The House met at 10 a.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, on November 1 of this year I advised the House of the completion of a review of the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton and indicated my intention to share review findings when available. The consulting firm engaged for the Ottawa review has completed its work and made certain recommendations.
I would like to take this opportunity to restate the background to the review and briefly highlight major findings and recommendations and the initiative of the ministry with respect to them.
Members will recall that last spring I released to this House the findings and recommendations of a report by the ministry on the handling of the Adrienne Paquette case by the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton. This report was undertaken following the tragic death of the child in her own home when it was learned she had been earlier in the care of the society and was under its supervision.
I indicated the establishment of a joint working committee involving my ministry and the children’s aid society board of directors to deal with the recommendations and address specifically the question of case management, supervisory practice and overall society management.
The working committee subsequently contracted with the management consulting firm of Jackson, Smith and Associates Limited to address intensively the problems referred to in the ministry report and to carry out the related tasks of reviewing appropriate Ottawa CAS policies and procedures and the relationship of the children’s aid society with other community agencies.
On October 24 of this year, following the release of findings and recommendations to the board and to senior ministry staff, the board met specifically to consider this matter. I was concerned about management deficiencies and organizational and other weaknesses highlighted in the report and I asked senior officials of the child welfare branch to attend the October 24 meeting to convey my written expectations with respect to those concerns. I placed particular emphasis on recommendations having to do, first, with the development of a performance evaluation schedule for the local director; secondly, a major restructuring of the organization based on the consultants’ findings that a decentralized service system emphasizing a team approach would provide a more flexible response to the needs of particular Ottawa neighbourhoods; and thirdly, the initiation by the society, with the support of the province, of a major training and manpower development program based on findings suggesting that the existing level of training does not maximize the potential of existing staff or most effectively prepare new staff for assigned responsibilities.
I can now advise that the society has responded both verbally and in writing in a manner which indicates recognition of the problems which have been identified and a commitment to co-operate fully in their resolution through whatever measures may be necessary. I believe the manner in which these review recommendations are addressed will significantly improve the quality of the service of the Ottawa society and have implications for other children’s aid societies across the province as well.
I can assure members of my intent to continue to work closely with the Ottawa board, to remain apprised of society activity and to intervene directly if such action seems appropriate in the best interests of the children.
Mr. S. Smith: I would direct a question to the Minister of Labour, concerning the Puretex matter and the television cameras that are so offensive to the working people in that plant and, frankly, I think are offensive to most right-thinking individuals. Could I ask the minister whether he is aware that his predecessor in office gave a commitment, basically to consider extremely carefully the human rights aspect of this and also the reasons for the recommendations of the Ontario Human Rights Commission?
May I ask the minister whether he could explain to this House why he has refused to appoint a board of inquiry, which is possible under the human rights code, section 14, to examine the situation; and whether he is willing to share with this House in this specific instance the reasons given by the human rights commission in denying the grievance brought to that commission by the working people.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: On the general question the Leader of the Opposition raises with regard to surveillance, I am sure he knows that my predecessor, as well as I, and I am sure all members of this House, often resent surveillance from various sources. That is a serious problem. For his information, I would like him to know that we asked our research division some time ago to review the law and practice with regard to surveillance in other jurisdictions so that we might become better informed about it. I hope to have that report in the very near future.
With regard to the specific matter of Puretex, as he knows, the human rights commission recommended that no board be appointed, and my predecessor concurred with that point of view. I would, however, advise him that subsequent meetings and numerous conversations and correspondence have taken place with regard to the issue. He may be interested to know that on November 10 I wrote to the solicitor for the union and concluded with the following comments, presuming that I had the power to review and reconsider: “Proceeding on this assumption and before exercising my discretion as to whether or not I should or should not appoint a board of inquiry into the complaint, I wish to give you and the Canadian Textile and Chemical Workers Union an opportunity to reply to the facts as ascertained, to the opinion of Professor Ian Hunter and the recommendation made. May I hear from you and your clients in writing within three weeks of your receipt of this letter in response to the above-mentioned findings of the investigator, the opinion expressed by Professor Hunter and the recommendation of the commission?”
When I receive a response to that letter I shall of course review the matter personally again.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, would the minister not feel that in a matter of considerable public importance of this kind the opinion of Professor Hunter, and the reasons for the decision of the hearing officer of the human rights commission, ought to be shared with the House? Should we not be aware of what both sides are in this particular dispute, this very serious matter of public policy?
I would remind the minister, if I might just for a moment, of the statement of Professor Ryan in his report on the protection of privacy in 1968, that surveillance by cameras is a serious dehumanization of employment. Given the importance of this situation, why do we not have a view of what Professor Hunter’s reasons were, or what the human rights commission’s reasons were, for going no further in this matter, rather than have to wait for the solicitors for the union to answer privately to the minister and continue the whole matter on almost an in camera basis?
Why will the minister not share this with the House and take a firm stand to make sure that workers are not subjected to surveillance, unless there is some tremendously compelling reason that we don’t know about -- and if we don’t know about it we should know about it? At the moment I can see no reason for it.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: With respect, I don’t want to get into the reasons the human rights commission gave for rejecting the concept of a board. As the member well knows, the question of freedom of information, particularly in the area of the human rights commission, is still unresolved and it is a matter that I am looking at with great care at this very moment. I don’t care to discuss my deliberations at the present time.
Mr. Mackenzie: Supplementary: With the Puretex case as an example, would the minister not consider legislation under the Employment Standards Act which would prohibit this despicable policy of spying on employees, which can only lead to industrial strife in this province?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition, it is a matter that clearly concerned my predecessor, and obviously concerns me to the point that we have requested our research staff to review the law and practice in other jurisdictions. So I am concerned, as the member is, and I am reviewing the process.
ONTARIO ECONOMIC STRATEGY
Mr. S. Smith: I will address a question to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that the federal Minister of Finance has now brought in a budget and that this has implications, as the provincial Treasurer has noted for the economy of Ontario, and given the fact that Ontarians have been waiting for a general statement on Ontario’s economy and a statement of economic policy from this government, can we assume that now the federal budget having been placed before him the Treasurer will be able to come to this House and finally tell us exactly where he would like to take the economy of Ontario, and what his precise plans will be to get us through the very difficult winter that is lying ahead of us?
Hon. F. S. Miller: I am delighted to. Certainly I had to wait until the federal budget came out. It is here. I hope I will be able to make a statement next week on that very matter. It is something, though, like having a row boat tied to a sinking ship.
Mr. Nixon: It’s your ship that is sinking.
Mr. Peterson: McKeough used to make a statement the next day.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Our economy does depend upon the federal budget. When that budget is now having a record deficit of 33 cents for every dollar of revenue, it is making Ontario’s deficit of 11 cents per dollar look pretty good.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We found that to be true in Chatham-Kent.
An hon. member: There’s something new, blaming the feds.
Mr. S. Smith: Given the fact that we are facing an enormous loss of jobs in Ontario, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and that we have a difficult winter ahead, as the federal budget obviously is not directing itself at the question of employment will the Treasurer of Ontario take some responsibility for the high unemployment that is facing us this winter in Ontario? Will he accept our wage subsidy scheme to bring about some new jobs in Ontario, in small- and medium-size businesses at the very least, and use unemployment insurance funds intelligently to get people back to work in Ontario?
Will he take any responsibility for the employment picture this winter in Ontario? Is he prepared to wash his hands entirely and blame it all on Ottawa, as has been the habit of this government during its teetering years?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is kind of obvious the Leader of the Opposition is going to the federal Liberal Party meeting this weekend.
Hon. F. S. Miller: We are feeling just a bit sensitive over there this morning, aren’t we?
Mr. Breithaupt: You are the one who is sensitive.
Hon. F. S. Miller: It is pretty tough to be an Ontario Liberal these days.
Hon. F. S. Miller: If they had taken the kinds of measures in Ottawa that Ontario has taken to reduce its spending, they would have some room to manoeuvre right now and really do some things to help the unemployment situation. They just haven’t done it and the Leader of the Opposition knows it. All they have done in the last month is transfer half a billion dollars of cuts back to the provinces.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Members opposite can’t listen and talk too; just be quiet.
Mr. S. Smith: What are you going to do to keep people working this winter? You are the Premier of Ontario. Quit defending the Treasurer.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the federal Minister of Finance has indicated that he has no serious intention of pursuing a national industrial strategy for this country, does the Treasurer agree with that? What role does he see Ontario playing in the development of such a strategy, and has he finally come to grips with the contradictions in his own government as to the extent of intervention that’s required in order to get the economy rebuilt again?
Hon. Mr. Davis: A great step forward is Ford. It is too bad you people didn’t support it.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I would rather hope that my critic for the NDP would ask his party to support some of the measures such as the Ford measure, because I think that in this world, where we are faced with competition from other jurisdictions, that may not be the kind of competition we want, we would be foolish if we did not reply in kind and attract industry to Ontario with the kinds of moves necessary at the time.
Mr. Laughren: Is that your industrial strategy?
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, that’s not my industrial strategy. I will be pleased, in the coming week I hope, to make the specific responses I promised to make. There are some good moves in last night’s budget, there are some moves that help industry, I am not denying that at all; I would just say that the basic moves were not of very much benefit to anyone in Canada.
Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: The Treasurer is quoted in the press this morning as saying there’s some concern to Ontario because of a loss of revenue because of the tax indexation scheme that was brought in in 1974; does that mean he disapproves of the tax indexation scheme that was originally proposed by Robert Stanfield of the Conservative Party?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, boy, we are debating federal politics here this morning. Are you all going to the national party’s gathering this weekend? Are you at the head table?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Let the little squirt answer on his own? I am not a little squirt, I’m a big drip. Was that parliamentary language, Mr. Premier?
Hon. Mr. Davis: You can tell there’s a national Liberal Party meeting this weekend.
Mr. Nixon: I hear you are not asked to that dinner.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I am not being asked to that dinner either.
Hon. F. S. Miller: I think both the critic for the NDP and I have been slighted by those comments, haven’t we?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Would the Treasurer please answer the question?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I am not an advocate of automatic indexation. I think any time you build increases into the tax system automatically, you are feeding the very fires of inflation. I think it is much better to pause and make discreet decisions on an annual basis as to what is needed at that time and place to stimulate the economy. At the present time, with personal savings running at quite a high level, one could argue that the reduction in sales tax was a good thing, as it was in Ontario; and one could also argue that there was no need to raise the basic floors because, in fact, it will not in any way stimulate the spending that’s needed.
Mr. Laughren: Will the Treasurer table in this House the working papers that went to the Ministers of Industry and Tourism which the minister took to Ottawa in the past week or so; and will he make a further commitment to table the first ministers’ working papers that will deal with the problems in the economy? Is his refusal to table these kind of documents based on the fact that he’s ashamed of what’s in them or that there’s nothing to say?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, the member asked me a question and then he tells me I haven’t done it. I hardly think that’s fair.
An hon. member: We know how you are going to respond.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s as logical as most questions they ask.
Hon. F. S. Miller: First of all, I think the documents the member referred to were those related to GATT. Those were not carried by me to Ottawa on anybody’s behalf.
Mr. Laughren: Industry and Tourism.
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes, Industry and Tourism staff would have the task, and I don’t think they even took those last week. I believe those papers the member is talking about were initiated somewhere back in the spring. The member can ask the minister when he is present. I think it is better to ask him to table his documents than me.
OIL AND GAS PRICES
Mr. Laughren: I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development. First of all, is the provincial secretary in agreement with his Minister of Energy (Mr. Auld), who indicated that he is in full support of the other provinces’ plan to raise the price of oil on January 1, 1979, and again in July? Is that the position of this government?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, I have the fullest confidence in the Minister of Energy. Whatever the Minister of Energy has decided, I think is something he has given considerable thought to.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary -- and I would like the Premier to listen to this too: Would the provincial secretary tell us what has changed from last June 20 when the Minister of Energy stated, after meetings with the federal Minister of Energy and his provincial counterparts, and I quote: “At these meetings we have made strong representation against any price increase at this time, while the Canadian economy is soft, when unemployment is high, when inflation is still not under control. I should like to assure the members of this House that I will continue to press Ontario’s case with Mr. Gillespie.
“Even though Mr. Gillespie has already taken unilateral action on this increase, there is another increase proposed for next January 1; it would help considerably if the members on the other side of this House would support the government in its efforts to prevent yet another increase.”
Could the provincial secretary tell us what it is that has caused this remarkable reversal in policy on the part of this government? Is there no end to the contradictions over there?
Hon. Mr. Davis: If you would only read the report accurately.
Mr. Laughren: I have read it fully. Could we have an answer, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: My understanding is that there has been no change in the policy.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That is correct.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: How can there be no change in the policy when we have just quoted from the then Minister of Energy saying he was opposed to the increase, and the morning Globe and Mail informs us that the existing Minister of Energy says he is in favour of it because it was an agreement and we should live up to it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, that is not correct.
Mr. MacDonald: Is what’s good for the oil companies good for Canada, despite the consequences which have been spelled out?
Mr. Warner: Get your act together.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, I still stand by what I said. It is my understanding there has been no change in the policy.
Mr. Foulds: You haven’t said anything.
Mr. MacDonald: It’s a verbal copout.
Mr. Laughren: A final supplementary: Does the provincial secretary not understand that senior officials in the Treasury ministry have themselves admitted that the increase in the price of energy is a major cause, up to a third of the cause, of the rate of inflation in this country? Ontario is a major consuming province. Does he not think that -- in view of the fact that we are having competitive problems in industry already and this will take us either at or above the level of oil prices in the United States -- does he think that is the way to rebuild the economy of this province?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: The answer is no.
