The House resumed at 8:15 p.m.
CHILDREN’S INSTITUTIONS ACT (CONCLUDED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 117, An Act to revise the Children’s Institutions Act.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member for Bellwoods.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The member got back from the garden party.
Mr. McClellan: I got back from my party; and if we can dispose of the rest of the legislation I can return to the garden party.
Mr. Makarchuk: Are you out of your mind?
Mr. McClellan: It is my intention to do so. The act before us, Bill 117, is one which we are prepared to support. The legislation is of a piece with the Children’s Residential Services Act. The intention of the two pieces of legislation, as I understand it, is to introduce for the first time the notion of appropriate standards to children’s residential services in Ontario. How could one possibly object to that?
In the absence of any kind of explanatory statement from the minister, I quote from page 45 of the summary of the children’s services legislation: “This bill is the re-enactment of the existing Children’s Institutions Act. However, the main objective of the changes is to enable the implementation of appropriate standards as they are developed.”
It’s curious legislation, because it is legislation which, as it says, enables the implementation of standards if, as and when they become available. As yet there are no standards. I suppose there are thoughts about standards; there are people who are thinking deeply about standards, there are people who are prepared to issue policy documents at some point distant in the future telling us what those standards may be; but even if we pass the legislation tonight, which we will, there still won’t be any standards. This is a very bizarre performance.
I hope the minister will tell us when he makes the statement on this bill and on the Children’s Residential Services Act, which is the licensing statute, when, if ever, he intends to provide these standards to us. It really is a mind-boggling exercise. To illustrate how desperately standards are needed, we’ve had a history of discussion in this House about the inadequacy of standards with respect to the Children’s Institutions Act, and more particularly the Children’s Boarding Homes Act, and facilities licensed or authorized under most of those statutes. All of that discussion is on the record. We had another illustration this afternoon of just how bizarre is the lack of supervision and the lack of accountability between this ministry and residential facilities under those two statutes in this province when the minister tabled the answer to my question, number 37, on the order paper.
The question was tabled in April and it asked the minister to advise us further to a gun safety memo which the ministry had sent around in February to children’s aid societies and directors of group homes established under the Children’s Boarding Homes Act, the Children’s Institutions Act and the Children’s Mental Health Centres Act. I had asked the minister to identify which residential facilities had firearms and for what purpose group homes which were established to provide treatment service to disturbed children would have firearms.
Today, we were given the answer. In 16 homes authorized under the Children’s Boarding Homes Act, there were a total of 33 firearms. The uses are bizarre. I wonder why a children’s boarding home would have one large .306 gun. I am wondering why a group home, a residential treatment facility, would have an eight-millimetre German Mauser. The eight-millimetre German Mauser is described as being used for hunting big game.
Mr. Makarchuk: Oh, no! Is the minister out of his mind?
Mr. McClellan: The residential facility in question is located in Markham, one of the more fabulous big-game hunting sites in the world I am sure. I wonder if the minister would lead us on a safari through Markham.
Mr. Makarchuk: Markham Serengeti it’s known as, isn’t it?
Mr. McClellan: The minister could distribute surplus firearms from his residential treatment facilities to the members of the House and we could proceed through Markham or whatever other fabulous hunting ground he would care to identify.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You would have a coup d’état. You know that’s what you are after.
Mr. Foulds: It may come to that if you keep up with this kind of stuff.
Mr. McClellan: Why do children’s treatment facilities in Ontario have guns? What kind of madness is this? What kind of a ministry is he running over there? What kind of incompetence does this manifest that there are 33 dangerous firearms in 16 residential treatment facilities for children? It’s absolutely loony.
Mr. Foulds: That’s being kind too.
Mrs. Campbell: That is not parliamentary, however.
Mr. Makarchuk: Anybody that’s got a Mauser in a children’s home --
Mrs. Campbell: Stupid.
Mr. McClellan: “Stupid” is a good word. It has been suggested by the member for St. George that “stupid” is perhaps a more apt characterization.
Mr. Blundy: She was referring to your remarks, not the bill.
Mr. McClellan: As I said, I hope this statute will bring about the licensing of residential group homes in this province for the first time on an adequate basis, on the basis of some standards. That would be nice. It would be even nicer if we had the standards. It would be nice to know what those standards are. It would be nice to know whether the standards include equipping group homes with eight-millimetre German Mausers or not.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, when one looks over this bill that the minister has presented to us this evening, there are all kinds of things about the approvals of bricks and mortar; there are all kinds of clauses about the financing, the capital costs, et cetera.
This is all very important, of course, I realize that; but we are talking about a children’s institution, and we should be talking about the provision of the services that are going to be provided to the children in the institution. My friend the member for Bellwoods has made a very interesting observation about some of the guns and ammunition and so forth. But we in this Legislature, who are really interested in the services that are to be provided to the children who are going to be in these homes, want to know what is going to be done for the children.
It is necessary, of course, to know that an institution will be provided, that it will be financed and so forth; but I will tell the minister before we approve this bill on third reading we are going to have to have a heck of a lot more information in committee than we have in this House tonight. I naturally am going to stand up and say we approve of second reading of the bill. We expect it will go to committee, and we will be provided with a great deal more information as to what the children of this province are going to have and how the children will profit by this bill. We are giving notice to the minister that before it receives third reading we are going to have to have a great deal more detailed information on the bill and on the services provided to children by the facilities provided by the bill. I endorse, therefore, second reading of the bill and the sending of the bill to committee.
Mrs. Campbell: I will be brief, Mr. Speaker. I think my colleague has expressed very succinctly and usefully the feeling of this caucus with reference to the bill. I would just add one point: I am concerned that the approval mechanism is now buried with the minister. One of the problems we in the opposition have had, both with this ministry and with the Health ministry as it pertained to children’s services in the past, has been the aura of secrecy surrounding the information about these institutions.
The minister has called upon us to rise and support, as a matter of high principle, what he has brought before us. I want more than just the caution to the minister; I want his commitment that from here on in we will be able to obtain the information pertaining to the operation of these institutions which has been denied us in the past. I don’t like to see so much in the hands of the ministry, because I guess it is only a fool who doesn’t learn from experience.
I have had the experience of two ministries which have deliberately refused information to the opposition. If this is to be a tripartite attempt to act together for the betterment of the welfare of the children of this province then it can stop with the passing of the legislation, and I would like to see somewhere some assurance that the spirit of co-operation which the minister is seeking will not be a one-way street once the legislation passes.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is there any other honourable member wishing to participate in the debate? If not, the honourable minister.
Mr. Makarchuk: No, we want to hear the minister; not for too long though.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate the concerns that have been raised by the honourable members opposite with respect to some of their comments. I am not sure that I would agree with the honourable member for Bellwoods that this is entirely a mind-boggling process. I would suggest that the process which we have undertaken is a very complex one, one in which it is not possible, however much we might wish that it might be, to ensure that all things mesh at one particular time.
Mr. McClellan: Or even if anything meshes.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I hope that not all complex things are mind-boggling for my friend opposite, but I can assure him that I will do my level best to help to unboggle the mind in so far as that is within my power.
Mr. Foulds: So far you are not doing very well.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Just give me an opportunity.
On the question of the standards, which he has raised as a matter of concern, I assure him they are well on their way to preparation. We are aiming for the end of July or the first of August for having the proposals with respect to standards completed, to be consistent with the process that we have undertaken. At that time we intend to discuss those with the members opposite, and some of the agencies that are involved, and certainly I would be terribly disappointed if they were not available for members before the committee begins consideration of the legislation. That, of course, may depend in part upon the schedule of the committee which is as yet not familiar to me.
Mr. McClellan: September.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I won’t respond to the honourable member’s language, be it parliamentary or unparliamentary. I suppose one of the things in this House or in the tasks we have undertaken that we have to deal with is the use of that particular kind of language from time to time, however enlightening it might be.
Mr. Makarchuk: Just respond to the issues.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, I am sure that the language of the honourable member is not all that enlightening. If, in fact, I am stupid, I am sure that it has been something which all of the members are aware of without any need for him to enlighten us of it tonight.
I also will not respond, although I would invite the honourable member to raise his concerns about the firearms in question period, suffice it at this point to say that I can assure him --
Mr. McClellan: I raised it. Why should I raise it again?
