L018 - Wed 10 Jul 1985 / Mer 10 jul 1985
The House met at 2 p.m.
SOUTH AFRICAN WINES
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I have an important point of order to correct the record. You will recall that on Monday of this week I raised a question in the Legislative Assembly regarding the banning of South African wines in our liquor stores. Last evening we had a debate on the matter. Points of view were exchanged and I listened to that exchange attentively.
There is a report in the Globe and Mail that is inaccurate; however, unlike the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) I am not about to attack the newspaper. The inaccurate report says, "Ontario considers ban on South African wines."
The Speaker will recall the precise words from the government: "We are all opposed to what is happening in South Africa, but we do have other responsibilities and we are going to stand by them." It is clear the government has no intention of assisting the oppressed peoples of South Africa. Therefore, it is that statement from the government which should be reflected and not the inaccuracy caused by the minister misleading this very responsible newspaper, Canada's national newspaper.
Mr. Speaker: I believe the honourable member accused the minister of misleading --
Mr. Warner: I said the minister misled the newspaper. He did not mislead me. I knew from the outset he had no intention of assisting the people of South Africa.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS
Hon. Mr. Nixon: A question was asked of me last week in my capacity as Minister of Revenue having to do with an assessment ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board. In response, I said that if an appeal were to be considered, the announcement had to come before July 11. In those circumstances, I have the following statement.
I have studied the impact of the decision of the Ontario Municipal Board of June 26 concerning the assessment of 48 Russell Street in the city of Toronto, and I have considered whether an appeal would be appropriate. There is no question the case has far-reaching implications for the assessment of renovations and improvements across the province.
Discussion of this case has focused on the issue of whether home owners' attempts to repair and maintain their homes should result in an increase in assessment. I wish to make it clear that it is not now, nor has it ever been, the policy of the ministry to value repairs or maintenance to increase the assessment of the property. I am not therefore concerned with the Russell Street decision as it relates to repairs and maintenance. Consequently, the ministry will not appeal this aspect of the Ontario Municipal Board's decision.
The decision does, however, raise an important issue; namely, whether the assessment of property can remain unchanged, notwithstanding that substantial and significant renovations and improvements have been made to a home or other property over a period of time and have clearly increased the value of the property so its assessment is no longer equitable in relation to other properties in the vicinity.
I am advised that if the board's interpretation of section 63 and its application is correct, the result may be that severe inequities in the assessment system will result. Since the intent of the legislation is to treat all taxpayers consistently and with equity, this aspect of the decision is obviously of serious concern to all property owners and municipalities.
In addition, I have been informed that the Russell Street decision conflicts with previous decisions of the OMB on the valuation of renovations and improvements to the extent that it is questionable whether the Ministry of Revenue or home owners directly affected can understand clearly the procedure the board will use in valuing such changes.
Accordingly, my ministry has instructed counsel to launch an application for leave to appeal pending completion of a review by my ministry of the broader ramifications of this decision. Upon completion of this review, a decision will be made on whether to proceed with the appeal of that part of the decision.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Do both opposition parties have a copy of this statement?
Mr. Brandt: Yes; on time too.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I will read it when I find my copy of it then.
Mr. Brandt: Would you like to borrow mine?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Would the member like to read it?
On November 25 , 1980, the government of the day had an announcement for the members. Harry Parrott, then Minister of the Environment, said Ontario's need for a facility to treat liquid industrial waste was urgent and a site in South Cayuga had been chosen for those facilities.
He also said the Ontario Waste Management Corp. would be formed to develop and operate the facilities and those facilities would be exempted from the normal provisions of the Environmental Assessment Act. In 1980, Donald Chant, the renowned environmentalist chosen to head the Ontario Waste Management Corp., said he regretted the decision to exempt the project from full environmental assessment.
The corporation soon found the flood plains of South Cayuga were unsuitable for an industrial waste management facility and the site was abandoned. However, the government of the day did not retract its decision to avoid environmental assessment, substituting an ad hoc special hearing panel for public review of the proposed facilities. Members will be aware those facilities have not yet been built.
Since his appointment, Dr. Chant and the OWMC have taken the time to do it right, to take a thorough and comprehensive approach to planning and evaluation of all the options, every potential site in Ontario south of the 40th parallel. We are fortunate in that it leaves us in a position to right a long-standing wrong and dispel the cloud of South Cayuga, which still hovers over the OWMC's activities.
I am acting today to cancel the exemption from the Environmental Assessment Act arbitrarily imposed on the OWMC. Dr. Chant has advised me he agrees with and endorses my decision to require full environmental assessment for the OWMC proposals.
The thorough planning program the OWMC has under way will fit right into the environmental assessment process. At the same time, full environmental assessment will improve the quality of the approvals process for these facilities and ultimately the quality of the facilities themselves.
Environmental assessment will allow the OWMC proposals to benefit from the expertise in my ministry and in other government ministries, experienced people who routinely review and comment on other significant projects undergoing environmental assessment.
My ministry's environmental assessment staff and the Environmental Assessment Board are experienced in processing assessment documents and are in a better position to ensure an efficient yet thorough process of full public environmental review of the OWMC proposals. Obviously, they have had to do some work to catch up on what has already taken place, but I assure the House they are more than willing to do this and eager to take on the job.
In taking this decision, I mean no slight to the abilities and capabilities of the people appointed to the special hearing commission set up by the previous government. It is a simple fact that the environmental assessment branch in my ministry and the Environmental Assessment Board have established administrative structures and procedures and considerable experience in making them work. These are significant advantages over any special hearing panel, regardless of how good the people on it are.
In disbanding this special panel, I recognize the efforts the members have made to fulfil their responsibilities and I appreciate their conscientious approach to a difficult challenge.
In summary, I believe this decision at long last will put the OWMC on the right track and dispel some of the lingering effects of the South Cayuga proposal that have clouded the work Dr. Chant and the corporation are doing.
Ontario's showcase hazardous and liquid industrial waste treatment facilities are important. They deserve the best in planning and the best in public review, and both of these are available through the environmental assessment process.
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: Later this year the Ministry of Northern Affairs and Mines will introduce Dash-8 service to northwestern Ontario. The Ontario-built Dash-8 is a fully pressurized, short takeoff and landing intercity commuter aircraft that can fly 496 kilometres an hour at 7,600 metres. The wide-body aircraft seats 37 and features a flight attendant and in-flight services.
As the members are likely aware, the Dash-8 was introduced to the world when norOntair put its first Dash-8 into commercial service in northeastern Ontario late in 1984. Although the Ministry of Northern Affairs and Mines and the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission have already received some public input in the various localities serviced by norOntair, today I would like to announce to the members and the public a series of community meetings to be held prior to the introduction of the second Dash-8.
Consistent with the government's commitment to openness, we wish to consult with all interested parties before a decision is taken on the Dash-8/Twin Otter route structure in the northwest. The meetings, to be held in Atikokan, Fort Frances, Kenora, Dryden, Red Lake and Terrace Bay, will serve to obtain the views of the public on future norOntair services and routes in the northwest. Interested groups from other municipalities will also be invited to participate in these meetings.
The sessions will be led by a distinguished panel consisting of Jack Stokes of Schreiber, Peter Burns of Dryden and Dick Motlong of Sioux Narrows.
As a member of this House for 18 years, Mr. Stokes has had a long involvement with transportation issues in the north which he will bring to bear in his role as chairman of the panel. Mr. Stokes will be ably assisted by lawyer Peter Burns, who was a northwestern Ontario representative on the ONTC for seven years. Dick Motlong, a tourist outfitter who has held executive positions in a number of industrial organizations, recently took over from Mr. Burns as ONTC's representative for the northwest.
Together, these three have a considerable understanding of the issues affecting transportation in the northwest and sensitivity to the needs of northern residents.
The objective of these community meetings is to gather input on the service now being provided by norOntair and to seek views as to alterations and improvements and, most important, about the potential routing of the second Dash-8.
To facilitate discussion, a brief overview of the role of norOntair, its current service patterns and characteristics of the new aircraft will be provided before each session. It is hoped that any individuals, community groups or representatives of other interested parties will participate by presenting briefs. Further information on times and locations can be obtained from Bill Lees of the Ministry of Northern Affairs and Mines in Kenora, who will be acting as secretary for these meetings.
It is this government's intention to carry through the promise and responsibility to consult with the people of Ontario on decisions that will affect them. I am sure the members will agree that community meetings such as these are an excellent way to ensure that all parties have their say on this important transportation link in northwestern Ontario.
FORMER GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENTS
Mr. F. S. Miller: Can the Premier now explain what proof, indications and details he has of "political whim" having been the deciding factor in the $43-million extra grant given by our administration to the province's hospitals?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Most observers examining the behaviour of the member's government between May 2 and June 26 were not impressed in any regard with the flurry of activity, deathbed repentances and other things. What we have said, and say again, is that we are going to review all the commitments he made on behalf of the province. It is that simple.
Mr. F. S. Miller: The Premier did not answer my question, and I have a supplementary for him. I would have thought he would have done his homework. Can the Premier possibly explain how a one per cent increase in the budgets of all the hospitals in this province could have been favouritism or political whim?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am not here to ascribe motives to the member. He should be judged by his behaviour, by the things he did and by the spate of special payments. We are going to review them on their substance and merit. If one wants to speculate as to his motives then or now, or the motives of the member's colleague to the right, everyone is entitled to do that, just as he speculates on my motives any time he wants to.
Mr. F. S. Miller: The facts.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I know the facts, and the facts worry me; that is why we are reviewing them.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Does the Premier not realize that if no extra funding goes to the hospitals now, we are talking about layoffs of between 1,500 and 2,000 hospital workers in this province? Hundreds of hospital beds will be closed, resulting in a backup of elective surgery and people again being put at risk because of underfunding of our hospital system, thanks to the government that was in place. Is he going to follow the same system the previous government followed of underfunding our hospital system?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: We are going to look at this with a great deal of sensitivity. I am very mindful of the general points the member raises with respect to underfunding in a number of areas. We are aware of the government's behaviour last year and that the real legislative transfer turned out to be substantially less than one would have thought from looking at the numbers.
It is not our intention to renege on legal commitments, to put anyone's life in jeopardy, to underfund the hospitals or in any way to destroy the system of health care we have in this province. However, as I am sure the member is aware, there is a great deal of discretion when these things go out. We have to make sure it is in the appropriate places and applied to the appropriate needs. I can assure the member our review will in no way result in a lack of sensitivity or real commitment to the things we believe in.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Andrewes: The Premier speaks of discretion, care and fairness. I want to remind him that when this announcement was made, his members stood and applauded. They supported the increase of one per cent going to every hospital in this province. That is clear. Let him demonstrate to me where political whim was shown in that decision.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: It was everywhere demonstrated by that government in tatters, in disarray. Look at the political whim right now, Mr. Speaker. The opposition had two Health critics up at the same time. The Speaker called for order and they both got up to respond. They are displaying the same kind of disarray they have had since May 2.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: We are trying the best we can to repair the damage the former government wreaked on this province in the six weeks it had as it was going out. We are doing very well at correcting all that, and I appreciate their help.
Mr. Pope: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: That is not what Keith Davey and Jerry Grafstein told him to say.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. F. S. Miller: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. We had a very large and impressive group outside which he and I met, together with my critic and the Premier (Mr. Peterson). I just want to review a couple of agriculture matters with the minister. In the past -- and I want to quote this -- the minister has said, "The province will have to cover a portion of farmers' outstanding debts if they are to survive," and "The only salvation for many of the farmers is a write-off of some of their debt."
Does the minister still support a legislated debt write-off or debt assistance for the farmers?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: In answer to the question, the Leader of the Opposition should be well aware that the Ontario government has no jurisdiction over giving legislative authority --
Mr. Wiseman: Just give us a yes or no.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am sorry, but many members of the House do not want an answer, it appears. I will ask for a supplementary. Do members want an answer?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The Ontario government has no jurisdiction over giving legislative authority to any financial review board to write off, lower or set aside debts. However, a study group commissioned by the federal government, in joint sponsorship with the Ontario government, recommended establishing financial review boards with legislative authority to make a decision, if one was not forthcoming between lender and farmer when they were trying to negotiate some kind of arrangement.
I will be meeting with the federal Minister of Agriculture within the next two weeks and impressing on him the real need, in my estimation, for a financial review board with legislative authority either to set aside or write down debts.
Mr. Grossman: The minister is backing off.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: No, I am not at all. Will you people stop --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Stevenson: Since the minister is not going to go forward with the statement he made not too long ago, how then is he going to deal with farmers who cannot afford their principal payments, let alone eight per cent interest on whatever loans they may have outstanding?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: First, let me send across to the honourable member the phone number of John Wise in Ottawa. I would hope he would impress upon the federal minister the fact that the agriculture industry in this country is too important simply to ignore. That is exactly what the federal government is doing.
I intend to impress upon him the importance of the agriculture industry not only in this country but in this province. It will then be up to him to institute some kind of financial review board with legislative powers to see if debts can be set aside and written down. I will be there to support our farmers and to impress upon the minister the fact that he has a job to do.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: I know that after 42 years it is difficult, but I would remind the minister that he is now the minister. Rather than asking the members of the defeated opposition party to make representations to Ottawa, he himself should be making those representations. In addition to making representations, there are actions that can be taken.
The province has jurisdiction over property and civil rights. We do not have jurisdiction over banking, but we do have jurisdiction over property and civil rights. As a Legislature, we do have rights to exercise in this province with respect to protecting the family farm and protecting the property that belongs to individual property owners in this province.
Why does the minister hesitate to set up a debt review agency and a debt review board, which is something the province can do with respect to third-party arbitration, when it has the provincial jurisdiction?
Mr. Speaker: The question has been asked.
Mr. Rae: Why does the minister fear to act when it is something within provincial jurisdiction?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Might I reiterate that we could set up a debt review board, but we cannot set up a debt review board with legislative authority to set aside debt or write down debt, which is what the leader of the third party wants to have done. That is the prerogative of the federal government.
