31e législature, 4e session

L078 - Tue 17 Jun 1980 / Mar 17 jun 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Wells, moved second reading of Bill 120, An Act respecting the City of Brantford, the Township of Brantford and the County of Brant.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) presented this bill for first reading. In a sense, this bill represents both a beginning and an end. It is the end to many thousands of hours of work on the part of the elected and appointed representatives of the city of Brantford, the township of Brantford and the county of Brant. It is the beginning of what the government hopes will become a new process for resolving municipal boundary and related disputes in a spirit of conciliation, compromise and concern for the common good.

Ontario municipalities have been faced with unprecedented problems in relation to their boundaries over the last three decades. With urban growth, municipal boundary changes became more and more frequent. Some of these changes occurred harmoniously, with the cities and townships agreeing to the changes and co-existing co-operatively and peacefully. However, far too many became bitter, expensive and prolonged disputes, often ending up in the courts.

I need not remind the members that the Barrie annexation process has now dragged on for the better part of five years and shows no immediate promise of being resolved, even though it is now in the Supreme Court of Canada. There are boundary problems in every major urban centre in Ontario where municipal restructuring has not taken place. I believe all parties in this House have, at one point or another, agreed that legalistic, protracted and expensive Ontario Municipal Board hearings are not the way to set public policy concerning municipal boundaries.

On the other hand, it is obvious that the restructurings which resolved most of the boundary problems in the areas affected are not acceptable for most of the rest of the provinces. We have, therefore, set out to find a better way. This bill represents the first step in finding the better way. We believe it is a landmark bill. It is an important bill and we hope it provides an example of what municipalities will be doing in the next few years to resolve their boundary disputes. The members are familiar with the process by which this bill came about.

The willingness of the city of Brantford, the township of Brantford and the county of Brant to participate in a pilot project to resolve their long-standing differences led to an agreement among the municipalities in April of this year. This agreement provided for a comprehensive settlement of many issues and disputes, and this bill simply implements that agreement.

It provides for the annexation of some 4,000 acres of land in Brantford township to the city of Brantford on January 1, 1981, and a further 600 acres later on. It would prevent the city of Brantford from applying to annex lands from the township without the township’s agreement for a further period of 23 years, unless certain conditions of urban development on the fringe of the city exist.

This bill also provides for the development of a comprehensive new official plan for the township and parts of the city, which should sort out many of the conflicting priorities of the two municipalities. It allows the city and township to enter into a series of cost-sharing and servicing agreements which have long been the source of contention in the Brantford area. It provides for the establishment of a buffer area around the city that will be used for agriculture and related purposes and not be subject to urbanization. Finally, it provides that the parties may submit to arbitration any matters contemplated in the agreement upon which they have not yet reached complete settlement.

I would point out that there is one drafting problem in the bill and we will be proposing an amendment to section 4 to correct this. The Brantford-Brant agreement contemplates that the official plan provisions for the agricultural and related use areas surrounding the cities could be amended through a normal official plan process if, and only if, the city, the township and the county are all agreed. That particular aspect of the agreement is not reflected in the present bill, and I will be introducing an amendment to accommodate this when the bill is before committee tomorrow.

The government’s role in the development of this bill has been as an honest broker, mediator, fact-finder and facilitator, not as a policy-setter. The policies contained in the bill are the expression of the wishes of the councils of the municipalities involved. The government takes considerable pride in the fact that a process has been developed which has allowed these municipalities to come to an agreement on matters which have been the sources of friction for so many years. It is our hope and expectation that a similar process can be used in many other areas where municipal boundary disputes exist. However, I must stress that the particular provisions of this bill may or may not be reflected in the settlement reached in other areas. The solution for Brantford is unique. The solutions to be found for Barrie, Sarnia, Chatham, Owen Sound or so many other areas facing major boundary disputes may be quite different. This flexibility is the key to the new process. The negotiation process should allow for local solutions to local problems.

This bill will be going to committee tomorrow for a clause-by-clause examination and, at that point, I expect that representatives from the three municipalities and other interested parties will be expressing their views.

I do not wish to dwell particularly on the details of the bill at this point. I do want to emphasize that all the parties involved have given very serious consideration to the provisions in this bill and have tried to meet the concern expressed by various ratepayers. Public meetings have been held and extended discussions in the media and in private have taken place.

I believe, therefore, the bill deserves the support of all parties in this House and I hope it will receive it. I should mention that all the municipalities in the Brantford area are anxious that the bill should receive the approval of this Legislature before the spring recess, in order to allow time for the arrangements required for the municipal elections this fall.

If we can make the boundary negotiation process work across Ontario, the bitter, divisive, expensive OMB battles between municipalities may be avoided in the future. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say this approach could bring a new era of compromise and common sense to intermunicipal relationships.

It is the view of the government that the kinds of solutions that can be negotiated locally through this process may remove the need for major restructuring in many areas of the province. We expect that local municipal leaders will help develop a system of local government that is far more responsive to local needs than any central body could be. It is with this faith in local government that we are proceeding on this course.

8:10 p.m.

I know the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and the member for Brantford (Mr. Makarchuk) are keenly interested in this bill and have followed its germination with a great deal of interest. I am sure they will have much to say on the subject. I simply want to say to them that they have occasion to be very proud of the municipal leaders in their constituencies. Through them, I extend my congratulations to Bob Kennedy, the reeve of Brantford township, and his team of county and township negotiators, and to Dave Neumann, the alderman of the city of Brantford who led the city’s delegation, and his team of negotiators for the fine job they have done.

I commend this bill to the House.

Mr. Nixon: I welcome the introduction of Bill 120, not as the first step, as the parliamentary assistant has referred to it, but really as the culmination of many steps and many hours of long and arduous negotiation by the representatives of the three municipalities concerned.

I suppose my second thought ought to be to express the concerns that some individuals in the areas being annexed have expressed to me as the elected representative of the area, the constituency of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I believe the objections expressed to the passage of the bill have come from individuals almost exclusively in the Brantford township and perhaps from the county of Brant area. I want to refer to these objections later in my remarks.

First, let me support the parliamentary assistant in the congratulations he extended to the municipal leaders. I know you will be glad to know, Mr. Speaker, that Mayor Charles Bowen of the city of Brantford has joined the various representatives of the township, the negotiating group from the city and those from the county. We are honoured to have him in the chamber this evening.

The negotiations have gone on a long time. Shortly after I was elected, I recall a visit to the Brant-Brantford area by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, as he was then known.

He expressed a view that in the long run we would look forward to establishing a single municipality, a one-tier region in the Brant-Brantford area. I can remember thinking that if that ever came about, it would be in the very distant future.

Frankly, I am glad this Bill 120 has come forward. Appended to it was the statement by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on June 12. I would like to quote one sentence from that statement. It is as follows:

“The bill would make unnecessary the consideration of any regional government proposals for the Brantford-Brant area.”

I consider that a tremendous watershed in the policy of the Conservative government, which has been in office now for these long 37 years. We are soon going to change that, but I will hire a hall and make an appropriate speech in that connection on another occasion. The policy of the party, as the parliamentary assistant well knows, was to impose a regional form of government, one-tier or two-tier, on all of the urbanized areas and the rural areas surrounding them from Windsor pretty well through to Ottawa. I am very grateful indeed that that policy is now at an end.

While the bill is brought forward in the minister’s absence, I note the minister’s presence, at least under the gallery. I was very glad that as well as indicating that regional government was no longer an issue nor a threat in Brant-Brantford, in his additional comments he indicated that he as a minister was certainly not sorry to see the end of that approach.

Since I have the honour to represent a very large territory in the centre of rural southwestern Ontario, I do have constituents who live and pay taxes in the regional municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk. A number of them have expressed their regrets to me that they did not have the alternative of using this procedure to settle their own municipal difficulties rather than having regional government imposed on them. I believe the same to be true, in a large measure, in other areas at present regionalized.

Before you call me to order, Mr. Speaker, for not dealing with the principle of this bill, I want to leave the point by saying that I believe the policy of regionalization was a bad mistake, and an expensive mistake in the first instance and the government is well rid of that policy. I regret very deeply indeed that the government is not prepared to take the steps necessary to change and revoke, at least to some reasonable extent, the damage that has been done by that former policy.

At least this is an area of enlightenment where the government of the day has, with a good deal of excellent and professional assistance, given the power to the municipalities concerned to carve out their own municipal destiny and have brought the results of those negotiations to this House for implementation. This does not remove from the members of the chamber the responsibility to review it carefully and to listen to those who might object, and I understand there will be some of those before the committee tomorrow. The minister’s representative has indicated there will be at least one amendment for correction purposes, and it may be that the bill will proceed to royal assent with only that one amendment.

The people familiar with the circumstances in Brantford know that the discussions and arguments, sometimes acrimonious, have gone on for a good long time. As a matter of fact, the annual event of the debate between the honourable member for Brantford and me got to be a bit of a classic among the cognoscenti in parliamentary procedure over two or three years. In some respects I rather regret that we are not going to have an opportunity to renew it.

Mr. Makarchuk: We will find something else.

Mr. Nixon: On that particular basis, the honourable member assures me we will find something else, and I feel sure that he is right.

I suppose the heat of those exchanges was reflected at the local level as well. My own first response when the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs indicated he was going to use this new procedure was that perhaps it would simply be another delaying action, the thing would be on ice for a period of time and then we would return from the cold war to the hot war when that timetable had been run out. I was wrong in that regard. Although I wished them well, I would say I was very pleased indeed and mildly surprised that the results were as positive as they were. They are before the House today in Bill 120.

There are a number of regrets associated with this. The ministerial officials who were assisting and, in fact, directing the course of events, set out a very reasonable timetable in which the groups met regularly every Thursday night. They even gathered themselves together and left the municipalities entirely for a weekend of intense and concentrated negotiations at the very highest level, during which I feel certain breakthroughs on a personal as well as on a policy basis were achieved.

The timetable was lived up to almost exactly, even to the dates of the various municipalities approving the agreement. There was some delay but it was within the proper ranges. While it is not a terribly important point at this stage, the really disappointing delay came when the minister could not persuade his staff to go forward with the drafting of the bill so it could be before the House in ample time for public hearings, so it could be discussed in committee and in this House, and so it could be brought forward in the general procedures to royal assent and implementation without these pressures.

