32e législature, 1re session













The House met at 10:03 a.m.





Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Bennett, moved third reading of Bill 156, An Act respecting the City of Barrie and the Township of Innisfil.

Mr. Rotenberg: I wish to take a moment, Mr. Speaker, to thank all those who co-operated to bring a happy ending to the Barrie-Innisfil controversy. Specifically, I want to pay tribute to Mayor Archer of the city of Barrie, his council and officials, to Reeve Andrade and his officials from the township of Innisfil, and to all those people working in co-operation with this. I also wish to thank members of the opposition parties for their co-operation, both in the House on second reading and in yesterday's committee hearing, to bring this matter to a happy conclusion.

In a moment, we will deal in committee of the whole with the boundaries bill, but I think this Barrie-Innisfil situation has shown that municipal mediation does work, and we are all very pleased at the happy conclusion.

Finally, I wish to pay tribute to the staff of the ministry, who really did all the work.

Motion agreed to.

The following bills were also given third reading on motion:

Bill 183, An Act to incorporate The George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art;

Bill 184, An Act to confirm the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980;

Bill 185, An Act to amend the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980;


Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Mr. Williams, moved second reading of Bill Pr45, An Act respecting the Armenian Community Centre.

Motion agreed to.

Third reading also agreed to on motion.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, according to the business paper for today, the House was to move into committee of the whole House to consider Bill 191, An Act to amend the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, the bill dealing with the Toronto Islands.

About half an hour before the meeting, it was brought to my attention that our lawyers have not had any time to consider some suggested amendments, which I think need to be considered, both by myself and the other parties. I know they would like to take a look at them too so that they can be considered in committee. We have about 10 other amendments, mostly of a housekeeping nature, to put forward. I am suggesting the bill not be now proceeded with in committee of the whole. It will take an hour or two to consider it.

However, because this scheduling was arranged and I guess people arrange their schedules accordingly, and believing those of us who are concerned with the islands bill would be on deck and doing our thing this morning, the next order of business we could move to would be Bill 147. It will be a few minutes before people will be here for that. I was going to suggest we go on to concurrences for the time being and then move back to legislation.

Therefore, I would call the order for resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Natural Resources, followed by concurrences for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Mr. Haggerty: Mr. Speaker, if the minister had not been so pompous in committee meetings, perhaps we would not have to continue with debate this morning or yesterday afternoon relating to his estimates.

I am concerned that the two items of greatest concern to all members of the House, and particularly to members of the opposition, were never actually debated during the estimates; I refer to the forest industry and the mining industry in Ontario.

10:10 a.m.

In his ministry's estimates for this year, I noticed the expenditure for 1981-82 is down almost $9.5 million from the expenditure of 1980-81. To have a cutback in this area, which is of concern to a number of members here and particularly to the forest industry in the province, is most questionable to members on this side of the House.

I make reference to the article in the Toronto Sun of Monday, October 5, 1981, under the headline, "Crisis Lurks in our Forest Industries." There are also subheadings, reading, "Most Important Industry" and "Cutovers Slow to Come Back."

I do not know how often the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) has brought to the attention of the minister the pathetic state the forest industry is in as it relates to regeneration of forests in Ontario. There is such a backlog now that I do not think the province is ever going to catch up to it by the year 2000.

Although the province and the federal government can come through with substantial grants to assist the industry in modernizing its plants, there is great concern in the forest industry that forest products may not be there in the next 10 or 15 years because of the lack of any initiative by this government over the years to provide a comprehensive reforestation program in the province.

When I look at the $9.5 million taken out of the Ministry of Natural Resources, I can only come to one conclusion: that is where the money went to buy the executive jet for the government.

The only place we can find where there has been $9.5 million lost in some ministry's estimates is the Ministry of Natural Resources. That amount of money should have been spent on a reforestation program for Ontario. The minister is well aware of the situation in the forest industry in Ontario; it takes a long time for regeneration, for the second cut to come on.

If the government cannot provide a reforestation program in northwestern and northeastern Ontario, then perhaps it should look to the southern part of Ontario, where the same type of trees can come on stream in a period of 25 or 30 years, because it is going to need forest products to keep our mills and the economy rolling in Ontario.

The minister also indicated in his leadoff statement, and I hope I am correct in saying this, that he was going to reintroduce the Pits and Quarries Control Amendment Act, Bill 127. Am I correct in that?


Mr. Haggerty: I thought the minister made some comment that he was going to introduce it here in the latter part of December. Will it be December 31? I am wondering because this is an area of concern to me and particularly to a number of municipalities in southern Ontario that have a problem. He said no. He is going to promise.

The minister's predecessor talked a lot about bringing forth this bill to control the aggregate industry in the province. My main concern is that he should change the financial aspects of the regulations for the Aggregates Act. At one time, for rehabilitation purposes, about two cents per ton was charged on each ton of stone sold from the quarries; now it has gone to eight cents a ton. Municipalities are questioning what share of that is going to them. Apparently, there has been no dialogue with them as to how much of this is going back to the municipalities.

I can cite a case where they are exporting stone from Ontario to the United States. Eventually, there is going to be an open hole in the ground, and that four cents that goes to the municipality, half a cent per ton to regional municipalities, half a cent per ton to the abandoned pits and quarries fund and one cent to the province; so the province is getting about 1.5 cents out of this funding.

There has to be some initiative taken by the government in this area. Where the province has permitted expansion of quarries in a municipality, my main concern is that those persons who live in that community surrounding the original pit or quarry operation must have some protection. It is nice to say that the municipality gets four cents a ton without earmarking it for a purpose.

I have been plagued, and no doubt other members had been plagued, with requests to provide some avenue of assistance for persons living in rural areas who lose their water wells. There is nothing in the act, or even in the Ontario Water Resources Act, to protect a person in this area. It has to be done, I suppose, in a bargaining process with local councils, saying that if they do not come through with something on this, we will not permit any further expansion. Of course, that causes some delay and it causes delay to the pit and quarry operators.

In this area, I would like to see the four cents per ton that goes back to municipalities earmarked to provide hard-core services, such as water, to homes surrounding the open pit when there is expansion. They must have some protection under some act, either the Ontario Water Resources Act or the new Pits and Quarries Control Amendment Act. I suggest that people have no protection at all at present.

Pelham, a town in the Niagara Peninsula, encounters difficulties with the pit operators who want to expand in the Fonthill area. There has been difficulty over the years. At one time, I represented that area, and I can still go back to my files and see where people have had encroachment almost on to their land by pit operators, particularly where they are working with gravel and where they have deep slopes on the sides. Sometimes, property owners near the site of the pit operations will lose a certain amount of land by slippage, because of the excavation that is being carried out.

In many cases, people in rural areas are concerned about the loss of well water. I suggest to the minister that he must come forward with some protection for these people. I can cite one case in my riding in which the four cents a ton is like a form of double taxation to the industry; they pay $80,000 or $90,000 a year in municipal taxes on this four cents a ton or eight cents a ton.

That means another $80,000 or $90,000 goes into this government. And what the government is doing with that four cents a ton, I do not know. There has been no commitment that it is going back to the municipality for rehabilitation purposes to repair municipal roads. There is nothing that says this money is earmarked for any rehabilitation around that quarry. There are people who are subjected to a certain amount of dust that comes from quarry operations.

I suggest to the minister that there should be a requirement that these people should be compensated if they have to face expansion and if they have to go out and buy an air conditioner or something like that. There is no consideration about noise or vibrations from pit and quarry operations. All of these things, when one talks about rehabilitation, should be taken into consideration when expansion is permitted. This is an area of deep concern to me, and other members may want to speak on it.

Those are the two areas that I thought I would like to see the minister move into, particularly in the Pits and Quarries Control Act. If he is going to bring in that bill, we would like to know when it is coming forward. I think there have been some good suggestions by some opposition members that environmental hearings should be held before the minister permits a further expansion of some of these pit and quarry operations. Let the proper avenue be open to the adjoining property owners to find out whether it is necessary at this time to permit it. There should be some safeguards to protect them for water loss or any other damage that may occur to their personal property.

We on this side look to the minister to reintroduce that bill. I think the intent of it is good. But I think there must be provisions in the new bill or in regulations to protect property owners adjoining these pit and quarry operations. That is my concern.

10:20 a.m.

I am rather disappointed that we did not have sufficient time to deal with a ministry as important as the Ministry of Natural Resources, because it relates to the forest industry and the mining sector in Ontario. The jobs related to this area play an important role in the economy of Ontario.

I think a new approach is going to have to be taken by the House leaders next year so there is ample time to go into the ministry's estimates in detail, to find out if money is appropriated on a priority basis in certain areas of concern in the many sectors of the estimates.

Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak about one lesser item in concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Natural Resources. One of them came to me this morning. I got a call from a commercial fisherman in Lake Nipigon who advised me that the fishermen have been told by the district officer, particularly the district office in Nipigon, that they will no longer be issuing commercial fishing licences out of those district offices; they will be taken care of from Toronto, from head office.

As you well know, Mr. Speaker, more than 3,500 commercial fishing licences are issued annually in Ontario. There was no explanation given. If in fact that is the case, no reason or rationale was given for the issuance of those licences out of Toronto, rather than in the district. They will be meeting with the ministry staff in Beardmore, I believe, on Saturday morning. I would like to have some rationale, if that is the case. If it is not the case, I would like some kind of official denial so that I can set the commercial fishermen straight on that, prior to the meeting on Saturday.

The other major issue I want to talk about during this debate is something I alluded to during examination of the estimates of the ministry. That is the esprit de corps that once was quite prevalent within the Ministry of Natural Resources. During the estimates discussions, I voiced the opinion that, for all practical purposes, this had gone by the board. We do not get the same feeling in talking to people in the field in the Ministry of Natural Resources that once was the case.

To highlight what I am talking about, the obvious and very serious lack of communication between field offices and head office here, I want to refer to a letter I wrote to the minister dated November 26. I felt it was the most serious letter I had ever written any minister or any ministry since I have had the pleasure of sitting in this House. It was some three pages long, and I thought the minister would get back to me post-haste or at least make every effort to resolve what I consider a very serious situation.

The opposition member had the privilege of having breakfast with the Ontario Forest Industries Association --

Mr. T. P. Reid: I am not sure "privilege" is the right word.

Mr. Stokes: Well, "opportunity" may be the more appropriate word. We heard a loud harangue from Mr. Greaves, who is the president of the Ontario Forest Industries Association. With the help of some colleagues on this side of the House, we tried to set him straight. I am not sure we succeeded, but I know that in letters I received from others who were at the meeting in the industry itself, they agree with us on this side of the House that we are probably much closer to the truth about the state of the forest industry in Ontario than is the president of their own association.

I wrote this letter to the minister on November 26, and I thought he would give it the immediate attention it deserved. It centres on issuing a licence or a volume agreement to cut on the last remaining areas in the Thunder Bay-Nipigon district that are not under licence to a major company. The vice-president of woodlands for Domtar Forest Products had written a letter to the deputy minister, asking for the inclusion of the Black Bay peninsula and the townships of Hele, Stirling, Lyon, Dorion and portions of the McMaster and Corrigal townships.

The request was that those areas be included in the forest management agreement that is now being negotiated between the ministry and Domtar. Mr. Fleming, the vice-president of Domtar, received a letter from the minister's deputy, Mr. W. T. Foster, on April 22, saying that these townships that I mentioned earlier, "which you request be added to the FMA area, are part of the Port Arthur crown management unit. In general, during the process of establishment of FMA areas, we endeavour to maintain the integrity of the crown management units. This point has been made, I believe, on several occasions in discussions with the forest industry.

"One of the reasons for this position is that on these units, the crown has various commitments, and this is true for the Port Arthur unit. For this reason, and at this time, therefore, the ministry cannot consider the addition of these townships to the Domtar FMA areas."

One of the reasons that I know of so well is that there are between 30 and 40 small, independent operators who rely on those townships and who are going to continue to rely on those townships to retain the viability of those small units. They are even going to have to get into Black Bay peninsula on a selective basis, under good management plans, for a source of wood.

It was quite legitimate that Mr. Foster should have written to Mr. Fleming reminding them of the fact that they wanted to keep crown management units separate and apart from forest management agreements. So far, so good. On June 5, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Northern Ontario, Mr. McCormack, who had just refused Domtar the right to include the Black Bay peninsula and those other townships in Domtar's FMA, got a letter from the same Mr. Foster, saying:

"Re: K. Buchanan -- Sapawe Mill Wood Supply.

"I met with Mr. Buchanan recently and discussed his progress to date in aggregating sufficient additional volumes of wood to provide the Sapawe mill with a long-term, adequate wood supply.

