L002 - Wed 29 Apr 1987 / Mer 29 avr 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
RESIGNATION OF MEMBER
Mr. Speaker: I beg to inform the House that during the recess a vacancy occurred in the membership of the House by reason of the resignation of Dennis R. Timbrell, Esq., as member for the electoral district of Don Mills, effective midnight, Saturday, February 28, 1987. Accordingly, I have issued my warrant to the chief election officer for the issue of a writ for a by-election.
Mr. Speaker: Also today, I would like all members to join me in welcoming the first spring group of legislative pages to serve in the Third Session of the 33rd Parliament.
They are Melissa Atkin, Essex South; Christopher Bradley, Brampton; Shawn Brunt, Chatham-Kent; Verity Crewe-Nelson, Riverdale; Melissa Follwell, Quinte; Kazimira Ford-Mattes, Bellwoods; Cynthia Gillies, St. David; Michael Guest, Leeds; Mark Haney, Algoma-Manitoulin; Jennifer Heal, Oakwood; Sara Henderson, Wentworth; Mary Ingram, Cambridge; Nicole Kester, Peterborough; Jennifer Kinsey, Carleton-Grenville;
Michael Mitchell, Simcoe Centre; Oliver Moore, St. George; Helene Robertson, Cochrane North; Lee Rovinelli, Nickel Belt; Fizul Sima, Scarborough East; Phillip Stainton, Lakeshore; Fred Steciuk, Huron-Middlesex; Jeremy Valeriote, Oakville; Davidson Veighey, Windsor-Riverside, and Brennan Webb, Muskoka.
Please join me again in welcoming the pages.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Mr. Gillies: I would like to bring to the attention of the House, and particularly to the attention of the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston), a regrettable and, I believe, avoidable tragedy which occurred in my riding of Brantford.
Several weeks ago, William Westwater, a 29-year-old, and his girlfriend, Maureen Massicotte, only 25, died from bullet wounds to the head in a murder-suicide, apparently committed by Mr. Westwater. What makes this episode particularly tragic is the fact that Mr. Westwater, in the weeks before his death, had sought psychiatric help from several sources and had warned people that he was "ready to explode."
Knowing he faced serious problems, Mr. Westwater had himself admitted to the Brantford General Hospital's mental health unit at the beginning of April but left feeling he was not getting any better. Later, accompanied by his family, Mr. Westwater travelled to the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in the hope of finding help. According to friends in published reports, Mr. Westwater told staff at the hospital that he was "thinking about death."
Unfortunately, Mr. Westwater was not admitted to the facility, from what we have been able to determine, because he resided in a location outside the catchment area for the hospital. In fact, while at St. Thomas, Mr. Westwater was given a brochure describing programs, not in another provincial hospital, but in a mental health and addiction rehabilitation facility in Buffalo, New York.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired. I am sorry.
Mr. Gillies: I ask the Minister of Health to undertake an urgent review of the admitting policies of these institutions.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
SOLICITOR GENERAL'S COMMENTS
Mr. Foulds: The Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) has profoundly insulted all northern residents with his recent statements on the drinking and driving habits of northerners. I rise, both in sorrow and in anger, to protest.
Let us admit that the Ontario Provincial Police's statistics are disturbing. The rate of impaired driving in the north is three times higher than in the south. There are many complex reasons for this, not the least of which is a simple lack of public transit.
I quote from the Canadian Press story: "Solicitor General Ken Keyes blamed the higher rate in the north in part on tougher economic times and high unemployment in the region. `It leaves people more time to drink and the region has fewer attractions to keep them busy,' he told reporters."
The Toronto Sun worded it this way: "Keyes said then that many northerners are unemployed and spend more time drinking and driving because they have less to keep them busy."
The Solicitor General has not withdrawn or apologized or clarified his remarks. This kind of flippant, superficial analysis of a serious social and economic problem in northern Ontario is not worthy of a serious cabinet minister about a serious problem.
I call on the minister to apologize and withdraw his remarks. If not, I ask the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to relieve him of his sensitive responsibilities, which have proved too great for him, not for the first time. The government has taken no action to relieve the profound social problems caused by the tough economic times in the north --
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr. Foulds: -- and the Solicitor General's remarks do not help.
DR. GEORGE BALKOS
Ms. Hart: I rise sadly today, as it is the first opportunity I have had, to mark the passing of a friend and a man who was perhaps the best loved in the Greek community in York East, Dr. George Balkos.
George came to Canada in 1969 and worked at various menial jobs until he learned English well enough to attend the University of Toronto medical school. He is a post-graduate in medical ethics and very active in the Greek community. He was on the board of the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, served as a councilman in the Hellenic Canadian Congress, was a founding member of the Hippocratic Medical Society and belonged to the Hellenic Canadian Professional and Business Association.
Dr. Balkos was well known in his community because he always went out of his way for the little person. He was a general practitioner on the Danforth and there was no elderly lady who came to him who was not given the time she needed in order to have her problems looked after.
I would like to express my sympathy and that of many of my constituents to Dr. Balkos's family, and to say to this House that George Balkos's fondest wish was that he would one day represent his people in the Legislature of Ontario. Unfortunately, that wish did not come to pass and it is my hope that one day his daughter or his son will sit here among us.
Mr. Davis: Public transit in the Metro Toronto area was completely ignored in yesterday's speech from the throne. The proposal for a Sheppard Avenue line that was approved by Metro council last year was obviously not deemed important enough to be included.
I remind the government and the Premier (Mr. Peterson) that 25 per cent of Metro Toronto's future employment will be in the North York and Scarborough city centres. More than 100,000 people cross the Scarborough-North York boundary at Sheppard and Finch Avenue in buses or private vehicles each day. The road network cannot be improved to handle all this load adequately without the expansion of the subway system. The Sheppard line is Metro's number one subway priority.
The government has not given a clear direction of its plans in this crucial area of public transportation. With time ticking away, how long will this government continue its policy of indecision before giving the commuters outside Metro and the travellers who are currently using crowded buses a sign of its intentions?
ARMENIAN MEMORIAL DAY
Ms. Caplan: I stand today to mark the anniversary of Armenian Memorial Day as proclaimed by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) on April 24, 1986. The date was proclaimed so that we would not forget the atrocity of the Armenian genocide which began on April 24, 1915. More than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were forced from their homes, marched across deserts and slaughtered. Two thirds of the entire Armenian population perished between 1915 and 1917.
The survivors of this massacre sought refuge in countries around the world. A large number attempted to rebuild their lives in Ontario. In my riding of Oriole, the Armenian population has made a valuable contribution to the community.
I support the resolution passed in this House in 1980 requesting the government of Canada to recognize and condemn officially the atrocities committed by the government of Turkey and to designate April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian community.
The events of 1915 seem very far away for those of us who are living in a country where fundamental rights and freedoms are taken for granted, but the Armenian tragedy is not an isolated incident. Fewer than 25 years later, Adolf Hitler carried out his plan to exterminate the Jewish population. We must remember these painful events so that we can learn from our past and work to fight injustice around the world.
RAPE CRISIS CENTRES
Mr. Sterling: This morning, a colleague of mine and I met with the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres. The rape crisis coalition is a group of volunteers who run 17 different rape crisis centres across this province. I want to indicate to the Premier (Mr. Peterson) that they are extremely upset with the treatment they have received from his government.
On March 13, the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) made an announcement that he was going to fund rape crisis centres across this province. He gave no previous indication of that announcement to the rape crisis coalition nor consulted with it. The Solicitor General indicated to this particular coalition that he was doing an evaluation of its organization. There has been no attempt to contact them to tell them the results of that evaluation.
The rape crisis coalition has been in existence for seven years. It thinks the government is trying to put it out of business. This party supports what it has done in the past and will support what it does in the future. If the Premier and his Solicitor General think they are going to put them out of business by ignoring them, they are wrong.
ARMENIAN MEMORIAL DAY
Mr. Warner: The Armenian Memorial Day is something this House took seriously and has taken seriously. Unfortunately, the federal government has chosen to ignore its own promise that it made to the Armenian community and to this country in 1984 during the election.
It should be unacceptable to this province simply to allow the Conservative government in Ottawa to renege on its promise. In fact, our voice should be even stronger that Turkey owes an apology to the Armenian community and that a remembrance day should be expressed and recognized across this country and that the lands should be returned to the Armenian people. I call on the government so to do.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Conway: Yesterday's speech from the throne outlined a number of initiatives this government is planning to undertake to enhance Ontario's education system. While we can be proud of education in this province, it is important that we continue to make improvements where and when necessary.
M. le Président, il importe que nous accordions une attention particulière à la question des subventions d'immobilisation.
In considering capital funds, it is important to remember the size of the education system in Ontario. There are approximately 4,600 elementary and secondary schools in this province, with an approximate replacement value of more than $13 billion.
We must ensure that our school system's buildings, related facilities and equipment are as modern and as well maintained as possible.
It is also important for us to remember that our schools are not only for our students but also play an increasingly important role as a community resource that all can and do use.
Of course, no two schools are alike and no two regions of this province are the same. There are a number of growth areas in Ontario that demand special attention. Population shifts have placed an unusual burden on these areas and it is important that this be recognized.
Over the past three years, the four largest growth areas -- Durham, York, Carleton and Dufferin-Peel -- have seen total enrolments increase by approximately 37,000 students and it is expected that a further 31,000 students will swell the ranks in these regions in the next two years. These needs and the needs of all students must be met.
This government has recognized the importance of capital funding in improving educational facilities and, ultimately, the quality of education our students receive. Between 1985 and 1987, this government, under the leadership of the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), has more than doubled the annual capital allocation to school boards. This is proof of the commitment of this government to the importance and priority we place upon education.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Question period will follow.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Conway: As further proof, I am pleased to announce today the allocation of $226.4 million for capital projects in the 1988-89 fiscal year, more than triple the 1985 allocation of $73.2 million. When local school boards add their contributions, we will be generating a total capital program of $293 million.
Of the government's share of that total, about 79 per cent, or $179 million, is designated for new construction. We are creating approximately 37,000 new pupil places in Ontario and are funding 360 projects for 114 school boards. A further $45 million, or 20 per cent of the total, is designated for renovations and alterations and the remainder of the allocation will be for other projects.
I think it is important to recognize that approximately $144 million of the 1988-89 government allocation will be spent in the four growth regions I mentioned previously: York, Durham, Carleton and Dufferin-Peel.
Although the majority of funds designated for 1988-89 will go to new construction, we also recognize that many boards have serious and pressing needs to update and renovate existing schools. The funding I have announced today will help alleviate many of those problems and my ministry will continue to address this need as a priority concern.
The specific allocations for individual boards will be announced later this week and the process for determining which projects receive money has been as follows: school boards ranked their needs in order of priority, the ministry's regional offices then ranked them on a regional basis, then the ministry ranked them on a province-wide basis.
I can assure all members of this assembly that we have done everything possible to ensure that all boards receive the necessary funds. While we have made tremendous progress in meeting the capital needs of our education system, and I repeat that this allocation for 1988-89 triples the allocation of 1985, we do realize that more needs to be done. The Ontario Ministry of Education is therefore considering a variety of alternative ways to provide for capital funding needs in co-operation with the Provincial Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), who has been instrumental in so improving the capital requirements of our Ontario youth.
It is often difficult to put a price tag on something as important and valuable as the education of our young people.
Nous devons tous faire sans cesse notre possible pour offrir à nos élèves la meilleure éducation qui soit.
I believe that with today's announcement on funding we have made new, important and positive strides towards achieving that goal of excellence in education that is so important for this government and for this province and its future.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: As the members heard in the speech from the throne yesterday, the Ontario government has a firm commitment to offer community living alternatives to developmentally handicapped people now residing in Ontario's nursing homes.
To quote from the speech, "We will develop a system of flexible community-based programs and services that...will respect the dignity, independence and unique needs of each individual."
During this session of the Legislature, I shall be announcing details of a comprehensive, long-term plan designed to provide community-living options for developmentally handicapped people in Ontario, no matter where they are living at the moment.
Today, I want to tell members of the House about a very important component of that plan. This step will lead to community-living alternatives during the next year for 130 developmentally handicapped people now in nursing homes. This part of the plan has been made possible through the co-operative attitudes and joint agreement between my ministry and the Ministry of Health.
Through this effective collaboration, my colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) and I are pleased to announce that responsibility for services for developmentally handicapped people now living in nursing homes is being transferred from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Community and Social Services. I know it gives both of us and both our ministries considerable satisfaction to take this course of action.
My ministry will start immediately to arrange for these particular nursing home residents to move into community-based living and day programs, a movement that will continue through the next years. My ministry has earmarked $5 million to develop the necessary community resources during the first year of the program, 1987-88.
We in my ministry have a particular responsibility towards the people who will move during this first year.
In the spring of 1986, I undertook negotiations intended to achieve community living for developmentally handicapped people in nursing and residential homes. At that time, the government made a special commitment to the children. My priority for the next year is to move these children into community settings.
I mention ed earlier the transfer of 130 people from nursing homes during the first year. This number includes all of the 53 children under 18. It also includes 19 young people between the ages of 18 and 21, and an additional 58 adults.
In conclusion, I would like to remind members that $9.3 million is currently being spent through the triministry program for developmentally handicapped people in nursing homes. The triministry program was set up by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services to provide developmental activities.
I want to state our additional commitment that this program will be continued for the other clients of my ministry who are, for the time being, to remain in their present nursing home settings until they move into an appropriate community-living situation.
I look forward to sharing with the House in the days ahead other details of the plan to move developmentally handicapped adults out of institutions and back into the mainstream of society.
DOWNSVIEW REHABILITATION CENTRE
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Last December 11, I appointed an external team to conduct a general review of the role of the Downsview hospital and rehabilitation centre of the Workers' Compensation Board and the centre's administration, programs and systems for protecting patients' rights. On Monday afternoon, the Downsview review team transmitted its report to me and, at this first opportunity, I am tabling the report in the Legislature.
As honourable members will see, the report's recommendations are far-reaching. I will be studying them in the coming days and discussing them with my colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) and with the chairman of the WCB, Dr. Elgie. It is important that any actions to be taken recognize, in the most sensitive way, the current employees of the centre.
The members of the Downsview review team are John J. Corrigan of Inco Ltd. in Sudbury, Dean Ralph Garber of the University of Toronto's faculty of social work, Angelo Persichilli of CFMT, Channel 47 in Toronto, and Edward Thornton of Local 183 of the Labourers' International Union in Toronto.
I would like to thank them and, as well, the chairman of the review team, W. Vickery Stoughton, president of the Toronto Hospital, for their promptness and thoroughness. Their work will play an important part in ensuring that there is in Ontario a provincial centre of excellence, as well as effective capacity at the local level, for the medical and physical rehabilitation of workers who are injured on the job.
DOWNSVIEW REHABILITATION CENTRE
Mr. Gordon: I would like to respond to the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) and to the report he has tabled for us in the House --
Mr. Andrewes: Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye).
Mr. Gordon: The Minister of Labour I should say, pardon me; although I would imagine that he is going to be talking to the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) quite closely in the coming months. To decentralize the services to injured workers across this province in a humane way and in a way that will mean they will be rehabilitated as quickly as possible is going to require the pulling together of resources in various ministries.
I see the minister is going to be seeing that acute care treatment is going to take place in municipalities such as the Sudbury region, and I applaud him for talking about decentralization. At the same time, I want to remind the minister that we have a real, dire need for more acute care beds in the Sudbury region and the very limited number of beds that the Minister of Health announced just a short while ago, which just met the need as of 1981, is going to create some real problems when he goes to put injured workers into the major hospitals in the Sudbury region.
I would encourage the Minister of Labour to consult very closely with the Minister of Health with regard to the issue of acute care beds as it affects injured workers. At the same time, though, I must say to the minister that he has been the Minister of Labour for two years now, and it seems a shame that it took two years and a hint of scandal in order to get him to move on a subject that has concerned injured workers for years.
It has been a well-known fact among the general population as well as among the injured workers that the Downsview facility was just not working for workers and that they viewed the facility as one that was oppressive and one that did not really add to getting them back on their feet.
The key to rehabilitating workers is to do it as quickly as possible and as close to their homes as possible. This, of course, calls for decentralization. I urge the minister to get on with it and not to wait for the next crisis to carry on as he has.
Mr. Davis: I can see that the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) still likes to play and to make great announcements with no substance. We see that there are $80 million more in new dollars coming to the school boards. The interesting thing is that the school boards asked for more than $1 billion to meet their needs, and the $80 million extra that this government is prepared to give will just meet the needs of the York Region Board of Education.
I find it interesting that in 1986-87 there was a shortfall of $357 million in capital grants for education and that this year there will be a shortfall of $775 million. The government has indicated its emphasis on science but it is going to give only $45 million for renovations and alterations. We find that across this province, $72 million is required to upgrade science laboratories and libraries, and that does not even begin to meet the requirements of education in this province.
This government has the money to deal adequately and to give $800 million to $1 billion now to meet the needs of education in this province, and if the Premier (Mr. Peterson) is committed to education, as he said he is, that will be the top and only priority in his spending.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gillies: When the Minister of Education outlined the process he went through in bringing forward this announcement, I think he left out a step: the step where the Premier's office told him, "If we are going in June, we will announce it now, and if we are going in the fall, we will announce it in August against a big red backdrop." The point is, as my colleague has pointed out, the minister is not coming near to meeting the capital requirements as expressed to him by the school boards across the province.
Furthermore, in terms of overall education spending, the minister will recall the commitment made by his leader, when running for the office he now holds, to return the provincial share of educational spending in this province to 60 per cent. The day he took office, education was funded 48 per cent by the province of Ontario. It is now funded 44 per cent by Ontario, and that is his responsibility and his shortfall.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
DOWNSVIEW REHABILITATION CENTRE
Mr. McClellan: I rise to respond to the statement of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) on the Downsview rehabilitation centre.
First of all, I think many people were very surprised at not hearing one single reference to injured workers or reform of the Workers' Compensation Board in yesterday's throne speech. So much for promises from the Liberal Party of Ontario to reform the WCB.
