L008 - Mon 11 May 1987 / Lun 11 mai 1987
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Brandt: On March 13, along with three of my colleagues, I held a press conference requesting that the government take into consideration the need for some major changes in the Workers' Compensation Act. At that time, the major recommendation made by my colleagues, which was subsequently supported by the third party, was that the act should be redrafted and that these major changes should come about as quickly as possible. The vehicle we recommended to the government to undertake these changes was a royal commission.
I take this opportunity today to remind the government and the minister of the press conference we held and of the recommendations that were made. When one looks at the difficulties surrounding the whole concept of workers' compensation and the frustration of workers in having their cases dealt with in an expeditious manner and, on the other side of the coin, the problems of ever-escalating costs that are related to the employers of the province, there is indeed a great deal of frustration and disenchantment with the present system.
I urge the government to move on this issue. The act was drafted in 1915 and requires revision. Now is the time to move on it, and the method by which the act can be revised is a royal commission and the recommendations that would flow out of that.
Mr. Wildman: On May 6, I raised in the House the question of the missing Holiday Beach Provincial Park. The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) was completely oblivious of the fact that he had taken Holiday Beach out of the provincial park system and that the ministry had not notified the Ministry of the Environment, as required by the exemption order MNR 30. The minister seemed to think that Holiday Beach was in my constituency of Algoma rather than in the riding of the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini).
Then on May 7, in a rather lame attempt to explain where Holiday Beach Provincial Park had disappeared, the member for Essex South stated, "I approached the minister with the same proposition that I had made to the Conservative government, to turn the park over to a public body such as the Essex Region Conservation Authority, and the minister did."
It is not enough, though, for the member for Essex South to say he had the missing park in his pocket. The minister must explain how the Ministry of Natural Resources could remove a provincial park from the park system without public consultation, contravening the Environmental Assessment Act. Is the explanation simply that the minister was doing a political favour for his colleague the member for Essex South?
Mr. D. R. Cooke: This is Nurses' Week. The House often finds itself commemorating a group or an event because it rightfully deserves public attention. It is also National Tourism Week, health care week and Police Week, but at the same time these people and events generally find themselves overlooked. Nurses in Canada are such a group. They perform a heavy work load, sometimes under unimaginable conditions of stress, yet they receive less credit than they deserve.
Considering that all of us have been or will be sick from time to time, I find it surprising that the contributions of nurses continue to be undervalued in comparison with others in the professions. As a first point of entry into the health care system, nurses stand as psychologists, soothers and healers to the patient. As a partial solution to the increasing burden on health care, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario has put forward an excellent proposal regarding increased participation in a preventive medicare system.
I think I speak for all members of the House when I say to the over 45,000 registered and graduate nurses: "Thank you. Keep up the good work. I hope your contributions will be recognized year-round."
Mr. Andrewes: This morning the Toronto Sun reported that the Atomic Energy Control Board had launched an investigation into a fire at the Bruce nuclear power plant last Friday afternoon. During the fire, 150 workers were on the job at the site. None was injured, but it was necessary to evacuate the entire work force from the plant. Although it appears the fire was handled capably by Ontario Hydro employees, the most surprising aspect of this incident is the fact that Ontario Hydro failed to notify local police or fire officials of this event.
The Minister of Energy (Mr. Kerrio) and the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) insist that nuclear safety matters are of utmost importance to this Liberal government and that procedures for informing the public of accidents within a nuclear generating station are well in hand. Since Ontario Hydro failed to notify local authorities of this matter, we must ask some very serious questions. Was the Minister of Energy aware of this event? Was the Solicitor General informed? Does the government not regard these issues as being serious enough to notify local police and fire departments so that evacuation plans might be ready in the event that the fire were more serious than originally anticipated?
Mr. Breaugh: I just want to take the opportunity to remind members that this week Oshawa is hosting the Memorial Cup junior hockey championship round. We have teams from Medicine Hat in the western junior league and Longueuil in Quebec. I attended the match last night. Just after the end of the second period, a hockey game broke out and the Oshawa Generals won again. That makes two wins in a row for the Oshawa team. We are very proud of this team. We are proud that the Civic Auditorium was chosen as the site for this championship and that Bill Kurelo and his crew there are putting on a really fine show for visitors.
We hope that as many members as possible get out to Oshawa and see this great hockey event. We were working on the crowd last night. They were giving lots of assistance to the referees. The referees, of course, appreciated all this advice and calling things to their attention. The crowd got a little bit excited last night. They were getting into the swing of things. The guy next to me had his hair painted red, white and blue. I do not think that is a new trend, but it was working well last night. By the end of the week, we should have our act together and we hope we will have a successful championship and keep that cup right in Oshawa.
M. Guindon: Monsieur le Président, dans le quelque temps qu'il me reste, je veux vous remercier de votre effort à l'égard des élèves de ma circonscription de Cornwall, les finisseurs de l'Ecole senior la Citadelle. Je veux aussi leur souhaiter la bienvenue ici à Queen's Park.
Mr. Harris: I am always delighted to get in on a statement if time permits. Perhaps I could comment briefly on the great and laudable efforts of the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) when he went to Ottawa to lobby for more money for infrastructure -- that is, roads, bridges and sewer work -- for the municipalities. Many municipalities across this province and indeed across this country, particularly those of northern Ontario, have been saying that over the last couple of years the situation is deteriorating; they are not getting enough money to keep up with some of these efforts.
At FONOM last weekend -- that is the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities -- the minister said: "I went to Ottawa and asked the minister for federal money, even though it is provincial jurisdiction. We need federal money to help us do this. I lobbied hard and the feds said no. I came away empty-handed; the dirty, rotten feds." That is what he said.
But what did he say in Ottawa to the CBC? He was asked, "Why are you here?" He said, "I am lobbying for more money." They asked, "Who needs the money?" He said, "They need money in Nova Scotia; they need money in Newfoundland." The question from the CBC reporter: "What about Ontario?" The answer: "Oh no, Ontario does not need the money. We are okay in Ontario."
It begs a lot of questions. Is the minister misleading the people of northeastern Ontario? Is he misleading the people of Ontario?
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has expired.
Mr. Harris: I have almost 47 seconds left. Interjections.
Mr. Harris: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would be glad to fill in.
It begs a number of questions. Is the minister being honest with these municipalities in northeastern Ontario? Was he, in fact, in Ottawa lobbying hard for Ontario? No; he said Ontario is okay. It begs another question. Why are the taxpayers of Ontario paying for a minister to go to Ottawa and say, "Ontario is okay, but I am lobbying on behalf of other provinces"? Does that make sense? There are a number of questions that really are not answered. Is this another example of two different stories which we see so often from ministers of the crown in this government?
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Keyes: I am sure the honourable members are aware that this is Police Week in Canada, and I ask them to join me in expressing Ontario's appreciation for the men and women who serve us so ably.
Policing has never been more complex than it is in the 1980s, and our officers face challenges never dreamed of by the men and women who served with such distinction in the past. Today's police officers must be special people; not only do they uphold the law, but we also often ask them to serve as rescuers, social workers and goodwill ambassadors.
Our officers have demonstrated time and time again that they are up to these challenges, and I urge the members to show their appreciation by giving Police Week their wholehearted support. It is a way to thank our police officers for a job well done.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I wish to make a statement in connection with my responsibilities as Minister of Financial Institutions.
Prior to clause-by-clause review of the Pension Benefits Act, Bill 170, I intend to introduce an amendment to the act that will be of benefit to the workers of the Goodyear factory in Etobicoke that is scheduled to close on May 31, 1987.
Current pension legislation provides that when a plant closes and there is a defined benefits plan, pension entitlements are accelerated for workers who are not otherwise entitled to pensions but who are at least age 45 and have at least 10 years of service.
Our proposed legislation, Bill 170, does not use the age 45 and 10 years' service test but instead states that age and service must add up to 55. This avoids discrimination on the basis of age. It also helps younger, long-service employees get some pension on plant closure.
I have met personally with representatives of the Goodyear workers. They have indicated that if section 75 of Bill 170 is made applicable to the Goodyear closure, approximately 300 employees will get benefits they would not receive under current legislation. This is because Goodyear has a large number of younger but long-service workers.
It is for this purpose that I will be seeking an amendment to the Pension Benefits Act to ensure that section 75 will apply to all windups in whole or in part of a pension plan where the effective date of the windup occurs on or after April 1, 1987.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I would just like to remind all our visitors in the galleries that they are not allowed to demonstrate in any way. We are glad they are here to listen, but please do not demonstrate in any way.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: Obviously, an expeditious passage of Bill 170 would aid the Goodyear workers. In any event, I intend to move the motion that the bill be so modified.
Bill 170 would also assist Goodyear workers in another area of dispute with the company. There is ambiguity about whether the company can refuse to consent to pay certain ancillary benefits to workers over age 55 with 10 years of service. The second motion I intend to introduce will make it clear that on plant closure, the company is deemed to consent to such payments.
In addition to my meetings with the Goodyear workers, officials of my ministry have consulted at length with the Ministry of Labour in the development of these motions. Copies of these motions have been circulated with this statement. As well, copies of these motions will be circulated to all members in advance of clause-by-clause review of Bill 170.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: In my capacity as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, I am pleased to announce that in co-operation with the Ministry of Energy, a government-industry committee with consumer representation has been established to examine all aspects related to the siting of facilities for dispensing alternative transportation fuels such as propane and natural gas.
Last November, there was a propane explosion in a taxi undergoing repair in a Toronto garage. The property also contained a propane storage tank and dispensing facilities.
While these propane facilities were in no way associated with or affected by the vehicle explosion, their location near a residential area caused concern among local residents about potential dangers. Questions also began to surface concerning other sites in the Toronto area, questions dealing not only with general safety but also with noise, air pollution and traffic congestion.
These concerns caused some municipalities to examine their zoning bylaws with a view to enacting tougher siting conditions, particularly in or near residential areas. As a result, a number of separate municipal bylaws are being contemplated. The government-industry committee will help us to retain regulatory uniformity across the province while avoiding potential conflict with other provincial regulations.
The committee membership includes representatives from municipal governments, the provincial government, the propane and natural gas industries and the Consumers' Association of Canada. It will be chaired by the director of the fuels safety branch of my ministry.
The goal of the committee is to consider the drafting of a model zoning bylaw for municipal consideration and to determine the extent to which revisions may be needed to the Ontario regulations covering alternative transportation fuels safety.
Ontario safety codes for propane and natural gas will be compared with those in other jurisdictions and with codes for conventional fuels such as gasoline.
The committee will consider both the exposure to risk and the consequences of an accident. It will review the experiences of various jurisdictions in which there were actual incidents at fuel transfer facilities, conversion centres and automobile repair garages. A report summarizing the conclusions and recommendations of the committee will be forwarded to me this fall.
Mr. Ashe: I rise to congratulate the Minister of Financial Institutions for finally listening to the opposition and doing something for the Goodyear workers. If there is one bit of concern, it is the fact that it has taken him several months to react to something that was suggested to him. There was no doubt that the vehicle of Bill 170 was a way to recognize service for some 300 employees. As long as he does not go the route that he has gone with the car insurance situation, where he is changing his mind and creating new policy on a daily basis, we congratulate him in finally recognizing that these 300 workers deserve at least some consideration under a revised Bill 170.
Mr. Partington: I rise on behalf of my party in paying tribute to the policemen and policewomen of this province who serve us so well and in so many ways.
Some areas of Ontario have requested the help of the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) in providing the high-quality, affordable, first-class policing that most of us are used to. The minister and the ministry have been slow in responding.
The minister should use this week, use his statement and commit himself to providing the resources and systems necessary to provide a high standard of policing to all areas of Ontario.
Mrs. Grier: I would like to thank the Minister of Financial Institutions for the statement he has made today. I think the response is an entirely appropriate one and I am very glad that, although it took a petition being submitted in this House, appearances at committee meetings by the Goodyear union, letters and meetings with the minister and with other parties, and finally a demonstration on the front lawn, we have it. That is a great victory.
I hope it symbolizes that the government has recognized the need to provide protection for workers subject to layoffs. As the list of plant closures continues to grow, I look forward to seeing support from the government for not only this piece of legislation being done retroactively but also other legislation that will make sure the workers of this province do not have to pay the price for corporate restructuring.
Mr. Speaker: Any further responses? The member for York South.
Mr. Rae: I am sorry. I was --
Mr. Partington: Dreaming.
Mr. Rae: No, I was not dreaming. I was waiting for something to happen that did not happen.
Mr. Rae: I have a response to the comment of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations about the committee that he set up on the siting of propane and natural gas tanks. The minister says the incident to which he referred took place in a Toronto garage. The minister should know that it took place in a city of York garage, about three blocks from my constituency office on Weston Road.
It is an important reality now that a number of groups are concerned. The only practical suggestion I would make to the minister is that, in addition to the committee membership he has proposed, I think those residents who have expressed their concern so vigorously should be represented directly.
The minister will know that both in the east end of the city of Toronto and in the west end, in my riding, very active citizens' groups have been formed. I am sure that is one of the reasons the minister has set up this committee. Many people who have been active in those residents' associations have a particular point of view that is not always completely in line with the official view of their municipal governments. The minister might want to consider having them represented as well as the Consumers' Association of Canada.
I cannot stress how strongly I think it is necessary for governments to get their act together on this question, because unless we have a common approach we are going to continue to have many residents frustrated at the local level, because they are consistently told by their solicitors at the city council level that the cities have no authority at all to deal with the very real concerns that exist.
I hope the legal situation and the political situation with respect to these sites will be clarified. I think it is important that this be done.
Mr. Rae: While I am on my feet, I also want to congratulate, together with all other members of the New Democratic Party, the member for Lakeshore (Mrs. Grier) who, as I told the Goodyear workers this morning, has been an absolute bulldog on the question of protection for the Goodyear workers. She has done an outstanding job as a constituency member and I think it is fair to say that without her work and her contribution, and without the work of many of her colleagues, this change would not have been announced. I think the member should have been given credit by the minister. Since she was not given credit by the minister, I am going to give her credit because she thoroughly deserves it.
Mr. Reville: I would like to comment further on the committee on the siting of alternative transportation fuels outlets. This is an issue that has been of concern to residents in my riding, following on the events in the city of York. As my leader has said, there are a number of issues that need addressing. We need to get a common and thoughtful approach to the siting of alternative fuels. I hope the minister is going to include officials from the fire marshal's office on such a committee, because clearly that is one of the issues that concerns people. There are also the issues of pollution, congestion and traffic that need to be addressed, and it is not sufficient for municipal councils to have to include these uses under ancillary uses. We need a real policy on this matter.
Mr. Harris: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have a brief point concerning the House business, and the House leader (Mr. Nixon) may be interested and prepared to respond.
It concerns the Premier (Mr. Peterson). From time to time, there will be events and emergencies that will require the Premier to be away from this Legislature, even in spite of the important business that is on, and we understand that. An emergency may develop or there may be a first ministers' conference, and I think the public and certainly the members of this Legislature accept that.
But it is insulting to colleagues from all three parties in this Legislature that, on a date and at a time that are obviously of the Premier's own choosing and which he can set, his priority today is to be downtown naming the new dome instead of being here in question period.
It disrupts this Legislature. It shows the importance the government and the Premier attach to the important issues of the day right here.
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order; that is a point of view.
MEMBER FOR GREY-BRUCE
Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: I want to invite the House to take a moment today, if the clock might stop, to acknowledge the retirement of yet another member of the House. One was announced last week, that of my colleague the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), but we discovered over the weekend that the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent), or Owen Sound as we would know him, has also chosen to take his leave of the House. Just for a moment before we begin today, with the consent of the House, I want to acknowledge his decision, as the House was kind enough to acknowledge the decision of my colleague.
Mr. Speaker: The request has been made. Is there unanimous consent?
Mr. Grossman: I want to understate the case by pointing out how badly the member for Grey-Bruce will be missed from this House. Indeed, we will miss his departures from the House, for which he holds the undisputed record, a record which, like some other records I can think of, I would estimate will never be broken.
Those of us who have had the opportunity to work for the member will know of his effervescence, generosity, good nature and good humour on all occasions. One would understate it by saying he is somewhat colourful. He has been provocative on more than one occasion.
Mr. Ferraro: No.
Mr. Grossman: It is true; he has been. What is always warming about him is that on many days we have seen him rail in this House; oh, even once or twice getting upset about Ontario Hydro contracts and the like. I am sure he does the same inside the government caucus now on the same issue. Yet five minutes later, out in the hall, he would be inviting the minister he had just attacked verbally out for a drink, a hockey game or just a good laugh.
I first met the member when I was 12 or 13 years old. My father and I were off somewhere. We were at the Toronto Island Airport -- we were probably over there campaigning -- and we met the member for Grey-Bruce, who was at the Island Airport getting his own private plane, which he owned and flew at the time, repaired.
He will not remember this, but my father first introduced me to him and the honourable member took out his business card for me. I did not have much business to do with him, actually. It did not have the crest of the Legislature on it; it had, I would estimate, the names of 15 or 20 subsidiaries of the then Sargent empire, all sorts of companies on this card, including an aircraft service.
What I remember best was that the mechanic happened to come up to the member at that time and say: "Mr. Sargent, your plane is ready. The propeller has been fixed and is back on the plane. You can take it now." The member said, "Not so fast, now you go and fly it and bring it back before I take delivery of it."
In any event, for those of us who have had the opportunity to skate with him, both here and at Maple Leaf Gardens, to the Legislature's chief scout, general manager and coach of the hockey team, to someone who comes to this House with unusual roots in that his mother was a Progressive Conservative and his father a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation member, I can only say many of us regret he did not take the advice of his mother. Indeed, all I can say is that he, like many of the other members who have indicated their retirement, will be greatly missed.
Since, as we all know, there is a long, 24-months minimum left in the term, I suspect we will have to find a way to recognize all those members who, like my colleague the member for York West (Mr. Leluk), have indicated their intention to retire. I hope there is an appropriate moment where we can recognize those who have been perhaps less colourful, as all of us have been, than the member for Grey-Bruce, but who have made an important and valid contribution over their years of service, like my colleague the member for York West. That is for another day. For today, I simply wanted to take a moment of the House to acknowledge the enormous presence, geniality and unusual but important contribution made by the retiring member for Grey-Bruce.
Mr. Rae: The member for Grey-Bruce can sit down; he will get his chance.
When I read the national edition of the Globe and Mail up north on the weekend and saw that the member for Grey-Bruce had made a decision not to run again, I knew there were many households that felt the way I did; and many people across the province have said, as I said to the honourable member when I came in today, "Say it ain't so, Eddie," because there are a great many of us who have learned a lot from the member.
I think I can say, on behalf of all members of this caucus, and certainly I want to say personally, he has always demonstrated, apart from the enormous colourfulness, the way in which he would express himself -- I must say with a little sadness that we have not been able to see quite the same volcanic expression from the member since he has been sitting over there as when he was sitting on this side.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: We have that all to ourselves now.