Mr. MacDonald: The provincial secretary’s directions are different than his words. His stance isn’t what he is saying -- black is white, white is black.
Mr. Laughren: In the absence of the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott), I will ask a further question of the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development, but I am not optimistic about the reply.
In view of the fact that the latest report of the International Joint Commission Great Lakes Research Advisory Board stated in July that there were 17 Ontario centres -- including such places as Collingwood, Elliot Lake, Cornwall, Hamilton, Mississauga, Napanee, Oshawa, Whitby and others -- that had unsatisfactory sewage treatment facilities could the provincial secretary tell us what he is planning to do in order either to make improvements to those facilities or to build new ones? If I could remind the provincial secretary, although I don’t want him to --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I thought you’d already asked the question.
Mr. Laughren: -- carry the albatross of the minister around his neck, the Minister of the Environment did promise when he became minister that he was not going to concentrate on glamour issues but was going to concentrate on things like sewage problems.
An hon. member: Budget speech.
Mr. Ruston: You know better than that.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Floyd, I believe you have aspirations.
Mr. Laughren: What does he plan to do about this problem?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is the seat he is sitting in.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: M. le Président, c’est une très bonne question que le député de Nickel Belt m’a demandé et je vais lui donner une réponse par moi-même ou le Ministre de l’Environnement dans un avenir très rapproché.
Mr. MacDonald: You are as confusing in French as you were in English.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Laughren: Supplementary: The minister has raised the avoidance of questions to an art form. I wonder if he understands that the Minister of the Environment did indicate that he regarded sewage treatment facilities not only as a means of eliminating a health problem but also as a very positive way of creating jobs in the province of Ontario. Due to the fact that this will have to be done anyway, has the minister communicated with the various municipalities to lay out a program for the future in order to improve those facilities?
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: I would be pleased to include that as having been covered in my original reply.
SECURITY IN LEGISLATURE
Mr. Bradley: In the absence of the Minister of Government Services (Mr. Henderson) --
An hon. member: Is he absent again?
Mr. Bradley: -- I’ll direct this question to the Premier. In light of the unfortunate incident that occurred in Nickel Centre earlier this week, and in light of the demonstration that took place in the public gallery yesterday where a number of individuals were able to smuggle rather large objects into the House, would the Premier indicate what measures he feels might be taken to ensure the security of members and others who come into the House?
An hon. member: Talk to MacDonald.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think that question, while not permitted under the rules of the House, should be properly directed to the Speaker. I say with great regret it is unwise to relate the very unfortunate incident that took place in northern Ontario with the incident that took place here yesterday afternoon. Quite properly, the concern the member has expressed with respect to the Legislature should be directed to the Speaker of the House.
While I’m on my feet I could facetiously observe that perhaps there were two or three members opposite who might have been able to alert us as to what was going to happen yesterday at 2 o’clock.
Mr. T. P. Reid: They were getting signals.
Mr. Nixon: They brought their own TV in for heaven’s sake.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I wouldn’t make that suggestion, because I know they would suggest they knew nothing about it.
Mr. Breithaupt: They’re carrying the can in a different way. They just happened to have all the cans to bring with them.
Mr. Germa: Supplementary: Does the Premier not feel the demonstration in the House yesterday could have been averted if proper answers had been forthcoming from the Minister of Labour when they were properly put?
Mr. Breithaupt: That’s what I meant by carrying the can.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I would only say to the member for Sudbury that if he had used his own influence in a more positive and constructive sense, some of the problems in Sudbury might be a shade less today if he had discharged his responsibilities.
Mr. Martel: I want the Premier to get up and enunciate how my colleague has been able to influence that situation in Sudbury. That’s a cheap shot and he knows it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: He bloody well knows it. He hasn’t been able to resolve it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
LUNG CANCER CASES
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Would the minister table in the House the number of claims for lung cancer currently before the Workmen’s Compensation Board on behalf of the descendants of those deceased, and on behalf of those still living who were employed in foundries in this province and the geographic distribution; and would he also table in the House the number of claims for lung cancer currently before the board on behalf of silver workers’ descendants and those living?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The first part of the member’s question was a question I myself put two days ago. I was advised there are 22 claims from Dofasco on behalf of deceased people; and to their knowledge, having reviewed it at my request, there is only one claim on behalf of a living person. From Algoma foundries, there are six claims.
If the member wishes me to elaborate any further in that particular area, I would be pleased to obtain more information. I have no immediate information about the second part of the question but I’ll be pleased to take it as notice.
Mr. Mackenzie: I would appreciate it if the minister would check again into those figures on the foundries, on behalf of the living as well as the deceased. I would also ask how many of them had exposure in the foundries in the high risk area of cleaning and chipping of castings; and when he checks into the silver workers, how many had exposure to sand and rouge buffing.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I’d be pleased to look into that for the member.
Mr. Speaker, I’m sure the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne) will forgive me for a moment if I make reference to something the member for Hamilton East asked me. I neglected to add something which I’m sure will be of interest to him.
On Wednesday, Dr. A. B. Miller, chief of epidemiology of the Canadian Cancer Society, was appointed to carry out the study regarding Dofasco and the general problem of foundry workers. He has agreed to commence it immediately and will give me an idea in the very near future as to the length of time it will take.
Mr. Rotenberg: A question of the Minister of Community and Social Services: I assume he’s read the article in this morning’s Globe and Mail indicating that a welfare recipient blew $28,000 in order to get back on welfare. In view of the fact that many of our elderly citizens may have a small savings account or small pension or small amount of insurance in the bank at interest, and they must dispose of this money before they can get social assistance, would the minister undertake to review the criteria and try to make it an income criterion rather than an asset criterion so that our elderly in this province can get some form of social assistance without having to spend their little bit of savings?
Hon. Mr. Norton: First of all, I’m not certain from reading the article in the Globe and Mail, or from the information I received from staff on the same subject this morning, that one can conclude that the woman in question in fact disposed of her $28,000 in order to get back on family benefits.
It’s clear she did spend the money very quickly. One of the consequences was that she did end up back on family benefits; but whether it was a purposeful act in order to get back on I don’t know at this point.
In response to the other part of the question, it’s true that at the present time our income maintenance programs are needs-tested. There are a number of aspects of that which we have been discussing with the federal government in an attempt to make some change in those criteria. As a matter of fact, the first two days of next week I will be in meetings with the Honourable Monique Begin on various matters relating to federal-provincial relations in this area. We have been seeking permission for some time to move from needs-testing to income-testing in some of the programs. But until such time as we are able to do that we must maintain the current criteria in order to continue federal participation in the cost-shared programs. It’s not necessary for anyone to dispose completely of assets. I think the current level for a single person for liquid assets in the bank is about $1,500.
Mrs. Campbell: A supplementary to the minister’s answer: When he is meeting with his confreres in Ottawa, will he also pursue the matter of the definitions of permanent disability as opposed to permanent unemployability, one of the real problems in this province?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McClellan: Why doesn’t the minister give us those definitions again?
Hon. Mr. Norton: I can assure the honourable member that is one thing I have been pursuing for over a year.
Mr. Warner: No results though.
Mrs. Campbell: We wouldn’t know.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Perhaps you wouldn’t, but I have, I assure you.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: A final supplementary from the member for Renfrew South.
Mr. Yakabuski: A supplementary: Will the minister, while he is discussing various problems concerning the system with his counterpart in Ottawa, finally resolve -- finally I say, because this has been going on for so many years -- the problem concerning --
Mr. Laughren: Question.
Mr. Yakabuski: -- the widows of this province who are now being paid such a miserable allowance --
Mr. Laughren: That’s GAINS for you.
Mr. Yakabuski: -- sometimes as low as $195 per month? They must keep up a home on that. Will the minister finally resolve that with his counterpart in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I would truly love to finally --
An hon. member: Yes or no.
Hon. Mr. Norton: -- resolve the problem the member has cited. In fact, it’s related to the question that was raised by the honourable member for St. George. As the member knows, what he refers to as widows’ allowances is in that same category as the allowances for the unemployable. I would dearly love to be able to resolve that. It involves a number of matters that have to be addressed, not the least of which is the question of resources as the initial step to resolution of the problem.
Mr. Van Horne: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. Can he tell us why it is that international unions, particularly those based in the United States, can initiate lawsuits in Canadian courts to gain control of assets of those locals which have chosen to break away from the international and become Canadian unions?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Referring to the question that the member for London North asked me, I know that in his area he’s concerned about a very particular application on that problem. I think it’s fair for him to know that my predecessor was requested at one stage to appoint an arbitrator with regard to that very issue, and the Ontario Labour Relations Board held that she did have that power to do so. However, the union and the union solicitor both indicated that since there was a Supreme Court action taking place they did not wish us to exercise that power with regard to appointing an arbitrator.
With regard to the general issue, as the member well knows I’m sure, that’s a matter that rests with the constitution of the local and of the international union; and that’s a matter that has to be resolved before the courts, depending upon the particular constitution.
Mr. Van Horne: In light of that problem with the courts and in light of the problem of the constitution having to be adhered to, I am wondering if the minister is considering any amendments to the Labour Relations Act which would preclude this from happening in the future, because if we look at the chemical workers’ union as a specific we can see that with six locals -- five of them here in Ontario and the other in Alberta -- the parent body, the international in the United States, is trying to lay its hands on over $300,000 cash assets that are part of the package that the Ontario workers have put into the pot and should be left for them?
Mr. Laughren: Like Standard Life Assurance.
Mr. Van Horne: Is the minister considering any amendments to the Labour Relations Act that would preclude that?
Mr. Warner: Tell us about multi-nationals.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Naturally everyone has concerns about issues like this, but I would remind the member once again that the issue is clearly one of the original constitution to which all parties agreed. General rules relating to constitutions that may not yet have been drawn up, I think, are probably not in order at this time. But I am interested in the topic and I would be pleased to discuss it with the member again.
Mr. Martel: You seem to have that problem with the federal government.
Mr. MacDonald: Supplementary: If the minister is going to respond to the questioner and examine the Labour Relations Act with regard to restrictions on international unions following their constitution and the control of assets here, would he also examine the Corporations Act to make certain that parallel restrictions will be placed on parent companies in the United States which have total control over what may happen to the assets of their companies here?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I thank the member for his new question, but I really feel that is beyond my ministry.
Mr. Martel: That is not a new question; it is related.
Mr. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Colleges and Universities. On October 26 the minister said in this House: “There was a problem in the programming of the OSAP applications earlier on, and again in August, for which we apologize profusely, but at this point most of the applications have been processed and the great bulk of the funds have been delivered to students.”
Yet today we read in the Globe and Mail that 14,000, or 20 per cent of the applicants, still have not received their OSAP awards. Further, we read that the Association of Student Awards Officers of Ontario have said that OSAP “has been fraught with so many delays, programming failures, errors, inexcusable backlogs, policy changes and so forth that the awards officers have generally lost all faith ... ” and “are discouraged to the point of no longer believing what we are doing is even worth the effort” for the students.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cooke: They also go on to say --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, your question has been asked.
Mr. Cooke: I would like to ask the minister how she explains her position and her stated position in this House --
Mr. Warner: Scrap the whole government.
Mr. Cooke: -- and the reality of the situation in the universities of this province.
Mr. McClellan: Give us the new revised version.
Mr. Mackenzie: Give us the latest version.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Since approximately 56,000 students have already received their awards --
Mr. McClellan: Give us the November 17 version.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- it is difficult to say that most of the students have not, in fact, been supported. I did say that we had problems. I have repeatedly stated that we had further problems with the computer programming.
Mr. Germa: You have problems all right. Every ministry you are in has problems.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I said that there were a number of difficulties that needed to be worked out in the new programming of the system which was established earlier this year.
Mr. Laughren: Everything you touch.
Mr. McClellan: Problems seem to follow you around.
Mr. Laughren: Who is running the show, Michael Starr?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: The first inkling I had that the student awards officers were disturbed or disrupted in this area --
Mr. McClellan: Bring Michael Starr into your new ministry.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- was the letter which I received from them, which I first saw yesterday afternoon. I immediately launched an investigation into the entire program.
Mr. Laughren: You were warned two months ago.
Mr. Mackenzie: The minister of continuing disasters.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have asked for a total explanation of all of the points made in the letter by the student awards officers. In addition to that, we have arranged a meeting with the student awards officers for November 28.
Mr. Warner: This goes on every year. It is totally disorganized.
Mr. Laughren: It is getting worse. Don’t give us any more lolly-gagging.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is perfectly obvious the members opposite do not want to hear the answer to the question, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that we shall do our very best to resolve the difficulties which have arisen in a number of areas related to the student award program. Our aim is to ensure that those students who need the awards receive them and that they receive them as rapidly as we can humanly process them on their behalf. We shall continue to work in that direction.
Mr. Mackenzie: The problem is credibility.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary: I would like to ask the minister how she reacts to the statement in the letter that says: “We are tired of seeing our students made to suffer because of inadequate ministry planning and management.”
Further, I would like to ask the minister if she will now --
Hon. Mr. Davis: One question at a time.
Mr. Cooke: -- pay the interest on the loans that students in this province have been made to take at banks because of the inadequate planning and policy of this ministry?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am not at all sure there was inadequate planning for this program --
Mr. Germa: You don’t know.
Mr. Warner: You should have planned your disaster better.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: -- but none the less I am disturbed by many of the remarks made in this letter, one or two of which I know are not accurate.
Mr. McClellan: You should know about that.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I shall be pleased to respond to all of the points in this letter as soon as I have completed the investigation of the program.
