhaps better to delay the calling of some tenders or to reduce the size of a project rather than taking it out of the program. Everything essentially is in place. It has mostly resulted in a slight slowdown. Nevertheless, our cash flow will basically be $9 million less this year than what these estimates show.
Mr. Germa: Ml these are high labour-intensive construction projects at a time of severe unemployment all over northern Ontario. Even in the cities we now have high unemployment. We used to keep our unemployment rates in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and North Bay down to a reasonable figure. Certainly in the rural areas unemployment has always been bad. But now the problem is general. For the minister to agree to a cut of this magnitude, taking into consideration the severe problem of northern Ontario, I just can’t accept that the minister went so quietly along with the Treasurer’s thrust to carve $9 million out of our entire budget. Then you in turn take $5 million out of this particular vote.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I share the honourable member’s views and recognize his leader’s immediate recognition of what the cut would do in northern Ontario. It’s fair to say that he was one of the first to recognize that this shift in budget would have an effect on employment right across this province. There’s no doubt this will have a decided effect. We’ve estimated the loss of something like 400 or 500 jobs during the course of the balance of this year because of these cutbacks.
I might say some of the community priorities programs were not complete in the planning process. Engineering studies hadn’t been completed and design work wasn’t completed. All this was to be done at a later time this year.
In the Treasurer’s search for funds this program became very visible, because we had only been into our fiscal year for 29 days. However, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications lost $5 million from their capital construction program in southern Ontario, whereas we only had $1 million taken out in northern Ontario. The Ministry of Colleges and Universities lost $4 million in its capital construction and the Ministry of Government Services lost $2 million. I have to say to him that we didn’t go down quietly, but we are part of the government and we had to respond to the pressure from the other side. I think I mentioned this before. It was one of those things we had to live with.
Mr. Warner: There are other ways to raise revenue.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I guess I have to say from a personal point of view, as one who is very concerned about development in northern Ontario, that when we start working on our budget for this coming year -- and we start in August for the 1979-80 year -- maybe we can catch up that $9 million setback and begin to build from the base that’s in these estimates, which is $140 million.
That remains to be seen, but I just want to let the member know that will be my approach. We can start with the $140 million base and build on top of that; maybe we won’t have the same percentage increase we’ve had for the last couple of years, but it will be most encouraging. That remains to be seen, but I share the member’s concern.
Mr. Germa: Maybe the minister would like to revise the statement he made to the chamber of commerce in Kirkland Lake on January 21, when he said: “At the same time, the existence of a separate Ministry of Northern Affairs is giving northern Ontario a higher profile, a lot more clout.” Who got the clout as far as this is concerned? I think the Treasurer just said: “Away you go, Leo. Ride on your little fire truck. We’re knocking out $9 million.” The minister goes around telling the people in northern Ontario that he has a lot of clout, but it doesn’t seem to come through that way when an area of the province in such a desperate situation as we are in is treated in a cavalier fashion. I didn’t hear, I didn’t see and I’m not aware of any resistance that the minister put np. There was no clout whatsoever.
To some degree the ministry, particularly through the isolated communities vote, is having some benefits to someone anyway. This one is just too good to pass up. It has to go on the record. It’s from the Thunder Bay Times of May 11, 1978. The headline is “Plenty of Mileage.” I quote:
“That Leo Bernier never misses a chance to promote Leo Bernier. The other day, at the trade show in Thunder Bay, buttons were being handed out in support of area tourism. See the North’ or some such message was inscribed and, below, the minister’s name -- on a button yet. But the minister outdid himself soon after. Picture the scene. He personally delivers a fire truck to the community of Hawk Junction, a vehicle purchased with the help of the Ontario taxpayers’ Isolated Communities Assistance Fund. The minister rides triumphantly into Hawk Junction on the yellow truck, lights blazing, siren wailing. To boot, he accepts a key to the community, a gold fireman’s hat and the honour of being honorary fire chief. The minister got a lot of mileage out of that fire truck.”
That’s not what the Minister of Northern Affairs is all about: to promote the minister. And he wonders why we are sometimes cynical about his whole operation when we see gimmickry like this going on. The minister never fails to exploit any legitimate expenditure and make --
Mr. Nixon: When the time comes, it won’t help him.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Want to bet?
Mr. Warner: He needs to put out your fire.
Mr. Germa: There’s no doubt the fire truck was needed, but the minister himself gets more benefit from the fire truck than the citizens will ever get. This kind of tomfoolery, which is going on with every cent that is spent up there, means there’s probably more money spent on the tomfoolery than there is on the hardware that is going out.
What about these fire packs? When he gives fire packs to an isolated community, does the minister come roaring into town with a big packsack and hoses on his back? Is that how he presents all these fire packs?
Mr. Warner: He rollerskates through the town.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: If I may elaborate on the first point, about the clout of the Ministry of Northern Affairs. Certainly I said that in Kirkland Lake -- or New Liskeard, I think it was; and I meant every word of it. When one thinks of the increase in the budget of the Ministry of Northern Affairs in two years -- we started with $99 million originally and in a two year period were up to $140 million -- I’m sure the members will agree with me that a 40 per cent increase in two years is significant clout.
Mr. Haggerty: They needed the help.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We’ve had a minor setback because of the opposition’s position, and I made that very clear in my opening comments.
Mr. Warner: What nonsense.
Mr. Bolan: Because of the fiscal irresponsibility of the Treasurer, that is why.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: So, with all due respect, gentlemen, you have to share some of the things with me, I make that very clear, that it certainly wasn’t this minister’s suggestion that we go that particular route.
Mr. Bolan: Did you make that speech from the fire trucks?
Mr. Warner: You don’t think there was any other form of revenue available?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have been working on that budget since last August and it is in place. I brought before this Legislature a $140 million budget --
Mr. Nixon: That is the kind of influence you have got with your colleagues. When there are cuts to be made, you are the first to go.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- until you fellows got into the act. We know what happened after that,
Mr. Warner: The Treasurer had other sources.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: But, gentlemen, in connection with the publicity, I want to say that the kicking off of a new program has a great deal of significance for northern Ontario.
Mr. Bolan: Political.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The members are always concerned about the lack of new programs, the lack of assistance, and I think it is only right that on an occasion such as the delivery of the first fire truck the government should, under a new program, be there. I wasn’t there alone -- and I think the member failed to point that out; the honourable member for Algoma was with me. He enjoyed the exercise as much as I did --
Mr. Haggerty: Did he ring the bell?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: -- enjoyed the enthusiasm displayed within the community of Wawa, particularly in the community of Hawk Junction.