"Mr. Buchanan has requested, through the appropriate district offices, that any unallocated coniferous allowable cut in the crown management units in Thunder Bay and Nipigon be allocated to him for direct use at Sapawe or as material to trade with other licensees for wood that could be directed to Sapawe.

10:30 a.m.

"As you know, the ministry has placed an extremely high priority on establishing an adequate wood supply for the Sapawe mill. I believe Mr. Buchanan is bringing a flexible and dynamic approach to the situation heretofore lacking. Would you please assure that your field offices are viewing Mr. Buchanan's request as one of top priority and that wherever possible and reasonable he be assisted in his attempts to solve this particular wood supply problem." That was a communication that went from the deputy minister to the assistant deputy minister.

Let me remind the minister that the Sapawe mill was once owned and operated by Domtar, the same company that had been refused the inclusion of the Black Bay peninsula and these townships in its forest management agreement on its general licence. Domtar for many years tried to negotiate a supply of saw logs for the Sapawe mill just outside of Atikokan, and known so well to my colleague, the member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid). It was chased out of Quetico Park. It was at one time given the authority to cut and harvest on a selective basis the northeast working circle of Quetico. It was chased out. The ministry said, "We can find you adequate supplies of timber elsewhere, adjacent to but outside of the park."

Mr. T. P. Reid: That is what it said at the time.

Mr. Stokes: That is right. After many years of harangue and trying to negotiate with Great Lakes Forest Products, Domtar said: "We do not need this hassle. We cannot find an adequate, reliable supply of timber to keep our saw-log operation going in Sapawe." So they put it up for sale. Buchanan Forest Products bought the mill. Why would anybody buy a mill when there was no timber to keep the mill in operation? Why would they do that? One would have to think that somewhere behind the scenes somebody said: "Buy the mill. It will make us look good in terms of the Atitokan situation," which was really disadvantaged as a result of Steep Rock Iron Mines closing down and Caland Ore closing down. They did get a small operation going, Pluswood, in handling wood waste and residues to keep it going. That is all very meritorious and I applaud those efforts.

I even applaud the efforts to provide wood to Buchanan if it is possible to do it without disadvantaging somebody else who was established long before Buchanan ever wanted to get into the business. Mr. Buchanan bought McKenzie Forest Products in, of all places, Hudson. As a result of some negotiations it was given the opportunity to get a supply of wood from the old Reed Paper licence and kept McKenzie Forest Products going.

But here we have a scenario where Domtar wants inclusion of these townships I mentioned, plus the Black Bay peninsula, to include in its forest management agreement. The ministry said: "No, that isn't the way we are doing business with regard to crown management units. We want to keep them separate so that we manage them, maintain flexibility, maintain good forest practices and they will remain as crown management units." The ministry said it would issue volume agreements as it saw fit.

It refused it to Domtar. Now it is in the process of giving it to Buchanan. I leave it to the imagination of everybody who is listening as to why they would refuse it to a well-established company like Domtar and give it to Buchanan.

Let me go back to one sentence in the letter I quoted from earlier. This is Mr. Foster, the deputy minister, talking to Mr. McCormack, the assistant deputy minister: "I believe Mr. Buchanan is bringing a flexible and dynamic approach to the situation heretofore lacking." I happen to know Mr. Buchanan well. He used to bring in plywood bolts to the old multi-ply plywood mill in Nipigon that has since been taken over by MacMillan Bloedel.

Every good forester in the Ministry of Natural Resources just shudders when he sees Buchanan coming. If there is anybody who can mine the forest, high-grade the resource -- because he is interested primarily in saw logs, and if something gets in the way he knocks it down, and if there is a ready market for the pulp wood and other species he can harvest, then he will harvest that too. The people in the Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake districts just shudder when they see Buchanan coming.

The government can ride herd on him and make sure he engages in good forest practices so that we can gain the maximum benefit from the areas it allows him to go into, either under licence or under a volume agreement on a crown management unit, but it has not happened in the past. The obvious question is, why is Mr. Buchanan being given preferential treatment, treatment that was denied to Domtar?

Let us get back to what the ministry people in the field are saying and the reason I think it is so important that I raise it here. As a result of my letter to the minister on November 26, I suppose the word went out from the minister to his deputy, on to region in Thunder Bay and back to district in Nipigon saying:

"Stokes is complaining that you denied this to Domtar but you are giving it to Buchanan, you are violating your own standards with regard to the management of crown management units, you are not living up to good forestry practices and you are going to do something we think is wrong. Why are you doing this?"

So the word went back saying, "Give us an answer for Stokes, something plausible, something that will make him go away and forget about the whole thing." I am not going to go away and forget the whole thing because it gets to the very heart of either our ability or our inability to manage the forests and maximize the benefits for everybody in the province and so that there will be something there for future generations.

Let me quote from a letter that went to the district manager in Nipigon. The subject was, "Allowable cut commitments to Buchanan Forest Products Limited, requested for December 7, 1981.

"These figures have been derived as requested in our meeting of November 23, 1981. However, I cannot and will not support the use of these figures for any volume commitment to anyone. The reasons are twofold: (1) The inconsistency of the FRI" -- that is the forest resources inventory -- "data base used in these calculations is unacceptable." Table one is very technical and I will not bore the House with it.

10:40 a.m.

"These inconsistencies were pointed out to the region and Thunder Bay district in a memorandum dated October 29, 1981. They were also brought to your attention," -- that is the district manager -- "Mr. Rudolph" -- who is the regional forester -- "and to Mr. McHale's attention in a meeting on November 13, 1981." Mr. McHale is the acting regional director in the northwest region out of Thunder Bay.

Quoting further: "At that time, it was pointed out that revised data would be available on January 30, 1982. On November 23 I was instructed to conduct calculations based on present data." -- In my own words, it is unreliable data.

"(2) The FRI system was not designed to make volume commitments. It is simply an indication of the potential area for wood supply. To verify the authenticity of the FRI, operational cruisings should be conducted throughout the area and the necessary adjustments --

Mr. Nixon: Are you going to talk all afternoon, too?

Mr. Stokes: I happen to think this gets to the very heart of our ability to manage our forests.

Mr. Nixon: I see. Please proceed.

Mr. Stokes: With your permission; thank you very much.

Mr. Nixon: I just wanted to bring to your attention that we have had quite a bit of this good stuff.

Mr. Stokes: I could have been half-finished without your interruption.

Mr. Nixon: I see. That means you only have 30 seconds left.

Mr. Stokes: "Volume commitments can then be undertaken. Cautionary clauses may remove the MNR's legal responsibility for wood shortages caused by FRI-based commitments. However, such statements are in direct conflict with the MNR's stated objective of sustained yield management. If this is not our objective, why are we undertaking a 20-year management plan?

"Mr. Rudolph stated in our meeting of November 23 that Mr. Buchanan is separate from our service and cannot be required to reason with and wait for a solution to our internal problems." When they are referring to their internal problems, it is their inability to get a realistic inventory on those areas that Mr. Buchanan has requested. One really cannot make a decision until one knows the nature, the type and the volume of the resource one is talking about.

"I agree that we are a separate entity." That is, the ministry is a separate entity from Mr. Buchanan. "However, Mr. Buchanan purchased the mill; the people of Ontario did not. I am a public servant and must manage the forest in the best interests of the people of the province. I regret that I inherited data of this nature, but I will not allow my professional judgement to be intimidated by outside interests. If the volumes are verified to be there, then I can comply with Mr. Buchanan's request."

That was signed by a forester in the Nipigon district. I could go on at great length and say what another forester has said about this area under question.

The minister has gone to great pains, and I applaud him for doing this, in saying that no major long-range decisions will be made where they affects a variety of uses and users. That is the case with regard to this Black Bay Peninsula. His own foresters in the field are saying, "We should not be doing it because we lack merchantable timber in sufficient quantities on a long-term basis. We should not issue the licence because of the conditions of the forest on the peninsula."

Concern is being expressed by your own fish and wildlife branch for the moose population there, the difficulty of access and its ramifications if access is eased. There is concern on the part of the local population about the possibility of opening up Black Bay Peninsula area. And there is concern for supply by the local timber operators -- that is, those you have been dealing with and supplying timber to.

Mr. Buchanan likes to think there are about 130,000 cunits of wood there ready for his purposes. The ministry's own people are saying, "We think there may be 30,000 cunits but we cannot even say that until we get a more accurate picture."

To make a long story short, I think this is symptomatic of what I was trying to tell the minister during his estimates. When one gets honest, sincere, hard-working, dedicated people in his ministry who are trying to do a good job with regard to forest management out in the field, why does the minister not listen to them? When he answers my letter will he come up with the best possible information that is available from these honest, sincere, hard-working, dedicated people in the field.

If the minister will back them up in the very thing they are trying to do -- to preserve the industry, to make it viable, to get it back on the tracks so that what they are attempting to do will be the rule, not just the exception -- he will do the people in the field a favour, he will do everybody in Ontario who relies upon that industry and that resource for a livelihood a favour, and he will be doing himself a favour.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, I want to make three short comments. One is that I am concerned about the matter raised by the member for Lake Nipigon. He and I have had numerous conversations about the mill at Sapawe. I am concerned that we keep the people at Atikokan employed. From our conversations I know the minister is doing what he can to provide fibre to that mill.

If there is a problem with the gentleman in question, whom I do not know personally, I am presuming the minister and his staff will ensure there are good forest practices not only in the Atitokan area but elsewhere where this gentleman happens to be involved. The minister has also had correspondence and conversations with the township of Atitokan and I hope we will have a solution to that shortly.

I will not repeat it ad nauseam but I am still very concerned about the forest regeneration and forestry practices generally in the province. Unfortunately, because we did not have time to get into this in detail in the estimates, it is still the major problem in the minister's portfolio.

We would like to put on the record once again the minister has indicated in the House and by letter to me that he will have some kind of program in regard to nonresident use of crown land. The minister has had quite a period of time to deal with this question. We are still allowing nonresidents to camp for up to three weeks on crown land with no charge, and all the problems that brings with it. I hope by the spring the minister will have some kind of program, if nothing else, then a demonstration project or something of the sort, which quite frankly will not satisfy me, but at least some indication of a move on this problem.

Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, I have two quick comments. I do not want to get into areas of estimates that have been under discussion but I simply want to leave with the minister my concern that the ministry use every possible effort to use the services of Dr. Ed Crossman, who is one of Canada's, if not North America's, leaders in the field of muskie research. I hope they will not only retain him but enlarge the work going on at the Nogies Creek sanctuary. I am sure the minister is aware of this. I have sent him a letter on Dr. Crossman's work on it. In the interest of research I hope the ministry will use this service and ensure his program is adequately funded.

10:50 a.m.

Second, I do not know if the minister replied during the estimates, but I made the suggestion that I thought it was time in the interests of natural resources in Ontario that we establish a natural resources museum. I ask the minister if that is under consideration or if he will take it under consideration in the very near future.

Mr. J. A. Reed: Mr. Chairman, I will be mercifully brief, as well. I think the minister will probably agree with what I am going to say. I think it is very appropriate at this point in our history when the energy critic makes a comment to the Ministry of Natural Resources. I would like the minister to pass on what I am going to say to his senior officials in order to gain recognition for the fact that if we are serious, as the Minister of Energy (Mr. Welch) says we are, in moving more quickly towards the development of alternative and renewable energy forms, then the key to that development really lies with an understanding and an expediting by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

I am very concerned at this time that the ministry is not as fully prepared to recognize its role in the development of alternative and renewable energy as it might be. The ministry is probably the most decentralized ministry and one of the largest and most cumbersome of all ministries in the government. Policies made by the minister very often become warped or adapted or changed at the firing line.

The time has come for that to change, especially as it relates to the government's highly touted thrust on alternative and renewable energy development. I would respectfully ask the minister to undertake a thorough examination of the processes that take place within his ministry in order to accommodate what I believe is a most necessary, vital and opportune part of the future of the province.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Mr. Chairman, I will be brief. I would like to thank the honourable members for their comments during this concurrence discussion. I will go in reverse order. I am personally committed to providing opportunities for private generation of electricity using potential hydraulic sites in Ontario. We have recently indicated to the Ministry of Government Services that it should be preparing some tenders on specific sites that the honourable member is aware of.

We look forward to these projects being expeditiously undertaken by the private sector for industrial and for domestic use. We think that is a viable option, the honourable member is quite right in that. It is something we hope to have an efficient procedure in place for in the near future. A couple of sites are now being processed.

I agree with the critic for the Liberal Party with respect to Dr. Crossman's work. The problem, as usual, is working out some funding mechanisms, either partial or entire.