It was introduced last Thursday. We are having an opportunity to discuss it in principle tonight. Tomorrow, in a very long day, the general government committee will deal with bills on the city of Ottawa, the city of Toronto, certain changes in municipal elections and finally the city of Brantford bill. This is presuming the bill dealing with the village of St. George will not necessarily have to go to committee.

Mr. Rotenberg: Only if you send it there. I am happy with the bill as it is.

8:20 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: All right, but that is going to happen tomorrow. Then, the next day, we are expected to give it third reading, any committee changes necessary and royal assent.

I know I am getting through to the minister, but he is being very careful not to respond because it is all done in his absence in the ridiculous procedure that has been established in this House. Actually, everybody is absent, except the gentleman sitting in the back row there. I really regret we were not able to get this bill for the review of the local people and for debate here, except under these circumstances.

I know the minister is completely unflappable, I have never seen him excited, but I hope when this is finally all established, he will gather his staff around him and, just very mildly, indicate a small degree of displeasure. The staff has been excellent throughout, but somebody here -- maybe it was the parliamentary assistant; that would be a popular scapegoat -- let him down. Somebody did.

I personally am not sufficiently sanguine to believe the minister should pick up his quill pen and write the bill himself, but when I look at the public accounts and see the salaries paid and the numbers of people on the staff, I have a feeling that somebody could have done a better job. In most of those offices it tends to get passed from official to official until it is finally the poor individual at the switchboard who is trying to write out the bill at the time he or she is also answering the telephone. Everybody else is too important and too busy actually to pick up a pen and write some words.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: And now, back to the principle of the bill.

Mr. Nixon: However, Mr. Speaker, the bill is here before us and I am very glad. I am particularly delighted that the negotiations have prompted an agreement on the selection of an industrial site for the city of Brantford that is located in the area of worked- out gravel pits. I have made speeches about this subject before and I will not gather your interest in this regard again, Mr. Speaker, at this time. I will say, though, this is what we should be doing. To continue to put our industrial plants, assuming we are going to have a few in the future, on prime farm land is absolutely ridiculous, in fact, criminal.

In our area we have some very large gravel deposits, many of them progressing towards the worked-out stage, which are well served by controlled access highways and railways and I think in the long run can be well served in other ways, and that is surely where industrial development should go. There is a large area for housing which the government of Ontario, in its wisdom, purchased at least in part many years ago. They purchased 1,000 acres on the border of the city and some of that at least is going to be available in this connection.

I really think it is not going to be needed for a good long time, but that is the purpose of this bill. Really, it puts any serious changes in boundaries on ice for 23 years. Obviously one side wanted 25 and the other side wanted 20, so we get the 23. I am not sure who gave way on the half year, but those are the kinds of negotiations that were so successfully achieved.

The citizens who are objecting are those living in a highly urbanized community known as Greenbrier, which is a beautiful place to live. I have knocked on every door there and I have never had any reason to regret the fact that the area was included within the boundaries of the constituency of Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I may have some reason to regret it later because, while the provisions of this bill mean that if these good citizens, these fine people are, in fact, annexed to Brantford, they will have an opportunity to vote in Brantford. They will not even have an opportunity to express their pleasure or otherwise with the candidates for the council of the township of Brantford in the election this year.

However, I will no doubt have the opportunity, even in 1980 or 1981, to knock on their doors again and to discuss these changes with them. I know many of them will want to discuss them because it is indicated by the statistics that they will lead to an increase in their municipal taxes of 44 per cent. That is without the regular inflationary increases. The only mitigating factor is that the government in its wisdom and the two negotiating groups have been able to work out a program where these increases will be phased in over a period of, at the most, eight years. At least that would be better than an Ontario Municipal Board change that might have the tax increases imposed in a single year -- there is that small residual benefit associated with it.

There are other people in an area surrounding the enlarged city who are having their development rights somehow, and in some ways, reduced. This will be discussed at the committee tomorrow when some of the farmers who own these properties will be coming in, either by themselves or with their legal counsel, to indicate that they object to what they consider to be a down-zoning, which is detrimental to them economically and in other ways.

If the city of Brantford is going to say that with this enlargement it will not require a further annexation for 23 years, they feel they do need some protection so that there will be no further extensive urbanizing and commercial development just beyond their boundaries, as has taken place in the past.

The bill, however, does call for special hearing officers. I hope and believe there will be the kind of accommodation that will assist the individuals so that justice will be done across the board and no specific taxpayers are going to have to carry more than their fair share of the economic load for this accommodation.

I think the hearings tomorrow are quite important. I for one made some commitments to the public meetings where the local officials heard the objections and comments from local citizens. At that time I indicated that in the normal course of events these bills would go to a standing committee, giving citizens an opportunity to express their views. I am very glad that the parliamentary assistant has indicated the bill will go there. I know it is inconvenient but certainly the responsibility for any inconvenience must lie with the government and nowhere else.

I hope this will be an irrelevant and redundant comment, but I understand the actual deadline for the passage of the bill, to meet the planning requirements for the municipal election in the fall, is October 10. The House will return before that time and in the unlikely and unhoped for event that there is more delay than is now expected, there is that fall-back position.

It has been put to me quite clearly by representatives of the municipalities concerned that there is a good deal of planning and action that must take place. One would never for a moment think from the scant population of the House tonight that this bill is historic, but I believe it is. I believe it can be used to solve similar problems in many areas of this province. I am very proud that the Brantford experiment has been as successful, so far, as it is.

Naturally, I have to refer once again to the fact that individuals feel the bill is not in their best interests and that in some respects they have lost what they consider their proper opportunity to express their objections. I can simply rely on the provisions of the bill itself, with its special hearing officers and adjudicators, to see that justice is done for all. At the same time I hope the longstanding confrontation between the municipalities concerned will be laid to rest in an amicable way for the benefit of the whole community and in doing so set an example for the province.

Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I wish to take part in this debate and give the members a brief history of the situation regarding the matter of local government and annexation in Brantford.

The problems in Brantford originated before I was even a resident in the city. Ever since that time I have been continuously hearing about various plans, decisions, meetings, boards, committees, studies, et cetera, for some form of amalgamation and some form of resolving the boundary disputes.

The minister is well aware that is not a problem that is peculiar to Brantford. There were other cities that were present in the office with him and the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) and were pointing out that they have similar problems all through Ontario. That perhaps speaks to the nature of the province and the rigidity of the government. The way it is tied up in its own red tape, the cities have to come begging to the minister saying, “For God’s sake do something.”

8:30 p.m.

I want to say that in Brantford the situation is important because of the growth of the city. In general that growth is related to the health not only of Brantford, but also of Brantford township and all the other townships in Brant county and surrounding areas. If there is no growth and no possibility for growth for Brantford, which was the situation that was developing, then everybody suffers. It was not a matter of Brantford being the only one that would suffer; the whole area would have suffered. The matter of taxation was a problem and still is a problem to an extent. The fact is there is an urban community on the outskirts of the city that was not paying its share of taxes to the operation of the facilities that were being used in the city.

We have to recognize there are matters of planning. One can’t plan on land one doesn’t own, doesn’t possess and over which one has no control. One can’t live in a modern society these days without doing some planning.

There are a lot of problems that have to be resolved. We have to recognize there were talks going on all the time. It wasn’t until the city took the club and said, “We are going to the OMB” and the handwriting was on the wall that the idea of some sort of reasonable compromise entered people’s minds and they sat down and started solving the problem. The other choice was the OMB and the costly expenses for both the city and the township that would have been incurred by them and paid for by the taxpayers.

I must commend the minister for finding this way out or for arranging this means of resolving the situation. I think the stick-handler at mid-ice up there is stick-handling his way very nicely to the leadership when the big change happens on the front rows over there.

Mr. Nixon: All on the basis of the Brantford-Brant bill.

Mr. Makarchuk: All on the basis of the fact that one notices if there are any scapegoats tonight he is not here. It is the parliamentary assistant who is looking after it.

Mr. Rotenberg: I can look after the member with no problem.

Mr. Makarchuk: However, I must say he has recognized the problem and has arranged for a solution. It is through the efforts of the officials in his ministry as well as the people in Brantford township and Brantford that we do have a solution at this time.

It must be Tuesday today because the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) is not here. But I would point out to the members who get so concerned about the little people and the principle --

Mr. Nixon: Your party has only four members here.

Mr. Makarchuk: That is not what I am referring to. I was referring to his attendance in the House.

Mr. Nixon: People who wear glass shoes shouldn’t kick rocks.

Mr. Makarchuk: With respect to the little people, the same principle applies here. We are bypassing the OMB. I want to point out as well that public meetings have been held in every conceivable place in the affected areas and people have had an opportunity to appear before those meetings and express their views. They certainly had an opportunity to talk to members of their respective councils.

Mr. Haggerty: Have you consulted with the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart)?

Mr. Makarchuk: I am very happy with him. He is supporting the bill. Is the member? I hope there is an understanding that the democratic process has been served.

We must recognize that the bill itself is a series of trade-offs. It is not the best deal for anybody. I don’t think anybody is going to come out of it saying he got the best of anything. The fact that the citizens of Brantford will be carrying $1.2 million in additional taxes for a period of time is not necessarily the best deal in the world. They have taken on that kind of a debt.

However, that was a decision of local members of council. If we are going to do something more than pay lip service to the idea of local autonomy, then we have to recognize that they have a right to make a decision. After all, they are elected in the same way as we are. People can affect them one way or the other. Queen’s Park is not going to be the big brother who is going to decide everything for everybody all the time.

We must understand that the citizens’ views will be presented in committee tomorrow. I want to caution the House that if there are significant amendments in committee, we may destroy the whole delicate balance of the bill and may jeopardize the whole understanding that exists between the two municipalities.

I find it rather difficult -- slightly hypocritical, to put it mildly -- that on the one hand we agree to pass the bill more or less with the single amendment as it is here; on the other hand, we are going to listen to those people. But in effect we are telling them, “Look, no matter what you say we are not going to change the bill anyway; it is going to go through this way.”

Mr. Nixon: That is what you say.

Mr. Makarchuk: Are you saying you are going to change the bill?

Mr. Nixon: Do you want it to go to committee?

