31e législature, 4e session

L114 - Mon 17 Nov 1980 / Lun 17 nov 1980

The House met at 2:01 p.m.




Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House today of a number of organizational changes that will be introduced shortly to my ministry’s head office organization.

Honourable members will recall that two years ago I announced the first phase of a major ministry restructuring. That first phase included establishment of two major delivery divisions: children’s services and adults’ services. It also included the designation of four regional offices for each of the divisions, and a network of area and local offices with reporting relationships to their respective regional centres.

Those initial steps were taken to create an organization at both the regional and area levels that possessed a greater degree of decision making through increased delegation of authority. As a result of those changes, we have been able to develop a field structure that is more sensitive to local and regional needs and priorities, and an organization that possesses the capability to work closely with our partners in the social services field.

While that phase of our reorganization is complete, we must move now to improve and to increase the corporate capacity and effectiveness of the ministry. In essence, we intend to introduce an organization at head office and at the regional level that: (1) builds upon the strengths of the existing organization; (2) retains a focal point for continued momentum and stewardship of the children’s services division and adult services division initiatives; (3) provides a structure where the advocacy voices on behalf of children and adults can have clear and separate points of access to the ministry; (4) furthers the decentralization of operations decision making to the field and strengthens the capacity of the area office to provide leadership to service delivery activities, and (5) improves the ministry’s mid-term and long-term planning and policy harmonization.

I would now like to describe briefly the new head office and regional structure, its objectives and its senior staff.

Effective January 1, 1981, there will be three divisions: children’s and adults’ operations; children’s and adults’ policy and program development, and finance and administration.

The children’s and adults’ operations division will consolidate delivery of all ministry programs -- in other words, the current programs and service to children and adults, including income maintenance and institutional care. Continued decentralization and increased delegation of authority will be achieved by the appointment of one regional director for each of the northern, southeastern and southwestern regions. In the short term, due to its complexity, the central region will be headed by two directors, one for children’s programs and the other for adults’ services. The existing area offices for children’s and adults’ services will be retained.

I am pleased to announce that Peter Barnes has accepted the position of assistant deputy minister of this new division. I am also pleased to announce that the policy and program development division will be headed by the associate deputy minister, Judge George Thomson, who, as members are aware, is currently responsible for the children’s services programs. That division will bring together the policy development and related program functions from throughout the ministry. In this way, the overall planning process will take on a clear, corporate thrust within the context of the family.

When the children’s services division was established in 1977, it was agreed that an organization focal point was needed to consolidate programs and carry out a comprehensive policy review. This focal point is being maintained within George Thomson’s division by the establishment of an executive co-ordinator of children’s policy. This position will be responsible for the stewardship of children’s programs and the continued development of initiatives such as the omnibus legislation. The current finance and administration division will not change substantially as a result of this restructuring.

I would like to announce two other senior staff appointments at this time. John Anderson has accepted the position of senior adviser to the minister. In that capacity, in addition to working closely with the minister on policy and operational matters, Mr. Anderson will be responsible on behalf of the minister and the deputy minister for high-level liaison with special interest groups and service users and will undertake special inquiries and issue resolutions as critical matters arise. Glen Heagle has agreed to accept a new position, that of executive co-ordinator for federal-provincial relations. In that role, Mr. Heagle will undertake a review with our counterparts in Ottawa of cost sharing and constitutional social policy issues.

I am confident that the changes I am announcing will result in an even greater capacity to design, develop and deliver programs and services. I am equally confident that there will be no adverse impact on program delivery during the implementation of these changes.


Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the House and the public of changes to income maintenance programs of my ministry, which will come into effect in January and February 1981.

I am pleased to say that cabinet, as announced in the recent statements of the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), has approved an additional annual expenditure of approximately $49 million to increase by seven per cent the allowances being paid to family benefits recipients and to those who receive general welfare assistance. The increases in allowances to recipients under the family benefits program will be reflected in the cheques issued at the end of January 1981. Increases to general welfare recipients will be shown in the cheques issued at the beginning of February 1981.

The increased allowances will benefit approximately 115,000 recipients of family benefits and 70,000 general welfare recipients. The last increase was an overall 10 per cent, which took effect in April and May of this year. I would like to point out that this is an interim adjustment to compensate for inflation effects. I must stress that this is not to be interpreted as the basic rate adjustment for the 1981-82 fiscal year.

There are a number of other related changes, which I will address briefly. Benefits for about 1,200 people under the work incentives program will be increased from between $25 and $65 per month, depending on family size. The maximum amount of the handicapped children’s benefits will be increased by $25, from $175 to $200 per month. Also, the earned-income level at which benefit reduction starts has been raised by $2,000, from $22,000 to $24,000.

2:10 p.m.

The exemptions on part-time earnings will be increased from between $15 and $40 a month for recipients of family benefits. Assets ceilings for family benefits clients will be increased from between 60 and 150 per cent, depending on family size and client type being served. For example, assets ceilings for a mother with two children will increase from the current level of $2,800 to $5,500 in January 1981.

Municipalities throughout the province will be permitted to make comparable adjustments to the needs test and assets exemption under the homemakers’ and nurses’ services program. The phase-out benefits for persons going from family benefits allowance to full-time employment will be increased by $25, from $225 to $250.

I am also pleased to announce another step in our continuing efforts to assist the handicapped in making the transition from institutional to community living as easily as possible. As of January 1981, we are implementing a discharge allowance of up to $337 for persons leaving institutions to take up residence in the community.

I have had fact sheets prepared showing some examples of these changes, which will be distributed to the members opposite and other interested persons. I believe they are appended to the statement as circulated


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure today of tabling a discussion paper on the draft Construction Lien Act. This discussion paper will be of great interest to all those concerned with the construction industry of this province.

The purpose of the discussion paper is to propose a replacement to Ontario’s 107-year-old Mechanics’ Lien Act. The suggested replacement -- the draft Construction Lien Act -- is the product of considerable discussion between officials of my ministry and the various segments of the construction industry: owners, developers, financial institutions, architects, engineers, contractors and labour unions.

Construction lien legislation is vitally important to Ontario’s construction industry. Its objective is to protect the thousands of tradesmen, labourers and small contracting businesses who provide their services to improve the property of others. The draft Construction Lien Act contained in the discussion paper is intended to deal with a number of problems that have prevented the existing Mechanics’ Lien Act from achieving this objective.

For example, the existing act requires an owner to retain a portion of the contract price payable to the general contractor. This holdback is to be used to pay lien claims of subcontractors, tradesmen and workmen involved in the project. However, very often these persons find the owner has spent the money he was required to retain as a holdback; there is no money available, therefore, to satisfy the claims of the lien claimants.

Although the act gives constructors a right to enforce their claim against the owner’s property, this right will often be subordinate to the claims of mortgagees. If the value of the mortgage, including accrued interest, exceeds the value of the premises, then the right of the lien claimant against the premises is illusory. For this reason, the discussion paper proposes that the holdback on major projects be paid into a joint trust account, thereby ensuring the money will be available if needed.

Although it is proposed that the home owners be bound by the draft Construction Lien Act, there are a number of provisions in the draft act that would reduce the impact of the lien legislation on consumer home improvements. For example, the requirement to pay the holdback into a joint trust account, which I just mentioned, does not apply where the value of the work to be done is less than $150,000. It would not apply therefore to a home owner who was paving his driveway or installing a swimming pool.

The draft act also proposes reducing the amount of the holdback from 15 per cent to 10 per cent of the contract price. Thus, even if a home owner did not retain the required holdback, his maximum liability would be reduced to 10 per cent of the contract price.

The draft Construction Lien Act contained in the discussion paper addresses a large number of other problems with the existing legislation. Many of these problems result from the language of the existing act, much of which is simply incomprehensible to those who must rely on it. The ambiguities of the existing legislation often result in huge sums of money being tied up in litigation, which in turn can cause serious difficulties for the people involved in a construction project.

The pervasive language problems of the existing legislation have been a major concern in preparing the draft Construction Lien Act. The draft act completely restructures and rewrites the lien legislation with a view to making it more comprehensible and accessible. Because of the complicated nature of the relations with which it must deal, any statute pertaining to construction liens is bound to be complex. However, a complex subject need not be incomprehensible. One major objective behind the preparation of the draft act has been the desire to produce a more straightforward, comprehensible piece of legislation, written in a style as simple as the subject will allow.

With the release of the discussion paper, I look forward to a period of active public discussion on the subject. I hope the various segments of the construction industry will offer suggestions as to how the draft Construction Lien Act can be improved and made more practical. The draft act is intended to serve as a model for discussion; I would like to emphasize it is not engraved in stone.

In addition, I will be establishing an advisory committee of experts in the field of construction liens who collectively will appreciate the lien legislation from the perspectives of all segments of the industry. The advisory committee will be meeting together to review the draft Construction Lien Act and making recommendations based on their personal experience and legal expertise. They will also be reviewing the comments and suggestions received from the public and will be making recommendations based on those submissions.

It is my sincere hope that the discussion paper I am tabling today will be the basis upon which the construction industry and the government, working together, will be able to devise for Ontario the best possible construction lien legislation.

Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.


Mr. S. Smith: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I realize there is not much you can do about this, but of 25 ministers who respond to questions, leaving out the chief government whip, a grand total of nine have deigned to show up today -- here is number 10 -- which I would think brings the respect they have for this House into some perspective. I am not sure if there is anything you can do about that.

Mr. Speaker: No.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I will direct a question to the Minister of Labour. Perhaps he is aware of the matter of two Waterloo co-operative program students, equal in experience, although possibly the woman among the two had better qualifications for the job, who were offered different salaries in applying to the Office of the Premier. I would ask him particularly if he recalls that about $430,000 has now been paid for an advertising campaign across Ontario that says in essence, “Paying a woman less than a man for doing substantially the same work is not just unfair, it is illegal.”

Does the minister remember that ad and can he tell us, therefore, what investigation he is going to be doing of the Office of the Premier, where a differential in salary was offered, with the male being offered considerably more than the woman in this case, although any examination of the credentials would seem to indicate either equal experience or greater qualifications on the part of the woman? What investigation is the minister going to be doing, keeping in mind precisely that not only is it unfair, it is illegal?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, let there be no doubt that this is the position of this government: it is illegal and it is unfair.

It is with some degree of regret I point out that, as usual, without exploring beyond the story, the Leader of the Opposition has chosen to pick this up without investigating it himself or having someone else do it. I have already taken the opportunity of personally asking for a report on it. I think it is fair to say, at the very least and probably the very best, one could call it inaccurate sensationalism.

2:20 p.m.

There is absolutely no doubt as to what happened, if I may state for the record the exact incident that took place. The present students on the staff in the Premier’s office are paid approximately $200 if they are third-year students and $225 per week if they are fourth-year students. The particular man who was interviewed was told the salary ranges and he said he had been making considerably more than that at a previous co-op job he had, namely about $350. He was told he could not expect to receive anything in that range; it would be at least $100 less than that.

Somehow, in spite of the fact that the reporter was told the facts, that inaccuracy has been sustained by the question the member puts to me now and it is not true.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: If the government wishes to continue its running battle with the Globe and Mail, it should feel entirely free to do so. Is the minister aware that when we called the director of placement services at the University of Waterloo, he admitted very clearly on the telephone that Mr. Ferdinand, who conducted the interviews for the Office of the Premier, did, in his words, “make an unfortunate mistake”?

Given that the Premier’s office has been hiring co-op students from Waterloo for about four years, such a mistake in setting salary ranges is scarcely credible, and given the fact that this problem still exists in the Premier’s office, will the minister admit now that his advertising campaign is rather ineffectual and a change in the laws of Ontario is exactly what is required to change this problem?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No, I will not admit that the campaign has been ineffective. As a matter of fact, we have had more complaints and closed more cases in a period of six months than any other province has even started to look at.

Let me say to the member that equal pay for substantially the same work in this province is being enforced both on the basis of specific complaints and by way of audit. Let me also tell the member that just because he says it, does not make it right. The records show the Premier’s office hires people on the basis of their qualifications and ability, and the story was wrong.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the minister’s unqualified defence of the decision --

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No defence, just the facts.

Mr. Cassidy: In view of the minister’s citing of the facts, is the minister aware that the decision to spend $485,000 to advertise this toothless equal pay law that we have in Ontario right now has so far this year resulted in only 122 awards, and in awards amounting to $72,000 or about four cents for every working woman in Ontario? Does that not really indicate that no amount of advertising can substitute for an effective law to give equal pay for work of equal value?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I can only thoroughly disagree with the statement that any teeth are missing from the act. If there are teeth missing, we had better take the leader of the third party’s teeth out and check them.

I have to say that the number of complaints and the number of audits being carried out cannot be matched by any other government. I would say to the member that he may want to look only at the amount of money that is recovered but I look at the number of cases that are dealt with and future inequities that are dealt with.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, since the minister has still not said whether he is going to investigate this matter, I take it the minister is quite satisfied simply to have asked --

Mr. Rotenberg: He told the member. Why doesn’t the member listen?

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to speak above the rattling and yapping and nattering that come from the back row over there.

Mr. Speaker: Try to ignore it.


Mr. S. Smith: I will ask the minister, is he going to send one of his famous investigators to investigate this, or is he satisfied just to take the side given to him by a person in the Premier’s office without personally talking to the students themselves to confirm their side of the story? Will he be investigating?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I have no problem in asking one of the investigators to look at this, but let me say, Mr. Speaker, I look on myself as a reasonable investigator and I have investigated. It is not true.


Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Energy. He is undoubtedly aware that the second report on long-range transport of air pollution has come out indicating that the number of Ontario lakes killed by acid rain may already exceed 4,000, which is an almost thirtyfold increase over the number of lakes we knew about last year at this time.

Is the minister aware that Ontario Hydro’s fossil fuel generating stations accounted for 30 per cent of Ontario’s sulphur dioxide emissions? In light of the fact that recent discussions have taken place between the Deputy Minister of the Environment and Ontario Hydro, would the Minister of Energy finally, after repeated questioning, tell this House exactly what control orders he expects will be placed by the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott) on the Hydro facilities in order to curb sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, obviously I have some interest in the question but, as the question is put, the Leader of the Opposition is asking me to respond to what might be the activities of my colleague the Minister of the Environment. I do remind the Leader of the Opposition that this question was put to my colleague two or three weeks ago, as I recall, and he assured the House at that time that he had the matter in hand and we could expect some statement from him before too long in that regard.

I would point out that the figures in the article that the member refers to are based upon computer modelling and not necessarily upon actual fact in so far as the overall report is concerned. A great many of the initiatives with respect to acid rain have been taken on this side of the border and not on the other.

Certainly Ontario Hydro, if I could speak for it, is very cognizant of the importance and, as I reported to the House in response to a question on this subject some weeks ago, I have been expecting a report from the officials of Ontario Hydro as to what steps they might be able to take in order to help curb this particular rate of emission. Once I have that information, I will be glad to share it with the House. I will draw the concern of the Leader of the Opposition to the attention of my colleague when he returns, with respect to the responsibilities that are his.

Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Why is it that the Minister of Energy is always having to wait for other people? Why does he have to say that the Minister of the Environment will tell him what the plans are, or that Ontario Hydro might make a report to him?

May I ask the minister whether he intends to tell Hydro that they are going to have to clean up their act? At present, Nanticoke generating station alone in 1981-82 will be putting out, apparently, 727 short tons a day of sulphur dioxide; the way the trend is moving, Hydro will be putting out about 70 per cent of what Inco is going to be putting out. Is it not time that he, as Minister of Energy, spoke to the people at Hydro and instructed them to clean up their act, instead of being like some of the reticent corporations, waiting for the other minister to tell him what he has to do?

Hon. Mr. Welch: I am glad to have the supplementary because I did not want to create the impression that I was unmindful of the responsibilities that are mine to account to the House for the activities of the Hydro corporation.

We have asked the Hydro officials to take a very serious look at this matter and to come up with some proposals to reduce the rate of these toxic emissions. I think that, in all fairness, I should await their report. Once I have it, we will be quite prepared to take what action is considered practicable and in the interests of the environment and, indeed, of the health of the people to be affected.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: The minister has qualified his answer in so many ways that it is impossible to know whether any effective measures will be taken to curb the sulphur dioxide emissions and their consequences in acid rain coming from Hydro. Could the minister explain why it is that in the constituency newsletter of the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. Taylor) the problem is seen so much more simply that he reported to his constituents this fall that all governments on both sides of the border are committed to bringing the acid rain under control by 1982? Are we to take it, then, that this government is not committed to bringing the acid rain under control by 1982? Did the member for Simcoe Centre have it wrong?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I would rather be judged on what I finally do, rather than on speculation in advance of the decision. I do not apologize for that position. I would rather be taking some decisions based on some technical advice and then be judged on them, rather than engaging in speculative questions all this time and attempting to figure things out.