With respect to the honourable member for Lake Nipigon, it is not true that all commercial licences would be issued out of Toronto. New commercial licences that are not renewals will be examined in Toronto and will probably be issued by myself. The renewals will be handled on a regional basis. The reason there might be some confusion in the field is because the regulations set up a normal delegation of authority to me and I wanted to split off those two different functions. That may be creating some uncertainty in the field. That was discussed earlier this week.

The renewals would be handled in the field. Whether it would be in a regional or a district office has not yet been decided. If that makes any problems in terms of processing or in terms of access locally, we will make some accommodation for that problem and make sure it can be processed in an expeditious manner.

Mr. Stokes: You will not put anybody in jail because he has difficulty renewing his licence.

Hon. Mr. Pope: No, we will not. With respect to Mr. Buchanan, the honourable member did send me a detailed letter. I have been asking for a detailed reply that will satisfy the honourable member in terms of the amount of information we provide to him. It is true there is a conflict between the request from Mr. Buchanan -- to some degree supported by the community of Atikokan, which sees this as an opportunity for industrial development -- and our own concerns over wood supply.

To the best of my knowledge, and I have tried to research this point, we did not have any understanding at all with Mr. Buchanan at the time he bought the Sapawe mill.

Mr. T. P. Reid: The Minister of Northern Affairs (Mr. Bernier) might have had that understanding.

Hon. Mr. Pope: I also pursued that point and I do not think that is true or accurate either. I will leave it at that. As many others do, I think he has from time to time applied to us for an increase in allowable cut for his mill. We have not made any final decisions on it. I have seen all the options that have been developed in the field. I am aware of the critiques that are being evolved with respect to those potential options and it is certainly something we are not going to rush into without examining all the potential problems.

Mr. Stokes: Like public input.

Hon. Mr. Pope: There already has been quite a bit of public input into this issue.


Hon. Mr. Pope: With respect, I think so. In Atikokan there certainly has been. I met with delegations. I am aware of the concern on the other side. I am aware of the concerns of the professional foresters within the ministry, both in terms of the precedent and the procedure, the information base, and also some of the other concerns the fish and wildlife branch has brought to my attention.

I am not going to rush into a decision without taking all those things into account. I have made no decision at this time. It is going to be some time before I am going to be able to. We are caught in the traditional balance between --

Mr. Stokes: Their integrity and yours is at stake. I can't put it any more bluntly.

Hon. Mr. Pope: As is usual in the many decisions that have to be made, whether or not it is competing interest, someone will question one's integrity when one makes a decision. I cannot avoid that. All I can do is try to look at all the facts that are presented to me from both sides and try to make the best judgement I can.

The member for Rainy River (Mr. T. P. Reid) indicated his concern with respect to nonresident recreational use of lands in northwestern Ontario. He has brought this matter to my attention on numerous occasions. For the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren), this is one of the issues that is addressed in the letter to the Premier (Mr. Davis) he quoted from in terms of use of lands and resources on a paying basis. One of the concerns the member for Rainy River has raised is having nonresident campers pay for the right to camp on crown lands. That is just one of the issues.

The others are things like recreational facilities in provincial parks. We have wind surfing, sailing, those kinds of businesses that people want to operate in the park. We have also had a lot of discussion with respect to resource utilization with anglers' and hunters' organizations and sports fishermen's clubs, this kind of thing, with respect to their request to be able to create hatcheries, stock lakes and own the fish they stock the lakes with.

11 a.m.

Our position to date has been, and will be, that once the fish hit the water they become a public resource. If one wants to commit himself to restocking the lake, that is a laudable public goal, but once the fish are put in the lake they are public.

The other issue with respect to that letter from the Premier is the demand by cross-country ski clubs and others to get exclusive land-use permits from us and charge their members for the use of the trails they create. These are the kinds of issues I had in mind in that letter.

I have to say to the member for Nickel Belt I may have been unparliamentary in my language yesterday and, if so, I apologize and withdraw the comment. I was trying to say that a realistic interpretation of my letter to the Premier was that I saw a potential United States initiative as being a demand that we barter on water supply issues. I saw that creating problems for us and wanted to have a look at it with a number of other ministries that have some jurisdiction over water.

Mr. Stokes: Like Chicago siphoning water out of Lake Michigan.

Hon. Mr. Pope: It would even be worse than that. I was trying to outline in the letter that it was a potential issue. I know there are international agreements in place which try to control that kind of activity, specifically in the Great Lakes. I still think it is something that will evolve into an issue in the next decade or so.

I want to indicate in closing that I think the forest management agreement that was signed should be put in the historical context of the area we are discussing. Spruce River forest has been licensed to the industry since before 1926. In 1971, an 18-year licence was signed with Abitibi-Price for that specific territory. That licence gave them the right to cut all species there. It is page three of schedule A, I believe, in the existing licence of 1971. We are talking about an area that was already under licence to Abitibi-Price.

Mr. Stokes: The one that was heavily burned over in 1980.

Hon. Mr. Pope: That is correct. What we were trying to do was also to get the company involved in the reforestation program in that same area where it already had the right to cut. In evolving that process, we also seized the opportunity to withdraw 10 to 15 per cent of the area from harvesting because we saw it as necessary for other resource uses.

We got staff from all the branches of the ministry and sent some field researchers into the area, had a look at the trout streams, the trout lakes and this kind of thing, and we evolved our attempt at a multiple resource planning mechanism within the context of the forest management agreement.

On the basis of that, one has the 10 to 15 per cent exclusion to start with. They deal with such things as trout streams, nesting sites, moose yards, cottage recreational lakes, waterway parks, canoe routes, a wilderness park, some public access points and some tourist outfitters' camps. In each of these areas, we developed exclusions to protect what we thought were necessary areas for other uses in that forest management agreement area, plus we developed an addendum of cutting practices that would be allowed adjacent to these areas.

That includes a restriction on clear-cutting that includes cut and uncut alternating stand patterns and a number of other items such as deferred cutting and that kind of thing. The whole package will be not only better for us for harvesting techniques, but also a more integrated approach to reforestation.

If one puts all that into context, remembering that it is an existing licensed area, I think it is a progressive step. We tried to apply the same principles we are trying to implement through strategic land-use planning in this process. There is no doubt that as we evolve this process we will probably get better at it. There will be more specific decisions made with respect to resources. I think we have done a good job to date and we will continue to work as hard as we can at it.

Mr. Kerrio: You have been in charge for 40 years. Are you forgetting that? Who has been in charge of this whole deal?

Hon. Mr. Pope: I think we have a good economic base in the forest industry.

Mr. Kerrio: But minimal reforestation.

Hon. Mr. Pope: What would the member know about it?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order. The minister will confine his remarks to the concurrence.

Mr. Kerrio: He's still green behind the ears.

Hon. Mr. Pope: I may be green behind the ears, I will admit that, and I may not have the member's experience, but maybe he should go and look at the forest management agreement and the maps before he gives his judgement on what is going on.

Mr. Kerrio: It is a disaster.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Maybe he should go and look at the efforts and the money we are putting into forest management, the reforestation in northern Ontario through the Board of Industrial Leadership and Development program and direct expenditures in this ministry.

Mr. Laughren: Because of your past negligence --

Hon. Mr. Pope: It is not because of our past negligence at all. We have a good record in reforestation and we are going to improve it --

The Acting Speaker: Order, order. The minister will confine his remarks to the estimates.

Hon. Mr. Pope: I am dealing with the expenditures on reforestation, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Please continue.

Hon. Mr. Pope: The honourable member has the numbers. We gave them to him this fall. He knows the commitment of this government to reforestation so he should not say it is diminishing or inadequate. We are spending a lot of money on reforestation. It is increasing --

Mr. T. P. Reid: But it is not adequate.

Mr. Stokes: It is the success rate that counts; it is not how much money you are spending.

Hon. Mr. Pope: It is the success rate that counts. One of the problems with the success rate is the fact that some of the nurseries are located too far south. That is precisely why, over the past two months, we have been letting those contracts to nurseries in all parts of Ontario so that we can provide for that. So we are making progress.

Mr. Stokes: You are getting the message.

Hon. Mr. Pope: I just wish some of the members on the other side of the House would have a look at what is really happening instead of sitting back and taking a slapshot approach to this issue. Go and see the contracts, go and see the financial commitments we are making. I am not trying to be provocative. I am suggesting to the members --

The Acting Speaker: Order. I asked the minister to confine his remarks to the expenditures.

Hon. Mr. Pope: Look at the forest management agreements and see what is being done.

Mr. T. P. Reid: We have looked at them, and they do not provide anything --

Hon. Mr. Pope: The member has not looked at them. No one from the member's party has yet been over to the Whitney Block to look at the maps.

The Acting Speaker: Order. There is not to be a debate in the form of back and forth.

Hon. Mr. Pope: I am sorry, but the member has not been over.

Finally, to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), with respect to his suggestion for a northern tour, we are working on one. I would like to involve all the members. I have discussed it with some of the members on the opposite side. I could guarantee a wide range of opportunities to visit some good and bad areas, some areas of success and some of failure with respect to reforestation, forest production and mining exploration operations going on in northern Ontario. With the help of my colleagues the critics from the opposition parties, we can arrange such a tour.

But it is the member for Nickel Belt who will have to be responsible for members' success in terms of fishing. He has more experience than I. He knows where the lakes are, so members will have to work that out with him.

The Acting Speaker: Shall these estimates be concurred in?

Those in favour will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.


The Acting Speaker: I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to assent to certain bills in his chambers.

Assistant Clerk: The following are the titles of the bills to which His Honour has assented:

Bill 151, An Act to the amend the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act;

Bill 156, An Act respecting the City of Barrie and the Township of Innisfil;

Bill 183, An Act to incorporate the George R. Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art;

Bill 184, An Act to confirm the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980;

Bill 185, An Act to amend the Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980; and

Bill Pr45, An Act respecting the Armenian Community Centre.


Mr Philip: Mr. Speaker, in the light of the numerous members who want to speak on various estimates, I will not take more than three or four minutes.

I would like to simply put on the record a couple of concerns I have respecting the manner in which public housing is being operated in this province. I have dealt with this at some length before with the minister, but I would like to deal with some specific proposals which I ask that he seriously consider, although he has been very reluctant to in the past.

11:10 a.m.

It was with considerable dismay that the inquiry into Ontario Housing and the very excellent report done by the justice committee I chaired were voted down by the majority Conservative government. It was fairly clear we had gone into considerable depth in our investigation and that members on all sides of this House had come up with some very concrete proposals that would have made the Ontario Housing Corporation seem not only more humane, but also more efficient.

I suggest to the minister that there are some great problems at present in the public housing sector. There is the whole problem of Metro Toronto Housing Authority's secrecy, which still embitters tenants, and that housing authority is certainly not the worst. As we travelled around the province we saw exactly what an abominable state the Hamilton-Wentworth Housing Authority was in. In contrast, Ottawa seems to have been able to gain the confidence of tenants and tenant representatives in a way that was not evident in cases such as Hamilton. I think the minister has to exercise some leadership in this.

In terms of the Ontario Housing Corporation, I think we should be placing an emphasis on improving the quality of life in public housing owned by OHC and on providing increased tenants' rights and participation in the management of the OHC portfolio. In that light, I would recommend a number of things that should be done:

1. Make provision to ensure elected tenant representation on the boards of local housing authorities with elections being supervised by the board and open to all residents in the housing authority.

2. Open all board and committee meetings to the public with the provision that confidential items such as those involving personnel, tenant records and real estate transactions be discussed in camera.

3. Encourage tenants to take over cooperative management of the housing projects where they have demonstrated they have an organization that can do that kind of thing.

4. Establish procedures for each OHC project to hold an annual meeting of tenants and project management, at which time the budget priorities for that project could be discussed.

5. Arrange for tenants and tenant organizations to be fully represented at all levels of the decision-making of OHC.

6. Allow OHC tenants one transfer to another housing unit as a right and additional transfers as requested if the tenant is willing to pay expenses connected with such transfers and if those transfers do not fall under the criteria that the ministry or OHC now accepts.

7. Allow transfers on the grounds currently agreed to by OHC as well as in cases involving domestic violence and emotional health and transfers to a co-operative housing unit.

8. Give tenants the right to appeal an eviction or refusal of a transfer request directly to the board of the local housing authority and to be represented at that board at the time at which the decision is made.

9. Guarantee tenants the right of access to personal files and a right to file a rebuttal to any information therein.

10. Make public housing available to anyone who cannot afford to find shelter in the open housing market, including single persons under 60 years of age.

This is a particularly serious problem. We see now the process by which Ontario Housing is evicting singles, or empty-nesters as they are called. These are people who are poor but who happen not to have children at the moment.

11. Prohibit the eviction of a person from OHC housing or the denial of a transfer because of a change in family composition.

