The House met at 1330.
HOMES FOR THE AGED
Ms Bryden: Last November, the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs Wilson) told us in her estimates presentation that she was undertaking the development of options to ensure adequate standards of care in rest and retirement homes.
I and my New Democrat colleagues in the Legislature have been pointing out to both the Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments for many years that there is a great vacuum in provincial legislation on this subject. We know that they do provide residential care for a great many seniors and for some adults in other age groups. We know that there is considerable concern about the quality of life provided in some residences.
Almost a year after the minister made her announcement in her estimates, we have finally received a report, entitled Findings of the Survey of Rest and Retirement Homes, dated 5 April 1989. While the survey has given us some statistics on these residences, there are absolutely no recommendations for bringing them under provincial regulation and inspection.
When is the minister going to take this next step and get on the way to regulating these institutions in order to ensure the quality of life in them for all people in the province who occupy such residences?
Mrs Cunningham: My statement today is directed to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney). The minister advised us yesterday that we can expect a plan or framework for the implementation of the Social Assistance Review Committee two or three days after the budget speech. We would like to remind the minister, and I quote from Transitions, “The changes proposed for stage one ought to be achievable within a time frame of one year.”
It is now eight months since Transitions was tabled with this government. George Thomson stated publicly that there are a number of urgent recommendations, including immediate increases in benefit levels. He further stated that movement on some of those issues within one year would not in his view create any unintended problems, so long as the overall first stage of reforms is completed within the one-year period.
We expected a total blueprint with cost implications to be presented no later than 6 March. We are now advised that the budget may be delayed into the month of June.
Yesterday, we questioned the extent to which municipalities have been consulted around costing implications of the SARC recommendations. We would urge more direct, detailed and serious consultation with municipalities.
The public has waited too long. The minister is eight months overdue now. He should not let the budget delay force him into no action on the report called Transitions.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN YUGOSLAVIA
Mr Sola: A resolution of the European Parliament, having regard to the serious nature of the tension and incidents in Kosovo which have caused many casualties, calls for a return to constitutional normality and a prompt suspension of the emergency measures; hopes that a political solution will be found to the problems of coexistence between ethnic groups in Kosovo which will recognize the region’s autonomous status and the Albanian population’s ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity and its political and institutional representatives’ right to the free and democratic expression of their views; calls for human rights to be fully respected and, in this context, for the release of political prisoners and a judicial inquiry to identify those responsible for the casualties; instructs its president to forward this resolution to the council, the commission, the governments of the member states and the Yugoslav government.
Members may ask, “Why read it in this House?” When one is approached by a person adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, a person who was a political prisoner for four years for the “crime” of collecting signatures for a petition for the release of political prisoners, one is bound by conscience to respond. When this person risked his life to represent groups such as the Croatian Committee for Human Rights, the Croatian Democratic Union for Protection Against Discrimination and Unlawful Persecution in Yugoslavia, the Slovenian Writers’ Guild and Albanian intellectuals from Kosovo, one must support his endeavours.
I am honoured that Dobroslav Paraga and his brother Domagoj are here in the west gallery.
PROPOSED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY
Mr Laughren: For some time now the Premier (Mr Peterson) has been trying to make up his mind on whether or not to provide provincial funding for a neutrino observatory in Sudbury. In this regard, I appreciate the efforts of the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) yesterday.
As a matter of fact, the observatory would be located in Creighton mine. It is the best location anywhere in North America. The deep mine shaft is already there and Ontario has a supply of heavy water. The National Research Council has already put $1 million into the project and Ontario has been asked for $7.2 million over four years. That is all.
There is enormous support for this project in the international scientific community. It would put Sudbury in the forefront of pure scientific research, it would attract leading scientists from around the world and it would complement existing research that already is going on in Ontario universities.
The Premier’s technology fund, presumably the source of the money, has not spent its allocation of funds any year since its creation. For the Premier to refuse to make his decision known now could put the entire project in jeopardy. He should make a commitment to fund the project and he should make that commitment now.
TORONTO AREA TRANSPORTATION
Mr Cousens: The Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton) is failing the commuters of Metropolitan Toronto. In his strategy for the future, he promised to reduce congestion in the short term. He is demonstrating a flippant, irresponsible, noncaring attitude to Metro’s transportation crisis. A one-mile extension to the Spadina subway hardly qualifies as a significant initiative. Metro council had little choice but to concede to the minister’s desire to extend the Spadina subway. He cannot point to any noteworthy improvement to ease congestion over the past year.
Congestion in Metropolitan Toronto is becoming worse on every front. The roads and transit services are all in serious trouble, and the Ontario government did not even mention transportation in the throne speech. Insufficient moneys have been set aside to do anything, let alone maintain present services.
The minister’s promise to reduce congestion in the short term is a sham and a farce, and the people around Metro Toronto know how bad the services are, even if he does not. We have a Minister of Transportation who is out of touch. He has no plans, only words and broken promises. This is not enough to meet Toronto’s growing need of transportation services. Ed Fulton, shape up or ship out.
The Speaker: Order. This might be the appropriate time to remind all members that when we refer to another member, we refer to that member by the ministry or the riding.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Mr Tatham: The death of a child hurts; more so if that death is caused by a drinking driver or a driver who has been using drugs. I agree with the staff of the drinking-driving countermeasures office. The staff at the countermeasures office takes the point of view that the drinking driver must be kept off the road through legal means.
They take the position that drivers will be more likely to stay sober if they realize that impaired drivers risk losing the right to drive for increasingly long periods of time. This includes the professional driver who may be using a forged licence to continue driving while under suspension. There has to be a conscious effort and firm commitment from management to create and uphold a clear policy on alcohol and drug use by employees.
As a first step in reducing the employers’ risk and society’s risk, we suggest that all the employers’ workers who have suspended licences be identified through a records search of the Ministry of Transportation files. A second proposal is that all those who currently have their licences suspended be taken from positions which require driving a vehicle for work-related duties. A third proposal is that all those who have had their licences suspended be monitored for signs of alcohol or drug abuse. Our final proposal is that all employees’ licences be monitored on a continuing basis to ensure that no suspended drivers are employed as drivers.
The Speaker: The member’s time has now expired. Thank you. The member for Scarborough West for 20 seconds.
SOUTH AFRICAN INVESTMENTS
Mr R. F. Johnston: I just want to commend the University of Windsor for divesting all its holdings in South Africa, an example to all the rest of the university community and, I would say as well, to the government of Ontario, which should show the same kind of courage and foresight and do likewise.
The Speaker: Just before I call for ministry statements, I would like to ask all members of this assembly to recognize in the Speaker’s gallery an all-party working group of the Dáil. These members of the Irish Parliament are Vincent Brady, the leader of the delegation, Ms Anne Colley, Jim Higgins, Liam Lawlor and John Bruton. Please join me in welcoming this delegation.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
FAMILY VIOLENCE / VIOLENCE CONJUGALE
Hon Mr Sorbara: In last week’s throne speech members will recall that the government made a commitment to maintaining the safety and security of our neighbourhoods and communities. As part of its direction to ensure that the quality of life in this province will be protected, the government announced a series of new and enhanced initiatives. One of them was an increased effort to prevent violence against women and children.
I am pleased to announce today that we are increasing funding for wife assault prevention and services for the 1989-90 fiscal year by some $5.4 million. This represents a 17 per cent increase over last year. This, plus cost-of-living increases of nearly $500,000, brings the province’s total spending on wife assault programs and services this fiscal year to $40 million, compared to $16 million spent in 1985. This is the fourth consecutive year that we have allotted increased funds to wife assault prevention and service programs.
Je suis heureux d’annoncer aujourd’hui que nous augmenterons de 5,4 millions de dollars les fonds consacrés aux programmes de prévention et aux services d’intervention en matière de violence conjugale pour l’exercice financier 1989-1990. Cela représente une augmentation de 17 pour cent par rapport au dernier exercice.
Cette augmentation, qui s’ajoute à celle des indemnités d’ajustement au coût de la vie de près de 500 000 $, porte à 40 millions de dollars le montant total consacré par le gouvernement provincial aux programmes de prévention et aux services d’intervention en matière de violence conjugale, comparé à 16 millions de dollars en 1985.
C’est la quatrième fois en quatre ans que nous augmentons les fonds consacrés aux programmes de prévention et aux services d’intervention en matière de violence conjugale.
We have long known that the impact of wife assault is far-reaching. This form of violence in the home endangers not only the lives of the women against whom this crime is committed, but the wellbeing of children who witness it and the security and stability of society as a whole. For this reason, $35.7 million of the total of $40 million this fiscal year will be spent on services that directly benefit women and children.
We believe that we must send a message that there is never an excuse for wife assault. This is the reason we have focused our wife assault initiatives in three specific areas: (1) law enforcement and criminalization, (2) family support programs and shelter services and (3) public and professional education and prevention activities.
The new funds that I am announcing today will continue to support 22 ongoing initiatives in this area and provide funds for one new initiative. Fifteen provincial ministries and agencies are involved in an integrated approach to wife assault prevention, co-ordinated by the Ontario women’s directorate.
Let me outline now how the new funds will be allocated. To the Ministry of Community and Social Services will go $2.1 million for counselling programs in community agencies and programs for women, for children who have witnessed the violence and for male batterers. The ministry will also receive $2.7 million to enhance the existing shelter system; for example, to improve staffing ratios in shelters, particularly in rural areas.
An additional $200,000 will go to shelters to increase the number of child support workers in response to recent increases in the number of shelter beds. When cost-of-living increases are included, the shelter system will be receiving more than $3 million in increased funding this fiscal year, bringing the total shelter budget allocation to $16.3 million.
The Ministry of the Attorney General currently operates victim/witness assistance programs in 10 crown attorney offices around the province. These programs provide support, services and information to victim/witnesses who face special difficulties in the criminal justice system. These existing 10 programs will receive additional funding of some $80,000, for a total this fiscal year of $884,000.
Some $105,000 in new funding will go to the Ministry of Correctional Services for counselling programs for male batterers, bringing this year’s total to $679,000.
The Ministry of Education will receive $120,000 in new funds, for a total of $552,000, for ongoing school programs to raise educators’ awareness of wife assault and its impact on children, and to look at the role schools can play in prevention at the community level.
The Ministry of Citizenship will receive an additional $45,000, for a total of almost $1 million, to support existing pilot projects that increase immigrant families’ access to wife assault services. The pilot projects provide community-based cultural interpreter services and intercultural training programs for staff of human resource agencies who work with battered women.
Finally, funds are going to a new initiative. The Office for Disabled Persons will receive $50,000 to go towards a study of the incidence of violence against women with disabilities and the accessibility of government services to this group.
This government recognizes that all Ontarians, and in this particular case women, have a right to security of the person and that all our citizens have the right to live in a society protected from crime, violence and fear. We believe a sense of safety and security is absolutely crucial to our children’s future, and nowhere does a feeling of safety and security make a more important contribution to our collective future welfare than in our homes.
For this reason, I am delighted to announce this increased effort to prevent violence against women and children in Ontario.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Hon Mr Phillips: I rise to make an announcement regarding the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
In last week’s throne speech, we underscored this government’s commitment to ensuring that Ontario is indeed a society where we all can live together in harmony and dignity. As part of that commitment, I am pleased to announce that we will be significantly strengthening the ability of our commission to fulfil its mandate.
We will be allocating to the commission an additional $3 million worth of resources, bringing its total operating budget to almost $11 million for this fiscal year. This new funding will increase the effectiveness of the commission on two fronts. First, it will allow the commission to deal with and address causes of complaints, and second, it will improve the commission’s ability to deal swiftly with complaints.
The commission will be able to expand the scope of its activities in the area of investigation of systemic discrimination, policy development and education and public awareness. These expanded areas of activity will help the commission achieve its objectives by addressing the issues of discrimination on a broader basis and eliminating barriers to full and equal participation in the life of our province.
Approximately 75 per cent of the increase will go directly to investigation and complaint resolution. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has the highest case load of any commission in Canada. In 1987-88, the commission handled 1,800 cases. This number is twice as many per capita as any other commission in the country and four times the level of our federal commission.
Therefore, I would also like to bring to the attention of the House the fact that the additional funding I have announced today will allow the commission to improve significantly the time it takes to handle individual complaints.
In addition, the commission will receive an additional $1.4 million of capital funding that will be used to streamline its operation here in Metropolitan Toronto. Funds will also be used to establish two new offices, one in Downsview and one in Kenora. These new offices, and our established offices across the province, will provide enhanced access to the public.
The additional funding to the Ontario Human Rights Commission will continue to enhance the effectiveness of our commission and will further strengthen Ontario’s commitment in the whole area of human rights.
PROPERTY TAX GRANTS / SUBVENTIONS POUR IMPÔTS FONCIERS
Hon Mr Grandmaître: I would like to advise the honourable members about an important event in this government’s programs, one that provides tax relief for Ontario’s senior citizens.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Revenue started mailing the spring portion of the 1989 property tax grant cheques. The total amount of $192.3 million will benefit as many as 684,000 eligible senior citizens in Ontario, The maximum payment per household is $300, while the average amount per cheque is $281. The second half of the grant will be mailed at the end of October 1989.
These payments are characteristic of the province’s commitment to provide tax assistance benefits that will assist Ontario seniors to continue living in their own homes. I would like to thank the honourable members and their constituency office staff for their continued efforts in support of this program. It is a positive reflection of this government’s response to a legitimate community need.
J’aimerais présenter aux députés un volet important des programmes de notre gouvernement, un volet qui vise à alléger le fardeau fiscal des personnes âgées de l’Ontario. Le ministère du Revenu a commencé hier à envoyer la première partie des chèques de subvention pour impôt foncier de 1989. Plus de 684 000 personnes âgées admissibles en Ontario vont bénéficier de ces subventions, d’un total de 192,3 millions de dollars.
Le versement maximal par foyer s’élève à 300 $ et la moyenne par chèque est de 281 $. La deuxième partie de la subvention sera postée à la fin octobre.
Le versement de ces subventions d’aide fiscale illustre bien l’engagement pris par le gouvernement de l’Ontario, qui vise à aider les personnes âgées à vivre dans leur propre logement.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I would like to respond to the minister responsible for women’s issues (Mr Sorbara). I am very pleased with the fact that the amounts for battered women have been increased this year and I would be remiss if I did not say so, but I also want to say that I am a little concerned about some essential dishonesty that is involved in this report.
It is true that in the throne speech the government said it wishes to look after the security of the individual, but more specific promises have been made in the past. For instance, the member for London Centre (Mr Peterson), now the Premier, made the following statement on 15 March 1985, leading up to that provincial election:
“We’ve got to get elected so we can ensure the safety of all abused women seeking shelter and counselling, and we do that by making a solid commitment to both first- and second-stage shelters and services. We’d also introduce a bill devoted exclusively to services for battered women.
“Let me give you just one example of the reality of Frank Miller’s Ontario in this regard. Mississauga has only one battered women’s shelter and it has to serve all of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. That is more than half a million people. In 1984 alone, that lone shelter turned away 1,000 desperate women and children.”
Since 1984, there has not been a major increase in the number of shelters in this province. The only shelters that have been increased were ones that were provided by the past Tory government. The minister himself admitted there are only 700 and some beds in the province today. That is exactly the same number there were in 1984. We have had shelters close in Ontario during that process. This government has refused time after time, year after year, to increase the number of spaces that are available.
Let me deal with the second matter, with what I think is an insult to disabled women in this province. A couple of years ago, disabled women did a study that showed they were more abused as a group than any other group in society. It made horrible, terrifying common sense, and yet this government today is announcing a study of the effects of violence on disabled women rather than making our transition homes accessible to them, because virtually none of them are.
I would just like to say that if members want to read the document that was produced in 1982 by the standing committee on social development -- I had the honour of having it referred out to that committee -- it is still not being implemented in the fashion we said it should be. The promises made by the Premier prior to the 1985 election, which were part of our recommendations in this report, have never been implemented.
The government should not stand up and feel self-proud today of the fact that this year again, thousands and thousands of women and children are going to be turned away from hostels because it refused to respond to that basic need out there.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mr B. Rae: In responding to the comments by the Minister for Citizenship (Mr Phillips), we obviously want to say how happy we are that the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s long battle inside Management Board and inside the bowels of the Liberal government has finally produced an increase in its budget.
All of us, I think, are aware of the fact that this is 2 May 1989. it was in May 1985 that the minister’s leader and I negotiated an accord ensuring the Ontario Human Rights Commission would in fact receive additional resources. It has been a long time in coming, to make sure it gets those kinds of resources.
I would add that the issue on which the people of this province are waiting to hear from the government is the question of employment equity, the question of affirmative action legislation. I might add some of the issues I raised yesterday in my reply to the speech from the throne, when I talked about the human rights problems of people living north of the 50th parallel in this province, which are simply tremendous. We congratulate the minister, but there is much more to be done.
PROPERTY TAX GRANTS
Mr B. Rae: In responding to the announcement by the Minister of Revenue (Mr Grandmaître) on property tax grants, I cannot resist the observation that even in an age of new politics some things really never change. This is not an announcement of anything new; this is an announcement of day-to-day work by government that has been approved by this House. The property tax grant news could equally be delivered to senior citizens in their cheques, which I am sure will have the minister’s picture on them, or perhaps a portrait of the Attorney General (Mr Scott) and the Premier (Mr Peterson), or the Four Horsemen on the front bench all together.
The value of the property tax credit is less today in real terms than it was 10 years ago. What the government is doing for seniors in real terms is less than it was when it was first announced 15 years ago.
The Speaker: The member’s time has now expired.
Mr B. Rae: This is an announcement that should not have been made.
Mr Jackson: I too would like to respond to the minister responsible for women’s issues (Mr Sorbara) with respect to his announcement today. I would be remiss as well if I did not say that any new moneys that are committed towards this terrible social injustice are appropriate, but I must admit that these moneys are not going as far as they could and certainly are not going as far as they should.
We turned away over 8,000 women and children from transition and interval houses last year. Based on this announcement, there is every indication we will probably turn away that many more this year and next. I am concerned that within the three or four ministries dealing with the issue of child support workers, the government has still not worked out an adequate definition of what constitutes that service.
If the government is going to relegate this to custodial status, if it is just providing about $3,000 in funds per centre in this province, how can it expect those programs to be of the quality of crisis intervention, counselling and court advocacy and referral, and those complex matters, where those workers are supposed to understand the psychological effects of violence they witness or that is received in a home setting?
Where are the responsibilities of the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs Wilson) in this matter? There is no comment in all the notes we received in the minister’s announcement this morning about abuse of senior citizens, whether they are institutionalized or not.
Where is the commitment to fund supervised access programs? His government is starting an initiative to force children into access situations, whether they wish to be put in that situation or not, but his government refuses to fund a single supervised access program.
Where is the commitment to real court reforms? The treatment by the Attorney General (Mr Scott) here is very poor; if in fact he wanted to seriously address the issues, he would look at the statutory assumption in our court system that a women who is the victim of rape or family violence is not subject to emotional distress. She has to go into a courtroom and relive the horror of that incident a second time. God forbid that she wishes to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board; she has to be subjected to that process a third time in this province.
Those are the kinds of reforms that are required. Hidden within these reforms that are announced today are moneys that he will get from the federal government under Bill C-89. He will receive moneys that are taken from criminals and put into the coffers of this province.