Mr. Makarchuk: Do you want to change the bill?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Would the honourable member address his remarks to the chair.

Mr. Makarchuk: Yes, I have the floor; that is right.

I want to caution the members that the whole idea, the concern for people, the so-called plans for the future, et cetera -- the grand experiment, as was mentioned earlier by my colleague -- are going to come to nothing if this bill does not continue through to the House on Thursday.

We should understand, as was pointed out earlier, that the whole democratic process in terms of the municipal elections will be jeopardized. There has been a considerable amount of planning; there have been thousands and thousands of dollars of staff time, consultants’ time and everything else used up to try to arrive at an agreement. The people involved were also elected democratically. Therefore, we should at least try to go along with what they are trying to do.

We do not have too many choices. We have about three other choices. One choice is to have a status quo situation and not do anything about it. Another one, which is politically unpalatable right now, is that the minister can impose regional government which, after the experience of the last few elections, is highly unlikely. The third way out is this way. I want to tell the members here they have an opportunity to allow local people to make a decision, to permit something to happen, to try to resolve some of the problems facing urban areas in Ontario. I think we should continue this thing.

Our party is going to support the bill. I ask the other members of the House for their support, to ensure we do not have the same kind of fiasco with this bill as we had with the previous Brantford bill which had --

Mr. Nixon: I thought that was democracy too.

Mr. Makarchuk: The member says that was democracy. I should point out to him the bill was in committee; it had hearings; the committee recommended some amendments. In fact, the committee brought it to the House, and then it was defeated. I am not sure if that was democracy.

Mr. Nixon: Does the member mean if it does not go his way it is undemocratic?

Mr. Makarchuk: It did not go the member’s way, either.

I want to ask the members for their support on this bill. If I may appeal to some of the selfish motives over there, politically it is a very good deal in the sense that it gets the government off the regional government hook.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the other speakers in this debate in speaking to Bill 120, which I think is a very important bill. It is certainly a landmark as far as local government is concerned in the province in the last few years.

I want briefly to commend those people who have been responsible from the start for drawing up this particular bill. I was at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting almost two years ago when the minister made his statement that he was going to have a new form of consultation as far as local government was concerned. Following that, we had the committee, the pilot project set up for the Brantford-Brant annexation problem.

I think it very much in order to join those who have already congratulated Reeve Robert Kennedy, Alderman Neumann, Gardner Church from the ministry, and all the others who participated. We should single out, of course, Mayor Bowen, the mayor of Brantford, who was very much involved in the whole negotiation process.

8:40 p.m.

We have to keep in mind that during the first 100 years or so in Ontario, after the Baldwin Act of 1849, we had very little growth in the province. We did not have much change as far as local government was concerned, with the exception of some of the metropolitan areas.

In the 1960s and 1970s, very rapid growth developed in this province and the government’s attitude to this was that it should impose regional government. As a result, regional government was imposed on Ottawa-Carleton, Niagara, Hamilton, Waterloo, Halton, Haldimand-Norfolk and Muskoka. About 10 or 11 regional governments were imposed across the province.

The significance of those impositions of local government is borne out by the fact that the people weren’t very happy with them. That’s evidenced by the fact that from almost every regional government, there are a lot of opposition members in this particular Legislature. The government in the late 1970s, after minority government came to the province in 1975, had to find some other kind of solution to the local government problem, to the growth problem, to the redevelopment problem.

They set up this pilot project in Brantford. The issues, as they saw them at the time, were that the land on the fringe of the city should be within the city limits and the development of projects, such as plazas and so forth, should not be in the township. They felt there should be some kind of security as far as the expansion was concerned. As far as the township was concerned, they felt this development should not go into the township areas. They felt the cost of services should be shared among the various taxpayers and should be shared equally and fairly among them. They felt there should be some kind of tax protection for the people who were coming into the city, and that the new costs should not be imposed upon them all of a sudden but there should be some kind of phase-in. They felt that for the areas where land was being taken away from the township, they should not experience a rapid increase in their taxes. These things had to be worked out and obviously they have been worked out.

As has been indicated, we are going to have to deal with some of the questions tomorrow. I agree with the other members who have spoken, and I would hope that this particular bill can be resolved tomorrow and be brought back to the House for third reading and royal assent on Thursday.

The greatest losers, I would think, with respect to the annexation discussions that have gone on in the last eight or 10 months, would be the lawyers and consultants in this province. We know that in Barrie alone, which has had a long discussion of annexation before the Ontario Municipal Board, between the various municipalities involved and the province there has been more than $1 million spent on lawyers and consultants. We think the citizens should be the greatest benefactors of the discussions that have gone on in the Brantford area in the last eight or 10 months.

We note that in the guidelines that have been established for the legislation to be passed, we have until November 1, 1980, to pass the legislation. If it goes beyond that point, then the parties may withdraw from the agreement without prejudice. It is incumbent upon us to pass this legislation and I hope give it second reading today, so it can go into committee tomorrow and receive royal assent on Thursday.

I think, however, Mr. Speaker, we should note one important thing, and that is that there has been a great deal of agreement and good feeling go on with respect to this bill in the last few months. I think the various parties are going to be hard pressed in the coming months and the coming years and I hope there is enough of that good feeling and spirit to tide them over into the coming years. I think that, as in other annexations and other forms of government that have come about in this province, there has been a lot of bad feeling develop because of some minor disputes. I hope and expect that the people in Brantford city and township and Brant county are strong enough and strong-willed enough to overcome this.

One note before I finish and that is that we note that in this particular bill the various important clauses are on about 11 pages, but in drawing up the boundaries of this bill, they are contained on 12 pages. If one counts the “thences” in the various pages, he will find there are at least 12 on each of the pages. Multiply that by 12 and it comes to at least 144 “thences.” I think whoever draws up these bills should find some other word to replace it. I think it is the most overused word in this bill and many other bills where there are boundary alterations.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, I rise to participate in this debate on a bill that is very definitely a landmark bill in the history of municipal government in this province.

I was present at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario convention last summer when the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs announced this new process to the municipalities of the province. I welcomed it at that time with less than total optimism. I thought the process was soundly based and that it had the possibility to be fair. But I was a little more, perhaps I will say, sceptical about the chances of success for the process that the minister was announcing.

I have to congratulate not only the minister but also his staff and all the people who were involved -- in the county of Brant, in the city of Brantford and in Brantford township -- who have ensured that this process has come to fruition and has led to the bill that is before us tonight. I will go further and say I do not share in any way the comments of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk about the timing of this bill coming before us. I recall that the minister’s announcement was in August of last year. I think for the issues that were standing in the way at that time to have been resolved in the few months between then and now is a real tribute to the people who were involved in the process.

It is unfortunate that it is coming to us two days before the House rises. But that is the fault of this House and not the fault of the process and certainly not, in my view, the fault of the ministry staff nor of the local councillors and aldermen who have been involved in the process.

It is certainly a difficult problem that we face when we are dealing with annexation.

It is something that has always been a problem and continues to be a problem in many other areas of the province. As other members have indicated, the regional government approach could have been followed and I share their dislike or even abhorrence of that approach. It was tried in a number of areas of this province and it has been far from a great success. I too welcome the statement of the minister that we will not be seeing new regional governments set up in Brant-Brantford or in any other area of the province, I hope, in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Nixon: I hear you want one tier in Hamilton-Wentworth.

Mr. Isaacs: That is a matter of dealing with an existing situation that was caused by something done by that government.

The second approach is the newest one and that is the approach that has led to this bill tonight, and I will come back to that in a few moments.

The third major approach is the traditional one through the Ontario Municipal Board. It involves a great deal of legal argument, incurring tremendous costs for the taxpayers and the municipalities, where councils, land owners, citizens and anyone else who can claim to have any kind of interest can make presentations before the OMB.

I am interested to hear some of the comments tonight. I hope this debate will continue and that there will be further discussion of the OMB process and of the approach that could have been taken if the traditional lines had been followed. It is only a couple of weeks since we were debating the other Brantford situation in this House and some members of the House were indicating their approval of the great mechanism that the OMB provides to the public of this province. I indicated that in my view the OMB mechanism was the second greatest problem in planning in Ontario, and one which I did not accept as being fundamental to planning or fundamental to local government.

If I might, I would like to illustrate the feelings that were expressed that night. I think they are relevant to this bill before us tonight, in that they relate to the functions of the OMB and the functions of the OMB in hearing citizens’ objections. After all, that is the comment that has been raised by all speakers tonight.

On June 3, the member for Ottawa East said: “We do not think the Legislature of Ontario, on the basis of expediency, should deny people rights that have been established by this Legislature. This is why we have reservations and this is why I, as one member, cannot support this legislation.” Mr. Speaker, as you know, that was the legislation relating to development in downtown Brantford and the matter the member for Ottawa East was referring to was the matter of bypassing the OMB process.

Similarly, that same afternoon, the member for Kingston and the Islands, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton), said: “ ... I think we have to be very careful, whatever may be the pressures at a given point in time, of allowing ourselves as legislators to act, albeit at the request of a municipality, in such a way as to circumvent what would normally be the due process to which the citizens of a community had access at a time when the municipality was embarking upon a major scheme like this.”

I see those comments as applying equally to this bill that is before us tonight and, to be honest, I am surprised that those kinds of comments, at least so far, have not been raised in this debate.

There are obviously people in this House who do have a love affair with the OMB and do not think that this House should be bypassing the OMB. I am not one of those people and I have remarkably little use for the OMB in the affairs of this province. I have some use for it but remarkably little use, Mr. Speaker.

I am very comfortable with the approach the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has taken on this matter and I hope we will see it refined a little. I hope we will see it applied in other areas of the province where there are problems, including areas where regional governments are in place and very serious problems continue to exist.

8:50 p.m.

The problems of local government are not easy, Mr. Speaker, as I know you are aware. The real issues are not just the location of a boundary line. While the bill is dealing with annexation, with the moving of a boundary line, the fundamental issue has to do with development, has to do with property taxes and has to do with who will pay for new services that I will be required in the area.

Of course there are people who have loyalties to the city or township or town or community in which they live. Those people are people for whom I have a great deal of respect, but they are few and far between.