12. Establish a maximum rent ceiling for each type of unit which reflects rents for comparable accommodation in the open housing market.

13. Make provision for an annual review or automatic indexing of the income levels established in the rental scale so that they can keep pace with inflation, thereby ensuring that dollar levels at which tenants must pay a higher percentage of their income on rent would increase over the time in step with the cost of living.

14. Prohibit Ontario Housing Corporation from selling any housing projects except to another public agency or to a housing cooperative, and instead require OHC to rebuild or renovate older projects where necessary, in order to better house the current residents.

That last one is particularly sensitive in my area, where the government managed to perform what can only be called a fraud on the tenants.

I could talk, as the minister well knows, for several hours on other aspects of housing, but I simply wanted to put on the record some personal concerns about OHC and its operations.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I wish to make one or two very short comments. I have a great deal of faith in the policy decisions of the Ontario Housing Corporation.

For the edification of the members, that housing corporation is made up of individual citizens from across this province who not only use their best judgement in relationship to the human requirements, the social requirements and the economic stability and wellbeing of the government of Ontario and the people of this province, but also speak on behalf of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, since OHC is a 50 per cent partner in all the public housing in this province.

I said to the member in my estimates not so many weeks ago that the empty-nester policy will be dealt with and enunciated by the OHC board of directors, I would trust some time in January or February. Some of the views expressed by the various organizations representing public housing tenants will be taken into consideration at that time.

The last point I make is about selling off some of our stock. Only once did we in the Ontario Housing Corporation dispose of a particular building, except one other single home, which, the member knows very well, was under a long debate by his party and others in relation to a family where some health conditions prevailed and where the OHC decided to sell that single-family unit to that individual family.

The apartment building we did sell -- I said this in my estimates of a year ago; I said it in my estimates of this year; and I suppose if the subject is raised we will be saying it in the estimates in years to come -- very frankly, it was a decision arrived at not singularly by OHC. I told the member that, and I repeat it, CMHC was a 50 per cent partner and was not prepared to put up the capital funding nor share in the capital funding program of refurbishing the building in question.

The government and OHC and this province had to make a determination. That came very simply. It was to put the unit up for sale on public tender. I think the member well recalls there were three or four tenders submitted on that structure and the high bidder purchased the building. The sale was completed by OHC to the high bidder. There were others who would have argued they should have had first rights. Even though they did not bid as much, they thought they should have had first rights to purchase the building.

Mr. Philip: For a few dollars the minister could have sold it to a co-op, but he did not do that.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is interesting to hear this member now telling me we should just disregard the public tender and start selling off to other organizations. It is public funding that belongs to the federal and provincial governments. The procedure of disposing of that unit was decided on by CMHC and indeed it would be the same under normal circumstances. I am sure the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) would say that, when offering a particular unit that requires to be disposed of, the right attitude and direction for a corporation to take is to do it through public tender.

I say to this House it is easy to criticize OHC, but this government, through the funding of the people of this province and Canada, has supplied 84,000 units owned by the taxpayers at a cost of some $2 billion. Who knows what they are worth today on the market, but they cost us $2 billion. We have another 10,000 units that we rent from the private sector, and through other public agencies, co-ops, nonprofit organizations, limited dividends and so on, there are about another 56,000 units that supply the public requirements in Ontario alone.

While it is easy to criticize, and I repeat this, I think this government and the people of this province have recognized their social responsibility and have put the money up front and centre, built the units, and continued to try to supply the market. It would be wrong to tell members we are ever likely to meet the maximum demand made upon us on the waiting lists of this province for public assistance to housing. I have said more than once that if any government ever tries to meet the demand of the maximum number of people on a waiting list at any given time, I can assure members there will be surplus units in certain markets at any given time as a result of trying to achieve 100 per cent completion of the waiting lists.

11:20 a.m.

One of the things I conclude my remarks with is that we must take into account that in public housing, as in any type of housing, there is a movement of tenants and our experience in this province is that about II per cent of the tenants --

Mr. Philip: And the ministry's list is getting longer and longer.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: I fully recognize that. But if the member would look at the statistics put out by OHC --

Mr. Philip: It is because you are doing nothing.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Just listen for a minute, just for a minute. He should read the statistics put out by OHC about the number of people on the waiting list who, after being called when a unit becomes available, are not interested.

Mr. Philip: You call them two years later. They have found alternative accommodation by then.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: They can find all the reasons in the world why they are not interested, but they are not interested in taking the units that are being offered. We are now in the position of offering a unit for them to move into roughly two and a half to three times to an applicant.

The Ontario Housing Corporation has served this province well. While we have ambitions and desires to bring on more units, it takes time, and we work closely with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The Acting Speaker: Shall these estimates be concurred in?

Those in favour will please say "aye."

Those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.


Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, further to what I said when the House began at 10 o'clock this morning, I wish to indicate that it has now been decided we will go into committee of the whole to deal with Bill 147. When we come out of committee of the whole, we will deal with second reading of Bill 194. Following that, we will have the concurrence in supply for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. We will deal with Bill 191 in committee of the whole when the House sits this evening.

House in committee of the whole.


Resuming consideration of Bill 147, An Act to facilitate the Negotiation and Resolution of Municipal Boundary and Boundary-related Issues.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, in accordance with the usual practice of the House, may I have permission to have the staff sit in front of me during committee of the whole deliberations?

The Deputy Chairman: Agreed.

On section 19:

The Deputy Chairman: Ms. Bryden moves that section 19 of the bill as amended be further amended by striking out all the words after "section 14" in the second line and substituting the following, "and any subsequent order containing the rescission, change, alteration or variation shall be subject to the provisions of section 17."

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, so far in this committee stage I think the score on amendments is the New Democratic Party one, and the government nine, but at least we did succeed in getting one amendment passed which I think was important. That was in regard to the form of public notice before an order under the act is issued.

The government agreed with us there should be public notice in a newspaper rather than leaving it to the minister to decide whether to post it in a telephone booth or any other place he thought was suitable. I hope the score will go up and this will be another amendment the government might agree to.

We have already amended section 19 once on an amendment by the government. That indicated they felt the section was unsatisfactory and their amendment was an attempt to meet this dissatisfaction. However, I do not feel their amendment meets the problem with section 19 as amended.

The problem is it gives the government power, with regard to any order, to "rescind, change, alter or vary any order made under section 14" without notice to the public. That is entirely inappropriate. Any order made under section 14 does not come into effect until 28 days have elapsed since a public notice was given of the order. The same rules should apply to any change, variation, alteration or rescission of such an order. That is what my amendment asks, that we provide for the same procedure on changes as on the original order.

The minister did add these three lines to the amendment, "Where in the opinion of the minister an order made under section 14 does not fully carry out the intent or purpose that was intended," then the Lieutenant Governor may proceed with the change without any public notice.

I still think that does not solve the problem of letting the public know. A change or a rescission could affect a great many people in an area subject to a boundary adjustment. It could affect property rights. It could affect all sorts of things affecting the lives of those people. I cannot see why the change should not be delayed for the same 28 days that the government delayed the original order's effective date.

In the debate on the minister's amendment, he admitted he could understand our concern and he thought, "It leaves it somewhat wide open," meaning it leaves the situation rather wide open and the ministerial powers fairly undefined. I do not think his amendment really closes that openness. I would urge the House to adopt this change in principle, which is that there must be public notice of any change, variation or rescission.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine indicated, we did make an amendment which carried in this House the other day which certainly closes any "wide open" situation that was in the bill and the act. There is no question the intent of the bill originally was that the minister would only have power to make minor adjustments where the act or the agreement did not carry out the intent.

This is now done by the Ontario Municipal Board. It is in the power of the OMB to make these minor adjustments to orders where, for some reason, the wording or the intent is wrong. They can make minor adjustments now in their orders to carry out the original intent of their order.

11:30 a.m.

I find it quite in order that when we come to the end of an agreement, as we did yesterday in the Barrie-Innisfil annexation bill, and on review they find that one or two words are wrong or some sentence does not quite carry out the intent, the Lieutenant Governor in Council should have the power to make these minor adjustments.

I can assure the honourable member and the House that the intent of this is only for clarification, to clear up minor points. It certainly will not be abused. For these reasons, I will not vote for the amendment.

The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Ms. Bryden's amendment will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 20 agreed to.

On section 21:

The Deputy Chairman: Ms. Bryden moves that section 21 of the bill be struck out and that the sections of the bill that follow be renumbered accordingly.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, this is probably the most important section in this whole bill, because it really is the grand-daddy of all general discretion clauses in legislation. While the minister said that we did pass a similar clause in the Barrie-Innisfil bill, which legislated a boundary agreement, the legislation we are dealing with today is of a general nature, affecting all boundary adjustments, whereas the Barrie-Innisfil one was legislating a specific agreement. There may have been some details that were overlooked that would not make that agreement difficult to operate. Therefore, perhaps the minister needed some power to make small variations in it.

In generic legislation of this sort, affecting all boundary disputes, boundary changes and all boundary-related issues, I think that to have a clause of this sort in the bill is completely inappropriate in a democratic society. Let me just read into the record what the clause says:

"The Lieutenant Governor in Council, upon the recommendation of the minister, may authorize all such acts or things not specifically provided for in this act that in the minister's opinion are necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the purposes or intent of this act."

If we have this kind of legislation in effect, we really do not need the Legislature. It is part of the trend that I see in this new majority government to strengthen the executive branch of the government and to weaken the legislative branch. If there are defects in this general piece of legislation for boundary settlements, they should be brought back to the Legislature each session, if necessary, for amendment.

The Legislature should have the power to decide whether the changes are necessary. But to give the cabinet the power just to change anything in this whole field is, to me, the road to dictatorship. It is the sort of legislation that one might expect in the Soviet Union. In fact, one might even call it the jackboot approach, which we are seeing in Poland these days.

It gives the government complete power to ignore the Legislature. We have seen them ignoring the Legislature on the requests for opening up on Suncor information or reconstituting the Re-Mor inquiry. This is the sort of action that we appear to be getting from this majority government.

I certainly would not like to entrust them with the powers to simply legislate in the boundary adjustment field without coming back to the Legislature. So I strongly urge all members of the House to vote against the inclusion of this clause in this act.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, I want to support the member for Beaches-Woodbine in her objection to section 21. With respect to her, I think she is perhaps a bit extreme when she compares it with the powers used by the jackboot authorities in Warsaw. Maybe she got a bit carried away.

In fact, these extraordinary powers, which are almost ridiculous in their completeness, are at least restricted to the purposes of this bill, which has the principle of assisting and, in some respects, compelling the solution of boundary disputes among municipalities.

I suppose the jackboots might be in order in dealing with some municipalities, but I have a feeling, as I look over at the parliamentary assistant, that he is hardly built for the exercise of that sort of authority, either in his background or his physique. It just does not seem to be the kind of charge that frightens me very much. But I do object to the inclusion of the section in the bill to a somewhat lower degree.

I believe the member for Beaches-Woodbine is entirely correct when she says that to put in a section which really says that if in any case we have made a mistake, the minister has the power to make the recommendation to his colleagues in cabinet and it will be as effective as if it were included in the bill, is a very bad approach to legislation and opens the door for all sorts of abuse.

In our positions as members of the Legislature, we must protect ourselves and the public or the province against this. If the minister would read it to himself one more time, I am sure he would see that, without any equivocation at all, it is an absolutely unacceptable section, that the powers have been made extremely complete in dealing with the matter.

If some flaw appears, the Legislature, being in session about half the time during the year, as the honourable member pointed out, would be glad to listen to an argument put forward by the government that the powers should be modified, expanded or increased.

I ask the parliamentary assistant to look at this and not be afraid to use his own good judgement. After all, he has been asked by the Premier (Mr. Davis) and by his colleague the minister to handle the conduct of the bill in the Legislature. From his own background, both in municipal politics and as, believe it or not, a kind of small-l liberal in a sense, he will surely see that such a section is anathema in a democratic society.

He cannot vote for the extension of those powers. I suggest to the minister that he can read it and he can vote against the section, as has been recommended by the member for Beaches-Woodbine. I do not think it affects the bill in any way. If, in the utilization of the bill, he finds there is some flaw, we will be very glad to consider it, as early as March, April, May, or any time. I do not think this section should be approved by the House.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, like the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), I think the member for Beaches-Woodbine was a little out of line in comparing anything done in this House with what may be going on in eastern Europe.

Mr. Philip: Poetic licence.

Mr. Nixon: Well, to be fair, she said it could lead to that.

Mr. Rotenberg: I think those of us on this side of the House, and I personally, share as much the concerns expressed the other day about what is going on over there. I personally resent any implication that I and my colleagues would be in any way to be compared to those people.

