The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I thought I would report briefly to the House with respect to the discussion of the past three days in Ottawa. After hearing some of the discussions last evening and reading some of the press reports, I hope I can explain some of those things that were agreed to or not agreed to, and what the process is from this date onwards. I will also make available to the House and to the leaders of the two opposition parties the papers that were presented. I am sure some of the members observed in a personal way the discussions that took place during those three days and are quite familiar with the general direction of the conference.
I think it is fair to state that Ontario’s view as it went into this conference was to achieve two objectives. The first was to get a constitutional package that would represent significant constitutional change. I don’t think anyone anticipated that in that short space of time the constitutional matters would be totally resolved by any means; and secondly to establish some specific plan of action or process which would translate the general agreements reached into some specific plan of action. It is fair to state that while we would like to have seen some more specific definition to the results of the conference, in many respects our objectives were met. The Prime Minister of this country put before the conference Tuesday morning around 11 o’clock, if I remember correctly, the federal viewpoint with respect to the distribution of powers, which has always been one of the fundamental concerns of this province and other provinces as it relates to the drafting or development of a new constitution.
The proposals put forward by the Prime Minister encompassed in main the principles or the suggestions we have been making since 1971, if not before. There was a clear indication from the Prime Minister that the government of Canada was prepared in these discussions to limit the federal spending power, to limit the declaratory power to allow the provinces in the field of indirect taxation; and there were three or four other items that have been part of Ontario’s position for some time.
With respect to the process, the first ministers agreed to direct their Attorneys General and the ministers of intergovernmental affairs, along with their officials, to deal with the principles laid down by the government of Canada together with the various points of view of the provincial Premiers and with some of the suggestions emanating from some provinces. All this is to be taken into account and specific documentation prepared for consideration by the first ministers very early in February.
The Attorneys General, the ministers of intergovernmental affairs have already established some tentative timetables, so from that standpoint I am optimistic that when the Prime Minister reconvenes the federal-provincial meeting in February there will be available to us sufficient documented suggestions to enable us to make final decisions to the extent these things are final.
From Ontario’s standpoint, I don’t say we didn’t have some parochial interests. One can argue that the spending power and the declaratory power were of specific interest to us, although quite honestly I wasn’t there on behalf of the province to bargain with the government of Canada -- if you give us this we’ll give in on that, et cetera, et cetera.
For three or four provinces the general approach was consistent with what I think the Prime Minister and the government of Canada are prepared to consider. We made our position on the monarchy quite unequivocal, and that point of view was supported by the other first ministers there. Again this time the Premier of Quebec didn’t comment, so I won’t say he was in favour or he wasn’t.
One of the objectives of the Prime Minister which led to some of the debate yesterday morning, and there was a feeling he was tying some of the federal positions to this as a pre-condition, is the objective of patriation and establishing an amending formula. I think I’m right in my assessment that there is no pre-condition in terms of the meetings in February but that his objective is patriation with an amending formula, and I happen to share that point of view.
It is ironic and less than satisfying, in fact it is extremely unfortunate, that a nation that is 111 years of age cannot deal with its own constitution, that we aren’t in the position as Canadians to amend that constitution and to act like any other adult, mature nation in this world. So when the Prime Minister speaks rather strongly about patriation, I may argue with him on some aspects of constitutional reform or constitutional change, but I reminded him yesterday that our commitment to patriation, going back from my own personal experience to 1971, was as great as his; and I would like to think the vast majority of Ontarians feel the same way.
I don’t for a moment minimize the difficulties the ministers will face over the next two and a half months or three months in terms of their deliberations in the preparation of the suggestions for the next first ministers’ meeting on the constitution. There were some very sincerely and strongly held points of view on some basic issues. I think the members understood from our presentation that while one can argue the entrenchment or non-entrenchment of certain things in the constitution, we opted in some areas for entrenchment. It is fair to state that two or three provinces felt that because of our tradition, because of our existing systems and the supremacy of the House and of the Legislature, that entrenchment was not the wise route to go. I say these views were sincerely held. I happen to think the process we would support makes greater sense, but I don’t question, shall we say, the validity or sincerity of the points of view of other provincial Premiers.
I don’t think there is any question that we are fairly close to unanimity on such matters as the entrenchment of the Supreme Court in the constitution. Where there will still be some differing points of view will be how the Supreme Court is appointed and whether it is to be representative in nature -- representative, that is, of the various regions of Canada. Ontario’s point of view, which is not inflexible, is that on this fundamental issue the appointments to the Supreme Court should be done through some form of committee of the Attorneys General of Canada to select from a panel. This would be the process which I think would be generally acceptable to a number of other provinces.
Where we get into some difficulty is the question of where the judges should come from. Some of our sister provinces have fairly strong views that there should be this representative or geographic characteristic -- regional I think was the term used. Our point of view -- and hopefully it isn’t parochial -- is that the Attorneys General, or whatever method of appointment is selected, very simply should select the best men or women available to discharge this very onerous responsibility. I don’t think this is a totally illogical point of view.
Where I sense there will be some difficulty in achieving unanimity prior to the conference -- hopefully we can resolve it then -- is with respect to the amending formula. That has been an issue debated for X number of years. There have been many attempts made. We are not inflexible here either as a government. We are prepared to see some alteration to the Victoria formula, which is our preference. We haven’t rejected other considerations, but we are very reluctant to accept the principle that there has to be unanimity.
This is difficult for Ontario to say, because under any formula obviously the central provinces are going to have a greater impact in terms of amendment than some of our sister provinces. At the same time it is very difficult to understand in any democratic process that while the will of what in terms of population could be the vast majority of the people of this country is to see a constitutional amendment made, yet we have to have unanimity, which means that a province with a relatively small population would be in a position of keeping the will of the vast majority from finding its way into any constitutional change. As I say, I don’t minimize the difficulty in this, but it is one of those issues that at some point in time has to be resolved.
The position of the Premier of Quebec, I think, was clearly enunciated. For the information of the members of the House, Quebec will not support patriation or consideration of the amending formula at this point. The Premier -- I think I am paraphrasing him with some degree of accuracy -- made it clear that the province of Quebec wanted a total package there for discussion or decision before the question of patriation would be considered by him or his government. I understand that point of view. I think it is unfortunate and I don’t agree with it; I made that quite clear to the Premier of Quebec during the conference.
I think it is also fair, though, to report to the members of the House -- and I’m only trying to give a sense of what happened with respect to the position of the province of Quebec -- that while the Premier certainly didn’t indicate any alteration of his publicly-stated objective, while there was no indication that he had changed his approach or his state of mind with respect to his ultimate objective, it was encouraging from the standpoint that the province of Quebec was represented and that with respect to debate on all issues, with the exception of patriation and the amending formula, the Premier of Quebec and his ministers took part in a constructive way in terms of the discussions that went on.
While I didn’t see him quoted directly on television last evening or in the press this morning, my impression was that he and his government would be part of the first ministers’ meeting in February and they would continue in the process towards ultimate change in the constitution of this country.
I would only finalize my observations, having been involved in this for some years, by saying that while I know there are those who would become discouraged and some who are a little bit cynical -- there’s always a tendency to suggest that the Attorneys General and the ministers of intergovernmental affairs are having yet another meeting -- certainly since Victoria at least, I think that the last three days in Ottawa have given us the potential at least for making some progress in the area of constitutional reform. I think the potential is there -- and I acknowledged this to the Prime Minister on Tuesday and again yesterday -- because of the decision of the government of Canada not only to put matters on the table for discussion, but also I sensed a commitment that in fact they were prepared to move in those five or six fundamental areas that this province and some others have been raising for these many years.
While I will not mislead the House, and I don’t for a moment say that we will resolve these issues in February, I am hopeful. I think the potential is there, I think the foundation is there. I think it will require a very great degree of commitment on the part of all Premiers of this country. I think it will require a certain measure of flexibility, a certain give and take, with the understanding that the end objective is important and essential for this country. It is time for us to recognize that we are now mature politically and economically. We are 111 years old. It is time we had a Canadian constitution, able to be amended by Canadians, and one that reflects this country in a total sense.
Mr. T. P. Reid: It’s hard to argue with that.
RULES OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. I rise to place on the record my feeling that, since the start of this session, the question period which we observe daily has been abused by the government.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Mancini: Day after day, we find parliamentary assistants to different ministers rising in the House to question --
An hon. member: Name one.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think one of the basic ingredients when a member rises is that he be able to demonstrate that his privileges as a member have been abrogated in some way. I know of no way, as a result of the conduct of the question period, that the honourable member’s privileges have been infringed on in any way. The question period is for all members of the House, and if members of the government side wish to take advantage of it, that is their privilege. It does not detract from your privileges as a member.
ANSWER TO QUESTION ON NOTICE PAPER
Hon. Miss Stephenson: On June 20 last my predecessor tabled part of the answer to question 97 on Order Paper 68 standing in the name of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner). That material was for the year 1977. I am now tabling for the honourable member the 1978 data.
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of the Environment. Is the minister aware that the Interflow company in Hamilton closed its incinerator facility on April 15, 1977, and yet this company continues to accept liquid wastes from all over Ontario? Is the minister aware of that, first of all, and can the minister table in this House tomorrow or the next day the waybills that may pertain to those shipments made to Interflow so as to demonstrate the ultimate destinations of these liquid wastes and so as to be able to assure the House that the only wastes going to the Ottawa Street site are those generated in Hamilton-Wentworth and not those simply using Interflow as a transfer station?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’m not sure whether I’m permitted to table those waybills or not, but we’ll certainly be prepared to give the compilation of the information they contain.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, is the minister aware that his regional director in the Hamilton-Wentworth area, who is charged with the job of monitoring the Ottawa Street site to see what’s going in there, has said -- and I quote from the Hamilton Spectator -- when we said that he had said that he had no idea what was going into the site, he had a correction? He said his comment was taken out of context. Quoting from the Hamilton Spectator: “He said that while he hasn’t any idea what wastes are being handled at the site on a day-to-day basis, because of the need to rely on the waybill system the ministry does know what is going into the dump on an annual basis.”
Aside from the sleight-of-hand by which a person who doesn’t know what’s happening day to day somehow at the end of the year is able to find out what happened, how is he supposed to monitor what is going into that site if he really does not have access to this knowledge on a day-to-day basis so that he might know which loads are being delivered and what their origin really happens to be?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’ll be very pleased to talk to the regional director and get that information for the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: One more supplementary: Is the minister not somewhat puzzled by the fact that a company that closed its incinerator over a year ago continues to receive very large gallonages of liquid waste from around the province of Ontario? If, in fact, their job is merely to transfer these wastes to some legitimate place, like St. Lawrence or some other possible site, what is the need for them to act as this sort of transfer station? Why can’t the people getting rid of the waste send it directly to St. Lawrence in the first place? They must surely know where it is. Is the minister not in some way suspicious or worried or concerned, and will he give us the waybills tomorrow or the next day to show what really is happening to those wastes being handled by Interflow?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: If I may take a moment, the question asked by the member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) a week ago today made some suggestions that upon investigation we found were factually not correct. I am prepared to look into this and find out the situation, but I’m not prepared at this time to accept all the hypotheses of the Leader of the Opposition.
I have given a commitment to find that information and bring it to the House. At the moment I’m not prepared to accept all the suppositions in the questions.
Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Minister of Housing: Does the Minister of Housing recall a meeting he had on May 5, 1977, when he was then Minister of Industry and Tourism, a meeting regarding the Cantrakon conference and seminar centre in Caledon? Does he recall the recommendation being made at that meeting by a senior government official that in the opinion of this official an official plan amendment should be processed prior to a resubmission of another development permit application? The point is that the government could then act on the amendment and in that way provide guidance and direction to the Niagara Escarpment Commission from the cabinet level, not just from the Minister of Housing.
Can the minister explain why he did not take that route of making sure that an official plan amendment application was made and in that way allow the entire government to be able to guide the escarpment commission with regard to this very important matter?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I recall having met with the lawyers representing the firm and the architect, and I believe one of the principals. I could not confirm the exact date. I understand we now have in this House two dates that I might have had an opportunity of meeting with the principals.
Mr. S. Smith: April 21.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: April 21 was the date I had interpreted earlier, when I was Minister of Industry and Tourism. I do not recall all of the discussion that took place at the time. The principals, along with their architect and lawyer, did come into the Ministry of Industry and Tourism on the advice and recommendation of the tourism director, Mr. Boyer. We met with them. I believe they continued their meeting with the civil service; but I would not be in a position at this time to say exactly what the full discussion happened to be, nor do I recall going into the details as the leader of the Liberal Party has indicated this afternoon.
Mr. S. Smith: May I, by way of supplementary, ask the minister whether he recalls the following from the writeup of the meeting: “Mr. Farrow noted that the proposal was contrary to the Caledon official plan. It was his opinion that an official plan amendment should be processed prior to resubmission of another development permit application. In this manner, the government would act on the amendment, thereby providing guidance and direction to the commission at the cabinet level if necessary. It was his opinion that the government, through Bill 129, the Niagara Escarpment Act, could provide direction to the commission and, should it see fit, could provide updated direction by approval or rejection of an official plan amendment. The Honourable Mr. Bennett agreed but reserved a final recommendation in the matter.”
May I therefore, by way of supplementary, ask the minister why he did not take that route, which would have given the cabinet a chance to guide the commission in this regard? Secondly, was he aware previously that there is a willingness on the part of the company to build the site elsewhere if an equivalent site could be obtained?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, as I said with regard to the meeting of April 21, 1977, I do not recall the minutes nor any indication by myself relating to the official plan amendment. Obviously the applicant took the route that he believed was most expedient for his firm in going to the Niagara Escarpment Commission and then on to the hearing officer.
The article that appeared in the Globe and Mail today indicated the architects said they would be prepared to look at an alternative site providing it is equal and has as spectacular scenery as the one on which they made the original application. I was interested in the article and I asked the people in my ministry to contact the lawyer representing the firm and others as to whether there had been any discussion with the president of the Caledon ratepayers’ association, who indicated this morning by way of the press that he has an alternative site. To the best of my knowledge there has not been any negotiation between those two parties. There has been a press statement by the president of the association, but I doubt very much, from what I’ve been able to ascertain, that there has been any direct contact made with the government to even indicate an alternative site such as the one proposed in this morning’s press.
Ms. Gigantes: Is the minister trying to find out?
Mr. Laughren: Is the minister telling us that neither he nor officials in his ministry sought out alternative sites or suggested to the Cantrakon officials that there might be other sites available in the area?
Mr. Kerrio: Do you know where the escarpment is, Floyd?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: This is like the rehashing of my estimates. We’ve been through this two or three times in the last 10 or 12 days --
Mr. Wildman: It really is a hash.
Mr. Warner: Stop ducking the issue and answer the question. We’re still trying to get straight answers.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It’s been rehashed because we have gone through it time and time again.
Mr. Wildman: Another mishmash.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: But I have no objection to using up the question period; if that’s what you’d like to do, fine, I am willing to accommodate the members.
Mr. McClellan: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I will certainly do that. So there is no misunderstanding, the application was before me and I think in the time of my estimates we explained that the application asked about a specific site. That’s the responsibility of the Minister of Housing, to respond to an appeal to a decision that’s either rendered by the Niagara Escarpment Commission or the hearing officer. Obviously when the hearing officer makes the recommendation I have the right --
Mr. Warner: You wouldn’t have any more imagination than that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- as the Legislature gave it to the minister in that act, to make a final determination as to the operation.
Mr. Nixon: In a case like this you weren’t even prepared to look at alternatives.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Obviously I was asked for an opinion and for a minister’s decision related to a specific site. That doesn’t give me the opportunity of saying to industry, “Why don’t you go and look at some other site?”
Ms. Gigantes: Take off your blinders.
Mr. Kennedy: Just socialists do that.
Mr. Pope: What do you want, more government or less government?
Mr. Laughren: In other words, you didn’t.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I would think that if there are others who wished to participate -- just hold on a minute around here, the member from --
An hon. member: From where?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- from downtown Toronto. She knows a lot about the escarpment. Downtown Toronto, she’s like the rest of them.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Very obviously, Mr. Speaker, I was not asked to try to recommend an alternative site to the developer, nor did I.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I just wondered whether the minister just got his last pay there? I notice he’s got his pay slip.
Mr. Warner: That may be his last pay.
Mr. Epp: I wonder if the Minister of Housing would convene a meeting with ministry officials, with Cantrakon officials and with residents in order to find a suitable site, which has been aptly reported in the press earlier today and on other occasions.
Mr. Johnson: In Waterloo possibly.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: At the moment, all of the discussions relating to an alternative site are by press. There has been no direct communication to my ministry whatsoever.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Just a minute. There has been no direct communication to my ministry by any party that there’s an alternative site whose disposal they are prepared to negotiate or which they have the authorization to negotiate. We are prepared --
An hon. member: That’s why you’re losing your job.
Mr. Warner: You don’t have sense enough to negotiate one.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If members would let me finish.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh they won’t; they don’t want to hear.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I say to the member for Waterloo North, don’t worry about my last pay cheque. I read where his leader is going to reduce my estimates by $18,000. Let me tell him that I appreciate his concern, because he’s a great deal easier on me than the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), who has taken $25 million away from me so far this year. So the opposition is a great deal easier on me than the Treasurer -- who is of my own party -- has been.
Mr. Eakins: We will help him.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If there is a direct communication to me from the president of the ratepayers’ association indicating that he has an alternative site which he wishes to meet with the company on, my ministry, through the appropriate division, would be prepared to try and facilitate a meeting with the Cantrakon people, with the Niagara Escarpment people, with whoever owns the land and, indeed, even with the Caledon rate- payers’ association.