Since October 1986, the Minister of Labour has appointed four separate task forces to study one single problem, the Downsview rehabilitation centre of the WCB. He appointed the director of the centre, Dr. Kummel, to study its problems. He requested the police to do an investigation of problems at the DRC. He appointed the Majesky task force to study chaos within rehabilitation services of the WCB, and he appointed the Stoughton review team, whose report has been released here this afternoon.
The minister himself has nothing to say about the Stoughton review team in his speech to the House, nothing to say about it at all, and I am not surprised because the report is a complete condemnation of the inadequacy of the services of the DRC which starts by saying the DRC is characterized by an overall lack of focus and direction.
We hope this Minister of Labour will be replaced and the government will put somebody in charge of the Ministry of Labour who is capable and competent of reforming the WCB and the administration of health and safety across this province, because the incumbent is simply incapable of doing so.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I rise to respond to the participation of the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) in the scattergun approach of the Liberal government to distributing its unexpected largess.
It is a reannouncement of the commitment by this government a year ago to get the kids who are developmentally handicapped out of homes for special care. That is all it is, except that he has added an extra 50 people.
We should understand the circumstances. There are over 1,900 developmentally handicapped people in homes for special care who should not be there who have been there for far too long. There are a further 500 people who are in residential homes whom this will not affect at all.
He is spending $5 million for these 130 people. That is an appropriate amount of money, in my view, but he admits in his own document that he is spending $9.3 million on the other 1,900 people who are being left behind. That is intolerable. He should not get up and praise himself for this kind of initiative at this time, when he has so much money and a possibility of helping these people in desperate straits.
Mr. Allen: I rise to respond to the announcement by the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) of capital grants, new money, renovations and alterations, capital money for the school system abroad in this province.
He is certainly right to point out the shortage that exists out there in many of the school districts and not just in the four major targeted areas. The shortfall is great and the need is great, as the Association of Large School Boards in Ontario and the trustees have told us repeatedly in their active lobbies this past year.
I want to remind him, like my colleague from the Tory party, of course, that in point of fact the identified need by the school boards in terms of new capital grants does amount, at a minimum, to twice the amount he has allocated and then a bit more.
I would not want to suggest, like my colleague from the Tory party, however, that it would be possible for the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) to use his windfall gains to meet the total of $1 billion of new capital and renovations needs in this system, then to spend it again for moving up to the 60 per cent level, then to follow some of his colleagues in spending it in two or three other ways, and then advising that the Premier (Mr. Peterson) also give a tax rebate of a similar amount. Obviously, it is important for us to deal with those moneys realistically.
There are two items I did miss in this statement. I thought I heard in the Premier's speech, delivered by the Lieutenant Governor yesterday, a commitment that every single new capital expenditure on a new facility would include a day care facility. I missed that in this commitment. Are we already moving back from the commitments of yesterday?
Second, I think many of us have suggested it would be wise for this government to initiate a formula for renovations and maintenance for the system as a whole so we do not get into this spending-nonspending pattern. Let us do it regularly and systematically and maintain the system the way it should be on a regular basis and in a businesslike fashion.
Mr. Grossman: My first question is for the Premier in the light of the fact that he has been obliged over the last little while to correct, shall we say, the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter) on a number of matters. We should like to ascertain today the degree to which he is going to back up the minister in the auto insurance area.
The minister indicated last week that he believed steps should be taken to ensure that in the new mechanism, auto insurance companies were allowed a margin of profit. Does the Premier support him in that statement?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I will refer that question to the minister.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The Leader of the Opposition has stated publicly that he is absolutely and unalterably opposed to a government-run insurance plan. if he says that, then I assume it is a given that he wants it to remain in the private sector. If it remains in the private sector, surely no responsible person would expect people to invest money and run this operation in an altruistic way where they do not make any money. The problem is where there are inequities, discrepancies and people are being ill served. This rate review board will see to it that this is rectified.
Mr. Grossman: In the absence of the Premier, I will ask a supplementary question of the Minister of Financial Institutions. I heard the minister repeat that insurance companies should be allowed a margin of profit on their auto business. On January 26 in this House he said that "insurance companies still pay out more in claims than they take in as premiums."
Given that statement, given his acknowledgement that insurance companies apparently are losing money on auto insurance right now and given his just-repeated statement that they ought to be allowed a margin of profit -- last week the minister speculated maybe three per cent -- does that not imply that if they are allowed by the minister to get that margin of profit, insurance rates will go up thanks to what he did last week?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: If I can have the attention of the members of the House, I will explain how the insurance industry works. The leader of the third party has constantly extolled the fact that the insurance industry is making billions of dollars, so as a result there is money there, there is no necessity for them to lose money.
What happens is that auto insurance is one segment of the insurance business. They make money on carrying their overhead and allotting a certain proportion of their operation. They have the opportunity and they have it right now: if the insurance companies are complaining that they are losing money, there is no one compelling them to stay in it.
Obviously, there is more to it than what happens in the underwriting. What we are going to do is make sure that they are treated equitably and that the consumers are protected. Where the major problem is in insurance in Ontario is the fact that there are people who are being arbitrarily rated. There are premiums being charged where another company will charge 100 per cent less. That is what we are going to rectify.
Mr. Grossman: We knew the minister was not prepared when he had the press conference last Thursday, but still to be unprepared when the House meets; it is beyond even our imagination that he would be that disorganized. Let us try to figure out what it is the minister just said and what he said last week. The consumers of this province thought for a fleeting moment last Thursday that their rates might not go up. Does the minister believe the auto insurance companies are making a profit; and if so, how much are they currently making? The minister surely has that information by this date. Are they making a profit and how much?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I do not have that information. What we are addressing are the inequities. We have information about that. We have the horror stories that come to us on a regular basis. We have someone saying: "I have applied for insurance and my rate is X. I have gone to another company and my rate is half X." We know that. What we have said is we are setting up an independent permanent review board. That independent permanent review board will determine whether the insurance companies are justified in their rates. If they are not, they can roll them back and do whatever they have to do, but that is what we are doing. The idea of the cap is to make sure that in the interim the rates do not go up any higher.
Mr. Grossman: I wonder if the Premier might tell this House how much he believes the auto insurance companies are making in this province off the backs of consumers. He surely knows that.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I will refer the insurance question to the Minister of Financial Institutions (Mr. Kwinter).
Mr. Speaker: That question is referred to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: We do not know that information. The industry has called for an audit and we have said that is exactly the function of the independent permanent rate review board. It will look into the figures. It will do an audit to determine that figure.
Mr. Grossman: If the review board proposed by this party a week and a half before the minister suddenly adopted it at the height of this emergency establishes unequivocally that the auto insurance companies under any definition at all are losing money, is the minister going to instruct the rate review board to raise the rates to consumers to allow those companies a return on investment and a margin of profit?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member should know that the industry is a competitive one. It is a free enterprise one. When we have a rate review board, what it will do is it will set the maximum. The marketplace will set the rate within that maximum. There is no compulsion on the part of the industry to go to the maximum or to do that. The marketplace will work. There are over 200 insurance companies actively competing in the auto insurance business.
Mr. Grossman: This week the minister is back to the marketplace. Last week he was freezing the insurance rates. I hope the House is here for another few weeks to see the next several positions.
The consumers of this province want to know if last week's statement was an indication that this government is going to ensure that their auto insurance premiums do not go up but are "capped," to use the minister's word. In order for them to know that, they need a statement from the minister clearly saying that if the rate review board discovers insurance companies are not making a profit, he will or will not -- the minister can take his choice -- allow the cap to be raised to allow the insurance companies to make the return on investment which he said last week they ought to be making. Would he allow the cap to be raised to accommodate that or would he not?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: That would be up to the independent review board. That is its function. That is absolutely its function.
Mr. Grossman: Oh, no. Last week the minister said he would allow them a return on investment.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: That will be part of the criteria, but that is exactly the same rate review board that the Leader of the Opposition endorsed and it is the same rate review board that the leader of the third party endorsed.
Mr. Rae: This is too good not to continue with the explanation of the government's policy. Just today, I got a call in my office from a young driver from Mississauga, 20 years old, with a completely clean driving record. He has a 1981 Capri. He had received a notice for renewing his insurance on the day that the minister made his announcement, and his rate had jumped by $500 a year. This was on top of the $1,600 he was already paying.
This young man heard the minister's announcement talking about the cap and then heard the various media reports talking about the freeze. He thought he was in luck. Then he made the mistake of phoning the minister's office. He asked them whether the 10 per cent rollback which the minister had ordered that day would apply to his $1,600 and he only needed to send in $1,440 to the insurance company because his rates had been capped and because he had, in addition, the rollback. That is what this young man thought.
Can the minister explain why if there is a cap and there is a rollback, young Ken Meagher is spending $2,100 this year instead of $1,440, which is the Monte Kwinter discount rate he thought he would be paying?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I missed the key part of the member's explanation, but just so he will understand, on April 23 the rates in the groups -- that is how insurance companies rate their people -- were frozen. If a young man had a rate a year before and it came up for renewal, his effective rate would be the rate as of April 23, not what it was a year before, and the 10 per cent would reflect on that.
I do not know whether that came through. Is the extra $500 the increase over the year before? The cap takes place April 23.
Mr. Rae: We call that bait and switch where I come from.
Can the minister confirm the statements that have been made by Mr. Weir, which have been quoted and which he has also made in conversations with the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart), who unfortunately cannot be here today, that the government is allowing a two per cent rate increase per month up until April? This means that if you renew in April, or indeed in May, a 22 per cent increase is going to be allowed, 20 per cent in June, 18 per cent in July and so on. Can the minister confirm that this is what is taking place, that there is no freeze, that there is no real cap and that rate increases are still being allowed by the government, even as the minister was giving his statement last Thursday?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The answer is the same answer I gave before. As of April 23, what we did was put a freeze on all categories, not on all insurance across the province. Every category was frozen. The reason for that was so the companies could not jack up the rates pending the rate review board. If someone renews his insurance after not having had it for a year, then there is a formula to make sure he does not get gouged that way, but it is effective as of April 23.
Mr. Rae: Can the minister confirm that if you were an average driver paying $605, your new rate in April 1987 would be $750, and that if you take that average increase of 24 per cent, you would have an increase to $738 in May 1987, to $726 in June 1987, to $714 in July 1987, to $702 in August 1987 and so on down the line? The minister has not frozen a damned thing, and the public out there knows it.
Can the minister confirm that if he averages that across the province he is looking at rate increases of up to $400 million at the same time as he is parroting that he is protecting the consumer? He is not protecting the consumer; he is protecting the Liberal Party's backside as a get-ready for an election, and that is all he is doing.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The leader of the third party has said that if he brought in his government-owned auto insurance plan he would reduce insurance by 25 per cent. I suggest he has already done it by getting the right figures. He has stated that the average was $605 when he knows -- and he had to fire someone because he used that figure but he has not learned the number -- it is $448.
To get to his question, the answer is this: what we have done is put on a cap; that does not mean it has to go to that. There is a cap and there is a formula to make sure the people of Ontario are well served.
Mr. Mackenzie: Hide from the question.
Mr. McClellan: Show me somebody who has $448.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member for Sudbury East would like your attention.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Martel: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. It is my understanding that during the recess the minister toured the province talking to union officials in a variety of communities, indicating he did not want any hearings on the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
In a brown envelope which I received yesterday, a copy of a letter signed by Dr. D. R. McCalla, the chairman of the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety, says the following: "That the Minister of Labour take the steps necessary to provide a public forum for all interested parties to debate the premises underlying the act and its enforcement and to consider alternative structures."
In view of this recommendation from the minister's advisory council and the call for public hearings by a wide spectrum of the trade union movement, why is the minister trying to keep the lid on that Pandora's box and on cleaning up the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which is so desperately needed in this province?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: During the time when the House has been in recess, I have certainly enjoyed the opportunity to have discussions with the leadership of organized labour, with most of the major trade union leaders in the province; some of them brought a number of officials with them. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the leadership of a good number of the labour councils, including most recently the Chatham and District Labour Council on Monday this week. The views they have expressed to me have been very useful.
As well, my officials are continuing to have ongoing consultations and discussions with both business and labour on the draft amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which I shared with the House just before we adjourned in February.
I expect that in the not-too-distant future we will be able to move forward and bring forward amendments to the House. Obviously, as that debate goes forward, the will of the House will prevail. If there are to be discussions on those amendments as they come forward -- and I certainly welcome them in committee -- I would be prepared to play a role in those discussions.
Mr. Martel: It is interesting that he did not answer the question. Let me quote Dr. McCalla, the chairman of the minister's advisory council. He says, "The promise of an improvement in the future wellbeing of workers implied in the royal commission report has, for the most part, gone unfulfilled."
He goes on to say: "Although there may be some room for debate about the conclusion to be drawn from the data, it is clear from the survey that the committee system, as established under the act, is not adequate. Furthermore, there is no consensus that the internal responsibility system is functioning effectively or that, alone, it can realistically be expected to act as an instrument for change."
That is McCalla, one month prior to the minister taking his little tour, saying the system does not work. Since the minister and his phoney McKenzie-Laskin report appear to be the only ones who think tinkering with the present system will protect workers, as evidenced by his draft legislation --
Mr. Speaker: Question.
Mr. Martel: -- will he scrap that hunk of junk he presented three months ago and accept the request of his advisory committee that a public forum be established and let that public forum be the standing committee on resources development, which is looking at Bill 149?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: If my friend the member for Sudbury East believes the very far-reaching proposals contained in the draft amendments, some of which actually agree with the proposals in Bill 149, represent a hunk of junk, he must be one of the few people in Ontario who does so. The views I have heard in the past two months -- and they have come often, I say to my friend, from the front-line people on both the business side and the labour side -- are that while we may disagree with individual proposals, while we may feel that some ought to go a little further or not as far as we have proposed, for the most part, those proposals will do great things to enhance the kind of system that will lead to effective occupational health and safety in the work place.
Finally, with that, I know my friend would want to acknowledge the much more rigorous enforcement of the ministry and the fact that enforcement has led to much tougher prosecutions under the act.
Mr. Martel: My friend the minister is talking to different trade union people than I am.
Here is the minister's own advisory council. They go on to say in their report to the minister, requesting hearings: "Considerable frustration has been experienced by both labour and management in trying to obtain from the Ministry of Labour information and interpretation of what is required. Frustration with the ministry has now escalated to a point where a polarization atmosphere pervades the whole occupational health and safety scene, just as it did in the period leading up to the formation of the Ham royal commission 10 years ago."
Who is the minister trying to kid? For almost 10 years --
Mr. Speaker: Order. Was that your question?
Mr. Martel: No, it was not my question.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the member have a question?
Mr. Martel: Yes, I have a question.
The internal responsibility system is not working. Is the minister prepared to bring in an act, after hearings, which in fact will give workers some power and not merely a consultative role as they currently have under a stinking system that does not work? The minister's whole advisory committee says the same thing.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: One of the amazing things about all my discussions was just how few people agreed with some of the central premises of Bill 149, which went to such extreme measures.
Let me simply indicate to my friend that, having talked about how the internal responsibility system does not work, having spoken in that way for so long, he now professes to be surprised that there is a degree of polarization out there. We acknowledge there is polarization. It has been around for a very long time. My friend has acknowledged it. We are trying to reduce it, and I believe we are.
SOLICITOR GENERAL'S COMMENTS
Mr. Harris: I have a question of the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. The Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) says, impaired driving rates are three times higher in northern Ontario because economic conditions leave people more time to drink and because the region has fewer attractions to keep them busy.
As the minister and the Premier, does he agree with his Solicitor General's view that northerners have nothing better to do than to drink and drive?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I would not put it in those terms at all. Obviously, we have a problem. We have a problem in many regions of the province. The statistics are worse in northern Ontario, as I understand them, and I am not an expert on this. Perhaps the Solicitor General was trying to provide some explanation.
Obviously, our concern is to provide equal economic opportunity in northern Ontario, and I am sure my honourable friend would agree we have taken a number of initiatives in that regard. If, in fact, that is the cause -- and I am not a sociologist; I cannot give a logical, definitive explanation on that -- then very clearly we are trying to address some of those fundamental economic problems to create equal opportunity.
Mr. Harris: This is the Premier's opportunity either to agree with the Solicitor General or dissociate himself from the type of stupid statements he is making about northern Ontario. The Ontario Provincial Police disagree with the government, disagree with the Solicitor General and, I assume, disagree with the Premier, unless I hear otherwise. In fact, they say the typical driver is employed.
Perhaps if the Premier agrees with it, he could table any information and statistics he has to support the type of stupid statements that are being made by the Solicitor General.
This is three times. I would ask the Premier a simple question: does he dissociate himself from those remarks or not?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am not sure the honourable minister was trying to do anything more than perhaps give some definition. Perhaps he is right, perhaps he is wrong. If the member has any questions, then please ask them of the Solicitor General. My honourable friend would perhaps like to draw a personal slight out of this situation. I am sure there was none intended in that particular regard.
Obviously, we look at social and economic problems as they exist across the province and try to deal with them as best as we possibly can. If his explanation is wrong, then the member should put his point to the Solicitor General.
Mrs. Grier: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions concerning the plight of the employees of Goodyear Canada in my riding. Five hundred of those employees will walk out of that plant on Friday for the last time and the rest will be gone by the end of May. The minister knows full well that up to 300 of those employees will not be eligible for pensions under the current legislation; if the new pension reforms are in place they will be eligible. What assurance can the minister give this House that the provisions of Bill 170 will apply to the employees of Goodyear Canada?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I thank the honourable member for the question. I really appreciate the concern she has. I have the same concern. I cannot give her any assurance because Bill 170 will be coming -- we do not know, but we assume it will be coming -- to either committee for clause-by-clause debate or to the House for committee of the whole, but if it were to be included in the bill it would have to be included as a specific exemption. That is something that will be in the power of this House to do.
I am very concerned about their plight. The officials at the Pension Commission of Ontario have met with me as recently as this morning on that issue. It is something we are going to have to address in some way.