We do not have that legislative authority. We do have the legislative authority to impose a moratorium, but we have checked with the Saskatchewan program and we have not been convinced that placing a moratorium has done anything but prolong the inevitable. The lender under that program is not obligated to write down or set aside debt.
The interest continues to accrue, so what does the government accomplish by setting a moratorium? I want to go to Newfoundland within two weeks, meet the federal Minister of Agriculture and tell him he has an obligation as far as I am concerned to set up review boards with legislative authority to take action.
Mr. Stevenson: Clearly the minister has more positions than Carter has pills.
Since the minister has mentioned financial review boards in the new deal for Ontario farmers, which seems to be becoming the new spiel for Ontario farmers, is he intending to announce this week the continuation and support of the Grey-Bruce financial distress review board, as he stated in plank 22 of his program?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The recommendation from the Grey-Bruce study was very similar to the recommendation from the study group sponsored by the federal government, and that was calling for a review board. I do not know how many times I have to tell the member that this government is a law-abiding government; it simply cannot implement programs that are unconstitutional outside of its powers.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: As far as my positions are concerned, at least I am prepared to take positions, which the member's party did not do for the last 42 years.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would remind the members that this is question and answer period. Please restrain yourselves.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Rae: It would appear that the bureaucratic body-snatchers have been at work in the ministry. The answers we are getting from the minister are shockingly similar to the ones we used to get from the Tories.
Let me propose this to the minister.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I cannot hear a thing. Did you ask a question?
Mr. Rae: Not yet, but I am getting there.
In the minister's opinion, what would be wrong with this proposal? What would be wrong with the government taking the initiative to set up a debt review agency, a debt review board, within the powers it has and we have as a Legislature? He could then go the federal Minister of Agriculture and say: "This is what we are prepared to do. What are you prepared to do?" At least Ontario would have taken the initial step rather than standing back and screaming at Ottawa, which has never been a very effective way to proceed.
Surely it would be better if we proceeded on the basis of what we can do in this province with respect to the three points that have been raised by the farmers, namely, debt review, long-term credit and price stabilization.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I have no objection to setting up a debt review board, while once again reiterating that it would not have any legislative authority to make a decision.
I also want to remind the leader of the third party that there are a number of forums now to which farmers can go in order to have disputes mediated. There are forums within our own assistance programs available at present. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture has an advisory committee, which I understand is working very hard with farmers and creditors to try to mediate disputes. The honourable member should not get the idea that we do not have those forums in existence at present.
If it would make a major impact on my counterpart in Ottawa, I have no objection to seeing a debt review board established to work with lenders and farmers to see if disputes can be mediated, but again I must remind the member that that board would not have legislative authority unless it was granted to it by the federal government.
Mr. Rae: This is the most severe case of limousine amnesia we have yet seen in the House. We do not need to have a Liberal Minister of Agriculture and Food in this House defending Tory programs and saying farmers can go back under the Tory program he was criticizing a short two weeks ago. I do not understand that.
Mr. Rae: Thanks very much. I appreciate that. No hard feelings.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I presume you want to continue by saying, "I wish to ask the minister."
Mr. Rae: You took the words right out of my mouth, Mr. Speaker.
The government was elected to do certain things with respect to agriculture. The commitment is supposed to be there very clearly with respect to the three points that have been raised consistently. The first of these is short-term assistance for farmers to deal with the emergency situation. There are evictions happening every day of the week, and the minister knows that, not only to farmers who plan badly but to people who are facing a real economic crunch. It has been a long time.
The minister has to deal with that problem and also with the longer-term credit problem and the price-support problem I discussed with him yesterday. Can he give us a clearer statement this week while the House is in session of precisely what steps he is going to take within the jurisdiction of Ontario to deal with those issues?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: We will be introducing, we hope by the end of this month, an interest subsidy program on existing debt. We trust that program will help a great deal those farmers who are in the greatest need. That program will definitely be coming in. We will live up to that commitment.
We want to make sure we have the best program possible to meet the needs of the farmers. Unlike the former government, which was famous for introducing Band-Aid programs with no long-term thinking whatsoever, we hope to introduce more meaningful programs.
Mr. Villeneuve: The Minister of Agriculture and Food well knows that many of the boards and review situations that are in place were put there by the former government. As the minister has just mentioned, they exist. What will he do to improve on those boards?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The member knows very little about how active some of these boards are at the present time in sitting down with the lender and the farmer and in trying to mediate disputes. All the boards in existence at the present time are very busy. I do not know how one can expect them to be any busier than they are.
As I indicated, I will definitely talk over with my colleagues and my staff the establishment of a board -- a financial review board or a debt review board, or whatever name we want to give to it. If it requires more manpower to sit down and try to mediate disputes, then I believe we can meet that requirement.
Mr. Ramsay: I am glad we have a law-abiding government, but what we want is a lawmaking government when it comes to farmers. When we are talking about a moratorium and debt review agencies, does the minister not know that what we are looking for is breathing space, that this is what the farmer wants? The farmer knows the clock keeps ticking and the interest keeps piling up. He wants to pay back his interest and his principal, but we need some breathing space in the farm financial package. Will the minister please reconsider bringing in some sort of program so we do not lose farmers every day of the year, as we are doing right now?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The subsidy program is ready to be presented to cabinet. I think the member will see that program in effect by the end of the month. That is what we are striving for. Again, I have to tell the member we can make laws, but we also have to abide by the laws that are made outside of our jurisdiction.
I do not know how many times I have to tell members that I cannot pass legislation in this House establishing financial review boards with legislative authority to make a decision. It is unconstitutional. It is the prerogative of the federal government, in the jurisdiction of the federal government. I shall be impressing upon my counterpart that such a financial review board be considered and put in place by him, as was recommended by the study group he commissioned to look into this farm income program.
PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS
Mr. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Revenue with respect to the statement he made today. Once he said "I am advised," and then he said "I have been informed," with respect to the impact of the decision. He says he is advised that the result of the decision of the Ontario Municipal Board "may be that severe inequities in the assessment system will result."
I hope the minister will agree that severe inequities in the assessment system exist today. As the minister said just a couple of days ago, the way in which the rules have been interpreted up until now has been an active discouragement to people to improve the value of their homes and to improve their homes. The issue is on what basis should that revaluation, that reassessment, be made; should it be done on market value or should it not?
Is it the position of the government of Ontario that the reassessment of improved properties should be done on the basis of market value assessment, even when, as is the case in the city of Toronto, all other assessments are not done on the basis of market value?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I want to begin by agreeing with the first indication from the leader of the third party that assessment is certainly not up to the standards we would expect, and we want to improve it. As a member of the opposition, I repeatedly said so and was among those most critical of assessment policy. I would not say that I am delighted, but I am extremely interested to be the minister now responsible. I hope we can do something to respond to the inadequacies that I, in another capacity, pointed out publicly in this House on many occasions.
Assessment in the city of Toronto is seriously out of date. There is some indication that special assessment advantages to veterans of the First World War still apply to properties as they are assessed here. It is also true that the market value assessment concept has not been accepted in the city, and there is some truth to the criticism that the ministry came into market value assessment by the back door.
I have been very concerned about the Ontario Municipal Board's ruling, the subject of the question and my statement today. I believe it is necessary for me to review the state of the act and its regulations at present. I said we were putting in a notice of appeal and would not continue with the appeal until I had been satisfied by my review that it was necessary. Indications are that we may not proceed with the appeal.
I am also concerned that another review, after the many that have taken place in the past, is something less than what anyone is looking for. I recall Willis Blair, former mayor of East York, present chairman of the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario, undertaking a thorough-going review on market value assessments that led absolutely nowhere. The concept brought into this House by Darcy McKeough in 1969-70, when he centralized the assessment and said they were going to proceed to put assessment on a fair and equitable base across the province and then return it to the municipalities, has been somewhat disappointing. If I were in opposition I would say it has been an abject failure.
My review will be as thorough-going as I can make it. We will not proceed with the appeal if there are changes in the assessment practice or amendments that we can make to bring about the equity that we all seek.
Mr. Rae: If, as I hope, the government decides not to proceed with the appeal, would the minister consider taking measures to declare a moratorium with respect to renovations since 1981, indicating that there will not be a reassessment of a home in which repairs or renovations have been made until such time as the owner-occupier sells the home? That would be a clear message to many people who have improved their homes, tried to do something to improve the quality of their own lives and are then faced with a major reassessment of their homes.
Why not send out a very different message from the government of Ontario, that the property tax system will not be used as a means of punishing people who decide to improve the quality of their lives and homes.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We must be aware that the Assessment Act applies to all property, industrial and commercial, as well as private dwellings. We must also be aware that a good many of the older homes in Toronto have been marvellously improved. You need only drive up and down the streets of some of the older sections to see this very fine improvement indeed.
There is a possibility some inequity will result, on the basis of taxation, if the value of those properties is so substantially improved that the taxes payable, compared to their neighbours, are not commensurate with those improvements.
I cannot make the undertaking that is requested by the leader of the third party at this time, but I simply refer to the fact that we are going to examine it in the next few weeks and months and I hope we will be in the House with amendments to the statute in the fall.
Mr. Dean: In view of this decision, will the minister give some kind of undertaking that, in the course of the review he has said he would do, he will look carefully at the effect the whole assessment picture has in the city of Toronto and in Metro Toronto, so that people who have in good faith entered into renovations that are necessary for their enjoyment and the improvement of their houses are not handicapped by immediately being struck in this way? The minister should look at some kind of amendment to the regulations.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I appreciate the honourable member's comments and we will undertake to include that in the review.
Mr. Reville: The minister mentioned on July 4 that he was going to release the metropolitan assessment study, and this follows from his statement. I wish he had been prepared to close the back door today. If there are changes as a result of the metropolitan assessment study now released by the government, will the minister undertake to assure the House there will be major improvements to the property tax credit system so those home owners will be able to afford to stay in their houses? It is important to remember we have not had improvements to that system for many years.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Again, that is an interesting alternative the review ought to include.
Mr. Stevenson: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As he will well know, the hog farmers of Ontario are being hammered by United States countervailing action. In two weeks, he will represent Ontario at the agricultural ministers' conference in Newfoundland and countervailing tariffs will no doubt be discussed. What types of possible government assistance programs are not subject to countervailing?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I am not convinced there are many products that would not be subject to countervailing if we decided to subsidize, particularly nonsupply management commodities in this province. That is why it is most important that we get a tripartite stabilization program in effect on a national basis, which we believe would not be considered to be countervailable by the United States. Failing a tripartite program, if we have to implement a bipartite program in Ontario, we do believe it would be considered countervailable.
Mr. Ramsay: How long is the minister going to wait for the provincial ministers of agriculture to come to some agreement on tripartite stabilization before he will implement bipartite stabilization in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: We have a program in the wings now. If we cannot convince the federal minister and the provinces involved that we need a tripartite program and that they can implement it right away, then I will be proposing before cabinet a bipartite program that has already been budgeted. We are ready to go ahead. However, we first have to convince the minister that tripartite is the program that is needed. I believe a bipartite provincial program of any kind is going to be considered countervailable, and we do not want that.
Mr. Ramsay: When the minister made the announcement today in front of the Legislature to the farmers of Ontario, he said it would go only to viable operations. When the minister announces his farm financial package, I hope in the coming days, who is going to decide who is a viable farmer when the whole ship of farmers is now sinking in this province and there are maybe only 10 per cent existing today who really have viable operations?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The farmers, in applying for the program, will be submitting a farm plan. I believe we have people with the necessary expertise who will be looking at these farm plans and making a determination as to whether the farmers applying for the program have a viable operation.
Mr. Ramsay: Will the minister make sure the plan that is brought in is not something to bail out the banks when it should be bailing out the farmers?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The subsidy will be going directly to the farmers and not to the banks to bail them out.
Mr. Stevenson: The supposed new deal for Ontario farmers would indicate that the program would be available to virtually all farmers in Ontario. Is that the case as the minister now expresses it?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: There are some farmers in this province, such as the member for Durham-York (Mr. Stevenson), who would go home at night and look over their farming operations and say: "I do not need to take advantage of any government program. I am doing quite all right, Mr. Minister, do not worry about me."
Do not be so foolish as to think that people like the member for Durham-York either expect or would expect to get a handout from the government. We are going to apply our program where the need is the greatest.
Mr. Gillies: My question is to the Minister of Industry and Trade, hoping against hope, I might add, that he knows more about the industrial situation in Ontario than the Premier (Mr. Peterson) knows about hospital funding.
Mr. Gillies: I thought it was a nice touch.
Mr. Speaker: Was that your question?
Mr. Gillies: My question to the minister arises out of --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I wonder if the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) could contain himself and allow the member for Brantford to ask a question.
Mr. Gillies: I thank you, Mr. Speaker, I am always having trouble with that member.
Mr. Speaker: I am sure you will ask the question immediately.
Mr. Gillies: My question to the minister arises out of the announcement this morning by the receiver for White Farm Manufacturing Canada Ltd., that the technology and the assets of that company are to be acquired immediately by Massey-Ferguson Ltd., thereby closing the Brantford plant and leaving 600 workers without jobs.
The commitment of our former government to keeping White Farm a viable operation in Brantford in this province was clear and a matter of record. What is the minister's commitment to White Farm equipment? Is he committed to loan agreements to keep that company operating or did this fall victim to his leader's so-called review of programs?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: That is kind of a hard one, is it not? The former government pretty well controlled this issue up until about a week ago. The member is asking me a question on something that is of major concern, and has been not only for himself and our government but also to the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon).
The former government went into those negotiations and offered the $7 million towards that plant. I guess that did not work. As the member knows, the receiver and the other company accepted the offer by Massey-Ferguson Ltd. We have received those details as of this morning. We are very upset about it.
Mr. Grossman: Terrific.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: Is not the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick upset about it too?