Mr. Nixon: Did they make him an honorary fire chief?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, they did.
Mr. Haggerty: I hope so.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think you may be lacking some of the feel and some of the sincerity and the appreciation of those small communities to have the recognition. In fact, one of the members from that community said to me that he had been living there for 43 years and he said that never had they received this kind of attention. That is part of Northern Affairs’ new responsibility -- to focus attention on some of those inequities in those smaller communities in northern Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: You are responsible for the inequities.
Mr. Warner: You were driving fire trucks around; that’s your new job.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Furthermore, we delivered another fire truck to the great community of Gogama last week; and who was front, line and centre with the lights flashing and the sirens wailing, coming into that community? None other than the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren). He was pleased to be there.
Mr. Haggerty: You took a back seat, did you, Leo?
Mr. Warner: Did he drive the truck?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: He was there, as was the federal member, because they realized that this is a significant program, one that has public acceptance, one that is worthy of that type of recognition. I don’t make any apologies, none at all, for what we are doing with regard to isolated communities funds. In fact, I would like to do more and if we can provide to those small communities in northern Ontario those little amenities that some of those in southern Ontario take for granted, then we are going in the right direction. I am sure you will agree with me on that.
Mr. Germa: Is the minister trying to say that as a result of his ministry, there are more dollars or a bigger percentage of the consolidated revenue fund now being spent in the north than prior to its inception?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.
Ms. Germa: You say that you started out with a $99 million budget. You know that most of these budgets that you are spending are just transferred from other ministries. Take your roads construction program: all that is a transfer out of T and C; and we can say the same thing for the rest of the lines in your budget. We had a regional priorities budget under the Treasurer before, so I don’t see where there are any extra dollars. You have never attempted to put on the line and tell us, in northern Ontario, that as a result of putting you at a high salary, we are reaping a net benefit, that because of you, we are getting a greater proportion and a fairer share of the consolidated revenue fund. Now, can you back up that statement, maybe with some figures?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think I have said it very clearly. I am no mathematician but simple figures will point out to you that we start with a $99 million base and in two years’ time, we are up to a $140 million. That is a substantial increase. Show me another ministry that has had that kind of recognition from the Treasurer. Show me. There isn’t one. Their increases were five, six and seven per cent, and for us in a two-year period to get 40 per cent -- you know, that speaks for itself.
Really, what else can I say? The facts are there and they are in these estimates, so it is a very significant increase. I just hope
-- and certainly my efforts will be in that direction -- to continue this kind of recognition. I appreciate the support that the members are giving me, really, because I think that it does focus the needs of northern Ontario in a special place, in a very special way.
Here we are now debating a ministry that has its sole interest and concern in northern Ontario. Never before have we had that.
Mr. Nixon: Oh, now, we had a Minister of Northern Affairs.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, you did not.
Mr. Nixon: They have come and gone like the seasons.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: With all due respect, I don’t like the interjection, but I have to answer it. The old Ministry of Mines and Northern Affairs wasn’t solely concerned with the regional area north of Parry Sound to the Manitoba border.
Mr. Nixon: Allan Lawrence wouldn’t like to hear you say that. There was a fanfare at his appointment.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I happened to be the minister following the Honourable Allan Lawrence. The northern affairs branch at that time was an information service.
Mr. Nixon: Allan Lawrence thought he was Minister of Northern Affairs.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have a specific ministry now focusing attention on the problems of northern Ontario, and it is going very well.
Mr. Haggerty: I want to congratulate the minister for moving in the direction of providing fire equipment in organized communities.
If I can recall my days as Natural Resources critic, this was always one area I discussed over a number of years. I say to the minister that once you have a volunteer fire department that is well trained and well organized -- and there is no doubt about that, as I see from the reports that it will be handled under the fire marshal of the province of Ontario -- you are going to have an organized community in a very short period of time.
That is where the organization starts. It starts from a volunteer fire department. It is the first line of any emergency in a community and people will look to the fire department to respond. It provides first-aid training to a community. I am sure this is an area that has been neglected for a number of years in certain communities in northern Ontario. It is also the first line in rescue work. I suggest the minister shouldn’t stop here because he is going to have the involvement of the community. There is no doubt that they are going to be thumping on his door asking for more community services.
I noticed in your report that you are spending $3,550 on community wells. I don’t know if this is going to include a transmission system of water lines through a small community or whether it is just for a well itself and that people will have to carry the water by pail to their homes. Is that the way it is going to be?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Just community wells. It is not a pressure system.
Mr. Haggerty: Why couldn’t you go a little bit further? Once they have a fire department, one of the next things they are going to be looking forward to is where to get the water. I am sure you bought the proper fire equipment trucks that carry a certain amount of water. If I can recall in questioning you over the past three or four years, you thought by bringing in a pumper of this nature that carried its own water that the next thing they would need would be a fire hall, a suitable building where the water would not freeze on the truck. Hopefully, once you bought the fire equipment for the municipalities, you would have suitable accommodation for that vehicle. If not, you are going to be running into difficulties through the winter months.
I see no expenditure here whatsoever for that. I was just hoping you would be looking at this. Was the fire equipment that you purchased bought under the metric system?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Perhaps I could maybe respond briefly on the community wells. What we have done here is respond to the community’s request. In some instances, there have been a number of well-established within a community. In other areas, there have been one or two specific wells where the community would go. One has to realize in some of these smaller communities that to put in a regular pressure system and a regular water system would be extremely difficult and expensive. Some of the homes are just not of the type of construction where they can have them on a year-round basis. Some are just there for six or seven months. It would be out of the range of this budget to have massive engineered plans, and go through all the hearings and the things we go through. Nevertheless, we respond to the community’s request. The initiative comes from them, which makes it much easier for us.
In connection with the fire halls, up to this time we have been providing fire trucks to those communities which have an established volunteer fire department and have the capability or already have in place a fire hall. I can name some off the top of my head. Minaki has a fire hall that was built for it by the old Ministry of Natural Resources, which had an excess building and passed it over to the community.
My own community of Hudson built a fire hall several years ago through some winter works programs, where the community supplied the material and the federal program supplied the labour. In Wabigoon, a small community near Dryden, we supplied funds to assist in building a fire hail. We gave the town of Hurkett some financial assistance and the community responded, as it did I in Darien and Jellicoe. All these places I have come together. It provides that community pride when they can do it themselves.
There is definitely a hall to put a fire truck in where it can be properly maintained, kept heated, and, of course, made serviceable on a year-round basis.