Mr. Laughren: How do you recognize inaccuracy?
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Can the minister explain why nobody in her ministry brought this problem to her attention -- it was only brought to her attention yesterday when she received the letter -- when 25 per cent of the applications, according to her own figures, have not been processed by this time of the year?
Ms. Gigantes: More.
Mr. Foulds: How is that possible?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I am sorry, it is not 25 per cent that have not been processed.
Mr. Foulds: It is more than 25 per cent.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Some of them, in fact, have been processed and have been rejected and have had to be reprocessed, and this is a problem.
Mr. Foulds: But they haven’t been completed.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There were a number of matters involved this year. Those responsible for the program did alert me to the problems which they had had with the computer program and the difficulties which had arisen.
Mr. Warner: How many?
Mr. Cooke: We have been talking about this problem for weeks.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: One of the difficulties which arose was a difficulty which no one ever anticipated could have arisen in the computer system. It was a one in one million chance it would happen and it did happen, unfortunately.
Mr. Foulds: Everything you touch turns to dross.
Mr. Laughren: That’s what they say in the post office, Bette.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: We are attempting to resolve this problem; we shall continue to do so.
Mr. Warner: How long is it going to take? How long?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I must say that I am disturbed that the honourable members would think that we have not made every effort to resolve the problems.
Mr. Warner: It happens every year.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: There was a meeting of the officials of the plan with the student awards officers early in October of this year at which time the student awards officers offered their assistance in resolving the problem. However, their assistance turned out to be one student awards officer, who was not available for the help that was needed at the time.
Mr. Warner: I have had it with your inefficiency.
Mr. Germa: Havrot for minister.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I can tell the honourable members that the staff of the plan have been working overtime and weekends almost since September 1 in order to try to get all of these awards out as rapidly as possible. We shall continue to do that.
Mr. Cooke: The minister has been trying to cover up the problems.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have covered up nothing and the member knows it. He is misleading this House.
Mr. Martel: Withdraw that remark.
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, a point of privilege.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. What is your point of privilege?
Mr. Cooke: Mr. Speaker, when I told the Minister of Colleges and Universities she was covering up the problems of OSAP in this House she accused me of misleading the House. I would ask her to withdraw that remark.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw the word, but the implication of the word is entirely true.
Mr. Mackenzie: The minister was never wrong. The minister who is always wrong.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have not covered it up and the member knows it. I’ve given members all the facts.
Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the minister must withdraw that last remark as well, the Speaker himself having made those rulings in the past.
An hon. member: The member should know.
Hon. W. Newman: The member’s new job is going to his head.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I understand the Minister of Colleges and Universities made the statement that a member was misleading the House. I would appreciate it if the honourable minister would withdraw that remark.
Mr. Nixon: Without qualification.
Mr. Swart: Unequivocably withdraw.
Mr. Nixon: Be a man.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the content of the honourable member’s remark was entirely false, but I shall withdraw the word which I used.
Mr. di Santo: Be a gentle lady for once.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why doesn’t the member be a gentleman for a change --
Hon. Miss Stephenson: He can’t be, he doesn’t know how.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- and admit that he implied the wrong thing? You don’t know what it means.
Mr. Swart: The Premier should put her on the backbench.
Mr. Peterson: The minister is a gentleman; why aren’t you?
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I have given members all the facts.
Mr. Mackenzie: You are never right, yet never wrong.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: I'm sorry, but I gave members the facts. I haven’t covered up anything and they know it.
POLICE ACCESS TO OHIP DATA
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, on November 7 the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway) stated that since the Ontario Provincial Police had an office in the Toronto office of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, that the force must have had unrestricted and unsupervised access to confidential OHIP data. He then asked what was the mandate that allowed the police to make this intervention, and whether there was any consultation between the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Health.
I am now able to inform the House that in February 1973 the matter of OHIP billing abuse by certain members of the medical profession was brought to the attention of the anti-rackets branch of the OPP through the Ministry of the Attorney General. As a result of meetings conducted with senior OHIP personnel and Ministry of Health counsel it was decided that investigations would commence in relation to certain doctors suspected of fraudulently billing the plan.
In March 1973, a team of three OPP anti-racket members and two Metropolitan Toronto police squad members were assigned to conduct investigations. Office space was provided for the team at the OHIP offices at 15 Overlea Boulevard so the investigators would be close to the material required and provide security for the same material. The office space was used only during the normal business hours of OHIP.
This office space was utilized from March 1973 to about October 1973. At that time the office space was transferred from Overlea Boulevard to the OHIP premises at 2195 Yonge Street. However, the OPP personnel discontinued the use of the office then, with the exception of one detective inspector who visited 2195 Yonge Street for a short period in 1973.
The OPP did not have unsupervised access to OHIP files. The procedure used for obtaining data pertinent to the investigation was by requisition through two staff members who acted as liaison between the police team and OHIP.
It is therefore incorrect to assume that because members of the Ontario Provincial Police had an office on OHIP premises during that period they had unrestricted and unsupervised access to confidential health records.
Mr. Conway: I want to thank the Attorney General for his prompt attention to what I consider to be an important matter.
I didn’t detect in his response whether or not at any point throughout the beginning stages of this police intervention the Ministry of the Solicitor General, and indeed the minister, was involved; and whether or not throughout the period of years when the police intervention was extant in the Toronto OHIP office the Solicitor General, to say nothing of the Attorney General or the Minister of Health, knew of this taking place.
Can he tell us whether or not he or his predecessor, and the Solicitor General, were aware, since the press report which drew public attention to this matter stated clearly that the Deputy Minister of Health, and later on the minister indicated they were not aware of it?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I can’t respond to the supplementary at this time, Mr. Speaker. I will seek that information and report back to the House.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I have a brief reply to a further question that was asked by the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy). On November 3 that member asked me to clarify the role of the Ontario Fire Marshal and the Dominion Fire Commissioner with respect to safety in the construction and operation of the Texaco refinery in Port Credit.
The provincial authority concerned with approval of the refinery for the safety of its employees is the industrial health and safety branch of the Ministry of Labour. The occupational health and safety division of that ministry has overall responsibility for worker health and safety and industrial installations such as refineries.
The municipal building department, in the case of Mississauga, and the fire department as well, are also responsible for the approval of refinery construction using the Ontario Building Code, or whatever municipal bylaw predated this code’s enactment in 1976.
The office of the Ontario Fire Marshal is not involved in the approval of refineries, except where they might be requested to assist local authorities. This was not the case with the Port Credit installation.
The Dominion Fire Commissioner has no jurisdiction.
Mr. Kennedy: A question of the Attorney General: Would the Attorney General look into the appropriateness of subliminal messages being used in supermarkets to deter shoplifting, a practice with which I agree. What I am concerned about is --
Mr. Nixon: Do you agree with shoplifters?
Mr. Kennedy: -- whether this practice might proliferate into a marketing technique or a merchandising technique. To me this would be a somewhat questionable practice.
Could the Attorney General check that out, please?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The member for Mississauga South has recently brought this to my attention. I haven’t had an opportunity to peruse the material he has provided. I think this is a matter I should discuss with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea) and report back to the member.
Mr. Cunningham: I have a question of the Solicitor General. I would like to ask the Solicitor General if he is aware of a rumoured truck blockade of the Skyway bridge in Burlington on Monday; and what direction he intends to give his staff if, in fact, that rumour is correct?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am not aware of any rumoured truck blockade. If the member would like to give me further information, I will certainly take it up with my officials to see what might be the appropriate remedy if that is about to take place.
Mr. Cunningham: I would say to the minister the only knowledge I have of it is from the press. I am quite concerned that the member for Brock (Mr. Welch) may not be able to make it here on Monday if that bridge is blocked either way. Recognizing there may be some other inconvenience and some possible traffic hazards on it. I wanted to draw it to the minister’s attention and ask if possibly he might see that something is done.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will look into it.
Mr. Martel: My question is to the Premier. I might remind the Premier that his government’s contribution to our economy in Sudbury was wiping out the fourth largest employer in the city overnight. Might he recall that?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Question.
Mr. Martel: If he wants to take a cheap shot, I want to ask him about that.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Question.
Mr. Martel: I want to ask him, has the --
Mr. Kennedy: Elie, your blue suit has addled your brain.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: Is the member finished? I will surrender my place until he is ready. Thank you.
To the Premier: the report by M. M. Dillon has been submitted to Management Board of Cabinet, as I understand it, and cabinet has requested a copy. Has cabinet had an opportunity to look at the summary report from M. M. Dillon with respect to the utilization of Burwash, with a multi-use concept as the background for it?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I won’t preface my answer the same way the member for that great part of Ontario prefaced his question --
An hon. member: A refreshing change.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- other than to observe that I am always intrigued that the members over there love to dish it out but they can’t take it. I sit here year after year. They love to have their fun and when we respond in a very constructive, humorous sort of way --
An hon. member: We haven’t heard it yet.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- the blood pressure goes up, the heart heats a little faster, the lack of intelligence diminishes even further and we are into a bit of a fuss.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Perhaps the Premier would like to dish out the answer?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Of course, Mr. Speaker.
An hon. member: The lack of intelligence diminishes?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The answer to the question is, in very simple terms, yes.
Mr. Martel: Could the Premier tell me, if they have received the report, what plans the government has, now that it has this opportunity to do something constructive in an economic sense for the Sudbury basin? What are the government’s plans to move ahead with it immediately?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s encouraging. When it’s the member’s part of the world, then he likes to see some action; if it happens to be in somebody else’s riding, he wants to see a lot of inaction. I can only say to the honourable member we are pursuing it vigorously.
Mr. Martel: Supplementary: What does the word “vigorously” mean?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It’s quite obvious; except on those occasions when he wears a blue suit and sees the television cameras, then he doesn’t know what the word “vigorous” means.
An hon. member: You are not doing anything about it.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Attorney General: Earlier in the week during the absence of the Attorney General, I raised a question with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Drea), drawing to his attention that, at least within Metropolitan Toronto, a new development has occurred with regard to food retail stores starting to operate 24-hours-a-day. I had expressed some concern over that and had asked the minister whether or not his ministry was aware of this problem and whether they were investigating the matter. He indicated no, but that they would. He thought also the Attorney General’s ministry should be apprised of this, and that there should be some input from the ministry.
I am asking the Attorney General if he is aware of this problem, bearing in mind our Sunday store hour closings, and whether or not he would care to comment at this time on the propriety of the expanded operating hours of the food retail stores in this fashion.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I was not aware of the problem, I am sorry, but I will certainly look into it to discuss it with our colleague, the Solicitor General, and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, to determine what action might be appropriate in the circumstances.
PUBLIC OPINION POLLS
Mr. T. P. Reid: A question of the Premier about public opinion polls taken by the government: Has the Premier had time to review his policy on making those public opinion polls public and available to the members of the Legislature, particularly in view of their being paid for by the taxpayers, and given the fact that both the Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie), and I believe the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) during the OHIP hearings, made those public opinion polls available to us?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the policy is the same. There are occasions, as the Minister of Education has done as well, when some of this information is shared with the members in the House and the public.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Supplementary, if I may: Does the Premier not feel that information should be made public -- because it is, in fact, being paid for by taxpayers’ money -- to prove there isn’t any sort of political connotation to the studies? Does he not feel further that in view of the Royal Commission on the Freedom of Information Act, perhaps he could set an example by making the results of public opinion polls public?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can only assure the honourable member, and I know he doesn’t need this assurance, that there is nothing of a partisan political nature in any of these things.
Mr. S. Smith: Prove it.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We do our own, as members do theirs. What does the member’s poll say in Sault Ste. Marie?
Mr. Breithaupt: Things are pretty good.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Pretty good.
Mr. Foulds: Are you speaking for the party or the government?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I was up there last night. I was able to make an excellent quotation from the Leader of the Opposition’s leadership campaign; that unless he wins the leadership he never wants to come back to the Sault, they remember that well.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: You didn’t use that favourite quote?
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary: Am I to imply from the Premier’s answer that the government, through taxpayers’ money, is financing a poll in Sault Ste. Marie about the by-election? That’s what he said.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, Mr. Speaker. I am always intrigued by questions periods on Friday morning. I would assure the honourable member there is no poll in Sault Ste. Marie being paid for out of taxpayers’ money, or perhaps any other money.
Mr. Makarchuk: Oh yes, there are.
Mr. Foulds: What does the word “we” mean?
Hon. Mr. Davis: The honourable member has been around long enough to understand the word we as used in the ordinary sense.
Mr. S. Smith: Do I take it, Mr. Speaker, from the Premier’s answer to the member for Rainy River, that the Premier has after these many years in office failed to notice the distinction between the government and the Progressive Conservative Party? Can he think of any conceivable reason, when the opinion is public and the funds are public, why the poll results shouldn’t be made public? Can he tell us of any conceivable reason why a public opinion poll should not be made public?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think there were two or three parts to the question. I have always been able to distinguish between the functions of government and the function of the Progressive Conservative Party, which distinction I think the members opposite should learn to make at some point in time. They have been able to distinguish, unfortunately with limited success in Chatham-Kent, the distinction between the Liberal Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Ontario.
Mr. Martel: Oh that’s nasty.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There are some --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Well I have to tell members this: I hear their leader talking about narrowing the gap, do they realize they had a higher percentage of the popular vote in Chatham-Kent in 1971 than in 1978?
Mr. S. Smith: Point of privilege:
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. What is your point of privilege?
Mr. S. Smith: On a point of privilege: As a member of this assembly --
Mr. Havrot: Don’t look so angry.