Mrs. Grier: The minister can be assured that we on this side of the House will support whatever scheduling is required to bring that bill before this House so that it can be dealt with before May 31. The timing is in the hands of the government. What I would like to know definitively from the minister is if, for some reason or some obstructionism by some party other than this one, the bill is not in place by May 31, will the minister be prepared to make those sections of it that would make the difference for the Goodyear employees retroactive to before May 31?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know that her own House leader is the chief critic on pensions and was the chief spokesman for her party at the committee hearings. He has a very important role to play in seeing that it gets scheduled, and that is something we are working on.
Mr. Grossman: Tomorrow, on Ontario's behalf, the Premier will be attending the very important constitutional discussions at Meech Lake. Our party believes it would be a serious mistake for Ontario to support a veto clause for Quebec or Ontario. Can he give an assurance to this House today that tomorrow he will not, in fact, endorse a veto for Quebec?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am interested in knowing the honourable member's position, which I gather he has just recently adopted. I remember a former Attorney General, Roy McMurtry, having a different view on this subject. I think my memory serves me well in that regard. As the member knows, he and other members of his party were considered extremely important in the last constitutional go-around in building a stronger Canada.
Let me talk about the veto issue for a moment. It is more complicated than I think the member would want to put forward in the simple question he put. It is a question of a veto over what? As he knows, it is a discussion about a regional veto. It is not a special veto for Quebec particularly. It is one that does not apply to Ontario or possibly other regions.
The latest federal proposal, as he knows, was seven provinces and 80 per cent of the population, which in effect is not a special situation for Quebec. It includes Ontario and it includes certain other combinations of provinces. There have been other suggestions put forward, as my honourable friend will know. Seven and 75 per cent was put forward by Premier Bourassa some time ago, as well as --
Mr. Stevenson: The Premier cannot stand aside and throw grenades on this one.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I say to my honourable friend, there is a serious issue at stake here. I do not think --
Mr. Stevenson: We would like to know what the Premier is thinking.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: If the member will stop yapping for a moment, we can share that with him.
Mr. Stevenson: The Premier should stop yapping and answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I think I am explaining this thing as best I can in the circumstances. Another potential solution is the Victoria formula that was adopted and then rejected back in 1971. I cannot tell the member the results of that at the moment.
I go into that discussion tomorrow with a very generous and open mind. I am anxious to get Quebec to be part of our Constitution. I think it is very much in the national interest to do so. I believe the time is ripe and I am hoping there is the foundation there for an agreement.
There are lots of different views on this subject, but I think we have the possibility for the makings of a deal and I go with that particular regard. It still requires some flexibility, obviously.
Mr. Grossman: The Premier talks appropriately about building a country. Two weeks ago when he was out west he seemed to be sympathizing with the western desire to have more equal representation in all of the national talks. That western concern is quite evident. They would object quite seriously if nine of the provinces thought there was an important amendment which might help the western circumstance in this country and if they saw that Quebec had a single veto. He may call it a regional veto; he may say that Quebec is a region, Ontario is a region, as are the Maritimes and western Canada, but if Quebec had that special veto, then I think there are many in western Canada who might endorse his phrase which he uses with regard to other issues.
He has said that government is not a clearinghouse for special-interest groups. I think many people out west, and many Ontarians, might also believe that Canada is not a clearinghouse for special interests either, that Canada is either a family or it is not. It is for that reason that Ontarians, and our party in particular, seek to know not how complex this issue is -- because, with respect, people on this side of the House have been grappling with that issue for a long time --
Mr. Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr. Grossman: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Our question is a very simple one. Is the Premier, as he goes to the meetings tomorrow, prepared to give Quebec a constitutional veto as a price to get her signature? Yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I say to my honourable friend on this very serious issue, I am frankly unhappy to learn that he has chosen to wear a much smaller mantle on these issues than his predecessors have done.
Mr. Grossman: Which of my predecessors? How about Pierre Elliott Trudeau? Who agrees with that?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Messrs Davis, Robarts and others; and it is not in the great traditions of his party, I may say to my honourable friend opposite.
May I say to my honourable friend opposite that I think he probably has a misread on this subject. I have been spending a considerable amount of time on it lately. I do not pretend to be a constitutional expert, but I can tell him I have talked to my colleagues across the country and I am not sure that his analysis is exactly right. I think he must go beyond the newspapers that perhaps my honourable friend reads.
I say to my honourable friend, I think there is the potential to make a deal here. It is not a question of elevating this into a special status situation. Once that phrase is used it has a lot of emotive connotations that perhaps my honourable friend opposite would like to have emanate from the discussion, but I do not see it in those terms at all. I see it as not dissimilar to the kind of discussion in which a deal was almost made in 1971 and the Victoria formula, which I am sure my honourable friend would not have called special status in that regard. It was a recognition of some of the --
Mr. Grossman: Did I use the words "special status"?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Yes, to the best of my knowledge the member did use the words "special status". I am saying to my honourable friend that I think we have the makings of a deal here. I think we have an opportunity to recognize the realities of this country, drawn together with an open, generous nation-building heart in the situation, which obviously, my honourable friend opposite, would be excluded by any of my colleagues across the country.
Mr. Grossman: The Premier has totally misunderstood the whole nature of all those discussions. He has totally misunderstood. Pierre Trudeau would blush at that statement. The Attorney General (Mr. Scott) is telling us Pierre's position.
Mr. Speaker: Order, the Leader of the Opposition and the Attorney General. I will wait if you wish to continue wasting the time of the members.
Mr. Grossman: The Attorney General should stand up and say it.
Mr. Speaker: We will just wait.
Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, I invite the Attorney General to stand up and repeat what he said.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. This is question period. The member for Algoma with a new question.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources regarding the announcement by Spruce Falls Power and Paper in Kapuskasing, a company which is 51 per cent owned by Kimberly-Clark in the United States. It announced on April 21 a shutdown of the sawmill with a net loss of 162 jobs as of August 28, 1987, out of a total work force of 1,800, despite the fact that the total Spruce Falls Power and Paper operation has made a profit of $55 million over the past three years.
Will the minister agree that his government should go along with the request of the Canadian Paperworkers Union for a moratorium on this closure until March 31, 1988, so that the parties involved, along with the provincial government, can review the situation, assess the economic position of the company and the effects on the community and develop alternative approaches for protecting the jobs in this one-industry town?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: We are very much concerned about any loss of jobs in northern Ontario and in the sawmills of northern Ontario. The request being made of me is not one I can answer specifically right now without going into some of the details. I am going to suggest to the honourable member that I shall examine the details, because the matter is so important, and share with him within a very short time what we can do to help alleviate that problem.
Mr. Wildman: I am glad the minister has taken this approach with regard to the loss of jobs in northern Ontario, rather than the approach of his colleague the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) towards the unemployed in the north.
Is the minister aware that this company is 49 per cent owned by the New York Times and that its main export product is newsprint for that company? Is he satisfied that an American-owned company like this can close down an operation that leaves so many people out of work and blame that closure on the 15 per cent tax that has been imposed on the export of softwood lumber because of the agreement between the Conservative federal government and the United States government, when in fact this company is profitable and last year alone made profits of $15 million?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: There is some comfort in the fact that the 15 per cent tax has not had the impact it could have had. That is at least a little relief for the sawmills and wood producers of northern Ontario. I am not so sure it is not going to have an impact because there are not many industries that can withstand a 15 per cent increase to their cost of operations.
Certainly, the Premier and many members of cabinet have spent a good many hours in northern Ontario sitting across the desks. I can share with the member some of the meetings that we have had and how tough we got with some of those operators as to what their responsibilities were in some of those communities. The fact remains that I shall take an initiative, as the member has described, and get back to him within the next couple of days.
Mr. Gordon: I have a question for the Minister of Northern Development and Mines. One of the things that baffled people in northern Ontario with regard to yesterday's speech from the throne was that there was no immediate help for people in the north. It was all long-term stuff.
We in the north would like to know when he is going to recognize that we have two Ontarios: the prosperous south and the resource-dependent north. The people of the north are paying $90 for every man, woman and child when it comes to gasoline. When will the minister equalize gasoline prices between north and south?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: By way of a response, some may ask when the honourable member is going to be consistent, rather than being an opportunist running around trying to grab on to every little idea that comes along. However, let me leave that.
I would think most people in northern Ontario would say they have seen more activity from this government in the last two years than they saw in the previous 40 years. I think my honourable friends would even have to admit that. My friend the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier) was embarrassed at how well this government has done in northern Ontario. We have a wide range of programs that were talked about yesterday, and members will hear more things in the future about roads in northern Ontario, about the heritage fund and about northern development programs. There has been an explosion of activity there.
I recognize there are real problems and we have things yet to address, but I can tell members that we are addressing them in a serious-minded and sincere way, the likes of which has never been done in this province before.
Mr. Gordon: There is not one cent for the ordinary people in northern Ontario; nothing that they could spend on food and shelter now. Let us take a look at the speech from the throne. That is the government's brave, new statement. The speech from the throne says the primary policy in northern Ontario is to look at home-grown ideas. This is where we in the north are going to flourish, the government is going to listen to home-grown ideas. I have some home-grown ideas for the government. I have letters from municipalities all across northern Ontario, and they are all asking the government for one thing. They want it to equalize the price of gasoline between north and south. They want the government to put that money back into the pockets of the people of northern Ontario for shelter and food, and the Premier gets up and gives me a blithering answer about something he is going to do 10 years from now. These are the people. They are telling him, "This is our home-grown solution."
Mr. Speaker: Next, the question.
Mr. Gordon: What is the Premier going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I was not looking specifically to the member opposite for any particularly good ideas, but I appreciate the letters he has brought forward to this House. As he knows, that has been an ongoing discussion for a long period of time. I see he has recently jumped on the bandwagon, along with his other colleagues, which is a very interesting change from his predecessor.
With respect to that issue, as the member knows, Dr. Rosehart and a lot of others reported on it. It is an issue that has been referred to the northern development councils for discussion as well, and they have had very interesting discussions about that. There are lots of people who have different ideas on these situations, but a number of people think those moneys are better put back into transportation infrastructure, put back into roads, and used to make sure we have those kinds of opportunities.
Mr. Harris: The Liberal hacks are ripping us off, that is how this government builds our roads. It is going to rip us off and then build our roads with that money. That is a stupid idea, and it did not come from the north.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I do not pretend to be Santa Claus, who can do everything for everybody, spending more on the one hand and cutting taxes on the other hand, but I think he will see us coming forward with very meaningful programs that mean real things, short-term and long-term, for development in northern Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Nipissing (Mr. Harris) may have an opportunity later to ask a question.
Mr. Harris: I will have plenty of time.
Mr. Speaker: Fine.
NORTHERN ONTARIO HERITAGE FUND
Mr. Morin-Strom: I have a question for the Premier and Minister of Northern Development and Mines. New Democrats have long advocated a northern Ontario heritage fund to promote diversification and economic development in northern Ontario. Yesterday, the speech from the throne said that such a fund will be established. However, the Premier told the press that the fund will be funded initially by the hard-hit lumber industry through the 15 per cent export tax on softwood lumber, providing an obviously inadequate funding basis, some $30 million to $40 million. How much provincial money from provincial coffers is the Premier going to put into this fund?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am glad to see my honourable friend stand up in this House and bleed for the pulp and paper companies, these hard-hit pulp and paper companies. This is a new expression of sympathy for them, and I am sure the companies will be glad to hear of this new-found sympathy that my honourable friend has summoned up in his heart.
I just want to remind him that the money is not coming through the export tax directly from those companies; it is going through the federal government and being recycled. That is what is happening with that money. It was a decision by the federal government to extract that, and it is going to come back to the province.
For further details on the northern Ontario heritage fund, he will have to attend the budget of the honourable Treasurer (Mr. Nixon), who will discuss this in great detail.
Mr. Morin-Strom: In other words, the only money that is going in is coming in through the federal government's program and the tax that is going to be imposed on the softwood lumber industry. I agree that the whole issue has been a disaster, but the Premier is just further complicating it and absconding that money rather than putting provincial money into this program.
Layoffs are already hurting northern Ontario communities that depend on the lumber industry. Now that the money from the export tax is being diverted into the northern Ontario heritage fund for long-term capital development -- and the Premier had previously promised to take those funds to soften the negative impact of those layoffs on the northern communities affected -- what is he going to do now for those communities and those workers who are losing jobs in the lumber industry?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: We have been working very closely with a number of the industries, as my honourable friend knows. We have made that commitment to the northern Ontario heritage fund and a lot of other things. We think a lot of other industrial diversifications in northern Ontario are showing some results.
Mr. Pierce: Where?
Hon. Mr. Peterson: My honourable friend may not agree with that, but I do not think he can stand in this House and in any way diminish our commitment to building northern Ontario. I think he knows that is real, and he has seen real results as well.
TEACHERS' LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr. Bernier: I have a question for the Minister of Education. I listened with interest earlier in the day as the minister expounded in great detail about his concern and his compassion for the students of this province. I hope he has some positive answers for me.
The minister is well aware that the secondary school teachers of the Dryden Board of Education have been on strike since April 6 of this year. We are now 23 days into that strike and some 1,600 students are in jeopardy. Two of these schools, the Queen Elizabeth District High School in Sioux Lookout and the Dryden High School, are semestered. The grade 12 and grade 13 students of these schools are in serious jeopardy of losing their school year. Over 100 students have already sought classes in other communities, such as Thunder Bay, Kenora and Fort Frances, at great personal sacrifice and expense.
I would also point out to the minister --
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mr. Bernier: Mr. Speaker, I have to point this out.
Mr. Speaker: I appreciate that; however, it is a lengthy preamble.
Mr. Bernier: It is part of the question where native people are involved. Native students have left the schools.
Mr. Speaker: I appreciate that, but this is question period. Please place your question.
Mr. Bernier: With only two months left in the school year, will the minister reconsider my earlier request to pick up the phone today, call the Dryden school board and the school teachers and urge them to get back to the bargaining table in the interest of all the students in that district?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I am aware of the situation to which the honourable member makes reference and I share his concern. I am very hopeful that the collective bargaining process is going to resolve this situation at an early time so those young people in the Dryden area secondary schools can be back in class receiving the education they require and to which they are entitled. But I want to say that the government takes the view that this situation is best resolved by local parties sitting at the local table working it out together. That is my expectation in this situation, as it is in all others.
Mr. Bernier: I have to tell the minister that is a most disappointing response, after his earlier comments of compassion for the students of this province, to have him stand up in his place and not show any concern for those 1,600 students.
I urge him. This is the 23rd day of that strike. The former Minister of Education, the member for York Mills (Miss Stephenson), did it on two occasions in her capacity as Minister of Education. I also point out to him that the Education Relations Commission has not yet been in touch with the board or the administrator with respect to the jeopardy of the school students. Will the minister take action today?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I want to remind the member of something, which I am sure he has a very keen knowledge of as a former member of the executive council. That is, of course, that the legislation, Bill 100, provides a process. It also gives the Education Relations Commission a mandate to monitor and to facilitate. It is the responsibility of the commission to advise me as to the developments in these disputes, which it is doing.
I repeat, while some can imagine panaceas, experience clearly suggests the best resolution of this kind of difficulty is local boards and local teacher groups deciding these questions and resolving them at the local level in the best interests of the students involved. I expect that will be done in the Dryden dispute.
PURCHASE OF PLANTS
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. What information can the Minister of Labour give this House concerning the Hershey takeover of the Nabisco candy division in terms of the number of jobs that may be lost at the various plants in Toronto, Hamilton and Smiths Falls, as well as the possibility of any of the plants closing? What advance information or consultation took place with his ministry before this takeover announcement?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: There was not advance consultation or discussions before that takeover. The information I have until this date does not indicate there will be layoffs or plant closures within the province. The ministry has been monitoring this matter and has made inquiries. The last information I have, which is one week old, is that no layoffs were contemplated as a result of the takeover.
Mr. Mackenzie: The Cadbury workers were not quite so lucky and I wonder what will happen here. Why does the throne speech contain nothing that would deal with workers' loss of jobs through plant closures or takeovers? Why is there no justification and no producing of information, as the minister himself has just admitted, and no additional assistance for or responsibility to the workers in plant rationalizations? Did the minister lack influence in cabinet before the throne speech or are we looking at another broken Liberal promise?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: It is somewhat humorous to listen to my friend talk about broken promises. This government has lived up not just to the commitments of the document signed some 22 months ago but also to the commitments the Premier (Mr. Peterson) and this government made all over the province. I am very proud of the way we have lived up to the commitments.
I know my friend would not want to forget that within the throne speech there was some discussion of an industrial restructuring commissioner. In the days to come, the government will come forward with its proposals in that regard. We are also continuing to work on and bring forward comprehensive amendments to the Employment Standards Act.
Mr. McLean: I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Simcoe County District Health Council originally reported to him in June 1985 with regard to the hospital in Orillia. Subsequently, in April 1986, the district health council submitted to him its recommendations as to what requirements should be in Orillia. The minister accepted those recommendations in June 1986. Since that time nothing concrete has transpired. Does the minister intend to approve the new hospital for Orillia and to commit funding for it?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman may not be quite aware of all the things that have transpired since June 26, 1985. In addition to other things, we have put in place a very major capital program to which there were requests for assistance at the district health council level, some of those coming from the Simcoe county area.
We asked for and sought out some advice from the district health council in the days following June 1986, upon which his question was based. We have received the advice of that health council and of health councils right across the province with respect to what we can do to put together a full capital plan for Ontario. Those things are now under review. There are no announcements to be made at this time, but when appropriate decisions are made we will be able to advise him further.
Mr. McLean: Yesterday, in the throne speech, the government talked about $850 million for hospital facilities. Is it a commitment for immediate improvement to our hospitals or is it a commitment over eight years? We have two hospitals in the riding of Simcoe East, one in Orillia and one in Midland, that are both looking for funds to improve and build. When is the minister going to act and approve funds for these hospitals?
Hon. Mr. Elston: Because of the starvation diet on which these hospitals existed for a number of years under the administration of the honourable member's party, a lot of hospitals are looking for funds to renovate, regenerate and provide the services they really would like to do.
What is happening is that we are putting together a very major program that is taking a lot of time and consideration so we can help those people who have felt neglected for many years. I agree they were neglected for many years and we now are moving to come up with a program that is responsible and will respond to the needs of the people of those areas.
I have no announcements for the member today. He, of all people, must understand that some very good planning has to be done in the absence of the planning he and his colleagues obviously were not able to undertake in their days in government.