The issue that will be presented before us if this bill goes to committee is an issue that fundamentally relates to development and payment of costs. I want to suggest, Mr. Speaker, and I say this in all seriousness, that we should not be controlling development simply by controlling municipal boundaries. Of course, if there is an area that is served by common services but is split by a municipal boundary line, then it may make sense to have a single local government rather than having the jurisdiction split between two equal local governments. In that circumstance, moving the boundary line may make some sense, and moving a boundary line is, of course, annexation or amalgamation.

Similarly, if development is anticipated in an area, it may make sense to move the boundary line so that the services can be provided from a single existing urban service area rather than establishing a second or overlapping urban service area. This is, essentially, in very simple terms, the situation which exists in the Brantford area at the moment.

Having provided the parliamentary assistant with the praise that he so often seeks on municipal bills --

Mr. Rotenberg: The member is learning. It will be easier for him next time.

Mr. Isaacs: He should wait until the next bill -- and which, I have to admit, does not always come quite as easily as it does on this bill, I do have one minor matter that relates to this issue of planning that I want to draw to the parliamentary assistant’s attention and which I hope will be taken into account when we move into other areas with this kind of process. That is, in the bill, the boundary of the city of Brantford, the city limits across the annexed area is to become the development boundary.

In my view, that is a little backhanded. We are essentially using this new, exciting annexation process as a planning tool. I would have preferred to see the planning put first -- the cart before the horse -- then, having done the planning, deal with the boundary change later. I know in this particular situation the planning has been done. I know the parliamentary assistant can quite correctly respond that because this annexation matter has dragged out over so many years --

Mr. Rotenberg: You are making my speech for me. Keep going, you are doing fine.

Mr. Isaacs: Sometimes I wonder whether I should. I know the member is going to tell me the planning was done before the boundary was moved. I accept that in this particular instance. But the process itself has the potential to be used as a planning tool instead of something that comes after the planning, when everyone knows what the development area is to be.

The fact that there is the possibility of an annexation or the movement of the city or urban limit being used as a planning tool shows how hopeless and outdated the planning process in this province has become. That is what we were discussing a couple of weeks ago. I do not intend to rehash that, but I do say that when this bill goes to committee there is a very real danger that we will be, in essence, discussing not really where the boundary of the city of Brantford should be, but who should be and who should not be in the development area.

There are some very real dangers in a legislative committee trying to assume a role that is essentially one for a quasi-judicial body such as the OMB or, perhaps even more appropriately, a role for the municipal council that is elected to deal with those kinds of decisions.

In my view it is almost impossible for a committee of this House to ensure that its procedures are fair if it is trying to play that OMB role. There are real difficulties in ensuring equity for all parties if a committee of this House decides to make changes to the boundaries. The evidence available to us, as members of the Legislature, may not be the complete evidence. Obviously, we could not gain, in the matter of half a day of hearings, or even in a week of hearings, the amount of knowledge of the issues an arbitrator has obtained in the period since last summer or the even greater knowledge members of the local council involved will have as a result of their work on these problems over the last 10 years or more.

So I have very real concerns about a committee of the Legislature trying to subsume the work of the OMB. I hope that does not happen, and I will be very interested when --

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The honourable member is straying from the principle of the bill.

Mr. Nixon: He certainly is. We have the St. George bill to deal with.

Mr. Isaacs: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will get back to the principle of the bill by pointing out --

An hon. member: I thought you were on the principle all along.

Mr. Isaacs: Good. I have some support, Mr. Speaker. I will get back to the principle of the bill by saying that the bill deals with --

Mr. Nixon: Tell us about the one-tier government in Hamilton-Wentworth and how consistent you are.

Mr. Isaacs: -- the location of a municipal boundary and that if we discuss planning matters under the auspices of this bill, as we may, then I believe we could get ourselves into very serious difficulties. I look forward to attending the committee tomorrow and following the debate that will arise as a result of the exciting process that has been introduced here by the government.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members opposite for their support of the bill and for indicating that they will support it in committee tomorrow.

As I mentioned, it is the first step in the total process but the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk said, “No, it is the last step.” I am sorry if that was not clear to the honourable member. It is the last step in the process for Brant-Brantford but will be the first step, we hope, in a series of processes throughout the province which will be very satisfactory to all of our citizens.

Mr. Nixon: The Brant-Brantford people are interested but nobody else seems to be.

9 p.m.

Mr. Rotenberg: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk also seemed to criticize the timing. Considering the total length of time this matter has been with Brant-Brantford and with our ministry, I think we have done very well. We have done very well to get the agreement and we have done very well to get the legislation here.

The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was half-jokingly talking about somebody up in our ministry writing the bill with a quill pen while answering the phone. I know the last time his party was in the government, they did use quill pens.

Mr. Makarchuk: If they get back in, they will revert to quill pens as well.

Mr. Rotenberg: I can write my own script, thanks. I am sure also that some of those writings with quill pens were done on his kitchen table.

I think the member maybe inadvertently took a bit of a cheap shot at the staff of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in talking about some of the slacking of that staff. I would point out to that member and to all members that our staff worked very hard, very diligently and for very long hours over the past number of months to bring this to fruition.

Mr. Warner: They had to in order to prop you up.

Mr. Rotenberg: As a matter of fact I was going to point out that the average staff member who worked on this worked 160 per cent of the time. In other words, they worked 60 per cent overtime over more than the past six months in order to bring this matter to fruition tonight. The director of the project, Mr. Church, whom I commend, worked 188 per cent of the time. All of this overtime was worked without any additional compensation because our people don’t follow the dictates of the members opposite where everything has to be paid at rates of time and a half.

I must confess that one thing does sadden me about the bill. We won’t get the annual shouting match every year between those two neighbours, the members for Brantford and Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, about the boundaries. I am going to miss it. I would offer the services of our ministry to both those members to find a new issue to argue about over the next number of years after this has gone to bed.

I was a little disturbed at the remarks of the member for Brantford who, in effect, said we shouldn’t be having a hearing tomorrow because the bill is the bill is the bill and we shouldn’t change it. He was almost saying we shouldn’t be listening to the people. This has had full public hearings before the various municipal councils and so on, but the matter is before this Legislature and we should be holding a hearing because people in that area requested a hearing.

Mr. Makarchuk: But don’t change the bill.

Mr. Rotenberg: I am not going to say in advance I would not support a change in the bill that makes sense, if one comes forward tomorrow at the hearings. The one thing I will say, as I said in the opening remarks, is that this bill is really not a reflection of government policy. This bill is a reflection of an agreement worked out by some very competent municipal councillors from the three sides.

If something comes forward tomorrow that makes sense, it will have not only to make sense to me and to the government, it will have to make sense to the representatives of the various municipal councils before I would consider putting an amendment forward and supporting it. It will not be just an amendment we will support. But if an amendment or a suggestion comes forward that has the blessing of the municipal councils that will be there, then of course we should consider it. That is really what the whole process is all about.

The member for Wentworth also seems to have a distrust of a legislative committee, a committee that he serves on. He believes we should not be involved because we might stray from strictly legislative or planning matters. Good heavens, what are we here for if we are not here as legislators to look into all matters of the bill?

I have full confidence in that committee and in this Legislature to deal fairly with this bill, both in the Legislature and in our standing committees, to deal fairly with the people, and with the municipal councillors and to come up with the proper solution.

I thank all members for their support of this bill and I would ask for its adoption in second reading.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for standing committee on general government.


Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Wells, moved second reading of Bill 122, An Act respecting the Police Village of St. George.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) mentioned in his introductory statement several weeks ago, the bill has been prepared in response to requests from the trustees of the police village and the council of the township of St. George. Following the expansion and subsequent dissolution of the police village, an appointed Hydro commission will supervise the provision of hydroelectric services in the affected area. An urban service area will be established with the provision of sewer and water services, sidewalks, street lighting and garbage collection.

This is a very simple bill. Tonight we are looking after all the problems of the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I am sure he will support the bill as well.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I also happen to have the honour of being a property owner in the police village of St. George. As far as I know, this is the first time in the history of the Legislature a bill dealing with that great community has been before us.

The parliamentary assistant indicated that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs made a statement many weeks ago when he introduced the bill. In fact, this bill was introduced on June 12, although the legislation has been pending and in fact delayed for a good long time. I simply raise the matter since the parliamentary assistant is so sensitive about any criticism directed to him, the minister or the staff of the ministry.

I will tell him that the lack of this legislation -- or even more preferable, of a reasonable solution at the administrative level by the Ministry of Energy with Ontario Hydro -- has been a severe drawback to the work of the community, and it has cost us a good many dollars. I regret it very much and I think the ministry should do something about that in a rather generous and open-handed way. I know his representative will give it some consideration.

The police village of St. George is the most beautiful village in Ontario, if not Canada, nestled in the arable farming lands of Brant county. Without talking at length of its many attributes, I would simply say a decision has been made to expand its residential area. In the wisdom of the Ministry of the Environment as well as the councillors of the municipality, which is the township of South Dumfries, a sewage disposal system is being built.

We are not having any lagoons, thank you. This is a proper disposal plant, and naturally it has to be served electricity. When they went to hook it up Ontario Hydro said, “Fine, the rates you pay will be rural rates.” In our area the rural rates are probably 50 per cent, at least, greater than those payable in the village. I would think it would be closer to 70 per cent greater. Of course, there was obviously objection to this.

Ontario Hydro indicated they were not prepared to let the village service either the sewage disposal system or the extension to the community, known as the Iezzi subdivision. The problem became practically insurmountable. Even the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs himself, who sits four seats from the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch), could not work out some sort of equitable compromise for this small community which had, in the eyes of the government, an insoluble problem. So the bill before us takes the Draconian action of dissolving the police village.

I regret that very much. It is a historic community as a village. It was there, in fact, before Brantford was anything but a little ford, where Joseph Brant and his Indian brethren went from one side of the Grand to the other. Now Brantford has progressed in more ways than one but the police village has retained all of its charm, at least up until this point.

I am not so sure that by the time we put sewers up and down all the streets and the new waterworks and add the addition, it might not become just another one of those grand communities with all the hamburger stands and various other franchises that make so many of our communities identical. We are not bothered by that, although we do have a Bank of Montreal, which in one sense I suppose is a pretty standard fixture in most of the communities of southwestern Ontario.

9:10 p.m.