Mr. Haggerty: You are organizing fire departments throughout the communities in northern Ontario and adding equipment. Does this include any radio equipment so that they can have communications with the OPP and so that they can have a network of radio communications with other communities and other services that are available in the area in case of emergencies?
Mr. Chairman: That should be under the next vote.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, if I might answer that, fire trucks are equipped with radio equipment so that they can be in contact with other groups. The fire packages are not as sophisticated in that they are much smaller in nature and they don’t require that kind of sophisticated equipment. It’s quite elaborate. In fact, the fire marshal’s office gave us excellent co-operation in designing these special trucks that have the pumping equipment on the exterior of the vehicle. They’re not sophisticated like you’d find in Metropolitan Toronto, where the equipment is highly sophisticated and built into the truck itself.
These trucks, which have an 800-gallon capacity, have a pumping unit mounted on the front so all the controls are accessible, easy to repair and easy to maintain. There’s a minimum amount of training necessary to get people involved because they’re not working with high-pressure hydrants, they’re not dealing with 10-storey buildings, and the fire marshal took that into consideration when he designed both the truck and the fire packages which are being distributed across the north now.
Mr. Haggerty: Has the minister considered providing a training school in northwestern or northeastern Ontario? I believe many of the firemen now travel from southern Ontario to the fire college at Gravenhurst. Has he considered perhaps having training facilities in one of the colleges in northwestern or northeastern Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. Last year we began our program by providing some extra funds directly to the fire marshal’s office so that they could contract knowledgeable retired firemen who went around the north to make assessments as to what each community required and to establish certain priorities within certain communities. Since then, the fire marshal’s office has embarked on a training program.
In fact, we’ve had two training courses already, one in Timmins and one in Thunder Bay, where we bring the volunteer firemen down to a major centre and the fire marshal’s office is there will all the equipment and all the slides and they go through a two-day training program. In addition to that, of course, when the equipment is delivered, the fire marshal goes in, and he has requested something like 60 hours of training be given to those volunteer firemen who will operate the trucks in these various communities. There is an intensive training program.
You will note that we have provided the fire marshal’s office with four-wheel-drive vehicles which will be used to take personnel from the fire marshal’s office in and around the small communities in northern Ontario. That came out of the isolated communities fund.
Mr. Bolan: Mr. Minister, while we’re on the subject of badges, which was raised by the member for Sudbury, I have a rather interesting little badge here which bears your name. Perhaps you might give some explanation of the significance of it. It’s en français, and it says: “On s’amuse dans le nord, Ministère des affaires du nord. Leo Bernier, ministre Tom Campbell, sous-ministre.” Translated, incidentally, it means: “We amuse ourselves in the north.” What is it that amuses the minister about the north? Is it the high rate of unemployment? Is it the fact that industry is lacking? What are the other things they do, to amuse themselves, the minister and the deputy minister, in their travels through northern Ontario? I would find it very amusing, frankly, to hear the minister’s answers.
While he is musing over the answers to give, I would like to ask something in a more serious vein. Is the minister aware of the tornado damage which was done in the Rainy River area, around Emo? This is information that was provided to me by the member for Rainy River (Mr T. P. Reid). Apparently some tornado damage was done there to the tune of about $1 million.
Obviously the minister is not aware of this matter. I have been requested by the member for Rainy River to raise this and to ask the minister about it and to ask him if there will be any assistance forthcoming to the people who incurred damage from the tornado. If there is damage, and presumably there is, I suppose I would ask the minister to consider assistance just like the assistance the minister provided to the town of Cobalt last year following the holocaust that took place there. Perhaps the minister or someone from his ministry has some information about that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We don’t have any information at our fingertips, Mr. Chairman, but we’ll look into it. This is un area, of course, of concern to us. We have been very much involved in the disasters across the north, as the member knows -- in Kashechewan, in Cobalt and in Thunder Bay -- and where there is personal hardship, we will look at it very carefully. I’ll be glad to look into it and report back to the member for Rainy River.
If I might go back a couple of steps, Mr. Chairman, I would point out to the honourable members that the community of Whitefish Falls is getting its fire truck today. They have asked us to delay the delivery of that fire truck until this evening, because they’re having a community dance, a large community dance.
Mr. Warner: And they want you to drive the fire truck I
Mr. Nixon: Get those Beavers mobilized and we’ll all go up.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: To show the enthusiasm that exists in these small communities, they said: “Hold up the truck until this evening. We’re having our community dance and we’re raising funds to build our new fire hall. We want everything to be coordinated so that when the truck arrives, the community will be in an excellent mood and the pride that will be spread across the community will be just tremendous.” It’s that kind of small-town attitude, I suppose one might say, that exists in the north.
Mr. Warner: Are you going to drive this truck? That’s what we want to know.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The appreciation is there, and the passing of these estimates will make sure that this kind of program is continued and extended. All honourable members are part and parcel of the tremendous things that the Isolated Communities Assistance Fund is doing in northern Ontario.
Mr. Warner: Maybe you can make up some more buttons.
Mr. Germa: Mr. Chairman, it’s a measure of the desperation in northern Ontario when the delivery of one fire truck is the event of the year. That’s about how it’s measured. One can’t understand the minister being so happy about this: “We now have a fire truck. We’re in first gear again; we’re back on the rails.” It’s not like that, I say to the minister. Sure, everybody might get jumping around their new fire truck tonight, but that’s really not how you measure a community. Let’s not try to sell that across the community.
To get back to these fire trucks, the minister didn’t say what the capacity was of these pumpers. Let’s assume that it’s a standard 600 gallons per minute.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: It’s 800 gallons per minute.
Mr. Germa: Eight hundred gallons per minute? It’s going to take some well to supply that vehicle. I’d hate like heck to see us spend a big buck -- I don’t know how much the ministry is paying for each truck -- to go into a community and find out that in three minutes we’ve pumped the well dry. I’ve experienced that and I’ve seen towns burned down.
Sure, we have a nice big yellow truck pumping 800 gallons per minute, but if the well goes dry in three minutes, and that’s how most of them function, where are the guarantees in these six communities where you have put trucks? Has the water supply been guaranteed to deliver 800 gallons per minute? As far as I know none of these communities that you have listed has a municipal water supply system and I don’t know where you are going to get 800 gallons per minute out of any well. I have never seen that well.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I should point out that the truck is designed for that type of firefighting in the small communities. The fire marshal has very carefully assessed these communities. Many of these communities, as the honourable member I am sure is aware, are located on a lake or on a river so that there is an excellent supply. Where there isn’t that supply of water on a continuing basis, with the co-operation of the fire marshal, at his suggestion we will be installing underground tanks at strategic spots within the community that will allow the fire equipment to get a resupply of water in case of a disaster.