Hon. Mr. Norton: This is not question period and I suggest to the honourable member that we do in fact --
Mr. Foulds: This is a period for information. What kind of a schoolboy answer is that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I did not say information period. Stop trying to twist things around. The member knows better than that.
Mr. Foulds: This is a point where you are accountable.
Mr. Makarchuk: Are Mausers in your nursery schools?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I suggest that part of the reason one would find firearms in those homes is that many of them -- I don’t know the specific location of the one to which he referred, and I suspect that it is not --
Mrs. Campbell: You should.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Come on, let’s be realistic. It is not possible to know specific locations of hundreds of such facilities across the province, but I am sure it is not in big game country. I will assure him that those firearms, wherever they are to be found, are being stored in accordance with the requirements of the ministry and that that particular firearm is under lock and key and unloaded.
Mr. Makarchuk: Wherever they are, they are unnecessary.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It’s all right for the member for Brantford to try to sensationalize these things.
Mr. Makarchuk: If they want to get them out, they will.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Even though I personally have very strong feelings on the subject, the fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of homes in this province, especially in rural areas, where firearms are to be found safely stored in households. There is nothing unusual about that kind of arrangement. To try to portray it as being otherwise --
Mr. Makarchuk: We are not discussing your average gasoline station or your average home.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- when one considers the fact that this is providing a reasonably normalized --
Mr. Makarchuk: I’m sure you can understand the character of the storekeeper.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- setting for children -- certainly one can sensationalize it, sure one can distort it.
Mr. Makarchuk: You do reasonably well about it as well.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Let’s just be reasonable about it. The important thing is the issue of safety.
Mr. Makarchuk: That’s right, and the people surrounding that firearm.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That is fundamentally important.
The member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) did raise some concern about the reference in this act to funding. I would point out again that these are interim amendments. I would see this as an interim step to do two things in conjunction with the Children’s Residential Services Act, which we will be dealing with next on the order paper.
If we are to fund any kind of program or facility, it is necessary to have the legislative authority to do that. This is the act under which we would provide the funding for the residential accommodation for children. The other act, the Children’s Residential Services Act, which we will be dealing with next, is part of the rationalization process, the process of bringing together and establishing consistent standards for children’s residential accommodation across this province to include consistent licensing and residential standards. We must have those two authorities.
I certainly hope -- and it’s my intention -- that in the evolution of the process we’ve undertaken we will see a consolidation.
Mr. McClellan: The process of the evolution of the process. You are talking about a closed circle.
Ms. Gigantes: Is that like a wheel within a wheel?
Hon. Mr. Norton: We will see in the omnibus legislation a further rationalization of this process. I do want to emphasize this as being interim. The program concerns that the honourable member expresses will be matters that will be addressed in the standards to which I referred earlier and which I hope will be available to the House and the committee, although the House won’t be sitting prior to the sitting of the committee dealing with this legislation.
Mrs. Campbell: It has to be.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Our estimates will begin tomorrow but I’m not sure we will get that far.
On the question of the concern expressed by the member for St. George, I trust she appreciates that had circumstances been otherwise and had courts not been involved in relationship to a particular residential facility for children, I would have been quite willing to share information with her.
It is not my intention to treat with secrecy any of these matters, such as the handling of public funds, as they apply to children’s residential services or any other program of my ministry. It’s my hope and intention to be able tomorrow to indicate to the committee in estimates that we have reached a significant stage in terms of the particular agency -- I can mention it, Browndale. I will address myself to that in my opening statement in estimates. I can assure members if there is specific information they wish to have that I am free to reveal, pending the resolution of other matters before the courts, that they will have it.
I don’t know whether her shaking of the head indicates scepticism or not, but she herself ought very well to know the kinds of concerns that I would have in terms of possibly prejudicing any case which might be before the courts. I say that because of her experience as a judicial officer, a member of the bench herself.
I do wish to confirm now that it is not my intention that any of the activities in my ministry, funding or otherwise, will be secret. I think that touches upon the major concerns that have been raised by the honourable members opposite, and I’m sure we will have an opportunity to deal with this matter further in committee.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing social development committee.
CHILDREN’S RESIDENTIAL SERVICES ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 118, An Act to revise the Children’s Boarding Homes Act
Hon. Mr. Norton: My opening statement will be very brief. Effectively, the explanation of the principle involved in this bill is included in information which has already been shared with the members of the opposition. Basically, the explanation is simply that this bill will provide for the bringing together of the licensing and standards setting as it relates to children’s residential services in the province of Ontario.
As I indicated in my earlier remarks, this bill dovetails with Bill 117, the funding bill which provides the authority to fund such agencies.
Mr. Blundy: I rise to support Bill 118 on its second reading, with of course the ultimate reference to committee for detailed study. I don’t know whether the minister fully realizes how much the people of Ontario are waiting to hear the details of all these bills dealing with children’s services.
I believe that most of the people who are involved in the delivery of and the control of children’s services in the province feel that the amalgamation of children’s services is a step in the right direction, but I want to tell the minister that many of the people with whom I have talked are, one might say sitting on the edges of their chairs waiting to find out exactly what is involved and how much better the needs of the children of the province of Ontario will be served.
I’m very interested in the children’s services review board, and I certainly hope that when we do study these bills in committee we are going to have a good deal more information in that regard. What could be more important than the children’s services review board, which is going to have so much to say about the residential services of children in this province? There is provision for the appointment of the board and the function of the board in the bill, which is necessary. There is, of course, the licensing of the homes under this act and the Day Nurseries Act and the Child Welfare Act, which is necessary.
I just hope that when next we look at the provisions of this bill in committee the minister and his staff will be able to provide us with a great deal more details to reassure the people of Ontario, particularly those who are so dedicated in their involvement in the delivery of children’s services in the province. I believe that this bill, along with its companion bills, is a step in the right direction and I would be very happy to see the second reading of the bill and the approval to go to committee.
Mr. McClellan: I’m drowning in bills here.
We intend to support Bill 118 on second reading, secure in the promise of salvation to come.
Before getting into the bill, it is useful to quote from the interministry committee on residential services from 1975, which puts this whole discussion and the discussion of the previous bill into a context. Quoting from the section on page 111: “Non-residential alternative.” “It is generally believed,” said the senior officials of the ministry in 1975, “better services for children in their own homes and foster homes would reduce the need for placement in residential facilities.” How true that was then, and how true it still is today.
We have the replacement to the Children’s Boarding Homes Act, which like the previous statute does not have the slightest glimmer of a clue about what the standards will be. But we are assured in the summary of legislation that proposed standards relating to residential services are being developed and soon will be released for consultation. The minister put a date on that today, which is nice. You will have to have those standards by the time we want to start the hearings if you want this legislation to proceed. It’s as simple as that.
I hope that, if nothing else, the minister gets that through his head tonight, that we are not so irresponsible on this side of the House as to pass legislation setting standards without the slightest idea of what it is you are intending to do, that would be genuinely irresponsible.
Mr. Cunningham: As opposed to being just irresponsible.
Mr. Mcclellan: As opposed to being plainly irresponsible.
The interministry report had the following laconic comment on children’s boarding homes, which this act repeals and replaces, under the heading “Supervision and Standards” -- and what a joke that is -- “Perhaps because of the proprietary nature of these services and the somewhat lower standard required by the act, compared to funded children’s and youths’ residences, they have been more vulnerable to public criticism.” It is both laconic and an enormous understatement. All of the facilities that had the guns were Children’s Boarding Homes Act facilities; all 16 of them. I think that your response to the gun issue is very irresponsible and totally unsatisfactory. We’ll come back to that again and again until you take guns out of children’s residential facilities.
The legislation, as I said, is supportable, conditional on an understanding of what the standards, in fact will be. I have a couple of questions that I will state now and will want to put during the hearings.
Firstly, I am concerned that homes for special care are specifically excluded from the licensing and standards set in the statute. We had been promised from the time before I was elected to this House that action would be taken with respect to homes for special care. Yet they still languish in a Never-Never Land, in a no man’s land, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, with inadequate supervision, inadequate standards and inadequate funding. There are retarded people in homes for special care, there are elderly people in homes for special care, and there are kids in homes for special care. The minister is going to have to deal with that. He can’t just pretend there isn’t a problem there, because everybody knows there is a very serious problem there of institutional and governmental neglect that has to be dealt with, and we will be going into that when the hearings commence.