Mr. Rae: That is right. As the Treasurer has said, I am sure there are other avenues and other places where the explosions take place; I am just a little sorry they have happened with less frequency here.
Let me say to the member, quite apart from those qualities and the political qualities he has demonstrated in this House, I think all of us would want to say that in political life one meets many different types of people, but we will rarely meet the like of the member for Grey-Bruce, someone whose kindness, whose basic gut decency, whose sense of humour and sense of fun are equally applied and shared with members of all parties.
I can remember having the pleasure of meeting the member when I was in federal politics and having a great sense of fun. We met in the member's riding, where I had been invited to attend a banquet. I can honestly say that I think my friendship with him dates back to that time. I am delighted to be considered a friend of Eddie Sargent. I know everybody in the House feels that way about him.
As has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Grossman), we are sorry the member is not going to be with us in 1990 or 1992, whenever that time comes, but we want him to know how much we all love him, how much we respect the quality and the spirit with which he has served the people of his constituency, and we know he will continue to do that. We are only sorry he is not going to be doing it in the Legislature, and we look forward to many happy years of sharing some jokes and perhaps the odd glass or two as we reflect on some of the vagaries of political life.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am delighted, on behalf of my colleagues, to join in the comments made by the leaders of the opposition parties -- delighted in the sense that the member for Grey-Bruce has established so many good friends on all sides of this Legislature.
The delight ends there, because I do not like to see him leave. I remember when he came into the House in 1963. We needed a little pep, I will tell you, and he provided it in the most effective way that we have observed on all sides.
Even before being elected to the Legislature, he was not only the mayor of Owen Sound but also was well known right across the country for his personal attributes and his ability to phrase his views in response to issues in a way that commanded attention.
As a House leader on both sides, I have always had an understanding of his sensitivity when it came to the nuances of the rules of the Legislature. At one stage, I can recall, when there was not the great spectrum of advice available to private members from staff that has grown so effectively in recent months, the member for Grey-Bruce was the only one with a paid assistant. He was the only one who had the dough to pay for anybody like that, but he had a very bright gentleman who was assisting in speech preparation, and he came into the House every day with a big load of questions.
The effectiveness of the opposition became apparent. We moved him down to the front. He was in charge of questions, and every day he just knocked the government of the day right out of its seat. It was great; very good. I can recall many of these occasions, both in the House and out.
On a more personal basis, the member and I competed for the leadership of the great Liberal Party of Ontario on two occasions. We had an interesting time, to say the least. I think I can fairly say, and I hope he will confirm, we came out of that as good friends as we went in. But my experience is that vying with the member for Grey-Bruce in the realm of hospitality and conviviality is a real challenge; he was always very effective in that regard.
On a much more serious note, I want to say that Eddie's wife, Roma, was an extremely highly regarded person, in association with the member, and naturally his family as well. From my point of view and my wife's point of view, Roma was so highly regarded that I even hesitate to mention it, but Eddie and I understand that very much; she was such a fine lady and she is missed so much, certainly by Eddie and his family and by everybody who knew her.
It seems to me that as this list grows longer and longer, the House leaders should get together at one of their meetings and apportion the responsibility for a wine-and-cheese or something at which we could all get together and review these matters -- some time in the next two or three years -- because it would be a shame if all the goodwill associated with our good friends who are making other career decisions were to be dissipated or in any way truncated by intervening events. Perhaps at the Thursday meeting we should get together and discuss this matter, because I think people on all sides need a certain, let us say, relaxation opportunity before the weather gets too warm.
Meanwhile, Eddie, we salute you, sir. We want to talk to you further about it, but you make the decision; it is an important one. We appreciate your friendship and wish you well.
Mr. Rowe: Look at that blue tie.
Mr. Sargent: I think I am going to give it away today.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Grey-Bruce may have a few words in response.
Mr. Sargent: I did not hear the time factor. How long? I would hate to get bounced out today.
Mr. Speaker, to the Leader of the Opposition, the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) and the member for York South (Mr. Rae) and all of us here, I want to say -- I wish I had something intelligent to say, which is not unusual.
I think of the fellow who wanted to send his mother a birthday present. He lived in Chicago; she lived in New York. So he thought he would get her something special and bought her a talking parrot. He sent it to her a few days before her birthday, and finally he phoned her after her birthday and said, "Did you get my present?"
She said, "Oh, it was delicious." He said, "You didn't eat that bird, did you?"
She said, "Yes, I did." He said, "That bird could speak five languages." She said, "Well, why didn't he say something?"
The Treasurer speaks about the leadership campaign. As far as I ever got in the leadership campaign was a parade one time. There was a demonstration before one came into the conference; I had a big demonstration, maybe about 20 people. Leading my parade was a large, very fat girl, obviously very pregnant, and she was carrying a sign that said, "Sargent is the man."
The Leader of the Opposition mentioned hockey. I want to say that he is a very good hockey player; he is almost as good as the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston). He is a gutsy guy, and we enjoyed that. While I am on my feet, I want to thank Syl Apps for what he accomplished in arranging with Harold Ballard for us to have unlimited time when the House could sit, etc. It was very generous of Harold Ballard and Syl Apps.
Will Rogers said once he never met a man he did not like. I never met a man in this House I did not like sometimes, but most times it was my fault if I did not like anyone.
I want to say the camaraderie in this place has been something I will always treasure. I hate to leave it, but there is a season for everything. God gave us memories so we can have roses in December, and I will always think of the many friendships I had here.
When we first came into the House, the Treasurer will remember, we had about 13 members. We could hold our caucus meetings in a phone booth then.
Mr. Breaugh: You still can. There are only four.
Mr. Sargent: I will talk to you later.
The bottom line is that I have the greatest respect for John Robarts, Bill Davis and the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), because the pick of the crop always comes to the top. Those are three wonderful men, although we had our disagreements in the House.
I want to tell a story. One time Bill Davis was going around kicking tires on a jet. He found out that jet was going to have a very special bathroom in it with leather toilet seats. Jim up in the back seat there -- we played hockey. When we finished the hockey season, they gave me a presentation of a leather toilet seat. I thought this would be a good shot to bring in to Bill Davis, so I brought it into the House. I held up this toilet seat, and someone said, "Why do you not look through it?" which I did. I cannot tell members the remarks he made, but we had a good time.
You can lead a horse to drink, but you cannot make him water. In this business, you have to have a desire to help people, and that is what it is all about. Someone has said that you cannot hope to change the whole world, but you can change the corner upon which you live. That is what this place is all about: helping people.
Each one of us is a very special person. Scientists tell us that at the centre of the Earth's core is a solid block of granite a mile square. The subject matter was that in all of eternity there is only one person like the member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel), and down the line one person like each individual. They described eternity as the time a hummingbird would fly every 24 hours past that solid block of granite. That is eternity.
We think we have a tough job here, but when you go back to a riding and get the friendship of the people you have helped over the years, it is all worth it.
On behalf of my family and everybody in my riding, I want to say God bless, see you in church.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am reliably informed that the answer to the question in the minds of all members is the SkyDome.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Grossman: The only possible explanation is that was the name submitted by Don Smith.
Mr. Grossman: Yes, the sky is the limit.
Mr. Grossman: Trying hard to follow the speech of the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) and in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Peterson), who is not here because he wants to announce the name SkyDome for the Toronto stadium instead of joining us this afternoon, I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions.
If the minister's new rate review board is to follow his guidance and allow the insurance companies to break even on auto insurance and to make as much as a three per cent profit, to use the figures the minister speculated about, the net result to the average consumer in this province will be that his auto insurance rates will go up 7.5 per cent to give the auto insurance companies an additional $170 million out of the pockets of auto drivers across this province. Given that reality, is the minister going to accept any recommendation, any ruling by the rate review board or is he reserving to himself the right to overrule that board?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I do not have any predetermined idea what the rate review board is going to do. The rate review board has the option to look at all the components and make a recommendation. The figures I used were from another jurisdiction and allow that profit. I do not know whether that is going to be the profit; I do not know whether that is going to be the thing. We are talking about hypothetical questions. When the rate review board is set up and when it reports, we will deal with its recommendations.
Mr. Grossman: I think we need that talking parrot back.
The issue is a very simple one. The auto insurance companies are going to be allowed by the minister at least to break even on auto insurance. Even he has acknowledged that. If that alone were permitted by the rate review board, they would be getting a 4.4 per cent increase out of every driver around the province. If they were to adopt the profit formula the minister himself talked about at the press conference -- and we have the transcript here, subject to it being rewritten by Brad Nixon that is his latest policy position.
The reality is that the average consumer, the average auto insurance ratepayer in the province will end up having an increase of from 4.4 per cent to 7.5 per cent under the rate review board. My question is not a hypothetical one. Is the minister going to keep for himself the right to overrule the decisions of the rate review board, or if it decides to allow a 7.5 per cent increase is he going to accept that?
There is the note from Brad.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The whole matter of rate review is not subject just to what we have today. We are looking at a total regime that we are implementing that by each one of those components could bring down insurance rates. We are looking at tort reform. We are looking at the Osborne report on no-fault. We are looking at automobile repair. We are looking at all those components. When all that comes together, we will find out what the rates are going to be.
Mr. Grossman: Last week, through Brad Nixon, it was explained that the minister would not allow the insurance companies to cross-subsidize into other areas of insurance but that auto would have to be funded from auto. That is what Brad Nixon said last week. The minister has also indicated that legislation will be introduced in this House in this session to complement and implement the announcement he made a couple of weeks ago. Surely he has the answer to this simple question: will the rate review board's decisions stand and be final or will the government retain to itself the right to overrule the rate review board? That is the simple question. What is the answer?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The simple answer is that the rate review board will meet. It will make its recommendations to the government and we will act on them.
Mr. Speaker: New question, the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Grossman: That directly contradicts what the minister said at the press conference and directly contradicts all the background material.
Mr. Speaker: New question and to which minister?
Mr. Grossman: In the absence of the Premier, who is announcing the sky-high dome, in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio), whose attendance we are hoping for, and in the absence of Brad Nixon, I will stand down my second question until the arrival of one of the above.
Mr. Speaker: The arrival of the Minister of Natural Resources?
Mr. Grossman: Or if the Premier is finished announcing the name of the new stadium, we will be happy to --
Mr. Speaker: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Rae: My question is to the Minister of Labour. It concerns the announcement made today by the Industrial Disease Standards Panel with respect to lung cancer.
I have just come back from a meeting I had on Thursday in Timmins with a number of widows of miners who died as a result of lung disease. I wonder whether the minister can explain how it is possible that a disease standards panel established by him and by the Workers' Compensation Board, under legislation passed by the Legislature, could come up with a recommendation that effectively means workers have to have a total of 60 years of exposure. This means in essence that a miner starting work after 1955 will never be eligible, under the rule proposed by the majority, and that no miner could fulfil the 60 years of exposure, given the present age limits on when he can start work and when he must retire.
I wonder whether the minister can explain how that kind of obscenity could be described as any kind of standard in the province today.
Mr. Speaker: Minister? Order.
Mr. Rae: It effectively means that all those widows who have been waiting for years for some kind of justice from this province and from the Workers' Compensation Board will not be getting it under the Liberal government.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The honourable member has asked his question.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I know my honourable friend wishes to reach a conclusion on this matter today, but I think he will know he should not, on his own behalf or that of anyone else, precipitately draw a conclusion.
The panel has now filed a report with the Workers' Compensation Board. Over the next 60 days, the Workers' Compensation Board will receive submissions, and I am sure it will receive submissions from a large number of groups on the report and perhaps on the appendix to the report, which is the findings of Dr. Muller and his group.
At the end of that period, the Workers' Compensation Board will turn its mind to making a final decision on this matter. This is the advice to the Workers' Compensation Board from the Industrial Disease Standards Panel. I think the honourable gentleman would wish to wait until the board has time to act on that advice.
Mr. Rae: The dissent to the report makes it clear that actually to qualify, a miner would have to have one of the following: 15 years of exposure before 1936; 20 years of exposure between 1936 and 1944; 30 years of exposure between 1945 and 1954; or 60 years of exposure after 1955. In other words, the review panel has created a standard that will help absolutely no one; that is whom it is going to help.
I would like to ask the minister how it is possible in 1987, after all the experience we have had with asbestosis, after the experience we have had with silicosis and after the experience we have had with lung diseases in miners who are working in other industries, that a panel of the government of Ontario would be producing a standard that puts all the burden on the individual worker. That standard makes it impossible for that worker's survivors to get any kind of claim and any kind of right and ignores entirely the whole legal premise of the Workers' Compensation Board, which is that the benefit of the doubt should go to the worker -- not to the company, not to the government, but to the worker. That is the standard that the minister has ignored. That is precisely what he has ignored.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I did not know that the Workers' Compensation Board had dealt with this matter yet. I can only repeat that the Workers' Compensation Board has received the advice of the Industrial Disease Standards Panel, advice which the panel was set up to provide. The leader of the third party was a member of this House when this determination was made in Bill 101. I am sure he knew what he was voting for then. It seems to me that what we have contemplated in Bill 101 is exactly what is being provided. The advice has been provided. It is now up to the Workers' Compensation Board to determine whether to accept any or all of the advice and, indeed, whether -- and my friend raises the issue of benefit of the doubt -- to go beyond the area that has been suggested by the panel.
While I am on my feet, I would not want to leave anything unsaid on the impression that the honourable member has given that nothing has happened in the mines between 1935 and 1987. The member will know that the standards in the gold mines and indeed in many of the other mines, in terms of air quality, have been toughened in a great many ways over the years, and this is particularly pertinent when we determine whether these payments will be made.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Final supplementary, the member for Sudbury East.
Mr. Martel: A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the Premier (Mr. Peterson) a letter and I said, "The wording in the Muller study on exposure for miners after 1945 leaves the door open to exclude them totally." They were weasel words.
Is it not a fact that when we dealt with the workers at the sintering plant at Inco, the Workers' Compensation Board initially took criteria that were out of whack? It started with three years of exposure, then two years, one year and three months, and the body count had to get yea high, more than 100, before we reached a criterion that was at least fair. Is the body count not that high now for the miners in the gold field? Do not play around with words about what the WCB is going to do.
Mr. Speaker: Minister.
Mr. Martel: The minister and I both know it will rule in favour of management.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat. Minister.
Mr. Martel: I have not asked the question yet.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Minister.
Mr. Martel: I have not asked a question, Mr. Speaker, so how can you ask the minister for an answer?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The member started, "Is it a fact?"
Mr. Martel: Yes. Now the question is as follows --
Mr. Speaker: Right. Minister. Order.
Mr. Martel: I have seen some nonsensical things, Mr. Speaker, but you really are taking the cake today.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Would the honourable member take his seat.
Mr. Martel: What a game. They are only lies, Mr. Speaker, do not worry about it.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: We on this side take these matters very seriously. In providing the advice, whether the advice is accepted or not, I think the honourable member would agree with me that offering the advice and the advice that was offered establishing a probable connection between lung cancer and certain occupational groups in the gold mining industry, and indeed the views offered by the Industrial Disease Standards Panel in terms of stomach cancer, were very useful. Frankly, whether my honourable friend likes it or not, it has provided a body of thoughtful, scientific opinion that allows the Workers' Compensation Board to move forward --
Mr. Speaker: Order. New question, the member for York South.
Mr. Rae: My question is to the Minister of the Environment in the absence of the Premier (Mr. Peterson). Can the minister tell us whether it is his view that the decision of the Ontario government to allow Ontario Hydro to bank its acid gas emissions one year against another increases Ontario's credibility when it comes to making statements in the United States about what the Americans should do?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I note that the particular report on the acid rain regulation was presented to the House on December 17, 1985. While at that time there were a few rumblings about that provision, the first time this matter has come up before the House once again is, I think, in this particular session. This is the first time the leader of the third party has raised this issue. While I recognize that there are a number of other important issues that come before the House, it was not something that obviously troubled the leader of the third party to the degree that a series of questions was asked at that time.
Mr. McClellan: Nobody dreamed it would be done so stupidly.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I did not hear the member for Bellwoods asking questions about it or complaining about it all that time.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Please do not answer the interjections.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: The leader of the third party is aware that the select committee on the environment has given consideration to the acid rain program that we have in Ontario. I will be very interested in the report that comes forward from that committee and will certainly give full consideration to any of the recommendations that come forward from that committee so that we can have the best possible regulation.
Mr. Rae: I do not think I heard an answer to my question. I heard a lot of flip comments about the fact that a matter is before a committee. I did not hear an answer to my question.
Since the minister is not allowed to run the department, he has become a kind of public relations flack for the government of Ontario. He has been strolling across the United States talking glibly about acid rain.
Mr. Rowe: Mr. Clean.
Mr. Rae: The minister does not go to the US with clean hands. His government has brought out a regulation with respect to Ontario Hydro's right to bank which effectively means that Ontario has been given the right to pollute, over and above government regulations, by his own ministry and by himself as the minister.
Does the minister not realize that decision on his part to allow Hydro to do that kind of banking dramatically reduces Ontario's credibility, it adds to our own acid rain problem here in Canada and it effectively means that when he goes to the US, the people of the US know he is just an empty bag of wind when it comes to acid gas and, in fact, he is not doing all that can be done with respect to acid rain?
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I would not agree with the leader of the third party, who has now discovered this issue in the Ontario Legislature on -- whatever it is today -- May 11, 1987. It has suddenly become an issue for him on this date.
I can tell the leader of the third party that people such as Senator Mitchell, who is one of the individuals in the US Senate who has been leading the charge in terms of acid rain abatement legislation, said, when we announced our regulation, that Ontario had done more in one day than the administration had done in five years to deal with the problem of acid rain.
When I go into the US and discuss with our American friends what we have done in Canada, there has not been criticism. The only criticism that has been forthcoming has been from the leader of the third party.
Mrs. Grier: I would like to remind the minister that if he has been reviewing Hansard for dates on which the issue of banking was raised in this House, it was the leader of my party who first raised it with him in December 1985 when he announced this program. The answer we got was, "There is going to be a select committee to review Countdown Acid Rain." It has taken us from December 1985 until January 1987 to persuade the minister to bring that committee forward and to get it going on its job, so I do not want any criticism in this House. If the minister is implying that he acts on things only when we raise questions, I think that is very true.
Mr. Speaker: And the question is?
Mrs. Grier: The question the minister is failing to answer is: how can he go to the US and justify his criticisms of their lack of action on acid gas when banking is in the Ontario regulations? I think we would all like to hear a straight answer.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: I simply say to the member for Lakeshore that the first criticism I have heard of it is here in the Ontario Legislature and that, with the hint of an election in the air, it has suddenly become an issue of some interest to the leader of the third party.
I also am in the position of not wanting to pre-empt the select committee.
Hon. Mr. Bradley: No. If I were standing before this House announcing some action before the environment committee reported, they would say, "The minister is ignoring the environment committee."
I happen to be one person who believes in the committee system in this House and one person who believes that when a committee is given the responsibility to delve into an issue and come forward with the report, the courtesy that should be extended to that committee is to have it report and provide a suitable reaction to the committee's recommendations.