I can assure you those matters are being looked at and are very much in consideration when a fire truck is put into communities. It’s useless, as you correctly point out, to put in a fire truck with only 800 gallons of water; there has to be some continuing supply. It’s obvious the funds are just not available for the setting up of a normal water system, complete with tank and reservoir, in these small communities.
Mr. Haggerty: You won’t put out a lot of fire with 800 gallons.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: They haven’t asked for it. They realize the problem. They are very practical people, and they say, “Give us the basics,” and with their co-operation and assistance we are going this particular route and I am confident it’s going to work.
Items 2 and 3 agreed to.
Vote 902 agreed to.
On vote 903, regional priorities and development program; item 1, regional priorities:
Mr. Germa: Mr. Chairman, I think the minister has announced a new $2.5 million program to stimulate mining exploration in the north. I would like to know how the minister is going to get this money on stream. Is he forming a crown corporation to go out and do prospecting? Is he going to be subsidizing private prospectors? Maybe he could run through this program of mineral exploration in the northern part of the province.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, these will be funds that will he transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources. We, as our mandate indicates, will search out the priorities where we think emphasis should be placed and one of them was geological surveys right across northern Ontario. The Ministry of Natural Resources will carry out those surveys. They will consist of aeromagnetic surveys in the Red Lake and the Marshall Lake areas, geoscience surveys in northeastern Ontario, engineering terrain analysis and mapping in the New Liskeard area and peat deposit surveys in the Thunder Bay area. In addition, we will do additional surveys for additional lignite deposits in the James Bay lowlands.
The purpose, of course, is to stimulate exploration by the private sector and encourage expansion of the mining industry with additional information. We are not going into a crown corporation. The Ministry of Natural Resources has indicated to us if additional information could be gathered, additional data could be pulled together and given to those who may be interested in working in that particular area, then that would be very beneficial to the mining industry.
In addition, we will be doing a mineral aggregate inventory, mapping on the basis of aerophoto interpretation and ground sampling of materials that are identified, with detailed mapping of aggregation in target areas -- the Lake Timiskaming, Cobalt and Englehart areas. The effort behind the mineral aggregate inventory is to identify the size and location of aggregate resources in northern Ontario and to determine characteristics of terrain as the basis for planning land development such as new town sites and transportation corridors. This is a new initiative, one that’s being funded by the Ministry of Northern Affairs and being undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Mr. Germa: The way I understand it, then, this money will be funnelled from your ministry into Natural Resources and into the private sector, if I follow what you said.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We are gathering the information, as we have been doing over the past number of years -- doing the mapping, the surveys -- and making that information available to those who would be interested in continuing further explorations. That is the whole idea behind it.
Mr. Germa: As far as aggregate is concerned: do we know anything about aggregate in northern Ontario now? Do we have the figures?
Southern Ontario in a few short years is going to be in trouble and they are going to start hauling northern Ontario down to southern Ontario. I think you see that. Do you not? I can see that in the next 20, 25 years, we are going to be ripped right out as far as aggregate is concerned. I understand that the biggest aggregate deposit left in Ontario is underneath the Sudbury airport, is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am told that is correct. I think the member has touched on a very interesting point. That is something the Ministry of Natural Resources recognized too -- that they had to get a better handle on the aggregate inventories of northern Ontario.
When they came to us with that proposal, certainly we felt the same way in our ministry, that we should be doing a much broader inventory and getting information that will allow us to plan properly for the future.
Some of the problems in southern Ontario exist because the long-range inventories have only now been brought together. It is only in the last few years that they have been conducting aggregate inventory studies in southern Ontario. We hope to be ahead of that and this is why we are putting money with the Ministry of Natural Resources in doing those surveys.
From the reports I have had, if my memory serves me correctly, you are quite right in saying one of the largest aggregate deposits in northern Ontario is in the Sudbury area adjacent to the airport or underneath the airport. Had we had that information, I suppose, 10 or 15 years ago the airport may well have been built somewhere else. We could have developed those resources in the best interests of the community and found a new location for an airport.
But those are the kinds of things we hope to correct in the future and that can only be done by including the information we have and getting a better handle on the inventories.
Mr. Germa: I fear for the life of my airport, Mr. Minister, now you confirm that this is the biggest known deposit left. Given the strength and the power of the aggregate people in the southern part of the province, is there anybody right now dickering or negotiating to try to dig Sudbury’s airport out and make it a great big hole?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, not to my knowledge. I have never heard anything along those lines.
Mr. Germa: I hope you would keep your eyes and ears open as you travel though the various board rooms and golf clubs around southern Ontario to see that Conn Smythe or somebody doesn’t find out about that deposit and come and attack us. I am very fearful about that.
Mr. Warner: That is your job, Leo.
Item 1 agreed to.
On item 2, northern roads:
Mr. Germa: There is a $1 million cut here. I wonder if the minister has detailed which project be is pulling back on as far as road construction is concerned?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We haven’t got a specific handle on that information as yet. A lot of the preliminary work has to be done with regard to planning, engineering and designing work.
As I indicated earlier, it is now our decision to keep our program intact, but there will be a delay in the calling of certain programs and certain construction programs.
What I can indicate to the honourable member is the Bending Lake road that will go from Atikokan north of Ignace -- I think it was originally intended we would call that early in August -- is now being called in November. So it is that kind of thing we are doing to comply with the Treasurer’s request to have a cash flow of a million dollars less in this fiscal year in this vote.
Item 2 agreed to.
On item 3, resource access roads:
Mr. Wildman: I wonder if the minister could indicate to us what policy, if any, the government and his ministry, in the role of co-ordinating those policies for northern Ontario, have with regard to the closure of resource access roads?
There seems to be some confusion, since once a road is built it’s supposed to stay open, I understand, if provincial taxpayers’ funds have been spent on it. That doesn’t mean necessarily that the government is going to maintain that road -- it might not be maintained; the gravel and grading and so on -- but that it will not be closed. However. in some instances roads are sometimes closed by digging a big trench across them or arranging a flash flood or whatever. I would like to know what the policy is.
Hon. Mr. Bender: If I can recall, in my experiences in the Ministry of Natural Resources, there is no real established government policy per se on that particular point. The decision is usually left up to the district manager who has responsibility for his specific area.
