The House met at 1330.
Mr Laughren: The Victorian Order of Nurses is in financial crisis because the Peterson government really does not support community-based services. As a direct result of chronic underfunding by the Ministry of Health, VON is now $2.5 million in deficit. The government’s unwillingness to accept full responsibility for that deficit and to negotiate an appropriate rate for 1988-89 and 1989-90 will result in VON carrying a total debt in excess of $3 million.
All of the rhetoric by this government about wanting to shift the community health care system away from institutions and more toward community-based care is just that: rhetoric and nothing more. Unless the government urgently addresses VON’s estimated $2.5-million deficit for 1988-89 alone, home nursing services in some parts of the province will have to be cut back or eliminated.
The Victorian Order of Nurses is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the provision of quality and cost-effective health and related services. VON is Ontario’s largest provider of comprehensive community health care services available to over 90 per cent of Ontario’s population. Underfunding of VON services may very well result in reduced services in the home. This is a particularly important issue in northern Ontario where hospitals are fewer and farther apart and where distances in general tend to be much greater.
Mr Pollock: I wrote the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) on 28 March 1989 requesting a meeting with representatives of the village of Havelock to discuss the status of the municipality’s application for grant funding to assist in the development of additional water facilities. The answer I received back was that the village was attempting to find new sources of water.
This is incorrect. They have found new sources of water. The estimated costs have already been sent in to the ministry. The village council is concerned that its pumping capacity right now is overloaded and if it is a hot, dry summer, it could run into a situation of burning out its pumps. There is no way that the village of Havelock can entertain new development.
The Minister of the Environment should live up to his commitment of open government: either the minister or members of his senior staff should meet with the Havelock council to resolve this situation.
Mr Mahoney: I would like to bring to the attention of my colleagues in the House that it is once again time for the fourth annual Carassauga Festival. Mississauga’s multicultural celebration will be held on May 12, 13 and 14 and offers citizens the opportunity to meet the world in their own backyard.
This city-wide festival will have 13 different pavilions participating this year. They are: Assyria, Arabia, Croatia, Cyprus, England, Greece, India, Lithuania, the Philippines, Portugal, Scotland, Trinidad and Jamaica. Visitors to these pavilions will be able to experience the foods, dances, customs and various costumes of each represented country.
This annual event has been a great success in Mississauga, and most of the success is due to the wonderful volunteers on the executive of Carassauga and the many volunteers who give of their time on Carassauga weekend to staff the pavilions. I am delighted to announce that today in the House we have representation from those volunteers of Carassauga in the visitor’s gallery. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for the many long hours of preparation and hard work that go into the making of this event.
As a preview to Carassauga weekend, there will be a Meet the World Week from May 8 to 11 at South Common Mall to allow residents to sample the foods and see some of the entertainment that will be featured on the weekend.
I would like to invite members of the Legislature to “Come Meet the World” on the weekend of May 12, 13 and 14 and join Mississauga in its celebration of the cultural heritage of our great city.
Mr Philip: This weekend my wife, Suzanne, and I will have the honour to commemorate with many other Canadians a historical event which took place 75 years ago. The commemoration of the landing of the Komagata Maru, which will be hosted by the Ontario Council of Sikhs, reminds us of one of the more blatant instances of discrimination in our history.
The federal government of the day had passed an order in council which required immigrants to come to Canada by continuous passage. This was done to restrict the entry of people from India. None the less, a Japanese passenger ship, the Komagata Maru, managed a direct voyage and arrived in Vancouver carrying 366 British subjects of Indian origin. These people had every legal right to enter Canada.
Unfortunately, the British Columbia press reported the arrival of the ship as a “mounting oriental invasion” and the BC government was determined not to allow the passengers to land. Passengers were denied the replenishment of food and water. The ship was refused permission to dock and was surrounded by armed guards. It was ordered to return home after two months and escorted into the Pacific by the Canadian navy.