But the commitment we are seeing from this province under the Premier (Mr Peterson) is that he would rather tax new home owners, small businessmen and property tax owners. He will not tax criminals in the way the federal government is encouraging us to examine that method. Quite frankly, with what the Premier now exercises, only law-abiding citizens in this province pay the taxes for our criminal justice system in David Peterson’s Ontario.
The Speaker: The member for Cochrane South.
Mr Pope: It is too bad the Attorney General and the Premier do not pay attention to the words of the member for Burlington South (Mr Jackson) as he discusses a very serious issue in this province. It is obvious the Attorney General and the Premier could not give a whit about the problems women face in David Peterson’s Ontario.
PROPERTY TAX GRANTS
Mr Pope: I want to comment with respect to the statement of the Minister of Revenue (Mr Grandmaître). Yes, we do support the property tax grant system for seniors; we started it. It is true that seniors now, under David Peterson’s Ontario, are falling further and further behind.
We have to sense today the delicious irony of a government giving property tax grant support to seniors so that they can stay in their homes, and at the same time cutting back on the home care services they need to stay there. We have had cutbacks for the Red Cross. We have had cutbacks for the Victorian Order of Nurses. The whole thing is becoming a disgrace that this government is responsible for and that is detrimental to the wellbeing and health of the senior citizens of this province.
We saw last year the largest tax grab in Ontario’s history: $1.2 billion. In the face of that, we have seen a government that has flat-lined its transfers, its unconditional grants to municipalities. It has flat-lined road subsidies. It has reduced its grants, its support for the boards of education across the province.
The result is that seniors and every other property owner of this province will pay more taxes this year, because this government is not prepared to live up to its obligations for senior citizens or for any other property owner in Ontario. It is a disgrace that the Liberal Party is responsible for.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier.
It follows from questions I put to the Premier last week, which he assigned to the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), but I want to get the Premier to answer these questions personally. The only way I can do that is to put a very personal question to him about his involvement with Envacc Resources, with the principals of Envacc Resources and with the meeting he held with some principals and representatives of Envacc Resources on 23 June 1988.
I asked the Premier on 23 January 1989 to tell us in detail what he knew about Envacc Resources. In his answer to my question, he did not tell us at all about the fact he had had a meeting on 23 June. I wonder if the Premier can tell us why he did not inform the House when I asked him directly to tell us in detail what he knew about Envacc Resources, why he did not in fact do that and why he simply deflected the question to a discussion about regional chairmen.
The Speaker: That is two questions.
Mr B. Rae: I would like to ask him that question very directly.
Hon Mr Peterson: There are no secrets. I met with them. The member did not ask me if I had met with them. If he had asked me, I would have told him, just like I met with other people with other ideas in the whole matter. It is no big surprise, surely.
Mr B. Rae: I say to the Premier it is a surprise and it is a question of his political judgement. When he met with Envacc Resources, can the Premier tell us, did he realize that one of the principals of Envacc Resources was Marco Muzzo? Did he realize that Mr Muzzo is the owner of thousands of acres of land in York region and that Mr Muzzo is, individually and through companies he controls, the largest contributor to the Liberal Party of Ontario? Did he realize that the same Mr Muzzo is the individual who was directly involved with the purchase of the Premier’s family company? Was he aware of all these facts?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have read the same newspaper articles the member is now regurgitating from some months ago and the answer is there is nothing there, let me tell him. It is beneath him, frankly, to even try to suggest there is.
Mr B. Rae: There is a very basic question about political judgement here. I asked the Premier some very direct questions about the appropriateness of that meeting, about the agenda of Envacc Resources for the control of Ontario’s garbage in southern Ontario and about whether the public interest is going to be protected or we are going to see private developers taking over the disposal of waste in this province. That is the issue, that is the question and I do not think those questions should be beneath the Premier answering.
I wonder if the Premier can answer this question. Since he is saying he was aware of all of those factors, does he not think the public is entitled to a complete and total environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act of the next landfill that is going to be built in Metropolitan Toronto and in the surrounding region? Does he not think the public interest would be served by the public having complete control of this process and not having it taken over by the private development industry in Ontario?
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend is confusing a large number of issues at the same time. I guess that is a question of, as he says, political judgement. He has just defined where his political judgement is and which, frankly, does not come up very high today.
Let me just say to my honourable friend that whatever decision is made will be made by the regional chairmen. I said that before and I said that we are prepared to co-operate and assist if we possibly can. There are a number of people from the private sector who have some ideas. Anything that is done will be bid upon openly and tendered and there will be judgements made. There will not be judgements made by this government; they will be made by the regional chairmen, by the power delegated thereto.
Surely my honourable friend understands that. I think he does understand that, but I guess he is trying to read something into this that is not, in fact, the case or trying to draw some judgements on this matter that are just, frankly, unfounded and inaccurate in the circumstances.
If they have some ideas, they will take it to the regional chairmen to solve this long-term problem. If they do not, then it still goes back to the regional chairmen for their particular solutions.
Mr B. Rae: I would like to ask the Treasurer this question. The Burns Fry preliminary comments on the federal budget have some very interesting observations on the budget. It goes through a number of industry groups and shows that a number of groups have done well and some have done badly. One of the interesting results says, “Federal budget is good news, especially for the banks.” It then shows how the large corporations’ capital tax is not at all meaningful for the banks and that the banks have, in fact, received a very substantial windfall by not being taxed by the federal government in other ways.
The Treasurer has been warning the people of Ontario that he is going to have to raise an awful lot of money in his own budget coming up. Can he tell us whether he will do what Michael Wilson did not have the courage to do; that is, to tax those in the province who have the ability to pay, in this case particularly our financial institutions?
Hon R. F. Nixon: We rely presently on the capital tax for that purpose. I am not sure that it is completely adequate, but it is one way whereby the Treasury benefits from the assets of financial institutions. The rate of that tax has been adjusted in the past and, like other taxes, that is under consideration for the budget that I hope to read to the House some time in the next little while.
Mr B. Rae: Simply adjusting the capital tax is not good enough because, as the minister will know, the banks’ profits in 1988 exceeded $3 billion. He will know it was widely anticipated in the market that the federal government was going to raise as much as $1.5 billion on a margin tax against the banks and it decided not to do that. So there are literally not just a few million dollars, not just a couple of million dollars, but literally hundreds of millions of dollars which the market anticipated would be taxed out of our banks and financial institutions and the federal government dropped the ball.
The question I have directly for the Treasurer is: Is he going to drop the ball or is he going to do for Ontario’s taxpayers what needs to be done to ensure that those with the ability to pay are finally taxed in Ontario?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I would ask the honourable Leader of the Opposition not to yell at me because he thinks the federal policy is inadequate.
I was somewhat surprised that the margin tax, on the difference between what the banks pay their depositors and the interest they charge the people to whom they lend money, was not subject to some approach by taxation by the government of Canada. I was interested also to read the comments made by the federal minister about the possibility of the application of his new goods and services tax on financial institutions. As yet there may be some time during which the federal authorities can redeem themselves.
Mr B. Rae: We are not looking for redemption from Michael Wilson; we are looking for action from the Treasurer of Ontario. That is where the action has to come from. The Treasurer knows perfectly well that Michael Wilson is not going to do anything to change that tax with relation to the banks. This is the financial capital of Canada; this is where the gold towers are. What is the Treasurer going to do to see that Ontario is better off as a result of a tax on the banks, rather than sticking it to consumers the way he has been sticking it to consumers over the last four years since he became Treasurer?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The honourable gentleman is now smiling in appreciation of his own oratorical flights. The viewers in our extensive television audience are liable to think we do not take this matter seriously, and we both know -- as a matter of fact we all know -- that it is a very serious matter indeed.
The corporation tax is levied against bank profits in the province just like any other corporation. The fact that they can register their profits elsewhere is one of the flexibilities they have; and the fact that they had, I suppose in a funny, convoluted and upside down way, the lucky event of severe losses in their loans to Central American and South American countries and have the right under law to write off those losses, has meant that these huge profits are in some jurisdictions not fully taxable. In this instance, I consider that to be really a full explanation of the situation the honourable member has raised.
Mr Brandt: The Treasurer mentioned oratorical flights. I guess he was referring to the mission the author of the throne speech was on when that document was completed recently by the government.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Health and it relates to the commitment made in the throne speech with respect to an improvement in health services for the people of Ontario. I wonder how that figures with the Chedoke McMaster Hospital in Hamilton, which, as a result of the limitation and cap on funding, is going to be reducing, on a per month basis, orthopaedic procedures from 40 to 15. As a direct result of that, the minister may be interested that her new, improved health service will extend the waiting list from November of this year to well into June of 1990.
When I consider the rhetoric and the reality of what flowed from that throne speech, the two do not match up. How can she say she is improving health services when she is reducing procedures and extending the waiting list as dramatically as is going to happen at this hospital?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The leader of the third party knows there have been no cutbacks in hospital funding for any hospital in this province; in fact, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) announced an 8.1 per cent transfer payment increase. We are working with the Ontario Hospital Association to develop a new funding formula which will make sure that hospitals are fairly and appropriately funded to meet the needs of their communities.
Mr Brandt: The minister talks about appropriate; I am talking about waiting lists and actual cases. Dr Frank Smith, who heads the orthopaedic department at that particular hospital, has indicated that he is totally frustrated with the kind of funding she is making available to that hospital.
Rather than getting people out of institutions and back into the workforce, in fact her policies are resulting in people having to remain for a longer period of time on waiting lists and not being able to get the kind of health delivery they require in order to cure their particular problems. This is a regional hospital. It serves St Catharines and Guelph and Brantford, Hamilton, Burlington -- a whole host of communities.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Brandt: How can the minister possibly stand up and talk in terms of maintaining a quality health system in this province when in fact here is one specific case of a hospital that is going to have its procedures reduced by about two thirds and its waiting list extended well into 1990? I do not understand how she has the gall to stand up and say --
The Speaker: Order. The member is just repeating the question.
Hon Mrs Caplan: The leader of the third party knows full well that in fact we are constantly trying to improve upon the very strong foundation of delivery of health services in this province and that the best way to address waiting lists is to work with the hospitals and on a regional basis to better plan for delivery of services.
During the next year the hospitals in this province will receive some $6 billion and we are working co-operatively with the hospitals, on an individual basis as well as with the Ontario Hospital Association and others, to make sure that patient care is our number one priority and that we take advantage of new technologies which allow us to offer services in alternative ways. We are always looking to improve the services and to address the waiting times to make sure that in fact we can respond appropriately to the needs of the people.
Mr Brandt: None of that answers the questions I raised. It is rather frustrating to stand up here and talk in terms of the government’s own throne speech, which said it wanted to make health care services accessible and provide affordable and appropriate health care services for all in Ontario.
The fact of the matter is that Dr Smith from Chedoke McMaster Hospital serves patients who have spinal injuries, stroke victims and individuals suffering from rheumatic arthritis. In those particular cases, many cures are possible through orthopaedic procedures that can be provided by this particular hospital.
The minister talks continuously about the amount of money she spends. I want to talk about people who are getting helped. I am telling her that this month she is reducing the number of people she is helping from 40 to 15, she is extending waiting lists and people are suffering as a result of her inane policies. When is the minister going to do something about it?
Hon Mrs Caplan: We are continuously making improvements on the very strong foundation in this province, and I would say to the leader of the third party that if he would cut out the theatrics, he would understand that in fact the hospitals are run by independent boards which establish the priorities for their hospitals. We are working with them to make sure we can respond on a regional basis so that we can meet the ever-changing needs of the people of this province.
I am not familiar with the specific case the leader raises and I would be pleased to look into that.
Mrs Marland: My question is also to the Minister of Health. The minister and I have been in discussion about one of my constituents, Jessica Godman. While there is no question in my mind that medical decisions must continue to be made by medical professionals, the political decision to cut long waiting lists for heart surgery must be made by the minister.
In the member’s gallery today we have Martha Godman, the mother of baby Jessica, a three-and-a-half-month-old girl who is in desperate need of heart surgery. Mrs Godman has taken time out of her 24-hour-a-day stay with her daughter at the Hospital for Sick Children to be here today.
This poor baby has been in and out of hospitals with deteriorating health since the day she was born on 20 January 1989.
The Speaker: The question?
Mrs Marland: My question to the minister is: Is she going to continue to brush off her responsibility to cut the waiting list for heart surgery for babies by not addressing the nursing shortage for the intensive care unit patients? It has been two years that we have been asking her this question.
Hon Mrs Caplan: First, I would say to the member opposite that I am familiar with this case, that she brought it to my attention. We contacted the hospital and we have been assured by the hospital that the child is not in any immediate danger and that it is a medical decision when the surgery should be scheduled.
Mrs Marland: As I said at the outset, it is a medical decision as to the fact that the surgery is needed; it is a political decision that the surgery is being waited for. The fact is that the minister’s government has found the money to fund mandatory junior kindergarten programs in this province to the tune of $200 million.
Can the minister tell me, and perhaps tell Mrs Godman and parents of other babies on these waiting lists, how the government is willing to spend over $200 million on junior kindergarten when there are babies who may not live long enough to make kindergarten?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am somewhat distressed at the tone of the member’s question and want to tell her and all members of this House that there is no political interference in medical decision-making in this province. We rely on physicians to use their very best judgement and ensure that emergencies take priority. I can tell her again that I understand the child is being closely monitored by physicians at one of the premier children’s hospitals, not only in Ontario but across Canada. I would say to her as well that I think it is very important not to suggest there is any political interference in medical decision-making.
Mrs Marland: It is really interesting that the minister is having such difficulty hearing what I am saying. I am using Jessica Godman as an example. The truth of the matter is that another child, who is also on a waiting list for heart surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children, last night went into respiratory failure. The truth of the matter is that the minister’s government does not set its priorities in terms of human needs. That has been demonstrated by its throne speech. The truth of the matter is that she will fund patients to go all over the world; she will fund patients to go to the United States and anywhere else in this province and in Canada if it is an emergency.
My question to the minister is: Since she has such a “world-class health care system,” what kind of logic is it to spend megabucks sending our patients outside of this province for treatment because we have four kinds of waiting lists in Ontario?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, we have been in contact, as I said, with the hospital and I want to tell the member opposite that they are making great progress in attracting nurses to the Hospital for Sick Children -- some 75, I understand, have been recruited -- and that this should help to ease the situation for elective surgery.
They have assured me that in fact they provide services based on their very best medical judgement to make sure that those who require it first, based on emergency and medical needs, receive it first. When the hospital cannot accommodate that patient, the patient is taken wherever it is required to make sure he or she receives the needed care when he needs it. I can tell the member that the resources are available. This province can be very proud of the commitment we have made to our hospitals, but in fact our whole priority is to meet the needs when they are needed, and we rely on the physicians of this province to do that.
The Speaker: Order. New question. The members are once again just wasting time. Other members would like to ask questions.
Mrs Grier: I am waiting for the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley), Mr Speaker. Is he expected or can I stand down?
Hon Mr Conway: He had to step out. He will be back momentarily.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr Mackenzie: I have a question to the Minister of Labour. Does the minister remember his remarks on 24 January 1989 when he introduced Bill 208? He said that the single, unwavering purpose of these amendments is to fulfil a fundamental obligation of this government to make workplaces as safe as humanly possible.
We have since heard the remarks of the Premier (Mr Peterson), which I have not heard him deny, that there may be difficulty bringing in this bill. We certainly support the initiative in this particular bill. Can the Minister of Labour tell us when we will see Bill 208 brought into this House?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am glad to hear that the member for Hamilton East continues in his support for the initiative. I cannot tell him two or three or a few days into a session of Parliament when that will be. I am not even sure that the House leaders have sat down to discuss the legislative agenda, but as soon as we have a date, I expect the member from Hamilton East will be the second to know.
Mr Mackenzie: The issue is not our support; it is the minister’s agenda. He said in response to my question about the unfortunate and unnecessary Dome miner deaths that the House leaders would be looking at this or bringing in recommendations shortly. Interestingly enough, Bill 208 is not on the list of bills that was presented to the opposition parties to be finished before the end of June, and that is one of the reasons we are specifically asking him.
We know there is a tremendous lobby by the business interests. I am wondering, is the minister bowing to the construction companies, the Muzzos, the Del Zottos, the developers, the industrial companies --
The Speaker: Minister.
Mr Mackenzie: -- on this bill or are we going to see it brought forward in this House?
The Speaker: Order, The question has been put.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I think that virtually anyone who serves in a government is subject to lobbies whenever initiative will bring about substantial reform in any particular area. I think my friend the member for Hamilton East will know that there is a very significant lobby in the province right now to abandon Bill 162, notwithstanding the fact that the very vitality of the workers’ compensation system is dependent upon our successfully bringing into place a bill that will reform permanent partial disability, bring about rights of reinstatement and drastically change vocational rehabilitation.
So I am not concerned about lobbying. I think that is part of the political process. I said when I introduced the bill that we welcome comments from all over the province, and we have got a wide variety of comments since the bill was introduced on that day in January of this year.
Mr Eves: I have a question for the Minister of Health and I hope that her backbench colleagues over here will take these health questions a little bit more seriously than they did the very important case of the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland).
Mr Fleet: Ask a serious question.
Mr Eves: I am asking the member to get serious. Let him give his head a shake, I can hear it rattling from over here,
The Speaker: The question?
Mr Eves: I am going to ask the Minister of Health --
Mr Mahoney: You should be ashamed of yourself.
The Speaker: Does anyone have a question? The member for Parry Sound.
Mr Eves: Maybe Mr Mahoney is not concerned about Mississauga infants dying, but some of the people in this House are.
The Speaker: I gather you do not have a question.
Mr Eves: Yes, I have a question.
The Speaker: Well, place it.
Mr Eves: I hopefully will get an answer to the question today from the Minister of Health about the Victorian Order of Nurses and its underfunding plight in the province of Ontario. We did not get one yesterday from the Premier (Mr Peterson), by the way. It is good to see him back.
Mr Mahoney: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker.
Mr Eves: On page 3 --
The Speaker: Order. A point of order?
Mr Mahoney: On a point of privilege, Mr Speaker: It is my understanding that it is unparliamentary to use a member’s name in this House and to cast aspersions at him, particularly when it comes to the individual member’s concerns for his riding. I would ask the member to apologize.
Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, to the member for Mississauga West, I apologize if he took offence at what I said. However, he did say that --
The Speaker: Thank you. Continue with the question.
Mr Eves: On page 3 of the VON report on underfunding, as I am sure the minister is aware, it says:
“An operational review of VON services was jointly undertaken with the Ministry of Health in October 1988. The report highlighted the shortcomings of the average per visit method of funding and recommended a revised funding approach which would separately recognize fixed costs and address changes in case complexity.”
The next sentence says, “Nevertheless, nothing has been done;” and it goes on further down the page to say that there was no negotiation or consultation process in establishing this rate. Could we have the minister’s comments on that, please?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I want to acknowledge the important contribution that the Victorian Order of Nurses makes in the delivery of home care services in the province and to say to the member, my critic from the third party, that the report that we have received on home care makes many far-reaching recommendations.
We are reviewing the report in detail at the present time. As we have clearly stated our commitment to community-based services, I can assure the member that we want to maintain them and enhance our working relationship with this and other groups providing services in the province.
Mr Eves: I have the Price Waterhouse report with me. On page 53, it comes to a conclusion that, “The approved amounts proved to be insufficient to meet the needs of clients judged eligible for program services.” That is a pretty basic statement and that is exactly what the VON is saying. They are saying that they already have a deficit of $2.6 million and that if the per visitation funding formula is not adjusted for this year, they are looking at another projected deficit of $2.5 million.