That aside, there are several things I would like to comment on.

11:40 a.m.

Wording like this is in a number of acts already. It is in all the regional acts. It has never been abused. The Ontario Municipal Board has this power under the Municipal Act and its own act. I have read this again carefully while the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was speaking. I think the key phrase is that the minister or the Lieutenant Governor in Council "may authorize all such acts or things not specifically provided for in this act" --

Mr. Nixon: "All such acts or things not specifically provided for."

Mr. Rotenberg: In other words --

Mr. Nixon: Anything you ever thought of; you could do anything else.

Mr. Rotenberg: I did not interrupt you.

Mr. Nixon: Well, all right, but if you are going to quote --

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, I did not interrupt my friend. I ask him to listen for a moment.

Despite the fact that this government is probably the best that can be achieved in this province -- certainly the people in the province agree -- I will agree that we are not totally perfect, and from time to time, especially dealing with the boundaries and dealing with municipalities, they come up with wrinkles that we really cannot anticipate. Something may come up in a dispute or in a bill which is not specifically authorized in this act, and yet both municipalities agree that it has to be part of an agreement.

All the bill says is that if there is an agreement coming forward between two municipalities such as Barrie and Innisfil or Brant and Brantford, and something further is wanted in that agreement which is not specifically authorized in the act, we can do it.

The other control, of course, is the phrase "to carry out effectively the purposes or intent of this act." If it is not explicit and specific in the act giving the minister authority, but it is within the intent and purpose of the act, and the two municipalities want this in their agreement, in effect, we can go forward with this agreement, as we have done just today with Barrie and Innisfil, and we will not have to wait possibly three or four months to get a new bill through the Legislature.

I repeat, there are similar clauses in the regional acts and the Ontario Municipal Board Act, and I defy the members of the opposition to indicate where those have been abused by this government. This is simply to allow this government, as in the case of Brant-Brantford, with which the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk is certainly familiar, and Barrie-Innisfil, to carry forward in a proper manner to implement these agreements.

As we have seen in the Barrie-Innisfil case, when the two parties get together and are ready to sign, we have to move quickly before somebody in local politics changes his mind. It is necessary to have this authority to implement the spirit and the intent of the act, and certainly not to go beyond that, but to do maybe some of the minor things that are implicit in the act but not explicit.

For these reasons, I urge the House to support section 21 as written.

The Deputy Chairman: All those in favour of Ms. Bryden's motion will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion the nays have it.

Motion negatived.

Section 21 agreed to.

Sections 22 and 23 agreed to.

On section 24:

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, I have two amendments to section 24 for clarification. The first is that section 24 really applies to any application now before the board.

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. Rotenberg moves that section 24 of the bill be amended by adding at the end thereof: But unless the board has made an order finally determining this matter within two years of the day this act comes into force, the application shall be deemed to have been withdrawn."

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, the purpose of this amendment is simply that there are now some applications pending before the board and what it says, in effect, is that there is a two-year hiatus during which the board may deal with those applications. At the end of the two years, if the board has not dealt with them, they are deemed to have been withdrawn. All outstanding applications or new ones will come under this act and will not then come under the old process.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Chairman, is it possible, while we are doing that, more or less to tidy up what has happened in the past, that we are giving the board the right not to deal with an application but just to ignore it, to sit on it, and it will be deemed to be withdrawn two years later? I do not think that is a very fair approach to dealing with applications which may be brought before the board in the future.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, under the board's procedures, the board has an obligation to hear anything that is before it --

Mr. Nixon: But if it doesn't, it's deemed to be withdrawn.

Mr. Rotenberg: If for some reason it is not completed in two years, then I guess the municipalities have the choice in that hiatus. If we had another Barrie type of thing which started now. say, and there were a hearing and court procedures and so on, if that were not finalized within two years, it would be over and would have to go to the new procedure. In other words, they have two years to clean up all the applications before them.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, we are supporting this amendment. I think it is a necessary transitional measure. It is one of the government amendments that we think is a good idea.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, I have a further amendment.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I do not believe we have received a copy of it.

Mr. Rotenberg: I gave you one the other day.

The Deputy Chairman: Mr. Rotenberg moves that section 24 of the bill be amended by adding thereto the following subsection:

"(2) Notwithstanding subsections 23, 5, 6 and 7 of this act, subsection 17(2) and subsections 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the Municipal Act as they existed on the day before this act comes into force continue to apply to annexations or amalgamations provided for by statute or municipal board order."

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Chairman, two things could happen. As we just discussed, there may be matters before the board now on which they will give an order in that two-year hiatus. We are saying those before the board being dealt with by the board will be under the old rules and not under the rules of this act.

For those matters now in process before the board, on a future annexation being dealt with by the board or an order already made for an annexation by the board which has some tag ends to be done after this act comes into force, the provisions of this act will not apply to those annexations. Those sections of the Municipal Act will apply to those annexations. In other words, anything now in process before the board is under the old rules.

Those matters that are done by statute, as we just finished today with the Barrie-Innisfil bill, will supersede this bill. In other words, the Barrie-Innisfil bill is the one that counts, not this boundary disputes act. The boundary disputes act applies to those that are done by the mediation process and by order.

Where something is done by statute, as in Barrie-Innisfil or Brant-Brantford, then the Barrie-Innisfil bill or the Brant-Brantford bill or similar bills will supersede this particular legislation.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Chairman, I must apologize to the parliamentary assistant. I did receive a copy of the amendment. One of his officials discussed it with me, and that is why it was set aside. I understand this is another necessary transitional measure. We are prepared to support it.

Motion agreed to.

Section 24, as amended, agreed to.

Sections 25 and 26 agreed to.

Bill 147, as amended, reported.

11:50 a.m.


Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Bennett, moved second reading of Bill 194, An Act to amend certain Acts in respect of Planning and Related Matters.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, this bill is complementary to the proposed new Planning Act, which has already been referred to the standing committee on general government for hearings in February. I point out at the outset that it is my intention, if the motion for second reading carries, to refer this bill also to the general government committee to be dealt with at the same time as the planning bill, because it is complementary to it.

It makes two amendments to the Municipal Act. This bill will also delete in the regional acts, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, the District Municipality of Muskoka Act, and the County of Oxford Act planning provisions that are provided for in the new Planning Act.

The bill will delete from the Municipal Act the sign regulations provisions contained in section 40 of the new Planning Act in a slightly altered form. It will also re-enact in the Municipal Act, in a substantially revised form, sections 46 and 47 of the present Planning Act, which deal with various aspects of the municipal building bylaws.

In the various upper-tier acts, where the division of responsibility between the upper and lower tiers differs from that set out in the new act, these provisions that spell out the differences are being retained. The purpose of these amendments is to prevent unnecessary duplication or overlapping between the upper-tier statutes of the new Planning Act.

As indicated, if certain aspects of the Planning Act are approved by the general government committee during its hearings, these would logically follow. If certain matters in the new Planning Act are changed, then complementary changes will have to be made in Bill 194.

The purpose of having it here is simply to get it to general government committee with the other bill so they can be dealt with together as a package, and I hope the general government committee will report to the spring session on the package; that is, the Planning Act plus this bill.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, we are certainly supporting this bill along with its companion legislation, which is far more voluminous and which in many respects is the basis of the reference to the standing committee on general government. We feel that those hearings are going to be extremely important, as well as the review of the bill by the Legislature when it returns from the committee.

We have been waiting for substantial changes in the planning concepts of the province for a good long time. We have already indicated, at least I have, support for the concept of putting much more responsibility with the elected municipalities. This is something I look forward to discussing in committee and approving in this House. We are supporting the principle of this additional bill.

Mr. Philip: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the government has given some indication that this will go to committee because, as the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) will be aware, we have introduced a private member's bill which amounts to an amendment that we are proposing to the Planning Act.

It deals with the very serious problem that bylaw enforcement of building standards is extremely difficult in municipalities other than the city of Toronto. In other municipalities such as Scarborough, or Etobicoke where I am, it can sometimes take up to nine months to force a landlord to repair a building.

There are extensive powers under the City of Toronto Act which allow the bylaw enforcement officer to put certain pressures on the landlord to bring the buildings up to standard. These include such things as withholding rent or taking rent to pay for improvements to the building to bring it up to the required standards.

It is very frustrating in Etobicoke, where we have some bylaw enforcement officers who work beyond the call of duty or beyond the call of their job descriptions anyway. "Overtime" is a word that really has ceased to apply to them, because they do work overtime without any cost to the taxpayer, simply because they are dedicated. Some of them get very frustrated at times with certain offshore or off-province landlords who seem to be interested only in making as much money as possible with as little investment as possible.

It will simply mean now, because it is going to committee, that we will have to move that amendment to the other act. It is acceptable to me to move it in that way. I appreciate that the government has indicated it is willing to send it to committee so that we can propose those and other amendments we are concerned about.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, I too welcome the parliamentary assistant's assurance that this bill will be sent to committee along with the Planning Act and that both can then be dealt with on a clause-by-clause basis.

As he mentioned, this is companion legislation to the Planning Act, but it does some rather important things that I would like to mention briefly so that the committee to which it is referred will take a careful look at those issues.

The first thing it does, which he mentioned, is to move the sections of the Municipal Act, mainly section 210, relating to signs in municipalities and the control of signs by municipalities, to the Planning Act. Regardless of where it is, I think it is a part of municipal planning, and there are additional powers in the proposed new Planning Act over signs for municipalities; so I think it should definitely be looked at to see whether those powers are justified.

Secondly, in the interests of uniformity in planning legislation, it removes all the provisions about official plans and zoning from the acts of the individual upper-tier municipalities and puts them under the Planning Act. I think that is also an important step forward, as long as we are assured that any special circumstances that apply to individual upper-tier municipalities are retained in their own acts. The parliamentary assistant has indicated that is the intent of the legislation.

But we will have time when we are in committee to hear from each of the upper-tier municipalities as to whether they think their positions are being preserved, if they have any distinctive provisions such as a distinctive distribution of powers between the upper and lower tiers.

I note that one of the provisions of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act, which is being moved to the Planning Act but preserved, is the protection of employee benefits under sections 204 and 205 of the Metropolitan Toronto act for employees of the old planning board, which was abolished and replaced by a department. Certainly, this party has always been in favour of protecting employee benefits when changes of this sort over which they have no control occur. I am glad that section is to be preserved in the new act.

Finally, the question my colleague the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) raised is a very important question the committee must look at. That is the question of whether the setting of building standards should be considered as part of the planning process or simply as an area of municipal jurisdiction.

This bill proposes to move the sections relating to building standards that were in the old Planning Act to the Municipal Act, since we will be repealing the old Planning Act. I question whether those sections should not be put into the new Planning Act, because I do think building standards have a very important role to play in general zoning and overall official plans, and the enforcement and maintenance of those standards must also be very carefully provided for or they become a dead letter.

Certainly in Metropolitan Toronto the enforcement powers are uneven. The city of Toronto has much stronger powers than the boroughs. That is an area that must be corrected. Those building standards must become part of the planning process. The question we will have to discuss in committee is whether they should be put into the Municipal Act or whether they should go into the Planning Act. That is a very important area we must consider. However, we will support second reading of this bill in its present form and discuss these matters in committee.

12 noon

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the honourable members opposite for their support of this bill.

I would indicate to the member for Etobicoke (Mr. Philip) that whether the building bylaw standards remain in the Planning Act or go back into the Municipal Act, they are before the committee and we will be discussing the content of his amendment. It would be in order to place it in either act. What he really wants is to get the matter into law in either act, and I do not think it would make all that much difference which. We will discuss how it goes.

I would assure the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden) that those special matters that are in the regional acts at the present time are to remain in the regional acts. That is one of the purposes of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, with those words I would ask that this bill be given second reading.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for the standing committee on general government.


Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, this will likely be the last opportunity I will have before the House prorogues to express my views on the question of the financial crisis facing Ontario farmers today. However, it will not be the last time the minister will hear from me or my colleagues if we do not get an announcement before the session ends, as promised by the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) of this province, that financial assistance will be given to the sector of the farm industry that is encountering serious difficulties.

I cannot seem to impress on the minister or this government that the agricultural industry is vitally important to Ontario. Surely the situation in Poland, whose agricultural industry was once the envy of European countries, is sufficient warning to this government that it simply cannot continue to ignore an industry as important to Ontario as the agriculture industry.

Although only four per cent of the population actually farm, approximately 20 per cent of Ontario's people depend on the agricultural industry for their livelihood. Some even suggest that 25 per cent of Ontario's people depend on the agricultural industry for their livelihood. In fact, one person out of every five Ontarians has a job connected to the industry in some way. Ontario agriculture is worth about $4.4 billion annually, and about one third of Canada's agricultural output comes from Ontario.