Mr. S. Smith: Good.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Let me only add this, so there is no misunderstanding. If there is an alternative site and the Cantrakon people decide to move, the same rules of procedure will apply on that site as have applied to this site -- going to the Niagara Escarpment Commission for a development permit, to a hearing officer, to an appeal, and to have others oppose it as they see fit.
Mr. Warner: No one believes you any more.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It will go through the same process. If in the final analysis there is a decision to be rendered, we’ll make sure that the protection of the escarpment and of other surrounding operations -- as dictated by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of the Environment, the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, and Caledon town council in their concerns on an alternative site -- will be to the extent indicated in my letter issuing the development permit on this particular site we are dealing with at the moment.
Mr. Warner: No one believes you any more.
Mr. Wildman: I wonder if the minister is aware or not, either when he was Minister of Industry and Tourism or subsequently, if the Ministry of Industry and Tourism took any action to try to find alternative sites for this proposal, or was it just left simply to the Ministry of Housing to make a decision?
Mr. Warner: That’s right, sooner or later we’re going to get a straight answer.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: What’s that got to do with it?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Obviously the member for Algoma is unaware of the fact, or doesn’t understand. I explained that the application that came before the Minister of Housing, and the appeal of the decision rendered by the Niagara Escarpment hearing officer, was on a specific site. That’s the one that I have to render a decision on, not some unknown site --
Mr. Warner: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- or some proposed site. I’m asked about a specific site on which I rendered a decision.
Our party does not try to tell industry that they are going to go to location A, Y or Z because industry has a desire to locate in a place where they think they are going to get some opportunity of return on their investment.
Mr. Swart: Even in the United States.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: if you don’t allow them to build on that site, they may very well find themselves locating in some other part of this province or, indeed, in some other part of the continent. That’s happening because a party like the NDP wants constantly to dictate to industry where they are going to locate rather than giving them the opportunity and encouraging them to come into the province of Ontario to benefit our economy.
Mr. Martel: You are going to sell them Minaki Lodge.
Mr. Speaker: Order, I take it the answer to that supplementary was no.
Ms. Gigantes: He doesn’t know.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I thought my description was extremely explicit.
Mr. Speaker: Final supplementary: the honourable Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. S. Smith: A brief supplementary for clarification because of the importance of this matter: do I understand correctly that the minister would be willing, if requested to do so by the Caledon ratepayers’ association, to call together Cantrakon, some people in his own ministry and other interested parties, to see if an alternative site can be located for this particular project? Do I understand that he is prepared to move on this in an expeditious manner? I want to be sure that is the commitment we have.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: If the Liberal leader would read the newspaper article, it was very clearly indicated by the architect that they themselves are prepared, without the minister or the government interfering in any way, shape or form, to meet with any group who thinks they have a piece of land that is equally as good, scenery-wise and so on, as the one they presently have the approval on for development of the type of operation they want.
I said clearly, and Obviously the Liberal leader wasn’t listening or doesn’t interpret English very well, that if the president of the ratepayers’ association of Caledon --
Mr. Breaugh: This is not a swan song, it’s a turkey trot.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- wishes to come to me officially and indicate he has a piece of land which he is prepared and authorized to sell, or negotiate the sale of --
Mr. S. Smith: You didn’t say that.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Oh yes I did. The member should be very careful what I did say. No ratepayers’ president can start negotiating somebody else’s land if that person is not prepared to look at the potential sale. I said if he has the right to negotiate the sale of that land, I am prepared to call together all the parties --
Mr. Samis: That’s not unanimous.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: -- who could have a vested interest in what happens on this particular development.
Mr. Van Horne: Why don’t you just admit you are wrong?
Mr. Laughren: I have a question of the Premier. In view of the fact the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) has now confirmed that the Ontario government has made a submission to the federal government concerning the adjustment assistance program outlining Ontario’s real concerns about the state of our manufacturing sector and that the manufacturing sector will not be able to withstand any reduction in tariffs; and in view of the fact the government of Ontario spent the last year, through its former Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), talking about the benefits of freer trade; would the Premier tell us why he and his government have been saying one thing in private, namely that our manufacturing industries will be in grave danger if there are lower trade barriers, and another thing in public when he is talking about the benefits of liberalized trade? And I quote for the Premier’s benefit from a statement made by the former Treasurer on April 26.
Hon. W. Newman: Is this a speech or a question?
Mr. Laughren: “First I believe that we must make up our minds on the basic question: -- ”
Mr. Kerrio: That’s an unfair question.
Mr. Laughren: “ -- Do we want to build a more protected society or are we going to face up to the challenges and opportunities of the wider world. For very pragmatic, and indeed for spiritual reasons, I believe we have no choice but to gear up for freer trade.”
Could the Premier tell us how he pulls together those contradicting viewpoints expressed by ministers of his government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have no difficulty whatsoever. The member may have difficulty in my explanation of this reconciliation, but I’ll make an effort.
As I said either to the member or his leader a few days ago, submissions, or material, or points of view were made to the government of Canada and its negotiators for the GATT discussions. In preparation of that material, there were a lot of suggestions, ideas. There were discussions from people in the business and manufacturing community whose ideas and points of view we wanted for our suggestions to the Canadian negotiators.
I didn’t see all the documentation, but I think the member probably would understand there would be documents that would contain points of view that wouldn’t always be the same, although they would not necessarily be contradictory.
There is a feeling in this country and in the United States that whether we like it or not, we are moving toward the possibility of freer trade. I can assure the member I made it abundantly clear in my discussion with one of the negotiators that we are not hiding our heads in the sand, and this is really the thrust of the Ontario submission.
The honourable member himself, without careful research or a lot of deliberation, can enumerate certain sectors of the competitive marketplace today that are in some difficulty. I am sure he can name one or two right at this moment; we all can.
Our attempt was to persuade the government of Canada and, through them, to recognize that to move to completely free or even freer trade in some of those more vulnerable areas held out what I think are certain problems in terms of the economy of this province and, quite frankly, of other provinces.
We are interested in getting our point of view explained during the GATT negotiations, which point of view I indicated to the House -- and this is one of the problems for the federal negotiators -- is not consistent with the view of one or two of our sister provinces. I haven’t seen their submissions -- the submissions are confidential -- but there is no question, I would guess, that the submission from the province of British Columbia would be for much freer trade, if not for free trade, because so much of their economy relates to the natural resource industry, particularly in terms of its trade with, say, Japan or other countries in the Far East.
As I discovered in my brief visit to the Far East, when you talk about Canadian figures, the Japanese will tell you there’s a fairly significant surplus on the Canadian account. When you talk about Ontario figures -- and they don’t totally recognize that we are a country of provinces -- we know there is a substantial deficit with respect to goods produced here and goods we consume from Japan.
I would only say to the honourable member, because he has debated this with the former Treasurer, that I know some would take the point of view that in the world community -- that is, in the free world; and perhaps that part that is less free as well -- we’re in a more competitive situation. There is the possibility of freer trade. I don’t think anyone can hide his head in the sand and say that isn’t a possibility emerging from Geneva. But I can assure the honourable member that the federal negotiators completely understand our desires to protect -- and I use that word in its enlightened sense -- the manufacturing sector here in Ontario. That was our position, it is our position and it will continue to be our position.
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Ontario government simply does not have a consistent position.
Could I ask the Premier if he has confidence in the federal government, through the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, Mr. Homer, to protect Canadian manufacturing, largely based here in Ontario, against lower trade barriers? If he does have confidence in the federal government would he tell us why? And if he doesn’t have confidence, would be please tell us what contingency plans he has arranged in Ontario to get us through a very difficult period in the years to come?
Mr. Breaugh: And don’t say “sovereignty association.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, and I won’t even use the Magna Carta today either; I’ll leave that to the member’s colleague.
When the honourable member asks me what confidence I have in the government of Canada, I guess it all depends on which aspect of the government of Canada he is talking about. I would only say that in the federal department -- and it is not the minister who has personally negotiated -- I have confidence that the federal officials and negotiators are completely aware of our point of view. I think they understand it and I think it will be reflected in the discussions that are taking place at present.
As I explained to the honourable member, they also have to reconcile the point of view of several other provinces. I might even suggest that the province of Saskatchewan, in its observations to the federal negotiators, might want a position of freer trade as it relates to the resource industry because -- it may come as a bit of shock to him -- that might be in their best provincial interests.
In fairness to the government of Canada officials, their problem is to try to deal with the conflicting points of view of the various provincial jurisdictions. But they understand ours; I’m totally confident they do.
The honourable member asked me about Mr. Homer and his commitment to trade and the development of the economy. Obviously he may or may not be --
Mr. Laughren: His trade record is pretty poor.
Hon. Mr. Davis: All right, look at his record. His record, and I think we’ll take a bit of the credit here, includes the fact that we are in the process of creating a plant in Windsor-Essex -- and I never hear the Windsor members in this House say anything about it -- that will give 2,500 jobs to members of the UAW and 2,000 jobs elsewhere. He helped develop a very major plant in that part of Ontario. The members opposite can say all they want, but I’ve got to tell them this: The rank and file of the UAW are very delighted that we did it.
Mr. Warner: We have no equity.
Mr. Breaugh: Now, go easy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: They are pleased with it, and they are in support of it. The member’s leader can travel across this province and say Ford shouldn’t be doing it. I’ll give members of that party a little political advice. If they were wise they would drop the issue and give the government some credit for --
Mr. S. Smith: Which government?
Mr. Warner: That is probably why Darcy quit.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- job creation in a meaningful way in the Windsor-Essex area. I just wish those fellows would get up and talk against it.
Mr. Breithaupt: It wasn’t quite this government’s idea.
Mr. S. Smith: Horner had to drag you guys. He practically gave up on you for heaven’s sake.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Rainy River with a supplementary?
Mr. T. P. Reid: We would have been much more appreciative in Rainy River had the plant gone there.
Hon. Mr. Davis: In spite of the advice of the leader of the Liberal Party we have brought a Hydro plant into the member’s riding which will affect the economy in a very positive way.
Mr. S. Smith: On a matter of privilege and to set the record straight --
Mr. Speaker: Neither one of you has a matter of privilege.
Mr. S. Smith: -- the Premier is well aware that at no time have I suggested that plant should be built anywhere other than in that riding. It is unworthy of the Premier to besmirch the record in this way.
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s the best place for that plant.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Supplementary: Since the Premier himself has indicated that we are not able to compete as fully as we should be able to without some kind of tariff protection, which indicates that our industries are not all they should be; and since it’s been indicated by the Science Council of Canada and others that we need a fundamental restructuring in the province of Ontario and in Canada; can the Premier indicate what steps the government is taking to direct that fundamental restructuring into those areas where Canada can be competitive in the international market?
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s a very complex issue. I’m not trying to avoid the question because I think it’s a very important question, I accept that. I don’t think the honourable member, in suggesting a lack of productivity, was in any way relating it necessarily to efficiency or the capability of our work force either.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Old equipment.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, it’s not just equipment. Take the textile industry. I think most people would agree that in terms of world competition we’re vulnerable. With respect, I don’t think that relates to the talent of the people in the textile industry or necessarily to the equipment that is being used, but it does relate to the standard of living we enjoy in this province, the salaries and wages being made by people in that industry as compared to Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines -- you name it.
It’s important for us to make that clear. I’ve always taken this approach, because there are those who attack our productivity or the abilities of our labour force. I am one of those who doesn’t accept that proposition. I think in terms of confidence and in terms of efficiency we can compete. But there are some industries where on a world basis I think the potential for difficulty is there, and I just single out the one.
We all know of it. I can only assure the member that both this government and the government of Canada are demonstrating some leadership. He will perhaps see more of this at the first ministers’ meeting on the economy when some of the sectoral studies will be discussed.
In fairness, the government of Canada is demonstrating some leadership in this area and we are assisting. While I can’t lay out possible solutions, because I think we’re some time away from them, I can assure the member that we’re fully aware of the concerns he raises and that we as a government, in conjunction with the government of Canada, are making some progress towards partial solutions. There won’t be total solutions, obviously.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: The Premier indicated there was a secrecy requirement on submissions to the Canadian trade and tariff committee. I believe that is incorrect. In view of the fact that the private sector, including the Canadian Manufacturers Association and the western provinces have made their submissions to the federal government public, why will the Premier not table, not just one submission but all the submissions that have been made to the federal government concerning the negotiations?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think if the member were to ask for that at some future point, perhaps when the deliberations are concluded, I might give it consideration --
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, you can press all you want. These representations were made in confidence. The ones we made were given to the government of Canada and I do not intend to table some of that material at this moment.
Mr. Laughren: We have a right to be part of it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t intend to do it.
Mr. Laughren: The second question is for the Premier as well. In view of the rather dismal record of the Minister of Housing’s performance on the whole Cantrakon Affair, would the Premier himself be willing to intervene and negotiate with the officials of Cantrakon, the Niagara Escarpment Commission and the local groups to select an alternative site?
Doesn’t he agree that the requirement by Cantrakon that it be an equally scenic site is somewhat selfish in view of the fact that it shouldn’t have to be exactly equal, because there is probably nothing more beautiful than the scenery there, and that should not be allowed as a way out of the responsibility of selecting an alternative site?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I won’t become more provocative on this issue. I clearly heard the Minister of Housing state to the Leader of the Opposition that he was quite prepared to discuss it if the Caledon ratepayers’ group or Cantrakon, if that’s their name, or whoever, suggest there is some other alternative. I heard the minister saying that he would be quite prepared to do that. I think it is important to point that out, because the honourable member can say that Cantrakon is being selfish; I don’t know Cantrakon.
Ms. Gigantes: Is that their name?
Mr. McClellan: You don’t even know their name.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I noticed who their architect is -- I didn’t know this until this morning -- Mr. Zeidler, who was the architect of Ontario Place and so on; I think a man of some talent, quite honestly, and some integrity and who, I have got to say this, knowing him just a little bit, has a very real awareness of environmental concerns and the aesthetics of them. That’s really what we’re talking about in many respects.
So I would say to the honourable member that the minister has given this commitment. I think it would be misleading the House to suggest that the government can or should force any private organization that is in process of developing a centre of this nature to accept a site that it doesn’t think would be appropriate for the kind of activity it wishes to pursue. The member’s party might do that sort of thing. They love to dictate to everybody. They want to do everything to everybody from the cradle to the grave. They would lead us down the garden path of total economic --
Mr. Renwick: Now you are being provocative. You said you were not going to be and you are.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I’m being provocative? I’m just saying we don’t do it that way. If the minister, through his efforts or through the local municipality can in some way achieve their objectives of developing whatever it is -- a conference centre -- that is I economically viable, that is the attraction they wish it to be in terms of the business they wish to attract, if that can be done in some other geographic location where there is a willing seller, it makes sense. This government would have no objection.
I cannot say to the honourable member that we will, by some edict for which we have no legislative authority -- I’ll even use his colleague’s Magna Carta -- I mean, we just can’t force people to do things the way he’d like to do it.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: Perhaps the Premier could recall a short sentence in a letter that was written to him by the chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Mr. McMullin. He says in the last paragraph: “The commission’s concern about establishing precedents of this nature is based on the belief that there exists in the vicinity of the escarpment substantial land holdings that were acquired with a view to future intensive development.”
If the Premier is aware of that, if he recalls that statement being made, could he tell us whether or not he has done any investigation to see whether that’s the case? If he has, would he table any documents that provide information contrary to the views expressed by Mr. McMullin?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I’m just very curious. I don’t know how we deal with this in the House. What does the member think Mr. McMullin is saying in that last sentence of the second-last paragraph?
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Speaker, I’m asking the Premier if he is not worried that the Cantrakon development could be the beginning of future intensive developments there, given the performance of the Minister of Housing?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not. I happen to be pretty familiar with the area. I know that some land up there has been owned for many years. There have been some people who are anxious to see development. This will come as no shock to the chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, who happens to be a former mayor and reeve of that municipality. Caledon has been one of the more desirable areas in terms of potential for residential development.
One can debate the density that was perhaps in the minds of some people, but I can also tell the honourable member in terms of the potential and partial Caledon official plan, in terms of the views of the council, at this moment at least, while Mr. McMullin is stating there are other lands there where people might like to see development, I can assure the honourable member -- I can’t speak for the municipality -- that I don’t envisage major development taking place in that area. I have a feeling that if Mr. McMullin were expressing a point of view he wouldn’t see it happening either.
HIDDEN VALLEY RESORT
Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to the Minister of the Environment. Is the minister aware that Hidden Valley Resorts Limited is making application to have the permanent injunction lifted to permit the company to pipe its sewage by way of a 3,000-foot pipe into a highway right of way, and thence into a large culvert? What position is the ministry taking in this respect?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Yes, I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker. Permission to do so has been granted recently. But I should point out that at the environmental appeal hearing, I believe, due consideration was given to the alternatives. If it does not proceed at this time, there is a very severe danger of untreated effluent being discharged this winter because of the over-taxing of that facility. Since the appeal board has ruled that the appropriate facilities and treatment will proceed, we have sustained that commitment and we think it is the viable alternative to the treatment of the waste in that area.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: Since this matter has been going on for some seven or eight years, or even longer, why is it not possible to make Hidden Valley comply with the same requirements that apply to everyone else under the same circumstances?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: If the member is suggesting that they have the privilege to discharge less than treated effluent, I would suggest to him that they must comply with the same regulations as other facilities. We do believe the treatment they will supply to their sewage will be of the same quality and will present less of a hazard than if they continue with their present method. There is a pretty significant danger there. I want to assure the member that the danger to the water supply of that area is less by this method than by any other method and it will meet all of our criteria and maintain the standards.