Mr. S. Smith: -- it is important for us to know when we are asked to debate various matters of public interest, the facts upon which the debate is to be based. If these facts include public opinion polls, these facts ought to be made known to all members; including government members, they might find them of interest as well. I asked the Premier to lay before us any conceivable instance in which a public opinion poll should not be shared with members of this House, and he has deliberately avoided that question. In my opinion, it is a breach of the privileges of the members of this House.
Mr. Warner: That is not a point of privilege.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I appreciate the member’s comments.
Mr. S. Smith: It is not an answer to the question.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: However, as he’s very fully aware, this is the question period.
Mr. S. Smith: It is not an answer period.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Any member has the right to ask a question and any minister has the right to answer any question --
Mr. Laughren: I wish they would occasionally.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: -- or he may decide not to answer the question. That’s entirely up to him.
Mr. Laughren: We know it is.
LIQUOR BOARD REGULATIONS
Mr. Makarchuk: I have a question for the Minister of Corporate and Consumer Affairs.
Hon. Miss Stephenson: We don’t have one. You are in the wrong House.
Mr. Makarchuk: Would the minister investigate and find out why veterans’ clubs, which for 24 years have been serving cheese and crackers to their members, have now been told by some obviously deranged official in his Liquor Control Board of Ontario to cover them up or put them away?
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s unfair.
Mr. Makarchuk: Would the minister investigate the situation and report back to the House why he brings in such silly, stupid regulations?
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member of two things: one, it is not my liquor licence board or liquor control board, it is an independent body.
Mr. Germa: Yes, it is.
Mr. Laughren: You are responsible for it.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I don’t bring in stupid or other kinds of regulations which affect certain conditions that people have been operating under.
Mr. Laughren: You approve them.
Mr. Cooke: We will be the judge of that.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I will take a look at it. I’m quite sure, as I told the member the other night, the matter will be solved very expeditiously.
Mr. T. P. Reid: How can you disclaim any responsibility, on the one hand, and say the matter will be solved on the other hand?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Mr. Warner: It was just getting good.
Hon. Mr. Davis: While I’m on my feet, Mr. Speaker, given that you’re such a very understanding and lenient Speaker, and I do have a bit of a problem at 11 o’clock --
Mr. Laughren: You have problems around the clock.
Mr. Warner: You have problems all the time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- I would like to introduce to members of the House two honorary Premiers of the day, Miss Laurie Ponsford and Robert Arbuthnott. They both happen to be here under the auspices of the Bramalea-Brampton Optimist Club. They, by coincidence, happen to be very excellent students in the great community of Brampton-Bramalea. They are in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, and they’re here to see how Premiers --
Mr. Breithaupt: They may run against you next time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, one is 14. I don’t think Laurie will run against me next time; Robert might be old enough. I’d be delighted to have them as candidates. I can only say that both of them would be an improvement over some of the Liberal candidates I’ve confronted in the past.
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 Transportation and Communications be granted to Her Majesty for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1979: ministry administration program, $29,570,000; planning, research and development program, $29,887,000; safety and regulation program, $37,456,000; provincial roads program, $405,545,000; provincial transit program, $51,585,000; air program, $3,520,000; municipal roads program, $358,149,000; municipal transit program, $162,143,000 and communications program, $2,047,000.
STANDING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that in addition to the regular committee schedule, the standing social development committee sit the evening of November 20 and the morning and evening of November 22 to consider Bill 163.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I would draw attention to page 12 of today’s Order Paper where there is some indication that this committee does meet next week. It will not be considering the estimates of the Ministry of Health as the Order Paper says, but rather Bill 163 as covered by this motion.
Motion agreed to.
DEATH OF JUDGE ROBB
Hon. Mr. McCague: Before the orders of the day, I would just like to bring to the attention of the House the passing of a great public servant in this province. Judge Walter Robb of Orangeville served the crown as a jurist and as the first chairman of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario for many years. I know this House would want me to convey to the family our sympathies.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
House in committee of supply.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On vote 1102B, intergovernmental affairs program:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I believe we have almost concluded intergovernmental affairs. Is there any further discussion on this item?
Vote 1102B agreed to.
On vote 1103B, local government affairs program:
Mr. Makarchuk: I would like to address myself to the minister on a matter that was raised by the urban municipalities when they presented their brief. The minister is well aware of the problem. He’s raised it in his speeches to various groups around the province.
I wondered if the minister at this time, knowing that he’s aware of what the problems are, is prepared to give some commitment or some indication as to how the province will react; whether the province still believes that when it comes to matters of annexations the route should still be via the Ontario Municipal Board; whether the province has any inclination to consider some other route -- perhaps the appointment of a fact-finder who will examine the facts on all the various reports and studies that have been done, come in with a recommendation and let the government bring in the legislation; or the idea that was kicked around at that discussion, where a private bill drawn up by the municipality is introduced in the House and the bill goes before one of the committees, probably justice, where a full and open discussion on the matter is held, and then it comes to the House and the annexation or restructuring or whatever it is that is desired by the municipality is acted on.
Has the minister settled this in his own mind at this time, or has he some views as to what route should be followed? As he knows, in my municipality we have some of these problems that have to be resolved, and in the other municipalities that were present at that meeting, from eastern Ontario and southwestern Ontario, it is a very serious problem. There’s a lot of discontent; there’s a lot of hostility developing between various communities. There are problems that will affect future growth, future development in the province. There are problems related to sewage treatment; there are problems related to equitable taxes, or everybody paying his fair share of taxes. All these problems are hanging in the air right now.
As the municipalities pointed out at that time, they’re not particularly happy with the OMB route. They’re looking at the Barrie experience, and the costs that are involved in that annexation procedure, the long dragged-out fight that is going on. There is also a certain element of suspicion or concern about just exactly where the province stands and what the province’s intentions are.
Is the province taking a hands-off policy and saying to the various existing agencies, “Okay, you people go out and fight it out”; or is the province at this time going to start taking some kind of positive approach or going to work in a positive way to try to help resolve those problems? They are not going to go away; if anything, if you don’t deal with them now they’ll only be greater and more difficult to resolve later on. I would like the minister’s views on this matter.
Hon. Mr. Wells: First, let me say that the province has taken a positive approach to this particular problem. The positive approach over the last few years has been to restructure municipalities. In other words, recognizing the kind of problems that bring about annexations -- the problem of no growth in an urban area, the problem of indiscriminate growth in the surrounding areas under different jurisdictions, the servicing problems and all those associated problems in some of the areas -- we’ve taken the positive approach to study and bring about restructuring in certain areas, leading to that creation called regional government.
That approach is not a very acceptable one these days with anyone. No one wants to talk about having a restructuring study; and I don’t blame them. There have been certain dissatisfactions with some of the things --
Mr. Nixon: We have had lots of those in Brant.
Hon. Mr. Wells: On overall assessment, as I said in my opening remarks, the 15 restructured areas that have been carried out by this Legislature and by this government through its legislation are working reasonably well. Notwithstanding a few votes that occurred last Monday, an overall balance, with some corrections, can continue to benefit those areas where they are in place.
But that brings us to the problem such as Brantford, Brant township, Sarnia, Sarnia township, and others, and how we should solve them. If you recall, I dealt with that in a peripheral way in my opening remarks. The route at the present time is to attempt to achieve some sort of local consensus so you could apply for the annexation with as little hostility as possible between the parties. Some of these situations do occur that way -- the matters are worked out between the area that wishes to annex territory and the territory from which that annexation is going to occur. These happen, they are effected and the changes occur. However, we then get to situations like Brantford and Brant township and a few others where --
Mr. Nixon: Brantford.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Brantford and Brantford township, excuse me, where there obviously is not agreement, the question is how should this be handled? The traditional route is an application to the Ontario Municipal Board. That board then, under section 26 of the Municipal Act, asks the minister if there are any studies or anything that should or could prevent them from going ahead with a hearing. That’s the stage we’re at in the Brantford application. It’s before the OMB and they’ve written to us. We’re at present circulating that letter to other government ministries and have not replied to the Ontario Municipal Board yet. When we reply, one way or another, the hearing will proceed or it will not proceed because there are certain studies going on within this government that would make a hearing premature.
In the meantime, what we’re looking for is some way of bringing about a resolution to that problem without the lengthy and very costly hearings that occur before the Ontario Municipal Board. Several partial solutions have been presented to us. One is the idea of having fact-finders go in and try to sort out the problem, much as we do in labour-management or teacher-school board disputes. After that, this Legislature or the cabinet would bring in its decision on the matter.
In his particular case, somebody is going to have to make some decisions because obviously the two parties are not going to agree. My friend was at the meeting when we met with the mayor of Brantford and other urban areas to talk about this and the idea of a private bill intrigues me. That’s not very acceptable to some people but, given that this matter transcends particular party affiliations or allegiances, maybe we should bring it into this Legislature and let the Legislature and its committee which considers private bills deal fairly and amicably with it, listen to all sides and make a decision as to whether or not they would agree to the annexation. That is an option open to us at this time.
The other option is for the fact-finders to submit a report and for the government to act on it. But I draw to the attention of my friends that that really is no different in many ways from having a very massive study on restructuring, getting that study back and then bringing in legislation which would make one side happy and the other side unhappy, leaving that dispute simmering out there.
What I’m saying is, if the fact-finder went out and decided that Brantford ultimately shouldn’t annex any of Brantford township, I’m sure that wouldn’t satisfy my friend. He probably would not be in favour of us doing nothing, if that were the decision of some impartial person who went there. Conversely, I don’t know whether my friend from the township would be agreeable if we were to bring in a bill to allow the annexation of 5,000 acres in the township to the city of Brantford. I don’t know; I haven’t heard his views on that particular side of the question.
Either way, I think that unless some very innovative and interesting solution was hit upon that none of us knows about at the present time, we would still have the dispute somewhere, and it may or may not get settled in this House. That is why I thought that in the Brantford situation a private bill might not be a bad idea, and it might be a very interesting way to test the situation.
What all that really says is that we are still looking at it. We are still canvassing whether there are any studies that would prevent us from saying to the OMB: “Go ahead with the hearing.” It will be a little while before we will know that yet. Until we do that, we do have open to us the chance to try some other creative ways of handling this situation,
I would be happy to hear from any of the members if they have any suggestions as to what would be a creative way to handle what is a very difficult situation that can build resentments between peoples in two communities that live beside one another and really, for the sake of goodwill in the whole of the community, it would be better if they could be settled amicably by the people themselves.
Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Chairman, from the minister’s comments I take it he has no objection to the idea of a private bill being introduced or used as a means perhaps to resolve some of the problems. This was a matter that was kicked about but there really wasn’t any kind of commitment, and it is important to know that the government, at least, will be very objective and will look at it and perhaps let the bill go through the normal processes in this Legislature.
Personally, I would feel it might be one of the means available to us to resolve these things, in view of the fact that politically restructuring, new studies, or any changes in government boundaries is a very hot potato to handle. There is no question about that. I have a feeling the government, having been burned a couple of times in the last two elections, is going to be reluctant to move on this problem. You are in a position where you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t; you are caught.
I feel if the private bill method is introduced, hopefully the good sense of the members of the Legislature will prevail and they will look in a more or less objective fashion at the needs or the requirements of the municipalities, and then pass the bill or reject it. In that way, of course, no political party can go out there and take credit or take the blame for the thing, I presume. I would imagine we would be collectively congratulated, or collectively accused of being guilty, which would not be of any political benefit. It seems to me that might be a route we should consider very seriously.
Mr. Nixon: I am glad to hear the minister indicate the solution of this situation really does not lie with the Ontario Municipal Board. I would hope there is no question that the annexation bylaw passed by the city of Brantford will not go before the Ontario Municipal Board, and the minister surely has it within his power to see that does not occur. To repeat the experience in Barrie would be very bad judgement indeed, where a somewhat similar annexation, which was supported by government policy, was allowed to go forward at tremendous local costs.
I can remember a year ago reading the lists of lawyers, most of them from Toronto, who had involved themselves in the case. I read that list into the record. I am told the fees for the hearing amounted to $1 million. I see somebody who should know is shaking his head on that, but I would doubt very much if the cost to the taxpayers was less than $1 million in that hearing. It then went to the courts, and is still being considered by the Supreme Court of Ontario. Surely that route is not available to any reasonable minister or anyone else.
I was not present at the meeting referred to by the member for Brantford and the minister, at which the possibility of a private bill was discussed. In my view, the city of Brantford has the same right to present a private bill to this House as it had to pass an annexation bylaw as well as a bylaw calling for the change in the official plan of the township of Brantford.
I would trust that neither the annexation bylaw nor the bylaw demanding a change in the official plan of the city of Brantford will be acted upon by the minister, because I believe they interfere in a way that is unacceptable with the responsibilities of the elected councils of the township and, to some extent, the county council of Brant. The possibility of a private bill then, I would say, is certainly wide open.
I have been very clear in my view that the annexation proposed by the city of Brantford should not be and cannot be supported since it really does not contain the answers for the development of the county and the city that we all seek. I want to deal with this very briefly since we are dealing with estimates, on three matters in this connection. Over the years, we have had many agreements for services among the city and the township and the county. These have been quite successful until probably the last four or five years, although discussions on this matter went on for many years even before that and there have been amicable decisions on annexations and there has been at least one very large contested annexation which went forward.
I say again that I believe that route is not available any more. I personally believe the private bill procedure, while it is open and there is nothing anybody can do to stop a private bill being presented here -- and I would suggest there is nothing anybody can practically do to stop it being debated -- does not solve the problem either in the Brantford area or in the many other communities that the minister has referred to.