The value added in this province by Ontario farmers is greater than any other primary industry, including mining, and ahead of any single manufacturing industry. That is how important agriculture is in this province. Agriculture ranks as the top primary goods-producing industry in this province. Moreover, agriculture does not operate in a vacuum, and as such, a lack of prosperity in the industry will have an impact on the prosperity of other sectors of our economy in very different ways. For example, the feed industry, the seed industry, the machinery industry, the processing industry, the fertilizer industry, the transportation industry are all affected when the farming industry starts to deteriorate.

Furthermore, the difficulties the agricultural industry is now experiencing are all too evident in our rural communities. The minister represents a number of small towns as I do. I am sure when he goes into these small towns now he is seeing empty stores and businesses that have disappeared, and a lot of that has been caused by a declining farm industry in this province.

Understandably, the most pressing problem for the Ontario farmer today is lack of financial stability due to a large extent to unprecedented high interest rates and the rapidly rising costs of farm equipment, feed, land costs, fuel, fertilizer and other input costs. The recent report entitled The Future of the Family Farm in Ontario, which I am sure the minister has read, found that the major area of concern to farmers was high cost of production. In fact, 90 per cent of farmers surveyed expressed this concern.

That report concluded that low financial returns from farming were the major threat to the future of the family farm. Farmers are becoming more productive but in spite of their increased productivity, the agricultural industry is declining and the income position of many farms, even those with larger and more commercial operations, is not improving but deteriorating.

One aspect of the farm problem of particular concern is that the effective, efficient farmers, those who have been most willing to take the necessary investment risk to increase production, are the very ones most likely to be in jeopardy. They are the ones in jeopardy as the burden of their loan payments become overwhelming due to interest rates that hover above the 20 per cent mark.

The farmer who has sought to improve his farm practice by following the most modern methods of cultivation and farm management techniques, as well as the advice of banks and the provincial government, finds himself on the brink of bankruptcy because farm operating costs far outstrip farm-cash receipts. In other words, the best farmers in Ontario, the ones who have sought to improve their operations, are suffering greater hardships than smaller, less efficient producers, who have smaller debts, less training and more flexibility in their production choices.

If present trends continue, therefore, our agricultural industry may well be left in the hands of less efficient farmers. Food prices will inevitably increase as agricultural production decreases, as our most up-to-date efficient farmers leave the business to be replaced by small-scale, labour-intensive agricultural operations. The point I am trying to make is that it is the lot of our efficient farmers to be forced into bankruptcy or to be compelled to sell before they actually do go into bankruptcy.

In the past, farmers have been able to improve their income situations by improving management and labour skills and applying additional capital with the result that production and productivity improved. The solution was to get more out of production. Techniques to increase production were possible as long as interest rates remained at their historical levels of three per cent above inflation, but look how distorted the picture is now. Historically, interest rates amounted to about three per cent above inflation.

However, it is not possible to apply such techniques when interest rates are 20 per cent or more. The present rates put the real interest rate at more than six per cent above what it should be by historical standards. Real growth in Ontario's agricultural industry has increased more rapidly than in other Canadian provinces. However, while more money passes through the farmer's hands, less stays with him in the form of net income. The prime concern of Ontario farmers today is the effect of high interest rates on farm operating costs. That is the number one concern, as the minister well knows.

My colleagues and I in the Liberal Party have actively pursued this question of interest rates with the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Henderson), the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) in this Legislature. On numerous occasions the minister of Agriculture and Food responds that the federal government is entirely responsible for this question and he is, therefore, leaving all action to that level of government. I have always been, and I remain, totally opposed to this view. The Liberal Party believes the Ontario government has an obligation to ensure the economic viability of our agricultural industry. In fact, it has been the provincial government's emphasis on maximum and efficient production that has resulted in more food at lower prices. The minister should face the fact that this government has always had a cheap food policy.

12:10 p.m.

This brings to mind a comment made by a former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, "For too long the farmers have been sacrificed at the altar of their own efficiency." That same person, as the minister well knows, served as chairman on the Ontario Federation of Agriculture task force. Suffice it to say Everett Biggs and the committee recommended immediate responsibility on the part of this government.

Farmers have simply been following the advice of the government and their bank managers and these very farmers are now in trouble. As far back as 1969, the special committee on farm incomes produced a report called The Challenge of Abundance -- I am sure the minister remembers the committee, also spearheaded by Everett Biggs. The report was called for by the then Minister of Agriculture and Food, the Honourable Bill Stewart. It recommended that farmers expand and become more efficient.

As recently as last year's throne speech the government stated that it was committed, "to increasing Ontario's agricultural productivity" and would take "appropriate measures ... to modify or expand operations." The speech continued, "As a firm foundation for the 1980s, Ontario will commence a series of initiatives to strengthen our position as the foremost agricultural producing province in Canada." How in the world does the minister ever intend to accomplish that if he is going to continue to allow our efficient farmers to go into bankruptcy? There is a contradiction there.

The provincial government has stressed productivity as the key to economic growth. As a result, farmers have found themselves paying farm input prices, which have risen substantially faster than the rate at which prices have risen for the goods they sell. Moreover, our farmers are having a harder time coping with unprecedented high interest rates than the farmers in other provinces in Canada, primarily for two basic reasons; first, the nature of our agricultural industry, and second, subsidized interest rates in other provinces.

Our analysis of the agricultural industry in this province shows only too clearly we are more vulnerable to increased operating expenses than are farmers in other provinces in Canada, and, therefore, our farmers are in a more precarious position. A comparison of our financial situation with Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta shows that in 1980 we were number one in terms of gross farm cash receipts -- $4.39 billion compared with $2.32 billion for Quebec, $3.21 billion for Saskatchewan and $3.12 billion for Alberta. Unfortunately we were also number one in farm operating costs -- $3.28 billion compared with $1.52 billion for Quebec, $1.74 billion for Saskatchewan and $1.98 billion for Alberta. As a result, we were number four in realized net income -- $536 million compared to $962 million for Saskatchewan, $661 million for Alberta and $599 million for Quebec.

In 1980 for the first time ever Quebec surpassed Ontario in realized net income for farmers, one of the reasons being that the Premier of that province has made the commitment to make Quebec self-sufficient in food production. Believe me, he is accomplishing that objective. There are more hogs on Quebec farms now than there are on Ontario farms.

One has to know what has happened to the dairy industry if one is going to compare the two provinces. The farmers who attend the feed or cattle sales tell me: "Just watch which direction those trucks strike out in. They are going right into Quebec and dropping off those cattle." In other words, we are fast losing the status here in Ontario of being the breadbasket of Canada. That is almost as bad as having to stand up in this House and say that Ontario has now become a have-not province. In other words, Ontario in many respects is really going to hell. We are seeing no activity on that side of the House to prevent some of this.

While Quebec's realized net income increased by 12.7 per cent in 1980 over 1979, Ontario incomes decreased by 29.5 per cent. If we compare net incomes per farmer as a per cent of farm cash receipts, we find that to produce $1 of product in Ontario, 88 cents of input is required. The farmer's return is 12 per cent. Listen to this. For Quebec it is 25.7 per cent, for Saskatchewan 29.9 per cent and for Alberta 21.1 per cent.

The conclusion to be drawn from this analysis is that Ontario agriculture is more vulnerable to fluctuations in operating expenses. Moreover, operating expenses in Ontario increased $452 million in 1980, in Quebec $183 million, in Saskatchewan $196 million and in Alberta $267 million. The operating expenses of our farmers are often higher than those of farmers in other provinces because we have a larger share of purchased inputs and some items such as land prices are costlier.

The farmers at present facing the greatest difficulties are also the most specialized -- that is, the cow-calf operator, the feeder-cattle operator, the weaner-pig operator, those with a high volume and a low margin. Granted, a long-term solution to this problem may require a change in management practices. Perhaps what we should be looking at is getting more from each dollar of investment and increasing productivity rather than production.

Ontario farmers are also at a disadvantage when we examine the financial assistance provided to the agricultural industry by other provincial governments and other countries. The Ontario government's 1980-81 expenditure on agriculture is forecast at $184 million, which is one per cent of the total budgetary expenditure of $16.8 billion. By contrast, Quebec's agricultural budget is $317 million or 1.8 per cent of its total budgetary expenditure. There is a far greater commitment to the agricultural industry in that province.

Ontario is the only province in Canada other than Prince Edward Island without some interest subsidy program. Prince Edward Island does, however, provide grants to its farmers instead of interest subsidy programs.

Newfoundland provides a five per cent subsidy to new farmers for the first 15 years. In New Brunswick, new farmers receive interest-free loans for the first year and for the next five years those farmers pay only three per cent interest. All other farm loans receive three per cent interest-rate subsidies.

Nova Scotia's new farmers receive a six per cent subsidy on the first $50,000 loan. All farmers receive a 2.5 per cent subsidy on farm loans and the province pays the total interest on Farm Credit Corporation loans to a farmer under 35 years of age. In Quebec, new farmers pay 2.5 per cent interest on their first $15,000 loan and then pay 8.5 per cent on the next $135,000 for thirty-nine and one half years.

In 1980-81, Quebec spent at least $67.5 million on loan and grant assistance programs. Of this, $48 million went for interest subsidy on long-term loans. A further $9 million was spent on subsidizing medium-term and Farm Credit Corporation loans. About $10.5 million was given in grants, mainly to new producers. That is Quebec.

Manitoba's new farmers receive a four per cent subsidy for the first five years. New farmers in Saskatchewan receive six to 10 per cent subsidies depending on the net worth and assets of each farmer. New farmers in Alberta pay six per cent interest rates and anything above that is subsidized. British Columbia farmers receive a subsidy of one per cent below the prime interest rate for a maximum reimbursement of $10,000 per applicant per year.

12:20 p.m.

Ontario, on the other hand, provides no interest subsidy program and the only credit program for farmers is the antiquated Ontario young farmers' credit program to assist in borrowing bank funds at prime plus one. Can one imagine that? Since most farmers can get that rate at a bank, only eight individuals applied for this assistance in 1980. That is how much good the farmers feel that credit program is. Only eight of them made application for that one and only credit program in Ontario.

In the United States, a farmer has a variety of sources from which to obtain credit at reduced rates. A system of intermediate banks has been established with a network of farm credit associations which farmers join. Funds are raised by the sale of securities on the money markets. Federal land bank associations provide loans to individual farmers at 10.5 per cent to 13 per cent.

Farmers Home Administration operating loans to family farms are at 14.5 per cent. There are 17 per cent emergency loans for those who can obtain credit elsewhere and eight per cent for those who cannot. Long-term real estate loans are provided at 13.25 per cent. For limited-resource farmers, operating loans are available at 11.5 per cent and real estate loans at seven per cent.

The production credit associations provide loans whose upper limit is restricted only by their credit capacity at 15 to 17 per cent interest rates. Repayment periods are for a maximum of 10 years. Commodity Credit Corporation provides funds on financing crop inventories at 14.5 per cent interest.

These are programs that are available in the United States. It should be noted these programs are national in scope but individual states supplement these programs with those of their own. They realize the importance of the agricultural industry in that country.

The major conclusion of this analysis is that, while greatly increased interest rates affect all farmers in Canada, farmers in other provinces are more able to absorb the increased expenses because of wider profit margins and much superior government assistance programs.

The increased cost, with little government assistance, has led to many farm bankruptcies in Ontario. We have had over half of the farm bankruptcies that have occurred in all of Canada. Over half of them, 55 to 60 per cent of them, have occurred here in Ontario. Unless this government offers the same kind of assistance the other provincial governments are offering their farmers, we are going to see far more bankruptcies occurring in this province. I say to the minister it has to stop and he has to start taking an interest.

An analysis of the recent Ontario farm bankruptcy figures indicates clearly that the farming community here in Ontario is far from being strong. In 1979, Ontario had 64 farm bankruptcies out of a total of 124 for the whole of Canada. In 1980, this figure jumped to 122 out of 220 in Canada. The comparable figure in Quebec was 43. Between the months of January and September 1981, Ontario experienced 112 farm bankruptcies compared with 35 for Quebec.

We have to take into consideration not only the number of farmers who are bankrupt today, but also the number who are moving in that direction. Bankruptcy figures do not tell the whole story since many more farmers are in trouble than the figures would indicate.

However, no figures are available on the number of forced farm sales. There is a real problem with farmers who get out before it is too late. They are forced out. It is my understanding that the task force set up by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture was no more successful in gathering these statistics from the banks than I have been. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the banks have been most unco-operative.