Mr. Grossman: Yes we are, but --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: The former government had it for months and did not do anything about it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gillies: I am sure it will be of great satisfaction to 600 workers in my riding to know that the minister is concerned. I know what we did about White Farm. I want to know what he did about White Farm. Since the minister took office he has not opened his mouth once about White Farm.
Now that the operation will be wound down and the assets taken over by Massey-Ferguson, what concrete plans does the minister have to ensure that the farmers who own White Farm equipment will have an uninterrupted supply of parts and service for their equipment? Further, what will the government be doing to ensure that every worker displaced by this shutdown will be retrained and helped to get back into the labour force?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: First of all, might I say that the White Farm technology will stay in Canada and White Farm dealers and customers will continue to receive parts and services. So that part will be looked after.
I have talked with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) about this and made him acquainted with the details of it. Both his ministry and mine, and this government, will be looking very carefully to see what we can do to make sure those people who are displaced are given every chance and to help them as best we can.
Again, I would go back to the fact that the Conservatives had this in their hands for months and did not really come up with a solution.
Mr. Grossman: We offered them money. What did you do?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Pope: You just let it go.
Mr. Grossman: You waited for the receiver to call.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The purpose of question period is to try to allow as many members as possible to ask questions.
Mr. Morin-Strom: If I were the member for Brantford, I would be embarrassed to ask a question on this particular issue.
Miss Stephenson: Go sit over there.
Mr. Grossman: At least we ask questions.
Mr. Epp: Why is the member blushing?
Mr. Speaker: Order. Without any preamble, do you have a supplementary?
Mr. Morin-Strom: Can the minister indicate if he will take action to see that the operating assets of White Farm continue as an operating entity and that the workers have their jobs protected?
Hon. Mr. O'Neil: I would certainly thank the member for his question. Again, I would reiterate that we are pleased to see the company is being kept in Canadian hands. We will do everything we possibly can to help those workers who are being displaced. I can assure the member of that.
Mr. Gillies: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege: I would ask you to consider whether my privileges have been infringed upon by the honourable member in as much as the rather idiotic preamble to his question I think ascribed an attitude to me that was quite uncalled for.
Mr. Speaker: Order. That is certainly a point of view.
Mr. Speaker: The Minister of Health has an answer to a question previously asked, I am not sure by whom.
Hon. Mr. Elston: There were actually two questions asked in my absence yesterday. One was asked by the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) with respect to Essex Nursing Home. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) undertook that we would provide a speedy answer, and I would like to do that at this time.
Mr. Martel: Four minutes.
Hon. Mr. Elston: Does the member want me to give it or not?
As a result of the question, contact was made with Essex Nursing Home. There have been problems with respect to the implementation of those charges. My ministry has been in contact, and those charges will not be implemented. In addition, I have asked that the matter receive fuller investigation. Something further will be coming about with respect to that matter at a later date.
Mr. Foulds: I have a question for the Minister of Labour. What steps is the minister going to take to ensure that meaningful negotiations take place in the first-contract dispute between Kresge and the 16 workers, 15 of them women, of Local 409 of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in Thunder Bay?
For example, is the minister aware that Kresge has not changed its offer since February, that the average wage is $4.50 an hour, that a woman with 30 years' experience in the store receives a pension of $46 a month and that the management rights clause gives Kresge sole discretion over firings, layoffs, promotions, transfers and working hours?
What will the minister do to ensure these people get a fair settlement of their dispute after being on strike for more than 11 weeks?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am not aware of the status of the negotiations in that dispute. I will endeavour to look into it and get back to the member tomorrow in question period on the status of the discussions.
I think the member knows the situation with Kresge in Thunder Bay gives some indication as to why this government is preparing first contract arbitration legislation, which we hope to have as quickly as possible. I want to take a short period of time to review a number of options, and I am sure the member is aware of them. I hope to have the legislation as soon as the House resumes later this fall.
Mr. Foulds: Will the minister give a commitment today that if he is unable to bring in that first-contract legislation by the end of this week and is not able to bring it in until the fall, and if first-contract disputes such as the one between the 16 workers and a multinational, Kresge, are not settled, the legislation he brings in will be retroactive and will take into account the current first-contract disputes? In the meantime, if one of the parties requests it, will he move to appoint a first-contract arbitrator in this dispute?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I would like to discuss with my officials whether there would be any reasonable possibility of retroactivity in the legislation. I know the member will be aware that retroactivity more often than not is frowned upon.
I share the member's concern about the specifics of this dispute and the inability of those workers to obtain a first-contract settlement. I will take a look at the situation and report back to him tomorrow.
Mr. McKessock: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Surpluses are part of our agricultural problems. When the minister is meeting with the federal minister, the Honourable John Wise, some time shortly, will he point out to him that when he increased the beef quotas coming from the European Community he only compounded our problem here in Canada?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Briefly, I will be making that message loud and clear.
Mr. McKessock: When the minister is telling him that, will he also point out that even though the European Community threatens to impose countervailing tariffs on other imports from Canada, it is unfair for the red meat sector of this country to bear that burden?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Once again we return to the problem we are plagued with. Mulroney and Reagan seem to be going along with free trade. The Americans feel the European Community has stolen too many of their export markets and they are endeavouring to get those markets back. There is no question we are caught in the middle.
I will definitely be talking to the Minister of Agriculture in Ottawa and telling him that free trade has to be given second thoughts and that we are the main losers if we go ahead with the ill-conceived free trade policy of the federal government and the American government.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Andrewes: I want to remind the minister that it was under the previous federal administration that the rules were put in place under which the current negotiations have been carried out. I want to set aside any partisan comments in my question to the minister and simply ask him what mechanism he is willing to provide for Ontario producers of all commodities to sit down and collectively discuss the problems of trade with all the branches of the federal government so we can get to the very root and heart of some of these problems before they become international issues.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: When we have this meeting in two weeks, we will be trying to set up meetings whereby the provincial ministers and the provincial farm organizations can get together with the federal minister and his staff and, it is hoped, iron out some of the real problems facing us. Our meeting in two weeks will be followed up very shortly, I hope, by meetings to try to come to some agreement on the very problems to which the member is alluding.
Mr. Stevenson: I have another question to the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Since the minister had no input into and no comments about the spills bill on behalf of the farming community, I wonder what the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) has told him about the impact of this bill on farmers. Maybe he is just telling the minister now.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: I was well aware of the impact when we discussed the spills bill in committee some years ago. The minister said in his statement that an advisory panel would be established to listen to those people who feel they could well be aggrieved by the absolute liability section of the bill. I encourage the member to inform all those farmers and farm organizations to make a presentation to that advisory panel. When the regulations are established, the member must realize there are certain ways to cope with the problem. Interjections.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I do not think the members want to hear the answer.
Mr. Stevenson: I wonder whether the minister has been in contact with any of the smaller rural insurance companies to see if they are ready to cover absolute liability on spills for the farmers. Those are the insurance companies that normally write agricultural coverage.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Yes, my colleagues and I are consulting widely on the subject. I do not believe there will not be some kind of insurance coverage if, indeed, the regulations --
Hon. Mr. Bradley: Are the members opposite opposed to the bill? That is the question.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: They are opposed to the bill.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment concerning the issue of --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Warner: They are unruly. Throw them out.
Mr. Speaker: I do not need anybody's advice, thanks. Please control yourselves. The question period will soon be over. There are only six minutes left. I am sure there are lots of other members who want to ask questions.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. On June 28, the Supreme Court of Ontario ruled on the question of advance funding for interveners. Despite what I am sure were the very persuasive arguments made in that case by one representative of the interveners, now the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), the coup ruled that the funding was not legal and said in its decision: "It is for the Legislature, in clear language, to so empower a board or tribunal should it be found desirable as a matter of public policy."
What is the position of the minister's government with respect to that direction of the court? Assuming he is in favour of following that direction, when might we expect to see some legislation?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The member is correct in assuming this government is interested in providing intervener funding. In a wide number of cases, particularly as they affect the environment, ministry staff and members of the cabinet are currently looking at a number of options that could be put in place for intervener funding.
We recognize it is very difficult for people who have to make representations, particularly when there is an environmental assessment, to make representations in the best technical sense and with the greatest deal of expertise. For that reason, we are reviewing this at present, and the member can be assured this government is interested in providing that kind of funding through the right mechanism.
Mrs. Grier: While I welcome the statement by the minister earlier today with respect to the Ontario Waste Management Corp., I point out to him that the OWMC had guaranteed intervener funding in advance. In view of the minister's action in subjecting decisions of that corporation to the Environmental Assessment Act, can he give us some assurance that action will be taken to make sure the possibility of advance intervener funding is still available to participants in that matter?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: We want to see that funding provided. As I understand it, the mechanism is that a third party, one that is not part of the government or of the OWMC, will actually administer that funding. That is the path we will be following, with a third parry providing it. The member can be assured funding will be provided in this case. On that aspect of it I am persuaded we can follow the previous direction.
Mr. Brandt: As the minister is aware, the supplementary intervener funding provided through the OWMC and for the special hearings on polychlorinated biphenyls and the new technology involved there was a commitment made by the previous government with respect to the whole concept or philosophy of intervener funding.
Is the minister prepared today to give an undertaking, not only that he will commit himself to intervener funding to those two undertakings, namely, the OWMC and the special hearings with respect to PCBs, but also that he will follow through on the intention of the previous government, which was to expand on the entire concept of intervener funding --
Mr. Speaker: That is a very good question.
Mr. Brandt: -- to provide this kind of money for additional groups in our society that want to make interventions before his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I know the member for Sarnia was a genuine proponent of intervener funding. I very much regret he was unable to make more progress than he did make with his colleagues in the government in getting that through the cabinet.
I was pleased to see intervener funding in the two cases that have been mentioned. The former minister may be assured that I, as Minister of the Environment, will be promoting that kind of intervener funding on a much wider basis than was the case in the past.
I sympathize with the fact that the member for Sarnia did not have the kind of support I think he deserved and should have had in that government in promoting that concept.
Mr. Bernier: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Affairs and Mines. First, I want to congratulate him on his appointment and to wish him well as the only government member from northern Ontario taking on very onerous responsibilities. I want to remind the government that there is a saying in northern Ontario --
Mr. Speaker: Would you ask your question, please. Time has nearly expired.
Mr. Bernier: I would like to ask the minister if, in view of his off-the-cuff comment that he might not accept the second Dash-8 aircraft from de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., that the setting up of this hearing committee will guarantee to the people of northern Ontario and particularly those in northwestern Ontario, that he will change his mind and accept that aircraft, which is built in this province?
Hon. Mr. Fontaine: I do not know whether I said that, but one thing I said was that if nobody is going to take the Dash-8 route, I will take it off. If we are going to spend money on a Dash-8 to fly in the northwest, we need passengers on the Dash-8. That is what I meant.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr. Warner: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I wish to file notice of my dissatisfaction with the answer to a question I raised earlier with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Kwinter).
Mr. Speaker: I am sure the member will do that in the proper manner. He is very much aware of that.
Hon. Mr. Elston: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I wonder if I might have the consent of the House to revert to statements so I can provide an answer to a question that was asked by a colleague yesterday for which I was unable to provide an answer earlier. It is very brief indeed, but I did not want to interrupt the question period.
Mr. Speaker: Do I have the agreement of the members of the House?
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE
Hon. Mr. Elston: In short, a question was asked by the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) with respect to some difficulties about moving a patient between two hospitals in northern Ontario. I can advise the House now, unfortunately in the member's absence, that my ministry is inquiring into how the circumstances occurred. There appears to have been some confusion between the two hospitals as to who was responsible. I understand it was the responsibility of the hospital that received the patient.
The ministry is also issuing more detailed new guidelines with respect to moving patients between hospitals, and we hope the confusion can be removed in the future. I suspect that should help to deal with the problem raised by the member for Algoma.
Mr. Offer: I have a petition signed by 11 members of the Ontario Teachers' Federation with respect to Bill 148.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that Mr. Guindon be substituted for Mr. Pope on the standing committee on social development.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: The motion is in response to this morning's Globe and Mail.
Mr. Grossman: I might point out that the decision regarding this change was necessitated by personal arrangements of the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope) and had nothing whatever to do with the comments in this morning's Globe and Mail.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
LOI SUR L'EXECUTION FORCEE D'ORDONNANCES ALIMENTAIRES ET DE GARDE D'ENFANTS
Hon. Mr. Scott moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Conway, first reading of the French version of Bill 14, Loi concernant l'exécution forcée d'ordonnances alimentaires et de garde d'enfants.
Motion agreed to.
LOI SUR LE DROIT DE LA FAMILLE
Hon. Mr. Scott moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Conway, first reading of the French version of Bill 1, Loi révisant la loi portant réforme du droit de la famille, and that Bill 1 be reprinted in bilingual form.
Motion agreed to.
PETERBOROUGH CIVIC HOSPITAL ACT
Mr. Turner moved, seconded by Mr. Wiseman, first reading of Bill Pr20, An Act respecting the Peterborough Civic Hospital.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF HAMILTON ACT
Mr. Charlton moved, seconded by Mr. Mackenzie, first reading of Bill Pr4, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.
Motion agreed to.
CITY OF HAMILTON ACT
Mr. Charlton moved, seconded by Mr. Mackenzie, first reading of Bill Pr34, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton.
Motion agreed to.
CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION ASSOCIATION ACT
Mr. Shymko moved, seconded by Mr. Runciman, first reading of Bill Pr16, An Act respecting the Canadian National Exhibition Association.
Motion agreed to.
HISTORIC VEHICLE SOCIETY OF ONTARIO ACT
Mr. Mancini moved, seconded by Mr. G. I. Miller, first reading of Bill Pr2, An Act respecting the Historic Vehicle Society of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 6.
Reading dispensed with [see Votes and Proceedings].
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, you will notice that both myself and the clerks are being very careful not to attempt to read the motion, which is an extremely lengthy one. It actually establishes the committee system for this session of the Legislature and we have attempted, with the much-appreciated co-operation of the clerks at the table, the House leaders and the leaders of all three parties, to prepare a motion that would establish the committee system at least until the end of the year.