It is interesting that even in instances where regional government was supposed to settle these problems, of course it does not. Even with a regional government there is always a boundary. I suppose the classic example is the boundary between the town of Tillsonburg in the restructured county of Oxford and the township of Norfolk in the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk. There is the same problem, the same emerging lack of communication and perhaps even the possibility of some acrimony and bitterness in the future that is arising there, where there is a fully and recently restructured county bordering on a full and now well-established regional government. Regionalization and restructuring do not solve the problem.
I would say that the co-operation and agreements between the city of Brantford and the county areas have been very successful historically. While I have said that to anyone who would listen, including the member for Brantford, and while I have said it to the minister, although he may not have been very interested in the problem until he had his new responsibility in Intergovernmental Affairs, that is clearly the route to follow. When we talk about solving the problems locally, that really is the only acceptable procedure. If that procedure is not acceptable to the city of Brantford, then obviously they will have to attempt some alternative.
I should bring to the minister’s attention that there has been some continuing updating of these agreements, whereby the costs of the various services that are provided by Brantford and used by the surrounding area, most of them in Brantford township, and the payments exchanged between the municipalities have been updated. It’s surprising that the amount of these changes is not significantly large.
There is, however, a breakdown in some of these agreements which, in my view, seem to be used almost as weapons -- I shouldn’t use that word -- as levers, let’s say, in the continuing problems. The lack of agreement on the rebuilding of roads is regrettable. Over the years there has been a good deal of agreement whereby the two municipalities would co-operate in these developments.
I simply indicate to the minister that the widening of Highway 24 is a case in point, where the council of the city of Brantford had agreed to it and the ministry was prepared to go forward, but then the city of Brantford, for reasons which I felt were inadequate, decided to withdraw from that agreement. That means this main arterial road coming out of the city of Brantford is restricted to two lanes and is dangerous. I would suggest it is something where the breakdown in agreement is certainly regrettable.
You heard the member for Brantford in his questions here indicate very strong disapproval indeed of government policy through the Ministry of the Environment to establish sewage lagoons in Brantford township. These have been established, and there is an indication there of very strong disagreement by the city of Brantford in that situation.
The city of Brantford almost withdrew the right of the township of Brantford to use their landfill facilities. I don’t believe they are going forward with that but once again they are trying -- and they think it is proper to do so, though I do not think it is proper to do so -- to point out that without their services and facilities the township area cannot continue to provide the services that their people will require.
In the area of planning, very recently it has come to my attention that the city has at the very last moment intruded itself into the planning process of the township of Brantford, which has had a very good planning record indeed and has had an official plan. The minister might not be aware of this, but in the application of this official plan they have a no-growth record. In the development of figures from the ministry itself, there is an indication that the population of the township is actually going down.
The implication from the city of Brantford that Brantford township is an urbanizing area simply is not borne out by the facts. The official plan does call for an increase in the population over a period of years which was simply an absorbing of the same percentage increase that was projected by the provincial authorities some years ago. The minister knows these projections of population increase have not been fulfilled in the province and certainly have not been fulfilled in the township of Brantford.
The city is very much concerned then about the official plan of Brantford township and is intruding itself into very small local decisions and postponing those again. I believe here it is the responsibility of the provincial minister, the Minister of Housing (Mr. Bennett) in this case, not to allow this matter to be delayed. It is quite proper, however, for the Minister of Housing and even the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to take note of the very strong, legitimate and continuing concern of the city of Brantford that there has to be co-ordination in planning. I don’t really see any objection to that. This is an area where it seems to me the Ministry of Housing can have an important role to play.
The one matter that certainly is of great concern is the contention of the city that it does not any longer have room for industrial expansion. Brantford really is an industrial town. There are large factories there, such as Massey-Ferguson -- I shouldn’t even begin to list them -- a large number of them which provide employment for thousands of people in the whole area.
The township of Brantford has done an independent study that the minister may be aware of which indicates the city of Brantford does have room for industrial expansion at the present rate for 20 years. I can understand why Brantford does not feel overly impressed by that finding. Obviously the township of Brantford does not want to give up any land for industrial expansion, but the information was provided to them by Mr. Donald Paterson who is an accepted and independent expert in this connection.
I should bring to your attention that very large acreages of property that had been designated for industrial-commercial purposes were rezoned for residential. Actually it was during the time my honourable friend, the member for Brantford, was on the council of the city. He was very interested in the matter at that time. These areas are now growing up. However, the planning, as usual, has been imperfect, as it is in all areas.
I have been told by, I suppose no less an authority than the Brantford Expositor itself, that there are many hundreds of completed homes for sale in the community and particularly in this area that had been annexed for industrial purposes and had been rezoned for residential purposes. This is fine; this is a decision that the local planning people and the local council made.
But the proposal that had been made by Brant county, in response to the statements from the city of Brantford that they had no more room for industrial expansion, was associated with a new concept, at least it is new to me. This would be a joint venture for the servicing of industrial land in an appropriate place in the Brant county community. Now the city of Brantford, if they are talking about expansion according to the annexation bylaw presented to us, want to move some distance from the city and take over land around the present municipal airport which is separated from the city. They want to service that land, at great expense, and turn it into an industrial area.
It would be a very good area, indeed, because it’s nice and level. I suppose it could be serviced, but only at great expense, since an extension of the servicing lines would have to go through an area of the township out that way. I point out to you, Mr. Chairman, this area is tobacco farmland and whatever you think about the efficacy of protecting tobacco land, still, this is extremely productive and expensive land.
There are, however, fairly close to the city of Brantford and within the county of Brant, in the township of Brantford, within the confines of the town of Paris and the township of South Dumfries, extensive gravel deposits which have not been completely worked out by any means, but many hundreds of acres are lying fallow in the old gravel workings. I would suggest to the minister two alternatives: The first is that we have legislation put through in this chamber which would permit municipalities to share in the acquisition and servicing of these properties; and to share in the costs of having industrial commissioners, or whatever they might be called, to attract industry to the area. Of course, we need it and we need jobs and the municipalities sharing in the enterprise would share in the assessment and the tax benefits.
The second alternative in this connection is the ministry or the provincial government itself could undertake with the co-operation of the municipalities concerned, the development of such an industrial site. I suggest to the minister that if he’s looking for a departure from the old procedures which are somehow running out of effectiveness, not only in Brantford township but in other areas of the province, that this might form a part of a new concept that would allow municipalities to have the necessary room for this kind of expansion. It would prevent the traumatic and expensive annexation hearings and prevent the minister setting himself up as a Solomon and with his carving knife dividing the baby.
I believe this is the sort of approach that could give rise to a new government policy which is really what we are missing. I am not berating the minister for this, because he and his predecessor have tried to come to grips with this for a long time. I remember Mr. McKeough saying to me, I believe it was in the House, that the answer for Brantford and Brant county was a one-tier regional government. I have a feeling he would have loved to, and if his majority had persisted, he would have, simply waved his hand and converted that whole area into the city of Brantford. He might have even called it the city of Brant. I don’t know. That’s not going to happen, thank God. I’m immodest enough to take some credit for the fact that regional government has not been imposed on that area.
The minister has said he is aware that regionalizing or even restructuring legislation is politically very unpopular. He, and his parliamentary assistant, the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), at a meeting at which I was asked to attend involving the Brant county people -- including two of the reeves and the warden -- perhaps put government policy in a slightly different way than the minister did this morning. He assured us again that there was no possibility of regionalizing legislation or restructuring legislation being imposed now or in the future.
I may be misquoting him, because after all, nobody knows what’s going to happen in the distant future, but in expressing government policy, he said this was not one of the alternatives, and we could not expect the government to come out and say: You are now restructured and regionalized. He reiterated what the former Treasurer and what the present Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has said which is essentially to settle your own problems and we will assist in every way we can. There is obviously a need for serviced industrial land in the area.
I should point out that one of the most effective industrial areas in the city of Brantford is a place called Braneida Park, which was a part of the plan of the township of Brantford. Really they deserve all of the credit for its establishment. It was taken over by the city after it got going and it has gone very well. It is served by the extended Highway 403, which in fact bypasses the main part of the city.
I am glad to announce to you, Mr. Chairman, that the Highway 403 extension across the Grand River and through a large part of Brantford township is going to be opened on December 4. A road of that type, which is now being opened, has a tremendous effect on the industrial development in the area. The area of these gravel pits that I was bringing to the minister’s attention is adjacent to the new road. The CNR main line runs right through it. It could be readily served. It is land which will never be agricultural and could be serviced -- I wouldn’t say easily -- but as easily as any other land except land which would be contiguous with the present city of Brantford.
I would suggest to the minister in summation that the route of annexation and Ontario Municipal Board hearing, I would hope, is not an alternative. We can’t afford it, it is inconclusive, it is divisive, and the courts are even unable to cope with it. The route of a private bill brought forward by the city of Brantford to this House is very similar to their passing unilaterally an annexation bylaw and a bylaw amending the official plan of an adjacent township. It is possible to do that, but unless the minister co-operates fully and takes the side of the city unilaterally, it really can come to very little.
The possibility of a private bill being debated here having to do with Brantford and Brantford township really means that the government is saying, “That’s our policy,” which is no policy at all. You will allow private bills to come in from there, from the restructured county of Oxford dealing with Tillsonburg perhaps and that problem, on the problem in Sarnia and Sarnia township and on the problem in Chatham and those two townships there which is emerging in precisely the same way.
I would strongly suggest that the only alternative to that is for government policy. We have a reasonable minister who is even now talking about using the same procedures that he used in the Ministry of Education to solve the almost unsolvable problems there and of using the same approach here. That’s very interesting. This minister can be innovative. I have criticized him before for not being innovative and perhaps I will again. But his strength, I think, is in acting moderately to get people to work together and to come forward with a solution that does not simply throw out the whole structure and disrupt the community in a way which is unacceptable.
I don’t want to say anything which would mean that I as the spokesman for the rural area here am not prepared to listen to reasonable positions. But, in return, I simply put our reasonable position. In fact, the boundaries do not have to be moved. In fact, there is plenty of housing in Brantford now and room for houses. There are probably 100 acres of serviced industrial land available within the city now but, without arguing that with the city, there are innovative and reasonable approaches which would accomplish what the government wants to do and not intrude into the fine agricultural land.
There are lands there, not just in Brantford township, which through government initiative can be serviced and would form, honestly, an example to other areas in the province, where you have come to the point where good planning can prevail, where areas which should not be taken up and paved over are left in the farming community and where industrial development takes place where it should take place with a sharing of all the advantages.
I say in conclusion that I believe a continuation of co-operation is the only local answer and that the role of the provincial government is to assist in that and to use their undoubted powers in planning, if they want to use them, in order to give the kind of co-operative development that is the only answer, in my opinion, in the Brantford city-Brantford township situation.
Mr. Makarchuk: I didn’t intend to bring this rather parochial squabble which we are having at our own level into the estimates. I thought we would deal with the principle of what can or cannot be done. But after listening to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, I have to say he speaks well but his facts are totally wrong. He is abysmally ignorant of municipal reality.
He stands up there and talks about the amount of industrial land that is available. Sure, there are parcels of industrial land within the city of Brantford.
Mr. Nixon: A hundred acres according to the experts.
Mr. Makarchuk: There are parcels in packages of five acres, 10 acres and maybe 15 acres at the maximum, but there is not a single parcel of land where a major firm can locate. There have been discussions and the Ministry of Industry and Tourism has been party to them. Some firms have been looking at some rather large parcels. They have not been able to find them in the Brantford area. They’re not there.
When we look at the whole thing, there are three matters that are really important. One is the matter of jobs in the community. Every community is concerned about its planning, about its future. It wants to provide an environment for industry where jobs will be available for the people who want to live there and the children of the people who are living there. At this time, Brantford is faced with this problem. There is not a single parcel of land where a major industry or any sort of medium-sized industry can locate. These are facts that are known to township officials and to the city officials.
What we have there is the country squire set, if I may call them that. They are destructive, selfish and indifferent to the needs --
Mr. Nixon: Now you can see what happens to the negotiations in the area when people like that take part in them. He is the author of our misfortune.
Mr. Makarchuk: Let me tell the member when they needed sewers in Brantford township because they overbuilt and started their sewage running in the street, I was the member of council who insisted they get the damned thing so we could bail them out of the health hazards that they themselves created.
Mr. Nixon: You are also responsible for that Ronto bill.
Mr. Makarchuk: The member talks about us taking in a large parcel of land and rezoning it from industrial to residential. I would like to see what parcel of land he’s talking about because there certainly were parcels of land taken in, but they were taken in as residential and remain residential.
At one time I did try to rezone some existing city industrial land to residential to put in housing at cost, to build housing at cost. But of course, his friends on council and their urban development institute and the other people descended on council in great hordes. They came all the way from the Lakehead and Ottawa, out to Brantford to tell us we couldn’t go ahead with this because we were going to put in housing at about $20,000 or $30,000 less than the local developers were doing.
That is the first thing. There is not an adequate supply of industrial land. The land to which my friend is referring cannot be serviced at this time. There are 1,000 acres owned by Ontario Housing that could be serviced. The adjoining land is also the type of land that can be serviced because you don’t have to put in any pumping stations. A major trunk sewer has been started that goes across the river and will service this land. The potential is there. The costs are minimal in terms of future development. It is not the best agricultural land, incidentally. It is one of the worst types of land we have in the county. The expansion going on right now is into the best agricultural land.
When he talks about the excellent planning in Brantford township, all you have to do is drive into the city of Brantford. What do you see? Strip development. Drive out of the city on Highway 24 and what do you see? Strip development.
Mr. Nixon: That is a city.