2:30 p.m.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question to the minister responsible for promoting the sales of Ontario farm products. In this plain brown envelope are Ontario hothouse tomatoes; they come from the Niagara Peninsula, as a matter of fact. They really are excellent. I commend them to everybody on the government side.

Can the minister explain why Ontario hothouse tomatoes as magnificent as these ones here, which have been coming to market for the last two months, have been kept off the shelves of supermarkets in the Loblaws chain and have been appearing only irregularly in other supermarkets across the province, and why consumers as a consequence have had no choice in many cases but to buy imported tomatoes?

Mr. MacDonald: Say you don’t know, Lorne.

Mr. Breaugh: Just admit you don’t know.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: No. I would not say that.

Mr. Speaker, the honourable member who has brought this forth is well aware that we are promoting the sale of Ontario products at every opportunity. Wherever one goes, one sees our symbol of Ontario products. If he will give me the name of these tomatoes that he claims are kept off the shelf and where they come from, I will be glad to check into it.

Mr. Cassidy: Since the growers of hothouse tomatoes have had to sell some of their product at distress prices, and one of the major reasons is their being shut out of the shelves of Loblaws and other supermarkets, and since the imported product is being sold up to the price of the Canadian product in the supermarkets, even though the wholesale price is lower, can the minister say what the point is of this practice of supermarkets, if it is not just to give inflated profits to the supermarkets and no benefit to the consumers?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The honourable member has brought out his concern now. He is as well aware as I am that the embargo is not high enough to protect our Ontario producers. That is the problem, and he is as well aware of it as I am.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Is the minister not aware that a few years ago a private member of this Legislature wrote to Dominion Stores and asked them, concerning this problem, why they were not displaying the hothouse tomatoes in Ontario? Mr. Ivor Crimp, the vice-president of Dominion, wrote back saying: “We should have had them prominently displayed, properly marked and been active in our marketing effort concerning them. The public should have a chance to make their choice.” Does the minister not think that principle should apply today, and will he table in this House any correspondence he has had with the major supermarkets asking that they give prominent display to tomatoes grown in this province?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of tabling any communications that the honourable member has mentioned. The people of this province have had their opportunities to buy Ontario products.

Mr. Cassidy: Not at Loblaws.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I have told the honourable members, if they will supply me with the names of farmers and greenhouse operators who are not able to get their tomatoes on the shelves, we will look into it and do something about it.

Mr. Cassidy: The minister is asking us to serve as his policemen, Mr. Speaker. I suggest the minister should do that himself.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I am just asking the member to give me the evidence he is speaking about, which he is not ready to produce.

Mr. Cassidy: We will bring it here. The government should do its job.


Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, I have a new question for the Minister of Labour. Is the Minister of Labour aware of yet another plant closing that has taken place, this one being the Duo-Matic facility in Waterford, where 100 workers will have lost their jobs by December 31? Is the minister aware that not only do these workers not qualify for severance pay but also they will not receive any pension benefits? Since Waterford is in the vicinity of Brantford, where the major layoffs in the farm equipment industry have taken place, they also face a bleak future in terms of finding alternative employment.

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the Duo-Matic company, which manufactures oil furnaces, has announced there is a reduction in the market for their product and they will be closing down. The staff had some preliminary meetings with them and Mr. Joyce, my special adviser with regard to plant closings, has indicated this will be a case in which he will take a personal involvement. He is meeting with the parties either later this week or the beginning of next week.

Mr. Cassidy: Since the switch from oil to gas has been encouraged by public policy for several years and by what is clearly happening in terms of the relative prices of oil and gas, and when jobs are on the line at Duo-Matic and other companies making oil furnace equipment across the province, can the minister explain why there has not been a plan of rationalization in place to anticipate these shutdowns and to ensure a transfer or conversion to gas furnace or similar types of production where new jobs could be created? Why should the workers have to suffer layoffs with no secure future because of a lack of anticipation or planning by this government?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, rather than disagree with the member, I would think those would be the very questions Mr. Joyce will be putting to the company.

Mr. Nixon: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Does the minister recall receiving a letter from me about the shutdown of that plant and might I expect an answer from him?

Will he also explain to the House whether there has been a grant to that company to assist in its expansion, particularly since it has been taken over by new management? If there has been public money put in to assist in the expansion, can we be assured that at least part of that expansion will be kept in Waterford to maintain the employment where it is?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the member’s letter to me, and I recall sending a response several days ago. If he has not received it, he knows who to blame. They are up near yer Ottawa somewhere. That is what Charlie Farquharson would say: “Somewhere near yer Ottawa.”

I am personally not aware whether there has been any Ontario Development Corporation money or any other grants or loans to the company, but I will be glad to ask the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman).

Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister indicate at this time what actions his ministry is taking to provide alternative employment for the people in that area?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, if the member means what assistance will be given to workers to obtain alternative employment, he knows very well that the bill I have before the House would require companies to co-operate in the establishment of manpower adjustment committees where they are not set up voluntarily. Clearly, what we are aiming at is to make sure the mechanisms are in place to help workers find alternative employment.


Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Chairman, Management Board of Cabinet, in regard to a question I had on the Order Paper that was replied to on October 23.

Can the minister explain the fact that, in 407 cases, consultants came back to the government to ask for further money over and above the contract they had agreed to and that had been tendered? Other people lost out because of the tendered price, yet on 407 different occasions in one year the successful contractors came back and got an extension and an expansion of their contracts of an average of $10,000 over and above what they had bid originally. How does the minister justify that? Does that not make a mockery of his whole tendering system?

Hon. Mr. McCague: No, it does not, Mr. Speaker. It was not money asked over and above what they agreed to do it for. It was extension of contracts.

Mr. T. P. Reid: I am not sure what an extension of contract means. Is the minister saying his civil servants and cabinet board did not know what they required when they originally put these matters out for bids? He is doing a disservice to the whole tendering process and to all those people who have lost out. Some of these people are low-balling on their bid and then coming back to an easy government to get an increase in their contracts. It is not simply a matter of an extension of contract. If it is, the civil servants and the people in management board are irresponsible in not knowing what they require in the first place.

2:40 p.m.

Hon. Mr. McCague: We have just heard the honourable member’s opinion of what goes on, and it is entirely incorrect. He knows the work tendered for is specific. It is what the ministry thinks it needs at a particular time. He knows other items are often discovered that need to be studied further. Most of the consulting engineers, management consultants and technical people have set schedules for charges. It is only logical that the people who do the first half of the work or the first two thirds of the work should carry on. It is not as the member says at all. I think the tendering maintains the integrity of the system.

Mr. T. P. Reid: But you don’t pay any attention to it.

Hon. Mr. McCague: We certainly do. They tender for the work we expect to have done at that precise time and, if there is an extension of the contract, the same is done for all people in the business. It is a fair system and I think the honourable member knows that.

Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that in the standing committee on public accounts it was evident from the provincial auditor’s report that none of this procedure the minister outlined is going on and that what happens is the people submit the bills and he pays them, is he going to re-examine that policy or operation of his government to ensure we are getting value for the money they are spending?

Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, we are getting value for the money we spend. It is not as automatic as just submitting an extra bill and having it paid. There is an extension granted by the ministry for the extra work it asks to be done.


Mr. Dukszta: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education on the heritage languages program. The minister is aware it recently came out with a study of the cultural retention of Italian-Canadian youth. It had two major recommendations: (1) that the heritage languages program should be part of the school day so as to strengthen them, and (2) that there should be an Italian immersion program for children of Italian origin. This particular thing is supported by almost all ethnic groups, and specifically by the multicultural ethnic liaison committee to the board of education and the Polish Canadian Congress --

Mr. Speaker: Is there a question there some place?

Mr. Dukszta: Yes. The question is, what is the minister’s proposed course of action on what appears to be a very popular course suggested by almost all ethnic groups?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is, I know, referring to a study that was funded as a summer works project for several university students by the federal government. That study apparently has been reported to a group related to the heritage languages program. We do not have a copy of the study at this point --

Mr. Wildman: He has.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The Ministry of Education does not have one, I should like you to know, Mr. Speaker. A copy has not been delivered to us.

Mr. Dukszta: The minister could read the Globe and Mail; it was mentioned there.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I read the newspaper. I should like to see the study itself, and I think it would be appropriate that I read the study in its entirety rather than simply a newspaper report.

I am aware that there is a recommendation related to the inclusion in an integral way of the heritage languages program into the educational program of the school system of Ontario. I am sure the honourable member knows that a large number of boards, at least those boards with very large attendances in heritage language programs, already include heritage language programs as part of an extended school day, and the educational program is taking place throughout the school day in many of those schools.

I am also very much aware that about 50 per cent of the students involved in that kind of program are involved in the Italian heritage language program, which seems to be the main thrust of the newspaper report I read; but I would certainly like to read the whole study before making any comment.

Mr. Dukszta: I asked the minister very specifically not to talk of extended programs after the school day which are already in existence, because they treat the heritage language program as secondary and the students as second-class citizens. What I am asking is whether she would consider treating it as a part of the day, and she has obfuscated on the answer. She knows perfectly well there have been several attempts -- I have a specific question, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I am glad to hear that.

Mr. Dukszta: I have a proposal. As the minister knows, on Thursday we will be debating a private member’s bill introduced by me which deals with bilingual education and specifically with those two points plus an additional point. I want to ask the minister whether she is again going to get her colleagues to guillotine the project, as she did two years ago, or will she support it this time? Excuse me; is my English clear enough for the minister?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: It was a little difficult, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure that there was any guillotining two years ago, but I shall be most interested to hear the member’s arguments in support of that case.


Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. Is the minister aware that Brewers’ Warehousing Company has implemented a policy requiring all its employees to have a class D driver’s licence in the event they should have to drive one of their trucks? Is the minister aware that the import of such a regulation is that no diabetic in Ontario would be hired by that company?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No, Mr. Speaker, I was not aware of the announced change, if it occurred, nor was I aware of the implications. I do know that the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) announced some revisions to that legislation at the end of last week, but I do not know whether they apply to that class of licence. I will be glad to look into it.

Mr. Cunningham: In the event that the proposed legislation does not apply to these people, and in view of the fact that at any time only 20 per cent of the employees of Brewers’ Warehousing would ever be required to drive a truck, will the minister use whatever power he may have to take it upon himself to discuss this matter with the president of Brewers’ Warehousing to see that a fairer and more equitable approach is taken for the hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario who are diabetic?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I have a particular interest in that area of concern as well. Because of having been a physician, I am well aware that simply because one has diabetes does not mean one should be excluded from driving a car. I happen to know a good hockey player right now who does very well playing hockey. I will be pleased to discuss it with my colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications.


Mr. Makarchuk: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Can the minister indicate what is happening at White Motor Corporation in Brantford and whether it is possible that the plant may be closed? If so, has the minister received any notice to that effect and does he know whether proper procedures will be followed in terms of severance to the employees?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: No, Mr. Speaker, I have received no notice from the company indicating it will be closing at this time.

Mr. Makarchuk: In that case, will the minister find out what is happening in that situation and let the employees know some time in the very near future what exactly is going on there?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: I will be glad to have the employees’ adjustment service look into it.


Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Since the Ministry of Industry and Tourism has made an agreement with Chrysler to build a research and development centre in Windsor, can the minister tell us what plans he has for supplying staff for the research and development department?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I was aware there was an agreement that, if Chrysler Canada’s fortunes were good at the end of 1981 or the beginning of 1982, the agreement with regard to contribution of funds for an R and D centre would be forthcoming. I am not certain at this stage if the minister has reached the point where he feels the obligation will be fulfilled; so I am not aware of any discussions that have gone on with regard to technology and training of people.

Mr. Mancini: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: In view of the fact that the Ontario government is going to put up substantial moneys for that research and development centre, is the minister going to bring it to the attention of Chrysler Corporation, before the government spends those millions of dollars, that they are going to fail this year in meeting their sales-to-production ratio in Canada and therefore are not living up to the auto pact?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to bring that question to the attention of the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman).


Mr. Breaugh: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General concerning a fire at Robson-Lang Leathers Limited in Oshawa. Is the ministry now contemplating some kind of regulation that would make mandatory a listing of chemicals that are stored in an old plant like the tannery in Oshawa so that at least when the local fire department goes to put out a fire it has some idea of what it is dealing with and does not face unknown explosions as they did in that fire?

2:50 p.m.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the details of that fire. I think the suggestion implicit in the question seems to make some degree of sense. I am not sure how practical it is from an administrative standpoint, but I am quite prepared to explore the member’s useful suggestion and report back to the House.

Mr. Breaugh: Is there any requirement now, as there is on the transportation of hazardous materials, to post a listing of the chemicals that are stored in a building such as the tannery? Is there any current regulation that might be readily applied to that kind of situation?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I do not believe there is, but I will confirm that.

Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: May I suggest to the minister that he also consider a standard colour coding approach to the storage of these dangerous chemicals? Also, will he consider a regulation that they be stored only in specified places in the establishment and not left in multiple spaces throughout a facility?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I will look into that suggestion, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Bradley: I have a question of the Attorney General, Mr. Speaker, regarding the fines option program. As the Attorney General is aware, a fines option program is one where a person is given the option of $300 or 30 days in jail and he has an opportunity to work that off in some form of community work. Will he not agree that in such a circumstance the convicted person is clearly not a danger to society, nor is the offence one that would warrant incarceration? Would it not be better if such a person had the option to work off his fine in a service to the community when he cannot afford to pay the actual fine? This option is now available, I believe, in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am familiar to some extent with the legislation, certainly in Saskatchewan although I am not sure about Alberta’s. We are reviewing this program in some depth right now, and we will have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future in so far as Ontario is concerned.

Mr. Bradley: I am sure the minister would agree with me, because he has so stated in his estimates. He is certainly familiar with the estimates of the other ministries in the justice field. Will he not agree that the cost of keeping these people in jail is such that the short-term sentence where a person cannot pay the fine is not desirable? Will he not agree the legal problem that has arisen concerning the federal Criminal Code is not really an obstacle, since in Saskatchewan the federal government apparently has cooperated to the extent that it is prepared to implement that kind of program at the federal level as well?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am not suggesting there are any constitutional impediments. I certainly made it very clear during the debate on the Provincial Offences Act that it was not in the public interest to put the taxpayers to the expense related to jail sentences where people cannot pay fines. I do not think it is a wise expenditure of public funds. We made it very clear we should be exploring all of these options in relation to incarceration when a person has been given a fine.

We think that when a fine has been imposed, incarceration for failure to pay the fine should be the last possible alternative. I am simply agreeing with the honourable member that this is something we are going to continue to pursue. It was certainly very much the philosophy of the provincial offences legislation.


Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Has the minister read the recent article written for The Condominium newspaper by his former staff member, Irv Kumer? In it, that lawyer stated: “Condominium Ontario does not seem to be able to provide the kind of direct advice and information on specific questions that form the reason for creating it in the first place. They are so obsessed with disclaiming liability for advice they give and so hesitant to provide any advice that would really be helpful that the whole operation as presently constituted probably is not worth the effort.”

Has the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations seen the comments attributed to his colleague, the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), in which he takes the New Democratic Party position that Condominium Ontario is a major problem and should be replaced by a registrar of condominiums? In the light of such criticism from his own ranks, will the minister tell the House whether his government will continue to finance this body after December 31, since it is fairly clear that the court case concerning the levy to finance Condo Ontario will not be completed this fall?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, there are three questions there. First of all, I draw to the honourable member’s attention that some action was taken by the Law Society of Upper Canada concerning the giving of advice. If Mr. Kumer does not know what happened when he was urging people to give advice and what the reaction of the Law Society of Upper Canada was, I am rather surprised.

Second, I think the member has a private bill, and if he does not some other NDP member has, to put in a registrar. So that is a matter of opinion.

Third, the entire question of the thrust of Condominium Ontario and its future role, particularly in regard to some of the things the member has asked, will be the subject of a meeting between Condominium Ontario and myself some time later this month or within the next few days. I will gladly report back to the House concerning that meeting.

Mr. Philip: Has the minister reviewed the proposed changes, which I understand the new president of Condominium Ontario, Dr. Peter Donnelly, has submitted to him? After this meeting with Condo Ontario, can the minister inform the Legislature whether his officials or those of Condo Ontario will have costed these new proposals and what position the minister is taking on these proposals? Will he also give a guarantee to this Legislature that Condo Ontario will provide to the public regular financial statements of its spending, a practice that was not followed under the former president, Mr. Batchelor, whom the minister appointed?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I thought I had answered that question the first time around; I presume the member had it written down and had to read it. I do not understand the business about the financial statements but, if the member wants to elaborate in a note to me, I will be glad to look into it.