DOFASCO DUMP SITE
Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for the Minister of the Environment.
Is the minister aware of the decision by Dofasco not to continue with their plans to dump some 350,000 tons of iron oxide waste in the Beachville area; and is he aware they are now reported to have located an alternative site much closer to their plant? Can the minister either confirm or deny that that site is in the Stoney Creek area? Has the site been approved by his ministry? Are the officials in the area, regardless of whether it’s Stoney Creek or not, informed of the intention of Dominion Foundries and Steel to locate a place to dispose of that iron oxide waste in their municipality?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: There are many days when I wonder if I’ll ever be able to learn of all the various problems around Ontario.
Mr. Deans: That is why the others quit.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: However, let me assure you, Mr. Speaker, that those problems in the county of Oxford I am more than knowledgeable about. I hope that continues, I think it will.
Yes, I’m quite aware of that situation; and no, it is not in Stoney Creek.
Mr. Warner: Where is it?
Mr. Deans: Supplementary question: Where is it? And have the municipal officials been informed of the intention to transfer that iron oxide waste from the city of Hamilton into their municipality and have they given their approval?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I believe that at this time a private site, under careful scrutiny and supervision, is handling the waste from Dofasco, or at least a portion of it. A very large volume, of course, stays on site in Hamilton, as the honourable member well knows. There is a very large mound of it there.
Mr. Deans: Two million tons.
Mr. Warner: Where is the site?
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I believe it is the site in St. Catharines run by Walker -- I think that is the correct name. What the capacity is of that plant, I don’t know at this time; I know it is sufficient for their needs.
I point out to the member that this is, to some degree, temporary storage. I believe the technology is readily available but not yet practical -- although it will be within a matter of a few years -- where this material will be reclaimed and indeed will be a very rich source of metals. It is not something we want to see discarded for the balance of time but indeed on a temporary basis until technology will permit use of this metal to great advantage.
Mr. Warner: Did you notify the municipality?
SAMUEL JOHNSTON CASE
Mr. G. E. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services.
Mr. Epp: Another set up.
An hon. member: Anything goes here now.
Mr. G. E. Smith: What is the minister’s reaction to the telegram sent to him by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, criticizing the bill that he has before this House dealing with the recent decision of the Crown Employees Grievance Settlement Board? I have had a number of phone calls from concerned residents in my area who have asked me to ascertain the minister’s reaction to it.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I recognize the concern that was brought to my attention in the telegram from Mr. Borovoy. It was a concern of which I had been aware and one that I have shared for some time.
I was rather disappointed that the telegram did not address the other aspect of this particular issue, the question of the rights of the mentally retarded. It is one thing to articulate on behalf of the articulate, but it is another matter also to be concerned about the rights of those who may be less able to articulate.
The dilemma is not a failure to recognize the issues. The dilemma is to try to balance the rights of the mentally retarded on the one hand and of the employees of my ministry on the other. That is the dilemma, and I would welcome advice from Mr. Borovoy or anyone else on the satisfactory resolution of that dilemma. In fact, I think we have made substantial progress in that direction.
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Industry and Tourism.
In view of the fact that the federal-provincial agricultural and rural development assistance program has been an outstanding benefit to the growth of industry in southwestern Ontario in the form of the manufacturing of renewable natural resources; in view of the fact the federal government has withdrawn its share of support for new applications, thereby bringing the processing of new applications to a standstill; and in view of the fact the Ontario Development Corporation processes these applications for ARDA and is well aware of benefits of this program that establishes industry by granting $5,000 towards capital expenditures for each job created, would his ministry consider picking up the 50 per cent share dropped by the federal government, to go along with the 50 per cent share put in by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, to continue the industrial part of this program?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In fairness, Mr. Speaker, as we too often see with the federal government, if they find that we will pick up the tab for those residents of Ontario who they leave high and dry as a result of their alleged cutbacks, then they will only make more of a habit of it than they have already made.
Mr. Kerrio: Handle it on your own.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Indeed, I noticed that at the conference of first ministers, which has just concluded, there was some reference to the federal government acknowledging the problem where some of their policies in terms of payments to the provinces sometimes upset, alter or change provincial policies and priorities.
The federal government having recognized that, I think it might be inopportune now to give a blanket commitment. Certainly it would be inopportune to give the federal government a blanket commitment that any time they disappear and leave provincial constituents high and dry the government of Ontario will be happy to come in and fix up the situation.
I am seriously concerned about the problem that’s been created, and I will review the situation with ODC and with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and make sure all the help that is currently available under Ontario government programs is being given to assist in that situation. I want to make it quite clear though that we are not going to get involved in a bail-out situation, replacing federal funds with provincial funds that otherwise would not be available.
Mr. McKessock: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that this $5,000 is less than half the amount per job the ministry granted the Ford Motor Company, and in view of the fact that this money goes into small companies in a more depressed part of Ontario than Windsor, and in view of the fact that new applications have been waiting since September and new industry is being held up, could the minister give some statement on this within the next two weeks?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Of course I will report back to the member as quickly as possible, as I always try to do, and I am sure we can have some sort of response in two weeks. I might say that the analogy you draw to the Ford plant is really not a fair analogy in many ways. I do have to point out that in the case of the negotiations between this government and the members’ friends in Ottawa, that was another example --
Mr. Kerrio: Why don’t you turn that off -- that’s sickening. Grow a little in stature.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
An hon. member: My, aren’t they touchy today.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Listen, if I read the headlines yesterday, I would react the way you have as well.
Mr. Kerrio: Just grow a little in stature and do your job.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The fact is if we had reacted in the same fashion in the Ford situation -- members will recall that was an instance in which the federal government wanted to go back again on a commitment with regard to their participation in terms of funds for something in Ontario.
Mrs. Campbell: They are learning so much from you and your mentality.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Had the federal government had their way again, they would have left the people of Windsor high and dry completely. saying: “It is up --
Mr. Kerrio: It’s not what the Premier said. Cut it out.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: -- saying: “It is up to the Ontario government -- “
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I have not completed --
Mr. Speaker: The member for York South with a new question.
PAYMENTS TO MUNICIPALITIES
Mr. MacDonald: My question is to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Since this government rejected the recommendation of the Robarts commission for extending the boundaries of the borough of York and thereby denied the borough the opportunity to broaden its assessment base and do something about a tax burden that is as heavy, if not heavier, than any other place in Metro, what has this government got by way of an alternative solution to the recommendation which they rejected?
Specifically, is the minister willing to give a commitment that there will be an adjustment in the equalization grants that will come to grips with that problem which the Robarts commission recommendation was going to cope with?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not willing to give any commitment on that matter. I think my friend knows that Metro municipalities have until the end of the year, as I recall, to submit briefs on the white paper that my predecessor issued about Metropolitan Toronto. At that time we will be meeting with them after the new councils are elected and discussing what ways can be found to alleviate some of the problems. We all agree that York and East York have problems, and that changing the boundaries isn’t necessarily going to help those problems. We are willing to look at ways to assist the people in those boroughs, but I can’t give you any commitments now.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: Since his predecessor indicated that the solution might well lie in an adjustment in the equalization grants as an alternative solution, is the minister in effect saying that he is backing off from that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I just said I wouldn’t give the member any commitments. I haven’t announced, and the government hasn’t announced, any of the grants to municipalities for next year. So until those total grants and transfers to local government are announced, I can’t tell him what the situation will be.
Mr. J. Reed: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Can the minister tell us what contacts he has had with the Minister of Energy (Mr. Auld) regarding the employment potential for renewable energy development and conservation in the province?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Since the particular aspect to which the member has referred does not come under this ministry, I have had no contact with the Minister of Energy.
Mr. J. Reed: Supplementary: Is the Minister aware of a report of July 1977 by the Mitre Corporation of McLean, Virginia, entitled Labour Requirements for Solar Heating and Cooling of Buildings, and is he not aware that there is indeed a connection between the Ministry of Labour and its interest in employment and the Ministry of Energy as it pertains to this technology?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The Ministry of Labour naturally is concerned about employment, but the management and control of that aspect of government does not fall within my domain. I am interested in the report you have given me though, and I will be glad to look at it.
SCUGOG ZONING APPLICATION
Mr. Breaugh: I have a question for the Premier. Given his government’s great record in planning matters these days, I would like him to share with the House the reasons why, in the matter of a request for a zoning bylaw authorization in an official plan amendment for one Charles J. Rush, in the township of Scugog, his cabinet overturned the decisions of the local municipality, the recommendation of the regional government in the area, and the decision of the Ontario Municipal Board to provide for that application?
Mr. Nixon: Because Lorne Henderson recommended it, that’s why.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That question should be properly directed to the Chairman of Cabinet (Mr. Henderson), who is chairman of the legislation committee.
Mr. MacDonald: That’s what you call ordering the people about against their will.
Mr. Breaugh: I would be quite happy to do that, but as a farmer who believes you can grow cherries or apples on the side of a bill and in the middle of a snow belt on a pile of rocks, I don’t think he quite qualifies. Is he here so I can redirect the question?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would suggest the member redirect it anyway. There have been a lot of people over the years who have underestimated the talents of the member for Lambton; I would caution the honourable member not to make that same mistake.
Mr. MacDonald: This government orders people around.
Mr. Speaker: I understood you were redirecting the question.
Mr. Breaugh: I can’t redirect it if he’s not here. A supplementary for consideration: Will it be the position of the cabinet, either through the minister or the Chairman of Cabinet, to follow the same process when there is an application made for severance? That is also necessary before the gentleman could build.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am sure the honourable member would never ask the Premier or any minister of cabinet to make a judgement on a matter before cabinet has had a chance to discuss by way of appeal. That would be contrary to every decent instinct the honourable member has.
Mr Mackenzie: Whose friend was this guy?
Mr. Breaugh: Those are my instincts.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Mr. Epp: I have a question for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Given that a number of municipalities in Ontario have requested changes in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and given that several municipal politicians recently have been very critical of the regulations in the legislation governing the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act as it pertains to municipal politicians and given that Mr. Lastman only recently called the legislation “utterly stupid” and indicated he couldn’t even vote on matters that come before the council regarding the University of Toronto because he has a son at that university and has been advised by legal counsel that he has a conflict of interest on that matter, and the same thing applies to the Toronto Symphony, I wonder whether the minister is seriously contemplating making changes in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and when we can expect to have those changes introduced?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We’re looking at some of the more serious questions that have been raised about this matter, not some of the frivolous ones that my fiend has mentioned; obviously I think most people would view those as very frivolous and certainly not effecting the workings of the act. I think we all agree that the Conflict of --
Mr. S. Smith: Mayor Lastman is frivolous?
One of your candidates?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’m not saying that Mayor Lastman is frivolous, but the suggestion that one might be in conflict of interest because one has a son at the University of Toronto or some such thing certainly doesn’t warrant us studying the conflict of interest legislation. It is pretty good legislation and was needed, and I would imagine it was supported by all members of this House when it was passed.
There have come to light, of course, some instances that have raised some grave doubts upon sections of that legislation and the way they operate. Those sections and those doubts are being looked at and when we have some resolution, if needed we’ll bring in some amendments to the act, but I can’t tell the members when.
OMB BOUNDARIES HEARINGS
Mr. Swart: In spite of some misgivings, I’d like to put a question to the Minister of Housing. He will be aware, will he not, that the Ontario Municipal Board hearings are proceeding on the urban boundaries on the unique land in Niagara above the escarpment, but the hearings on the urban boundaries below the escarpment are postponed at least until the Supreme Court rules on the Barrie decision?
I want to ask the minister, was it at his direction or suggestion or his ministry’s direction or suggestion that the Ontario Municipal Board has indefinitely postponed the hearings on a large section of the unique lands? If the Supreme Court rules in the Barrie decision that the minister has the right to intervene and give directions to the Ontario Municipal Board at a hearing, what kind of direction is he contemplating giving to the Ontario Municipal Board relative to the boundaries in the Niagara fruit lands?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: First of all, on the first question which relates to asking the OMB to defer or postpone the hearings on the application of the boundaries, that was a determination of the Ontario Municipal Board itself, not on direction from our ministry or from the Attorney General. They took their direction from the fact that the Barrie case had similarities to the cases they’re presently dealing with in the Niagara area. As a result, they’ve come to the conclusion that to try to carry on a hearing when there appears to be some similarities -- and I only say appears to be some similarities -- they have decided to defer it until the decision is rendered by the Supreme Court.
In the second instance, I do not want to prejudge what will be the determination of the Supreme Court. I’m not in the position, nor will I be at this time or in the future, to suggest to this House before that decision is rendered what our recommendations might be.
Mr. Swart: Supplementary: Would the minister not agree that by his statement in the House last June perhaps the hearings on the land should wait where the government had made some decisions on those boundaries until after the Barrie hearing might have influenced the Ontario Municipal Board?
Secondly, would the minister not think that he would be distorting the independence of the OMB and in fact contradicting the assurance given by the previous Minister of Housing when he said that the matter -- and these are the urban boundaries in Niagara -- “will be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board and we will allow it to peruse what has been done both by the region and by the ministry.” If the minister intervenes is be not in fact contradicting that statement of the former minister?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I’m not sure how the member draws the conclusion that I have intervened at any time. I clearly said back at the time of his question last June, or whenever it happened to be, that we had not offered any suggestions to the Ontario Municipal Board. I did say to the member very carefully that I have had representations by municipal councils and regional councils to reconsider the cabinet’s decision on urban boundaries in the Niagara area. That relates to two or three specific areas that the member and his friends at PAL have been raising Cain about.
Mr. Swart: Quite rightly so.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: There is a great difference of opinion at the municipal level as to who should be running this province. The municipalities are getting a little tired that some organization out and away from the municipal powers, who are supposed to make decisions -- and his party is the one that criticizes this government saying that we never make decisions. When we do make a decision they think we should back away from it.
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, very clearly the case is before the municipal board and if there are some alterations that have to be made because of some conditions that prevail, then the minister will recommend those. At the moment we have not interfered in any way, shape or form, and I’ve given the member that assurance before.
BRAMPTON TRANSIT DISPUTE
Mr. O’Neil: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the minister could bring us up to date on what success his ministry is having in attempting to bring the Brampton transit strike to an end?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As the member knows, I’m sure, conciliators and mediators from my branch have been involved in those negotiations right from the very beginning. Indeed, one of our very able mediators, Mr. John Dempster, has been very active all the way through those negotiations.
It certainly is a disappointment to all of us that there is a strike now, but I want to assure the member that in spite of the fact there’s a strike in place our endeavours continue. The director of the mediation and conciliation service will be meeting with the parties again next week.
STANDING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. Havrot from the standing resources development committee reported the following resolution:
That supply in the following amounts and to defray the expenses of the Ministry of Energy be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1979:
Ministry administration program, $867,000; conventional energy program, $2,321,000; renewable energy program, $2,455,000; energy conservation program, $5,350,000; regulatory affairs program, $1,239,000; energy supply program, $15,119,000.
STANDING GENERAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE
Mr. McCaffrey from the standing general committee presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the follow-bills without amendment:
Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the city of Hamilton;
Bill Pr28, An Act to revive Beezee Foods Limited;
Bill Pr35, An Act to revive the A. M. Crawford Company Limited;
Bill Pr36, An Act to revive Moran Pharmacy Limited;
Bill Pr39, An Act respecting the Brockville General Hospital;
Bill Pr41, An Act to revive Ross and Ross Grains Limited.
STANDING PROCEDURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Mr. Breaugh from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee has carefully examined the following applications for private acts and finds the notices as published in each case sufficient:
Capuchins of Central Canada;
Five-O Taxi Limited.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that in addition to the regular committees scheduled, the standing resources development committee meet on Wednesday afternoons for the balance of this session.
Motion agreed to.
ORDER OF ESTIMATES
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that after the completion of the estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services the estimates in the standing social development committee be considered in the following order: Social Development policy field and the Ministry of Health.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: By way of explanation, it’s our understanding that the estimates of the Ministry of Community and Social Services will be completed on Monday afternoon, so that the estimates of the policy field would start on Tuesday afternoon next week in committee.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS ACT
Hon. Mr. Wells moved first reading of Bill 166, An Act to establish the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Motion agreed to.
CAPUCHINS OF CENTRAL CANADA ACT
Mr. Johnson moved first reading of Bill Pr46, An Act respecting the Capuchins of Central Canada.
Motion agreed to.
MINING AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Wildman moved first reading of Bill 167, An Act to amend the Mining Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Wildman: The purpose of the bill is to amend the Mining Act to remove section 170(2) which prohibits women from working underground in mining operations in Ontario.
Mr. Williams: On a point of privilege: As chairman of the statutory instruments committee, I would like to introduce to the Legislature this afternoon, and I would ask the members of the Legislature to welcome him, Mr. Rae Tallin, legislative counsel and a deputy minister of the government of the province of Manitoba. Mr. Tallin is in Toronto today assisting the statutory instruments committee in its deliberations.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I thought before too many members disappear I might take this opportunity to introduce another special guest to the assembly today. He’s here in Toronto pursuant to a Shop Canadian display of government purchasing, held by our ministry, with all levels of government participating. Our guest, fresh from a landslide election victory in New Brunswick, is the Honourable Harold Fanjoy, Minister of Supply and Services for New Brunswick.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Mr. Deans moved resolution 33:
That in the opinion of this House, the government should proceed with assessment reform to achieve property tax equity through the following modifications of the reassessment program:
1. Assure that there is no general increase in taxes to the residential sector or to the small business sector.
2. Adjust the excessively inflated residential values in the larger cities so that home owners do not pay a disproportionate share of taxes and so that municipalities receive a more equitable share of provincial grants.