The second point I want to make has to do with something that was proposed in the original consultation paper and I thought was a very useful measure, but it has disappeared; that is, the children’s rights amendment -- even a limited children’s rights amendment -- setting out the rights of children in residential care.
I think it would be useful to include in the licensing and standard-setting statute, the Children’s Residential Services Act, a minimal set of children’s rights; for example, and most notably, the freedom from the imposition of certain kinds of punitive actions against children; most notably the use of corporal punishment; the use of certain kinds of so-called isolation therapy; the prohibition of laying criminal charges against children who are in the care of a residential treatment facility.
Without reading the very excellent, I thought, presentation of children’s rights on page 95 of the green consultation paper, I would like the ministry to give some serious thought to the possibility of an amendment incorporating at least some of the more important children’s rights -- important in the sense of having been before us in this Legislature through cases in which those rights were violated and in which the violations led in a number of instances to tragic consequences.
As I said before, we support the legislation in a very conditional kind of way, and the condition is that the minister tell us what he is going to do. He can plead whatever excuses he wants -- and this afternoon he pleaded a number of what I thought were very silly excuses with respect to his inability to provide standards and guidelines for children’s aid societies in child abuse cases. The minister is simply going to have to realize that he and his ministry are under the gun to produce, and the deadline is the hearings that are starting in September; so he might as well reconcile himself to that fact and just work a little harder. I know the minister is working very hard, but let him work a little harder and get something before us --
Mr. Makarchuk: He might have to have a few words with the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) on those things.
Mr. McClellan: -- because he is not going to get our co-operation without giving us the goods.
Mr. Hodgson: We’ll do it with or without.
Mr. McClellan: They’ll have a little trouble passing that stuff on their own.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, I look at this particular bill and I think it disturbs me probably more than any other, because truly, if you read it, you might just as well be talking about licensing the horse-drawn carts that are going around the city in the summertime. There is very little meat in this statute, which to a great extent is the governing statute for so many of the others.
I look at the minister’s definition of children’s residence. Again we go to the fact that we are dealing with bricks and mortar; we are dealing with a whole building or a part of a building; and at no time is there any infusion of the spirit of what we’re talking about -- our concern for children.
I don’t want to be critical of this minister because I really believe he wishes to reform the situation.
Mr. McClellan: If he would only listen.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I’m listening.
Mrs. Campbell: I hope perhaps some wisdom came out of that exchange.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It certainly did; there is no wiser person.
Mr. Hodgson: Always, Margaret, always.
Mrs. Campbell: I look at the provisions for the appointment of children’s services review board. Yes; a member may be appointed for a term not exceeding three years, three members of the board constitute a quorum -- so it goes. What is the essential function of these people? There is very little; we have the bare bones.
The minister addressed himself to my remarks about the last bill. I wasn’t speaking about any one institution. I was speaking about the difficulty of getting information, so far as I personally was concerned, back to 1973. At that time I knew of no action pending anywhere which could have precluded my right to have the information I sought, either from the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Community and Social Services. One of the things that distresses me is that I see constantly around this chamber the one person who went out of his way to ensure that no information would be given to the opposition. He seems very apparent, very alive and well, in this community. This gives me a great sense of unease.
Ms. Gigantes: Name names.
Mrs. Campbell: I would really like to be assured that we do not have actively engaged, as a consultant or in some other capacity, people who have made a practice of precluding the opposition from receiving information which they ought rightfully to have had.
If the minister cares to answer, I know he knows of whom I speak.
Mr. Worton: Tell us, Margaret.
Mr. McClellan: He doesn’t know, he says he doesn’t know.
Ms. Gigantes: Name names.
Mrs. Campbell: You don’t know? I thought you knew.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I don’t know.
Mr. McClellan: His staff knows.
Mr. Blundy: Let us in on it, Margaret.
Mrs. Campbell: Perhaps we could find out from him what the future for that individual is in the freedom of information within his ministry. I suppose that’s what we’re talking about.
Mr. McClellan: Name names.
Mr. Blundy: Come on, tell us who it is.
Mrs. Campbell: Again we have a licensing bill, dry as dust, with no standards; no way of really identifying the performance of the children’s services review board, no way of making any kind of a judgement.
I think it speaks well for the opposition in this House, and for our commitment to the welfare of children, that we have been willing to go so far with this minister, with this package, which up until now has been pretty much garbage, but which we hope will permit us to have input in committee. What a tragedy it is, that with all of the speakers, with all of the criticisms levelled at this ministry otherwise constituted over the years, we are still going into a committee with almost no real vital information.
I hope the minister is well prepared for what may happen if he is not duly prepared for those committee hearings. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it isn’t going to happen without far more meat on these bones at that time.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Are there any other honourable members wishing to participate in this debate? If not, the honourable minister.
Hon. Mr. Norton: After all the -- and I say this with great respect -- sabre-rattling that has gone on tonight, I’m not sure whether I should be trembling or not.
Mr. McClellan: Just do your work and you will have nothing to worry about.
Mrs. Campbell: It is not sabre-rattling, it is the truth.
Hon. Mr. Norton: As I said earlier, I ask the honourable members only to understand the complexity of the task and to accept my assurance that, unless some great tragedy intervenes, the standards, which basically embody what the honourable member for St. George has referred to as the meat under this particular legislation, will be available.
I must say there is some uncertainty in my mind as to whom the honourable member was referring to --
Mrs. Campbell: You are not serious.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- but to the best of my knowledge, there has been no request for information from her to me since I have been minister in this particular ministry, with the exception of the one case to which I referred earlier, where there has been difficulty in transmitting information.
If there has been, then I wish she would bring it to my attention personally. I will reiterate I obviously cannot, although I must be responsible for what has gone on, I am not familiar --
Mrs. Campbell: We’re still waiting for information you promised months ago.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- with the earlier incidents to which she refers.
Mr. Blundy: Just don’t let it happen to you.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I must say, though, I am somewhat disappointed that she would choose a word like garbage to describe what I think has been, and what I believe she understands to be, the product of a lot of hard work by a lot of very able people, both within the civil service and the province of Ontario, to achieve what we have accomplished up to this point.
Mr. McClellan: Would you prefer stupid?
Mr. Roy: It is you who are being attacked, not your ministry.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, it’s not I who is being attacked when that kind of language is being used, it’s a much broader sweep. I can take it, but don’t deny me the opportunity to stand up and defend the dedicated people who are working in this province --
Mr. McClellan: Those fine, hardworking people.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- simply on the premise, “Oh no, we’re not talking about them we’re talking about you.” There are a lot of people working very hard in order that this legislation in its present form would be available to members and for this House to meet the commitments that we’ve made earlier this spring or last year.
Mr. McClellan: They’re trying to prop you up. Trying to make you look good.
Mr. Roy: Ah come on. Don’t deflect the arrow on your ministry.
Mrs. Campbell: Or the year before.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We had people who quite literally worked all night long in order to meet deadlines. These are people who only a few short months ago we’re being hailed by some of the honourable members opposite as some of the leading people in the field. Their reputation has not diminished in a matter of a few months. I really don’t think that kind of language is justified in describing the product of their labours.
Mr. Roy: Don’t deflect the arrows from yourself.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If it is a policy you want to attack, then fine. But don’t refer to as garbage the product of a lot of work by a lot of dedicated and knowledgeable people.
Mr. Roy: When we attack the ministry it’s you.
Hon. Mr. Norton: They’re more knowledgeable in some respect, in perhaps more specific areas, than some of us in this House.
Mr. Roy: Certainly more than you.
Mrs. Campbell: All the more reason we should have the benefit of their wisdom.
Hon. Mr. Norton: And you shall.
Mrs. Campbell: In the future.
Mr. McClellan: In the fullness of time.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, in the immediate future.
Mr. McClellan: In five years, the five-year plan.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Regarding the citation of the member for Bellwoods, his concern about better services for children in their home, again I just ask let’s not confuse two issues. That is not being dealt with in this legislation but I can assure him, as I have before, that our objectives are in that direction. We have made a lot of headway and we will continue to make headway. In one specific area you will see results once we are able to proceed further down the line with respect to changing our programs relating to training schools and so on.