The minister says she is basing her health program on more community-based health care, which we all agree with. Why will she not give the VON and others like it the moneys they need to provide this low-cost service and spend more money on community-based health care? Right now, the community-based health care portion of her health budget is four per cent --
The Speaker: Order. The member has asked the question.
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, for the information of the critic from the third party, between 1985-86 and 1987-88 home care program support has increased by some 60 per cent, from $154 million to some $245 million. I would say to him and to all members of the House that we are working with the Victorian Order of Nurses. We are responding appropriately to the report and recommendations, and I will be meeting with them this week.
Mr Daigeler: My question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I understand that last week the minister discussed industrial planning for the province with the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto. According to a Toronto Star report, the Toronto board of trade objects to a targeted economic strategy to create jobs in industries for the future.
May I ask the minister what the outcome was of his discussions and how the business community in Ontario is responding in general to the Premier’s Council’s call to focus on value-adding and wealth-creating industries in our economic development strategy?
Hon Mr Kwinter: Members will know that the Premier’s Council has issued a report called Competing in the Global Economy. I would say, by and large, that it has been very favourably received across Canada and in other jurisdictions. However, the board of trade issued a critique that contained about 32 points where they were in disagreement.
The member is right that the media portrayed this as something that was going to be a shoot-out between myself, representing the Premier’s Council, and members of the board of trade. I can tell members that at that dinner the agreements were far greater than the disagreements.
Basically, the one thing that we agreed to disagree on was that the board of trade felt that the government should not be intervening in the industrial strategy of the province, that that should be left to the marketplace.
I am sure that even my friends in the third party do not necessarily agree with that. We think there is a role for government to play and we are playing that role. I can say that, by and large, it has been extremely well received. The Premier’s Council is proceeding and is, I think, making an outstanding contribution to the economic direction of this province.
Mr Daigeler: I thank the minister very much for giving us an update on his discussions. I am pleased that there seems to be a fair amount of agreement between the Toronto business community and the policies that he is putting forward.
Yesterday, there was some question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) about the work of the Premier’s Council, and I am glad the minister made reference to the great appreciation of this report across the country. May I ask the minister what the next steps are in the work of the Premier’s Council and when we might expect its next report, which I will read with great interest, as I have done as well for the first part?
Hon Mr Kwinter: The Premier’s Council has now embarked on an in-depth look at the human resource factor of our competitiveness. It is something that is taking a great deal of consultation and research, and I expect that the Premier’s Council will be releasing its report some time towards the end of the year or early in the new year, but in that time frame.
Mrs Grier: I am sure the Minister of the Environment will recall his visit to Wallaceburg in 1986. He made a speech which began, “It is always a pleasure to bring good news, and that is what I have today.” He went on to say, “We are moving ahead with the long-planned and long-delayed pipeline to bring safe drinking water to the people of Wallaceburg and Walpole Island.”
It is still long planned and it is still long delayed, and the minister’s excuse has been that he was waiting for a contribution from the federal government. He got his answer from the federal government this week when the new Minister of the Environment said there would be no federal funding for the Wallaceburg pipeline. Since receiving that information, has the minister had time to come up with another excuse, and if so what is it?
Hon Mr Bradley: I am surprised that, with the gentleman who sits beside the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, who is drawing attention to the fact that there are many deficiencies at the federal level -- and this may bode well for the future in terms of the contribution he can make -- the member would be so anxious to get the federal government off the hook by saying this would be an excuse.
I think the member will remember that I very quickly put the money and commitment of Ontario to the tune of 75 per cent of the cost of a water source for the people in that specific area and that I indicated at the time that this is more generous than the normal allocation, as she would know. There are people and municipalities right across Ontario that have varying percentages of money that are provided for water and sewer projects. We were prepared to do that, and the remaining amount would be the responsibility of the municipality.
I indicated at that time that I would be strongly supportive of a federal government commitment in this connection, particularly as it relates to the fact that we are dealing with Walpole Island as one of the municipalities, and also because it is an international waterway and the federal ministers have consistently signed agreements of an international nature.
The Speaker: Thank you. You might get further information on the supplementary.
Mrs Grier: I have pointed out to the minister on a number of occasions that had he built the pipeline when he first promised it, his 75 per cent of today’s costs would have built it in 1986. Let me ask the minister, is he aware that since his announcement, there have been closures of the water intake pipes at Wallaceburg and Walpole Island no less than eight times, twice already in 1989, because of spills in the St Clair River?
Is he aware that Mrs Ivy Sharrow of Wallace-burg has collected a petition to all politicians saying, “We need our pipeline now for the sake of our children,” and that the petition was signed by 2,639 people, a quarter of the population of Wallaceburg? What is the minister --
The Speaker: No, you have asked your question. Order. You have asked the question, “Is the minister aware of the petition?”
Hon Mr Bradley: I think that one has to look at the fact that when I hear other members interjecting, I know in their particular constituencies they would be looking for the kind of funds that people in that area would be looking for, and I, as the Minister of the Environment, must allocate funds to various municipalities across Ontario.
Some of them get up to this 75 per cent; others would get only 15 per cent for the purpose of a water line. The member for Chatham-Kent (Mr Bossy) has kept me up to date on these matters and has been meeting with several of the people in the area, including the municipal leaders.
We are deeply disappointed that the federal government has chosen not to contribute. In some ways, of course, the pressure is lifted from them, because people have been saying, “Why doesn’t somebody else assume the cost?”
We have our money on the table. We have had our money on the table since the time that the member indicated and we are prepared to proceed. We in fact have continued the kind of preliminary work that is necessary to proceed with the pipeline. We are prepared to proceed with that.
We are also prepared to have some discussions with people in the area, which the member will be encouraging and arranging, and I hope we can come to a solution, because I share the member’s concern and most certainly the member for Chatham-Kent’s concern that there be appropriate water.
The member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore would also note that the drinking water surveillance program in Ontario has indicated that whenever that testing has been done, the water meets all of the --
The Speaker: Order.
ONTARIO HOME RENEWAL PROGRAM FOR DISABLED PERSONS
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of Housing.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Sterling: I have a constituent who, believe it or not, has --
Mr Sterling: This is not a laughing matter, unfortunately.
I have a constituent who, believe it or not, has not been able to take either a bath or a shower in over eight months. This gentleman is a quadriplegic who does not have any access to the bathroom in his home and can only access his bedroom by removing the foot pedals from his wheelchair.
I would like to ask the minister what her plans are for hundreds of people, 200 in eastern Ontario alone, who have applied for assistance under the Ontario home renewal program for disabled persons, have received the first-stage approval -- in other words, have been led to believe they are going to get the money to modify their accommodations to enable access -- and have been left in abeyance.
This person, who is watching today, has been waiting for over --
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon Ms Hosek: I think that the story the member tells is a story we have to respond to. There are in fact many disabled persons across this province and the Ontario home renewal program for the disabled was created to help them to stay in their own homes and to give them the amenities they need so that they can live there appropriately. The story the member tells is, of course, very disturbing.
Originally, the amount of money that was budgeted for this program was about $1.5 million. In the last few years we have increased that to $7.5 million and a large number of people have been helped.
There are clearly some people on the waiting list right now. I expect the member opposite to get some information about this in due course. We are very aware of the problem, very concerned about it, and committed to making sure that people who need help to make sure that their housing suits them will get that help.
Mr Sterling: I accept the minister’s sincerity in her answer, but this government has raised expectations for the disabled community to get this kind of help.
Since the program has not been funded for at least the past six months, I would like to ask the minister the following questions: Why have the applicants been held in abeyance waiting for access to their washrooms, to their bedrooms or whatever? Why have they not received a refusal months ago so that they might make other arrangements if they are able to do so? Why were they not told to proceed with their renovations --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order. Would the member take his seat? That is three questions.
Hon Ms Hosek: The member opposite, since he has clearly been following this issue -- I know that he has -- will know that our program has already helped 750 people who need help to live in their homes. There are other programs we also have that are available to them to help with making their homes suitable. One of them is the convert-to-rent program and another is the low-rise rehabilitation program.
Let me just repeat to the member: Our commitment to helping the people who have applied for that program is there, and I hope the member will be hearing good news about this soon.
Ms Collins: My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Like other areas of the province, my riding of Wentworth East is experiencing tremendous growth in terms of new housing developments, and this rapid growth is expected to continue over the next few years. Many developers have approached me about the length of time it takes the ministry to process land title applications. As the minister knows, delays in this procedure impact on both buyers and developers, as the question of ownership can delay closings. Could the minister inform the House of the steps he has taken to alleviate this problem?
Hon Mr Wrye: I thank the honourable member for the question. I note that she alluded in her preamble to the fact that the unprecedented growth in all parts of the province is causing the kinds of problems the member outlines which are occurring in the riding of Wentworth East.
We have put in place a number of changes as a result of an effort to get rid of the backlog in the titles application area by the end of the year, and I say to the honourable member we are going to do everything to make sure we do that. We are adding staff; we are streamlining the process; we have brought some people in on a contract basis, and we are bringing in some new equipment which will allow us to get on with that job.
I acknowledge to the honourable member and to the House that this growth has caused a backlog in a number of areas throughout the land registration system, but the government and this ministry are committed to a significant improvement, particularly in the area which the honourable member speaks of.
Ms Collins: The minister has announced a new computerized information system for developers. This system at present serves Metropolitan Toronto and area. When will this very important service be available to the rest of the province?
Hon Mr Wrye: The automation proposal under way through Polaris, the province of Ontario land registration and information system, has taken place on a pilot basis, as the honourable member points out, and is now under way in two of the three offices in Toronto and in Chatham as well. In terms of her area, I can say to the honourable member that Hamilton-Wentworth is due to be included in the project at the beginning of phase 2, I believe, which is right now scheduled to begin in 1992.
However, as the member knows, we have put out a request for proposal for a joint venture with the private sector, and that is designed to do two things: to speed up the automation process -- to speed up the Polaris project -- and at the same time to develop a huge export market for this very important land registration and information system. The evaluation is now under way; the project should be in place by the end of this month. Hopefully, over time that will speed up the phasing in of these projects and bring the kind of system to Hamilton-Wentworth that the member hopes for, perhaps before 1992.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a question of the Minister of Labour. On 24 February, Chou Kim, a 32-year-old woman, was killed at Highline Produce in south Essex. She was killed on the job. The minister will know about this case from several letters that I have written to him. He will also understand that even though the worker was working in a greenhouse which is not unlike a factory, there was no investigation by the Ministry of Labour, occupational health and safety branch, and there has been no inquest called by the coroner. The minister will understand all of this because this worker was not covered by this act because she was considered a farm worker.
Is the minister also aware that in the one investigation that does get carried out by the Farm Safety Association, funded entirely by the Workers’ Compensation Board, the report is delivered to the owners of the company, not shared with the other employees and not even shared with the family or made public? Does he think that is appropriate?
Hon Mr Sorbara: The member points to the fact that historically in the province, since the earliest regulation of health and safety, agriculture has not been covered within the purview of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. In fact, farming operations, even though some of those operations are very farming-like, are not subject to the rules, regulations and statutes under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Historically, that has been the case.
I should tell my friend the member for Windsor-Riverside that a recent effort by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Farm Safety Association has reviewed that matter, and I look forward to their reports and comments in the near future.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I understand the law. The minister should be apologizing in this place for the lack of protection of farm workers across this province, and in particular for this death, but the specific question I am asking him comes out of the pledge of confidentiality that the Farm Safety Association has to employers in this province.
I am asking the minister in this case and in all future cases, will he change the rules so that the reports and investigations carried out by the Farm Safety Association are made public, so that the workers can understand what happened and so that the family can understand what happened and to prevent deaths like this again in the farm community?
Hon Mr Sorbara: Let me just assure my friend from Windsor that I will take the suggestion that he makes seriously and consider it.
However, when he asks me whether in the future I will ensure that accidents or indeed tragic fatalities like the one he has mentioned will be investigated, or the reports prepared by the Farm Safety Association will be made public, I just want to tell him that those reports and that organization are not within my jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, it is a matter that gives me some great concern for a number of reasons, including the fact that the historical reality of the separation of farming from industrial health and safety, mining health and safety and construction health and safety goes back to the days when farming was characterized primarily by small family institutions. There is an industrial component now that presents us, as a government, with significantly different issues.
On the matter that he raises, I just want to undertake to examine his suggestion very carefully and get back to him in the course of the investigations that are going on.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Solicitor General. The minister stated last July, with regard to Bill 113, the Sunday shopping legislation:
“This proposed legislation provides a province-wide law that requires most retailers to close on Sundays. Furthermore, it makes this requirement stricter, fairer and more enforceable than the old law.”
We are aware of 100 cases outstanding in the Mississauga area against retailers who are opening now on Sundays. Is the minister aware of this, and if she is, what is her government going to do about these violations?
Hon Mrs Smith: The member for London North well knows that Mississauga has its own police force. We have put an act in place which they can make use of. I assume that the stores which are being discriminated against by these illegal openings will make their complaints known to the police force and demand action from them.
Mrs Cunningham: We were well warned by the municipalities during the summer that this new legislation would not be more enforceable and, in fact, that they would need a great deal of support in enforcing it. Now the mayor of Mississauga has advised us that these violations are far down on the lists in the courts to be dealt with. They have not been dealt with at all.
Furthermore, the municipalities are needing a great deal of dollars in order to enforce legislation. There were two clouts; larger fines was one of them, and the power of injunction was the other. We see no evidence that the new legislation is more enforceable than the old. What is the minister going to tell the public about that?
Hon Mrs Smith: As the mayor of Mississauga well knows, there was a great lineup in the courts on these issues before. They were not making progress. When they did get there, very small fines were being issued. Under the new law, proper fines will and should be issued. In fact, the law requires the court to look at the volume of sales and give proper fines. As well as that, of course, the diligence of the police in laying charges and working into the injunctive clause is in their hands. The law includes this and they have the power to use it.
Mr Kozyra: My question is for the Minister of the Environment. As the minister is aware, the Environmental Assessment Board hearing on timber management is presently being held in Thunder Bay. I am encouraged by the progress being made to improve forest management practices and reforestation. I am also glad to see a large part of the hearing is being held in Thunder Bay, given that the outcome of the board’s deliberations on the timber management agreement will affect communities throughout the north.
My question is this: Has any consideration been given to the prospect of the board visiting other northern communities to give them an opportunity to contribute to this most important issue?
Hon Mr Bradley: That is an excellent question because the board, I know, always wants to ensure accessibility for people across the province in terms of hearings. That is within the purview of the board and not of the minister.
I can tell the member that approximately 60 parties have indicated their willingness to participate in this hearing so far, which is very encouraging. Although the bulk of the hearings will be held in Thunder Bay, which one might expect would be normal, the board will also be travelling, I think, to somewhere around 14 different communities to hear presentations from those who are unable to make the presentation in Thunder Bay. I could go on and list these communities, but in the interests of brevity in this House, I would not want to go into the long list, except to say that this will be taking place and that we are encouraging people to participate in this process.
The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) would tell everyone that we cannot think of another jurisdiction which is undertaking such a comprehensive review of its forest management practices as is Ontario. We want to hear from everyone out there. We want to ensure that the final product that is forthcoming from this is one that is going to improve upon what we are already doing at the present time so that, once again, Ontario can be a leader in this and other fields.
Mr Kozyra: I thank the minister for that. I understand that many thoughtful and constructive presentations have been made by all the parties to the board to date, in particular the citizen and native community interveners.
I understand the government provided $300,000 in intervener funding to assist those parties to present their cases. Given that the hearing is more complex than expected and that the Ministry of Natural Resources will soon complete its testimony, I would like to ask if the government will provide additional intervener funding in order to ensure a continuance of these kinds of quality presentations for the duration of the hearing.
Hon Mr Bradley: I would indicate to many of the people here today who may not be aware of it that Forests of Tomorrow, which is a coalition of five environmental groups, has received $134,000; the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, $76,000; the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association, $29,000; Grand Council Treaty 3, $47,000; Red Lake-Ear Falls-Golden Municipal Commission, $9,100; Beardmore-Lake Nipigon Watch Dog Society, $2,400, and individuals some $90,000.
Obviously these hearings are going on for a longer period of time because more people want to make representations. I can assure this member, who has a great interest in this, as do all members of this House of course, that it is the intention of the government of Ontario to provide some additional intervener funding. The Minister of Natural Resources and I are both working on this particular package. I expect that in the very near future we will make the kind of announcement that everyone in the province will be pleased with once again.
Mr Reville: If the minister had had a larger telephone book, this question period would have been over.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE
Mr Reville: My question is to the Minister of Health. It says in the throne speech that the government is going to address specialty care needs in areas such as emergency services. Given that promise in the throne speech, I want to ask why the Ministry of Health has instituted a policy that vacancies created by vacations, sick days and other employee absences in connection with air ambulance attendants are not going to be filled which, in my view and in the view of the attendants, leaves the Ministry of Health in the position of breaking the regulations of the Ambulance Act.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think it is very important for the critic from the opposition party to know that there are standards of care and performance in all of the contracts with air ambulance operators which they are required to meet. I would say to him that I will ensure that those requirements are met.
Mr Reville: I am very relieved to hear the answer of the minister. Just so that she ensures that she meets the correct regulations, I think she needs to know that as of today emergency medical care assistants have been advised that they may have to work alone. Regulation 57 and regulation 58 of the Ambulance Act indicate that they must work with a qualified partner. That is the situation in the north. I think it is inappropriate to apply a different standard in northern Ontario than in southern Ontario. I want this minister to assure us that that policy will be revoked today.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think it is important for the member opposite and for all members of the House to know that in the provision of emergency services there are different codes that are responses, some which are true emergencies and others which are not given the same emergency status.
I want to assure the member and all members of this House that all code 3 and code 4 emergencies will be covered by two-man teams.
SALE OF GOVERNMENT LANDS
Mr J. M. Johnson: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. You may recall, Mr Speaker, that on Thursday, 2 March, exactly two months ago, I addressed a question to the Chairman of Management Board concerning the sale of certain government-owned land in the city of Cambridge.
Unable to answer my question at that time, the Chairman of Management Board gave his assurance that he would gladly look into the matter and consult with the Minister of Government Services concerning the sale. I assume that consultation has taken place, but I have to date not received a reply either from the Chairman of Management Board or the Minister of Government Services.
I would now, therefore, like to restate my question. On 22 February, the Minister of Government Services announced the sale of 185 acres of land in the city of Cambridge for $4.4 million, or about $24,000 per acre, reportedly $12 million below its true market value.
Can the minister now tell the House if an appraised value of this land was obtained at the time of sale; did this government sell the land at less than its true market value; and if so, by how much?
Hon Mr Patten: In fact, I recall the question the member did ask at that time. I will put this in writing for him. I did ask my officials if they would check into the figures that were stated. They checked back with the city of Cambridge. The people at the department he refers to indeed said they had talked about a figure, but the figure they quoted was the market value, in their estimation, of land that would be serviced.
The land we have at this particular point is not serviced land. We always get a third-party appraisal of land before we sell it in order to arrive at the value of what that is. In this particular instance, yes, we did. If the member would like the information, I would be very happy to share that with him.
Mr Pelissero: “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 criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
My name is signed at the bottom.
Mr Pollock: I have a petition signed by 125 people, which reads as follows:
“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 criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
It is signed by myself.