The committees to be established are the regular ones, plus an additional number of select committees for purposes that are referred to in the motion or which will receive terms of reference when the House returns in the fall.
I want to say a word or two about the motion itself, particularly with reference to the procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions motion, which has within its instructions to report to the House its observations and opinions on the operation of the standing orders of the House and additional matters the House would refer to it from time to time.
When that committee is in session, I think we should be aware that its primary responsibility is to consider the operation of the standing orders. In my opinion, that is in order to be considered at any time. In a further motion, we are also asking that committee to undertake a consideration of methods of appointments to such bodies as are in the committee's terms of reference, that is, agencies, boards and commissions. That is a special reference, but in my opinion the committee should in no way consider itself restricted or impeded from a general review of the standing orders.
In this motion, the standing committee on regulations and private bills has received a stronger reference to review private bills as they are sent to it after first reading of the House. In years gone by there was always a separate private bills committee, which was like a small legislature in itself. Often some real arguments occurred there, particularly nonpartisan ones, as various municipalities and other corporate bodies referred their needs for private legislation.
It used to be considered one of the most important and interesting committees here. I am glad to see we are centralizing the reference to private bills, at least to some extent, in part 3 of the motion.
Part 7 refers to the standing committee on the Ombudsman. In essence this is a departure, since that committee in the past has been a select committee. Since it is appointed for each session of the Legislature and has continuing responsibilities, it was agreed among the three parties that we could change its status to that of a standing committee. This is in conformance with the recommendation of the committee itself in its most recent report.
In part 8 there is a matter which I hope can be corrected without offering an amendment. It is quite a serious error in one sense. In the third line, on the establishment of the select committee on economic affairs, it reads that its duties are to examine and report to the government. Of course, the House is establishing the committee and it can report only to the House. If you will permit me, Mr. Speaker, I would consider that not a misprint but a misstatement somewhere along the line. There was never any intention on the part of any of the three parties that participated in the establishing of these terms of reference that the report be to the government.
I should say something else about the terms of reference for this select committee, which are rather lengthy. The government must accept responsibility for the main body of that verbiage, but we also appreciate the participation of the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) and the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Morin-Strom) who vetted the terms of reference and made substantial additions.
I will not comment on my own views about the length of the terms other than to say that normally the select committees operate quite well with more general terms. In this instance, if they fulfil all these various instructions, they may be in session from now until well into the next decade.
My hope is the House will have the benefit of their recommendations on the free trade matter, as set out in the terms of reference, in a relatively short time. This issue is going to become increasingly important as some of the other provinces and the government of Canada move in such a way that its importance has a greater effect on the economy of the province and our ability to move towards higher levels of employment.
I do not think there is anything else I want to say about the motion, other than to say that it lays out a substantial body of committee work during the summer session. There may be additional changes which we might be able to make in a rather informal way or by amendment, if that is your judgement, Mr. Speaker. I can assure you this is entered into with as much negotiation and agreement among the three parties as is possible. In most instances the requirements of the spokespersons for each party have been fully implemented.
Mr. Martel: I have a small matter. With respect to item 7, the resolution concerning the standing committee on procedural affairs, having to do with the standing orders. Could we mention the magic letters "TV" with respect to that committee so it can start its work? All of us indicated that should proceed, and it is not in there. It might make it easier for the committee chairman --
Hon. Mr. Nixon: That is under 7. It does not include TV, but that is where we might introduce the two letters.
Mr. Martel: Yes, the magic letters.
I was asked by my leader to raise with the minister the matter of the select committee on energy. I would ask the government House leader if he could clear that up, not today necessarily, but before we leave on Friday.
Mr. Breaugh: I know the government House Leader nodded wisely, but I do not think Hansard picks it up when he nods wisely about televising the proceedings of the Legislature.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, if I may, Mr. Speaker: I meant to indicate that we are dealing with government notice of motion 6 right now. Government notice of motion 7, which we will proceed with in a moment, actually gives the assignments for this summer. The standing committee on procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions is referred to there. If we want to add a phrase such as "and TV," we should do it under the next motion.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved resolution 7.
Reading dispensed with [see Votes and Proceedings].
Hon. Mr. Nixon: This motion establishes the responsibilities for the committees between now and the return of the House, which as yet has not been established but it will probably be in October.
This is an instance where both of the matters raised by the members from the New Democratic Party might be referred to.
"Standing committee on procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions, to consider methods of appointments to such bodies as in the committee's terms of reference."
I hope I have made it clear in my previous remarks that I consider this committee has, whenever it meets, the responsibility to deal with the operation of the standing orders, but that could be included, since I think you will recall, Mr. Speaker, that this committee has worked tirelessly over the last two years reviewing possible changes to our standing orders. They have given the House at least three full reports, which were concurred in, perhaps not in every respect, by almost every member of the House.
I think its implementation was held up by the fixation in the minds of the previous government's members that they were not prepared to accept any changes in the rules unless the problem of the bell-ringing syndrome was alleviated or solved. By that I mean the custom in certain other Houses to ring the bells an unconscionably long time as a parliamentary practice.
Miss Stephenson: There are rules in this House.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I know that. Fortunately, the principal spokesman for the official opposition now is assuring me that she and her colleagues would never do such a thing.
Miss Stephenson: Infantile.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Even though she says it is infantile, and I agree with her, it was started by the Conservatives in the House of Commons when they rang the blooming bells for 16 days without a stop.
I believe we may reach an accommodation on the bells. Even if we do not, we would hope, with the conduct of our affairs by the new administration, such a final solution as using ringing of the bells as a parliamentary weapon would never be required. I would hope we would be able to accept the recommendations under the rules without any problem.
I would, however, like the newly-established procedural affairs committee, if it so decides, to review the recommendations that have come in the three reports to see that they are up to date. This would not, in my view, entail a lengthy period of discussion. The committee could simply go over the reports and put them together in one report, which I think we could deal with in short order when we return in the fall.
It was also suggested the committee refer to TV. I am told, and I should have known myself, this matter is going to be on the agenda of the Board of Internal Economy meeting on Monday. If the committee wants to deal with that, I see nothing wrong with it, but it seems to me the commitment to move expeditiously and economically to bring an electronic Hansard-type of television system in here has already been made. The agreement has been reached.
It seems to me that if the Board of Internal Economy at an early meeting a few days from now gave the instruction to the staff to go ahead, they could then provide the procedural affairs committee with the results of their findings so there would be no problem. The members of the House, through that committee or even through the members' services committee if that was considered appropriate, would be fully informed as to our intentions.
I can assure the House the board will not go ahead with this program without the concurrence of members that the money we are spending is appropriate and that the process and facilities we would purchase and install would fit the needs as seen by members of all parties.
The other matter raised by the House leader for the third party had to do with the select committee on energy, which is often referred to as the select committee on energy (Hydro). It is certainly expected to operate in a somewhat similar manner to the way in which the former Hydro committee operated, especially during the minority government days. I think it was named energy rather than Hydro because matters pertaining to natural gas and perhaps other forms of energy should be in the terms of reference.
The terms of reference have not been agreed upon at this point. There is a feeling among some beleaguered House leaders that if an additional committee were to meet between now and October it would produce a load on our hard-working members that would be almost unbearable. However, we have a very efficient and effective whip and I think if the committee had to meet, there is no doubt all parties would be properly fully and effectively represented. I would like it to stay as it is. It may be that some further negotiation would result in an additional motion later in the week that might be more satisfactory for all concerned.
Mr. Speaker: I know the House leader was referring to the previous motion. We are on resolution 7 and I am sure those things can be worked out. However, in case you wanted to amend this, would you want to have further discussions amongst the House leaders? No? Just continue.
Mr. Breaugh: Very briefly, I am in support of the government motion. I do want it clear and on the record, in regard to the standing committee on procedural affairs, that the matter of an electronic Hansard -- at least certain aspects of it -- is properly before that committee during the summer session. I want it clear that the matter of certain rule changes to the standing orders are properly on the agenda, and that certain references which have been made to the structure, form and function of the committee system around here are also on the agenda. In my view, all of that is normally part of that committee's work. In addition, the matter of considering methods of appointments to agencies is before the committee.
There is another point I would like to get on the record today so it is clear. As has been noted, we have done several reports on rules, committees, changes to the standing orders and electronic Hansard. I do not think we need motions to put those reports before the committee, but it would be helpful to us, if no objection is raised, if we were able to consider committee reports that have already been tabled in the Legislature. There are a number of them. I do not want to go back through that committee and reinvent the wheel. We have already studied a number of those matters. Essentially, in my view, it would be a matter of going through committee reports and resolutions that have been already tabled in the Legislature and perhaps doing some sorting or adjusting. That would certainly expedite the work of the committee during the summer.
With those provisos, as long as it is understood the matter of an electronic Hansard is properly before the committee and the matter of a review of the standing orders and the committee system is also on that committee's agenda, we are quite happy to do that.
I should point out to other members who may be interested in this committee's work that a review of certain agencies has already been scheduled for this summer period. In other words, the regular review of agencies has been allotted, invitations have been sent and staff reports have been done, so that work is on the committee's agenda as well. As long as people understand that, I think we could take the motion as it is now written, since most of those other matters are normal business before the committee. As long as that understanding is clear, I am quite content with the motion as is.
Mr. Grossman: I would like to respond for a moment to the comments of the government House leader in reflecting upon the standing committee on procedural affairs and its deliberations on the subject matter of bell ringing and other devices made famous in this House by the Ontario Liberal Party. The Conservative Party is as committed to legislative reform as anyone else in this House. Our members on that committee are determined to see that happen at as early a date as possible.
However, I would provide this caution to the government House leader in case his expectations go beyond realism. We have taken his leader's opening statement in this House at face value. When he says there shall be no walls or barriers, we believe that rule applies to the opposition's right to express its point of view in a variety of ways from time to time when the need arises.
Therefore, while perhaps more order and sense can be brought to the procedures, he should not propose or perhaps expect that some of the particular mechanisms that are essential to the reduction and elimination of barriers and the protection of parliamentary democracy, protected in this House by the single party that is really providing opposition, are about to disappear.
Mr. Martel: I am provoked to respond. If anyone has watched the rules of parliamentary procedure bastardized, the people doing it have been the Conservatives in Manitoba who would not come in for a vote. In Ottawa, I believe they tied up the House for 19 days and would not come in. They just sat there and allowed the bells to ring.
If one makes violating the rules an art, the Conservatives have specialized in it. The Conservatives, maybe not the member but his party, both in Manitoba and in the federal House, have made a mockery of the right to rule and no one here has ever attempted that. My friends across the way occasionally have used the bells.
As we tried to get that rule sorted out, it is interesting that the famous Rotenberg rule came to the fore. If that rule had been applied, I suppose one could have tied up things by the rule the government favoured indefinitely, month in and month out. Over the years, some of us on this side of the House have learned something about the rules. The old government, in its new found role, will have an opportunity to use those rules in the near future.
On occasion we have used the rules. I guess it was with Bill 179 that we used the rules for about 80 days when we got to the introductory clause of the wage and price control bill. When one has rules, they apply both ways. When government wants to come down heavy, the opposition can use the rules in existence to tie the place up. It is one of the things that one hopes will make a government come to its senses. I hope with this government we will never have to use that sort of rule.
Mr. Villeneuve: You have an agreement.
Mr. Martel: We have an agreement. We probably got more out of that agreement just in trappings, let us say, in two weeks than we got out of the Tories in 10 years.
Mr. Speaker: Will the honourable member direct his remarks to the chair?
Mr. Martel: If the members want to talk about things like that, I have 18 years of experience of doing it around here. We have the rules. My friend knows that we could have had a lot of rules changed in the past two years if we had been willing to give up the one principle to which we all adhere, which is one cannot be constrained.
There was a rule that allowed the government to do whatever it wanted, and that was closure.
I tell the former Minister of Education, the Tories rewrote the rules just by numbers games and votes in the House. They brought in a time allocation motion that is nowhere in our rules and they violated the rules with impunity. They laughed about it because they had the numbers to do it. I hope he gets up and challenges me. The former minister is about to jump up. That rule was rewritten in this Legislature without any discussion. I hope there is a Tory who will get up and challenge me. They simply took 72 votes and said: "So what? If there is no rule, we will write one because we can vote it in." That is how much they thought of the parliamentary process.
Mr. Wiseman: The member breaks rules.
Mr. Martel: They knew how to break the rules. They knew how to write rules simply by the numbers game. So when we get a little lecture from the new House leader --
Mr. Wiseman: When did the member start following the rules?
Mr. Martel: I have forgotten more about the rules than he will ever know.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Wiseman: The member always breaks them. He is the greatest rule-breaker here.
Mr. Martel: No. I --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the honourable member disregard the interjections.
Mr. Martel: Well, he is bothering me.
Mr. Speaker: Interjections bother all of us.
Mr. Martel: In any event, we have some rule changes that would have come about, I guess two years ago, if it had not been for time. They are important rules. I think they deal with things such as sensible hours of sitting.
I learned only last week from my friend the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) that the reason they did not want to eliminate night sittings, if members would like to know, was they were afraid we out-of-town boys might get in trouble-morals. For all this time, it is 1985, we have continued night sittings because some of the out-of-town members just might get in trouble. What a lot of malarkey. The rules need to be changed to bring them into the 1980s, and I will sit
Hon. Mr. Nixon: You are too old to get into trouble.
Mr. Martel: You are right. I cannot even do that any more.
Miss Stephenson: The member has gotten into more trouble than anyone else since I have been sitting here.
Mr. Martel: Well, I --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: -- play with the rules; I know how to manipulate them and stay within them though, I do not have to break them. We are going to change the rules, the committee has it and I hope by the time we come back this fall we will be more enlightened than we are when we leave with respect to the rules and the way this place will operate.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. House leader, do you have any further comments?
Mr. Grossman: May I speak?
Mr. Speaker: I believe the honourable member spoke once on the resolution.