ROOMERS, BOARDERS AND LODGERS
Mr. Reville: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. People who live in rooming houses have been under increasing attack in the last few months. As we speak today, the people who live at 328, 330 and 332 Dundas Street East, 433 Ontario Street, 423 Sherbourne Street, 261 Gerrard Street East and 209 Carlton Street, as well as a very large number of people at 100 Lippincott Street, are facing eviction. Why has the minister delayed, for 16 months, putting a stop to these evictions by bringing roomers under the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act?
Hon. Mr. Curling: As the honourable member knew, I instituted a task force to look into the roomers' and boarders' situation. He asked why I delayed 16 months. He knew the process. He heard the government state very emphatically in the throne speech too that it would be brought under the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Mr. Reville: The minister has neglected to tell the House that the task force process he set up was repudiated by his ministry and that he has had an alternative group writing a report on the task force. In the meantime, literally hundreds of rooming houses have been closed down and thousands of people have been put out on the street with nowhere to live. Will the minister support an immediate bill that will bring roomers, once and for all, under the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act, like every other tenant in this province?
Hon. Mr. Curling: That is not the case at all. The member knew that when Bairstow brought the report forward an advisory group was established by me to bring forward its recommendation and bring its professional skills to it. That is being submitted to me now, and when that results those recommendations will be dealt with. To say that we are delaying it is not so at all, and to say that my staff, by whom he means the civil servants, are putting their views to it is not so. It is the advisory group that is bringing forward its recommendations coupled with Bairstow's recommendations, and we will act on that as soon as it comes forward, without any delay.
Mr. Cousens: I have a question to the Treasurer. It arises from the people of York, the MPPs of York, the region of York, the mayors of York and the commuters of York. People who want to travel into the Toronto area and around Toronto are desirous of information about Highway 407. The speech from the throne yesterday alluded to the possibility of some spending. I want to know how much money has been set aside for Highway 407, for this important need, by the Treasurer.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: It would be inappropriate for me to refer to a specific amount in the budget. We have most of the material ready and I would be pleased to present it to the Legislature as early as May 14, but there seems to be some unwillingness on the part of the member's colleagues and those in the New Democratic Party to agree. There is no way that the specifics in the budget having to do with allocations of public moneys to various programs can be discussed before the budget is put before the House.
Mr. Harris: The throne speech yesterday indicated, "We will seek to attain these goals in a fiscally responsible manner." Given that and given that some thought obviously went into that in the throne speech, I wonder if the Treasurer could tell us, within $100 million or so, how much the throne speech will cost?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, you must be aware, as is the House leader for the official opposition, that the Treasury is deeply involved in the decisions associated with the costing of the throne speech initiatives. It is my responsibility to bring to the House the information required not only by the members of the Legislature but also by the taxpayers, the people who pay the bill. I am quite anxious to do that as early as May 14; if members opposite are anxious to hear it then, I earnestly want their co-operation in that connection.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: I am used to this kind of welcome for my questions.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: The Minister of Community and Social Services today made an announcement about the developmentally handicapped. In the remaining 30 seconds, can he explain why he has arbitrarily chosen 130 individuals to take out of the totally unsatisfactory living locations of homes for special care within the province of Ontario instead of addressing the needs of the full 1,900 developmentally handicapped people who are in those accommodations now but should be in the community?
Mr. McClellan: That is what you told the Toronto Star you were going to do.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I am sorry, but I did not tell the Star that.
Mr. McClellan: The Office of the Premier told the Star.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: No, the Premier's office did not tell the Star that.
As I am sure my colleague would appreciate, the ability of communities and community agencies to be able to provide for the needs of that many people is just not there. Therefore, in consultation with them, we have indicated we will do this in a staged phasing-out. We have committed ourselves, over the next five to seven years, to move out the thousand people who are under the age of 55, and at the same time to work on alternative arrangements for those who are over 55.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Reville: I wish to table a petition signed by 103 residents which reads:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Bring forward Bill 80."
Mr. Warner: I wish to table a petition which reads:
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the Ministry of Health respond to the need for a renal dialysis unit at Scarborough General Hospital, since no such unit exists between the city of Toronto and the city of Kingston."
With these signatures, the total now is 697 persons.
Mr. McGuigan: I have a petition signed by 30 residents.
"To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"Whereas it is our constitutional right to have available and to choose the health care system of our preference;
"And whereas naturopathy has had self-governing status in Ontario for more than 42 years;
"We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment."
THERAPEUTIC ABORTION SERVICES
Mr. Guindon: I wish to table a petition from people in my riding which reads:
"To the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"We, the undersigned, do hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reject the recommendations of the Powell study. We understand that this study recommends the opening of government-run abortion clinics. We believe that there are already too many abortions done in this province and would like to see access restricted and not made easier."
The number of names is 4,873.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have two petitions. The first one reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, want the government of Ontario to be aware of our problem in Windsor and Essex county, of the desperate need for help for underdeveloped children in our community. The regional children's centre at Windsor Western Hospital Centre and the Child's Place of Labelle Street, Windsor, are not adequately funded. The waiting list at both of these establishments is very long. Every day we wait and the need for more money to help these children grows. These children are our future and are the future governments of Ontario. Let us not let them down. Please show us that the buck does not stop in London. Let the people of Essex county know that we are Canadians as well."
It is signed by 2,500 people in the city of Windsor.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The second petition I have deals with a fire where three people were killed, a one-year-old, a two-year-old and a mother 23 years old, in an Ontario Housing Corp. project.
"We, the undersigned residents of Windsor Housing Authority units situated at Reginald Street, would like to bring our concerns to the attention of the Ministry of Housing. We would like to see some kind of comprehensive fire prevention program started out here as soon as possible.
"We would also like to request that more smoke alarms be installed in each unit, as well as one fire extinguisher per unit or apartment. We are extremely concerned about the numerous fires and the subsequent loss of life. The speed at which a fire engulfs a unit concerns us most.
"We respectfully await your urgent action on this matter."
It is signed by all the residents in that housing project.
Mr. Pouliot: I have a petition signed by 1,450 endangered residents of Manitouwadge.
"We, the residents of Manitouwadge and people who travel Highway 614, wish to petition the government of Ontario to complete the resurfacing, rebuilding and reconstruction of Highway 614 between Highway 17 and Manitouwadge in the summer of 1987."
Mr. Gillies: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I just want to bring to your attention and that of the House that the Brantford Clamatos hockey team, better known as the Motts, recently won the Allan Cup in four straight games. Perhaps you could guide me on whether it would be in order to bring that up at this point.
Mr. Speaker: I wish to inform the member that the appropriate time would be during members' statements.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS
Mr. D. R. Cooke from the standing committee on finance and economic affairs presented the committee's report.
Mr. D. R. Cooke: This is a historic first consultation as a result of the request for consultation of the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) in both his budget of 1985 and his budget of 1986. This consultation took place starting in November last year. There was close liaison with the Treasury with regard to the facilities that are available. As well, we spoke to approximately 70 groups, and about 30 of them made oral presentations to the committee.
The result was a unanimous report that the budget should contain additional funds for post-secondary, secondary and primary education; that there should be creation of regional development and economic diversification programs in both northern Ontario and eastern Ontario; that there should be capital works programs in the transportation sector over the course of the next five years; that the government should evaluate the increasing financial responsibilities on municipal governments, particularly with regard to the environmental pollution problems we are facing, and that there be encouragement of community health care programs and institutional management incentives, among other requests.
The committee also unanimously recommended that the government address its operating position, that is the difference between total current revenues and total current expenditures, based on both social and economic responsibilities.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr. R. F. Johnston from the standing committee on social development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill with certain amendments:
Bill 176, An Act to amend the Nursing Homes Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON
Mr. R. F. Johnston from the standing committee on social development presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills with certain amendments:
Bill 177, An Act to amend the Health Facilities Special Orders Act.
Bill 52, An Act to amend the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
Motion agreed to.
Bills ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Ms. Caplan, on behalf of Mr. Brandt, from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bill with certain amendments:
Bill 154, An Act to provide for Pay Equity in the Broader Public Sector and in the Private Sector, the title of which is amended to read An Act to provide for Pay Equity.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered for third reading.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Mr. Breaugh from the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly presented the committee's report.
Mr. Breaugh: This is the report on the service of process on the member for Brantford (Mr. Gillies) within the precincts of the House.
Very briefly, the recommendations are that no action be taken against any individual or member. We are making some recommendations for changes to the sections of the Legislative Assembly Act that deal with what we would call, in the broadest terms, "privilege in the serving of documents."
We also make recommendations in here that would hope to clarify for the public, the legal profession and others who may be interested in the serving of documents and the members themselves and their staffs precisely what all this is about, and that perhaps it should be done in terms that are more readily understood by the immediate world and the immediate world should be made aware of those terms.
Although there is not a specific finding in here, there are matters that are of concern to all members and to others who may be involved in the legal profession. We would draw that to members' attention and ask that at some future time we have a debate on the matter.
On motion by Mr. Breaugh, the debate was adjourned.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
Mr. Callahan from the select committee on health presented the committee's report.
Mr. Callahan: As members know, this committee was set up in July 1986 with a mandate to recommend what role the commercial for-profit sector would play in the provision of services in Ontario.
We met in August. We were briefed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and we thank them for their extensive briefing. We then spent some time in selecting consultants, and we were able to secure Greg Stoddart and Roberta Labelle of McMaster University. They have assisted us considerably and we thank them for their help up to this point and their continuing help through our mandate.
The committee met in September and we decided an essential first step in this inquiry would be to determine the extent of for-profit activity in health and social services in Ontario. We felt this could best be done by compiling an inventory of service delivery by program area, describing what health and social services are delivered in Ontario, how they are delivered and, wherever possible, how delivery has changed over time.
In January 1987, the committee met to hear presentations from its research staff and Research Innovations in order to examine the extent of commercialization in Ontario, to decide those areas on which to focus for public hearings and to discuss the next phase of its inquiry. It was determined at that time that the focus is, first, for the public hearings to be set in two areas, child care and the contracting out of hospital management to the private for-profit sector. A second set of public hearings at a later date will concentrate on long-term care for the elderly, including nursing homes, homes for the aged, homemaking and home nursing services in chronic care facilities.
The interim report that has been filed today is a compilation of the information that was provided to us in the briefings. That is our interim report.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the appointment of the member for Carleton East (Mr. Morin) as Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole House be continued.
Motion agreed to.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that, notwithstanding standing order 2(a), the House shall meet at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, April 30, 1987, and that notwithstanding standing order 71, only ballot item 1 shall be taken up tomorrow morning and that the requirement for notice be waived for ballot items 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE CROWN AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 2, An Act to amend the Proceedings Against the Crown Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Scott: This bill and the bill that follows are bills which were introduced in the last sessions and which are being reintroduced.
BARRISTERS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 4, An Act to amend the Barristers Act.
Motion agreed to.
SOUTH AFRICAN TRUST INVESTMENTS ACT / LOI DE 1987 SUR LES PLACEMENTS SUD-AFRICAINS DÉTENUS EN FIDUCIE
Hon. Mr. Scott moved first reading of Bill 5, An Act permitting Trustees and Other Persons to dispose of South African Investments.
L'hon. M. Scott propose la première lecture du projet de loi 5, Loi permettant aux fiduciaires et à d'autres personnes d'aliéner des placements sud-africains.
Motion agreed to.
La motion est adoptée.
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY OF HALDIMAND-NORFOLK AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved first reading of Bill 6, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: Currently within the region, 75 per cent of the property tax bill is in respect to regional and school board costs. This legislation will allow the implementation of new cost-sharing arrangements based on local taxable assessment and common mill rates for each local government jurisdiction, to correct existing inequities.
Mr. Speaker: Does the minister have another bill?
REGIONAL MUNICIPALITIES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître moved first reading of Bill 7, An Act to amend Certain Acts respecting Regional Municipalities.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: This bill was introduced in the last session but it died on Orders and Notices.
CHILDREN'S LAW REFORM AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. O'Connor moved first reading of Bill 8, An Act to amend the Children's Law Reform Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. O'Connor: This bill was introduced in the last session and is being reintroduced now. When passed, it will provide a new mechanism for the resolution by court-appointed mediators of access disputes concerning children. Further, it will provide for access rights to be exercised through supervised access centres, if necessary. The bill will also add to the factors considered by a court in determining the best interests of the child and the importance of maintaining emotional ties between a child and his or her grandparents. I feel this will be a very useful addition to the law relating to children and their proper maintenance and upkeep in this province.
ONTARIO ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACT
Mrs. Grier moved first reading of Bill 9, An Act respecting Environmental Rights in Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
Mrs. Grier: This act is similar to Bill 172 which was introduced in the last session and which, in turn, is very similar to a bill introduced previously by the member for Huron-Bruce (Mr. Elston). It would give citizens the right to go to court to protect the environment where damage is being done. It would ensure that environmental decisions are not made without a full public hearing. It would provide for access to information, for intervener funding and it would give employees the right to refuse to pollute.
LANDLORD AND TENANT AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Reville moved first reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act. Motion agreed to.
Mr. Reville: The bill will afford roomers, boarders and lodgers the protections of other tenants now provided by the Landlord and Tenant Act.
MOTION TO SET ASIDE ORDINARY BUSINESS
Mr. Martel moved that pursuant to standing order 37, the ordinary business of the House be set aside to discuss the following matter of urgent public importance: the tragic deaths of five workers at Inco in Sudbury within the past month in the light of the report of the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety released today, which concludes that the promise of an improvement in the future wellbeing of workers implied in the Ham royal commission "has, for the most part, gone unfulfilled."
Mr. Speaker: The notice of motion was received in my office at 10:40 a.m. and complies with standing order 37. I will listen to the honourable member for up to five minutes, as well as to representatives from the other parties.
Mr. Martel: Today, I raised a number of matters with the minister and I must say that words do not allow me to respond to his answers. In fact, my friend has gone around this province for the past 10 weeks trying desperately to break the solidarity within the trade union movement that is calling for Bill 149. These are some of the letters demanding that Bill 149 proceed. Union after union, including the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and right on down, has indicated to me, by phoning directly or talking to my staff, that this minister has systematically tried to break the solidarity within the trade union movement on Bill 149. Today he did that knowing full well that the report of the advisory council, his council, including the spouse of the member from London, signed a report indicating that what was going on in that field was atrocious and that in fact workers could not protect themselves under the present act.
Let me indicate the number of fatalities in the past five years that have been recognized. In 1982, there were 228; in 1983, there were 232; in 1984, there were 234; in 1985, there were 195 and in 1986, 220. Those are the fatalities in this province in the past five years that have been recognized; allowed deaths. The number of injuries in that period ranged from 349,747 annually to 442,600 last year. There is a tragedy out there. Surely working people in this province have a right to go to work in the morning feeling that they are going to come home at night safe and sound, and that is not happening.
The best friend we have in this fight is the minister himself because everyone is so opposed to what he is doing. Along with his own staff and friends McKenzie and Laskin, those two phoney characters who wrote a report that was the most atrocious attack on the trade union movement, he has solidified the trade union movement. The only people they did not respond to or reply to were the people who had charge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, industry. We have that kind of slaughter in the work place.
This council, the minister's own council led by Dr. McCalla, in a report that this minister buried for over a year, reported the findings of the survey done for this task force. What were the findings of that committee? The task force report said in part: "The committees are often perceived as ineffective in the most dangerous work places. The ministry concentrates inspection resources on large unionized work places. Nearly 80 per cent of all work places are in violation of the law in some manner. In 35 per cent of all the work places, worker safety representatives are selected by management, a clear contravention of the act." This is a report prepared for the advisory council and the advisory council has said in its report to the minister on March 25 -- let me quote a couple of the main items in his advisory council's report.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I hate to interrupt the honourable member when he is in full flight, but are we not supposed to be debating now whether the debate should proceed, rather than having the substance of the debate? It is difficult for us to participate in an orderly way in the motion before us when the member uses his undoubted ability to launch himself on a tirade directed against the minister, when in fact we are trying to decide whether we should set aside the business of the House.
Mr. Speaker: That is correct. That is the motion before the House, and I am sure the honourable member will continue for his 55 seconds.
Mr. Martel: He just took one minute of my time with his little interjection, which was out of order.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Why do you not let the Speaker judge that? He says that you are out of order.
Mr. Martel: The Speaker does not need the Treasurer's help around here. Does the Treasurer think he is his chief adviser?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: He says you are out of order.
Mr. Martel: Are you his chief adviser?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: He is going to keep you in line.
Mr. Speaker: The honourable member has 30 seconds.
Mr. Martel: Let me talk about why this report --
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: I am saying we must proceed because the minister's own advisory council said that the act does not work, and the promises of Bill 70 and the royal commission are not being fulfilled. The council also says that before we proceed with any specific reform there should be an open forum and a debate. This minister is going around the province trying to kill any opportunity for debate with his presentation to union after union, and he knows it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member's time has expired.
Mr. Gordon: I would like to remind the House that since 1976 there have been three major studies into safety in the mining industry. Volumes have been written on this subject in this province. If the minister were to go down to the legislative e library and walk through it he would find at least 29 page-long bibliographies on health and safety. What perplexes me, what confounds me, and I am certain it confounds many of the other members of this Legislature, is why, after all this, we still have workers dying in Ontario and we still have workers being maimed on the job. In a general sense, I believe that the problem is that we insist on playing with people's lives; we insist on playing with people's lives in the work place; and we do that by making only small changes in the Occupational Health and Safety Act in this province.
I was at Levack mine a few days ago, and it was a dark, grey, cold, rainy day. I was there at about 6:30 and I watched the strained faces of those workers who were waiting for their mates to be brought up from the 3,700-foot level. I want to tell the gentlemen and ladies of the Legislature that I do not want to have to go out to another mine in the next year to wait for another miner's body to be brought up. The union committee that is charged with the responsibility of being involved in the investigation of those kinds of tragedies does not want to be in those mines.
Tragedies such as the one we are talking about in Sudbury right now are not unknown in the Sudbury region, and I would just like to point out a statistic to my colleagues that I think highlights one of the very basic reasons that the debate in this House has to be today. Since 1976 there have been 134 mining fatalities in Ontario, and 45 of those deaths have occurred in Sudbury mines. That is more than one in three have died in the Sudbury region in mining fatalities.