We as Canadians are often critical of racism in other countries. In commemorating the horrible events surrounding the Komagata Maru, we are reminded that we as Canadians are not free from committing offences of prejudice and racism. We must be continuously vigilant to fight prejudice and racism in our country and in ourselves.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would like to bring to the attention of this assembly an editorial from the Erin Advocate of Wednesday, 19 April 1989. The headline of the editorial reads, “OMAF Sells Out”:
“The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s mandate is to keep all agricultural land for agricultural products -- that is, to protect agricultural land, especially that rated as class one.
“OMAF is supposed to oppose proposals by developers to construct buildings on prime agricultural land. It is supposed to fight to keep agricultural land in the hands of farmers.
“So why has OMAF changed its mind about the Snelgrove settlement area on Highway 10 just north of Mayfield Road in Caledon? An OMAF spokesperson confirmed that the land classification had not changed -- it is still number one agricultural land.
“However, the spokesperson said the main reason OMAF is now supporting the development of the land ... is that the economic climate of the area has changed since it first opposed the proposal.
“OMAF is selling out to developers -- selling out under economic pressure.
“Whether the economic climate of an area changes or not it doesn’t matter. Class one agricultural land should be protected or there won’t be any land left worth growing food on. And OMAF” -- and the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell) -- ”is supposed to help save farm land from exploitation, not help it along.”
That is the end of the editorial, but when the present Minister of Agriculture and Food was in opposition, he was opposed to this development. Why has he changed his mind?
POLISH CONSTITUTION DAY
Mr Fleet: What happened on this day 198 years ago and why is it relevant to us today? On 3 May 1791 the first constitution was declared in modern Europe which established a democratic society. Now in that same country, for the first time in decades, basic freedoms and rights that Canadians take for granted are beginning to re-emerge. I speak of events in Poland.
Polish Constitution Day is a symbol of national redemption and the indomitable strength of a people. After valiant struggles, the trade union Solidarity has been legalized. Freely contested elections for some but not all seats in the Sejm, the Polish Parliament, are scheduled next month.
This fragile reflowering of freedom is still incomplete, but let us warmly encourage its growth. Beyond our humanitarian concerns, which are themselves fundamental, the advent of democracy within Poland suggests a greater prospect for reduced east-west tension and a secure international peace.
I ask all members of this assembly to join me in saluting the democratic traditions of Polish Constitution Day.
Mr McLean: My statement concerns two Ontario-based teams of athletes who swept out of Ontario and into the hearts of curling fans across Canada by proving beyond a doubt that they clearly are masters of the ice.
The Penetanguishene rink of skip Russ Howard and his teammates, vice-skip Glen Howard, second Tim Belcourt, lead Kent Carstairs and spare Larry Merkley, won its third Ontario men’s curling championship in four years last February and then went on to place second in the Canadian Labatt’s Brier the following month.
Meanwhile, the Thunder Bay rink of skip Heather Houston and her teammates, vice-skip Lorraine Lang, second Diane Adams and lead Tracy Kennedy, captured the women’s world championship in Milwaukee earlier last month with a spine-tingling eight-to-five win over Norway.
The Russ Howard and Heather Houston rinks serve as excellent examples of the fine efforts put forward by amateur athletes from throughout Ontario. They show what can be accomplished when individuals band together in competition.
On behalf of all of us, I congratulate the Russ Howard and Heather Houston rinks and thank them for serving as unofficial ambassadors of Ontario wherever they compete.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICES
Hon Mrs Caplan: Today I am pleased to announce funding for two additional community health centres in Ontario.
As indicated in last week’s throne speech, our government is committed to providing accessible, affordable, appropriate health services for all. Expansion of the number of community health centres and health service organizations is an example of this commitment.
There are currently 15 community health centres in operation. About $15.2 million was allocated to CHCs in 1988-89, and it is estimated that roughly $23.7 million will be made available in 1989-90. Community health centres are uniquely designed to respond to specific areas or segments of the population in particular need. This can range from geriatric programs for seniors to drug education, counselling and other programs directed at our youth.
Today, we have approved the establishment of the Black Creek Community Health Centre in the northwestern section of Metropolitan Toronto and the funding of the Teen Health Centre in Windsor, both of which will offer alcohol and drug addiction programs.
More than $1 million is being provided for the Windsor centre to serve teens and young adults. The centre has operated since 1980 and has offered services for adolescents since 1985. It has enjoyed growing support in the community from school officials, doctors, health and social service providers.