Mr. Grossman: Oh, it is the same motion.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I wonder if I might ask the House to revert to motions so we can now put forward the names of the fortunate honourable members who will be serving on these committees.
Mr. Speaker: Do members of the House agree?
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that membership on the standing and select committees appointed today be as follows:
Select committee on economic affairs: Mr. D. R. Cooke, Chairman; Messrs. Bennett, Cordiano, Feraro, Knight, Mackenzie, McFadden, McGuigan, Morin-Strom, Miss Stephenson, and Mr. Taylor.
Select committee on health: Mr. Callahan, Chairman; Messrs. Elgie, Henderson, Mancini, Partington, Pierce, Pope, Reycraft and Ward.
Select committee on energy: Mr. Andrewes, Chairman; Messrs. Ashe, Charlton, Cureatz, Gordon, Mrs. Grier, Messrs. Haggerty, McGuigan, McLean, Sargent and Ward.
Select committee on the environment: Mr. Knight, Chairman; Mr. Brandt, Ms. Fish, Messrs. Gillies, Haggerty, Poirier, Sargent, Shymko and South.
Standing committee on procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions: Messrs. Bossy, Breaugh, Mancini, Mrs. Marland, Messrs. McCaffrey, McClellan, Morin, Newman, Sterling, Treleaven and Warner.
Standing committee on regulations and private bills: Mr. Bossy, Ms. Bryden, Messrs. Callahan, Cousens, Grande, McKessock, G. I. Miller, Offer, Pollock, Turner and Yakabuski.
Standing committee on the Ombudsman: Messrs. Baetz, Bossy, Hayes, Henderson, McNeil, Morin, Newman, Philip, Pierce, Sheppard, and Shymko.
Standing committee on general government: Messrs. Dean, Epp, Hennessy, McCague, McKessock, Poirier, Pouliot, Swart, Villeneuve, Ward and Wiseman;
Standing committee on resources development: Messrs. Barlow, Bernier, Elgie, Ferraro, Laughren, Martel, G. I. Miller, Ramsay, Sargent, South and K. R. Stevenson;
Standing committee on public accounts: Messrs. Cordiano, Epp, Eves, Gillies, Harris, Leluk, Philip, Polsinelli, Runciman, D. W. Smith and Wildman;
Standing committee on administration of justice: Messrs. Brandt, Callahan, D. R. Cooke, Ms. Fish, Ms. Gigantes, Messrs. Gregory, Knight, O'Connor, Partington, Polsinelli and Reville.
And, that the membership of the select committee on health and on the environment from the New Democratic Party will be named in a motion at a later date.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on public accounts be authorized to meet in the morning of Thursday, July 11, 1985.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on administration of justice be authorized to meet in the afternoon of Thursday, July 11, 1985.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on regulations and private bills be authorized to meet in the afternoon of Thursday, July 11, 1985.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on procedural affairs and agencies, boards and commissions be authorized to meet in the morning of Thursday, July 11, 1985.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on resources development be authorized to meet in the evening of Thursday, July 11, 1985.
Motion agreed to.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 30, An Act to amend the Education Act.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: By coincidence, I adjourned the debate last night at 10:30 p.m. I have a few more brief remarks.
I was referring to the historic importance of the bill. I was also recalling some of its antecedents, going back in my memory to 1936 when the then Liberal government, under Premier Mitchell Frederick Hepburn, had brought in a program by legislation to enable separate school boards to share in industrial and commercial assessment. Unfortunately, it was withdrawn because of the political pressures of the day.
In many respects, the idea of sharing the assessment is not seen as such a good one even now because of the complexities of such legislation and the requirements of our constitution.
I do recall, soon after being elected to this House in 1962, that the then Premier John Robarts brought in a program for making a good deal more public support available to the separate school system and was substantially supported by all three political parties, including his own.
The program was called the foundation tax plan. Essentially, it attempted to replace with additional grants the money the separate school system did not have available to it since the broad assessment of the communities -- that is, the part associated with industrial and commercial assessment -- was not available.
The grants to the separate schools, when compared to the grants for the public system, were very large indeed. There were those people who did not understand the extra money was voted by the Legislature to make up for the fact that the separate schools did not have access to the Roman Catholic share of local assessment.
The program worked quite well and was phased over a period of years so that the amount of grants to make up the difference in the dollars available for separate education compared to public education was gradually narrowed.
I remember Father Carl Matthews, who had been a sort of watchdog on this matter since I came here, or for the past 20 years anyway, used to issue a yearly report comparing the dollars available per student in the public system and in the separate system. We were quite proud of the fact that at one stage the dollars got quite close. That did not occur in grades 9 and 10, which were funded by order in council, but only at the elementary school level.
For students in the two grades normally considered to be in the secondary panel, the difference was maintained and did not drop because of foundation funding. I am very glad that under the provisions of Bill 30, the difference will be eliminated and that grades 9 and 10, as well as the other grades at the secondary level, will be funded on a fair and equitable basis with the other public system.
I do not want to spend much time referring to the events of 1971, since I described my impressions of them to the House on the final day of the outgoing Conservative regime. However, I do want to say that one of the reasons it is regrettable that separate school funding on an equitable basis did not go forward in 1971 is that the financial aspects, as well as the educational aspects, were quite different then.
We had a burgeoning student body and the school system, not only the Roman Catholic separate system but also the public system, was growing at a great rate. The problem was to find enough money to build new buildings to accommodate the large numbers of students coming into the system at that time.
It would have been much less dislocating for the community if we had not had to close schools because of declining enrolment and to reallocate schools built by public systems for separate school use, as we do now.
It is also true to say that although our budget is enormously larger now, there seems to be considerably less flexibility in the allocation of dollars. The revenues were much more buoyant in 1971. It was the last year, up until now, when there was a surplus in the consolidated revenue fund of the province, the last year when John Robarts was Premier, or Prime Minister as he called it. The surplus was $100 million.
I suppose the proof of what I am saying is that economic buoyancy and financial resiliency in the province could have absorbed the additional funding much more readily than it does now.
Most people feel the funding allocations announced by my colleague the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), and supported by the Treasurer of course, are substantial; but they are commitments that we on all sides are ready to make to achieve the equity in the system which we all desire and which forms the principle of the bill.
In completing my remarks, I have substantial regret that this action could not have been taken in 1971. A number of great leaders in the education and general communities at that time were leading the discussion. We hoped to bring all-party agreement to fruition.
In my opinion, Archbishop Pocock, recently deceased, was probably the leading light in that regard. I do not recall a gentleman of any religious faith or any public responsibility who was more knowledgeable and, more than that, who had a more gentle and sensitive approach to dealing with politicians on an important and sensitive subject.
We should also recognize the role played at that time by the now Archbishop Garnsworthy, who was part of a panel involving a number of non-Catholic churches and, I believe, the Jewish religion. That panel met and considered the implications of the extension of funding to the separate school system.
I was very glad to receive the panel's recommendations at the time because they bolstered the Liberal position, a position similar to the one taken by the New Democratic Party, that whatever our faith or creed, as knowledgeable citizens of this province and of Canada, we knew -- we did not accept, we knew -- that the rights of the Roman Catholic community were established in the Constitution and by the traditions of our nation and that they were not there to be taken away, they were there to be fulfilled properly.
I thought the positions taken by those leading clerics from a number of churches, including my own, the United Church of Canada, were extremely useful in moderating the otherwise somewhat immoderate reactions in the community.
That is not to say the United Church Observer, an important publication that rests in a specific room in our home, where it is readily available for reading on short notice, did not go head over heels in support of the then Premier William Davis, who discovered at the last minute that he was unalterably opposed to the extension of funding.
I remember the then Premier's four-coloured visage on the front cover of the Observer, even though the church had participated in this interfaith committee recommending moderation and acceptance across the board.
Even in the great United Church consistency, as it is sometimes in some political parties, it is not seen as something that should be a bugbear keeping one from taking the actions one wants to take. That is a little convoluted. I must read it in Hansard to see what I said.
Mr. Sterling: Does the member always believe the Observer?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Yes. I see the important spokesmen for my church have entered the debate now, although we have not heard from them recently. It is to be expected that they, along with their colleagues from the other religions who have a specific opinion in this important matter, may very well appear before the committee. It will be an interesting experience to hear what they have to say.
I may attend with those envelopes one gets to contribute to the church week by week and decide what I am going to do with them based on the official opinions stated by the church.
This is a matter of more importance than I am giving it at the moment. I think my mood last night was a little better and I stressed my feeling that this is a historic occasion and that I was proud to be associated not only with my colleagues the Minister of Education and the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) but also with members on all sides who I believe are living up to the commitment we made in the last election to support this. We feel on all sides it is right and correct.
Naturally, we are waiting with a great deal of interest for a speech from the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling), who has publicly separated his views on this matter from those of his party. I am sure his views are important in many respects.
I do sense, however, that some of the electricity has gone out of the issue with the presentation of a program that is going to satisfy the requirements that it be presented to the courts and that there will be no attempt whatsoever to interfere with a committee that is going to be readily accessible to the people of the province.
A commitment has been made by all members of this House, with the exception of one, as far as I know, that it should be proceeded with in an orderly way to achieve finally in this province, after more than a century, the kind of equity and justice in education that we all believe is long overdue and that we support with enthusiasm.
Mr. Sterling: First of all, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Education on assuming his portfolio. I can think of no better Liberal to take over this very important task, and I cannot think of a better man to handle this delicate issue.
I make a commitment to the minister that I will try to live by the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, which he quoted in his statement to introduce the bill. They are marvellous words; there is a marvellous challenge to them. The minister must appreciate that in my position, my task will be much more difficult than his in discharging and presenting myself to fall within those words.
There are two premises which I believe have to enter into this debate and into our decision as to what we do with Bill 30. I stated my philosophical position on June 10 in dealing with the education of our children in Ontario.
I said I believed in a society that would be tolerant and understanding of other members in that society and that the best time to teach that tolerance and understanding is during our childhood, in our formative years. I know of no better place to do that than within our school system.
I am not alone in my opinion. I do not believe in secular or parochial schools and the spread of that kind of educational institution in Ontario. I do not believe that is good for our children or our society.
I want to read a letter I received after I made my stance known:
"Yours is the first and only enlightened voice I have heard on the parochial school issue from the whole present provincial government. Thank you for your courage and honesty. Although I am a Roman Catholic, I believe a unified public school system is the only solution. We are moving to a more unified understanding of our oneness with all people and we should not be encouraging anything that will divide us."
Those words were written by a woman who does not live in my riding but who holds a very responsible position in her community. That is one premise I come from. Therefore, I cannot support anything that would extend what I think is not a good thing for our children.
The second premise is a matter that is largely misunderstood. I respect our legal, constitutional obligation of 1867 with respect to the separate school system. I have not yet received a straightforward answer from the former Minister of Education or from this Minister of Education, or from the Attorney General, on whether the provincial government has any legal obligation to fund the separate school system.
Taking my belief that we do not have a constitutional, legal obligation to fund schools to the end of high school, together with my basic problem with the philosophy of dividing children, I cannot support a piece of legislation that extends what I believe is no longer an obligation to the separate schools. I think we fulfilled that obligation. I will go on about that later.
It is important to outline the position I took before the voters of Carleton-Grenville during the recent election campaign. I stated my position during that campaign at the all-candidates television debate, at each all-candidates meeting and at each door where I was asked the question. I said I would not support the bill if it discriminated against any student or teacher on the basis of religion. Unfortunately, this bill does discriminate.
It is interesting to note that the New Democratic Party candidate in my riding stated outright opposition to this bill. He was supported in a financial way by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. If one wanted to place us in position, the New Democratic Party in my riding was more against this issue than I was.
Whether or not my objections about access for students and teachers goes to the heart of the bill is really the question of whether or not I can vote on it on second reading. I believe it does go to the heart of the bill; it goes to my major objection of dividing the children. Therefore, if I am offered the opportunity, I will stand tomorrow and vote against this piece of legislation.
I want to review the past process, and I will go into that shortly. I have some very general concerns about the expenditure of funds this will incur when put into place, although this is a minor matter and should not be considered a major one.
I want to quote as follows:
"Argument is frequently made as to the financial implications inherent in an extension of public support for private schools. There can be no doubt about the substantial costs and, implicit in such an assessment, there must be the realization that the standards and quality of education would inevitably suffer with their subsequent social implications as the resources of our taxpayers came to be increasingly strained."
To quote further from the same document: "If the government of Ontario were arbitrarily to decide to establish and maintain out of public funds a complete educational system determined by denominational and religious considerations, such a decision would fragment the present system beyond recognition and repair, and do so to the disadvantage of all those who have come to want for their children a public system free of denominational or sectarian character.
"To embark upon such a policy could not be, in reason or justice, limited to some faiths and denied to others. Nor could it in logic be limited to elementary and academic secondary systems alone. We would inevitably be obliged to proceed throughout all our educational institutions to fragment and divide both our young people and our resources from kindergarten through post-graduate university studies."
I quoted from the statement of the Honourable William Davis on August 31, 1971.
I believe some truth remains in those statements. We could go over what has happened with regard to bringing this bill into place. On June 12, 1984, as the press is well aware, a cabinet meeting was called at approximately 11 o'clock and there was a subsequent caucus meeting. I do not think it would be telling any secrets to say many of us were surprised at the subject matter of those particular meetings.
At that time, when we were presented with the problem, we thought the whole matter had been well thought out, that our constitutional and legal obligations had been resolved. The Minister of Education has reminded us in his statement that all members showed a rare unanimity when this particular matter was brought forward.
I would like also to remind him what he and his party said during the election about how undemocratic the process had been to date. Not only was the public perhaps concerned about their input, but I am sure -- I know I feel this way -- some of the MPPs feel they did not have adequate input into the issue before the decision was made. Since that time there has been no public process or debate. That was partly the fault of the Progressive Conservative government. I make no excuses for it.
During the election all three leaders avoided the issue like the plague. They would not talk about it, answer questions or debate the issue. We debated it in my riding, as I have told members before.