In many instances, the access road to which the member has referred was built for a specific purpose -- maybe for a forest regeneration program or to extract a certain species of timber, or to open up a specific area for a specific reason -- and that reason or that need has ceased to exist.
Therefore, in the interest of maintaining a certain amount of control and a certain amount of wilderness aspect, so to speak, in some of our northern areas, the Ministry of Natural Resources has taken upon itself that this road should be closed. Once a road is opened there is nothing that says that the road will continue to be open just because we’ve spent public funds on it. It’s usually built for a specific purpose and in their wisdom and in their judgement, if it should be closed it is. In my own area many of the tourist outfitters use some isolated lakes as a resource for fly-mi camping. They get very upset when roads are punched into all these lakes and it destroys the wilderness atmosphere or wilderness aspect of it. They take no objection to Canadians flying in like they do, and Ontario residents.
The paper companies have been doing this in a number of instances; where they come close to a lake on a Friday afternoon the fellow will take the bulldozer and run down to the shore of the lake and he’s got a beautiful fishing hole for the rest of the summer. It does create problems when you’re trying to promote multiple use of our resources.
To my knowledge specifically, there is no policy with regard to closures. It’s usually up to the district manager.
Mr. Wildman: Is there any policy of consultation with the local tourist outfitters and local inhabitants on the disposition of a resource access road -- not just after it’s been finished, let’s say after a paper company is finished using it, but even prior to it being built, as to the location, that would protect the interests of the tourist outfitters as well as the interests of the local inhabitants?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I’ll just relate to you what has happened in the northwest, because I’m very much involved, where the consultation is an ongoing one with the pulp and paper industry and with the tourist outfitters and with the hunters’ and anglers’ association. They are involved in some of those decisions as to whether they want to open or close certain lakes. The discussion is a very healthy one.
Mr. Wildman: If I could ask a question on a specific road, could the minister tell me what contact the ministry has had with Dubreuil Brothers Lumber Company regarding the road from Highway 17 into Dubreuilville and what might be done to improve that road? I know the gate is lifted now and people can drive in and out without having to phone two days ahead and get permission, but the gate is still there. I don’t know whether that means it might be lowered again in the fire season. What is happening with the gate? What is happening with the road and are there any plans to have that road improved?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I don’t have any specific information at my fingertips, but we’d be glad to get it and send it to you in answer to your questions.
Mr. Germa: Those resource access roads which were privately built have been a source of aggravation for many years to many people. They just don’t understand why a road is not available to them at some point in time, depending on the whim of the operator who owns the road. I think a proposal was made some time ago that despite the fact that a lumber company or a pulp company incurred the expense of building the road, there should be some way you work out access.
I’ve been trapped myself at midnight on a lonely road heading from Sudbury to Chapleau when I tried to take a short-cut through Brown Forest Products. The gate is normally open and access was allowed. But I arrived in the middle of winter; it was 40 below zero and 11 p.m., and there I was with the gate down. You’re 50 miles from civilization -- what does one do?
Have you ever tried to put together a plan whereby these private access roads would be available to travellers in the north?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. Again I can call on my experience in the Ministry of Natural Resources where we entered into an agreement with the paper companies who had exhausted all their resources. There were no public funds in those particular roads. We entered into an agreement of shared responsibility for maintenance of those particular roads and then they were opened up to the public in general.
The paper companies, of course, are very concerned where there is an ongoing operation, particularly during the high fire season and during the hunting season, because of the danger of fires. They do put gates on those private roads where a major operation is going on.
The last year I was with Natural Resources we made some significant steps forward with regard to Spruce Falls in the Hearst area where we took over a number of roads, or at least assisted in the maintenance of them.
Those roads now have been opened up to the public.
I think the attitude among the paper companies has changed considerably in the last five or 10 years. I know in the northwest there isn’t a company now that closes off its roads, except in the areas where they are actually working and have some cutters employed. All the other roads are open to the public. However because they have usually finished their extraction and maybe even their forest regeneration program, there really isn’t any need for ongoing maintenance on those access roads.
If there is one complaint you hear in the north or the northwest. it is that there are too many of these access roads and that they are being inundated with those “pork-and-beaners” from across the border who are making use of our valuable crown land resources at basically no cost, leaving their garbage behind and not contributing to the general economy of the area.
We do have an effective program that’s working very well, the last one we negotiated in Northern Affairs. The assistant deputy minister in Kenora, Bill Charlton, negotiated one with the Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company to assist in the opening of that road between Kenora and the Grassy Narrows reserve. Our ministry is sharing now with the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development the maintenance of that old abandoned Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company road. It’s open to the public now.
Mr. Wildman: Are you maintaining the road on the reserve?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Up to the reserve.
Mr. Wildman: Yes, but not on the reserve.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Not on the reserve, no.
Mr. Wildman: There is some dispute about that.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: There was, yes.
Mr. Wildman: There still is.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have no responsibility on the reserve.
Mr. Germa: The point I’m trying to make is that there are private roads, which would add to your network of public roads, such as the one I mentioned that cuts across from the Timmins highway to Chapleau. If you didn’t have that private road you’d have to make an extensive detour which adds another 120 miles. That one particular 40-mile strip of private road could be an integral part of the public system. I am not asking you to take over every private road or interfere with every private road but just those private roads which automatically fall into that category because of their geography and what they link up. They naturally fall into the road network around them because they connect to public highways on both sides.
That seems natural and normal for a strip such as that one. I am sure there are others across the northern part of the province which fit in beautifully with the rest of the highway program. Those are the ones I am asking about. Has the minister ever thought to look at a map and see those private roads which naturally fit into the rest of the transportation program and put them under public ownership?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, we share your views with enthusiasm, I might say. Just last week, the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) entered into an agreement with E. B. Eddy Forest Products on the road to which you refer. That’s the Sultan road on Highway 144. Effective May 17, this road became a public road. It will cut off about 100 miles on an east-west trip. The goal and one of our priorities is to upgrade that particular road. Now that it is in public ownership, so to speak, the public is allowed to use it and we share the costs of maintenance and will he spending funds to upgrade it.
You are right on when you say we should be doing more of this. Certainly we will because it makes good sense for those of us who live in the north.
Mr. Germa: I am pleased to hear that. I didn’t know you were negotiating transfer of that road. I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but what kind of financial transactions have to go on in order to bring the private road of a pulp company into the public domain? How do we go about that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: As I understand it, we get into an agreement that is signed by the minister. It is called designation of an industrial road. It is a proper legal document under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1970. We are taking over a total of 47 miles. I don’t have anything on the actual costs. I will try to get the figures on that. Maybe we can get information on Newaygo too, for the member for Algoma. I don’t recall Newaygo.