About one third of the new ministry funding being announced today will enable the centre to greatly expand its services and to relocate to a larger facility within a year. It is estimated that in three years the centre will be serving about 5,000 young people.
The centre will focus on those in the 12 to 24 age group who are in need of care or at risk of developing medical or emotional problems, such as substance abuse, eating disorders or depression. Programs will include medical treatment, addiction and health promotion counselling and community education.
These services will be made available in English, French, Italian and Chinese wherever possible. The ministry supports initiatives such as the Windsor Teen Centre which provide improved access and appropriate programs for the province’s multicultural groups.
This same kind of cultural sensitivity is inherent in the plans for the Black Creek Community Health Centre, which will serve a diverse neighbourhood where some 42 per cent of the population uses neither French nor English as their primary language. The ministry will provide almost $800,000 in funding for Black Creek, $186,000 of which will go towards startup costs.
The centre will be located in the Jane-Finch area at a site yet to be determined. It is expected to be in operation by October of this year and exemplifies the government’s goal to provide community-based services in neighbourhoods where they are most needed.
In addition to providing medical services with flexible hours and location, the centre will offer outreach programs such as alcohol and drug abuse counselling, parent support groups and youth workshops, as well as services to the elderly. In three years, it is projected that the centre will be serving 3,000 people, with an estimated annual budget of $861,000.
Both of these new community health centres reflect this government’s goal to provide quality health care as close to home as possible and to promote an addiction-free lifestyle among our youth.
I believe that both centres will make a significant and positive impact in these communities.
NONPROFIT HOUSING / LOGEMENTS À BUT NON LUCRATIF
Hon Ms Hošek: It gives me great pleasure to rise today to tell all members of this House about a new partnership which has just been forged between four United Church of Canada presbyteries in Metropolitan Toronto and the Ministry of Housing. A few moments ago I had the honour of signing an agreement with the moderator of the United Church of Canada and officials from the four Metro presbyteries of the church which will result in the building of approximately 600 nonprofit housing units.
At this time I would like to pay tribute to the United Church moderator, Dr Sang Chul Lee, and the four presbytery chairpersons of Metro Toronto who worked so hard to make this agreement happen. They are Rev Joyce Kellmy of Toronto Scarborough; John P. Hamilton of Toronto South; Mrs Laura Eubank of Toronto Don Valley, and Rev Robert Trimble of Toronto West -- and also Rev Bob McElhinney, who is the chairperson of the interpresbytery affordable housing committee. All of them join us here today to receive the appreciation of all members.
Il me fait plaisir en particulier de faire cette annonce aujourd’hui, car cela aide à illustrer l’appui formidable de la communauté que le gouvernement reçoit, dans les efforts faits pour s’assurer que les habitants de cette province obtiennent les logements dont ils ont besoin et qu’ils méritent.
Les députés se souviennent peut-être que nous avons signé un accord semblable en décembre dernier avec l’archidiocèse catholique de Toronto. Nous avons aussi signé des accords avec plusieurs municipalités.
J’ai confiance que nous travaillerons en collaboration avec d’autres groupes religieux et organismes communautaires dans l’avenir, afin d’atteindre notre objectif commun, qui est de fournir des logements sécuritaires à prix raisonnable à tous ceux qui en ont besoin.
The agreement we signed today will result in hundreds of new housing units being built, but the activity this agreement will generate goes far beyond merely putting bricks and mortar together. It will raise awareness of our housing needs and it will illustrate that when the community works in partnership with government, we can make a difference.
An affordable housing committee has already been formed by the four presbyteries to coordinate all efforts to create and support housing initiatives. Under the agreement, this committee will immediately begin to prepare an inventory of land owned or leased by the four presbyteries and assess the suitability of that land for the development of nonprofit housing. Also, the committee will work with congregations to determine their interest in becoming sponsors of nonprofit housing and will encourage congregations to become involved in housing initiatives in various other ways.
The Ministry of Housing will help by providing funding to help build nonprofit housing through our existing programs. We will also assist in housing project development and provide support in creating educational and promotional materials to help the committee do its very important work.