Mrs Grier: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which reads as follows:
“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.
“The proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
This petition is signed by 193 teachers in the city of Etobicoke and I have initialled it to indicate my support.
Mr McCague: I have a petition for the Lieutenant Governor in Council and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, signed by 61 persons from my riding in the Collingwood area, which reads in part as follows:
“I believe that all residents of extended care facilities, whether it be a nursing home or a municipal home for the aged, are entitled to equal care and services according to the specific care requirements of each individual.
“Nursing home residents should benefit from the same amount of funding and kinds of services as residents of municipal homes for the aged.
“I urge the Ontario government to reform the extended care system so that it is uniform, fair and equitable with regard to funding and regulation, and so that seniors in all extended care facilities receive the quality of care that they deserve.”
The Speaker: I just remind all members that there are certain rules for petitions. They should not be addressed to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
561239 ONTARIO INC. ACT, 1989
Mr Chiarelli moved first reading of Bill Pr10, An Act to revive 561239 Ontario Inc., 1989.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session.
Mr Brandt: I am delighted to have this opportunity to respond to the throne speech on behalf of my party and to perhaps offer for the government’s consideration, as I speak to this matter for the next few moments, some thoughts, ideas, and perhaps even suggestions and recommendations on how it might clean up its act and perform in a somewhat more acceptable manner in terms of what the people of this province have grown accustomed to expecting in terms of good government.
I would like to say that this throne speech continues on with the Liberal tradition of what is important to say as opposed to what is important for a government to do. It in many instances takes editorial licence by rewriting history and recycling broken promises. It makes a host of new promises that are incorporated in the speech, as limited as this speech was, without consideration of any cost or any difficulties of implementation.
I find it very difficult in some instances to argue with the promises that are made, because by and large they are attractive political objectives. I use the words “political objectives” because I think you have to separate that which is political from that which is in fact affordable.
Through the course of my remarks, I am going to try to separate that which is promised by one level of government and that which is to be paid for without consultation or negotiation by another level of government, the end result being that one level of government comes up with a host of new and sometimes attractive ideas, while simply shifting the burden of payment on to another level of government. I will lay before this Legislative Assembly proof positive that this is exactly what is happening.
My favourite promise, if you will, the one that perhaps really did not get the attention it deserved in this throne speech, is the one that said, “If you move to Ontario, fortunately, you are going to live longer.” It was an interesting sentence in the throne speech, which by any measurement was the shortest throne speech in the history of this province, a throne speech that in fact contained fewer promises.
I believe this government took stock of what happened in previous throne speeches. The government took stock of what happened with respect to certain criticisms that were being levelled at it in consideration of its nonperformance on certain issues in the past. They decided, “Well, the best thing for us to do is to really reduce the number of promises we are going to make, and therefore we will give the opposition fewer targets to fire at.” I think that is really what happened with the thrust of this throne speech.
The key members of this government sat around a board table and decided they had their bellies full, if you will, of criticisms that were coming from the media, consulting groups and others who were observers of the political process and who came to the very specific position in connection with the performance of this government that it had in fact missed the mark on a number of very key and important issues.
What was said in terms of the bottom line by so many people who understand this process all too well was that this government had no agenda, that this government really had lost its sense of objectivity in terms of where it was going. I think the most damning of all the observations was that this government had really no focus.
It said that in part because the government had been preoccupied essentially with two issues: Those issues were Sunday shopping and free trade. All other issues really fell by the wayside while the government attempted to put into place it’s defence on those particular matters. Those two issues really dominated the last session in terms of the time they took, the energy and the commitment from the government opposite.
When the government in the throne speech actually had the unmitigated gall to suggest that if you move to Ontario you are going to live longer, I guess it conveniently forgot what has been happening to our health system here in Ontario. I guess they conveniently forgot that waiting lists are getting longer, that it is getting more difficult to get procedures carried out in hospitals, that doctors and nurses and health providers, both in the community setting and in the institutions that provide health care in the province, are getting more and more frustrated.
But when, in the throne speech, it talked about people living longer in Ontario, I guess the great explorer, Ponce de Leon had it wrong back in the 17th century when he searched for the fountain of youth in what is today Florida. He was a few thousand miles south of where he should have been, and a few centuries early. Who would have guessed that the fountain of youth, the cause of so many quests, once thought lost to mankind for ever, would be finally discovered in, of all places, that northern Utopia, that Garden of Eden that has only come to be realized in the last four years through the current government, and of course, was highlighted in its 1989 throne speech.
But there it is in black and white, “Move to Ontario.” I ask my colleagues, are we not pleased that we are here? “Move to Ontario and you will get to live longer.” There are many other promises made in the throne speech, but they are not quite as sweeping in scale as the one about living longer if you are a resident of this great province of ours, but unfortunately -- I am being as fair as I can -- some of those promises are equally guilty of being less than fully truthful in terms of what they will deliver to the people of this province.
As I see it, there were two main components to the speech, once one strips aside the rhetoric of motherhood and good intentions.
The first of those thrusts in the throne speech was the government’s newly found and supposed commitment to education. If I might, in the time that is allowed to me this afternoon, I want to spend a considerable period on the whole question of education in Ontario, because I believe this government is again out of focus and out of touch and is losing its sense of purpose as it relates to education in our province.
As an example, the government states it intends to introduce kindergarten for four-year olds and five-year-olds and that it intends to re-emphasize the need for core curriculum for older students. It intends doing so, according to the throne speech, because of the need to build for the future of our children.
I cannot think of a better example of where this government has failed so miserably in translating words into action than in the field of education. In doing so, it has failed the very children whose futures it says it is so concerned about. Let’s look at the facts as they relate to education in this province, and not at false promises, public relations efforts, glossy brochures and pamphlets, splashy announcements and idle rhetoric.
On 28 March 1985 -- my colleagues will remember that date well -- just before a provincial election, it was this government that promised to increase provincial subsidies and provincial transfers to local school boards to 60 per cent from the level it was at that particular time, which was in the range of 47 per cent. It was a very acceptable kind of target, I think, that the previous government was aiming for as well. It was an acceptable kind of target in that for educational financing covered by the province, I believe the peak figure was some 61 per cent at one particular point in time.
What has happened is not only that this promise of 60 per cent was not met -- boards of education of course were very discouraged and very frustrated by that right across this province-but that there was an actual absolute decline from 47 per cent to 42 per cent. That may not sound like a lot to some people in this assembly, but I want to tell members that a five per cent reduction in the amount of support base for educational purposes amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars right across this province.
What is even more discouraging in connection with those particular figures -- that reduction, that erosion of support for education, the very pillar upon which this throne speech is constructed -- is the fact that if the government cannot meet the 60 per cent requirement for educational purposes, if it cannot raise or elevate the 47 per cent the current government inherited to 60 per cent, and if it finds itself in an absolute decline of some five per cent or more, then what it does is change the formula.
The Minister of Education (Mr Ward) stands up in righteous indignation and says: “Well, the members of the opposition are wrong. We in fact are funding more because you see what we are doing is changing the way in which we base the formula. We are giving you money in this program or that program.” But in terms of general support grants, which was what the target figure was based on, that number is in absolute, real decline.
The way the government gets around this, in quite the same way as it talks about how one is going to live longer in Ontario, is to simply change the formula. I take issue with that because I believe it is misleading; I believe it is less than honest, and I choose my words carefully. I say it is less than honest because we did have a formula that was reasonably acceptable to all members of this House. It very clearly determined what was required in terms of programming for the educational systems in the various school boards across this province. This government back in 1985 indicated that what would be fair would be provincial subsidies about the 60 per cent level. Well, did they deliver that? The answer, quite clearly, is no.
Not only did they not deliver that, but they did not even maintain the level of funding they used to criticize with such a great degree of enthusiasm when they were on the other side of the House. They used to indicate how unacceptable it was that the government of the day had allowed the erosion of funding all the way down to 47 per cent. If it was bad to go down to 47 per cent, I guess it has to be catastrophic to go down to some 42 per cent; and I might add virtually in free fall in terms of the way in which that grant subsidy has been handled.
Hon Mr Conway: Will somebody reign in this profligate spender? He’s going to defeat every Tory fiscal policy imaginable.
Mr Brandt: The government House leader interjects by indicating that I am talking about spending more money. By way of clarification, since it may be difficult for the government House leader to understand, although I am speaking slowly and I think rather succinctly as it relates to this particular issue, I am recalling for his information a promise made by his government.
They are the ones who said they were going to increase the funding to that level. They are the ones who showed absolutely no consideration whatever for what the cost of that program was. I want to tell them that kind of theme finds it way through announcement after announcement on that side of the House when it comes to housing policy, environmental policy, day care services, education and municipal programs.
Time and again they make announcements, and I say this as charitably as I know how, because I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the talents and abilities of the government House leader.
Mr Cureatz: I wouldn’t go that far.
Mr Brandt: Well, I withdraw that.
Mr Cureatz: I feel better now; that’s right.
Mr Brandt: I got carried away for a moment there. On a personal basis I like the government House leader, but I want to say to him that it is not acceptable in a responsible government that it simply think up these attractive political programs, make announcements either in throne speeches and/or in budgets or in ministerial dictates that will come from on high over the course of the next 12 months, and then expect somebody else to pick up the cost of those programs.
Let me give the members another promise in the education field that was made by the current government, on 22 April 1986. This was in another throne speech, I might add. The government promised to establish a high school in the north. My colleague the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) will remember this well. That high school was to be dedicated to science and technology, another promise that was made. The truth of the matter is that three years later, we do not hear about that promise any more, I say to the member for Nipissing.
Here we are with a problem area in our province, an area where there is a real decline in jobs, an area that is struggling to maintain the population and the workforce and the kinds of communities there at the present time, where they need some government assistance in order to strengthen, if you will, the economic fibre of those communities. Many of those communities, as we all well know, are dependent upon a single industry, either the pulp and paper industry or the mining industry, and if that industry goes, in many instances the entire community is literally without any hope of providing employment for its citizens.
The government made a commitment to provide a high school in that particular area that would fill part of the need and perhaps strengthen and reinforce the very fine communities we have in the north. Then after they made the promise, they turned their backs completely on what was a good idea, and maybe it is a good thing they did because the experience in the past was that they will make the announcement and somebody else will pay. That is what they have done time and time and time again, and it is just not acceptable.
We never hear about the high school in the north that is going to be able to provide the science and technology programs for the students of that particular area who need it so badly.
On 28 April 1987 there was another Liberal throne speech. This one came just before an election, so that makes it a very interesting one. The government promised to adopt an improved literacy program in teacher training. It promised to give priority to ensure that students attain both traditional and new literacy in science and computer skills. The truth behind that promise and the fact is that no action was taken.
In November 1987 there was another Liberal throne speech in which the government promised to increase the number of computers in classrooms and to increase the amount of educational software. The total pricetag of that program was rather staggering. I remember at the time that this was a program that was originally initiated by a previous government. Moving into that kind of new technology, that kind of state-of-the-art instruction if you will, on that type of equipment was deemed to be a very necessary, a needed tool for the educational field in our province.
So we endorsed the move to accelerate the process that was going to provide more money for computer equipment and, therefore, for the advancement and betterment of computer skills, a necessary piece of equipment in today’s advanced society. We applauded the government’s initiatives in that respect. There was a pricetag on that of $650 million.
Hon Mr Conway: Andy, you know, if you guys had left Bette Stephenson alone, you would have had a good program, but Grossman just screwed it up.
Mr Brandt: The truth behind that promise -- and I say this directly to the government House leader who recalls the fond days when the Honourable Bette Stephenson was in this House and provided a good, solid, understandable level of education in which the boards could anticipate what their level of funding would be right across this province and in which there were no surprises, such as his government constantly comes up with -- let’s talk about this $650-million promise his government made.
The fact is that the government has spent -- are members ready for this? My colleagues are going to be staggered by this particular figure. The total amount of money the government has committed to this particular program is $27 million, over $620 million short of what it promised. Here again we have government rhetoric, the government making statements and promises and laying before the public a new program it is going to introduce and then backing away from that as quickly as it possibly can.
The list goes on and on. We have been cataloguing these to try to match what the government is delivering with what the government promised. At last count, in fact, this government’s education promises alone, those promises made and broken, now total some $3 billion.
Mr Villeneuve: Three billion?
Mr Brandt: My colleagues ask: “Is it that high? Is it really $3 billion?” I assure them that it is. I assure them that about half of that $3 billion is caught up just in making the adjustment to the 60 per cent funding base this government promised in years past which it is now backing off from as rapidly as it knows how.
That $3 billion was money that was promised to be spent on programs, but it was spent only on headlines to make the people of this province believe that something was being done in education. If the government talks about it and repeats it a sufficient number of times, some people will believe there is actually some action going on in the education field. I can tell members that action is not going on.
This leads me to the latest throne speech, the short throne speech, probably the shortest on record and the one that is supposed to focus on a few key areas of concern. In the latest so-called commitment to education, we know this price that I am about to mention does not even include the startup costs for the particular program, which will be in the area of $200 million of additional funding, again from this government.
Even when we have determined that it is going to cost some $200 million to introduce the kindergarten program into Ontario, there is no mention whatever on the part of the government as to who is going to pay. Yet they wonder why the boards of education across this province are becoming very, very discouraged and very frustrated.
Let me tell the Liberal government what it has done in the past, and this is part of that $3-billion package. I can recall back in, I believe 1987 when the government indicated that it had this new program for education in which it was going to reduce classroom sizes in grades 1 and 2. I do not think there is anyone in this assembly who would take issue with the reduction of classroom sizes, as long as it is affordable and as long as the level of government that makes the promise, namely the province, carries out its responsibilities and pays for it.
But there were a series of problems related to that particular announcement, because once again the government did not think through too carefully the implications of what that program promise really was going to carry with it. First of all, I say to the members of the government who are in attendance this afternoon that, if you in fact take two classes of 60 and aim for the government’s objective of reducing that to an average of 20, there are three things that automatically flow out of that particular action: (1) you need another classroom, (2) you are going to need another teacher and (3) you have to answer the question, “Who is going to pay?”
On the question of classroom space, let me remind the government members that when they sat in opposition, there was little that angered them in such an intense fashion, there was little that upset them in such a dramatic way as the problem of students in portables. Surely the honourable House leader’s memory goes back far enough; that grey cranium of his certainly has not festered away so badly as he sits there in government that he cannot remember the time when he used to stand up in righteous indignation and talk to us in such burning tones, talk so seriously about the way in which our educational system was collapsing because we had close to 100,000 students in portable classrooms.
Now, I say to the honourable House leader, time has passed and we have all these new initiatives and new announcements by the government, and during the interim period, guess what has happened? What has happened is we have more than doubled -- can he believe this? -- the number of students in portables. We now have some 200,000 students in this province who are in portable classrooms. That is simply not acceptable.
Not only might I say that the government has aggravated the number of students in portable classrooms and aggravated the problem by increasing the number, but also it has introduced new programs that are going to cause even more difficulties for school boards, as a result of its kindergarten announcement and as a result of trying to fulfil the announcement of a couple of years ago when it was going to reduce classroom sizes in grades 1 and 2.
That brings me to the whole question of who pays. I have had the occasion, during the course of the break this assembly took, to travel around the province and to talk to people who are close to the educational system. I have also talked to people in the health system, our health providers, and to people in municipal governments.
One of the interesting things I have found in these travels that I have taken is that people are growing increasingly frustrated and, I might add, angry at this government’s consistent program of constantly dreaming up new ideas and then simply passing them on.
In the case of school boards, one of the things they are saying to me, and they are making this very clear in terms of their concerns, is that they are having to get rid of programs that have been traditional and historic in their systems. They have to get rid of those programs because they cannot afford them, in order to take on the new initiatives this government dreams up virtually on a daily basis.
Hon Mr Conway: Can you name any examples, Andy?
Mr Brandt: Yes, I can. One of the programs they are having great difficulty in funding is the francophone program in some of our schools, because the government has only provided partial funding for those programs.
Another program that is being shifted aside, in response to the House leader, is the computer program. Do members know that there are schools that ordered computers in anticipation of receiving grants from this government that had to turn around and send those computers back because the government broke its promise?
Hon Mr Conway: In which locale? I’d like to follow up on that.
Mr Brandt: Well, the member asked me for examples of programs that are not being fulfilled and carried out, and I gave him specific examples; there is an entire agenda of those kinds of difficulties.
But the most insidious thing that is happening as a result of these transfers is that it becomes increasingly obvious that this government has lost sight of the fact that every time it initiates one of these new schemes and passes on the cost to a local school board or, in some other instances a local municipality, the cost then becomes a burden on local property taxes.
The cost then becomes one of the home owner, and particularly those who are on limited or marginal incomes, our senior citizens and others who are having difficulty remaining in their homes, are being increasingly burdened by an insensitive government that apparently has absolutely no understanding of the cause and effect relationship between the things it is introducing into this assembly on a regular basis.
I have to tell members that many of the school boards across this province are saying: “Enough is enough. If you intend to introduce the program, then you pay for it. If you intend to come up with a new initiative, then you take the responsibility for providing the funding.”
I do not see that that is such a radical departure from the kind of relationship that this government and former governments have had with their working partners at the municipal and local level in the past. This is not such a radical proposal, that the government should negotiate, consult and work with on a co-operative basis those very people who are delivering those programs at the local level.
I find it just a little less than acceptable that this is what has been going on with this government, and in the limited amount of time available to me today, I am going to identify a whole host of things that this government has introduced where it has not carried out its responsibilities in an appropriate fashion by paying the bills.
I want to show members what is happening in a matter of some personal interest to me, because I was involved in this back a few years ago when I was a member of the cabinet. I had some more than passing interest in a matter known as acid rain reduction. I want to shift, if I might, to the whole question of environment for a moment. I am disappointed that the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) has taken leave. Perhaps he should, because I will not be particularly supportive of his ministry when I make some of my comments, which were not covered in any great depth, I might add, in this recent throne speech.
But one more time the rhetoric does not match the performance of the government; the rhetoric being one thing, the promises being one thing and the action and the actual delivery of a program being an entirely different thing. I chose environment as one of the measures I wanted to talk about, because I want to show the government how it can fool some of the people some of the time, but I do not believe it can fool all of the people all of the time. I think that will catch up with this government in the not too distant future.
Let me give the newer members of this assembly, those who were elected in 1987, a little history lesson in terms of what has happened in the environmental field. They may even want to take notes of this in case they want to throw these back at me at some future point.
In March 1984, Ontario and the other five eastern provinces of Canada got together in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to discuss some new initiatives as they related to an environmental control program that would bring under control sulphur dioxide emissions, SO2 emissions. Those particular toxins, as members know, contribute very dramatically to the incidence of acid rain which we are trying to bring under control, primarily in eastern Canada but in other parts of our country as well, and in sensitive parts of Ontario where it is particularly devastating.
We had the introduction, some time later, of a program that was announced with great fanfare, called the Countdown Acid Rain program. There were many who thought that the Countdown Acid Rain program was a brand-new initiative, that this was a new thrust by the Ministry of the Environment and that this was going to create a much cleaner environment as a result of the program that was going to be brought into being by the member for St Catharines (Mr Bradley), the current Minister of the Environment.
In March 1984, what was agreed upon by the six eastern provinces, the five plus Ontario, was that we would use the 1980 base year for our statistical review and that we would agree upon a 50 per cent global reduction in acid rain as a result of reducing sulphur dioxide emissions through the various major sources throughout eastern Canada.