I regret not only that the village is dissolved but that its replacement is something called an urban service area. My constituents won’t live in the village of St. George but in the urban service area of St. George, or for short, USA St. George. We presume the bill will get royal assent on July 4. I owe that gem to a friend of mine who is visiting from Brantford who just threw that off the top of his head during dinner when he was advising me on the efficacy of the previous bill.

I do regret, as I say, that it is necessary to dissolve the village and to abolish the time-honoured, important and responsible position of village trustee. At least for a period of time the presently elected trustees will continue as a hydro commission and they will be able to administer the lower rates to the sewage disposal plant and the many good people who we expect in the near future to buy the lots in the new subdivision and in the expanding community of St. George.

It is interesting that it is not possible for that group to be given additional responsibilities for other services such as water and sewage, for example, but evidently that would be too large a jump for the government of the day to take, so we are going to have this duplication of government boards.

The objection has been expressed locally that in the long run the replacements to the presently elected trustees will not be elected but will be appointed by the township council of South Dumfries. The objection has come from the present trustees who feel their successors should be elected as well, but the decision has been taken by the government that they will not approve that sort of an alternative. In order to remove the problems that have been created by the government policy over the years, it is necessary to accept the bill as it is put forward.

Members will be glad to know that I have consulted personally with all of the trustees and while they object on the basis that I have already described, they regret that they will not be succeeded by elected people, they do not object to the passage of the bill. The township of South Dumfries is very glad to have the legislation so that it can proceed with the servicing of the new community. It is even expected that some people probably from the Brant area, the Brantford area or the Brantford township, Brantford city area will look out to the village of St. George, which is one of the finest places that they could possibly move to in order to raise their families, with good schools, good services and excellent representation right across the board.

Mr. Gaunt: They are an outlawed breed in St. George.

Mr. Nixon: Well, we don’t have Tories there, but there may be some in the future, who knows. If we allow people to move in, the whole community may be ruined, but I am prepared to take that risk.


Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, in spite of the interjections from the other side of the House, I really do welcome this bill. Although it is an extremely cumbersome way to solve what should have been a minor problem, I am glad that the government at last has brought the bill in and the township of South Dumfries and the village of St. George can proceed with their planned development.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, I have only a few brief comments on this bill. The members of this party welcome the change that is being made because it is obviously to the benefit of the people of the police village of St. George and also to some extent to the benefit of the people of the township of South Dumfries.

Our one concern is that the bill is imposing the same tired old kind of municipal government on the people who are at present living in the police village of St. George. We would have hoped that we would have seen St. George used as a model for a new kind of municipal government that deals with the many problems we have presented to the minister and to his parliamentary assistant in many municipal debates in this House.

There are approaches that could have been taken that would have improved municipal government for the people of that area to a tremendous extent, but in fact we have set up the urban service area or will be setting up the urban service area to which the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk referred. That urban service area will carry with it many of the problems that local government elsewhere in this province is facing, such as: financial problems; problems with environmental assessments and new municipal projects; problems in dealing with planning and making decisions that are subsequently overturned or amended by the Tory hacks on the Ontario Municipal Board.

Unfortunately, we are not able to bring forward amendments to this bill that would put in place the kind of municipal government we feel should be in place, not only in St. George, but also across the province. The reason we are not able to do that is primarily that from time to time, when we have attempted to make those kinds of changes and to indicate certain things that should be done either on a trial basis or on a permanent basis in other communities where the legislation has come before us, our amendments presented to this House to make those changes have received no support outside of the members of this caucus. Indeed, the Liberal Party in particular has been disappointing in its support for innovation in municipal government. So I have to say that we will accept the bill and we will not be presenting amendments.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.


Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Wells, moved second reading of Bill 121, An Act to vest Certain Lands in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to transfer the ownership of certain lands from Algonquin College to the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. The region and the college have been unable to come to an agreement about the land which the region requires for its transit system, and the province has therefore found it necessary to intervene.

I think we all know that the college is unexpropriatable, that the region cannot expropriate from the province, and this is why this bill is before us. The legislation makes the provision for the issue of compensation to come before the Land Compensation Board should that be necessary.

This bill has been requested by the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, and I hope the members of the House will support it.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, we will support this bill on second reading. However, I regret very much that the government has had to resort to bringing in a bill to expropriate lands from the college. it is unfortunate that we arrive at these junctures very late in the session and, all of a sudden, legislation has to be brought in to force the college to give up lands that they were not prepared to give up during the negotiations.

I would have hoped that the region could have sweetened their particular deal enough to get the college to give up this land. This, however, was not possible by the time the Legislature was going to close down for the summer.

Because this land is going to be used for a rapid transit route, which all of us obviously support -- and I am sure you do too, Mr. Speaker -- and the importance of rapid transit has been brought home to us on many occasions, I think no one in this Legislature would oppose the suggestion that a southwest rapid transit route should be extended in Ottawa-Carleton. So we will support this bill and hope it gets rapid passage and royal assent tomorrow.

Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, we too will be supporting this bill. However, I think a couple of very brief comments are in order. The member for Waterloo North made some remarks about the unfortunate fact that legislation of this kind had to come before us and about the fact that the government was bringing it in at the last moment.

I believe it is unfortunate that this kind of legislation is made necessary by the trustees of what amounts to a public institution. To me, it is very unfortunate that the idea is abroad in the minds of some of those who are responsible for the management of public property, such as a college of applied arts and technology, that they own an empire and they have the right to create problems of this kind when dealing with another elected government.

9:20 p.m.

I am not going to pick on individuals and I am not going to attack individuals but it seems to me that Algonquin College lands, along with the lands of every community college in this province, should be vested in the people of Ontario. Those lands should be available to the people of Ontario for use as they see fit. It concerns me very greatly that the structure for governing community colleges that this government has put in place is such that the trustees of those community colleges see themselves as owners of a piece of territory, including the buildings thereon, and they are going to have control over the uses to which that territory is put.

I just think that is a wrong-headed attitude and it is very unfortunate that it has come about in this instance. I hope the government, instead of having to deal with other situations like this in the future, will make it very clear to the governments of community colleges that they hold that property in trust for the people of Ontario and not for some empire they are trying to build on their own behalf. In a sense we are bypassing procedures that would otherwise involve a great deal of legal expense and costs, all of which would be met by the taxpayers of Ontario and therefore I am very happy to bypass those procedures.

With those comments I will conclude my remarks and indicate that not only are we supporting the bill but we have no amendments.

Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I rise because of a couple of comments that my colleague made. A while back, I had the delightful opportunity to be my party’s critic for colleges and universities. During that time I had the good fortune to visit each of the colleges and universities in this province.

Unfortunately, on some occasions there is a tendency to treat the college and its property as some sort of private domain. We tend to lose sight of the fact that the land and the buildings, which the people of Ontario so proudly own, are held in trust by the board of directors and by the people who run the college. Part of it unfortunately is the fact that there is not a very broad representation of the community involved in the operation of the college.

Unfortunately, the government is forced tonight to bring forward a bill to resolve a dispute between two public bodies. I certainly detect in the comments made by the parliamentary assistant that the government did not particularly want to bring the bill forward. These kinds of problems are best resolved at the local level.

I would agree with that but there is also a greater good. In this instance the greater good is ensuring that a better transit system is available, particularly for those students who are attempting to go to Algonquin College. They would like a decent bus route so they can go to the college. I have not been a resident of the city of Ottawa or lived in Ottawa-Carleton but to my knowledge they have attempted to structure a very good transit system. They are to be commended for their efforts.

I certainly support the bill, but regret that the problem could not have been resolved in a way that precluded coming here to the Legislature for this kind of approval.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to indicate my support for this move by the government at this time. The region has been trying for some time to acquire a rapid transit route and it was thought this route would have less of an impact on local residents than any other route that might have been chosen. It is unfortunate that the people who represent Algonquin College could not come to terms with the region and that it is therefore necessary to take this step.

In talking about autonomy and this issue, it is difficult to draw the line where local autonomy should stop and where it should start.

I tend to agree with some of the NDP speakers that the province might act with a stronger hand in terms of holding property. I also find it very ironic that the chairman of Algonquin College happens to be a former NDP candidate in this province, one who happened to lose. I do not think they could talk out of both sides of their mouths on this kind of an issue in terms of the responsible use of power and the responsible use of public land.

Our government is showing leadership in finally putting this issue to rest -- and to rest where it should be. I, therefore, strongly support this endeavour.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I thank all the honourable members for their support of this bill.

I would point out to the member for Waterloo North that the bill was necessary. It was not a case of letting it sit for a little while longer to work out a better deal. It was simply a case of the trustees of Algonquin College more or less refusing to give up the land at any price. Therefore, we had to move in and have this bill brought forward.

I would not agree with the remarks, as I understood them, of the member for Went- worth that we should be changing our whole way of handling these things because of this case. This really is the exception that proves the rule. Most trustees of most public institutions act most responsibly, and this kind of bill is very seldom necessary. I would rather leave the total situation of the various colleges and trustees the way it is, and move in the odd time when it is necessary, than change the whole philosophy.

With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I would ask for second reading of this bill.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.


Hon. Mr. Wells moved second reading of Bill 119, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I just have a few comments. This bill, of course, basically does only one thing. It adds an additional member from the board of education for the borough of Scarborough to the Metropolitan Toronto School Board.

In the spring of this year, the Scarborough Board of Education made a recommendation to the Metropolitan Toronto School Board that Scarborough be given one more member on the board, based mainly on the fact that Scarborough is one of the still-growing areas where schools are continuing to be built and the school population has at least remained static.

The Scarborough board pointed out it had made gains in all four categories of taxable assessment, enrolment, population and estimated growth in expenditures. In addition, on the basis of the 1980 projected enrolments, Scarborough will have the largest enrolment of all the area boards within Metropolitan Toronto.

An important thing also is that the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, having received this request from the Scarborough board, agreed to the request and wrote and asked the government to act accordingly. Therefore, we bring this bill before the House, as an amendment to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, to change the composition of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board by adding one additional seat from the borough of Scarborough.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome the minister to the House. It is nice to see him speak on these important pieces of legislation. I noted he was absent during the other three important pieces of legislation, but we have him here for this extra member for Scarborough. I would not for a moment suggest he has a conflict of interest, but it is good to see him here anyway.