In all of these activities, the interpresbytery affordable housing committee will be raising awareness of housing needs and doing something concrete to meet those needs. This agreement with the United Church represents an excellent example of religious leaders taking initiative on a matter of great importance to us all. I commend the leadership shown by the United Church and thank them sincerely for joining us here today.
COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Reville: In response to the announcements today by the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan), may I extend the congratulations of the New Democratic Party to the citizens in the Jane-Finch area and in Windsor who, along with health care professionals, worked very hard to bring these two projects to the stage where the Ministry of Health is prepared to help them and in one case increase the funding. I would also like to congratulate the Ministry of Health because it is clearly beginning to head in the right direction in terms of community health.
I think we should note, however, that this is not a program that flows out of the throne speech. This is a previous promise to double the number of people served by community health centres and health service organizations over a period of years. I think it would be more encouraging for members of our party if we were to hear some new announcements that this government was prepared to accelerate the progress towards serving more people by community health centres.
Because a number of the programs offered by the two centres will attempt to address the severe problems faced by youth who abuse alcohol and drugs, it is with some sadness that I say we have not made nearly enough progress in this regard either. While these programs will indeed be welcome, there still remains a very severe shortage of residential treatment beds for youth suffering from problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse. We hope that very soon we will hear some further announcements from the Ministry of Health in that regard.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I want to take just 10 seconds to tell the Minister of Health that we appreciate the community health centre announcement in Windsor. I think this announcement actually flowed from the promise Larry Grossman made when he was Minister of Health. It has been in the planning stage for six or seven years, so I would like to say to the minister that we will believe her commitment to community health if she proceeds with the major proposal by the Windsor and District Labour Council for a health service organization that will be all-encompassing. If she comes forward with that one quickly, then we will know she supports community health.
Mr Breaugh: I want to congratulate those members of the United Church community who have entered into this agreement today. I know, as all of us who are interested in the field of affordable housing would know, that 600 units will not resolve the problem that faces us, but it is encouraging to see different church and community groups come forward with their portion of what can be done to resolve a very vexing problem. I congratulate those who take such initiatives.
I urge now that everyone in Ontario who is in a position to assist to do so, whether it is by means of making use of lands they have to a better degree or simply encouraging others in their own community to take the same kind of steps as they have taken, and to do so on a scale that would be unprecedented in the life and history of this province.
The great challenge for governments, of course, will be to support those community groups, those church groups, which like the United Church today have said: “We’ve got something that could help. We have some land. We have some ability. We have some initiative. With some assistance on the part of government, we can play our role in resolving an affordable housing crisis.”
Each member here will know that in his or her own community there are groups that could do exactly the same thing. If all of us work together, perhaps we can resolve this, not quickly and not tomorrow, but we can make sure that in this rich society in which we live, the obscenity of poverty and people not having a decent place to live can be obliterated.
I congratulate those who have taken that initiative today but I lay down for them and the minister the greater challenge. The problem remains and a press conference will not resolve it. It will take a great deal of work, a great deal of initiative and a great deal of imagination on the part of all of us to resolve it. I hope we do that.
Mr Harris: I too want to congratulate those officials of the United Church who are in the chamber today for coming forward and playing their role in helping all of us address a very serious situation, a situation that most of us, in a province as wealthy as Ontario, find most distressing and indeed intolerable. I offer my congratulations on behalf of my party.
I indicate to the House some very gentle criticism to the minister, the Ministry of Housing and the officials with whom these ladies and gentlemen will have to deal over the next period, hopefully of not so many years, both provincially and federally.
I offer, by example, my congratulations to Emmanuel United Church. After a period of three or four years of struggle, most of it dealing with the bureaucracy and with government, it got its initiative, its assisted housing projects, off the ground. One of them, which we are very proud of in North Bay, opened some two years ago. The number of units escapes me but it is in the order of 50 or 60, so for North Bay it is actually very significant when you look at equivalent populations.
Had the congregation, had those who spearheaded the project on behalf of that church on Lakeshore Drive in North Bay, had those dedicated people not been so dedicated, had they been easily discouraged, they would have walked away from the project many times over. It took interminable meetings with the bureaucracies, both federally and provincially, and with the politicians to finally get through all of the approvals process necessary.
