The House met at 9 a.m.
House in committee of the whole.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned consideration of Bill 70, The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1978.
On section 1:
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Chairman, I think the main concern or thrust of our amendment was pointed out by my colleague, but I too want to underline my concern. I would like to be told by the minister if indeed it does, but I don’t see that section necessarily covering an operation such as the people who have been incarcerated and are working in the meat plant or the abattoir at Guelph. I understand there are one or two others; I think there is a blanket factory, if I am not mistaken, in connection with one of our penal institutions as well.
If I read all correctly some of the noises from the new Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Walker), we are likely to have all kinds of people conscripted into services of one kind or another, and potentially a proliferation of such operations or such industrial undertakings. I want to make it clear that I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I see that as a distinct possibility.
If, indeed, we are not going to allow these people to be covered and carry the amendment we have suggested from our party, then I think specifically there should be some changes by the minister that clearly indicate that these people are covered. I’m just not at all sure from looking at the language, it may be a sad state of affairs, but without something there giving a clear indication that they are covered I don’t have too much confidence in somebody’s plain good intentions.
I know what happens, in fact, when it comes down to an arbitration or a conciliation case, you have got to have something to base it on; and that’s not strong enough in that particular clause.
Also, just because we have an inmate population, and if they are going to be organized into productive industrial units, it’s not just a question of the province being responsible for them. They have every right, where they are engaged in an actual industrial installation, to have some input or some say in terms of the actual safety conditions, and the right to question them. I can really see nothing wrong whatsoever in suggesting that these employees have a committee.
Regardless of the type of operation we undertake in the penal institutions, if that coverage is indeed there, and I can be assured of it, then that’s one matter; but I’m not sure of it, looking at that particular clause. I would sure as blazes like to know, if we are going to run something such as an abattoir or a textile operation, or you name it, that those employees have the right to that kind of protection. I am not at all convinced that it’s there as it stands now. That, I suppose, is the main reason for the amendment we have moved.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I must, first of all, in my prefacing remarks, indicate that I reject completely the amendment presented by the third party. I ask the member for Hamilton East to accept the words I have said, although he has indicated he doesn’t always have confidence in certain aspects of life.
It is my clear understanding that -- let’s take, for example, the case of the abattoir; it is separate and distinct even to the point where the Ontario Labour Relations Board has recognized the inmates as workers for bargaining purposes; it is a separate bargaining unit. Therefore, it is clear from the information made available to me that in situations such as that, workers in that particular type of setting are covered by this act; and I ask members to support the amendment I have proposed, as worded.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Minister, just what do you envisage as a rehabilitation program? It says here, “but does not include an inmate of a correctional institute or like institution or facility who participates inside the institution or facility in a work project or rehabilitation program.” Can you give me a little more clear definition of exactly what we’re talking about and what kind of undertakings we are likely to see under this particular section?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The sort of things we are contemplating are projects within the institution being carried out by inmates at the direction of the superintendent of that institution.
Mr. Mackenzie: If I may --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Excuse me, if I may interrupt -- that’s quite distinct from the situation, for example, in the abattoir where the workers in that setting, for the purpose of the work place are under the control of the individual who is in charge of the enterprise. Admitted -- there will be guards in the area, but they are for security purposes and not for purposes of work supervision.
Mr. Mackenzie: You indicate, Mr. Minister, that there’s no doubt in your mind in terms of an operation such as the abattoir, I suppose you could almost call it an industrial operation within the unit. What is the status of workers who may not be working in a specific industrial operation but in what you call a rehabilitation program? I’m a little bit unsure exactly what you mean by that. Is there any chance you’ll have a group of inmates working together on a project that’s not necessarily an industrial project? What have they got to look forward to in the way of coverage if they’re put on some particular program?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: As I indicated earlier, there are existing common law rights protecting inmates. Prison authorities in correctional institutions have certain custodial obligations to look after the well-being of their prisoners. If there are certain rehabilitation projects, such as a carpentry shop and so forth, that don’t constitute a separate industrial establishment, then they would be considered, as inmates and excluded under this section.
Mr. Haggerty: Along the thoughts of the member for Hamilton East, I raised a matter yesterday with the minister concerning the Correctional Services minister’s program to have inmates work in municipalities removing snow for senior citizens, et cetera. The question is, are these persons protected under this act? Are they protected perhaps under the Workmen’s Compensation Act? If not, if an injury occurs, who is responsible, the municipality or the Ministry of Correctional Services? I think that’s the point we want cleared up.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I thought I had referred to that matter yesterday. On specific work projects, for example a road project, convicts are wards of the Correctional Services ministry and as such are subject to the duties I have outlined that are owed to them by common law and under the existing legislation. They are still inmates. As I read to you yesterday from legal references for example where a guard orders a prisoner to perform an act involving danger or risk of injury, there is liability; the liability is to the person who has that individual in custody.
Mr. Worton: In regard to the abattoir, Mr. Minister, I would certainly agree there would have to be some positive legislation to protect those prisoners. On my last visit there, which was in September, I think the staff/inmate ratio was about 60/40, about 40 inmates and about 60 staff. I may be in reverse there, but this is important in an operation such as that, where unskilled people are going in without any knowledge of the equipment. It’s quite highly mechanized now; I certainly see the need. As I understand the amendment, you have assured us that will be the case under this proposed legislation.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I reaffirm at this time that in a situation such as we are talking about in the abattoir, inmates in the institution are not inmates for the purposes of this exclusion, they are workers. They have become part of a collective bargaining group and they would be covered by this legislation in that sort of setting.
Mr. Mackenzie: Let’s presume, Mr. Minister, that the member for London South (Mr. Walker) ends up with us having a series of modified chain gangs around the province. You have 15 or 20 workers out on a roadside project, as you yourself indicated, and some of those people have some expertise. I think of two examples right off the bat: Supposing, for example, they are doing some tree-cutting -- some of the dead elms along a stretch of highway or something -- and one of them knows the chainsaw he has is defective, that the chain could fly off or he could himself receive serious injuries; or they are on a project where they are doing some spraying or using some chemicals along the side of the road, and one of them who may have some knowledge of chemistry knows those chemicals or that roadside spraying itself may be dangerous.
It is true the guard is responsible, but if that employee doesn’t have the right to say at that point: “I won’t use this saw,” or “I won’t use these chemicals,” and is ordered to do so by the guard, he could have a serious injury long before the responsibility finally comes back on that guard because he required him to do it.
I can see that kind of expertise being there in some of the simple but obvious tasks that might be assigned to such a group of workers, I just don’t think it is good enough to say: “It is the responsibility of the guard.”
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, I can’t recall if the member was able to take down the legal references that deal with this very issue, but if I could refer him again: “The duty owed by prison authorities is to take reasonable care for the safety of prisoners.” The reference, if the member wishes to review it, is Timm v. R.,  1 Ex. C.R. 174. With regard to the duties of guards, I refer him to 12 Can. Abr. (2nd) 473. Inmates in situations such as you are referring to always have the common law right to refuse to work, that can’t be abrogated. In terms of the responsibilities owed to them by their custodian, those cases and those references clearly outline the duties owed to prisoners by those who are holding them in custody.
Mr. Mackenzie: One of my colleagues has mentioned to me there is also the situation of inmates on temporary absence programs. I would like to know what your reaction is there.
Also, I want to carry the other argument just one step further before we leave this, Mr. Minister. That is, I was under the impression -- I hope not falsely -- that our penal institutions -- indeed some of the defence I have heard for the use of some of these work programs -- is that we are trying to pass on some skills or some useful knowledge or some contribution to society from the people who are these inmates. They should not be second-class citizens in terms of their rights to have some say in the safety of the conditions they work under, and I am wondering why they should not have some input. What better opportunity can you have of not only teaching them some responsibility, but easing their entry into the work place if they have some say in at least the safety conditions they are working under? What really can be wrong with assuring that those people have some input? Why not involve them?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, first of all with regard to the situation referred to by the member for Hamilton East, where a prisoner might be on a leave of absence, there is no doubt that if he is on leave of absence and involved in the work project he is covered by this act; that is not an issue. In other words, it clearly does not exclude inmates who work outside the institution; in that sort of relationship they would be covered.
As to why I feel this section is necessary, I think I went into that in great detail in my initial remarks. Let me say once again, with due respect, that we are dealing with people who are in conflict with society. They have rejected the regulations and so forth that apply to all of us in society. They have rebelled against it. We have to acknowledge this is a particular situation and it requires this sort of legislation.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Minister, two wrongs don’t make a right. Sure they are in there, they are paying the penalty of being incarcerated, but when we then specifically put them into programs, as the Minister of Correctional Services is now suggesting, we should at least do it with the protections that are there in law as well, or that we are passing legislation for, in terms of their health and safety on that particular operation.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, I can only again repeat, as I have outlined quite clearly now, that in no way are their common law rights to refuse to work abrogated in any sense of the word. They do have that common law right. The custodians also have common law obligations as well as legislative obligations. Frankly, I can’t see why that should cause any problem.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Elgie has moved that paragraph 29 of section 1 be struck out and replaced by the following:
“29. ‘Worker’ means a person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation but does not include,
“(1) an inmate of a correctional institution or like institution or facility who participates in said institution or facility in a work project or rehabilitation program; or
“(2) a patient who participates in a work or rehabilitation program in a psychiatric institution, mental health or retardation centre or home, or rehabilitation facility.
Mr. Mackenzie has moved an amendment to the amendment, that paragraph 29 of section 1 be amended by deleting “but does not include” in the third line, and substituting therefor “and includes.”
Those in favour of Mr. Mackenzie’s amendment to the amendment will please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: If the amendment to the amendment does not carry we will then, in the stacked vote, take the amendment.
Section 2 agreed to.
On section 3:
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Elgie moves that section 3 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
“3(1) This act does not apply to work performed by the owner or occupant or a servant of the owner or occupant to, in or about a private residence or the lands and appurtenances used in connection therewith.
“(2) Except as may be prescribed and subject to the conditions and limitations prescribed this act or a part thereof does not apply to farming operations.
“(3) Except as may be prescribed and subject to the conditions and limitations prescribed in this act or a part thereof does not apply to,
“(a) A person who is employed as a teacher as defined in the Education Act, 1974;
“(b) A person who is employed as a member of the academic staff at a college of applied arts and technology as set out in schedule 1 of the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, 1975, or a person who is employed as a member or teaching assistant of the academic staff of a university or related institution.”
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, do you wish me to speak to each subsection or to one subsection at a time?
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, I believe Mr. Mackenzie has some amendments to the section the minister has just moved. In terms of procedure, should he move those amendments now, before we begin the debate on this new clause as put in by the minister?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Technically he should move his amendment when he is called on to speak. If the committee would rather have all amendments to each clause before them before any speeches, I would recognize honourable members who wish to make amendments to that amendment without speeches, and then revert back to the honourable minister, if that is acceptable.
Mr. Foulds: Is that acceptable?
Mr. O’Neil: Yes, we have an amendment.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. O’Neil moves section 3(3)(b) of the bill, as amended by the Minister of Labour be struck out.
Mr. Mackenzie moves that section 3(1) as amended by the minister be further amended by deleting in line 2 “or servant of the owner or occupant;” that 3(2) be deleted and that 3(3) also be deleted.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Do you wish me to speak on one subsection at a time or to cover the whole section?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: In light of the amendments to the amendments, I think we should do it subsection at a time.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, in the case of domestics employed by the owner in a private residence, the employer is really asking no more than he or she asks him or herself in that residence. Thus an exclusion is based on this practicality: the home is not considered a work place in the usual sense of the word, and indeed in my view it would be an invasion of privacy to allow checking or inspecting of homes.
I might also add that I am advised by my legal advisers that a search warrant would be necessary to enter such a private dwelling in order to carry out such an inspection. In any event, municipalities have bylaws already in place requiring certain standards, and in that sense that aspect is being covered.
I would also like to refer to the status of domestics in other jurisdictions in this country. Domestics, that is servants employed by private households, are not covered by health and safety legislation in any other jurisdiction in this country; however, those performing domestic duties but employed by private agencies are covered in Manitoba and they would be covered as well in this act.
With regard to the comment just made by the member for Erie, I would like to point out that in Saskatchewan, although the act itself makes reference to the permissive right of the Legislature to pass regulations covering domestics, they have not done so. I would therefore give those reasons, and they are very valid reasons, for not including domestics in this particular act. It’s for no other reasons than the ones given.
Mr. Bounsall: Did the minister say those domestics provided by private firms have coverage under this bill in the province of Ontario or was that Manitoba?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: It’s my advice that such domestics employed by an agency and sent to the home would be covered by this legislation.
Mr. Bounsall: I would like to ask the minister how that would be so. Is there a different definition of servant and domestic? Are they defined in such a way? I could not see an adequate definition that indicates that would be the case. The way this clause is written clearly indicates that the servant of that owner or occupier would not be given any coverage at all under this bill.
I can’t understand why this most maligned group in the province of Ontario is exempted from every act in the province of Ontario. The exclusions for those described as homemakers under the Employment Standards Act run on and on. I don’t see why we should continue to exclude these people in a new piece of legislation. The statement by the minister about having to have a search warrant if one were to enter the premises may be true; so what, when it affects the health and safety of someone employed in the province of Ontario?
The clause also says “in or about,” which means that with those people who would be employed mainly in the category of servant and mainly inside the house, but from time to time are performing services on the property outside the house, no search warrant would be at all required if an inspector was called in, as would be the situation under this act if there was a dangerous situation where their employer was arguing and pointing out what they should do.
I would suspect, because of the organizational state of servants and homemakers and other domestics in this province, that the right to refuse would be exercised very infrequently, as would any of the conditions under this act, because of the difficulty of those persons even knowing that such an act existed. As a result of that the right to refuse, or any other of the aspects of this bill, would seldom be used.
But what if, let’s say, the owner of a house employing one or two servants assigned to one of those servants some particular outside job, such as a minor repair to a roof, or asked him to hang a very high storm window, for example, using a ladder which was unsafe and insisted that the work be done and the servant agreed? The only alternative the person would have in saying no, he didn’t want to go up there, would be the standard one which applies in this particular field: to be fired.
It is going to happen so seldom and there are going to be so few problems by including them under the bill that I just don’t see why we excluded them, except for the general feeling of everyone that I have, that the ministry’s attitude to this bill is that you will exclude any groups of workers that you possibly can. With this group excluded from everything else in the province of Ontario, I just don’t see any really valid reason for your position. So what if an inspector needs a search warrant to come into the premises of a private home if a domestic servant has exercised the right to refuse? What is more important, the health and safety of workers in the province of Ontario or the probability that you might have to get a search warrant?
It is for that reason that we can’t see why it should stay in this, being an amendment in addition to what we passed from the committee stage last January.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would just like to reassure the member that agency domestics contracted by the owner or occupant from an agency are covered by this legislation. The wording is “a servant of the owner or occupant,” in other words, employed directly by the owner or occupant. Thus, it is very clear that domestics, should they be employed from an agency, are covered.
I can only reiterate to the member, the reason why we feel this should be excluded, as indeed other jurisdictions have felt, is the situation with regard to privacy and, frankly, the extreme administrative difficulties in managing such a situation. Above and beyond that, let me reiterate that there always remains the common law right to refuse, and it is therefore my view that this amendment, as proposed, should pass.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Bounsall’s amendment to the amendment to section 3 will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Chairman, I’m still a little confused on the procedure we’re following. The discussion had been basically on section 3(1). Is that exactly what we have now?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The amendment by Mr. Bounsall to section 3(1) has not carried and has been stacked. We will now move on to section 3(2). The honourable minister to speak to his amendment on section 3(2).
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, I’d like it to be clear that this is not intended to mean that farming operations should be excluded, but rather that inclusion should relate to areas of hazard. To my knowledge all farming organizations accept that premise, i.e. the premise that areas of hazard should be included.
Farming is an industry that is unique and encompasses everything from a private family farm to purely commercial farms, and there are clearly hazardous areas. These will be identified and they will be included. I would also remind all members that the Farm Safety Association of Ontario has been working on safety matters and will continue to do so.
I would also point out that at this time Ontario and the federal jurisdiction have legislation regulating pesticides. The Pesticides Act of Ontario sets out provisions respecting pest extermination operation in Ontario. The Pest Control Products Act, Canada, regulates the manufacture, storage, display, distribution or use of any controlled product. For that reason I would ask the support of members for this section.
Mr. Bounsall: Here again by the minister’s amendment, which we are moving to delete, we are leaving uncovered an entire category of workers under this bill. If you intend to cover them at some future date, or some portion of them, then let’s see it in the bill with the dates in it -- as it was with the bill that came from the committee last January which stated when all workers in this province should be covered.
There is no way, having the experience which took place from last January until now, that we can trust anyone over there in terms of who and what might be covered some time in the future under this bill, absolutely no way. If there is any way you’re going to do it, then get it written here in the bill. Your legal draughtsmen have had since January to do it. We’ll accept no sort of statements at their face without an amendment right in this act as to when they are to be covered, because of the history with respect to this bill in particular.
Getting to the heart of the matter, Mr. Chairman, as to whether or not farmers and the farm place should be included, even some of the Conservative members on the committee that sat last January voted for inclusion of farmers under this section. Eighty per cent of the farm workers are employed by 10 per cent of the farmers in this province; and those agrifarms, as they’re now quickly becoming, give no health and safety protection for those workers.
We could run through all sorts of statistics and so on. I don’t particularly want to take up the time of the committee this morning to do that on the situation as it relates to farm workers in this province, except to point out the one statistic which I find very interesting, farmers and farm workers in West Germany are covered, but in the year prior to their coverage, in 1969 or 1970, there were 170 deaths in the farm community in West Germany. Last year there were 50. That is the difference which a health and safety bill of this kind can make, and will make, to those engaged in farming in this province and there is no excuse for their not being included.
