The House met at 1330.
NATIVE POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION
Mr Wildman: I rise to bring the attention of the House to the plight of the 6,000 native post-secondary education students in Ontario colleges and universities. Because of this large number of native students, colleges and universities in this province receive a significant portion of their funding; more, thank goodness, native kids are finishing high school and going on to higher levels of education. The federal government’s proposal to limit native students’ funding threatens the financial stability of many of Ontario’s post-secondary school programs.
But even more than this, I reject the position taken by the federal Conservative government in arguing that the right to post-secondary education funding for native students is not a treaty right, but rather is more of a privilege. During the Constitution debates, the one thing that was agreed by the provinces and the federal government with regard to treaty rights was that treaty rights should be recognized.
If treaty rights are indeed recognized, they cannot now be reneged upon by the federal government. I think it is the height of hypocrisy for white society to say that it is prepared to fund post-secondary education for native students as long as not too many natives are going to post-secondary educational institutions. But when the numbers start to increase, we suddenly say it is costing too much and we have to put a cap on the funding.
Mr Jackson: I take great pleasure in rising today to acknowledge the coming Easter celebration which will be observed by members of the churches of the Christian East on Sunday, 30 April.
As someone with deep roots in eastern-rite Christianity, and the Slavic tradition of the Ukrainian church in particular, I know that Easter is the most colourful and happiest time of the year for members of that branch of Christendom. The rich symbol of the painted Ukrainian Easter egg, for example, dominates the home as a meaningful token of the resurrection of Christ.
The blessing of Easter baskets in church after the long Easter services and the ritual dances performed by children on lawns bespeak of the holiday joy which is shared by the entire community on Easter day. It is a joy that I personally look forward to as my Burlington parish of the Holy Protection prepares to greet yet another Easter season.
The beginning of that season is heralded by the greeting, “Christ is risen!” “Krestos Voskres!” to which one responds with “Truly has he risen!” “Voyeestinoo Voskres!” It is, in short, a day for families, for traditions and for memories.
At this most special time of the year, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, my best and most heartfelt wishes to all those who will, this weekend, relive the Easter experience with its powerful symbolism and optimistic vision and hope for all mankind.
Mr Keyes: Next Monday, 1 May, I will have the honour of welcoming to the riding of Kingston and The Islands, Robert Graham, who chaired the Provincial Community Mental Health Committee which produced the report Building Community Support for People: A Plan for Mental Health in Ontario.
Mr Graham will be in Kingston to attend the annual general meeting of the Kingston branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. This event coincides with the commencement of Mental Health Week across Ontario and Canada. The CMHA will be hosting events and displays all around Kingston, as will community organizations across the province, to draw attention to mental health and to elicit discussion about these issues.
In the Graham report, which will certainly be discussed on Monday in Kingston. Mr Graham himself recommends two broad goals and principles for mental health policy: a comprehensive and accessible system with an emphasis on community-based support for individuals and families who must cope with serious or prolonged mental illness, and integration of services provided by health professionals, community agencies, general hospitals and psychiatric hospitals.
I am pleased that the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) has embraced these recommendations in principle and that our government has moved towards meeting its August 1987 commitment of doubling funding in community health and addiction programs over three years. Annual expenditures are expected to reach $174 million in 1990-91. Programs were allocated $521 million in 1988-89. I congratulate the Kingston branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association on its efforts in Kingston in the last year, particularly the organization during Mental Health Week.
Mr R. F. Johnston: There were not many planks in the throne speech platform presented and today the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) is starting to rip up one of the major ones, the whole question of the extension of kindergarten. He is basically telling us somehow that child care money was going to be coming from the federal government, that he was going to be contingent on it to be able to somehow extend education, as I understand it, to children in kindergarten.
I actually have the quotes from what he said this morning. Then he has the gall to make us believe that he did not understand, number one, that the submarines and the new child care program were put together and that if one were to go the other would go. He also makes us believe that somehow this was quality education that was being initiated by the government. Yet what we now find out is that it was a cheap day care move, a way to get child care in at a 25-to-1 ratio rather than an eight-to-one ratio under our present child care system.
That is what this was all about. I just learned, in fact, that in the pre-throne-speech briefing that was given, the Deputy Minister of Education would not give assurances to teachers’ federations that it would be teachers who would be teaching junior kindergarten.
What do we have here? We have a major bluff being pulled on this House and this province. The government is not funding kindergarten; it is funding day care. Now that the feds have not gone ahead with their program, as we knew they would not, the minister is saying he cannot even do it. What a hoax that whole thing has been.
Mr McLean: My statement concerns a spunky 15-year-old who returned to a hero’s welcome near Orillia on 17 April 1989 after spending 13 long months in hospitals recovering from burns to 95 per cent of his body.
Joe Philion was rushed to the Shriners Burns Institute in Boston after fire destroyed his family’s home in March 1988 and injured Joe so badly that doctors had not expected him to survive. But Joe proved them wrong, and a massive crowd of friends, relatives, neighbours, schoolchildren, members of the press, city and township officials and Shriners like myself were on hand to welcome him when he arrived at his new home of love in Cumberland Beach, which was built under the construction and direction of Ken McCann.
Mr McCann rallied countless individuals and companies to donate their time, expertise and materials for this labour of love. For conceiving the idea of building Joe a new home with volunteer help, Ken McCann was named as the city of Orillia Citizen of the Year for 1988. Because of the efforts of Ken McCann and his band of volunteers, a new house of love rose from the ashes of the Philion home which was destroyed by fire more than a year ago.
On behalf of all of us here in this Legislature, I would like to welcome Joe Philion home and to thank Ken McCann, his group of volunteers and the Shriners for all they have done. It is a job well done.
Ms Collins: In June 1988, I proposed a private member’s resolution calling on the government to develop a strategy for managing the growing problem of plastics pollution. This resolution passed unanimously.
In February of this year, the House passed a private member’s resolution calling on the government to examine its policies, programs and practices to ensure its compatibility with the principles of sustainable development.
In the last session, the government moved to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions through the Countdown Acid Rain program and ban chlorofluorocarbons to protect the ozone layer; increased funding and established new targets for province-wide recycling programs; implemented the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement, and created the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy to encourage sustainable development.
It is obvious that this government is concerned about the environment. There are some industries that are also concerned and active in the area of the environment, such as the Ontario Soft Drink Association. I applaud their efforts and contributions to Ontario Multi-Material Recycling Inc.
However, there are other manufacturers in this province who produce recyclable products such as plastic, newspaper and glass who are not yet involved in this worthwhile and necessary endeavour. Today, I call upon the government to encourage these industries to follow the lead of their peers.
All of us, members, government, industry and citizens, must continue our efforts if we are to succeed in passing on a healthy world to our children.
The Speaker: The member for Markham for 22 seconds.
Mr Cousens: It is enough time just to put my dig in at the government for failing to mention anything about the Rouge Valley system in its speech from the throne. We have two dead river valley systems, the Don Valley and the Humber.
Let’s do something about the Rouge while there is still time.
This is a government that can do something about it. They have $10 million from the federal government. Let’s spend it and invest it in --
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for members’ statements.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am rising to seek the unanimous consent of the House to make a brief statement concerning Injured Workers’ Day. After comments which I expect members of the opposition parties will want to make, I will also be asking for unanimous consent to have a moment of silence, and then consent as well that the flags at the Legislature and government buildings be lowered to half-mast tomorrow.
INJURED WORKERS’ DAY / JOUR DES TRAVAILLEURS BLESSES
Hon Mr Sorbara: As honourable members know, tomorrow is worker memorial day. All across Ontario, workers will join together in memorial services to mourn and recognize their colleagues who have died because of workplace accidents and workplace illnesses.
Je pense également que, pour nous tous, ceci est une occasion de réfléchir sur le terrible coût humain que représentent les accidents et les maladies du travail.
The government endorses the labour movement’s initiative in setting 28 April, the anniversary of the passage of the workers’ compensation act of Ontario, as an annual day to recognize those who have been injured or killed at work.
It is important that we, as legislators, ensure that this province has an occupational health and safety system that is as good as humanly possible in protecting the lives and the wellbeing of our workers. Therefore, the underlying principle of the occupational health and safety reform introduced in this House in January is that the workplace parties, management and labour, must work together in partnership and with government to bring about the safe and accident-free workplace that all working people in the province should be able to expect.
Nous tous dans cette Assemblée, ainsi que les travailleurs et le patronat de toute la province, devons faire du 28 avril une occasion de renouveler notre engagement et de rendre les lieux de travail en Ontario plus sécuritaires et plus sains grâce à nos efforts conjoints.
In keeping with this occasion, the flags, with the unanimous consent of members, at this Legislature and all government offices will be flown at half-mast throughout the day tomorrow. I have urged others in the province to do the same.
I now request, as I said, unanimous consent of this House, after the comments that I expect from the two opposition parties, that we rise for a moment of silence in recognition of those workers who have died or suffered grievous injury at work.
Mr Mackenzie: I rise in this House on this occasion with very mixed feelings. I am pleased that the House has accepted my request of yesterday to allow a minute of silence and to lower the flags to acknowledge the sacrifice of workers killed or injured on job sites across the country. I am obviously both proud and sad to represent New Democrats observing this day of mourning. These feelings compete with concern and more than a little anger that almost overrides the recognition.
Surely the purpose of this day of mourning is more than just to acknowledge the sacrifice made by workers as a result of unsafe workplaces and practices. The purpose of this day must be a renewal of a commitment by all of us that the sacrifice of a worker killed on the job and the resulting sorrow and hardship visited upon his or her family and friends was not in vain, that we have learnt from the tragedy and that we reaffirm responsibility to see an end to the slaughter in the workplace.
This, I say to all of my colleagues in the House, and to the Premier (Mr Peterson) and Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) in particular, is where the anger I spoke of emerges. Have we learned a lesson? Are we meeting our responsibilities? Have we done right by those killed or injured on the job? I say to all of my colleagues in this House that we are not meeting our responsibility.
The final figures for last year indicate 293 deaths in the workplace. This is a 24 per cent increase over the previous year. As well, there were 489,819 injuries, of which 215,184 involved lost time. In less than four months this year, already 93 workers in Ontario have lost their lives. Almost every day another family will be grieving. We may well be heading for an all-time record.
We have seen a rash of mining deaths that should not have happened. We have had two more deaths recently of Canadian paperworkers. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees have reported deaths, and we have had the tragic death of a farm worker near Windsor, in an occupation where the workers are not even covered by health and safety legislation.
Words are not adequate to express the anger and concern all of us should feel at our failure. Can anyone in this House defend this slaughter in the workplace? Can anyone in this House reject the need for legislation that guarantees people the right to work and live and enjoy retirement in good health in so far as a safe workplace is concerned?
We should be ashamed of our lack of enforcement of safety in the workplace. We should be ashamed that we do not have in place legislation, including Bill 208, to give people a right and responsibility in ensuring a safe workplace. Their memory must serve us to fight like hell for the living, to fight for improvements to health and safety and to fight for their enforcement in this province. It is time we accepted our responsibilities, and if I can use the veterans’ phrase, say, “We shall remember them.”
Mr Brandt: I am proud to rise today and respond on behalf of our party to the opening comments made by the Minister of Labour, and I rise to recognize the initiative of Canada’s labour movement in recognizing worker memorial day tomorrow, 28 April.
Having been a representative of the government and now in opposition, I stand here proud of the strides this province has made when I see all that has been accomplished, and I am equally proud to recognize the men and the women who have contributed in building this very great province of ours. Many of those people have suffered untimely deaths and far too many have suffered debilitating injuries.
Men and women in Ontario have suffered a great deal and it is important that we recognize their loss today, as we are doing. But I feel hope for future generations of workers. Throughout the province, workers are coming together in memorial services. I see unity and strength in the flags that will fly at half-mast.
It was 74 years ago today that Ontario’s Conservative government passed the very first workers’ compensation act in all of Canada, and for over seven decades this province has believed in the need to protect injured workers. Much has been done, but I recognize that much more remains to be done.
Today, workers succumb to a variety of job-related injuries that our predecessors would never have imagined. As legislators in this province, it is our task to provide as safe and as clean a workplace as possible. Where circumstances bring about a twist of fate that causes injury, we must have in place the legislation that takes care of that individual.
Over the past year, the working people of this province have made strong statements to us as legislators. They have made it clear that it is time for a change. Today, as we rise to celebrate the people who have risked all for us and to honour the memory of those who have died working on behalf of this province in their various fields of endeavour, we must reaffirm our vow to progressively amend the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Platitudes ring hollow. This day provides us with the opportunity to focus on protection and rehabilitation. Let us not lose that in the days and months ahead. Two hundred and ninety-three deaths last year is simply too great a loss. We can do better, and we must do better to protect workers from serious injury, and in far too many cases, death.
The Speaker: I ask all members to rise and join’ with me in a minute’s silence in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the workplace.
The House observed one minute’s silence.
The Speaker: Thank you. I will fulfil your request. Tomorrow the flags in front of this building will be flown at half-mast.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would like to report to the House on those matters from the federal budget that affect Ontario’s economy and fiscal position. These measures include reductions to federal support for health care and post-secondary education; deferral of the Canada child care bill; increased federal sales taxes, personal income taxes and corporate income taxes; contraction of regional economic assistance programs; alterations to the unemployment insurance program and other measures.
Ontario has expressed concern about the erosion of federal commitments to national programs. This budget further reduces federal commitments to the historic partnership that has supported health and post-secondary education. Taken together, previous reductions introduced by the federal government to established programs financing entitlements for Ontario amounted to approximately $970 million last year and will exceed $1 billion this fiscal year. Measures introduced with this budget will further reduce federal support for health and post-secondary education in Ontario by $75 million in 1991.
With these changes, Ottawa’s share of these program costs will be reduced from the historical level of 51 per cent in 1979-80 to less than 38 per cent in this year.
The federal government estimates expenditure savings of $175 million nationally as a result of its deferral of the Canada child care bill. This will entail a loss to Ontario of approximately $50 million this year. Provinces in general will therefore not receive the 75 per cent subsidy for child care capital promised by the federal government since 1987.