I draw the attention of the House to the fact that Condominium Ontario is not an arm of the government. Condominium Ontario operates at arm’s length. The member who asked this has been in several disputes and has lost every one of them in this House, demanding that the government provide financial statements or mailing lists or other things. If he will tell me in writing what he wants, I will do my best to get it for him.


Mr. Speaker: The same minister has the answer to another question asked previously.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, on November 13 the member for St. Catharines (Mr. Bradley) asked a number of questions arising out of a gas explosion that destroyed a home in Burlington. Investigation of this accident being conducted by the staff of the technical standards division of my ministry has not been concluded. We received the Ontario Research Foundation’s report on November 4 and it is being analysed carefully.

I would point out that the report was provided to us as a matter of courtesy. The primary objective of the Ontario Research Foundation test was to provide data on AMP T-fitting for litigation purposes. Because of this litigation I do not think it appropriate to comment on the contents of the report. However, I can say the report did not conclude that the plastic T-joint had separated from the pipeline supplying gas to the house. That fact was established by our own on-site investigation on September 16.

The honourable member asked whether it was correct that 30 per cent of these fittings, which he said were tested by the Consumers’ Gas Company’s Chatham laboratory, had failed to meet pressure specifications and that AMP of Canada Limited, which he identified as the manufacturer, now makes fittings to higher specifications.

In reply, I would point out that Consumers’ Gas Company does not have a laboratory in Chatham, nor did it make any such findings at its Toronto laboratory. Union Gas, which does have a laboratory in Chatham, did not make any such findings either. Further I am advised that AMP of Canada Limited is the distributor, and not the manufacturer, of these fittings.

3 p.m.

The suggestion that new fittings are now being designed to meet higher specifications is misleading. The Canadian Standards Association standard for these fittings has not changed during the period we are talking about. In the light of advances in plastic technology, changes were made to the material and the body of the fitting in 1977. The designed strength of the fitting, before and after the change, has met the CSA standard. We have no information to indicate there is an urgent or unusual problem with the old or new style fitting. Indeed because of its flexibility and absence of corrosion, a plastic system provides additional safety when compared with the more rigid steel system.

Immediately following the accident, Union Gas stepped up the frequency of its gas leakage service. Although some small leaks have been found, there have been no further discoveries of line separation. Some of these installations are over landfill sites which may be more prone to leakage as a result of stresses caused by settlement of the fill in such sites. I understand Union Gas is directing special attention to these locations.

Our investigation in the matter is continuing.


Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Is the minister aware that, during last week’s municipal election, a tie occurred in one of the municipalities I represent and that the Municipal Act calls for a judge to do a recount? However, if the tie vote is maintained, the person to hold office must be chosen by a draw from a hat. Does the minister not believe it is time to review the Municipal Act to assure we have proper legislation to break these ties in a proper manner in order that the people may be best served?

Hon. Mr. Wells: I might say, Mr. Speaker, there is an amendment to the Municipal Act at present on the Order Paper. It does not cover this but deals with archaic sections of the act. We are consistently going through the act to update any sections that seem irrelevant or not up to date. I suggest my friend think about this whole matter a little more. It is easy to criticize that as a tie-breaking mechanism but to come up with something more acceptable is perhaps not as easy.

As the member knows, in our case the returning officer casts the deciding ballot. Maybe the municipal clerk should cast the deciding ballot, but I would suggest to the member that many of the clerks would rather have it this way than be left with that responsibility. In fact, they might like to have an unofficial draw first before they legally cast the deciding ballot.

It is difficult but, fortunately, we have very few ties in this province. Let us wait and see what the recount brings forward in that case.

Mr. Mancini: We should be concerned not only about this specific election but also about the general principle of the matter. Does the minister not think it is an important matter for a person to make decisions for the next two years and to affect peoples’ lives? Does he not think a better system should be devised, other than having a person’s name drawn from a hat?

Mr. Speaker: That is the same as the first question.

Hon. Mr. Wells: I just want to say I do not view that method of settling it with alarm. If, after a recount, the people of a given municipality have voted in exactly in the same numbers for each of two candidates, obviously it is an absolute split down the middle and some way has to be found to solve that. Putting the names in a hat and drawing the winner seems to me to be just as equitable a way of settling it as any.


Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Is the minister aware that negotiations at Participation House in Hamilton resumed today and broke off quickly after management refused to budge one cent from the position it held at the beginning of negotiations?

As the taxpayers and charitable donors of this province have invested almost 100 per cent of the capital and operating costs of Participation House and its programs, will he now place Participation House under temporary trusteeship so that the residents can be returned to their home and the investment which has been placed there by the taxpayers and donors can be saved from an apparently intransigent management?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I must tell the honourable member that I have not yet received that information from my staff. I am sure by the time I get back to my office following question period it will be there.

The only thing I can say at this point is that I will review the most up-to-date information available to me and see whether there is any way in which I can appropriately act so as not to interfere with the present negotiations, or at least with the free collective bargaining process, and yet be of some assistance to that organization.

Mr. Isaacs: As the minister had previously indicated that he believed there might be some room for solution of this protracted dispute, will he, if management still refuses to move, at very least open the books of Participation House to the scrutiny of the members of this House and the public so that we may determine for ourselves whether Participation House management is simply playing games or whether it is that his ministry is not providing them with enough money?

Hon. Mr. Norton: I can only interpret that suggestion to mean that, if I am not prepared to interfere in the free collective bargaining process, then the honourable members opposite are. I am not sure I would give that undertaking.


Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I have a question to put to the Minister of Education about the continuing strike in Norfolk.

Now that a new school board has been elected but cannot function until the first week of December, and since the mediator has yet to come up with any positive results, at least as far as is publicly known, can the minister indicate what steps she may be contemplating to bring this matter to a successful conclusion, since the young people have been out of school for seven weeks?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that there are some discussions going on right at the present time in that situation. I am relatively hopeful, because it would appear there are some routes to a successful completion of the dispute; I believe those are being explored.

Mr. Nixon: Since the minister said exactly that when the question was first put six weeks ago, is there any indication that she could give to the members of the House, particularly the members from the area, that these discussions are more hopeful than they were a month or more ago?

The students are missing a good deal of school and the parents are coming to the elected members from the area in some desperation. The fact that there is no pressure put to bear on this House, the fact that it is not a strike in downtown Toronto so nobody here gives a damn about it, is getting to be a matter of grave concern for me and the people in the area.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk may believe that, but I have to tell him that there are a large number of people who give a damn about this strike.

Mr. Nixon: Yes, there are: You, me and maybe one other, the member for Haldimand-Norfolk (Mr. G. I. Miller).

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Oh, no. There are several more than that as well.

Mr. Ruston: You didn’t care about Windsor.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: I beg your pardon; about Windsor?

Mr. S. Smith: You need a pardon about Windsor.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Well, I do not have to beg Windsor’s pardon about Windsor, but the Leader of the Opposition has to beg Sault Ste. Marie’s pardon about Sault Ste. Marie and the rest of northern Ontario.

It is perfectly obvious, as a result of some meetings that were held about 10 days to two weeks ago, at which time we met with representatives of the parents, the community and representatives of the students, and what the Education Relations Commission did as well, that there has been some pressure brought to bear where it is more important; that, of course, is in the local community. What is happening is that we are having some communications from individuals who are involved on either one side or the other and who believe there is a route now to finding a solution to this problem. We had not had that kind of indication before.


Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, I would like to get a response from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to a suggestion I would like to put about the Re-Mor and Astra matter.

In order for the Legislature to be able to explore and, we hope, to untangle the web of Re-Mor and Astra involvement, will the minister support -- and I offer this suggestion in all good faith -- a referral of this matter to a legislative committee for consideration?

3:10 p.m.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I will not, Mr. Speaker, on the grounds that it would virtually destroy the litigation or, at the very least, it would run head on into the litigation that now exists in the situation in two regards: first, the class action or the group action accusing the registrar of mortgage brokers of negligence and, second, the question concerning the rights of creditors to have the Re-Mor funds extricated from the Astra bankruptcy now under way.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Would the minister care to explain to the House the effect on his ministry’s actions and decisions in this case caused by the involvement of a Mr. Matt Dymond, a former minister of the crown in Ontario, with Mr. Carlo Montemurro, who was behind the Astra and Re-Mor ripoffs? Will the minister explain the effects of the close relationship between these two men?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I do not know who has any kind of a relationship with anybody. It has never had any impact upon me, and I will tell him --

Mr. Breaugh: You are so lonely a man, Frank.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Well, he is asking if somebody was doing something; so let us not be so cute. I say to the honourable member, if he is suggesting that somebody influenced me or somebody within my ministry --

Mr. M. N. Davison: The minister has to explain his action in some way.

Hon. Mr. Drea: If the member wants to stand up right now and say that somebody influenced me, he can be my guest, but I would ask him to remember what is going to happen to him afterwards.


Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I do not really understand how a member can ask a question like that if he is not prepared to bring forward some evidence or material. I personally know of no relationships with anybody involved in this matter.

Mr. Breithaupt: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: With respect to the Re-Mor matter, may I take the opportunity to ask the minister if he is able, as he promised last Thursday, to table today the application for the Re-Mor mortgage brokerage licence and the other items I had asked for, since that all ties into this overall theme?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the reply is in consultation with the Ministry of the Attorney General; it will be tomorrow. In one of the replies, I said as soon as possible, Monday or Tuesday.


Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Solicitor General. What is the status of the Ontario provincial fire code at the present time and whose ministry will enforce it?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, we will be introducing legislation. Generally, as far as the regulations pertaining to fire safety and those matters are concerned, they will be the responsibility of the fire marshal’s office.


Mr. B. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Education. How many voters did she find of the French-speaking electors for the French-language advisory committee across Ontario for the $75,650 she spent on her feeble enumeration technique, and how much would it have cost if she had simply added the questions to the enumeration forms for the various areas where they would have applied?

Hon. Miss Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, what was carried out was not an enumeration. It was a method of attempting to assist the French-language advisory committees to identify on a broader base those who might be interested in participating in the election of French-language advisory committee members. Those elections are not part of the municipal elections, which are enumerated properly for the election of trustees and members of local government.

Members of the French-language advisory committees are neither members of the board of school trustees nor of local government. Therefore, what we did was to attempt to help that group to identify more clearly those francophone individuals within their jurisdictions who might be interested in participating in the French-language advisory committee elections.

That exercise is now being completed. When the final figures have been tallied, I will certainly ask permission of the five francophone groups, with which I had discussions and with which I made a pact I would never use this information as any kind of statistical base, to permit me to provide that information to the member.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Does the minister believe or does she not believe that there should be full enumeration for the FLACs? She has made a distinction. Have they a right or not to have full enumeration so that they know whom they are electing.

Hon. Miss Stephenson: It is my understanding that enumeration is carried out for purposes of municipal elections to those bodies in which there is full participation of all citizens. Since the French-language advisory committee, although established under law, is not what one would consider to be a municipal body, I do not know whether it should be a part of the enumeration.


Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Can the minister tell me what stage his right-to-farm legislation is at and when we can expect it to be introduced into the House?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, shortly after the throne speech last year we took this up with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. My staff and the staff of the federation were working together. About a month ago the federation came back and reported to me that they had a proposal but they were not yet ready to present it to me. They want to present it to the annual meeting of the federation next week. That is where it is at.



Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition which reads as follows: “We, the undersigned, petition the Lieutenant Governor and Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ensure public protection against the Ku Klux Klan, an organization which has clearly violated our human rights legislation and hate literature laws. We petition for an immediate prosecution under the Criminal Code in an effort to end the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in Ontario.”

The petition is signed by 38 citizens from the good borough of Scarborough.



Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs be authorized to sit on Thursday, November 20, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Motion agreed to.



Mr. Makarchuk moved first reading of Bill 196, An Act to provide for a Moratorium on Mortgage Payments for Persons affected by an Interruption of Employment.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Makarchuk: The purpose of the bill, Mr. Speaker, is to provide for a moratorium on payment of principal and interest amounts secured by mortgages on the residences of persons who suffer an interruption of employment arising from a legal strike, lockout or layoff. The bill also protects the mortgagor from mortgage default proceedings during the moratorium period.

3:20 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the answers to questions 388 to 391, 393, 396 and 397 standing on the Notice Paper.


House in committee of supply.


On vote 701, ministry administration program:

Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the minister whether it is his intention to table the answers to questions I asked of him in the opening statement when we commenced the estimates of the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

Are you finished?

Mr. Martel: No.

Mr. Bolan: Carry on.

Mr. Martel: Thank you.

Mr. Bolan: Are you?

Mr. Martel: Go ahead.

Mr. Bolan: Thank you.

Mr. MacDonald: Are you running the House?

Mr. Bolan: I don’t know; I am starting to wonder who is. Do you want to carry on your conversation?

Mr. Chairman: Order.

Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask if the minister has answers to the questions I asked of him when we started the estimates. I asked him the following questions: What is the total advertising budget for the Ministry of Northern Affairs and its agencies, boards and commissions for the fiscal year? What was the comparable advertising budget for the previous year? What advertising agencies are employed? Are tenders let for the account? Will the minister also provide a copy of the material used in all the promotions, such as brochures, radio and television scripts, direct mailing and any other promotional material?

I asked those questions some three weeks ago. The minister has had three weeks to get the answers. I presume he has them now. If he does not have them now, do I have his undertaking that they will be provided to us between now and the time the estimates are finished?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I believe that question is on the Order Paper, and we are preparing a reply to it.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, when we adjourned last, I was asking some questions of the minister with regard to the relationship of his ministry to other ministries of the government. Since he has delineated that his ministry is a co-ordinating ministry, I would like to pursue that a little with some specific examples.

It is rather difficult to deal with this in one way, because when one writes to the minister about a specific problem in northern Ontario he is often wont to refer one to another minister. For instance, there is the position taken by this minister with regard to the question of Ontario health insurance plan coverage for transfers by doctors of patients from northern Ontario to larger centres in the north, to southern Ontario, or in some cases in the northwest, to Manitoba. When I contacted him, he said he was sympathetic, but he referred me to the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell).

I understand the Minister of Health has a liaison committee on the air ambulance service; they are talking about it and they may be coming up with something. But I would like to know what role, if any, this ministry has in advising the Minister of Health and trying to persuade him to accept the resolution I have on the Order Paper which would provide OHIP coverage for those kinds of transfers.

In the same vein, I would be interested to find out what the minister’s position is with regard to the proposals now being made for a telemedicine program by the Port Arthur General Hospital and by a Dr. Barrett, who is a radiologist in Toronto. I understand Dr. Barrett has met with the minister and with the Speaker, I believe, to discuss his proposals. He has also met with me. It is somewhat similar to what is in operation now in northwestern Quebec; James Bay, I believe, has a similar hookup to Montreal hospitals.

I would be interested to find out what role this minister has in influencing health policy for northern Ontario. I know the minister does announce programs with regard to health policy, such as the bursary program for professionals to be attracted to the north. But, besides announcing policies that have been decided in the Ministry of Health, what role does this minister have in actually influencing the development of policy and, in particular, the questions of OHIP transfers and the telemedicine proposal?

In a similar vein, can the minister indicate what is happening with the proposals made in Espanola, in the riding of my colleague the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), for an integrated facility involving nursing home care -- residential care, extended care or whatever it is called -- as well as senior citizens’ housing? This is a very good concept and one with which I think his ministry is involved in a committee. Can he give me some indication of what stage it is at and what his ministry’s role is in it?

Can he also say what, if anything, his ministry is doing about the mixup we have between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services with regard to a similar, although not as large, pilot project that is now in operation in Hornepayne for residential care for the elderly and disabled? This is the kind of concept, I am sure the minister will agree, that we need to expand in the small communities in northern Ontario, since it enables the elderly and the disabled to remain in their own communities, rather than being transported great distances to facilities in larger centres. I will be interested to hear his comments on his responsibilities in that area.

In relation to the Ministry of Industry and Tourism, I hope the minister can clarify a controversy that has developed as a result of statements made by his colleague the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) on October 22, when the estimates of his ministry were being debated by the resources development committee. During that debate, he indicated that further decisions by the provincial government on provision of funding for infrastructure for the proposed King Mountain project in my riding would await the completion of the Department of Regional Economic Expansion agreement on tourism for northern Ontario.

Subsequent to those statements becoming public, the president of the development firm, a Mr. Frank Rush, characterized the statement of the minister’s colleague as “bull.” I believe that was the word he used; it was on the front page of the Sault Ste. Marie Star.

He said the DREE agreement might have some bearing -- but very little, if any -- on the proposals, and he had to have a decision on provincial involvement by December 31. Also, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Regional Economic Expansion in Ottawa said that, although they were interested in the King Mountain project, the agreement on tourism for northern Ontario between the province and the federal government was not nearly rich enough to be able to provide any significant contribution to the King Mountain project. My colleague the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Ramsay) said that as far as he was aware there was no real relationship between the negotiations with DREE and the King Mountain project.