Indications are the bankruptcy picture will get much worse. Record rainfalls lowered harvest yields and ruined crops. The only hope that many cash crop farmers have is getting a high price for their products. Corn, however, is less than $3 a bushel and is predicted to go as low as $2.50 a bushel. Anyone knowledgeable about farming will know that with normal costs a farmer cannot grow corn and sell it for $2.50 a bushel. This is notwithstanding the additional cost of servicing his debt, which has been up around the 23 to 24 per cent range.

The bean crop yield is of lower grade this year, and it has decreased tremendously because of the weather. This situation is sure to lead to increased bankruptcies and forced farm sales amongst the cash crop farmers as well. I have already indicated it is the red-meat producers who have been suffering the effects of high costs and low prices for some time now, but I will tell the minister that the other farmers are not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination.

I submit, therefore, the immediate need is for an emergency interest subsidy program for Ontario farmers' operating expenses. There is no question in my mind that interest rates must be subsidized if we are to save not only our young, but our aggressive, our efficient, our innovative farmers. I further believe that such a program should subsidize those interest rates which would be at approximately the level of the inflation rate.

As I have said, historically the interest rate has been about three per cent above the inflation rate, but because of the terrible distortions we are now seeing in the inflation rate, we are going to have to get away from that three per cent above inflation rate and talk more about the level of the inflation rate, which is about 12 to 13 per cent.

Such a program should be based on a sliding scale, depending on the immediate need of the farmer and as a percentage of their assets to their liabilities. The danger point is reached at about the 20 per cent level -- that is, when the debt charge consumes 20 per cent of the total investment. The individual who reaches the 50 per cent mark may not be able to carry his debt for very long and these are things that will have to be considered.

Careful considerations must be given to long-term assistance because it has been readily-available money at relatively low interest rates which has caused some of the problems which farmers are facing today. Assistance must be based on helping to pay operating expenses for the present time rather than for expansion.

We must be careful not to perpetuate the situation which has arisen due to easy credit availability, and bankers almost forcing farmers to take money. To a farmer going in to ask for a loan, I have heard a banker has said, in one case: "I will not give you the $50,000 you want, but if you will take $200,000, I will give it to you." In other words, the bankers were almost placing the money in the hands of these farmers and telling them if they did not borrow more, they would not get any money. This may be the exception rather than the rule, but I have been told that is what has happened in some cases.

We need a selective relief program to ensure that farmers are able to maintain what they now have. For the time being, we must concentrate on lowering operating costs rather than expanding production. What is immediately required is credit assistance to bail farmers out of their existing problems. We should not provide money to those farmers who are simply going to use it to expand their operations. That is not the point at this time. It is to help the farmers with what they now have, not to be pouring more money in so they can go out and continue to expand.

In fact, it is hard to justify lending any of this low-interest money to anyone who is going to take it to buy more land, more machinery, more equipment, more barns, or even more livestock than what he had been working with in the past. We are going through a tough time.

12:30 p.m.

The assistance that is needed is interest assistance or interest subsidies to keep them in business, to keep their farms viable, but we should not be providing subsidized interest rates on loans for farmers who want to get bigger and bigger and bigger, not at this point in time. Nor is there any reason, in my opinion, to offer this credit assistance to farmers who hold quotas to market milk, chicken, eggs and turkeys. Their marketing boards have the clout and the pricing formulas to pass along some of the costs of high interest rates.

I have not had too many farmers under the supply management program complain to me, because they know they have the marketing boards, they know they have the clout and they know they can work their additional costs into their pricing formulas. Other farmers do not have that same opportunity. In summary, it would seem reasonable to limit credit assistance to those farmers who have an established need and who otherwise would have been able to continue a viable operation if rapidly escalating interest rates had not thrown a monkey-wrench into their plans.

I asked one of the farmers, when I attended the Middlesex Federation of Agriculture meet-the-members night, if the ad hoc program was of any benefit to them. By the ad hoc programs, I am talking about giving $40 per slaughter steer, $20 per feeder and giving $40 per cow or calf. He said: "We are pleased to get that assistance, but it does not help in our planning process in any way. We certainly would not turn that kind of assistance down; it did help for the time being, but it was a shot in the arm to deaden the pain." In other words, they want to know what will be available to them so they can plan years down the road. That came from one of the spokesmen for the beef cattlemen who happened to be at that meeting.

In summary then, the reason for refusing all farmers additional low-interest credit is to prevent today's credit assistance from being used as a base for another round of inflationary expansion. We all know the treadmill cannot go on forever. High interest rates hurt all people and all businesses, but farmers are different in a very special way. They are our lifeline to survival, and current interest rates threaten that lifeline.

If anyone is not convinced that farmers are different in a very special way, I advise them to take this very simple lesson: Do not eat for a day. If the oil industry, $650 million worth, or $3 billion worth over 10 years, is more important than the agricultural industry in this province, then my next word of advice would be to try drinking a quart of oil for breakfast.

I believe the lesson would be quickly learned. Before I sit down, it is my understanding that the action committee which the minister established to look over the recommendations of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture task force has finalized and completed its meeting. It is my understanding they have recommendations which they were proposing to the minister yesterday. It was my earlier understanding that they were meeting with the Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller) on Sunday to make certain recommendations.

Those recommendations, as I understand it, were to put millions of dollars into a fund to be applied to those farmers who have an established need, and there was a committee to be established within the area to ascertain who those farmers were who were in need. That is my understanding of what the proposals were. I am sure those proposals were made to the minister yesterday, and in keeping with the promise made by the Treasurer that we would be hearing an announcement from the minister before the session ends, I have to remind the minister that it appears the session will end tomorrow, and surely we can expect to hear some kind of a statement from him either today or tomorrow.

Agriculture is too important to ignore the way this government has been ignoring it. I am not prepared to blame the minister for the inactivity on the part of this government, because I believe his cabinet colleagues all have a say in this, but I would hope the minister would exercise far more clout when he goes into those cabinet meetings and tell his cabinet colleagues that the agricultural industry in this province is just too important to ignore totally.

Whatever money is available, they decided to put it into the Suncor investment. I maintain the oil industry is no more important that the agricultural industry in this province, and if the government can come up with $650 million to buy out a 25 per cent interest in an oil company, then surely it can come up with an equivalent amount of money to save a sinking agricultural industry in this province.

Mr. Nixon: Atta boy, Jack.


Mr. MacDonald: I do not normally get applause from the Liberals when I rise to speak --

Mr. Speaker: Almost a standing ovation.

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you very much.

Mr. Roy: You will need some help from your colleagues though. There are none there.

Mr. MacDonald: Cheer up. The honourable member is around here so seldom, I do not know why he is raising his voice.

Mr. Speaker, just let me make one small point to begin with. I can understand how the back-benchers of the Tory party are getting frustrated and interrupting and saying "cheap political shot." This government has not moved, and they are taking the heat. That is why they are beginning to scream --

Mr. Speaker: Shall we address the estimates, please.

Mr. MacDonald: That is very much part of the estimates. It is very fortunate that we have a final opportunity, before we go home for Christmas, to debate the agricultural situation in this province, because the agricultural industry is just completing a year which is the worst year since the great Depression in the dirty thirties. It is a situation in which the chronic problem is not new. The chronic problem is that agriculture traditionally has not had adequate returns in terms of a net income.

They are caught in a cost-price squeeze. That cost-price squeeze has resulted in their costs rising more than the prices they get in terms of growth income, and therefore they have a depreciated amount of net income for themselves, and farmer after farmer has to begin to live on his equity because he does not have any net income of his own. That cost-price squeeze was tightened with the rise in energy prices in the last two to three years, but we have nothing short of strangulation as far as farmers are concerned when added to that is the interest rate burden that the government has done nothing about.

Let me just speak to a second important point, as far as consideration of these estimates or this situation is concerned. The member who has just taken his seat is pleading with the Minister of Agriculture and Food to go into the cabinet and raise his voice. There is no point in the minister going into the cabinet and raising his voice. He has totally lost his credibility, not only in terms of the agricultural community, but among his own cabinet colleagues.

This minister is now irrelevant. To the extent that there is any response or any initiative taking place within the cabinet, it is coming from the deputy minister, and to the extent that there is any response from the government at all, it is coming from either the Premier (Mr. Davis) or, more particularly, from the provincial Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller). The Minister of Agriculture and Food is only the Charlie McCarthy for the Bergens elsewhere. He is the dummy in the lot.

12:40 p.m.

Mr. Watson: Shame.

Mr. MacDonald: It is a shame. The honourable member knows it is the case. The member for Chatham-Kent should go back and talk to his friends in his own riding and they will tell him if he does not already know.

As a result of this neglect, there is developing in the agricultural community, normally the most stable and responsible element of any society, an explosive sense of frustration. I was interested in a story that was carried by the Toronto Star on December 5 that was headed, "Henderson Forcing Farmers to Rebel, Farm Group Says."

And who is the spokesman? It happens to be the newly elected second vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

"Provincial Agriculture Minister Lorne Henderson is forcing farmers to lash out through his lack of action, a farm association official says.

"'The longer the government delays programs to help farmers cope with high interest rates, the more rebellious farm groups will be established,' said Ron Jones, a vice-president of the 25,000 member Ontario Federation of Agriculture."

If the minister has threats from vigilantes, if he has threats of civil disobedience, if farmers have no alternative but to join forces with others in society like the labour groups in the area and storm the bank in Port Elgin, as they did last week, the responsibility for that kind of action rests with this government and its failure to face up to the situation over the past year or so.

It is interesting to review the scenario in the year we are concluding, the scenario for which these estimates were presumably supposed to apply. We all knew there was a crisis developing on the agricultural front. It was obvious to anybody who had eyes to see and ears to hear. Last spring, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture presented specific proposals to the government for short-term and long-term action needed to cope with the crisis on the farm front.

What happened? The answer was, "Nothing." Then a thousand farmers left their land, came into Toronto and held a protest meeting last June in the Constellation Hotel, a meeting to which the Minister of Agriculture and Food came. Suddenly, he was flanked by the Treasurer, who had been invited, and the Premier, who invited himself.

The Premier proceeded to insult the intelligence of the assembled 1,000 people from the agricultural community by saying: "Give us proposals. Give us some specific ideas. Prioritize them as to which ones are the most important." He had had the proposals for a couple of months. Neither he nor the Minister of Agriculture and Food or the Treasurer had even responded to them.

Suddenly, with that protest reaching those proportions, the provincial Treasurer said: "Something will be done. I give you my word. Before the end of the month, something will be done." There was talk in the paper about a $100 million program, a six-point program. What came of it? The mountain laboured and it brought forth a mouse, admittedly an acceptable mouse, a palliative of $37 million to help one portion of the beef industry, the feeders and stockers who had suffered such losses in the year 1980.

When nothing more emerged during the summer, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture's task force went out and did the job the government should have been doing, examining the situation and coming up with specific proposals. That task force report was presented to the OFA convention on November 25 or thereabouts and the farmers considered whether they should march on Queen's Park.

Given the kind of people they are, they decided to give the government a final chance, particularly when the provincial Treasurer came down. The Minister of Agriculture and Food did not. He was tied up for the first couple of days and then he had an unfortunate development in the family which was legitimately concluded on the third day.

But he was not there for the first two days. They never saw him in all his great bulk. He never appeared on the scene. The Treasurer came down. What did he say? "Before the end of the session, we will have something for you." When he was asked when the end of the session would come, in that coy Tory way he said, "Soon." The end of the session is coming. I hear it might possibly be tomorrow. So we look forward to it.

The long-term solution to the farm problem is something that has to emerge in the development of a food and agricultural policy, which this government has not had, the Liberals in Ottawa have not had, and the new deputy minister of agriculture says he is working on. He pleads with the farmers to cool it a bit, because he is working on it and in the new year we will have it. That is fine. But as one of the farmers from the Canadian Farmers Survival Association group who came in this morning said, "You can't live on hope." Farmers have lived on hope for too long. What they need to live on at the moment is an immediate solution to the problem, which is, if I may mix my metaphors, the straw that is breaking the camel's back, this crushing burden of interest rates.

It is with great pleasure that I suggest to the government that it do what the New Democratic Party has proposed. I made a representation to the Ontario Federation --

Mr. Watson: Here comes the credit.

Mr. MacDonald: Just be silent because you will be silenced by the facts, though they never really silence you.

I made a three-point proposal to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and all three points are included in the OFA report to which presumably the government will now respond. Let me draw them to your attention, Mr. Speaker. The first proposal in terms of the emergency crisis situation at the moment -- forget the long-term solutions, which we will have to deal with in the new year -- was that there should be an advanced reporting system for farmers facing an impending financial crisis, which would bring all parties together in order to seek means for avoiding the collapse of yet another family farm.