We know full well there are various members of this House, not this Minister of Labour, nor I think the former one, but other members who went around the farm community in this province, trying to spread stories of what type of coverage one might have and what might occur if farmers were covered under this bill, talking in terms of everyone walking out of the cherry orchard at fruit-picking time. They certainly didn’t want that, and all kinds of concerns came in last spring. The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) was engaged in some sort of similar exercise himself in which he raised that sort of spectre to the farmers of the province.
This was not the way in which the farm groups were expected to be covered, nor the type of action they would take. Forgetting completely that the right to refuse is an individual action, among farm workers in particular one would never see a collective action being taken with respect to health and safety, yet there are so many unsafe conditions on farms in the province of Ontario in terms of the safety of a not very well paid, overworked group of people in the province of Ontario who need the protection of this particular bill.
When we come to exclusions this government seems to often pick the most defenceless people to not extend coverage of good legislation to. Here we have legislation which could make quite a difference to health and safety in the farm work place and we exempt them. The spectre has often been raised that with every sort of minor repair which the farmer may want to do on his farm, put one board or two on the chicken run, a construction inspector would have to be brought in in order to see whether it was safe.
That was not what was ever intended by the inclusion of farmers in this bill. The government has had almost 11 months since the legislation emerged from the committee to write any particular and different regulation that would apply to the farm community, and any way which those unreasonable situations which were being talked about in the farm community by some members of this House could be rectified by regulation, and the ministry has failed to do so.
I won’t go on at any greater length on this, Mr. Chairman, except to say that with the emergence of agribusiness in this province this is one group we feel very strongly should most certainly be covered by all of the health and safety provisions that are here in this act with whatever special set of regulations would be required for the bill to operate for those whose work place often looks different from the work places of most other workers in this province. A regulation speaking to the kind of work place and perhaps difference in the wording with respect to posting might be required in a few other areas, but in no way should this group of workers be left uncovered.
Mr. Gaunt: I just want to make a few very brief comments with respect to this particular matter, coming as I do from a rural and agricultural riding. I know my colleague from Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) will be addressing this particular matter in greater length, but I just wanted to say that I happen to agree with the provisions of the bill as it currently stands. Farming, I think we have to recognize, is a very different kind of industry. I am not saying that farm workers should be excluded permanently from the provisions of this bill. What I am saying is there are problems peculiar to the farming industry which do not apply to any other industry. I think we have gone through the arguments with respect to the problems as they apply to the farming industry if farm workers were included under the provisions of the bill.
As I understand it, there’s a committee being set up -- or perhaps it’s already constituted, I don’t know; in any event, the committee would study the best methods whereby farm workers could be gradually brought under the terms of the bill. I believe the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is going to have membership on that committee and I support that approach. But to do it at this time without full consideration of all the unusual circumstances that apply to farm workers would in my view be wrong. So I would take the position the work of the committee should be done first and then farm workers could be brought under the terms of the bill in a gradual and staged fashion.
Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Chairman, in supporting the amendments put forward by the member for Windsor-Sandwich, I would like to say a few things with regard to this. I, too, have some rural area in my riding and I know there are people working out there who are not farmers themselves; they are employees of farmers. I think basically this is the major concern.
I can well understand the difference. I think both a farmer and his wife are in a position where they are both an owner and an employer, and they work probably as hard or in some cases harder than the employee. Those I can understand not wanting the coverage. However, by the same token, we do have in the province many persons who are employed as farm help. Certainly they should be getting the kind of protection this bill offers to the other workers in the province.
In 1977, there were 2,100 claims laid before the Workmen’s Compensation Board as a result of farm accidents, and these are not my figures. These are figures that have been quoted by Michael Starr, the chairman of the compensation board. That amounted to a total payment of $5.5 million from the compensation board to persons who had been injured while employed as farm help in Ontario.
Mr. Starr says: “I suggest to you the farming industry is far too important to this province to permit such an accident rate and such a bill in terms of human suffering.” I would suggest to you, Mr. Minister, that by leaving farm people out of this bill you are in no way offering them the kind of protection that would reduce the number of accidents within the farm community and reduce the cost to the people of Ontario.
I suggest to you most strongly that you reconsider your position on this section. Give it some very serious thought, and if you do intend to do something with the people in the farm community, do it now, not sometime down the road. I never know where that road is going to end, nor do they, so I would suggest you take some action now and accept the amendment from the member for Windsor-Sandwich.
Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Chairman, I want to direct my question to subsection 2: “Except as may be described and subject to the conditions and limitations described in this act or part thereof, does not apply to farming operations.” I too am concerned about when you are going to bring it in by regulation. I would like to know specifically when we can expect the regulations to cover farming operations.
My main concern is that while we talk about farming operations, there are other types of industry within farming communities that are classed as farm operations and shouldn’t be. For example, we have two businesses in the township of Wainfleet exporting peat. It is considered an agricultural process, but the safety protection in that industry does not apply today. It does not come under the Ministry of Labour; it comes under no government agency whatsoever. That is one area.
Another example is golf courses across the province of Ontario. The employees in golf courses are considered under agricultural farm land operations, which shouldn’t be. It is a different type of operation altogether. Golf courses are a big operation today.
I suggest these persons should be included in this bill and not considered as farm operators whatsoever. It is a business. I don’t have to tell you about the risks on the golf course. If any of those persons are working on the course, they are liable to get hit with a golf ball. There is quite a risk there. I suggest this should be taken into consideration under the present act.
Mr. Riddell: I want to speak briefly to this section of the act, although maybe in a little more detail than my colleagues. I disagree with my colleague the member for Erie, but I do appreciate the concern he and the NDP have over the safety conditions under which employees of farm owners work. There is no question there are a number of farm accidents, but as my colleague from Huron-Bruce indicated, the problems that face farmers are entirely different from the problems that face those in other industries. We were just discussing this a few minutes ago and my colleague to the left said, “Let’s hear what some of these peculiar problems are.” I will indicate some. The new act, Bill 70, would force farmers to submit plans for all construction to the Ministry of Labour for approval. If the farmer had help in the construction and did not do this, he could be fined up to $25,000, face imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both. Now who in the world is going to do the farm work --
Ms. Gigantes: What are you reading from?
Mr. Riddell: -- if somebody can come along and find a farmer repairing his fence -- his cattle are running down the road and he is repairing his fence -- ask him if he has submitted plans in order to do so; and when the farmer says, “No, I didn’t have time to do it,” he can end up paying a fine of $25,000 or spend 12 months in jail.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s a ridiculous argument.
Mr. Riddell: Maybe it is a specious argument, but --
Mr. Martel: Specious is not the word, that doesn’t describe it.
Mr. Deans: Are you going to answer this or not, because that’s not what the bill does.
Mr. Riddell: Under Bill 70, construction includes, “the erection, alteration, repair, dismantling, demolition, structural maintenance, painting, land clearing, earth moving, grading, excavating, trenching, digging, boring, drilling blasting or concreting, the installation of any machinery or plant and any work undertaken in connection with a project.” Everything is included there. If a farmer decides he wants to go out and put an addition on his building because he has some extra sows that are going to be farrowing and he has to get them into a building right away, what does he do? Does he submit plans and wait for approval and in the meantime the sows have farrowed out in the snowdrift and he’s lost all his pigs? We have to use a little bit of reason here.
Mr. Deans: What’s the alternative? Does he have someone working in unsafe conditions?
Mr. Riddell: Let me carry on. Further concern is voiced over the regulations drafted to accompany the bill, however there is disagreement over their interpretation. One regulation reads: “Rubbish, debris and other materials shall not be permitted to fall freely from one level to another.”
Mr. Deans: Well, why should it?
Mr. Riddell: If that is taken literally, hay could be “other material” and could not be dropped freely from the mow to the first floor.
Mr. Martel: They have really scratched the bottom of the barrel, I want to tell you.
Mr. Riddell: How in the world do you get your hay from the second floor of the barn down to the first floor of the barn where you have to feed your cattle?
Mr. Deans: People like you carry it in their arms.
Mr. Riddell: Another regulation reads:
“Where a fall into water or other liquid that is deep enough for a life jacket to be effective may occur, a life jacket shall be worn.”
“The generally accepted depth for a drowning to occur is four feet” says Grant Wallace, director of the field service for OFA; so be realizes that if the farmers come under this bill and they happen to be working around their farm pond or around their manure pit -- and most farmers these days do have manure pits of some kind -- they are going to have to be wearing a life-jacket. Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous in all your life?
We could go on and talk about some of these problems that are peculiar to the farming industry. I hope I have convinced my friends to the left here that we made the right move in getting this section out of the bill.
Mr. Deans: So that is what you were going to do, eh?
Mr. Riddell: We shouldn’t even have to be discussing this. The reason I say that is, when this bill was down in committee --
Mr. Cassidy: We wouldn’t be if you hadn’t backed away.
Mr. Riddell: -- the Liberals moved to exclude the farming industry.
Mr. Pope: After you moved to include it.
Mr. Riddell: We know we weren’t going to get the support of the NDP, because they just don’t understand farming. That’s understandable because there is not a member over there who has probably even been on a farm, let alone worked on a farm.
Mr. Deans: I beg your pardon.
Mr. Martel: I’ve got a stone farm in my front yard.
Mr. Riddell: I had hoped that Conservative members, particularly the member for Middlesex (Mr Eaton) who happens to live on a farm, would have supported our amendment. But no, he voted against it. In other words, he wanted the farmers included in the bill.
Mr. Watson: Come on.
Mr. Sterling: Come on, that is the biggest bit of rubbish I have ever heard.
Mr. Pope: Tell the truth.
Mr. Sterling: Tell the truth, you put it out.
Mr. Riddell: I am. After the farmers --
Mr. Pope: Never mind taking cheap shots at the member for Middlesex. You have been playing games with it all the way through.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Riddell: After the farmers approached Mr. Eaton and said, “Look, what are you doing, trying to get us into this bill?” He tried to make excuses. You know what he was going around saying? He was saying the reason he voted to have the farming industry included in the bill was because the former minister wanted some of the other industries out. So unless we went along with getting some of these other industries out he wasn’t going to support us in getting the farming industry excluded from the bill.
Mr. Pope: Put it on the record what really happened.
Mr. Riddell: Isn’t that kindergarten mentality?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Riddell: That has to be kindergarten mentality.
Mr. Pope: You ought to know.
Mr. Riddell: It takes me back to my days when we used to play marbles. I would say, “I’ll give you one of my marbles, if you give me one of yours.” Surely this isn’t the way government operates.
Mr. Pope: You know what I said about your positions?
Mr. Riddell: All right, let me get down to more serious matters here.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am glad you said that.
Mr. Riddell: I am pleased the minister listened to reason when we in the Liberal Party --
Mr. Pope: Oh, come on.
Mr. Riddell: -- and when the farm organizations -- particularly the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Ontario Farm Safety Association and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association -- explained to the minister the fallacy of including the farming industry holus-bolus in this bill.
Mr. Pope: They explained to you first and you changed your mind.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Chairman, I’ve got a good speech here if they would only listen.
Because of the complexity of the farm work place, weather conditions, the seasonal nature of agricultural work, extended hours during peak periods, machinery and equipment designed and manufactured to different standards for agriculture than for the same equipment used in industry; and the fluctuating number of workers involved with the inherent job training problem --
Mr. Martel: That is why they need protection.
Mr. Riddell: -- agriculture requires special consideration in the development of occupational health and safety legislation.
Mr. Cassidy: So let’s see a commitment to get it.
Mr. Riddell: We in the Liberal Party do not think that occupational health and safety legislation should not apply to the agricultural industry, but for the reasons I have mentioned we believe the legislation should make provisions for standards of safety by regulation. Alternatively, we believe separate legislation should be developed which is exclusive to agriculture.
Mr. Sterling: Exactly what the former Minister of Labour wanted to do.
Mr. Riddell: Why didn’t she proceed?
Mr. Sterling: Because you changed it.
Mr. Riddell: Oh no; I tried to get it out of there. It was my colleagues to the left who were adamant about getting farming included.
Mr. Sterling: It was your motion.
Mr. Riddell: No, no; it was our motion to get them out of there. Let’s face the facts.
Mr. Sterling: It was your motion.
Mr. Handleman: What a champion flip-flopper you are.
Mr. Pope: Now you have flip-flopped; now you are obscuring it all.
Mr. Riddell: Such legislation in its initial stages at least should cover only such things as personal protective equipment, guarding and shielding of machinery, and rollover protection for tractors. The request of agricultural operators was that agriculture, the largest primary industry in Ontario, must accept one of the six public seats on the council which management and labour are allocated. In other words this is the advisory council which I understand is going to be established, am I right?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: We are going to have discussions about it.
Mr. Riddell: It was my understanding there was some order in council setting up an advisory council, and I was just going to mention a little bit about the --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, there already is an advisory council to the minister on occupational health and safety which has farm representatives, and there is an agricultural advisory council, and it may be necessary to establish a committee to review other matters related to the needs of the farming industry, if that is what the member is referring to.
Mr. Riddell: Then agriculture requires an educational development approach to the application of any Occupational Health and Safety Act, and from this point of view, and again I may be wrong, we support the order in council providing for an occupational health and safety advisory council, provided that agriculture is assured of a continuing seat on the advisory council, and provided that an advisory committee is established to assist and advise the minister on agriculture matters.
I believe the OFA request, along with the Farm Safety Association of Ontario and the OFVGA, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, was that agriculture, the largest primary industry in Ontario, must accept one of the six public seats on the council, while management and labour are allocated 12 seats. This one public seat, now filled by an agricultural person, must continue to be filled by an agricultural person and further, that a person with technical expertise, along with an agricultural background, be allowed one public seat.
Regarding advisory committees, I appeal to the minister to move quickly to appoint an agricultural advisory committee on occupational health and safety.
Finally, I must say that there is a growing need for research in agricultural safety. Considerable research is and has been carried on in other industries regarding occupational health and safety, and I believe the Minister of Labour must immediately initiate research in order to effectively implement any agricultural occupational health and safety act.
The fact of the matter is, we believe that there should be some kind of occupational health and safety legislation for farmers, but they cannot be included in this bill, and I certainly commend the minister for excluding the farming industry for the time being, and hopefully bringing it in either by regulation or by completely separate legislation.
Please pass my remarks along to the member for Middlesex. I am sure he will support me in my endeavours this time.
Mr. Deans: I never heard so much nonsense in all my life.
Mr. Riddell: Okay, you tell us all about it.
Mr. Deans: No, I am not going to tell you all about it. I have been trying for as long as you have been here to help you and I haven’t succeeded yet. I am not going to waste my last two days on you.
Mr. Riddell: I am pretty selective when I take my advice from somebody.
Mr. Deans: I want to tell you something though. I have never heard such eloquent pleading of special interest in my life. The points you make are absolutely nonsense. You are assuming, to begin with, that people don’t understand their responsibilities and that they are not going to do their job properly. You can’t draw a distinction between employees of one group and employees of another group. The farm industry is a hazardous industry; a very hazardous industry. It is hazardous not only in terms of the machinery that is used, it is hazardous in terms of all of the chemicals that are used.
If there was to be a group of workers that deserves to be given immediate coverage then surely people in this industry deserve that more than any other that I can think of. I don’t know how you can say that some people in the province of Ontario are entitled to protection and other people aren’t. I don’t know how you draw that kind of a distinction; how you say that some people are class triple A and others are only A. That is what you are saying.
You are saying that employees in the farm industry are somehow of lesser importance, that theft protection is not as important as the protection of other people.
Mr. Riddell: Tell your story to the farmers.
Mr. Deans: No, I’m telling you the story, because you were pleading the case.
Mr. Martel: You should have some guts.
Mr. Deans: I don’t have to tell my story to the farmers. The farmers are no different from any other employers and the farmers don’t want to have to cover their employees under an act like this. Neither does the mining industry.
Mr. Martel: No, they didn’t beg to get in.
Mr. Deans: They don’t want to cover their employees in the Steel Company of Canada, I’m sure, under this legislation -- or anywhere else for that matter. They don’t want to be bothered with this kind of legislation. If governments hadn’t forced this on employers people would still be working in the most disgusting, dangerous conditions that existed a 100 years ago. So you should not start telling me now, in 1978, that somehow or other there is some unique set of circumstances applicable only to farmers, and that they somehow or other are to be given special privilege and allowed to have their workers work in other than safe conditions because we’re not able to come up with a regulation or legislation that adequately protects them. Such would be an abdication of our responsibility.
I don’t understand how we can stand, in December of 1978 -- given all the time this legislation has been before not only the committee, but before the government, the cabinet and all of the other interested bodies -- and say we are unable to come up with a suitable wording to cover these employees in the province. If you want to tell me that somehow, if the person who works in the farming community loses his hand it’s not as important as someone who works in a machine shop losing his hand, then get up and tell me that.
The example you use of the fixing of the fence, and the cattle trotting off down the road -- honest to God, you don’t really expect me to think that makes sense.
Mr. Riddell: I thought it was a fine example.
Mr. Deans: You tell me that there you are looking at your building and you discover all of a sudden in a flash that you’ve got to put an addition on today because you’ve got some sows that are going to run out into the snow, you don’t -- oh come on, come on.
Did you really believe that farmers were going to have to wear life-jackets?
Mr. Riddell: That’s what the bill says.
Mr. Martel: Jesus, you’re sick.
Mr. Deans: I mean that kind of argument is not worthy of the Legislature.