3. Provide a phase-in adjustment program for home owners, with graded exemptions and other special circumstances, to prevent sudden and excessive tax increases as a result of the implementation of assessment reform.
4 Provide a mandatory passthrough to tenants of any property tax reductions on apartments.
5. Assess farmland at agricultural value, except where it is held by speculators or developers.
Further, the program must provide that the following measures form part of, and be implemented with, the reassessment program:
(a) Legislate the revenue-sharing program between the province and local governments.
(b) Apply the property tax credit directly to the payment of property tax bills at the time of payment.
(c) Undertake a program to reduce the educational portion of the property tax.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member has up to 20 minutes.
Mr. Deans: I don’t intend to take all the time available to me since two of my colleagues want to enter into this debate. They both have responsibilities which touch on the matters that appear in the resolution.
I think it’s fair to say that the whole matter of assessment and property tax reform is one which even now is being considered by most municipalities across the province. I think we all understand that there is a disproportionate share of the overall burden of tax being carried by the home owners, that property tax in its present form does not take into account the ability to pay, and that many who are retired simply cannot afford to carry the excessively large burden that is placed upon them as the result of the existing property tax methods being used. Even at this point in time there is a move under way which is transferring the burden of property tax from not only one class of property to another, but from properties within each class on to others as a result of the appeal system which is presently available and being used.
It’s suggested to us, and I believe it to be true, that in the recent past, a large number of commercial property owners are appealing and winning substantial property tax reductions. This can only mean that since the overall expenditure levels of the municipality have already been set, there must be at some point in time a transfer from I those who have appealed, quite rightfully so, the excessive assessment burden placed upon their properties That additional cost must then be borne by the other taxpayers. We are having even now, a transfer of responsibility and in some measure, I suppose, a changing of the whole property tax system. The unfortunate part is that it is no more equitable when it finishes than it was when it started.
We have noted with some interest that property tax reform has been promised by this government for the better part of the last 10 years. Considerable controversy has raged from time to time over the method to be used in effecting property tax reform. I want to make it clear to the government, in order that they understand what it is we are saying, we believe it is better to proceed with property tax reform now and to bring about a more equitable situation than to allow the inequities which presently exist to continue or to allow the reform to take place piecemeal as a result of the appeal system being used.
We want to say to the government that in doing that they have to be sure the burden that is transferred is not transferred without due respect for the ability of the home owner and the small business person to assume whatever their legitimate share of the overall costs of municipal funding ought to be. We are saying, for example, that it would be unfair just simply to go through with a property tax reform and then allow the chips to fall where they may because the transfer of fiscal responsibility and the transfer of the tax burden would be most onerous on many of the persons who own older properties. Many of those persons are in a position where they simply do not have the income capacity to carry any more of the burden.
When we laid out the conditions under which we as a political party would be prepared to support property tax reform, we did so hoping that perhaps the government would take those eight suggestions and incorporate them in one form or another into legislation which would guarantee that there would be no general increase in tax to the residential sector as a result of the changes which must take place or any of the other matters that we outlined as being necessary for our support for any move by the government.
The fact of the matter is that in Hamilton, as in many other municipalities, there is a general loss of revenue as a result of the present method of dealing with the inequitable situations which arise in property tax and assessment.
Recently, in fact in the last fiscal year, the city of Hamilton has lost revenues in excess of $3.5 million due to appeals. The city of Windsor is losing revenues somewhere in the order of $13 million as the result of appeals.
It is legitimate to appeal, and the reductions in the revenues in actual fact as a result of those appeals are legitimate reductions. The unfortunate part is, of course, that the overall expenditures of those municipalities have already been budgeted for, and the expected revenues include, in Hamilton’s ease, $3.5 million, or in Windsor’s case, $13 million. So these municipalities will have to debenture that in one form or another, raising it by either loans or some other method, and then transfer that on to other municipal taxpayers in the forthcoming year or years in order to balance their budgets.
That is not fair, because certain property owners, primarily larger, commercial property owners, are able to hire counsel and gain the expertise of people in the field. Many of them incidentally are offering that expertise after having come right out of the Ministry of Revenue here. They are opening consulting firms and providing their services on the basis of what they learned right here, working for the government of Ontario. Many of these people, because of their corporate status, are able to use the expertise that has been developed and therefore go and win appeals, the end result of which means that everyone else who can’t take advantage of that, because they can’t afford it or aren’t aware of it, are going to have to carry the additional burden.
We think that the problem in Ontario will get worse, that what we are seeing happening will continue to happen, and that the appeals system as a means of reforming the tax structure is wrong. We believe that what we are now seeing in these municipalities will become, if it has not already, widespread across Ontario, and that most municipalities will then he faced with the tremendous consequence of cost, not only in terms of the appeal system itself, but in terms of the diminished revenues that they would receive.
I want to suggest, as one of the areas that I feel most strongly about, that the item (c) in the second part of the resolution is one which the government must pay particular attention to. It is vital that we recognize that as a result of actions by this government over the last short period of time, the portion of education costs being borne by the provincial treasury is rapidly being reduced, and therefore the cost to the local home owner is increasing. That flies in the face of, or is counter to, all of the things that we have discussed in this House over the last 11 years that I have been here.
I well remember the statements of John Robarts when he was the Premier, of a number of Ministers of Education when they spoke, of gradually assuming more of the burden of education costs, when in actual fact over the last year or perhaps two years we have seen the exact opposite taking place.
I want to say to the government members that as they take a look at the burden of property tax cost, they must recognize that if there was one area into which they could move fairly quickly, and could effect a general saving, and could reduce the burden on many who simply cannot afford to carry it because of inadequate pension levels or for that matter inadequate income levels, the undertaking of a program to reduce the educational portion of property tax is something that makes abundant good sense.
Mr. Nixon: I haven’t heard that phrase for quite a while.
Mr. Deans: I thought I’d use it today since I haven’t used it for a while and I like to keep it in mind. It seems to me it was used on numerous occasions by someone who is now on the Ontario Municipal Board.
Mr. Nixon: That’s the man.
Mr. Deans: In any event, I want to say that the direct payment of the property tax credit at the time of the payment of tax -- recognizing that it is a little complex -- is something the government must look at. It is unfair to say to someone that at the end of the fiscal year you can then claim against your income tax and receive a rebate on your property tax. That, of course, assumes that most people can afford to carry that unfair share of the overall burden, a share which we all recognize is unfair, during the course of those 12 months.
Many don’t live long enough to get it and for others that $100 or $150 is the difference between being able to meet their obligations to their families and not being able to meet them. Many have to borrow the money in order simply to meet their commitment, even although we all know they are going to get it back. So I think it makes more sense that we should devise a program that allows for that to be paid at the time the taxes are paid and therefore reduces the tax immediately and acts much more equitably and fairly in terms of trying to accommodate the needs of people, taking into account their income potentials.
In any event I commend this to the House. I hope that it will receive the support of all of the members and that we will be able to proceed to have this matter reviewed by the government and that the government will come forward with some recommendations to meet the general thrust that we have put before it and that the government will not feel in any way inhibited from moving forward with a property tax reform, an assessment reform, subject to these particular modifications.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does the member for Wentworth wish to reserve the balance of the time?
Mr. Deans: No, I don’t, Mr. Speaker. I’m quite content.
Mr. Ashe: It is indeed a pleasure to speak on this particular ballot item. It’s rather difficult, I must say, because there is no doubt we are all aware of many of the points that were made by the honourable member. The government is aware of them and has so stated on many occasions; the joint committee of the province and local government that studied the issue further earlier this year recognized many of these same points and they’re brought forward here.
It is nice to finally put a tab, if you will, on the resolution in that we now recognize that it is the policy of the NDP, through the member that has introduced it. We were trying to really figure before whether it was a personal policy, whether it was support or otherwise, and whether it was party policy. Now we know.
Mr. Deans: You never asked. You could have picked up the telephone and asked me.
Mr. Ashe: The one unfortunate part about the particular resolution, Mr. Speaker, is the over simplistic way in which very difficult problems are being put forward. There are statements that have been made by the honourable member that aren’t exactly correct either, and hopefully I will be able to touch upon those from time to time.
There is no doubt that the government position in its proposals earlier this year recognized, and in fact stated, that it was the full intention and hope of property tax reform that the residential base, if you will, should carry a lesser load than it has been carrying. As a matter of fact, the proposal contained within the January 1978 white paper, if implemented the way it was projected would have reduced from an estimated 50 per cent to 42 per cent the share of the property tax as being paid for by the residential property taxpayers.
Mr. Swart: And put them up 15 per cent on single family dwellings in Toronto.
Mr. Ashe: The particular proposal put forward by the provincial local government committee would have changed that slightly from 42 per cent to 43 per cent but in both cases there would be a rather substantial decrease.
Where the simplicity of the motion comes in is really relating to the typical NDP motion -- and I now understand it as being a party motion -- with the lack of recognition that a dollar is a dollar and if you don’t raise it here you’ve got to raise it there.
Mr. Laughren: That is exactly what we are telling you.
Mr. Ashe: You hear the constant reference about, “We’ve got to lower the taxes here,” and, “We’ve got to cut down this,” and “We’ve got to lower that,” recognizing that if you do lower something in one place you have to raise it in another.
Mr. Deans: I pointed that out to you. It is happening now.
Mr. Ashe: Now, tying to realize and recognize that even the government and the local government proposals earlier this year indicated a possible cost to the province -- granted, depending on time of implementation and the phasing in and so on, and that’s fully recognized, but the cost implications to the provincial treasury, which in turn is the taxpayers of Ontario, would be something in the order of $400 million. There’s no doubt, in analysing the proposal being put forth here by the honourable member, that there is no lessening of that implication on the provincial treasury; as a matter of fact there could be and would be substantially more, for I think many and obvious reasons.
As is usual, there’s no real suggestion as to where this money should come from. Should we, for example, be raising the provincial income tax by 15 per cent, which would raise something in the order of $400 million? I don’t think so. I don’t think this is a very appropriate time to be doing that.
Mr. Laughren: I don’t think it’s the appropriate time to do anything.
Mr. Ashe: Also, there is reference made in the (c) part of the last part of the motion, “Undertake a program to reduce the educational portion of the property tax.” There’s no doubt it is a commitment of this government to reduce property taxes to senior citizens, to those in need, and in fact this has been happening over a great period of time.
Mr. Swart: In the last three years they have increased.
Mr. Ashe: It is true that in the last couple of years there has been a slight decrease, and I’ll use the word slight --
Mr. Grande: Why don’t you read the budget?
Mr. Ashe: -- rather than using the words “rapidly reducing” which is incorrect. It slightly reduced --
Mr. Warner: Would you like the real figures?
Mr. Ashe: -- participation in the overall educational costs paid by the provincial treasury. It is not a rapidly reducing sum, it was slight. But on the other side of the coin --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Ashe: Mr. Speaker, it’s amazing how you can sit and give the honourable members an opportunity, but they don’t like hearing the other side of the coin. They don’t like hearing the facts. They don’t like holes being picked in some of their shortcomings, and their shortfalls. The figures speak for themselves. In property tax credits, for example, senior citizens and those in need have not only had in total the educational dollars in their tax bill credited but in many instances a much greater amount than that, depending on economic need.
There’s another suggestion in here that we as a government would probably love, from a political sense, to be able to much closer relate the property tax credit system to the tax bill. I think it’s acknowledged that we really don’t get all the credit that we should out of that particular program financed by the taxpayers of Ontario, because it does relate to the federal income tax form and hence I’m afraid to say that the federal government gets some of the credit for that. lt’s not quite as simple to just switch it over. If the opposition could come up with any specific suggestions as to how to do this, to relate it to the time of payment, without duplicating the federal government’s income tax collection administration, if it can be done without unduly increasing provincial or municipal administration or credit costs, if it can be done without requiring a taxing back of credits paid at an earlier date hut still delivering a system only to those who need it the most, then we’d be glad to implement it. But these straight-across-the-hoard type statements don’t recognize the reality of our economic system in any way.
Last but not least, Mr. Speaker -- how much time do I have left?
Mr. Deans: You’re over time, just like the government.
Mr. Ashe: There’s no doubt that there are many areas within this resolution that are already recognized. For example, the pass-through to tenants. I think this has been acknowledged. Again, we don’t want to have to set up any great administrative system that would add costs and tax burden, but as long as the rent review process is in effect, I think that particular process is within the purview of that particular administration and, in fact, pass-through would take place and could take place.
I think it’s also recognized that the government is doing things. There was no consensus earlier this year throughout the province, through the municipalities, to go forward with the proposals either of the government or the joint committee’s proposals. There was no unanimity within this particular Legislature. This is the first time we’ve really heard anything specifically from the opposition and that’s, as usual, very simplistic, give everybody a tax decrease, nobody a tax increase, don’t worry about where the half-billion dollars or thereabouts would come from. You’d just pick it out of the sky, and that’s a typical unrealistic NDP approach to any fiscal problem, because there’s no fiscal responsibility within many of their proposals.
Mr. Laughren: Read the resolution.
Mr. Ashe: I’ve read the resolution and we’re just --
Mr. Laughren: You don’t understand.
Mr. Ashe: There is no doubt it is so nebulous that it is hard to put a total dollar value to it. I acknowledge that. But I think it is safe to say that $500 million is not out of the ball park.
Mr. Swart: Tell us where we propose any massive increases.
Mr. Ashe: Going along with the fact that there is no doubt this is a very significant money type of resolution, we cannot support it and the government generally cannot support it.
Mr. Laughren: Your answer is to do nothing. You are running scared.
Mr. Warner: You’ve been doing nothing for 10 years.
Mr. Ashe: We are proceeding to look at the problem throughout the province in many and varied ways through section 86 of the Assessment Act. We are looking at the feasibility of correcting equalization factors in the short term to help those with the greatest problems. We are also, of course, continuing to study the more comprehensive tax reform proposals and the problems related thereto.
Although the spirit of this resolution goes along with the thinking of the government in its recognition that there are tax inequities, this is not the way to solve the problem.
Mr. Grande: So you are going to vote against it.
Mr. Ashe: It also brings in some other items under the last part, items (a), (b) and (c), which is the hooker to make it completely unattractive, because two problems are trying to be solved in a very simplistic way. For example, tax reform strictly addresses how much money should be raised through property taxes --
Mr. Laughren: The Minister of Revenue supports this. Check with him; he thinks it’s a good idea.
Mr. Ashe: -- while grants talk about the distribution of and a different share of moneys from different tax sources. One can’t really bring the two problems in together.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot support the resolution, although the spirit behind it is very honourable.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I am very interested in the resolution and intend to vote for it.
I would say that a good many of the matters brought forward in the resolution should be supported by all honourable members. It calls for a freeze on the expansion of municipal tax costs for most of the property owners -- and who can vote against that? It calls for a mandatory pass-through of any savings by landlords to tenants, and we have done this sort of thing in the Legislature before. We have procedures which can be monitored in such a way that we know it can work.
One of the most serious inequities in the proposals that have come from the government in the past has been in that very area where, if there had been assessment changes in some of the major urban centres, the benefits that would have accrued to apartment owners would not necessarily have been passed through to the tenants who are taxpayers in a very real way.
Many people think that tenants have a relief from taxation at the municipal level simply because they pay rent and the landlord has the responsibility. That is true, of course, but only insofar as the landlord must get his revenue for tax purposes from the rents and from no other source. We in this Legislature can use our undoubted powers in this connection to make certain that it is the tenants who deserve the assistance in this regard who get it.
I call to the attention of the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe) a couple of matters that have concerned me. To begin with, he says the tax credit system unnecessarily gives another kind of credit -- probably political credit -- to the government of Canada. He regrets that, and his only way out of that is to establish a separate provincial income tax process. This is, of course, already done in Quebec. There was a time when we did have a similar procedure here. Surely he is not giving any serious consideration to the thought that this province should establish a separate tax-collection mechanism.
I simply recall to his mind, if he is talking about political credit, the kind of credit this government gets when its single major source of revenue is the government of Canada, which collects all of our personal income tax for us and then sends it back with no strings attached, for this government to spend. When the Premier opens up another William C. Davis school -- maybe he hasn’t opened up many in recent history, but has opened up plenty in the past -- about 30 per cent of that money actually comes from the federal government; and that’s really where the political dislocation occurs.
I am surprised that the honourable member would indicate his concern that the government in Ottawa would be getting some kind of political credit simply because of the large amounts of money that are paid out through the provincial tax credit scheme.
I happen to think the provincial tax credit mechanism is a good one, If he’s worried about political credits, I would say they are more than compensated for by the fact that everybody thinks when he pays his personal income tax it is at the behest of the government of Canada, when in fact it is simply our agent and it collects the tax as we direct it, and it returns the tax in large chunks of money without strings attached, which is then spent by this government without having to carry the political ashcans of collecting the tax directly. If there’s any dislocation in the democratic process, I feel very strongly that’s where it is.
The second point I want to bring to the attention of the honourable member who, except for the member for Durham East --
Mr. Cureatz: Thank you.
Mr. Nixon: -- is alone in the government benches; even the minister who was in here checking over his expense account for the last few weeks has now gone to hand it in to somebody in the Treasury.
Mr. Eakins: There are two government members in the House.
Mr. Nixon: Well, payday was yesterday.
Mr. Cureatz: From Durham, I might add.
Mr. Eakins: Two government members and both from Durham.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, the thing that deeply concerns me is the fiasco in the whole assessment process that was introduced by the government more than a decade ago when it decided it would take the responsibility of assessment away from the municipalities, centralize it here at Queen’s Park --
Hon. Mr. Wells: A point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker: I just want to take great umbrage at my friend’s suggesting that I was checking over my expense account here.