The deferral, in general, is disappointing, since the Canada child care program would have complemented Ontario’s commitment to child care announced in the New Directions policy. However, Ottawa will continue to share costs of child care services under the Canada assistance plan. I should note, as members will be aware, that the budget indicates the Canada assistance plan will be maintained at its traditional level.
One billion dollars will be taken out of Ontario’s economy to pay for the changes to the unemployment insurance program. These changes will reduce Ontario’s personal income and corporate income tax revenues by approximately $80 million.
Proposed changes to the current federal sales tax will provide approximately $60 million in additional revenue to Ontario through our retail sales tax.
Federal changes to tobacco taxes will result in a substantial reduction in the level of tobacco consumption in Ontario. It is estimated that this measure will result in a reduction of approximately $85 million in Ontario’s tobacco tax revenues.
Increases in federal fuel and excise taxes will add approximately 2.4 cents per litre to the cost of gasoline, bringing the total federal tax to 12.1 cents per litre as compared to Ontario’s tax of 9.3 cents per litre for unleaded. Including these tax increases, the federal government will collect approximately $1.7 billion in motive fuel tax revenues in Ontario; and the honourable members will know, the federal government does not spend anything on our roads.
The federal government has also proposed to recover family allowances and old age security payments from individuals with incomes over $50,000. This measure will reduce Ontario’s revenues by $45 million.
The overall impact of federal tax measures results in a revenue loss to Ontario of approximately $160 million. As well, federal expenditure reductions are estimated to cost Ontario about $135 million. Slower real economic growth reduces Ontario’s revenues by approximately $200 million on a full-year basis.
These initial estimates indicate a substantive shifting of the federal fiscal burden to the provinces. The net negative fiscal impact of the federal budget is presently estimated to be approximately $500 million on a full-year basis.
The clear shifting of the fiscal burden puts provincial initiatives at risk; but the honourable member who made a statement earlier will be glad to know, and I can assure members, that the throne speech commitments will be met and that we will honour our agenda.
Federal budget measures are also cause for concern about the impact on Canada’s economic performance; that is, lower real growth, higher inflation and lower job creation. Federal actions are bound to take some of the momentum out of future growth prospects. The lasting implications of the federal budget for the economy have yet to be assessed.
The excise and sales tax changes in the federal budget will raise the consumer price inflation rate in Canada by a full percentage point over the next few months. Raising interest rates to counter this kind of temporary development would certainly be inappropriate in the face of a weakening economy.
The federal budget reduces regional development assistance to Ontario over the next five years to less than half that provided over the last five years. This reduction is a matter of concern, particularly if it materially affects support for renewal of Ontario’s forest resources.
Even with these major steps, the federal deficit at $30.5 billion is $1.6 billion or 5.5 per cent higher than last year’s deficit of $28.9 billion. The federal debt is a national problem. Canadians accept that the deficit has to be reduced. The Minister of Finance indicated the “budget measures will cut the annual deficit in half to $15 billion by 1993-94.” I wish the federal minister well in that endeavour.
Mr Reville: As is appropriate, the Treasurer of Ontario (Mr R. F. Nixon) has advised the House, perhaps a day or so earlier than we all expected, of the impact of the federal budget on the province. I appreciate the fact that he has so advised us.
I think it would be very wrong of people in Ontario if they believed any of the contents of the federal budget were a mystery to the provincial Treasurer, and in fact what is happening today is a statement of impacts that the provincial Treasurer has known about for some time and for which we hope he has planned.
We will see, I guess, on 16 May or 17 May, when the provincial Treasurer brings forth the budget for Ontario, whether or not that planning has been adequate and whether or not the Treasurer will do what he said he must do, one of three things, or perhaps some of all three things: to borrow, to cut or to tax.
We will not sit by idly and watch this provincial government do what clearly the federal government is doing, and that is passing the buck to another level of government without passing any bucks to cover the responsibilities that are entailed. We have seen already that this provincial government is quite prepared to slough responsibility off on to the municipalities, a lower level of government, whenever it seems appropriate to it.
The Treasurer probably remembers, because he pays very careful attention to many of the things that I do, that on 8 March I was pleased to join with my federal cousin, Chris Axworthy, in a press conference about established programs financing. We indicated at that time our concern that the feds would chisel us out of money that is used to put on programs we value very strongly here in Ontario, and from my point of view, the health programs.
I would like to turn the floor over to one of my colleagues to carry on with this diatribe.
Mr Wildman: I am sure my friend the member for Norfolk (Mr Miller) would want me to raise concern about the comment of the Treasurer on the bottom of page 2 of his statement, in which he raises concern about the increases in tobacco taxes.
Considering the problems facing the flue-cured tobacco industry and the farmers with the Redux program, it is surprising the Treasurer would raise this concern not on the basis of what it will do to Ontario farmers, but rather that it will cost him $85 million in revenue. Does this mean the Treasurer is going to increase provincial tobacco taxes to make up the difference?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Much of the tone of this statement is, “Darn it, they got the money first and we are not going to get our shot at those rich senior citizens and others.” It is really sad. It is strange.
He bemoans the fact of this supposed program of child care not being initiated. But he knows, as the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) knows, that CAP, the Canada assistance plan, is a method that is an awful lot better for us right at the moment to increase subsidized spaces and real day care needs than was that proposed Tory plan, unless he wants to be sort of the Machiavelli of Brant-Haldimand and wants to try to fund the education system somehow through child care dollars.
I am sure we are all happy the government’s agenda is going to be followed, whatever that means. When we read the throne speech it is very difficult to know what it means. But it is nice to know the Treasurer has changed his mind since this morning on radio when he said, in talking about this problem of whether or not he can fund the kindergarten programs, and I quote, “We have to decide whether we’ll make up for all of it by raising taxes here, or reallocating our money in the province or not allowing the programs to grow as fast as we would like.”
Is he going to make the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) a hero for a day only, or is he going to stick by the plans to fund education in an appropriate fashion?
Just finally, I would say that when you look at his complaints about the loss of money to the post-secondary institutions of the province and to health care, it is important to note that he is talking about a difference this year of only $75 million dollars. That had better not be used as an excuse not to fund them appropriately here in Ontario.
Mr Harris: I want to comment as well on the statement by the Treasurer. The Treasurer indicates on page 4 of his statement: “The federal debt is a national problem. Canadians accept that the deficit has to be reduced.” For that particular statement, I congratulate the Treasurer.
There were no surprises last night, other than the surprise that it came last night. There really were no surprises, other than some of the figures and statistics, which had to seriously cause concern among Canadians, had to reinforce what the Treasurer said here and had to reinforce some of our real fears as Canadians.
When you look at the amount of money being paid in interest on the national debt, now close to 35 cents of every federal dollar, that is a shocking figure, which I guess some of us knew about. I think people are beginning to understand the fact that $39 billion of federal money is being paid in interest on the debt alone, and $39 billion is equivalent to our entire provincial budget. Ottawa must pay that amount of money, not on programs, not on services, but just to service that debt. That is an increase from $33 billion to $39 billion in one year, a $6-billion increase in one year. I think Canadians are beginning to accept that this indeed is the biggest problem facing Canada.
I say this to the Treasurer: One of the concerns I have is that while he recognizes it in part of his statement, in the other parts of his statement and for the last three or four years, when we on this side of the House have been saying we ought to watch how we are spending money here in Ontario, because this federal debt is the biggest problem we face and this federal debt is financed primarily by the 10 million Ontarians -- we share the bulk of that debt, the people in this province. I believe the 10 million taxpayers who pay federal taxes, who pay provincial taxes and who pay municipal taxes are a little tired of politicians from all three levels of government saying: “Don’t blame me. These guys aren’t spending where they should.”
Reference here where the Treasurer says: “You note there is none of that money going into roads. We had hoped the federal government would do this. We want the federal government to cost-share the sewer and water infrastructure repairs that have to be done.” Yet as the richest province continues to insist and demand that the federal government do more and more for this province, we are driving the taxpayers of Ontario farther and farther into debt.
Even in the Treasurer’s remarks today, his comments about what this will do to Ontario, he is shifting responsibility to the municipalities. I believe that if the Treasurer honestly believes what he is saying here, if he indeed wishes the federal Minister of Finance well in the endeavour to reduce the annual deficit to $15 billion by 1993-94 -- this is a laudable goal -- I think he has to do more than wish him well.
On behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario who pay the bulk of this interest charge, who bear the bulk of this burden, whose children and children’s children in this province are inheriting the bulk of this debt, what is the Treasurer going to do to help? He has to be part of the solution on behalf of Ontario’s taxpayers, not as Ontario’s Treasurer but on behalf of Ontario’s taxpayers.
I say to all members, we must collectively be part of this solution. We cannot continually ask more and more and more of a government that is virtually bankrupt.
I call on all three parties, and I call on all politicians in Ontario, municipal, provincial and federal, to say we had better start working together to solve this problem.
Mr Allen: Moments ago, the Treasurer noted that under the budget papers tabled by the federal Minister of Finance, this government will be losing $50 million it had originally intended to devote to child care services in this province in the coming year. That amounts to approximately one sixth of the entire budget. Thousands of parents, administrators, day care workers and municipalities must now be wondering precisely how the Treasurer is going to proceed with that loss of money, how he will make up the problems on capital grants and so on.
Will the Treasurer explain to us in some detail how he plans to make up that difference and how he plans to proceed in order to fulfil his government’s objectives in order to provide accessible, affordable child care as a public service to the people of Ontario?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I believe the best answer was provided by the honourable member’s colleague in his earlier statement, with which I agree; that is, the province was intending to finance most of its day care shared-cost responsibilities in the future under the Canada assistance plan in any case. Now, there is certain capital financing that will have to be forgone by the fact that the federal government is not going forward with the legislation.
The honourable member will recall that the legislation had in fact passed the House of Commons before the election. It had not been ratified by the Senate and therefore had not been fully enacted and did not become law. They are not proceeding with it at this time, and we have some concern that in the long run, a fully staffed, universal day care system for the province would cost well in excess of $6 billion; even the advanced and progressive plans put forward by my colleague the honourable minister responsible had envisaged a continuing and substantial shared-cost support by the federal government. We believe that as long as the Canada assistance plan remains unimpaired, our program in this regard should be able to go forward.
Mr Allen: That does bring me to my next question. To bring the Treasurer down to earth, just last June, the government imposed a freeze on anticipated expansion in Metropolitan Toronto and some other centres, which led to a major problem in the delivery of subsidized spaces. The minister will remember that, on the one hand, there was an excess of spaces all over the system but an inability of low-income people to access them by virtue of the absence of subsidies. There are now 7,000 persons across the province on those waiting lists.
I want to ask the minister, now that he is freed of the restrictions of the Canada Childcare Act and is free, under the Canada assistance plan, to access 50-cent dollars from the federal government, will he in fact go back to that cost-shared funding and fully fund the spaces that are now waiting out there to be funded, fully remove those waiting lists from the backs of the municipalities with the Canada assistance plan moneys?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member reflects the view of most of us in this House when we say that the rapidly expanding demand for day care facilities is one of the major problems that we have to face by way of finance and, of course, administration and seeing that we have adequate staffing for all of these facilities.
I think you are also aware that there are many other very strong and emergent requirements, not the least of them being school capital. The list is very long indeed, involving environmental programs and a wide variety of infrastructure, not only in the urban areas but right across the province.
I well recall the problems that the metropolitan area faced when the waiting list for day care grew much faster than the provision of spaces. The minister, in meeting these requirements, has put forward a plan which, in a reasonable period of time, we feel will meet this requirement. Certainly it is our aim, in the long run, to have universal access to day care, and we cannot achieve that at a rate that is faster than the one that is presently planned.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Now that we know the Treasurer had planned to use the proposed Canada Childcare Act as his means of funding junior kindergarten extension in the province, and that he had planned essentially just to use that as his means of dealing with child care and not using the Ministry of Community and Social Services approach we have had in the past; now that option is no longer open to him because the Canada assistance plan does not allow him to use it in the same fashion, how does he intend to progress and pay for the kindergarten expansion plans the government so proudly announced in the throne speech?
Hon R. F. Nixon: With a judicious allocation of our taxation resources over the next four to five years, and I have already assured the House that the implementation of the commitment made in the throne speech will proceed on schedule. Have faith.
Mr Reville: My question is also to the Treasurer. He mentioned earlier that changes in established programs financing will result in perhaps $60 million less revenue to be spent in the area of health care. Having in mind the Treasurer’s earlier remarks today that one of the ways he could make up these shortfalls would be to increase taxes, my concern today is to learn whether the Treasurer will make a commitment to the Legislature now that he will not increase Ontario health insurance plan premiums.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not think it would be appropriate for me to give any particular assurances when the honourable member himself indicated that we are within two or three weeks of budget day. I can recall the problems last year in getting the official opposition to agree to allow me, as Treasurer, to put forward my funding plan by way of a budget to the House. Now the honourable member is anxious for me to reveal it at his particular behest. The Premier (Mr Peterson) and I and my colleagues are glad to get advice from the honourable member and anyone else but we are in the process of making our final decisions on the basis of funding a wide variety of programs and I will let the honourable member know those decisions at an appropriate time.
Mr Reville: The advice of the New Democrats to the Treasurer would be, seeing that OHIP premiums are paid largely by low-income people, that it would be an inappropriate place to get additional revenue.
My next question relates also to health. We have seen in recent weeks a high-priced media campaign by the Ministry of Health to try to convince Ontario taxpayers that it has a handle on the health care system. Among the issues raised in the media campaign are indeed some good ideas, like comprehensive health organizations, manpower planning and new responsibilities for nurses. Although the pace is far too glacial for us, we would like the Treasurer’s commitment today that the federal budget will not retard in any way these advances in trying to reform the health care system.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable member indicated that OHIP premiums are paid largely by low-income individuals. I think if he gave that some further thought he would know it is not true: 70 per cent of the OHIP premiums are paid by corporations on behalf of their employees and 30 per cent are paid by individuals.
The honourable member, of course, like all honourable members in this House, has thoughtful employers who pay 100 per cent of his OHIP premiums. That is certainly appreciated; the taxpayers are quite generous as far as we are concerned.