What I’d like you to tell me is this: how do you in the ministry make the decision that some people’s lives are worth less than others? How do you make that distinction? How do you determine that one employee working for this sector of the economy is somehow of less value than some other employee in terms of the protection that should be afforded to him? I don’t know how you do that. I don’t know how you can claim such a thing.
There’s no question the farming community, unique as it is, does different things from other segments of the economy. But they are still employees, they are still required to operate machinery, they’re still required to work outside, they’re still required to lift and to haul, they’re still required to deal with any number of chemical processes that can be harmful to their lives. How the devil do you draw the distinction between them and say they don’t need protection because somehow or other the farmer will treat them fairly?
My colleague just a moment ago was arguing that the farmer will take advantage of his employees; because the farmer is not required to do what other people are required to do he was saying the farmer will take advantage of his employees. I don’t believe that. Neither do I believe the farm employees will in one way or another be vindictive or stupid in the way in which they go about their work.
Mr. Minister, please tell me if you can, how you propose to explain to the widow of the dead farm worker that we didn’t really have to cover him in his circumstances because after all that was a unique job.
Mr. Riddell: On a point of privilege: I used some examples about which my colleague who has just spoken made rather light. I simply want to indicate that those examples were the very same examples used by the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in his many speeches across this country. So if you think they are light examples you talk to him.
Mr. Deans: On the point of privilege, let me tell you this, that if the Ontario Federation of Agriculture president used those, he is as stupid as you are.
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Language unbecoming.
Mr. Gaunt: Unfair shot.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of leaving farmers out of this particular regulation. I would certainly like to say to the House, and to the member for Wentworth in particular, that as a farm employer representing quite a number of farmers, and having gone through quite a few chairs in the agricultural political field, I can say there isn’t a farm leader I know of, and I know most of them, who isn’t concerned about his farm workers or who does not wish to see them at the appropriate time included in a farm safety situation It’s just not fair to say that we are not concerned about our farm workers.
Mr. Young: Nobody said that.
Mr. Deans: I didn’t say workers.
Mr. McGuigan: It sounded that way to me.
Mr. Martel: You should have wakened up a little earlier and listened carefully.
Mr. McGuigan: I employ about 30 farm workers and I am probably one of those in the group that was referred to, the 10 per cent who employ 80 per cent of the farm workers. I want to point out to you that most of those hired farm people, seasonal people, are hired in the labour intensive fruit and vegetable industry and most of these people are not in a machinery situation. They are mostly fruit pickers, thinners, harvesters of fruits and vegetables and the associated crops, and you can verify this by looking at your Workmen’s Compensation Board rates where they put a much lower rate on people working in that industry. Most of these people are in the non-dangerous situations.
When you come to the dangerous situations -- and there are many, I certainly admit this -- largely the farmer and his family who have the experience and the ability do these jobs and they simply do not trust the spraying of very dangerous chemicals or the operation of very dangerous equipment to inexperienced people. They love their farm workers as much as you love industrial workers. They do.
Mr. Deans: Don’t do that. That was the argument they used in the 1800s. For Christ’s sake, we love you, we love you.
Mr. McGuigan: They depend upon these people and they respect them and they work with them year after year after year. When you come to the business of chemicals, and I am certainly involved in the business of chemicals being in the fruit business, we wear protective clothing. We wear masks. We wear gloves. We wear boots. We follow the instructions in the booklets from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food which tell us under what conditions to use these and they tell us the number of waiting hours or days that must be in the interval between the use of the chemical and the harvesting or working within the orchard situation or the vegetable field situation or whatever it may be.
We follow those things because we know just how dangerous those chemicals are and, to get down to the legality of it, if one were not to follow those instructions you lay yourself open to very dire and I must say deserved consequences. When it comes to the matter which my friend from Huron-Middlesex was speaking about, the practicality of working on a farm, we just do not want people from an industrial setting under a largely industrial act, coming in and telling us how to operate our system. This happened in the United States under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The example that we used was a particular booklet or instruction sent out to people working in cattle barns. Somebody wrote instructions for people to watch where they step. It may sound like a pretty good piece of advice to watch where you step in the cattle barn, but farmers found it pretty amusing and pretty ridiculous.
Mr. Young: The minister would never do that here.
Mr. McGuigan: No, I don’t think so. They found it pretty ridiculous and one of the results of all of this was that it set back farm safety. People said, “This is so ridiculous, we won’t pay much attention to it.” It set farm safety back a number of years. I would say to you, Mr. Chairman, and to our friends on the left who share our concern and with whom we share concerns about farm workers, we are not opposed to bringing farm workers into a safety act, but we want an agricultural workers safety act and we want to see it administered by people who know something about the subject.
Mr. Martel: I have listened very carefully this morning to find out why you don’t want farmers covered. I am still waiting. I want to remind you when we started the push for safety in 1968 or 1969 that precipitated the Ham royal commission in Elliot Lake, we heard all the claptrap we have heard this morning.
We heard it all, I tell you, we heard it all: Bastiani from Denison loved his workers. You wouldn’t believe it. They were dying of cancer but he loved them, and he and the government of Ontario hid the fact. They hid the facts on us. We couldn’t get the data, we couldn’t get a thing. It was a disaster, but they loved their workers and they were doing the proper thing.
I tell my friend, I recall getting a letter in a brown envelope one day. It involved a number of representatives from the Ministry of Labour; they had been with the ministry involved with mines. It said: “You had better lay charges this time, because the minister will have difficulty answering if Martel finds out.” That was a reference to the then Minister of Mines and Northern Affairs. That was the letter one of his staff wrote to the office here in Toronto. They loved the employees too.
An hon. member: Who was the minister then?
Mr. Martel: Leo Bernier. They loved the employees. They all loved them but then they wrote and said they had better do this, not because the act was violated but because the minister would have difficulty answering in the House. You see, I am cynical. I could show you files a foot thick on this sort of nonsense over the past eight or nine years.
Don’t tell me that farm workers are a unique group. None of us worked on a farm; hurrah. I wasn’t a miner either; but I know about health and safety there. I wasn’t a miner so I couldn’t understand the problems encountered by miners, could I? I could just isolate myself and ignore it, and I didn’t have a right to say anything about it. I wasn’t a miner. What a lot of drivel.
A member shouldn’t get up and speak on half the bills in this Legislature, because he or she doesn’t work in that field. Is that what you are saying to us? We don’t understand?
I have heard absolute garbage, but let me read what your literature is in the Sault for today’s election. I just happened to pick it up when I was there the other day. You talk about chutzpah. It says here, “The Liberal member has moved a number of major amendments designed to strengthen the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The amendments are” -- get this one -- “the expansion of coverage to include all non-agricultural employees.” How’s that for a good line? Because how are you going to vote today?
And then the other line, “including public servants.” That’s your literature last week. And you know whose picture is on the front? The leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario, Stuart Smith.
You guys are the phoniest, most hypocritical group of characters I have ever come across in my life.
Mr. O’Neil: Settle down now, Elie.
Mr. Gaunt: Elie, you must have been out late last night.
Mr. Martel: There’s your literature; you are going to include all non-agricultural employees and the civil servants. Can you imagine that?
Mr. Sterling: Don’t be so easy on them.
Mr. Mackenzie: Watch how they vote today.
Mr. Martel: Watch today how they vote. As I said several weeks ago in this House, they’re going to suffer hernias before the day is over. They are going to have to straddle the fence and they’re going to slip.
Mr. Pope: I like the other one better.
Mr. Martel: This is without a doubt the craziest group I have ever seen. I couldn’t change that frequently.
So let’s talk about agriculture.
Mr. Gaunt: It takes one to know one.
Mr. Martel: It’s your literature, it isn’t mine, Murray. It is your literature. You used it in the Sault last week and you’re using it in the Sault this week. And now you’re saying we’re going to cover everybody but agricultural workers. That’s a great piece of literature, isn’t it?
Mr. Riddell: We’re still in second place and soon to be in first.
Mr. Martel: You won’t even get 10 per cent of the vote today.
Mr. Riddell: You wait and see, we may surprise you.
Mr. Martel: You would. I want to go back to the --
Mr. Riddell: With that nonsense you can’t make an impact there now.
Mr. Martel: No, I just want to throw on the record the hypocrisy of their position, depending on where you’re at. Include all workers; we’ll see before the day is over.
Mr. Laughren: Stop hedging, Elie. Tell us what you really think.
Mr. Martel: I want to know from the minister, first, how many people were killed in the agricultural industry last year. I think it was 14. I could be wrong, but maybe he could confirm that for me. I think it’s important.
Mr. Riddell: Tell us whether it was employees or farm owners.
Mr. Martel: It doesn’t matter, a life is a life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the owner or the employee, you have only got one life.
Mr. Riddell: The owners aren’t covered under this.
Mr. Martel: And if you have your way neither would the employees be covered; because they are second-class citizens as far as you are concerned. You love them, but you don’t believe they’re entitled to protection.
Mr. Riddell: Yes; they still have to get up at five o’clock in the morning and do the chores.
Mr. Mackenzie: That’s why you love them, they get up at five for you.
Mr. Riddell: Well they have to.
Mr. Martel: I also want to know how to protect them against chemicals. I want to know immediately how that is going to be done. We have talked over the years about new types of chemicals and exposure to those chemicals. I want to know how, come this spring, all workers in the agricultural industry are going to be protected to ensure they are not exposed to chemicals. We’re going to protect workers who produce those chemicals but are not going to protect the class of people who utilize them, in many instances. I want to know how we are going to protect those people from over-exposure to chemicals.
Mr. McGuigan: They are protected by law at the present time.
Mr. Martel: What law?
Mr. McGuigan: The law governing pesticides.
Mr. Chairman: Will the honourable member please address the chair and disregard interjections.
Mr. Martel: Yeah? Well, how are we going to protect people in the chemical industry? How can we be assured? You tell me they’re protected, I want to know how you can be so sure that all workers are protected. We had assurances from the former ministry of mines over the years, before they were transferred to the Ministry of Labour, that they were protected. The guys I knew, the 47 or 48 who died, who contracted cancer in the sintering plant, thought they had protection too. My friend from Erie knows that.
Mr. McGuigan: There hasn’t been an agriculture person killed in the history of pesticide control.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. Mackenzie: What was that again?
Mr. Martel: But my friend from Erie knows, as he has had some of the problems in Port Colborne, as I have, that many people died. We weren’t aware that some of the things that were going to kill them would in fact do that -- the old sintering plant, the problems he has.
Who protects the agricultural worker? That’s what we’re concerned about.
So we don’t understand all the unique problems. Every industry has got its own unique problems. Every one of them, it doesn’t matter what it is. There are going to be problems unique to each type of industry, so to say that we don’t understand is garbage.
Maybe we don’t understand the intricacies but we know a hazard is a hazard and one protects people against the hazard. It’s as simple as that.
As my friend from Wentworth says, if you lose your hand in agriculture or you lose your hand in a shop, what’s the difference? you’ve lost your hand. Someone there should get up and give me a decent example of what you’re really frightened of. Don’t give me this stuff about building a barn in winter.
Mr. Riddell: There is a lot of building construction in winter.
Mr. Martel: I’m sure they have, but it wasn’t on the spur of the moment the day that the mother was giving birth. Was that the day you decided to build the barn? Jesus, give me one example that makes sense. As for wearing a safety belt while you’re shovelling manure, there was a lot of that shovelled around this morning already, and none of you had safety belts on.
Mr. Riddell: And it’s still coming.
Mr. Martel: I don’t know how you were entitled to stand there in your place without your safety belt on.
Mr. Riddell: If I’d known when you were going to speak I would have brought a shovel along.
Ms. Martel: I want to tell you I’ve heard it all. You haven’t put forth a solid reason yet why agricultural employees should be excluded from the act. If you are so much concerned about their health and you love them so much, you’d want them protected. You’d want to guarantee them the protection of the act so that they too would have the same sort of protection and coverage that other employees in this province would have.
I am sorry. I am a little more cynical maybe than my friend from Wentworth. I don’t think it’s all you’ve suggested it is. I think the agricultural community is resisting any change as did the mining industry and as has every other sort of industry. No one wants the act; no one has come willingly. I don’t know anyone in industry who came forward on its own and said; “Look, we’ve got to have this kind of act in the province of Ontario.”
I tell you I was involved in the cancer stuff in Sudbury. I was involved heavily in Elliot Lake. My colleagues and the former leader of the party have been involved with the asbestos problems. I don’t know one place where anyone came forward on their own to volunteer to be part of a health and safety scheme. They all resisted. They all came kicking, screaming and dragging their feet. None of them wanted it.
So you know what it’s going to do? Five years from now we’ll look back on it, I suggest to you, once we put health and safety in place in this province so that the employees and the employers together work out health and safety programs, we’ll look back and see that the number of accidents will be greatly reduced in this province. What we’re seeking to do by this act is to ensure wherever possible we minimize or reduce the incidence of accidents. That will only come about when people work together. I started saying that when I started criticizing the mining companies when I first came in in 1967.
When we get this act in place; when workers, with their employers, formulate policy whereby they will work under conditions which they haven’t in the past, we will start to see accidents reduced; then and only then. That’s the purpose of the act, really.
To exclude people, I’m sorry to say to my friend the minister, is nuts. Our intentions should be to cover everyone; and by regulation if you want. I worry about doing it by regulation, but we have a statutory instruments committee now that will look at the regulations to ensure that regulations don’t violate the intention of an act. By regulation we could put into this act, or as part of this act, regulations to cover every special interest group in terms of what the policy should be. You could hire agricultural people to look after that part which could come in under regulation to look after the farming need. There is no need to exclude anyone if one really wants to include them.
They are self-centred interest groups who want to remain out, and I am not talking just particularly of agricultural groups. I would include everyone in an act, and then I would work on regulations -- for firemen, that they can’t leave the scene of a fire, and a similar regulation regarding policemen. I could put together various parts of regulations that would cover every group of employees in the circumstances that are, as my friend might say, unique to their own particular field. We shouldn’t exclude them. We should involve them, and then bring in regulations which cover their unique situations.
Mr. Riddell: What’s wrong with having separate legislation for them?
Mr. Martel: What is the difference? We can separate down the road two years from now or we can do it now, with regulations that could be brought forward in six months and designed and looked after by agricultural people.
We should bring them in now and, by regulation, tell them what it is that is expected in their community. Let’s get rid of all that garbage my friends gave us this morning, that you must have a master plan to build a fence. It is so irresponsible to talk like that; it really is.
Mr. Riddell: It’s under the bill.
Mr. Martel: No, that’s nonsense. I say to my friend, that is how you do it. You don’t exclude people; you bring them in, give them protection and cover the unique situations my friend talked about by the regulations which would apply to them. You don’t try to do what my friend is doing. As I say, in the literature that the Liberals put out in the Sault they are trying to pretend they are covering everybody except agricultural employees. They have even stated in there that they are going to cover civil servants; but today they will waffle and change their position, and they will vote to exclude a whole series of people in the civil service. It is unbelievable of them and it is dishonest.
Mr. Hennessy: Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that there are people in institutions about whom I am concerned also, and some people who work in the civil service --
Mr. Chairman: Order. The amendment actually before the House is in regard to agricultural workers.
Mr. Hennessy: With all due respect, the member for Sudbury East said the same thing, and I think more people should be included than there are now.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment to section 2 --
Mr. Chairman: I don’t have a copy of anything in front of me.
Mr. Sweeney: Do I have to write it out?
Mr. Chairman: Indeed.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, while you are waiting to get that straightened out. I want to rise on a point of order.
I was very concerned at what the member for Sudbury East said, particularly in connection with statements by the leader of the Liberal Party as a part of the by-election campaign in Sault Ste. Marie. I felt that the connotation he put on the words from the election pamphlet tended to be misleading, and for that reason I want to bring it to your attention further.
Although he did not table it, and I am quite prepared to table the pamphlet from which his reference came, it is a pamphlet signed by Stuart Smith, and it says as follows under “Occupational Health and Safety”: “Liberal members moved a number of major amendments designed to strengthen Bill 70, the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The amendments are (1) the expansion of coverage to include all nonagricultural employees, including public servants . . .” I stop quoting at this point to bring to your attention, Mr. Chairman, that this does not mean all of these groups have safety committees, which would mean hundreds of thousands of useless committees in offices, but it does not withdraw the people referred to in that section from coverage by the act.
Mr. Foulds: Safety conditions are useless, are they?
Mr. Cassidy: Useless safety conditions? What kind of attitude is that.
Mr. Nixon: “Compulsory health and safety committees where 20 or more workers are employed in industries, mines and construction projects -- ”
Mr. Cassidy: Why shouldn’t workers have a voice in their own environment?
Mr. Nixon: “ -- pretesting of new chemical substances prior to use in the work place; the removal of provisions which would have permitted employers to intimidate employees exercising rights under the act.”
I submit that our position has been consistent and strong. When we vote on the basis of those statements there will be no hypocrisy and nothing misleading --
Mr. Martel: We will see. We will see before the day is over.
Mr. Nixon: -- which I submit we approach very closely in this House today with the statements from the member for Sudbury East, a disgusting example.
Mr. Martel: We will see where you vote before this day is over.
Mr Nixon: You are prepared to do anything.
Mr. Foulds: To the point of order, Mr. Chairman, I’d like to point out the only thing consistent about the Liberal Party is its inconsistency.
An hon. member: Is that the best you can do?
Mr. Nixon: This is a great time for your contribution. Do you support the statement by your colleague that the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is stupid? Are you going to put your signature to that too?
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Mr. Foulds: The comments that he made on that --
Mr. Nixon: It came from one of your major spokesmen.
Mr. Foulds: It was a comparative statement.
Mr. Nixon: If you are not going to deal with the issues in the bill you are going to have to be prepared to defend yourself a little more effectively.