We have just had a report from the member for Nipissing in connection with the Rainy River storm which occurred on May 26, last Friday, in the Emo and Devlin area. It was mostly damage to farm buildings. One house was severely damaged. Most of the damage was covered by insurance I am told.
Our northern affairs officer, Fred Whitehead from Fort Frances, has already been in there. We have had one inquiry for assistance and we will be dealing with that.
Mr. Bolan: If I may follow up on that, I realize that you just have one inquiry. However, with your ministry officer up there, would you be able to put some kind of assessment on the actual damage which was caused? Furthermore, may I suggest to the ministry that it try to find out which people have suffered damages and tell them there is something which the Ministry of Northern Affairs can do with respect to their claims. In other words, go to them; don’t wait for them to come to you.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: We have already been there. As I pointed out to you, our northern affairs officer has already been there, but we will certainly follow up on the suggestion you have made.
The member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) has left. We have information on the Newaygo road that goes from Oba to Mead and then on to Hearst. We are looking at the estimated cost, the industrial needs and other uses, and a report will be submitted to the next meeting of the Northern Ontario Resources Transportation Committee.
Mr. Germa: Could I ask the minister, Mr. Chairman, about snowmobile trails? A few years ago this was a subject matter of high intensity, and my estimation of the situation is that it has gradually settled down. Is that the impression you get? What sort of activity did we have last winter in snowmobile frail construction? How many new miles were put in? What sort of activity did you have going in that field?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, last year we contributed just about $35,000 to the Ministry of Natural Resources for snowmobile trails, but this amount of money was mainly for those snowmobile trails that existed in the remote Indian communities or northwestern Ontario. We as a ministry were not involved in the providing of funds to the snowmobile clubs across Ontario for the grooming of their trails. That is the total and full responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources. I regret I just don’t have any information, but you might want to direct that question to my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. F. S. Miller).
The only involvement we had was assisting those Indian communities in the northwest to the tune of $35,000 for snowmobile trails. But you are quite right; in my assessment the pressure for increased snowmobile trails is diminishing. I think the clubs are becoming a little smaller. There is no question that the snowmobile fad in northern Ontario is diminishing. There are several good clubs getting assistance from I the Ministry of Natural Resources, but anything further than that I don’t think I can help you with.
In answer to your question concerning the financial arrangements with regard to the Sultan road -- Highway 144 -- the sharing of the maintenance costs is what allows the public to move in. We pay 75 per cent of the cost of the maintenance of that road which is designated as an industrial road, and the company that still uses the road pays 25 per cent. So it is just an agreement on the ongoing maintenance cost from here on in. It will open it up. It is not a road that is designated as a provincial highway as yet, but our intentions are to go that route.
Mr. Germa: Is this a first for Ontario that we have a road which is open to the public but really not a provincial highway? It is somewhere halfway between?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: This is not the first. We have entered into this agreement on several occasions across northern Ontario. I know we did in the Hearst area and certainly in the Kenora area. Where a company has made a major expenditure on a road and their use has ceased, then they will pay 25 per cent. We open it up to the public and we pay 75 per cent of the ongoing maintenance costs So it is one we enter into on a fairly regular basis where there is a need and where the public has shown an interest and there is a public necessity.
Mr. Germa: What if you come to a determination where a capital construction should go forward? Is the owner of the road still involved in that? Otherwise I see that this road is going to stay in a static position while this particular agreement is in effect. Can we in some manner do some capital construction or improvements on that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I just have a correction on that. It wasn’t 75 per cent, it was 25 per cent which the province pays; the company pays 75 per cent of the maintenance costs.
In many of these roads the additional capital construction is relatively small, and that is usually taken by the company themselves because they are the principal users. But once they have abandoned the road then we look at it from a provincial system point of view. If it is worthwhile and it is in the public necessity then we will certainly go that particular route. But it is 25 per cent paid for by the province and 75 per cent by the company.
Mr. Germa: Does the company do the maintenance, or is it done by the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That can be worked out. In some instances, if they have the equipment they do it and we pay our share. In other instances, we hire the private sector to do it and we share on a 75-25 per cent basis. Sometimes we ask the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to do it. There are a number of ways of doing that maintenance.
Mr. Bolan: I would like to follow up on the question of the resource access roads, particularly the private roads. On many occasions, you have spoken both in this House and outside of the House about the geographical position of northern Ontario in that it comprises approximately 90 per cent of the land mass of Ontario, yet it has only 10 per cent of the population.
That being the case, the question of roads in northern Ontario becomes very important, particularly so because of the very sparse population spread out over a vast mass of land. Yet the very interesting part of it is that throughout northern Ontario you have a myriad of private roads. I don’t mean the old tote roads or old bush roads, but the private roads which are presently being maintained by lumber and mining companies. Would this ministry embark on a program of examining the network of private roads which exists in northern Ontario?
Eventually, the time will come when we will have to build more roads in northern Ontario. However, when you already have this network of private roads, it might be feasible for your ministry to negotiate some kind of an agreement with the lumber companies, or the people responsible for the construction of these roads, which would give the ministry access to these private roads when the need arises in five or 10 years’ time.
Some of these private roads are very well maintained right now. They are used every day. I’m sure you see many of them in northwestern Ontario. We don’t have as many in northeastern Ontario because we don’t have the lumber or pulp business which your area of the province has. However, there are some roads, particularly in the areas around Cochrane and Kapuskasing, where there is a large pulp industry. I am wondering if some arrangement could be agreed upon with the companies for the joint financial responsibility for the maintenance of these roads, with the eventual goal, I suppose, of taking them over.
The roads are already there. It’s a question of establishing more links in northern Ontario, where people often have to make long roundabout trips to get from one place to another.
I was looking at a map last week of an area around Temagami. It was a topographical map and I was amazed at the number of roads there were, many of which could be used.
You may not wish to have to make financial arrangements with the owners who have spent money on these roads over the past 25 or 30 years. Nevertheless, there are still some major private roads in northern Ontario which I feel would be of benefit to the people of northern Ontario if some usage could be made of them in direct participation with your ministry.
I think it’s a policy which is deserving of your ministry to look into and perhaps we could see something of that nature in the future.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The point is very well taken, Mr. Chairman. It’s certainly a concern I share. I just want to repeat that we’ve had some considerable success in the past, and your suggestion that we carry on and maybe accelerate it is an excellent one and I’ll take it under consideration.