Mr. Deans: You did that before you came in, right?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I want him to know that I was listening to the debate and studying the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs which we will be debating fully starting next Monday.
Mr. Nixon: I want to commend the minister because with his entrance -- and I notice he brought the policy secretary with him -- there are now four bona fide Tories sitting opposite, as well as two or three Tories sifting with the NDP who are still here.
Mr. Swart: Turn around and look at your back benches.
Mr. Nixon: One of them is just laughing. He wears a red coat but he wears blue underwear.
Mr. Deans: How do you know?
Mr. Nixon: What other colour could they be?
Mr. Speaker, the point I was making before the minister interrupted with his point of order, if in fact it was a point of order --
Hon. Mr. Wells: Point of personal privilege.
Mr. Nixon: -- is my concern at the damage and probably irreparable injury the government has done to the assessment system of this province when it decided a decade ago that only it had the good sense and judgement to impose proper, fair and judicious assessments in the province of Ontario. They took it away from the assessment commissioners of the counties -- there weren’t any regions in those days -- and I’ll tell you, at that stage there were very few complaints about the assessment because there were proper and well-understood procedures for appeal at the local level, and these adjustments took place not in great wads of assessment appeals but year-by-year as values changed among similar properties.
The member for Durham West has indicated he is surprised there have been no pronouncements from the opposition in this regard. We have been calling for a return of assessment to the regions and the cities and the counties, as was promised by the honourable minister’s predecessor -- I think his predecessor about two back, and in those instances it was still Darcy McKeough -- who decided all he needed was to have it for a few weeks and set it straight, like the Great Creator himself readjusting the universe, and then sending it back to the municipalities where they would apply it only under his eagle-eyed supervision.
I have a feeling the present minister has not got such a puffed-up and strong view of his own abilities in this regard. Perhaps he even wishes it had never been brought into the provincial sphere in the first instance, because it was a bad mistake and the handling at the provincial level has approached the dimensions of a fiasco.
The member for Durham West, as I said, was wondering why we haven’t been saying anything. We have had a strong and effective alternative which we have put to the House repeatedly. The honourable member knows his government, about every eight months, comes out with a new study and a new pronunciamento about assessment which is going to be the be-all and the end-all as far as problems with assessment are concerned. But it has never come up with an acceptable solution as far as it is concerned, because certain special pressures are brought to bear, either through the caucus of elsewhere, and the government postpones it again.
It has been a subject much studied. Somebody marked down at one time the cost of these studies and it is a huge sum of public funds indeed. It has taken us nowhere, except to the fact that this government cannot come up with a fair, judicious and equitable alternative to what we had working effectively in the province until they got their fingers on assessment and decided that their judgement was better than anyone else’s.
I think this resolution is one that is supportable. It has been criticized so far by the honourable member, the spokesman for the government, as being one that is either going to freeze taxes or lower them in some respects without raising revenue.
There is a section with reference to increasing municipal revenues. I do say that the member for Wentworth is a little careful when he talks about that. Under 3, he says: “Provide a phase-in adjustment program ... with graded exemptions and other special circumstances ... ”
Mr. Turner: What does that mean?
Mr. Nixon: It seems to me he has covered his back just about as carefully as was necessary there so that nobody could ever say that anybody is actually going to have to reach into his pocket and pull out some money and contribute it to lower taxes for anybody else.
Mr. Warner: It is good planning.
Mr. Nixon: I suppose this is a penchant for opposition politicians in the third party because they have got so much to lose after having lost so much.
Mr. Warner: The voice of experience.
Mr. Nixon: I do believe that is perhaps the only weakness in the resolution that is before us. I really think that the resolution, as far as it goes, can be supported. I would like to have had time to draw to the attention of the minister that fooling around with payments to farmers with respect to the tax reduction program that we presently have should not be entered into lightly because it might be found even more inconvenient for the farmers than it presently is, and we all know how inconvenient it presently is.
Mr. Ashe: Are you a bona fide farmer?
Mr. Nixon: Yes, I am.
Mr. Swart: I expect it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am taking part in this debate and that I may have had some hand in the resolution that is before us at this time.
Mr. Mancini: Which side are you on?
Mr. Swart: I want to state right at the outset that this resolution is a deliberate attempt to have this House express the opinion that the government ought to move ahead expeditiously with reform of property assessment.
I suggest that the members on the opposite benches should not block it. This is not a bill. We should have within this House an expression of opinion on whether we should move ahead on property tax reform.
Mr. Ashe: Why didn’t you just say that?
Mr. Swart: It is not radical. It is not costly. The member for Durham West has been totally negative in his approach to this. Because of that I am going to speak, if he will stay, to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs who is fresh on the job and perhaps would like to take a new look at this whole thing and perhaps move ahead.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I didn’t realize I looked after assessment.
Mr. Swart: I am going to be fairer than the member for Durham West was. I am going to be positive in this. We in this caucus recognize that assessment revision, as much as it may be needed to correct injustices, is not an easy task. Tories across the floor were probably smart politically to reject the McKeough proposal. Even though the reform, as he stated, might have lowered taxes for 75 per cent of the property owners, the 25 per cent who got the increase wouldn’t rush out to support the government that was in power.
The McKeough proposal, by shifting taxes for that many single-family dwelling units paying higher taxes, particularly older houses and those in the big centres, notably Toronto, created as many injustices as it solved. However, the member for Durham West, who would like to sit back stunned and immobile, as the government has been doing since last spring, is compounding the problem.
The present system simply is breaking down.
My colleague from Wentworth has mentioned the problem with regard to the loss of revenue by appeals by those who have the money to appeal. In Hamilton, last year the loss of assessment was over $8 million, plus more than $2 million in business assessment, almost entirely to the corporate sector.
That’s not the only loss. The former Minister of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs pointed out in his report last January that in Sarnia, for instance, they paid $1.3 billion more than they should have paid because of improper equalization -- and we are going to do something about that equalization by itself, I want to assure you, a little later on in this session -- and that Windsor lost $13 million in provincial grants because of improper equalization, as have many other municipalities, including St. Catharines, where the Treasurer estimates they have lost $1 million.
We need to make changes to correct these injustices that exist. The injustices are being perpetuated and new tax shifts are taking place in a regressive and a perverse manner -- and that cannot be denied -- by not doing anything about it. In addition, and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk spoke on this, the government has spent over $100 million -- probably closer to $150 million -- on reassessment. The taxpayers have the right to expect something beneficial in return and we say that it can be provided.
The first thing that must be recognized if we are going to get a plan that is workable is that taxation directly on assessment at market value can never be applied. This became obvious years ago. Even McKeough had to agree to a reduction of 50 per cent in the market value on residences. Even then, single-family homes in Metro would have had average tax increases, if we had gone ahead, of 15 per cent.
However, market value as a base, with recognition of its problems and with appropriate adjustments, is workable and I want to talk about one of them. The major distortion in market value assessment has been the unconscionable increase in residential land prices. Obviously this has hit single-family dwellings the hardest. An examination of 15 major cities in Ontario shows an increase in lot prices from $5,350 to $15,800 between 1969 and 1977, a threefold increase in eight years. By comparison, residential construction costs have risen just 98 per cent. Not only has this government allowed speculation to drive single-family homes out of the reach of most people, but even where they bought them years ago, the government is going to assess taxes against them and the new home owners on these phoney inflated values. The McKeough tax reform never ever touched on this land inflation issue.
That’s the whole reason why taxes on single homes in Toronto would have gone up an average $96 compared to an average $102 reduction elsewhere in the province, because Toronto has the greatest inflated lot prices and their assessment per capita on straight market value would cause them to lose more grants from government. A new lot in Scarborough now is worth something like $50,000.
Mr. Laughren: That’s the cost. It’s not worth that.
Mr. Swart: In Toronto, single houses are paying something like an average of $849 compared to $530 in the rest of the province, and it is perfectly understandable why they do. They get a grant of approximately 27 per cent for education. The average for the province is 51 per cent. They get that low grant because their assessment per capita is high because of inflated land prices, and we have got to do something to change that. Not only does this inflation distort provincial transfers but also single family versus apartments and all other types of assessment and the older homes, particularly the homes in the downtown area, pay a disproportionate share.
The answer is really not difficult. My friend over there talks about being simplistic. I think it’s not simplistic, I think it’s fairly simple. If we use an inflation reductor factor on residential land, perhaps all land, we can bring that mess in some order. It could be applied in one of two ways. We could take a base year and say we will only permit the assessment to rise according to the cost of living, or something of that nature, since the base year, or let’s rather use even a more simple method, a percentage of the market value. We are using this on houses, but we’re lumping houses that haven’t increased in value along with the lots. If you could have 50 per cent on the houses and 20 per cent on the lots, you would find that equalization across the province would be very favourably affected and people living in single-family dwellings wouldn’t have this great increase.
If the government took this kind of action in one fell swoop, it would remove the main obstacle to the tax reform program. It would remove the shift to single-family dwellings, and the greatest benefit would go to places like Toronto and the older houses in those places, which would have been hit the hardest. It would reform the assessment per capita ratio so that the larger cities would get their fair share of provincial transfers. And any assessment reform which is going to be workable must incorporate that land devaluation factor for assessment purposes.
How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Kerrio: Until the next election, Mel.
Mr. Acting Speaker: One minute.
Mr. Swart: That is the sort of thing that is envisaged in clauses 1 and 2 of the resolution you have before you. In the little time I have left I want to turn to the question of applying the property tax credits at the time taxes are paid. I suggest it is practical; I suggest it is reasonable. I have talked to municipal people about it. I know it is going to be something of an administrative problem, but I suggest the provincial government can evolve a tax table which the federal government can use to send to the municipalities so municipalities will know that when a certain individual comes in to pay taxes on his property a certain section of that table applies.
If the individual had taxes of $500 to pay, he would get $240 back. If it’s $600 that year, he could get $280 back. If it’s $700, he could get more. I don’t have enough time to explain it here and I suggest --
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Swart: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say, finally, the government has been timid, it has been inflexible, it has procrastinated, the whole system is falling down around it --
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member’s time has expired.
Mr. Swart: -- it’s time it got on with the job.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Is it not necessary for the mover of a motion in a matter such as this to be in the House for the debate?
Mr. Bradley: Is he not here?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Let the record show, at least, that he wasn’t interested enough in the debate to attend it.
Mr. Laughren: What kind of nonsense is that?
Mr. Kerrio: Good point. Well made.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The member for Nickel Belt on a point of order.
Mr. Laughren: It’s unnecessary to point that out. We could also point out to the minister that the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) and the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), who both have responsibility in this area, are not in the House either.
Mr. Kerrio: Yes, but they are going to block it.
Mr. Bradley: They will be here at 10 minutes to six to block it.
Mr. Laughren: This shows you what priority you attach to this topic right here.
Mr. Cureatz: Mr. Speaker, may I say how privileged I feel to be participating in this interesting debate. I am very proud to see that there are a number of Conservative members who have come back into the House, although it is a little lonely in the back benches -- here comes the member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner).
It was good to see that the member for Durham West continued throughout this debate, especially in the context of his having such wonderful experience in the municipal scene -- as major of Pickering he has a great depth of knowledge of the affairs taking place.
I would like to say a few words about this resolution that has been moved by the member for Wentworth. I want to try to cover three basic areas: first to deal with the resolution in a general sense; secondly my remarks will review some of the specific proposals of the resolution; and finally, I would like to read into the record some statements made by the Minister of Revenue as they relate to property taxation in my own constituency of Durham East.
To highlight and to contrast the member for Durham West, it is interesting to note how closely the member’s resolution compares to some of the proposals made by my own government.
Mr. Laughren: It should be easy to implement them.
Mr. Cureatz: In that light, I won’t be as negative as indicated by the member for Wentworth. Unfortunately, I might say that I am not fully supportive of the overall package that is being presented this afternoon.
Mr. Laughren: You guys flip-flop all the time. One flip-flop after another.
Mr. Cureatz: In the first place, I would suggest that this bill is essentially a money bill. I’m sure the member for Wentworth agrees that the province simply could not afford such an outlay at this time.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Wentworth on a point of order.
Mr. Deans: Point of order: I wouldn’t want that the comment of the member go unchallenged. I would want that he would learn, since he is new, that a resolution is not a bill. Therefore, it can in fact deal with --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would you state your point of order please?
Mr. Deans: My point of order is that the member’s comment was, at least, misleading.
Mr. Kennedy: That’s unparliamentary -- withdraw.
Mr. Deans: No, I just said the comment was misleading.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Would the member for Durham East please continue.
Mr. Bradley: Do you feel reprimanded now?
Mr. Cureatz: The provincial local government committee’s report and the reaction of municipalities throughout Ontario demonstrated there was no consensus on the overall matter of the problems facing us this afternoon.
Mr. Deans: There’s no consensus on a lot of things.
Mr. Cureatz: Indeed, all three parties in this House were less than enthusiastic about adopting the recommendations of the provincial local government committee. In our haste to replace an inequitable system, our government is keenly aware that the new system must not introduce a new set of difficulties. That is why the ministries of Treasury and Economics, Education, Intergovernmental Affairs and Revenue continue to work on the introduction of property tax reform and market value assessment. We can all agree in this House that when that overall package does come forward, it will be a pleasure to look again at the present taxation system.
My final introductory comment would be that it is a practical impossibility to force the province into this program on a province-wide basis in time for the 1979 property tax year.
At this time I would like to cover some of the specific points.
Point one of the resolution states: “Assure that there is no general increase in taxes to the residential sector or to the small business sector.” My comment here would be that there is no consensus on how to fund this proposal. The moneys would have to come either through an increase of the property tax burden on non-residential and non-small business property or from general revenues.
In either case, the business sector would be burdened with additional taxation which it simply cannot bear at this time. Moreover, problems may well arise when attempts are made at defining small business for the purpose of property taxation.
The third point of the resolution is not difficult to agree with conceptually. However, it is not helpful to those who are trying to hammer out the details of a phase-in program. Unduly long phase-in programs only serve to highlight inequities. Ratepayers whose taxes will decrease under property tax reform will be against any phase-in of these decreases; ratepayers who face increases will want to prolong the increase over a long period of time.
Ms. Gigantes: What you are saying is no bread is better than half a loaf.
Mr. Cureatz: Point four, which deals with mandatory passing through is in violation of the spirit of deregulation to which this government is committed as a long-term direction. Any additional government involvement in this area would be both costly and cumbersome because new administrative machinery would have to be set up and additional legislation would have to be passed.
Mr. Swart: I have you on record that you don’t believe it should be passed.
Mr. Cureatz: Looking at point five of the resolution, “Assess farm land at agricultural value except where it is held by speculators or developers,” the member for Wentworth surely understands that assessors value real property, not the ownership of real property. I draw the member’s attention to sections 3 and 27 of the Assessment Act which is very explicit on this point. In fact, when one looks at past attempts by assessors --
Mr. Swart: We want to change the act.
Mr. Cureatz: -- to distinguish between farmers and speculators, the courts have stipulated that the assessor must value land and its use, not ownership or intent of use.
Mr. M. Davidson: We are suggesting the act be changed.
Mr. Cureatz: I am no advocate of “go slow” policy on property tax reform and I realize if necessary changes are going to take some time, then interim adjustments are essential --
Mr. Swart: How about the 10 years you have already spent?
Mr. Cureatz: -- especially in those areas where the problems related to assessment are most pressing.
Mr. Grande: Millions of dollars to study it.
Mr. Cureatz: In my constituency of Durham East, the town of Newcastle passed a resolution asking the Minister of Revenue to invoke the provisions of section 86 of the Assessment Act to remove inequities within each class of property.
Mr. M. Davidson: You’d better believe it. That is your answer.
Mr. Cureatz: I am pleased to read into the record an excerpt from a statement made by the Minister of Revenue regarding the town of Newcastle.
Mr. Grande: Let him speak for himself.
Mr. Cureatz: The minister stated, “I am confident that the judicious application of section 86 will provide an appropriate solution to the assessment problems currently facing the town of Newcastle.”
Mr. M. Davidson: He said that in Cambridge, too.
Mr. Cureatz: The minister stressed that this approach to the town’s assessment problem will not result in any property tax shifts from one class of property to the other.
I might add at this point that the town of Newcastle council over the last three or four years has been attempting to come to grips with this problem. Over the last year, through contact with myself and in co-ordination with the appropriate minister, we were able to come up with a partially satisfactory solution.
In summation, I am generally in accord with the underlying concept of the resolution, as it relies so heavily upon established government policy. But the resolution does the difficulties of market value assessment a disservice by conveying the impression that they are amenable to simplistic and poorly timed solutions. Therefore, we can’t at this time support the resolution.
Mr. Bradley: I stand in general support of the resolution placed before the House this afternoon. It’s a resolution which is prompted by the obvious and long-recognized need for property tax reform in the province of Ontario. That there are inequities which require redress both within municipalities and between municipalities, I think is something that is known to all municipal politicians arid all politicians who reside in the province of Ontario. This is not something unique to the province of Ontario as other provinces have had to deal with this problem in the past.
It seems to me that the proposal for market value assessment in itself is not the solution. I know of no one, either on the government side or on the opposition side, who has suggested that market value assessment in itself will solve all the problems or will not create some other problems. Therefore, a number of committees and people within the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs have studied the problem to attempt to find a solution for implementing property tax reform in a way which is palatable to the people of Ontario.