Mr. Deans: Point of privilege, if I may. My good friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk seems to think I said the president of the federation of agriculture was stupid. I didn’t. What I said was that if he made the statements attributed to him by the spokesman for the Liberal Party from Huron-Middlesex, they were both stupid.
Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Kitchener-Wilmot has an amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Sweeney moves that in section 3(2) as amended, in the first line, the word “may” be deleted and substituted with the word “shall.”
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, in both subsections 2 and 3, the intent as I understand it is that the agricultural workers in the one case and the teachers in second case clearly are going to be covered by subsequent legislation or subsequent regulations. I am concerned that the word “may” is a little bit too loose and the word “shall” is certainly the intent, as I understand it. So why not use the word which more precisely describes the intent?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If it will save time, it is quite agreeable to me to have the word “may” substituted with the word “shall” in my original amendment.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, speaking in favour of the amendment we have moved to section 3(2), I want the member for Huron-Middlesex to understand I acknowledge his expertise in both falling hay and manure pits.
Mr. O’Neil: What a thing to say.
Mr. Mackenzie: I also want to make it clear I think one of the unfortunate things about the debate over coverage of agricultural workers has been what I consider some of the dishonest statements that have gone around this province during the course of the past few months.
No one I know of in this party, and I suspect no one in the House, really thought the intent of the coverage of agricultural workers was to somehow or other -- as I saw in one release -- cause problems for a farmer who wanted to add a $6,000 extension to his pig pen or something else. It just didn’t make sense; it wasn’t the intent. Nor, in my opinion, was it the intent to interfere with the family farm operation.
I don’t know how the member can heap abuse on some of the regulations he was reading and then tell us that what protection we’re going to give farm workers should be done by regulation. That doesn’t make any sense to me either.
Mr. Foulds: And his colleagues make those regulations mandatory in this amendment.
Mr. Mackenzie: Maybe I’m still too naive, but I’m a little bit disturbed by the comments I heard from the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan). I think he speaks with sincerity about his own knowledge in his own area, and certainly he’s got expertise I don’t have in terms of the farm community, but considering most of us have worked a good deal of our life, as he has, and especially if you have gone through, even peripherally, any of the organizing battles or battles for protection my colleague mentioned at Elliot Lake or the steel mills or back in the General Motors days when they were trying to organize here in Ontario, to use the argument that workers really don’t need the coverage because we love our workers is almost sickening. What he is doing and what he is saying is we can’t give them the coverage because they would misuse it, they would make frivolous use of this kind of privilege.
Mr. O’Neil: He didn’t say that at all.
Mr. Mackenzie: And sure as blazes, you are putting down farm workers as far as I’m concerned. If he’s worried about some kind of an industrial safety inspector interfering or telling a farmer what he’s got to do on his farm, it makes sense to me, too, that you wouldn’t want that. I have already passed on a note to him, although at the time I did it lightly and I’ll do it a little more seriously now, that what in blazes would be wrong, in the course of setting up the inspection machinery that’s needed, to appoint two or three people who maybe worked as ag reps or have some background, as the inspectors. There is nothing at all wrong in at least giving the group knowledge, understanding and ability to work.
Mr. Martel: By regulation.
Mr. Mackenzie: By regulation; but connected with the farm community, I understand all of that. My problem, and I guess it is because I am a non-farmer, is I have difficulty understanding how you separate people as people and workers as workers, whether they’re in a farm operation, a store, a bank, or an industry factory. I really do have difficulty in separating them as workers.
My clear concern is why do we have to exclude the workers per se? We can get more specific than that. We can talk about some of the commercial farms, and there’s a growing number of them. We can talk about set periods of the year when you may have 20 or 30 or 40 employees in. Are they not entitled to this kind of protection, whether it be in orchards or tobacco farms; or you name it? Why should the workers who are involved in large numbers as workers, as employees in these operations, not have the same coverage as somebody else should have? The intent is to get to these people who are working as employees, not to get to the family farm or some of the stupid and ridiculous arguments that have made about how we’re going to interfere with an addition to a barn or something. That’s so much bloody hogwash it almost makes you want to puke. When are we going to get back to coverage for workers?
Mr. Kerrio: Some kind of style you have.
Mr. Mackenzie: Let’s get back to coverage of workers rather than some of these phoney arguments, because that’s what they are. You’re confusing a very serious issue in terms of employees with a lot of phoney arguments; it’s time we got away from that and got back to the coverage of working people. When you tell me they’ve got to go in at six o’clock and put in long days, surely you’re not telling me they’re not working people. I think they are. If you want to go the regulation route, exclude some of the things that are strictly the responsibility of the individual farmer or the small operator, do it that way; but don’t automatically exclude all the thousands of people who are involved. There have been sizeable numbers of deaths and injuries over the last two years in the agricultural community of Ontario.
I’d like a little more clarification on the point raised by the member for Erie. I don’t have expertise in this area, but I understand there are some operations and he mentioned one that should definitely be covered. I would like to have an answer on this. For example, the tobacco curing operations or some of the poultry plants; are these covered as factories or as plants, or are they under agriculture? What kind of coverage do we have in areas like the one that was mentioned? I’m not sure that you responded to that question from the member for Erie.
Mr. Riddell: I’d like to speak to the point of privilege because --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Are you raising a point of privilege?
Mr. Riddell: Yes, I’m on a point of privilege. The implication was that I was stupid inasmuch as I was using some stupid examples. I’m not going to refute for one minute the fact that one does tend to lose his sanity in this Legislature after having to listen to some of the claptrap to which we have been listening.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Will you speak to your point of privilege?
Mr. Riddell: I do take offence, Mr. Chairman, to the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture being called “stupid.” I would simply like to draw the attention of the people who made those statements to an article in Farm and Country, dated March 28, entitled Safety Bill Sparks Revolt. I just want to read the first paragraph:
“‘If new occupational health and safety legislation is passed, there would be a riot in the countryside,’ says Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Peter Hannam.” Then he went on and used the very three examples I used this morning.
Mr. Bounsall: You fed them to him.
Mr. Riddell: So I would think you would endorse your statement --
Mr. Kerrio: Asphalt farmers.
Mr. Riddell: -- that the president was “stupid.”
Mr. Kerrio: Asphalt farmers; what do they know about it?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: The member for Kent-Elgin.
Mr. Deans: No, I’m afraid I have to rise.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order. Are you rising to speak, or is this a point of privilege?
Mr. Deans: On a point of privilege: Let me be perfectly clear so no one misunderstands. I consider the arguments that have been made by the member for Huron-Middlesex today to be quite ridiculous, He attempted to say, and now is saying quite clearly, that he was quoting the president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. I still consider the arguments to be ridiculous.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: May I ask you what point of privilege are you raising?
Mr. Martel: What was his point of privilege?
Mr. Deans: I am answering my colleague who raised a point I raised earlier. All I am saying is this, if the federation of agriculture president believes those arguments are valid, then what I said about him and his colleague is true.
Mr. McGuigan: I would like to reply to the message from the member for Hamilton East. I don’t think there is anyone on this side of the House saying we would resist an agricultural labour safety act. We would not. We would, no doubt, have something to say about the provisions of it, but we would certainly not resist an act to cover agricultural people.
I think some of the arguments that have been made verify our point. The member talks about cancer in the mines, and we think it was deplorable that those people did not have protection. I would like to know what cancer situation we have in agriculture? We look at the chemicals which are used in agriculture and the very severe tests they are put to; the fact we have lost a number of very useful chemicals, the prime example, of course, being DDT. Under the federal Food and Drug Act these items are screened for their carcinogenic effect. They take a level, one-tenth of which produces some effects in animals. They then multiply that by 10 again to get a figure of one one-hundredth of the figure that has even the least effect upon test animals.
As far as I know, and I think I am reasonably accurate in this, there has not been a recorded case in Ontario of a farm worker or farmer being injured or killed by the use of farm chemicals. Certainly it is true they have to have very stringent safety regulations in the factory where these materials are used in their concentrated form and where the workers are exposed to them in long-term situations, but as we use them on the farm we use them in diluted solutions and at very infrequent intervals.
I mentioned earlier in debate one of the new programs of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. We have heard some threats that money will be withdrawn from that. It is the pest monitoring program whereby we only use chemical to combat an immediate threat, we no longer use the chemicals on a preventive basis.
Years ago, when we had poor materials and they were cheap, we used them on a preventive basis on the chance the pests might be there. Today when we use them in agriculture they are directed at a known target. I would like to see the members come up with examples of where people are being endangered in agriculture through the use of pesticides. It just illustrates the point that we are trying to make, that when you talk about the mine you simply don’t know what you are talking about when you are referring that experience to agriculture.
Mr. Van Horne: They won’t listen now, they are busy talking.
Mr. McGuigan: I know they are not going to listen, but their arguments illustrate our point. Quite naturally and as humanitarians, you are interested in the miners. We take our hats off to you, you have done great work. I think your party and your former leader will be known for great accomplishments in the matter of mine safety and the health of workers, particularly in the matter of respiratory-type diseases. But I tell you this situation doesn’t exist in agriculture, or if it exists it is well protected under the Food and Drug Act and under the Pesticides Act. I certainly want to dissociate myself from some of the remarks that have been made by the member for Hamilton East.
Mr. Kerrio: I hope he is a better fireman than a farmer.
Mr. Laughren: Because of this bill there is an expression going around the trade union movement these days. It’s in the form of a question. It asks: “What happens when you cross the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association with the new minister?” The answer is: “What you get is Bill 10 with these amendments.”
That’s what’s happening. We should make no mistake as to whose bill and whose amendments these are. This is a government bill with government amendments. The fact that the minister took legislation that was amended by committee and decided with his cabinet colleagues that in their collective, infinite wisdom it was not acceptable for the people of Ontario, despite the democratic decision of that committee speaks volumes to the arrogance of that cabinet.
From time to time in this chamber there comes before the members legislation which lays out in very stark terms the reality of the class system in Ontario. We need look no further than occupational health and safety legislation for an example. We have seen this for many years. The legislation that’s still in the province of Ontario in 1978 referring to servants is further evidence of that.
There are those who would refuse to admit this. They object to references, even, to the fact that there is a working class in Ontario in 1978. The people who object to that are people who either are in the upper class or aspire to be. Those are the people who object to the realization or the acceptance of a working class in the province of Ontario.
Surely it makes no difference whether a worker is in an unsafe condition in a mine, on a construction site or on a farm. There are administrative problems, and for that reason you decide to exclude farm workers. That’s simply, fundamentally and profoundly wrong. What I find particularly offensive about it is that you have excluded the group of people who are least able to mount an offensive against your act.
If there is any group of people in our society who are least able to organize, it’s the farm workers of this province. You have very carefully selected the people you could isolate, haven’t you. You would not do this to an organized group of workers in Ontario. You have decided that even among the working class there are levels; there are levels which you can isolate even among the working class, and that says something about your position as well.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You know that is a lot of bunk.
Mr. Martel: He’s a country farmer himself.
Mr. Laughren: I do not like to personalize debates, but I want to tell you, despite what --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Watch it now; I might have to respond.
Mr. Laughren: -- you may think, I spent all my life on a farm until I left home. My father was a farm labourer almost all his working life, and I personally have seen some of the circumstances which require this kind of bill applying to farm workers and to farms. So I know a little bit whereof I speak. As a matter of fact, the reason I am a democratic socialist today is because of the way farm labourers are treated, and the way I saw my father treated. That is why I am a democratic socialist and I am proud of it.
The problems farmers face are different, as my colleague in the Liberal Party said; but so are the problems that farm workers face. You can’t have it both ways; if the problems that the farmers have are unique, so are the problems the farm workers have; that is no reason to exclude them from coverage.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Times have changed since you were a boy.
Mr. Laughren: I find it reprehensible and offensive that you have decided to isolate this group of workers. You knew they were easy pickings; that is why you did it.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: That’s nonsense.
Mr. Laughren: That is what I find so offensive. It is very clear too that you knew, despite what happened in the standing committee, you could count on others in this chamber to support these offensive amendments.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: You want air conditioning in the barns.
Mr. Laughren: That, too, is further evidence you realize that when it is to your advantage you can exploit the fact there is a class system in Ontario and isolate those people. It has been a very clear decision on your part.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: I feel sorry for you.
Mr. Villeneuve: You don’t understand farming; all phases of farming.
Mr. Laughren: I understand very well the problems of the farmers; and I understand the problems of the farm workers, despite what you might think.
Mr. Villeneuve: No, you don’t understand all phases of farming.
Mr. Laughren: I don’t expect I am going to convince you --
Mr. Villeneuve: You better live amongst them; don’t try to sell your ideas to them.
Mr. Laughren: This bill is designed to exclude people who need coverage, it is as simple as that; yet you tell me that the problems farmers would face in administering the act are sufficient reason to exclude farm workers.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: They don’t want any more legislation than this.
Mr. Laughren: Make no mistake about it, you have clearly picked your target and you have done it very cleverly.
Mr. Riddell: You are the one who is making the class distinction. Farmers are farmers are farmers, it doesn’t matter whether it is farmer or a farm worker.
Mr. Laughren: Yes, I certainly am.
Mr. M. Davidson: There is quite a difference.
Mr. Laughren: There is a big difference between a farmer and a farm labourer. I happen to know.
Mr. Riddell: We consider our employees to be farmers the same as the owners.
Mr. Foulds: And you give them a share of the farm, do you?
Mr. Riddell: You are the one making the class distinction.
Mr. Foulds: You give them a share of the land, do you, when the farm owner passes on?
Mr. Riddell: They sure get a share of the profits.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Roy: You want to nationalize farm land now?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Could I ask the honourable members to give their attention to the member for Nickel Belt?
Mr. Foulds: We’re for developing cooperatives, Albert.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Mr. Chairman, he is sowing the seeds of dissent.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Would the member for Nickel Belt please continue uninterrupted?
Mr. Laughren: I would love to, Mr. Chairman. I am trying not to be provocative.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: He is trying to find mythical classes.
Mr. Laughren: But I must say when we are dealing with a bill like this it is very difficult, because your intentions are so clear. Other groups in our society don’t have to fight for fundamental rights the way farm labourers have to.
Mr. Eaton: No farm labourer has to do a job that the farmer himself doesn’t do.
Mr. Villeneuve: That’s right.
Mr. Riddell: That’s right; I have to agree with you.
Mr. Laughren: If that is the case, why are you excluding them? What you are telling me is that farmers do unsafe work? Is that what you are telling me?
Mr. Eaton: Not at all.
Mr. Laughren: Because they do it the farm labourers should do it? That’s a pretty specious argument.
Mr. J. A. Taylor: They don’t want a band of bureaucrats breathing down their neck though.
Mr. Laughren: That’s a pretty sad argument. People should not work in unsafe conditions --
Mr. J. A. Taylor: Shouldn’t work according to you.
Mr. Laughren: -- and yet you have decided that a group of people will not have protection under this act; that is what you have decided.
Mr. Martel: You’ve never worked a day in your life, Taylor. You have been at the public trough all your life.
Mr. Laughren: Presumably this bill --
Mr. Villeneuve: Half of the country is unemployed and --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order. I would ask the honourable members to please desist from interjecting, we have a lot of amendments to deal with today. And would the member for Nickel Belt please continue and address the chair?
Mr. Laughren: Mr. Chairman, I shall try. Presumably the government believes that this bill will do the job as they wish to amend it.
If that’s the case, one has to ask why they have selected these groups in our society to be excluded from coverage. Presumably, it works for other groups. I haven’t heard any good arguments as to why it should not include farm workers. I have heard no good arguments whatsoever. I have heard arguments raised that are somewhat fanciful but I haven’t heard any substantive arguments as to why farm labourers should not be included. The point my colleague from Sudbury East made is one we should keep in mind, namely that in the long run the best interests of everyone will be served if everyone is covered.
That’s the point we have trouble getting through. It’s like in the construction or the mining industries. In the long run, not only will the conditions be better in the mines or on construction jobs and so forth, but the miners, the employers themselves, will be better off in the long run. We will not have high workmen’s compensation assessments against employers when they clean up their act and make it a safe place to work. The farmers should understand that too. It’s in their best long-run interests. It makes them more safety conscious.
What we are trying to do is establish a co-operative effort in the province to make working conditions safer. That’s what we are trying to do. This is a co-operative effort between workers and their employers and that’s why you are so fundamentally wrong to exclude any group of workers. You don’t seem to understand, or you do understand, in fact, that one group of workers can be excluded. I find it most offensive and I am surprised the minister would succumb to the lobbies that have been on his doorstep since this bill was reported from committee.
Mr. Sterling: Mr. Chairman, I felt a need to speak on this particular amendment because I think it’s extremely important. In terms of what actually went on last February in the committee which I sat on, and in terms of what is now being done in terms of this amendment, when we go back in history to what did happen in the committee, we found the Liberals put an amendment before the committee to include all work places. Prior to the vote being taken on that particular amendment, it was pointed out to the Liberals the intention of the Labour ministry, and the thrust of the approach the Labour minister was taking at that particular time was to include basically the industrial and the mining sectors within the statute or the embodied part of the bill. It was the intention to include other groups by regulation thereafter.
That was the thrust of our approach. I felt on that particular vote we were really determining the approach to the piece of legislation we were dealing with.
It was also explained in terms of how the bill was structured at that time that we were dealing in defining different situations in terms of work places. We were not dealing with particular professions. That amendment proposed by the Liberals was supported by the other opposition party, the NDP, and that all work places were to be included within the purview of the bill.