I was not aware that the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) had entered upon some extensive and expensive advertising scheme. She is the best spokesman for health care that we have in Canada and we are very proud to be associated with her. I believe her herculean efforts have convinced people that the leadership we have given is effective, that we are proud of the services given by our doctors, impressed by the quality of our hospitals and that we want to maintain those services no matter what other levels of government try to do to reduce that funding.
Mr Reville: The Treasurer’s lecture about who pays OHIP premiums left out the fact that it is largely the poor who do not get their premiums paid by their employer and that although premium assistance has been improved in successive budgets, you still have to pay 75 per cent of your premium if you are a family of four earning $17,380. That is the generosity of this Treasurer.
My final question relates to something a little bit more abstract. I have picked an abstract one for the Treasurer because I know he likes this stuff. There are three pillars of Canada’s social welfare state. One has been family allowances, another has been old age security and lately, because of our party, medicare has been the third. We have seen the feds begin to erode two of those universal principles.
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Reville: Can I count on this Treasurer to stand firm behind the principle of universality in our health care system or will he find the federal approach so seductive that he will follow it as well?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not find anything Tories do seductive whether they are in government or out -- nothing personal, I say to the member for Sarnia (Mr Brandt) -- but I can assure the member for Riverdale that the principle of universality will be maintained by this government; until of course someone near me makes some decision otherwise.
I should also point out to the honourable member that the OHIP premium base presently collects for us about $1,743,000,000 and the overall cost of medicare is about $12.5 billion, so the premiums are paying just a bit over 12 per cent. I am sure the member is aware that during the tenure of this government they have been falling from just under 20 per cent. This is a matter we are paying quite careful attention to.
Mr Brandt: I also have a question for the Treasurer and I trust this will not be too seductive for the Treasurer to handle. I want the Treasurer to be aware of the fact that those of us in this party consider him to be a fairminded man, particularly when he was --
Mr Brandt: Members did not let me finish. They should not applaud in anticipation of the remainder of the sentence. I wanted to say that he is a fairminded man and was particularly fairminded when he was in opposition. Having said that, the Treasurer recognizes that the federal debt-servicing cost, at some 35 cents out of every dollar collected by the federal Minister of Finance -- a figure that is increasing, as my colleague from North Bay pointed out -- is a tremendous burden which has an upward pressure on interest rates, which causes serious problems in terms of the federal government being able to finance shared-cost programs with the various provincial governments.
Will the Treasurer not agree, as he alluded to in his statement today, that as a result of the recognition over some long number of years the federal debt was an increasing problem, that the Minister of Finance did have to, out of necessity, take severe measures, harsh though they might be --
The Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr Brandt: -- in order to keep that deficit under reasonable control? Will the Treasurer not agree that is correct?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I do not mind agreeing with that. I simply point out again, as the honourable member noticed, that his best efforts still leave our deficit $2 billion larger than it was a year ago. I think that most of us, without regard to our political loyalties, must have some concern about that particular fact, that this -- once again I have to use the word -- herculean effort has resulted not in a decrease in the deficit, but an increase. I also made reference to the fact that the Minister of Finance’s longer-range projection, as it has in each of his budgets, indicated better years to come. I hope he is correct.
Mr Brandt: The Treasurer surely will realize that the debt is coming down from the highs that were established leading up to 1984. The Treasurer has made statements in the past to the effect that because municipalities have a lower debt load than the province of Ontario, the municipalities should be sharing some of the costs for some programs and perhaps financing those because they may well be in a better financial position than the provincial government.
I would say, by way of comparison, that it would appear that the provincial government is in a better financial position than the federal government. Does it then not follow logically, using his own examples, that the provincial government should be sharing some of the cost burden in order to ease this deficit problem at the federal level?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am surprised and, in fact, appalled that the honourable leader of the Progressive Conservative Party would even attempt to defend the budget that was released in a rather awkward way last night.
The fact is that the government of Canada has seen fit to have a new approach to the funding of medicare and post-secondary education which reduces resources to the provinces, including this province and all other provinces; that they are no longer going to participate in such programs as planting trees in the north; that they are going to cut rail transportation, and that they are withdrawing from their commitment to have special legislation to fund child care. I cannot imagine that the honourable member would try to defend those initiatives. The only explanation is that he is about to hang up his political skates.
Mr Brandt: No, I am not about to hang up my political skates, but I will tell the Treasurer that he cannot have it both ways. On one hand, he has indicated that all Canadians recognize that the federal government has a structural deficit problem that must be addressed; on the other hand, he has stated quite emphatically in the last few moments that he anticipates that it will be business as usual and that transfer grants will not in any way be disrupted, in spite of the fact that he knows this is part of the structural problem the federal government is attempting to come to grips with. If he were the federal Minister of Revenue, what would he have done to reduce the deficit?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I can only call the honourable member’s attention to my record. When we took office in 1985, the deficit was very large. The member criticized me for raising taxes. I will tell him that we have had -- and I do not admit it, I assert it -- a substantial and progressive expansion of our tax base to pay our bills.
The government of Canada has not done that. Instead of meeting their responsibilities over these years, they now find themselves in a position that is serious. The honourable leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in the House has indicated that is so. He asks what I would have done. He need only look at my record to see what I have done because I have already done it.
Mr Harris: The federal government has created a budget designed to attack the deficit. The Treasurer has pointed out that in his view, he did not go far enough. Some of us share that view, that unfortunately he was not able to go far enough. But the Treasurer acknowledged today that Canada’s deficit is one of the biggest issues facing Ontario taxpayers today. We are Canada’s richest province, the one which pays the brunt of the interest payments on the deficit, now around 35 cents.
In my view and in the view of many, the Treasurer and the government of Ontario need to do more than just identify this problem; they need to be part of the solution. I would ask the Treasurer what he is prepared to do to be part of the solution to this federal debt problem.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think our best plan, in response to the honourable member’s question, is to continue what we have shown we can do over the past four years, that is, to establish government programs and tax bases that instil confidence in this jurisdiction to allow business to expand, to allow our resources to have reasonable markets and to allow our community to have confidence in our education and medicare systems.
I believe we have been able to do this in a fiscally responsible way by reducing our deficit year by year and keeping our taxes on a fair and equitable basis that is acknowledged by all of our citizens.
Mr Harris: This Treasurer said he had a couple of options this morning. He said he could either cut services, such as reforestation, or increase taxes to cover the estimated $200 million that would be cut from the increase in transfers to Ontario this year.
In 1982, our current Treasurer said to the then Treasurer, Mr Miller:
“I do feel this whole approach towards blaming the federal government for all our own provincial economic inadequacies and difficulties is a serious attempt to mislead the electorate into removing the pressures from the government of Ontario for the problems it is going to be facing in the next few days and the next few weeks as it is forced to bring down a budget.”
As this Treasurer advocated provincial treasurers must do in 1982, is the Treasurer today willing to accept sole responsibility for any tax increases or cuts in promised programs that may be contained in the upcoming provincial budget?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am not sure that the honourable member got the tone I had intended in my statement, because if he considered that as some sort of an attack on the policies of the government of Canada, I can assure you, Mr Speaker, the honourable member is wrong.
I asked the officials in the Treasury to provide me with information that was factual. They have an excellent reputation going back many years for being able to do that. There is no particular tone in it, other than to indicate to the House the impact of the federal budget on our Treasury and the economy of Ontario. As I see it, that is my job.
When it comes to responding to that by way of our own budget, I will give that the most careful consideration. When I put that before the honourable members of the House, there may be some political complexion to it; but once again it would be totally factual, since it deals with taxes and the allocation of those revenues for the good of the province as a whole.
Mr Harris: There are $220 million of increases in personal income taxes, announced last year, to come into effect this year in the Ontario budget. That is new revenue for 1989 that the Treasurer announced last year.
After six consecutive years of economic and employment growth; after the Liberal government of Ontario has already increased personal taxes, corporate taxes, land transfer taxes -- over 19 taxes -- and charges for permits and licences, a tax grab unprecedented in Ontario’s history; given all that cumulative new money that has accrued to the Treasurer over the past four years and the $220 million in already announced tax increases for this year that he announced last year, is the Treasurer not able to say that he will not raise taxes in his upcoming budget and he will not cut the services that Ontario taxpayers have already paid for?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The short answer is no, I am not prepared to say that. We do not intend to cut services, we do not like to raise taxes and we do not like to borrow money, but governments have got to balance their requirements to provide the services that the people, the taxpayers, the citizens in the communities, really require.
I think the honourable member would be the first to acknowledge that by a judicious application of the revenues that he has referred to we have been able to move away from the position that we inherited, which was a situation where the government of the day was borrowing to pay for the regular operation of government. We have moved well away from that and we have a fully balanced budget as far as the operation of the government is concerned. There is nothing really new about that, since we are now in the third year of that balanced situation.
The surplus that is associated with our operating budget is entirely allocated to our capital expenditures. These are roads and new buildings, such as we are building in North Bay for the Ministry of Correctional Services; new courthouses, such as we have built in the city of North Bay; all the facilities for highways of the type that serve North Bay and many other communities of the province. We are able to pay for a large proportion of those out of our regular revenue, so we feel that our fiscal responsibility has been lived up to and we are very proud of that record.
Mr Mackenzie: I have a very serious question for the Minister of Labour. The minister will know that loose rock and rock falls are the runaway killers of miners in Ontario. I would like to ask him if the following two regulations were not put in place, as a result of a multitude of deaths, to deal with that.
Section 63(2) of the regulations says, “Where a ground condition indicates that a rock burst or uncontrollable fall of ground may occur, the condition shall be recorded in writing by the supervisor of the work shift and signed by him, and the record shall describe the state of corrective measures taken.” Section 65 states, “Where there is a danger or a hazard to a worker, the same shall be closed by barricades, fencing or other suitable means and warning signs shall be posted.”
I would like to ask the minister if it is not true that on 17 February 1988, the workers in 1081 No. 6 stope in the Dome mine in Timmins reported drummy, loose rock and unsafe conditions and that these regulations were not carried out; and three days later, on 20 February, those three miners were dead. Can the minister tell us why those regulations are not being enforced in an area that we know is the chief killer of miners?
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked. Minister?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I want to tell my friend that both of those regulations are enforced within the mining sector in Ontario. I can neither confirm nor negate his suggestion that there had been notice of loose ground in that area, however.
Mr Mackenzie: I suggest the minister get a look at the letter that has gone to Mr Kivisto in detail from Norm Carriere of the United Steelworkers in this particular case, outlining the circumstances.
Given that one of the purposes of Bill 208 that his government has tabled in the House is to deal with just such situations and give the workers some control over whether or not they are going to be working in an area that they have already said is hazardous -- we now have the statement from the Premier (Mr Peterson) that the minister may not be proceeding with Bill 208 -- can the minister tell us when we are going to see Bill 208 and when we will see that kind of legislation in place in this House to protect workers in situations like this at the Dome mine in Timmins?
Hon Mr Sorbara: As to the first part of the question, the issue of when we will have second reading of Bill 208 in this House is a matter that I expect the three House leaders will be discussing some time in the near future.
Let me just say, though, on the question of ground control in mines, that there have been, regrettably, some five fatalities this year as a result of fall of rock, and this is a terribly serious issue with tragic results in five cases. The ministry is currently working on a number of procedures which, if I can sum them up for my friend and the House, will require that in any such area ground will be secured before there is any work taking place under it, and before that ground is appropriately secured it will be supported.
We have directed ourselves to this issue as it is our obligation to do and we are in the process now of disseminating among mining companies and joint health and safety committees new procedures that we trust and that we hope will prevent such tragedies from occurring again.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. My question concerns the cancer treatment centre for northeastern Ontario, to which her government has committed some $22 million to build and another $7.3 million to give Laurentian Hospital some support staff. I know that the minister is aware of the difficulty they have been having for many months now to get Dr Ho, whom they would like to head their research department, licensed by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.
I understand that Dr Corringham, the director of the program, wrote to the minister on 24 February of this year and has never received a reply; but I also understand that the minister met with him and the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) as well as other officials of the district health council on Monday of this week. Dr Corringham wrote to me on Tuesday of this week and he says in conclusion, “Unfortunately, the meeting was inconclusive.”
Dr Corringham feels very strongly that without --
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Eves: -- that without Dr Ho as the licensed director of research for the cancer centre it will not be able to implement its necessary programs. Is the minister going to see to it that Dr Ho gets the appropriate accreditation in Ontario that he deserves?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member knows, I met with Dr Corringham and representatives from Sudbury and Laurentian in my office just this past week. We discussed this and other matters relating to my priority, which is the provision of care for the people of Sudbury. I supported Dr Corringham and his efforts in making sure that the staff in Sudbury are of top-notch quality to deliver that service to the people.
The member should also know that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has responsibility, as the autonomous profession in the practice of medicine, for licensing requirements for its members.
Mr Eves: Dr Ho’s qualifications as an oncologist are among the best in the world. The minister knows that there is a shortage of Canadian oncologists and that Dr Ho is the only person who applied for this position as head of research in Sudbury.
When Dr Ho phoned the college recently, he was asked by an official at the college, “Have you ever been to Sudbury?” When he said yes he had, the official said: “Why would you ever want to go there? If you are ever licensed in the province of Ontario, we will see to it that your licence will be so restrictive that you’ll never be able to practise anywhere else in Ontario.”
Does the minister think this is an appropriate approach for the college to be taking and will she exercise the power and the duty she has under section 3 of her act to direct the council of the college of physicians and surgeons to change the licensing process so people like Dr Ho --
The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has responsibility for assessing qualifications of physicians and for approving licensing. As I told Dr Corringham and I say to the members of this House, the Ministry of Health does not interfere in that assessment and licensing procedure.
For the information of the member, I understand that in fact the college of physicians and surgeons has suggested that following an additional year in Sudbury under supervision, Dr Ho could be assessed at the University of Ottawa over a one-month period to allow it to assess his qualifications appropriately.
I would say to the member that when we talk about appropriate manpower planning and meeting the needs of the people of Ontario, I believe that the long-term solution is for the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation to develop a strategic plan for meeting the needs of cancer care in this province.