Mr. Makarchuk: Take the highway to Paris. It’s strip development. Look on Park Road. Just past the city boundaries, you see a row of houses. In the middle is an industrial site and then another row of housing. Calling that good planning boggles the mind. You have to have blinkers on to drive through there and say that this is good development. It’s destructive development. It’s development that’s making the roads dangerous and I don’t understand how the member can say this is sensible.
Mr. Swart: All that stripping, you’re going to get Drea involved.
Mr. Makarchuk: There is a problem of downtown renewal and again you want coordination between the various ministries.
If one ministry says you’re going to get downtown renewal, you’re providing funds and you have to ensure that the downtown is in the centre of the city. As the development is progressing right now it is one-sided. The downtown is moving away from the geographical centre of the city and consequently you have problems with that.
Mr. Nixon: When they got you off council things started to move there.
Mr. Makarchuk: Let’s have it on record that I was the person who got it moving. I did accomplish a fair amount. I have no worries about that.
The point is the potential is there to resolve some of these future problems. The difference between the minister and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is the fact that at least the minister recognizes the problems of urban growth; the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk doesn’t. I’m not sure what his whole concern is. Is it sort of catering to what I call the country squire set who have their estate lots, five acres, who sequester some of the prime recreational land above Whiteman’s Creek, put it to their own use -- and they call that good planning. It’s sacrilege to imply that is good planning.
The other factor that has to be taken into account is the matter of paying for the services you use. The township people, 10,000 of them, live in an urban environment because they’re just across the road from another urban environment, which is the city. They use the city’s services, they use the parks, they use the recreation facilities, they use the libraries, they certainly use the high schools, and the city pays for these services.
Mr. Nixon: You think we don’t pay for the high schools?
Mr. Makarchuk: No. You do not provide the services. This is something he can’t understand. The city has to provide services for the high school. The city has to provide services for the hospitals. The city has to provide services for the libraries. The city provides services for all those other places. What do you pay for them? You don’t pay a damned cent. Let’s understand that.
Mr. Nixon: You are totally wrong.
Mr. Makarchuk: What you have in effect is that kind of -- as I referred to it before -- municipal welfare bum situation. It’s very nice for them to sit up there and say their taxes are lower. But the reason their taxes are lower is that they don’t have to pay for these services which, incidentally, they use. If you look at the statistics of the people who are using the branch library that was built --
Mr. Nixon: There are agreements to pay our share in all those -- regularly negotiated.
Mr. Makarchuk: -- you’ll find out --
Mr. G. I. Miller: Is there no charge for them?
Mr. Makarchuk: Somebody pays for them.
Mr. G. I. Miller: Is there no charge for them?
Mr. Makarchuk: No. They’re tax-supported.
Mr. G. I. Miller: User-paid?
Mr. Makarchuk: No, it’s not user-paid. It’s a tax-supported service. You will find that the greater percentage of the people who use them are living out in the township. These are the kinds of things that have to be resolved.
I hope the other matter, of the city being involved in the zoning bylaws for Brantford township, is not acted upon. I hope it is held in abeyance, as perhaps the other matter will be held in abeyance, for the simple reason that what you’ve got is adjoining pieces of property zoned in conflicting manners.
Mr. Haggerty: He wants regional government.
Mr. Makarchuk: If you’re going to resolve this -- and you’ll have to resolve it in order to be able to plan -- you pretty well have to have control over the area. But what you have right now are conflicts over adjoining pieces of property. You’ve got industrial land and right across the road you’ve got residential zoning. Matters of servicing are not taken into account. Matters such as the Ontario Housing land -- 1,000 acres of good land, suitable for development, is not zoned for development of any type. It’s ignored
Mr. Nixon: That is owned by the provincial government -- every acre of it.
Mr. Makarchuk: If you examine the so-called protectors you’ll see how their land is zoned. You’ll find they’ve taken care of their own personal zoning to ensure good future economic benefits for them. If you dig underneath you’ll find the community interest and so on is not there.
Somehow we’re going to have to resolve those matters. I would not like to see any kind of precipitous action on the part of the minister. I would like to see action on whether it goes to the Ontario Municipal Board or not. I would like to see more discussion with both councils and the minister involved, to see what route should be taken to resolve it. I cannot see at this time how there will be any kind of change on the part of the township officials or the county officials.
What it really boils down to is the old urban-rural squabble. He said they had had these historical documents and historical arrangements. Basically, as long as they had the majority on the various boards and commissions and as long as the city of Brantford paid the bill, they were successful documents and were successful operations. As soon as the city of Brantford says, “Okay, since we’re paying the bill and the major part of the cost, then we should have the major part of the representation,” the whole thing goes up in the air and there’s a big argument. Those are some of the factors that have to be considered. Hopefully, there should be some way out of this. I think the minister has quite a responsibility in this case.
Mr. Blundy: I’m very happy to have the opportunity to discuss the matter of urban boundaries at this time. I think what we need from the minister and the government at this time is some leadership for the people who have been wrestling with these problems for many years. We have just been treated to a display of parochial differences between the last two speakers, such as are being displayed in many areas of Ontario. It breaks down to the basic differences between rural and urban areas.
I don’t want the minister to say, “We don’t want to go in and tell anybody what to do.” I agree he ought not to and the government ought not to do that. The government should give some leadership to the local people so they can get together in such a way as to be able to work out something for the common good.
In our area, it’s not something new. Twelve years ago the city of Sarnia put forth an annexation application, which was an expensive and long process, and the city of Sarnia was granted nothing, not one acre. We don’t want to go through that sort of thing again. We don’t want to submit our taxpayers to that kind of expense.
The government can show the leadership in many areas. I want to just mention one area in which there was a dire lack of leadership on the part of the government. That was in the recent setting up of county-wide planning in Lambton county. Everybody in the city of Sarnia, including myself, the mayor, the members of council, the planning board and the former St. Clair planning board, said that to really and truly reflect planning in the area the city of Sarnia should be a part of the county-wide planning board. Everybody agreed to it except the Minister of Housing. He set up the countywide planning board and excluded the city of Sarnia.
Once again, the government is not showing proper leadership and is building up a barrier that is going to cause problems down the road. I know that isn’t this minister’s responsibility, but that is an example of it. There is one thing I can say and that is that in a relatively small population, such as we have in Sarnia-Lambton, regional government is not one of the alternatives. A two-tier government is not one of the alternatives. I recently had a poll done in my riding in which I asked the people to let me know what their views were. They turned down a two-tier regional government by a margin of 77 per cent. They were against it. The question of what about just a simple amalgamation was agreed to by 63 per cent of the people who replied to the poll. I want the minister to realize we don’t want that sort of thing.
The municipalities can have studies done. Studies have been done on the part of the city. Studies have been done on the part of the township. The guy who pays the piper calls the tune. When you hire a study you’re going to get the study you want. That’s what happens. They don’t truly reflect the circumstances in the area.
The point I like best of all is that the government help the local people to make a decision. I like the suggestion that has been made about a board of arbitration, similar to labour problem arbitration. An arbitrator, or three arbitrators, whatever you want, could sit down and discuss the pros and cons with each of the municipalities involved and not leave it there, but try to work out a compromise between the municipalities.
We are fed up with spending money on studies. We are fed up with trying to have annexation applications before the Ontario Municipal Board. Our people don’t want that. We want help in the form of helping the local people to reach a decision which is for the common good.
If there is anything I believe is present in our area right now, and it is one of the things always called for in good planning, is a community of common interest. I think anybody would be lying if they said there was not a community interest between the rural and urban areas in the Sarnia area.
Mr. Chairman, I believe the people are ready now, after all the frustrations of the past, to accept leadership from the government in this matter. I believe they are ready to sit down and coolly and calmly, and in a factual manner, discuss it with the aid of an arbitrator or arbitration board. I believe everybody could be better served. I believe the community will prosper, and I believe the problems we have had unresolved for 12 years can be resolved. There has been no assistance from this government over the 12 years to help to solve those things.
I think those problems can be solved now. The people are prepared for it, and if some form of leadership is shown on behalf of this ministry, I think those problems can be resolved. I will support this sort of thing in the area.
I represent both the township and the city, and I know what the people want. I have talked to them. No matter where you are, there are pockets of opposition, but with some help, some leadership, and perhaps some assistance in arbitration, our problems can be solved for many years in the future.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I have a number of items on which I wish to make comments, but I am just going to deal with the matter of restructuring of local government, and deal with it very briefly.
The first thing I would like to say is good luck to the minister in this whole matter. I think we have had a bit of a demonstration here this morning of what takes place between municipalities with regard to the whole business of annexation, and changing boundaries. I know of nothing that is more controversial than making boundary changes.
I think it is a bit naive to think there is any easy solution, or perhaps as the member for Sarnia stated that the people are ready to get together on this issue and it is just a case of sitting down with them. The discussion that is taking place here today reminds me of the same kind of discussion that took place, in depth, years and years ago, largely out of which came, I guess, regional government. I think we realize now, and the government realizes, that has not been the answer to this problem.
I commented very briefly in my opening remarks that I thought the minister had dealt very sensibly and very sensitively with this whole question of annexation in his opening speech. There was certainly a recognition of the problems, though perhaps no more so than there has been a recognition of these problems over the years.
I am not nearly as sure as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk that somehow an all-party committee of the Legislature may be the answer. I am as concerned as anyone about this. I think I’m correct in intimating that the member said perhaps a private member’s bill might be the way.
Mr. Nixon: No, that was your member.
Mr. Epp: That was your member.
Mr. Swart: I think you commented on it rather favourably.
Mr. Nixon: I said there was nothing to stop Brantford from doing that, but it would be as ineffectual as their passing a unilateral bylaw has been.
Mr. Swart: I’m not sure you can get away from the Ontario Municipal Board, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk said.
Mr. Epp: He never said that.
Mr. Nixon: I am trusting the minister’s good sense.
Mr. Makarchuk: He asked him to stop the OMB hearing.
Mr. Swart: I am not at all sure you can get away from that sort of a hearing. If you have a private member’s bill that comes before this Legislature, I can see it going to a committee. I see that committee really taking over from the OMB in a very large sense and spending days and weeks on hearings. Both sides or three sides or four sides on whatever the case is always want to be heard on these matters. It is a very controversial matter.
Quite frankly, I don’t know what the answer is, but there is one thought I would like to leave with the minister. It appears after the event has passed, where annexations have taken place, where there has been a one-tier level of government, it seems really to have worked for the best afterwards.
I can recall in the St. Catharines area where they annexed six municipalities to the city of St. Catharines. They burned the members of the Ontario Municipal Board in effigy in front of the Merritton town hall at that time.
Mr. Nixon: They did that to Wilf Spooner once too.
Mr. Swart: But within a few years it was generally conceded that the city government of St. Catharines is working well. I think it’s probably true that the city government of Thunder Bay, where there was an amalgamation which was rather amicable in that area, is working well. If we look at the expenditure per capita in these municipalities where they have enlarged the municipalities, the individual municipalities are working well.
It’s not a single-tier government in St. Catharines but the lower tier is working well. Whereas that sort of single tier as in Thunder Bay may be applicable all over this province, it is not probably applicable in Toronto. I’m not at all sure that in a city of this size it would work that well. It seems generally to be the case where annexations have taken place or where boundaries have been extended to one tier of government, after it has been accomplished for a few years it has worked well.
The trauma that exists during that period of time, I suggest, is pretty deep and pretty severe. I don’t know what the answer is to get away from that, but I am convinced the one-tier level of government in most medium-sized urban centres in this province is the ultimate goal rather than a two-tier level of government where there is less accountability.
Mr. Haggerty: Are you suggesting a single tier for the Niagara region?
Mr. Swart: I am suggesting even in the Niagara Peninsula it might work much better if we had six single-tier municipalities instead of the regional government that we have there at the present time.
Mr. Epp: You are talking our policy now.
Mr. Swart: Quite frankly, I probably haven’t made much contribution to this debate, but the answer to this restructuring is not easy. I just say again good luck to the minister in this field.
Mr. B. Newman: I want to raise an issue with the minister that has probably been plaguing him ever since he has taken over the portfolio, that is, the situation in relation to the city of Windsor.
You are certainly aware that back in 1975 it was pointed out to the provincial Treasurer that Windsor was being adversely affected as a result of the resource equalization grant. The ministry did admit that there was a problem there and that the grant was not fair whatsoever.
You have met with the mayor of the community, with the mayor from Sarnia, in an attempt to resolve the problem. Does the minister have anything further to add at this moment so that the citizens will understand that you understand the problem and you are going to remedy the situation and that they will not be adversely affected any longer in the future, that they will get their fair share of any resource equalization grant they are entitled to? May I have a few comments from the minister on that?
Hon. Mr. Wells: We met with his worship, the mayor of Windsor and some representatives from his council and the school board a week or so ago. They again put before us the problem which, of course, we already were well aware of, the fact they felt the resource equalization grant was not fairly treating that area, both the municipality and the school board.
As I indicated to them at that time, we are aware of the problem and, as I think I have indicated to my friend in the House, we are working on possible solutions to that problem. Whether they will be solutions that will please him and whether they will be completely acceptable to the mayor and the people in Windsor, will have to be seen when we announce those solutions.
At this time we don’t have them and I am not in a position to talk about them, but I think within the next couple of weeks, as the various transfers for next year are unfolded, those solutions will become obvious and we will have plenty of time, I am sure, to discuss them.
Mr. B. Newman: Since the problem was presented to the minister’s predecessor back in 1975, surely it doesn’t take three years to resolve it. Your officials have had sufficient time to find out whether Windsor was correct in its comments, in the presentation of its brief in the city of London on January 15, 1975.