We further agreed that those cuts would be made recognizing that there was a period of technological catching-up that had to be done. There was new technology that had to be introduced and new machinery that had to be put on site. There were various options that had to be taken into account over a period, roughly that 10-year period from 1984 to 1994. So realistically, it was felt that we could not bring in more than a 50 per cent reduction any more quickly than in that 10-year period, which would end in 1994.
The point I want to make in connection with the Countdown Acid Rain program is that it was not a new initiative. It was not essentially much different from what had been introduced a couple of years earlier by an earlier government, where substantial and very dramatic cuts in acid rain had already taken place. What it did was up the ante a little bit.
Let me tell members how small the increased reductions are when put in the context of what was originally proposed back in March 1984. I want to say to the House leader that I was a party to those meetings, and there was absolutely no program, no agreement, very little that had been done by the Trudeau government federally at that particular time.
I remember the House leader’s friend and mine, the honourable Charles Caccia, who was the Minister of the Environment, who came to that particular conference and put not one dime on the table to help with those cuts. With all the talk, all the rhetoric, all the expanded chest that was brought to that meeting in terms of being puffed up with the importance of the federal government’s involvement, did it contribute financially in any substantive way? Not at all.
Members know what happened. Virtually all the provinces were prepared to lock away their suitcases, their briefcases and their briefing notes and to walk out of that meeting, but I want to tell the members with some degree of modesty that there was a minister there who was the then Minister of the Environment. For the record the members may want to look up who that was. He is one of the few members of this Legislative Assembly who is now standing, but that is the last hint I will give.
I want to tell members how that particular program unfolded, because I think it is important in a historic context. I really think it is important that members know that what this government’s minister did pales in comparison with what was done back in 1984. I say it pales in comparison because when one starts with a totally abstract concept, when one starts without any road map to follow to reach a particular objective, it is much more difficult than when one picks up the football at midfield and simply runs with it.
That program, I might add, virtually collapsed in March 1984 because of the lack of financial participation of the federal government. What kept that program together is that there were six or seven provincial ministers of the environment who said, “We have an obligation to do something about the problem.” So it was after we had asked the federal Minister of the Environment to leave the room -- we told him he had to get out of the room since he was not putting up any of the money -- that we as provincial colleagues would sit down and work out a process, a formula that would reduce sulphur dioxide emissions.
That we did, and the amount was 50 per cent. Then we had one year to work out the specific reductions that would total a gross cut of some 2.3 million tons which was required at that time; we would, over a period of one year, decide the specific cuts for each individual province.
It is interesting to note that the responsibility of the province of Ontario totalled some 53 percent. What did the present Minister of the Environment do with that 53 per cent? What he did on 17 December 1985 was to increase the total reductions that were already in place and that were already documented with signed agreements between the various levels of government by a total of seven per cent. That was the total initiative of this big announcement called the Countdown Acid Rain program.
When I talk about the difference between government rhetoric and government action, that is the kind of thing I refer to, where a government gets caught up in its own announcements and thinks it has a particularly important breakthrough, but it has already in fact been put in place by another government.
Mr Harris: Who was the parliamentary assistant who negotiated that?
Mr Brandt: I got rid of that parliamentary assistant. I forgot who that was, but he was from the north.
I want to talk about another announcement that was never fulfilled, a promise that was broken, another commitment made and a commitment not fulfilled. That was the perpetual care fund, which was not mentioned whatsoever in this throne speech.
It was particularly important for this government to indicate to the people of the province that it was prepared to provide some $30 million to clean up some of the closed-out landfill sites that were located throughout the province. As the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland), as the critic for the Environment, will well recall, we decided we were going to test the intentions of the government by bringing forward a bill which we would propose to this Legislative Assembly to see whether the government would support its own announcement.
The announcement that was made called for a $30-million commitment, a perpetual care fund, an Americanized superfund that would be used to close off, seal up and render harmless any toxic, contaminated landfill sites that were located in various parts of the province. We applauded that move on the part of the government, endorsed it and supported it. We said, “Proceed with it because this is a very fine initiative and one that is needed by the province of Ontario.”
What did the government do with its own promise of $30 million to clean up those contaminated landfill sites? Did it fulfil its commitment? No. Did they even support their own promises when we brought forward a private bill? Is this government intent on cleaning up those sites even in the near future? Once again my friends have allowed their rhetoric to run well in advance of any actions they intend to take. I have to tell them that Liberal promises, whether a throne speech, a budget or a campaign promise, are simply not worth the paper they are written on.
I want to talk a little bit, if I might, about an opportunity I had this past Thursday to speak to our partners in government, those known as our municipal leaders, the members of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario; which is an organization, as we all know, that consists of some 800 communities right across this great province of Ontario, made up of many reeves, mayors and members of council, all of whom have an interest in delivering a good level of quality programs at the local level.
Hon Mr Conway: Where was that?
Mr Brandt: The honourable House leader wants to know where that particular meeting took place. I want to say to him it took place in the great riding of Sarnia. I want him to know that they were well treated and the hospitality that flowed from that particular gathering will be remembered for a long time. But that was not the important thing that occurred at that particular meeting.
I had an opportunity to speak to our local government leaders. As are the members of boards of education across this province, the leaders of our municipal governments are joining in a chorus of condemnation of this government for making promises and dreaming up programs that it either does not deliver on or expects someone else to pay for.
Let me give members a few examples. It is interesting to recall the anger in the tone of voice of the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) when he indicated that the transfers from the federal government did not meet the kind of lofty expectations that our Ontario Treasurer anticipated from the Minister of National Revenue in Ottawa. He indicated he felt that these additional burdens that were being passed on to Ontario and other provinces across the country were going to cost more tax dollars in terms of the provincial government’s budget.
It was interesting to note, when I took a look at that budget, that in fact what Mr Wilson did was slow down the rate of increase of these particular transfers. He simply slowed the rate of increase, which I agree under normal times would not be acceptable. But did he in fact pass on a zero increase?
Mr Cureatz: No.
Mr Brandt: No, he did not. Did he in fact, without any discussion with another level of government, decide quite arbitrarily, quite unilaterally, that another level of government was going to get absolutely no increase in a particular budget?
Mr Cureatz: Not one iota.
Mr Brandt: He did not do that. The fact of the matter is that I do not know how some members of the Legislative Assembly, who served so long and so well at the local levels of government, can sit over there and feel so insensitive and so uncaring about the fact that their municipal colleagues are simply having all of this burden shifted on to their backs.
Let me talk about some of the specifics. I know the members opposite do not like to hear specifics, because they would rather deal in generalities and perhaps attempt, in so doing, to confuse the people of Ontario, but I am going to deal with specifics. I am going to deal with programs like the unconditional grant program.
When I raised the question in this assembly with the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins), he said quite simply, “Municipalities are going to get more money.” He just backhanded the question as though it were of no relevance and as though it were of no importance whatever. I can tell the members it is very, very important to municipal leaders. Unconditional grants are the only moneys they have got to meet some of their local priorities. It is the only money they get from the government which is not targeted specifically to existing programs that are conditional and already in place.
But did this government even take the time to go to the executive of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and to the members of that very long-established organization and say:
“Look, we’ve got a financial crisis here. We can’t meet our obligations. We’re going to have to bite the bullet, and as partners in good government you’re going to have to share with us part of the burden”? Not only did the government not do that, but interestingly enough its expenditures went up at double the rate of inflation. It not only did not give them what Michael Wilson gave it, but it gave them absolutely zero. That is unconscionable, it is unacceptable, and members opposite ought to be embarrassed that they are sitting over there giggling at it when they have passed on an increase in property taxes to every home owner in the province.
Have my friends looked at the horror stories in the local newspapers about tax increases that are accelerating just absolutely beyond belief? Then the government comes up with an announcement today. This was a real interesting one. I cannot find it here, but I remember it well. The average is about $280 for senior citizens. The government is going to increase the support grant for seniors to help them with their property taxes.
Does the government know that if it checked back at the level of property taxes today, took the existing grant it is transferring to them and went back just a few short years, three or four years, what it would find is that the burden on our seniors to pay for educational costs in particular, which is what this grant was put in place for, to alleviate at least to a certain extent --
Mr Ballinger: Says who?
Mr Brandt: Says the government that brought it in when the member was wet behind the ears and was not even here, that is who said it. Because we were the ones who brought that grant in originally when the member did not even have the foggiest notion of what the Legislative Assembly was all about. The fact of the matter is that grant was brought in to ease the burden on senior citizens who were forced to pay both municipal and educational taxes. This grant was brought in for that purpose.
But has it made life easier for our seniors? The only way it could make life easier for our seniors is if the grant increased to the point where it was taking away some of the dollars that would otherwise flow into property taxation, if it reduced the pressure on seniors having to pay that type of taxation. Has this grant done that? No. We support the concept of the grant, but it should be higher to help senior citizens. That is an absolute fact, particularly when the government continues to push more and more responsibility on to local taxpayers.
Let’s pass the unconditional grants for the moment and let’s see where the members of the government back benches stand when Bill 187 --
Mr Brandt: Mr Speaker, I would remind you that certain members are not in their seats and are making it extremely difficult to be heard during the course of my remarks. If you would ask those members to take their seats, I would be most appreciative.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): The member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger) will sit in the appropriate seat. I remind all honourable members that the leader of the third party has the right to speak in an uninterrupted manner, even uninterrupted by members of his own party.
Mr Brandt: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The Acting Speaker: Excuse me. The member for Middlesex on a point of order.
Mr Reycraft: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I note the member for Durham-York has now resumed his rightful seat in the Legislature. I would also ask you to note the fact that at least six members of the third party caucus are not sitting in their own seats.
Mr Brandt: Mr Speaker, by way of response, if I might, it is not uncommon for members of the party that is speaking at that particular moment to have its members sit close to the speaker. I see nothing inconsistent or inappropriate about that. I might suggest that they are not interjecting at the same volume level that certain other members were, making it virtually impossible to make any intelligent remarks in this House whatever.
The members may want to question the content of my speech, because I am going to say some things they perhaps do not want to hear, but I at least want to have the opportunity to be heard without that constant, incessant nattering that goes on across the way.
If I might, having covered at least partially, to the extent that I could shout over the comments opposite, and passing by the unconditional grant, I will go to a program which I believe the members of the government back benches will have an opportunity for some input on, which is the court security act, Bill 187.
If they really doubt that what I am saying with respect to the pass-through costs of these programs is valid, then listen to the chiefs of police of Ontario, listen to the municipal councils of Ontario, listen to the people who are going to have to pay for this program, because what they have said, very clearly, is that under the direction being suggested by Bill 187, the court security act, court security will now become a municipal responsibility. It will now not only become the responsibility of local police forces, but the cost is going to be shifted on to those local municipalities and to their police budgets.
I have heard the Attorney General (Mr Scott) say that there are no additional costs associated with Bill 187; that the municipalities will simply be taking on the full responsibility of what they have been involved in in the past.
I have to suggest that is more than just a little bit misleading. It has been estimated that the program will cost millions of dollars in Toronto alone. In a community that is a relatively medium sized community in Ontario, North Bay, the cost is estimated at $500,000. In the community of Chatham, the estimated cost is some $200,000. In my own community, the cost is estimated at $600,000. It goes on and on and on in all of the jurisdictions across this province, which are once again having a shift of responsibility and cost without any discussion and without any negotiation on the part of the two governments.
I spent 10 very enjoyable years as a member of council and as a mayor of a community by the name of Sarnia in this great province of ours. One of the things I came to appreciate was the opportunity to sit down with my provincial colleagues in government and talk about how we could better serve the interests of the people of Ontario, how we could cost-share programs and how we could work together to do that which was achievable, that which was possible.
The only way one can do that is with dialogue. The only way one can do that is with a very lengthy series of very tough meetings, in some instances, in order to work out the problems that are associated with so many of these programs and then determine what the costs are going to be and also determine what the share of those particular costs is going to be.
Has the government done that with the MISA program, the municipal-industrial strategy for abatement? The answer is no. Municipalities have no idea of how much it is going to cost. They have no idea of how they are going to come up with the money in order to bring about environmental controls which they had no say whatsoever in putting in place.
I do not take issue with the MISA program. I think it is an excellent initiative. I like the program, but I have to ask the questions, particularly at a time when all governments are going to have perhaps a little less money to work with: Who is going to pay? Is it fair once again to say that here we have this new program with this new agenda of standards that have to be achieved, all of which we would like to see become a reality, and the municipalities are going to have to pay?
The city of London alone said the capital improvements in its sewage treatment plant are going to cost millions of dollars. But not only are the municipalities going to have to improve on their basic infrastructure, which will involve a capital investment, they are also going to be asked to monitor the effluent from industries within their jurisdictions, a responsibility that has historically been that of the Ministry of the Environment.
I say that is wrong. They are going to have to train and put in place inspectors and people who will now go around and do the job that was previously done by the Ministry of the Environment.
I have some problems with those kinds of programs being shifted on to the local levels of government without any care or concern about what they are going to cost and how they are going to be paid for.
Other examples of this same sort of thing are happening when you look at transportation and roads programs. Municipalities are falling farther and farther behind because their grants are being cut back. Municipalities are becoming increasingly frustrated by having programs like the equal value programs brought into place by the government pushed on to local governments, without one single dime being provided to help with the cost of those programs.
I was chairman of the standing committee on administration of justice when we were dealing with equal pay for work of equal value and I can recall that there was a good level of debate within that committee. There was general agreement that we would work together to try to implement a program to bring about basic fundamental justice for women in the workforce. There was a strong feeling among all parties that we had a commitment to move in some uniform way in order to bridge the gap of the approximately 40 per cent differential between a woman’s pay in the workforce and the pay that has historically been going to the men in our workforce.
We wanted to find some ways to reduce the margin of difference, so there was general agreement among all three parties that we would try to implement a program along the lines of an equal value program where there would be comparative jobs that would be taken into account. Without going into the history of how the program came into being, the fact of the matter is that all three parties were co-operating.
But once again there was a fundamental question raised during the course of the debates in that justice committee. That fundamental question was very basic and I think it was very simple: Who is going to pay? That has been the theme of my address when I talked about education, when I talked about the environment, when I talked about municipal grants. I asked the question time and again, because I think it is an important question: Who is going to pay?
There is not a single member of this assembly who could not come up with a good idea that government could implement, a good suggestion, a new initiative, something we would all like to see happen. We can all come up with a number of them, yet we all know in our heart of hearts that the problem is economics. The problem is one of financing; it is one of paying. The problem is one of being able to achieve that which is affordable and at the same time that which is fair and equitable in terms of arriving at the balances we need in our society.
I think this government has lost sight of that sense of fair play with local governments. They have lost sight of the fact that by simply shovelling off these responsibilities, passing them through to local municipalities, they are in fact shirking their own responsibility. I think they are going to find headline after headline, as I have seen recently, condemning this government for not carrying its fair share of the load. That is not me speaking, I might add. That is the word I am getting from municipal leader after municipal leader in all parts of the province. They are getting fed up with being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it, without being given the financial wherewithal to carry it out.
I am only going to digress for a moment on the question of taxation. I think, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) stated yesterday -- I was not, I regret and I apologized to him, in attendance for his speech, and he in turn apologized to me because he was not going to be able to be here this afternoon, but I did take the time to watch his address on television late last night. He talked about, and I want to get his words as accurately as I can, the hypocrisy of elected people, on the one hand talking about needed programs, things we would all like to have happen, and then on the other hand saying we are going to cut taxes and reduce government expenditures.
It does not take a Houdini to understand that you cannot have it both ways, other than to apply in some instances better management and better administration. Maybe you can bring about some economic savings if you are effective in introducing programs in a fashion that has a greater impact for fewer dollars, and that can be done from time to time.
I took his words to heart very carefully when he talked about the fact that we cannot, on the one hand, talk about spending more and more, and on the other hand, talk about taxing less and less. On the question of taxation, I want to tell the members what I find so fundamentally wrong, so fundamentally evil if you will, about a government that dreams up these schemes and passes them on to local governments. It is the fact that for all intents and purposes, and by every political observer one could call into play to make some comment on this particular point, property taxation at the local level is the most regressive, unfair form of taxation devised by any level of government. It is simply not fair.
Mr Brandt: We are even getting some applause from the members of the government on that point, so we are in basic agreement on that. The reason that property taxes are regressive and that they are unfair is that they bear no relationship to a person’s ability to pay. You can live in a very large house because you happen to have a large family or you can have a large lot size, yet you can live on a very modest income. That is, by definition, regressive taxation.
When local governments and school boards have no control over the mill rate that impacts on a home occupied by someone on a marginal income, we are effectively putting those people -- I particularly put seniors in this category because many of them are on fixed incomes -- in the untenable position of having to look elsewhere for some form of assistance, in addition to the paltry government grant given to seniors, in order to retain their sense of pride and their sense of importance as it relates to owning and living in their own homes.
That is a very important, fundamental right in our society, one our party wants to protect, one I want to protect as the interim leader of our party and as an elected MPP. I want people to live in their own homes as long as it is humanly possible for them to so do. We believe in this party in private ownership, and we believe in this party in people having the right to occupy their own dwelling and to live in that dwelling without a great deal of undue government interference. That government interference, I might add, also relates to taxation because oppressive taxes can do a lot of very unkind things to people.
The question is one of balance. The question is one of achieving the necessary level of service delivery whether it be in health, education, transportation or social programs, whatever it might be, and at the same time -- this is where we do, on occasion, have some differences between our parties -- having a balance between having that level, that quality of program, and not allowing taxes to rise to such a level that they are going to take away, in some instances, a person’s home, or in other instances, a person’s initiative to want to continue to work hard in our society.
When the province of Ontario recognizes full well that property taxes are regressive, why is it pushing so much of this tax burden down to the local level?
I will give another regressive form of taxation, and that is the provincial sales tax. Once again, the provincial sales tax does not reflect a person’s ability to pay. Study after study has proved that particular tax impacts in a most harmful fashion on those at the lowest end of the income spectrum, because for all intents and purposes they have no choice over the purchases they make. People who are making modest incomes, who have a relatively low standard of living, are forced to buy, with that modest amount of money they have, the essentials in life, the things that need to get by on a day-to-day basis. That is what they use that money for. The sales tax impacts on those people in a much more harmful fashion than it will on someone who is at the upper end of the income spectrum.
What form of tax, then, if I have excluded property taxes and sales tax, is more fair and more equitable?
Here, once again, I find myself in somewhat distant association with the New Democratic Party on some aspects of its approach to this whole question of taxation, because I believe that those who can pay should pay. I believe that when you make a lot of money in our society, you also owe a debt back to that society and that you should pay a part of that ever-increasing income, to a nominal level obviously; but obviously as well, you are in a better position to pay a portion of your income if you are in the upper echelons of either a salary or income structure by way of what you happen to make on an annual basis. Those people, in my view, are the ones who should be paying a little more money, and those people who are in their homes and have property taxes, and in so far as sales taxes are concerned, should be paying less money. I believe that adjustment should be made.
I want to tell members that I do not have a bit of problem whatever with making corporations that are now getting away without paying taxes pay their fair share as well, as long as they are profitable and as long as they are generating a surplus in terms of profit and loss at the end of the year. I would have no problem in joining with the government if it finds areas where it can plug the loopholes that allow that type of thing to happen, because I believe that what is fair is fair in terms of taxes and we should all pay our fair share.