TRADE WITH UNITED STATES
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. A recent article in the Toronto Star issue dated 2 April says:
“Under the Canada-US free trade agreement, hundreds of varieties of Mexican-made components will find their way into American products that will be eligible for duty-free entry into Canada. Several hundred Canadian workers have been laid off over the past few years by companies that have already established Maquiladora operations. By relocating in Mexico, they take advantage of cheap labour and can import into the United States without having to pay duty on the American content of their goods.”
I ask the minister, what are the free trade arrangements on this type of operation?
Hon Mr Kwinter: The United States, under its Tariff Act, has a provision that allows American companies to ship their goods to foreign countries and then import them back with duty being paid only on the value added component that takes place in that country. The Maquiladora zone of Mexico has been doing this for 25 years and Canada is doing the same thing.
Under the free trade agreement it will not have an impact, because any product that comes from Mexico into the United States must meet the same content requirements of at least 50 per cent before it can be exported to Canada and get any benefits under the free trade agreement. Our records have shown that in the past the average content is about 75 per cent, so at the present time it is not a problem.
Mr Tatham: What is the impact of all this on our workers in Ontario?
Hon Mr Kwinter: The impact is that we are going to have to become very competitive in a way other than labour costs. At the present time, there are workers in Mexico who are being paid $1 an hour, but there are problems with that Mexican labour in that it is not skilled, and there are infrastructure problems. What we have to do in Canada and in Ontario -- and that is what the Premier’s Council is advocating -- is train our workers and get our skills to the point where we can be truly competitive. I think we can compete.
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of the Environment and it concerns Cleantario.
Mrs Grier: Frankly, I do not see this as a joke. I see it as rather sad that a minister who started out with such hope and such good initial initiatives should have been reduced to gambling with our children’s future.
I want to quote from some old speeches of the minister, when he talked about the environmental security fund and said, “This fund finances a quick cleanup in emergencies, allowing us to ensure that the polluter pays”; or on the spills bill, “This is not paid for by innocent victims or from the public purse, but rather by those who profit from owning or carrying hazardous material and therefore should underwrite any risks to the community.”
Can the minister explain what happened to the principle of “Let the polluter pay” and why he has reduced environmental cleanup to a game of chance?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member would know that there is absolutely no change in that policy. She would know that the funding that will be provided through this -- and by the way, it was people who are sensitive to the environment who gave me this particular idea; it was not people who are not sensitive to the environment.
In all those instances where the polluter pays, the polluter pays. This is additional funding over and above, first of all, that which is allocated through the regular process. The member will know we have had an increase of some 51 per cent in the past three years.
Second, everything for which the polluters are responsible, the polluters will continue to pay. The member will want to know, for instance, that there are environment groups, there are universities, there are others who are saying from time to time, “We have some special projects which would be worthy of funding.”
I am looking to say that there are a number of environment groups, there are a number of initiatives which government would normally take in the province of Ontario which would have nothing to do with “the polluter pays.” The polluter pays in the instances where the polluter is responsible.
I want to assure the member, because I think she would want that kind of assurance, that this money is over and above any other money that would be there, and as long as I am the Minister of the Environment, the polluters in this province will continue to pay the price.
Mrs Grier: We know where the idea of an environmental lottery came from. It came straight from Bill Vander Zalm’s Fantasyland. I quote from the British Columbia budget of 1989, “Lottery funding for environmental projects.” Is that the model that this Minister of the Environment is going to follow? Is he unable to establish a clear priority for funding for environmental cleanup in this government? Are we going to be reduced to how many lottery tickets we buy before we can get a cleanup? Is that going to be --
The Speaker: That is three questions.
Hon Mr Bradley: Three questions there, yes.
First of all, I can assure the member that indeed it was environmentally conscious people in the province of Ontario who several months ago suggested this particular idea to me, for money, again, over and above that which is normally provided through the budgetary process in the province of Ontario.
I have found the response to be very positive. I have found people in this province who have said: “Look, you people in Ontario operate lotteries in any event. You have for a number of years. Why don’t you begin to devote funds from the lottery funds as well as from general taxation and over and above what we force the polluters to pay?”
The polluters in this province pay far more than they do in any other province, even on a per company basis, let alone because we have the most companies in this province. These people are delighted with the opportunity they will have to make a direct contribution to what they feel is an environmental improvement to this province.
So I tell the member she is welcome to make a contribution voluntarily in that regard. I know of her strong commitment to the environment, so I know she will indeed be participating in this. The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has a strong commitment to the environment. That is why he has allocated so much funding over the last three years and why the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston) has allocated so many staff and so much resources over the years.
Mr Villeneuve: To the same minister, the throne speech talked about reducing automobile emissions, which contribute quite extensively to air pollution. The minister realizes that unleaded fuel sold here uses a metallic octane enhancer based on manganese called MMT. MMT is said to be safe at all levels here in Ontario, but it is banned in many countries including the United States. Can the minister assure this House that any new policies on automobile fuels will look at the replacement of metallic octane enhancers by safer alcohol additives?
Hon Mr Bradley: This sounds like a very good suggestion that has come along from time to time from a variety of sources. I know the member has a genuine concern in that direction. I am most willing to explore this idea to its greatest extent, because I think this member is bringing to the attention of the House a matter of great importance. I would be willing to converse with him further on this and explore every possibility with the potential for implementing it if it is desirable in this province.
Mr Villeneuve: I am glad the Premier (Mr Peterson) is here to listen to that answer. I hope he does something about it. I just wonder who the minister is.
The federal standing committee on energy, mines and resources found some years ago that alcohol additives substantially reduce carbon monoxide emissions, as well as others such as benzine. The Royal Society of Canada, in its 1986 report, found that alcohol blends present an attractive health and environmental alternative to the increased use of MMT.
The minister was not listening a while ago. MMT is banned in the United States, it is banned in most countries and it is considered safe here in Ontario. Is the minister ready today to commit his government and some funds towards serious examination of using alcohol additives to replace metallic octane enhancers?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member would know, in the speech from the throne that was read here on Tuesday in the House there was an indication we would be taking a number of initiatives that will be designed to improve automobile emissions.
I was just at a meeting of the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers in Montreal last Wednesday where this matter was discussed at some length. I shared with my colleagues who sit from the various provinces and with the federal minister our view that we have to move in this direction. All of them agreed, of course, that it would be desirable to move on a national basis so that we would have some continuity across this country.
The member would know that the federal government has pre-eminence in this particular field. It too, I must say, as I discussed with the minister, has indicated it wishes to move in that direction. I think we would have the support of some of the other provinces for what he has indicated.
Certainly this is a direction in which I favour moving. It seems to me the member has even alluded to this before in the House. I think he raised this with the Minister of Energy (Mr Wong) at one time previous to this. I think it is the kind of direction in which we should be moving in this country. Anything and everything we can do to improve upon the emissions and to look at other jurisdictions to see what they have done to improve in certain environmental areas is worthy of exploring. I am glad the member raised it in the House today.
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Colleges and Universities. Last session, I asked the minister about improving links between the colleges and the universities. I read recently that Durham College, Ryerson, York and Trent have signed some sort of transfer agreement. Can the minister provide us with the details of this?
Hon Mrs McLeod: When the member asked before about the relationships between colleges and universities and the linkages between them, I indicated to him that we were trying to encourage a closer relationship and more linkages so that there would be more flexibility for students. We had a conference last fall to bring the colleges and universities together to begin the dialogue and there have been a number of discussions between institutions since then.
I think this agreement between Durham and McMaster, Ryerson and Trent is unique. It may be a model of the kind of agreement we may see in the future. They are establishing a truly collaborative relationship and they are going to work out details on such issues as the transferability of credits with certain programs, co-ordinated support services and delivery of university programs in the Durham area.
Mr Adams: Does the minister think we can expect general agreements of this type as a result of the Vision 2000 review of the colleges?
Hon Mrs McLeod: Yes, I think it is entirely possible that we will see similar kinds of agreements, although I think the agreements that will be reached will be unique to the institutions that are building these kinds of relationships. Certainly, this is a focus of concern for our Vision 2000 review. They are looking at the relationship between colleges and universities and they may well bring forward recommendations in this area, but I do think we will see future agreements that are arrived at between individual institutions.
Ms Bryden: I have a question for the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs. I am very disappointed that in the throne speech of last Tuesday, the Liberal government demoted the million or more senior citizens in this province to the no-mention list for its second throne speech.
In light of Liberal election promises and the promises made by the Liberal Party in the Liberal-New Democratic Party accord in 1985 to help seniors live independently in their own homes as long as possible, when is the government going to remove the freeze imposed last September on the expansion of homemaker programs and live up to its original promises made in 1985 and 1987 to “place a high priority on implementing homemaker and home support programs”?
Hon Mrs Wilson: The reform agenda that has been discussed in the speech from the throne of course presents a better future for all Ontarians including senior citizens of this province. There are two particular areas of that outlined which are important to older people in Ontario.
The first of these is the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Certainly, seniors across the province tell me very clearly that there is no point in adding years to life unless we can add life to years. Seniors are beginning to take more personal responsibility for their own health, and we are bringing that about through health promotion grants and through the encouragement of research and funding of programs for seniors in their local communities, which will assist them in health promotion and learning to live very healthy lifestyles.
The other area that is of particular importance to seniors has to do with safe and secure communities. These are issues that are of importance as we grow older. If I might address specifically the homemaker issue, this is an issue we have discussed in the House over the last number of months. The Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney), who has the lead responsibility for that program, is undertaking a review of the program. It includes the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) as well as myself. It is a program that is important to seniors in the province, and as the member says, contributes to their being able to maintain a lifestyle in the community.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Ms Bryden: How can seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle if they cannot get the support services they need to be able to live in their own homes? Is the minister aware that most agencies that provide homemaker services find it almost impossible to recruit staff because of no additional funding to make the necessary wage increases in today’s competitive market, and that as a result many seniors are being forced into institutions and our over crowded hospitals? Will the minister break the logjam in homemaker services funding and expansion?
Hon Mrs Wilson: The Minister of Community and Social Services addressed the issue of deficits in homemaking programs in the province back last January. He has also been able, through that program, to enable those homemaking agencies to continue with their service to seniors and disabled people in the province. Through an operational review, he will be able to determine where exactly their problems lie.
I must say the homemaking issue is a very complex one. We need to look at the issues of wages, training, status and recruitment. It is one that is much more complex than just saying a few extra dollars will assist. In fact, this government has tripled the number of dollars that are going into home care programs in this province in the last number of years. It is a good beginning. There is more to be done and we intend to do just that.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. There seems to be a great deal of confusion in the government today with regard to the funding of child care and/or junior kindergarten. We were surprised to read in the Toronto Star that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) of Ontario believes “that the cuts in day care commitment will hurt the financing of junior and senior kindergartens.” What child care dollars was he planning to use to expand the junior kindergarten programs?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Let me make it very clear that the budget that has been allocated for child care over the current three-year cycle is fully and completely protected. The commitments I made two years ago, and I am now into the third year of the cycle, are commitments that not only have been kept, but in fact have been exceeded, and will also be this year.
I am saying the commitments this government has made will be kept. If another government cannot keep its commitment, that is its problem.
Mrs Cunningham: Since many people in the province really want to know what is happening in child care in this province, one should know that there never was a commitment to the new child care act; therefore, it is a different kind of funding. One should also recognize that the program has been put on hold.
I am very happy to hear the minister is protecting the commitment he made, along with the federal government, to Ontario. My real concern is the total lack of understanding around budgets and the total lack of planning.
When the Premier (Mr Peterson) answers a question about funding kindergarten classes with a response like, “We are committed to child care for four- and five-year-olds,” it clearly tells this province that this government does not know how to fund child care and how to fund education.
I am asking the minister now, what --
The Speaker: Order. You had lots of opportunity. Are you aware of her concern?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I think I understand the member’s concern. Again, if I can make a point clear. The decision to provide more junior kindergarten opportunities in this province for four-year-olds and the families of four-year-olds was just that: an expanded opportunity for families to make that choice if that is what they want to do. The member will clearly understand that the announcement in the throne speech said that it will be incumbent upon school boards to provide the service. It will obviously not be incumbent upon parents to make use of that service.
The corollary to that surely is that if some parents are now using day care services for their four-year-olds and they switch those four-year-olds to junior kindergarten, then there will be an impact on day care. But clearly, the intent of the junior kindergarten enhancement was not to be a substitute for day care, but simply to provide parents with the option. “Do you want to send your four-year-old to day care? Do you want to send your four-year-old to junior kindergarten? That is your choice as a parent.” That is the purpose of this government’s program.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Treasurer. During our all-too-brief recess, a number of us in our ridings heard from teachers concerning their pensions. One of the complaints they gave to me was that part of the money in the pensions has been their contribution. They have their money there. It is their future. They continually say to us that they feel they have not been involved in the process of investing these moneys.
I understand that at the present time we are reimbursing or paying back, by way of investment, in excess of 11 per cent, but they tell me there have been times when the return has not been as generous.
The Speaker: Your question.
Mr Owen: I would ask if the Treasurer would share with us what involvement the teachers have had in their pensions thus far.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the honourable members -- certainly the ones who have been teachers in their past -- would know the teachers have representation on the Teachers’ Superannuation Commission, but also on the boards that look after the decisions associated with this.
I was thinking of the honourable member’s reference to 11 per cent. The last order in council borrowed, if that is the right word, about $600 million from the teachers and the interest payable was 11.03 per cent. I can certainly recall a time when I was a member of the Legislature when the interest rates were much lower, but so were general interest rates. At that time it was a fixed rate. It is now established by a formula that the teachers and everyone else consider to be quite fair and adequate.
However, specifically on the member’s question, it is correct that as Treasurer I could borrow on the open market for the needs of the province more cheaply than I borrow from the teachers’ pension funds. The honourable members would know that the present statute requires that all of those resources be transferred to the Treasury because the Treasurer has the full responsibility of trusteeship in that regard.
I can see the Speaker is getting restive. Perhaps I should sit down while the honourable member gives me a supplementary.