Item 3 agreed to.
On item 4, agricultural development:
Mr. Germa: Could I ask the minister if he is monitoring what is happening in the Sudbury district as a result of the lessening of SO2 fallout in our valley areas? We have an area there which is absolutely unique. It was, at one point in time, a producer of agricultural products, but over the past 30 or 40 years, with the fumigations coming from the operation of Falconbridge and men, most of those farms fell into misuse and disuse and hobby farming.
I believe there is potential there, considering that the pollution index for the past couple of years has been reasonably good compared with other communities in the province. I'm just wondering what’s going on in the valley area. We have an area there, probably 10 miles wide and 30 miles long, of good soil which was put out of commission because of an artificial pollutant. Can you tell me what you’re doing? Are you monitoring the situation? Is there any hope or any potential to rehabilitate that land?
I know there are some small operators still going, but at one point in time we used to win Canadian championships for potato production out of that same valley, so close to the mining community. I think the soils are still there. I know they are polluted to some degree, hot you must have some expertise on that one.
Hon. Mr. Bender: Mr. Chairman, this is one area that was identified by the regional municipality of Sudbury when it came to us shortly after the Inco announcement and wanted to look at a study of import substitution and also to look at, as the honourable member has correctly pointed out, the decline in agricultural activities in the Sudbury basin.
They felt that there is a tremendous potential here, as the member has pointed out, so we have granted the regional municipality $300,000 for those studies that are going on now to see if we can reactivate the agricultural community in the Sudbury area. The results of those studies will not likely be known until later this year, but we’ll make sore that you’re kept fully abreast of them.
This particular vote deals directly with transfer payments to farmers in the north for materials, equipment or fertilizer and for the cost of land breaking and farm education programs in northern Ontario to the tune of about $500,000, and then loans to farmers for file drainage in unorganized areas of about $100,000. That takes up this, but our involvement in the Sudbury area relates directly to the studies that are going on now and being undertaken by the regional municipality.
Mr. Germa: Could I ask the minister who, in particular, is doing these studies? Did he say that he was evaluating the potential of that farm land?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The regional municipality of Sudbury is responsible for the setting up of those particular studies. We will be working very closely with them, but I don’t have any specifics as to who is actually doing the study for them at this point in time. They are off and running. The sums have been confirmed and approved and the work should be right in progress at the present time.
Mr. Bolan: Mr. Minister, under item 4 of vote 903, there is an agricultural development grant of some $500,000 and I have the breakdown of how these funds are to be allocated. Under its item number 2, assistance on land clearing and breaking, I notice there is a grant of $30 per acre or 10 acres per year, but there’s a sort of a kicker on it that says clearing and breaking is only permitted to enlarge existing farms.
Don’t you feel your ministry should consider a policy which would allow for the breaking and clearing of land not only on existing farms but also on other land which may be considered farm land?
Contrary to what many people believe, there is a wealth of farm land in northern Ontario. In northeastern Ontario alone there is as an example, the Verner-Sturgeon Falls area which has some dairy farms which are as good as any you will find in the province of Ontario. Then if you want to get good agricultural land, you can go up to the New Liskeard area. That area has a huge clay belt and there has been a large provincially-sponsored agricultural experimental farm there for some time which is really of benefit to the residents of that area.
Farming is nothing new to northern Ontario. And in view of the fact that we are losing more and more of our particularly rich farm land in the growing belts of southwestern Ontario, perhaps the ministry might want to look at developing a program which would assist the development and clearing of new land other than existing farm land.
I know for a fact, and I am sure the minister is aware of this, that there are many tracts of land yet to be developed which can be used for fanning. I’m also sure the minister is aware of the fairly heavy costs of clearing land today, with the type of labour and mechanical equipment required. Would the minister say whether or not he is anticipating, or is prepared to consider, a program of that nature?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The honourable member is quite right, agriculture is certainly not new to northern Ontario. In fact there are some very rich fertile areas of northern Ontario that haven’t even been touched yet and I refer of course, to the New Liskeard, Thunder Bay, and Dryden areas, and certainly Rainy River.
The moneys here for which we seek your approval are for transfer payments of about $500,000 and then, under the Tile Drainage Act, $100,000 to assist those farms in unorganized areas obtain loans for tile drainage.
On the question of clearing, we have had discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, which under the ARDA agreement, is most interesting in getting on with some programs. The latest discussions have been in connection with a major land clearance program in the Rainy River area where the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) has been persistently bringing to our attention the need to get a program going.
We have started moving in that direction with a study of the area, which Northern Affairs is funding, to look at the potential and to work with the farm community itself during the course of this summer, as a first step to get a major land clearing program in place and moving ahead. The program we have talked about for Rainy River -- I use that as an example because I am familiar with it -- is in excess of $17 million, so it’s a very substantial one.
But you are quite right in saying that we must spend more time and effort in this particular field and certainly with the co-operation we are getting from Agriculture and Food, we intend to do this.
Mr. Bolan: Thank you for your reply, Mr. Minister. I am pleased to hear that. That’s an encouraging sign. You know people identify us in northern Ontario as a bunch of hard rock miners and lumbermen. Well, we have those people, of course, and they have contributed so much to the development of the north --
Mr. Nixon: And a few lawyers.
Mr. Bolan: We have a few lawyers as well -- but we also have farmers, and again they have contributed quite a bit to the development of northern Ontario.
The other items you have on this page are assistance programs for the purchase of commercial fertilizer, for example, or for the purchase of weed sprayer, fencing and what have you. I have two questions on this.
What criteria must be met by the individual farmer for him to get the benefits under this program? Does it depend on the size of the farm? Does it have to do with the acreage? Does it have to do with the type of farm? Does it have to do with the type of food that is grown on the farm? What are the criteria which the individual applicant must meet?
Secondly, what kind of a program does the ministry have for the dissemination of information to the areas in northern Ontario that are concerned about agriculture? For example, does it have a pamphlet distribution program? Does it have these at its northern affairs offices in northern Ontario?
I wonder if the minister could comment on both of those points:
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, many of the funds under this particular vote are granted on a percentage basis. Some are at 20 per cent, and some are at 50 per cent, where they put up a portion and we put up a portion, and this type of thing; so their own resources have a certain limitation on the various things they can ask for. You know, 15 per cent of the cost of fertilizer purchases is available up to a maximum of $100 to $300 per farm; so it is based on the farm capability and it is all channelled through the agricultural representative, who Is in the area and very knowledgeable of that particular operation. The actual criteria in the application are determined on a very local basis, so there is no particular problem. I have to say that there is a limitation on the size of the program as it relates to the availability of funds from the individual farmer.