We obviously will support this. We regret the fact that the city of Toronto is losing its important position piece by piece through various pieces of legislation being introduced in this House regarding the education areas or the local government areas. However, we find that Scarborough, being a thriving metropolis with a growing population, from the standpoint of representation by population deserves this particular additional member. For the school board, I am sure this will mean a greater amount of wisdom will come about as a result of Scarborough’s being represented by three members now as opposed to two before and that the services, as far as the school board is concerned, will be more greatly favoured and better served.

We will support this particular bill. I will leave it at that.

9:30 p.m.

Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I will support the bill, but as I was listening to the minister’s opening remarks, I was wondering if this mysterious new member, whom we have not seen yet, will help to turn that board around on the heritage language program. I sure hope so. I must say, to the minister’s credit, he has been very straightforward with that board about their intransigent position and has indicated to them how wrong they are. I appreciate that. It is not an easy task.

Scarborough is a growing area. Population-wise, it deserves the extra representation. It also has, unfortunately, a very peculiar problem with respect to the school board situation. I am not talking about Liberals tonight; I will leave that for another occasion. There are not too many out there. Scarborough has a peculiar problem in that while there is a fast-growing area, particularly in the north -- in the minister’s riding, as a matter of fact -- where new schools are opening up, in the south part of the borough schools are being closed because there is an older population there and there are not as many children.

It presents a unique and difficult problem for the Scarborough board to come to grips with, namely, how to cope with the expensive operation of trying to open new schools and, at the same time, the very discouraging process of closing schools. Who wants to buy a school building? What does the board do with a school when it closes it? I have some suggestions, though this is perhaps not the occasion to go through and discuss all of those, but I do know there are some imaginative ways in which those school buildings could be put to use in the community.

I am also hopeful that there are some plans whereby those communities can be revived and we can have the school population that is needed so the local schools can function. I am pleased to see the extra representation, because it is a difficult situation, and not just in terms of numbers. The member for Waterloo North mentioned that numbers are important. But when one looks at a growing area, what that means is young families, children starting school for the first time, newcomers, new Canadians, who have special problems and require special attention, and a very increased work load.

There will be a real challenge for this new mysterious member, whoever he or she will be. That challenge will be how to meet changing educational needs in Scarborough; they are many and they are varied. Part of it is the heritage language program. It is very discouraging to me and to other members, including the minister, that the board has not taken the initiative to join the other boroughs and the two cities in adopting the heritage language program.

Having said that, I welcome the bill allowing for an additional member and hope that he or she will apply himself or herself to the task at hand and give the leadership that is necessary so that they can meet a changing role for education in the borough of Scarborough.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, I also rise to support the bill. I do so with no great enthusiasm, even as a Scarborough politician. I am pleased that the population growth is being recognized and that representation reflecting that population growth and the school growth in Scarborough is going to be put on the Metro board. But I simply have to say, “Here we go again with piecemeal changes in the metropolitan government levels when what is needed is a total revamping.” More and more, I am of the opinion that we do not need a Metropolitan Toronto School Board; what we need is better local borough boards and city boards.

As was mentioned by two other members who have spoken to date, what this does again is to add to the imbalance in terms of the city of Toronto, on the Metro board, and again they will be defeated on item after item on the Metro board. What would have been wonderful to have seen, and what I would have loved to have supported tonight, would have been the abolition of that Metro board and the strengthening of the local boards.

But say no more. The rationale is in the background for it, the population figures make it all worthwhile and, as the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) said, I urge the new member of the Scarborough board on the Metro board to look after the needs of Scarborough and perhaps bring in a few enlightened programs such as the heritage language program. But it is small pickings.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few things, because some very basic issues have arisen on this bill even though it is a very simple and short bill.

First of all, I would like to say to my friend the member for Waterloo North that I have not been absent from the House tonight. I have been in the House, although I have not been sitting in my seat. My parliamentary assistant has been taking part in the debates in carrying the bills. I am sure my friend knows that in this ministry we operate as a team and we all share the responsibilities. I had to be in Ottawa most of today and was not exactly sure when I would arrive back.

Mr. Roy: Were you in court; is that it?

Hon. Mr. Wells: No, I was not in court in Ottawa. I was with a very distinguished group of ministers from across Canada, meeting with the honourable member’s friend and mine, the federal Minister of Justice, and I was not sure when I would get back. But I have followed with very great interest the procedures and processes of the bills that were before this House, particularly the first one debated tonight, on Brant-Brantford.

I wanted to do this bill myself, not because there was any conflict of interest, because there is not, but because I once served as chairman of the finance committee and chairman of the salary negotiating committee of the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. I have a very deep and real feeling that the Metropolitan Toronto School Board is needed.

My friend the member for Scarborough West is sadly mistaken if he thinks we could do without the Metropolitan Toronto School Board. It has served and will serve a very useful purpose in Metropolitan Toronto. I would say to him that it has particularly served a very useful purpose for the borough of Scarborough. I know that my friend the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere knows deep down in his heart -- and he must know, because he was once a teacher in Scarborough -- that much of the good that has gone on in Scarborough and has been developed there was made possible because of the school system in Metro which involved the Metropolitan Toronto School Board.

As I said a couple of years ago in this House, if we did away with the Metropolitan Toronto School Board, within two years somebody would be back here asking us to re-establish it. That is exactly what the situation would be. It has been a very remarkable example of a system of educational administration and governance that has worked well in an expanding metropolitan area.

The real point that needs to be made to both my friends from Scarborough and to the other members of this House is that this is an example of a body itself asking this House if we would change the composition slightly and add an additional member from one of the lower-tier boards. The government is very happy to accede to that request, and that is precisely and exactly what this bill does. I would urge the members to support the bill.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

9:40 p.m.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 82, An Act to amend the Education Act, 1974.

Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues, I am pleased to see this bill finally before us, but also like my colleagues, I have some concerns about this bill.

If I could sum up, my concern is that it is a bill that is coming to us in what seems to be an imperfect form and is coming from a government that now is saying it will answer needs which for years it has refused to acknowledge. I wonder whether this bill is going to serve the purposes we hope it will serve, or whether it can serve those purposes under the administration and design of a government which in some way still does not seem to acknowledge the need for special education in Ontario.

Just to give you a little bit of understanding of why I have this feeling of unease about this bill, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take you back over a very brief part of the history of the subject of special education as it has been dealt with in this Legislature since the time I arrived here.

Back in the year 1977, when we raised the issue of the need for special education with this government -- and it was a need that had been presented to this government forcefully and vocally by members of the opposition for some time before then -- we were dealing with the member for Scarborough North (Mr. Wells) as the Minister of Education. We could not find out at that stage what kinds of programs existed in Ontario schools, and it was important to know the kinds of programs the minister was then claiming were meeting the special education needs of the children of Ontario.

The then minister was telling us back in 1977 -- I looked back over the debates today -- that 12 per cent of Ontario school children were receiving special education. We could not get any information from him or from the officials of the ministry about what that special education was exactly. We asked: “What kinds of programs are involved? How many minutes per day? In what kinds of programs and in classes of what size are you delivering special education to 12 per cent of Ontario school children?” He did not know; so we pestered him and pestered him and within the next few months he produced what he said was the information we were looking for.

What we got was a printout about a foot long, about eight inches wide and roughly two inches thick. It was a printout, from the Ministry of Education, of information provided by each and every school board, public and separate, elementary and secondary, within the school system of Ontario. It provided information about the categories of special education which were supposed to be serving the children of Ontario.

That was a fascinating document but I believe, when the then Minister of Education gave it to us, he was not familiar with it. We asked him during his estimates in May 1978 about the import and significance of the programs that were printed out for us. We asked him to tell us what these categories of programs meant; what a program, for example, for speech and language disorders at the elementary level meant; and what a program that was categorized as intellectual basic level at the secondary high school level meant. What we got was a recitation of the categories. It seemed impossible for the minister to define them for us other than by reading the names of the categories.

When we asked what kinds of programs children in Ontario were being placed in when they have special education needs, we discovered some very interesting things. In spite of the fact that secondary school enrolment at that time was half the enrolment of the primary level, there were many more students at the secondary level who were categorized as learning disabled than there were at the elementary level. This was a shocking indication of how far learning-disabled kids were getting in the school system before they got any programs.

We also discovered that there seemed to be two large areas of programs -- at the elementary level for speech and language disorders and at the secondary level for the intellectual basic level program -- which held the mass of the number of children. At least 12 per cent of Ontario school children who were enrolled in special education programs were in these programs. The minister and his deputy could not identify for us what was going on in those programs. I suggested to the minister then that he didn’t wish to know.

I believe my judgement at that time is borne out by the fact that on May 23, 1980, when our current Minister of Education introduced this bill, I notice on page 2138 of Hansard -- as I recollected and looked it up -- she said that in order to be able to bring about a fully integrated program that would provide specialized education for the needs of kids with learning problems in Ontario, she was announcing and initiating a series of studies to be carried out by the Ministry of Education.

I will read: “I would also indicate that studies are currently under way which will further assist us to meet the needs as they exist in reality in various parts of the province.” In 1980, we start having some interest in the reality of the needs. “A proposal for the provision of assessment and psychological services in northern Ontario is being completed” -- that is under way -- “a study is under way to pursue the development of closer ties between school boards and the ministry with respect to the operation of provincial schools ... ” This is a long-standing problem.

The one that really struck me reads: “A study of special education case loads and class sizes, special vocational and occupational classes has been contracted.” That means that with the trumpeting of this legislation and the promise of fully integrated benefits to meet the full needs of Ontario school children in special education programs which are supposed to be totally, completely and satisfactorily in effect by 1985, we have our Minister of Education announcing in May 1980 that she will begin to find out what is going on in terms of the case loads and class sizes in the special vocational and occupational classes of this province. That means that for the last three years, this ministry -- this government, through two ministers -- has not found out that information. I wonder what kind of confidence we can have in a bill that has some major lacks which have already been spoken to by a couple of my colleagues and will be addressed by a couple more.


There are some lacks in this bill. There are some elements that need toughening in this bill. But how does the government answer a need of school children in Ontario when it has not yet got the basic information about what is happening with them now? How does it expect a five-year program when it is starting from scratch, from a situation where the minister says she has to start now to do a study of case loads, class sizes, special vocational and occupational classes?