Mr Owen: I realize the sums involved in these pensions are huge and therefore carry with them an awesome responsibility on investing, but I am wondering if the Treasurer could share with us whether there is any way in which we could, in the future, address these complaints we have had or these worries that have been expressed to us. Can we offer, in any way, more involvement, some more responsibility on their part to make them feel that this is part of what they are doing, and that it is not being done to them but is being done with them?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think the best way to deal with our constituents, teachers who are unhappy with the situation, is to apprise them of the fact that the main proposal is for a full partnership and joint trusteeship. I am not prepared, however, to make that subject to binding arbitration, since the funds involved are about $20 billion. I am not, as Treasurer, going to turn that over to a decision of a third party that is not responsible to the teachers or to the taxpayers. I would be very glad to hear honourable members who have a different view.
The best arrangement is for this full partnership with joint trusteeship, and we would share that completely. The alternative, which also must be considered, is turning the fund over entirely to the teachers. I have told them from the start that this will be part of the legislation they can opt for whenever they choose.
NIAGARA COLLEGE OF APPLIED ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY
Mr Kormos: This is a question to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. On 4 April of this year, Niagara College announced it was forced to cancel its theatre arts program, leaving 25 first-year students hanging out to dry because there will be no more program in which to complete their studies. There are already over 100 applications from students across Canada for this first year that now will not take place in September. The program is highly successful. It is a vital part of the Niagara region.
There is more. The dental hygiene program remains suspended because of lack of funding from the ministry. It is a job area where there is high demand and 100 per cent placement of graduates. Now young people from Niagara are forced into the United States to pay incredible tuition in US dollars because their community college system has abandoned them, quite frankly because the ministry will not fund the program.
The Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr Kormos: The question is, what is the minister going to do to ensure the theatre arts program and the dental hygiene program are maintained at this community college, so that young people in that region can obtain an education and pursue careers of their choice?
Hon Mrs McLeod: The honourable member actually asks a number of questions, which I will attempt to address as quickly as I can.
First of all, I indicate that we do not fund individual programs with any of our colleges. We provide transfer payments to the colleges and the board of governors in each college determines what programs it feels it will offer to the students in that particular college community.
Second, in relation to the theatre arts program, that program was in some difficulty last year. An offer was made by the Shaw Festival to provide a facility. The ministry provided funding for use of that facility. That has not worked out. The college was asked to find another site. They have decided instead that they are not able to offer that particular program. The decisions that the Niagara College board of governors makes are decisions made by that board of governors. They have been coping with some financial difficulties because of declining enrolment. That enrolment is beginning to increase and the future funding will reflect that.
Mr Adams: I have a petition from 120 superannuated teachers of Ontario. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to 31 May 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.
“This proposed amendment would make the five-year criterion applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
Mr Adams: I have another petition, and this one is from the issues of concern committee of the Ontario Association of Superannuated Women Teachers and is signed by 15 people. It too is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas there is an unresolved question in our city and county of waste disposal in apartment buildings;
“Whereas there is an unresolved question in our city and county of hazardous waste disposal;
“Therefore we urge fewer studies and more action be applied to these issues.”
Mr Adams: I have a petition with regard to size limits on fish. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and so on.
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:.... We urge the Parliament of Ontario to legislate without delay sensible minimum and maximum size limits on game fish in Ontario and especially the pickerel. All of which is hereby respectfully submitted.”
Mr Adams: I have a petition from passengers using the Via Rail Toronto-Peterborough/Havelock route. This petition says:
We are concerned about the consequences of the federal budget on Via’s Toronto-Peterborough-Havelock route.
“The possibility exists that the federal government may, once again, for the second time this decade, cut service to this route permanently. For many of us, our ability to commute to our jobs in Toronto will be jeopardized....
We “urge...that the Ontario government support the retention, modernization and expansion of this passenger rail route and…advise Prime Minister Mulroney and federal Transport Minister Bouchard of the provincial government’s position on this very important matter.”
Mr Adams: I have a petition from members of the Provincial Federation of Ontario Fire Fighters.
“We, the firefighters of Ontario, care about injured workers. We protest the Minister of Labour’s proposal to change the law that would take away injured workers’ rights rather than responding to the genuine needs of these workers and their widows. Workers who are killed or injured in the performance of their duties at work deserve much better treatment than this.”
Mr Adams: My last petition is from 190 persons concerned about Bill 119.
“Cultural and recreational activities enrich the lives of everyone in Ontario through a very small investment of government funds, matched many times over by the input of time, energy and money of participants, supporters and volunteers. These employment-intensive activities maintain and improve the physical and mental health of those involved.”
We urge the withdrawal or amendment of Bill 119.
The Speaker: Have you signed all the petitions?
Miss Martel: I am very pleased that the firefighters of Ontario have endorsed our position on Bill 162, but I do not have a petition about Bill 162 today.
The Speaker: The purpose is to present petitions, not discuss them.
Miss Martel: There will be more petitions on Bill 162.
Miss Martel: In any event, I have a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario which reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, want adequate fire protection for our community for the safety and protection of our families by qualified, professional firefighters. As well we want a current updated fire marshal’s study conducted by qualified people who are experienced in determining the type of fire protection a community of this size needs.”
This is signed by 3,254 people in the town of Valley East, and I agree with them entirely.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE
Consideration of the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Miss Fawcett moved, seconded by Mr Velshi, that an humble address be presented to his Honour the Lieutenant Governor, as follows:
To the Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council for Canada, Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, one of Her Majesty’s counsel learned in the law, bachelor of arts, doctor of laws, colonel in Her Majesty’s armed forces supplementary reserve, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario:
We, Her Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the province of Ontario, now assembled, beg leave to thank Your Honour for the gracious speech Your Honour has addressed to us.
Mrs Fawcett: It is both an honour and a privilege for me to move adoption of the speech from the throne. It is all the more gratifying because it presents me with the opportunity to compliment the Lieutenant Governor on his excellent delivery of what I am sure is one of the shorter yet more focused provincial throne speeches in recent memory.
Indeed, many of the elements of this throne speech are emulated by His Honour. The theme of building a better future for our children with our children is one the Lieutenant Governor, who is associated with many child-oriented groups and who is the honorary patron of the Boy Scouts of Canada, can appreciate.
His Honour has personally brought to the office of the Lieutenant Governor the compassion, the openness and the genuine affection for all of us for which he is noted in all communities throughout Ontario. For these and many other fine qualities. I salute him today.
Mr Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to commend you for the even-handed manner in which you have directed the proceedings of this House. I am sure all members will agree you have earned our respect for the firmness and fairness you display daily.
When I was first elected to this Legislature to represent the riding of Northumberland, I had a strong vision of what we Liberals stand for and what we would accomplish as a majority government. I am happy to say that I have not been disappointed. Indeed, I am quite proud of what we in this House have been able to accomplish with this massive majority. We have not forgotten the reason this government was the overwhelming choice of the people.
What has made this government strong is our ability to constantly remember that the rights of the individual come first. It has always been this government’s goal to provide an economic and social climate where the individual may flourish and not be smothered by government. We want a society in which the individual has incentive and dignity. The tolerance that we must display towards the individuals in society is what will keep us strong, for we realize that we all hold a stake in this great province and each and every one of us profits or suffers when our province profits or suffers.
This government realizes that society is composed of many different groups and individuals and that we are all members of our provincial community, and although all our needs are individual, we have been able to address the rights of the individual within the framework of provincial policies and programs for all.
These are the goals that our government set out to work towards when we received our mandate in September 1987. Since then, we have worked with determination to achieve these reforms, reforms that were long overdue.
Our riding of Northumberland would be the first to attest to this government’s commitment to provide an economic and social climate that serves us all. Indeed, after over 40 years of Tory neglect, Northumberland county has come to life. Each and every municipality throughout our county has witnessed our government’s assistance in the maintenance of the quality of life throughout Northumberland.
You just have to drive from Hope township, the western boundary of Northumberland, along the lakeshore to Murray township and you will evidence the Liberal government’s commitment to a clean and healthy Ontario, to excellence in educational training, to a caring society and to a strong and competitive economy.
We have seen many changes over these past 18 months. On the economic outlook, Ontario is entering its sixth year of economic growth. Real growth is 3.7 per cent. Employment has increased at a record pace. It is higher than in 1988 and more than 180,000 jobs were created. Inflation has been moderate. In short, in economic output and employment, this province is experiencing higher growth than any major industrial country.
In our riding of Northumberland, we have seen the establishment of several new manufacturing facilities and the expansion of existing ones. I was elated when Viceroy Homes decided to locate in the town of Port Hope’s industrial park. In fact, now Port Hope’s industrial park is full and the town is looking towards expansion. Similarly, the town of Brighton was happy to welcome Williams Paper Co. The town of Campbellford welcomed Moysing, and Ferranti-Packard located in Cobourg. And not to forget our agrifood industry, MCM Food Processors is now well established in Hope township.
Most of these companies reached out to the Ontario government for assistance and, I am proud to say, were able to receive it.
On the educational front, we have already witnessed how the Peterson government mounted a vigorous attack on the backlog of school accommodation needs in Ontario. Just last week we witnessed an increase in funding that brings our funding on school capital to nearly eight times the level of annual spending in 1984. This is the largest school-building boom in Canadian history and one of the greatest construction undertakings in Ontario since the Second World War.
Millions are being spent to reduce class size in grades 1 and 2, provide textbooks, put more computers in our schools and improve science education.
I was also pleased to see our Ministry of Skills Development provide the extra $5 million needed to make up for the federal government’s shortfall in funding apprenticeship programs in Ontario.
In Northumberland I took great pleasure in participating at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Plainville Public School’s addition and renovation. In Campbellford, they have almost reached the completion of the new addition to the Campbellford District High School. Just last week, I had the privilege of announcing a new school to be built in the town of Cobourg, one of our growth areas, and the much needed renovation and additions to the school in the village of Baltimore. Yes, in Northumberland we have witnessed the Peterson government’s commitment to education.
On the environment, last season we saw Ontario become the first province in Canada to act to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons, Halons and other ozone-depleting substances. I am sure most members in this House noticed how the federal government followed our lead. Our government has been hailed internationally for its commitment to clean up the environment.
Money is being spent to clean up our beaches. We have increased our funding for recycling 10-fold since 1985 and established new targets for province-wide recycling programs. The feeding of the blue box is now a daily routine in many homes throughout our province.
Countdown Acid Rain has achieved major reductions in sulphur dioxide emissions.
In my riding, the towns of Port Hope, Cobourg and Brighton are participating in the LifeLines infrastructure renewal program, which is designed to ultimately improve water quality and clean up our beaches.
On caring for society, we have provided substantial increases in benefits for social assistance programs.
Better access to transportation for the disabled has been established.
We have announced substantial increases in funding for provincially subsidized child care spaces.
We covered the deficit for the Red Cross homemakers and have committed ourselves to cover the 1989-90 deficit of the not-for-profit homemaker services.
Our government has been generous to not only those in Northumberland who receive benefits but to those who deliver the services.
Cook’s School Child Care Centre and the Ganaraska Child Care Centre have both been able to expand with the help of our government. Indeed, two new facilities will be established in our riding, the Sunshine Heights Daycare Centre in Port Hope and the Cobourg Day Care Centre.
Our riding has also benefited from many other government initiatives such as the first nonprofit housing facility in Port Hope; 21 seniors’ apartments were established in the village of Warkworth; the many individuals and associations who have participated through government programs to help us realize our cultural identity. I would be remiss if I did not mention the assistance we have received in establishing Northumberland county as a tourist destination.
The large rural component of my riding was more than pleased with the way this government has addressed its concerns through forward-looking legislation and programs. In the last session, we took steps to protect the persons engaged in agricultural operations from claims for a nuisance in respect to odour, noise or dust resulting from those operations if they are normal farm practices. We provided a formal process for the resolution of problems encountered in the sale, service, maintenance, safety and warranty of farm implements.
On a farm in Hope township, which once relied heavily on the tobacco industry, MCM Food Processors has converted much of its acreage to produce vegetables which now supply its new processing plant, setting an example for many in our rural communities of what can be done when innovative ideas meet with a co-operative government.
Before being elected to the Ontario Legislature, I served as a Northumberland county councillor, where I soon realized the importance of county government. Being able to participate on the consultation committee on county government which served as a functioning arm of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs was a most worthwhile experience. I firmly believe that we politicians must take every opportunity to get out of these four walls and listen to the reactions from our communities.
The consultation meetings were held between 25 May and 27 July 1988 in each of Ontario’s 26 counties. At these meetings, members of the consultation committee talked with representatives of the councils of counties, local municipalities and separated municipalities, as well as with interested associations and individuals.
During these meetings, the committee discussed issues of representation and the functions and status of small and separated municipalities with almost 800 people. In addition, the committee received more than 120 written briefs. As a result of this process, the committee developed 41 recommendations with an aim to strengthen the system of county government.
In making its recommendations, the committee stressed: “We recognize the importance of the county as a distinct unit of local government. The objectives of the recommendations in this report are to make counties more representative, effective, responsible and adaptable to future needs.”
The face of Ontario has changed significantly since the introduction of county government through the Baldwin Act of 1849. While substantial alterations have been made to the structure and functions of other local governments in Ontario since that time, the county system remains much the same today as it was 140 years ago.
Ontario in the 20th century has experienced many changes and will continue to be shaped in the 21st century by changes in settlement and commuter patterns, in the nature of traditional rural areas, in the mix of people living in counties and in the expectations which residents have of their local government.
These changes have placed new requirements and demands on a government system designed for a primarily agricultural society. The county form of government must remain specially suited to the communities which combine urban and rural interests, traditional stable economies and new growth areas.
The goal behind the recommendations in this report is to strengthen county government in Ontario by ensuring that a system is fair, both in terms of representation and in providing services. To achieve this, the county and the local municipal governments must be strong partners.
Speaking of strong partners, we have witnessed the bond between Northumberland county council and our government. With the assistance of the eastern Ontario community economic development program, Northumberland county is now able to prepare its long-term economic development plan. This is an investment in the future of our county and will lead to economic spin-offs for local industries and entrepreneurs. It will enable us to find efficient ways of matching available resources with sectors which show growth potential.
In the fall of 1987, the county was fortunate enough to construct a new children’s aid society building. This much-needed facility will go a long way in our ability to care for those in need.
In keeping with our government’s primary goal in waste management to reduce the amount of waste generated and to reuse, recycle and recover the waste which is produced, Northumberland county’s resource recovery study, which was part of the county’s waste management master plan, was given generous support from the Peterson government.