Since the election there have been few questions in this Legislature about the issue and the impact of going ahead. Indeed, this is our first opportunity to talk about this particular matter. I realize the difficulty of talking in the open because this issue is sensitive. However, I also feel the process did not evolve because we were all reluctant to talk about it during the past year and blame must be shared by all of us as a result.
What does the process promise in the present and future in order to rectify this situation? Our new government has set forward its program, and I congratulate it on coming forward with some decision. I also think referring a matter to the courts is correct. I am not sure yet whether they have asked the right question of the court. Perhaps a suspicion lingers from the Premier's (Mr. Peterson) response to my question yesterday, but I shall refer to that later. We are having second reading debate now and hearings will take place on the bill. Then there is the court hearing and, finally, third reading.
I would like the Minister of Education, perhaps in reply when he gets the opportunity, to tell me how the committee's debate is going to take place. If it decides to change some sections of the bill, will the Court of Appeal be dealing with the government's bill and will the Legislature then be dealing with another animal altogether?
I believe the final step of implementing the extension of funding by September 1 by order in council, not by a vote in this Legislature, will prejudice every member of this House in the future, regardless of what the hearings bring forth, regardless of what this Legislature finally says or wants to say on third reading and regardless of the outcome of the court hearings. Yet the Liberal Party complained about us making a mockery of the process.
The next issue I would like to talk about is our Constitution. I have heard the words "justice" and "equality" many times in this debate. I have seen those words used in letters I have received from supporters of the extension of separate school funding. I will always remember the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) telling me that justice is when you win. Many people have different feelings about what justice and equality really mean.
We now have a definition of "equality" in this country and this province. That definition is defined in the Charter of Rights, which says there shall be no discrimination, in particular based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. We have a definition of "equality" in this country. That definition means every individual and every group must be dealt with equally.
That is not what we are doing in this legislation. Bill 30 clearly discriminates. There are ways we can discriminate in this Legislature. The Constitution does provide ways to discriminate if we want to. Section 29 of the Charter of Rights says, "Nothing in this Charter abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by or under the Constitution of Canada in respect of denominational, separate or dissentient schools." So if we believe we have a constitutional legal obligation to fund separate schools to the end of grade 13, then we can discriminate.
I think many members of the public and of this Legislature believe we do have a constitutional, legal obligation to fund separate schools to the end of high school. Quite frankly, I hope the court resolution says that in spades. If it does, I have no problem. I will vote for this bill on third reading and have no problem at all. But if it does not say we have a constitutional, legal obligation to support separate schools to the end of high school, then we must treat every group the same. We cannot discriminate against other groups. I will stand here and fight against that.
Do other people think section 29 really covers the extension of separate school funding? I am not alone in thinking it does not. J. J. Robinette, who offered the Metropolitan Toronto School Board his opinion, said:
"Whichever form it takes, it would constitute discrimination in favour of Roman Catholic school supporters as against all other persons who are taxpayers, and therefore, under the Charter, his proposal" -- he is talking about Mr. Davis's proposal -- "would be invalid by virtue of section 52(1) of the Charter, which provides that the Constitution is the supreme law of Canada and a law that is inconsistent with the provisions is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect."
Mr. Robinette does not think section 29 will cover the discrimination in this bill.
May I also read once again from Premier Davis's statement in August 1971: "We do not believe the refusal" -- the refusal to provide extra school funding -- "to do so rescinds any constitutional right; nor does it offer any further limitation or condition to the voluntary decision of any parent or child to choose between secondary education in the public system or in the private school of their choice."
As I said before, I hope I am wrong, I hope the former Premier is wrong and I hope J.J. Robinette is wrong. I hope I can stand here on third reading and vote for this bill because we are constitutionally obliged to do so. In that way, I can deal with the other people who want to fractionalize our system in a different manner and I can refuse them, if I so choose.
Another possible way members of the Legislature can get around section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is that the court may decide it falls under section 1 of the Charter of Rights. I doubt that would happen, and Mr. Robinette apparently agrees with me on that matter.
Perhaps the third way is that which concerns me more than anything else, that is, that this government will come back here two years from now or maybe in two and a half or three or one and a half, when the Supreme Court of Canada finally determines this issue, and say: "We have already set up grades 11 and 12. We have already set up these schools. The court has said we cannot. We are discriminating against section 15(1) of the charter. We should opt out under section 33 of the charter." That is a direct admission that we would discriminate against one group or for one group in this Legislature, which I will not be part of.
In addition, section 33 would have to be renewed by a bill or a resolution of this House every five years, which is not a very solid base on which to build an education system.
I would like to read the words of the reference made by the Attorney General to the Court of Appeal. Members will have to excuse me for asking the Premier the question yesterday about whether he could refer it to the Supreme Court. I got another opinion from another Attorney General on that matter; so I guess even Attorneys General differ as lawyers differ from time to time.
The reference says, "Is Bill 30, An Act to amend the Education Act inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of Canada, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and, if so, in what particulars and in what respect?" It does not ask whether we are constitutionally obliged to fund separate schools at the secondary level. It does not ask that.
We are going to get back a decision, or we may get back a decision, which will say, "It is constitutional as long as you use section 33 and opt out of the Charter of Rights." I do not think that is the impression the public out there has or that many of the people in here have. At least that was not the impression I got from the Liberal back-bencher, the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan), when I heard him speak yesterday on this issue.
I do not know how many of the other members were under the impression that we have an obligation to fund to the end of secondary school. As I said before and as the former Premier said in 1971, I do not know how we can fund only one system or one group of individuals if we go beyond our constitutional obligation.
If we go beyond the deal we made when we put our country together, how can I say no to the Christian schools in Carleton-Grenville? How can I say no to the Jewish schools? How can I say no to all the other schools? I cannot say no. Without knowing the outcome at the Supreme Court of Canada as to whether we are obliged to do what we are doing, what we are considering is treading into that territory. We are taking one quantum leap beyond and admitting we are going beyond our constitutional obligation. Once we are beyond it, I do not know how one could say no to the other groups. I certainly will support their bid for funding at the same level and under the same conditions, if they will accept them.
It is odd when one reads the literature about this issue in other countries and in other provinces. They are going in one direction and we are going in exactly the opposite direction. Who is going forward and who is going backward? I do not understand it. I thought in a progressive society people moved towards the understanding of each other and the tolerance of others' views. That can only be learned by trusting each other and by putting each other together.
As I said in my opening remarks, I hope my approach to this debate and to this issue has lived within Sir Wilfrid Laurier's words, which the Minister of Education used in his statement. I have tried to approach this "not from the point of view of Roman Catholicism, not from the point of view of Protestantism, but from the point of view which can appeal to the consciences of all people irrespective of their particular faith...by all people who love justice, freedom and toleration."
I also must say to the minister we now have definitions of what "justice" means. "Justice" means our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If we go beyond that charter, we are going backwards in this province.
In conclusion, I believe we are definitely stepping beyond our constitutional obligations. I believe the steps pronounced by the Liberal government are prejudicing our future decisions in this Legislature regarding not only the extension of separate school funding but also funding to other private and parochial schools.
I believe all further matters, save for the public hearings and the court decision, should be delayed in order to be honest with the issue until we have a clear idea of where we stand with regard to the deal we made in 1867. I will honour that deal. Yesterday I asked the Premier whether he would honour the same deal.
I cannot vote and I will not vote tomorrow for a piece of legislation that opens the door to more division and segregation in our society. This is not adding two or three years to a second system of education; this piece of legislation goes far beyond that. I hope every member realizes it.
Thank you very much for letting me participate in this debate.
Mr. Foulds: I rise to support Bill 30. I do so with a feeling of full responsibility, considering the circumstances of my speech today, and those of the previous member, and considering the debate and the circumstances in which we find ourselves at present.
I do not think the decision taken by any member of this Legislature, whether to oppose or support this legislation, or support separate school funding, has been easily arrived at. It has not been easy for the political parties of this province, although their decisions were reached by much different routes.
I first want to pay some tribute to Donald MacDonald, leader of our party in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the discussion and debate was taking place about whether there should be an extension. I stress for the disappearing members of the press, the public and posterity, the words "extension of funding to the separate school system."
I want to pay tribute to Walter Pitman, who was then our education critic, as well as to their Liberal colleagues, Tim Reid, education critic, and the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon), who was then the Leader of the Liberal Party. During those days, as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk so aptly pointed out on two occasions in this session, there was not only a lot of debate but also the opportunity to reach an agreement among all three parties for full funding and to implement it, at least financially, in a way that was not seen as being so disruptive as it is at present.
I want to move on to the question of those who oppose. They do so because they say there has not been adequate debate. I admit debate has been stifled by the Conservative Party on this issue on two important occasions.
It was stifled in 1971, when there was the opportunity to reach a productive and fruitful all-party agreement, when the then Premier, Mr. William G. Davis, announced suddenly that his party would oppose extension of funding, hoping, he said in parentheses: "It would not become an election issue," and proceeding to make it just such an issue.
In the 1971 election, how much the issue had to do with the defeat of both opposition parties, and their education spokespeople at the time, I do not know precisely, but it had an effect.
I want to point out to those who want a full, free and capable debate on this issue that the manner of the announcement by the Premier in 1984 precluded such debate. Both opposition parties had an opportunity to respond for five minutes after the Premier made his sudden announcement, which has been detailed by the previous speaker. That announcement came as a shock and surprise to everybody in his caucus, and in the Legislature.
We thought there was going to be an announcement by the Premier of an extension to full funding to the end of grades nine and 10. That is what we assumed the announcement would be when, 10 minutes before the Premier made the announcement, we were advised that the statement would be made.
Let me just add another point and try not to be too partisan about this. After making the announcement, the Premier retreated to his bunker on the second floor of this building. He subsequently announced his retirement in October and, as I recall, came into this Legislature on only three occasions during the fall sitting. On one of those occasions we had to resort to the heinous practice of ringing the bells and withdrawing from the Legislature until the Premier agreed to come in and face questions. If we had to do that with every issue we wished to raise in the fall session of 1984, we would have held this Legislature up to ransom.
It is possible that the then two opposition parties, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, bear some responsibility for not raising more questions about the issue, but those of us who understand the parliamentary process, understand there was no other mechanism for raising the matter. There was no mechanism for instituting a debate.
It is my view, therefore, that we all now find ourselves with the collective responsibility of simply doing the best we can with an issue, an issue that we in our party have debated thoroughly since 1968. I think people in the Liberal Party have debated it thoroughly since 1968; and if people in the Conservative Party have failed to debate it over those times and those years, that is their responsibility.
I would hope those members in all parties who have reservations about the legislation will feel free to speak in this debate and will take the opportunity to express their opinions in the debate on second reading, because surely of all things in this Legislature we should not and cannot be afraid of, it is the free exchange of ideas, the free debate of those ideas. Although in my more cynical and sometimes frivolous moments I think a poet named L. A. Mackay, who wrote a poem called Frankie Went Down to the Corner, was accurate, and I adapt the wording slightly, "The Ontario Legislature is such a respectable place, / Thinking is no crime but it is still a disgrace."
If we could just set aside that particular little aphorism and try for once or twice in the history of a legislative session to actually exchange and debate ideas, it would be not only useful, but also it might be worth while in rehabilitating the reputation of the Legislature in this province, a reputation that has been severely damaged by the previous administration because so much of the previous administration's style was presidential rather than parliamentary in essence.
Let me also say that there have been members of my own party, both on the hustings and since, who have disagreed with full funding to the separate school system, and they have said so publicly as candidates in Carleton-Grenville and in Metropolitan Toronto ridings.
There are members of our caucus who have some reservations about full funding, and they will be expressing those in the debate. We have not stifled that debate, nor do we plan to. I want to point out that at our recent council meeting more than 95 per cent of the delegates, and these are democratically-selected, representative delegates from all over the province, from every riding and affiliated organization of our party in this province, voted in favour of full funding.
I want simply to outline, because I think it is worth reading into the record, if and when I can find it, the resolution that was passed originally at our convention in 1970. I think the wording of the resolution has about it the wording of tolerance, the wording of generosity and the wording of hard-headedness that such a tough topic needs. I read it in its entirety:
"New Democrats define the goals of education in terms of the equal opportunity for education of every individual child in Ontario. We have accepted the principle that a continuous education must be equally open to every child of this province. The existence of two public school systems is deeply imbedded in the Constitution and the history of this province."
If I might just as an aside say this: it is important that we understand that there are two publicly-funded and public parallel school systems in this province. If I may say to the absent member for Carleton-Grenville, they are imbedded not merely in the Constitution, because the Constitution is man-made, but they are also imbedded in the history of the province.
In a parliamentary democracy, the history of the province is as important as the Constitution, because history is also man-made. We have about us the ability not merely to change laws, not merely to affect history, but also, if necessary, if a Constitution has an injustice in it, to right that injustice. It is important to understand, if I may be provocative and rhetorical, that some of the most totalitarian regimes in the world have the finest written constitutions. I point to the Soviet Union as an example. Its constitution, as written, is one of the finest documents devised by man; the regime, as practised, is not.
If I may get back to reading the resolution: "The existence of two public school systems is deeply imbedded in the Constitution and the history of this province, but there are those who believe that a religious dimension is not the necessary complement to the full education of a full person. Roman Catholics insist that it is. They have backed their conviction with great self-sacrifice in sustaining a separate system of education. As Ontarians, we understand the history of our province. As socialists, we accept and must defend the principal diversity of our community. We would repudiate a situation which would effectually starve Roman Catholics into subservience of a majority view of secular education.
"The present situation," in 1970, as in 1985, "cries out for a solution. The public separate school system in Ontario suffers bitterly from the limitation of grants from grades 9 to 10 and their total absence from grades 11 to 13. The educational opportunities available to Catholic students are stunted. Their parents are subjected to what is effectively double taxation, the whole community suffers from this failure.