But paying our fair share simply does not mean, in the interpretation used by my colleagues in this party, that we simply pass on, without question, so many of the burdens of the programs that have been developed by the current government to the local levels of government and expect them to pay in some mysterious fashion.
I want to move to the whole question of health care. I was astounded today at the minister’s response in regard to the question I raised about the Chedoke-McMaster Hospital and the rather dramatic reduction in orthopaedic procedures by that hospital.
I want to be a little nonpolitical here if I can. I know that is tough sometimes in this House, but I want to appeal to the sense of reason and the sense of fairness of the members of the governing party at the moment.
I have a great deal of respect for the minister. I know she is trying hard and I know there are some burdens on her in terms of the escalating cost of health services that make it virtually impossible for her to meet all the demands that can be placed upon her by all of us in this assembly and all of those who are health providers in the province. She gets it from all ends, I know. She gets those who are in institutional care saying there is not enough money in the hospitals, and those who are out in the community-based health services arguing they are not getting enough money. The minister gets caught in that vise in attempting to keep all the parties reasonably happy.
I want to say to the government that if, as it did, it talks in the throne speech about maintaining and improving the quality of health care in the province, then surely the numbers I shared with the minister in question period today must have at least some small impact in terms of proving to her that there is a deterioration of health care in Ontario, at least in this particular case.
We have already covered the agenda time and time again about the waiting lists doubling for heart surgery. We have already talked about the waiting lists for other forms of procedures in health care in our province. We have talked about the problems of the Victorian Order of Nurses and the Red Cross, and about some of the deinstitutionalization that is going on in terms of moving programs out of these facilities and back into the community. I happen to be in agreement with that as well. I think that transition is going to be the saving grace of the health care system, which is now not only a third of the provincial budget but up in the range of some $13 billion or $14 billion annually, a staggering sum, and yet we are still not meeting the needs of people.
I was not being argumentative, but I apologize that I got a little angry during question period. That does not happen tome all that often. I think I am a rather mild-mannered chap most days, but today I guess I got a little agitated.
I got agitated because it bothers me when 40 orthopaedic procedures a month are reduced to 15. That is almost a two-thirds drop in the number of procedures that are being carried out by that hospital. This is not just a small local hospital. This is a hospital that serves the needs of the Hamilton region. It includes places like Welland, St Catharines, Niagara Falls, Brantford, Burlington, Guelph and on and on.
Dr Frank Smith, who heads up the orthopaedic department of that hospital, has indicated that the waiting list, which formerly was already unacceptable because it was at November 1989, is now as a result of funding problems going to be extended to June 1990.
The minister’s defence -- expected, I suppose, and not surprising -- was that I indicated that because of funding reductions, and I probably should not have used that term, there was a reduction in the number of procedures. The minister’s response automatically is going to be that they did not get a funding reduction. I was wrong. The minister was right, I concede. There has, however, been a reduction in the number of procedures. There has, however, been a very substantial increase in the waiting list.
If we want to set aside the funding question for a moment, let’s get out of the rhetoric of this whole health problem and come to grips with where we are really heading.
After I finished my question today, I went back to speak to some of my colleagues, and my colleague the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) said to me, “I have one of my constituents who has just been advised that a procedure she requires is going to necessitate a three-year wait.”
Believe me, I say to my friends in the government and on the back benches, I am not dreaming these cases up. These cases are coming to our attention because people are truly worried. People are going to heart clinics in Cleveland; they are going to heart clinics in Detroit.
There was a major article within the last few days in one of the American newspapers, either the Detroit Free Press or the Detroit News, talking about the collapse of our health system, that it is now reaching the point where the costs are escalating so rapidly and the demands are so open-ended that the type of quality health care we have had in our province -- by the way, in fairness, they were not just talking about Ontario; they were talking about the entire country -- the burden of providing this level of quality health care is becoming so onerous our system is in a state of potential collapse.
It is pretty frightening when you think that we perhaps have the best health system in the world, or at least did have, and that we have these problems that are now starting to develop within the health system: longer waiting lists; fewer procedures; people going elsewhere to get treated.
We have people who are frightened, I might add, and under considerable stress to begin with when they have a problem with their heart and they know they are perhaps susceptible to an attack at virtually any time, and then in addition to that we say, “You might have to wait 8, 9 or 10 months before you can get in for surgery.”
That is just not good enough. That is what concerns us in this party. It concerns us greatly that the minister would pick up on what was really an unimportant part of the question and say: “I haven’t really cut back on hospital care. I haven’t reduced their budget.” The issue is not how much money they spend; the issue really is how much service they provide. What can they do for the people of Ontario in terms of providing them with orthopaedic procedures when they have reduced the number from 40 to 15 a month? That is 25 people who go on a waiting list, and that is why the waiting list is now being extended into 1990.
Why does the minister not say: “The costs are escalating so rapidly and this is the amount that we can afford to pay. I am sorry, but we cannot do anything more than 15 procedures a month”? I have never heard her come clean with an answer like that yet. What we get is a whole bunch of verbal gymnastics that never get to the root of the problem.
Probably the most heart-wrenching case I have ever dealt with in this Legislative Assembly was a constituent of mine by the name of Mrs Maria Gaccioli, a 66-year-old woman who had a heart attack some two years prior to the incident that I want to tell members about. Some members have heard about it before, but it is just a terrible experience to go through this with the family.
After waiting for some two weeks at Victoria Hospital in London and after being of the impression she was going to get heart surgery, she was in fact discharged by the hospital at three o’clock on one afternoon and was dead that day before midnight. Within a matter of six or seven hours that lady died.
The response, as my colleague the member for Mississauga South got today, is that that is a medical decision; that is not a political decision. Am I being fair when I describe it that way?
Mrs Marland: That is what was said.
Mr Brandt: That was the minister’s response when we were talking about an infant’s operation that was necessary, in the case the member for Mississauga South brought forward today. I do not care, frankly, whether it is a health problem or a political problem. All I want is to see these people get the treatment they need before they die.
This is not my statement that I am going to make, but one I will repeat which has been brought to my attention by a group that I think the government should at least take heed of in terms of its expertise in this particular field, and that is the Ontario Medical Association.
The Ontario Medical Association has made it very clear that statistically one is more likely to die waiting for a heart operation in Ontario than by actually undergoing the surgery. How can we say we have a world-class health system? How can we say we are delivering quality health services in this province when statistically one is more likely to die waiting than undergoing the operation? That is just not acceptable.
There are over 100 people from the Metropolitan Toronto area who are now voting with their feet on this question. They do not care what we say any more. They are not interested in this debate going on here in the Legislature. They are not interested in whether enough funding is being provided, or whether the minister is truly concerned about waiting lists, or whether the opposition is exaggerating the case, or whatever we talk about in this great forum. They are not concerned about that any more. They get in their cars and drive to Cleveland and within a matter of days get an operation.
I do not like that. I do not like the idea that you have to leave this jurisdiction in order to get the treatment that you require. But I can say that those of us who live in the southwestern part of this province know that the same thing is happening in Detroit hospitals. People are leaving Ontario to go to those particular hospitals because they have --
Mr Neumann: You know why there is no lineup, don’t you? Do you want American-style medicine here? Are you holding out American-style medicine as the answer?
Mr Brandt: The member for Brantford knows full well that I am not holding out the American system as the be-all and end-all. I am talking about the fact that when one’s life is in jeopardy, when one has a plugged artery or two or three, and when one has a heart valve problem, if one has a difficulty that may result in a heart attack, one is prepared to pay virtually anything, I say with respect to the member for Brantford, in order to get the kind of health care that one needs.
That is in addition to the normal kind of anxiety. Any member here who has gone into an operating room, any member who has had even a minor operation realizes that there is a great deal of anxiety associated with anyone who is going to put you under at one point and then use a knife on you to open something up at another point in the form of an operation. There is anxiety associated with that.
Can members imagine the anxiety of the parents with this young daughter, young Jessica, who requires a heart operation, waiting for the period of time -- she has already waited about a year -- before she is going to get in to get an operation? Can they imagine the anxiety of the people who are on those waiting lists?
The members can brush it off and say it is not very important --
Mr Callahan: We waited for 10 years in Brampton, Andy, and nothing happened. We waited for 42 years while you were in power.
Mr Brandt: Since the member wants to make an association with that period, when we were in power, waiting lists for heart surgery on average were three months under a Conservative government. They are now six months and climbing under the Liberal government, and that is not acceptable, my friend. It is just not acceptable.
The member can make whatever comparisons he wants. Does he realize that fewer heart procedures are being performed now in 1989 in Ontario than were performed with fewer dollars back in 1985 in Ontario? Does he realize that? The number of procedures has gone down and the cost has gone up. That is his government’s performance. If he thinks that is something to hold out and be proud of and brag about to the people of Ontario, then he should do that.
Mr Callahan: We are just rectifying the past.
Mr Brandt: The member should state the facts as he sees them -- and he will have his opportunity -- and I will state the facts as I see them. I simply know that the statistical evidence we have received indicates that the number of heart procedures -- I say this to him as charitably as I know how -- has in fact gone down. If that is the mark of an improved, better quality health care system, then I do not understand the numbers.
It is just like in the Chedoke McMaster Hospital in Hamilton, where orthopaedic procedures have gone from 40 to 15, and the government stands up there and tries to convince everybody the health care system is getting better. How can it get better if the waiting list is longer and if the actual number of procedures is going in the wrong direction?
Let me talk a little about the thrust of the ministry, where I think the government can save some money. I said I would try to be positive at least during part of my speech and I am going to do that, because there seems to be some level of confusion in the government as to how it is going to make the transition from institutionalized care to a more community-based health care system.
First, I want to tell the government the way one does not go about it. One does not go about it by turning one’s back on the Victorian Order of Nurses or the Red Cross, the providers of community-based health care in this province of ours. The Premier (Mr Peterson) indicated yesterday in question period that he is prepared to sit down with the VON administration and work out some kind of financial program that will meet its particular needs.
I applaud the government for doing that, but I want to say that when you look at the costs of keeping somebody in the hospital at $300 or $400 a day and when you take a look at the costs of providing for that same individual, if he can be cared for in his own home and removed from an institutionalized setting, you will see that there is a tremendous saving to make that kind of change.
Part of the partnership in delivering health care in this province is the association we have had historically with the VON and the Red Cross. I can remember standing up in this House almost on a daily basis, as did the members of the opposition as well, I might add, and saying: “Look, you have to. You have no choice. You have to fund the operating deficit of the Red Cross. It is absolutely essential that you do that,” because the in-home programs that were being provided by the Red Cross served some 180,000 senior citizens in this province who would otherwise go without that service.
Well, 180,000 senior citizens is an extremely important component of delivery service in this province, recognizing that we only have -- I am adding up quickly -- some 42,000 or 43,000 residents perhaps in nursing homes and in homes for the aged. All by itself the Red Cross was looking after four times as many people as we have in institutional care, and it was helping to keep those people in their homes a little longer at a much reduced rate and at a much more modest cost to government.
What the government has to do, if it is going in some way to get the cost of institutional care, hospitals in particular, under some form of control, is to make the shift in terms of a financial contribution to the community-based health providers in advance of making that shift. They cannot make the shift first. I wish they could; they could save a lot of money doing that. But they have to have those programs in place in advance of making the shift.
It is like mental illness programs. There are many patients with mental illness who are being discharged from institutions, who are not getting the aftercare necessary in their communities. There is no form of care that is in place from the time they are in fact discharged from those institutions.
It is frightening to realize that some of these people are simply going to rebound right back into the institution or get themselves into some form of difficulty while they are out in the communities, because they are not yet ready to cope, or they are at least not ready to cope all of the time without some form of support system that awaits them out there.
That is why it is so essential, I say to my friends opposite, that we make sure that when we move into that transition and we move people out of institutional care into the community, we have those community-based programs in place, and they are in fact responsive and ready to accept, if you will, the increased responsibility that will be necessary at that particular time.
If the figures I am sure the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) has looked at and I have seen are correct, we can go through a tremendous period of adjustment in the health care field -- it is not going to be easy -- that will allow us to meet some of these increased costs and provide additional service without letting the budget get completely and totally out of control.
There are a lot of other things we have to do in Ontario besides providing health care. That is important; it is probably the number one priority. But when one looks at the ministerial responsibilities that so many others have, they have got to get a piece of that budget as well. The only way they can get a piece of a reasonable budget is if health care is brought under some control.
But if the numbers the minister I am sure is aware of and I have seen are correct, up to 30 per cent of all patients in hospitals do not have to be there. If that figure is correct, three out of every 10 people, three out of every 10 beds, are filled by people who do not have to be there.
The worst part of that is that they are occupying the most expensive facility that government can offer, because the cost of that particular hospital bed, as I indicated earlier, is probably well in excess of $200. It is probably averaging about $400 in the province, and I can tell members, in teaching and in university hospitals, it is closer to a staggering $1,000 a day in some instances. So the fact is that we can reduce some of those costs if we go about this program intelligently.
I want to talk about another health care program that I do not think has been given the kind of recognition it deserves in this House. I recognize that my friends in the New Democratic Party have some objection to providing for-profit services in the province as they relate to health care.
I would just remind them that there are a number of participants in the health care field who provide some form of assistance to our health care providers and who do make a profit: the drug companies, as an example, and interestingly enough, construction firms that build the facilities that we use, our hospitals and so forth, and the members of the labour unions who work for those construction firms and earn their paycheques and therefore a profit.
Mr Reville: No, they get wages.
Mr Brandt: Wages are profit if there is a surplus, the same way as some companies have a deficit or a loss at the end of an operating period. If you guess wrong, you sometimes have a problem.
But the fact of the matter is there are all kinds of people involved in the health care field. Manufacturers of hospital equipment are an example of those who make a profit. All of these people are in the field, and I want to tell members of some providers of health care who do it very effectively and very efficiently and who are having some difficulty in making this government realize the kind of problem they have today. Those are the providers of care in our nursing homes.
A nursing home operator who has to provide the capital to build his facility and then has to pay taxes, has to meet the standards of government, which I agree with, very stringent standards of operation, and has to meet the criteria set forth by this government, receives on average about $60 a day. A home for the aged, on the other hand, which is usually municipally owned and government-operated, with no capital cost because it is all in the form of a grant, with no taxes to pay, still serving the same seniors who come into those homes, receives about 35 to 40 per cent more money, something in excess of $90 a day. Yet they are both expected to deliver the same level of service.
Something is wrong when the guy who is making the profit is charging fully a third less than the guy who is not making the profit. I thought that when you looked at numbers, you were supposed to be talking about the most efficient way to deliver health services in our province. It is interesting to note that there are 30,000 people, essentially seniors, in this province who are in nursing home beds and about 12,000 seniors in homes for the aged.
Mr Reycraft: Who created this system?
Mr Brandt: Who created the system? I have had this discussion with nursing home operators. The system, funded by two different ministries, was created by the previous government. I do not back away from that at all. The fact of the matter is that they had a reasonably uneasy truce four years ago, because the degree of separation between the amounts of money received by the two types of providers of this particular service were not as far apart as they are today, were not as extreme. That gap is growing, that gap is becoming more and more of a problem, if you will, as a result of the passage of time.
The members opposite have been the government for four years. I guess after four years they should come to grips with some of these problems. I would think that after four years, if we had remained the government, we would have attempted to address them. But that really is not the issue before us; the issue before us is that the government is now being taken to court by the nursing home operators who are saying, “Your method of funding is unfair and you are not providing us with equal funding compared to homes for the aged.”
What bothers me in an even more fundamental way about those two types of programs is that we, all of us collectively here in the Legislative Assembly, who are responsible for these types of programs coming into being, have really allowed for the establishment of two classes of senior citizens. We have one class of senior citizens who have crafts rooms and we have another class of senior citizens who do not have those kinds of facilities. We have one class of senior citizens who rely on outreach programs, but essentially in those homes we have two classes of senior citizens, one that receives a whole range of programs because the homes are getting in excess of $90 a day per patient and another group where the homes are getting around $60. I will tell the members how much that adds up to. I have heard criticism from time to time from the members of the New Democratic Party about these people who get a profit out of the system who should not be allowed to provide health care to some of these needy people. There are 30,000 people who are getting a relatively good level of care. Those who are bad operators should be shut down tomorrow, if not today. I do not agree with any of those operators functioning or operating in a slovenly or an unacceptable fashion in terms of the quality of care they provide.
But does the government know what it is asking them to do? It is asking them to provide the same level of care for $60 a day that somebody else is getting $90 a day for; and that is not the total equation, because you have still got taxes and capital costs over and above that. What is really bothersome is that there is no effort whatever being made on the part of the government to close that gap, to reduce the amount of difference between those two types of facilities.
The private health care providers, those who are in the nursing home field, would construct more facilities, provide additional spaces, clear out some of the people who at present are stuck in hospitals because they have no place to go, at a very high cost, if there were someplace to move them to, where they need perhaps a lower level of care and where a nursing home could provide adequate accommodation to meet their needs. But we are now stuck in a system where the nursing home operators are in court with the government to try to sue it to get a fair deal.
I guess this is where I part company with the New Democrats on this particular program. They disagree with private operators providing health care. I say that as long as these people meet government regulations, as long as they meet government standards, as long as they behave in a responsible corporate fashion -- and today they even have to disclose their profit-and-loss statements --
Mr Callahan: That is because of legislation we brought in.
Mr Brandt: That is fine. I am not disagreeing with it. Their profit-and-loss statements are a matter of public record.
Again, when I talk about community-based health facilities, I have to include this kind of service. It is an important service being provided by an important sector of our business community which can provide an adequate-quality level of service to people who require it. But are we in fact working co-operatively with them? The answer is no. We are actually going to court against these people.
So when I talk about finding ways to reduce the cost of health care and put in place community-based health facilities that will allow us to make that very difficult transition from one form of care to another, I have to say that we are talking about private nursing home operators as well as homes for the aged, a mix, if you will, of services that will accommodate all of our citizens.
I guess what I want to say by way of summation is that there are a number of things that were not mentioned in this throne speech that I think should have been mentioned. The only two major objectives, targets, that were identified by the government were the objectives of education -- and in my brief remarks, I made some comment about the fact that I think this government is being unfair in the way in which it is handling education programs and passing the costs on -- and also the whole question of the health care field.
If one were to do an objective analysis of the throne speech, one of the things we would have to say is that it was short and to the point. For a government that has been accused of losing its focus and losing its direction, this throne speech gives it a very modest target to shoot at. They really have very few objectives or goals that they have to achieve in order to be deemed successful in terms of this throne speech.
I guess what bothers my colleagues in my party, and what bothers me on a very personal basis, is this very long list of items that were simply ignored in this throne speech. They were very flippantly dealt with by the Premier when he said, “We intend to do something about all those things too.” I would like to take the Premier at his word, other than a whole bunch of things he had in previous throne speeches which he did not do anything about. How do we believe him now when he leaves a whole bunch of things out of the throne speech and tells us that he is going to do something about them?
Those priorities -- and I see the very competent Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter) is here -- have to include things like working our way through the free trade deal and being part of the opportunities that will present themselves in the context of that deal. That is not an easy one; it is going to be a tough challenge, but I think this government can make a leap in terms of its new responsibilities to make this deal work now for the benefit of all Ontarians.
I think we have to do more in a whole host of areas that we have not done on the environmental front. I never even touched on housing, because of the time that is escaping rather quickly and passing all too quickly, but the question of housing was not dealt with in any way, shape or form in the throne speech.