Next, we had an amendment placed by the Liberals to exclude all agriculturalists. As I said, again the argument was placed to the Liberal members of the committee that the bill was in fact structured on terms of work place. It wasn’t structured on terms of professions. No one really knew what agriculturalists meant. There was no definition within the bill of what it included, or what it did not include. It really had no meaning at all and it was impossible to support. That’s why that particular amendment was not supported by the members on this side of the Legislature who were sitting on the committee.
Mr. Eaton: It was hastily put together and poorly thought out.
Mr. Sterling: Now we have an argument being placed by the Liberal caucus in support of this amendment, that we want to take a different approach, that we want to include everybody and exclude one particular body or profession. They want to take credit on both ends of the scale, which is pretty difficult to do.
Mr. Bradley: You are telling stories over there.
Mr. Sterling: I submit that the argument which they supported in the committee was an approach to how we were going to deal with the whole situation.
Mr. Bradley: That’s the gospel according to the member for Middlesex.
Mr. Sterling: They voted to include all work places. Quite frankly, I would have thought, having come to this particular stage of the bill, that they would have supported what the New Democratic Party has proposed; that is, to take the agricultural people out by regulation. They can’t have it both ways.
Mr. Eaton: They try.
Mr. Sterling: They are arguing that this special group is different from everybody else in this province.
Mr. Kerrio: They’d better be different or we wouldn’t eat.
Mr. Sterling: In the committee, I supported the then Minister of Labour in her approach at that time, in that what we should have done was to name specific industries and manufacturing plants, and to work forward from there. I just cannot follow the argument -- and I agree with our NDP colleagues --
Mr. Bradley: You agree with the NDP?
Mr. Sterling: -- as to how the Liberals can support this amendment at this time. It may sound absolutely ludicrous for a member on this side of the House to say that. But the Liberals’ arguments are specious at this point in time, in view of what they did in the committee.
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Chairman, as an employer of farm people also, I would like to point out that farmers are a little different from other employers in that the wide majority of them only hire one or two people. In my own case, which is typical, I don’t want anything to happen to those workers for the main reason that there is no one to replace them. This makes us different from a factory or a mine where, if a worker were injured, someone would step right in and take his place.
On the farm, where you might only have one or two employees, you are really up against it; so you go to special lengths to see that these workers are well protected and in no way in danger of being hurt and off the job. For this reason, I feel that farmers are different from employers in other industries.
Mr. Eaton: Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak briefly to this, because I know a few things were said when I wasn’t in the House which were accusations about what I did on committee and so on.
I think the thing to be realized here is that farm people really don’t want to be excluded. The positions of the farm organizations have been put forth to be involved. They met with the Minister of Labour a number of times previously; they had worked out arrangements that would bring about regulations which would bring in the farm community. That was all agreed upon, it was part of the legislation that was put forth by the previous minister, and it was done in a good spirit of co-operation with the agricultural community.
It was only the mucking up of the amendments by the Liberal Party that left the bill in the position it was left in. You will recall the amendments that were brought in, Mr. Chairman, and in the great flap they got into they even had to adjourn the committee for a couple of minutes to try to figure out what they were going to do in the situation.
Mr. Roy: For a couple of minutes? Who are you criticizing now?
Mr. Eaton: I’ll tell you right now that --
Mr. Cunningham: Tell us right now.
Mr. Eaton: -- I support this amendment. I’ve always supported it. I supported the position that the federation took in the meetings that they had with the minister.
Mr. Bradley: You are not too happy with it.
Mr. Eaton: It is a constructive approach to it and it will proceed under this method. Farm workers and farm people themselves will be included under the legislation eventually and included properly. I think we should all support it. You people are going to support it because the positive position has been put forth again that we had originally.
Mr. Riddell: I’m glad you’re with us now.
Mr. Eaton: We were with the bill all along, the way it was proposed.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Eaton: It was you people that screwed it up and you know it.
Mr. Roy: Oh, that is unparliamentary.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Eaton: You just tried to wriggle your way out of it as you do with every other issue that you flip-flop on.
I support this amendment. We’ll see farm labour included and we’ll see farmers included eventually because that’s what they want.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Does the minister wish to respond?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I have just a couple of comments. The member for Erie asked me a couple of things about golf courses. I’d like to assure him that a golf course for the purpose of occupational health and safety is not a farm.
The member for Hamilton East made a special inquiry about tobacco curing. I think it’s very difficult at this time to give an exact answer. The usual understanding is that farming operations stop at the farm gate, and when processing starts, the nature of the operation changes. My best judgement would be that a curing operation would be a farming operation, but others might differ from that. I think that’s a matter that has to be settled by determination.
I do just once again want to make it clear that this act does not say farming operations shall be excluded. It simply indicated that they will be regulated in according to areas of hazard. That’s what everyone is really trying to say, once the rhetoric has gone, with due respect.
I do quite frankly take some exception to the views of the member for Nickel Belt regarding a class structure in this society and its relationship to this bill. I do not share that view and I’m certain that I speak for this government when I make that statement, and I want to make that very strongly and very sincerely. I ask that the Legislature support the amendments as I’ve introduced them.
Mr. Martel: I want to ask the minister if he could indicate to us how many people were killed in the farm industry last year? Do you have that material?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I am advised that during the year 1977 there were seven fatalities, but I’m unable to give the member the exact reason for the fatalities. While I’m on my feet I might just also indicate to all members that we already have in mind certain areas within the farming operations which will receive priority in our consideration, for example, the safety of equipment, protective clothing, toxic substances, respiratory disease, gassing accidents, such as in the silos, occupational animal diseases and probably noise as it relates to machinery. Those are areas that we’ll have to take a look at in the right priority. There is an intention to deal with areas of hazard, as all members have said.
Mr. Riddell: Just further to the question asked by the member for Sudbury East, you said there were seven or eight farm people killed. Could you tell me whether these were owners or employees?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I don’t know. All I do know is they were people covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Elgie has moved that section 3(2) shall read: “Except as may be prescribed and subject to the conditions and limitations prescribed, this act or part thereof does not apply to the farming operations.”
Mr. Bounsall has moved an amendment to the amendment that that section be deleted. Mr. Sweeney has moved that section 3(2) be amended by deleting the word “may” in the first line and substituting the word “shall” therefor.
We will first take Mr. Sweeney’s amendment to the amendment which is substituting the word “shall” for “may.”
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Mr. Bounsall’s amendment to the amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: On section 3, subsection 3, Mr. Minister, I propose there is (a), (b) and (c) and because of the indication from the members, I think we should take (a), (b), and (c) separately.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, with respect to section 3(3) dealing with the teaching profession in various categories, I would like first of all to be very clear, because I have heard some statements and I have received some letters about this matter. This government, and I suspect the whole Legislature has no desire, on our own momentum, to exclude anyone in the teaching profession from this legislation.
I would, however, like to make it very clear to members why this section was put in. It was put in very recently, to be quite frank with you. I would like, first of all, to read a letter addressed to me by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation quoting from the third paragraph and dated November 28:
“Would you be good enough to give consideration to exempting teachers from the terms of this bill on the understanding that the federation is prepared to pursue with the appropriate bodies, within an appropriate period of time, the necessity of a regulation for teachers?” Verbally, they indicated some time up to two years.
I might also say Mr. Bounsall was good enough to give me a copy of a letter addressed to him from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation which indeed says the same thing. It is a letter dated December 13:
“It would be most necessary and desirable, then, that a co-operative effort by the parties concerned should be made in the near future, and the results written into the appropriate legislation. Towards this end, the provincial executive of OSSTF recently accepted the position that teachers be exempted from the terms of Bill 70 for a definite term of two years pending development of suitable, relevant amendments and regulations. At the end of that term, however, and in the absence of alternative legislation, all teachers fall under this act.”
I would also like to introduce some comments from a letter addressed to me and dated December 12, from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and again reading from the fourth paragraph:
“Assuming no further amendments making special provisions for universities are contemplated in this act before it comes into force, OCUFA requests that university professors be exempted for a period of one year. Such an exemption would enable us to study the legislation and its impacts, consult with your ministry on provisions necessary to cover the unique circumstances of our members, and ensure that the legislation will work in the best interests of university professors.”
I would like simply to assure the Legislature that the reasons for excluding those three groups in the teaching profession is based solely in response to these letters. In the case of those teachers coming within the community college domain, it is simply a reflection of our feeling that there should be a standardization and a consensus of a view applying to all people in the teaching profession. There is no other reason than that.
Mr. Cassidy: You are defending Bette Stephenson’s case, that’s what is happening. She tried to take the teachers out.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, I rather resent that.
Mr. Foulds: I don’t blame you.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: These are letters addressed to me by those organizations.
Mr. Conway: And Bette can defend herself.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I don’t think the Honourable Bette Stephenson needs any help in defending herself. Perhaps the member would care to take that matter up with her in the halls, with the member for Fort William (Mr. Hennessy) supervising the battle.
Mr. Conway: She doesn’t even need elbow pads.
Mr. Breaugh: Why are you expressing such reluctance?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would also endeavour to undertake to meet with all those groups and try to establish this consensus and I have so indicated to them. If that is not possible, and it is clear that we will have to reassess the situation, I am prepared to commit myself that within the two-year period we will reassess the situation and try to deal with it in an appropriate manner.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, I believe a motion has been forwarded to your desk.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Sweeney moves that in section 3(3)(a) the word “may” in the first line be deleted and “shall” substituted therefor.
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Chairman, in addition to that, the reason we are supporting leaving in 3(3)(a) and 3(3)(c) is as the minister has just described. We also have been approached by representatives of both the teaching profession and the university professors and, in our judgement, when these two groups of people have specifically asked that they be excluded at the present so that they may consult with the minister and their own Ministry of Education or Ministry of Colleges and Universities to draft more precise legislation or regulations, then we believe that request should be honoured.
Our critic will speak more specifically to 3(3)(b). I would just make two observations. In both these cases, the teachers of this province and the university professors of this province have been somewhat concerned by others suggesting to them that they want to be left out because they do not identify themselves with workers in this province. As one who has worked very closely with both these groups, I can most certainly say they do identify themselves with the workers of this province.
Anyone who has seriously, or for any length of time, engaged in either one of those professions would know that at the end of the day, they have done a day’s work. They most certainly are workers and they have not asked to be excluded in this particular way at this particular time because they see themselves above the other “workers” of this province. That’s one point which needs to be said and said clearly on their behalf.
One of the main reasons why both these groups have asked to be excluded from the legislation as it is presently written is because they recognize a very strong responsibility to their students. They recognize that it would not be appropriate for them to be brought under the legislation as it is presently drafted because it would allow them, in a sense, to walk off the job and leave their students unattended. They recognize that would be a very irresponsible way to act and they have no intention of acting in that way.
That is why they have very specifically said, and that is why we have put the word “shall” in here, that there will be legislation and/or regulations drafted which will cover their specific concerns but will also recognize that they do occupy an unusual niche in that they have the responsibility of a student body. They’re not working with inanimate machines or inanimate material They are working with other human beings for whom they have a strong sense of responsibility, and given the fact that they recognize that, we recognize that, and they have specifically requested that this be done, this party will support that position.
Mr. Foulds: I have a modest amendment to put.
Mr. Chairman: Would the member send it?
Mr. Foulds: Just as soon as I have it written out, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Foulds moves that the words “for a period of no longer than two years” be inserted in section 3(3) after the word “apply” and before the word “to” so that the clause would read, “Except as shall be prescribed and subject to the conditions and limitations prescribed, this act or part thereof does not apply for a period of no longer than two years, to ... ” and following.
Mr. Foulds: I hope that meets some of the conditions the minister has indicated. If he has a better wording to meet the condition, I’d be glad to hear it.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, in response to that, I would have some objection to putting that in the act since in the correspondence it is indicated that some of the parties may wish it to be brought in under legislation. That’s the only difficulty I would have with it.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Chairman, if that is the major objection, could I suggest to the minister that if there were a new bill describing this sort of amendment, say, to the Education Act or any of the acts that govern teachers or university teachers, a simple deletion in this act at the same time would be entirely possible and could meet that objection?
Mr. Breaugh: No problem there, Bob.
Ms. Gigantes: Right as rain.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, once again the only problem I have is that these are groups that have asked to have some control over their own destiny, so to speak, in this area of occupational health and safety and they are the people involved in it. I would hesitate to commit myself in legislation to a time limit, although I have given the House my assurance that I shall endeavour to have the matter straightened up within two years.
Mr. Cassidy: Surely there is a time limit or there isn’t.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, those are my views on it.
Mr. Chairman: I will place the amendment first.
Mr. Foulds moves that in section 3 the words “for a period of no longer than two years” after the word “apply” and before the word “to” be added.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Chairman, I just want to speak briefly on my amendment because I consider it frankly a fall-back position. I want to say this as cautiously but as clearly as I can: I think the teachers are making a mistake, I think that the university professors are making a mistake and I think it is a mistake to exclude teachers at community colleges. Basically, I think the minister actually agrees with me, but because of the --
Mr. Breaugh: Wishy-washy nature of his personality?
Mr. Foulds: -- position put to him by the organizations he has acceded to their wishes.
If I might say so, I think the teachers’ organizations have moved far too cautiously on this matter. After all, the bill has been in the public domain for a considerable period of time. Those organizations do have legislative observers. Obviously that should have been brought to the attention of the membership of those organizations when the legislation was under debate as a result of Bill 139. I don’t think from my own experience as a teacher in a secondary high school there are going to be any impediments put upon teachers in the performance of their duties if they are brought under this act.
I might point out the classroom is not, as is usually thought, a safe, sterile laboratory. There are occupational hazards. The obvious areas are gymnasia and shop classrooms, where the dangers to teachers and to students -- in terms of equipment, electrical, machine shop, sheet metal work -- are as real as they are on the job, it would seem to me.
I know that by and large the teachers of the province engaged in shop teaching have had a commendable record in safety. I have often thought there should be a study done of the danger to the academic classroom teacher from chalk dust. I certainly know it has a detrimental effect on one’s clothing.
Mr. Riddell: Now, that is a specious example.
Mr. Foulds: No, it isn’t, because I myself happen to suffer from sinusitis to a very large extent. I know at the end of a school day, if I have had a lot of blackboard work, I find it extremely difficult to breathe. I assume it has no permanent effects on my health but I’m not certain of that and I would doubt if very few teachers have that.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling the House to order.
I think it is with only one point the previous speaker made I would like to agree. That is, I don’t think there would be any teacher in this province who would walk off a job leaving the students behind in a condition that he considered unsafe. I don’t think this bill imposes that on them at all. If I may say so, the way he put that argument was a fallacious way.
In circumstances, for example, when there is a fire or when there is real danger in a classroom, say, a chemical laboratory because of some spillage of chemicals, I think the first thing the teacher would do -- and in fact it would be mandatory for him to do under the duties imposed upon him in the Education Act -- is remove the students from that danger. That doesn’t mean he has to stay with the ship as it goes down as soon as they’re out. Presumably, he or she would go with them.
Very succinctly, I think I might say I believe the teachers are wrong in wanting exemption from this act. There is no reason in the world why, if they were included for the special circumstances they are concerned about, they could not work co-operatively with the ministry under the regulations to define more clearly their duties and responsibilities and any special circumstances that may arise. I think they are wrong because we all know in this House how difficult it is to get legislation in and through.
The experience we are now facing with Bill 70 today is a good example. I suspect it may be a considerably longer period than two years with the best will in the world before we will have special legislation governing those in the teaching profession, just as it will be much longer than that, I am convinced, before we will have special legislation governing farm workers.
I suppose what I want to say is that our view is that by including the exclusions the government party and the Liberal Party are approaching the problem the wrong way around. Our view is prove to us that it is safe and, if it is a safe work place, then the act need not apply. There will be no complaints and action under the act. It’s as simple as that.
If the teachers are convinced that their work place is safe and they don’t need coverage, by covering them they’re no further behind. I think they have made a grave tactical error and I say that with very deep sincerity.
Mr. Sweeney: I have just one question. I understand that as part of the so-called agreement or the point of understanding between the teachers and the ministry that the two-year time span was a maximum. I also understand that it was clearly understood between the teachers and the Ministry of Education that a group would be set up within the next two or three months to begin planning the necessary legislative changes or changes to the regulations.
Can the minister confirm that and can he support that position? That is my understanding.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: In response to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot, the letter from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation would confirm what he has just said. It says it is prepared to pursue with the appropriate bodies within an appropriate period of time the necessity of a regulation for teachers. If a time is required, it suggests it be done sometime in early 1979, say by the end of March or early April. There is that understanding, as far as I know.
With regard to the two years, the two-year figure wasn’t picked out of my hat. It was picked out of letters and out of verbal requests. We’ll endeavour to honour that request.
Mr. Foulds: The difficulty is how can you devise a regulation under the act when they are not included in the act? What you’ll have to do is devise an amendment to the act or an entirely new act. That, of course, is far more difficult than simply devising regulations. I don’t think in the letters that were sent to the minister that was frankly clearly understood by the correspondents.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I think the phrase as we put it in the amendment, “may be designated in” or “shall be designated in,” implies being designated into the legislation and then there are separate regulations. It’s a two-step process. It doesn’t require a new act, I’m advised.
Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Chairman, I would like to add a few comments in favour of the amendment placed by my colleague from Port Arthur. The comments relate to the tone of surprise that I hear in the minister’s voice when he reads from the letters of teachers’ representatives asking for exclusion from this bill. I don’t know whether the minister is aware of how we arrived at this situation, and perhaps a word or two of explanation is in order here.
What happened was that in the first place the teachers’ groups were never consulted by the Minister of Labour when Bill 70 was drawn up. In the second place, when the teachers’ groups discovered, back in the spring of 1978, that they were to be included under Bill 70, they contacted the then Minister of Labour, now the Minister of Education, and asked for exclusion until they could have discussions about the terms of their inclusion under the legislation.