I am very interested. I was interested in their deliberations and watched them and had them monitored, so I am aware of some of the thoughts that came forward. I am pleased to receive that report and I will certainly be pleased to take into consideration all the recommendations that are before it.
Mr. O'Connor: I have a question for the Attorney General, who is here and who is listening. Last week, the cabinet awarded timber-cutting licences to the United Sawmill company, one of whose principals is the member for Cochrane North (Mr. Fontaine) and also the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr. Eakins). Given the history of this situation, I would like to ask the Attorney General whether the awarding of such a contract would be permitted under the conflict-of-interest guidelines and legislation set out in Bill 23, which is before the House?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I will be glad to examine the contract and let the honourable member know.
Mr. O'Connor: I am not sure I heard the answer, but if the answer was that he would let us know, I am somewhat shocked that the Attorney General does not know what his own legislation before this House says. Either such a contract is encompassed in the act, in which case it is most inappropriate for the cabinet to be awarding such a contract to one of its own back-bench members; or if it is not included, then I question the Attorney General as to why he is not bringing forward this legislation for second reading. Is he delaying this legislation in order to allow this contract to be awarded before he brings it forward? Which one is it?
Hon. Mr. Scott: I really get the sense that the member does not need my answer to the question. He seems to have a good grip on the alternatives. His invitation is to have me look at the contract in question, which I will be glad to do and get back to him as quickly as I can.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. I am sure he is aware of the closure in our community of a plant called Sheller-Globe. In the accord that they signed with our party, he and his party promised that justification legislation and longer notice for plant closures as well as improved severance would be brought in.
Tom Hastings works at this place and has also worked for the past 11 years at Canadian Automotive Trim, which closed down, and for 15 years at Bendix, which closed down. Now he is at age 56 and has five years at Sheller-Globe and it is also closing down. Robert Gadd has also worked at JIC Electric, which closed down, for two years, and at Bendix, which closed down, for 10 years, and now at Sheller-Globe, and it is closing down. He is 37 and has a family of three.
When is the minister going to bring in the legislation that he promised, or was it all bafflegab? Did it mean nothing?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Obviously, the honourable gentleman has referred to a couple of individuals who work at Sheller-Globe and who have been unfortunate enough, previously in their working life, to have been victims. They really are the true victims of plant closure.
We are currently reviewing the options available to the government in all those areas. I can only promise that the legislative response from this government, which we have been working on for some period, will come forward at the appropriate time.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: The appropriate time has long since passed. Why is it that in Ontario 21 people had to lock themselves in that plant in order to simply demand that the company give information on the profitability and the pension situation at the plant because management would not give it to them? When the company did not agree with that, last night at about two in the morning, 75 police officers in riot gear went after 21 employees, put them all in handcuffs, threw them in the paddy wagon and charged them. Where is the fairness in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I share some of the concern of the member over this matter, so much so that I have asked, even as we move forward on legislation which will deal with these matters, both management and labour to come to Toronto tomorrow to meet with me so that some of the answers the parties want can be provided.
LEASE OF GOVERNMENT LAND
Mr. Callahan: I have a question for the acting Minister of Government Services. In my riding, there are 135 to 139 home lots where the present occupants did not take the opportunity to buy out the land leases. This is creating an administrative nightmare for the real estate agents in my riding, as well as vendors -- that is why I suppose they support vendors as well -- and the legal profession.
At present, the practice that prevails in the ministry is that in advance of listing a property a firm price or a firm appraisal is obtained from Ontario Housing and that is good for only 30 days. This has created a problem and the only way around it would be to put about four or five pages into an offer. Is there anything the government can do with reference to expanding that period?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I thank my honourable friend for his question. I can tell him that I have taken the matter up with my officials at the Ministry of Government Services. They tell me the rules of this situation have been made very clear to all the parties involved. We have, over the last number of years, effected some change. There was the opportunity, as the member knows, for individuals to buy out their lease. A number of individuals exercised that option; some did not. My officials tell me that was made very clear and the lawyers and realtors involved were equally apprised.
Having said all that, and recognizing the concern the honourable member and many of his constituents have, I am anxious to look at the situation to see whether there is perhaps some additional consideration we might give, but I want to make it clear that while we are obviously allowing individuals to capture their capital gain on the house, we intend to protect the public's interest in the leases and in the land.
Mr. Callahan: Can I inquire whether there might be provision for either a six-month period for closing or for a firm price, or the earlier of that or closing, whichever is the case?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I would want to reflect upon that option. Not having the very considerable legal training of my friend the member for Brampton, I would want to reflect upon his suggestion and take it up with my officials, which I will do. I will report back to the member, who I repeat has had a very keen interest in seeing that justice is done on all sides in this important matter.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTION
Mr. Rowe: I have a question for the Minister of Health. On January 26, I asked the minister why he refused to provide the necessary funding to permit the Barrie detox centre to carry out much needed follow-up and long-term care for drug and alcohol abuse patients in my riding. In his response, the minister indicated that his government has made an incursion into the provision of better service for those with alcohol and drug addictions province-wide.
Can the minister tell us today what communities were awarded provincial government funds for new or expanded addiction services last year?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I cannot tell the honourable gentleman that at this moment; however, I do know a couple of interesting presentations were made that covered parts of the ridings of the member for Cornwall (Mr. Guindon) and the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (Mr. Villeneuve). I do not have the list, but will make it available to the honourable gentleman as soon as I can get that material together.
Mr. Rowe: Perhaps we can refresh the minister's memory. Of the $3.4 million allocation, 73 per cent or $2.5 million went to Liberal-held ridings in the province. In fact, the minister invested more that $100,000 in his own riding of Huron-Bruce. Simcoe county has one of the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse in the province. Can the minister tell me today when he is going to stop feathering his own nest and the nests of his cabinet cronies and start looking after the people who need his help the most?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable gentleman will want to know that we also provided major funding for projects like the Renascent Treatment Centre here in Ontario. We also provided major funding for projects in Timmins and we provided major funding for a number of other projects that reach right around the province.
I can tell my friend that he would not have been incorrect if he had said that some areas of the province had long been forgotten by the previous administration. There are requirements to put in place the first programs that have ever been put in for some of those areas, and we will strive to do the best we can to spread out the activities of the people who are providing addiction services for both alcoholic and drug-addicted patients.
There is more to be done and more must be done. In fact, one of the things that concerns me and has concerned me for a long time, and one of the things that has been very advantageous as a result of the throne speech, has been the decision to put a committed program together to fund addictions programs for the youth of this province of ours. I am sure the people of this province will be quite pleased to see the initiatives that will be coming forward.
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition. I do not see the two ministers.
Mr. Grossman: We have been informed that the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) is not going to attend. He may be with the Premier (Mr. Peterson) announcing the name of the new domed stadium. In the absence of both of them, I have another question.
Mr. Grossman: My question is for the Solicitor General. As minister responsible for nuclear emergencies, can the Solicitor General tell us when he and the Ontario Provincial Police each were first notified of the fire at the Bruce nuclear station last Friday?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: In answer to the question, it is perhaps wise to look quickly at the very background of the fire at the Bruce station. It was at the Bruce A station. All units have been shut down for a month now because of maintenance going on in the vacuum building located at the top of the facility which provides containment for any air that might feasibly escape.
During the maintenance of that, caulking that was being used for the seams came on fire because of the heating treatment it was receiving. Therefore, a quick assessment was made by the staff on site at the moment it happened. It was a very small fire covering six square feet of space and was put out immediately after the evacuation of people. They returned to full working within two hours.
Mr. Grossman: I must say it is a little unusual for a minister consciously to avoid answering a question and thus put the onus on us to restate the question, which I now will do.
Regardless of the minister's attempt to downplay the situation, he will have to admit that there was at all times an extreme amount of radioactive material in the building in which there was a fire.
He will have to acknowledge that it was at least serious enough for all the workers to be evacuated. He will know very well of the proximity to the town of Kincardine and hundreds and thousands of other people.
My simple question to the minister, to which this House and the people of Kincardine deserve the answer, is, as Solicitor General, the minister responsible for nuclear emergencies in this province, when was he first notified of the fire and when was the OPP first notified of the fire?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: To reiterate, as the member knows, these types of matters are dealt with by a member of the Atomic Energy Control Board who was on site at the time of the fire. They were aware of all the proceedings that went on at that very moment. Since it did not involve anything nuclear-related, but was a small industrial fire of caulking material, there was no occasion to make any further notification beyond their forces who took it out and the AECB people. My own officials are currently visiting with Ontario Hydro to determine any other causes.
Mr. Grossman: I can only deduce from the answer the minister has twice attempted to give that in fact he was not officially notified on Friday, the day of the fire, was not notified on Saturday and was not notified on Sunday. I speculate that as the minister responsible for nuclear emergencies, he was notified by this morning's Toronto Sun which carried the first report of this fire in a nuclear station.
At the time of Chernobyl, the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio) appropriately made a grand statement in this House indicating, and I quote from April 30, 1986, that these incidents will "cause a reassessment of safety procedures and safety systems and designs. I wish to assure the House that those ministries and agencies in this province with responsibilities for nuclear safety will be working closely together for the next few months...to learn and apply whatever lessons there may be from...Chernobyl."
Is the Solicitor General, as the minister responsible for nuclear safety, satisfied that a fire may occur in a nuclear station and he would never be notified? Is he satisfied when the local officials and the OPP are not notified? Is he satisfied with those procedures? Are those safety procedures that he and the Minister of Natural Resources approved pursuant to that April 30 statement? If so, how does he justify that total dereliction of responsibility to the people of Kincardine?
Hon. Mr. Keyes: The safety of all individuals, citizens of the area, plant workers, etc., is always foremost in the minds of the people who work at Hydro and AECB, as well as at our emergency measures office. Therefore, there is always an ongoing dialogue between those officials to review whether procedures have been appropriate.
Today, as well, there is an ongoing debate between those three groups to determine whether correct procedures are in place or whether there is any need for revisions of those procedures.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I am intrigued, as I am sure you are, by the battle going on in the last few days between the Progressive Conservative Party and the Liberal Party to see who is doing the most to protect the insurance industry. I want to put a question from a different perspective, that of protecting the motorists and, therefore, I want to put it to the Minister of Financial Institutions.
It is becoming increasingly obvious to anyone in this House and, I think, to those outside that he does not know what he has done, what he is going to do and what he is doing with regard to insurance. In the last month, he has contradicted everything he said in the two years before that and half the things he has said since then. All we know is that whatever he is doing, it is going to cost the motorist more.
Why has the minister refused to seek out a more efficient, less costly auto insurance system, similar to our Ontario health insurance plan system? Does he not know that the total expenses of the operation of OHIP now consume only two per cent of total disbursements, compared to 30 per cent when health insurance was under the private system? Why does he not look at that public model for auto insurance and give the same kind of savings to the motorists of the province as they get in health insurance?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member will know that we have looked at all systems. We have Justice Coulter Osborne examining all systems with respect to no-fault insurance. We feel that the recommendations I brought forward on April 23 will go the way towards resolving the problems we have.
Mr. Swart: I remind the minister that he has refused to look at the public plans in the three western provinces. He went to England, Switzerland and other European countries at public expense to look at their plans, but he refused to go to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Given that the minister is simply playing defence for the private insurance companies and trying to protect his own political backside while skating around the real issue, does he not realize that he has to have the savings of a public, nonprofit system -- a reduction of 20 per cent on premiums for administration alone, as pointed out by Woods Gordon, and the return of all income on investment amounting to another 15 per cent -- to bring about real and substantial reduction for motorists and that there is no other way of doing it?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The member constantly refers to his much-vaunted colleagues in the west. He never once mentions the fact that the Manitoba system is in deficit to the tune of about $53 million, including its reinsurance obligations. That is a direct charge against the taxpayers in Manitoba.
MARKET VALUE ASSESSMENT
Mr. McFadden: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Revenue. As he is undoubtedly well aware, the home owners in Metropolitan Toronto are anxiously awaiting the release of the market value assessment impact study.
Last week, I asked the minister when he expected that the ministry study would be released. He said, in two words, "Very soon." I understand the report has not been released as yet. Will the minister tell us what he meant by "very soon"? Is that by the end of this week? By the end of May? By the end of June, or perhaps in due course by the end of this decade? When does the minister expect the study will be released and made available?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I meant, without the lapse of very much time.
Mr. McFadden: I would have to say that is the model of inexactitude, and that is parliamentary language.
Mr. Speaker: Very Churchillian.
Mr. McFadden: When I asked the minister when this report would be released, I asked whether he would be prepared to release the report to this House and to the public. In answer to my question, he said that it would be released to Metro council and then it would be up to Metro council to decide the disposition of the ministry's study.
In view of the fact that this study has been carried out at the expense of the taxpayers of Ontario and that it impacts very directly on the homes of every single taxpayer in the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, will the minister take the position that Metro should release it? And if Metro does not release it, will he undertake to release the study to this House and to the public so that the people know what is going to happen to their homes?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I think the honourable member would know the study does not deal with individual properties by street address. Even the member, who may be very concerned about the assessment on his palatial residence in north Toronto, would not be able to determine what the exact change would be. They are done by properties in areas, in order to give the elected municipal politicians an understanding of overall impact; that is what an impact study is, as the member knows.
All the other things the member has said in this connection have some validity. The cost of the program was paid from provincial funds, but it was at the request of the Metropolitan council. The report will be delivered to them soon, and I hope that means the member will not have to ask me too many more times about it. It really is their report in that sense; I hope and trust it will be considered a public document and made public. I believe that is a decision in which they should be involved.
I also want to tell the member and anybody else who will read the Hansard he will be sending out, up and down the byways of Eglinton riding, that it does not refer to specific properties but only to general areas of the city. It is an excellent report, I believe, and will be available to the Metropolitan council soon.
Ms. Gigantes: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. He tells us we need 100,000 new day care spaces, which is an underestimate, but he seems determined to fly in the face of near-unanimous public submissions to both federal and provincial legislative committees, determined to provide direct public funding to profit-making day care centres. I wonder whether he would tell us what conditions and what methods of ensuring public accountability he plans to attach to the tax moneys he is going to be funnelling to profit-making centres.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: It is precisely because we need so many more additional spaces in the province that I have indicated on several occasions that we cannot afford to lose any of the spaces we have now. l have made it very clear, in public statements and in speaking to the private day care operators, that the only way they would get any public dollars in the form about which the member is speaking is if, first, they commit themselves to use that money to increase salaries and/or to reduce fees in combination; and second, that they would be prepared to open their books so we could determine that, in fact, that it is the way it is going to be used. My understanding is and the feedback I get is that they are agreeable to that.
Ms. Gigantes: The minister has complained bitterly about the federal plans for development of day care, but he has got himself entangled in those federal plans because he is insistent on giving money to profit-making day care centres. Can he tell us whether he would be willing to say to profit-making day care centres, "Unless you incorporate as nonprofit centres, we are not going to give you direct public funding"? We cannot hold them accountable for that funding and we have the proof in the nursing home system.
Hon. Mr. Sweeney: I would suggest to the honourable member that I have not complained bitterly about the federal process, I have simply indicated that there are some things we would like to do; for example, introduce income testing in Ontario, but we could only do it for half the system if we played by the existing rules. I would like those rules changed.
With respect to the specific question the member raised, I have already indicated that I am quite prepared to include in our overall proposal incentives to private day care operators to convert to nonprofit. Again, I have spoken to a number of them privately and indicated some of the things we are prepared to do and tried to get some feedback from them as to what kinds of incentives would be acceptable. I am quite prepared to take a look at that. I have no objection at all to providing incentives for them to go nonprofit.
ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME
Mr. Andrewes: My question is to the Minister of Education. In January, the minister made a somewhat spontaneous announcement that he would be requiring boards of education across the province to provide courses of study in the acquired immune deficiency syndrome virus. I wonder if the minister could tell us what resources he has made available to these boards to undertake the development of these courses of study and training programs for staff members.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I thank the honourable member for his question. I did indicate that the government views the AIDS phenomenon as a very serious medical and social concern. We see the role of education as important in addressing that concern.
I indicated some weeks ago that we would be amending our health and physical education guideline for students, particularly in the secondary years, so that at some point in that process between grade 7 and the end of the secondary panel, students would take instruction in this particularly important area. I expect that guideline will be in place for the 1987 fall term.
In the preparation of those materials, we are working with groups such as the Ontario Public Education Panel on AIDS and many others in the health and education community. If the member would like further details, I will be very happy to supply those to him at a very early time.
Mr. Andrewes: The minister will know that often the responsibility for teaching sexuality to young people in schools falls to public health nurses who are employed by the local boards of health. I wonder if the minister is aware that in Niagara region, for instance, the Niagara regional health services department proposes to make services available to some 11,000 grade 8 and grade 9 students in the Niagara area but needs a commitment of $400,000 per year in order to undertake this program.
Has the Minister of Education consulted with his colleague the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston) about making available additional resources, funding, to the local boards of health in order that they may undertake this somewhat important role?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Again, I want to say to my friend the member for Lincoln that I have taken the advice of my friend the Minister of Health, who has been very positive in his advice in this respect. I should indicate as well to my friend from Lincoln that, as he knows, it will be up to local school boards to implement the specific programs within the broad framework of the provincial educational policy that we are going to mandate.
It is important to know that local boards which have every regard to local community concern and sensitivity, together with educational and health care professionals, will implement a program in this area. To do that, I expect they will take the advice of and work with groups such as health units and others who have a real interest and commitment to ensuring that this very important objective is met within our school system.
Mr. McClellan: I hoped the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley) might be here for at least part of this question, but I will put it to the Minister of Labour since it concerns this morning's announcement that Canadian General Electric intends to close its Lansdowne Avenue plant.
Given that Canadian General Electric has closed 14 plants in the city of Toronto over the past 15 years with a total job loss in excess of 8,000 jobs, what happened this morning is simply the final chapter in the elimination of one of the major industries in the city of Toronto and one of the major sources of jobs for the people of west Toronto.
When does the minister intend to honour the promises made by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) to bring in legislation to set up a process of public justification and review before companies such as Canadian General Electric close their doors and walk away on millions of dollars' worth of capital investment, to say nothing of the jobs of many thousands of workers?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I indicated earlier to the honourable member's colleague the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) that we continue to have, and have had for a number of months now, discussions in terms of termination and severance pay. In terms of legislation that might help to avoid these plant closures, the gentleman will know that the throne speech spoke of an industrial restructuring commissioner. It is my expectation that the government will be moving in the next short while to put that process in place.
Mr. McClellan: I was hoping the Minister of the Environment would be back, but I will put the question to the Minister of Labour since I hope there has been some discussion about the future of that site.
The minister will know that the Lansdowne Avenue plant of Canadian General Electric is one of the major repositories of polychlorinated biphenyl contamination in Ontario. I think there are 10,000 square yards of PCB-contaminated, oil-soaked soil sitting inside the main assembly buildings. The site itself is one of the largest PCB wells anywhere in the world and there are dozens and dozens of drums full of PCBs stored on the site.