As the member for Wentworth has indicated in his initial remarks, with the appeals, that are taking place across the province, particularly by large industrial concerns, we’re finding that municipalities themselves are losing required revenues and are faced with the dilemma of either reducing what they consider to be essential services or passing this tax burden on to someone else within the municipality. Often they are the people who are least able to afford this additional tax burden. So we see the consequences of the inequities which continue because of lack of precise action on the part of the government.
This problem has been researched and studied more than any other subject, I suppose, in terms of municipal affairs; yet we’ve had no real implementation of the suggestions and proposals contained in the various reports. I think it might be fair for one to draw the conclusion that the lack of action on this particular matter precipitated the early exit of the former provincial Treasurer and member for Chatham-Kent who, to his credit, even though we may not agree with the precise proposals he made, was very concerned about the implementation of property tax reform in Ontario and obviously was concerned about the foot-dragging that was taking place amongst his colleagues who were not prepared to implement some form of package which could be altered or amended by members of this House if it was not suitable to the majority.
Municipalities have certainly been asked over the years not to make greater demands on the province and not to ask for adjustments in the various formulae for the allocation of provincial grants to them for library purposes or other specific purposes or the resources equalization grant. One of the reasons that has been used to postpone this adjustment in the formulae and to postpone the cost-sharing agreements and the agreements in terms of all grants available to municipalities is that, “We’re going to implement property tax reform in the province of Ontario and, if you just wait, we’ll put it all in one total package and all the problems will be solved.”
Unfortunately, members of this House recognize that the municipalities which they represent through their provincial seats have not benefited from this to any great extent. In fact, they have been less than happy with the results of the postponement of any particular action.
One area that was alluded to in remarks of previous speakers, which is important to those in specific municipalities, came to light, I suppose, when the city of Windsor and the city of Sarnia brought to the attention of the Legislature these problems as they relate to the resource equalization grants.
I happen to represent a municipality, as the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) has indicated in his previous remarks, which is also adversely affected by the formula used to calculate resource equalization grants. If we look at the past five years, and if we take into consideration the figures provided by Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs of a deficit of $1.2 million per year, we would see that over the past five years the city of St. Catharines has been left without a potential $6 million, which could have been used either to lower the property taxes within that region and to hold them at their present level in each particular year or to provide services to the municipality that it felt were required.
I had the opportunity to hound the former Treasurer about this matter in the fall of 1977 and in 1978, dealing with it at some length in the question period and requesting that at the very minimum a meeting take place between the municipal leaders of the constituency which I represent -- and I know that other constituencies face the same problem -- and TEIGA officials and particularly the minister himself, to come up with some kind of formula that at least in the interim would provide some necessary relief and compensation to those municipalities that have been adversely affected by the formula.
Mr. McKeough did agree to meet with representatives of my particular municipality and to my knowledge a meeting has not taken place. I did ask a question in the House last week and I have a commitment from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) that he would be willing to meet with the municipality to discuss this. One would be hopeful that he would be just a little bit more flexible than the former Treasurer used to be in dealing with this particular problem with municipalities.
To be fair we recognize that the provincial government, like the federal government, regional and local governments, is looking at restraints and is rather reluctant to provide any extra funds to municipalities. However, these municipalities that are adversely affected by this are not asking for any new money, they are simply asking for money that is already owed to them, as the member for Windsor-Walkerville (Mr. B. Newman) points out. They are asking for nothing more.
It seems to me that if the provisions of the resolution presented by the member for Wentworth are not immediately implemented -- and no one is suggesting they are going to be implemented tomorrow; we would hope in the relatively near future -- if they are not implemented, one would hope that at least the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, in conjunction with the Treasurer, would provide some form of transitional benefits to those municipalities adversely affected until such time as property tax reform were to be implemented across Ontario --
Mr. Swart: With the new equalization.
Mr. Bradley: -- with the new equalization, as the member for Welland-Thorold points out. Simply by implementing the market value assessment within one specific municipality, we do not entirely overcome the problem. The real problem is in the equalization factor itself, and as long as municipalities are adversely affected and would be receiving transitional benefits, we would hope, the pressure would be increased on the provincial government at that time to implement full property tax reform, rather than be paying out to those municipalities adversely affected certain sums that would not be available to those not in that particular position.
I look with some degree of interest and agreement upon the idea of cushioning the impact on residential homes and on small businesses. I think we all recognize on all sides of the house, the plight that many small businesses find themselves in in the present circumstances. Some of the proposals have been such that they would increase substantially the property taxes on those particular businesses. So there has to be a cushion or a formula developed that would allow them to continue in existence and not be forced into bankruptcy or in the position of a very narrow margin of profit through changes in the taxation system.
I look at one of the provisions that the member for Wentworth has included: “to undertake a program to reduce the educational portion of the property tax.” We on this side of the House have long advocated that the province assume more of the burden of the cost of taxation across the province of Ontario, principally because we recognize that the property tax in itself is possibly one of the most regressive taxes available to us.
In winding up my remarks, I express my general agreement with the provisions of this resolution and the hope that the government will move quickly in the near future to implement full property tax reform.
Mr. Charlton: On behalf of the caucus, I welcome support from the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and the member from St. Catharines for our resolution.
I would like to start out by going back to some of the comments and suggestions that were made by the two government members so far in this debate. I will start with the member for Durham West. Unfortunately, the member for Durham West, the parliamentary assistant, in a rather blatant attempt to score political points and to suggest that this resolution is too simplistic, missed the whole point of the resolution.
Mr. Bradley: The voice of doom and gloom.
Mr. Charlton: That’s unfortunate, but I am going to point it out to him. He asked where all the money was going to come from and where did the NDP think we were going to get the money to pay for all this? I would like to suggest that, first of all, the member for Durham West should sit down again and reread the resolution, because the resolution very clearly says that we proceed with property tax and assessment reform through the following modifications of the reassessment program. The $400 million, which the member for Durham West said would have been additional cost to this provincial government, came out of the last McKeough proposal on property tax reform, not out of anything to do with assessment reform.
This proposal that we put forward works from an assessment base and not from the base of the last proposal and that $400 million. In addition to that, even if the member for Durham West had been correct in his assumption, I would like to point out that item 5 in our resolution, “Assess farm land at agricultural value except where it is held by speculators and developers,” would in effect save the government of the province of Ontario $150 million from the proposal that it made last spring.
That carries me to the comment of the member for Durham East that the Assessment Act already directed that farm land be assessed based on its productive value rather its market value. That’s very true. What we are suggesting is that it should remain the same. The proposals from this government, however, have been to assess farm land at its market value and that has been one of the major reasons for the huge cost increases to the province of Ontario as a result of the proposals of this government. In fact, the assessment division has already gone ahead and assessed all of the farm land in the province at market value, not productive value.
The member for Durham East also suggested that there was going to be additional funding needed to deal with our item 1 in the resolution to assure that there was no general tax increase to the residential and small business sectors. We are suggesting no general tax increase to those sectors. They are already paying taxes at a level in those sectors and, therefore, there would be no additional funding needed to fill that requirement. The shifts that would result would simply be limited to all internal shifts within a sector or to shifts between the other sectors not mentioned in that item 1, but it has nothing to do with requiring additional funding. It has simply to do with the apportionment of taxes as they are presently paid.
One of the things that has happened is that we have spent 10 years talking about and working towards assessment reform and we have spent the last five years talking about property tax reform in conjunction with assessment reform. Today we are no closer to a solution. The sad part is that if the government continues on in the direction in which it has been heading, we will be no closer to a solution 10 years from now.
On a number of occasions the Minister of Revenue has suggested -- and it was suggested again today by the member for Durham West -- that there has never been any comment or support from this side of the House. I would like to point out that this government has never brought a proposal into this House for us to comment on, that this side of the House has never been consulted in the whole process of assessment reform and property tax reform, and we have never been provided with the data in order to comment intelligibly.
This takes me back to something that the member for Durham West said in his presentation, that our resolution was simplistic. I would like to alter that a little bit by saying yes, the resolution is simple in terms because it doesn’t deal with specific proposals for the methodology of implementing assessment and property tax reform. It does suggest, however, the problems that this Legislature and we as representatives of the property taxpayers of the province of Ontario have to deal with in order to come to a final resolution of the problem.
I have suggested to the Minister of Revenue on a number of occasions that, in addition to the singular and inflexible proposal that the government has been kicking around and changing very slightly over the past four years, there are a number of alternative approaches to assessment reform and property tax reform. Those alternatives all have to be looked at and all have to be considered.
Some of the proposals include slight modifications to the method of assessment. Some of the proposals require a completely different approach to taxation, a more flexible approach, to deal with different problems in different situations in totally different municipalities that exist in this province. Attempting to deal with the unique and complex situations in given municipalities by a singular method province-wide is just not acceptable, and it won’t work.
We are suggesting to this House, to the members of the government party and specifically to the Minister of Revenue and to the Treasurer, that we understand fully the seriousness of the problems involved. We understand fully the roadblocks that have been placed in the way of the Treasurer, the former Treasurer and the Minister of Revenue of even getting the support of their own caucus and their own cabinet to proceed with proposals. We are prepared to deal with this serious problem and to sit down with the government, if they are prepared to talk to us and prepared to provide us with the data so that we can have a serious look at the alternative methods. We are prepared to sit down and find the solutions.
This government has never asked us or never involved us in the whole process since 1970. We have never had the opportunity to have any input. We are here debating this resolution today because we think the problem has gone on far too long and we believe quite seriously, that it can’t be allowed to go on any further.
The member for Wentworth in his presentation pointed out, quite effectively I think, what is presently happening in the review court system. He pointed out that the kind of tax reform that is occurring in the review court system is not acceptable and, in fact, is far worse than any reform that this Legislature could impose. The member for Welland-Thorold pointed out that none of what has happened to date is dealing with the problems that relate to equalization between the municipalities in this province. Those problems have to be dealt with.
There is an additional problem which has started to occur this year. As a result of postponing the reassessment again and as a result of very serious and very loudly expressed complaints from municipalities and requests from municipalities to deal with the problems they have, the Minister of Revenue is now in the process in a very piecemeal fashion of providing assessment and property tax reform in individual municipalities. He is doing equalizations on the current assessment base. The problem is that he has not even had the understanding to do it over a whole taxing jurisdiction, never mind province-wide.
He’s doing it in Cambridge, but not over the whole region of Waterloo, and creating new inequities there. He’s doing it in the city of Hamilton, but not over the whole region, and creating new problems there. We need to get on with the job. This government has not had the courage. We’re prepared to work with them so that we can get on with the job.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to be lengthy, but I do want to bring to the attention of the House the problem that my own municipality is confronted with. In fact, the discussion here today is as a result of the inequities that the city of Windsor has faced over a long period of time. The only answer is a transitional grant. The city has been punished long enough; I think the ministry should consider a transitional grant while they study the problem for the next series of years and come up with a resolution.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING GOALS
Mr. Turner moved resolution 24:
That in the opinion of this House the government should consider adopting policies to encourage every municipality to share with the provincial government the task of planning for job creation and industrial expansion for the future and in particular the government should (i) encourage every municipality to develop job creation and industrial expansion goals as part of the planning process directed towards establishing or amending an official plan for the municipality, and (ii) encourage every municipality to include job creation or industrial expansion goals in the appendum of the official plan for the municipality.
Mr. Turner: Mr. Speaker, I rise to seek support for this resolution which opens up, I suppose, some question as to its intent. I know that it raises concerns as to whether incorporating industrial goals into an appendix of an official plan may or may not be contradictory to existing government planning policy.
The concept of formally integrating industrial planning goals with current municipal planning processes originated from personal experience with some of my own constituents and from a growing anxiety, which I think many of the members in this House may share, about the direction in which our national and provincial economies are headed.
Since this is the case, perhaps I might begin by expressing some of these concerns and their relation to industrial development. We are all aware of the current pressures on local economies to provide new jobs; and, despite that fact that the provincial economy appears to be picking up, we must realize that some regions of Canada, and indeed some areas within Ontario, are affected by remaining adverse conditions more strongly than are some of the others.
Two trends are continuing which I see as being of great importance. One is that the size of the work force population is steadily growing faster than the creation of new jobs. The other is that manufacturing, agriculture and resource industries, particularly in central Ontario municipalities, are employing smaller and smaller proportions of the labour force.
The Collingwood-Midland area in Simcoe, the St. Catharines-Port Colborne area in Niagara, and my own constituency of Peterborough share certain economic features and some problems. They have a large average dependence on manufacturing activity. They have experienced recent declines in manufacturing employment and suffered recent major layoffs and shutdowns and higher than normal levels of unemployment. This change in the composition of employment and economic growth may be seen on the one hand as a natural evolution of a mature economy, but on the other hand I think it illustrates a decline in competitiveness of centres such as Collingwood, St. Catharines and Peterborough to attract and maintain a healthy expanding industrial base.
Difficulties such as these in the national and international economy have created a climate of intense municipal competition for new economic growth. From the standpoint of Ontario municipalities, this competition is augmented by the reactions of cities in the northeastern United States to heavy structural unemployment problems. These problems have been brought on by the shift of new manufacturing activity to southern and midwestern locations during the past decade in the United States.
Increasing shifts of new manufacturing activities to offshore locations in the less-developed countries are also adding to competitive pressures on the North American continent. In addition to all of this, Ontario has one further major disadvantage in relation to the United States in offering incentives to industrial location. Ontario municipalities cannot sell industrial land at a loss, whereas their US counterparts can.
In some cases, American cities, I have been told, have actually given land to particularly welcome industries. This new element of continent-wide competition has one key implication: there are some kinds of industry and some kinds of manufacturing for which municipalities are just not likely to compete successfully. It may be that other parts of the country have a considerably lower wage structure. Alternatively they may offer strong incentives or concessions to attract new growth.
Whichever the case, municipalities today can no longer afford to play a passive role in either expansion development or new industrial growth. They must decide what they can and cannot have. Rather than optimistically waiting for newly locating business to solicit for likely municipalities, Ontario towns and cities are finding it imperative to reverse this approach.
In my own constituency these concerns were recognized by the formation of a group of concerned citizens and elected people whose goal was to examine potential areas within the local economy where municipal initiatives could be taken to stimulate development.
An important fact became apparent in the Peterborough planning situation, and it was simply that the general promotion efforts produced by a body, such as the citizens’ committee, could be effectively integrated with and supported by the efforts of a city’s existing municipal planning and development staff.
I believe that by improving our general business environment, by making business feel wanted and welcome as opposed to accepting it somewhat grudgingly, by making economic growth and industrial growth a primary objective, and only by making assistance to industrial development available at the local level, can we ensure that adequate growth takes place. And growth is necessary to create employment and real income.
The Ontario Development Corporation recently has increased its support of innovative projects through the provision of venture capital in small business support. The smaller businesses, particularly secondary manufacturing firms, are often bound up with local municipal interests. Therefore it would seem to be in the best interests of municipalities to begin carefully considering how they can function in co-operation with the province in order to reduce bureaucratic procedures and provide the assistance that is often necessary to generate new growth.
In other words, if the proper studies are undertaken aggressively, local planners may greatly assist new business ventures in a consultative capacity in addition to assisting by using approval, processing services, advocacy, et cetera.
There are a number of methods which may open new paths to facilitate the location of industry and hence attract new development. For example, the pooled information from local businessmen in a particular municipality might indicate that the area has a strong supply of a particularly skilled labour force. If it were found that this component of the labour force was traditionally stable it might be viewed and promoted by planners as a possible incentive to attract middle-order service industries, such as consumer, finance, insurance companies and that type of industry.
The general labour pool might on the other hand exhibit a large proportion of qualified engineering personnel. This too could be included in an incentive package at the planning level. Similarly, such factors as the existent transportation facilities, proximity to outlying relevant service industries, and the expansion of old or projected new transportation routes should be of particular interest to those municipalities attempting to promote or facilitate industrial location.
Recent events, such as the offering of incentives to Ford Motor Limited, serve to highlight the fact that this government is assuming an increasing responsibility in selling Ontario generally to both Canadian and foreign potential investors. However, it must be the objective of good rational development policy to insure that once this is done, the placing or locating of industry will be to the advantage not solely of the interested municipalities and regions, but also to the best advantage of the industry itself. This can happen most effectively at the municipal level.
The process of planning, therefore, must increasingly include the process of exhaustively researching and extending those elements of local infrastructures which will themselves act as incentives to the favourable location of new industries.
I use the word “favourable” to point out that industrial growth as an objective in any municipal plan must be predicated on the assumption that a selective approach would be taken. Local authorities must determine, as always, what would and would not constitute the desirable growth.
If municipalities are able to produce consistently accurate profiles on their employment base or manpower skills, profiles on the amount and types of services available to various industries and the spinoffs that have resulted from previous industrial location within the area, and finally if they are able to provide adequate land sectors or specific zoning, then two things must happen. This government must resolve to encourage all municipalities to adopt selective industrial expansion goals as part of the total planning process. These goals should therefore appear in the appendix of each municipal plan.
It is all too easy to advocate municipal involvement in promotional programs that may attract industrial location or expansion. However, without some expansion of provincial advisory services, much of this promotional potential would be lost, and I would contend that this is presently the case.
An objection to this resolution might be raised on the grounds that indiscriminate growth could result from all municipalities having to incorporate expansion goals into the planning process. This objective would not be of substance and certainly the reverse would occur.
Municipalities, through more intensive industrial planning, will have a clearer understanding of selection criteria suitable to their particular area. In turn, they may better court those forms of growth that conform to the existing environment as well as to the infrastructure.
I can appreciate that this government would not care to take any steps which would place planning mechanisms in conflict with current planning policies. Yet if the planning process is going to be at all effective, it must at least question policy provisions.