The bill as it existed then called for the development of guidelines for the inclusion of various groups of employees in Ontario; those guidelines were to be developed by a deadline of December 1978, by which time, of course, all of us on this side of the House expected, in good faith, that Bill 70 would be in place.
There was no progress with the Ministry of Labour on this subject for many months, and that deadline for the development of guidelines for teachers and other groups was not acted upon with any degree of sincerity or vigour by the Ministry of Labour, and in the case of the teachers in spite of the fact that the then Minister of Labour had been informed by the teachers’ representatives that they were very concerned about what guidelines they would come under in the bill.
If the Minister of Labour is a bit surprised at what seems to be a last-minute request from teachers’ organizations for exclusion, he should understand the background and the failure of the previous Minister of Labour to live up to those provisions of Bill 70 which we had before us early this year.
That’s the reason he has this last-minute surprise. If he goes back to the now Minister of Education and asks about the history of these developments, he will find that the teachers have not been dealt with in the terms in which they wanted to be dealt with in consideration of whether they would be included or excluded; so at the last moment they have really no option, considering their initial reservations. There just hasn’t been the time or the seriousness of discussion that they wanted for them to feel that they are perfectly satisfied now to come under the general provisions of Bill 70. That’s why this problem is confronting him now.
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment placed by the member for Port Arthur. We need the time limits written into this section, or what’s going to happen is exactly what has happened with respect to saying you are going to include someone and then not getting around to it, as outlined by my colleague the member for Carleton East. This is precisely why we need this period in the bill.
The bill that emerged from committee in January said that by December 31 any different and special set of regulations were to be devised to cover any particular group of workers. The teachers, as represented by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, said a short time after that bill was reported: “We are ready to discuss the different kinds of regulations, if any, that need to pertain to us.” The ministry just hasn’t got around to do it.
The different types of regulations or coverage that would apply to any teacher in this province would involve extremely minor and extremely negligible changes. Teachers are like any other group of workers in this province. The laboratories and machine shops in which some of their teachers work are no different from the machine shops that exist in industry or the laboratories that exist in industry. The changes needed would be extremely minor in nature. There is no reason for this kind of exemption. Having failed to get around to dealing with the very, few minor changes that might affect the teaching profession in this province, you then exclude them. The Ontario Teachers’ Federation could hardly do anything other than finally write you that letter. They say, “Okay, since you have not got serious in terms of sitting down and talking to us, then give us an exemption.”
They should not have asked for that, in my opinion. The coverage they would be required to have under this bill, really doesn’t differ from any other. The type of thing that bothered them -- and that bothered OSSTF -- the secondary school teachers’ section of OTF, when they finally found out that a letter had been written by OTF asking for a regular exemption was this sort of thing.
Mr. Conway: Is there any hope we will finish this today, Bob?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Not likely.
Mr. Riddell: I’m not going to speak any more, Bob.
Mr. Kerrio: You’re trying to ram it down the teachers’ throats and they don’t even want it.
Mr. Martel: That’s nonsense.
Mr. Bounsall: This is the very minor thing that concerns them: How do you define “supervisor”? That’s the kind of thing they asked. That was a very minor thing which they are concerned about in the legislation; and was something which could be answered by a one-paragraph letter. They say, “Is a teacher a supervisor because they supervise students?” When you point out the definition of worker under the act is one who works for monetary compensation, then students are not covered by the worker definition. Therefore, a supervisor would be someone who supervises the teacher; a simple answer in that regard.
The other sort of thing they worried about was the duty of workers in section 17(1)(b) -- a minor thing, you agree, in the act. Section 17(1)(b) says a worker shall “use or wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing that his employer requires to be used or worn.” They were concerned that section could be used on teachers to require their beards to be shaved, or the length of their hair to be regulated, and certain dress standards required, which some boards in their lack of wisdom are trying to apply in this province. That’s the kind of questions they had.
They are worried about no great exemptions of any other kind, but just can they require a certain dress code and a certain code respecting beards and length of hair in this province where these measures have been tried by certain boards. The answer to that could be very simple. The other type of thing they asked questions about was things like section 17(1)(e), requirements by the school boards, perhaps, to have medical tests runs. They thought that might possibly be abused in cases where there was no particular occupational health issue arising at a school; and that medical examinations might be required for purposes other than for occupational health.
These were very simple, basic questions. No great changes and great amendments were required. These were the only things that bothered them. The ministry, for one, should have responded to those requests in the spring and answered the very simple questions they had. They could have sat down with them for a day or two, if necessary, and gone through with them showing they were no different from anyone else in this province. Instead, the ministry didn’t have these meetings and simply waited around until you got a letter which, in essence, said the letter came in because you hadn’t done that with them.
Therefore, there is no reason why they should be excluded when it is that type of question which is really bothering them. We will certainly vote against clause (a) of section 3 of the bill.
Let me go to clause (c), the university teachers’ situation. I was appalled to find these sections in this act. I heard from the minister that he’d got a letter from OTF -- I’m not sure he said a letter at the time. He said to me the ministry had had requests to be exempted from OTF and OCUFA and a letter. The letter he was referring to was one he received from OTF, which he’s read.
I got on the phone to OCUFA, my old bargaining agent representative, such as it is, and said: “Could I have a copy of your letter? Why did you even consider an exemption from this act?” The answer was very interesting. The phone call I made was on Monday. They said: “Two weeks ago we were contacted by officials from the Ministry of Labour and asked if we would like to be exempted.” It was a solicitation to OCUFA.
Mr. Kerrio: That would never do. Shame on the minister.
Mr. Bounsall: There was nothing heretofore coming in from OCUFA -- and I checked this extremely carefully with Pat Wesley, the senior staff person at OCUFA -- requesting an exemption. They were solicited by ministry officials sometime around two weeks ago Monday. There was no request of any kind by OCUFA prior to that point that anybody on the present OCUFA executive or the present OCUFA staff can find.
I don’t know what arguments were used with them when the contact was made, but it was said to them, “If you want an exemption, get it to us in a letter.” What it indicates is that this ministry would like to exclude any and all groups of people in this province who would like to write in and say they would like exemptions. That’s what it means. In the case of OCUFA, you solicited it. There’s no other word for it.
Having solicited it, I have no patience with their response -- and the minister has a copy of this one -- and their elitism. Having come from that whole field, I understand elitism in that area when I see it. OCUFA believes that both the worker and the work place take on a unique character when applied to a professor in a university. Absolute -- I would use the term that my colleague from Sudbury East usually applies in these things if I hadn’t come from the university field myself and that isn’t part of my vocabulary.
Mr. Martel: Now you’re showing your elitism.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s right, I’m showing my elitism.
Mr. Gaunt: Now there is elitism if I ever heard it.
Mr. Bounsall: We, or the Ministry of Labour, shouldn’t be giving in one iota to that phoney elitism on behalf of university professors or their representatives in this province.
Mr. Kerrio: There’s an expert in that field if I ever saw one.
Mr. Martel: They are unique too, just like farmers.
Mr. Cunningham: What flaming hypocrisy.
Mr. Bounsall: Then they go and say OCUFA requests that university professors be exempted for a period of one year. I asked them: “Why on earth might you consider an exemption?” On Monday when I talked to them they hadn’t made up their minds yet. In talking with them I said, “Surely you must have a good reason for wanting to be exempted, because you’re going to have to have a good reason for wanting to be included should the time come. It’s best for you to decide the situation now.”
I’m very concerned to find out what happened basically because the solicitation caught them a little bit by surprise. It had never occurred to them at that point that the university teachers or the university setting was any different from any other work place. Having been solicited somewhere around two weeks ago Monday as to whether or not they might be excluded, their reaction was, “Gee, why, really, are we being asked? There must be something here that we are missing. Maybe we’d better sit down and have a look at what we’re missing.”
They should not have been solicited in the first place and I’m disappointed at their reaction to it. I said to them, “Well, surely you have on your staff someone who keeps up on a day-to-day basis with the legislative happenings in the Ontario Legislature?” They said, “Well, no, we’re a little tight for funds, you know, because the entirety of the university faculty at the University of Toronto pulled out of OCUFA so we don’t have quite as big a membership as we had.” By inference, they do not have quite as large an income.
I said, “Oh, why did the professors at the University of Toronto pull out?” The reason they pulled out was because OCUFA, as a provincial representative, according to the U of T faculty, were doing too much of just being a collector of salary information and sharing it around, and not enough of what they should be doing, which is watching legislation in the province of Ontario and responding quickly to any and all that affect them. In other words, the U of T faculty pulled out of OCUFA because they weren’t doing what they should have been doing under this bill, and in response to this bill.
Their response, which they have had to look at within the last two weeks, as a result of your solicitation, is sufficiently, in my opinion, weak. Certainly it is on the wrong side of it. If I was a faculty member at the University of Toronto, I would have taken that action which they took and heartily approved of staying out until OCUFA, as currently constituted, takes its responsibility in this regard seriously and has people on their executive who are aware of the issues of the day, They appear by their response in this letter of December 12 not to have people on their executive who are aware of the issues of the day. They need to be a little less elitist than what they are within their own profession.
There is no reason why they should be excluded. That solicitation, which they got, finally resulting in a letter of December 12, shows the ministry was not just responding to letters sent in, but in this case played an active role in trying to get it. In other words, they would like to have a whole series of letters from every group of workers you could possibly find in this province so they could stand up here and say we’re exempting them because we got a letter from them.
No one at OCUFA, executive or staff, has any record of their approaching the minister or the ministry on this. The only contact came to them two weeks ago by the ministry saying, “How about considering being exempted?” On that basis, you stand up here and say that’s why we’re doing it. Well, we’re sure going to vote that they be included, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Chairman, and to the minister, if the grounds for exclusion of some of the teaching groups are the letters they have now sent in, whether freely sent or solicited, I am wondering if he would respond to the letter from the president of OPSEU to him, dated December 12, concerning at least the members of the academic staff of the College of Applied Arts and Technology.
Let me read the first paragraph of their letter: “Let me say we were both surprised and very disappointed at the exclusion of community college academic staff from coverage under the entire legislation. It is our view, based on our own health and safety survey, that academic staff need coverage under health and safety legislation. Many academic staff work in work places that involve processes such as welding that present serious hazards to health and safety of both faculty and students. Teachers work in various industrial training shops, garages and laboratories. We might add that the community college is the training ground for future workers. With respect to providing a health and safety work environment they should be exemplary. Instructors have a responsibility not only to protect themselves but also to ensure that their students are protected from health and safety hazards. In order to achieve this, we would strongly urge you to include academic staff under all provisions of the legislation.”
If, indeed, the requests for exclusion take them out, what about a request to be included by people who have an interest in this particular group? Should they not then be included under the legislation?
Mr. Martel: As readily as you took out the others.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would like to direct my remarks to the comments made by Mr. Bounsall. I would like to say to him unequivocally that no one in this ministry solicited a request from OCUFA to be exempted. I had been advised some time ago by the Minister of Education that in discussions with OCUFA, they had indicated to her they wanted a delay to decide whether or not they wished to be included. Any contact with OCUFA from this ministry was simply to ask if that was so, and if it was so, to put it in writing. Let’s have that clear and unequivocal, because if that isn’t so --
Mr. Villeneuve: The democratic way.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: -- and if you are accusing me of something like soliciting that response, I resent it. That is quite straight between you and me, my friend.
Mr. Chairman: Order. The minister has the floor.
Mr. Bounsall: Could I ask the minister a question at this point?
Mr. Chairman: Does the minister agree?
Mr. Bounsall: The Minister of Education you are talking about who told you that -- is this the present one?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: The present minister.
Mr. Bounsall: That is probably where the problem lies then. Because the first OCUFA know about it --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Point of order, Mr. Chairman: The problem, if there is one, is a request from OCUFA to be exempted. You are suggesting that there are a lot of funny people doing funny things in OCUFA and if I were them, I would resent it.
Mr. Kerrio: You are trying to jam this legislation down their throats.
Mr. Martel: I hope you are as willing to include the community college people -- they were asked to be in. You want it both ways.
Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Windsor-Sandwich has the floor.
Mr. Bounsall: The first that any of the OCUFA executives or OCUFA staff knew about this -- and the statement that none of the executive and none of the staff knew about it comes from the senior staff officer over there, I haven’t talked to all the executives -- was the statement you made a couple of weeks ago, however you phrased it, that if they were thinking of having an exemption to put it in writing. They had heard nothing previous to that.
Mr. Pope: This is a waste of time. You are trying to bring in a whole bunch of nonsense and red herrings. Let’s get on with it. What a bunch of absolute rubbish. You know it’s absolute rubbish. Let’s get on with it.
Mr. Bounsall: If the information to this Minister of Labour was that they had been approached beforehand and you were waiting for a response from them, if that was the information, there is no record over there of that having been done --
Mr. Martel: You are going to bring the CAAT people in because they asked?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: So long as it is clearly stated in this Legislature and the member acknowledges that there is no suggestion being put forward by him that I solicited this request for exemption. I would take personal offence to that.
I did request that it be verified; that if they really were serious about it they put it in writing. But that is not the same as going out and saying, “Please, do you want to be exempted?” It was to verify an opinion that was given to me, to ascertain if it was true, and if it was true it had to be put in writing or I wouldn’t consider it. Make sure you know what you are saying there because I take personal exception to that.
Mr. Bounsall: Let’s be very clear on this point. This Minister of Labour was told by someone that they were considering or had been asked to consider being exempted. As far as you’ve explained it now, this information came from the former Minister of Labour, now the Minister of Education.
Ms. Gigantes: By the former Minister of Labour. She didn’t talk to any of them.
Mr. Bounsall: As far as OCUFA knows, as far as they can determine, they were never asked anything before that time by anyone. The information you were given caused you, somewhat understandably, to ask them two weeks ago if they were thinking of putting something in, to give it in writing.
Mr. Pope: You get up and say this in the House without even checking with the executives. You’ve got a lot of nerve.
Mr. Martel: Yes, he did.
Mr. Bounsall: It came as a complete surprise to them.
Mr. Pope: Check with the rest of the executives before you stand up and insinuate-
Mr. Bounsall: What’s being insinuated?
Mr. Pope: Just what you are saying. Check with the rest of the executives and then make your point.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Bounsall: That’s the staff member’s job to determine what in fact comes into that office.
Mr. Pope: What a bunch of nonsense.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Would the member please continue and address the chair?
Mr. Bounsall: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The problem appears not to lie with this minister but this minister relying on information which was given to him that OCUFA was in fact considering something.
Up till the time you asked them, “As a result of your considerations, give it in writing,” they had had no consideration, nor is there any record of them having been asked to consider, by anyone -- either a positive step on their part or one in response to someone else asking them. It came as a complete surprise. It was the first they’d heard anything about it two weeks ago, when acting on the information that had been given to you, you went to them and said, “You were thinking of responding, please respond.” It was entirely news to them.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I thank the member for the clarification, but I would suggest he is really insinuating the chairman of that board had not given a lot of consideration and thought to that carefully-worded letter he sent to me. I think if I were he, I certainly would resent that suggestion.
But be that as it may, it is there, it is in writing, it has been shared, and those are the reasons I’ve given for our view that we should allow these organizations the privilege to trying to determine whether they want to be included in this act or in some other act.
As I’ve said before, my only reason for including community colleges was to try and have some consensus and some consistency in the whole matter of dealing with teachers. If that can’t be achieved then I have no problem at all including community college teachers under regulations. That’s not going to be an issue with me.
Mr. Mackenzie: Inasmuch as they have requested it and you’ve based the other exclusions on a letter, why not then accept the amendment that’s been proposed by both opposition parties and include them?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Again, Mr. Chairman, I would hope the member would agree with me that it makes common sense to try and have a consistent approach to a profession which, although they may be in different categories, has essentially the same job and the same work place and the same hazards face them. That’s purely and simply, to me, a question of logic. If that logical consensus of all those groups can’t be achieved we’ll have to deal with them individually if they wish.
Mr. Mackenzie: Which letter do you want them to respond to?
Mr. Martel: You’ve got one group saying, “Keep us out,” the other group, “Put us in.” Why do you accept one as opposed to the other? Why don’t you bring in the others kicking, screaming, and dragging their feet then? You’re taking the option that’s convenient to you. Why don’t we say that if the membership of OCUFA or the CAATs want in, why isn’t that the guiding light instead of OTF, which says no? The logic, I’m afraid, at this point is somewhat hazy.
We should maybe accept the one that wants in. The whole purpose of the act is to bring people in and not to exclude. If there’s a certain segment in the educational field that want in then we should let them in because that’s what the act’s all about. But you choose to go the route where one group says “no” as opposed to the group which says, “Put us in.” Now what logic is there to that? You just came down on one side, arbitrarily.
Ms. Gigantes: The former Minister of Labour.
Mr. Martel: I realize the dilemma for the minister, but why take the group that wants out as the group you’re going to follow, as opposed to the group that wants in? Then you could say to the rest of them, “Follow suit.” There’s no logic, Mr. Minister, I’m afraid.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, if I could just respond to that: I hope the member would acknowledge I’m trying to respond to a majority wish. I indicated very clearly my wish also is to try and have a consistent approach to the whole educational field. I also indicated very clearly that if that cannot be achieved then we will have to deal with each of the groups separately.