Since this site is slated to become a classy shopping boutique -- perhaps it will be called PCB Place; I do not know -- perhaps the minister can share what plans have been made with his colleague for the decontamination of this very large and dangerous industrial site. I am sure the people of the area will be interested in knowing what the government's plans are.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: In his first question, the gentleman indicated the announcement was made only this morning. The member has asked a very important question. I will raise the matter and direct that question to the Minister of the Environment as soon as I see him and he will report to the House on any appropriate response.
Mr. Dean: I have a question for the Minister of Health. For some time now, St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton has been attempting to obtain provincial approval and funding for the long-planned, east end ambulatory care centre. The Ministry of Health has finally approved a budget of $15 million that had been submitted in 1983, but the ministry is refusing to adjust that budget to take into account the effect of inflation, which has raised the estimated cost of the care centre to $17 million. Will the minister tell us why it is his ministry's policy to prolong the approval process for vital projects and then turn around and refuse to adjust the budget to reflect rising costs?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I do not know why there would have been a long delay before 1985. That is a question about which he will be more familiar than I. I can tell the honourable member, however, that I am always concerned when people bring to my attention concerns about escalating costs. People in the Hamilton area, the member for Hamilton East (Mr. Mackenzie), the member for Hamilton Centre (Ms. Munro), the member for Wentworth North (Mr. Ward) and others have brought this to my attention and I am pleased the member is also bringing it to my attention. I will take a look at what is currently being done and what can be done because I know the high level of community interest in this project, but I am not in a position to tell him why it took his government so long to decide upon the approval procedure.
Mr. Dean: The minister has given an answer to a question he may have wished people would ask, but that was not the question that was asked. Incidentally, I am pleased he has heard from other people on this but I have not seen that issuing in any action.
Will the minister give to us and the people of my riding in east Hamilton and Stoney Creek where this centre is to be located, who have long anticipated the completion of this ambulatory care centre, his assurance that he will clear the bureaucratic logjam that there appears to be in his ministry and confirm the decision of the previous Progressive Conservative government, which I am glad he brought up and which was made two years ago, that appropriate funding and final approval will be given to this extremely important project? Can he confirm that without delay?
Hon. Mr. Elston: I do not think I recall what appropriate funding decisions were made by the previous administration, the name of which I have forgotten at this time. However, I will look into what decisions were made some two years ago, as he has indicated, and I will report to him about what decisions were made and what plans were then approved at the various levels of government. In my review of the Ministry of Health, it came to my attention that a very large number of announcements and approvals were given based on very scanty planning. In fact, there were very few approvals at other levels of government.
I will be only too pleased to advise the honourable member and perhaps refresh his memory about the manner in which the decision may ultimately have been taken some two or more years ago.
Mr. Wildman: I have a question of the Treasurer in his guise as the acting Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet. I wrote to the acting Chairman of the Management Board on February 27 and pointed out to him that while the government had brought in and passed its so-called residential rent review guideline of 5.2 per cent, more or less, the Management Board of Cabinet had just passed a memo raising the rents for government-owned residential properties in northern Ontario by as much as 12.8 per cent per year over the next five years. I have yet to find out why this is happening and whether this government is going to live up to the spirit of the law, even if it is not subject to the letter of the law.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I will be glad to get some more detailed information for the honourable member, but as I recall the situation to which he refers, these are government-provided facilities for the Ontario Provincial Police, conservation officers and others. They are relatively heavily subsidized. At the time we saw the actual rents charged, we thought it was appropriate to have a makeup provision to bring the rents somewhere into the range of rents paid by other people in the community. Since this was some months ago, I would prefer, having given my recollection, to provide the member with some more detailed information and I would be glad if he chose to pursue it by additional questions.
Mr. Wildman: The minister may recall that when the previous government first brought in rent review, the then minister Margaret Scrivener went through this same process and had to back down, follow the spirit of the law and bring down the rents the government was raising for these. Does the minister not realize that the subsidized rents are a way of attracting qualified OPP officers and Ministry of Natural Resources and other ministry staff to small, isolated communities in the north? By raising rents to market levels, against the guideline, he is taking away that incentive and making it more difficult for us to get qualified public servants to move into small municipalities in northern Ontario.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I am quite flattered to be compared with the former minister, but I take what the member said as something of a warning and I will provide him with the specific information he seeks in that connection.
Mr. Jackson: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Specifically, I am concerned about the matter with respect to the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital and the allocation of chronic and acute care beds for Halton region. The minister is aware that he has made three separate announcements of these 90 acute and chronic care beds. He has been sitting, in his ministry, with a recommendation from the Halton District Health Council for five solid months. Will the minister announce the allocation of those badly needed chronic and acute care beds?
Hon. Mr. Elston: The honourable member knows that the Halton DHC was one of the earliest to respond to my request for information. The other health councils had more difficult decisions to make, although I appreciate that the Halton decision also took an awful lot of work. We got some replies from some health councils late in February and we now are putting together the entire package, as I told the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. Rowe). Those arrangements now are in place in terms of making our final decisions. As soon as we have something to announce or indicate to the public, of course the proper announcements will be made. I have no announcements to make today, and although the member probably hoped I would I am unable to comply with his wishes.
Mr. Warner: I wish to table a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario. It reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
"That the government of Ontario provide the funds needed to build a 10-bed renal dialysis unit at Scarborough General Hospital to serve patients in the Scarborough area."
It is signed by 141 persons bringing the total now -- Mr. Speaker, you have been waiting to hear the latest total -- to 1,476 and growing daily.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Mr. Knight from the select committee on the environment presented the committee's report and moved the adoption of its recommendations.
Mr. Knight: As the members know, the committee was instructed to review and report its recommendations on bilateral environmental issues as they affect Ontario. At our organizational meeting we decided our first report would be a review of the Countdown Acid Rain program. We decided that in subsequent recesses during this parliament, we would also look at Niagara River toxic waste management, Great Lakes water quality and toxic rain.
During this past recess, we held 11 days of public hearings and listened to the presentations of 56 people. As a result, the committee has several recommendations to make. There are three I would like to highlight: first, the banking provisions for Ontario Hydro should be deleted from the regulations and not be replaced with any similar provision; second, public hearings should be held by a designated committee of the Legislative Assembly to review the final progress reports to be submitted by Inco, Falconbridge, Algoma Steel and Ontario Hydro before December 1988; third, the Environmental Protection Act should be amended to include a notice-and-comment procedure.
On motion by Mr. Knight, the debate was adjourned.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that Miss Stephenson and Mr. Dean exchange places in the order of precedence for private members' public business.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the select committee on health be authorized to meet following routine proceedings on Wednesday, May 13, 1987.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the standing committee on the Ombudsman be authorized to meet following routine proceedings on Tuesday, May 19, 1987, and in the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 1987.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
WORKERS' COMPENSATION AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. McClellan moved first reading of Bill 45, An Act to amend the Workers' Compensation Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. McClellan: The purpose of this bill is to amend the Workers' Compensation Act by repealing section 86n. Section 86n empowers the board of directors of the Workers' Compensation Board to direct the appeals tribunal to reconsider its decisions to hold hearings, to review the decisions of the appeals tribunal and even to stay or cancel the execution or implementation of decisions of the appeals tribunal. This would prevent the board from trying to sabotage decision 72.
WINDSOR YOUTH MARCHING AND CONCERT BAND ACT
Mr. Newman moved first reading of Bill Pr68, An Act respecting the Windsor Youth Marching and Concert Band.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for an address in reply to the speech of the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the Session.
Mr. Baetz: At throne speech debate time, I believe it is protocol or tradition, if one so desires, to compliment the Speaker for the good work he is doing. Even if it is not protocol and is not tradition, although as I say I think it is, I would like personally to compliment the Speaker for the very excellent manner in which he has conducted this session, always with good humour and fairness. We appreciate it very much.
I would like to be able to extend the same kind of complimentary sentiments to the Lieutenant Governor and to the government for the throne speech, but in all honesty I am afraid I cannot do that. In this throne speech, as we all know, we have seen an unprecedented length. I believe it is the longest throne speech in the history of this province. It has also been unprecedented in flabber-gabbery in an effort to catch votes. "Here a vote, there a vote, everywhere a vote vote." That is the feeling one gets as one goes through this speech.
We realize that throne speeches are not budget speeches. They are not expected to spell out the government's program in detail with accompanying expenditures. We know that is not expected from a throne speech. However, what we can expect in a throne speech is at least an outline of the philosophies and principles that are going to be guiding the government's program in the session ahead. When one looks for these general guidelines, one cannot help but feel terribly disappointed; indeed, feel terribly confused as to what this is all about.
I could address and attack many sections of the throne speech with a great deal of validity, but I am going to confine myself to one issue and that is the issue of child care. Here, as much as and probably more so than in many of the other sectors of the throne speech, there is nothing but confusion and confused talk, a spirit of: "On the one hand, but on the other hand. If we say this, how many votes will we get? If we say that, how many will we lose? We will say a little on this side and a little on that side and we will all go running around the maypole."
It is very interesting indeed that the throne speech uses "child care" and restricts it to a discussion of the economics of child care. As we have noted in the speech from the throne, it says at the very outset, "The absence of an adequate supply of quality, affordable child care may be the single greatest obstacle preventing many families from realizing their full economic potential." It deals with the economics of child care or the economics of the lack of child care.
Sure, there are economic dimensions to inadequate child care. We know that. We realize that in many families there are two income earners because there have to be. They have to have two incomes to make a living. We know that in single-parent families it is either a case of adequate child care and the single parent can go out to work or it is welfare. We realize there are these economic aspects to child care, but for the throne speech to come out and to restrict its treatment of this very important issue to the economics illustrates more eloquently than anyone else could say it that --
Mr. Baetz: Thank you. I see the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway) is about to leave. I will send him this speech. I am sure he will learn by it.
Mr. Andrewes: He is very interested in child care.
Mr. Baetz: Yes, he is, or should be, will be -- is.
Child care is a social issue. It is today the single most important social issue facing our society. It is more than an economic issue.
I believe the current critical situation is largely due to the fact that public attitudes and public policies and programs simply have not kept pace with some of the rapid and profound social changes in Canadian society.
Paramount among these changes are at least three. The first one is the sharply increased participation in the labour force by women, and particularly mothers with very young children. I am not going to elaborate that mountain of statistics and figures that paint an overwhelming and compelling story about the lack of and the need for more child care. The figures are all there.
I want to cite only one here, and that is simply that in 1976, 31 per cent of all mothers with children under three were full-time participants in the labour force. That figure has now gone up to 45 per cent; 45 per cent of all mothers with very young children, children under three, are today in the labour force. That is the first major change that has occurred in our society and that requires society to respond to it.
The second social change is the increase in the number of single-parent families, single parents under the age of 35. In 1951, 14 per cent of all families were single-parent. By 1981, 28 per cent of all families were single-parent families. That is the second major change that has affected child care.
The third is the sharp current and, above all, projected long-term decline in birth rates, leading to zero or negative population change within a decade.
These are some of the forces that have impacted and that require us to change our strategy as far as child care is concerned.
To do this properly, as a government, we have to be very clear about our principles. We have to be very clear about our objectives. My favourite modern American philosopher, Yogi Berra of New York Yankees fame, said, "If you don't know where you are going, you are liable to end up somewhere else." I think this is what we have to be aware of here in developing a comprehensive child care program. We have to know where we are going or, as Yogi warns us, we may end up somewhere else.
I believe child care programs and public policy should be based on the following principles. I would like to talk about principles. That is where we start and then we can translate the principles into some operational and programmatic questions.
The first principle is that public policies and programs, if they are to be fair and equitable for all parents with young children, must address the child care issue in a broad and comprehensive manner rather than in a fragmented and a partial one.
This broad approach will encompass all categories and all types of child care, from care given by parents to their own children in the parental home on the one hand, to care obtained by parents for their children through a wide variety of formal and informal arrangements on the other. You cannot look at the question of child care without including all parents and all children, whether they look after them in their own home or whether they purchase or get the service in some other kind of way.
The throne speech says absolutely nothing about parental care in one's own home, and that is not a comprehensive approach to child care. It is certainly not a statement befitting a throne speech. There is absolutely no mention of any kind of measure or program for parents who choose to stay in their own home and look after their own children.
One sentence in the throne speech stated that child care in the future will be a public service, not a welfare service. What does that mean? Does it mean there is no more income testing, no more needs testing? I think we should disregard the needs test but go for income testing. What does public service really mean? Does it mean we are now going to embark on having a broad network of child care services comparable to our educational system? I wish the throne speech had elaborated on this a little more; it would have helped all of us. The point is, it seems to look at only one side. It is a bifurcated, myopic view of child care.
The second principle I would like to refer to is the principle that parents have primary responsibility for the care and nurturing of their young children, and that role must be maintained and strengthened by public policies and public programs. The role of government should be essentially an enabling one, assisting parents through a wide range of measures, whether in one-parent or two-parent families, to carry out their parental responsibilities. The second principle, then, is an enabling role for government.
The third principle, and it is consistent with the role of government as an enabling one, is that public programs should not be assumed to cover the entire cost of child care, except in the provision of adequate care for children in extreme cases of complete family breakdown.
The next principle is consistent with parents maintaining the primary responsibility for the care of their children. Public policies and programs should be designed to give parents the greatest possible practical range of choices as to how, where and from whom their children will receive care. This assumes that care outside the parental home is accessible and affordable and that care by the parents themselves in the parental home is financially feasible.
We can talk as long as the day is long about giving parents a choice, but if we do not provide some kind of financial support, some kind of assistance, we can very easily narrow that choice to one or two methods. Parents must be given a wide range of choice.
It is this range of choice that distinguishes our kind of free, democratic, parliamentary society from the totally planned socialist state. The totally planned socialist state will tell you your children will be looked after, and they are. They are looked after very well outside the home, but you have no choice about looking after your own children inside your home. We, in this society, feel that parents should have their choice as to whether the care is to take place outside or inside the home.
Another principle is that child care assistance provided by governments, whether in the form of direct cash payments or indirect subsidies or services, should be based on the principle of selectivity, which simply means giving most help to those who need it most. That has to be a central principle as we look at our total child care delivery system.
A further principle, and this is somewhat in line with the selectivity principle, is that the most help be given when it is needed most. It is estimated that this takes place in the first two years of a child's life. The behavioural scientists, the social scientists or the medical scientists like to talk about these first two years as being so absolutely important for the healthy growth and development of the child. They talk about it as being the period of bonding and attachment, a period when the child begins to attach, when it begins to feel at home in a certain environment, when it begins to relate very strongly to supportive adults. If that does not happen, the future of that child, the emotional growth of that child is in enormous jeopardy.
If we do not give the proper care in these first two years, we are really building hundreds of thousands of human time bombs who will go off somewhere down the line as they get older. They will go off as sure as night follows day. After having neglected the kids during these very young, formative years, the first two years particularly -- we neglect them, we give them no love, we give them no care; we may give a glance once in a while, but no meaningful care -- later on, when they are 15, 17, 18 or 25 years old, they begin to act out on society. They begin to be hostile to their best friends, parents, siblings and neighbours. Then society throws up its hands and says: "What is wrong with Mary and Jane? Why are they so belligerent? Why are they such ugly people?" They are simply giving back to society what they got when they were very young. That is what they give back.
We should not be surprised. We have to be particularly anxious and careful that in the first two years adequate care is given to the child.
Another principle, again in keeping with the nature of our free enterprise, welfare state system -- and that is what we are in, a free enterprise, entrepreneurial system, with a mix of the welfare state. This principle is consistent with that kind of society and also with the principle of wide choice; that is, that licensed day care centres under the auspices of private, commercial operators should be allowed to continue to organize and administer child care service, along with and alongside the not-for-profit agencies. This should be regarded as a privilege, one that would be withdrawn if and when these privately sponsored child care services provide a service that is consistently lower than those of the not-for-profit agencies and-or do not otherwise meet the stringent standards established by government for child care.
In the province over the years we have built an excellent, high-standard child care system, thanks to such founders of the system as Elsie Stapleford -- a name that perhaps not many people in this chamber here today recognize -- certainly one of the great builders of our child care system, and Bessie Touzel, who was honoured with the Order of Ontario the other day.
We have here a system of high-standard child care. It does not mean there is no room for improvement. We can always improve the standards, and must, but certainly I see a place for the for-profit, private entrepreneurs in this field, provided these people deliver a high-quality service for their children and do it as well as the not-for-profits do it.
I know our socialist friends down here do not like it. We heard it in question period again today, "Why do you allow these awful commercial operators in the child care field at all?" Profit to them is the dirtiest six-letter word in the English language; they do not like it.
Mr. Warner: Making money off kids; making money off the sick and old people too.
Mr. Baetz: That got them going.
We are here in a mixed society of private enterprise and the social welfare state.
Mr. Warner: Any time you can grab a bit, it does not matter whom you get it from or how you get it.
Mr. Baetz: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere will get the floor later on, Madam Speaker. He can then repeat his treatise on this subject.
I would simply like to ask my socialist friends, who say there is absolutely no room for the profit motive in the child care field, what about the Fisher Price toys? Are they not a good thing for the children of today? Do the children not learn by these toys? Are they not far superior to anything that has been created before? I am not doing a commercial here for Fisher Price; I am sure there are other toymakers in the business.
Is Gerber Baby Foods in the business only because it loves the children or does it also have a profit motive? I suspect it has a profit motive and a love for kids, and as a result, the kids get excellent baby food.
One could talk about the Huggies and the Luvs and the Pampers. There is far better quality there today than there was years and years ago, because the manufacturers, who, I suspect, operate on a mixed motive of profit and the wellbeing of the children, have produced a very excellent-quality thing there.
Mr. Gregory: That is the bottom line.
Mr. Baetz: That is the bottom line, my good colleague the member for Mississauga East reminds me.
The fact is that the private entrepreneur, if regulated -- and we do regulate; we regulate the kinds of toys they can make and we regulate what they put in baby foods. We can regulate, and I think, frankly, if we have this mix of the social state and the entrepreneur, we have the best of both worlds. The principle here should be that there is a role for the profit operators.
As we know from talking to many of them, and some of them having shown us their accounts, they are not making enormous profits on this thing at all. Some people would like to say they are making millions, which of course is a lot of nonsense.
Finally, I think there is a principle here too, again thinking of the kind of society we are in, that government intervention through laws, regulations and actual programs cannot be all things to all people. It cannot be the only actor in the child care field. It cannot do it and it would not even be appropriate for a government to serve in that role.
What we need in this province and in this country for the adequate development of our child care system and child care, however it takes place, whether it is formal or informal, is, first of all, a better and a greater public awareness of the needs for better child care services, but also to get more people participating in it: friends, families, neighbours, informal and formal community organizations and, of course, employers.
The final principle in devising a child care program, I think, is that financial assistance to parents of young families should be given in a manner that is as unobtrusive as possible in the private lives of families without violating the principles of public accountability in the expenditure of public funds. There we are into the question of the needs test versus the income test. Many people agree that the needs test is too intrusive, that it delves into the private affairs and lives of the family more than it needs to in order to provide accountability for the expenditure of public funds.