What was the response of the task force report that is now before the government, and of which the OFA said, "That is what we want you to act on"? The response was this. I quote from page 50 of that report: "The province could well consider the establishment of an advance reporting system which would require advance notification before any foreclosure or similar action was taken by the lending institution." Those are almost the words of the NDP brief presented to the task force.

The reason for and importance of that is, if one does not have some mechanism established to be able to cope with the plight the farmer faces when he suddenly gets word from the bank that it is going to foreclose or will have a forced sale or something of that nature, that is going to create vigilantes out there. Because a farmer who has been on the land and has built up a minor equity in his land and in his operation over a period of 10 or 15 years, a red-blooded Canadian, is not going to stand idly by.

I think it is criminally irresponsible for a government to ignore this kind of situation and force farmers to make the kind of comments they are making, which they repeated this morning, that they have not got their guns yet but if somebody comes to take their farms away from them they will take the guns out. The Minister of Agriculture and Food is responsible for that, lounging in his seat and having done nothing.

Let me move now to the second point we made to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture task force.

Mr. Speaker: I would like to appeal to all the visitors in the galleries. They must be quiet.

Mr. MacDonald: The second proposal we made to the task force is that there should be a moratorium for one year on any mortgage a farmer has so that he can renew the mortgage at the same interest rate for a period of one year and hope in that period the situation will become manageable. Interestingly enough, the task force once again has endorsed that.

Some people say, "Who is going to carry the burden?" More than half of the mortgages out there are in the hands of the banks. If I can borrow from the words of Mr. MacEachen -- I do not normally borrow from Mr. MacEachen; his words are not worth borrowing from -- he said, "Maybe it is time the banks should bleed a little." If they have profits well past the billion dollar mark and they have made them from the farmers and others from whom they have been extracting these high interest rates for such a length of time, then perhaps they can carry some of the burden in terms of a one-year moratorium.

12:50 p.m.

It is not a new idea. It is an idea which has been implemented for home owners by the NDP government in Saskatchewan in an act last week. It is an idea that was implemented by all governments, including Tory governments, back in the 1930s depression. It is an idea which is now not only being put forward by us, but it has been adopted by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture task force at its convention. They said to the government: "This is the bottom line. This is what we want you to respond to and anything less is not good enough." That is the second point.

The third point is that traditionally, as far as farmers are concerned, the banks have not been an adequate source of credit. Back in the 1920s, the banks would not lend to farmers at all. When we had a farmer-labour government in this province, the farmer-Premier established the Province of Ontario Savings Office to collect the savings of the people and make them available to the agricultural community because the banks would not.

I acknowledge the banks have come to lending to farmers. Farm operations involve an intensive capital requirement. Therefore, they became a possible customer of the banks. As the member for Huron-Middlesex has said, "The banks will even say to farmers, 'Borrow more; here is more for you.'" They have gone into it because it is a very profitable business. Traditionally, and in the long run, they have not met farm needs, they have not met the needs of small businessmen, they have not met the needs of home owners.

It is time that we in Ontario -- as they have done in Alberta, that good, solid Tory province, through the Alberta Treasury Branches -- established a new bank which will collect the savings of the people of this province and make them available to those particular groups in society that the banks have not served adequately down through the years.

That is a long-term solution. We are not going to get it now. The Tories, as soon as they got back into power after the farmer-labour government of 1919-23, took away that power to make loans from the provincial savings banks.

What is the member prattling about anyway?

Mr. Eaton: I said that was the United Farmers of Ontario, that wasn't the labour government.

Mr. MacDonald: It was a farmer-labour government.

Mr. Philip: Why are you so functionally illiterate about Ontario history?

Mr. Speaker: Carry on please.

Mr. MacDonald: Exactly.

However, Mr. Speaker, I will acknowledge that is a long-term solution. There is an immediate one which has been spoken to by the member for Huron-Middlesex. I join forces with him, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Farmers' Survival Association that came in this morning. The farm community cannot, making a return of two to three per cent on investment, any longer be expected to borrow money at 20 per cent.

The OFA has said the maximum should be 12 per cent and anything beyond that should be picked up by the government by way of a subsidy. The survival group said this morning it should be down to nine or 10 per cent, in that range.

The callousness of this government is what really shocks me. When they were looking for votes before the last election they were willing to appropriate a piddling little amount of $25 million to subsidize interest rates to farmers. Because the program was so poorly administered or so poorly advertised -- or for whatever reason, I do not pretend to know the answer to it -- only one third of that money was taken up by the agricultural community, in spite of an obvious desperate need.

What did the government do? As soon as they got the votes, as soon as we had the reality of March 19, they ended the program, and the $16 million or $17 million that had not gone out in terms of subsidies was returned to Scrooge over there, the provincial Treasurer (Mr. F. S. Miller), who collects all the money.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food apparently had no influence to at least say in the cabinet: "Look, we have appropriated this money. Why can we not at least leave it and make it available to the farmers of this province?" As has been pointed out by the member for Huron-Middlesex already, in many other provinces, particularly Quebec, there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars which have gone to subsidize farm interest rates. Every province with one exception, namely Prince Edward Island, is providing subsidies for interest rates, and in Prince Edward Island they have grants instead of subsidies. That is every one except this government.

That is the third key point for which we think we have a long-term solution, but the short-term solution is that the government has to move and do something about the provision of these interest rates at a fair level; not to expand the farms at this moment -- I agree with that argument -- but for pure, simple survival.

One does not need to browbeat this issue for any great length of time, because either we are going to get a response from the government or we are not. Let me say in conclusion that I was at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture convention along with hundreds of Ontario farmers. It was reported in the media that the Treasurer said that before this session ends there is going to be an answer from the government.

If this session ends tomorrow and there is no answer from the government, if the member for Huron-Middlesex is correct that the whole proposal cannot get to the provincial Treasurer until Sunday of this week, the government is breaking yet another promise and is being criminally irresponsible, because in the words of Ron Jones, the unrest, the insurgence, the vigilantes and all of the frustration out on the agricultural front is the product of the government's inaction. The government should live up to its promise and let us have something, even though the minister only reads what somebody else has decided.

Mr. Riddell: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I did not want to mislead the House by saying the Treasurer was meeting with them this Sunday. I said it was my understanding that the action committee was meeting with the Treasurer last Sunday before he left for Ottawa. They were supposed to have met with him last Sunday. Then the minister in this House indicated he was going to be meeting with them yesterday, so I have to think that the recommendations have been completed and it is now up to the minister to make the statement in the House.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister wants to make a statement now? We are willing to forgo any other speakers if it is agreed to give him the opportunity.

Mr. Speaker: Do any other honourable members wish to participate in this debate?

Mr. Swart: Let's give him the opportunity.

Mr. Speaker: Order, order. Do any other honourable members wish to participate in this debate?

Mr. McKessock: I would defer to the minister.

Mr. Philip: Let's hear from the minister.

Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I think you are putting us in a position where the House -- at least on this side -- wants to hear the minister respond and is prepared to forgo any speakers. If you call it in this manner and the minister chooses not to speak, then the issue is dead. I would like to know if the minister intends to respond.

Mr. Speaker: I just remind all honourable members that when the minister replies, that will terminate the debate.

Mr. J. A. Reed: That's fine. We want to hear what he has to say.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, in response to the remarks by the member for Huron- Middlesex, I would suggest he has taken most of his remarks from remarks I have made respecting problems in the farm communities.

Mr. MacDonald: What is the solution? We know the problem.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I listened politely to you. I did not open my mouth to any of you, so now please give me a chance.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: I listened very attentively.


Mr. Speaker: Order. The Minister of Agriculture and Food has the floor. I would ask all other members to please contain themselves.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member mentioned high interest rates are a problem. He mentioned the high cost of production is a problem. These are statements I have made many times.

The member for York South tried to be political. He really did not represent the farm people.

Mr. Martel: It's not a political problem.

Mr. MacDonald: Your inaction is the most political thing.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: We are here to help the farming community, not to be political in any way, shape or form. Mr. Speaker, there is a problem out there with the high cost of interest.

Mr. MacDonald: Right.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: If they would just listen, Mr. Speaker --

Mr. Speaker: Carry on, please, Mr. Minister.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: There is a problem out there. We have good farm people up here, not the type of people the member is referring to. Good solid farm people whom we as farmers are very proud of. I as a farmer am very proud.

1 p.m.

I would enlarge on the remark made by the member for Huron-Middlesex that the price the farmer is receiving is far too small. We looked at the price of beef, 75 cents a pound, and the price of pork is in the same area. They need 50 per cent more. The member speaks of the narrow margin. There is no margin, they are in a loss position, every one of them. Every farmer, if they would look at the situation, is in a loss position --

Mr. Cooke: What is your solution?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: There is no easy solution. The member talks about interest subsidies.

Mr. MacDonald: Is there any solution?

Mr. Swart: Have you got any solution?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Just let me speak, please. I listened very attentively, I did not interfere with either of the members, but they do not want to hear the truth. The Liberals do, apparently.

Mr. Swart: We want the truth, not you.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Well, any of us can --

Mr. Speaker: I would direct the minister's attention to the clock.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The honourable member who just spoke stands up daily, criticizing the price of food in this province, criticizing what is being charged. That honourable member right over there, every member in this House has heard him.


Hon. Mr. Henderson: No apology --

Mr. Speaker: I would direct the minister's attention to the clock.

Mr. Swart: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: The minister has indicated to the House that somehow or other I have criticized the price farmers are getting. To set the record straight, I have never indicated anything other than that the farmers were not getting sufficient. I have risen to criticize the exploitation of the farmers --


Mr. Speaker: Order. The honourable member is out of order. That is not a point of privilege. I would direct the members' attention to the clock.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Could we not continue for a few minutes? I would really like to respond. I am sure the Liberals --

Mr. Speaker: I have to have the consent of the House. Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to the opposition for that consideration.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Mr. Minister, will you please continue.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will try to make my remarks as short as possible. I want to recognize, and I want all members of the House to realize, that interest subsidies alone will not correct the situation out there. The low price the farmers are getting, the cheap food the consumers of this province are enjoying, are problems we are faced with as farmers.

There has to be a 50 per cent increase in all the products of the farmers, these people up in the gallery surrounding us -- I have not looked up there, but I presume they are up there too -- are receiving. The people of this province have enjoyed a cheap supply of food for too many years. Maybe we, as farmers, are to blame. Maybe we are. Maybe we should have been more organized. Maybe we should have had supply quotas in pork and in beef as my federal colleague --

Mr. Swart: Federal income stabilization legislation.

Mr. Watson: Why don't you listen?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Just a minute, now, Mr. Speaker. Maybe we should have had all these things, but let us be honest, we have not had them. The member for Huron-Middlesex --

Mr. Philip: You can see what the farmers think of you. They are leaving.

Mr. Watson: Well, why don't you leave?

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The member for Huron-Middlesex has suggested that the milk producers are not in trouble. I recognize that. I have said that. But I have had milk producers come to tell me: "You are wrong, Lorne. I do have problems. My overhead is too much. I am having trouble surviving." So it has been the total farm community. The people up here today are not the big cash crop producers there are in the southwestern part of the province.

The cash crop farmers enjoyed a good income a year ago. That is what created some of the problems in the Grey-Bruce area where our beef and dairy farmers are.

Mr. MacDonald: Talk and no solution.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: The honourable members do not want the truth, but these people up here want the truth.

Mr. Swart: They want an answer from you too.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: A year ago, the cash crop producer received $4 a bushel for his corn and that meant a 50 per cent increase in the cost for the feed that people who were producing beef had to pay. This year, the cash crop farmer's income is down as well. The member from Essex who wanted to speak could have got up and told of the problem in his area. We recognize there is a genuine problem out there.

I want this House to know I have the report from the committee that was presented to me yesterday at noon. I do not have enough information to respond to that report standing here now. I do not deny I have it. It is a major report that addresses the complete Biggs report. I hope I can respond before this House adjourns.

Mr. MacDonald: Don't hope, give us the assurance.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: I have never stood in my place in this House and misrepresented anything. I have always faced the facts. I still say I hope to be able to respond to the report I received yesterday at noon signed by all four members of the committee. I hope to respond to it before this House adjourns.

I think the farmers out there in the province know full well I am much more aware than any member of that party of their problems and the environment in which they work, of the high cost of production and the low return. I just add there are several members of the Liberal Party. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I hope to be able to respond before this House adjourns.

Mr. Speaker: Shall the estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food be concurred in?

All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mr. Henderson: Mr. Speaker, I want the members to know I am going down now with the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) to speak to the audience on the front steps, if his offer is still available.

The House recessed at 1:08 p.m.