The definition of an official plan as set out in the Planning Act is left deliberately vague. One can safely say that this government is of the mind that the planning policies and programs are for the most part the responsibility of the municipalities. The province has recently been shifting the onus further on to the municipalities to govern the types of development taking place within local boundaries. The province, it might be said, should not therefore interfere by adopting measures that would outline what should be included within a document forwarded as an official plan of an area.
Municipal autonomy of this sort has benefits. It is better that they undertake planning studies themselves, since they have the most intimate knowledge of their own particular economic situation in terms of service bases, labour pools and other such things.
But we must realize that in transferring responsibilities of this sort, an onus must be placed on the municipalities to do their utmost to selectively plan for industrial expansion.
When studies of industrial potential and assistance programs to industrial locations accompany the planning process, this does happen.
This resolution seeks to ensure that this happens consistently and effectively. It is not with the inclusion of industrial goals and official plans but with their exclusion that indiscriminate development may evolve, thereby causing calamities such as the duplication of plants and the misallocation of resources.
This resolution, if supported, would have the effect of encouraging the localizing of industry into areas most suitable to its efficient operation. Furthermore, its intention is to ensure that communities are able to compete openly and effectively for industrial growth. Information concerning things such as plant placement must be precise, readily accessible and up to date. It must be oriented to business which strives itself to be direct and efficient.
Today, planning policies must be slanted towards economic considerations. I see this resolution as a means of encouraging innovation at the local level to develop realistic industrial growth objectives. It is one of the many methods by which the provincial government may indirectly extend and expand our slowly declining technological base and manufacturing sector.
Given the times in which we live, all towns and cities should be encouraged to incorporate both job creation strategy and industrial expansion goals, as a major component of the planning process.
Mr. Speaker: Is the honourable member reserving any time at the end?
Mr. Turner: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to, if I may.
Mr. Speaker: You will have seven minutes.
Mr. Eakins: I’m very pleased to rise in support of the member’s resolution. I do so for two reasons. First of all, as one who has served in municipal life, I am very much aware of the background of the intent of this resolution. Secondly, I support him because he is also my neighbour, constituency- wise. I congratulate him for bringing forth this resolution at this time.
I believe the province should adopt policies to encourage our municipalities in planning for job creation. I certainly believe there must be a closer provincial-municipal liaison in this planning process. I don’t believe we can leave it all to the province, nor can we leave it all to the municipalities. There is a great deal at stake and there must be a great deal of co-operation and working together, if we’re going to achieve what this resolution outlines. Through good planning, we will preserve and strengthen the existing communities, and this is a principle of good planning.
As to further growth of our communities today, we often hear many people speak of the development of our smaller communities. I want to say I support the growth of many of the smaller communities of Ontario, but further growth does not necessarily mean that we encourage massive residential subdivisions to locate in these areas. It does mean, however, that we want to preserve the identity and function of these communities and to encourage the type of development that will prevent the communities from dying or becoming almost derelict ghost towns. The growth of our towns, our villages and even our hamlets should not be limited to residential development. Commercial and even industrial development is also necessary.
Another very important planning reason for encouraging the growth of our villages and smaller communities is to protect our rural areas from urban-type sprawl. There are a number of ways in which the ministry personnel can help the existing communities at the present time, that is, to make them aware of the various programs which we have in existence. I’m surprised in talking with many of our municipal people that they’re not aware of many of the programs which are available to them. This is perhaps one area in which we might have a very much closer working relationship.
I speak of the industrial parks program, which I supported and which our party supported some two and a half years ago when it was introduced by the Minister of Industry and Tourism. I feel that if we’re going to encourage industry and create jobs, this is one area in which there is assistance available to our various municipalities, especially in some of the slow growth areas of eastern and northern Ontario.
There is one concept too where I think a closer relationship might take place. that is, in our counties where there are not too many very large cities or towns. I think of the area of Haliburton where a very small growth of industrial expansion would be of great benefit in the creation of jobs. Here again we run into the question of a municipality. I think perhaps one area the Ministry of Industry and Tourism might look into is the creation of the county as the municipality. This is something new. I don’t believe we have this in existence in Ontario at the present time. I think that perhaps in the spirit of co-operation among our municipalities we might take a look at considering the county as the municipality so that we can all work together within that particular area.
There is another area which I feel the ministries of Agriculture and Food and Industry and Tourism might take a look at, that is, the designation of DREE areas across the province, which would certainly assist the municipalities in their planning for jobs and for developing industry. There are a number of areas across the province which were divided by an artificial line, such as the French River, and many areas below it which are slow growth areas and areas of unemployment simply cannot take advantage of the DREE programs. This is one area I hope the ministries will look at very closely and in which they will use their influence in cooperation with the federal people to support many of these areas. Again I bring to mind the county of Haliburton which cannot compete and yet they have very slow growth and an unemployment problem there.
There is another particular area we sometimes overlook in the creation of jobs and industry and that is our tourist industry in this province. To my mind the tourist industry of Ontario is a sleeping giant. It is our second largest industry. It creates something over 400,000 jobs and I believe this is one area to which our government should give a much higher profile. Quite often it becomes a second cousin to the industry part of the ministry and yet, with the great potential for the creation of jobs, we should be giving this area a much higher profile. I would suggest too that the government should consider the realignment of ministries to reflect this higher profile and what tourism means to the province of Ontario.
Up until 1975 we had many good years of tourism in the province, but since that time we have watched right across Canada -- and particularly in Ontario, because what happens across Canada reflects almost 45 to 50 per cent in the province of Ontario -- while tourism has been good, we took it for granted, and now we find we have a deficit of tourism dollars. This year it is going to be something like $600 million as Ontario’s share. This year, even the government’s promotions, incentives that they offered in various areas, I don’t believe are going to reflect a great deal; it is either going to be a standstill year or we are going to have a further deficit.
So this is one particular area which I feel governments should pay much more attention to. It is one area in which the provincial and municipal governments can work together to reflect greater support to this particular industry.
There is also the small business sector. I feel the province should be obliged to make known to a greater degree to the small business people in our communities, the areas in which they can provide goods and services to government. It is interesting to note that today in one of the hotels, perhaps the Sheraton Centre, the government is displaying many of the goods it purchased from other countries and other jurisdictions and is now asking the people of Ontario to take a look at the products to see if we can supply them here. I think it is a move in the right direction.
I think it is one area in which the Ministry of Industry and Tourism should make available to the various suppliers across the province the needs that can be served by these people. This is one area particularly which can mean a great improvement in the creation of jobs. There is so much in the field of tourism that we haven’t even tapped.
Mr. Johnson: Along with Cantrakon.
Mr. Eakins: The member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel has made some very good suggestions and one is that we develop our farm areas for the attraction of tourism through farm holidays. This is one area I think is very attractive and which could be a great creator of jobs. This is something, I say to the member for Peterborough, which our municipalities might consider in their planning, that our farm areas can be a great boost to tourism.
Those are just a few of the thoughts I have on this subject. I am very pleased to support the member for Peterborough. It is a good resolution and I encourage the members of this House to support it fully.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, this appears to be a nice motherhood resolution, judging from the discussion that has taken place so far --
Mr. Mancini: Something like the one you spoke on 10 minutes ago.
Mr. Swart: -- by the member for Peterborough and the member for Victoria-Haliburton. It is difficult to disagree with any of the comments they have made, because they have talked about the need for industrial development in the smaller places and what a disadvantage they are at; and one must agree with that. But I have to say that I am somewhat confused about the resolution and how it would assist in any way to bring that about. If this is supposed to be the government’s answer to unemployment in Ontario -- and perhaps it’s about as good as anything else they have offered -- it will have totally ineffective results.
In the first part of this resolution, it states that “in the opinion of this House the government should consider adopting policies to encourage every municipality to share with the provincial government the task of planning for job creation and industrial expansion for the future ... ”
One cannot disagree with that if it means what it should mean. However, I suspect the honourable member does not intend it to mean that the government is going to sit down with the municipalities and do some economic planning to determine which projects should proceed within the municipalities and how the funding is going to take place on the basis that they must proceed because they are needed in that area.
If that were the case, that would be what’s done by the NDP government in Saskatchewan. This year, the NDP government of that province created a fund of $75 per capita just for that purpose; so they could sit down with the municipalities and determine what was needed in their area, both by way of public projects and facilities for private projects. It has been very successful. It is no accident that Saskatchewan has the lowest unemployment rate, and consistently has one of the lowest; they do believe in economic planning and in involving the municipalities in economic planning.
If that is the meaning of this, then I am all for it. But from the discussion that has already taken place on other matters in this House today, I suggest that is not really the thrust of this resolution. I hope it is, but I suggest it’s not. I heard people over there today, including the Minister of Housing, say: “We don’t interfere with where industry wants to go or with where developments want to go. We don’t interfere at all.”
If the government is going to bring about what it wants to see brought about, then I am afraid there’s going to have to be some interference on behalf of the public good in the economic decisions that are made within this province.
Mr. Gregory: He didn’t say we don’t assist.
Mr. Warner: You don’t do anything. You are immobilized.
Mr. Swart: If the resolution means, as it obviously does that every municipality shall go after industrial expansion, I am convinced it should be defeated. And that’s what the resolution says: “The government should consider adopting policies to encourage every municipality to share with the provincial government the task of planning for job creation and industrial expansion for the future, and in particular the government should (i) encourage every municipality to develop job creation and industrial expansion goals” -- every municipality would be encouraged to develop industrial expansion goals -- “as part of the planning process directed towards establishing or amending an official plan for the municipality ... ”
What does the green paper mean if that’s what we mean? If we are going to say every municipality in Ontario, even in the most intensive agricultural area and even though they have class 1 lands, is going to have a plan --
Mr. Turner: Don’t distort it.
Mr. Swart: It’s what the honourable member’s resolution says: to have a plan for industrial expansion. Let me quote from the green paper. It says: “Agricultural lands must be clearly identified and shown within the official plan and on the land-use map, and the policies applied to these areas must adequately protect them for present and future agricultural use.” And yet the honourable member wants to have a strategy for industrial development in every municipality in this province. Even his government’s paper back in 1974, called Guidelines for Land-Use Planning, states the objective is to co-ordinate the various land-use programs of the ministry so optimum use is made of the resources of this province. It goes on to talk about “a provincial plan shall be implemented by the government.” If we’re going to permit every municipality to have expansion, then I suggest we defeat all good planning in this province.
There is a fallacy that is abroad generally among municipal people -- and I guess among many others besides those in local government -- that if they can encourage industrial expansion to come into their particular communities it is going to solve all the tax problems. We have in the Niagara Peninsula a great variety of municipalities with a great variety of percentages of commercial-industrial assessment. I want to say to this House that there is no relationship between the ratio of industrial and commercial versus residential farm to the taxes that the residents pay, or to the mill rate in that municipality. Not the slightest.
I will give the government some credit on this, because it has evolved transfer systems which to a large extent make up in those municipalities for the lack of industrial assessment. But surely one of the purposes of this must be that we don’t encourage industrial expansion in every municipality in the province of Ontario. That surely can’t be the intent of this.
Mr. Gregory: It doesn’t say that. Read the resolution.
Mr. Swart: I can’t go along with that part of the resolution either. If the goal is to establish more industrial land, more industrial parks, more industrial promotion, I am not sure that’s what is needed in our economy either. It is a good idea to have industrial parks; many of the municipalities have them. Municipalities are permitted to subsidize them. I don’t particularly object to that, although it says something about our priorities when we are prepared to subsidize land for industrial development and aren’t prepared to do it for residential development. It says something about our priorities, but I am not particularly opposed to that. I would like to see land banking for industrial development too, and public land development.
It is interesting that there is a real feeling among municipalities that they should have an industrial park; and we can do it cheaper ourselves than letting the private sector do it.
Mr. Kerrio: No way.
Mr. Swart: Generally that has proved to be the case. In Niagara too.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Niagara Falls is not in his seat.
Mr. Swart: It is generally true, I think, that we do have adequate industrial land. In fact, in the Niagara Peninsula planners say we have 11,280 acres of industrial land within the urban boundaries, and they will only need, by the end of this century, 2,910, about a quarter of it. Most of the municipalities have adequate industrial land. I don’t see that any solution is provided by the resolution on that.
If the idea is somehow or other local governments have control over the economy, that somehow or other if they have an industrial strategy in their official plan, they are somehow or other going to solve the unemployment problem, I suggest that is a real illusion too. I think we all know that the federal government first of all has the most control over the economy, then the province, and a big province like Ontario has substantial control over the economy. The municipalities, in fact, have none; especially when the province or the other local government tells them what they can spend, and says, “We’re cutting down the amount of money that we are letting you people have this year.” They have no control over the economy.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Mancini: Is he for or against it?
Mr. Jones: Mr. Speaker, he never did make it clear to me just whether he was for or against it.
Mr. Swart: It doesn’t do anything so I have to be against it.
Mr. Jones: But I give the member for Welland-Thorold the benefit of the doubt. I say this to the member for Peterborough, I think secretly he was on his way towards acknowledging that the program as proposed in this resolution was one of harmony towards job creation between the different levels of government.
The member for Welland-Thorold as he referred to the fact his area of the Niagara Peninsula had a variety of employment, a variety of assessment, was really acknowledging what the member for Victoria-Haliburton said and the introducer of the resolution said, namely, that it was a mixture of job creation and one of the tools was in the form of the adoption of this resolution.
The member for Victoria-Haliburton not only suggested industrial job creation but also discussed our tourist industry, pointing out the size of it in this province and this country. And there have been some specific projects proposed in the past by the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel, such as utilizing our farms for a very profitable type of industry unto itself within tourism, farm visitation. It’s proved very successful in many of the states south of the border and many of the other provinces.
We all acknowledge in this debate that the provincial and federal governments play very important roles in establishing the climate for economic activity. The member for Peterborough referred to one such measure taken by the Ontario government recently. It was referred to by the second speaker, the member for Victoria-Haliburton, when he talked about Sell Ontario and the Canadian and foreign investors’ innovations promoted by the government.
He touched on the need to keep in mind that there are other parts of the province -- the French River section, the slow growth in some of the DREE areas -- that need attention. They cannot be too far from the government’s high priorities as we look across the province and not just to any one section of it.
I would remind the member who’s just spoken that the province also had involvement this spring in the Sudbury funding, which might be seen as another recent measure by this government in that direction.
What the mover of this resolution said to us was apparent in the second speaker’s comments. If the member for Welland-Thorold missed this point, I’d like to restate it. In promoting Ontario as a province, as we’re doing in our present program of We Treat You Royally, let us not pretend that some of those psychological things aren’t important. We saw this editorialized in one of our Toronto papers last week. The Economic Council of Canada says a lack of confidence is at the very root of a lot of our economic problems. In tourism, there is a need to stimulate and have that thing called competence.
Mr. Swart: There isn’t a lack of confidence in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Warner: They’re in better shape than we are here.
Mr. Jones: The answer does not rest in proposals such as the one in Saskatchewan where everybody will work in some government role and we will expand the public sector.
Mr. Warner: Figures don’t prove that.
Mr. Jones: I would merely say this to you, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. Warner: They need their industries. We sold ours out.
Mr. Jones: -- what is proposed by this is that municipal plans which are now submitted to this government and its various ministries for approval, also have in them initiatives directed to a response that calls on the municipalities to turn their thinking towards the job creation side of their official plans and to the expansion goals of their municipality in many diverse job-creating aspects.
Mr. Swart: Name some specific ones.
Mr. Jones: We can name some specific ones. The Premier (Mr. Davis) was replying to questions in question period today and he spoke of Windsor. That’s an initiative, very obvious to all of us, that affected the Windsor area. He referred to the specific numbers of jobs that were created directly and those in the offshoot industries that would be affected by it. It certainly wouldn’t be appropriate for another community -- I don’t think even the member from Lindsay would propose that plant should necessarily be in Peterborough or one of the other communities in his riding -- but it’s certainly appropriate for Windsor.
Mr. Warner: You would like it in Mississauga.
Mr. Jones: Oh, yes. It wouldn’t be bad in Mississauga.
Mr. Swart: Are you out to get into a bidding game?
Mr. Jones: No. We’re not out to cause anybody to get into a bidding game. I’m just saying, if the member for Welland-Thorold would listen, that communities in different parts of this province obviously have different complexions to make them more appropriate for certain types of new industry. They should take that into account in their individual ways, as they address themselves to the formulating of their official plans or the amendment of their official plans. In the process then, they would join in partnership with the province and the federal government in this much-needed job creation.
I’m rather close to a form of job creation. I’ve worked with the summer employment programs of this government. Last year it involved a figure close to 80,000 young people. There are some very successful ones in harness with the private sector. There were some in the Experience-type programs that were involved in the public sector with the various ministries of this government.
So I don’t say there are no job opportunities in the public sector. I’m only saying, I suppose in reply to your suggestion that we should look there first, as in Saskatchewan, that the real large lob creations for the future are going to have to come in the private sector field.
Our Treasurer, as he made a statement to this House last week, pointed out that 99 per cent of those new 150,000 jobs were created in the private sector in this last fiscal year. I’m saying that the municipalities have to take that into account in their official plans.
Mr. Swart: You should have an overall plan which includes public and private both; but you don’t believe in planning.
Mr. Jones: The member spoke of his riding and I’d like to take a moment to mention to this House that our community of Mississauga recently completed a new official plan. In that official plan they wrote into it. not as an appendix, but rather as a specific part of the plan, a whole section devoted to employment.
Let me read the statements I feel are apropos. They said things such as: “Mississauga will facilitate and encourage the creation of a range of employment opportunities, utilizing the skills of the existing resident work force and the people moving their residences to Mississauga. Mississauga will attempt to expand job opportunities to equal the resident labour force and be more compatible with their skills by 1986, with a view that by 1996 they’ll more closely match the skills of the resident labour force.”