In Ottawa, we have a debate going on right now about the death penalty and about what is to be done when policemen's lives are taken, and it is a just debate; but somehow our society does not react quite as strongly when a worker is killed. The same universal demand to strengthen the law is not heard when a miner's life is lost or when other workers' lives are lost. I think that is perhaps because we have lost perspective as to what is really going on in the work place in Ontario today.
As well, a few days ago, at a funeral home, I was introduced to one of the wives of one of those workers. In her grief, she turned to two young boys who could not have been more than eight or 12 years of age, who were huddling together, and you could see it was out of fear and grief about what had happened to their father, and she said to them: "I want you to meet Mr. Gordon. He is a big man." I was so humbled by that. Do members know what she was saying? She was saying that members of this Legislature are elected, are given the power to change things and that is why they are "big men." We are not really big men. We are just ordinary people, but what we have to do, colleagues, is we must debate this issue today in this House, because the people of Ontario, the ordinary workers in Ontario who do not represent any special privileged interest group, deserve no less. I call on you today to debate. I call for that debate .
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I agree with some of the wording of this motion, the description of the deaths as tragic. There is no doubt about that. Whether it is irrelevant, I can say, on behalf of my colleagues, that we agree with that assessment. The Premier (Mr. Peterson) and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) went to Sudbury immediately. We do not have to argue that we assess this as a tremendously important and tragic circumstance.
You are also aware, Mr. Speaker, that the regular order of business this afternoon calls for a debate on the speech from the throne. On page 38 of that speech, there is a reference to worker safety. Whether the reference was there, under our rules, there will be a complete and open time for an extensive discussion and debate about worker safety, and no doubt there will be during the course of the debate.
To set aside the business, in my view, is illogical in that we agree on the tragic nature of this matter. The speech that we are about to debate deals with that and, if the opposition members consider it inadequate, of course it is their right and responsibility to point out that inadequacy. We, on this side, are prepared to proceed with the debate on the policies of the government. We simply indicate to you, Mr. Speaker, that we are anxious to proceed in that regard .
Mr. McClellan: We can do it tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: Certainly we can do it tomorrow and we will do it tomorrow. In the letter signed by the House leader of the Conservatives, the official opposition, he points out his concern that with today's emergency debate and given that the standing orders require eight days of throne debate prior to the budget, that he is concerned that, in fact, there may not be sufficient time.
Mr. Martel: On a point of order: The Treasurer should be speaking to the substance. That is what he just finished telling me not six or seven minutes ago. He should be speaking to the substance of the motion, which he is not doing.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The motion is giving reasons for or against the setting aside of the business of the House. Order.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: The member for Sudbury East is wrong again.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Martel: Oh no, Mr. Speaker. He told me I had to speak to the substance of the motion and he is not doing that. He cannot have it both ways.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: There is only one way to have it, and the motion is to whether we will have the debate now. The honourable member will have an opportunity later to repeat his flights of oratory and we will hear them on a number of occasions. It so happens that his first flight was out of order, and I brought that to the attention of Mr. Speaker and, as I understood it, he agreed. I am simply saying that we have every opportunity in the normal course of events in the order of business set down on the Orders and Notices to debate this matter.
For reasons the member from Sudbury has put forward, he is prepared to move that this be set aside. There would be those who would say -- and they would be out of order and they might be attributing motives -- that his motives are something less than pristine and that the generalissimo of the New Democratic Party, who actually signed this motion and who was not in the House when the time came for it to be presented, is calling the shots over there. I must say that the member from Sudbury is much more capable of flights of oratory in this connection.
I simply want to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that the ordinary course of events would deal with this important and tragic matter in a way that would be much better than setting aside the ordinary course of business and proceeding with an emergency debate. The NDP at least has the good sense to keep some of its members in here as we come up to the emergency debate. When we look at the members of the official opposition, as usual, they are busy about other matters.
We believe that we should proceed with the orderly debate on the government's policy which is going to be under attack. We think it is correct; the members on the other side of the House do not and they want to attack it. We have a system that works well for debate in this House, pending a vote when it is decided whether the members over there are going to support us. It is extremely important that we do that. I certainly do intend to vote against this debate.
I urge the honourable members, who under normal circumstances are logical and supportive of the understandable procedures that have developed in this House over many years, to reconsider. On that basis, I ask that the motion be put.
Mr. Martel: This is one of the procedures under the standing orders.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Harris: I bring a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I do not like to do it, but I do. I think the House leader for the government may want to reconsider some of the things he said towards the tail end of his speech that was supposed to be on the point. I believe he used words imputing motive. On behalf of some honourable members of this Legislature, I think he may want to reflect on that and withdraw any connotation that there was any motive other than honesty, integrity and a desire among members of all parties of this House to address a very serious matter.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: On the point of order, I used my words rather carefully. I said, "Some might say." Mr. Speaker, I want you to review that and I will certainly abide by your decision in this connection.
Mr. Speaker: I will certainly be very pleased to do as requested. I will review the transcript. I inform the members that we have now completed standing order 37(c), where three members within this House had the opportunity to express their views on whether this debate should go forth.
Standing order 37(d) states that the Speaker shall then put the question, "Shall the debate proceed?" which I do now.
All those in favour will please say "aye."
All those opposed will please say "nay."
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Speaker: The debate will continue. Are there any members wishing to participate? The member for Sudbury East has up to 10 minutes.
Mr. Martel: I have always been amazed how it is that working people can make money for corporations and they are very responsible. Yet when it comes time to protect their health and safety they suddenly become irresponsible and they are not given power within legislation with which to protect themselves. I find that passing strange.
This minister is doing exactly what the previous government has done, that is, in his draft proposals, he does not give workers any power whatsoever. He leaves the status quo. In fact, what the report I received anonymously today says is that the system does not work; his own advisory council says it does not work.
Let me say in the most blunt and harsh terms I can use that if this Legislature, if this government fails to give workers the right to protect themselves, regardless of the outcry from its corporate friends, and workers continue to die, roughly one every working day of the year, as they have for the past five years as a result of the poor legislation that is in place, we are as guilty as any madman who guns down a policeman or injures some innocent person, because we have listened to the corporate sector, which does not want workers to have those rights to protect themselves.
The present legislation gives total and absolute power under the act to management. The role of the working class in that legislation is merely a consultative role. They have no rights under the act to protect themselves. A lot of my friends think they have rights, but in fact the act gives absolute power to management.
If people want to say management has that right because it owns the operation, that is crazy. Working people should not have to sacrifice their lives to the god called money. In fact, if they can make profit for people and are responsible enough to do that, surely they have the right to protect their lives and their safety. The slaughter and the mayhem that continue in this province have to stop.
When the minister's own advisory council reports to him and he continues to run around the province in the face of that report, which calls for hearings, a new debate, a new dialogue in order to get at the problems that are causing the havoc out there, and he continues to espouse that hunk of junk he has presented which continues the status quo -- as well as the minister, there is only one group that has asked for the status quo to be continued: McKenzie-Laskin. Of course, the minister paid McKenzie-Laskin to do an in-house inquiry, which should have been public. He did not want it public. Those are the only ones.
The Law Reform Commission of Canada says the internal responsibility system does not work. The Provincial Auditor says it does not work, time after time. The minister's own advisory task force says it does not work -- and he shakes his head. I am glad, because listen to what they say.
I quote his own advisory council: "The apparent lack of measurable progress at the shop floor level is evident also in the results of the council's survey of joint health and safety committees. Although there may be some room for debate about the conclusions to be drawn from the data, it is clear from the survey that the committee system, as established under the act, is not adequate." Let me go on. "Furthermore, there is no consensus that the internal responsibility system is functioning effectively."
What more does the minister want? It does not work, and what the minister perpetuates in his draft legislation is more of the same. He does not change the balance of power one iota; it remains constantly with management, and the minister cannot deny it. This is his own task force made up of people from universities, the business community and the trade union movement -- and he shakes his head.
In fact, when they did the survey, which the minister sat on for over a year before releasing it, they said -- and I quoted some of them earlier before I was interfered with by the House leader for the government -- "In violation of the law, fully 33 per cent of work places with 20 or fewer employees which use designated toxic substances have no safety committee." Ten years after the act they have no health and safety committees, and the minister wants to perpetuate more of the same.
"In 11 per cent of work places, the worker representative never conducts an inspection. Worker representatives from 26 per cent of all work place committees make no health or safety recommendations whatsoever, those from 38 per cent making recommendations that have no requirement to spend money. In 1,500 work places in which the ministry says there are no designated toxic substances in use, workers and management reported the use of designated substances."
The minister wants more of the same. That is what his bill does. His own advisory task force says you cannot go on with it, do not proceed with legislation until there is an forum which adequately -- let me quote: "There is need to restore confidence in this system. An opportunity must be provided for public input and debate on these fundamental issues and concerns before consideration is given to specific proposals for reform."
His own task force probably has condemned the minister more in its short, three-page report than I have been able to do in three years. They have blistered him. I could not believe the content of that report when I received it. It is an out-and-out attack on the minister, no one else. For two years he has played games. He has said such things as he is improving, he is hiring more staff. Baloney. He will have roughly the same number of inspectors he had in 1981 in place by the time he gets his new staff.
The minister has a code 99 that he introduced. Code 99 merely means that unless there is an accident, unless there is a work refusal, there is no inspection. The union calls it crisis management. He does not have enough inspectors. My God, there are 250,000 work places at least, and he has 200 people. I talked to an inspector the other day who had 1,300 work places to inspect.
The minister protects people so well that some of his own staff have been sensitized to isocyanates because he could not even protect them. He sits there, and so everything is well in the world. He makes pompous statements about how things are better, conditions are improving, when his own task force, his own advisory council said it is not working not one month ago.
He has continued to go around the province with that document in his possession trying to head off any public debate, any type of forum to discuss occupational health and safety. Is the minister telling me that every trade union leader who has come to me in the past month is lying, that the heads of labour councils are lying when they say the minister is trying to head off any debate and does not want Bill 149?
Mr. McClellan: We know what they are saying.
Mr. Martel: I know what they are saying to me. I know what these letters say to me. I know the pop and the nonsense he has handed us over the years about how many more inspectors there will be. The total is going to be what: 240, 241 maybe, when he is done? There is nothing going on that is going to protect working people, and they have a right to protect themselves. I do not care if the corporate sector squeals a little, because the corporate sector is not the group dying. The people who are dying are the workers, one every working day of the year for the past five years.
I will leave the statistics so my colleagues can take on the minister when he gets up and says no. There have been enough people killed or injured in the past year to fill Maple Leaf Gardens to capacity on 26 consecutive nights, a full house of injured workers. Surely it is time for this government, this Premier (Mr. Peterson), to say: "We have had enough. We are going to have public hearings, and if the minister does not like it, he can resign."
Mr. Pierce: It saddens me to rise and speak in an emergency debate that has been brought about because of the death of four more people in Ontario. Any debate that is motivated by death, whether it be the death of a worker, a policeman or an injured person, is a tough debate to take part in.
I can tell you from my past experience as a miner the situation these poor people experienced just prior to the accident that took their lives. I spent many years in the mines, years underground as an electrician, years inspecting and doing the same type of job that these people were doing, inspecting the shafts, checking out the skipways, checking the hoists, making sure that everything in the mine was going to be in good operating condition for the next worker.
Because of my background and my history in the mines, I have also spent many years on safety committees and felt the frustrations in dealing with mine management, the frustrations in dealing with mine inspectors, the frustrations in trying to get recognition that somewhere, some day, production has to stop in order to make the work place a safe place to be.
Every miner goes to work every day of his life with the idea he may not come home. It is a high-risk industry. We recognize that. The people working in the mines recognize that, but those people are prepared, because it is necessary for them in order to bring home the bacon for their families and to provide an income for their families.
I can tell you of a personal experience I had in a shaft with a downhill conveyor that used to run away every so often, and it used to run away when it was full. There were what they called escape cuts in the shaft, so that if the conveyor ran away, you could get out of the way. If you were at the bottom, where the conveyor belt dumped into a hopper, I am afraid you would not come back up again. For many years, we tried to get safety measures included in the operation of that conveyor, but for many years, our concerns were not listened to. Fortunately for us, that job came to an end before the life of any miner came to an end.
We have a chance now to make sure we provide the necessary safety and accident prevention measures to protect the workers in the work place, to allow them to be an important part and to play a major role in the safety measures that are required to make sure we do not stand in debate again in this House because of an accident that has taken the lives of any more people, whether it be in the mining industry, the construction industry or any other industry where workers are.
These people who lost their lives in Sudbury were young. They were at the middle threshold of their lives. They will never have an opportunity to see their children graduate from schools and marry or to have grandchildren.
In many cases in the mines, miners go to work at the strangest time of the day. They work in the strangest of conditions that nobody else can appreciate except a miner who works under those conditions. They plead during negotiations. They plead during meetings. They plead during union meetings for somebody to pay attention to their concerns in the industry, for somebody to cut back that little bit on production to make sure that everybody who goes down comes back up again and that they walk out.
The Minister of Labour (Mr. Wrye) has gone around the province letting the workers know that he is concerned and that the present government is very interested. I am afraid he has not accepted the responsibility of going further and bringing in legislation that allows the workers to have a say, a say that goes beyond just that across the table, a say that becomes enforced and ensures that the safety factors they require are, in fact, endorsed in the industry and become part of the work place.
These people know better than anybody the conditions they work under. They know better than anybody that, although they depend very heavily on the mechanical devices, you can still build in extra precautions. In this case in Sudbury, where there were two areas that were supposed to have stopped the rock from busting through, I think if you look at what happened, perhaps the only safety measure that could have prevented this accident was to have no rocks in the hoppers and for the shaft to be empty of all debris, so that if by some quirk of fate those gates opened, there was nothing to fall. After being a miner for as many years as I was, I cannot for the life of me understand how anybody could be working under a hopper that was full. Never mind the number of safety precautions that were built into the shaft to stop the rock if it fell out; there never should have been any rock in the hopper. Some of these things are almost common sense, yet they happen.
I think the Minister of Labour has to be prepared to stand up and say it is time now that there were more inspectors, more inspection of work places, more onus on workers and companies to make sure that all the safety factors, not only the ones that are written but also beyond the ones that are written, are such that these fatalities do not happen in the industry again.
We on this side of the House convey our deepest sympathies to the families of the workers who have been injured and to the workers' wives and families who have suffered such a tragedy.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Since finding out late this morning that there would be this emergency debate, I gave some thought to what remarks I might make in this debate. Certainly, I am at times sorely tempted by the remarks of my friend the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) to participate in a way that, on reflection, I might regret.
The terrible tragedy of a couple of weeks ago at Levack mine, the trip the Premier and I took to Sudbury that day and my return to Levack and Chelmsford on the Saturday following rate as perhaps the lowest point, the saddest point of my two years as minister. I share the views of all members of the House that it is something none of us wants to see again.
It is well for all of us to reflect upon why the tragedy at Levack brings home the fact that health and safety should be the kind of high priority that they are and why all of us in all parties in this House have perhaps been speaking out more in this area and in this field in the last little while than we did when I first arrived here six years ago.
Very briefly, with this kind of tragedy, I know my colleagues will want to know where we are in terms of the investigation. My colleagues will understand why I will not be terribly precise, but I want to bring them up to date.
A number of senior officials of the mining health and safety branch have been on site since literally almost minutes after the tragedy, including for a time the director of the branch. Two investigators from the branch remain actively involved in the investigation. They have been interviewing witnesses and conducting a thorough investigation of all matters relating to the incident. Of course, a coroner's inquest is mandatory in these cases and one has been called.
The director of the mining health and safety branch was on the scene the day of the tragedy, remained there for more than a day, indeed was down in the mine late on the evening of the tragedy, and has been keeping both myself and the Minister of Northern Development and Mines (Mr. Peterson) informed on an ongoing basis.
I should tell my colleagues that a re-enactment of the accident was conducted on April 20. It was attended by police, ministry and union investigators.
As well, we announced a two-phase activity. The first was inspections of all loading pocket and shaft inspection procedures in Ontario. Whatever orders are appropriate will be issued on any immediate hazards identified. My friend the member for Rainy River (Mr. Pierce) spoke quite eloquently about the whole issue of the loading pockets and his concerns in that regard, and I note his remarks with interest.
In a second phase, a comprehensive review of accident statistics, engineering standards, arrangements and inspection procedures in Ontario and other jurisdictions, particularly in the United States and Germany, will take place. The federal government through the Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology has agreed to participate jointly in the national and international aspects of this study. It is being co-ordinated by C. R. Trenka, senior electrical mechanical engineer with the mining branch of the Ministry of Labour.
Through all these efforts and through the joint efforts of government, labour and management in this regard, I am sure we can come up with a better and, hopefully, a completely fail-safe procedure to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.
I want to indicate to my colleagues that in spite of this tragedy -- as I said, one death is too many and yet we have had four at Levack and one just a month previously at Crean Hill -- I would not want it to go unnoticed and I want it to be put on the record that in spite of these very glaring examples on the other side, we have had some very real improvements in the mining health and safety area.
In the mining industry, the lost-time frequency has been steadily reduced to the point at which it is at its lowest frequency ever in history. I think the statistic for 1986 is 3.9 for 200,000 man-hours. I noted a few days before the accident at a follow-up conference in Sudbury on ground control and emergency preparedness that if you look at all the safety branches that report under the Workers' Compensation Board, the mining safety branch had the second-worst record in 1980 and by 1986 it had the third-best record.
There have been real and spectacular improvements. Indeed, this is what makes this whole tragedy so frustrating for all of us in so many ways. Improvements had been taking place at Levack. In 1986, there were only eight orders issued and there has been only one issued to date in 1987. All had been complied with. The lost-time accident frequency for nickel mining in Ontario is 3.2 in 1986 and in the first three months of this year it was only two. In other words, the downturn was continuing; the decline was continuing.