The community has been deprived of substantial grants for at least three years, and I understand that is approximately $30 million. The ministry has made the taxpayers in the community pay approximately $150 more in taxes than he or she should have, had the problem been corrected back in 1975.
Now the minister says it is going to take several more months before he arrives at a solution. I just can’t understand. Why would it take several more months when the minister has had it now for three years? Several months from now he will probably tell us exactly the same thing: “We are going to study it a little further or a little deeper.”
Why can’t the minister at this time compensate them for the inequities of the past by some type of transitional assistance? They have been adversely affected. I think the minister has an obligation. The minister has not given them their fair share of the resource equalization grant. He knows it, he has admitted it, but he says: “Well, we may correct that in the future.” How about what has transpired in the past?
Hon. Mr. Wells: First of all, let me say this, we haven’t bothered to nit-pick around and look at the amount. I am prepared to accept, without my verifying it, that the amounts are of the magnitude and of the sum put forward by Windsor. I personally haven’t gone into it in depth either to prove or disprove that they have lost the amount of money they say -- I think they say $8 million on the municipal side -- because of the resource equalization grants.
My friend knows it isn’t a case of no one doing anything. The former provincial Treasurer and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs was working in a program to correct the very problems that Windsor had and Sarnia and others, and that was the total market value assessment, property tax reform package which he had been working on and hoped to bring forward and which, under the bill that is to be amended in the Legislature shortly, would have brought that package in in 1979.
Now that, as part of that package, was presumably the solution to the problem that Windsor had. Presumably that solution was there. That was the kind of thing that had been worked on, but for a variety of reasons that package is not going forward now. It’s not coming forward for a variety of reasons and you know what some of the reasons are.
Mr. Warner: What kind of a variety?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The members on all sides of this House know what some of the reasons are. The total package was too big.
Mr. Warner: In case we have forgotten, tell us.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We were biting off too much at one time in putting together this total-market-value-assessment property tax reform package. Given the fact that last June it was decided that package would not go forward, we are now looking at progressive steps to remedy some of the real problems present in this province. One of them is the distribution of the resource equalization grant in a fair manner. We have been working since last June to get a solution and I think we will have at least the idea for a solution when we announce the transfer payments to municipalities.
Mr. Warner: When?
Hon. Mr. Wells: You will have to wait and decide yourself when you hear them whether they are or are not.
Mr. Warner: When? When do we hear?
Hon. Mr. Wells: You will be hearing very shortly, probably within the next few weeks.
Mr. Warner: Before Christmas?
Hon. Mr. Wells: You will be debating the assessment bill in this House and I am sure some of the things concerning this will be said by my colleague, the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck), who will be dealing with the amendments to that bill very shortly.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Minister, do you intend to compensate the municipality for funds not provided to them in 1975, 1976 and 1977?
Hon. Mr. Wells: The answer to that is no. It’s impossible to go back, as I indicated in answer to a question the other day. It’s very nice to think retroactively but that’s just not possible.
Mr. B. Newman: This is the year 1978.
Hon. Mr. Wells: My parliamentary assistant reminds me we have compensated Windsor very handsomely by helping them to get the Ford plant there or leading the Ford plant to them. It will help the economic situation in Windsor immeasurably, about $28 million worth, and as I understand it, there will be extensive amounts of provincial money provided to Windsor for servicing for that plant.
Mr. Warner: So that lets you out of your responsibility.
Hon. Mr. Wells: We could say in the one sense it’s a kind of quid pro quo. We can’t deal retroactively with numbers which we are not prepared to substantiate, but on the other hand, we are helping Windsor very significantly and helping the economic situation in Windsor.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Minister, I admit that. We appreciate that. But you would have done exactly that same thing had that plant moved to any other city in Ontario. You would have done the same thing, so you are not treating Windsor any differently when you do that. We appreciate the fact that you assisted the federal government in bringing the plant into the Windsor area but also, Mr. Minister --
Mr. Warner: More federal money.
Mr. B. Newman: That’s right. There’s more federal money being involved in there than there is provincial.
Mr. Epp: It was federal initiative that got it here.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Minister, I won’t argue which jurisdiction was actually responsible or should take credit. The plant is coming in there. We know you are going to be providing additional funding through the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and other ministries so that the plant can be operative on the date in which it intends to operate. We discussed a bit of that in the estimates of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications last night.
But my concern at this moment is you have taken advantage of the community in the past. You say you can’t make it retroactive. All right, we are in the year 1978. You are not making it retroactive. We are in the current year. Are you going to compensate the municipality for this year for the fact that they have not received those additional resource equalization grants?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, Mr. Chairman. Any solutions are for 1979 on.
Mr. B. Newman: So you are not going to correct the situation for the present year at all? If you are going to do anything, you are going to do it for the future? Can you assure us that you are going to do something and it will be better than you have been doing in the past three or four years as far as the city of Windsor is concerned financially?
Hon. Mr. Wells: I answered that a few minutes ago, Mr. Chairman. I said that within the next few weeks we will be unveiling our programs of municipal transfer payments and provincial assistance. Any programs we have in that area will be part of that announcement and those discussions. At that time, you will have your answer.
Mr. B. Newman: You don’t tell us whether you are going to come along and provide us with additional funding. You say: “Let’s wait for three weeks and then you can decide whether we’re helping you or not.” Is the minister going to provide us with additional resource equalization grants over what we received in the past year?
Hon. Mr. Wells: That is precisely what I said. That will be part of the announcement.
Mr. Grande: Make it now.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I would draw to my friend’s attention that most of that will be in the estimates for next year. We’re debating the 1978-79 estimates --
Mr. Grande: Bernie is always insistent. Tell him now.
Hon. Mr. Wells: -- most of which are for the year 1978. He asked me if there is anything in 1978, and no, there is nothing special in the 1978 program which we are debating here today.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Minister, is there anything wrong with the transitional grant at the present time? You do it for other agencies and branches of government.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am not sure exactly what my friend means. There is no transitional grant for the year 1978 provided for in these estimates and we are not thinking of any.
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Minister, we are a bit disappointed, but we are appreciative of the fact that you are assisting with the Ford plant. As I said earlier, you would have done exactly the same were it to have gone to your area of the province.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It is in your area.
Mr. B. Newman: It is, but remember, it is in my area because of the economics of the situation. Ford is essentially going to build in that plant the engines that will be shipped to Dearborn; and it is only a matter of about 15 miles from the Ford plant to the Dearborn assembly plant. So it would only be a matter of straight economics to locate the plant in the city of Windsor, rather than have located the plant in London, Niagara Falls or even in the Toronto area.
Mr. Grande: That’s only one factor.
Mr. B. Newman: Ford did this with a business point in view; it made good business sense. I think it also made good sense on the part of the government in seeing the situation and assisting it to be located in the city of Windsor.
Mr. Grande: I would like to make a few comments to the minister, and I would like to make a plea, as a matter of fact, for the borough of York, that part of Metropolitan Toronto which I have the pleasure of representing. We went from Brantford to Windsor, now let’s come back a little bit to Metropolitan Toronto, because I think the boroughs in Metropolitan Toronto, in particular the borough of York, have problems over and above the average problems any municipality would have in Ontario.
In November of last year, when Darcy McKeough, now gone from the Legislature, made the statement that the boundary changes in Metropolitan Toronto were not going to be effected as the Robarts commission had suggested, he made a commitment to the borough of York for some kind of assistance in terms of dealing with its problems. Since the Metro level of government was formed in 1962, the borough of York at that particular time, with the city of Toronto and East York were really the ones that created the tax money in terms of building the so-called boroughs of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. Scarborough is still not in that process. It is in the process of building.
However, a tremendous amount of taxpayers’ money, particularly from Toronto, the borough of York and East York, went into providing the services for the people in North York and the people in Scarborough and the people in Etobicoke. That’s what the Metro level was supposed to do. It has accomplished it; and I think, by and large, perhaps it has achieved some of the objectives.
However, the borough of York right now, as it has for the past five to 10 years, needs help itself. It needs help in particular in one area, and that is that its sewer system was built in the 1920s and 1930s. Right now it cannot take the amount of runoff water it could, I suppose, back in the 1930s and 1940s. Then there was a lot of green space around and the water would be sinking down instead of running into the sewer system.
The borough of York has still, by and large, the combined storm and sanitary sewer system. It takes a tremendous amount of money to effect a separation of that sewer system. It is impossible for the people and for council in the borough to be increasing property taxes to the extent that kind of work can be done. It requires approximately $40 million to $50 million to do it. Certainly the people in the borough -- who by the way, have the lowest average income in Metropolitan Toronto -- cannot afford those increases in property taxes.
Back in February, the assistant to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and at that time the assistant to the Treasurer and myself met with a delegation from the borough of York to talk about their problems. With the commitment the Treasurer, Darcy McKeough, had made to the borough, we thought perhaps something was going to take place.
At that time the minister said, “Why don’t you prepare something for us so then we’ll know what the real situation is in the borough?” The borough did that. In July of this year, I believe, a submission was made to the ministry from the borough regarding its sewer system.
However, I personally did send a letter to the Treasurer -- as the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs had not been set up at that time I think a copy went to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs -- explaining in as much detail as I could possibly put on a sheet of paper exactly the situation in the borough of York.
I would like to mention some of those if the minister has not had the chance to read that, or to read the submission that has come from the borough of York. I said the sewer system in the borough was constructed 40 to 50 years ago. The standards for sewer design at that time were much lower than those used now. The sewer system is combined, as I said earlier, and the resultant pollution of the Humber River and Lake Ontario should be of concern to the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) and to the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott).
I suggested the borough was highly developed, especially in the eastern section and right now the runoff water is 100 per cent more than it was even 10 or 15 years ago. Also I mentioned to the minister the cost would be about $40 million to $50 million in order to do that.
I just want to find out from the minister why he’s waiting to give the people in the borough of York an answer as to what this government is going to be doing. Is he waiting, or do we have to wait for the next two or two and a half weeks to find out how the transfer payments have fallen?
I also made mention in the letter that the borough right now -- particularly that borough -- has about 35 per cent of the people in the construction area unemployed. Some of those people are looking very hard for jobs. The government I know has a different philosophy of how jobs are going to be created. We say to them: there is a need in the borough of York in terms of its sewage system, and that need can be matched with people who need desperately to work. Match people who need to work with the work that needs to be done in the borough of York. I don’t think one creates jobs just for the sake of having fewer people unemployed. Jobs are created to have needs met in that particular borough.
The political situation in the borough of York has changed, and perhaps the minister is going to be a little bit more amenable to our new mayor. She’s a very aggressive and capable woman, may I add. Perhaps the minister is going to be listening to her a little bit more than he did to our previous mayor.
In any case, I hope the minister would have some answer right now, or at least some kind of expectation in terms of what the people in the borough of York can expect in two and a half or three weeks, when the minister comes down with the transfer payments.
I want to remind him in summary, that the borough of York is in a particularly peculiar situation in Metropolitan Toronto. Even though the majority of the boroughs and the city of Toronto in Metropolitan Toronto said they wanted no boundary changes, the borough of York was the one that badly expected that change. The way the situation is now, is there is 30 per cent industrial assessment and 70 per cent residential assessment. The 70 per cent residential assessment, the residents of the borough of York, just cannot afford to have their property taxes increased to get this work done.
As I said, the other factor the minister should remember is the borough of York contributed in a real way to pay for the services created in the periphery of Toronto, that is, in the other boroughs of Toronto. Therefore, right now that borough needs help and should not be left on its own.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I’d like to thank my friend for his comments about the borough of York, I am very knowledgeable about and sympathetic to the concerns of all the municipalities in Metropolitan Toronto.
He knows, although my responsibilities in this portfolio only began when I assumed the portfolio in August, we did have, as part of the Metro caucus, a large input in working with the former Treasurer in developing the white papers and the policies on Metropolitan Toronto. I, myself, was chairman of our party’s Metro caucus. We met for three afternoons and evenings with the various people from all the boroughs to listen to what they had to say about their concerns, about the Robarts report, and about what should be done.
The problems the member talks about are really intertwined with the whole response to Metropolitan Toronto legislation. I have to tell the member there will probably be nothing particular in the municipal transfer payments that are announced that will impact upon the problem of York’s position within the Metro federation. I think that is a separate problem and one to which I’m sympathetic. We will be addressing that problem as we meet the various Metro municipalities after the end of the year, which was the extension time we gave for responses to the white paper on Metropolitan Toronto.
I also want to say to my friend that I certainly did -- in my capacities, whatever they were -- listen to the previous mayor. He was a very dedicated and capable public servant who gave very many years of service to the borough of York. He was always a very forceful, pleasant and courteous person and was listened to by everyone in this government. I wouldn’t want him to believe we didn’t value his views.
He put forward the views of the borough of York in a very effective way on behalf of his council. I know he was disappointed that the boundary changes didn’t occur, but I think we tried to convince him his problems wouldn’t be solved by just boundary changes within Metro and if there were particular problems that York had in regard to financing they could be solved within the Metro federation in other ways.
The Metro tax rate itself -- again, I’m excluding the uniform education levy which, of course, is uniform across the whole of Metro -- accounts for more than 50 per cent of the municipal tax levy and that is equitably distributed across the whole of the Metropolitan area. So the York assumption is less than 50 per cent of the metropolitan costs, which are for those over which they have their own control. They still have a problem because of their size and their tax base. I think I’m willing to concede that and I think that is what we have to look at as we look at the kind of changes that might be made within Metro.