Here there are about 10 principles, none of them enunciated, not even hinted at in this throne speech. Almost a year ago we were given a great fanfare that in some future throne speech, presumably this one this year, we would get a beautiful outline and a statement of principles and objectives for child care from this government. Instead of that, we got nothing.
Based on these principles, I would like to refer to a few operational steps we could be taking that are consistent with any one of these principles or any combination or maybe all of them. Here are some specific program recommendations I would like to make. This is not a policy statement of my party, these are my own personal views; for the time being, at least.
The first is that there be a federal tax credit of $500 for every child two years and under and a $300 credit for every child aged two to five years where they are cared for in their own homes and where no other child care expenses are claimed. In the report from the special parliamentary committee, they were referring to an immediate federal child tax credit of $200 for the first child, $100 for the second child and $50 for the third child. This government harrumphed. They said, "What is a $200 federal tax subsidy?"
Mr. Gregory: What did they do?
Mr. Baetz: They harrumphed. They said: "This is ridiculous. This does not amount to a thing." I agree it is not enough, but this throne speech did not even talk about it, did not even mention it. It had nothing whatever to say to those parents, and there are many of them, who want to look after their own children in their own homes; for them, nothing, certainly not as far as the throne speech is concerned. That is why I am recommending that we look at the possibility of a $500 tax credit for every child under two -- that is the most vulnerable age group -- and a $300 credit for every child aged two to five.
Second, and this is where we will be looking to this government for some action, these federal tax credits should be matched by an Ontario tax credit of equal amount. These tax credits, which would then amount to $1,000 for a child under two and $600 for a child from two to five through a combination of federal and provincial tax credits, are still not enough. We know that. It is still not enough to replace the lost income of a mother who stays home to look after her young child. But if members will remember, we have stated as one of our principles that it is not incumbent upon government to pay for all the child care costs. We can assist but we do not carry the whole load.
Certainly, it would be at least a start in a very specific way towards recognizing the value of those parents, and usually it is the mother who leaves the labour force temporarily to stay at home and look after her children. It would be a recognition of that value. It would not compensate for their losses; I know that. That would be one recommendation.
I feel we should also support the proposal of the special House of Commons committee on child care, which was to the effect that all working parents with children enrolled in licensed day care be eligible for a tax credit of up to 30 per cent of expenses but not more than $3,000 per child, to a maximum of $12,000 per family. That is the financial assistance recommendation, and I think it is a good one, for those parents who choose to purchase their child care outside.
Keep in mind that the tax credit, which could go up to $1,000 for the child under two, is for parents who do not claim any other compensation from government for child care expenses. That first credit was for those who look after their own children.
Third, I would say that the matched federal-provincial government capital and startup grants should be restricted to nonprofit licensed facilities, it being assumed that private operators would provide their own startup capital. They will get direct operating grants, as the minister has already said, but it is assumed that if you are a private entrepreneur you will not be looking to government to give you startup capital; you will be finding that yourself in the private sector.
The next recommendation is that the matched federal-provincial governments' direct operating grants go to nonprofit and commercial day care centres and that these grants be targeted to increase the salaries and the quality of child care staff.
For many of us who have been looking at the child care question, particularly the kind of child care that is provided in licensed group homes, the one thing that strikes us is the very shabby level of staff salaries. I think everybody who looks at them cannot help but be persuaded that those salaries are really too low. As a result of this, there is a lot of staff turnover and low staff morale, all of which is very disruptive, almost destructive, for the children in their care.
As has been pointed out, we pay our child care workers a lot less than we pay the workers in the zoo who feed the animals. As a nation, as a society, we have to correct our value system a bit on this one. Certainly, we could increase the salaries up to a reasonable level. Heaven knows it is not going to be a very high professional salary, but at least it will increase these salaries somewhat to the point where the workers are not going to be looking day after day at where they may turn next, to leave the child care field or to go to another agency. That is something we should be looking at in an operational way.
Another recommendation is that the needs test approach to determine the ability of parents to pay for day care costs be replaced by the less intrusive income testing and that the level of ceilings for family income eligible to receive some subsidies be increased to provide at least some financial help to medium-income families.
Right now, there are families with medium incomes who are not eligible under the needs test and who might not even be eligible under an income test. If they are to purchase their child care from outside the home, they should receive at least some assistance. I think we can do much better at that than we have in the past.
Parents eligible for subsidies based on the income test should be given the choice of having their children attend either a profit or a nonprofit licensed day care centre. We should not tie the hands of the parents. If we are going to say, "Your income is low enough that you are eligible to receive some assistance," we should let the parents choose whether they want to send their children to a commercial day care centre or a community nonprofit centre.
After all, we must assume that the parents have some common sense about this, that they have some sense of responsibility for their children. Why should we skew their decision and say, "If you want a subsidy from us, you cannot send your child off to that commercial day care centre"? It might be right across the street from where they live, whereas the community centre one might be four or five miles away. I think we should leave that up to the parents.
Another specific recommendation is that the current unpaid maternity leave -- the leave period is up to 17 weeks now -- be increased gradually to 26 weeks and that the unemployment insurance cash benefits be increased to 90 per cent of the wages. That, too, was something the special federal committee recommended. I think these mandatory leaves should be extended gradually from 17 weeks up to 26 weeks. It gives the mothers, and maybe the fathers in some cases. the possibility of staying home and still having their jobs protected.
Beyond the law, beyond the legislation that would make this mandatory in cases where the parents wanted it, I would hope that, through a public awareness program, more and more employers could work out voluntary arrangements. We do not need to have laws, rules and regulations on every coming and going in society. We need to assume that employers want to do the right thing by their employees, by those who have young children. In many ways, these things can be worked out in a unique, very intimate way, rather than depending on some massive comprehensive piece of legislation that might not match every little occasion or situation.
I would also recommend that both the federal and provincial governments provide some tax write-offs to those employers who will provide child care facilities at the place of work. If the employers are prepared to do that -- and we know they are -- if they are prepared to co-operate, then surely there should be some financial incentive for those extra expenses, such as a tax write-off that would encourage them to do that.
Municipal governments should be provided with incentives to provide necessary subsidized space within a licensed setting. Up to now, far too many municipalities have said: "Look. This day care thing, the child care thing, is too much for us. It is too much money. Let the senior levels of government do the work and spend the money. We cannot." Frankly, I think that through some financial incentives, the provincial government could indeed encourage more of the municipalities to become more directly involved in establishing some subsidized space in a licensed setting.
Finally, to go back to the point of public awareness, as I said at the very outset, we are facing a major crisis in the child care field. I said it was the major social issue of the day; I think I am right on that. We have allowed this to happen because of public attitudes, awareness and values, which have been reflected by our parliamentary system and which have been reflected in public policies and public programs, so that all of this has lagged far behind the big changes that have taken place in society.
Once we do some catch-up on this, we should never again allow ourselves to get into the kind of situation where this enormous gap exists between the social changes that have taken place and the public measures that have been developed to catch up and to deal with these changes. There has to be an ongoing program of awareness and a program of research.
For example, our friends down here say that the nonprofit agencies are far better than the commercial agencies, but we have never yet done, in this province or in this country, a study of the consumers of these services, the kids and the parents who use this system. We do not know how they feel about the nonprofit sector or the for-profit sector. I think we ought to get down and find out what the consumer feels about it. This is all part of the growing awareness and the growing sensitivity that we have to develop and maintain in an ongoing system.
Anyway, I am really disappointed. I am sad that I have to conclude that there was absolutely nothing in this throne speech that provided some kind of a coherent public policy and program so we on this side could at least say: "That is great. We can at least support it or we do not support it." Nothing came out of it. It was bafflegab and simply something that was designed on the basis of: "How many votes can we get over here? How many can we get there?" There is this whole ambivalent approach to the question, "Do we support the commercial operators or do we not?" On the one hand, yes, and on the other hand, no. If we talk fast enough, we will get votes for both sides and then we will move from there. It is really --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: It is especially bad for you when you are getting no voters from either side.
Mr. Baetz: We will get the voters because they will understand that over here, at least, we have a coherent, consistent, comprehensive, humane and enlightened policy for child care to face this big issue, to face it finally and to face it as we should and as we will when we take over government.
Mr. Warner: Could the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Baetz) very succinctly capsulize for us how he justifies making money strictly for the care of children? I understand all about the selling of toys, baby food and all that big long commercial that he gave. I understand that. We want to cut through to the essence, which is making money for providing the service of caring for children. Can the member please explain how he justifies that?
Mr. Speaker: Are there any other comments or questions?
Mr. Harris: I am just delighted to stand in my place and say that, on behalf of myself and the people of Nipissing, I am proud to associate myself with the remarks and the comments that have been made by the member for Ottawa West in this Legislature today.
I think he has put forward very positive suggestions I am pleased to be associated with. It is not the type of bafflegab and what not that we have seen in the throne speech, nor that we hear from the minister. Very succinctly, he has laid forth the type of recommendations that a Conservative government would follow. They are the type of recommendations that indicate a compassion and a caring for the people of the province who need help. At the same time, I think they are recommendations that do not throw away taxpayers' money on those who do not need help.
It is one of the finest, most concise explanations of where we have to be going in this policy field and I am delighted to associate myself with those remarks. I congratulate the member on one of the finest speeches I have heard on that particular area of social policy since I came here in 1981.
Mr. Speaker: Are there any other comments or questions? If not, the member may wish to respond. You have up to two minutes.
Mr. Baetz: As I indicated during my remarks, it depends entirely on what kind of a society we think this is. If it is a totally socialist society, then there is no place at all -- the New Democratic Party is quite consistent, at least; the government waffles on it but the NDP is consistent in saying there is no room for profit -- there should be no commercial day care operators.
We say this is a pluralistic society. It does have private enterprise; we are a welfare state. We are a mix of the two, and there is room for both. We are saying that the parents should be given the widest range of choice. Do they want to send their children to a commercial centre? Fine. If they do not, send them to a nonprofit centre. But they should be given the choice. If they feel they are not getting their money's worth out of the commercial centre, it will close up in no time flat, because the parents are not going to send their children there. They will send them to the nonprofit centre.
I think it all boils down to the concept we have of the kind of society in which we live. I simply do not believe for one minute that -- I know the NDP members say, "The commercial operators are in it for money, not for love" -- I have talked to a lot of commercial operators who are in it for love, as well as for whatever little money they get out of it. There is not much money to be made in this field.
Mr. McClellan: They should keep their hands out of the public treasury.
Mr. Baetz: If the member sees no room at all for private enterprise, he obviously sees no room for it here in child care. I can understand that. He is consistent. I do not happen to believe and I know my party does not happen to agree with that concept.
Mr. Speaker: The member's time has now expired. Debate? The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Warner: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You noted, of course, that the member did not answer my question.
As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, there is quite a long lineup of people who wish to enter into the debate on the throne speech, a long lineup of people who are very disturbed by that throne speech and wish the opportunity to participate and to say in very straight terms why we are dissatisfied with the speech from the throne.
In order to co-operate with my colleagues, I have agreed to limit my remarks to approximately half an hour. I know that is very disappointing to many in the House, so what I will do first, at the outset, is list a number of topics that I wish to speak at length on, time permitting. If I exhaust the time before getting to all the topics, the members can rest assured that as we sit over the next little while, I will reintroduce the topics at the appropriate moment.
Given the chance, I will speak about youth and its concerns; employment; training; educational opportunities or lack thereof; co-op programs; co-op re-entry programs; the Futures program, with which the government has some serious problems, summer jobs, the Ontario Youth Guarantee, the unemployed help centres, the Ken Dryden report that the government has conveniently shelved, and the community-based programs the government does not support.
In general, I will speak about the difficulties women encounter as they attempt to enter the work force, especially in nontraditional jobs; the democratization of the colleges, which is in a stage of infancy; women in the work world and especially the role of educational institutions; employment for the disabled and for injured workers, the now infamous letter of intent that was signed between Ontario and the federal government that I am sure the government of Ontario now regrets; and student assistance at colleges. All these topics are related to my critic portfolios.
In addition, I wish to speak about issues that affect my riding; such as the Rolland paper mill, senior citizens -- namely, Bill 3 that the government has been stalling -- and of course the long and very frustrating fight we have had to establish a renal dialysis unit at Scarborough General Hospital, the bigger question of overcrowding at Scarborough General, auto insurance and the problems of housing.
Finally, since many of us feel we have a role that goes beyond the Legislature as it pertains solely to Ontario, I wish to spend a few minutes speaking about Cyprus, Armenia and Nicaragua.
To begin, the members will no doubt know that this government does not have very good intentions when it comes to the unemployed help centres. Briefly, the history is that it was initially a responsibility of the federal government. The federal government decided it no longer wanted to have this responsibility and so simply dumped the project into the lap of the provincial government. To its credit, the provincial government took on the challenge of trying to assist with the unemployed help centres.
It is important to realize that the unemployed help centres provide assistance, especially to older workers, helping people find jobs when the place where they are working is shut down or where there is a slow-down or the company decides to pick up and go somewhere else because of the lure of tax dollars elsewhere; a whole variety of reasons. Older workers come into the unemployed help centres and are given a great deal of support. In communities such as Sault Ste. Marie, Hamilton and Windsor, these unemployed help centres have provided some real, solid support for people in their communities.
However, it appears to me this government is intent on closing those centres. It seems the way it is going to do it is to provide so much frustration and so many roadblocks that people will simply give up.
This is really quite intriguing. In a letter dated April 30, 1987, Cheryl Cooper from the unemployed help centre in Niagara Falls writes:
"When we first applied for funds from the Ministry of Skills Development, Ted Schmidt was our project officer. Ted had come here in January of 1986, and we were told at that time to submit a budget for February 1986 to January 1987. This was done and approved. When Sara Rans took Mr. Schmidt's position, it was then that we were informed that the fiscal year ran from April to March, and we were asked to submit two budgets; one from February 1986 to March 1986 and another from April 1986 to March 1987. We were not aware, at that time, that we would have to be approved again, as approval was already given. Now they are telling us that we will not receive any funds for that period. I would like to question the reasoning for this when it was already stated that we would in the beginning. It would be very helpful if you could explain, and possibly review the situation again."
This is quite typical of the kind of bureaucratic bungling that has occurred repeatedly, centre by centre, whether it is the one in Brantford, Niagara Falls, Sault Ste. Marie or any other place. It seems to me that they cannot simply say it is confusion, although there obviously is quite a bit of confusion in the Ministry of Skills Development; to me, this appears to be a blatant attempt to try to shut down those unemployed help centres. That is a shame because they do valuable work.
In fact, the cruel irony will be that as we move more through the stages of youth unemployment being decreased, we will find that there will be a sharp increase in the number of older workers who are thrown out of work and there will be an even greater pressing need for the unemployed help centres, not less.
Youth held a United Nations Association International Conference on the Future in which among other things the arms race, unemployment and the environment were all discussed. This was in Hamilton in 1985. It is quite interesting to read about it. If the members have not had the opportunity, they should read the report from the Youth Conference on the Future. This is just a short excerpt from it in terms of the problems and the recommendations. I am quoting from page 6 of the report:
"Young people in particular should be provided with adequate background information about this issue" -- that is the issue of the arms race -- "before being confronted with the problem. Further education of very young people might be started by using comics, cartoons, picturebooks, etc., with regional conferences and participation from authorities at the school level ."
In other words, there should be work done through our educational system so that young people can understand all the ramifications and all the different points about the arms race.
This statement the House is about to hear is very interesting: "Canada's international role is unclear." That is coming from young people. That should be very disturbing to us. Young people do not see that Canada's international role is clear. Our policies are not clear. That, to me, is wrong.
Here is a recommendation they make: "Canada must make steps towards becoming more independent in foreign affairs and improving its reputation as an effective mediator." That statement of course was quite prophetic at the time because it was borne out again this morning in an article in the Globe and Mail that the members may have read, where Central American countries are calling on Canada to take a more independent stand and use its influence as a mediator between the United States and those countries that are experiencing a lot of difficulty, such as Nicaragua in particular, which is under attack from the United States. They are looking to Canada to take a more independent and forthright position.
There are many more recommendations. What was particularly disturbing about the conference on the future was that, in general, young people view the arms race with alarm. They view with deep concern their chances of employment. They view with alarm as well what is happening to our environment and what appears to be some very small steps that are taken towards protecting our environment.
I want to dwell for a moment on unemployment. I think it is important for us to remember that in general, whatever the unemployment rate in an area, it will be approximately double for young people. People under the age of 24 will experience approximately double the rate of unemployment that the whole region is experiencing. For example, in some northern communities where there is an unemployment rate of approximately 12 per cent, for people between the ages of 17 and 24 the unemployment rate will be in the neighbourhood of 20 per cent. That should be quite disturbing and quite frightening for us.
However, there really was nothing in the throne speech to suggest that the government was prepared to take the problem seriously and do anything about it. In fact, Mr. Speaker, you will recall that the accord item called for a plan to attack youth unemployment. The throne speech does not really back that up. The only thing we have seen from this government is the Futures program. While the Futures program has some benefits and has been of help to some young people, and there is no question about that, it is minor and it is tinkering. The government knows that and I know it.
A very objective source is Ken Dryden who wrote an excellent report that I commend to all members of the House. It is a superb document, and if I may say so, not typical of a lawyer's writing. It has beautiful style and is easy to read. He is very straightforward. What Mr. Dryden says in his report is basically that programs such as Futures are nothing more than tinkering, that what is needed are some solid programs that use the educational base as a place to start learning about the work world while obtaining an education, a blend of education and work experience, and that it really requires some solid work.
Not to anyone's surprise, the government decided to bury the Dryden report. The day after the Dryden report was announced and there was a press conference, the government pretended it did not exist. "Let us hide the thing, shelve it and maybe it will go away." It is not going to go away because the sentiments expressed in that report speak to one of the serious weaknesses of this government, and of course of the previous government that similarly showed very little interest in changing the status quo.
While we are speaking about youth, I cannot help but be disturbed by headlines that say, "Mental Health Services for Young Called Inadequate," from a story on May 29, 1986, in the Toronto Star. "Mental health services for young people between 16 and 20 are inadequate, with many slipping through the cracks between children's and adult services, a new report says." That is from the Metro Children's Advisory Group. This would be Metropolitan Toronto. "Ten to 15 per cent of Ontario children and adolescents need treatment for some form of mental illness, according to recent studies." For Metro, that would mean between 19,200 and 28,000 young people requiring therapy. Yes, the services are inadequate.
As we speak about the different parts, whether it is unemployment, the high school drop-out level which is extremely high, or mental health services, I want the members to try to put it into the context that what we are trying to look at is an average profile of a young person in Ontario. The prospects are not very good.
Many thousands of young people are going to find themselves in need of mental health services, but the service is not available. They are trying to find work, but the work is not available. Four out of every 10, or 40 per cent, will drop out of school. To put that into context, for every young person who drops out of school in West Germany, seven youngsters will drop out of school in Ontario. We are doing something seriously wrong.