Inco's frequency was even below that. It was 2.8 for 1986 and for the first three months of this year had been 1.6. Levack had a slightly higher one than Inco in general. It was 3.1 in 1986, but until the tragedy of early April, there had been no lost-time accidents at Levack. Indeed, much has been said and much has been written about the fact that the company and the Levack mine had received the first five-star award. In fact, on the day of the funeral the miners of Levack, very proud of their record, wore their five-star jackets.
I think we have made some progress. We have made some very major changes and very positive changes. I note that the number of accidents in the fiscal year that just ended was 84, which is actually one higher than in 1985-86. These are accidents investigated by the branch. Nevertheless, with the growth in our work force and the fact that we had more lost-time injuries represents some small measure of encouragement. We are determined to do better in 1987-88. Perhaps out of the tragedy at Levack we will put in place additional efforts to do even better.
I want to acknowledge that we have also been trying to make some very real improvements within the health and safety division. In that regard, I want to put these facts on the record because there were some comments about the lack of staff and the need for more staff. Since June 1985, the division and related services -- by that I am speaking about the legal services branch of the ministry -- has received 215 new positions and just less than $11 million to fund those new positions. I do not think there is a division anywhere in government in any government in Canada that has had that kind of increase in resources. This government is in deadly earnest about getting on with the job. We have added inspectors. We have added people in the occupational health branch, hygienists and others, by the dozens.
In fact, as I toured the province, one of the problems as a result of hiring additional people so quickly was that we actually have a growing problem of overcrowding, which we will deal with as quickly as possible. We have been hiring people so that we can get on with the job that all members of the Legislature want us to get on with.
Finally, in the last few seconds let me say that we have put out draft proposals and draft amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. What emerges from those proposals is a newer world than that which is under the current Bill 70. It responds to the government's recognition that an internal responsibility system can work only if the work place parties share power in a better way than they do now and if there are rigorous and effective enforcement mechanisms in place. We are determined to do that and we hope to bring forward those amendments at the earliest possible occasion.
I found it very useful having discussions with both business and labour during the time the Legislature was out and I hope to be able to continue those discussions in the months to come.
Mr. Mackenzie: We should be asking ourselves, all of us, why we are debating this emergency resolution today. I think it is a very legitimate question.
In response to the death of the four miners on April 14, the Premier is quoted as saying, and I read from the Globe and Mail: "Mr. Peterson said that the deaths of the four miners are a terrible tragedy. `I guess what troubles me the most is that it was one of those things that was preventable, it seems to me, somehow or other,' he said. `It wasn't as if it was an act of nature. It saddens me a great deal, as it saddens everyone in the community.'"
In the Toronto Star there was a piece that said, "The four appear to have been victims of `a preventable accident,' Premier Peterson said yesterday through an aide."
These four miners, following the death of another miner just three weeks earlier at Inco's Crean Hill mine, were but the latest in an ongoing tragedy in terms of miners' deaths in this province. I have to ask, where have the Premier and the Minister of Labour been for the past several years?
The minister talks about more discussion on this since 1981. I go back only to 1975, but it has been a central issue since I have been in this House and we are not a heck of a lot further ahead. Death and disability in the work place and their causes have been outlined and argued with particular intensity in this House and in the committees of this House, in the media, in union halls and union conventions and in the churches over the past several years.
Over the past two years my colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), along with a group from across the union movement that at times numbered in the hundreds, has catalogued health and safety cases, researched the causes and the problems, pinpointed in detail the woefully inadequate legislation and protection for workers in present legislation in Ontario and argued extremely forcefully for necessary changes, so far to little avail.
The member for Sudbury East has not been alone. Never before have I seen the labour movement so involved and so committed to an issue. Workers from across this province played a major role in drafting my colleague's Bill 149. That bill received second reading in this House. In political terms, I am afraid it received second reading for only one reason: The minister and his government had sat on their fannies in a state of near stupefaction for so long, in spite of such overwhelming evidence of their own culpability and in the face of a finally enlightened and aroused public, that had they voted against Bill 149 in the debate in the House it would have been political suicide.
However, having been forced to vote for the member for Sudbury East's Bill 149 -- I know the minister himself was absent but many of his members did so -- because this Liberal government itself had nothing to offer, has he been ready to proceed to public hearings and clause-by-clause discussion on the bill? Not on your life.
We now have the ludicrous picture of the Minister of Labour, and we are getting reports on it almost two or three times a week, running around the province, trying to meet with union presidents and heads of labour councils to argue against, among other things, public hearings and to sell his own legislation which is inadequate. As a matter of fact, he talks about those labour councils that are against Bill 149. Before the debate is over, he has an obligation to get up and name them because we will be back in this House with them.
It is a pathetic attempt at an end run around the Ontario Federation of Labour and the safety and health people who out of their frustration with this government have worked so hard and so long to draft Bill 149. I think the minister, desperate to get back in the ball game and regain some credibility, which he does not have, and even more to try to prevent public hearings that would further expose his and his government's culpability in the work place slaughter, comes across like a little boy trying to reach the washroom before he has an accident. It is not working and it will not work. Public hearings are one of the bottom-line requirements and this minister had better know it. He has been desperate in his attempt to avoid that up until now.
My colleague is not an unreasonable man. We will look at amendments to a piece of legislation that has been drafted. We will look at amendments that may be necessary to make it a better bill or where we may have gone a little further than the minister thinks he can take the government, but he should not continue to try to flog the pile of garbage that is little more than his own deathbed repentance in terms of safety and health in Ontario. For once, he should show some courage and intelligence and accept what every real work-place health and safety committee tells him, that we need the kinds of changes represented in Bill 149, not the kind of weak attempt the minister is trying to flog across Ontario now.
I am serious and my party is serious when we tell the minister that workers are entitled to a careful exercise of authority in an unsafe operation. They do not have that now and they do not have it so far in the minister's proposed legislation. The stupidity of following the crass and unfeeling advice of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which the minister seems to be doing at times, is unbelievable. In one of their letters, they argue -- I sometimes wonder if this is not the minister's basic argument -- that the control of safety has to be left in the hands of owner-managers. That should be much too much even for the Liberal Party in Ontario today.
I say to the minister and this government that in few areas have they failed as badly as in the area of safety and health legislation. The member for Sudbury East was right. I have the document to their own committee. It lists the shortcomings, and they are legion. When one has the obligation and authority over workers' health and safety, and when the cases have been presented as often, as forcefully and as accurately as has been the case in this House, there is no longer any excuse for inaction or for any attempt to flog an inferior piece of legislation. If this continues to be the position of this government, it can and will and should be held responsible for the slaughter in the work place.
It may well be time that we consider carefully whether or not the Premier and the minister should be allowed to excuse themselves -- I am sorry to have to say it that way -- with the words of sympathy we see in their response to the deaths of these five young miners, the four and the one earlier. When they have not brought forward the legislation, given the kinds of arguments that have been made and the kinds of problems that have been outlined -- it covers more than just the mining situation, but that is where we have really seen it driven home in recent days -- and when they have failed so totally and under the kind of pressure we know they have been under in this House on these kinds of issues, then maybe it is time we took a look at whether the minister and the Premier had some responsibility in terms of the deaths of these miners.
Maybe they are party to the situation that resulted in the deaths. Maybe they should be held accountable for at least a manslaughter situation in Ontario. I think we have to talk that tough. I think this is exactly what we are facing.
It is not as if they did not have the case and the arguments put before them. They have had, and they have had the entire union movement telling them so. They are trying to use the kind of con job we heard here today on the people who do not agree with this bill. What they do not agree with is the inadequacy of the kind of legislation they have tried to give us in Ontario.
When officers of this government are responsible for what happens to those miners, maybe at that point we will get some action. I hope they have the common sense to look seriously and to get on immediately with Bill 149, which is before this House, because it is the best answer yet drafted by the people who are involved in the health and safety field.
Mr. Gillies: This emergency debate today is very sad for all of us, but I think it is a very necessary debate, and I am glad the members brought it forward for consideration by the House today.
I want to say, and I want to come back to this, it is all the more important that we have this debate today because to date we have seen no indication from the government that there will be an opportunity for a committee of this House to review the McKenzie-Laskin report, something we and the New Democratic Party have been asking for for some time.
We have now had it called into question, indeed, whether there will be an opportunity for a committee of this House to consider the private member's bill that was put forward by the member for Sudbury East. I would certainly look forward to that opportunity, and I would hope it would not be the wish of any party in this House to deny us that opportunity.
So we talk today again, and certainly I agree with the minister that it seems there have been many opportunities in the last number of months to talk on and on about health and safety matters, but we have to do so today in the light of and faced with the reality of a particular tragedy.
I no longer have the responsibility of being the Labour critic for my party; that has moved to my friend and colleague the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon). But even as Environment critic for my party, I was meeting with Inco officials last week on some environmental matters and I raised this matter with them also, because I think it is of concern to all members in this House.
We have a situation that is all the more glaring and all the more upsetting because of the improvements in the safety record in the mining sector in the last while. I understand the accident rate in mining has dropped some 60 per cent in the last 10 years. That is something we are all very glad of, but when we are faced with two accidents and the death of five people in a comparatively short time, it is glaring, it is jarring, and it deserves all the attention and all the energy we can devote to it to see what we should be doing by way of legislation and regulation to prevent the recurrence of such tragic situations.
I asked the officials I was meeting with from Inco what happened at Levack. Obviously, we can draw only general conclusions, and certainly none of us would want to prejudice the findings of any coroner's jury or any other full investigation, but it would appear from what we do know that this accident was not a pit-head accident. The men were actually engaged in a kind of maintenance work, as opposed to being at the lead end, the working end of the mine, if you will, and as was alluded to by my colleague the member for Rainy River (Mr. Pierce), who spent many years in the mines and knows more about them than most of us, the gates opened on a hopper full of rocks.
The question remains then, I guess, and the investigations will have to determine, whether the rock should have been in that hopper and stored in that way when there were workers hundreds of feet below it doing maintenance work. So, as it appears, the gates opened and these men, hundreds of feet below, were crushed by tons of rock.
I did not see it. My friend the member for Sudbury went to the mine. I know the minister, the Premier and others went, and indeed, my friends the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and the member for Sudbury East may actually have been at the site. I am sure it is a terrible thing to see the faces of the co-workers, the relatives and others anxiously awaiting the news from below and seeing the outcome of such a terrible accident.
What should we be doing? I have to say to the minister that we were not very happy that on the last day of the last session he brought in a proposal, a draft for amendments he may bring forward. He has had numerous suggestions on the table that I and other members of the House felt could have been moved along before now.
We are troubled too at the very different information we are receiving and the different conclusions that are being drawn, let us say, from the McKenzie-Laskin report on the one hand and the memorandum to the minister from the advisory council on the other hand. I want to quote what the advisory committee of the minister is telling him:
"The promise of an improvement in the future wellbeing of workers implied in the royal commission report has, for the most part, gone unfulfilled. Accident and fatality rates recorded by the WCB remain intolerably high. Furthermore, there is no consensus that the internal responsibility system is functioning effectively or that alone it can realistically be expected to act as an instrument for change."
The leaked document goes on to talk about a deteriorating situation in terms of the cooperation between labour and management and the ability of the ministry to co-operate with both labour and management to come to some answers. It says the situation has deteriorated to the type of situation that preceded the Ham commission some 10 years ago and the kind of frustration, the kind of anger that led to the kinds of debates we have had more recently and indeed to the introduction of Bill 149.
The minister is probably saying: "Fine. What should we do then?" What he should do first is to allow that bill to come forward, and encourage it to come forward, for consideration by a committee. I would hope he would do that. At the time we debated that bill, I said to my colleague the member for Sudbury East that I did not agree with each and every aspect of Bill 149, but frankly, who cares? The way the process works around here is that when a piece of legislation comes forward, it goes to committee, and at that time, all of us have an opportunity to review it and make the changes that may be necessary. But if we are all sitting around, particularly those of us in opposition who have ideas or plans for the improvement of situations in this province, and all they do is go to a second reading debate and then go to oblivion, what have we accomplished?
It may well be that if and, I hope, when the bill of the member for Sudbury East goes to a committee, my colleagues and I will be moving some amendments to it, but the bill should be reviewed in depth at the committee level. Indeed, the draft recommendations put forward by the minister should be brought forward as a piece of legislation as quickly as possible so it can be reviewed and possibly amended. The kind of vague allusion to work-place health and safety that we had in the throne speech is not enough in and of itself. We are past that. We do not need a reminder that there is a serious situation and that something has to be done. We knew that six months ago, and the minister knew it or he would not have appointed McKenzie-Laskin. We all knew it or the private member's bill would not have come forward. We are really past that. We are at the stage now where we should be going through clause by clause on whatever it is that we are going to put in place to try to address these situations. I encourage the minister to do it.
In a previous incarnation, the minister used to be criticized from time to time for being too pro-labour on health and safety matters. I have been criticized during my tenure as Labour critic for being too pro-labour on health and safety matters.
Mr. Wildman: You cannot be too pro-labour.
Mr. Gillies: I have to agree with my friend the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman). I have to agree and tell him that any criticism in the health and safety area that says I am too pro-labour I take as a compliment, because I believe this is one area where urgent and pressing action has to be taken.
Mr. Warner: I will see the member on the picket line.
Mr. Gillies: I have been on a few picket lines, I tell my friend. Some of his people did not always like it when I turned up, but I was there.
I urge the minister to take the comments that are being made today in the most serious vein possible. I know that he does treat this very seriously and that an accident such as that at Levack troubles him as much as it troubles any of us. I urge him to accommodate the opposition's request for a full consideration of the private member's bill. I urge him to accommodate a full review of the McKenzie-Laskin report by the members of this House. I urge him to bring his draft recommendations forward on an urgent basis so they can be amended and brought into legislation. Let us do what we can.
We know one glaring thing: last year there were some 240 deaths in the work place in this province, and that was a dramatic increase over 170-odd the year previous. It is a situation, regardless of politics, that none of us can or should tolerate.
Ms. Caplan: l rise to participate in this debate with the knowledge that my colleagues should know -- and I believe do know -- that the government is working to enhance the provincial occupational health and safety system.
The Minister of Labour has clearly made occupational health and safety his top priority since assuming office. As members know, there have been very active legislative and regulatory programs in this area. There has also been a great deal of attention paid to very important administrative reform.
As was mentioned yesterday in the speech from the throne, one of the highest priorities of this government has been to ensure that existing statutes are firmly and fairly administered. In the health and safety field, I believe the Minister of Labour found cases where poor conditions were permitted to continue too long before tough action was taken.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Morin): Order.
Ms. Caplan: I believe the minister responded by putting his mark on the policies regarding the issuance of orders, protection and prosecutions.
In the new orders policy promulgated in November 1985, the minister eliminated the practice of repeat orders. Employers were given a fair chance to rectify contraventions under the policy. Failure to comply with deadlines set in the orders results in the issuance of a notice that the employer is liable to prosecution for failure to comply with provisions of the act or a regulation.
As a result of this government's policy of firm but fair enforcement of the act, the number of cases referred by the occupational health and safety division to the legal services branch has more than doubled. I think that is very significant. There was a 39 per cent increase in 1984-85 and 1985-86 and a further 94 per cent increase from 1985-86 to 1986-87. That is a significant result of this new policy. The new policy requires time limits on all orders. This reduces the chances that orders will be ignored and enhances follow-up by the inspectorate.
The minister has also put in place new policies concerning complaints and notifications of inspections. These policies provide the inspectorate with uniform and consistent guidance. While they respect and reinforce the responsibilities of the work place parties, they again highlight the minister's commitment to protect the health of workers in this province. For instance, an inspector is required to investigate a complaint and protect the anonymity of the complainant. I believe the ability to complain with anonymity is fundamental within this process.
Where the internal responsibility system has failed to take appropriate and corrective action, the minister's policy continues to be no notification of inspections except where the minister is satisfied that the health and safety of workers would be protected by that notification. Only after careful review of a comprehensive set of factors, most important of which is the health and safety record of a company, will the minister approve notification.
The minister has just issued a new appeal procedure that is designed to ensure that it provides the parties with a hearing as soon as practicable. The ministry is committed to the principle that a hearing should be scheduled as soon as practicable following a reasonably short, and let me repeat "short," period in which the parties to the appeal are provided with an opportunity to settle the matter.
These are just some of the administrative enhancements I am referring to. When this government took office, it found that the resources devoted to occupational health and safety programs had been seriously eroded. The program did not have the resources to deliver the services required to enforce the act in a firm but fair way. It certainly did not have the resources, and we acknowledge that, to deliver a health and safety program that could meet the expectations of society and the expectations of this new government.
Since June 1985, the present government has allocated some 215 new positions and about $11 million to the program in the following way: 43 positions to increase the number of inspections on construction sites; 54 positions to increase inspections for the industrial sector; 52 positions to provide greater occupational and health service, particularly in connection with designated substances; seven positions to establish a designated-substances enforcement unit; nine positions to enhance the capacity of the legal services branch to deal with an increasing number of prosecutions -- that is particularly significant; it was very important that the legal services branch be able to deal with these increasing numbers of enforcements -- and 10 positions to enhance the mining, health and safety branch.
Finally, the ministry is actively pursuing implementation of a major set of administrative recommendations made to it earlier this year through the comprehensive management audit that was done. All of this activity is helping to make, I believe, for positive and progressive change in this field.
The accident that occurred is unacceptable within the standards in Ontario. We are not here today to debate a private member's bill. We will have the opportunity when it is before the committee and when it comes back to this House for full and open debate. That is the procedure and the process in this House. In the meantime, I believe this minister has made significant progress in strengthening the enforcement, in seeing that we have prosecutions --
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Ms. Caplan: I believe this type of debate is too important to have that kind of hooting and hollering coming from across the floor. It is my view and the view on this side that at this time --
The Acting Speaker: Order. You will have an opportunity to voice your opinion, each one of you, if you so wish. Please add one more minute for the member for Oriole.
Ms. Caplan: It is distressing that in a debate of this nature we have this kind of behaviour in this House. When we have accidents to discuss and the opportunity to discuss the process for the future, the progress that has been made and the commitment of this government to occupational health and safety, I find it particularly distressing that members of this House do not have the courtesy to listen as a member is addressing this chamber.