I certainly agree that the sewer problems that the older areas of this whole metropolitan area have must be addressed by the whole of Metro. The borough of York and older sections of Toronto that do not have proper sewering cannot be let go unattended and really are as much a responsibility of Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York as they are a responsibility of those areas. The health of the whole of Metropolitan Toronto, particularly the centre core and those communities that we’re trying to preserve, can only be preserved for all of us to enjoy if we all share in those particular things that must be done, just as the older areas for many years shared in the cost of developing and bringing services into the expanding new areas of Metropolitan Toronto so that the people could he brought here to keep downtown Toronto and this a very viable and vital city.
The new mayor-elect of York is a good friend of mine and is also an excellent person and will, in a very capable manner, represent that municipality. I’ve already talked to her and congratulated her on her victory and indicated that we would be sitting down shortly to talk about the problems of that municipality. I will be very cognizant of what they are and we’ll be attempting, within the whole Metro framework, to try to do what we can provincially to assist.
Mr. Grande: Mr. Chairman, I just have one short question. First of all, let me say I’m glad you’re here, because I’m referring to the borough of York, the place you and I call home. I have one question of the minister regarding the submission that the borough of York made on the sewer system. It says:
“We submit that the municipality is acting and has acted responsibly in the field of storm water management and is earnestly endeavouring to protect its citizens within the limits of its financial ability. We therefore petition the assistance of the provincial and federal governments by way of grants, or alternatively, long-term low-interest loans with some forgiveness factor. Substantial assistance of this kind would enable the borough to step up its program of sewer separation and provide relief from the present disastrous flooding conditions within a reasonable period of time.”
The question is, Mr. Minister, have you answered at all to this plea, this report? Has something gone out to the borough of York, to the mayor or controller? I haven’t seen an answer.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am sorry, I don’t have the information as to what the answer to that was, if it was answered. What was the date on that letter?
Mr. Grande: I believe it was sent to you in July, so I suppose it would have gone to the former Treasurer.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It was probably sent to my predecessor. I’ll get that out and I’ll let you know what the answer was, or what our answer would be.
Mr. Warner: It was probably fed into the shredder before he left, as he scurried out the door.
Hon. Mr. Wells: It wouldn’t be in the shredder. I can guarantee you that. I’ll have to get that correspondence out and find out. If it was in July, it would have been sent to my predecessor.
Mr. Grande: It won’t be lost?
Hon. Mr. Wells: Oh, no, it won’t be lost.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I would like to take this opportunity to bring a couple of points to the attention of the minister. First of all, I would like to congratulate him on taking on the responsibilities of Intergovernmental Affairs. It is a big workload that he will be involved in and it is very controversial. I do hope he has success in resolving some of the problems.
I was also glad to see him make the statement in Sudbury that no further regional government will be implemented in Ontario. Perhaps this should have been reviewed some time ago. However, due to the fact that the government was in such a strong position, it was implementing regional governments around the province, particularly the one in Haldimand-Norfolk, which was established in 1973.
As the minister tried to indicate this morning, regional governments have solved and could solve many of the annexation problems. I would like to make the point that in the township of Norfolk and the town of Tillsonburg the region was re-formed in 1973 and the county of Oxford was restructured in 1975 or 1976. Yet in 1978 the problems still exist with the town of Tillsonburg desiring to annex a portion of the township of Norfolk; so it really hasn’t resolved the problems.
I would like to point out that the township is dependent on the industrial area surrounding the town of Tillsonburg. They depend on the assessment and the money that it generates to operate their municipality. I don’t really have all the answers, but I think it is important that the planning departments work together to resolve development.
That is important for the town of Tillsonburg because it has an urban renewal program taking place at the present time. It is perhaps the kingpin to the future of the town. The planning people have to sit down to be assured they are not taking assessment away from either municipality, and co-operation has to come about.
I would like to point out that regional government was supposed to be more efficient, more effective and less costly. My colleague from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and his partner in the city of Brantford have had a debate this morning on the need maybe for restructuring Brantford and the county of Brant. We have to be very careful because it isn’t more efficient and it isn’t cheaper for the general public.
For example, there is the matter of representation on the city of Nanticoke council by the village of Jarvis, which under the former process had its own council. I am not criticizing the elected officials under the regional system because they have done a tremendous job with the guidelines they have had to work with.
In this past election on November 13, there was not one representative from the village of Jarvis on the city of Nanticoke council. That has tended to take away pride in the community. The former councillor was in business. He was a mechanic in a garage. He gave up running this time because of the workload. The advent of regional government has eliminated many people from participating in the system. That is one good example.
He had been a member of the city of Nanticoke council since its inception. He was a member of the former town council. Because of the workload in holding down two jobs and because the council holds its meetings in the daytime, he wasn’t able to participate in the democratic system.
I think it just proves one more point. Maybe we weren’t so far out when we took such a strong stand against regional government and the theory that it was going to be better and resolve all the problems. There is a clear indication that it has taken away the pride of the community and taken away the right of many people to participate. It is just one more example of what is really working, down in the field.
As far as the cost of services is concerned, another good example was the cost of the water and sewage services for the village of Jarvis which has tripled since the advent of regional government. The people have the feeling that they have it, they’re going to make it work, they’re going to try to do their best. And the councils have done a tremendous job in trying to make it work effectively. But the people are still saying, “Where do we get the answers, where do we get the services?” Pride in the community just doesn’t exist as it did under the old system.
These are two or three examples of why I don’t feel, and I think you made the statement this morning, that regional government would correct these problems. They can be corrected only by your working along and providing equalizing grants that can provide the funding, giving efficient service to the community.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am going to turn the tables and ask my friend a question. I appreciate hearing his comments about the effects and concerns about regional government in his area. He made a statement about the village of Jarvis and the great increase in sewer costs there. Is it not so that there were no sewer or water services in Jarvis before regional government?
Mr. G. I. Miller: Yes, there was water and there were sewers which came in 1967. The costs have tripled from the time regional government took over in 1973.
Hon. Mr. Wells: The point I want to make is that if costs have tripled, there have also been improvements in the service. In other words, the question is really whether or not you needed the improvement services. The impression was left that everything remaining the same, somehow the cost of having those services has increased. My information is that actually the services provided have increased in that area, in the sewer area, and that is what has increased the costs. Is that right?
Mr. G. I. Miller: That is not a fact because the services were put in in 1968. They were new services. In five years what improvements could there be? Maybe a maintenance program is the only advantage. As a matter of fact, the services went down because it was organized in such a manner that the crew that looks after Jarvis comes from Port Dover or from Simcoe. They are not on the spot, they have to travel back and forth and commute. The service has deteriorated, which is not a reflection on the employees but on the way the system has been established.
Mr. Warner: I certainly appreciate what I anticipate to be a healthier working relationship between the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and the various municipalities than was exemplified by the previous minister. Knowing the member for Scarborough North as I do, I’m confident he will not be antagonizing municipalities as his predecessor did and perhaps some progress will be made.
I would be interested in knowing a couple of things. First of all, can the minister give us some definitive answer on when we are going to get a response to the white paper on Metro Toronto so that we can try to proceed in a more orderly fashion? There were a lot of problems raised when Mr. Robarts did his famous study of Metro Toronto. I thought the report itself on balance was quite excellent. There were a lot of very useful suggestions as to how we could improve the way in which we function in Metro Toronto.
But we have seen a very tortuous procedure since then. For reasons which I don’t understand, it has dragged and dragged to the point where no one seems to know when we are going to get an answer and, secondly, how much progress we can expect. How progressive will the minister be in his response to the Robarts report? I am very curious to know that.
It seems to be dribbling out in stages. As one aspect of it, on November 8 in the general government committee dealing with private bills, there was a bill introduced on Lennox and Addington county which was for the restructuring of the library board. The parliamentary assistant, the member for Durham West, mentioned that the bill was consistent with government philosophy of moving the library boards from appointed boards to being committees of council.
I asked him at that time whether or not this was a hint of what we were going to see with respect to Metro Toronto as a response to the Robarts report. Of course, the parliamentary assistant, being loyal to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, didn’t reveal any information. He simply said this was consistent with government policy. So the question about the future of library boards goes unanswered.
So too does the question about the TTC and whether it becomes a committee of council. Will the government favour three-year terms for councillors? Will we see an equalization grant for the various boroughs of Scarborough and so on? The list is endless because there were 120-odd points raised in the Robarts report.
Could the minister indicate to us when we are going to see the government’s answer? Secondly, when we do see it, what would he anticipate to be the major areas in which he will be progressive, as opposed to the past track record of the government?
Hon. Mr. Wells: As my friend knows, he and I have had some discussions and I have had some discussions with other people about the Robarts report and some of the recommendations in it. The white paper that was put out on May 4, 1978, and the one from Education that went with it represented a response to the Robarts report; so we are actually past the stage of responding to the Robarts report.
We now have the white paper of government proposals in response to Robarts, in which we rejected, as indeed we did earlier, the boundary changes that Robarts suggested. We also rejected his contention that the Metropolitan Toronto school board should be done away with. They were two of the major recommendations in his report which were in our white papers and which, incidentally, take effect without any change.
The Metro school board is there and it is alive and well and going. Obviously that didn’t require any legislative action or anything. Our response to Robarts on that has been given and that response is living and acting and taking place.
Our position on boundary change was also a response. We have now held new municipal elections. The boundaries are there as they were before and will remain. Our response to Robarts on that issue has been done and completed. In some respects we have taken care of some of the recommendations of Robarts in our response to them.
The rest of the responses are in these white papers. We had expected the municipalities to reply earlier but they wished to have until the end of the year, and I think that’s quite legitimate. I am sure now that new councils have been elected and there are new mayors and new aldermen, they may want to have some input into what their councils have to say about this white paper. We had already agreed that December 31 would be the deadline. I personally decided I would wait until December 31. After December 31, I will meet with the various municipalities and talk to them about the briefs they presented and about their view. Some time after that, we will have some statement to make about our white paper on Metropolitan Toronto. I would think it will probably be a couple of months into the new year by the time we make a statement on it.
Mr. Warner: I appreciate that and I understand a little more clearly now how the minister is proceeding. Does that mean, first of all, that we will see some legislation in the spring? Is the minister making a commitment that we will actually have legislation in the spring session of this House?
Hon. Mr. Wells: That, of course, will depend upon what our responses are and what our decisions are on what the municipalities tell us about what was in this white paper. Some of the things in that white paper would have to be done by legislation. The white paper was there. We asked the municipalities to comment on what’s in the white paper. If they come back and there’s general agreement on some of the things, then naturally, there would have to be legislation. I can’t really say that for sure because it may be we will all agree some of the things presented will not go ahead. If we don’t go ahead, we won’t need legislation. It’s really got to wait until after we have our meetings after the beginning of the year. Then I will present, very close to the time when the House comes back, what will be the steps of action we will take in regard to this report.
Mr. Warner: What is kind of fascinating, Mr. Chairman, is that every time we have some new interesting item raised, it also provokes some curiosity. What the minister has outlined is a perfectly reasonable and logical approach, to some extent, although I would expect we should see some legislation. On the other hand, there was a hint they have already decided at least one item and that is on the library boards. They shall no longer be the way they are, and there will be a committee of council as indicated by the minister’s parliamentary assistant on November 8 during the sitting of the standing general government committee. I take it, at least in that regard, the government has already decided prior to any further consultation with the boroughs. Is that accurate?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, it’s not completely accurate. I think this is consistent with what my parliamentary assistant was outlining. The policy of this ministry in that regard was that we have no objection if a municipality wishes to change its library board, do away with that special-purpose body and have the operations of the libraries controlled by a committee of council. This is the whole idea of single-purpose bodies, and unconditional grants, which we talked about at the beginning of our estimates, as to whether there should be unconditional grants or single-purpose bodies. We don’t have any objection to that.
I think it has to be added that the policy of the ministry also is we will not impose that particular idea on any municipality. In others words, and I think it’s in this white paper although I haven’t read it for a while, the idea is that if the Metropolitan Toronto area or the boroughs wish to change their library boards in that way, they could request us to make the changes. If they wish to leave them the way they are now, we would not disagree with that. In other words, our policy is not to oppose any changes or to make libraries the operation of a committee of council. We also put on to that the proviso that it be at the discretion and request of the local municipalities.
Mr. Warner: I just have a short question, Mr. Chairman. I gather from the minister he is in favour of reducing the level of conditional grants to municipalities as generally a good policy to follow. I am wondering if he could make a commitment today that he will bring some pressures to bear on the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) so that we can have that generally good policy of unconditional grants apply to the grants which are made available to the Toronto Transit Commission. This would help them to function in a better way and avoid what seems to be an unavoidable fare increase next year because of the freeze on the grants from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
Is this minister prepared to assist the good people of Metro Toronto who are trying to avoid a fare increase?
Hon. Mr. Wells: That whole matter is still under consideration by my colleague, the Minister of Transportation and Communications. But I don’t think you mean to deconditionalize the transit grants in the way I would think about it. If you deconditionalize them, we wouldn’t give them to the TTC, we would give them to Metropolitan Toronto for them to decide how much they then would fund the TTC. I think that is the one area in our report --
Mr. Warner: Are you going to do that? Is that what you are going to do?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No. I think that area is covered even in the report on reforming the grant structures. It suggested that in the area of transit, at least for the next five years they should be given on a conditional basis. They are given for a specific purpose in the transportation area and they should continue to be given for transit.
The whole question of conditional and unconditional grants -- and you have seen the report -- is under study now. We have got the response; we just got it about three weeks ago from the Provincial-Municipal Liaison Committee. We are getting response from all the ministries concerned, and we are putting together a whole policy in regard to grant reform.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported progress.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the House adjourned at 1:03 p.m.