Unfortunately, in the throne speech, which as many have mentioned is the longest in history and seemingly covered the waterfront, there was no mention of what is intended. I do not know why the government is so complacent about youth unemployment, about young people dropping out of school or about the rate of illiteracy. A cautious estimate is that 20 per cent of our work force is illiterate. That is not only a crime in terms of the individual not being given the opportunity to read and write, which I would expect to be a birthright in this province, but in some cases it is also literally putting workers at risk. They are in work situations where they cannot understand the instructions, cannot read the labels and do not know what kinds of dangerous goods they are handling. Illiteracy is an extremely serious problem and this government apparently has no answer for it.
What is remarkable to me is that the government mounts this program, Futures, which it trumpets and says is the most wonderful thing since sliced bread, but it has no other program. It has nothing else to offer. If the members want to know how marginal this approach is, the minister will say it has helped 50,000 young people. While he is supposedly helping 50,000 young people over a period of 16 weeks, on any given day in this province there are approximately 100,000 young people who are out of work, out of school, not collecting welfare and not collecting unemployment insurance. As the minister has said so many times -- I think it is the phrase he uses -- "Things are going swimmingly." Sometimes I wish he would take a swim somewhere. It is far from a bright picture.
For those who are interested in collecting news reports, as I enjoy doing, and taking a look at them, here are some of the headlines. One from the Ottawa Citizen reads, "Save Jobless Young, Report Urges," concerning a 109-page special Senate committee report on youth. I had the opportunity to read that report and it is quite a good report, but it establishes that there are more than 700,000 young Canadians who are jobless and belong to a "lost generation." That is the term used. That should be quite disturbing all by itself. Time does not permit me to read the entire article. It is an extremely long document on the hopelessness young people feel about being unemployed.
"Where's the Help For Unemployed Youth?" That is a headline in the Toronto Star, April 25, 1986. This is by Anthony Westell. It closes off, "To solve the problem of youth unemployment, what we need is not senators who fast but governments that act." It is true, both in Ottawa and at Queen's Park.
This interests me, and I am going to quote from a paper I do not agree with on most days. In fact, l will have a few critical words to say about it in a moment. This is from Lorrie Goldstein, who is a columnist here at Queen's Park with the Toronto Sun, "Dryden's Report Scores." In his article he goes over the models that were developed by Ken Dryden when he took a look at Sweden and West Germany and so on. Louie Goldstein finishes up by saying, "`It is not that any of these systems is perfect,' Dryden argues, `but each of these societies has decided that full employment and realistic job training is its foremost priority. Frankly, it is refreshing to hear someone propose how to change the education system to help the young rather than simply bitching about the young and the system.'"
A good article by a reporter with whom I do not usually agree, but even the right-wing press recognizes that we have a very serious problem with unemployed youth and that there are some good answers in other countries. Of course, this government is not any different from the old government in that it does not wish to look outside our boundaries. All the answers, all the wisdom in the world, is cornered right here at Queen's Park, sitting on that side of the House. That was the situation under the Tories and, quite frankly, it does not appear to have changed any.
The Tories can pat themselves on the back. If they want to have tunnel vision about these issues, they can go right ahead; they are welcome to it. I happen to think that is a shallow way to go through life. However, that is the choice those folks have taken.
How much time have I left? Does anyone know how much time I have used? Is anyone keeping track?
Mr. Speaker: Close to half an hour.
Mr. Warner: Close to half an hour? No, you are putting me on. At the risk of running into problems with my whip, I will take a few more minutes.
We had the opportunity -- I say we: my colleague, the member for Hamilton West (Mr. Allen), who is our party's critic for education and universities, and myself released a paper on April 2 called the Ontario Youth Guarantee. I am not going to pretend this is some sort of creative wisdom that came out of our offices. We took a look at programs in other countries and other jurisdictions and then tried to pull together what we thought was the best those programs had to offer and put it into an Ontario context. We came up with the Ontario Youth Guarantee. It has five objectives and I think they are worth stating for the record.
1. Reintegrating into long-term educational, training and work opportunities the young people who account for today's high rate of youth unemployment and the 40 per cent high school dropout rate.
2. Structuring young people's transition years so as to initiate a pattern of life-long learning and "learning a living."
3. Addressing the inadequacies of apprenticeship and other forms of vocational training by making them more flexible, more accessible and better matched to the needs of young people.
4. Addressing the inadequacies of the high school system for nonuniversity-bound young people and especially those pursuing technological education.
5. Addressing the problem of access to post-secondary education by providing an Ontario grants -- only system of student aid, geared to income to remove financial barriers for children of working families.
In particular points, what is interesting to me is not that this program is unique in its concept, but rather that the government which signed the accord, one item of which was to bring in something solid with respect to opportunities for young people, failed to do so. Two years later we had to do the work for them. Obviously at some point we will have the opportunity to bring this program to fruition and I look forward to that opportunity.
Youth guarantee offices would provide skills evaluation, job search training, career and education counselling. It guarantees to young people up to age 20, and in any case for at least two years, a coherent system of education, training and work opportunities. The idea is to blend education with the opportunity for training and work experience.
It lasts until satisfactory full-time work is found. It is for all young people, regardless of education, who have not secured full-time work.
It would do the following: "Help the applicant construct an appropriate program of work, training, further education or some combination thereof; undertake active full-time job placement with applicants; administer, monitor and continuously evaluate a province-wide network of youth guarantee jobs; facilitate the formation of youth co-ops around identified unmet community needs; provide one-stop information on youth support programs and help independent youth applicants set up co-op residences to provide mutual support."
It goes on. There are many more details. I guess the salient point of this is that, first, we have to put youth employment in the context of lifelong learning: the opportunity to acquire skills one can use for the rest of one's life, the opportunity for retraining, the opportunity for a further education and learning while on the job; and that would put it in a context of full employment for our whole province, a goal which the Liberals have never spoken about and which the Conservatives have never spoken about.
I do not know how on earth they expect to achieve full employment unless they at least address it and make it a goal, but perhaps it is not in their interest to do so. Perhaps they are not really quite so interested.
As I mentioned before, there are serious problems with the letter of intent. It is becoming quite apparent that because of the arrangement between the province and the federal government, our community colleges are being undermined. We are now experiencing teacher layoffs in our colleges because of that agreement, because of what the federal government is doing.
The federal government is attempting to privatize our community colleges. I hope they do not get away with it, but if they had their way they would sell off the community colleges. That is quite evident. One way to undermine that, of course, is to provide funding for private concerns to run the same kinds of courses as are being offered at the local community colleges; without any system of evaluation, without any control of quality and yet providing the money, then they can undercut the college in terms of tuition fees.
The colleges are being threatened. In addition, they have cut anywhere from 10 to 40 per cent of the manpower placements at the colleges. The colleges rely on those manpower placements and they have been cut. That is direct dollars, so the colleges are faced with a severe economic problem.
This government cannot sit by and simply blame it on the feds, because it signed the agreement. It did not have to sign, but it did.
I see this terrible person called a whip has shown up.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: By popular request.
Mr. Warner: Yes.
There are many more problems, as I mentioned, whether it is the inflexible attitude of this government towards community-based groups or the lack of direction that is shown in helping to provide meaningful summer work for students or a whole range of problems that exist, for unemployed help centres or in the Futures program or whatever it is, where this government has not shown the appropriate direction. I will be raising these issues over the next little while.
I want to close, as other members did in the House today, by raising the question of plant closures and the lack of legislation, the one item in the accord where the Liberal government broke its promise. It appears to me now that it obviously had no intention of following through on its commitment.
Rolland paper company, which was located in my riding, took $5 million from the federal government, along with money from Quebec, to refurbish its plant in Quebec. It then moved its operation from Scarborough to Quebec, thanks to the money put out by Ottawa and Quebec City.
One hundred and eighty people lost their jobs and they probably would not have lost their jobs if we had had proper legislation in place, because the company in this situation could not have justified the move to Quebec. There is no way they could have justified that plant closure.
That is tough legislation that requires political will and some political courage, and I suggest that is why the Liberal government reneged on its promise and has absolutely no intention of fulfilling the promise it made and to which the Premier put his pen and his signature.
It will be very difficult for the people in my area to trust this government. Heaven help us if it ever ends up with a majority, because from the experiences we have had here, especially with plant closures and the auto insurance industry, this little group over there is not to be trusted. If the people ever gave them that kind of majority, I am afraid the people would be sorry, as they were under the former regime, especially in the latter years.
Having made those few brief remarks, although I realize members would like me to go on at greater length, I will relinquish my spot so that others will have an opportunity to participate. As with myself, I know that others wish the opportunity to attack this wishy-washy government.
Ms. Caplan: I rise today to participate in the debate on the throne speech as a representative of the riding of Oriole, a riding which I have described before in this House as a microcosm of Ontario, for my residents span the socioeconomic spectrum and reflect the multicultural diversity of this great province. I spend a great deal of time speaking with my constituents. We discuss their problems, their concerns about the present and the future. We talk about the phenomenal technological and social change which we have witnessed in this province. We now live in the information age where messages and money can be sent around this world simply by pressing a button.
Mr. Speaker, I know you will find this hard to believe, but I remember life without television, as do, I believe, most of the members of this Legislature.
Mr. Brandt: You are not that old are you?
Ms. Caplan: Yes, I said members would find it hard to believe.
Our children, my children, will not remember life without computers. Demographically, our population is ageing. People are living longer, and while I do not think it is at all related, they are having smaller families. More and more families require a second income just to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
We should remember that since 1980, Ontario has come full circle from the depths -- I am sure my colleague the member from Sudbury will recall; he was here in the early 1980s when Ontario was at the depth of recession -- to today, in 1987, when we have prosperity, some might even say the height of economic prosperity.
Because of these and the other rapid changes in our society, my constituents understand, I understand and it is important for the members of this Legislature to understand that we must not take economic prosperity for granted. This throne speech speaks to not taking economic prosperity for granted. It builds on the commitment of last year's speech. It says that we must have and that we need continued strong, responsible leadership, as this throne speech presents, to ensure our children are not left a legacy of industrial pollution, unemployment, high inflation and economic uncertainty.
This is what I hear my constituents fear. They fear that economic instability and that uncertainty.
This throne speech responds to my constituents' concern. As I said, it builds on the commitments made in last year's speech, restoring excellence to the education system, dealing with the social and economic implications of our changing society and meeting the challenges of an increasingly competitive international economy.
Current economic buoyancy has allowed this government to address the many problems of chronic underfunding, particularly in the areas of education and training, hospitals and social services. But this is only a beginning. We must -- and this throne speech recognizes that we must -- now invest for the future. During this time of economic prosperity, we must invest for future economic stability and competitiveness. The best way to do this is by investing in our province's greatest resource, its people.
To this end, the throne speech commits to improving our education system and to providing additional capital funding to modernize facilities and alleviate situations of overcrowding. We must place stronger emphasis on basic learning skills, and the throne speech makes the commitment that over the next five years we will reduce the unacceptable 33 per cent dropout rate in our high schools.
A functional illiteracy rate of 20 per cent in this province is unacceptable. It is not just within the student population but also within the entire population, those born, raised and educated in this province. The throne speech says we shall do something about that.
The throne speech ensures access to educational support services for students in the north. It is important to ensure that kind of access to everyone in this province, whether they live in the north, the south, the east, the west or in the Golden Horseshoe.
Throughout the past two years, this government has taken steps to revitalize our colleges and universities. The throne speech commits that this will continue. Operating funds have been increased and special emphasis has been placed on the promotion of excellence -- let me underline that -- the promotion of excellence through faculty renewal, improved research support and enhancement of equipment and library resources. Only by revitalizing our school system and our educational programs and by making them accessible to everyone, north or south, east or west, only by ensuring this accessibility will we be able to equip all Ontarians.
My constituents in Oriole and the constituents of all members of this Legislature must be equipped to meet the challenges of the next century. That is why I believe this government will continue to strive for improved economic competitiveness through technology, innovation and modernization, three very important key components of the throne speech.
Excellence in education is the focal point of the government's strategy for building an internationally competitive economy and strengthening the ability of Ontario to meet the rapidly changing social needs and social environment. That is why the Premier (Mr. Peterson) established the Premier's Council. He brought together the best minds of industry, labour, universities and government to help all Ontarians build those foundations upon our economic strengths so that we can develop long-term economic stability in this very competitive world.
This government is committed to the principle that all people in Ontario should be able to live as independently as possible in their homes and in their communities. We are committed to the principle of improving the quality of life for Ontario's senior citizens, physically disabled and developmentally handicapped. The development of an accessible, effective system of community health care alternatives, begun last year, has done much to redress a decade of neglect, but the work is far from complete. This speech from the throne makes the commitment that a great deal more will be done to ensure that Ontarians will be able to live as independently as they possibly can and that they will have access to the greatest health care facilities we can provide.
The speech from the throne further sets out an agenda for more affordable housing, environmental protection, equal economic opportunities, health and safety protection and so much more. It reflects the principle that David Peterson's government is one that reaches out to all Ontarians. It is a government which, in the throne speech, commits itself to the revitalization of our social, economic and political institutions. I will restate that now is the time to rebuild that vital infrastructure. We are committed to ensuring that every man, woman and child in this province has an opportunity to participate fully to the extent of his or her potential and to participate fully in all that this province has to offer.
This is clearly a government committed to serving the long-term interests of all the people of this great province. This speech from the throne deserves support from all members of this Legislature because it sets an agenda for this province that, because of the initiatives, foresight and vision of this agenda and this throne speech, will be prepared for the 21st century.
I am pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in this debate and I do so on behalf of all my constituents from the great riding of Oriole who I believe have a confidence in the vision of this speech from the throne. I urge the support of the members of this Legislature.
Mr. Gregory: May I say it is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to speak in the throne speech debate, particularly with a woman Speaker in the chair. It is quite a precedent and I think it speaks well for the future. I am not suggesting anything, Madam Speaker, but perhaps it is something we can look at in this day and age where women are proving themselves to be equal to any task they achieve. Certainly, not that they were under any test for that matter, the fact is that the opportunities seem to be presenting themselves. Perhaps some day we can look forward to just what I suggested earlier, perhaps even a woman in the leader's chair. That may happen sooner than we think.
Mr. McGuigan: They became equal back in 1929.
Mr. Gregory: I knew that. The member was probably there though, and perhaps I missed reading it. I do not want to be confrontational. I am trying to be complimentary. If the member wants to be confrontational, let us start right off and that will make my speech about 45 minutes longer. That is up to him.
It is a pleasure for me to take part in the throne speech debate and to make a small contribution. This has been a regular practice for me since 1975. I would like to have a few moments to talk about some parts of my riding and some parts of the issues in the throne speech that I find rather difficult to understand. Nevertheless, I would like to touch on a few points in the throne speech and perhaps make some comments on what has been said so far.
The riding of Mississauga East is not a very old riding in terms of its present structure, in that the original representative of Mississauga East was the representative of the entire county of Peel. That was the Honourable T. L. Kennedy. After T. L. Kennedy, the Honourable William Davis became the representative of the entire county of Peel. Then the area was broken down into two ridings, which I believe were Brampton or Peel North and Peel South, which pretty well encompassed the whole city of Mississauga.
In 1975, the area was reduced again to create three ridings in the area that encompasses Mississauga. Of course, when the next election occurs, it will be four ridings. The area in which I live has been represented by many people, and I am happy to say that pretty well all of them have been Conservatives. I expect it is going to carry on in that respect. I see no reason why that should change, except for a temporary lapse here and there.
The riding I represent is a totally urban riding, whereas at one time, the area was rural. Much of the best farm country in Canada is in south Peel. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it, much of it has gone under concrete and it has become very urbanized. My riding in particular is totally urbanized, without any rural segment whatsoever.
Mr. McKessock: The corn just cannot come up through that cement.
Mr. Gregory: I did not hear that remark. if the member wants to interject, he will have to interject more loudly, so I can retort.
Mr. McKessock: It is hard to grow a good corn crop through cement.
Mr. Gregory: I do not think it was corn country. It was more an orchard area, and we had a lot of apples there. It was very successful orchard country. I am not a farmer, so I cannot describe what other crops they had in Peel South, but certainly they grew the greatest apples around. At least, that is what I am told. Many of the trees are still there. When they built subdivisions, they left the trees. We are a long way off the throne speech, but I did want to let some of the members know the nature of my riding.
To comment as briefly as possible on the throne speech, in my opinion, never before has the government of Ontario attempted so little with access to so much. If you try to get to the meat of the throne speech, you have difficulty doing so. It is like the saying that used to be on television, "Where's the beef?" There is very little beef there. There is an approach of something for everybody. It is very much an election throne speech, no question about it.
I am not saying there will be an election. There is no real need for one, of course. As somebody said earlier today, there are two or three years left to go before we need to have an election. I guess the approach here was: "ln case we do have one, we might as well promise something to everybody. As long as we do not have to come forward with too accurate a budget too soon, then we do not have to justify anything we promise."
It is rather easy to do. There are not too many segments of our population that were not addressed in a general fashion in the throne speech. It pretty well covered everything, but no details of any consequence were given. In other words, "Where's the beef?" In my opinion, this government decided to forgo a unique opportunity to serve the people of this province. This administration was privileged to administer a healthy economy, which it had the good fortune to inherit. This government has not contributed in any way to the healthy economy that we have today in Ontario.
Mr. McKessock: During the recession, things were in bad shape.
Mr. Gregory: No. The member was elected at the same time I was, but he seems to have forgotten a few things, such as the very heavy recession we went through during the last 10 or 15 years. Only latterly has the economy become healthy again, just in time to make promises.
Mr. McKessock: Two years.
Mr. Gregory: They have had two years. They can hardly say they took office and suddenly the economy became healthy. I think that would be unrealistic, apart from the excessive taxes that the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) has continued to levy, even though they were not necessary. When certain tax concessions could have been given, he missed the opportunity. Maybe he is going to do that in the upcoming budget. He is going to let us know that he is going to give people back some of the tax that he had no justification in taking in the first place. It is rather interesting.
Mr. Ward: They bought an oil company. The last time those guys had $10, they spent $650 million.
Mr. Gregory: Madam Speaker, I think I am being harassed here. Is it in order for them to harass me? I can hold my own, but you will have to give me a certain latitude here to respond if they are going to harass me. I would rather not respond to them because obviously they do not know what they are talking about over there.
While the government has chosen to give us a list of worthy objectives, rather than using the revenue windfall effectively, these proposals lack the strategy of long-term planning to implement them.
I was interested to hear the member for Oriole (Ms. Caplan) when she made her remarks and talked about the long-term planning in this throne speech. I do not know what throne speech she is reading, but it certainly was not the one which was read to us and of which I have a copy here before me. I do not know where she found the long-term planning in there. Maybe she is able to read between the lines.