I congratulate as well in my riding -- I point out another example -- St John’s Anglican Church. Just a few months ago, we had the official opening. It went through similar experiences. They met in my office on probably half a dozen occasions, throwing their hands up in the air and saying: “We’re trying to provide this housing. As our member, why is it that the very governments that announce the programs, that take the credit” -- that is fair politics – “and have the glossy brochures are the impediments to this project?”
I issue that challenge to the minister to try to improve upon that. I offer my congratulations and hope that the dedication of those involved will carry through these projects from announcement stage to official opening. If the track record is any experience, I will probably be in government by the time we get them open and I will be delighted to be there at the opening.
I finally point out to the minister that on page 4 she indicates her ministry will “provide support in creating educational and promotional materials to help the committee do its very important work.” I ask the minister, in a very serious way, to help the group do its work by facilitating the myriad of civil servants and ministries it will have to work through between now and opening day of these projects.
Mr B. Rae: I have some questions again today for the Premier on the subject of his meeting with Envacc Resources. I notice that on the public record is a statement from the minutes of the meeting the Premier held with Envacc in June 1988 that it is his view the company should proceed with contacting the municipalities, and according to the Globe and Mail the Premier commented favourably on the makeup of the company and was “impressed that Marco” -- meaning Marco Muzzo -- ”was involved.” The statement that is on the record from the minutes of Envacc Resources has never been denied by the Premier.
When the Premier made that comment, or is quoted as making that comment, I wonder if he was aware of the fact that Mr Muzzo was a very prominent witness and indeed was named on a number of occasions in the now well-known Waisberg Royal Commission on Certain Sectors of the Building Industry, which I am sure the Premier will recall was a very important event in the 1970s.
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: Was the Premier aware when he made that comment about Mr Muzzo’s involvement in Envacc Resources that Mr Muzzo is quoted on page 113 of this royal commission as saying:
“Counsel: ‘So you were not opposed to the general practice of bribery; you were only concerned about whether it worked or not?’
“Mr Muzzo: ‘That is right.’”
Is the Premier aware of that statement by Mr Muzzo?
Hon Mr Peterson: I have encountered the gentleman on a couple of occasions in my life and I am not aware of any of that.
Mr B. Rae: Was the Premier aware that Judge Waisberg, in his account of the events in the building industry taking place throughout the 1970s, found that there was a pattern of price-fixing in the drywall industry in particular, that there were several meetings held between a number of drywall contractors of which Mr Muzzo was part, and that on pages 232 to 239 of the Waisberg royal commission it is made very clear that Mr Muzzo was attending meetings at which there were discussions of price-fixing and that there were discussions directly about combinations which would have the effect of fixing prices in the industry? Was the Premier aware of Mr Muzzo’s involvement in that regard?
Hon Mr Peterson: No, I know nothing of his background.
Mr B. Rae: These are all a matter of public record. They are a matter of the findings of a royal commission in this province that took place over a decade ago. They are a matter of profound public policy.
I wonder if the Premier, in light of this, would not now question his own encouragement to this company and can he confirm, and is it in fact the case, that the Premier indicated that this group, of which Mr Muzzo was at that time a very major financial backer, should proceed with contacting the municipalities? Why would the Premier have given that advice, given the kind of record Mr Muzzo had over a decade ago?
Hon Mr Peterson: I give any group that is interested the same advice. I have met with other groups. I say: “The regions will make the decision. If you’ve got some ideas, go and discuss it with them.” There are no secrets in this matter and whatever is done will all be tendered and there for everyone to see. I say the same thing to everyone.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Treasurer. In the last number of years, the Treasurer has either followed in lockstep the efforts by the Minister of Finance to give tax breaks to corporations or has in fact gone even further. Given that we now know there are well over 80,000 companies in Canada -- of which we can assume about 40 per cent are in Ontario -- that do not pay any tax and that Mr Wilson has once again failed to introduce a minimum corporate tax, can we have the assurance from the Treasurer that at least this year he will finally introduce a minimum corporate tax for Ontario’?