Mr. McClellan: The process of the evolution of the process.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It certainly is, and if members feel these things can happen overnight, then they are only revealing their own naivety; and I must say that naivety is more complimentary than stupid, silly or irresponsible, which seems to be the extent of their vocabulary tonight.
Mr. McClellan: No, I believe in the process.
Mrs. Campbell: Overnight and over a year are two different things.
Mr. McClellan: It is being enlarged by the word process.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I think, Mr. Speaker, that the only other remaining concern that has been expressed was that raised by the member for Sarnia. It was touched upon as well by the member for St. George and it relates to the establishment of the board. As the hon. members are probably aware, we have more than one board dealing with services which previously existed in different ministries.
In moving in the direction of consolidation, co-ordination and consistency in terms of services -- and also I suppose in terms of trying to meet the objectives in which the honourable members have been expressing interest in terms of reducing the numbers of agencies, boards and commissions -- we are reducing the number of agencies, boards and commissions because it certainly does meet our objective in this ministry, and particularly this division, of providing that kind of consistency. There will be one board which will be referred to as the Children’s Services Review Board to supplant or replace the more numerous boards which have existed in serving the function of reviewing licensing appeals and dealing with matters of standards.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing social development committee.
PROVINCIAL COURTS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 119, An Act to amend the Provincial Courts Act.
Mr. Blundy: I realize this bill is a companion bill of all the other bills which we are discussing tonight for the amalgamation of children’s services, but when you see a bill entitled An Act to amend the Provincial Courts Act, Mr. Speaker, it gives you a little time to think and wonder about it. When you read some of the titles down the side of the bill -- “observation and detention homes”, is one that I have underlined; “superintendent to have care and custody and control”; and further on down “warrant to apprehend child” -- it all sounds pretty desperate. It almost sounds like occupation of some power in the services of children. I know that I am being facetious; I know these things are all necessary. I also know they are very serious matters.
This bill doesn’t give very much information about how it fits into all the other bills that are going with the amalgamated services, we are going to have to just put our trust and our hope in the ministry. Sometimes we wonder about the wisdom of doing that, but we are going to have to put our trust and our hope in the minister and his officials that when we are studying all of this conglomeration of bills we will have a great deal more information as to the effect of the bill, the regulations of the bill and the standards thereunder.
With those few short observations I suggest that we do give approval on second reading of the bill, with the view to further consideration in committee.
Mr. McClellan: I am happy to support Bill 119 without really any comment. I have some apprehension, which I raised during the discussion of the Child Welfare Act, over whether observation and detention homes ought to be used as the place of safety under protection and apprehension. I will want to pursue that.
I am not sure about the relationship, really. This is a question that needs to get sorted out, for me at least; whether there ought to be any place that is an observation and detention home apart from by route of judicial order.
My inclination is -- and I have had some discussion with the member for St. George, who has compelling arguments on the other side -- that observation and detention homes should only admit or discharge children by judicial order and that we should not confuse criminal procedures with the dictates of treatment.
Mrs. Campbell: All I want, with reference to this bill, is to seek a clarification from the minister on the relationship of this bill, as an amendment to the Provincial Courts Act, insofar as the appearance of the child before the court is concerned. I take it that notwithstanding the changeover of responsibility to him for the observation and detention centre, the Provincial Courts Act itself will still govern the appearance of the child to ensure that no child is held in detention without the usual practice of immediate appearances before the court. That is all I wanted to ask on this particular bill.
Hon. Mr. Norton: My responses will be equally brief; but I shall try to address the concerns that were raised by the honourable members opposite.
First of all, the overall intent here is to deal only with the control of the observation and detention home itself. As members may understand, previously most of the observation and detention homes were under the observation of the court. The problem we were faced with in many instances was that there was a lack of consistency across the province, there was not a centrally required standard and the standards varied quite dramatically across the province.
It is with a view to providing those kinds of standards for all observations and detention homes under a co-ordinated approach from the ministry that we are proposing to take over the operation of the observation and detention homes.
I would assure the honourable members, whoever expressed the concern about the admission of young people to observation and detention homes, that section 21(a) relating to the admission to and discharge from observation and detention homes quite clearly indicates that no child shall be admitted to or discharged from an observation and detention home except by order of the judge of a provincial court.
Mr. McClellan: Doesn’t that conflict with the Child Welfare Act?
Mr. T. P. Reid: They also have to have those facilities available.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps that requires some further clarification, but clearly the intention of the Child Welfare Act is not to incarcerate or to detain children in a closed, locked facility. In some communities, as a matter of fact, there has been a shortage of places of safety. It came to my attention shortly after coming to this ministry, and shortly after having responsibility for training schools, that on a few rare occasions, in one particular community, a judge had ordered a child placed in a training school as a place of safety. We immediately put a stop to that.
There are observation and detention homes which are not closed, locked facilities. In fact, in one community where there was a lack of such a facility, we have recently entered into a contractual arrangement with a well-established and reputable group home setting, part of which we have contracted for use as an observation and detention home.
I don’t want members to get the impression that, because there is some reference under the Child Welfare Act, it is the equivalent of placing a child under lock and key, although under the proposals which we will have an opportunity to discuss more fully in committee, in terms of level of care and for levels of security that might be necessary, given the specific needs of a child in a given period of time, there will be different levels of security initially in those communities where it is possible to offer that standard of service.
Mr. Blundy: There are some communities where there are no levels of security.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That is correct, and that is one of the things we are trying to address in our priorities as established and announced in this House earlier this year. One of the areas where the greatest deficiencies exist at the present time, of course, is northern Ontario; and that can be broken down in subgroups, if you wish, in that there are certain groups of our population, particularly native and francophone children, who in some areas have been underserved in terms of services available.
We are trying to address that matter in terms of our priorities that I established in terms of allocating additional funds. I don’t pretend it is something that is going to ha redressed completely during this fiscal year, but we have made a start and substantial sums of money, which were not available previously, have been allocated towards that end during this fiscal year.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, it was important, to me at least, that I got an answer to my question as to the appearance of the child before the court if the child has been picked up in an emergency situation and taken to a detention home. As it stood, that child had to be before a judge at least the following morning. I do not see, with this kind Of reference, that protection. I just wanted to be assured that, because the detention facility now comes under ComSoc, that child’s right to be before the court immediately would not be denied.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is certainly not the intention that this would be denied, and I think at this point I am able to assure the honourable member there is nothing changed in the act that should have any impact on that. But I will double-check, because the last thing I would want to do is to deny that right to a child under those circumstances.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing social development committee.
DAY NURSERIES ACT
Hon. Mr. Norton moved second reading of Bill 120, An Act to revise the Day Nurseries Act.
Mr. McClellan: This is the bill I am most anxious to have before us in committee so we can have a full discussion and good hearings. I hope very much we can amend the Day Nurseries Act to eliminate some of the more obvious problems confronting the daycare movement in this province.
I’ve spoken many times on day care since I was elected. I feel more strongly about day care, I think, than about any other social service. I welcome the opportunity to say some of those things again here tonight.
I think day care in Ontario is facing the worst rime it has faced since the now infamous Birch attack on quality day care in this province in 1974. I think the cumulative effect of this government’s social services restraint program has been focused, whether deliberately as part of an unemployment strategy or whether just through sheer clumsiness, on daycare services. There is no doubt at all that day care in this province is suffering, and is suffering very badly.
The ministry, the government and more particularly the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), and the previous incumbent of the present minister’s portfolio (Mr. J. A. Taylor), have expressed on numerous occasions an attitude toward day care which betrays a basic hostility to the very notion. The member for Prince Edward-Lennox, in his social philosophy was a simple Neanderthal; a kind of latter-day purveyor of chicken soup and dusting off your neighbours by way of being helpful.
The Provincial Secretary for Social Development is a lot more sophisticated. She basically has the same chicken-soup-dusting-the-neighbours approach to social development policy, but if we’re sophisticated in 1978, we call that radical non-intervention. Lots of people write learned tomes about radical non-intervention. As far as one can tell, it still is the basic social philosophy underlying this government’s attitude to the provision of social services. Nowhere is that clearer than in the daycare field.