While we have made a great investment in Northumberland and indeed throughout Ontario, I must point out that all these initiatives have been accomplished while our government has remained fiscally responsible. In fact, under the member for Brant-Haldimand (Mr R. F. Nixon), perhaps the greatest Treasurer this province has ever seen, the planned net cash requirements of last year’s budget have dropped to $271 million, the lowest level in over 15 years.
Perhaps now the members can see why I am so proud of the Peterson government’s accomplishments over the past 18 months, for we in Northumberland have truly been recognized as the gateway to eastern Ontario. We are witnessing growth and expansion in our county unparalleled in this century, and the future could not look brighter.
Now, I would like to look into that future. The 1989 speech from the throne represents the agenda for the Peterson government. The Peterson government continues to provide the type of social and economic leadership that meets the needs of Ontarians today while building confidently for the exciting challenges of the future.
It has not been the intention of this government to push all the buttons and pull all the levers for the sake of appearance. This throne speech outlines a direct approach to province-wide issues. It establishes our priorities and sets forth our long-term direction that will allow us to achieve our objectives in this legislative session.
If I could just pause for a moment, I would remind the members of what the interim leader for the third party said when he moved the adoption of the throne speech on 19 April 1983. After what we have experienced over the past 18 months, I am sure the members will agree that his statement more aptly applies today:
“I have never fallen into the depths of despair and timidity that appear to be the natural habitats of many of the members opposite. Their unshakeable conviction that the sky over Ontario is falling is really exaggeration in the extreme. The gloom which emanates from that part of the House is nearly impenetrable. The entire area over there reminds me of a large black cloud that is constantly hovering above their heads.”
I think we have heard those words before. As they say in Northumberland, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”
But our priorities are clear: building on our economic strength to ensure tomorrow’s growth; investing in the future of our children by making our education system a more effective springboard to opportunity; reforming social assistance to help people move from dependence to self-reliance; keeping our communities and neighbourhoods safe and secure; promoting healthy lifestyles and preserving quality health care, and providing leadership in environmental protection.
With this agenda, we embark on a legislative session that will be as productive as the last. It is a session that will address one of the foremost concerns of this government: building a better future for our children. It is in the eyes of our children that we see the future for Ontario.
For our children to realize their full potential, society must meet their basic needs of adequate food, clothing and shelter. They must grow up living healthy lifestyles in communities free of the fear of crime, free of physical abuse and free of the tyranny of drug and alcohol abuse.
We must provide our children with the basic knowledge and learning skills needed to seize the opportunities offered by the very different world of the 21st century. Ontario stands at the forefront of a strong global economy. We have outpaced the industrialized world in economic expansion since 1982, growing by 41 per cent and creating 800,000 new jobs in the process.
A dynamic, growing economy preserves and enhances our quality of life. We cannot take the present growth for granted. We must continue to provide the leadership to build on our economic strengths and ensure tomorrow’s growth.
During the last session, we broke new economic ground on this continent through initiatives created and supported by the Premier’s Council on technology. Through this unique economic body, we encouraged advanced research and development through the centres of excellence and the industry research program. We introduced the research and development super allowance in the last budget and fostered an entrepreneurial spirit through the establishment of six centres of entrepreneurship throughout Ontario.
The Premier’s Council presented a blueprint for competing in the international marketplace, and we are building on its work by aggressively pursuing new markets for our goods and services; targeting support to industries that provide maximum benefits for both workers and the economy; supporting the growth of Ontario-based companies as they compete in the global economy; fostering an entrepreneurial culture that promotes the growth of new businesses; supporting apprenticeship and other training arrangements that combine education and on-the-job training; helping our workers to overcome barriers to training and employment; assisting the re-employment efforts of workers, particularly workers affected by layoffs and plant closures, and addressing present and anticipated shortages of skilled workers.
Our economy must remain strong so that our children are not denied the opportunities that have always been available in Ontario. But they have to have the necessary skills to seize the opportunities that are in store for the future. Education is that springboard to opportunity. The long-term direction for this government is to create a purposeful and relevant education system, key to realizing the economic potential of our province and the individual potential of our people.
From their foundation years in junior and senior kindergarten to the specialization years of grades 10 to 12, this government is determined to improve the quality of education by instilling a sense of excellence.
Our elementary schools must assist our children to develop basic learning and social skills in their earlier years. They must build on that foundation by setting high standards for achieving in subsequent years. Our secondary schools must give our students a chance to acquire advanced knowledge and provide them with bridges to post-secondary education and the world of work.
We are committed to providing parents with an opportunity to place their children into a stimulating learning environment at an early age by ensuring that all school boards offering half-day kindergarten for four-year-olds as well as half-day senior kindergarten for five-year-olds becomes a reality and by providing funding for school boards to offer full-day senior kindergarten programs where classroom space permits.
As they move through the school system, we will provide students with an opportunity to develop a wider range of learning and life skills by revitalizing the curriculum from grades 1 to 6, by focusing on the development of literacy, analytical and communications skills and by placing a greater emphasis on assessing student performance and providing remedial help.
We recognize that grades 7 to 9 are critical years for helping students make the transition from elementary school to the more advanced and specialized studies in secondary school, but we are concerned that we are requiring students to make career choices at an age when they have not yet discovered their full academic potential.
In the upcoming legislative session, we will address this issue by ensuring a core curriculum in grades 7, 8 and 9 that emphasizes the development of basic skills and progressive problem-solving and by eliminating streaming in grade 9.
When our students reach those specialization years of grades 10 through 12, they must know that they are moving through a system that will assist them to make informed career choices and that is capable of addressing the broader economic needs of Ontario for a highly skilled workforce.
To help our secondary schools deliver programs that will build on the foundation of acquired learning skills, we will develop the final years of secondary school as years of specialization and redesign technological education through updating and consolidating curriculum as well as renewal of teaching equipment. This undertaking will be in partnership with business, labour and communities, thereby drawing on the model this government established with the Premier’s Council.
Our commitment to reform of our educational system is matched by our commitment to Ontario’s social assistance. In 1988-89, Ontario provided $2 billion for social assistance. That is an increase of more than 60 per cent since 1984-85, yet the number of people needing social assistance continues to grow.
How can we fully enjoy the prosperity of this wealthy province when we know that there are single mothers out there who must rely upon the generosity of others to help provide for their children? One only has to spend a few hours in a food bank to realize this fact.
Where is the humanity in a system where children will be unable to reap the benefits of excellence in education because they are caught up in the tragedy of poverty? It is so difficult to be highly motivated to learning when one is undernourished, improperly clothed or lacking in self-esteem.
Poverty is often the lead domino in a chain of problems that encompasses poor health, a shorter life and lower educational achievement. As a caring society, we cannot turn our back on this tremendous loss of individual potential. Our goal is to have as many Ontarians as possible reach their potential without the difficulties that I have just mentioned.
This session, we are going to attack the issue through continued reform. We must continue to meet the needs of those who are unable to be self-sufficient. But the opportunity must exist, for those capable of becoming self-reliant, to move into the mainstream of society by transforming those welfare cheques into paycheques.
In this session, our reforms to the social assistance system will include increased payments for shelter support to persons on social assistance; removal of barriers that serve as disincentives to work; expansion of the network of employment counselling, referral, basic training and job preparation programs; and increased children’s benefits.
We have the wealth and the creativity to prevent the unfortunate hardships imposed by an economically divided society. Progress in this area will require the financial support and co-operation of all levels of government and the community at large. I am confident, however, that together we can reason and we can meet this challenge.
I am also confident that we are going to meet a second social challenge critical to our province’s future wellbeing and development. I refer to the challenge of maintaining a sense of safety and security in our communities. We remain concerned about the recent adverse effects on the quality of life in our communities caused by drug and alcohol abuse, racial tension and incidents of violence. There are not many families today that have not evidenced, in some way, one or more of these scourges.
Last session, we appointed the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario and we quickly responded to several of its prime recommendations. We have announced a mandatory drug education program from grades 4 through 10 in Ontario schools, and we increased funding for community-based drug and alcohol addiction programs.
This session, we remain committed to building on our comprehensive antidrug strategy through education and prevention programs, including antidrug education in primary and secondary schools and community-based programs in high-risk neighbourhoods; a wider range of treatment programs, including employee assistance programs; expansion of Ontario’s drug enforcement capacity, including a strengthened Ontario Provincial Police drug enforcement unit.
We will couple this strategy with other measures aimed at protecting the quality of life in Ontario communities: expanding our efforts to prevent violence against women and children; providing enhanced race relations training to better equip police to respond to the diverse needs of the community they serve; working with the OPP and all municipal police forces to promote racial equality in employment; urging the federal government to effect immediate changes to the Young Offenders Act; reforming our court system to provide improved access to justice.
In 1987, the Peterson government established the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. Modelled after its successful technological counterpart, the council represents a partnership among business, labour, government, universities, health care professionals and consumers to provide advice on how to better meet our future health needs.
The council is in line with our commitment to the principle of every person’s being entitled to have access to quality health care, regardless of ability to pay. It has also provided us with a broader vision of health care. Working in the framework of this vision, the government will shift the emphasis from treatment after the fact to health promotion and disease prevention; foster strong and supportive families and communities; ensure a safe and high-quality physical environment; increase the number of years of good health for Ontarians by reducing illness, disability and premature death; provide accessible, affordable, appropriate health services for all; address specialty care needs in areas such as emergency services, cancer care, cardiovascular services, dialysis, trauma, acquired immune deficiency syndrome and maternal and infant care.
Our final priority addressed in the speech from the throne is the environment. Our approach to protecting our environment is a strong and forceful one. Our record in the last legislative session is one of successful international leadership.
We have been successful in reducing acid-rain-causing sulphur dioxide emissions through the Countdown Acid Rain program. We are national and international leaders in banning chlorofluorocarbons to protect our ozone layer. We have increased funding and established new targets for the province-wide recycling programs, implemented the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement to ensure cleaner and safer waterways, and created the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy to encourage sustainable development.
This session, we will do even more by requiring that vapours produced by automobile fuels be reduced, by bringing in strict control standards to cut automobile-produced acid rain emissions by one third by the year 2000, and by introducing a comprehensive Ontario waste reduction strategy designed to meet the target of reducing the province’s solid waste by 50 per cent by the year 2000.
We will stimulate the development of pollution abatement technologies, create Cleantario, a new lottery fund to help finance our ongoing efforts to protect our environment, encourage more efficient water use and conservation by both industries and individuals, and implement educational programs to help students develop a greater sense of personal responsibility for environmental protection.
I am very proud to say that in Northumberland, a group of students at the Campbellford District High School have formed an organization that is dedicated to environmental issues.
The agenda we have unveiled for this session is based on the principle of equality of opportunity and is composed of the policies that will ensure its growth in our province.
When we first took office in 1985, the people of Ontario were looking for a government that was open, that was accessible, that was caring, that was compassionate. As evidenced in this throne speech, we have seen the results of a government that listens to its people, a government that cares for its people and a government that is willing to serve its people.
Unlike many of the previous governments, which have looked backwards for their principles, the David Peterson government looks forward for its principles. We have no fear of change. We are here to protect and enhance the interests of the many above those of any particular group and to maximize opportunity for everyone, the opportunity to realize his or her potential.
The Premier (Mr Peterson) has led this government by example. He realizes that when people act in freedom, free as far as possible from class or culture distinction and undue constraint, they may achieve not only self-fulfilment but the greatest public good. People in freedom are more prone to improve than to debauch themselves, more apt to perfect society and more likely to advance civilization.
Many governments in the past have recognized that our future lies with our youth. This government has not only realized this, but as evidenced by the throne speech, is acting on this.
Being a mother of three and having been a teacher, and now as a member of the provincial Parliament, I truly can relate and appreciate this government’s agenda. I am sure my colleagues will agree when I say that this government does indeed have an agenda, that it does have a vision, and that we in these chambers will progressively pursue this agenda for the betterment of all Ontario.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: With high respect, of course, I could not help but be taken by the emotion of the member for Northumberland. However, I would like, with respect, Mr Speaker, to draw to your attention -- and to congratulate you on your patience which became virtuous at times -- that the distinguished member contravened standing order 19(d)4, which reads as follows:
“4. In the opinion of the Speaker, refers at length to debates of the current session, or reads unnecessarily from verbatim reports of the legislative debates or any other document.”
The Deputy Speaker: Point of order overruled. Thank you for the point of humour.
Mr Velshi: I would like to just mention that whatever the member for Northumberland was saying was all original. They were busy talking across the aisle here and they probably did not understand what was going on.
It is a great honour for me to second the motion to adopt the speech from the throne. I would like to compliment His Honour the Lieutenant Governor on the delivery of his address, and I compliment you, sir, as you begin another session as the respected Speaker of this assembly.
Throne speeches have often been categorized by the media as a meaningless exercise lacking depth and legislative value, as these two quotes would indicate. Press quotes from some Toronto papers ran articles under headlines like “Throne Speech Recycled” and “Blueprint Is Silent on Important Issues.”
I can say with full confidence that the speech from the throne, as a document setting the priorities of a governing body, is anything but meaningless. The custom of a government announcing its legislative agenda prior to the opening of each new session of Parliament stands at the very core of our practised democracy.
I want to congratulate my colleague the member for Northumberland for the enlightening and thought-provoking comments she made relating to her riding in the throne speech. I, too, would like to spend a few moments to point out some of the interesting characteristics of my riding of Don Mills.
Don Mills is a completely urban riding composed of a balance of residential and rental housing, coupled with a strong business and manufacturing sector. The riding’s geographic area is bordered on the south by Danforth Avenue, on the north by Lawrence Avenue, on the east by Victoria Park and on the west by Bayview.
I am very pleased to note that the riding of Don Mills had an active workforce in excess of 45,000 workers at the time of the last census. Some 72 languages and dialects exist in the area, while only approximately 20 languages predominate. Don Mills has a population of 72,050, based on the 1986 census. The immigrant population of the riding accounts for 32,620 of the inhabitants, while the remaining two fifths of my constituents come from a non-immigrant background.
These statistics reflect the vast number of different cultures, religions and traditions that compose my riding constituency. I am very proud to represent this diverse group of people and their multitude of interests and beliefs, primarily because I believe this government is meeting the needs of my constituents.