Ms. Gigantes: It could have been achieved, but the former minister didn’t want to do it.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: From my personal point of view I think they would be all-wise to agree it should be included in the legislation. There’s no argument about that. If some consensus between the groups cannot be achieved, then we will deal with it appropriately. If you can’t accept my word on that then we have problems, but I think you can.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Chairman, on a point of clarification here. I thought we were to proceed dealing with (a), (b) and (e), and (a), of course, deals with the teachers as defined in the Education Act, and yet we seem to be wandering into the (b) and (c) sections on this. I think we should deal with them as was suggested previously.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I would indicate to the honourable members that I said we would take separate votes on (a), (b) and (c), but the debate cannot be totally separated because they are somewhat interrelated. We can debate all three clauses together and then take the vote separately, but after taking a vote on (a), that does not preclude someone speaking again on (b) or (c).
Mr. O’Neil: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to say a few words. We will be going along with the government on sections (a) and (b), that these people be excluded from the bill at the present time --
Mr. Martel: That is not what Mr. Nixon said a while ago. Whoops.
Ms. Gigantes: Have you got it straight?
Mr. O’Neil: Pardon me, (a) and (c). The minister has suggested that these people have asked for a short period of time in which to come in with a suggestion.
We do not agree with (b), though; and we will be proposing an amendment that under 3(b) the people in the community colleges should not be excluded at this time. These people are dealing more in classrooms where they are teaching welding and mechanics and they face more dangerous situations, and we will be proposing an amendment that they be covered right away on this.
Mr. Young: My point is the one that has just been made, that the community colleges are institutions in which there is more dangerous operation than the universities and it seems to me that because of this particular factor of greater danger, greater hazard, the letter from the community colleges should have far greater weight than the letter from the universities. I simply make that point to the minister. I would support the amendment which is going to come, if it comes, from the Liberal Party on this matter, that the community colleges at least should be included. Going on with the minister’s own argument, if that is the case then the total picture should be looked at and the total group included. That is what the minister says. All right. Since there is a greater danger in one part of the group, it seems to me that it makes sense for the total group to be included at this time. The regulations can look after some of the problems that the minister may have.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Are we ready for the vote on this question?
Mr. Sweeney: Can you clarify just to make sure we know what we are voting about?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Yes, Hon. Mr. Elgie has moved that section 3(3) shall read:
“Except as may be prescribed and subject to the conditions and limitations prescribed, this act or a part thereof shall not apply to (a), (b) and (c).”
On that part of the amendment, Mr. Sweeney moved that subsection 3(a) be amended by deleting “may” in the first line and substituting the word “shall” therefor.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, the teachers’ federation may not wish to be included in the legislation.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: It would read then, “except as shall be prescribed” instead of “except as may.”
Shall that amendment carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: As a separate amendment to this clause, Mr. Foulds has moved that section 3(3) of the bill be amended by adding the following words “for a period of no longer than two years” after the word “apply” in the third line and before the word “to,” so that the last part will then read, “this act or a part thereof does not apply for a period of no longer than two years to (a), (b) and (c).”
Shall that amendment carry?
Those in favour please say “aye.”
Those opposed, please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Now, “(a) a person who is employed as a teacher as defined in the Education Act.” Mr. Bounsall has moved an amendment to the amendment that that clause be deleted.
Those in favour please say “aye.”
Those opposed please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: In section 3(3)(b) Hon. Mr. Elgie has moved that “a person who is employed as a member of the academic staff,” et cetera.
Mr. O’Neil has moved that section 3(3)(b) be deleted.
Any further discussion on that amendment to the amendment?
Those in favour please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: In section 3(3)(c) Hon. Mr. Elgie has moved that “a person who is employed as a member or a teaching assistant of the academic staff of a university related institution,” et cetera.
Mr. Bounsall has moved that section 3(3)(c) be deleted.
Those in favour of Mr. Bounsall’s amendment to the amendment please say “aye.”
Those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Sections 4, 5 and 6, inclusive agreed to.
On section 7:
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, purely for the sake of clarity I would like to move that sections 7 and 8 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, would you like me to just go subsection by subsection? I think it probably would be best in the situation.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Minister, many of the sections have already been agreed to in committee. Perhaps if we could just go subsection by subsection we will get through it more quickly.
If it is acceptable to the members -- could I have your attention now, members -- the motion by the honourable minister will be that sections 7 and 8 shall be struck out and the following substituted therefor. We will take them subsection by subsection and we will then go back to the strike out motion.
Is that acceptable?
We will take them clause by clause, Mr. Minister.
Hon. Mr. Elgie moves that sections 7 and 8 shall be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
Section 7(1) “Where the number of workers at a project regularly exceeds 20, the constructor shall cause the workers to select at least one health and safety representative from among the workers on the project who do not exercise managerial functions.”
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, the reason for this particular amendment is we have toiled for several weeks now to try and work out a solution to the changing nature of the construction site. It was our conclusion that this amendment was most appropriate for that situation.
I would also like to point out, however, that other amendments to this section and in section 8 will also allow the minister to appoint either more representatives or committees in certain situations, but as a general rule subsection 1 would apply to projects where the number regularly employed exceeds 20.
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that this probably is quite acceptable to both the construction companies in the province and the workers in the construction industry. In most cases, the structure which should be most appropriate to the work place is a rep rather than a full committee. This is acceptable to those concerned in that entire construction field. We would have no problem in accepting this change to the bill which came forward from committee.
Section 7(1) carried.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Hon. Mr. Elgie moves that section 7(2) as renumbered read, “Where no committee has been established under section 8, or where the number of workers at a project does not regularly exceed 20, the minister may, by order in writing require an employer, a constructor or a group of employers to cause the selection of one or more health and safety representatives for a work place or a part or parts thereof from among the workers employed at the work place or in the part or parts thereof who do not exercise managerial functions and may provide in the order for qualifications of such representative or representatives.”
Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment to this section 7(2). It is a very simple one.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Mr. Bounsall moves an amendment to the amendment that the word “may” on line three of section 7(2) be deleted and the word “shall” be substituted therefor.
Mr. Bounsall: This is quite a small change in wording but a very significant change in the whole operation of occupational health and safety in the province. What it does is clearly put in place that whenever there are fewer than 20 workers, who therefore do not have a health and safety committee as provided under this act, unless designated by the minister, they shall have a health and safety representative chosen from amongst the workers in the work place.
We felt very strongly during the committee stages that the number of persons that should have a health and safety committee should be fewer than 20 in a mandatory situation. We felt at the maximum the figure should be 10 and, considering the toxic substances and what have you that exist in the dry cleaning industry and so on, the figure may indeed be lower than that, even five -- work places with five workers or more should have a committee. The smallest number we could get out of the committee was 20. Work places of 20 or more shall have a health and safety committee.
That caused us at that time very seriously to put forward the suggestion that for all those work places whose workers are fewer in number than 20 there should be a health and safety rep. There are far too many groups of workers of slightly fewer than 20 that deal with hazardous substances in the work place and they should at least have a health and safety rep.
The whole point of having health and safety committees widespread across this province -- and they should be in every work place -- and of having health and safety reps for groups of workers fewer than 20 in number is to involve workers in the discussion of their own health and safety conditions in the work place. And who knows more about the unhealthy or unsafe conditions than the workers themselves?
I suspect that the ministry will oppose this amendment. In so doing, what they are really saying is that unless those work places have become sufficiently dangerous to absolutely cry out for the appointment of a health and safety committee or a health and safety rep, they will just not allow those workers in an establishment, let’s say, of 19 workers to have any input through a committee or a rep upon the health and safety situations that exist in the work place. We just find that unacceptable.
Where there are 19, 18, or 17 workers, those places should automatically have a health and safety rep. It makes very good sense that for any work place with fewer than 20 workers there be a health and safety rep.
This is the only way we’re going to have workers meaningfully involved in the discussion of health and safety in the work place. That is what this act is all about and what this act should be trying to achieve, namely making the work place more safe from a health hazard point of view and making people in this province continually more conscious, starting from now and as the months go on, of the safety aspects of their work place.
To say, as this bill does, that except where the minister would designate, every work place with 20 workers will not really have a health and safety committee or a health and safety rep is just not good enough. It’s not good enough because the Minister of Labour will in fact appoint such committees or such reps only in a body-count situation where there is a death in a work place and the death can be attributable to unhealthy or unsafe conditions in that work place. If it’s fewer than 20, it’s only in those instances, I suspect, where the Minister of Labour will, in point of fact, do something about establishing a committee or a representative.
In other words, the ability given to the minister in this bill to appoint a representative in work places with fewer than 20 employees will be used only in a body-count situation and will not look at what are unhealthy or unsafe conditions in such work places without a death having occurred.
This amendment clearly establishes that a health and safety representative shall be appointed for work places with fewer than 20 employees. As I say, Mr. Chairman, if we are really concerned and interested in proper health and safety conditions in the work place, this amendment should be supported.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Chairman, we cannot go along with this change. While we agreed that there must be a committee where there are more than 20 workers, it would be almost impossible to handle something like this, because it could mean that the minister would have to do this even if there were only one or two workers on a job. I think the wording that is there at present will suffice.
Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Chairman, I would point out to my friend and colleague from Quinte that he has just made a liar out of his party’s election pamphlet in Sault Ste. Marie and of his party’s position. He has proved exactly what my colleague the member for Sudbury East was saying a few minutes ago --
Mr. O’Neil: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman --
Mr. Sweeney: Why doesn’t the member for Hamilton East deal with legislation instead of playing politics? He is more concerned with playing games than he is with the workers.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order. What is the point of order?
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Chairman, I think if the member who just spoke were to read that pamphlet a little more closely, he would see that we are dealing with committees; we are not dealing with coverage, as he seems to put it.
Mr. Riddell: I didn’t see the member for Hamilton East drop nasty pills in his coffee this morning.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: I wonder if the honourable member would like to withdraw that word and use a more parliamentary word.
Mr. Mackenzie: It certainly gave credence to the charges we have made, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Will you withdraw the unparliamentary language?
Mr. Mackenzie: I will withdraw the unparliamentary language.
Mr. Stong: Why don’t you just walk out?
Mr. Kerrio: Now you’re stuck, aren’t you?
Mr. Mackenzie: No, I’m not stuck at all; and I don’t have to look under my bed every day either.
Mr. Kerrio: How are you going to speak?
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Mackenzie: The attempt to cover the many work places in Ontario at which there are fewer than 20 employees -- and the member himself knows some of them, such as auto repair and body shops; I could list dozens of them in my own constituency, as could everyone in this room. The attempt to cover workers in the smaller plants and operations is one that should be part of exactly what we’re trying to do --
Mr. O’Neil: They are covered in the bill.
Mr. Mackenzie: -- and there’s not a lot of bureaucracy involved in the minister ordering --
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order.
Mr. Mackenzie: They have no effective coverage without a representative, and the member knows it; or else he really doesn’t understand what we’re talking about.
Mr. Mancini: Go back to sleep, Bob. You were doing a better job.
Mr. Mackenzie: There is no real problem in contacting these shops and having an order of the ministry saying that there must be one person who acts as the safety representative in that operation. I find it very difficult to understand why that basic kind of spokesman in the small work places, where in many cases they desperately need it -- and many of them are not organized -- would be opposed by the Liberal Party.
Mr. Kerrio: Because they are already covered; that’s why. They are covered adequately. You don’t understand the bill.
Mr. Mackenzie: It seems that “shall,” when they want to set up a committee that is going to be able to represent the workers in that place, means something different from when they want to put in “shall” over some teachers or something. Are they not really concerned about the workers in these small shops around this province and whether or not they have a spokesman to work for them?
Mr. Mancini: You don’t even know what you are talking about.
Mr. Mackenzie: I appeal to the minister to consider this. It’s an extension, a necessary extension, if we are to be effective in the safety and health field in Ontario.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Chairman, I sometimes wonder about the member down there, who is supposed to have a really thorough knowledge of what’s going on and particularly of this bill. He seems to fail to understand that the government does look into these places. There are investigations undertaken to make sure safety is looked after.
Mr. Mackenzie: Glad to hear of your coalition then.
Mr. O’Neil: He would break every small contractor in this province and every small businessman if they were to put into effect what he asked for.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s why they are all so safe.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If I could just reiterate some remarks: All the workmen we’re talking about are covered.
Mr. Kerrio: Right on.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Secondly, each of those workmen has the right to refuse to work.
Then one further point: Mr. Bounsall has suggested there might be toxic substances around and that if there are fewer than 20 people there they should have a representative. I would refer him to my proposed section 8(2)(b) and (c) where it says a regulation made in respect to the designated substance applies to a work place or where there’s been an order to an employer under section 20. In each of those two circumstances, I would point out to him, there is to be a health and safety committee regardless of the number of workers on the work site. Clause (b) is a new amendment added by this ministry because of that very concern. I share that concern with him and that’s why we dealt with it in that section.
With regard to the general problem, I would like to reiterate we really feel this type of proposal is workable and it will be effective. What you are suggesting is not what came out of the committee and to my knowledge it’s not the practice in any other jurisdiction. In work places where there are 20 or fewer workers I would suggest they know each other so well and they are so familiar with each other they know the problems each has and the problems of the work place. The fact that they are covered and have the right to refuse to work, I would submit to you, along with my power as minister to order a committee in specific circumstances, gives them protection which is without equal.
Mr. Mackenzie: I’d just like it clearly on record. The minister has made his position clear, and I’d like it clear from the Liberal Party as well.
Mr. Minister, what you’re telling me, in effect, is that where there are fewer than 20 employees the employer loves them all. There are just no problems at all, it is one big happy family and there are no real disputes. I can tell you right now of some operations I’ve been dealing with your ministry on, where there is real intimidation. These are in operations with fewer than 20 employees, where there is not that kind of trust or knowledge of one another.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order. I would point out that in the legislation proposed, such coercion by employers constitutes an offence and if that’s so then we should know about it.
Mr. Kerrio: They don’t even know the act, Bob; they don’t know what they are talking about.
Mr. Deputy Chairman: Order, the member for Hamilton East has the floor.
Mr. Kerrio: That’s all he has, the floor.
Mr. Mackenzie: Why, for example, a little later on are we going to be arguing -- I understood with the support of the Liberal Party -- that in the right to refuse at that first step you have to have your representative there? Without it you can be intimidated. If you don’t, even in a small plant, have a designated rep then what kind of protection have you got? Sure the act is there, but you have to have somebody you can deal with and who can deal on your behalf and be with you when you make that refusal if it’s necessary or when you raise a key issue.
Mr. Kerrio: That’s what the department of labour is for, and you know it; you’ve made your point.
Mr. Mackenzie: Well, I’m glad you’ve got all that faith.
Mr. O’Neil: Just on a point of clarification -- I think I do understand it but I would ask the minister again for clarification. At any of these places where there are fewer than 20 employees, and if these people are not satisfied or have a complaint and they go to you and make the request, would not your ministry make an investigation at that time to see they are protected?
Mr. Mackenzie: They might be dead by that time.
Mr. Mancini: You’d better, Bob.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Yes.
Mr. M. Davidson: Mr. Chairman, I’ve sat here and listened to this debate but I really don’t understand the Liberal position on this matter at all. In the first place the member for Hamilton East --
Mr. Mancini: It really bothers you to be back in third place, doesn’t it?
Mr. M. Davidson: It doesn’t bother me a bit.
Mr. Mancini: It bothers you.
Mr. M. Davidson: The member for Hamilton East has quite rightly pointed out that unless there is a rep appointed or put in place in work places where there are fewer than 20 employees, even though the right to refuse does exist, the worker does not have anyone there at the time he can go to.
This perhaps is one of the key points in this bill, that a rep be in place so if a worker does have the right to refuse, he doesn’t have to wait, as the minister just said, until someone from the Ministry of Labour eventually gets around to check whether or not the job is safe.
It only makes sense to me. Here are the Liberals trying to say we are going to break every small businessman in the community. I would suggest that if you are going to have people from the Ministry of Labour running around looking at all of these places with fewer than 20 employees, you are going to have to take on one large staff in order to do that.
If workers start to refuse to work in places where there are fewer than 20 people and they start calling the Ministry of Labour saying, “We need someone here right away,” where are you going to find them? Where are you going to get these people? If you are going to suggest to me that the worker must continue to run the machine until the Ministry of Labour person gets there, then I am suggesting to you that is not satisfactory.
The amendment moved by the member for Windsor-Sandwich makes complete sense. The minister should, not may, notify these people that they must select a safety representative.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I would refer the member for Cambridge to section 23(4), which clearly lays out the details with regard to refusal to work whether or not there is a rep or a health and safety committee there. I would ask you to read where it requires that a committee member who represents workers, a health and safety representative, or any worker because of his knowledge, experience and training is to be there for the first stage of that right to refuse. He does have the right to have someone else with him during that first stage.
Mr. Mackenzie: Like a trade union.
Mr. Cassidy: There may be no trade union then.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: It says “or if there is a trade union.”
Mr. Bounsall: Speaking to that last point made by the minister with respect to whom the person exercising the right to refuse can have to represent him, a health and safety committee or a health and safety rep. If we are dealing with work places with fewer than 20 employees, neither of those are automatic and the workers probably don’t have them. Therefore, the only person who would be there would be the union rep.
I point out that two-thirds of the work force in this province is not unionized. So in many of these establishments with fewer than 20 employees, and I suspect there is a higher percentage of unorganized establishments with fewer than 20 workers than there are with over 20, probably more than two- thirds, there would be absolutely no one to represent them.
I appreciate the amendment the minister has brought in under section 8(2) where there is a designated substance or an order under section 20 that there will be a committee established. But that again does not pick up all the circumstances of work places with fewer than 20 employees where it would be in the interests of general health and safety in this province for a rep to exist by legislation, because the minister hasn’t designated it.