It is absolutely intolerable that applicants for day care subsidy in this province are forced to go, in Metropolitan Toronto and in many other municipalities, to the welfare office to fill out the minister’s form seven, which is the most, as I have said before, degrading and humiliating means test still in use in this jurisdiction. It is degrading to have to go to the George Street welfare office and stand or wait in line for hours and then be subjected to the prying, snooping -- and very often arrogant prying -- of some public servant, and to bare one’s entire private business to get a daycare subsidy.
That is a simple deterrent; that’s all that is. It’s a deterrent to the utilization of day care. A lot of people simply will not put themselves through that kind of humiliation. As a result, they forgo getting a daycare subsidy. I know that’s a reality. It’s particularly a reality in a community like mine where there are many thousands of new Canadians who will not go to a welfare office under any circumstances. They just simply won’t go there, let alone for a daycare subsidy.
The ministry has always said there is adequate day care in this province, that there is no need for additional day care and that the majority of families in Ontario make their own private arrangements. The ministry had always said up until this year that it was absolutely convinced that the majority of people were quite satisfied to make their own private arrangements.
We have, fortunately, had a series of reports by Project Child Care, the social planning council’s daycare study, which has put the lie to that mythology. The reality is that the majority of families who are using -- what would you call it? -- informal home daycare arrangements, by leaving their kids with a neighbour up the street or a relative, and who make their own informal arrangements for child care would prefer to have group care, That’s the simple reality.
When we look at the folks who are providing unsupervised private child care in Metropolitan Toronto, we find some enormous problems, as the study did in the report, Taking Care. Twenty-two per cent of the private child care givers had major health problems. There’s an enormous problem of the simple quality of the arrangements. I quote from the report: “Like the prepackaged instant macaroni and cheese dinners that so many of the care-givers reported serving to their charges, their program seems to lack enrichment and variety.
Some of the children in these programs spend up to 25 per cent of their time being cared for by the television set.”
This is what the government has been passing off to us for the last decade or so as quality day care in Ontario. This is what the government has been telling us the people of Ontario want. We’re going to pay the price for that. There’s no way that one can abandon children to inadequate child care provisions and not pay the price. We will pay the price as a community and as a society in the damage that is done to children and to families because we were so concerned about constraints and restraints and because we were so concerned about making political capital out of outmoded social philosophies and out of outmoded ideologies.
The reality is that the family in our society is under a kind of siege and pressure that is unparalleled in human history. It really is. It does nobody any good for the government spokesman to go through an exercise, such as we witnessed last month with Family Unity Month, in which the government piously beats its breast and says, “We must all cherish and respect and embrace the family” and then leaves it to its own devices, to sink or swim on its own.
The reality is that the modern nuclear family is isolated and vulnerable. In some respects if one looks at the incidence of family breakdown, if one looks at the growth of single-parent families on social assistance rolls, one is justified in having great alarm and concern about the stability of the family; one is justified in coming to the conclusion that extraordinary support is needed to nurture the family in the kind of society we live in. One of the ways of saying we are serious about supporting the family, about helping mothers and fathers to stay together and to raise theft children successfully is to provide adequate child care services and among those pre-eminently is quality day care.
Day care has a twofold significance for us. It is as I have said, first of all, the preventive social service par excellence. It is the service that can serve to alleviate an enormous amount of stress, both on single-parent mothers and on two-parent families.
Secondly it is the only instrument of social policy that is available to ensure equal participation of women in the work force. That is the simple reality for us to accept. We don’t have a choice about that. It’s a reality that has to be accepted.
The government can make nostalgic statements about a different age and a different era, hot those times are not with us. A refusal to come to terms with the reality of the aspiration of women for equal participation and equal opportunity in the work force is a recipe for social tragedy. And yet that is a course that the government continues to pursue.
Rather than expanding the base of quality group day care in Ontario, the government in the last two or three years has chosen to do what I have called “welfarize” the daycare programs. We can read about this in the program and resource summary of the 1978-79 estimates where the policy is stated very clearly. The daycare expansion and service is seen as something that is provided for specific groups of disadvantaged people.
This is a terrible mistake. If the government provides day care as a welfare service it is going to stigmatize it. That is a reality that has been borne out in innumerable programs in jurisdictions all over the world. If it provides service for people who are already damaged, who are already suffering and who already have problems, it becomes a kind of ghettoized service. People who are not poor are not eligible for subsidization. That’s the reality in Ontario today. You have to be virtually impoverished to get a subsidy. The priority goes to people who have problems.
Normal, working, two-parent families of low and moderate incomes are excluded from the subsidization process, so day care in this province is increasingly becoming welfarized and stigmatized and ghettoized.
I have talked to a number of daycare facilities across the province. The reality is that normal, two-parent, working families are withdrawn from daycare programs for two reasons. They are increasingly ineligible for subsidization and there is a bias in the program towards serving populations with special needs. If we have learned anything in the last 20 years in social developments it is that is not the way to provide social service. It is certainly not the way to go about organizing and providing daycare services. There is a necessity to provide special services for special need groups, for example, for the developmentally handicapped. But they don’t need to be segregated in all instances from the normal population. The poor do not need to be separated from low-income and average working families. Single-parent families do not need to be singled out from two-parent families. We don’t need to set up these kinds of distinctions and discriminations in this province in any sector, especially not in child care or day care.
What good does it serve to do this? The only rationale is the dollar and cents rationale. The only rationale is to save funds. The only rationale is the refusal to accept responsibility for providing adequate child care. As I said, we will pay and we will pay dearly for the money that this government is saving today in child care costs.
I am more anxious to have the hearings on this legislation than on any of the bills that are before us. What I hope we can achieve -- and I say this to my colleague from Sarnia and his colleagues in the Liberal Party -- is some amendments that will do at least a couple of things. One is that we move the child-staff ratio standards from the regulations to the act, so that never again will we experience the threat that was posed by this government in 1974 to raise the staff-child ratio to a level that would have destroyed quality day care in this province.
We have only to look at the province of Alberta which has done precisely what the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) and Mini-Skools wanted us to do in Ontario in 1974. They did it just last month. The danger remains and the pressures are there. The pressures have surfaced, in this city and the Metro social services committee, to destroy adequate child-staff ratios.
Regardless of the intentions of the present minister, we need to try to change the legislation so that kind of thing can’t happen again. We need to try to change the legislation so that provisions are moved again from the regulations to the act so the kind of degrading and humiliating means testing that takes place under form seven and which requires applicants for daycare subsidy to go to the welfare office is abolished. I believe we can do that through amendments, by putting the subsidization process clearly into the act and by setting out specifically what kind of procedure we wish to use for the determination of eligibility for daycare subsidization.
We have learned over the years, and most successfully in the GAINS program, that we don’t have to subject people to humiliation in order to determine their eligibility for social service support. In the GAINS program we have a self-declaration which elderly people administer themselves; that is to say, they have a form which they fill out and put in the mailbox. The ministry processes it and determines whether they are eligible or not for GAINS. There is no reason why daycare subsidization should not be provided on exactly the same basis. It is simply intolerable that, despite the fact that we raise this year after year, the minister refuses to act on this and continues to force women and families to choose between a subsidy and humiliation.
I have one other concern that I want to raise briefly, if the minister is paying attention. I realize it is taxing for him to try to pay attention.
There are provisions in the legislation which would authorize private home day care agencies to operate and which would license private home daycare agencies in this province. I’m supportive of the expansion of private home day care, but I have enormous concern about the measure that the minister is introducing here. The minister is not talking about private home day care as a satellite of a group daycare centre. The minister seems to be talking about private, entrepreneurial home daycare operations which, I assume, would be operated on a business basis.
Mr. Blundy: What’s wrong with that?
Mr. McClellan: I refer to the 1975 report of the advisory council on day care which discussed private home day care and made recommendations to the ministry at that time. Their recommendation on page 41 of their final report, was that private home day care should be encouraged as a satellite program to group day care. They suggested further that some pilot projects should be undertaken to demonstrate private home day care as a satellite program to parent co-ops. They repeated that recommendation again in 1976.
We will have some discussion during the hearings, I know, on private home day care. But I’m not prepared to support that section of the legislation which provides that private home daycare agencies ran be established without any reference to existing or new group daycare facilities. That would be enormously dangerous. I know of a certainty that we’ll get good representation from the daycare community and I hope we can amend the legislation to make the provision of private home day care more possible, but on the basis of a link with group daycare centres so that the full resources of the day care centre and daycare staff can he made available to those who are providing day care in their own homes.