I say to the few remaining free-enterprisers on the other side of the floor and those who perhaps have looked at the numbers and maybe are getting a little bit concerned about the direction our whole housing development field is heading in, it should come home in a very real sense that when the private sector has virtually abandoned the rental field, something is wrong with the rental policy.
During the early stages of Bills 50 and 51, or Bills 51 and 52, I can remember the discussion, when we entered into some of that friendly banter that goes back and forth between the rows when various initiatives are being introduced, in which we talked about the fact that the private sector was going to abandon this government entirely and it was going to stop building. I remember ministers with all the goodwill in the world saying: “Oh, no. That is not going to happen. The private sector loves us. We are going to deal with the private sector. When they see the new initiatives we have coming in our rent review program and on our new landlord-tenant legislation, they are just going to fall over with joy and they are just going to come flocking forward in order to participate in the new Ontario of tomorrow.”
I can tell members that they all went home, put their feet up and started watching television. They are not building any more. They stopped. They are out of the field. They are not the bad guys any more, because they are not in the development game any more. They have abandoned the housing field, because the government has made it impossible for them to be fair and virtually impossible for them to build affordable rental units in Ontario.
There is no form of government, including the most socialist and/or dictatorial -- those are two different forms of government -- in the entire world, irrespective of its political philosophy, that can provide all housing that is required by its citizenry through government. There is no government that is ever going to be able to achieve that particular objective. What it really needs, I say to the few free-enterprisers left on the other side of the floor, is the co-operation, the involvement and the confidence --
Mr Ballinger: Who do you think you are -- Donald Trump?
Mr Brandt: One thing I do know is that you are not.
One of the things it needs is the involvement of the development community to participate with government to bring on the number of units that are needed. Again I say to members that government cannot do it alone. In the housing field, it will require -- and it is necessary and needed -- that we get the co-operation of the private sector to help with some of the problems.
Government can help, certainly, to provide some of the infrastructure. One of the ways in which government can be of immense assistance to municipalities and to the development community in bringing housing on, and perhaps even have at least some modest influence over reducing the cost of housing, is to find a way of cutting through the bureaucracy and speed up the approval process. That approval process is now taking, in some instances, seven long years for a proposal to get through the government bureaucracy. That is understandably far too long.
Mr Cureatz: Longer than the Second World War.
Mr Brandt: My colleague reminds me that is longer than the Second World War and he is right.
The fact of the matter is that there are ways in which the government can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. When one takes a look at the things, in addition to those that I have mentioned, that have been left out of this throne speech, I think members will come to the realization, as I have, that this government has established for itself a very narrow target so that it would not be criticized for being unfocused and for not having met its objectives. In other words, if one does not establish any standards, one will not have any trouble achieving them.
This government has established an extremely low, unacceptable standard in terms of what it has set forth in the throne speech and there is some hope that it might be able to achieve some success in meeting that extremely low standard.
But I and the members of my party are here with another responsibility. Our responsibility is to monitor their progress, whether they like it or not, on a daily basis. In a participatory democracy such as we have, and in this particular forum, it is our responsibility to ask questions of them on a whole broad range of issues, which we will continue to do on a daily basis. We will do so in a responsible fashion. We will do so with our questions, I would hope, well rehearsed and well prepared and well researched. We will do so in a fashion that, hopefully, will prepare this province to move on to another level of quality of service delivery in terms of all ministries of the government.
By way of closing, let me simply say that I am disappointed in the performance of this government as indicated through its throne speech and I have an amendment I wish to read for the record.
The Acting Speaker: Mr Brandt moves that the amendment to the motion for an address in reply to the speech of His Honour the Lieutenant Governor at the opening of the session be further amended by striking out everything after the phrase, “and leaving untouched and unmentioned an extraordinary range of issues facing the people of Ontario,” and substituting the following:
“The continued mismanagement of the provincial taxpayer’s dollars and lack of planning for fiscally responsible public policies;
“The failure on the part of the government to come to grips with the serious shortage of affordable housing in the large urban centres of the province;
“The confusion and lack of leadership demonstrated by the government with respect to automobile insurance;
“The lack of financial commitment and planning to continue the move towards increasing community-based health care begun by the previous government and the failure to mention home care in particular;
“The ageing of our society and the need for public policy initiatives to assist the seniors of the province;
“The continuing practice of the government to offload its responsibilities to other levels of government, in particular its attitude to worker training, retraining and workforce management and its continued delegating of provincial responsibilities to the municipalities;
“The total absence of any acknowledgement of the vital role of resource policies for the provincial economy, including agriculture, mining, forestry, tourism and energy;
“The failure on the part of the government to present a program which recognizes and would address the problems of regional disparities of the north and the east;
“The government’s wilful blindness to the growing shortages of nurses, teachers and other professionals and skilled tradespersons, which, if they persist, will threaten the viability of our economy, the competitiveness of our industries and the quality of our public services;
“Therefore, this House declares its lack of confidence in this government.”
Mr Mahoney: I would, first of all, like to congratulate the leader of the third party for at least a long speech and also for having the tenacity to get through the speech with some of the heckling that was going on. Just to assure him that it is not partisan. I can promise him that if he sticks around, he will find some of the same individuals will be heckling me. So the member should not let it bother him. It is certainly not a partisan issue; it is something that you either just get used to or ignore. However, I have enjoyed the last two speeches in particular.
Mr Jackson: You backbenchers give up so easily.
Mr Mahoney: One of the things is that when they heckle, at least you know they are paying attention to the leader of the third party. That is better than everyone sitting here falling asleep, which has been known to happen on occasion.
I particularly enjoyed the speeches by the leader of the third party and yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. I regret that he is not here. Since he is not, I will not be too critical of his comments, except to say that I could not help but notice that the S word seems to have resurfaced in the vocabulary of the New Democratic Party. The S word, members will recall, was a word that was discarded during the political campaign of 1987.
Mr Ferraro: Was that “sex”?
Mr Mahoney: I do not even know if that word has been discarded in their vocabulary.
Clearly, the Leader of the Opposition was not comfortable with his federal counterpart’s reference to socialism. Yet I heard in this House yesterday the Leader of the Opposition using the word “socialism” with regularity. It makes me wonder if they, indeed, have realized that perhaps this government actually occupies the position of the middle, the position of caring, the position of delivering social programs and they are retreating back to the left, recognizing that is the only ground that perhaps is left open to them to lay claim to.
Ms Bryden: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It seems to me the member is giving the speech he should have given yesterday when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking and he should address himself today to the remarks of the leader of the third party.
Mr Brandt: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Since the member was indicating that the member speaking should be addressing his remarks in the context of my recent, very brief speech, I just want to point out that there is certainly no requirement for the member to so do. He is to speak on the throne speech and he is to make his comments.
The member can pick on and/or correct for the record anything that I or the Leader of the Opposition has said, but there is no requirement that I am aware of in my brief experience in this House for the member to be only reflecting on my remarks, as much as he may be so inclined to do as time goes on. That is a decision for the member to make.
The Acting Speaker: The member for Mississauga West may continue on the subject under discussion in accordance with standing order 19.
Mr Mahoney: I appreciate the point of order. Frankly, I do not intend to unfairly criticize the speakers of days gone by, who are not here to defend themselves, but I cannot go by the discussion of the throne speech and the many items without commenting on the fact that I note a very definite trend by the Leader of the Opposition and his party to move back to that left position that is traditionally occupied by the New Democratic Party in relationship to many of their comments regarding the throne speech.
In fact, I detected a motto. There was a lot of discussion about sharing the wealth. There was discussion about speculation taxes and spreading the wealth around Ontario. There was someone steeped in a little more history than that particular gentleman who actually started that concept. It was a man by the name of Karl Marx. In fact, sharing the wealth is clearly a Marxist motto. I suggest the motto I heard coming from the Leader of the Opposition is and should be, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours belongs to everyone.”
I think the real agenda in talking to the throne speech for that party is the sharing of private wealth and indeed the spending of the public purse, all in the name of doing good. I think members will find that the do-gooders would destroy the confidence in this economy, both domestically and internationally, and take away any of the incentive that has been really the hallmark of building this great country and this great province.
This government, on the other hand, is clearly dedicated to the opposite. As parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I was delighted to read the first point in the throne speech: “Ontario must continue to provide the leadership to build on our economic strengths to ensure tomorrow’s growth.” That clearly is the opposite of the viewpoint that was put across by the Leader of the Opposition and the viewpoint that is espoused by anyone who associates himself with the socialistic trends that party advocates.
The Tories, on the other hand, the Conservative Party -- and the honourable leader of the third party has departed -- purports to represent the business community.
Mr Ballinger: He is not very happy with you.
Mr Mahoney: Well, we know he is not too happy with the member for Durham-York, but in any event, they do purport to represent the business community.
In the 42 years that the Conservatives occupied the seat of power in this House, we can remember many of the frustrations as members. In fact, we even have the former mayor of Uxbridge and other municipal politicians in our midst, and we can remember all too well --
Mr Jackson: Is he a former Tory too?
Mr Mahoney: We can remember all too well, I say to the member for Burlington South, that the members of the Conservative government of those days were in fact the ones who invented the concept of passing on more responsibility to the municipalities with less authority and very little funding. I can recall a particular minister of the day --
Mr Jackson: What about Sunday shopping?
Mr Mahoney: I am delighted to talk about Sunday shopping, because, as I have said before in this House, never has a fraud been perpetrated by so few on so many as with the opinions that have been espoused by members of the third party on the issue of Sunday shopping. It is an absolute travesty. Here it is, we will be coming up to Sunday shortly in this week, and I wonder how many of us have an opportunity to go shopping on Sunday in establishments that were not open prior to the passing of Bill 113.
The issue of enforcement is particularly interesting, because prior to Bill 113, the law in this province said that no stores shall open on Sunday unless they have an exemption. It laid down ways in which they could obtain an exemption. Those ways were either through square footage or through particular necessities such as pharmacies -- things will calm down now that certain members are leaving the House. I am sure we can get on with the business of the throne speech.
Mr Mahoney: Mr Speaker, I wish you would call order.
Prior to that, no stores were allowed to open on Sunday without an exemption. Today no stores are allowed to open in this province on Sunday unless they have an exemption, and the members opposite know it full well. They have simply managed to say something often enough so that the media and certain members of the public started to believe them.
But the people now realize that what we were saying all along was correct: that indeed it is not a Sunday shopping bill that was passed by this Legislature, but rather controls that have been placed appropriately and properly and clearly, with guidelines and enforcement mechanisms, in the hands of the local municipalities so that they can make a decision.
The member for Mississauga South, who was part of the same council that I was part of, would know that on numerous occasions we voted to allow for certain exemptions within our community.
Mrs Marland: Not this one. I didn’t.
Mr Mahoney: Well, the council did and it was and still is a democracy.
We voted to allow the Malton fruit market to open on Sunday because it was a tourist attraction. The Malton fruit market is in the community of Mississauga North, represented by my colleague the member for Mississauga North (Mr Offer), and he will know that that fruit market is open on Sunday.
I would suggest, with respect, that some people might dispute whether or not that particular establishment is indeed a tourist attraction. I would not be one of them, knowing that it attracts tourists from all over Ontario and upper New York state on Sundays. I would agree that it is quite a tourist attraction. However, others would dispute it.
Under the old law, of course, there was no opportunity. Now they do not have to play games. If they wish that particular facility to be open, it can be open. If it is open illegally, the police have clear-cut guidelines with which to enforce the law, Bill 113, and it is clearly up to them to do so.
I would like to talk a little bit about the involvement at the local level and what this government is doing to communicate. There has been much discussion that we do not discuss things with the local municipalities. I was speaking to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario last Thursday, prior to the arrival of the member for Sarnia (Mr Brandt). I talked to them about lot levies, a subject, frankly, that has been near and dear to my heart in relationship to AMO for many years. Indeed, because of that, they invited me to come down and talk to them about the whole lot levy issue.
The interesting thing is that, once again, it is a matter of getting the proper message out. For years, the development industry has been saying, “We do not need lot levy legislation.” It is not hard to understand why they might say that. It is not hard to understand that when you realize that last year in 1988 the total revenue in the region of Peel, the city of Mississauga and Mississauga Hydro in lot levies alone was $56 million. The year before that it was $44 million.
It is not hard to understand why the development industry might like to find a way not to pay those tens of millions of dollars to the municipality. Yet what do they pay the levies for? They pay them for arenas, swimming pools, parks, soccer pitches, baseball diamonds, paths in parks, lighting on fields, roads, sewers, basic infrastructure.
Mr Villeneuve: Let’s sock it to them.
Mr Mahoney: Well, the member does not sock it to them. That is what is so nonsensical and almost ostrich-like thinking, sticking his head in the sand and not understanding what it takes to build a community. I can tell the member what it takes to build a community, because I have represented the community of Erin Mills in Mississauga as well as many other parts of that great city for many years. We add in the neighbourhood of 5,000 houses per year in our community. We are not talking about issuing building permits for 20, 30, 50 or even 100 houses; we are talking about building new towns.
When the people move in, buy their homes and set up shop with their kids, what is the first thing they want to do? They want to go for a walk. They walk down the street and they say:
“Where’s the park, Martha? There isn’t a park here.” The member does not think we should charge levies to build the park in the community that is generating the need for the park. It is absolutely mind-boggling that anyone would think that way.
I can remember in 1969 when the 5,000 acres in Erin Mills South owned by the Cadillac Fairview Corp were released for development. There was a wonderful sales trailer that was established right in the community and in that sales trailer there was a model. It had an arena and a swimming pool. It was absolutely wonderful with little plastic models. You would walk in and look upon a wall and they would tell you that it did not rain or snow in the community, that there were deer in the backyard, that there were birds overhead and in no time at all the children you did not have yet would be running around the community enjoying all these wonderful facilities.
It took 12 long, frustrating years to get in place those facilities that were promised in the early 1970s before they even broke ground, and the only way it was done was by funding through the lot levy program. So I have no difficulty in defending the concept of lot levies to the Urban Development Institute of Ontario, the Toronto Home Builders’ Association or the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, because it clearly and fundamentally says that development must pay its own way. I would hope that this government would adopt that principle that development must pay its own way.
When you expand it and take in the issue of schools, you say to yourself, “All right, we’ve got levies to cover the costs of the arenas, the pools and the parks and all of the amenities that these people are using.” Members should never kid themselves that the developers do not use that stuff to sell their homes. There is nothing wrong with that, but all of a sudden we do not have schools in the community and we are finding that our children have to get on a bus and travel for half an hour, an hour or longer, particularly if they live far out, to get to a school. They do not have the ability to go to a school within their own community. So we only have certain options.
The leader of the third party said that he understands, and in fact it was one of the points I strongly agreed with him on, that the real issue is one of affordability, regardless of what we are talking about. Whether we are talking about health care or whether we are talking about education does not matter: the issue is one of affordability, of how to generate the dollars.
The green paper that has been put out shows a way of generating substantial dollars for education purposes that I personally think -- and I speak at this stage just for myself, because it is still a green paper and has not been adopted by this government -- is a responsible way to go. It is high time that the “paying your own way” philosophy applied, at least in a small part, to the cost of building schools, because it is the kids who are moving into that community who indeed generate the pupil places that require the schools to be built.
There has been much mention that in the throne speech we did not mention a number of items. It is always interesting. It is only my second throne speech. Some members have been around for many more. Yet I have heard that the first throne speech was too all-encompassing; it was too broad. There was so much stuff in there that the opposition stood up and said that we did not say anything and that there was no direction.
The opposition should take heart that in fact -- it is obvious to me -- we listened a little bit and said:
“Maybe we shouldn’t just be throwing all of the issues against the wall. Maybe what we should be doing is getting specific.” So we get specific, to the member for Burlington South. We listen to the select committee on education and adopt many of its policies. We listen to our critics and we get very specific in six areas.
I found it, as I said earlier, particularly encouraging that the first area deals with providing leadership, to build on our economic strengths and ensure tomorrow’s growth, because if we do not do that, then of all the efforts that we are talking about -- whether they are lot levies, building new schools, new health care facilities or a new way of delivering health -- none of them really matters, because the economic engine that drives this province is actually the small business community. It is very important that we create an atmosphere of economic strength and confidence so that that business community can succeed.
I know that in the days of the Tory regime there were questions about how to start a small business, and some of the members will remember the old joke that one simply starts a large one and waits. That is not true any more. In fact, these are some statistics that the members might be interested in. There are over 400,000 small businesses in the province of Ontario today, small business being defined as any business with fewer than 100 employees. I would suggest to the members that that is a very large business, but that comes within the definition of small business under the ministry guidelines. There are over 400,000 of them.
Last year alone there were 127,600 new companies formed. Over 90 per cent of those companies had fewer than 20 employees. It clearly is the most dynamic source of job creation in the province today.
Mr Villeneuve: And you are against free trade.
Mr Mahoney: I am going to get to free trade. I am delighted to talk to that and talk to a member of a party whose cousins in Ottawa have simply stuck their heads in the sand and said: “To hell with the people who are losing their jobs, to hell with providing new training, new ideas and new skills development. We will leave that to the province. It can do that.”
They have gone and simply signed a deal in this country so that we now have to get aggressive and find ways of helping our companies compete. I can tell the members that at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology we are doing exactly that.
Not only that, I can tell the member opposite that we are looking way beyond the United States. We recognize that in 1992 there will be a new market created in this world, consisting of 12 countries, in the European Community. We believe we must actively encourage our corporations here in Ontario to go after that market of 350 million people in a free trading market.
Mr Fleet: How many people?
Mr Mahoney: There are 350 million. We think it is important.
An hon member: It is 322 million.
Mr Mahoney: They probably just had a population boom since the member in the third party started his speech.
I would point out that we are actively going after that marketplace. Not only that, we are participating in the Pacific Rim. In fact, let me share with the members some of the literature we have: Doing Business in the Pacific Rim -- very important for our business community; Doing Business in India -- once again, we all know that we have a substantial community of people from India in this great province and it is important that we work with them to establish guidelines and relationships for exporting to India, to take our Ontario products over to their country.
How To Do Business in the US, I would point out, is a provincial publication. It is not a federal publication, because the federal government does not really seem to care. The Conservatives do not seem to care. They just say: “Get out there. You do not need any help from anybody. You go ahead and compete out there.” We say differently. We say there are many things that we can do and we are prepared to put them out and publish them.
How To Do Business in China, one of the greatest markets in the history of mankind, opening up to free enterprise, with the new attitudes in the world, and we, through our ministry, are going to help the Ontario corporate community do business in countries like that.
We have programs where we talk about developing the potential. Again, we work with the business community to help them develop their potential. In the Pacific Rim -- we have publications, folks; I am telling the members -- we have it in French; we have it in English. We even get into the –
Mr Reycraft: The parliamentary assistant gets to go to all these places.
Mr Mahoney: The PA should get to go to more of these places; I agree, and I am working on that.
The aerospace industry is a very important sector, and we deal sector by sector; we are not strictly dealing in the countries. We deal with how to export, a step-by-step system for working out your correct exporting price.
I mean, we are talking nuts and bolts here. We are not talking the airy-fairy stuff these guys talk about all the time; we are talking nuts and bolts: how to run a business, how to export. We take the Ontario business community by the hand and show them what to do to improve the exportability and tradability of their companies. Let me tell members that I have talked to many of them and they really appreciate it.
We have a number -- we have a program called NEBS, new exporters to border states, I would point out, for the information –
Mr Villeneuve: You are doing a number on us.