Frankly, it is inconceivable to me that a minister responsible for tourism -- even in a Tory government -- would not know about the relationship between the negotiations on a tourism agreement with DREE and a major project in northern Ontario. But that appears to be the case.

Is the Minister of Northern Affairs the so-called lead minister in the negotiations with DREE, and can he clear up the contradictions that have been raised by the statements of his colleagues? Maybe he can also tell us in general terms what is the relationship between the Ministry of Northern Affairs and the Ministry of Industry and Tourism with regard to tourist developments in northern Ontario, because obviously the Minister of Industry and Tourism does not know what he is talking about.

3:30 p.m.

I will not prolong this, but in every estimates we have had on this ministry I have raised the question of the relationship between this ministry and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. We will be talking about northern roads on a specific vote; so I will not prolong it. But it seems to me rather interesting that the minister could state in Sudbury last Thursday that the bypass between Highway 144, the Timmins highway, and Highway 17 at Sudbury is on schedule and will be completed in 1981. Whereas, on exactly the same day, the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) received a letter from the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow), who said this project would be completed by 1982 at the earliest. The minister said 1981, and the Minister of Transportation and Communications said 1982.

Who is deciding when these projects are going to be complete? Who is responsible? Can the ministers get their act together? What is the relationship between them? I understand they are supposed to set the overall priorities. MTC is supposed to make recommendations to help make those priorities, and then the minister is supposed to appropriate the moneys and turn it over to MTC to carry out the program he sets. But, obviously, the two ministers are not on the same wavelength with regard to the bypass from Highways 144 to 17. They are at least a year apart. It is interesting the minister would say something one day and the very same day a letter would be received from the Minister of Transportation and Communications saying something very different.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: You have not been briefed well enough.

Mr. Wildman: I can get the letter the member for Sudbury East received. He would be quite willing to send it down. I would read it. I do not want to prolong it, but I understand Mr. Tom Davies, the mayor of Walden, is quite upset about this discrepancy and is very concerned about the whole contradiction. So here we have another contradiction -- in this case the contradiction between the two ministers.

I would also like to refer to two other matters the minister raised in his leadoff statement. As a matter of fact, he then criticized me for not raising them in my leadoff. One was the Hornepayne town centre project. The minister may know that a week ago Saturday I was at the opening of one portion of it, although they have not got permission yet for occupancy; there is some problem with the fire marshal. At any rate, I understand his ministry has announced a further contribution to the project in the range of something like $300,000, and another $100,000 from CN, to complete it. Can he indicate what the final capital cost will be? I understand of that $300,000 approximately $100,000 is a commitment to assist with operating costs over the first two years -- $60,000 the first year and $40,000 the second year -- because there is a projected deficit.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Generous, eh?

Mr. Wildman: Yes, I welcome the assistance. One thing I am concerned about, though, is what happens after the first two years? If there is a projected deficit and the ministry is going to provide $60,000 the first year and $40,000 the second year, what happens the third year? I know that may sound like looking a gift-horse in the mouth, but I am concerned about the future and what it means in terms of the finances of the community.

As the minister may know, Hornepayne is in a serious financial situation; that is why his ministry has largely contributed, as well as the fact that he wants to see the centre go ahead. There is some concern about the curling rink and the airport, and a rather serious concern about Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the use of funds that were appropriated for a certain matter. I understand the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs is involved with that and is going into Hornepayne in the last couple of weeks of November to try to straighten out the finances of the municipality. In that case, I would like to find out the minister’s relationship with the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs on the future of Hornepayne.

The minister also raised the matter of Missanabie and pointed to that as an example of how his ministry responds to the concerns of small communities, and how they co-ordinate all the other agencies, in this case, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and so on. But the one thing he ignored was the fact that the pipe that was purchased more than a year ago by this ministry to extend the water line on an emergency basis to provide a water supply for the community is still sitting in a pile in Missanabie.

How anyone could point to that as a great achievement, I fail to understand -- an expenditure of something like $30,000, and the project is not complete. Now the Ministry of Northern Affairs is refusing to go ahead with any further work, saying it committed itself only to providing a water supply for the community for one winter and, since that winter is now over and nobody went without water, it fulfilled its commitment. Frankly, it is pure luck. They did not resolve the technical problem. It cost a lot more than they expected, and they were not willing to provide the extra moneys that were required.

I understand that the local residents of the community have said they want to apply through the Ontario Municipal Board to become an improvement district. I understand it is the position of both the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) that they would rather the community would go the route of a local services board. The community has rejected that, largely because it anticipates that the Renabie Mine will be reopening this summer. The president of the company has indicated it will be reopening and employing between 80 and 100 people. They wish to be an improvement district, they hope with their boundaries including that property, so they will have a tax base and they will be able to resolve some of their problems through being able to levy taxes.

The Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, I understand on the advice of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, raised some objections with the OMB to holding that hearing. They said they were studying it and they wished it to be postponed. In fact, they were not studying it; they just did not want it to be held. When I phoned them and asked if they could give me copies of their study, they had to admit they had not done any study. But I understand they are now prepared to withdraw their objections to going ahead with the hearing, and I hope the OMB will schedule a hearing and decide whether Missanabie should be an improvement district. Whatever is decided, I hope we can move to resolving the problems.

If I were minister, I would hardly point to Missanabie as a great example of a response by this ministry to the problems of a small community. To purchase pipe and then not even to install it after a full year, to commit oneself to improving a water system and after a year not to have even cleaned out the tank, is hardly an example of swift action by this ministry to respond to the needs of a community. We are just lucky it was not a harder winter last year, or we would have had major problems.

Interestingly, as the minister may be aware, there is a serious attempt to resolve difficulties and to provide amenities and services to one other riding in my community; that is, White River. The local major employer, Abitibi-Price, is co-operating. As a matter of fact, Abitibi-Price has hired a consulting firm, called Robb Ogilvie Associates, which has brought together the local community, not only the municipal officials but also private citizens, local service clubs and representatives of a number of ministries, including the Ministry of Northern Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, and so on. They are working together to bring about a number of changes in White River -- one being the building and financing of a recreation centre -- looking into the housing problem and the problem of other amenities and services, to try to make it a more attractive community to new employees coming in, so they will stay there.

3:40 p.m.

My only question for this minister is why they had to hire a private consultant. Why is his ministry not doing the very same sort of thing? That is what he is supposed to be doing; at least that is what he tells us. Why is his ministry not coming in and taking hold of the reins and bringing all those various local groups and ministry officials together to bring about developments, as is being done in White River, but in this case is being done largely by the private sector?

I am not too concerned about Abitibi-Price having to pay Robb Ogilvie, but did they have to do it that way? Why did the Ministry of Northern Affairs not take hold of the whole issue? The point is, they only went to Robb Ogilvie after they got nowhere for years in trying to bring about the developments they are looking at.

If one looks at an example, the recreation centre is a 10-year ongoing matter that was not being pushed until they brought someone in -- to use the minister’s own arguments, “What you need is the impetus of someone who can bring all the groups together and co-ordinate them and put some initiative there.” Frankly, in an ironic way the experience of White River is an example of what the minister claims is necessary for small communities in northern Ontario. What is so ironic about it is that his ministry is not doing it; it is a private consultant.

Last, I would like to raise a concern about French language services. The minister knows I sent him a letter this fall asking him how the government would be implementing the commitment made by the Premier (Mr. Davis) at the first ministers’ conference to provide French-language services in areas where numbers warrant. I was referring especially to social services and to services to children. I received a reply from the minister in which he said: “As you know, some of my colleagues in cabinet have announced French-language policy for their ministries with specific measures for the improvement of francophone services throughout northern Ontario. More recently my colleague the Honourable Keith Norton, Minister of Community and Social Services, reaffirmed a French-language services policy for his ministry.”

I wonder what kind of consultation went on between whoever wrote this letter for the minister and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Minister of Community and Social Services did, in fact, announce French-language services for children -- a $400,000 fund for northern Ontario -- but he specifically excluded Algoma, of which fact the Minister of Northern Affairs seems to be unaware.

As a matter of fact, he goes on to say: “I have been advised that the social services representatives servicing that area all work out of the office at 55 Broadway Avenue in Wawa. This office is staffed full-time by a fully bilingual clerical receptionist who provides services to general welfare assistance, family benefits, children’s aid and probation and after-care workers located in Wawa.”

Hip, hip, hurrah! I We have a clerk who is bilingual in Wawa. The Wawa office serves an area from White River to Hornepayne -- about 120 miles in one direction -- to Missanabie -- about 70 to 75 miles in the other direction. I would like to know if this clerk travels with the social workers who go to serve those areas. Especially, does she travel with the social worker who goes to Dubreuilville, which is approximately 55 miles from Wawa and whose social worker does not speak French? As the minister knows since he has visited that community, 95 per cent of the people in Dubreuilville are francophones, and a large majority of them are unilingual French-speaking. A clerk in an office in Wawa hardly serves French-language people in northern Algoma.

I would like to know what kind of advice this minister gives to the Minister of Community and Social Services and what kind of advice he gets from that ministry. Obviously, whoever phoned the Ministry of Community and Social Services to get some assistance to answer this letter -- because I am sure that is how it went -- was not informed they had excluded Algoma when they made their announcement of a $400,000 fund for French-language services to children in northern Ontario.

What I am really asking is, does this ministry get involved in policy development for serving the north? Or does it simply phone them up and say: “We have a request for something? Can you tell us what to reply?” I would appreciate if the minister could respond.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, if I might respond to the member, I must say I am pleased he is taking an interest in his own particular area. I sensed a lack of appreciation for what has been accomplished in many areas of his riding.

I am glad I have on the record all those great things we have been doing in the riding of Algoma. I am sure before the estimates are concluded he will come around to seeing the magnificent improvements and accomplishments that this government and certainly this ministry have made in his particular riding, in spite of the member for Algoma.

Mr. Wildman: There has been more money spent in my riding since 1975 than in the 10 years prior to that.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is right. Why doesn’t the member say that? Why doesn’t he tell the people?

Mr. Wildman: It is because I have raised these matters here.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Those things have been done in spite of the member. I am glad he has realized that we are doing things in the north.

The member was talking about our coordinating responsibilities as a northern ministry. As he is very much aware, we are not a line ministry per se; that is, we do not have the technical engineers to design a highway or to do field work with respect to the development of a new highway, nor do we have the engineers or the experts to plan and develop a sewer and water system.

That is not our role. Our role is to coordinate and to answer to the special and unique needs of northern Ontario. Where we identify those special, unique needs, we lean on the other ministries and work very closely with them to get a program in place that will satisfy the needs of northern Ontario. In many instances, that requires extra funds, which we have been given to do these things. We have a fund that can accomplish those requirements. A typical example is sewer and water projects. The member is very familiar with the problems we have with sewer and water projects in northern Ontario. Not only do we work very closely with the Ministry of the Environment in many instances in topping up what it gives in normal grants, but also we top up to make it possible for a municipality to carry out its responsibilities. In many instances, that municipality does not have a taxation base to carry it under the normal program.

We go a step further than that. We look at a particular area: Belle Vallee is a good example. Belle Vallee is a small community with a very high water table. The cost of putting in a conventional sewer system in that community would have been astronomical and would have been completely out of reach of that small community. They were anxious to have a system in place they could afford and one that the government could afford to support and pay for from our point of view. We did come up with an idea and a plan. That is being implemented right now and the system is being constructed. In fact, I think it should be completed relatively soon. It is a low-pressure sewage system, the first of its kind in northern Ontario, at Belle Vallee. I think I have the figures on that particular program. I should put them on the record, because I know they will be of interest to the members.

3:50 p.m.

In case the honourable members are not aware of where Belle Vallee is, it is about 20 kilometres northeast of New Liskeard. The system consists of a two-compartment septic tank and a pump in each home, connected by a pipe to a two-cell lagoon on the outskirts of the community. Belle Vallee, as I pointed out, is in an extremely flat area, and a conventional gravity feed system would have required very deep trenches to maintain the sewage flow in the pipes. The low-pressure system is simple to operate and maintain and requires only that the pipe be below the frost line. We contributed about $270,000 for that particular project, and the community will pay the balance of $74,230. That is an example of what we do in a very special way. Not only did we co-ordinate it with the other ministry, but also we assisted in the funding.

Another example, with regard to sewer and water projects, is at Serpent River. The member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane), my parliamentary assistant, came to me with the very special problems that Serpent River had as a small community on a plastic pipe system. They said to us: “We do not want a massive steel pipe system, buried eight or 10 feet in the ground. We have been operating for 25 years with a good, reliable plastic pipe system. Would you supplement that and improve upon it?” We said, “Fine, if that is what you want and it will work.” We brought in the Ministry of the Environment. We had some lengthy discussions with them. Obviously, the engineers are not taken with this type of a development. It is, I suppose, a little removed from what they have been used to or what their practice is, because --

Mr. Wildman: What about the fire marshal? Did he like it?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: This is what the people wanted, and I think we have to answer to the people’s needs, their requirements and what they can pay for. We have a system going in there and I think that will be well on its way before the year is out; the honourable member has nodded. So we have two specific examples as to how we coordinate in the sewer and water area.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is another with which we work very closely; we get a tremendous amount of co-operation. One matter alone about which we have been leaning on MTC is that of getting them to change their attitude to paved shoulders; that is moving ahead. As you move across northern Ontario, particularly on Highway 17, you will see that the new requests of northern Ontario are being answered; for example, more paved shoulders. They went into a very excellent program of putting in passing lanes. Now, in many areas, they are finding that they can put in paved shoulders, an eight-foot paved shoulder, for about the same cost as they could put in a truck passing lane. We are looking at that as a new thrust in northern Ontario. Granted, it will not apply in southern Ontario, but again it is part of our thrust and part of our efforts to answer specific northern Ontario needs in a coordinated way.

The honourable member asked what involvement we have with the Ministry of Health in a co-ordinating role. He mentioned a few, such as bursary program. We identified very quickly the need to come up with some special programs to encourage doctors, dentists, physiotherapists and other specialists to move into northern Ontario. We went right to the heart of the problem and assisted the medical students on a two-year basis, with up to $5,000 a year for the last two years, on the express understanding that they will go to northern Ontario. This is a Northern Affairs thrust, one we are paying for through the budget of the Ministry of Northern Affairs, and one on which you are asked to vote today.

Medical clinics -- the honourable member knows our new thrust in medical clinics. Again, this is in co-operation with the Ministry of Health, because they have to approve it, they are the line people, the experts in that particular field but we identify the special need in northern Ontario. So we came up with a program by which we would assist those municipalities wanting to develop a medical clinic so that they could attract a doctor or a dentist. We would assist with up to two thirds of the cost, and it varies; it is not a flat two thirds, but up to two thirds of the capital cost paid on the express understanding that the doctors using the clinic would pay the ongoing local rent, which they have all accepted.

There is the dental program, the mobile dental clinics that we established in northern Ontario, again in co-operation and coordination with the Ministry of Health. There is the air ambulance system on which we are working very closely with the Ministry of Health right now.

Mr. Wildman: What about OHIP?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is part of the whole package, one part in which we have had a thrust. Certainly, I do not want to make any announcement here of what is going to happen. The line ministry does have that responsibility. But I can assure the honourable member that we have the thrust, that we have the input, and that we meet regularly. Our staff members from the minister, the deputy minister, and the assistant deputy minister down to our directors, are in constant contact with their counterparts in other ministries to get that northern Ontario thrust into their decision-making process, and the system is really working.

About the telemedic issue, to which the honourable member referred, my assistant deputy ministers are meeting with the officials of that group to see how they and we as a ministry can assist in the delivery of that system. I was very interested in his proposal. He indicated to me that much of it would be in the private sector -- there is no question about that -- but he certainly wanted to get the support of this government and this ministry. We are very interested in that as a way to meet the needs of northern Ontario, and I know my colleague the Minister of Health shares my view in that field.

The honourable member spoke about the integrated senior citizens’ unit at Espanola. I want to place on the record my personal congratulations to the member for Algoma-Manitoulin, my parliamentary assistant. It was his idea. He brought the thing forward and has pursued it relentlessly through the various levels of government. He sold the idea locally and that is most important. He sold it to the private sector -- there will be involvement of the private sector.

Dr. Fergal Nolan of my ministry is part of that overall group which is working with the various other ministries. I understand the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) is doing the steering of this program and we can expect something relatively soon on the status of that facility. I think it will be a forerunner.

Mr. Wildman: Hornepayne too?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes. I think that is an excellent program. In fact, I met with the director just a couple of days ago and he went to some length to assure me the facility they have in Hornepayne adjacent to the Hornepayne Hospital is in fairly good condition. I think he is spending another $20,000 this year fixing up the roof or doing the skirting around the bottom of it. But he thinks he is there for another three, four or five years before he needs any major capital expenditure. He was very pleased; they are well set up; and he was very complimentary to this government for what we have done in that field. I am looking forward to the day when we can turn the sod in Espanola for that new and exciting facility, which will bring together three different levels of service to the senior citizens in that area. I can assure you many communities in northern Ontario will be watching what transpires there.