I thank the Speaker and the House for their indulgence. I’ve gone on at some length.
Mr. Conway: It has been considerable.
Mr. McClellan: I’m sorry if it has. I hadn’t thought you were listening too carefully, Sean.
Mr. Conway: I’ve listened to your every word.
Mr. McClellan: Good.
As I said, I feel very deeply about this subject. I hope very sincerely that on this issue, and particularly on the issue of the Child Welfare Act, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party can work very closely and amend the legislation so we can turn around what this government has been doing and, in fact, undo some of the damage that has been done to child care services by this government over the last three and a half years.
Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support on second reading Bill 120, An Act to revise the Day Nurseries Act. There is really a great deal of interest being expressed in the amendments to the Day Nurseries Act. I have had a lot of comments and questions on it.
In today’s society day care is so essential. In the economic conditions where both parents are working and where we have many single-parent families, the provision of adequate and good day care is very essential.
I would like to mention a couple of situations. When I was mayor of Sarnia, we had occasion to take advantage of the rather generous grants. I would like to let the present Minister of Community and Social Services know how generous his former colleagues were in the matter of day care.
Mr. McClellan: By comparison?
Mr. Blundy: Yes, by comparison this minister is a real piker. When I was mayor, the city of Sarnia took advantage of the daycare grants at that time and established a municipal daycare centre which is actually an example for people to see.
Mr. McClellan: That is true; he is cheap.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Times are changing.
Mr. Blundy: I would like the minister to come and see it. I think it’s a great program. It’s a great building and it has a wonderful staff. The parents are involved and volunteers are involved. It is earing for upwards of 60 children in a very well organized group daycare centre.
That was back in the days when the provincial government was living high, spending like a drunken sailor and not worrying about deficits or anything else. It was just spending money. That’s what they did and, thank God, we took advantage of it, profited by it and got something for the city of Sarnia in that regard.
Mr. McClellan: Bring back Rene Brunelle.
Mr. Blundy: The present minister is a real piker when it comes to providing these services for the various areas of the province of Ontario. We have now recently established in our municipality a private group daycare centre known as St. Bartholomew’s Centre. It is patterned very much after the municipal daycare centre of which I’ve just spoken. It is providing wonderful care for about 50 children of working parents or single parents in our community on a daily pay basis.
We have to come down to the fact that everybody is not able to afford private group daycare services. I would like to exhort the minister to try to rustle up more funds for the provision of daycare centre activities for those who are not able to pay the going rate in private group daycare centres.
Mr. Foulds: Don’t nickel and dime next time.
Mr. McClellan: Spend the $44 million you were given.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You can’t believe everything you say, surely.
Mr. Bluntly: As I said before when I was speaking on these bills, there isn’t anybody in this House who has expressed the view more often than I have that we’ve got to cut down on expenses, but when you’re talking about children and day care and the provision of services to these needy people, it’s pretty hard to talk about trying to meet restraints and trying to live with cutbacks and so forth.
I wanted to say that I can see the value of well-operated daycare facilities for the people of our municipalities. I want to exhort the minister to look at it in a very generous sense.
When we come to the study in committee of this bill, along with the other children’s bills. I’m certainly going to spend some time in discussing the possibilities that are available in the provision of daycare services for the children in Ontario. With those few words I wish to give my support to this bill on second reading and I look forward to being able to make further observations and suggestions in committee.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, earlier this evening I referred to the package and used the word “garbage,” and I think this particular bill indicates what I was talking about. I go back to the days of the discussions with the Provincial Secretary for Social Development and the attitude towards day care, and I had hoped that this would be a great opportunity for this minister to at least indicate some new philosophy in this area.
The secretary has consistently taken the position that day care could be safely relegated to grandparents who had nothing better to do. If one talks to grandparents, I think there aren’t too many of them who would feel qualified to deal with children on a day-to-day basis for any great period of time. There are undoubtedly some who are exceptional grandparents, but the whole concept of day care and the need of the child, particularly in a situation as complex as our society, is one which merits something more than is contained in this piece of legislation.
The whole concept for at least group day care of an early learning process is one which I think has to be examined. I want to warn the minister that when this matter goes to the committee, we will expect that philosophy, or at least a philosophy, to be presented and that we are not dealing with some revamped stuff that has all the appearance of all that which has gone before.
We have had so much discussion recently about discrimination, but I can only think it has to be a male logic that looks at the daycare situation from the point of view of eligibility. Let me just draw this example:
Everyone in our society is concerned with people finding opportunities for employment; I don’t think one can deny this is government policy. Everyone is concerned about making it possible for people to move out into the employment market. Yet, under our present standards and our present terms of eligibility, the people who are on unemployment insurance benefits are required to pay the full cost of placing a child in day care. Of course, since they can’t afford it, one wonders what we are trying to achieve if at the same time another level of government is telling them that to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits they have to go out and find a job.
I don’t think anyone other than some of the males in our society would find that had any logic at all; and I say that with the greatest degree of concern, since most of the women with whom I have discussed it find no logic in it at all. I have to say neither do I.
We really don’t look at day care either from the point of view of the needs of the child or of the needs of those who are seeking employment. We tend to look at it as though it were some kind of a begrudging privilege that we accord to those who can’t really afford the full benefit of the program.
I would have to say that from my point of view, this particular bill is one of the most important of the whole package, and that I regret exceedingly the fact that again we are dealing with legalities, we are dealing with some legal semantics, but we are not dealing in any way, shape or form with a new look or a new philosophy.
I personally hate to pass this bill for committee because I do think it needs a greater debate on second reading, but I recognize that this government always functions on the basis of bringing in its important legislation at the 11th hour so it can’t have ample debate in principle.
In any event I trust that the minister is warned that we will expect a statement of principle and policy to accompany this particular bill as it goes to committee.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Touching upon a couple of the latter points first, I must again remind the honourable member that we are looking at interim and short-term amendments. She can look as sceptical as she is able to -- and I am sure this does sound repetitious -- but I am working with senior advisers in this area on the development of a new statement or philosophy relating to day care. Whether or not that will be available and have received policy approval and so on by the time the committee sits, I don’t know.
If the member had paused for a moment to be realistic and had shown some appreciation for the myriad threads of activity and progress that are going on in my ministry at the present time --
Mr. McClellan: You’ve turned it into a sink.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- and trying to bring these together in a co-ordinated fashion, then she really should --
Mrs. Campbell: Show us.
Hon. Mr. Norton: All right, the member will see it.
The thing is it is not going to be possible always to please the member at every point with precisely what it is she wants to see in terms of the philosophy and so on. I cannot assure her at this point that the timing will be such as to coincide with the sitting of the committee. If that is possible, I certainly will strive to meet that objective.
Referring to the 11th hour allegation, however that may be perceived by the honourable member as having been a pattern or not, I can assure her -- and I think she appreciates that as well -- that to get this legislation before the House during this sitting as I made a commitment to the House to do, required an extraordinary effort on the part of the staff of the ministry. Given the consultation process that we have been through, having processed over 126 submissions, many of them very substantial, it has not been a hasty process.
It would have been very easy for me to abdicate the commitment and say we’ll do it in the fall when we have more time before the rising of the House, although I felt that the commitment I had made took precedence over that alternative decision.
I am not sure that some of the comments relate particularly to the principle of this bill but I find it difficult to resist commenting upon some of them. The member for Bellwoods speaks of the lack of commitment to day care in the province of Ontario.
Mr. Foulds: He is absolutely right.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I would remind him, although it may not coincide with his expectations, that it would he well to bear in mind that at a time when federal statistics recently published in the newspapers indicated that across the whole of this country there has been an average decline in the number of spaces in day care, including the situation in the province of Ontario; Ontario continues annually to increase. It may not be at the rate that he would say would be necessary.
Mr. McClellan: The minister should be ashamed and humiliated by those kinds of figures.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I look at some of the data that periodically appears in reports in the press. I try to confirm it to the best of my ability. Recently there was a suggestion of in excess of 600 people on waiting lists. I have attempted to confirm that to the best of our ability at this point. It is not complete and I am not suggesting that this is a final tally, but to the best of our ability at this point we have been able to confirm 49. It may well be larger than that. This was with respect to a specific geographical area and not the whole province.
Mr. McClellan: That speaks to the minister’s incompetence.