As I was saying, the minister has acknowledged that the situation in 1985 needed significant improvement, and there have been significant changes and improvement. Additional resources have been added so that the ministry could actively monitor the inspections. The percentage increase in the numbers of prosecutions is significant, and it is only through inspection monitoring and prosecution that labour will be satisfied that the ministry is, in fact, participating to the fullest, to ensure the health and safety of workers.
The criticism that has come to the minister, I believe, is unjust. I believe he is responding in a positive way and I believe the members of this House should be acknowledging that. It is one thing to criticize legitimately; it is something else when we are dealing with an issue of lives, where we have had a tragic accident, where we recognize that the minister has made the kinds of efforts over the past two years to seek the kinds of improvements that we have wanted to see in this province for some time.
I would like to take this opportunity on a personal basis to express my condolences to those families and co-workers who were so affected by the tragedy in Sudbury. Through the kinds of initiatives that our minister is taking, we will try to ensure that tragedies such as that become history and a thing of the past.
We can never foresee the kind of tragic or freak accidents that may happen, but we have to ensure we have the strongest and toughest legislation we can have so that the workers of this province will be protected in the work place and have the knowledge that the Minister of Labour is doing everything in his power to ensure the safety of their work place.
Mr. Laughren: I will attempt to speak in measured tones following that condescending speech from the member for Oriole; condescending perhaps because I was watching the Liberal caucus squirm over there as this debate goes on. They are squirming because, to a member, they did not want this debate to take place this afternoon. It is difficult for us to sit here and hear all those sympathetic noises coming from that caucus when its members did not even want to have a debate this afternoon.
I just heard the member refer to "tragic or freak accidents." I want to tell the member there is nothing freakish about an accident when there are four people down a shaft and somebody else working up above them with a loaded hopper of ore. There is nothing freakish about that, only tragic and irresponsible.
This debate is a matter of urgent public importance because the whole question of health and safety in Ontario is in a state of crisis. While I expect the members of government to rally behind their minister, I must tell them that changes have to be made. This minister has dismissed our calls for a new era in safety and health; he has dismissed my colleague's private member's bill; he has dismissed the call for a royal commission into the workers' compensation system in Ontario. He thinks there is no crisis in health and safety in Ontario.
It is fine for the minister to refer to the four miners who were killed at Levack a couple of weeks ago, the one at Crean Hill before that or the one last August. He makes no reference ever to the ones who are dying slowly as a result of having worked in the mines. That seems to have been forgotten, whether it is asbestos or whether it is nickel, gold or uranium mines.
This is not just an opposition party speaking. I hope that every single member of the Liberal caucus will read the minister's own advisory committee report on what it thinks of the minister's stewardship in the Ministry of Labour, because it is a severe condemnation of his administration. The minister can do no less than what the advisory committee is asking.
The minister must know by now that he is extremely isolated as the Minister of Labour. Organized labour has lost its confidence in him. That is clear. It is not debatable any more; it is clear.
His own advisory committee has issued this indictment of the minister and the way he runs his ministry. That same advisory committee is refusing to continue to review each of the proposed designated-substance regulations. That is serious. When I was talking about people who die slowly on the job, I meant the people who die as a result of being exposed to those kinds of substances.
The employers in Ontario are calling for a royal commission into workers' compensation. The inspection branch of the Ministry of Labour is filled with discontent and frustration. The minister himself is simply immersed in a swamp of unhappiness and downright distrust and anger.
I believe the minister has come to the end of his road. He began his task with much promise and very high expectations, but that promise has been broken and those expectations have been dashed. The stakes are high. We should make no mistake about it. This is a very ideological battle between labour and capital, and the sides are lining up.
The question is whether it is the right of the owners of capital to allocate that capital in the work place or whether labour has the right to have a say in where that capital will be allocated and how much of it will be allocated when lives are at stake. This is what this battle is all about.
We are not simply engaged in a bad debate over too much government intervention or no government intervention or the traditional struggle between big labour and big capital. It is not that kind of debate any more. We are truly engaged in a debate as to whether or not labour has the right to protect itself on the job. When you cut through all the verbiage, that is what it comes down to. It is whether or not labour has the right to protect itself from injury, sickness and death on the job. That is why this battle has become so fierce.
If it offends the sensitivities of some of the members of the Liberal caucus, then that is too bad, but they must know by now that it is not just an ordinary debate. There is much more at stake than that.
We believe that despite all this minister's pronouncements and his posturing he is determined to hold the line, and the owners of capital will still decide where that capital will be expended on the job. He is prepared only to tinker with the system, despite the awful toll that clearly results from such a strategy.
I do not wish to be melodramatic but I, like many of my constituents and, indeed, many people in the entire Sudbury basin and elsewhere, am sick and tired of attending work-accident funerals and memorial services for our friends and neighbours. In the past month, I have had four constituents die. One who was a very close personal friend died last August. Every time there is an accident, the widows of those workers suffer all over again. They suffer through the day and night and the following days because they know what the other families are going through.
I do believe that in this high-technology age, which we are all so proud of, we should be anticipating the possibility of preventing virtually every single work place accident and death, but it will happen only if health and safety is given an extremely high priority by both government and industry.
I will tell the members that it is clearly not a high priority of industry, when industry comes before committees of this Legislature and expresses its grave concerns over the high cost of compensation in Ontario.
It is not a priority of this government either. It simply is not. The minister can shake his head all he likes; it is simply not a priority of this government. What is a priority of this government within the Ministry of Labour is bureaucratic tinkering. It is time this province became a leader in either the protection of workers on the job or a major display of dissatisfaction with its laws by working people all across the province.
I would suggest to the minister that unless he is prepared to make health and safety a top priority, not just of his ministry but also of his government, there is going to be dissatisfaction expressed in every work shop, on every work floor, in every mine, in every factory and in every office in the years to come. It will not happen overnight, but I really do believe a dissatisfaction will set in out there and people will not put up with it any more.
I do not believe we have to tolerate the present toll of accidents and deaths in the work place. I do not believe it for one minute. But I listened to the speeches this afternoon from over there and they were all defensive. Oh, they all make the right sympathetic noises at the right time, but I have not heard a single member over there say he wishes to change the system so that the labour movement, the workers on the job, can determine what capital will be expended in order to clean up the work place. I have not heard one member over there say that, not one, because they still believe in their heart of hearts that the owners of the businesses, the bosses in the work place, have the right to allocate expenditures to determine what will be spent on health and safety.
I am waiting for the day when a Liberal member will stand up and say that labour has the right to determine priorities regarding health and safety in the work place. When that day comes, I will believe the government is starting to understand that health and safety should be a priority in the work place. Until that, it is a charade.
Mr. Bernier: I join this debate as one of the members who have a strong mining component within their riding.
I first want to express my deepest sympathy to the families of those four miners in the Sudbury area who lost their lives recently in a tragic mining accident, which we were told was a freak accident that should never have happened. To the families of René Bédard, Germain St-Amour, Wilbrod Gauvin and Donald Knight, I extend my deepest sympathies.
As one who has the great Red Lake mining basin in his riding, I am aware of the tragedy, sorrow and anguish that come to a community when such an accident occurs. I know the heartache, and, like other members from the Sudbury basin, I know what it is like to attend those funerals. I know the anguish and frustration that exist among all of us because of the lack of tougher rules, better inspection, better co-operation and a movement to improve the work place, which generally one sometimes feels are just nonexistent.
As one who has been very close to the Minister of Labour's responsibilities in the past, I have to say there have been some great changes within the government operation. I remember when the mining health and safety branch was in the Ministry of Natural Resources and there was a strong move by the labour movement to have it moved from the Ministry of Natural Resources to the Ministry of Labour, where I think it properly belongs. I am glad I was part of that process.
I am pleased to have been part of the process to set up the Royal Commission on the Health and Safety of Workers in Mines. In fact, I had the pleasure of appointing the commissioner, James Ham, to do this important task, and his excellent report has been around for some considerable time. Many of the recommendations have been put into place, but, as other members have pointed out, there is still much to be done.
We have heard from this government in the last two years; I remember vividly, the minister being on this side of the House, how he used to chastise on many occasions the then Minister of Labour responsible for this area about his lack of concern. Now that he has that responsibility, I know he is grappling with it. I wish he could be a little more sincere. He could get more funds. I know the whole mining health and safety branch has been expanded. Inspectors have been increased and additional funds and resources have been provided, but there is still room to improve.
We have heard on a number of occasions that there would be new health and occupational safety legislation introduced. We heard it in 1985; we heard it in 1986; and now we have heard it again in 1987. It is getting to be that a year is just not complete without a promise from this government for new occupational health and safety legislation. Mr. Speaker, those of us on this side of the House and, I suspect, members of your own caucus are becoming more frustrated each day as the delay in moving in this direction goes on.
I do not want to prolong the debate, but I want to lend support to the introducers of this resolution for an emergency debate to urge the minister and the government to get on with the job. We cannot stand this needless waste of human lives because of the lack of proper inspection, co-operation and good legislation that has teeth and that will force the companies to do the right thing and the inspectors to tighten up their role on a much more efficient basis.
I plead with the minister, as other members have done, to get on with the job. We know it is difficult for him, but when we are dealing with lives, I think the resources should be made available to him to do it. When the minister comes up with a strong, sensible piece of legislation, I can assure him that those of us on this side of the House will be eager to support him.
Mr. Polsinelli: I would like to make my contribution to this emergency debate by discussing the status and initiatives related to the provincial inquiry into ground control and emergency preparedness, which illustrates, I believe, this government's resolve in dealing with hazards in the mining industry.
Following the death of four miners at Falconbridge Nickel Mines due to a rock blast on June 20, 1984, and other incidents related to ground instability in underground mines, a labour-management-government inquiry was established in October 1984. The committee was to report on appropriate changes regarding ground control and emergency preparedness systems in the mining industry.
On March 25, 1986, in Sudbury, the Minister of Labour released the committee's final report, which contained 60 recommendations made under nine subject areas. These areas were research, training, education, communications, mine design, planning, emergency preparedness, lighting, monitoring, instrumentation and some miscellaneous areas.
The committee made over 60 recommendations, and I would like to discuss the status of 11 of the key points.
The committee called for the establishment of a research institute in ground control to coordinate ongoing and additionally recommended research. The Ontario Mining Association has set up a research directorate in Sudbury, with representation on the board of directors from labour, industry and the provincial and federal governments.
The committee called for improved training for miners, supervisors, worker inspectors and nonminers working underground. This is being implemented through the mining tripartite committee on training. This, by the way, is an industry-labour consultative group working through the Ministry of Skills Development in co-operation with the Ministry of Labour.
The committee called for improved rock mechanics programs in colleges and universities in Ontario. Chairs have been established at Laurentian University of Sudbury, Queen's University and the University of Toronto, and a review of post-secondary education was set up to examine issues such as declining enrolment, industry training and implementation of the inquiry's recommendations regarding education and training. This report, known as the Ross report, was recently released by the Premier.
The committee further called for improved communications between all parties at the work place for routine and emergency situations, and improved communications equipment. The Mining Legislative Review Committee has proposed a regulation to address communications in the work place. In fact, this consultative body is meeting today as we speak to finalize the wording of the regulation to be recommended to the minister.
The committee recommended more emphasis on the technical aspects of mine design with respect to rock mechanics, and the MLRC has in this morning's session agreed unanimously to a proposed regulation requiring that the ground stability be assessed in the mine design on an annual basis or more often.
The committee also requested expanded mine rescue training and equipment for other than fire emergencies. Members will be happy to know that a tripartite technical advisory committee has been set up and is analysing various types of emergencies to identify the required equipment or the required skills.
The committee also asked for improved first aid qualifications and regulations as they apply to underground mining. A subcommittee of the MLRC is preparing a proposal. Once accepted, the proposal will either be incorporated in the Workers' Compensation Board regulations, which, by the way, are currently under review, or in the mining regulations.
The committee requested the establishment of new mine lighting standards within one year of the publication of the committee's report, and the MLRC has proposed a new regulation that addresses this recommendation.
The committee requested better use of underground monitoring equipment, especially where rock-bursts have been experienced. Members will also be happy to know that a joint federal-provincial research program is developing improved rock-burst monitoring systems.
The 10th recommendation the committee made was that it wanted an expansion of the role of the Ministry of Labour in reviewing ground control designs and procedures, and a miners' health and safety centre will be part of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines' mining and minerals research centre, which is being sited at Laurentian University in Sudbury. This facility will improve the audit and support role of the Ministry of Labour. The ministry, by the way, has hired one new ground control engineer and is presently recruiting for a second.
Finally, the committee has called for a mandatory fall-on protection system on all vehicles operating in areas requiring this type of protection, and the MLRC has proposed a new regulation that addresses this recommendation.
More specifically, I would like to re-emphasize the government action in this area. Regulation changes have been referred to the tripartite Mining Legislative Review Committee. At its meeting today, the MLRC is discussing regulations proposals related to the recommendations on underground mining lighting, the falling-object protection systems, training, mine design and communications, and the government will act on these recommendations expeditiously.
On July 30, 1986, the Premier announced the establishment of a chair in rock mechanics and ground control at Laurentian University with cross-assignment to Queen's University. That was a $1-million expenditure. On July 31, the Premier initiated a review of post-secondary education and training requirements in mining engineering and technology in Ontario. This review is currently being headed by C. B. Ross, who is an engineer, and the issues being examined are declining enrolment, industry training requirements and implementation of the Stevenson recommendations regarding education and training. The report was released last week.
The national forum on rock mechanics education will be held in Sudbury in 1988. It has been arranged by the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, with support provided by the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
Improved training for miners, supervisors, workers, inspectors and nonminers working underground is being addressed by the mining tripartite committee on training. Changes to the common core and additional training programs required by section 10 of the mining regulations will be forthcoming this year. The MLRC has proposed an amendment to broaden the applicability of section 10. As well, amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act will broaden the requirements for worker training in the industry generally.
A technical advisory committee on mine rescue has been set up with representation from the Ontario Mining Association, the United Steelworkers of America and the Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union. This committee is currently reviewing various types of emergencies at mines, towards improving the emergency response capability in Ontario.
The Workers' Compensation Board has been contacted concerning the first aid regulations made under the Workers' Compensation Act. A tripartite technical subcommittee of the MLRC has been formed and is reviewing the recommendations concerning first aid qualifications and regulations as they apply to underground mining.
A miners' health and safety centre will be established to incorporate the wire rope lab, ground control, mine rescue and other technical support functions of the mining health and safety branch. This will be part of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines' mining and mineral research centre announced by the Premier on July 30, 1986, to be located in Sudbury.
I have heard much today of the failure of the consultation process, in that it is not meeting the needs of workers in the area of occupational health and safety. Two of the biggest critics, the member for Sudbury (Mr. Gordon) and the member for Nickel Belt, have obviously not deemed this emergency debate important enough to listen to the balance of it.
In any event, within the mining industry, the MLRC, the mining tripartite committee on training and the action taken with respect to the provincial inquiry into ground control are proof positive that the consultation is indeed proceeding and proceeding expeditiously, with significant results.
While tragedies such as the recent Levack incident and the multiple deaths at Falconbridge three years ago underscore the need for constant vigilance and improvements in mining health and safety, the record of the industry has shown dramatic improvement in the past five years. This government, particularly this Liberal government, is committed to decreasing further the lost-time accident rates and to adopting measures in co-operation with industry and labour to ensure that the tragedies of the kind we are considering today will never happen again.
Mr. McClellan: I take no pleasure in joining in this debate this afternoon. Over the course of the 12 years I have been a member of this Legislature, we have had many debates on the same subject. I want to take a few minutes to go over some of the history and some of the background.
As is indicated in the wording of the motion for an emergency debate, there is a connection between what happened in Sudbury this past month, where five workers at Inco lost their lives in two separate accidents, and the report of the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety, which was released today by my colleague the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel). There is a connection.
In 1978, this Legislature, acting on the recommendations of the Ham royal commission, passed Bill 70. All of us who were members at that time passed it in good faith. It was not perfect, but we gave it the benefit of the doubt and hoped and prayed that it would work to reduce the carnage in the work place in Ontario.
Now, 10 years later, we are able to see clearly, without any confusion, that Bill 70 was not good enough in the first place and that the underlying principles and assumptions of Bill 70 were simply not adequate to stop the carnage in the work place. Second, there has been, and there is no way to describe it except in these harsh terms, a process of systematic sabotage of the implementation of the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
I wish that the Minister of Labour and his colleagues could simply stand up and admit that truth and admit that reality. That process of sabotage has resulted in a failure to enforce the act; in failure right across the board, a complete failure of the regulatory mechanism of the act, from the inspection branch through to the failure to prosecute adequately. That failure has continued, even to the date of this report, which is not dated June 1985 when the government changed. It is dated March 25, 1987.
The failure continues as we stand here debating the tragedies in Sudbury. It continues. We have to start by recognizing that failure. It is a failure that the minister must accept responsibility for because it is a failure of the Ministry of Labour. It says in this report in clear and unequivocal terms that the Ministry of Labour, and the minister under our system, is responsible for that failure.
Instead of talking about five deaths, I wonder whether it might make some impact if we were talking about five executives going to jail some year, if we had a prosecution system that sent those responsible to jail. One of the recommendations of the January 1987 Law Reform Commission of Canada report on work place pollution recommended that endangering life by work place pollution be made a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. I wonder what effect that would have on some of the irresponsible management practices that we see time after time in the work places of this province.
The extent of the problem is just starting to be documented. Earlier, during the Workers' Compensation Board estimates, the minister released a report by Dr. Annalee Yassi on occupational disease in Ontario that had been suppressed for three years. It was suppressed by the previous government and it was suppressed by the Liberal government until it was forced to release it about a month ago. I have no doubt that one of the reasons it was suppressed is that it deals with the extent of occupational deaths in the province.
The minister can grimace and try to disavow with his body language what I am saying, but on page 17 of the report it says "five to 10 per cent of cardio-vascular deaths and 15 to 25 per cent of cancer deaths and 10 per cent of pulmonary deaths in the province of Ontario are reasonably attributable to occupational disease. By extrapolation, that adds up to a total of 6,000 deaths a year in the province. That is from three conditions, based on a very conservative reading of the scientific literature. The Workers' Compensation Board will compensate probably something between 40 and 50 occupational deaths per year out of a total potential of some 6,000.