Another area where we are in a coordinating role with the Ministry of Energy is the Shell Woodex plant up at Hearst. That plant and that idea have been around for some considerable time, but it was not until the Ministry of Northern Affairs got involved to bring the sewer and water facilities to the plant that it really took off. We are working very closely with the Ministry of Energy and with the private sector in making these things happen. So while we may not be the line ministry making all these announcements, we are behind the scenes pressing the right buttons so that they do happen.

Speaking about a co-ordinating role, I think one of the other members asked about the policy analysis branch of my ministry. He asked just what their responsibility was and is. There is a small group in my ministry located here in Toronto and it monitors on behalf of my ministry what goes in all the other cabinet committees and in management board, in addition to cabinet. So they know what is going on in the Justice policy field; they monitor what is coming forward in the Social Development policy field and the Resources Development policy field; they know what is going on in management board, which I try to keep on top of.

So it is a massive job. It is not like an ordinary ministry where you are just involved with one section of cabinet. This is a unique situation where my ministry is involved in all those. It takes a tremendous amount of effort keeping on top of the issues on an ongoing day-to-day basis to see what is brought forward. Then, of course, we initiate things that we want to see happen and that is all put into the system. It is a very complex and very interesting ministry, indeed, that sees and makes sure things really happen.

4 p.m.

The member for Algoma mentioned King Mountain and the Department of Regional Economic Expansion proposal. I think he is aware this government is very sympathetic to the DREE proposal. I, along with my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Ramsay), made an extensive flight over the possible location of the facility. It is a different and exciting area. The potential is unlimited as it relates to that type of year-round facility just north of Sault Ste. Marie. The member attached it to the DREE proposal and he is quite right in doing that.

It was discussed last week in a general way. The Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman), who was the chairman at the Ottawa meeting, made it a pointed thrust with regard to destination facilities in northern Ontario, King Mountain being one of them. We are anxious to start talking and get moving on a massive tourism package. We are not looking at a small package; we are looking at a package of about $100 million. King Mountain could fit quite easily into that package if we are successful.

Mr. Wildman: Are you going to be able to make an announcement on your attitude towards involvement with King Mountain whether or not the DREE proposal is reached before the end of the year?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would not be making an announcement with regard to King Mountain. I am sure my colleague the Minister of Industry and Tourism will.

Mr. Wildman: Is he the lead minister in negotiations?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, his would be the lead ministry in that field.

We will certainly be supporting him as he goes on with DREE and as he moves ahead because we are very interested and we are giving him all the help and assistance we can from our field. That is in the works. Following our meeting in Ottawa, I would have to admit I am not excited about the quick acceptance of a tourism package of that size.

Mr. Wildman: They said it would take four months.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I would like to see it happen in four months. That is more optimistic than I would be, but we all have our feelings and assumptions.

The honourable member made some reference to the development of a bypass and Highway 144. We will call it the north-south bypass in Sudbury. I think he did get some direction from the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa). I regret he did not get all the facts right or all the information because he is a little twisted around. He said this would be completed in 1982 and somebody else said 1981. It is not going to be completed then; it is just going to be started. The land acquisition is complete and the design work and environmental studies are nearly complete. I said this in Sudbury last Thursday.

Mr. Wildman: You said 1981 and slowed it to 1982.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No, there has been no mention of dates at all. I wrote the regional chairman. It is in the planned project of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. When we took it over, it was in 1982. It is still in 1982. I hope we can advance that period but I am not sure. I do not know what the funding will be for next year. I do know from my many visits to the Sudbury area there is anxiety to get on with it. We are as anxious as anybody else. I said in Sudbury that is a government commitment and it will be lived up to. I do not know what the fuss is all about. I suspect it might have been before a certain day -- November 10. That might have stirred things up to get a little publicity.

As far as we are concerned nothing has changed. I hope the funding will be there to get on with it and, if we get some extra funding I would like to see some kind of start in 1981, but I cannot at this time make any firm commitment that will happen. Nevertheless, I am sympathetic to that.

The member made reference to Hornepayne and I was pleased he recognized the generous assistance we are giving to that municipality. I want to compliment my own staff in the Ministry of Northern Affairs for their negotiations with Canadian National Railways in coming up with $100,000 from the CNR towards that medical centre, which will cost about $300,000. The normal contribution is two to one, as I mentioned earlier in my remarks. We will put up $200,000 capital.

I might say that they were extremely cooperative and our dealings with them have been exceptionally good. It was very heartwarming to see them respond in a very positive way in answer, of course, to the need of that municipality and they put their dollars on the line.

As the member correctly pointed out, we will be assisting in the operation for the next two years. The projections are that after that it will carry itself so there won’t be a large burden on the community and we look forward to that. I think the development of the Hornepayne town centre complex is unique in the government. I don’t know of any other facility -- I would ask the honourable members to look around and see if that has ever been carried on, not only with the private sector but with all levels of government.

I suppose you might say the Ministry of Northern Affairs is starting to become very adept and very able in that particular effort, because we saw it happen with the development of Ontario North Now, where not only the various levels and various ministries of the government became involved with their expertise and our financial commitment, but the private sector and the municipalities also became involved. Our co-ordinating role is really there; it is very real; it is very positive and it is very easy to identify and the results are starting to flow from it.

The honourable member made some comment about Missanabie. I would have to say to the honourable member at the outset that I just wonder where he would have gone if Northern Affairs hadn’t been around to answer to that particular need at Missanabie, because --

Mr. Wildman: I went to every ministry in the government.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: That is exactly right, but who responded? Our ministry responded as quickly as possible. We came up with the funds that were required. Granted, the water level didn’t drop as low as most people had anticipated so that the projected water problem did not develop, but nevertheless we were there. We had purchased the particular pipe to which the honourable member made reference; the pipe is there and I would have to say to the member there could be a little more self help in Missanabie by the people.

I think you will agree with me that we offered the local services board an excellent route they could have used but they chose not to, for some reasons of which I am not aware. It would have been a first step had they gone into the local services board because the CPR did not want to deal with anybody who did not have a legal identity. I think it is fair to say they were willing to turn over the water system to a legal body, and until they form some form of a responsible group it is very difficult to deal with them.

Nevertheless, our interest, our concerns for Missanabie have not diminished; we will be there when they need us. I say that to you in all sincerity, because that is our responsibility. The local staff were there, johnny-on-the-spot when they were needed in answer to their particular needs. It was a very unique situation, one that you wouldn’t have answered, as you correctly point out, by another ministry. You might even say it is a little ad hockish, but nevertheless it answers the needs of the special problems of northern Ontario.

The honourable member made some reference to the delivery of French services. As I pointed out in my recent correspondence to him, we have a number of staff where numbers warrant, as he correctly pointed out, to deliver services in the French language right across northern Ontario. When we identify a problem we make those feelings known to other ministries, which we have done and will continue to do because we do think this government is committed to provide those services in a French-language program where numbers warrant. We have a number of our people located in the Sault Ste. Marie and the Wawa areas who are very fluent in the French language, so I feel very comfortable from a ministry point of view that we can deliver the services right across northern Ontario where numbers warrant, where people warrant.

Obviously, in the town of Kenora or even in Sioux Lookout, there really is no need, but there is a need in Timmins and Hearst and Iroquois Falls and Sturgeon Falls, and other areas, and our staff --

Mr. Wildman: And Dubreuilville?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: And Dubreuilville, yes, we will certainly follow up on that.

Mr. Chairman, I think that pretty well winds up the response to comments the honourable members made. I would like to take just a moment to send over to the honourable members --

Mr. Wildman: More tomatoes?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No. I think before we wound up last session we talked about peat and my visit to Ireland.

Many of us talk about peat as an energy source or as a product that could be used in a horticultural sense, but a lot of us have not seen what it is. I have in my hand raw peat. This is very similar to what is in northern Ontario. As you know, we have identified something like 67 locations in northern Ontario with an estimated resource in the amount of about 30 billion tons of peat. In the next few years we will see a lot of interest being focused on this particular source of energy.

4:10 p.m.

In my left hand I have a sample of a briquette. This is just an end off the briquettes that are made in Ireland. All that is taken out is the water content. It is mixed in a very general way. There are 16 different layers in the natural peat that is taken off the field. These are all blended and then put into a dryer where 85 per cent of the moisture is taken off. It is then compressed. It is very valuable as a fuel for fireplaces in Ireland. It is very low in ash and very low in the pollution count in SO2. I will pass these over to the members so they can look at them as a matter of interest.

Mr. Bolan: What about the heat from it?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: The British thermal unit content is very comparable. In fact, our research in Ontario indicates that it equals that of soft coal or lignite, so the potential is very real and positive.

Vote 701 agreed to.

On vote 702, project development and community relations program:

Mr. Wildman: I have a short question. Every month I receive the ministry’s newspaper in which the minister explains all the things that are being done in northern Ontario by his ministry. The latest one is for October. In it were all the pictures of the northern affairs officers across northern Ontario. It is interesting that a couple of people in my riding are also on the mailing list of the Unorganized Communities Association of Northern Ontario East. They received the October edition from the Ministry of Northern Affairs from UCANO. I was wondering who paid for that mailing. Was it the Ministry of Northern Affairs or was it UCANO? Could the minister explain what the reason was for having UCANO send out the ministry newsletter as well as its own community relations department news brief?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I am pleased the member has recognized that particular edition of our regular monthly ministry newspaper, because in that edition we are honouring the tenth anniversary of the northern affairs branch. I am pleased to say I will be going to Sault Ste. Marie tomorrow where all the northern affairs officers are meeting to extend to them my congratulations and honour those who have been with us for that 10-year period. It will be a very pleasant event indeed.

As the member knows, the northern affairs officers are unique to northern Ontario and are accepted. The service is hailed as a major breakthrough for the delivery of government information and services in the 29 communities and areas we serve across northern Ontario.

Regarding the question the honourable member has directed to me in connection with the mailing of that paper by the Unorganized Communities Association of Northern Ontario, we do fund UCANO. I think it is $25,000 a year for the northeast, or maybe it’s more than that now. We provide about $27,000 or $28,000 a year to each of UCANO East and UCANO West. I would expect that since those are so freely distributed across northern Ontario they just took it upon themselves to mail them to their membership, knowing they would be interested.

We look after our own mailing, and if they choose to give further distribution to it, that pleases me tremendously. I think it is a good newspaper. It is well put together. It is very informative; and it does a good job of informing not only my ministry but the public as well.

Mr. Wildman: There seems to be some concern underneath the gallery about the minister’s reply, so maybe he can straighten it out with his staff.

I noticed in the picture of the northern affairs officers, there are quite a few of them who are in my riding. It is rather a large riding, but of course not as large as the minister’s. There is a new northern affairs officer in Iroquois Falls. His name is Gerald Violette.

I want to add my congratulations to Mr. Violette on his appointment. I am surprised, though, that the minister did not at least leave him in Gogama so he could continue to serve the interests of the people in that community. I hope if there was any contribution for this mailing from the ministry that the minister could provide me with that information. I have no objection to it.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased the honourable member has recognized the appointment of Gerald Violette to the Northern Affairs staff. As we all know, he was very active and very vocal and led UCANO East for a number of years. He did an excellent job on behalf of the unorganized communities.

I think it is fair to say that with his background -- I believe he was teaching for a while -- he has a broad knowledge of northern Ontario. With his involvement in UCANO he has become very familiar with the many programs of this government and of this ministry.

Another appointment I would like to recognize is that of Jane Greer. She has just moved -- today I believe -- to Marathon. She’s a young girl from Sioux Lookout who has come through the ranks. We do not confine our appointments to the male of the species; we mix them up and try to get as many women as possible in areas where they show an interest. Jane will take up the position in Marathon and I know she will do a great job, as will Gerry.

Vote 702 agreed to.

On vote 703, northern communities assistance program; item 1, community priorities:

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I have some questions. First, though, I need some direction. I wonder if it is in order to raise questions with regard to funding for medical centres under item 1. Is that all right?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes.

Mr. Wildman: Could the minister give us some indication of what his ministry’s policy is with regard to the funding of medical centres? I know he mentioned it earlier.

4:20 p.m.

I know the ministry has provided a grant for the Cobalt medical centre in the range of $13,000 for renovations to the municipally-owned building. I understand the ministry has also provided $30,700 for the purchase of equipment for a dental clinic on a shared cost basis with the community of Chapleau. I understand Chapleau is under serious financial constraints and is having difficulties right now. That assistance was probably very useful, but could the minister give us some indication of whether there is an overall policy on funding by his ministry either to pay the full cost or to pay a portion of the cost of the development of medical or dental clinics in small communities in the north, or were these special grants?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We moved into the area of assistance to smaller communities in the development of medical centres following our own staff observations and following requests from the smaller municipalities and the Minister of Health. They could see this as a real need.

In our initial reviews, we found each community was different. As an example, Geraldton had a facility already built but needed $20,000 to put in certain equipment. That is all it required. The building was there. They said: “That is all we need. We need the $20,000, because we have run out the full length of our commitment.” It had difficulty generating those further funds, so we assisted.

In Nakina, they had a different system. They went out and prevailed upon the local timber company to provide them with a trailer. We assisted that community by coming forward and completing that trailer, which is now a medical clinic.

What we said was we would assist up to two thirds of the total cost as to the type of facility, size and all the configurations and everything they require once that had been approved by the Ministry of Health and once we had an opportunity to look at their financial capability, but we did not want to be fixed firmly to a two-to-one type of assistance program. Where the municipalities could do more for themselves, with some encouragement from us, we would ask them to do a little more. It is not a fixed two-to-one basis.

Many municipalities, of course, are coming forward and saying, “Look, we need two thirds of the financial assistance.” We are working closely with them on an individual basis. Red Lake has now received two-to-one assistance; Chapleau received two-to-one; I think Rainy River received two-to-one; and Manitouwadge is receiving two-to-one. A lot of them will flesh out but before we do that we do not want to lock ourselves into a firm, fixed locked-in policy. We look at each request individually in co-operation and coordination with the Ministry of Health. We look at the financial capability of the community, then work out a formula it can carry.

Mr. Wildman: Could the minister give us some indication of how much money has actually been spent by the ministry for renovation or construction of medical and dental clinics and how much it is anticipated will be spent in the next year?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I don’t have those total figures here but I will make a commitment to get all those totals for you.

Mr. Wildman: In that regard I also would like the minister, if he could, to expand on the ministry’s position with regard to the dental clinic and the renovation of the medical clinic in Dubreuilville. I appreciate assistance is being provided to Hornepayne.

One of the major problems we have had in Dubreuilville is it is very difficult to get professional staff who can speak French to move to an area. The local community and the Algoma district health council has suggested one of the ways to make it more attractive for a French-speaking professional to move to the Wawa-Dubreuilville area would be a major renovation of the medical clinic and the addition of a dental clinic.

After some effort we did obtain a nurse practitioner for Dubreuilville who is fluently bilingual and is doing a very good job. But I think he would agree that with some capital expenditure it might make it a more serviceable facility, and make it easier for the doctor who comes in on a rotating basis. Also, it might make it more attractive for a dentist who might want to come in on a rotating basis.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We would certainly entertain a request from that municipality for upgrading the present facilities.

Mr. Wildman: I have already talked to Ed Belfry.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Good. I know the positive response by him. Again, the Ministry of Health is involved and with their concurrence, of course, we would sit down and work something out with that municipality, as we have done in Geraldton and other communities. As you correctly point out, one has to have the right type of atmosphere. The work place has to be something a doctor can be proud to work in, where he can do his best and provide the services people are entitled to.

I might say at this point that some municipalities have come forward with requests for the purchase of homes for doctors. They say, “Now you have provided or helped us to provide a good medical clinic, but we still cannot attract a doctor because we do not have a decent home for him.” Our response up to this time has been that our priority across northern Ontario would be the development of medical clinics. We have only a limited amount of funds. If they will bear with us we would like to answer all the requests for medical clinics first, then the next time around, if that requirement is still there, we would have a look at it. But we have encouraged municipalities to go into long-term mortgages and loans from banks and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and develop those homes for doctors themselves. The doctors would surely pay the ongoing rent.

Mr. Philip: Are you suggesting that doctors should live in public housing?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is not public housing. I do not think they are looking for public housing at all. They are looking for decent housing that will add to the comfort of their jobs in northern Ontario. The doctors I have spoken to are not looking for any handouts or giveaways. They say: “Give me a home. I will pay the going rent.” We have made that known to the various municipalities. I just make that as a point.