I think that is a policy of the Liberal Party. I remember the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr. Grandmaître) used that philosophy of reading between the lines some time ago. Maybe we have not forgotten that philosophy. Maybe the member for Oriole was reading all this long-term planning between the lines. Certainly it was not evident in what I heard in the throne speech and what I have been able to read in it, and it is exactly the same as was read to us by the Lieutenant Governor. I presume there has not been any change.
Mr. Baetz: In the long term, we are all dead.
Mr. Gregory: That is right. We are just saying today that when you look on the walls outside and see all the names etched in marble and you consider that only perhaps about five per cent of them are still alive, it is not very comforting to see that. It just shows the relative importance of we members of the House. We should never forget that and we cannot take ourselves too seriously.
This throne speech serves only to outline the challenges before us. It is a clear reflection of Liberal philosophy that present conditions are acceptable and, therefore, it is not necessary to plan for the future. This seems to be a policy over on that side of the House: "Everything is okay today. We do not need to make any plans for the future."
Mr. Ward: Everything is going to get better.
Mr. Gregory: I do not think that is so. I have no doubt that we will soon be aware of the consequences resulting from this lack of vision.
Mr. Ward: Let us take a chance.
Mr. Gregory: There is the answer over there. My friend the member for Wentworth North just said, "Let us take a chance," and that is what the public of Ontario is being asked to do by the people opposite, to take a chance with their money. Can I quote the member on that? That was a good line. Let us take a chance. Let us spin the wheel of fortune, and if we are lucky --
Mr. Gregory: If I may continue, Madam Speaker, I would like to continue because I have a lot of important things to say
Mr. Gregory: It is tiny talent time over there on the other side; they are having a lot of fun. The throne speech made mention of more affordable quality housing and some particular action points were quoted, such as the adoption of a "housing-first policy" for surplus government lands and the stimulation of more housing for low- and moderate-income earners.
This policy is not going to do a darned thing for, say, tenants in sublet units who are suddenly forced to move and are unable to find a replacement unit; nothing whatsoever. This is a long-term proposition. Those people over there surely must understand the process when they suggest they are going to take these government surplus lands and suddenly houses are going to appear on them. They and I know that in order to do that, even if everything went well, they are talking about five or six years before the first foundation would be dug.
Mr. Ward: Six years.
Mr. Gregory: Yes, we all know that. The member should know that.
All those houses we see growing up in Mississauga had been planned six years ago.
Mr. Ward: Ten years.
Mr. Gregory: Maybe it takes even 10 years to get them going. Thanks very much. It might even be 20 years.
The point is that the government is not going to satisfy the need for homes in any way by using that particular approach. I am not suggesting for one minute that the approach should not be used, but they should not hang their hats on it and they should not expect to see houses suddenly mushrooming where they never were before. There are such things as servicing. How does one take land away out in the country and suddenly service it? It is a magnificent problem that those people really cannot appreciate or have not tried to.
They are going to encourage home owners and municipalities to explore creative approaches to low-cost housing. I do not know what that means and I am sure they do not either, but it sounded great when it was read from the throne by the Lieutenant Governor. Here we are. Boy, these people are thinking ahead. They are going to encourage home owners and municipalities to explore creative approaches to low-cost housing.
Government members should tell me what it means; I do not know. There is no help there for residents faced with massive rent increases. The government is suddenly going to say: "We are going to have creative approaches to this. Boy, we are going to be creative. We are going to have a think-tank. We are going to have another study." I think the government is working on study number 353 now anyway. Why not add another one and have a study of creative approaches to building houses? It sounds marvellous. They are studying themselves to death. They cannot even fix the rent problem as it is now.
I have never been a great advocate of rent review and I have never made any secret of it. But the fact is that we had a rent review system we could live with. Under this new program, under the new Minister of Housing (Mr. Curling), the government has taken a workable rent review system and turned it into a bureaucratic nightmare.
They have included everything built since 1976. They have given new rights to landlords by which they can appeal. They have clogged up the review court so much, it will take three years to solve all the rent problems. This is one of the main problems I am getting from tenants in my riding. They say, "The landlord has increased our rent by 25 per cent." I say, "You have the vehicle to appeal." They say, "Yes, it is going to come up in three years." In the meantime they have to pay it. If they do get the money back, it is interest-free.
To me, this does not in any way present a solution to the rental problem. The government has created a nightmare. Why do they not solve that problem first before they start getting out and trying these new creative approaches to building houses? There are no new ideas to create in building houses. The construction business in Ontario is second to none. When new and better ideas come, they will come from the builders, not from the bureaucrats.
The government is going to develop creative programs with the private sector to create affordable rental housing with a possible future option to purchase. That is marvellous, but do they think for one minute that any businessman, in the development business or in the building business, is going to want any further extension of government influence on his investors or on him? Do they think it is going to create any kind of feeling of co-operation? Not on your life.
The building industry in Ontario -- I hear the platitudes from the Minister of Housing from time to time about how many thousands of new houses have been created and how many thousands of new rental units have been created. I would like to see them; I do not know where they are. I think they are a figment of his imagination; they are just not happening. They are not in Toronto. They are not in Mississauga. I do not know where they are. Maybe they are in Nova Scotia, where they still allow builders some freedom of action.
I would like someone to tell me where all these new rental units are. The city of Mississauga, which is a booming city, has gone from about 100,000 people 20 years ago to close to 400,000 today and there is not one new rental unit being built in the city of Mississauga. I ask the minister to find me one.
Hon. Mr. Grandmaître: That is not our problem. That is the municipalities' problem.
Mr. Gregory: No, it is not. It is the government's problem. They have told the landlords, "Even though you build it new today, we will not guarantee you any kind of freedom from controls." They have totally eliminated any possibility for a landlord to embark on an investment portfolio using rental buildings. The member for Ottawa East knows that is true. The fact is that we will not find them. Some of the biggest builders of rental accommodation in Mississauga have gone totally out of that business. How the government sees that solving the rental problem, I do not know.
The government is also suggesting the expansion of programs of integrated housing and support services for homeless people with special needs. That is a very worthwhile objective, but I do not know how they will attempt to do that. There is nothing in the throne speech but a bunch of wild statements saying the government is going to do this. Nothing says how they are even going to attempt it.
Mr. Harris: Their track record has not been very good.
Mr. Gregory: It certainly has not been. The track record has not been good so far.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: The farmers love us.
Mr. Gregory: How many rental apartments are there on farms?
Hon. Mr. Riddell: We have done more in two years than you guys did in 42. That is what they tell me and I accept what they say as the facts, because farmers do not lie.
Mr. Gregory: The Minister of Agriculture and Food is getting rather defensive or paranoid or something. I do not recall talking about farms in my speech but the minister is getting excited.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Hart): As the member knows, he should not respond to interjections, whether they be from the minister or otherwise.
Mr. Gregory: Thank you, Madam Speaker, but I think you will understand my problem. When the Minister of Agriculture and Food speaks, it is difficult even to hear what one is saying. You can appreciate my problem. I will try to struggle through.
The throne speech promises to introduce measures to improve conditions and increase the supply of affordable housing for roomers, boarders and lodgers. I guess the thrust of this is that people are going to be encouraged to provide rooms and lodging for people in their homes. This is all well and good and philosophically I do not find too much wrong with it, but I can tell them that they are going to encounter difficulties in municipalities where certain planning has been done to accommodate residences and to provide services for the people who live in those residences.
When you start doubling or tripling up in those residences, then you are totally taxing in the servicing. If the Minister of Municipal Affairs can find me one mayor who is going to lie down and play dead for that one, I would like to see him. They are going to get all uptight if it is suddenly said that it is legal now for everybody to take in roomers and lodgers -- the Parkdale phenomenon. If they do that, they are going to find that the very screamers on city councils everywhere who are crying for it will be the ones against them, the ones who will be fighting them. They will say, "Our services will not take care of it."
If they want to embark on a program of providing new services for -- I think the minister winked. I think he agrees with what I have said. He has a problem and he knows it. He did not write the throne speech so I do not blame him for this, but he is going to have to suffer for it. He is going to get the flak.
That is enough about housing. It has problems enough and I do not see many of them being solved.
I would like to get into the area of transportation. I am going to be a little gentler here because I appreciate that the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Fulton) has been ill. I know that and I wish him well. I think he and I have a pretty good relationship and are able to solve our mutual differences by conversation. I like working with him so I am not directing my remarks to reflect in any way on the Minister of Transportation and Communications.
As a matter of fact, I made the statement recently to him that he is one of a bad lot, and I think he is. He is the best of a bad lot -- that was it -- and that is quite true. Unfortunately, he does not have the freedom of his own actions because of the interference of the Premier, and certainly the Treasurer has a heavy hand. He is not getting the funds he needs to do the things that are obviously needed and are conveyed to him on a regular basis by the very municipal mayors I am talking about and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the roadbuilders.
All these good people convey the message to the minister. Unfortunately, when he goes to the Treasurer, the Treasurer says, "Sorry, no more money at this time," except when it is politically expedient. When the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Offer) needs to meet the press, he can suddenly find a cheque for $1.5 million to expand Eglinton Avenue just before a proposed election. That is marvellous timing. I think it is great. The Minister of Transportation and Communications would not have done that, but unfortunately, that is what seems to be happening today.
There is a lot of talk about creating. In fact, one of the directions of the throne speech is to create major new transportation links to serve high-growth areas. It sounds marvellous and is a worthwhile goal, but it is not happening.
There was no mention of money. There are a couple of quick lines about the great things they are going to do in transportation. For heaven's sake, they cannot even repair the roads they do decide to work on without totally screwing up all the traffic in the Metropolitan Toronto area. However, I have to take the Treasurer and the Premier at face value and say that they are definitely going to make some moves towards creating new transportation links.
I have one in mind. I would like to volunteer one that they could do; that is, a new west Eglinton subway and a bus way linking that to Mississauga. Most engineers in the area of Metropolitan Toronto, and I am including Peel, Durham and what have you, will say that is a far more intelligent approach than the one conceived under Project 2011 where they are going to extend the subway along Sheppard Avenue East. To the minister's credit, he has yet another task force out there that is investigating and listening; perhaps it might even be leaning towards the idea of a bus way at that point.
I am not being small about this. What happened to Highway 407? It is a major project in the north. Everybody is screaming for it. Where is it? We have not heard anything about it recently. I think the people up that way are screaming about it. They certainly want Highways 407 and 87 or something such as that.
Mr. Baetz: They are getting very fed up. The member for Ottawa East made big promises and has done nothing. Rien du tout. Wait until Mr. Roy gets back.
Mr. Gregory: He will fix them, will he not?
Mr. Baetz: He will be looking over his shoulder to see where Mr. Roy is coming from.
Mr. Gregory: The Ontario Good Roads Association is an advisory body that ministers of Transportation and Communications tend to listen to if they are at all clever. I think the present minister, as well as the past one, is clever but he has not taken any action on the request from the Ontario Good Roads Association for additional funding for road repair.
At the last good roads convention, what was required was spelled out very clearly to the Premier, the Treasurer and the minister. It has been totally ignored. I hope the Treasurer is going to take a good look and say: "They are not just talking off the top of their heads. They know which roads have to be repaired and which do not. They gave us what was to them the minimum amount of money required." They have had no satisfaction on this at all. The speech from the throne has some perfunctory remarks about how we are going to put in more money to provide increased funding for the rehabilitation of roads and highways. That is the statement; that is it.
The speech from the throne indicates that they are going to take steps to integrate GO Transit and Toronto Transit Commission fares and services. I do not know whether this means we are going to have another study on this or what. If so, it will be study 374, but they are going to look at it. I think it is a great idea if it happens. There is no reason it should not happen, but it should be able to happen fairly quickly. If we are just talking about the TTC, perhaps we should also be talking about Mississauga Transit, Durham Transit and other organizations. Maybe we should be talking about more than just the TTC. The world does not end at the Metro border, I have found. There are transportation systems beyond the Metropolitan Toronto border and they probably should be looked at.
I think it would be very popular if an integration of fares were instituted. Nothing is more annoying than to come in on the GO train and have to pay another fare to get on the TTC. It is a little annoying. It is as annoying for me as it is if I take a Mississauga Transit bus to the Islington subway station and then I have to pay another fare to use the subway. It is a little annoying.
I mentioned the Metro Project 2011 a minute ago. Notwithstanding the fact that I do not agree entirely with the thrust it took, the fact is that Metro has requested certain things on that. The city of York, the city of Etobicoke, the city of Mississauga and the city of Brampton: All these towns have requested certain steps as a result of Project 2011 which was supposed to be from the Metro area but as it turns out is really for Metro itself. Very little attention was paid to areas outside Metro, be they Brampton, Mississauga, Durham or wherever.
We have had no real reaction from the minister on that. As I say, he has this task force going around interviewing and trying to get information. I hope this will be expedited. This is one area where perhaps the member for Brampton (Mr. Callahan) and I could agree. There are not many areas we can agree on and this is probably one where we could agree.
Mr. Callahan: Oh, come on. That is not true. We meet for breakfast every morning.
Mr. Gregory: Is there somebody the member for Brampton knows who looks like me? I do not know. I could not take that. It is nice but I could not do it.
At any rate, as I said, this is one we could agree on. There is a large growth to the west of Metro Toronto and we have to do something about it.
We heard today about the new SkyDome. The name is SkyDome. When it is finished, it is going to increase the problems immensely. Something has to be done, be it some form of rapid transit or whatever. Otherwise, we are going to be strangled with our own cars. We can take the creative approach and say, "Convince people they should not drive their cars." That has been tried before. If we do not have the proper rapid transit facilities to offer them, I do not know how we are going to convince them not to drive their own cars.
After two years in power, this government has drafted a throne speech that has given the people of Ontario no indication of where its spending priorities exist. The speech reflects the government's attitude that by a promise to inject revenue into each and every problem area, it is providing good government. It is the old, "Throw money at it; it will solve the problem" attitude. That seems to be what has been hinted at in the throne speech, but not having the benefit of the budget, we do not know.
An interesting philosophy would be that they promise all these things in the throne speech and then if, for some reason, they see fit to call an early election they can always say, "We were going to do it and we said so in the throne speech," but they have no justification for saying that because they have not budgeted it.
Mr. Harris: Their track record is not very good.
Mr. Gregory: No, they have not done well so far. Even the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) will agree with me on that. There is not a lot there to foster the confidence of the opposition parties in that government over there. We will be confident in them for at least the next 10 minutes.
They have promised a major capital funding program to modernize facilities for Ontario school boards and universities. That is great but there is no plan and no long-term strategy. There is a total absence of strategy. Suddenly, they are going to throw great gobs of money at university systems, but with what intent? Who makes the decisions as to where it is needed? There are no guidelines or blueprints as to what they are trying to achieve. They seem to think they can throw money at things and the problems will go away. They do not go away. This gets votes. Maybe that is what is wanted.
Tell me it is not so, Vince. Surely you are not after votes.
Mr. Speaker: Is the member referring to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Kerrio)?
Mr. Gregory: The Minister of Natural Resources; I was making the point that surely he is not after votes. Surely not; I would not think so. According to the throne speech, university administrations are suddenly going to be faced with the problem of great gobs of money and they are going to have to come up with new ways of spending it. Imagine that: University administrations are going to have to come up with ways to spend the money the government is going to throw at them. Will the taxpayers not love that? They are going to say, "The provincial government is throwing money at the universities and the universities are going to have to find ways of spending it." Will it make the taxpayers comfortable to know they are going to have to find ways of spending their money?
They had better come up with a plan of action -- the Minister of Education has not done so yet -- to see where we are going and what these great gobs of money are for before he starts throwing the money around, this money with which it appears they are trying to get votes.
Another area that gives me a little problem, and this one is all smoke and mirrors, is the practice of moving provincial government offices to northern Ontario. It is all well and good and it sounds pretty good. It sounds like we love the north and are going to give them something in the north. I love the north; there is no question about that. I have been there. I guess it is supposed to convey that we are creating employment in the north. How does moving a building with civil servants in it to the north create employment in the north? I do not know.
Mr. Wildman: I do not think they have suggested moving the building.
Mr. Gregory: It was a figure of speech. If they are depending on civil service jobs to create employment in the north, then the taxpayers are going to get very upset about it. I do not think that is what the people in the north are asking this government for. The people of the north are not asking this government to move its civil servants up there so that it appears there is lots of employment. What they are asking this government to do is to create industry in the north to create jobs that will be taken by the people who live there, not to relocate people from Toronto, from Queen's Park, to the north to make it look good.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Your government brought mining and forestry to Toronto and we put it back where it belongs, in the north.
Mr. Gregory: I think the record will show that the Minister of Natural Resources was always a member from the north under our government. It is a recent phenomenon to have a Minister of Natural Resources from the southern Ontario area. It just shows --
Mr. Gregory: I really think that when we get into that argument, the minister is on the losing side, because when a member from Niagara Falls is the Minister of Natural Resources to administer natural resources in the north --
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: We tried it your way and it did not work.
Mr. Breaugh: Now we have tried it your way and it does not work.
Mr. Gregory: At any rate, another thing they talked about in the throne speech was this government's commitment to open government. Oh boy, have we been hearing a bellyful of this one, so-called open government. Those people should be laughing up their sleeves when they say this because they know, as I know, that people who have contacted them have found this government to be more locked up than any they can remember, including the federal government.
Those people are not open. They are not open in any way. Even the campaign chairman of the Liberal Party of Ontario went on at length in a weekend interview about how open his party was. At the same time, he refused to answer any direct questions. Maybe that is their idea of openness but it certainly is not my idea. They should not give me this openness.
Does the Minister of Natural Resources recall the many questions that came to me about the market value study in Metro Toronto when I was Minister of Revenue?
Mr. Breaugh: And how quickly the member put that out.
Mr. Gregory: That is right. Now we see the same question and we are getting the same answers I used to give. He is no more open than I was. I happened to realize that study was outdated, but it is different now because it is a new study. We are still getting the runaround even with the new study. It was my interest to protect the home owners in the city of Mississauga, not to fool them the way those people are trying to do. They are going to hold that study until the election is over, are they not? I suspect that is what they are going to do.
They have a throne speech that commits itself to enhanced trade opportunities and makes particular mention of playing a forceful role in Canada-US trade negotiations. I agree that party has played a forceful role, but forceful in the negative, totally in the negative.
An hon. member: Trying to scupper it.
Mr. Gregory: Trying to scupper it is true. They did nothing but put it down but now in their throne speech they are trying to appear as if they are going to try to get a constructive trade agreement. How can they do that and bad-mouth it all the time? They cannot do that. Certainly, the confrontational approach is not in the best interest of this country or province. Ontario should play a leadership role in encouraging a beneficial free trade agreement. This government now wants to take a more federalist approach and it wants to play a leadership role in Confederation. This is the new approach.
I do not know what is happening here. Has the leader become ambitious? Say it is not so; say he does not have federal ambitions. The member cannot answer that. He does not even know where he is, except that he was naming the dome. He does not know where the Premier is now, so he cannot answer that question.