I wonder about the efficacy of this legislation unless it is mightily tightened up. It is in the hands of a government which for three years, under intense pressure from members of the opposition, has not even bothered to assemble the basic facts about the reality of the need for special education in this province.

I will leave it at that, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Keep it honest.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Social Services asks me to keep it honest; so I will talk a little bit during my remarks of the harassment and obstruction that has characterized his ministry’s treatment of children with learning disabilities. I had intended to be brief, but I can be provoked to extend my remarks.

Hon. Mr. Norton: I will leave it if it will allow you to be brief. I have no reason to stay to hear you.

Mr. Foulds: That is a shameful admission from the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Mr. McClellan: The bill before us could be characterized as the imminent now upon us. My colleague the member for Carleton East talked a bit about some of the confusion that has characterized past Ministers of Education with respect to some of the basic facts about learning disability in the province. I would like to spend a minute recalling to the members some of the broken promises made by this government over the course of the past few years.

Prior to the last election, in April 1977 the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) promised during her estimates that the program would be in place by September 1977. That is on page S-38 of Hansard for April 26, 1977 -- three years ago. The provincial secretary said, “I’m very happy to relate to you that it is the intention of this government to release a statement very soon to take effect September 1977 which will provide further details regarding the expectations of school boards and the availability of support services ... ” Wonderful. That was three years ago. She went on to say that she expected the program to be in place by September 1977.

After the election in July 1977, there was also the then Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) promising a policy statement imminently and the program to follow so that the program would be in place -- not in September 1977, but very soon; any day now.

Later on -- the next year, as a matter of fact -- the same Minister of Education repeated the promise. That was in May 1978. On that day he said on page S-481 during his estimates two years ago: “There will be a very large omnibus bill with a lot of amendments to the Education Act, and there could easily be some sections there on special education.”

The promises continued unabated over the past three years. During those three years, how many thousands of children in this province who had learning disabilities were deprived of an education because of the lack of services and because of the government’s failure to honour its promises and its commitments? Somebody can perhaps give us a count. Perhaps the current Minister of Education can tell us the number of wasted lives during these last wasted three years. Does she not know or does she not care, Mr. Speaker?

In 1977, Project STEPS [Seeking To Educate People Sensitively], a very excellent program that provided services to teenagers with learning disabilities, was allowed to be killed by this government for lack of funds. The youngsters who were in that program were deprived of educational opportunities. All we had from the government were promises and promises. Even worse, we had a Ministry of Community and Social Services that was systematically harassing the families and the children of those families who were trying to receive assistance under that ministry’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services Act.

That harassment continues up until this very day. The director of vocational rehabilitation services himself used to go into Social Assistance Review Board appeals and personally intervene and make sure his decisions were not overturned by the board. Despite that, the majority of appeals on denied applications for learning disability assistance were overturned by the Social Assistance Review Board. An absolute majority of applications were overturned by the board. That is simple evidence of the blatant kind of resistance and obstruction and harassment that characterized the Ministry of Community and Social Services in providing vocational rehabilitation services to learning-disabled children and their families.

That has changed in recent months. No longer does the minister send his civil servants in to argue with and harass and obstruct the Social Assistance Review Board. They now send in lawyers, who use every little legal and procedural dodge they can to try to prevent the families appearing before the board from gaining a positive decision. The Minister of Community and Social Services also hauls the board into the Ontario divisional court on those occasions when the board overturns a denied application. He fights it all the way through the divisional court.

How vicious can a government be in its attempts to save money and to squeeze funds at the expense of children with learning disabilities? We are expected now to applaud the government for bringing in this legislation after so many years of promises and systematic harassment and so many years of thousands of children being denied learning opportunities.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. MacBeth): I might interrupt the member for Bellwoods for a moment while he is organizing his papers to take this opportunity of drawing attention to a few visitors we have in the gallery tonight. I think they are all former ministers of correctional services or associated with that ministry in some way: Irwin Haskett, Major John Foote, VC, Allan Grossman and Arthur Meen. We are delighted to have them with us here this evening to watch the proceedings. They will see things have not changed much over the years.

10 p.m.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, we intend to try to improve this bill when it comes to committee. But let me say, first of all, I resent enormously the additional delay of another five years before the program becomes fully operational. I would like the Minister of Education or some spokesman -- perhaps the Provincial Secretary for Social Development, who probably is a more caring person -- to tell us how many children will be denied service during the five years it will take until the act becomes fully operational, because it does not take full effect until 1985.

How many children will be deprived because of the government’s miserliness -- and it is a matter of miserliness. The only reason the government is not doing it sooner is that it is too cheap to do it sooner. In fact, the Minister of Education’s own request to Management Board of Cabinet for funding for a five-year phase-in has not fully been met, as I understand it. Perhaps the Minister of Education can prove I am wrong, but I understand she asked management board for $17 million for the first year of the program.

I am reading from a document that came from the Ministry of Education and reads as follows: “The ministry requested financial support for a five-year implementation with an estimated annual incremental cost of $85 million at maturity and an initial 1980 cost of $17 million.”

What did management board do? It gave the magnificent allocation of just less than half of what the Ministry of Education asked for for an already inadequate program phased in over five years. Management board, according to this document, has allocated $8 million for the first year of the phase-in. That is absurd.

There is nothing in the record of this government over the past 10 years, during which this has been one of the most burning issues in the House and outside, that would justify the slightest degree of trust that the government intends to institute a comprehensive program of educational services for children with learning disabilities. There is not a shred of evidence in its sleazy record over the last 10 years that leads us to have the slightest bit of confidence in its intentions -- not one whit.

We intend to amend this legislation to take all of the loopholes out of it. When it gets to committee, we intend to amend this legislation to take all of the weasel words out of the bill, all of the ambiguities, all of the dodges, all of the devices that are built into this legislation which will perpetuate the denial of educational service to children with learning disabilities.

We hope that, once we have discussed the bill clause by clause and it is amended, we will be joined by our colleagues in the other opposition party to enshrine in the bill a statement of rights so that every child in this province has the right to an education to achieve his or her full potential and that that right will not be abrogated by arbitrary decisions of school boards or principals or committees or ministries or bureaucrats. It will be enshrined as an absolute right in the legislation. There will be mechanisms of appeal and redress to the courts enshrined in the legislation so that the bureaucrats who have been dragging their feet and playing their tawdry little games on this issue for the last 10 years will not have the opportunity to continue those games.

We have an opportunity, I say to my colleagues in the other opposition party, to do something meaningful with this bill, but that will require a determination to establish an aspect of children’s rights in the legislation itself. We will have to look at the question when we get to committee and at ways and means of making it an ironclad, guaranteed statute so that the kind of gamesmanship that has characterized the treatment of children with learning disabilities will forever be a thing of the past, and so that every child in Ontario will have an absolute guarantee, written and enshrined in law, that he or she is entitled to the full range of educational services to achieve his or her full potential.

Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I can trust myself in this debate.

Mr. Ashe: Sit down then.

Mr. Foulds: And it is just that kind of comment from a yahoo on the back benches of the Tory party who speaks with the voice that my colleague the member for Bellwoods was attacking that makes me not trust myself during this debate.

If I may be immodest, I may say that in the community and social services field, aside from my colleague the member for Bellwoods, I have probably talked and argued more in this House about the needs and the rights for special education for kids with learning disabilities than has any other member. I started that, taking over from my predecessor as education critic for the New Democratic Party, Walter Pitman, back in 1972.

I must say that I spoke in those days from my experience as a teacher and as a Socialist. I felt deeply about the issue, because we in the New Democratic Party feel deeply about educational issues in ways that neither the Liberals nor the Tories do. We see education as a fundamental right of all human beings, not merely to better themselves, as do Tories and Liberals but so that individuals can better themselves and, by bettering themselves, free themselves and contribute to the collective good of society and help their fellow men.

We feel very deeply when we see hundreds of thousands of children grow up in our society in Ontario with their potential not fully realized. We feel very deeply about it when we realize that those children are not foolish or misguided children, but are children who through some quirk of nature have to learn in a different way from other children.

I am proud of this Legislature on a night like this, and I am proud of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. I am proud of my former leader, Stephen Lewis, who because of his position did more to bring it to the public attention than has any other man in Ontario. I am proud of my colleague, the member for Sudbury East, who has fought many individual cases for people in Sudbury, rubbed the noses of the bureaucracy, gained some real benefits for individual cases and fought in only the way he can fight, both publicly and privately.

I am proud of my colleague, the member for Bellwoods, who time after time has pointed out the injustice and the enormous, deliberate bureaucratic rigmarole between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services and, yes, even the Ministry of Correctional Services. It is a rigmarole that goes on so that we do not deal with the problem and so as to deliberately avoid dealing with the problem.

I am very thankful and grateful to my colleague the member for Carleton East, who sacrificed her place in the private members’ ballot so the bill I first introduced in a modified form could be debated publicly in this House and passed, because the government at that time was not fully on its toes to block it.

10:10 p.m.

Somehow this evening should give me a great sense of personal achievement, but it does not. This bill is a grudging bill. It is a bill that does not yet enshrine in it the absolute right of a human being to an education in this province. Even in Ontario, which now is in a position of some economic vulnerability, surely we are rich enough to enshrine that in a piece of legislation.

This bill is a cautious bill. This bill is a bill drafted by bureaucrats. It is a timid bill. It does not have an affirmation which it should have and of which we could be proud.

We, in this party, have voted for many imperfect pieces of legislation in the past and we will vote, on second reading, for this bill. But, as my colleague, the member for Bellwoods said, we will be seeking amendments to toughen it up and to ensure that special education is mandatory and that we do not get a disappearance of students who require it.

Back in 1977, when I had an exchange in the estimates committee with the then minister and Dr. Bergman, we were told there were some 235,000 children receiving special education. The minister muttered from across the floor to me, just a few moments ago, “There are 170,000.” What happened to the 70,000?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: There are 170,000 with learning disabilities. There are others.

Mr. Foulds: Now we get the accountant’s view of education; that is, in fact, what we have in this bill. We have the accountant’s view to give us the kind of bill we need to make some public statement that the Conservatives are small-p progressive on this, that they are concerned.

We did not get such a courageous bill that it will cost a lot of money. We did not get such a courageous bill that we will encourage people to use it and the provisions and to persuade their boards to use the provisions.