Getting back to the appointment of Gerry Violette, it has been properly pointed out to me that Gerry did compete. It was a province-wide competition. I just want to put that on the record, make it clear and precise that he did compete with other aspirants for that job. When we have an opening for a northern affairs officer, the applications flow in from literally every other department of government and from many people in the private sector, because it is a unique job, a very satisfying job. As we celebrate our tenth anniversary, I am particularly pleased that many of the originals are still around, which shows me it is a very satisfying career. I am looking forward to tomorrow night, as I said earlier.

Mr. Bolan: Following along on the lines of health services, I brought to the ministry’s attention the plight of the people of Thorne, some 40 miles from North Bay, who are having some difficulty in obtaining medical services for that community. I pointed out that everything had been set in motion to have a doctor attend in Thorne. This was coordinated through St. Joseph’s Hospital. The only problem we had was where the services would be rendered. I am wondering if the minister has anything to report at this time, in view of the fact that it was brought to his attention three weeks ago.

I am informed by the local northern affairs officer that the minister is looking at the question of bringing in a portable to the Thorne area; in fact, the site has already been located. I am just wondering if you have anything more concrete to report to us at this time.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I did have some information on Thorne and I have misplaced it. I have asked my staff to see if they can dig it up again.

Mr. Bolan: Perhaps the minister will come to over the next while and inform us.

4:30 p.m.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I would also like to raise under this vote the question of ongoing operating costs of various facilities whose construction this ministry assists in funding.

We have talked briefly about Hornepayne and the commitment made by the ministry which I understand has to be confirmed by the municipality’s accepting it at a meeting with Mr. Aiken on November 20. The ministry has committed itself to $100,000 in operating costs over two years if there is a deficit. I understand one of the main reasons there is possibly going to be a deficit is the recreation facility in the complex, the swimming pool largely. I understand the original agreement signed by the developer was that if there was a deficit over the first five years, the developer would pay towards it. This is now supplementing that agreement.

That is a welcome suggestion by the ministry. It relates to a problem I brought to the minister’s attention in September with regard to recreational facilities that have been built in small communities, not only in the north but all across Ontario by the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, often with Wintario funds, Community Recreation Centres Act grants and so on.

I use as an example the plight of the recreation facility in Searchmont, which is just north of Sault Ste. Marie. It is a very small community which has been running a deficit for some time and which has a large loan with the bank. The bank has threatened to foreclose, although I am not sure what the bank would do with it if it did foreclose. The minister’s staff were quite concerned -- I will emphasize that -- about the problem and were willing to look at it. After some consultation, I think, with the Ministry of Culture and Recreation and also with his own staff who attended a meeting I also attended in Searchmont, the minister wrote back to me and said in a letter dated September 24: “You will appreciate the difficulties encountered by the Searchmont club are not unique but are common to many centres in northern and southern Ontario. Although I appreciate fully the nature of this predicament, I must regretfully inform you that my ministry is unable to assist with the funding.” Then he goes on to suggest that perhaps the Ministry of Culture and Recreation would be able to provide some assistance.

That was quite a statement because -- and I don’t think I am reading too much into it -- basically what the minister is saying is that for many, or at least a significant number of small communities, not only in northern Ontario but also in southern Ontario, that have built recreational facilities with moneys they have obtained from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation and are now in financial trouble in trying to operate those facilities, perhaps the Ministry of Culture and Recreation would be able to do something about it.

I am sure the minister is aware that the Ministry of Culture and Recreation does not have any program for providing operational funds. That is one reason why his ministry has become involved in such an intimate way with the operation of the Hornepayne town centre. I followed up his suggestion, though, and got in touch with the Minister of Culture and Recreation. I got a rather interesting response, which raises the question, that I pointed to in the previous vote of the relationship between this ministry and other ministries of the government.

This is a letter dated October 17 from the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) in which he states: “In answer to your question, I am quite unaware of any small community in the province which is experiencing financial difficulties as a direct result of receiving capital funding from my ministry. All applicants for a capital grant are required to examine the operating cost implications of their proposed facility development, and the applicants must indicate to the ministry their ability and willingness to support these costs.”

He indicates what assistance is given by the ministry in those calculations. Further, he says: “My ministry review of its capital programs does, however, examine the increase in operating costs created by capital construction or expansion. Staff are at present devising criteria and guidelines for a new capital program,” and so on.

In other words, he is in the process, as we all know, of changing his capital program so that there will not be communities in trouble as a result of building a facility which might be too large for them to be able to operate economically and to be able to pay for. But it seems to me -- and maybe I am wrong -- that this is again an example of a direct contradiction between what this minister says and what one of his colleagues said about the same thing.

How is it that this ministry believes the Searchmont situation is not unique, that many centres in both northern and southern Ontario are experiencing financial difficulties in operating centres built with government assistance, but the Ministry of Culture and Recreation, the line ministry responsible for these facilities, does not know of any small community in the province in this situation?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I suppose one could play on words, but as the honourable member has pointed out, the Minister of Culture and Recreation, to my knowledge, is looking at the problem. There is no doubt in my mind that the capital construction program of Wintario was stopped temporarily. I suppose the primary reason was because of the backlog of commitments that had to be caught up until they were examined. But it is of concern, and I am sure it is of concern to my colleague, with regard to the operation of these massive recreational facilities.

It does not stop at the ones that are funded by this, government. Certainly, the Canada Games project -- and I had the opportunity of touring those facilities that are well into construction now in Thunder Bay. The question I asked was, “Who is going to pay the ongoing operational cost of these facilities in Thunder Bay?” It was quietly whispered in my ear that the overall operating costs would be in excess of $80,000 a year, that we may be able to pick up through a user fee charge $300,000 or $400,000, but there is going to be a shortfall of $400,000 or $500,000 a year. It is giving them some concern.

I think that is the concern we were trying to express in our letter to the member for Algoma. It is a concern because sometimes the one-shot capital construction dollars flow quite easily. Then, when municipalities are anxious to get a facility in place and get to use it, the ongoing costs are pushed down the road again to be dealt with later. They will have to deal with them because it is their responsibility.

As an example, the town of Geraldton wanted to develop a very elaborate recreational centre. Our staff sat down with the municipality, went over the plans they had and changed the direction considerably, so that the town went out and bought a building off the rack, so to speak, rather than getting a custom-built facility that would accelerate the cost tremendously.

Here again is an example of how we can get involved, work very closely with a municipality and pare down their overall capital cost, which would be reflected in a lower operating cost down the road. We are concerned about it. It is something that the municipality in its own way should be responsible for and be concerned with, because it has that local responsibility to make sure it can carry it. We cannot just keep passing on the responsibility to other levels of government. We make it very clear to them when they are moving ahead with these facilities. Even with the medical centres, we tell them to make sure they look at the ongoing operational costs because they are of concern to us and to them too.

4:40 p.m.

Mr. Wildman: I appreciate that the Minister of Culture and Recreation is involved and has been for some time with the revision of these criteria. I hope in future a very small community will not get involved with a centre that is perhaps a little too elaborate. I hope they will build centres scaled more to their ability to pay the operating costs but still provide them with a recreational facility they will be able to use and that will be good for the community. I hope that will resolve problems in the future.

Frankly, I agree with the minister’s position. I do not agree with the Minister of Culture and Recreation. There are a number of small communities that are in trouble or may be in the future. The revision of his criteria for future capital expenditures is not going to help those communities. I would urge this minister to put some pressure on his colleague to try to look at the problem in a more realistic way.

The problem we have now is that communities and the ministry, in good faith, got involved in some facilities that were perhaps a little too elaborate. Maybe they need to be bailed out. I suppose the ministry is concerned that if it does this it will set a precedent -- that in future, communities that build new facilities will say, “They gave operating expenses to such and such a community; therefore we should get them too.”

Perhaps it could be done by saying that facilities built prior to a certain date, and where there are really serious financial problems, might be given some kind of financial assistance. Perhaps the Ministry of Northern Affairs could get involved in that as well in small communities in the north.

We know many of the small communities, especially in unorganized areas like Searchmont, have very little ability to raise operating costs except by contributions. They are doing that, but sometimes it is just out of range for them. I would urge the minister to persuade his colleague to take another look at trying to resolve these problems.

Mr. Bolan: Mr. Minister, I would like to set the stage for a meeting which will take place on December 10 or 11 between officials of the city of North Bay, yourself and the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott). I believe the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) is also going to be there in his capacity as the member for the riding adjoining Nipissing.

One of the problems that will be discussed is that of the extension of the sewage treatment plant at North Bay. I have corresponded with you on the matter and I am sure you are familiar with it. However, I would like to take this opportunity to review it and see if you have any response at this time.

Basically what happened is that some years ago -- I believe it was in 1970 -- the Ministry of the Environment and the city of North Bay entered into an agreement whereby the ministry would build the sewage treatment plant prior to the plant being built, discussions took place as to the size of the plant. The city said it needed something that could handle approximately 12 million gallons a day. Ministry officials said it should be six million. The views of the ministry officials prevailed and the smaller-sized plant was built.

There was also a proviso in the agreement to the effect that the ministry would entertain further submissions by the city for an extension of the sewage treatment plant, again to be built by the Ministry of the Environment, if that was its policy at the time. We had this grey area that crept into it and it has been the interpretation of that policy that is the subject matter of -- I will not call it a confrontation -- the differences of opinion that have arisen.

Some two years ago, if not before that, the Ministry of Housing put a freeze on approvals of all plans of subdivision for the city of North Bay until such time as the sewage treatment plant was extended to meet the growing requirements. This meant, of course, all kinds of delays for individuals and developers who had plans for the growth of the city. Finally, a meeting was arranged between city officials and the Ministry of the Environment. I believe it was a year ago, perhaps a bit longer. I attended that meeting and basically by that time what had happened is the ministry policy had changed and instead of the ministry coming in and building the plant as well as maintaining it and providing the personnel for it, the policy was that the plant would have to be built or expanded by the city.

There was a system of grants which were set up that would fall into place to assist the city in the construction of the plant. The problem is that the original expense of the expansion was something to the tune of about $12 million. This has been revised and I believe it is now down to about $8 million.

The fact of the matter is that in spite of the freeze which the Ministry of Housing put on, they did release a number of lots and they did release or approve some plans so that more lots were thrown on the market. In view of the other projects which, as you know, the city has in mind, such as the industrial park which this ministry was very much involved in and to which the government of Ontario contributed 50 per cent of the funds -- and I may say that aside from the Marshall Avenue interchange which I am told now is being resolved --

Hon. Mr. Bernier: By whom?

Mr. Bolan: By both parties. That is the last word I have on it.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: You must have been talking to Jean-Jacques Blais.

Mr. Bolan: I understand there was a meeting last Wednesday in Ottawa with Mr. Brunelle. I don’t know if you were there or not. Were you?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, I was.

Mr. Bolan: In any event, that is another topic altogether. It was not resolved?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: No.

Mr. Bolan: I am told that it will be. They are waiting for other things to happen before that takes place.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: In the fullness of time.

Mr. Bolan: In the fullness of time, yes. I hope the province’s treatment of the problem of the expansion of the sewage treatment plant will not be in the fullness of time but rather will be shortly.

In any event, as you know there are some major plans going on in North Bay for expansion, because North Bay, if anything, certainly can be described as a definite growth area in northeastern Ontario and you could look upon it as a future distribution centre for northeastern Ontario and northwestern Quebec. The amount which is generated from that area for northwestern Quebec is quite large and a big flow of dollars and of demands for services and goods comes from northeastern Ontario.

In view of these expansion programs which are growing and in view of the progress which is made with the industrial park, I would like to know from the minister just what his position is with respect to the funding of the extension of the sewage treatment plant at North Bay.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, as the honourable member is very much aware and as he indicated, that was a project that was taken on by the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of Northern Affairs has not been involved in the funding of the treatment plant. We will await the outcome of the December 10 meeting. I believe your new mayor is coming down with some senior officials from North Bay, so I would be reluctant to even comment on our involvement at this time. I have to say I do not know all the details and I will be briefed prior to that meeting, of course. I think, in all fairness, you will have to wait until we get through the discussions.

The Ministry of the Environment, of course, would be the lead line ministry in that particular responsibility, so if you will bear with me, we will wait until that particular meeting and I can get some more facts.

4:50 p.m.

I cannot help but comment on the Marshall Avenue overpass. Since the honourable member mentioned it, I know he will want me to comment on it because an opportunity never goes by without him being pleased to see what development is going on in North Bay that is being shared 50 per cent by this province and 50 per cent by the federal government.

I remember the honourable member standing in his place and pleading with me to get together with the then Treasurer of the province, Mr. Darcy McKeough, to sign that subsidiary agreement for $14 million. I agreed to it. The member for Algoma well remembers how we moved ahead and negotiated with the federal government. We wanted a $14-million package which would take in the Marshall Avenue overpass and look after all the requirements of the industrial park that is going to mean so much to the future of North Bay.

The industrial commissioner has done a fantastic job. If there is a community that has shown what can be done with a dynamic, industrial development committee, foresight and an industrial development program, it is North Bay. It has excelled in that. It is a leader in northern Ontario when it comes to attracting small industries to its borders. Nevertheless, I was prevailed upon and pressured to do everything I could. I was hammered down, believe me, at a meeting in North Bay attended by the Chamber of Commerce of North Bay and the honourable member. He said to me: “Go for a smaller package. Do not go for the $14-million package. Go for a $10-million package.”

Mr. Bolan: You and Jean-Jacques Blais.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Yes, Jean-Jacques Blais was saying that because he had the $10 million. He had $5 million and the province was going to put up $5 million. I said: “Look, we are so close; let us wait. We can get $7 million from each. The province is willing to put up its $7 million.” We had the $7 million at that time. I am sure if the member had to do it all over again he would agree with me we should have hung in there tighter. It would have been only a matter of weeks.

The federal government was on the verge of an election. Let us be honest. Jean-Jacques Blais wanted to get re-elected. He wanted that particular project to move ahead and he prevailed upon the Treasurer to go for a $10-million package. So we are right back to square one where we are now fighting for that $4 million. I think North Bay was shortchanged. I really do. In all honesty, we should have hung in there, with all due respect to some of those community leaders and the chamber of commerce. Now the fight is going to be a very tough and difficult one because moneys are that much tighter today than they were at that particular time. Nevertheless, we will await the outcome of that meeting on December 10 with the North Bay officials and the honourable member to see where we can assist, if we can assist. I am very sympathetic to the desires of North Bay and the need to get on with industrial development. Of course, with that goes the treatment plant at North Bay.

Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, I would like to have the opportunity of setting my part of the record straight, if I may. Naturally, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I have used that expression before with respect to this funding. It only stands to reason to take the $10 million, and we will get the other $4 million somehow.

Ontario is responsible for all of that, because in 1976 there was an agreement hammered out between the federal and provincial governments for about $10 million. I saw the agreement myself, because I was on city council at that time. I met with my predecessor, Dick Smith, and other members of council. There it was in black and white: $10 million for the city of North Bay from the provincial and federal governments. It did provide that $2 million of that was for the Marshall Avenue interchange. But Ontario reneged on its end of the deal in signing the agreement at that time. It kept putting it off.

In the meantime, this is what happened. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications went ahead with a four-lane highway, which is coming into North Bay and which is a good project. As a result of that four-lane highway they changed their criteria for the Marshall Avenue interchange. It now calls for an overpass over the railway and for all those other things which were not needed back in 1976 when the original agreement was hammered out.

Again I will say I would do the same thing over again. The project is on course, I might add. There was a $1-million contract let out just the other day for more sewage system expansion. The contract for the extension of Chippewa Avenue will probably be let next year. It is all on stream and all falling into place. The $4 million is going to be paid eventually. I feel it will definitely be 50-50 between the province and the federal government.

As I say, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has changed its criteria for the interchange, which triggered this additional $2 million. It is not $4 million we are looking at really; $2 million would have been required in any event for the Marshall Avenue interchange. It is the change in design and the change in criteria. That is my part of the record. It has been going on for three years.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It all boils down to the fact that you are $4 million short.

Item 1 agreed to.

On item 2, isolated communities:

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I’m looking at the figures for this item. If I look at the estimates for 1978-79, it was $630,000, but actually only $195,998 was spent. The estimate for 1979-80 was $500,000 and the estimate for 1980-81 is $800,000. If it is in order, I would like the minister to explain why the low amount was spent in 1978-79. Can he also give us some indication of how much has been spent of the 1979-80 estimate so far?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I think 1978-79 was basically the start of the program. I do not think the message really got out to the unorganized areas that this assistance was available to them in order to get them to make applications. That slowed up the flow of money in that particular year. In 1979-80, we had a total of $500,000 and we spent $489,500. We just about used up all the funds there.