That’s something specific that an official plan can contain and those municipal people --
Mr. Swart: It’s rhetoric.
Mr. Jones: I tell you the good people of Mississauga don’t think it’s rhetoric. I can tell you --
Mr. Swart: We have that in the Niagara region too.
Mr. Jones: -- they are a fast-growing provider of jobs in the economy of this province.
In this same document that I referred you to, if anybody has an open mind -- by some of the comments, I know some of the members of one of the parties that has spoken has -- and I would hope that members of the member for Welland-Thorold’s party would too. While I can’t read all the appropriate sections of that document, I can tell you it was carefully thought out by some very thoughtful municipal politicians. They were of all complexions, if you were to look under their robes, as to their political persuasion.
As they set down specific sections of priority they did so in harness with conversations with the various ministries of this province. That’s in the preparing of their official plan before it comes down here for approval. That’s the type of thing I believe the member for Peterborough was referring to very clearly in this resolution; that indeed we are all partners in the task at hand of creating the job opportunities that will be needed, as we come through these next few years, in all areas of the province, not just in my area of Mississauga.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Jones: So I heartily ask that all members of the House support the resolution as put by my colleague, the member for Peterborough.
Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Speaker: I rise to support this resolution of the member for Peterborough. I’d like to tell him at the outset that anything we can do in the Legislature that will encourage the municipalities and, indeed, any place in Ontario to create new job opportunities is certainly going to be supported by this party, particularly job opportunities that relate to those coming from the private sector. We don’t have to do anything to encourage the enlargement of that sector that the socialists would, because all we have to do is hire everybody and they’d all be working for the government.
Mr. Mancini: Down with the socialists.
Mr. Kerrio: We’re talking about something completely different and it surprises me that they even take the time to talk to these issues.
Mr. Grande: Up to your old selves.
Mr. Warner: Do you spend your whole life with blinkers on, or just part of it?
Mr. Kerrio: I would like to say that I’m a little bit disappointed, of course, that we don’t have that kind of legislation in place, that kind of determination --
Mr. Swart: What kind?
Mr. Kerrio: -- that would not need this kind of legislation before us. I have certainly held my end up as it comes to the private sector and have had my share in creating jobs, and I have to tell you that it takes a great deal of diligence and investment and sleepless nights to do it. That’s something that you people over there would hardly understand.
Mr. Jones: He just said we don’t need to run it like Saskatchewan.
Mr. Grande: But you failed.
Mr. Turner: No way.
Mr. Warner: You don’t understand it yourself.
Mr. Kerrio: I’d like to say that you can talk in any way that you will over there, that you can do something in the public sector that could, in fact, be somewhat competitive with the private sector --
Mr. Warner: That’s why there is more unemployment here than there in Saskatchewan. There always has been.
Mr. Kerrio: -- but you only say that because you haven’t had one nit of experience.
Mr. Jones: That’s a good term.
Mr. Warner: What a lot of rubbish.
Mr. Kerrio: How could you possibly make any kind of a comparison?
Mr. Swart: Don’t forget the Liberals are running Canada.
Mr. Kerrio: Comparisons are made by people who have been there.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Get ‘em, Vince. I am sick of them. Get ‘em.
Mr. Kerrio: I have a few comments to make as they relate to the resolution after having dispensed with that. I like to get the sort of nasty things out of the way first. --
Mr. Warner: Good, then leave the chamber.
Mr. Kerrio: -- and then deal with the nicer things last. It’s sort of like having your dessert after you get by all those things that are kind of like the carrots that the young children would like to push off their plate.
Mr. Warner: We will all get indigestion.
Mr. Kerrio: In any event, I have been on a trade mission that was sponsored by the province and I must say it was a great and revealing experience. Subsequently, I have seen our own city of Niagara Falls really take the initiative as it relates to a very fine industrial complex, through a very fine industrial commissioner in the person of Joe Montgomery, who attended on that trade mission to Germany and to Switzerland. I have to say that I’m very proud of the area that I come from because they don’t come up here to the Legislature and cry about what can be done but they get right on the job of doing it.
Next week, I’m going to the opening of a large factory in Niagara Falls that is being built by German money and it’s going to be a tremendous asset to our industrial subdivision. It’s only about the seventh or eighth in that subdivision from overseas and it’s all because those people have been aggressive. I hope this kind of resolution, while it may not help us that much because we already have this kind of initiative in place, will do the sorts of things for those people that maybe haven’t had it in place and might consider it for the future.
Mr. Warner: You would like to sell out Canada.
Mr. Kerrio: I have some concerns as they relate to comments that were made here about job creation. I’m not so happy about the fact that we had to give money to the Ford Motor Company. I happen to think that we in Canada, who use 10 per cent of the motor cars and parts that are built in North America, are somewhat entitled to the kind of plants that would produce those numbers of motor cars and parts.
Mr. Swart: How do you bring it about with your philosophy?
Mr. Kerrio: I don’t think that we should have to pay for them. With initiatives at all levels of government -- and I guess it relates more particularly to the federal government -- they should see to it that we have our fair share.
Mr. Swart: That’s interfering with private enterprise. You mustn’t do that.
Mr. M. Davidson: Are you saying we should renegotiate the auto pact?
Mr. Kerrio: Some of the motor companies that get 10, 11 or 12 per cent profit on their operations here would be well advised to make investments, because they don’t make anywhere near those kinds of profit in the United States.
The government itself has been remiss in funding some small corporations and plants and operations. The government had a program -- and I know that some members will remember it -- where very low interest money was made available for the tourist industry. I’m not begrudging them that. But what has happened is that we have gone from very helpful funding for that industry to an experience now where funding at a reasonable rate of interest and with reasonable repayment is not available for small business. It’s those sorts of things the government should address itself to at this time.
We have some strange sorts of legislation at the various levels of government which leave me somewhat disappointed. We have a factory closing in Niagara Falls, the Burgess battery factory.
Mr. M. Davidson: You can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Swart: Don’t interfere.
Mr. Kerrio: Two years ago, an application was made to the federal government by an American company to buy that company. If we are attempting to keep Canadian ownership, that legislation would appear to be good. But in this instance the company was owned by another American company. The fact that it was changing from the ownership of one American company to another didn’t seem to me to be that important in that particular instance. The end result is that the company that made the purchase of a similar company upgraded it, while our Burgess company was not upgraded; the machinery was let to get into the kind of condition where the company couldn’t be competitive.
I’m afraid that kind of decision-making at government levels certainly has to be looked into. We should have those people who would make intelligent decisions because, when there is a change of ownership, I can’t believe that it’s significant whether the ownership changes from one American firm’s hands to another.
I hope that we may still look into the possibility that if there is still a willing seller and a willing buyer, that the government could take another look, realizing that we are in much different circumstances than we were in during the first discussion about this particular industry, and perhaps could still get some kind of consensus where they might take another look and guarantee the jobs of these people in this private company.
Mr. M. Davidson: With government money.
Mr. Kerrio: As far as the resolution is concerned, I think that to encourage the small centres might also require us to take the initiative as it relates to some sort of central expertise being made available to those smaller communities. I’m sure that the member for Peterborough, in the placing of his resolution, must have come to the determination that they can’t do much on their own and that there would have to be a more responsible position by the provincial government to provide the sort of help that some of these smaller communities might need.
As I said before, regarding my experience on the trade mission and my own experience in the city of Niagara Falls, I take extreme pride in the fact that we have a very active industrial commissioner and a very active group of people who have seen fit to keep him in place now for some 10 or 12 years, I think; he makes periodic sojourns into these various industrialized countries and has brought much industry to our area.
It augurs well for the kind of resolution that is before us that if other people are willing to take the same initiative, and if we give them some help from the central government here, this could be a way of success and a way to encourage small municipalities and small business, and indeed it might make certain that the private sector continue to provide the jobs and the substance that make this whole country go.
Mr. M. Davidson: With public funding.
Mr. Swart: What’s the unemployment rate in Niagara?
Mr. Kerrio: There are those that give and there are those that take, and they are very easy to distinguish.
Mr. Warner: We give and the corporates take.
Mr. Kerrio: I want to tell members that while they are doing all that shouting and noisemaking over there --
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr. Kerrio: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On that note I think I should quit.
Mr. Warner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker --
Mr. J. Reed: Resign.
Mr. Warner: I wouldn’t make life so easy for the member.
The member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner), when he introduced the resolution and spoke on behalf of the resolution, indicated that it was his firm conviction that the resolution would prompt a good working relationship between the government of Ontario and the municipalities in the endeavour to develop industry and jobs. I took that to be his comment.
The direction that he saw the move taking -- some good co-operative measures between the municipalities and the provincial government -- I can certainly appreciate that kind of attitude being put forward by the government today, because the government up until now has not listened to the municipalities, has not co-operated with municipalities, has in fact cut off money from the municipalities.
It wasn’t that long ago that we debated the Edmonton commitment being negated by the government, so if the member wishes to introduce a resolution today --
Mr. Kerrio: There is only one thing the government didn’t cut off and we are looking at it.
Mr. Warner: -- to institute some better goodwill between the municipalities and the government, that is certainly understandable. But this resolution cannot get the government off the hook. This government has failed, and failed miserably, at job creation; and the resolution as drafted here by the member for Peterborough does not answer the problem.
The government can’t simply shirk its responsibilities that it has had for so long and not lived up to, it cannot shirk those responsibilities by turning around and saying: “Let’s try and get the municipalities involved in developing job creation plans.” It is not good enough. Face the responsibilities head on. I am glad that the good member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) is here to listen to some explanation as to how the government in Saskatchewan faced this very same problem. Instead of giving away the resources to Americans, instead of allowing the profits to flow out of the province and into other jurisdictions, the province of Saskatchewan met that head on and today the resource industry is owned by the people in Saskatchewan, not foreign control. The profits from that potash corporation remain in Saskatchewan to create a double-A rating, the highest rating, and the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
Mr. Turner: The lowest population too.
Mr. Kerrio: I love Saskatchewan; it is socialist government I can’t stand.
Mr. Warner: For the member who cares not to listen to reason, that government in Saskatchewan has created the wealth in that province and industrial diversity. Do members know why?
Mr Jones: They put the potash in the ground.
Mr. Warner: Because they have demanded that the profits remain within the province of Saskatchewan so that people who live there will benefit from those profits. But no, this government decides instead that we will deindustrialize. That is what is going on. Take the resources out of the ground and allow them to be shipped to Norway to be processed. Take the resources out of the ground and allow them to be shipped to Japan to be processed; and then the products made there and shipped back into our province to be resold.
Where do you create jobs in that? Not at all. If this government was the last bit serious about job creation it would have developed the secondary industries related to natural resources; it would have insisted that research and development be done here in Ontario; it would have insisted on an equity position with Ford Motor Company. If the government really thought that it was absolutely essential that the Ford Motor Company be given $68 million in the poverty situation the Ford Motor Company finds itself in, surely it would have asked for equity, surely it would have said $68 million worth of public shares to be held by the government of Ontario. But no, this government would rather simply turn over the money and then say “if you want more just come and ask, because we’re prepared to hand out whatever money you want; and we’re prepared to watch the profits drift to the south, we’re not prepared to handle and tackle the unemployment problem.”
But instead of rationally planning the development of jobs, instead of demanding an equity position in the Ford Motor deal or any other measure that’s brought before this government, instead of trying to regain control of industries, the best I have seen from this government in three years is a wishy-washy resolution that foists responsibility upon the municipalities instead of this government living up its responsibilities.
About the most precious commodity that exists in Ontario is its natural resources. We have watched those natural resources squandered, and we have watched the profits from those natural resources drift out of this province and into the United States and other foreign countries. Yet this government could have done what was done in Saskatchewan. They could have taken control of those natural resources, and they could have ensured that there would be a heritage of jobs for Ontarians. But the government hasn’t done that.
I guess the most satisfying thing for me as a member of this assembly is that the resource policy of the government of Saskatchewan was put clearly on the line and the people of Saskatchewan said, “yes, we want control of our resources; yes, we want jobs; no, we don’t want Tory giveaways to Americans.”
Mr. Kerrio: Go west, young man.
Mr. Warner: In conclusion, I ask that the member for Peterborough withdraw his resolution and in its place bring in a bill that will bring about public control of natural resources in Ontario.
Mr. Turner: I would like to thank those members of this party and the members of the official opposition who have chosen to support this resolution. I am just appalled, not so much at the attitude of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere -- I had expected that -- but given the experience and the background of the minister -- or the member --
Mr. Warner: He will be minister.
Mr. Turner: I should hope not -- the member for Welland-Thorold, I just can’t believe that members opposite who cry daily about the inequities of this society and every other society, are against the creation of jobs.
Mr. Turner: That is what both of them have said.
Mr. Swart: Where is the lowest unemployment in Canada?
Mr. Turner: They have both chosen to distort what the resolution has said. The resolution clearly says, “encourage every municipality to develop job creation and industrial expansion goals.” We are not encouraging the use of farm land or any other agricultural land for industrial expansion. I can say to all members, having had some experience in this matter, that if it were not for the acts of involvement of our municipality with problems that we have had quite recently, we would have had a very serious problem.
Mr. Germa: It is your problem, not the municipalities.
Mr. Warner: Face your responsibility.
Mr. Turner: That is exactly what we are doing.
An hon. member: Capitalist in sheep’s clothing.
Mr. Turner: Every time a company wants to go into a municipality to establish itself, they go through the development commissioner’s office or some similar type of office and then they go to the planners. In a significant number of cases they find a lot of municipalities have not made provision of industrial expansion within the boundaries of those municipalities.
Mr. Grande: You blame them for the unemployment do you?
Mr. Turner: This government should encourage the municipalities to include industrial expansion and job creation goals within the appendix of the official plans.
Mr. Johnson: I would like to thank the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) and the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Jones) for their kind remarks about the farm vacation program. I would like to reiterate the problems we have in many townships. They do not have the official plans so if a farm vacation program is of interest to that community, they have difficulty bringing it about because they can’t change the plans. This is a project which would create jobs, and hopefully we’re all interested in that, without taking any agricultural land away from the member for Welland-Thorold. Further it would add revenue to the area. This past summer I had the opportunity to vacation for a week in the Victoria-Haliburton, Peterborough area.
It’s a wonderful part of the country, but it could do with a farm vacation program. There are many farms that just are not viable and some type of program similar to this could make those farms that much more financially viable, creating jobs as well. Many areas in Ontario have the same problem. If in some way we can instigate change to the official plans, or encourage the municipality to have them in order so they can be introduced at the appropriate time, it’s a move in the right direction.
Mr. Mancini: I wasn’t aware we could speak after the member who had introduced the resolution was finished with his windup remarks. I’ll take a minute or two to address the resolution, but before I do I’d like to make some comments.
We’ve heard quite a bit from my friends to the left. They howled quite a bit about the Ford plant in Windsor. I want to inform the House, when they had the sod turning ceremonies, who do members think were sitting right in the front row?
Mr. Foulds: Who was it? Tell us.
Mr. Mancini: I’ve got to inform the House it was the member for Windsor-Sandwich (Mr. Bounsall) and the member --
Mr. Walker: Say it isn’t so.
Mr. Mancini: -- for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. Cooke). They were there front and centre to help the president of Ford with the official sod turning.
However, I want to address the bill. I find it very difficult to support this resolution. I find that most municipalities --
Mr. Havrot: Poor baby, give him some castor oil.
Mr. Mancini: -- in the province that have been interested in industrial development and job creation have created industrial parks in their official plans. I don’t think it’s right for the province of Ontario, at this particular time anyway, to try and shoulder the unemployment situation with the municipalities.
Mr. Turner: You are against employment.
Mr. Mancini: If a resolution like this were endorsed in this House, when the members speak of unemployment I would hate to see the Minister of Labour or the Minister of Economics, or the Premier, stand up and say part of the unemployment is caused by a certain municipality which has not adhered to this or that.
The reason I say that is because day after day we watch the government across the floor blame everybody else for the problems we have in the province of Ontario. I don’t put that past them for one moment. I think if they could politically and expediently blame someone else for the problems they would. I personally believe that it is the responsibility of the provincial Legislature to look after the issue of job creation.
This resolution I find rather weak, to encourage all municipalities to create jobs. Most municipalities that can -- Mr. Speaker, I see that you have given me notice that my time is up and I’ll stop. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Deans has moved resolution 33.
Sufficient members having objected by rising, a vote was not taken on resolution 33.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING GOALS
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Turner has moved resolution 24.
Resolution 24 concurred in.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to indicate the order of business? Tonight we will have consideration of sessional paper 225, the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs report on its inquiry into the construction of the heavy water plants at Bruce.
Tomorrow morning, government motion 19 on the Order Paper, standing in the name of the Chairman of Management Board (Mr. McCague); and then House in committee of supply to continue consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Housing.
On Monday, November 6, the House in committee of supply both afternoon and evening to start and continue consideration of the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
On Tuesday, legislation day, second readings of Bills 136, 142; committee of the whole to consider Bills 112, 151, 136 if necessary, and 142; then back to second reading of Bills 74 and 75.
On Wednesday, November 5, resources development, general government, and administration of justice committees meeting in the morning, with the resources development committee now authorized to meet in the afternoon as well.
Thursday, November 9, in the afternoon, private members’ public business, Bill 152 standing in the name of the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent), and Bill 153, standing in the name of the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip). In the evening, we take into consideration sessional paper 195, the report of the select committee on health care financing costs.
On Friday, November 10, we will continue in committee of supply with the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The House recessed at 5:54 p.m.