They have a desire to welcome Quebec into the Constitution, which is admirable. This is a goal all the people share, but I find it, in this case, to be very convenient, because in any federal-provincial conferences the Liberal Party's policy has been to adopt a confrontational approach in every case. It seems to serve its best short-term political goals to now become viewed as a nation-builder. Now we are a nation-builder, because of the relationship perhaps between the Premier and Mr. Bourassa. I do not know; but now the Liberal Party is trying to be seen as a nation-builder. It cannot handle Ontario but it is trying to get into the federal scene.
I do not want to get the Minister of Natural Resources exercised. I have a couple more local issues which are affecting me that I would like to get in.
In the throne speech, the government has pledged to introduce legislation to regulate health and fitness clubs. This is good; it is long overdue. We have no indication right now as to when this is going to occur. I have had many complaints from the members of my riding recently about a group called the Body Elite Fitness Centre. The Body Elite -- that is like an élite body; I think it is a good body.
What has happened is that people purchased memberships in this Body Elite health club. There was a great sales campaign. They were selling yearly memberships for $35 or $60 or something like that. Anyway, people invested as much as $300 for long-term memberships and, suddenly, one day they went and found the place was closed. This is not a new story --
Mr. Harris: That would not have happened two years ago.
Mr. Gregory: Not under the previous administration, because we would have been in there. Our Solicitor General would have been very active in solving that one. I happen to know him.
At any rate, what we have is a case of what might well be fraud, where memberships are sold and, suddenly, just like that, the people are gone, the money is gone. The landlord was left holding a debt of about $20,000 for the property and improvements that were made. There is no way these people can get their money back.
What happens with this? There is nothing in legislation that I am aware of that enables anybody -- perhaps the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) or the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes) can find ways to investigate this and do something about it, because there are an awful lot of unhappy people. Is the Solicitor General aware of the company I am talking about? I hope he will make it a point to get involved, because there are an awful lot of unhappy people who have been taken. They have been robbed just as surely as if somebody had stuck a gun to their heads. It is just unfortunate.
Another area I would like to touch on very briefly is the so called homemaker program. Much mention has been made of the idea of keeping people in their homes. Rather than putting the elderly into nursing homes or senior citizens' homes, they can give them homemaker care. They have such a program in Peel, as I assume they have in other areas, and it is administered by the Red Cross. The funding comes to them from the province by way of the region.
In Peel, we have a rather interesting situation, because the federal government came out with a program in order to create employment, to help get more homemakers on the job. It came out with a program and negotiated a $6-an-hour salary for new homemakers.
Mr. Wildman: Exorbitant.
Mr. Gregory: No, that is not exorbitant. However, the present homemakers who were hired under the provincially funded Red Cross program are paid $4.60 an hour. What we have is a group of homemakers who, when working at it, are paid $4.60, and a federally funded program where the new ones are paid $6 an hour. Our provincial government is not doing anything about putting funds in there at least to match that salary. At least bring the $4.60 up to $6 an hour, for heaven's sake.
Mr. D. W. Smith: Quit talking and let us bring in the budget.
Mr. Gregory: It does not require a budget to be brought in to do this and the government knows it. This could be done very simply by regulation. The Treasurer, the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston), the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Sweeney) or whoever just has to sign the form to do it. They spill more than that in a day in those ministries.
They do not need the budget brought in to do that. Those people sitting over there who have been there longer than two years know that. What it takes is a regulation or a decision by the minister. The Minister of Health would just have to make that decision tomorrow and it could be done. Why are they not doing it? Do not tell me about this budget bit. That is nonsense. The government has indicated in the throne speech what it wants to do. If the government has the ability to do it now, without waiting for the budget, it should do it.
The Liberals talk about their concern for the small people. Here is a case for the low-income earner and they have a chance to do something nice, but I suppose they are too busy naming the domed stadium.
The government wishes to encourage moderation in alcohol consumption as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle. La-di-da. That is marvellous. I do not know how it is going to do this. It is difficult. That must be tongue-in-cheek, surely, when they are talking about encouraging moderation in alcohol consumption. That is why they want to put it in the corner stores -- to encourage moderation. That is a weird way of doing it.
The government talks like this. The whole throne speech is full of platitudes, nothing more. It wishes to encourage moderation in alcohol consumption as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle. That is great. If the Liberals think wishing that is going to make any difference, they are crazy, particularly when they keep talking about making it more accessible. They cannot have it both ways. Those people have not learned that, even in two years. Come to think of it, they did not learn it in the 42 years before that, either.
Mr. Baetz: They speak with forked tongues.
Mr. Gregory: What my Indian friend here says is true.
At any rate, I know the members would love me to go on, because they probably learned a great deal from my remarks, but I will have to restrain myself. It has been nice chatting with you. For those members who were paying attention, I hope at least one or two of my remarks might have got through. I know one did with the Solicitor General. He seemed to nod, at any rate. Maybe he was falling asleep, I do not know.
Mr. Baetz: He was falling asleep.
Mr. Gregory: He was probably falling asleep. The Minister of Municipal Affairs was the same way. He nodded a couple of times. His eyes were open, so I have to assume he was awake.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity of addressing the throne speech.
Mr. Speaker: Are there any comments or questions?
Mr. Harris: I am asking the member for Mississauga East a couple of questions on the statements he made.
The member referred to disgust, I guess, about the amount of money that was being spent on transportation. I would like to ask him what he thinks of a government that, from 1984 to the budget that is going to be brought in, will have had enough money to go from 1984, take inflation in 1985, inflation in 1986, inflation in 1987 and spend that amount of money plus $5 billion. That is how much we are talking: over and above the 1984 budget, inflation plus $5 billion.
What have they been doing? In 1984, a recessionary year, they spent $104 million in northern Ontario on roads. That was our last budget: $104 million at a time of severe restraint.
What are they spending two years later? It is $106 million, $2 million more, far less than even inflation of 4.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent through those two periods. It has already fallen way behind with all these extra billions of dollars. I would like to ask the member to give me his thoughts on whether he thinks that is fair, when they are sitting there with all these billions of extra dollars.
The second point I want to ask the member for Mississauga East, who talked about universities and throwing money at problems, is whether that is a solution to the problem. One just throws money at it, and what happens? I would like to ask the member if he might comment on that very example of that, where $80 million was thrown at the universities last year. There was a big press conference. The money was going to go to hiring more faculty and more women. There were all of these wonderful goals. What actually happened? None of that. Not one new woman or one new faculty member was hired, and the minister's response was: "You are right. It did not work out the way I thought. It is not my fault. Blame the universities." He is the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Sorbara). I wonder what the member thinks of a minister who throws $80 million out there when that is what happens to the money. Not one of those program objectives was met.
Mr. Speaker: Was it the member or the minister you were referring to?
Mr. Harris: The member for Mississauga East.
Mr. Speaker: Are there any other comments or questions?
Mr. Gregory: I am certainly glad my colleague the House leader has raised these points, because very important points they are. The first one is to do with the money spent in northern Ontario on roads, which was $104 million back in the recession and which is $106 million today when we are in anything but recession.
We should just consider for a moment the fact of the additional revenues brought in by the Treasurer, which he admitted were $919 million, which is just short of $1 billion, most of which came from increases in taxes on fuel oils, gasoline, licensing, sales tax and what have you. Most of it came from there. Let us be charitable and say only two thirds came from there. That two thirds is $600 million; yet we can only go up less than inflation on the roads in the north. This is absolutely ridiculous.
Now the same sort of logic applies --
Mr. Harris: I am glad you agree with me on that one.
Mr. Gregory: I agree totally with the member for Nipissing on that, and I am glad he asked that question.
The second part refers to the money the Liberals promised to spend on schools. It was a similar sort of platitudinous statement when they made it as they are making now. They did not do it then and they will not do it now. When the government decides to fess up and start telling the truth about what it is going to do and then follow through and do it, then we can have more respect for it on this side of the House.
Mr. Breaugh: I wanted to join in for a little while on the speech from the throne. I want to start by saying that we too are in favour of literacy in moderation, so the throne speech is probably eminently supportable in that sense. It seems to unveil the new Liberal philosophy of everything in moderation. I seem to have seen that model someplace before. I do not quite recall where, but I think the attempt that is there in the throne speech is to see how many people in Ontario could identify with this kind of a throne speech and to try to put a face on this new government for the first time.
It is really quite remarkable that almost two full years have gone without much of an identity forming around what this government wants to do. I suppose a large part of that is the fact that the unusual has happened: an accord, an agreement, was struck to provide a legislative timetable for the first two years of this government's life. That is unusual. In the history of parliaments, we have never quite seen that kind of an agreement put together. It is perhaps understandable that the Liberal government has not really had a chance to develop its own style and its own philosophy. That now seems to be emerging a little bit. The new Liberal message is kind of being portrayed here, that there is going to be a different style now put forward in the throne speech, followed up with a budget, and probably in the foreseeable future some kind of an electoral process might intervene as well.
I think the people in Ontario are now beginning to understand a little bit about what the new government really is. I think they are not much past the leadership. They are not much past the Premier himself as a person, being new, different and from a different political party for the first time in almost half a century. That, of course, is newsworthy and the media people have focused on the leadership. They have not spent a great deal of time examining programs, policies or other people in the cabinet, except to say that there is a whole new group of cabinet ministers now involved in politics in Ontario.
There is some good and bad in this. There is a much higher awareness now that there is at least a parliament in Ontario. There is a Legislative Assembly, and for almost a two-year period now we have been televising the proceedings. I find that on the streets of my own community, more people are aware of the Legislature in Ontario than ever knew anything about it before.
In part, that is because the previous government was not anxious for people to know. It wanted people to know that there was a government here and that it ran the show, but it was not enamoured of the notion that people would understand there was a parliamentary process in Ontario; that it has its own Legislative chamber, there are two sides to the House, there is an opposition side and there are often many points of view put forward that are not necessarily shared by the government.
So I think there is a positive element about this. Democracy is not quite breaking out all over the place, but there is an awareness that governments can change. For a long time in Ontario that was simply not true. There is an awareness that the political process is worth something, that the process itself is worth watching and that it gives an opportunity for the public to have some input into the legislative flow of things. I do not know whether anybody has kept statistics on this, but I would warrant there have been more public hearings and more opportunities for the public to get involved in the process in a multitude of ways over the last little while than what we have seen for some time.
I want to talk a little bit about some basics. In the speech from the throne, one of the things that bothered me slightly was that there was not a whole lot of meat and potatoes in there. There was not an examination of what really needs to be done in Ontario and how this government would set out to do it.
I am convinced that many of the problems we have are not problems that are very dynamic. Perhaps they are even rather boring, but the infrastructure, for example, all across Ontario needs a careful examination. There have been a couple of attempts to make an inventory of problems that we have had in servicing our roads, our sewers, our sidewalk system, our transportation system, our municipal form of government and our boards of education, but there has not been much of an in-depth analysis of that either. A couple of bodies have tried to go at that, but for example, in all of what we do about the environment, however dramatic it might be to go to the United States and to talk to them about acid rain -- and it may be a good deal less dramatic to talk to Ontario municipalities about whether their sewers work -- our major problems are probably shared equally between those two problems. We used to point to the United States and say: "On the other side of the Great Lakes, they dump raw sewage into all of our Great Lakes system. We would never do that." The truth is that we do that and we do that on a fairly regular basis. We do not, for example, separate much of the industrial sewage from ordinary sanitary sewage, so there is that kind of an integration. In my community and in many communities, industrial plants where we have now begun to get some level of understanding of what those chemicals do to the water system still dump much of that untreated into sanitary sewers at some point in the process and that finds its way into the Great Lakes.
There are big, dramatic problems about the environment that have to be resolved, but I want to put on the table today, for some thought, the more mundane things. If, for example, one wants to take some corrective action about whether the beaches in Toronto will be polluted again this summer, those problems will not be resolved in large measure by negotiating agreements with the United States. Those problems will be resolved by putting proper sanitary sewers into Metropolitan Toronto.
Parts of this huge metropolitan area do not have what, in most of Ontario, we would consider to be basic sewer services. They do not separate storm sewers and sanitary sewers in much of the city of Toronto. If one ever wanted to open up the beaches and solve the long-term pollution problems in and around Metropolitan Toronto one would, I suggest, first have to provide proper sanitary sewers and storm sewers and separation for those in all of Metro. That is not going to be cheap and perhaps it is not going to be even a very politically dynamic thing to do, but it has to be done. There is a basic problem there that has to be resolved.
Let me move to a couple of other, not-so-dramatic areas. A motorist in and around Metro Toronto these days would swear that some terrorist group had infiltrated the Metro works department and had put in place some great master plan to drive two million people crazy during this summer. We see it every day. We cannot find a place on the road system in Metropolitan Toronto that really does not look like some war zone: streets shut down, the whole Don Valley Parkway shut down, ripping up something here, ripping up something else over there, total disruption of the street system.
In Metro Toronto it is very dramatic, but it is equally dramatic in a slightly different way all across Ontario, because we have not done much in the way of seeing that there is a proper maintenance program for basic, essential transportation commodities like roads. So again, with rather large amounts of money, if we want to resolve that problem, we will have to begin probably a long-term, systematic system for renewing the transportation system; that is, the roads.
In many parts of the province, we will find they do not have the roads to renew. It is particularly true in northern and eastern Ontario. In many parts of this province, the road system has never been put in place. We can find main transportation corridors like Highway 401, but even at that, when we look at the needs of the transportation system right now, not in the future but right now, we find that the huge, massive transportation grid across the top of the city comes to a roaring, grinding halt every day, several times a day. It looks like a very sophisticated road system, but the facts are that this very sophisticated road system cannot handle the traffic that is on it right now. We continue to build massive amounts of housing all around Metro, and the service area built around Metro is getting huge.
I come from the region of Durham, where the population explosion is quite dramatic. The unfortunate thing for many of us is that all that population explosion winds up on Highway 401 at about the same time every day at Pickering and comes to a dead halt. That is not really great planning. That is problematic at best. I believe we have had some announcement that we will extend that a bit farther into the middle of Pickering, but when we look at that, there is no way this planned expansion of the 401 will meet the demand. It is going to follow the demand for some foreseeable time. There are major problems there.
I would have been happier, for example, to see the province say in its throne speech, "This is not a budget, but we are getting ready for a budget and we have identified some problem areas, one of which is municipal financing," which has undergone over recent years some rather traumatic experiences. I do not know of anybody sitting on a municipal council who has been able to say with some confidence for the last decade or so that we have enough financing to really run a municipality properly, whether that is street, roads, sewers or whatever. They have been having their difficulties and there is a major problem there.
What we needed was a major commitment on the part of this government that it would examine those problems and begin to address them in a systematic way over a fairly lengthy period of time. That would have been a real good start at solving a number of problems, some small and perhaps not what this government wanted to talk about at this point in time, but problems which simply will not go away and which do have to be resolved.
Let me give members a couple of other examples of areas where I sense a great deal of uncertainty. In some ways, the throne speech does address that. In my community, Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology is really the only post-secondary education institution for many miles around. It draws on a huge geographic area now and has an increasing population base to try to deal with. It is now in the middle of a bit of a financial crisis that is forcing the college to make some unfortunate decisions, some of which do not make sense.
They had a scare in the last few weeks about a dental hygiene program. Of all the programs they run at the college, it is probably the one which is widely known, accepted and used by dentists, for example, throughout the region, almost from the border of Metropolitan Toronto to Kingston. It is the only program of its kind. It is an expensive program to run; that is true. It always has a great backlog of students trying to get into that program because there is a real job market in that particular field.
The college sent out some feelers in its early look at budget cuts and said, "We may have to cut this program." Of course, a great furore came out from the population saying: "That is stupid. You already have your major expenditure in the capital investment for equipment. Why would you stop that program now?" So the college relented.
The financial problems will not go away. The funding for community colleges does not make a whole lot of sense to me, but it is clear that it is in trouble. More and more of our communities are depending on those community colleges to integrate the education system into their community, which was the original concept. They need them to train people for local industry. They need them to train people for jobs. They need to do a good deal of training for economic development as well. The potential for community colleges in the future is probably one of the best places to look if one wants to solve, for example, the problems in eastern Ontario regarding economic development. The one place where we have an educational institution at the post-secondary level which may do us some good in planning for a local economy is in things like a community college.
Throughout the north, there is room for expansion for the community college system and perhaps to develop some very real solutions to northern problems, solved by northern people in their own communities. If there is great potential in a community college system, that is probably one of the lightning points to take a look at.
In my view, community colleges should be the resources we are using to get ourselves out of economic problems. They should not be, in and of themselves, yet another economic problem to be resolved, and yet they seem to be.
Let me talk a little bit about some things of this same kind which I believe the government is going to have to tackle. All across Ontario, for many years, creeks and rivers have been the dumping grounds for industry. We are beginning to have a little bit of a sense of what they have been dumping, although we really do not have a good catalogue of it.
My community is like many other industrial communities. We have the same problems. We really do not know what is lurking around the bottom of most of our creek beds. We do know it is a major problem in terms of trying to clean up beaches at the end of the creek, because the constant flow of water keeps bringing all these old chemicals down.
What is the solution for this? It is apparent that there is not an easy solution. It is apparent that at some point we as a society will have to deal with this problem. Again, whether we do this through our community colleges or through the Ministry of the Environment or however we find the solutions, the process for finding those solutions must begin now. It is really incumbent upon this government to start to identify the problems, as we have in certain areas.
To put a little more perspective on it, I am concerned somewhat not that the Niagara River gets a lot of media attention about being a very polluted river source; I am concerned that it is only the Niagara River that gets this media attention. Many of us who have been concerned about environmental matters over a long period of time know that what happened in the Niagara River may be more dramatic than what happened in many other rivers, creeks and streams around Ontario, but it is not dissimilar. Many of the creeks that I played in when I was a kid are now so polluted they will not hold any kind of fish life at all, the vegetation is down and we know there is a serious pollution problem there.
It may be that the Toronto media are not really interested in what is happening in the Moira River, but I am. It may not be quite as dramatic as what you see on your television sets periodically about the Niagara River, but I believe the problem is just as severe. We need to begin to analyse those things and find some solutions for them.
A few years ago, if you said "PCBs" I do not think very many people in Ontario would understand what you were talking about. I do not understand that particular problem that well, but I understand it to this degree. If you talk about polychlorinated biphenyls, these are the problems I know are related: (a) they are bad things, they are carcinogenic and (b) what is even worse is they are all over the place and we have not identified where they are yet, let alone what to do with them. It is another major environmental problem in everybody's backyard. You cannot find a community in Ontario that has any industrial base that does not have that particular problem, and a host of others to go with it.
These are problems which are part and parcel of what was once modern technology, without perhaps much thought to what would be the end result of all of that. We have not really resolved those problems, but this category, this kind of listing of all the environmental problems we have, all of the transportation problems we have, these things need to be worked on now, steadily, over a lengthy period of time, with a plan for resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I have some other remarks I would like to get into in my response to the throne speech, so I will adjourn the debate for now and pick it up again tomorrow.
On motion by Mr. Breaugh, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.