As part of this government, I am also pleased to state my intentions: I will continue to strive to ensure that their voice is constantly heard here in Queen’s Park.
On 28 December 1867, Lieutenant Governor Henry William Stisted read the first speech from the throne to open the first session of the Parliament of the new province of Ontario. The speech was brief and reflected the two priorities of Premier John Sandfield Macdonald’s government -- the occupation of public lands and the “expediency of encouraging immigration” -- to the 82 members of the Legislative Assembly.
The act of government in 1989 is somewhat more complex than its historical counterpart 132 years ago, but the most important commitment to serve remains, and a responsible government is one that has the commitment to live up to the agenda that it sets.
One of the items on that agenda at the outset was a commitment to racial equality. It is interesting to note that our predecessors in this place were successful in “encouraging immigration,” as they had called for in that first throne speech. So successful were they that today Ontario can boast one of the most widely diversified societies anywhere.
In response to this government’s desire to foster and improve the advocacy of human rights and improve race relations, campaign promises evolved into fulfilled commitments through the creation of the Ministry of Citizenship on 29 September 1987.
In my role as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship (Mr Phillips), I am actively involved in helping to see that this widely diverse society we call Ontario is a place for all persons to grow and prosper. Therefore, I would like to begin my comments with my own ministry and dwell at some length on it before moving on to other items referred to in the throne speech.
Some Ontarians may be asking why a provincial government established a ministry in what is traditionally considered an area of federal responsibility. The decision to create a provincial Ministry of Citizenship was based on this government’s commitment to address the needs of the people of Ontario. In order to understand this commitment to the establishment of a new ministry, it is necessary to recognize and understand the changing demographic profile of our population.
Since the Second World War, Ontario society has been transformed by two major waves of immigration. The first, soon after the war, originated mainly from the United Kingdom and Europe. The second began in the 1970s and continues today. But the pattern has changed. Now three out of four immigrants arrive from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Due to this tremendous influx of newcomers, three out of 10 Ontario residents today are of non-British or non-French origin. Demographic projections indicate that Ontario’s population will begin to decline around the turn of the century unless there is a sharp increase in the birth rate or substantial immigration. Since most immigration will continue to follow current trends and originate from Third World countries, Ontario society will likely become more culturally diverse. As Ontario becomes more diverse, the challenges associated with managing its multicultural groups will increase.
With these enormous challenges in mind, the government set out to create a ministry that would be capable of dealing with the changing needs of this province. In order to appropriately address the needs of more than 100 distinct cultural and religious groups, the Premier created the Ministry of Citizenship.
Within the mandate of the ministry, the Premier consolidated the recently established race relations directorate and responsibility for the Ontario Human Rights Commission with the native community branch, the citizenship development branch and the multiculturalism program division of the former Ministry of Citizenship and Culture. This consolidation demonstrates this government’s continual commitment to improving racial harmony, equity and the enrichment of our society as a diverse ethnic community.
How, you might ask, can the development of a new ministry demonstrate a government’s commitment to the people of this province? Simply, one ministry, under the direction of one minister, is better suited to identify and address the multicultural needs of both the public and private sectors than that of a shared responsibility in which conflicting demands and biases could prevail. As a single ministry, the staff at the Ministry of Citizenship can focus all their efforts towards attaining the goal of a truly harmonious multicultural society.
Through the creation of a separate Ministry of Citizenship, the government has enabled the province to better promote equality, participation and full citizenship by recognizing changing values and trends and providing a sharper focus on today’s crucial equity issues. As part of this government s continued commitment to the people of Ontario, the Ministry of Citizenship was established to ensure that everyone contributes and everyone benefits from Ontario’s richness and potential.
Through the mandate set by our Premier, we in the Ministry of Citizenship have a special commitment not only to those who immigrated to Ontario, but also to our aboriginal peoples. We have a special commitment to assisting native communities in their efforts to develop self-reliance and a strong economic base. These are the important first steps towards achieving their goal of self-government. Most important, we in the Ministry of Citizenship are committed to redeveloping self-esteem through proactive efforts and the fostering of economic self-development.
The initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Citizenship over the past year reflect a profound change in the relationship between the government and the people. Now ministries like Citizenship are reaching out to assist the people, where before the people had to reach out and appeal for assistance from the government.
As of January 1989, 26 ministries had initiated 76 projects, such as the Ministry of Health’s multicultural district health centres, the Ministry of Education’s heritage languages program, the Solicitor General’s Race Relations and Policing Task Force and the Ministry of Citizenship’s race relations grant program, which are but a few of the many initiatives presently under way. These measures display the government’s commitment to a broad thrust in multicultural and race relations policy.
The Ministry of Citizenship is the springboard from which many ministries gain the direction and momentum to establish their own proactive policies. The throne speech reflects this government’s continuing desire to maintain its high level of commitment to furthering the goals of the Ministry of Citizenship through the initiatives of many ministries.
To maintain this high level of commitment, the Ministry of Citizenship will continue to create harmony out of diversity through a number of key initiatives. These include developments in the fields of multiculturalism, race relations, native communities, newcomer settlement, citizenship development and human rights.
Members of this House will recall that as part of the Ministry of Citizenship’s new mandate, the government of Ontario announced Multiculturalism: A New Strategy for Ontario. The report, a comprehensive response to extensive consultations with various multicultural communities, helped this government develop a plan of action that addressed the identified needs of this province.
In response to that input, the government committed itself to the development of a strategy that is based on three key features: First, it supports three strong principles of equality, access and cultural retention and sharing; second, it applies to all ministries, rather than remaining the exclusive responsibility of one; third, the report emphasizes that multiculturalism embraces all cultural communities. This report reflected the beginning of a new strategy, one that acknowledges the diversity of Ontario and recognizes the necessity of a true long-term commitment.
The government listened to the people and embraced their recommendations. This resulted in the creation of a five-year plan that will guarantee the continuation of provincial programs and services. Tuesday’s throne speech displayed this government’s desire to maintain these programs and policies and to continue to utilize the Ministry of Citizenship as the catalyst to help other ministries plan and introduce their own multicultural strategies.
This strategy has been exceptionally successful in the past and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the 76 initiatives that have been developed as part of our commitment.
The Ministry of Community and Social Services has developed bridging services to link individuals from diverse multicultural backgrounds to mainstream social services such as old-age homes with the use of interpreters and funding for multilingual staff.
The Ministry of Education has initiated heritage language programs as a means to educate students and preserve cultural traditions and values. The Ministry of Education has also published a draft paper designed to improve ethnic representation to better reflect the new multicultural composition of our schools.
The Ministry of Health, as a part of its endeavours to deinstitutionalize health care, has approved grants for a number of multicultural community health centres, enabling members of various ethnic communities to receive consultations and treatment in their own language. The Ministry of Health has also announced plans for the creation of 600 new nursing home beds as part of its commitment to provide culturally sensitive care to the elderly.
These are but five of the 76 initiatives undertaken by this government to date. I have only touched on a few of the many valued contributions being made daily to further our goals of a more harmonious and integrated Ontario. Just as I have only touched on some of the initiatives under way, similarly this government is only beginning to implement policies and strategies as part of our diligent effort to address the needs of the province’s multicultural community.
The throne speech is indicative of this government’s philosophy of equality and equity. The maintenance of our commitments has always been, and always will remain, our foremost priority.
This government believes that the goals of the province cannot be achieved through short-term solutions, and as such, these strategies will succeed only through long-term planning, tenacious effort and honouring our pledges initiated in 1987. Development of the ethnocultural database for the compilation of ethnocultural data will assist government, community groups, schools and industry in planning for more integrated services in the future.
Another example of this government’s dedication to improving and providing the best multicultural services possible is the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship. The council, 60 members strong, reflects the regional perspectives and mirrors the cultural diversity of this province. The creation of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship ensures that the ministry is constantly receiving feedback on the value of its programs and grants. The council also serves in an advisory capacity, promoting and advocating newly identified needs.
Based on the multicultural initiatives of the Ministry of Citizenship, I have come to the conclusion that the Ministry of Citizenship is meeting its goals, and I see no reason to assume that this government will not continue to meet them in the future.
Race relations is another important ministry initiative that reflects this government’s commitment to the advocacy of equal rights for all minorities. Presently, visible minorities comprise over six per cent of Ontario’s population and this number is expected to double by the year 2000. The Ministry of Citizenship and the provincial government are providing skilled mediators and educators to assist in the handling of racial incidents at the local level. The vital challenge that is being met here is to transfer this expertise to the community so that organizations will be empowered to resolve their own issues without outside intervention. Race relations training has also been a priority of this government because we believe that it is important that employers and employees learn to resolve their own racial disputes.
Training programs have been offered to municipal boards, school and university administrations and the private sector. The program has been successfully implemented in Toronto, Ottawa, York region, London and Windsor. The government of Ontario has begun to achieve tangible results and the government has pledged to see race relations training and guidance available throughout the province.
An excellent example of this government’s commitment to pursuing better race relations occurred when the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) ordered an inquiry into the shooting death of two black men by the police. These shootings brought about a great deal of unrest and drew substantial attention to the state of race relations in Ontario’s largest city. The ensuing task force, chaired by Clare Lewis, produced a report which made 57 recommendations outlining the needs that must be addressed to resolve the current state of race relations.
Some of the suggestions of the task force include a recommendation that if police forces fail to meet targets for minority hiring, then the matter would be referred to the Solicitor General and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Furthermore, the task force recommended that racially prejudiced behaviour should be outlawed under the Ontario Police Act. It is also recommended that police forces implement outreach programs where numbers warrant and that forces have ethnic relations units, staffed by officers on a rotating schedule. As vacancies occur on the police commission, attempts should be made to acquire replacements from visible minorities. These are but a few of the many significant recommendations made by the task force relating to race relations.
This politically and socially delicate issue requires a high level of government commitment to ensure that all viewpoints and all rights of all groups are recognized and respected. This government will not shy away from that responsibility, and as in the past, will remain powerful advocates of the rights of all minorities.
We are constantly committed to the philosophy and practice of employment equity. This belief has been demonstrated through the implementation of the public service employment equity program to include four new target groups besides women. These include disabled persons, native peoples, francophones and racial minorities.
Employment equity is essential to overcoming the hidden barriers that hold back certain groups. By increasing the representation of target groups, the government hopes to set an example that the private sector will emulate. As indicated in the throne speech, the government will continue to uphold this mandate so as to provide services that will fill this important gap in employment equity and racial equality.
This government has also recognized that the many native communities of this province have a strong desire to achieve greater autonomy. In keeping with their quest, the Ministry of Citizenship has endeavoured to help develop programs and grants that will enable the native peoples to move closer to achieving their goals. As part of our commitment to the native peoples of this province, the Ministry of Citizenship supports native aspirations through a number of channels, including core funding.
In keeping with our commitment to the native people of this province, core funding was increased by 67 per cent last year to include the financial stability of umbrella organizations that provide leadership and support services to the many communities they serve. Through grants, the ministry also helps native communities develop self-esteem by providing financial support for programs and projects that help build stronger economies, reinforce bonds and preserve their unique culture and way of life.
During 1987-88, 266 native community grants were made totalling $9,282,000. Programs that were funded include the Walpole Island band’s education conference, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Alliance leadership workshops, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre and others.
Other programs for the native community include the northern native business internship program. This program, at a cost of $2 million provided through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and delivered by the Ministry of Citizenship, will provide 100 interns a year with the opportunity to participate in one-year internships with the private sector and then return to their communities and utilize their new skills.
Also, the Ministry of Health has provided funding for the Anishnabwe native community health centre, Anishnabwe Health Toronto, so that the particular needs of natives in downtown Toronto can be met more effectively and with greater sensitivity.
By strengthening the economic base and providing additional support services, the Ministry of Citizenship continually displays this government’s devotion and desire to assist the native peoples of this province in their quest to achieve self-government. Although this funding is not a panacea for the native communities in Ontario, it is providing the necessary and vital foundation that will provide the platform on which their recovery depends.
The Ministry of Citizenship reflects a commitment by this government to protecting and advocating minority rights unequalled in Ontario’s colourful history. By acting as the catalyst, the Ministry of Citizenship has become an invaluable tool in this government’s effort to expand multicultural services through other ministry initiatives. Whether the program is operated through Health, Community and Social Services, Education or Northern Development, this government’s commitment is steadfast.
A multicultural-multiracial society such as ours can enjoy strong advantages in a world that is fast becoming more competitive and interdependent. By nurturing racial harmony, Ontario will be able to further utilize its rich multicultural resources and blossom into a stronger, more competitive, global-oriented society, a society where our children will be able to harvest the fruits of our labour.
But I am not here today solely to discuss the government’s mandate and commitment to multicultural issues.
The government of Ontario also recognizes the great importance the people of Ontario attach to their health care system. Canada’s spending on health care is greater than any other country’s in the world with a national health care system, and Ontario’s per capita spending ranks among the highest in the country. Health care in Ontario accounts for a full one third of the province’s expenditures. In the last 10 years, the cost of health care has risen by an astonishing 63.4 per cent, while the provincial economy has grown by only 42.7 per cent. These figures reflect but a few of the many economic complexities which must be taken into account when budgeting for health care.
This is no easy feat, for how can we put a price on something as valuable as a human life? One simply cannot. Rather, we must focus our efforts on identifying the various demands put upon our health care system. In recent years, health care has been facing a number of significant and startling challenges. Rising costs, new demographic trends, improving technologies, new forms of care and high public expectations all affect the disbursement of the health-care dollar.
In the light of our government’s commitment to maintaining the best health-care system in the world, the Ministry of Health is constantly preparing to adapt to these new trends and technologies, and to stretch our human and financial resources to the limit.
If the previous statistics did not put the immensity of the task into perspective, consider the following: The Ministry of Health supports 223 public hospitals, 17 private hospitals, 17 rehabilitation centres, 10 psychiatric hospitals and five university teaching centres, and funds more than 23,000 licensed nursing-home beds, more than 37,000 acute-care hospital beds, more than 14,000 chronic-care beds and rehabilitation hospital beds and 43 public health units.