I think the increase in the requirement this year flowed from the establishment of the local services boards. I think we will have a more sophisticated group out in the unorganized areas that will be fully familiar with and aware how this program works and how it can work for them. We expect an increase in applications. This is the reason we have asked for your support for additional funds in this particular vote.

Mr. Wildman: What the minister is saying is that the funds allocated for this year’s program have almost all been expended. If there are applications in the few months between now and the end of March, let’s say, for fire protection equipment under the isolated communities assistance fund, the equipment will not be able to be provided until after the beginning of the next fiscal year. Is that correct?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We are into the 1980-81 year. I was referring to the 1979-80 figure. There is no problem this year. There are still funds available.

Mr. Wildman: Could the minister indicate how much has been expended of that $800,000?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Of the 1980-81 amount, that figure is $677,000. We are moving right ahead.

Mr. Bolan: On the question of the local services board, I am looking at the attached chart in the estimates which shows the number of meetings which were held, et cetera. It has been a year since the act was passed and I am wondering if you are experiencing any difficulties with respect to the development of the boards. What is the feeling out there? What is the feeling with the people who are having the informational meetings? Is there progress being made once the initial meeting is held?

5 p.m.

It has been a year since the act was passed, and Lord knows, we discussed it until everybody was blue in the face. I have noticed you have some results here. I believe you had an election in Hudson and Foleyet. Would you have expected the others to be so far behind before implementation or what? I do not know. I am just asking the question. Is there a reason for the delay in the implementation of the local services boards beginning with their informational meetings which took place after that?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We looked at a period of about three months from the time the organizational meetings were being brought together. Bringing a new piece of legislation like this forward -- printing the material alone in both languages took us a considerable amount of time. Then, of course, we had to train our northern affairs officers because they are the front-line people who actually go out to communities and help them organize. We even made the posters for them. They could put in the names, times and places for their organizational meetings.

But normally we look at about a three-month period. We are having some minor difficulty with regard to boundaries. Intergovernmental Affairs has rightly requested the right to comment on the boundaries that are established by the local people because it wants to know about acting with an organized municipality. That is one minor situation we are developing and it is working fairly well.

Now we have the first two local services boards. The honourable member has correctly pointed out that Hudson, the greatest little community in the northwest, was the first local services board to be established in the northwest. As I said in Foleyet on Thursday last, Hudson and Foleyet are unique because they are the first in the world to have local services boards. That is pretty different.

Mr. Bolan: Why are there not more though?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: They are going to start to go now. We have 20 to move along very quickly. I wish the honourable member would have been with me both at Hudson and Foleyet to see the enthusiasm and the pride that those people have. They packed the hall.

We had a special swearing-in ceremony for them. The people elected to the board are given a special certificate and we identified both of those communities with a special scroll honouring the event because we have a piece of legislation here that is unique to northern Ontario. There is nothing like it on the North American continent or anywhere in the world. They were very pleased and proud of that. The pride of making their decisions and knowing where they can go and where they want to go was very real at both of those meetings.

So we have two in place now. There are a number that will fall in place after these have been sworn in. We are looking at about 20 that will be fully operational, we hope by the end of the year or early in 1981.

Among the smaller groups of population there is some concern. They want to see how the other ones are working before they move in. That is understandable. But as I pointed out to them, it is permissive legislation which is unique in this House. We allowed the people to opt in or opt out and the fear they may have is not as great as maybe they anticipate.

I am personally very pleased. I made it a point to bring to the attention of the people in Hudson and Foleyet that the piece of legislation we brought to this Legislature and had passed after hours of debate was so good that all political parties took credit for it. I think you would agree with me on that You all want to be associated with that piece of legislation. I know you do. As you go around northern Ontario you say to yourselves, “I was part of that piece of legislation.” It is different. It is something the people of northern Ontario brought together themselves. The unorganized communities brought it together, the Unorganized Communities Association of Northern Ontario East and UCANO West and the 30-odd meetings my staff had in the unorganized communities of northern Ontario.

The staff of Northern Affairs deserves a lot of credit, as do the communities themselves and UCANO East and UCANO West. I want to express my appreciation again to members on both sides of the House for their support in the excellent piece of legislation we are now seeing put into place and becoming operational and functional as we thought it would.

I do not, at this point, after a year of examination by the unorganized communities, see where we need any amendments. You will recall I said that if, after a couple of years, we saw some glaring mistakes I was prepared to bring the bill back and have some amendments. At this time I have not seen any areas where we need amendments. I think that is a credit to all members of this Legislature.

Mr. Bolan: That is what I was going to ask the minister, whether, now the act has been in operation for one year, he sees any areas where amendments would be required, particularly to deal with the very small communities that are looking at forming a local service board.

These are distinct types of communities and that is what is unique about northern Ontario. A community like Foleyet is larger than another community. Do you find the requirements of the act lend themselves to the smaller community as well as to the larger community which seeks an LSB? Do the provisions of the act apply as well with respect to the arranging of the meetings, the numbers that are required and the number of people on the board? I can see in a small area there is a shortage of manpower. There are only so many people who are prepared to undertake this onerous work. I am just wondering if you see anything happening there so that a really small community may not be getting as full a benefit of the act as a larger community.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: These issues have not surfaced as yet. As I pointed out, we are just getting into it. It has been a year since the bill was passed. We have had lots of time to study it. They have accepted the five-man boards and the annual election of those board members. They love the secret ballot and they like the 50-50 arrangement.

At Hudson and Foleyet, we asked them to submit a global budget. They did that. They looked at their requirements for the next year and took a global figure which our staff carefully went over with them. We then provided them with 50 per cent of that budget. If they came up with a budget of, say, $10,000, we would be responsible for $5,000 at the end of the year. To get them started, we give them an advance. We gave them 50 per cent of our normal assistance. The balance of our grant would come after the audit. They were appreciative of that. We wanted to show our desire and sincerity, saying: “Look here, this is what we meant. We are putting up dollar for dollar to show you we mean business. Here is our 50 per cent of the grant in advance.” This is very unusual.

I think one has to respond to those small communities in that way because $2,500 or $3,000 in a small community is a lot of money when it is put out and used for services. They now have that kind of encouragement. When I gave the cheque to the people in Foleyet for $3,000 on Thursday night, they realized this ministry and this government meant business. We were out to help them as much as we could and we were showing that sincerity with the delivery of those funds at the start of the first part of their fiscal year.

5:10 p.m.

Mr. Bolan: I have one more question on this. Have you had any complaints on the method of service by mail to the voters or to those to whom notice is sent out that consideration is being given to the formation of a local services board in that area? We discussed that at some length and I suggested it be done by registered mail. I believe that failed, and I would just like to know if there were any complaints from anyone on that.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: If I recall correctly, the honourable member did make the suggestion that we have a mailing list and that registered mail be used to advise all the voters in that particular area. I think he modified that after giving it some further thought, knowing of the expense and, of course, the effectiveness of the postal system.

I think he would review that request totally now if he had to do it over again.

No, I have not heard of anything along those lines that would cause me to change my position with respect to notices. The northern affairs officers make a point of making sure the area being serviced by the local services boards is very broadly notified through posters. We have come up with a very attractive poster, where we just put the place and the time. The information is given and in a small community the word gets out pretty fast. We have not encountered any problems along the line that the member was fearful of at that particular time, but we have monitored it very carefully.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if the minister could tell us how many officials he has working specifically on the local services board applications and processing. I understand in the northeastern regional office Mr. Peter Merritt, whom I have met on a number of occasions, is in charge, and I suppose he has a counterpart in the northwestern regional office. I was wondering if the minister believes that one person in each regional office is sufficient to process and carry through the whole procedure for the applications after the initial meetings with the local northern affairs officers. There seems to be some holdup once the initial application is made. The minister himself said it takes about three months. I wonder if, as well as telling us how many people he has working on it and whether he thinks that is sufficient, he could explain the reason for the delay of three months before there is a decision on whether a board will be set up.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I have been advised that we have, as the member has correctly pointed out, two full-time people looking after the local services boards: in the northeast, Peter Merritt, and in the northwest, Stu Evert. Of course, they have the backup support of other branches of our ministry, including the legal staff. As I pointed out in my earlier remarks, those applications are sent to Intergovernmental Affairs, particularly as they relate to the boundaries. So we have to wait until that ministry has a chance to comment on them. At this time, we do not see any necessity to build up that staff. We may be concentrating more of our resources in the initial stages in getting applications resolved, but with the co-operation and the assistance of northern affairs officers as they move around, they are flowing. If we run into any snags, I can assure you we will get some extra resources and keep the program moving, because I think it is essential we do that.

Mr. Wildman: Could the minister also indicate whether it is a requirement of the ministry to have the local community, when they are applying for assistance under the isolated communities assistance fund, also to apply for a local services board? In other words, if they are looking for capital assistance or firefighting equipment, for instance, and the question arises as to maintenance and funding for maintenance, is it necessary for them to form a local services board or could a group somehow incorporate itself in another way and apply for assistance under the isolated communities assistance fund, and then look after the maintenance on its own without getting the matching funds through a local services board?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We kept the isolated communities assistance fund in place and, as you have already noticed, we have added to it this year for that very reason. No, there is no requirement that a community must form a local services board to apply for an ICAF grant. There is no connection at all. We want to make it very clear that if that nucleus of people have the desire and they can show to us they are a cohesive group, that they have some resources and they have a self-help motivation, then the ICAF fund is still available to them. They can form a community action group if they so wish. But it is still there in place and it has no connection with the local services board. But a local services board can apply for an ICAF grant, over and above their operational costs for the services they administer.

Mr. Wildman: Has the ministry run into the problem of different groups in the same vicinity which are interested in different services both applying to form local services boards? In other words, have you had a situation where one group might be interested in water supply -- getting some assistance to maintain a water system -- but in the same vicinity another group is interested in providing fire protection -- and it has applied to form a local services board and also applies under ICAF for fire protection equipment? If you have run into that problem, what process are you going through to resolve it?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: It is obvious the member for Algoma is very familiar with the Unorganized Communities Association of Northern Ontario, and I think he is referring to the politics that develop within a small community. He is quite right. There are little groups that have a certain desire to do something for the field of recreation; another group is totally centred on a water supply, another group is wrapped up with having a fire department. I am not saying it is a problem, but it is there, it is real, and we do not discount it. The best way to resolve it, of course, is at an open public gathering. We have to point out to them the benefits of a co-operative, co-ordinated approach to either service. After they have seen the benefits that can flow, particularly with the incentive of the dollar-for-dollar assistance program, they come together.

I know in my own home town of Hudson, I was with the chamber of commerce for a number of years. The chamber there has been responsible for the development and the funding of the town fire truck so they had a bit of a bank account built up. The new chairman of the local services board said they should pass it over to them because the board would use it in the delivery of firefighting service and would provide the fire department with all the things it needed, and then the board could get a dollar-for-dollar grant. That is correct, because it is there, it was used as part of their original funding mechanism, so now it will be in one pot.

It is an issue that the northern affairs officers deal with very delicately, because the pride is built up, say, in the community hall, in the curling rink or in the skating rink -- even in the street lights. You could get a couple of people who are solely dedicated to having their community really lit up and take pride in that. They cherish, they protect and they guard their accomplishments. So it is a little bit of working closely with the people and pointing out to them the benefits that will flow from it. But you are quite right in pointing this matter out. We are making the northern affairs officers aware of it. They were always aware, of course, but we ask them to work closely with the local people and point out to them the benefits that flow from an LSB.

5:20 p.m.

Mr. Wildman: Have you developed any policy or do you have to look at it simply on a case-by-case basis about this possible problem of having two actual formal applications for local services boards within a very small area? Again, that is not exactly the same area. However, you might even have that situation where there is one group applying for a local services board to provide a particular service in covering the whole of an unorganized township, while some other group in a small community in that township that is interested in another service for its own particular area is applying for a local services board. If you do get two applications like that, what is your policy? What do you do about it?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: There is no specific example I can relate to in this particular situation. As I said earlier, the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs looks at the boundaries that are being established by a local services board. Our own staff look at those boundaries and, in their opinion, examine what that particular group can service. What do they want to service? Do they want to service street lights? Do they want to provide garbage collection and fire protection? We may go to the fire marshal’s office for his advice.

When we do that, we can pretty well sort it out. We bring both groups together and say: “This is what the people in the field think. This is the area that can be serviced with the services you require. In our opinion, this is the route to go.” With the art of discussion, putting all the cards on the table, so to speak, and bringing them into our confidence as to how best they can operate as a self-help program, I feel confident we can work it out.

Getting back to the town of Hudson, it chose just to go with a fire department, recreation program and street lighting. I was very interested in having them take over the water system because I happen to be very much involved with the water system at Hudson. However, I could not talk them into taking over the water system at this time. They see that as something down the road in two or three years. Their argument is, and I suppose it is a valid one: “We want to get the local services board going. We want to get it functional and gain some experience before we take too big a bite. Leave the water out of it for the time being. Hopefully as we get more experience and knowledge and build up our administrative strength, we will look at the water system.” I think that is a very responsible kind of thinking.

Mr. Wildman: Since the minister could not think of a particular example, I will give him two examples. The community of Searchmont in my riding, which I mentioned before, has a fire department that has been in operation for some time. They got some equipment on their own before the isolated communities assistance fund came in. They got some assistance from ICAF when it did come in. They have applied for further assistance because the equipment they have, which is secondhand, is not adequate to provide the fire protection they require.

As a matter of fact, it is over a year ago now that that community applied for a truck to replace the truck that carries only a 300-gallon capacity and is inadequate. I got a call from the fire chief or the head of the committee about it last week. I was wondering if I could ask you why it has taken since January of last year for them to hear anything about it. I am asking you that now and using that as an example.

They also had the problem of the community centre. They had these two groups that hoped to get assistance and wanted to put their two services into operation. The Ministry of Northern Affairs was successful in bringing those two groups together. Although there was some trepidation on the part of some people, they decided to work together and to say, “We have these two committees, the recreation hall committee and the fire protection committee. They can both be subcommittees of one local services board and we will make an application for a local services board.” You have received that application. In that sense, the ministry was successful in doing what the minister indicated.

In the township of Aweres, however, we have a group that is attempting to set up a fire brigade and to get fire protection equipment. It is interested in providing protection for the whole of the unorganized township. However, within that township there is another small group, a subdivision group basically, that has a problem with maintenance of its water system, which is a communal water system. They have made an application for a local services board for their own little area to provide their water supply. I believe both of those applications have been forwarded to the ministry through Peter Merritt, and I guess have been processed.

My question, which maybe I should not be putting on the record, is: Does Northern Affairs have the same kind of concern that has been expressed to me unofficially by the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs about having two applications for different services within a similar area? If you do share that concern, can you tell me what you are hoping to do about it?

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I wasn’t aware of that particular situation, Mr. Chairman, but I think it is fair to say that in some of the applications, the actual organizational meeting may not take place as quickly as one group or the other group may wish. I think we have found in a couple of cases that if we just take a little more time and let the people talk among themselves, sometimes those groups will come together. It has happened that where we went into an information meeting, we have had two different groups sitting in the hall, obviously both on different wavelengths and both determined to be the inspiration of the leaders with regard to the local services board.

Once we have disseminated all the information, a northern affairs officer will then go back in and talk to the various groups. As we discussed during the development of that piece of legislation, really it was a consensus we wanted. We wanted a strong feeling, because it was a self-help type of thrust, so it is obvious, if we are going to go ahead with a structure, that we have to have the support or at least the consensus of some support from a majority of the people.

It is fair to say that in some of these smaller communities there are objections. Some people don’t want to change and they have made their views known, but they are very much in the minority. Just the odd one has that fear and sometimes they are not fully informed; they have a lack of knowledge as to what it will do for them in the way of costs. That is a big thing in an organized area. They see a horrendous structure, they see tax being imposed upon them without getting into the real operation of the local services board, but once that has been done, in the largest percentage of the cases, those fears are dispelled.

It is the art of persuasion, I guess, that we use and will continue to use until we find a better system, but obviously we can’t have two LSBs overlapping each other; that would be impossible. We hope common sense will prevail and they will get together and do the best for the area that they can.

Mr. Bolan: Mr. Chairman, dealing once again with the question of extension of services to the northern communities, I am sure the House would like to know that as a result of vigorous and persistent pressure by myself and by other members of both opposition parties with respect to the extension of ETV in Ontario, the Minister of Culture and Recreation (Mr. Baetz) today announced from North Bay the extension of the services to service the ridings of Nipissing and Parry Sound as well as part of Muskoka, so I am sure you would like to hear that.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I must put on the record along with what the honourable member from North Bay has put on the record, the fact that the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck) was most supportive, most vocal, as was, of course, the Minister of Northern Affairs in making sure that ETV is brought to that great part of northern Ontario. We still have a few blank spots up there that we are looking at very carefully, and certainly as funds become available we will continue to apply pressure. I know I have the support of my northern cabinet colleagues to extend that excellent service in northern Ontario into all parts of northern Ontario.