"The separate system of education in Ontario will not disappear. The fact is confirmed by more than a century of struggle. Furthermore, we state that continued existence and support is not in question here. Therefore, the separate public school system must be rendered able to provide full opportunities for its share of Ontario students, with a minimum cost in division and duplication, of the existing educational program.
"It is to this end that the New Democratic Party endorses the concept of sharing plan. We offer Ontario a way of doing justice to Catholic children without imposing large, extra costs and waste of duplication. We call for full grants for Catholic school children from kindergarten to grade 13 on the condition that separate school boards and public school boards join in planning shared facilities and services to meet the needs of all students in every community.
"In many parts of Ontario, programs of sharing are already in operation at the junior level. We know this co-operation can be extended in such areas as buildings, provision of special consultative services and student busing. Implementation of the concept of sharing promises justice to both the majority and the minority of our province."
The words of that resolution are as true today as they were in 1970. We reaffirmed that resolution at our 1984 convention and more recently at a provincial council meeting held in June, 1985.
There are only two arguments I have heard against extension of funding. One is the constitutional argument, about which I am not convinced. I do not pretend to be a constitutional expert and I wish the former member for Riverdale, Jim Renwick, were here to help us in this debate. I am not convinced of the constitutional argument and I will get to that in a moment.
The other argument used against funding separate school systems is just that: it is an argument against funding separate school systems, not an argument against the extension of funding to separate school systems. It is crucially important in understanding the history of this question in Ontario that we have two Protestant separate school boards in this province today, one of which is functional. What we have to understand is that in the 19th century, as education developed in Ontario, the first school established in an area was a public school and it was a public Protestant school or a public Catholic school based on the religion of the teachers.
Mr. Haggerty: And ten families.
Mr. Foulds: No; just hold on. If there were 10 ratepayers of a different persuasion in the district who wished to establish a separate school, they could do so and could select their teacher accordingly so it would be a separate Protestant or separate Catholic school. Those who do not understand that simple principle do not understand that embedded in the history of the province are two parallel school systems. If they do not understand that, they do not understand that their argument is against the funding of those systems to the end of grade 8.
Do those who argue against the extension because of its diversity, because of its supposed divisiveness, because we should have our children mingling together from a very early age on, have the courage to try to abolish the existing separate school system? I suggest they do not have that courage. They do not have that in view, although that is the essence of their argument.
Their argument is not against extension; it is against the existing school system. I say to them they cannot do away with, they cannot rip apart, they cannot demolish 140 years of history in this province. If we were starting from scratch there would be an entirely different debate taking place. But we are not starting from scratch. We are living with our history and our traditions. I do not want to see that history and those traditions smashed and broken down.
As mere legislators, we have to try to do the best we can in the historical circumstances. We find ourselves in historical circumstances where we must be true to the commitments made in the 1840s and at the time of Confederation, and to the commitment made by the Premier in 1984.
Those people who say debate has not taken place on this issue fail to understand that debate has taken place for 140 years. There was vigorous and full debate for three years between 1968 and 1971. There was vigorous and full debate between June 1984 and this moment.
It is only at this moment, unfortunately, that we are debating this issue in this Legislature, but every member of this Legislature who ran in the last provincial election -- and everybody here did run in the last election or would not otherwise be here -- knew there was active debate at the only level that really counts, that is the riding association level.
It may be that the three leaders tried to ignore the issue, but they were unable to do so. Everybody in my riding, and I am sure everybody in the ridings of the member for Erie (Mr. Haggerty) and the member for Carleton-Grenville, knew where all the candidates stood on the issue.
I do not know about other members of this Legislature, but I participated in about 15 all-candidates debates, some of them even elevated to the exalted status of being televised on the local channels, both community and commercial. Every time, all the candidates were asked where they stood on the separate school issue and every time most of us answered that question to the best of our ability.
The electors of this province knew whom they were electing in the last election when it came to this issue. It may not have been the only issue on which they decided their vote, but it was a contributing factor.
There has been debate in the press, on public platforms and during the course of the election. Now there is debate taking place here, and there will be continued debate in the Legislature. Although we may not have had as full, extensive or acrimonious debate as some would wish, we have had debate. As in all things, it has been imperfect.
I suspect the legislation is imperfect. I suspect our Constitution is imperfect. I suspect the debate we are having is imperfect and what we will wind up with will be imperfect. But somehow we will make it through. We will find a fairly satisfactory solution to a very difficult and troubled time and issue.
I also want to touch on some of the arguments the previous speaker brought out. He talked about our constitutional obligation and whether we are contravening that obligation. In a number of areas, Legislatures go beyond obligation and perform duties. They go beyond obligation and perform true acts of a Legislature, acts of generosity. In some cases, they even pass acts that have not been challenged in the courts but discriminate in subtle ways. Let me give an example.
In the field of labour relations in this province, there is an act called the Employment Standards Act. It is a very minimum piece of legislation that protects certain rights of working individuals. We also have an act that deals with collective bargaining for unionized groups of employees, those employees who have been fortunate enough to form together in a collective unit to carry out bargaining procedures with an employer.
Frankly, that collective bargaining act gives the second set of employees more rights than the first set of employees. In other words, unionized employees in this province have better contracts and somewhat more rights than nonunionized employees. No one has challenged the collective bargaining act of any Legislature in this country. Every Legislature of the country has a collective bargaining act of some kind as being unconstitutional.
In other words, it is an act of generosity; it goes beyond constitutional obligation.
With all due respect to Mr. Robinette, I suspect it is possible for both Parliament at the federal level and a Legislature at the provincial level -- and let us remember this Legislature predates our federal Parliament and has greater historical precedence and antecedents -- to go beyond obligation and pass legislation that is an act of generosity, that gives more than it may be obliged to.
I have no worry about the constitutional finding and the constitutional reference that this government has made, but I fail to see how an act of generosity -- I use the word "act" in both senses, that of a piece of legislation and that of an action -- and an act of fairness that goes beyond an act of obligation can be unconstitutional.
It is important that we as lawmakers are conscious that we pass not merely punitive laws, which has been the legal tradition of lawmaking in the British parliamentary tradition, but also acts of generosity and fairness. It is for that reason that I support this legislation; I believe it is an act that goes a long way to righting a historical wrong. I believe it is an act that will ensure the diversity of our multireligious and multicultural province. I believe it is an act that will improve the schooling of the children of this province.
That gets me to another point. A lot of the fear surrounding the debate on this piece of legislation has to do with the insecurity many people feel with regard to the public funding of our public secondary school system.
It is important to put on the record that the previous administration, since at least 1975 when I was still the Education critic for our party, has chronically underfunded the school system of this province. The Conservatives, and Mr. Davis in particular, took a great initiative in building and burgeoning the school system, and then, in operational terms, from 1975 and 1976 at least, started to systematically underfund it on its operational costs, having overbuilt it in a capital way previously.
One of the things surrounding this debate is the insecurity felt by people who both work in and send their children to the so-called public school system. They feel their system, to put it in blunt terms, will be deprived of dollars that will be diverted to the separate school system.
I urge the government with every ounce of persuasion I can muster not to continue that underfunding. The statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) tomorrow and the budget coming in the fall must begin to redress that problem. The Minister of Education understands that problem now. Somehow, somewhere, we must find the revenues to fund the educational system properly.
I throw out to the Minister of Education, as I threw out to the Treasurer in my debate on interim supply, a place where we can start to collect uncollected revenues. I refer to the $1.3 billion in uncollected corporate taxes in this province. I throw out the suggestion of getting that revenue.
It is not a radical or wild suggestion, but a suggestion of Eric Kierans, that we simply start charging the prime interest rate plus one per cent on that uncollected corporate tax and it will start rolling in very quickly indeed. The government could get substantial revenues by such a method.
I plead with this Legislature to pass the bill. I plead with those who disagree to stand up and say so, I hope with good argument and intelligence, but with no anger, hatred or heat. We can pass this legislation not only in good conscience, not only because we have made a commitment to pass it and not only because the previous Premier twice removed made an arbitrary commitment, but also because it is fair and good and rights an injustice.
Mr. Poirier: I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in favour of Bill 30 and to have as the Minister of Education the member for Renfrew North, who I think was the best-placed person to bring forward Bill 30 for the needs of the separate schools.
I am proud that my government is taking the initiative in bringing this forward, with the support of all three parties in this House. I think a great injustice is going to be corrected with this bill. If one looks back at the history of Canada, and of Ontario in particular, Bill 30 will set the road straight after more than 140 years of differences, opposition, school fights and global injustice.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms will give a new definition to the word "equality." Bill 30 respects that new definition. There will be equality between our two traditional systems, public and separate, and it is about time.
Je parle à titre de Franco-Ontarien, à titre de catholique. Si on regardait tous les volumes, tous les dossiers qui ont étudié l'histoire de l'Ontario, et de l'éducation en particulier, il y aurait suffisamment de matériel, soyez certain M. le Président, pour remplir une immense bibliothèque.
Je me réjouis parce que, comme Franco-ontarien et catholique, finalement nous allons l'avoir l'égalité, d'un bout à l'autre du système. Nous recherchons finalement d'avoir accès au même financement, pour que l'école secondaire catholique puisse avoir accès aux mêmes programmes, en qualité et en quantité, courtoisie de l'ensemble des contribuables de l'Ontario. Je crois que nous avons été assez pénalisés. Je me rappelle le cas de mon école secondaire, c'était à ce moment-là dans les années 60: parce que nous avions osé choisir une école secondaire catholique, nous étions dans l'impossibilité d'avoir autant de services que nos amis de l'école secondaire publique.
Je suis convaincu que la loi 30 est une loi juste envers tous et toutes à l'échelle de l'Ontario. Je suis convaincu que la justice sera rendue pour tous, pour que globalement, le système de l'éducation de l'Ontario représente cette dualité basée sur la religion, et cette dualité est basée sur la langue qui a fait de notre province une grande province.
Et je suis convaincu que dans ma circonscription de Prescott-Russell -- plus particulièrement dans les comtés unis de Prescott-Russell -- les deux conseils scolaires (le Conseil d'éducation de Prescott-Russell et le Conseil des écoles catholiques de Prescott-Russell) sauront s'entendre pour que les jeunes de Prescott-Russell, les parents, les contribuables, les enseignants et les enseignantes puissent trouver justice, dans une situation mutuellement acceptable pour les deux parties.
I was present to hear the objections of the member for Carleton-Grenville. I respect him in his opinion, and believe he is quite sincere in putting forward that position. However, I also heard the position of the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds). The question remains as to the mandate of a government in relation to constitutionality: Do we work at minimum output or maximum output?
Ontario is one of the greatest political entities of the world. We have more than many other entities in the world, but that does not mean we have to sit back and say we have enough. We always have to strive to make sure Ontario leads the way and sets an example of respect for justice across the board, especially in this historical context. I honestly believe Bill 30 will take into account the historical perspective of education in Ontario and correct the situation that was there in order to have real equality between the supporters of the public and the separate system in Ontario.
I am proud to work with this government. All three parties have recognized this and are working very hard to support this to see it through. It makes me proud to be an Ontarian, and that is why I want to say we are going to work at the maximum and Bill s30 is a reflection of that.
I am proud to serve in this Legislature to see this bill passed.
Mr. Guindon: I am pleased to speak on the issue of the extension of Catholic school funding in Ontario. The time has come to fund fully both our education systems to ensure that all the children of this province have access to an equal education.
The implementation of the extension of funding has created concerns and tensions in some areas of this province. No doubt the hearings on the legislation will do much to air these concerns and these tensions. We will all be listening carefully to the views expressed during these hearings. However, much can be accomplished if only the issues can be tackled with a spirit of co-operation leading the way. After all, Saskatchewan long has fully funded two separate systems of education and minimal problems have been encountered.
Right here in our own province, much has already been accomplished by the Commission for Planning and Implementing Change in the Governance and Administration of Secondary Education in Ontario. Of 40 boards submitting plans for implementation this fall, 38 have managed to reach agreements on implementation that have been approved by the commission.
I might point out that of the 38 approved plans, one in particular stands out as a model of co-operation. The Stormont Dundas and Glengarry County Board of Education and the Stormont Dundas and Glengarry Roman Catholic Separate School Board committed themselves to a co-operative approach to education long before the former Premier, Bill Davis, announced the government's intention to extend full funding on June 12, 1984.
Mr. T. R. Leger, director of the Stormont Dundas and Glengarry County Board of Education, explained why the boards decided to adopt the co-operative approach.
He said: "We need each other. Both systems have declined in enrolment to the point where neither alone can maintain its level of services. We had already started co-operating well before last June's decision on separate school funding. We share a mainframe computer, a print shop, a translation facility and have co-operated on curriculum development. This year we decided to amalgamate our learning materials centre, delivery services and stores. Since we share a computer, the bookkeeping is easy. The next item on our sharing agenda is transportation."
I would like to commend both boards for having approached this new challenge with good sense and an open mind. I hope all other participants involved in the extension of full funding of the Roman Catholic schools will adopt a similar approach, one that puts educational priorities and the welfare of our children above territorial claims.
Une chose est certaine, quelle que soit la question du financement du système catholique en Ontario, les Franco-Ontariens de cette province ont leurs propres inquiétudes. Il y a deux questions -- les plus importantes -- auxquelles on devra répondre avant que les Franco-Ontariens soient prêts à envoyer leurs enfants dans le réseau catholique, à savoir le financement et la juridiction. Les Franco-Ontariens ne veulent pas envoyer leurs enfants dans les écoles catholiques à moins que le financement et les services assurés ne soient équivalents à ceux actuellement disponibles aux meilleurs et que la collectivité ne continue à être consultée sur la gestion des écoles de langue française.
La bonne volonté et la participation de tous -- parents, instituteurs et conseils scolaires -- seront essentielles si on veut résoudre ces problèmes de façon que nous ayons un système d'éducation aussi bon et équitable que possible, dans les écoles publiques et dans les écoles catholiques séparées.
I realize some groups and individuals believe very strongly that there are considerable difficulties with the extension of full funding. There is no question it is a complex issue, and many problems will need to be addressed and resolved to the satisfaction of all parties concerned before it can be implemented.