This list is far from complete, as it does not include the medical staff or administration required to keep these beds available. However, it does give us a better idea of the challenges being faced. In all, $12.6 billion were allocated to health care in the 1988-89 budget: that is approximately $1.4 million being spent on behalf of every man, woman and child in this province every hour of every day.
Recently, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) held a news conference introducing the most recent health paper entitled Deciding the Future of our Health Care. The aim of this paper, and its succeeding reports, is to outline a strategy to maintain and improve the quality of health care in Ontario. Both the Premier and the Minister of Health have reiterated countless times this government’s commitment to ensuring the fairest and most effective health care possible. This paper is indicative of their unabated efforts to seek out new ways to improve and increase the availability of services to the people of this province.
For too many years, past provincial governments had been satisfied with simply maintaining the provision of health services. However, this government is committed not only to the quality of the health care services being provided but also, more important, to the quality of health of those who utilize the health-care system. This government is proud to recognize that the health of the individual is most effectively managed by the individual. This new perspective is just part of the new philosophy of health in Ontario, based on a number of major health care reports submitted during the last few years.
In 1987, the Ontario government received three major health-care reports which provided a framework for the future direction of health care. They were the Ontario Health Review Panel, chaired by Dr. John Evans; the Panel on Health Goals, chaired by Dr. Robert Spasoff, and the minister’s Advisory Group on Health Promotion, chaired by Steve Podborski. These reports outline an agenda for evolving a system that focuses on community-care alternatives, as well as health promotion and disease prevention.
As a direct result of these reports and based on this government’s commitment to improving the health of Ontarians, the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy was established. Its mandate continues to be to provide leadership and guidance to the entire government in achieving the goal of a healthier society. The Premier’s Council recognized that health encompasses many social, economic, environmental and lifestyle factors and that health should be viewed as a resource for everyday living.
Based on the importance of this new vision of health, the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy initiated a long-term plan of action and committed $100 million to the health innovation fund to support and evaluate new and innovative ways of providing more cost-effective health services and programs.
As part of this new initiative and commitment the Ministry of Health was restructured last year, in order to expand its former role as an administrator, insurer, funder and claims payer as well as a leader in safeguarding the strengths of the existing system.
In order to enhance the role and responsibilities of the health care consumer, the Ministry of Health has endeavoured to make individuals more responsible for their own state of health, through making better lifestyle choices, preventing disease, being better informed about treatment and being aware of the costs of health care so as to use services more wisely.
In order to achieve these worthy goals, the ministry has developed health promotion programs such as the healthy lifestyles campaign, introduced health education classes and expanded the health promotion grants program which provides funding to community groups to develop health promotion projects such as antismoking campaigns.
Another equally important initiative which displays this government’s devotion to improving the state of health care in Ontario is the strengthening of the community-based health care program. As part of this government’s continuing commitment to meet the health care needs of the province and in response to pressures for change, the Ministry of Health has undertaken to develop improved co-ordination and integration of community, institutional and social services within a region or municipality.
The kind of network now being developed will represent and respond to specific local needs and improve accessibility of services through a better continuum of care. Many services traditionally provided in a hospital setting can now be performed more effectively at a lower cost and minimal inconvenience to the patient in a community setting. New technology has made it possible for many medical and surgical procedures to be performed in doctors’ offices or in settings other than existing medical institutions.
Furthermore, the benefits of the community-based system include a greater accessibility of services which are more sensitive to the specific and unique needs of the patient. A greater amount of compassion in care and a closer proximity to home will invariably reduce the time of recovery and improve the wellbeing of the patient.
How, one might ask, can a ministry implement such radical changes in the provision of health care services? The Ministry of Health, in keeping with its mandate to reorient the ministry to community-based care, has developed seven models that will help make the transition as smooth and efficient as possible. These seven projects represent innovations in funding and service and, in some circumstances, both.
These include the creation of health service organizations to provide specific services to a defined geographic area, community health centres whose shared objectives will be to reduce a community’s dependence on institutional care through an increased emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention and comprehensive health organizations which will deliver many services under the administration of a nonprofit community board.
Expansion of the home care services will allow many individuals to remain in the security of their own homes while still receiving quality professional health care. Presently, 38 such programs are being provided through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Hospital in the Home, which is a program presently being explored, will increase the numbers of hospital staff who can monitor and treat patients in their own homes.
Finally, there is the Independent Health Facilities Act. This act will provide the government with legislation which will permit certain surgical procedures not presently available outside of hospitals to be performed in community-based health facilities.
The cost-effectiveness of these ventures and their beneficial value to the community are unquestionable. These community-oriented initiatives reflect this government’s ongoing commitment to laying a foundation for health care which will support the people of Ontario well into the 21st century.
Although community-based health care initiatives have been the focus of much of the ministry’s effort, those in the Ministry of Health have not neglected to address the needs of those who will continue to require institutional health care and specialty services.
Issues such as research on acquired immune deficiency syndrome, AIDS information campaigns and chronic care are constantly, thoroughly and effectively being managed through new policies and capital infusion. Heart care programs were stepped up by $18 million in 1988 along with the development of a new central registry in Metro Toronto. Funding for lithotripsy programs was also increased substantially in response to identified needs.
Furthermore, haemodialysis services have been increased, and in response to the Lowy inquiry recommendations, thalassemia and cystic fibrosis drug services are now fully subsidized. These are but a few of the many programs being expanded and revitalized to meet the needs of today’s health care consumers.
It is important to note that the government of Ontario has never cut a hospital budget, even though the government is experiencing a period of fiscal restraint. This indicates to me the high value this government places on the provision of health care services to the Ontario public. One out of every three tax dollars goes to our health care system, up from one in every four only a decade ago.
This province is fulfilling its mandate and ongoing commitment to the people of Ontario through the management and administration of our health care system. We have a responsibility to the people of Ontario to maintain a system of health care based on effective, available and compassionate medical services.
In the light of conflicting demands and changing values, the Ministry of Health and this government have made tremendous progress in developing and setting higher standards on health care. These inroads are indicative of this government’s commitment to make Ontario a more happy, healthy and prosperous place to live.
Another of our important commitments has been and will continue to be in the area of education. Ontario elementary and secondary schools will receive a total in excess of $4.1 billion this year, which represents an increase of 6.1 per cent in operating funds for 1989.
Our initiatives, which were set out in the November 1987 throne speech, will this year receive $145.8 million in funding in the 1989 grants for the second year of a three-year program. This includes $80.9 million for the continuation of the reduction in class size in grades 1 and 2; $27 million for the purchase of computer hardware and software; $20.2 million for textbook purchases; $12.5 million for the purchase of learning materials, and $5.2 million in support of intermediate science programs.
These are major commitments and are indicative of the way in which this government will continue to put our children in a position to be strong and competitive on the world stage.
I believe that one of the most significant ways of achieving this is through our commitment to increase the supply of classroom computers, apply them more effectively to specific classroom needs and provide more computer time for each child. Computer literacy for our children is extremely important in this world of instant communication, and our commitment to giving this advantage to our children will surely benefit both the children and Ontario. No other area could be more important to the future of this province than ensuring our children a good education.
Members will, I am sure, agree that the initiatives announced the day before yesterday will ensure a bright future for the children of this province as they make their way through the educational system, from the half-day junior kindergarten to be offered by all school boards through to grades 10 to 12 being designated as years of specialization.
In between are some profound changes to the way we look at the final product of our educational system.
First, revitalizing the curriculum from grades 1 to 6 by focusing on the development of literacy, analytical and communication skills is of vital importance in order that we ensure our children’s ability to learn how to learn.
Second, ensuring a core curriculum in grades 7, 8 and 9 that emphasizes the development of basic skills and progressive problem-solving will certainly prepare our young children for the important decisions they face in the latter secondary years.
Third, the elimination of streaming in grade 9 will be a big step towards ensuring that individual students are able to make decisions about their futures as they progress and they will therefore remain flexible in an ever-changing world and will not be caught in a stream of study that is either not needed or not of interest to the student.
I want to touch briefly on another important initiative in education, that being the heritage language program. Members will know that the ministers of Education and Citizenship announced this program, which I feel is extremely important in maintaining our cultural diversity.
Starting in September 1989, school boards will be required to provide heritage language classes when a request to teach a particular language is made by the parents of 25 or more students of that board. A board may either offer the classes itself or make an arrangement with another school board. The ability to speak other languages at the same time as maintaining one’s sense of heritage is another example of the way in which government programs can benefit society in many ways.
Similarly, I anxiously await the review of religious education in public schools as it is being carried out by Dr Glenn Watson. Too often people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds operate in isolation, with no one group knowing about the others’ customs. Surely this review is a step towards diversification in religious education in our schools so that generations which follow us will be familiar with a wide variety of beliefs and will be tolerant of these beliefs. This is a seed in the field of racial and religious harmony which I am sure will flourish into an Ontario of the future about which we can only dream.
In the important area of social assistance, the government has again committed itself to reforms which will be introduced to help individuals move from a life of dependence to a life of self-sufficiency and transform welfare cheques into paycheques.
Among these will be increased payments for shelter support to persons on social assistance. In this way, those presently feeling economic hardship caused by inflated housing costs and whose paycheques fall short of providing even the most basic accommodation for themselves and their families will feel relief through this program.
Deduction of moneys earned from moneys to be paid through social assistance and other draconian methods of assessment are not conducive to a sense of providing for oneself, and as a result, we have chosen to change disenchantment into opportunity.
We will remove barriers which serve as disincentives to those who wish to work. As well, we intend to expand networks of employment counselling, referral, basic training and preparation programs in an effort to prepare the citizens of this fine province for work in the varied components of our industrial dynamic. Through this economic development, we are creating vast opportunities and we want to ensure that those on social assistance have the skills to rise to the challenges this province offers.
Lastly, I speak of increased children’s benefits. Who would deny a small child adequate food, proper shelter and suitable clothing? This government has committed itself to providing these basic necessities through increased funding, because we believe that the basic necessities must be there if a child is to attain his or her full potential.
We have the wealth and we have the creativity to prevent the unfortunate hardships imposed by an economically divided society. Progress in this area will require the financial support and co-operation of all levels of government and the community at large. I am confident, however, that together we can reason and we can meet this challenge.
I am also confident that we are going to meet a second social challenge critical to our province. I refer to the challenge of maintaining a sense of safety and security in our communities. We remain concerned about the recent adverse effects on the quality of life in our communities caused by drug and alcohol abuse, racial tension and incidents of violence.
Last session, we appointed the Task Force on Illegal Drug Use in Ontario and we quickly responded to several of its prime recommendations. We have announced a mandatory drug education program from grades 4 through 10 in Ontario schools and we increased funding for community-based drug and alcohol addiction programs.
This session, we remain committed to building in our comprehensive antidrug strategy through: education and prevention programs, including antidrug education in primary and secondary schools and community-based programs in high-risk neighbourhoods; a wider range of treatment programs, including employee assistance programs, and the expansion of Ontario’s drug enforcement capacity, including a strengthened Ontario Provincial Police drug enforcement unit.
We couple this strategy with other measures aimed at protecting the quality of life in Ontario communities: expanding our efforts to prevent violence against women and children; providing enhanced race relations training to better equip police to respond to the diverse needs of the community they serve; working with the OPP and all municipal police forces to promote racial equality in employment; urging the federal government to effect immediate changes to the Young Offenders Act, and reforming our court system to provide improved access to justice.
This sense of safety and security in our communities is critical to our province’s future wellbeing and development.
The issue of our environment remains and will continue to remain a top priority with our government. This is evident in our continuing commitment to win the war on acid rain. As part of that ongoing commitment, Ontario has promised a 60 per cent province-wide reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions. These reductions are taking place under the Countdown Acid Rain program announced in December 1985 by the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley).
In another step to help control the emissions on acid rain, there have been limits placed on the Inco and Falconbridge nickel smelters in Sudbury, the Algoma Steel iron ore roasting plant in Wawa and all of the Ontario Hydro fossil fuel generating plants in the province. These companies and Ontario Hydro are becoming successful in achieving emission reduction requirements that will noticeably reduce Ontario’s major sources of acid rain.
Earlier this year, a very interesting step was taken to address the actual impact of acid rain. The Minister of the Environment and the president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Liu Hong Liang, signed a memorandum of understanding. This is expected to lead to joint scientific research and an information exchange on acid rain. It is the first signed agreement of its kind between Ontario and China. Our primary goal has always been and will continue to be the achievement of significant reductions in acid rain.
Another important initiative being undertaken is the protection of our ozone layer. On 16 February 1989, the Minister of the Environment tabled a bill to phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances, making Ontario the first province to propose such legislation.
At the municipal level, every member, I am sure, has expounded the importance of the four Rs of waste management: reduce, recycle, recover and reuse.
The student population has the added opportunity to shine in a program named STAR, Student Action for Recycling, announced in October 1988 by the minister.
Industries in Ontario happen to be some of our worst pollution contributors. They are responsible for harming surrounding life on land and waterways. It was therefore incumbent on our government to formulate a plan whereby persistent toxic contaminants would be safeguarded from becoming discharged into our waterways. This plan resulted in a report by experts which concluded that there were methods by which pollution could be substantially controlled.
Mr Speaker, I am sure you would agree that the main priority in any society is a clean and healthy environment. The environment for the most part is vulnerable to man and his technological advances. Our government has endeavoured to continually address and protect the vulnerability of our precious surroundings.
The responsibility to govern is an awesome one, but one which has been taken up by the men and women on this side in earnest, and I feel it betrays the trust placed in this institution by each and every citizen of this province to have it handcuffed and rendered impotent by those who would sit in sneering contempt of the game and players.
I challenge the members of the opposition in the days ahead to step boldly into the fray, not in an attempt to make points or put down the doing of good, but to move forward the process of government, because the responsibility to govern is also the responsibility to legislate, and the responsibility to legislate is borne by each and every member of this place.
Once again, it gives me great pleasure to second the motion to adopt the speech from the throne. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
À la suite d’une motion présentée par M. Pouliot, le débat est ajourné.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
The Deputy Speaker: I presume the acting government House leader has some announcements for us.
Hon Mr Fulton: Pursuant to standing order 13, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week we will continue with the consideration of the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor. I would also like to remind members that by previous motion the House will not sit on Thursday morning to consider private members’ business.
The House adjourned at 1650.