In connection with the information, yes, we do have a very extensive information package in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food where we disseminate information through our northern affairs branches right across northern Ontario. There are something like 29 branches now; so we can give them excellent coverage for those brochures.
Mr. Bolan: Just one other question on this and possibly another question after that: The minister says these types of assistance are done through the agricultural representative in the area; presumably that is under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. How does this agricultural representative liaise with the Ministry of Northern Affairs on the determination of these various applications? Does the Ministry of Agriculture and Food have programs of its own, and how are they differentiated from this ministry’s programs? More importantly, how does this ministry liaise with the agricultural representative to see to it that these various applications and what have you can be dealt with effectively?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: The co-operation is extremely good between the northern affairs officers and the regional office. Many of these funds are transfer payments directly to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food; so we just move X dollars over to them. In some instances, because the Ministry of Agriculture and Food does not have a representative there, we take the lead because we are spread around the north and we have a presence there. The co-operation and liaison is two ways, you might say, but it is very effective; it is starting to gear up now.
We felt we should be involved in the agricultural community because of the future there is in agriculture. We were involved in the development of communities, roads and tourism, and certainly agriculture is an area we should have involvement in. With the co-operation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food we can do this, and it’s working very, very well.
Mr. Bolan: This is not right on point; well, I suppose it is. There is a private member’s bill before this House on the question of a food terminal for northern Ontario. In fact, this was introduced by the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope). I’m wondering if your ministry has anything to do with looking into the question of a food terminal in northern Ontario. I disagreed entirely with where this terminal should be placed.
I can’t see the sense of bringing all kinds of lettuce and foodstuffs up to Timmins, which is probably one of the most remote parts of northeastern Ontario and then distributing it to the larger centres down from Timmins. If there is to be a food terminal, naturally the only logical place in northeastern Ontario would be North Bay, with probably a subsidiary branch in Sudbury.
In any event, this is again an area, I think in which the ministry can get involved. I say this because there’s no question about it -- you pay more for that kind of produce, for fresh produce in northern Ontario than in any other part of the province. We can understand that because we know the logistics involved. We know the fact that you have to transport it up there and that you’re dealing with many producers and many types of produce. However, if there were a central clearing house for that particular type of operation, it certainly is something which would be not only to the benefit of the people of northern Ontario but certainly a credit to this ministry.
There are many people recently -- I suppose I have been one of them too -- who have criticized your ministry for being a sort of liaison between all of the other ministries that have something to do with northern Ontario. I think the concept of a Ministry of Northern Affairs is very sound. I really think it is. I think it can be more than what it is now. I realize it’s only a year old. Nevertheless, I really feel that it can be a ministry which can develop policy for the redevelopment of northern Ontario and that it’s just not a ministry through which cheques are sent from the other ministries to pay for roads or whatever the case may be.
As you know, much of the work which is done through your ministry in conjunction with other ministries was, in fact, done by neither of these other ministries before -- and that’s without trying to take anything away from your own ministry. I think it’s a good opportunity for this particular ministry to start developing additional policies other than merely an extension of the existing policies which some of the ministries have in northern Ontario. I would like to hear your views on that, if I may.
Hon. Mr. Bernier: That’s a very sensitive area. There’s no question about it.
If I may, with the full support of the member for Nipissing, congratulate our colleague from Cochrane South for the enthusiasm and initiative he has shown in bringing to the attention of this Legislature the need for a food terminal in northeastern Ontario. I think he deserves the full credit of all members from northern Ontario. Certainly he’s getting it from this particular ministry. We do think it has significant merit.
I might point out to the member for Nipissing that we are presently working out terms of reference for a study on agricultural marketing in northern Ontario and the question of a food terminal in northern Ontario is part and parcel of that overall study. We are involved from a northern point of view, I might say. This is the whole thrust of our ministry, as you correctly pointed out, so that we can advance the thoughts and the ideas and the needs of northern Ontario through these studies and lean on and liaise with those other ministries that have the line responsibilities. We’re doing that and it’s well in the works now.
Mr. Bolan: I have some questions on this. May I ask who’s carrying out the study; how long do you expect the study to take place; how many people are involved in it; and just what is being studied? I wonder if you would be able to expand on the study. Does it cover all of northern Ontario or a certain region? Is it being done in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and what have you?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I don’t have those specific details at my fingertips, but I’ll get them. We’ll correspond with you on all of those little points you have brought out.
Item 4 agreed to.
On item 5, rail and ferry services:
Mr. Germa: We have a $10 million estimate here for a subsidy to the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission. I believe that’s the total responsibility in the item. Could I ask the minister about his relationship with the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission? He says in the briefing to us: “The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission provides rail and ferry passenger services in northern Ontario. The Ministry of Northern Affairs reimburses ONTC for the net operating losses incurred in the provision of these services.” Is that your only relationship with ONTC, just to reimburse ONTC for net operating losses that are incurred? Do you have any more connection with the operation than that?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: As you know, they report directly to the Ministry of Northern Affairs. There is a board and chairman. We meet with them on a regular basis. I was in North Bay just last Wednesday meeting with the ONTC board. The policy directions come from this ministry. The everyday operating services are operated by the commission itself. Policy decisions are generated within the Ministry of Northern Affairs. The relationship is a daily one, to say the least. We have the ferry and bus services, transportation, rail lines and norOntair. We’re involved on a daily basis with policy decisions as they relate to that excellent transportation system.
Mr. Germa: I’m looking at the breakdown of some of the figures here. It would appear that on the Chi-Cheemaun we made $104,000 on the ferry service between Tobermory and Manitoulin Island. I wonder if you could give me a figure on the Polar Bear Express operation? It appears to me that is a somewhat similar operation. It is a tourist exercise. It seems to be very heavily patronized, as is the ferry. I wonder if we are making a few dollars on that operation?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would like to report something a little brighter than I can. Last year we had an operating loss of $104,000. There was $296,000 in revenues and about $400,000 in expenditures. We hope to change that this year, I might say, with an aggressive improvement to the service itself, through improvements to the tourist attractions at Moosonee and Moose Factory and through an advertising program here in southern Ontario. You’ll see that take effect. In fact, that was one of my purposes for going to North Bay on Wednesday last.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Bernier, the committee of supply reported progress.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells the House adjourned at 1 p.m.