Mr Mahoney: I find it interesting. The leader of the third party made the comment that we fail to translate words into action. I will tell members they should come and just take a day and walk through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology if they want to see action. I am going to tell them that we have more programs working with the business community, giving them the leadership, confidence and dynamic attitude they need to compete in this global economy.
We have a program called NEBS. I had the privilege of meeting with a group of people who were then put on a bus and whisked off to the border for a couple of days to learn how to get into that United States market, because the attitude that the third party and its colleagues in Ottawa have created is that now we have free trade, we can just walk across the border. I mean, they have not told --
Miss Martel: “There will be no deal.” Do you remember that, Steve?
Mr Mahoney: They have not told the facts, I say to the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel). They just have not put the information out there and she knows that. She knows the business people in Sudbury need her help. I want to promise her that I am prepared to offer my help to her constituents to help them do better in the business world. In fact, they can go through the NEBS program, where they will go down to the border and learn what is required to export into the United States.
Mr Cleary: Steve, you are on a roll. Keep going.
Mr Mahoney: I am so, and I am going to keep going too, what the heck. Let me show members some other stuff we have been working on in the ministry that I think is just fantastic. We are not like the feds where we just leave them out there floundering around. We give them leadership.
We have a book here, The Ontario Software Industry. It is a profile and a directory and it is tremendously helpful to people in the software industry. We have a list of manufacturers in the tool and die industry.
Mr Polsinelli: Do you get it all for $24.99?
Mr Mahoney: All for $24.99; that is right. In fact, we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express; no problem.
Mr Polsinelli: Do you throw in the rack?
Mr Mahoney: You cannot get the rack.
Here is an example that proves how committed this government is to the business community. It is a directory of the apparel manufacturing industry. As a matter of fact, the member for Etobicoke West (Mrs LeBourdais) is the advocate for that industry and for the fashion industry. She works very hard with them, for an industry by the way, to the honourable member sitting over by the other honourable member -- I am not sure which one of them is which -- that I would suggest is in serious jeopardy as a result of their party’s free trade agreement. Now we have to save them and we will save them; I promise that.
Miss Martel: You were going to save us with the election. Do you remember that, Steve?
Mr Mahoney: I remember the election well. In fact, there was a lot of fun in Mississauga. I do not know how the member did in Sudbury, but we had a good time in Mississauga.
We have a list of Ontario subsidiaries of foreign manufacturing companies so that we can work with those people on an ongoing basis.
I got a little sidetracked there, but I want to say that the small business community is really the main economic engine in this province.
Mr Polsinelli: You sound like Rick Ferraro.
Mr Mahoney: Rick taught me almost everything I know, except how to grow hair. I learned that on my own.
As I have told the members, there are over 400,000 small businesses; there were 127,600 new ones last year. Twenty-nine percent of those were incorporated by women and 40 per cent of them were incorporated by people under the age of 30. That really tells us something. That tells us the psyche has changed from the day when most of us were attempting to graduate through school. That tells us that the job in those days or the attitude of people coming out in the 1950s and 1960s, and maybe even the 1930s and 1940s when some of the members went to school, was that you wanted to graduate and get a job as a vice-president, perhaps, in a major company, rise to become a comptroller, something of that nature. But that has changed today.
I have spent a fair amount of time over the last several months travelling around Ontario talking to young people in the high schools and the colleges, to young entrepreneurs in the chambers of commerce and the boards of trade, to people in their businesses, and they have a different attitude today.
Mr Villeneuve: Ask them about Bill 208.
Mr Mahoney: I would be delighted to talk about Bill 208, but the Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) would kill me.
There is a new psyche out there. The young people are saying, “I want to go into my own business.” Is that not exactly what we were talking about in the throne speech, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in Ontario that frankly, with all of their bravado about being the party of business, the Tories in their regime did not have the first idea of. They do not have the first idea what it means to provide leadership, what it means to provide an atmosphere where companies can grow and prosper.
We have been in an unprecedented growth period in the past four years in this province, and I happen to think we can take some of the credit for that -- certainly not all of it; in fact, one of the things that has always bothered me is that all too often politicians of all stripes try to take credit for all these wonderful economic things.
We can take credit for many of them, but the main thing we can take credit for and should take credit for, and it is addressed in the speech, is the leadership and the management of the economy while the private sector makes things happen. That is what we believe in in this party. That is what we stand for in this party, to create an atmosphere where the private sector can develop and grow.
One of the things you must do whenever you are talking about the private sector growing is work with the community. The Community Economic Development Guide -- once again, published by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology; I think we have our own printing press over there -- is really a vital document that shows what it is like and really is exactly what it says, “A planned approach to developing your community.”
Mr Villeneuve: Speed it up.
Mr Mahoney: I am not going to speed it up. I have 20 minutes to go, if the member does not mind.
Mr Villeneuve: lam anxious to get Hansard. I have all kinds of people to mail it to. I have a few turndowns from MITT who would just love your speech.
Mr Mahoney: You want to get Hansard. You want to get at this. Maybe you would learn something. I will get you a copy and I will be happy to autograph the copy and send it over to the member.
This document shows that our government is indeed committed to working with the communities. You do not develop communities with an industrial and a commercial and a residential base overnight. You do not do it by accident. It is important that the municipal council be very much involved, that the board of trade be very much involved, that any industrial associations be actively involved, It is a co-operative effort. It is an effort of new partnerships.
In my view, new partnerships are what this government brought to bear when it took office in 1985 and enhanced in 1987. We got rid of the pork-barrelers. We got rid of all the old hacks. We brought in a whole new atmosphere that showed that we were aggressive in dealing with the business community.
Mrs O’Neill: What is a pork-barreler?
Mr Mahoney: I will introduce you to a couple. They are still here.
In 1986, the Premier of this province believed so strongly in the small business community, and also believed in my view that there was not enough being done for the small business community, that he created the office of the small business advocate. The first advocate was the member for Guelph (Mr Ferraro), and I have the privilege of following in his footsteps.
This makes a statement by this government to the small business community that indeed we want to represent a focus for the views of small business within government. That is our role whether it is on Bill 208 or Bill 162 -- the member for Sudbury East shudders -- or on any other matter, regulation or piece of legislation that is of concern to the business community. It is our role at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, and particularly in the small business advocacy section, to represent effectively the views and concerns of that community.
I believe the political appointment by the Premier serves as a link between the small business community and MlTT, but also goes beyond the scope of the ministry to promote small business to the public. It has truly been one of the pleasures of the last six months to go around the various ridings in the province and have an opportunity to do that. We have a mandate to co-ordinate an approach to small business issues, to review existing programs within small business, some of which I would like to talk to members about.
The leader of the third party, the member for Sarnia, said -- I will find his quote somewhere here -- that we have failed to translate words into actions. One of the first things the committee of parliamentary assistants did in 1986, under the leadership of the member for Guelph --
Mr Polsinelli: I was on that committee.
Mr Mahoney: Was the member on that committee? Well done. That was a good job.
One of the first things was to establish the new ventures program. Let me tell members that the new ventures program has been a resounding success. For those watching at home --
Mrs O’Neill: Oho!
Mr Mahoney: Well, my wife will be watching. I will bring the milk home.
That is the program where the entrepreneur puts up $15,000 and goes into a bank and borrows a matching $15,000 and that money is guaranteed by this government. As of 30 April 1989, under that new ventures program there have been 10,796 loans issued for a total monetary value of $144 million. Now, double that $144 million to $288 million, because it is matched by the $15,000 of the entrepreneur. Do not tell me we do not put words into action.
Mr Offer: How many jobs is that?
Mr Mahoney: Of course, it creates jobs: 30,000 jobs created just by that one program.
Mr Offer: New jobs?
Mr Mahoney: New jobs that were not there before. Would the member for Mississauga North like to come up here and give me a hand?
Clearly, that is translating words into action. How anybody can sit there with a straight face and say this government does not have an agenda or has not translated words into action is absolutely beyond me. Yet they continue to do it. They continue to do it and we have the proof in the programs.
I should tell members another thing. There is a requirement that whenever a cabinet submission goes forward, a small business impact statement should accompany that cabinet submission. That says to the small business community, those 400,000 entrepreneurs out there, that we care about the impact of the legislation or the regulation or the submission to cabinet. We require the bureaucrats to do an analysis to find out what the impact will be, to see if there are some ways we can soften the impact if it is negative or to enhance it if it is positive.
I think those kinds of statements in the small business sector really and truly do clearly lay out an agenda that goes hand in hand with the first statement, and I have only got to the first statement, in the throne speech.
As a member of the select committee on education, I intend to take some time to talk about the education system -- I know my colleague from Mississauga North would be destroyed if I did not talk about the education system -- and many of the other issues that are involved.
Just on the issue of economic development and growth, the messages we have sent out through MITT and the small business section of that ministry show confidence and the leadership to the business community. We have a toll-free hotline number for all businesses right across this province.
I should say to the minister that we have a problem with that number; that is, you cannot get through because it is always busy. That indicates to me that there is real confidence and real strength in the use of that number. I think we are going to have to expand that service, because the business community is very eagerly interested in knowing the programs that we provide for it through the small business section.
We have publications. We have seminars that we put on regularly, how to start a new business, how to set up a marketing plan. If anyone out there is thinking of starting a new business and he does not talk to someone within our ministry, I can only tell members that he is really missing the boat, because there is tremendous leadership, as outlined in the throne speech.
Some members would be aware that not too long ago, if I can find it here, there was something that came in their mail. It was known as the small business six-pack. There were six basic items that came to the members’ offices in this package to enable the members of this Legislature to better communicate with their constituents the kind of leadership and the quality direction that this government is showing in the areas of providing financial assistance for small business.
Let me just give some of them. I have told members about the new ventures program and how successful that is. “The youth venture capital loans: Loan guarantees of up to $7,500 for young people between the ages of 18 and 24 and recent graduates between the ages of 25 and 29.” The applicants must contribute an amount equal to 20 per cent of the loan, but it is clearly put there as an incentive to help them. That is the youth venture capital loans program.
The student venture capital loans program:
Last year alone there were over 1,100 young people in this province who borrowed up to $3,000 to start a summer business under this particular program. That is really fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and showing the young people how they can run a small business and assisting them a little bit financially along the way.
Mr Wildman: Oh, no.
Mr Mahoney: I know that members of the official opposition are against free enterprise and an entrepreneurial spirit, and I understand that they would rather the young people in this province not be given the kind of assistance and leadership that we give them, but this government is clearly committed to helping our young people get on with their lives, helping them understand what it means to start a small business and helping them to succeed in life rather than telling them: “Don’t worry, folks, we’re going to take money away from the other guys who have it and we’re going to give it to you. It’s going to be a sharing program” -- the old S words, sharing and socialism. That is not liberalism in this province.
Mr Wildman: You don’t believe in sharing.
Mr Mahoney: I believe in sharing, but I do not believe in giving it away. You have to teach people they have to work for things in this society. You do not just give them a handout. You give them a hand up instead of a handout. That is what this party believes in.
Mr Mahoney: It is great to have the seals here.
“The Ontario Development Corp,” the ODC, “the Eastern Ontario Development Corp and the Northern Ontario Development Corp provide term loans and guarantees to secondary manufacturing and service industries closely allied with manufacturing and tourist operations and attractions.” There are 14 field offices located across the province to help anyone who is interested in availing himself of the services of one of our three development corporations.
Innovation Ontario Corp, another service under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, “provides debt and equity capital for technology-based products, processes and services.” For further information, all they have to do is call our ministry. We are delighted to arrange to sit down with the individual to see how we can tailor a program to best help him compete in this global economy.
We have Nordev. “The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines program provides assistance to businesses wishing to start, expand or modernize in North America.”
The SBDC, “the small business development corporation program provides government incentives for the private sector to invest in Ontario’s small business.”
It is very important that we understand the difference here. We are not talking about government handouts. We are not talking about wheelbarrows full of money that certain parties might try to perpetrate as being the reality.
What we are talking about is creating arrangements with the private sector through two specific programs, the small business development corporation and the Computerized Ontario Investment Network, COIN, the nationwide database program.
Both of these programs are funded in part by our ministry and encouraged to get together with private sector entrepreneurs and investors so that they get together to do exactly what the throne speech says, and that is to provide the leadership to build on our economic strengths to ensure tomorrow’s growth.
The provincial wage subsidy in skills development, the Futures program: Business residents in Ontario are prepared to train new employees qualified for wage and benefit subsidies under the Futures program.
Under skills development we have the northern Ontario summer program, we have the Ontario Skills program, and federally, of course, there is the small businesses loans program where you can borrow up to $100,000 or 90 per cent of the money required to open a new business.
These are the financial programs that I talk about in the six-pack, financial assistance for small business.
On top of that, though, just to enhance and to recognize that not everyone necessarily needs financial help -- and in fact it would be improper to overly burden a new company that was starting out with too much debt -- that is indeed why the programs are designed the way they are designed.
New ventures, for example, provides a debt top-up of $15,000 -- not a lot of money, but when you combine it with the $15,000 from the entrepreneur, it tops up the capital of the corporation for an additional $30,000, which just might be enough to put that corporation over the top, to get it beyond that critical three-year growth period to sustain its growth.
Not everyone requires financial assistance, so we have further programs which are of an advisory nature within our ministry, once again showing that the statement in the throne speech of promoting our future is accurate.
We have the small business hotline that I talked about, the one where you cannot get through because it is so busy because it is in such great demand in this province.
Mr Wildman: You just leave it off the hook.
Mr Mahoney: Only when my friend calls do we leave it off the hook.
We have seminars and publications under the ministry, such as Starting a Small Business in Ontario, an excellent book. It should be a bible for anyone starting a small business. I wish I had a sample of it here, but I guess the pages could not carry everything over. It is an excellent book and should be a bible for anyone starting a new business.
We have The State of Small Business, a publication that is just what it sounds like, the current state of small business, and is published by the committee I am privileged to chair: How to prepare a business plan for manufacturing, service, retail, marketing for those particular sectors and record-keeping made easy.
We have self-help centres established around the province for an individual who is in doubt about what he can do, what he can access, what material might be available, what kind of advice he might be able to get or what kind of financial programs might be available. All they have to do is walk into a self-help centre and our staff will be delighted to sit down and help them.
Mr Callahan: The opposition needs some record-keeping, Steve.
Mr Mahoney: I am sure they do.
We have community small business centres in Brantford, Cornwall, Kanata, London, the northwest region, Waterloo and York. These are incubators that really prove this government’s commitment. They are small business incubators set up to provide reasonable office space, to provide assistance with secretarial work, perhaps some computer assistance, a fax machine or something of that nature, to provide a small business that is facing a particularly large overhead with an opportunity to keep that overhead down.
We have university small business consulting services at Brock, Carleton, Lakehead, Laurentian, McMaster, Ryerson, Queen’s, the University of Toronto, Trent, the University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier, the University of Windsor and York University; once again showing that we are taking our message into the academic world, that we are not simply waiting for them to come to us but we are going into the colleges, the universities and the high schools and saying: “We believe in entrepreneurs and we believe in you. We believe in the indomitable spirit of the Ontario people and the Canadian people who want to go into their own business and who need” -- as I said before -- ”a hand up and not a handout.”
We have field offices around the province, of course, where our staff are prepared to sit down with individuals wanting to start a small business. That too, I should point out, even to members of the opposition, is available in the six-pack, and I hope they would note that I did not, in any kind of a partisan way, withhold the information simply to my colleagues in the Liberal Party but was delighted and in fact insisted to my staff that we circulate it to all members.
Members will also be delighted to know that I left out the film with the core speech of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I did not think members opposite would be interested in that in their ridings, but if they would like that as part of their cable show, I would be delighted to provide those services through my office as well.
Mr Wildman: You’re all heart.
Mr Mahoney: I thank my friend. I am glad he is appreciative of it.
I have only a few minutes left today, but we are here tomorrow, I believe. I am not quite finished; I have a number of issues; I have not even got by the first issue.
Mr Callahan: Perhaps we should call in more members of the third party.
Mr Mahoney: No, I do not mind that. I do not play those games. Even though the members of the third party might play those games with us, I am not one who would ever call a quorum call, because I believe we are all dedicated, hardworking members of this Legislature. Even though some of our philosophies are substantially out of whack, they are certainly dedicated and committed. As a matter of fact, some of them probably should be committed. Maybe we could arrange that, but I am not at the health care portion of my speech, so I will not talk about whether or not they should be committed.
I would like to conclude the first section.
An hon member: You’re running out of steam.
Mr Mahoney: I am not running of steam. Is the member kidding? I hardly got started. I want to conclude the first section, though, on economic development with some discussion about the Premier’s Council. The Premier’s Council of course published the document Competing in the New Global Economy, which I am sure most members have seen.
Mr Wildman: We have memorized it.
Mr Mahoney: You have memorized it. It is good bedtime reading. I have talked about it a little bit and the attitudes that this government is showing in promoting the Premier’s Council report. The Premier established this council because he recognized that our industrial and social infrastructures are coming under unprecedented pressure. Since the inception of the Premier’s Council, it has developed seven centres of excellence to improve our research and development capabilities in the key areas of technological opportunity, such as space, new materials, telecommunications and information technology.
It has designated six centres of entrepreneurship in Ontario colleges and universities to help instil in the students, as I have said before, an awareness of the opportunities and the challenges involved in running your own business. It has developed a program to provide matching grants to industrial research projects involving promising new processes and technologies and it has developed a program to encourage universities and the private sector to collaborate in research projects.
In fact, I had the privilege of representing the minister at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute where there was a large group of people from the academic world and the business world with some government representatives there to talk about those exact things. It was really very exciting to see the level of co-operation and enthusiasm that was going on in that. I really attribute that to the leadership shown by the Premier’s Council.
It has also participated in a major review of the competitiveness of the Ontario economy, which was a massive project involving a great deal of research, discussion and analysis. More than 1,000 people were consulted in this process and policies of our leading competitors were investigated. The result of these deliberations was the report that I have referred to, Competing in the New Global Economy, published approximately one year ago.
This report identified a number of major challenges facing the Ontario economy and made a series of recommendations to deal with those challenges. It recommended assistance to help our mature industries modernize where necessary, it outlined policies to help new industries grow and prosper in this province and it recommended ways to foster a more entrepreneurial culture in the province and suggested ways to improve our science and technology infrastructure.
The government has implemented a new direction for industrial restructuring as a result of the Premier’s Council report by establishing the office of the industrial restructuring commissioner, who will assess the competitive factors facing selected industries in order to avoid, wherever possible, plant closures and job losses as a result of the free trade agreement that our third party’s cousins in Ottawa have foisted upon this country.
The government has also acted to improve assistance for research and development by introducing the research and development super-allowance in the last budget. It announced the establishment of the technology personnel program to subsidize the costs of small firms of hiring technical personnel.
I realize I am getting a time-out signal, but I have almost a minute left. I intend to carry on tomorrow, but I intend to finish the minute too, if the whip does not mind. We are here until six o’clock.
Actually, maybe what I will do is leave in the middle of the Premier’s Council report because I know the members opposite, particularly, would like to hear more tomorrow and they would like me to pick up on the theme of the very positive attitude and atmosphere that has been created through the establishment of the Premier’s Council, a council that has shown great leadership throughout the world and given a sign of confidence in international markets. I think that confidence will be very clear and evident to members opposite at the end of my speech, which will come some time tomorrow or the next day.
On motion by Mr Mahoney, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1801.