5:30 p.m.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to be able to participate in this particular estimates discussion as a bona fide northern Ontario member. I have to tell the minister, according to the Office of the Assembly, my mileage rate is now adjusted to take into consideration northern circumstances, so I appreciate that status being conferred on me.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: We must have that checked.

Mr. Ashe: Is it a $10 licence fee?

Mr. Conway: That is one of the subjects I will parenthetically refer to in a moment.

I want to draw to the minister’s attention, under vote 703, isolated communities activity. In my constituency there is a portion of the southeastern Nipissing district. The areas are divided into one organized municipality area township and some unorganized townships in which approximately 600 to 800 people reside. One of those hamlets is called Madawaska. For some time now the people there have been engaged, through the local fire department, in the business of trying to arrange for the raising of sufficient funds to construct a building in which their fire engine might be located.

My friend the member for Algoma-Manitoulin (Mr. Lane) will well remember a sunny day some months ago when he brought that fine new vehicle into town.

Mr. Wildman: Did he drive it in?

Mr. Conway: The member for Algoma-Manitoulin, as I recall, did not drive the vehicle into town but it did arrive with a very considerable fanfare.

Mr. Wildman: Lights and siren going?

Mr. Conway: Exactly. My friend from Algoma has it down to a T. It was, none the less, appreciated because, as the minister knows, those kinds of services in isolated communities are particularly important.

To the problem at hand: the community found itself in the possession of a very good vehicle, but with some financial constraint in terms of raising funds to house it properly. They have preceded the local Murchison and Lyell fire department in building not only a firehall but also an associated library. They have done, I think, an excellent job in raising funds, and they are continuing that process.

As of this weekend -- and I had the opportunity to visit that community just 30 hours ago -- the construction had pretty well been completed as far as the contract work was involved, although a substantial amount of volunteer labour had yet to be applied. The minister will know, because I have written to him and heard from him not too long ago in this matter. I was wondering if he could advise me today as to whether there would be favourable consideration given to a request by the Murchison and Lyell fire department for some financial assistance with respect to the construction and related costs. It will not be a great amount of money in the overall scheme of things.

I want to reiterate my earlier comments in saying the local volunteer fire department has done an extremely good job. Mr. Mervin Dupuis and his group have been very active over a number of months now in raising funds, but given the fact not more than 300 to 400 people live in that hamlet they do have a very restricted base from which to draw. They, I know, would be very appreciative of any assistance the minister might provide, recognizing that he has done a considerably good service in making the vehicle available. It seems to me it would make very good sense to provide some funds to assist in that particular project.

While I am on my feet -- I think this is parenthetical but I always imagined it to be directly under the vote -- the people of that particular isolated community wonder why, in terms of tax benefits, they continue to be discriminated against in so far as what I call the Mac tax cut of 1970 is involved. Perhaps I should call it the Mac-McKeough tax cut which gave the $10 licence fee to the people of northern Ontario with some flexibility.

The good people of Madawaska, Whitney, Stonecliffe and that northern portion of Renfrew county would feel I was being remiss in the defence of their isolated circumstances if I did not draw to the attention of the Minister of Northern Affairs again today their very earnest desire to have favourable consideration given to the inclusion under that benefit of all of the district of Nipissing and that northerly portion of the county of Renfrew. It is an important matter for those people. They see it as more than a symbolic gesture.

I know the minister appreciates the isolated circumstances of some of these communities. I notice, for example, under this particular vote there is reference to Kaa in terms of an isolated community. There are people who live near that isolated lumber camp -- which is essentially what it is -- who still pay a southern Ontario rate, though to procure the licence they go to Mattawa where everyone else gets the special benefit.

I realize drawing a line is always difficult. I would make myself available to the minister, in public or in private, to assist in what I think is a responsible arbitration of that sensitive and difficult matter.

I would like to draw out from the minister at this time, recognizing winter snows have already fallen in the great community of Madawaska, whether we can expect, on behalf of that volunteer fire association, any direct financial assistance in the coming weeks for that public work -- the firehall and library -- and secondly, whether he might pronounce on government policy as it relates to a favourable consideration for all the district of Nipissing and the northerly sections of the great county of Renfrew with respect to the Mac-McKeough licence tax cut.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: If I could comment on the remarks of the member for Renfrew North, I appreciate his desire to have a portion of his affluent riding belong to northern Ontario. I hope the people in northern Ontario, and my friend from Algoma, are listening.

We so often hear in northern Ontario: “If I only belonged to southern Ontario. That’s where all the goodies and all the benefits really are and we’re always shortchanged in northern Ontario.” To have the situation reversed and have an eastern Ontario riding wanting to be part of northern Ontario is a message I am going to take right across northern Ontario. It’s a real twist.

I regret I cannot give the honourable member any encouragement that we would change our present administrative border, our north-south line, as it relates to the licence fee. I believe it goes across the northern part of Algonquin Park. That has basically been established as our area of responsibility.

From the point of view of a moral responsibility we have looked at the needs of Madawaska with respect to that fire truck. I want to make it clear that, while we did that, it didn’t mean they were part of northern Ontario or part of our administrative area.

I want to go one step further. In view of the fact we have given them a fire truck, I think it’s only fair we assist them with the facility that houses that fire truck. We have a $40,000 investment there and I am prepared to have my staff take a close look at that and to work with the people in that community.

I don’t think I can go any further than that. I don’t want it to be spelled out as a commitment that they are part of northern Ontario or part of our administrative responsibility, but only that we have a unique situation. As the member correctly points out, the border areas are always the grey areas. They are always difficult areas to deal with. No matter what program one comes up with, one puts a dividing line on it. There are always people on one side of the street who get services that people on the other side of the street do not.

5:40 p.m.

It is very difficult. We do believe in maintaining that northern boundary, so to speak. It has been in place now for three or four years and seems to be working fairly well. It is fairly definitive. That buffer zone of Algonquin Park does assist. To alleviate some of your concerns and certainly to protect what is a public investment in Madawaska, I am going to ask my staff to go down and meet with your people in that community and work out some financial assistance program.

Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, if I might, I want to add a couple of points. Let me say at the outset I thank the minister for that assurance because, to be sure, the people involved in that volunteer fire department will be gratified to know the minister is giving the matter serious and, hopefully, favourable consideration. I want to make myself available to his staff. I reiterate it is not a great deal of money. In fact, a relatively small amount of money will probably solve the immediate concern.

I want to tell the minister that if any of his staff are working on this, I would be delighted to assist because I do have quite a deep, personal involvement with that community. I would be quite happy to do anything I can to assist in the consideration and, hopefully, favourable execution of some assistance in that respect.

With the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) present, I want to draw to the attention of the Minister of Northern Affairs some of the anomalies that strike at the heart of local residents with respect to this line. I also draw them to the attention of my friend from Algoma who was brought into this by the minister in his remarks. People who live in the Nipissing district find themselves considered for many other things as part of northern Ontario, as of course they should be. They just wonder, “Why, in terms of this benefit, are we suddenly not included?” because it is quite properly a benefit that is extended to northern Ontario.

There are a couple of isolated communities that find themselves in the district of Nipissing, which is part of northern Ontario. Again, we are not talking about a great number of people. We are talking altogether probably of an additional 1,500 people, if we include all the district of Nipissing. If it were a city of 25,000 or 40,000 people anchored in there, then it would probably be a different matter. But we are talking about a relatively few people who in many other respects receive their benefits from northern Ontario.

The added frustration of that, and the one I have with respect to this kind of demarcation, is that in my research -- and it has been very tentative and cursory -- I have noted that this government has not one but at least five or six lines of demarcation. In the presence of my good friend the Minister of Education, the Minister of Northern Affairs will be happy to know that the town of Arnprior in the far southeastern section of Renfrew county, but 40 miles from the national capital, for at least one program under this Ontario government is considered northern and gets a grant from Education for that purpose. In my own home town of Pembroke, there is consideration of the central and northern portion --

Hon. Miss Stephenson: We looked at the entire area.

Mr. Conway: That is right, the minister is quite correct. For the young travellers’ grant under the Ministry of Education, all of the county of Renfrew is considered northern. I am certainly not lamenting that fact at all. But I want to stand in my place and tell you that as a lifelong resident of Renfrew county I have never for a moment considered Arnprior -- the Prior -- as northern. As my friend, who is formerly from Richmond, will well know, it is not considered with Gogama and Moosonee and other places as main street northern Ontario but, none the less, under a particular departmental program -- a grant in this instance -- Arnprior is ostensibly northern Ontario.

My home community of Pembroke is considered northern for the Ministry of Government Services. There are at least, as I say, a half dozen different governmental lines of demarcation which involve my electoral district, both in Nipissing and Renfrew. This is a confusion and difficulty I would invite the minister with the able and, I am sure, ready assistance of the Minister of Education to work towards resolving.

I would certainly like to see a single line of demarcation that does take into consideration the favourable inclusion of some of the northerly sections of the county of Renfrew. Certainly it has never been my position that the entire county should be included. That would just not be realistic in light of the inclusion of what I believe to be most of the counties in eastern Ontario.

There are small isolated communities up Highway 17 in the Mattawa area that go to Mattawa as their service base -- isolated communities like Deux-Rivieres. They go to Mattawa to get their licence plates and find out they have to pay a southern Ontario rate when their condition is exactly that of Mattawa and Cavan township and other places. Similarly with Madawaska and Whitney.

My plea really is for a systematic approach to that demarcation. I wonder if it could be regularized in such a way that there was one line and if there could be favourable consideration to the most northerly portions of the county of Renfrew. That is really all I ask. I draw to the minister’s attention again those kinds of local anomalies that really irk people who live in a district of northern Ontario and find themselves, however few in numbers, unable to get a benefit which is as important to them as is the Mac-McKeough licence tax cut.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: If I could respond briefly, I recognize the communities that the honourable member identified. Arnprior -- and I believe Fitzroy Harbour is in your riding?

Mr. Conway: That is Carleton.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Oh, that is interesting because I was a resident of Fitzroy Harbour years ago. As a matter of information I am sure you will be pleased to know that my father worked on the dam at Fitzroy Harbour as a steel helmet diver. I made a point of visiting that community about two years ago looking for some people who were there when the construction was going on. I could not find anybody. I was very young at that time, but we always considered Fitzroy Harbour, which is not very far from Arnprior, as being southern Ontario.

In fact, those of us who live in northern Ontario really think North Bay is in southern Ontario. I think the member from North Bay would agree with me. Parry Sound is southern Ontario. Sudbury is the borderline; really that is the entrance to northern Ontario. So you get all these anomalies the member was speaking about -- these grey areas that are very difficult to deal with.

But we have a number of demarcation lines, as the member referred to them. Each ministry that delivers different services would obviously have a different need for a different demarcation line.

I think the line we have established north of Algonquin Park is a very reasonable one -- one that gives us the buffer zone of Algonquin Park. It doesn’t create too much of a problem. I realize 1,500 people are upset; they feel they are being shortchanged. It is one of the problems we have in setting up a region area division. I hope we can try to lessen that impact as much as possible and we will certainly do that with assistance for the firehall.

Mr. Wildman: I listened with interest to the exchange between my colleague from Renfrew North and the Minister of Northern Affairs. I would certainly hope the member was not suggesting the benefit the students of Arnprior get should somehow be removed by setting up one demarcation line. Two relatives of mine, great-aunts who live in Arnprior, spent their whole lives in the education system and would be very unhappy that the students of Arnprior might somehow lose the benefit they are now experiencing. The young travellers’ program is a very good program in bringing students from more distant places. However, I must admit I was somewhat surprised to find out that Arnprior was included in the visit to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Conway: The honourable member may rest assured that was not my intention.

Mr. Wildman: I am sure it wasn’t.

I welcomed the comments of the minister with regard to the member’s request for him to look at the possibility of assistance for a firehall to the small community in Nipissing in his riding. I would hope that if the minister is prepared to look at that seriously, that he will look at the application that has been made by Hawk Junction which -- there’s no question -- is in northern Ontario and has applied for assistance for the construction of a firehall to house the fire truck that the minister himself delivered to Hawk a few years ago. We had a good afternoon. I think they presented the minister with a silver or golden fire hat.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: I still have it.

Mr. Wildman: You still have it? It was a beautiful symbol of all that is right with fire protection in northern Ontario. I just got a plaque out of that but I appreciated the plaque. It is in my office. I would hope that the minister would look carefully at the application made by the fire brigade in Hawk Junction for assistance to build their firehall because, as the minister knows, the Algoma Central Railroad made a commitment at the time the fire truck was presented to Hawk Junction to provide housing for the truck. They are still able to use that, although I think the ACR would like them to move into another facility and the fire brigade themselves would like to move as well because the location that is being provided by the railway is not the best.

I have a letter the minister sent me dated October 24 in which he said the ministry is reviewing the application by Hawk Junction for isolated communities assistance and that he hoped he could provide a response in the near future. I would hope the future is now and that the minister could provide us with a response and also respond specifically to why it has taken so long for Searchmont to get a response to its application for more adequate fire protection equipment, since the representative of the fire marshal’s office, Merv Neidraver stated in January 1980 that they should get it.

It looked as if they were going to get it, and yet the fire brigade there has not heard anything from the Ministry of Northern Affairs since January 1980. I would hope the applications made by Aweres township for assistance and the application that is going to be made in Goulais will not somehow hold up what has been an ongoing discussion since January 1980 for Searchmont.

Certainly there is no question those other communities need fire protection, and I am glad the ministry has changed its criteria, its guidelines, so that it now is possible for those two communities, Aweres township and Goulais River, to apply for protection as did Batchawana under that program. I want to emphasize that it has been some time since Searchmont heard what is happening and I would hope the minister could respond in relation to those two applications.

Hon. Mr. Bernier: Mr. Chairman, I do appreciate the honourable member’s concern with regard to those small communities. The Hawk Junction application, as I pointed out to him, is being reviewed.

I think the whole thrust of those applications is to make sure there is a local involvement, because in an unorganized community if there isn’t the dedication to a project so that there is some ongoing responsibility, we lose the whole thrust. I don’t think it is our intention to go out and hand out fire trucks or to hand out all types of financial assistance for projects because one person or two persons applied. We would like to get the feeling of consensus. We ask, “What is your contribution? We will help you, but help yourself a little bit and we will top it off.” This is what we have been doing. I can assure the member that we will resolve those problems as quickly as we can.

I think it is fair to say we have had some delays with respect to the delivery of fire equipment. The fire marshal has, in his wisdom, made some modification to the equipment and rightly so. I think they have come a long way in the last three or four years in designing equipment that really fits the needs of the unorganized communities, in which up to that time -- let’s be honest -- there was some reluctance to go into that field because we all thought of big tankers and big hydrants and all this type of thing and ladders that would go up four or five storeys. That was not required in northern Ontario.

We have come a long way and it is the support of the field staff of the fire marshal’s office, in co-operation with our staff and the unorganized communities, that has changed that thinking. So we are getting modifications and improvements to the equipment itself.

I can assure the members we will expedite those applications as quickly as we can, because we are getting to that time of the year when that equipment should be in place -- there is just no question about it -- and I will personally take an interest and make sure those are looked after.

Mr. Wildman: In the last couple of moments, Mr. Chairman, I would just say to the minister I appreciate and support his comments about the need for local involvement and local commitment. There is no question in the case of Searchmont that there have been serious efforts on the part of the local community to provide for its own fire protection. As I said, it originally got its equipment before the program was in place. Also, the community of Hawk Junction has obtained grants or assistance from the local private sector to purchase materials for its building. So there has been an attempt on its part as well to provide assistance for erecting the building on its own.

The community of Goulais River is meeting this evening with Peter Merritt from the minister’s northeastern region and with representatives from the fire marshal’s office to talk about the formation of a local fire brigade there, and how it might go about applying for equipment under next year’s program. As the minister is probably also aware, Aweres township, after all the controversy between him and myself about it, is now considered by the ministry to be possibly eligible. It has organized a committee and is working, I think, very carefully and cautiously in making certain that it does have the numbers of people locally interested and involved, and a location available for the construction of a hall. So its application can be seen to be one that can be approved by the ministry when it finally is decided.

This program is a needed one that, I think, despite the comments sometimes made about the minister or his parliamentary assistant, about the delivery of fire trucks with sirens blaring and lights flashing -- the jokes that are sometimes made about that -- all of us recognize as one that is necessary, as something that had to be. It really was brought in even before this ministry was created, when the Ministry of Natural Resources initially got involved with isolated communities assistance, and I am glad it has now continued and grown under the Ministry of Northern Affairs.

Item 2 agreed to.

Item 3 agreed to.

Vote 703 agreed to.

On motion by Hon. Mr Bernier, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.

The House adjourned at 6 p.m.