I started out by saying that, when I first started talking about special education in this House, I spoke as an education critic and as a former teacher. When I introduced the bill that was the viewpoint I had. I have been a high school teacher, and I have been the head of an English department in high school. I ran into problems, as the head of an English department, of children in grades nine, 10 and 11 who could not read. I ran into the problem of talking to the guidance counsellors about that and finding, basically, that by that time it was too late.

The Acting Speaker: There is a fair amount of noise in the chamber. I wonder if it could be lessened so the Speaker can hear the member for Port Arthur.

Mr. Foulds: I am very proud that I was able to introduce a few of the original remedial reading courses in high school for children who had problems with it.

I must say I now view the problem in an entirely different light. I view the problem as a parent, because some two months ago I found out that my oldest child, who is seven, has a learning disability. Although one could understand this problem intellectually before that, when one experiences it at firsthand, if I may say so, it enriches the experience in a way that puts one on the knife’s edge of life.

Because of the experience I have had, after the initial diagnosis by a very fine chap in Thunder Bay, I wanted to get a second opinion; so I contacted Dr. Griff Morgan, whom I have known for many years. Even though the politics of the University of Guelph have effectively closed the centre he built up, he was willing to see me and do the assessment. I have a sense of anger that I cannot express about the closing of that little centre, because Griff Morgan was a symbol, not merely for me, but for many parents across this province whose children suffered from learning disabilities. He was a symbol in a way that the ministry never was and never will be. He treated the problem with sensitivity, with generosity and with some understanding. He did not tackle it as an accountant. He tackled it as a psychologist, he tackled it as a humanitarian, and he did the counselling with the child and with the parents.

I cannot understand how this government, which funds universities like the University of Guelph, and a university such as the University of Guelph, which prides itself on research and independence, could do what they have done to that beautiful little centre up there. I do not understand why this government and this ministry did not intervene more fully in the defence of that centre because, personalities aside -- and Griff Morgan would be the last person in the world to say that he was a saint, for he surely is not -- that little centre has done more for parents and for children who suffer from learning disabilities than this government has yet done. To let it go down the drain is shameful. It is absolutely shameful. I hope there are some people sitting under the gallery, and across the way, who are squirming about that.

Mr. Swart: Can we have some order, Mr. Speaker?

The Acting Speaker: May I ask the members to try to be a little quieter with their conversations? I think, in fairness to the member for Port Arthur, it is a reasonable request.

Mr. Foulds: Speaking on an important piece of legislation towards the close of the session is always an interesting experience. One is under enormous pressure to complete the debate because the bill is something that we have waited a long time for. Many members in the House are anxious only to get passed the particular pieces of legislation for which they are responsible.

Few of us translate our interests across various boundaries, but special education is a subject that we all should be concerned about. One of five children needs some sort of special education. If we have it in our classrooms as an integral part of our curriculum, if we have the teachers trained so that they can identify it, then that goes a long way. But I see a bill that is phasing it in slowly. I see a bill, and the minister’s statement, that has it underfunded. I still see a ministry and a government speaking to the surface of the issue rather than to the fundamentals.

10:20 p.m.

I will not go on at length but, for example, I think of the catch-22 situation we have with regard to Trillium school. We have 20 places there. Not all the places are filled in Trillium school, supposedly the showpiece for the English-speaking people of Ontario, and we do not have one place filled by a pupil from northwestern Ontario. We have had a catch-22 situation where the regional committee approved at least one application I am aware of. It was recommended by the board of the regional ministry and turned down here. The catch-22 is that the young man, the teenager, cannot get on any kind of waiting list. He has to reapply next year, and the year after probably, and the year after that, presumably. There is no waiting list, there are no priorities. It is not a provincial institution unless people from all across the province have access to it.

I think of the parents who have to fight all the time. If I read this legislation in the way it is worded, what worries me is that parents are going to have to continue to fight to get what should be a right for their children. After all, parents are required by the Education Act to send their children to school. That is an absolute requirement of the Education Act. Surely to God, the school system should have the responsibility to educate those children. If not, why should I have the responsibility of sending my child through the school system if the school system is only going to -- pardon the vernacular -- foul up that child? That has happened time and time again to kids with learning disabilities.

Time and time again, children with learning disabilities have above average intelligence recorded on their IQ tests. The teachers see that but, with some lack of training and some lack of sensitivity in the past, they say, “This is a lazy child.” I have known far too many cases personally where that has happened. In terms of this legislation, I can see far too many of those kinds of cases happening in the future to make me entirely happy with this bill. It is not the bill we would have introduced had we been the government party, but it is a step. It actually has had some thought because of the enormous pressure exerted upon the ministry over the last eight to 10 years.

It was kind of ironic that, during a hiatus in the course of the remarks of my friend the member for Bellwoods, the acting Speaker introduced members in the gallery who had, at one time or another, represented the Ministry of Correctional Services. Time and time again we have had the experience and the knowledge that a very high percentage of people who wind up in the correction system in one way or another have been kids who have had some kind of emotional trauma arising out of a learning disability. When I think of the cost to our society and the waste to our society in not educating those children properly in the first place, in not identifying the disability and doing something about it, I have a sense that this is a bit marginal, this is not enough.

I have said basically what I want to say about the bill. We will be supporting it. We do not have the great sense of achievement we thought we would have when the government brought in this kind of legislation. I suppose that speaks to the lack of trust we have, because the children have been betrayed too often in the past. We in this party feel that it is our responsibility, and I hope the responsibility of all members of other parties, to ensure that they are not betrayed in future. Therefore, we will toughen up this legislation at every step we can. Over the years to come we will fight tooth and nail for the additional funding that is absolutely necessary to ensure that special education is mandatory and is the right of every child who grows up in this very rich province.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in response to the very positive statements that have been made about Bill 82, An Act to amend the Education Act, in order to develop specific responsibility on the part of school boards for the education of children with exceptionalities of a wide variety.

It has not been without a great deal of consultation that this bill has been introduced. Certain members of the Legislature have complained about the length of time required to introduce the bill. As most members know, in January 1979, the proposed legislation was submitted to a wide-ranging group of people with special interests in education and special education and responses were received that were collated. Thereafter, a committee was developed, which I rather affectionately call the troika, made up of representatives of the Ontario Municipal and Provincial Education Officers’ Association, the Ontario School Trustees’ Council and the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, who came together regularly with staff of the ministry and with me to look at the proposed legislation, to develop the modifications which they perceived as a result of their examination of the problem with their constituencies and to develop legislation which they felt would be entirely appropriate and reasonable, could be introduced soon and would deal with the problems effectively, efficiently and well.

The specific program of phasing was a result of that consultation, because we recognised the concerns that were raised by the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney), that although we had a significant number of teachers within the province with special education qualifications of certain qualities, we did not have a sufficient number to introduce a massive change in the educational program overnight and accomplish what we hope to accomplish.

Therefore, the phasing program was developed with the concept that the first year would be spent in an examination of pilot boards in order to ensure that we had full knowledge of the needs of all of the children with exceptionalities within those boards and the resources available within the boards’ jurisdiction, whether within the educational system or in other parts of the community, and to develop ways in which all of those circumstances could be co-ordinated in support of the children who are to be provided with special education programs.

It is on that planning base that this phasing program has been developed. It is a rational, logical, reasonable and, I think, an entirely achievable goal that we will have by the end of 1985 the real potential to have in place in this province an educational system which will be designed to meet the needs of all of the children within the province and to help them to reach their educational potential.

There were many other points raised by the honourable members, but in the interests of second reading of this bill I should like to mention only a couple of other items. The definitions that have been questioned by certain members have been very carefully selected, and we will have the opportunity for discussion of those definitions and the rationale during the committee’s clause-by- clause examination of the bill. At that time, we will also give a definitive plan of the implementation program which we have designed and which I believe will be of interest and will help the members to understand precisely the format of the way in which this program is to be introduced.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Who’s going to pay for it after five years?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: As I have suggested, special education should be a totally integrated and integral part of the education system of this province and should be funded in precisely the same way that any other part of the educational program is. During the introductory years it is obvious that additional funds will be necessary for implementation and for development, and we intend to provide that. At the end of the five-year period, at the time when special education is totally integrated, I would expect it would be completely integrated into the funding mechanism, whatever that is and as modified as it might be at that time, as a part of the educational system.

We recognize specific problems that have been faced by certain of the boards, and they are a matter of very real concern to us. Even though we have been providing special education programs to many of the hundreds of thousands of children in the educational system in Ontario, there has been a nagging concern that certain boards, particularly in the north, had difficulty in attracting the appropriate kinds of special support staff.

I should like to inform the members of the House that there will be an announcement tomorrow about teams of specialists to assist northern Ontario school boards in implementing special education programs. The teams will be composed of educational psychologists, teacher diagnosticians and psychometrists. They will be based in the ministry’s regional offices, funded by the ministry and will be there to serve the northern boards. The offices to be used are North Bay, Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

Beginning in September, these teams will work with teachers in the small school systems of the north providing necessary assessment services and assisting teachers in developing programs for students with special needs. The teams will provide services to French- and English-speaking students as well as to students of native ancestry.

That is just one step we have taken in addition to a number of other steps to begin the implementation of the comprehensive special education program.

With those few words, I should like to ask for second reading of Bill 82.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for the standing committee on social development.


Mr. Speaker: The government House leader has asked for leave to revert to “Motions.” Agreed?

Agreed to.


Mr. Speaker: Hon. Mr. Wells moves that notwithstanding standing order 2(a), this House do meet at 10 o’clock a.m. on Thursday next, June 19, with routine proceedings at two o’clock.

Mr. Martel: Could I ask the government House leader what time he intends to go to?

Hon. Mr. Wells: The intention was that we would adjourn for lunch at one o’clock. I don’t know whether that needs to be in the motion, but we assumed --

Mr. Speaker: It is in the motion, as I read it. Is that understood and agreed?

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could announce that the order of business for tomorrow is Bill 92, followed by Bill 93 and Bill 65, second reading and committee of the whole as required, and Bill 1, the Libel and Slander Act, which will be in committee of the whole. Then we will follow with concurrences in the estimates of the Ministry of the Environment -- without routine proceedings.

The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.