We are not even beginning to come to grips with this phenomenon. What we are dealing with today is trying to get the ministry to deal with death by accident, and we have had 10 years of failure on that. We have not even begun to come to grips with death by occupational disease.
I have mentioned this a number of times in the House and on the fall of the previous government I referred to this disgrace: In 1977, the ministry promised and produced a list of 50 hazardous and toxic substances that it intended to designate under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It set out a timetable for 22 substances in 1980-81, 10 substances for 1981-82, 12 substances for 1982-83, and 10 substances for 1983-84. We know what the record was. At the time the previous government fell, as of June 1985, nine substances had been designated. Since the new government has taken office, my understanding is that three out of these 50 toxic substances have been added to the list. There now is a total of 12, with arsenic in 1986, X-rays in 1986 and ethylene oxide in 1987.
After 10 years, with literally thousands of toxic chemicals and toxic substances in factories and work places all across Ontario, the Ministry of Labour, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, has managed to designate a total of 12. It is a matter that should be regarded by the minister, his deputies and his senior staff as an abject disgrace and an abject failure. We have not heard a thing from the minister as to what he intends to do about reforming the process of hazardous-substance designation, not a thing, and we have the Yassi report indicating a minimum of 6,000 deaths a year in this province. We have not begun to pay attention to the cause of these deaths. We have not begun to protect workers from exposure to these toxins or poisonous chemicals and agents because we have not even identified the level of toxicity for other than a miserable 11.
It is hard to know what to say during this kind of debate. It is hard to know how to make sense out of this kind of nonsense and how to make sense out of the kinds of things ministers and members are saying.
These are not tragic, freak accidents. These are preventable accidents. We on this side of the House are speaking as strongly as we are because we know the government can do something about stopping this carnage in the work place with will, determination and confidence, and it is about time the government started to show a single measure of competence on this issue.
Mr. Pollock: I am not pleased to take part in this debate but there are a few things I want to put on the record.
I have mines in my riding, and I want to make sure they are safe and also assure the safety of the miners who work in those mines. I have the deepest sympathy for those miners who died in the Sudbury area and every step should be taken to see that a tragedy such as that does not happen again.
I am concerned about health and safety in the work place, and the fact that we have one death every working day is totally unacceptable. I made a statement in this House on one occasion for a young person from my riding, only 17 years old, who was crushed beneath a pop cooler. I recommended at that time that those pop coolers be stabilized to the wall or the floor. Because this was an accidental death, there was an inquiry. The jury recommended too that this is what should take place, that these pop coolers be stabilized to the wall or to the floor. There have been at least four deaths in Ontario that I know of in those particular circumstances, that have been caused by pop coolers tipping over on individuals. I am reasonably sure the pop coolers in these government complexes around here, in these buildings, are not stabilized to the wall.
As I say, every precaution should be taken to have health and safety in our work places; in any place as far as that is concerned.
I have also witnessed people using cutting torches and not having their safety goggles on. One chunk of slag could hit your eye and it would totally ruin that eye for the rest of your life. Also, I know of situations where there are people working on logging trucks with running shoes on, not wearing their safety boots. Situations such as that should be inspected and they should be wearing their safety boots.
I supported Bill 149 so that bill could go to committee and we could sit down and talk about health and safety in the work place. I think it is a good thing to be able to do that and to try to get a handle on these tragic deaths we have in the work place.
Mr. Ramsay: When the present government took office in June 1985, it was obvious that the health and safety legislation could be improved to provide workers with additional rights to know about toxic substances. The Minister of Labour played an instrumental role in forging a national consensus on the work place hazardous materials information system, WHMIS.
In January 1986, the government introduced Bill 101 imposing fundamental improvements to workers and the community right to know about toxic substances. Bill 101 would require the labelling of products used in the work place and the provision of the training of workers concerning hazards and protective measures. The bill also provides for the development of an inventory of toxic substances that would be available to workers and the community. This proposed right goes beyond the WHMIS provisions.
Following the introduction of the bill, the Minister of Labour was a leading force in the negotiations that culminated in a national agreement. The agreement cleared the roadblocks on the remaining issues of trade secrets and funding so that the federal and provincial governments now will move in concert to enhance the information available to workers about toxic substances.
The Minister of Labour is reviewing drafts of the proposed federal legislation. The provincial government will re-introduce Bill 101 with appropriate amendments to ensure consistency with the national scheme as soon as the details of the federal legislation are final. However, the amendment bill will retain the additional component of the inventory, of providing the community right to know.
The Minister of Labour has tabled draft amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Issues such as enhanced penalties, increased scope of joint health and safety committees and expanded training requirements are included in this package. The review of the act underscores the government's commitment to enhance the rights and responsibilities of work place parties to protect the health and safety of workers. It also emphasizes the government's resolve to take vigorous action when those responsibilities are not met. Ministry officials are reviewing the comments and briefs on this draft bill and will prepare amendments for introduction into the House for this coming session.
In the 22 months since the Minister of Labour took office, the occupational health and safety division has undertaken a comprehensive set of initiatives to regulate health and safety hazards. Let us first consider the control of toxic substances. This is a complex policy area that required a thorough review by the new government.
The Minister of Labour established a strategy to improve the protection afforded to workers exposed to these agents. The components of this strategy are the establishment of enforceable exposure limits for a large number of toxic substances; the reduction of the time period over which the exposure limits are measured; the establishment of a tight timetable for the regulation of designated substances; and an increase in the number of substances designated through a revised approach of generic designated substance regulation.
First and foremost among the achievements in implementing this program is the regulation concerning toxic substances that took effect on December 6, 1986. The regulation sets exposure limits for some 600 chemical and biological agents. Exceedence of the exposure limits constitutes an offence that may result in prosecution and a penalty being imposed by the courts. The regulation also requires employers to observe these limits over a work day as well as a work week. This improves the protection afforded workers and enhances the enforcement of the regulation.
The ministry intends to establish a review process so that labour and management can work with the ministry to consider revisions to the exposure limits for substances where the scientific evidence indicates that change is appropriate. The Minister of Labour established a tight timetable for the development of designated substances regulations. As a result, the regulation of asbestos on construction projects and in building and repair operations took effect in March 1986. The arsenic regulation was put into effect in March 1986 and the ethylene oxide regulation in March 1987.
There are currently three regulations nearing completion. These are formaldehyde, silica on construction projects and an amendment on the regulation respecting mercury. There are four proposed regulations that will be completed in the coming months. These are cadmium, chromium, coal tar products on construction projects and lead on construction projects.
A number of other initiatives are in progress, including proposed amendments to both the regulation respecting asbestos and the regulation of asbestos on construction projects and in buildings and repair operations. The noise regulation is still under consideration. A detailed work plan for 1987 has been developed.
A critical component of the division's development of designated substances regulations is the ministry's commitment to increase the number of substances designated. The ministry intends to consult with the parties on the development of a revised approach to generic designated substances regulations.
It is conceivable that rather than having separate regulations to cover solvents, irritants and carcinogens, a single regulation could set out the appropriate controls.
The ministry looks forward to working with members of labour and management in establishing a mechanism to select substances for the designation and reviewing the process whereby the regulations are designated.
The ministry is also committed to improving the administration of the existing 12 designated substance regulations. Where the improvements require regulatory amendments, action will be taken. For example, the regulation amending 10 designated substances regulations requires that all existing exposure limits be calculated on an eight-hour as well as on a 40-hour basis.
This is in keeping with the new regulation on toxic substances and the most recent designated substance regulations. Additional changes concerning medical surveillance will be proposed shortly to clarify the role of the positions.
The ministry has commissioned a review of the regulations with regard to other changes which could enhance the protection afforded to workers. The ministry is currently considering changes to the regulations and expects to publish the proposed changes for public review later this year.
Finally, the ministry is nearing completion of a review of the exposure limits for the lead and asbestos regulations. Proposals to amend those regulations will be announced in the coming months.
Safety matters have also received attention from the new administration. Regulations respecting commercial diving, offshore drilling for oil and gas, crane operators and X-ray safety were filed in October 1986.
In addition, comprehensive reviews of the construction and mining regulations have been undertaken. Aspects of these regulations will be amended following careful consideration and consultation with labour and management.
In addition, in January 1987, proposed amendments to the electrical provisions of the industrial mining and construction regulations were circulated for comment. The ministry has initiated a review of other aspects of the industrial regulations. The work place parties will be consulted on the proposed changes to these regulations later on this year.
Mr. Rae: I think I can say honestly that there really is no subject about which I feel more genuinely disappointed, as a member of the Legislature and as leader of my party, with respect to what has happened over the past two years.
We entered that period and that change of government under no illusions as to what was going to happen or how difficult it would be to get some movement from a party which, frankly, has not traditionally been deeply concerned with this question and really had no gut feeling about the problem at hand.
We attempted through the accord to provide some kind of leadership. If I may say so, by appointing the member for Sudbury East as the critic in this area, we attempted to give the issue the kind of focus and drive which would produce a response from government.
We were under no illusions as to how easy that would be. We saw a Labour ministry in disarray. We have seen a minister whose weakness I think has now become common parlance among those with whom he has to deal. We have a problem that simply will not go away and that is getting more severe and serious. We have a daily litany of people who are being killed in the work place and people who are dying as a result of toxic poisoning.
There has been one consistent response from the Labour ministry, from the Minister of Labour and from the government to the extraordinary campaign which my colleague from Sudbury East has led so effectively and eloquently and in which others of us in the party have joined in terms of trying to give this issue some focus and direction, working with the labour movement and those whose lives are on the line.
Indeed, that response has been carried out in all the speeches that we have heard this afternoon from the spokesmen for the Liberal Party. Initially, that response has been to belittle the efforts of the member for Sudbury East by saying that he did not know what he was talking about and to say that the problem is not there. It was precisely the response of the Minister of Labour today, saying that there was somehow a constituency out there that was not supportive of Bill 149 but that was supportive of his measures, to which I can only say to the minister, show us the names of the labour councils opposed to Bill 149 and in favour of his bill and of the members of the health and safety committees across the province who are opposed to Bill 149.
I say to the member for Timiskaming (Mr. Ramsay), I say to other members who have spoken, that they should talk to the local unions in their constituencies, in the mining industry, wherever it may be, about how they feel about Bill 149 and then come into the House and say that the member for Sudbury East does not have the support of the labour movement and does not know what he is talking about.
Every single major thrust of the campaign has been denied and belittled by the government. Yet, as in so many other questions, it is the experience -- in this case, the tragic experience -- of working people which puts the lie to the government. It is not a question of adding up the statistics on one side and saying, "These are the numbers that are right and your numbers are wrong." That is not what is important; what is important is the experience.
I see the Minister of Labour laughing, which is an appropriate response from the Minister of Labour. It is appropriate that he laugh, that he belittle, that he make fun of those who have been raising this issue, because that is the kind of response which he has to this question, that is the kind of response which his ministry has consistently shown on this question.
To deny the experience of working people, to say that they do not know what they are talking about is precisely the attitude of governments and, I might say, of workers' compensation boards, which say, equally consistently: "You are not in pain. The pain you are feeling you should not be feeling. It should not be there," and which deny consistently the validity of claims of people who come forward.
That perhaps explains the fact that in a throne speech of 49 pages which touched upon virtually every subject from soup to nuts, the one subject they were not even able to mention was the subject of workers' compensation.
We heard a more shameful admission from the member for Yorkview (Mr. Polsinelli). I would like to see him go back to his constituency at night and talk to the lines of cases I know he is talking to, as I am talking to, and explain to them why the government has nothing to say about workers' compensation.
The minister has a lot to answer for, but it goes beyond that. It is a ritual perhaps of the political game that parties call for the resignation of ministers. I have never felt more sincerely that we have to have basic change in the Ministry of Labour, that this change include change at the top, that we have to have change in legislation and that we have to have a fundamental change in attitude.
I want to say that the reports that have emerged, some of them suppressed for longer, some of them for shorter, periods -- it was not the minister who released the report of the Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Occupational Safety; it was my colleague the member for Sudbury East -- each one of them has confirmed the fact that there is a crisis and a problem. Each one of them, with the exception of McKenzie-Laskin, and that is an important exception -- I am going to come to that -- has emphasized the extent and the degree of the problem and each of them has spoken to the need for a fundamental change.
In response, we get the same old defensiveness, the same old ritualistic speeches prepared by civil servants and read out by members of the government from various constituencies, the same ritualistic listing of statistics and the same ritualistic listing of things that have been done and might be done and could be done and maybe will be done. Let that be the epitaph of the government of the Liberal Party of Ontario when it comes to this question.
Every accident is an exception. Every accident is one which gives rise to the speeches which, again, have become almost ritualistic, saying: "It is a tragedy. It was a freak accident." What do we do when we have freak accident after freak accident? What do we do when we have situations where the families know that accidents can be prevented and stopped? At what point does the government have the courage to say, "We have to deal with this question because these accidents can be prevented"? That is the tough issue.
To say that they are just natural calamities and tragedies is, if I may say so, the easy response. The tougher response for a government is to say, "What is especially tragic about these accidents is that they can be stopped." They can be stopped. We can stop toxic poisoning. We can stop the exposure of workers to substances which they know not.
We can deal with the problem of occupational cancer and heart disease, which is going to become one of the great, tremendous challenges of the 1980s and 1990s as we become more fully aware of the implications and the extent of this problem.
What is tragic is the inability of this government really to feel and understand the importance of this issue. What is tragic is the fact there are not executives and managers in jail because of the number of people who have died unnecessarily. That is the tragedy.
I am often reminded of the words of Archbishop Cardano, who said, "When I say many people are poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."
I think the way in which our party has been treated and the way in which our arguments have been dealt with and the way in which the arguments of my colleague the member for Sudbury East have been dealt with by the Minister of Labour over the years are parallel to that, because the member for Sudbury East and our party do not simply speak the language of the tragedy. We speak the language that asks why. We demand to know why, and we demand to know how, and we say that if these things can be prevented, they are a double tragedy.
It is one thing for people to lose their lives when nothing could be done. It is one thing to be struck by lightning. It is another thing to be struck by a building that has been constructed in a faulty way. It is one thing to be struck down by some tragic disease whose origins we know nothing about. It is another thing to be struck down by a disease because people have been exposed to substances that should not have been there in the first place, and that is the issue.
That is why this government is in trouble on this question. That is why the people of Ontario are going to judge this government severely when it comes to this question, because these are deaths that need not have happened, that could have been stopped and that this government has not stopped.
Mr. Gordon: To sum up for our party, I would like to say that I think what happens in Legislatures and in governments is that too often we forget we are talking about individuals. Too often government spends its time worrying about what institutions have to say, what lobby groups have to say, and we do not spend enough time looking at the individual and what it means when you have the kind of loss of life we have had over the past 12 months in the Sudbury region.
We have had six men who have lost their lives. The first one, Dick Irwin, was at Garson mine. As a result of that, of course, the Garson mine has been closed ever since, and it is still raising very deep concerns and questions about the whole matter of bulk mining within the mining industry. I know that is a matter the Minister of Labour has addressed. As a matter of fact, I believe he was up in Sudbury not too long ago talking about bulk mining, but there are still real concerns there, questions that have to be answered, and of course the answers will only come if the government has the commitment and the resolve to do something about it. That is something, my colleagues, that remains to be seen.
I must also say that perhaps we do not think often enough about what it means when a family loses the breadwinner. I do not think we think often enough what it means to the wife of a miner when she loses her partner, her love, her friend. And what does it mean to those children, those children who are not going to have a father there to help that mother and that family through those emotional times and through the trying times that all families have?
I know my colleagues here in this Legislature are just as concerned and feel as deeply as I do about this issue, but I think what happens is that when the Minister of Labour goes back to his ministry and sits down with his civil servants, there are all kinds of reasons found, because of the various forces we have in our society, to make very small, incremental changes that really are not going to take the kinds of steps that are necessary to eliminate the number of deaths we have seen, not only in the mining industry but also in other walks of life and in other areas where people work.
I would say that while the tragedy we have experienced in the Sudbury region is one that has left all of us shaking our heads, one of the things that has happened at Inco is that the company and the union have come together and established what they call risk analysis teams, committees or groups to look at possible risks in all of Inco's mines, even in Garson mine which is currently closed down. They are looking at such things as what if this chute should fail? What about where the ore is being stored? What if there is a mechanical breakdown? What if an air hose does not work? What if this valve gives way?
These kinds of requests to have these committees established in the mines were made many times in the past by the United Steelworkers of America or the other unions that represent mining people in this province. Unfortunately, their requests tended to be met with the kind of reply or stonewall that says: "What if this happens or what if that happens? That is too hard to do. We cannot do those kinds of things." The most recent tragedies have caused a rethinking within that mining corporation.
I think if the minister is going to make some real changes when it comes to health and safety and what happens to working people in the province, if he were to look at that risk analysis as something he could incorporate so that it would be something we would expect in every industry across this province, we would be going a long way towards cutting back and avoiding the kinds of accidents we see in the work place today.
Why should a man, when he leaves home, be facing the kinds of dangers he has been facing in Ontario in 1987? He should not; nor should the business people, for example, fear health and safety the way some of them do. How many times have we heard them come before committees that are discussing the issue of workers' compensation to complain about the kinds of levies that are being put on the business community and about how much they have to pay? Yet if you have a safe environment for people to work in, it means industry is not going to have to pay that kind of money. It really saddens me in a sense. I hope this will help to dissuade some of those misguided lobby groups that have been sending letters to members of this House, chastising them for even acknowledging a private member's bill that deals with health and safety.
It is interesting that when one allows members to think for themselves, perhaps away from some of the discipline of party, many of them can come up with some very constructive, interesting bills that will be good for the people of Ontario. There are members of this House and people in Ontario who, without understanding the way our system works in this House and in committee, have been antagonistic to the bill, Bill 149, that has been presented. Naturally, we are not going to agree with every clause, but it has opened up a debate, and a debate that has been long overdue in this House.
The Acting Speaker: This concludes the debate.
The House stands adjourned, please notice, until 11 of the clock tomorrow morning, not 10 o'clock.
The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.