That is why I look forward to participating in the public hearings that will be taking place before the standing committee on social development. These will not only serve to highlight the issues involved in the implementation of the funding, but will assist in providing effective resolutions.
We are committed to listening to all interested parties on this issue. I only hope that in the course of these discussions we will never lose sight of the fact that, above all, whatever the decisions we must reach may be, they must benefit all our children, whether they are enrolled in the public or separate school system.
Mr. Lupusella: I am pleased to rise and participate in this great debate pertaining to the principle of Bill 30. I consider this debate a historic one. I think some comments which have been made by certain members of this Legislature, such as the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Sterling), are without context.
Of course, we are politicians and we play our political games. Particularly if we go back to the root of the problem, the Conservative Party should be blamed, if we are going to place the debate within the right political perspective. We are not here to place the blame but to recognize the urgency of the situation and to put an end to an injustice which has been carried on for many years in Ontario.
That is what this political debate should have been all about instead of attacking practices and procedures, when at the root of the debate it is a political position we are against, or certain individuals who are against the extension of funding. We cannot play this political game because the time is right. The extension has to take place in Ontario because too many kids going to Roman Catholic separate schools have been bearing the burden of a decision or political unwillingness coming from the Conservative Party for the last 42 years and they have suffered.
On top of that, we have been faced with the political decision by the Conservatives about the issue of underfunding, when we know the request for the extension has been made every year. We must make sure today that Bill 30 becomes a reality.
I would like to inform the members of this Legislature that I never had a problem about the principle of Bill 30 because in 1975, when I was first elected in the great riding of Dovercourt, I ran on that issue. Again, I portrayed that issue in the election of 1977, the election of 1981 and the election of 1985. When this issue became public in 1985 and a debate was evolving a little, I did not have any problem with answering questions even at public all-candidates meetings.
The forces that were already getting together were using the approach of procedure and practice for the implementation when we know there are little groups that are opposing the principle of the extension, which is a reality. It does not make any sense to play political games with practice and procedure on the implementation of Bill 30.
The best way for us, as politicians, is to be frank with the public and express our political opinion to them, saying, "I oppose the principle of the bill and I do not have to use political rhetoric about the hiring process of teachers who might be unemployed or say the public did not have an opportunity of having input on the debate." What they are hiding behind procedure and practice is the principle of being against the extension.
I do not like that type of politics because the Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario for the last 42 years created the problem. I think the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) was right in saying this issue was supposed to be tackled in 1971 or even 20 years ago. We should not have to contest the issue of whether it is constitutional.
We know this province is spending in the range of $3 billion from the general revenue fund to fund the system, but we also know the same amount of money is coming from home owners through their property taxes to fund the system. If the Liberal Party would like to end an injustice in this province, it should remove the amount that is obtained from property taxes for the funding of the school system in Ontario. The total amount in the range of $6 billion should come from the general revenue fund.
I do not think anyone will scream about this issue any more in Ontario because everyone has the right to education in Ontario. Everyone is making contributions through income tax to the wellbeing of this government and the federal government; therefore, they should get the right service. I think the great unfairness of the system lies in the fact that home owners are more or less carrying the burden of subsidizing the educational system. They have the choice of directing a portion of their money that is paid through a form of property taxes either to the public school or the separate school.
I think it is unfair. Ontario under the Liberals will have an opportunity, apart from the principle of the implementation of Bill 30, to review the regressiveness of the property tax system in Ontario to make sure the portion of money that is allocated from property taxes, either to a public or separate school, comes from the general revenue fund in the range of $6 billion, I guess, and to fund both systems equally by eliminating the injustices that have been created by the Conservatives for the last 42 years.
It will end this unfair system, which was created by the Conservatives in Ontario. We have a spirit of reform in Ontario because the Liberals now have an opportunity to govern. I think the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Nixon) should take a look at this situation to end this type of discrimination against home owners in Ontario. The Tories have always eloquently said we have the best education system in the world, but in the meantime, they were quick to implement tax increases on the home owners in Ontario to subsidize the system. They cannot have it both ways.
In the last provincial election, the Liberals said this province is spending $25 billion a year and that amount of money should be equally distributed to all ridings across Ontario without any political interference, so that all citizens in Ontario would get a return on their investment. The Tories have been using the total budget of $25 billion for their own political interests alone.
The Tory candidate running against me in the last provincial election was telling the voters, "You need a representative on the side of the government if you would like to have something from the government." Those types of comments were making no sense because people living in Dovercourt are like citizens in other ridings; they have the same rights and deserve the same type of return from the money this province is spending.
Today I am associating myself with the spirit of the principle incorporated in Bill 30. I do not have any particular objection and I have no particular position that would change my mind to oppose the bill. I think the bill is overdue. The Tories were supposed to do that maybe 20 years ago. The tool that is incorporated in the principle of Bill 30, to have public debate on the bill, which is part of the democratic process, should be used really to have constructive criticism coming from the public to improve the legislation.
If members of the committee or representatives of particular organizations that are going to appear before the committee use particular political devices to attack the practice and the procedures and the way in which the bill is going to be implemented, what we are going to do is create a division of the people across Ontario on something that is completely right. It is the duty of this government to pass this legislation as soon as possible in the way that has been described.
I have great confidence in this bill, and so do voters in the great riding of Dovercourt. I have received many letters about the support my party has been giving to the passage of this bill. I do not want to read the congratulatory letters because there are so many, but I think the public is anxiously expecting it to be passed. Students who have chosen separate schools as a way of continuing their post-secondary education have been penalized for so many years in this province as a result of the political unwillingness of the Conservative Party to end this type of injustice. They have been penalized in different ways.
First, they have been penalized by paying taxes at the end of the year and a portion of their income tax is devoted to the provincial and federal governments. Further, property taxes were based on the principle implemented by the Conservatives, which is very regressive in Ontario, and I hope the Liberals will do something about it.
As well, they have been penalized for sending their children to separate schools, for which they were supposed to pay extra. The Tories tell us we have the best education system in the world, when in fact we are penalizing people to attain that achievement. I do not think there should be any doubt that any investment made in the education system of Ontario is for the purpose of building a better society. It is for the future. Our children will be the next generation. The more money we spend, the better tomorrow's society will be.
This type of debate, people opposing the bill or having reservations about a procedure used on purpose to oppose it, though they do not want to say so to the public, is unfair. I hope the lead taken by the government is the right one. My support is clear; I think the support of the people in Dovercourt is clear also.
Mr. Reycraft: Since this is the first opportunity I have had to speak in debate since joining the Legislature, I want to take advantage of the occasion to congratulate the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Treleaven) and the Speaker (Mr. Edighoffer) on their appointments, and also to compliment them on the capable manner in which they have assumed their duties.
It is my perception that the task of the Speaker is becoming more difficult, rather than the converse. However, that may be due to the vantage point from which I have been viewing the events and the change in that vantage point.
I am very pleased to become involved in this debate. As a member of the Legislature who has spent some 23 years as a teacher in public, elementary and secondary schools in Essex and Middlesex counties, I have listened with particular interest to what various members have had to say.
I am a relative newcomer to partisan politics and therefore I have to admit I have not been as deeply involved in this issue as many other members have been in years past. I must also admit, therefore, that when I first heard the then Premier Davis's announcement on June 12, 1984, my initial reaction was instinctively one of some concern and apprehension. I hasten to add that was not due to the extension of funds to a separate school system, although I have to agree with what the member for Port Arthur said earlier this afternoon, that the sentiment does exist with some individuals.
My concern dealt with the viability of the high school in Glencoe where I obtained my secondary school education and in which I taught for 14 years. That school is a lot like many other secondary schools in the rural parts of this province. Its enrolment is not very large, 450 students, and it is already under some pressure to maintain a viable program. Any measure that results in further decline in enrolment in that school and others makes the school administrators' task to continue a viable program more difficult. However, I have considerable confidence in the commitment and ability of those administrators, not only to maintain the programs they have now, but to enhance their viability.
I initially experienced some feeling of concern, like other employees in the secondary schools of Ontario, that this measure might have the impact of reducing the number of positions, both teaching and otherwise, in the public education system. I have examined the bill brought forward by the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), and I am satisfied that concern has been very fairly addressed.
Other members spoke yesterday and today about the controversy that has existed in our varied communities since that announcement on June 12, 1984. The remarks of the member for St. George (Ms. Fish) were particularly appropriate. She spoke of the confusion that has surrounded this issue and has fuelled the controversy. Some of that confusion may very well have been deliberately created. That is most unfortunate and inappropriate in view of the sensitivity of this issue. I agree with her; it is a valid point.
Other members have spoken about the lack of information that exists in association with this issue. I noted the comments of the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke). He spoke of the concept he heard expressed frequently during the election campaign, that the issue revolves around a new system of publicly funded education rather than a simple extension to a system that has been publicly funded for more than a century. That is a sentiment I have heard expressed as well, and it needs to be clarified.
There has been considerable dialogue, as other members have said this afternoon, since June 1984. As a result, we have a public today that is much more knowledgeable on the issue than it was when the announcement was made. We have also had considerable strong and sometimes inflammatory rhetoric on the issue, rhetoric that has not always been accurate. That, in essence, has tended to create a public that, in addition to being more knowledgeable, is also more polarized.
I want to compliment the Minister of Education. He has had to sort through the varied information before him and the rhetoric that has been expressed. He has done so, and, in a very thoughtful and fair manner, he has addressed the real and valid concerns of the many who have opposed extended funding.
Much has been said about the cost of extended funding. I want to address that aspect of this issue rather briefly. The estimate has been given publicly by the minister that the annual cost to the system, once extension is fully implemented, will be something in the order of $150 million per year. To put that figure into perspective, I understand it represents approximately a 2.5 per cent increase that would be required in the total annual budget of the ministry. It is not the relativity of the amount that is important. It is important that we look at the source of the additional cost.
It is estimated that the $150 million will be the result of some 30,000 students remaining in a system of secondary education that to date has been only partly funded by the taxpayers of the province. Extension or no extension, those 30,000 students will not leave that secondary system. They would continue to obtain their secondary education, but they would do so at a sacrifice on the part of their parents and the teachers in their system, a sacrifice made by their predecessors for many years. The people making that sacrifice have been doing so to provide the necessary tuition for their own children at the same time as they had to contribute through their taxation to the public system.
I might note also that had those students entered, or -- if funding were not to go through -- should those students enter the already publicly funded secondary system, the additional cost to the taxpayers of this province would be something in the order of $120 million per year. I think those numbers tend to put the cost of the system into a better perspective.
I spoke of the sacrifice that parents and teachers have made and I think that sacrifice was referred to yesterday by the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon). He referred to them as "the years of injustice." I am proud to be part of this Legislature at a time when those years of injustice are ending and when fairness is being restored to the education system of this province. Much has also been said of the proposed use of an order in council to make funding available this fall to grade 11 in the separate school system. I am sure this government would very much prefer not to use that means to implement the funding, but the fact remains that there are in excess of 6,000 students and approximately 280 teachers in this province who have made educational and career decisions based on the commitment expressed by the then Premier Davis. Those choices have been made, timetables are being prepared and class lists are being readied. To do anything other than proceed with funding this September would result in chaos within the system.
Since circumstances will not permit the funding to be implemented by the legislative route, then it seems to me that an order in council is the only practical alternative. I think it is also worth noting that previous governments deemed it appropriate to use the same mechanism to extend funding to grade 9, grade 10, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, so no precedent is being established.
I consider myself extremely fortunate in my first opportunity to stand in my place and speak in this Legislature that I am able to be involved in a debate that has historic dimensions. I have examined the legislation carefully and I am pleased with what I have found. I am satisfied it provides for the long-awaited completion of a publicly funded system of education that has existed for 140 years. In fact, it is a return of something we have not experienced -- fairness -- to that system in this province for over a century.
I am satisfied we are not endangering the excellence that has been instilled in the existing system under both public and separate boards. I think in the long run that excellence will be enhanced.
I also think we are providing very just and reasonable protection to the people who are engaged in the delivery of the service and who may face redundancy as a result of the implementation of this bill.
Obviously, I will be supporting the bill.
Mr. Hennessy: I rise to lend my support to the funding of the Roman Catholic school system. Since the Day act of 1841, Ontario has publicly funded two separate systems of education. The right of the Roman Catholic separate school system to receive public funds is guaranteed in the Constitution. The question to be decided by this Legislature is not whether the two systems shall receive public funds. That question was answered by the Constitution. Ontario is obligated to provide funding.
The question to be decided is whether the time has come to fund both systems equally. I believe it has. All the students in this province should have access to an equal education. The best interests of the future of this province will be achieved through two fully funded systems of education, not through one fully funded system and one partially funded system.
The actual details of the implementation of extended funding have caused many people to be concerned. However, there is ample evidence these problems can be resolved. The planning and implementation commission has been hard at work for a year now and has been able to accomplish much. Forty boards have decided to accept extended funding for this fall. Of these 40 boards, 38 have been able to submit plans that have been approved by the commission. In each of these instances the details of the implementation of full funding have been worked out to the commission's satisfaction.
In my own riding of Fort William, the implementation of funding for grade 11 this fall has been worked out to the satisfaction of all the parties involved and has been approved by the planning and implementation commission. In the light of the agreement and consensus achieved on this issue in the riding, the separate school board has spent $700,000 in preparation for the change. In Fort William, we are all ready to go this fall.
I realize that consensus and agreement have not been so easily achieved in other areas of this province. Many groups and individuals have concerns about the details of implementation and some people do not support the extension of full funding.
The standing committee on social development will be holding hearings over the course of the summer which will allow groups and individuals to air their concerns. We in the Progressive Conservative Party will be listening carefully to the views expressed at the hearings. I am confident the hearings will provide a framework in which the problems associated with the implementation of full funding can be brought to light and resolved.
I wish to conclude by saying I lend my support to the funding of the Roman Catholic school system.
On motion by Ms. Gigantes, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 5:58 p.m.