Hon Mr. Norton: This was related to the Toronto situation. The problem we will always have as legislators is determining what the most equitable way is to deal, not only with services like day care but services generally, which require extraordinary commitments in some instances of funds from taxpayers of the province in order to provide needed and necessary subsidies to service to other individuals.
The absence of some reasonable mechanism for testing the need, it seems to me, could potentially create an inequity the other way. We have to bear in mind that there are people almost equally in need as families in this province to make the services possible. There has to be some mechanism --
Mr. Mcclellan: Then why shouldn’t they be eligible for subsidy? Who can afford the full cost of day care?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Come on now; that is nonsense to say why not give them a subsidy. Why don’t you give everybody a subsidy?
Mr. Foulds: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Norton: If we could tax some of the member’s expenditures, then maybe we would be able to create some revenues here.
Mr. Foulds: Don’t be so silly. The government hasn’t raised the tax from the Crown Timber Act since 1968. Don’t talk such frivolous nonsense.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Coming back to the issue at hand, it is important if we are to be responsible to all of the people of the province of Ontario that we not abdicate completely the recognition of the need to test the need for a subsidy.
Mr. McClellan: Nobody denies that.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If there are ways in which it can be more equitable or reasonable or simply administered, certainly we are prepared to consider that but I am not prepared to abdicate that principle of assuring those people who are --
Mr. Mcclellan: Nobody suggested that. Don’t be stupid.
Hon. Mr. Norton: If the member has changed his position, I welcome that because his party’s position has consistently been for free universal day care. He knows that, so he should not try denying it.
Mr. McClellan: I haven’t changed my position. It is the same as it was in 1975 and it is on the record.
Hon. Mr. Norton: He has stood and his party stood in principle for free and universal day care. Do not deny it. All I am saying is that I think that although we have to ensure a degree of accessibility, we have to recognize degrees of need, with the recognition that there are not unlimited resources.
Ms. Gigantes: You are borrowing on kids’ lives. That is what you are doing and you are going to have to pay for it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: We must try to meet the need of those in greatest need first.
Mr. McClellan: You make Margaret Birch look progressive.
Hon. Mr. Norton: That may be so. I’m saying that --
Mr. Foulds: Do you know the play, Joan of Arc? The last line of that play is, “How long do we have to wait, Lord, how long?”
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- there is not the philosophical and moral bankruptcy as there is in some of the opinions that have been expressed from time to time, not necessarily tonight, in the area of social services.
Ms. Gigantes: That is a kind of meaningful statement, isn’t it? A timely statement.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes. I would point out to the honourable member that if she cares --
Ms. Gigantes: I wonder if I could rise on a point of personal privilege?
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- to once more accuse me of lying in public and have it published -- I have already a legal opinion with respect to the liability she incurred the last time -- in the Ottawa publication. Please bear that in mind. I don’t take it lightly. I also have transcripts of the tapes.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member for Carleton East on a point of privilege.
Ms. Gigantes: The minister has referred to a question of my personal liability. I’m interested to know exactly what he means by that and what tapes he is referring to.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I’m quite happy to respond to that. It’s not particularly relevant to the conversation. I apologize for the suggestion. But I would point out I have seen a publication in which the honourable member purported to quote me on a matter relating to day care, then make the statement she knew that to be a lie. That was a daycare publication in Ottawa. I’ve forgotten the name of it. I have a copy of it.
I would also point out I have seen what purports to be a transcript --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Does the member for Carleton East have a further point of privilege?
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you would consider it a matter of unparliamentary procedure for the minister in effect to accuse me of lying by the words he has spoken right now.
Mr. Foulds: He has to withdraw that remark.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The point of the matter is that the honourable member accused me -- and was quoted in a public publication -- of lying. That’s the point to which I was referring.
If she wishes to pursue the matter further I invite her to do so. I suggest we might carry on with this legislation this evening and we can deal with that at another point, if she wishes.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I would like a ruling on this. It seems to me quite intolerable that the minister should introduce an interjection of this kind in a debate on this bill and that he should be suggesting I have incurred a personal liability to him; that he has tapes; that he has information that somehow makes me vulnerable to a lawsuit, I presume. What is this and what is your opinion of it?
Mr. Acting Speaker: What the minister referred to did not take place in this House. The minister did not accuse the honourable member of lying. The minister indicated he saw a publication in which the honourable member accused him of lying. I believe the minister did indicate there might be some liability on the part of the member and then the minister withdrew that statement. I would now ask the minister to proceed to discuss the bill before us.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t accuse anyone of lying. There perhaps ought to be some further clarification. I did not retract, sir, the suggestion that I had sought legal opinion on the matter and received such opinion.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I believe, Mr. Minister, you did retract --
Mr. Foulds: What the heck is going on here?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Mr. Minister, I believe you did retract the statement that there may be some liability on the part of the honourable member for the moment. I think you did retract that statement.
Mrs. Campbell: He said he didn’t.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I --
Some hon. members: Retract.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can’t --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Any statement you made as far as seeking legal opinion goes is perfectly in order. As for saying there is liability on the part of the member, did you or did you not withdraw that statement?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I will withdraw any reference to that, but I did receive such an opinion and I will make no references as to what that opinion informed me of.
Mr. Martel: A point of privilege: If the minister is making some reference that there is a possibility, I think he should have to either substantiate or withdraw totally. He cannot say he’s got something that might indicate what he’s saying. He’s either going to produce it or he’s going to withdraw totally.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. I would point out to the member for Sudbury East that not in any way have his privileges been abused.
Mr. Martel: I’m not suggesting that my privileges have been, my colleague is.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Very well.
Mr. Martel: The minister will withdraw the suggestion totally or he will produce the evidence. He’ll do one of the two.
An hon. member: Let her speak for herself.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would you please take your seat?
Mr. Martel: No, Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, I cannot leave that innuendo about a member of this Legislature.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, order. The honourable minister, I will repeat again, has referred to matters which did not take place in this House. The honourable minister has indicated he has received some legal opinions and there is no breach of privilege in that.
The honourable minister mentioned that in a publication the member for Carleton East has said that the minister had lied. That could be a point of privilege on behalf of the minister, but certainly not for the member for Carleton East unless she says that statement is incorrect.
Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, with respect to the point of privilege, it would appear to me that the minister, through the allegations he has made --
Mr. Foulds: He threatened her.
Mr. Breithaupt: -- is in some way perhaps compromising the abilities of the member for Carleton East to make certain comments on certain items before the House because of presumed other matters which are hanging over her head in that sense. It would seem to me that our privileges are all somewhat coloured in this matter if, in fact, the minister is using some comments --
Mr. Mackenzie: That’s a cheap slur that you used. It’s about the worst I’ve heard in this House.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I am accused of lying and that is a cheap slur?
Mr. Breithaupt: -- on some other matter to interfere perhaps with a free exchange of opinions and perhaps to compromise the member for Carleton East --
Mr. McClellan: He is not the first one who has done that.
Mr. Breithaupt: -- in her ability to bring forward points of view of criticisms or whatever that may be in order. It just seems to me a most curious exchange which the minister began. I don’t understand the background because I’m not familiar with the article that was raised.
Mr. Lane: No, you were here.
Mr. Ashe: Sit down.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Breithaupt: But I’m quite sure that the member for Durham West knows even less about it than I do.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order, please. I would point out again to the House --
Mr. Roy: He knows nothing about nothing. Mr. Acting Speaker: -- that the matter referred to was not a matter which took place in this House.
An hon. member: He still threatened her.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Just a moment. And therefore, in no way would it inhibit any member of this House from participating in their duties in this House.
Secondly, the only matter which may be considered to be a matter which is privileged and should be withdrawn was the allegation by the minister that there might be some liability on the part of the member for Carleton East. My understanding was that the minister did withdraw that reference in this House this evening.
Mr. Breithaupt: No, he didn’t. He said he didn’t.
Mrs. Campbell: No, he didn’t.
Mr. Martel: Would you ask him to withdraw it clearly?
Mr. Acting Speaker: I understand the minister did withdraw the reference to liability on the part of the member, and if he’s done that, then I think the matter is concluded.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t, Mr Speaker. I simply said that I have received a legal opinion.