In the long run, it is going to save money. There is no extra outlay for this rep unless he is helping to investigate a right to refuse by one of the persons in that work place of fewer than 20 workers and we would be required to pay for his or her time. But it is going to be cheaper in the long run because here again, health and safety reps, members of health and safety committees, will be taking courses made available to them through their local labour council, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and courses at their community college. They are going to have a person then, in work places with fewer than 20 employees who will have acquired some expertise in determining what is healthy and what is safe and who will be involved in advising the workers when they think something is unsafe as a result of their training. This could cut down, in some instances, on the possible refusal to work.
So there is an advantage to having a trained person on staff, someone who takes the responsibility seriously and who has been trained through courses being established around the province. I can’t imagine why, for work places with fewer than 20 employees, many of which will be unorganized and will not be dealing with a substance which has been designated, or an order already applied to them which is mandatory, would have to have a health and safety committee. I just cannot see why the minister would not want to have one representative, to whom training would apply, to be the person in that work place taking that position seriously and who would be able to advise his or her other fellow workers on the conditions of safety and health in the work place and to sit down with the owner of what might well be a shop or what have you and talk about the conditions that exist in that work place.
If the minister wants this act to be effective and to improve health and safety across this province, he will have representatives in work places with fewer than 20 employees as a matter of course.
There are more work places with fewer than 20 people in this province, I suspect, than there are work places with more than 20 people. I’m not talking about the numbers of workers in them, but I would be willing to bet that there are more work places of fewer than 20 employees than there are work places at which there are more than 20 employees. Unless there is a designated substance used or an order in effect under section 8(2), we are leaving all those work places without any way of talking with their employers about the health and safety conditions there. That shouldn’t be the situation. We should trust the democratic system and the rationale of a worker who accepts that position and gets some training so he or she can effectively be that health and safety representative.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, I would again point out to the member that section 23(4)(c) provides that if there is no trade union, a worker will be selected by the workers to represent them. So, regardless of the number of people in the work place, the workers have the right to have somebody represent them.
Mr. Kerrio: Exactly. They don’t understand the bill.
Mr. Bounsall: You are the one who doesn’t understand it.
Mr. Kerrio: You don’t understand the bill, guys --
Mr. Chairman: Order.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: In addition to that, Mr. Chairman, I would point out that the member himself has submitted an amendment to come at a later time which would require posting of the act and of comments about the act. If that passes, as I suspect it may, then there will even be notification posted in all of these areas.
Mr. Mancini: That’s right.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: So that, taken in conjunction with the fact that there is coverage, that there is a right to refuse, that there may be a representative there regardless of the number, that the minister can appoint a representative or a committee in any circumstance --
Mr. Mackenzie: Do you want to bet on how many will be appointed in the next year?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: -- plus the fact that there is automatically a representative where there are designated substances or orders under section 20, gives incredible protection, and I have no hesitation in recommending that.
Mr. Bounsall: There is one final point I would like to make on this. Bill 139, under which we have been operating until now, gave the minister the right to appoint a health and safety committee -- I won’t ask a question; I will state it -- and the former Minister of Labour and this one, under Bill 139, has not appointed a health and safety committee anywhere in the province except where there has been a death.
Is this minister making a commitment that in any work place of fewer than 20 employees, where they don’t work with a designated substance and they don’t have an order laid on them already, all those employees have to do is write to him and ask him to designate that work place as needing a representative or a committee and he will, even in the absence of a body, write back and say yes?
If the minister will give that commitment to an automatic writing back and saying, “Yes, you shall have a health and safety representative or a health and safety committee upon request,” when those requests come in -- if he is going to write back automatically and say yes, in the absence of a body having been produced as a result of an unsafe situation, then we will have not a bad situation in this province. But the previous minister only did it once, I think, and that was a case where there were bodies involved. But certainly the only cases where it was done were where there were deaths in the work place. Do we have to wait for a death in the work place before the minister will respond to a request for the appointment of a health and safety representative or a health and safety committee?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Chairman, just in short response, I don’t know the facts about how many the minister appointed, but I would suggest that there were other requests and that the vast majority of them, I am advised, were resolved by negotiation between the parties, so it’s not quite a fair statement you make.
You have asked me particularly what I would do if there was a request to set up a rep or a health and safety committee. The act clearly spells it out under section 8(4):
“In exercising the power conferred by subsection 3 the minister shall consider,” and then there are five listed matters that the minister has to consider in the determination as to whether or not a rep or committee should be appointed.
Those are the standards that will be applied. I don’t believe they were in the previous bill, were they? They were in the previous bill as well, but those are clearly the things that one has to consider when an application for a rep or a health and safety committee appears, and it will be dealt with expeditiously and with due consideration.
Mr. Bounsall: These conditions were in the previous bill that emerged from committee, knowing that to be the type of criterion that was going to be applied should this bill ever be brought forward as it is now. We have still only got the former Minister of Labour appointing a health and safety committee where there was a death, and my point is are you going to wait for that? There is no other conclusion that can be drawn.
When you have a group of workers, who don’t have the right under this act to have a committee or a rep -- and they don’t have a death yet -- sufficiently interested to write in to you and say, “We would like a committee,” why wouldn’t you just give them one, or a rep, because they are interested enough to so do? Why would you hold back that very legitimate request of a group of workers who are trying to improve their health and safety conditions in this province?
Your view of health and safety and the need to have worker involvement in it is a sham when you won’t let workers who request it -- failing to actually give it as a right when there are fewer than 20, as our amendment does -- it is a sham when you don’t automatically say, “Yes, go ahead and have it if you’re interested enough,” rather than applying these criteria, the criteria having been in the back of the ministry’s mind since last January at least, and only being applied where a body turns up.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I can’t let that particular remark go by, because once again I would like to reiterate this, the member keeps protesting that the minister only ordered one committee. Let me tell you, she also only rejected one committee application and that had nothing to do with a death or anything; she simply felt there were enough committees in that particular work place.
All of the other things, to my knowledge -- there may be one or two exceptions -- were resolved by the parties, perhaps with her assistance, perhaps with the assistance of members of the ministry. I think we have to be fair and square about this when we throw figures around like that.
Secondly, I want it very clearly understood that the criteria laid out in this came out of committee, I think they are good criteria, and we will respond to them.
Mr. Cassidy: I am very disturbed by the attitude the minister is taking on this particular amendment by the member for Windsor-Sandwich. I think it’s a bit like when I studied economics at university some years ago and then went out in the world and found out that the economics I learned at university was very different from economics in the real world. It’s the same thing with the view of labour relations from Willowdale as opposed to labour relations as carried out in sweatshops down on Spadina Avenue and small plants up in Renfrew county and various other parts of this province.
The problem of the permissive nature of the section as it stands right now is that it leaves the door wide open to intimidation by employers. That has happened many times in the past and that will continue to happen in the future if you leave this as only a permissive kind of a clause.
When the minister says there are a number of factors that he will look at if anybody wants to have a committee, he is not even going to the extent of saying that should workers ask for a rep they will have the right to appoint a representative. The situation we will face if a worker in a small plant with fewer than 20 employees wishes to exercise the right to refuse is going to be the following: There is no health and safety committee. There is no rep and in many of these plants there’s no trade union either. That worker says, “That situation is unsafe. I’m going to go and talk to the boss about it, and I’m not going to work.”
The law as it’s proposed right now says anybody going with the worker has to be reasonably available. But no health and safety representative has been chosen because the minister won’t insist that it happens. Therefore effectively there is no such person reasonably available.
If there’s been no organization in the plant, the worker can’t say, “This machine in unsafe,” and go with his fellow workers and sit down in the lunch room, if there is one, and choose a representative to go in with him on the first stage of the right to refuse. That’s impracticable. Therefore, the worker will have to face the boss on his own. Intimidation is very possibly going to take place. Therefore, the protection that is meant to take place under this bill will not apply. The fact the regulations are posted, if the minister indicates he’s prepared to accept that amendment from our party, is not going to change that to any appreciable extent.
It seems to me if the government is really concerned about the health and safety of workers it will take an aggressive attitude where it will say we want to encourage every worker, through committees, through delegates or representatives, to take a direct personal interest and responsibility in the health and safety at the work place. That means the minister will accept this particular amendment, and will ensure that for every work place there is a health and safety representative. He will ensure the workers have at least gone that far in looking after their health and safety, and in sharing that responsibility with management and with the Ministry of Labour’s inspectors.
That the minister isn’t prepared to do. Therefore, we ask; is there a genuine commitment to health and safety, or is it a commitment that only applies in large work places where health and safety committees in many cases now exist because of the activity of trade unions?
That’s why we think this particular section must be accepted, and the amendment proposed by Mr. Bounsall must be accepted. Unless you do this, we will be coming back in four or five years and we will look at a situation where most of the small work places in Ontario do not have any more awareness of health and safety protection and of the rights under this law than, effectively, they have today.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I’m not going to review all of the responses because these very points have been brought up before. I have responded and the net result of my response is there is a firm and full commitment to health and safety. I’ve gone over the reasons for that support very fully and very completely.
Mr. Cassidy: Oh no, it has got watered down at every step by you and your colleagues.
Mr. Kerrio: It’s very unfair to suggest that. It is not and you know it.
Mr. Chairman: Is the committee read for the amendment? Mr. Bounsall has moved that section 7(2) in line three of the amendment be further amended by substituting “shall” for “may.”
All those in favour of Mr. Bounsall’s amendment will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Shall section 7(3) stand as part of the bill?
Section 7(3) carried.
Mr. Chairman: I have another amendment here for section 7(4). The member for Windsor-Sandwich.
Mr. Bounsall: It’s taken for granted that the minister has introduced the amendment here and my amendment is to delete section 7(4), it’s unnecessary.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Bounsall has moved that section 7(4) be deleted.
Mr. Bounsall: I just want to make the small point that this subsection 4 would be unnecessary if the “may” was changed to “shall” under subsection 2 of the bill. So it’s really a companion amendment to our amendment to section 7(2). If that carries, we don’t need the reference here in subsection 4. I think there may well be some other member speaking to the content of section 8(4), as renumbered, which is contained in this amendment.
Mr. Mackenzie: We had most of the discussion in the earlier part. But the requirements in 8(4) as they relate to the section we are asking to be deleted are the very reason I wasn’t happy with the minister’s answer previously. He considers the nature of the work being done in exercising the powers and whether or not he is going to set up a representative or a committee.
The safety of the work being done can vary greatly depending on the age of the machinery, type of operation or even location of that operation.
On 7(3)(c) of the bill: “the frequency of illness or injury in the work place or in the industry of which the constructor or employer is a part.” We are supposed to be preventive, working towards a safe work place and not, as my colleague has said, looking at the incidence of accidents or the body count before we move.
The request we made to the minister that if there is a request from the worker he respond affirmatively and automatically is the very intent of the bill. To set up these requirements gives all kinds of loopholes and maybe we won’t have as sympathetic a minister the next time around. It doesn’t give me any feeling of security in terms of getting a committee if there is a request from the workers, and I don’t think those kinds of requirements should be necessary. I think it should be automatic.
Mr. Chairman: Any further comments?
Shall Mr. Bounsall’s amendment to section 7(4) carry?
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the nays have it.
Mr. Chairman: Any further comments on any section?
Shall section 7(5) stand as part of the bill?
Section 7(5) carried.
Sections 7(6) to 7(10), inclusive, agreed to.
On section 8:
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Elgie moves section 8(1): “Subject to subsection 3, this section does not apply;
“(a) to a constructor or employer who undertakes to perform work or to supply services on a project.”
Hon. Mr. Elgie: That is simply because we dealt with it under section 7.
Mr. Chairman: Hon. Mr. Elgie further moves that section 8(1) does not apply:
“(b) to an employer in respect of those workers who work,
“1. in that part or in those parts of a building used for office purposes;
“2. in a shop where goods and services are sold or offered for sale to the public except any part used as a factory;
“3. in a building used for multiple residential accommodation;
“4. in a library, museum or art gallery;
“5. in a restaurant, hotel or motel or premises for which a licence or permit has been issued under the Liquor Licence Act, 1975, except that part used as a kitchen or laundry;
“6. in a theatre or place of public entertainment;
“7. in premises occupied and used by a fraternal or social organization or private club.”
Hon. Mr. Elgie: If the members remember, I responded to the definition of a factory yesterday. I want to make it very clear to members that these exceptions are subject to a designation in that the prefacing remarks say “subject to subsection 3,” and subsection 3 gives the minister the right to appoint a committee in any circumstances if he deems it in keeping with the criteria. So there is the authority to appoint a committee should the need arise.
I would like to point out these were selected purely because of the fact they are at such low risk that committees were really felt to be unnecessary. But we did find in our review that kitchens and laundries did have a slightly higher area of risk and that is why they were excluded from this exemption.
I would remind you again that all workers are covered. All workers have the right to refuse and the situation can be altered by regulation, should the minister agree that there is a need to have a committee in that place. I would ask for your support for this section.
Mr. Chairman: Mr. Cassidy moves as an amendment to the amendment that section 8(1)(b) be deleted.
Mr. Cassidy: The only reason the minister has given for ruling out mandatory committees in these particular areas is on the grounds that they are at low risk. I’m reminded of the story about the statistician who drowned in a lake whose average depth was only 12 inches.
Mr. Kerrio: That was because he was standing on his head.
Mr. Cassidy: There are certainly many areas where, it seems to us, the risks are sufficiently great that this is very wrong amendment. We are particularly concerned because once again it is being used as a means to take away from workers the protection they should be getting under the omnibus universal health and safety bill.
I remind the House of the principles of the bill, which were universal coverage. The workers should have the right to refuse unsafe work in order to protect himself or herself and that there should be mandatory committees so that workers across the province would play a direct part in ensuring that there was a healthy and a safe work place. That is what we thought the government was committed to. That’s what we campaigned for back in the 1975 election and long before. That’s what the trade union movement has been looking for and that is what this government is now backing away from.
I remind you as well, Mr. Chairman, that back on May 3 the leader of the Liberal Party held a press conference and said that his party was prepared to exclude farm workers, that it was prepared to take away the right to refuse from police and fire and other so-called essential occupations and that his party was prepared to remove the right to mandatory committee from millions of Ontario workers who work in shops and offices. The Liberal Party wrote the blueprint and the government has just simply accepted it.
What has happened is that we now have an unholy alliance between the two old parties in this province in order to take away workers’ rights in Ontario. That is reflected in the amendment we are debating right now.
I am really upset by that because what we should be talking about is having workers involved in their working environment. I have heard speeches from the former Minister of Labour and this minister and other people about the need to try to improve the quality of working life and speeches about the need to get away from the confrontation between workers and management. Surely the best place to start is in an area which workers know intimately and directly, which is safety and health in the work place.
Surely the requirements of the health and safety committees are not so onerous that they are going to somehow bring Ontario’s industry and its shops and offices grinding to a halt if they are enforced.
People have said there will be thousands upon thousands of committees. Of course there will be, because there are thousands upon thousands of work places. It doesn’t strain us in this province to have a decentralized economy in which thousands of shopkeepers run shops and small offices and that kind of thing. To have each one of those offices have one committee, if they have more than 20 employees, a committee which is required to meet no more often than once every three months, a committee where inspections will be required of the work place on an undetermined frequency and certainly no more than once per month, surely isn’t going to bring the shops and offices of this province grinding to a halt.
It is a matter that the workers have a vehicle to ensure that their rights to a healthy and safe work place are enforced. That is the reason why we think that this particular amendment of the minister and of the government should be refused. Are there really no hazards when you think of a shop that is selling motor cars or a shop that is selling electric saws or a shop that is selling snowmobiles or a shop that is selling snow blowers or a shop that is selling chemicals which can possibly spill and can possibly be toxic, or a shop which is handling pharmaceuticals which could be dangerous to life and limb? There are many such instances where there are dangerous substances or dangerous conditions within a shop, and surely the workers should have the right to be able to bring that to the attention of management through having the right to have a health and safety committee.
If you think of an office environment, some of the duplicating equipment now in use in offices across Ontario is, in fact, industrial-type equipment but the dangers of getting a hand caught in the paper feed or in some of the other parts of that equipment, there will be no way of bringing that to the attention of management because there will be no health and safety committee because it’s not going to be mandatory.
I was in the Toronto-Dominion Centre the other day looking at one of the banks that has an office there. They were very crowded. They were so crowded I think that might have posed a danger to the health of the workers because they were cheek by jowl in conditions that we should not expect in this day and age. Those workers won’t have the right to a health and safety committee, and you know damn well from the behaviour of the banks that the banks are not going to move quickly to help the workers set those things up. There are problems of ventilation in offices which lead to diseases, flu and that kind of thing among office workers. How are they to raise protests about that?
I think of waiters and waitresses at the Royal York who have to carry platters or trays full of meals and sometimes the weights can pose a danger to life and limb, but they will not be able to raise any question about that so long as they’re carrying it within the main body of the restaurant and not in the kitchen.
I think of the ventilation hazards in an underground parking garage in a multiple-unit residence. I think of the problems of the safety drills for the evacuation of a theatre, which affect the safety not only of the patrons but also the safety I of the people who work there, but who will be excluded from having a mandatory committee by the means of this particular amendment.
I think of the very dangerous --
Mr. Chairman: It’s now one o’clock. I wonder if we could continue this.
Mr. Cassidy: I will conclude, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say those are some of the examples that I think are worth bringing to mind. If things are going well, if the office or shop is a safe place, then the existence of a mandatory committee is going to be just basically a protection --
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
Mr. Cassidy: -- but where things have gone badly the workers cannot participate in improving their environment, and that’s why this amendment is needed.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
An hon. member: Throw him out, throw him out.
Mr. Chairman: Order, order. Would the honourable member take his seat?
On motion by Hon. Mr. Elgie, the committee of the whole House reported progress and asked for leave to sit again.
Mr. Speaker: It being one o’clock, I do now leave the chair and we will resume at two.
The House recessed at 1:03 p.m.