Mr. Martel: No, but you in fact have not withdrawn it.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I think we should continue with the debate.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order: I draw to your attention rule 16, subsection 8; which says that “In a debate, a member will be called to order by the Speaker if he makes allegations against another member.” That is what that member has done against the member for Carleton East. He should have been called to order and he should withdraw the remark.
Mr. Martel: Totally.
Hon. Mr. Drea: He withdrew it.
Mr. Acting Speaker: On the point of order, I will say again -- the only allegation, and the member for Carleton East has not claimed this to be a false allegation -- the only thing the minister said that could be considered to be an allegation was that she said somewhere in print that the honourable minister’s statement was a lie. If she wishes to contest that statement, that’s an allegation, that can be contested. But she did not contest that statement.
Mr. Foulds: The rule is “makes allegations” of any kind. The member cannot do that.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I will hear only the member for Carleton East if she wishes to rise on a point of privilege -- only.
Ms. Gigantes: I am sure that any comment that I made about the behaviour or a statement of the minister was an accurate description of his behaviour or his statements.
An hon. member: You’re evading.
Ms. Gigantes: Whether he considerers that to be something over which he goes to a lawyer is of course his business. But when he makes an allegation in this House that I have somehow committed some kind of civil crime against his person --
Hon. Mr. Norton: I didn’t suggest that.
Ms. Gigantes: Yes, you did suggest that, excuse me, Mr. Minister. Mr. Speaker, that’s exactly what he suggested when he suggested he had sought legal advice as to what I am alleged to have said’. I will have to check the record very carefully. I think the onus rests with him to bring proof of anything.
Mr. G. Taylor: Prove your privilege now; don’t bother checking.
Ms. Gigantes: He is suggesting that I engaged in some kind of actionable civil crime. I think that allegation should be withdrawn.
Mr. Martel: That’s right.
Mr. Acting Speaker: I think we have had enough on this --
Mr. Martel: Make him withdraw; we’ve had enough.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Carleton East has not in any way denied anything that the minister said as far as her statements are concerned.
Mr. Martel: Why should she?
Mr. Mackenzie: Come off it. She’s not on trial here.
Mr. Acting Speaker: There is no point of privilege on that at the moment.
Mr. Foulds: You won’t get another piece of legislation through if you keep up this stuff.
Mr. Ashe: What’s new?
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Would you please take your seat?
Mr. Mackenzie: We haven’t dealt with slurs before, and that was a cheap slur on the member.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. The honourable minister has withdrawn the allegation that there may be liability on the part of the member for Carleton East. That ends the matter. I would ask the honourable minister to continue on the debate on the bill.
Mr. Martel: We will challenge your ruling, I am telling you.
An hon. member: He hasn’t withdrawn it.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege again: What your ruling is suggesting is that, unless I challenge the minister’s imputation that I have slandered him, I am somehow agreeing to the fact that I have slandered him.
Mr. Martel: That’s nonsense.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The honourable minister has withdrawn that part of his remarks.
Mr. Martel: He has not.
Mr. Cooke: He did not withdraw it.
Mr. Acting Speaker: If there is a dispute, I will ask the honourable minister again if he has withdrawn that part of his remarks about the liability of the member for Carleton East.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, if it would be more appropriate to pursue in another place, I will withdraw the entire thing in order that the business of the House may continue.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Will the honourable minister continue with his summary of Bill 120?
Mr. Blundy: Make it brief.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I will try to make my remaining remarks very brief. was making reference, I believe, to the question of testing; and I will pass on now to some of the statements that have been made with respect to group day care as opposed to private home day care. I think that some of our assumptions -- and I say “our assumptions,” because I think we have all made them, those of us who have been involved in the provision of day care; I do include myself in that group, having been involved for a number of years in a charitable group that was providing day care on a non-profit basis.
Some of our assumptions may well be being challenged. If we are going to make some of the sweeping statements about the value of group day care, we might make sure that we are aware of at least some of the current literature in other jurisdictions relating to an evaluation of some of the effects of group day care. I am not undermining that; I am just saying there is some new literature that I think we should all be aware of. Pardon?
Ms. Gigantes: You are quite deliberately undermining it.
Mr. Acting Speaker: If the minister will ignore the interjections, I think we will not get into any more trouble.
Hon. Mr. Norton: It is not an attempt to deliberately undermine it at all. As a matter of fact, it is simply an effort on my part, and I hope an effort on the part of the members opposite, to make oneself as fully aware as possible.
Mr. McClellan: Identify the studies.
Hon. Mr. Norton: I will advise the members; I cannot tell them off the top of my head, but I will let them know if they are interested in pursuing that. This may explain some of the problems that the members opposite have about me --
Mr. McClellan: Your programs are what’s wrong with you.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- in terms of the study that was done in Toronto, expressing concern about health problems but to the best of knowledge not stipulating what the nature of those were on the part of persons providing home day care. I might also add that one of the other concerns that was expressed was the level of education of the persons, I presume almost entirely women, involved in the provision of home day care. One of the observations was that they have --
Mr. McClellan: This is in the report.
Hon. Mr. Norton: This is just picking up on the member’s comments on the report. One of the concerns expressed was that a number of them -- I have forgotten the percentage -- had grade eight education or less. Presumably that means that creates some risk for the child. That may le what happened to me. I can tell the members that I happen to have been raised by two parents, neither of whom had grade eight education. I realize that standards of education have changed over the years, but I am not sure those kinds of considerations in themselves mean that kind of delivery of day care is had per se. I think it takes a more complete and detailed analysis than I have seen to this date.
Mr. Conway: Come on, you are being foolish.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The allegation that our interest in recognizing the need for permitting individual families to make individual decisions, wherever possible, for the provision of care for their children, be it in their own home or elsewhere --
Mr. McClellan: You must have been listening to some very strange people.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- is not a matter of restraint. The allegation that that is a matter related to restraint is fallacious.
Ms. Gigantes: Freedom of non-choice. Hon. Mr. Norton: We must recognize that to whatever extent we are able to provide day care within this province, be it in a private home setting or in a group setting, we must always allow the opportunity for individuals to make private arrangements.
Ms. Gigantes: Oh no, we would send them in at gunpoint.
Hon. Mr. Norton: No, but this relates to one of the other concerns the member for Bellwoods expressed, and that was relating to the licensing of --
Mr. McClellan: Why don’t you talk about the communist manifesto just to round out your speech.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. McClellan: Socialization of children.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Listen, I am simply trying to give you some correct information.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You expressed concern about private-home daycare agencies being licensed.
Mr. McClellan: This is a very high-level debate.
Hon. Mr. Norton: You expressed concern about private-home daycare agencies being licensed. That is not indicating a new thrust.
Mr. McClellan: It’s your trend of thought.
Hon. Mr. Norton: The fact of the matter is there are agencies at the present time, engaged in arranging private-home daycare for individuals, on a private nonsubsidized basis, through private contractual arrangements with families.
The provision to license is simply a means of trying to ensure good standards in that kind of operation. That should not be interpreted as a major new thrust to get away from the public provision of day care. At the same time I want to reiterate, I am not disposed to try to eliminate private involvement, provided it meets high standards, in the delivery of day care.
Mr. McClellan: Like Mini-Skools.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Well, there is some misinformation on that as well.
Mr. McClellan: Could we have a little bit more information coming down the pipe?
Hon. Mr. Norton: That covers most of the concerns that have been raised, and with that I will terminate my remarks on this legislation.
Mr. McClellan: Thank God.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing social development committee.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH CENTRES ACT (CONCLUDED)
Mr. Deputy Speaker: According to the provisions of provisional order 37 I would remind the members that there will be a bell for up to 30 minutes.
Mr. Breithaupt: Could we agree that it would be a five-minute bell? Is that possible at this point?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The House divided on the motion by Hon. Mr. Norton for second reading of Bill 115, which was approved on the following vote:
Ordered for standing social development committee.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might have the concurrence of the House to revert to motions.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the House meet at 10 am. on Thursday, June 22, with the routine proceedings to be called at 2 o’clock.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, starting at 10, we will do Bills 124, 131, 126 and 35 and then, one would hope, vote interim supply.
There has been some question about the committees. I would assume that the committees could meet concurrent with the House. In fact, would there be any question about that? The House could agree that the committees that are scheduled for Thursday morning would be allowed to meet concurrent with the House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 10:38 p.m.