Hon R. F. Nixon: It being within a couple of weeks of budget time, I think this is an inappropriate time for me to make any specific responses to the honourable member. I think, however, he is aware that we have a capital tax in this jurisdiction which is designed to allow or require corporations to make contributions to the provincial Treasury based on their paid-up capital and irrespective of their reported profits.
Mr B. Rae: The capital tax in this province, which is the financial capital of Canada, is the second lowest in this country, as the Treasurer no doubt will be aware. I wonder if he can tell us what arguments he would have now against the introduction of a minimum corporate tax. Ronald Reagan introduced such a tax in the United States. There are thousands of corporations making money in Ontario that are not paying any corporations tax. Can the Treasurer tell us what are the arguments now against a minimum corporate tax in Ontario?
Hon R. F. Nixon: We feel the corporations are paying a reasonable share of the revenue into the province. One of the reasons we make that judgement is that the proof is in the pudding. We have the largest corporations in the nation and the most rapidly growing. This is an atmosphere, which the member may object to, that actually creates an opportunity for investment from all over the world, as well as from other areas in Canada. It provides the jobs all of us are extremely interested in and provides a substantial amount of revenue to the provincial Treasury.
Mr B. Rae: If the Treasurer thinks the share is so fair, can he tell us why it is that 20 years and 25 years ago corporations were paying as a proportion of revenues raised, federally and provincially, more in relation to the income tax than they are paying today? There has been a redistribution of wealth in this province, as there has been federally, away from ordinary taxpayers to corporations that already are doing very well.
Why will the Treasurer not put a minimum tax on those corporations that are making money and are profitable? There are tens of thousands of those corporations in this province that are not paying a nickel.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr B. Rae: Does he not think it is time they paid their share?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon R. F. Nixon: One of the main reasons that, for example, the personal income tax is so productive in this jurisdiction is that we have the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, now substantially below five per cent, and in many communities of Ontario there really is no unemployment at all.
The second thing is that our salary and wage rates, while they are never high enough, whether it is those of members of the Legislature or anybody else who is working for a living, are at relatively high levels. This too is extremely productive. For that reason, all of us, as the members of the working body of Ontario, contribute an extremely large proportion of the revenues for the province. We are quite proud of the fact that the buoyancy in the economy here has magnified and focused that in the last four years.
Mr Brandt: My question is for the Minister of Health. I want to return to the question we raised yesterday in the Legislature in connection with some of the changes the minister is making in the health system. The minister in fact made an announcement two years ago to the effect that in the Ottawa-Carleton area there would be seven capital projects that would proceed at a cost of some $140 million, that would add a number of additional beds to that community and would provide additional psychiatric services as well as some clinic services that were required for the Ottawa-Carleton area.
Because of the institutional problems we have in our health care system, such as Ottawa-Carleton being near 100 per cent capacity in terms of bed use, will the minister confirm that those seven projects worth $140 million are going to proceed?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the leader of the third party would know, on numerous occasions in this House and extensively during the estimates discussion we discussed the fact that the capital planning process is under review in light of the changing demographics in the province, the changing technologies which are allowing services to be provided in alternative ways and because of our commitment to expand community-based facilities.
Mr Brandt: Only one of the seven projects is even at the tendering stage and even that project has had the number of beds proposed reduced rather substantially. I would be quite surprised to hear from the minister that the demographics and the technology have changed so rapidly within the last two years that she is now moving aside these particular major projects that were announced, and are anticipated and expected by that community.
Really, all I am asking is, does the minister plan on proceeding and, if not, what does she plan on replacing the need in that community with in order to offset the current health crunch it has in terms of bed use in the Ottawa-Carleton area?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The leader of the third party raises a very important point. He knows many health planners are suggesting that technology has had the kind of impact which would allow some 30 to 50 per cent of all procedures presently done on an inpatient basis to be done on an outpatient basis. As he would know, recently we have been reviewing our projects to give priority to ambulatory centres such as the one in Hamilton and he knows as well that there is one in Ottawa which has been approved to go to tender.
Mr Brandt: I am still having trouble getting my question answered; that is, of $140 million and a series of 200 or 300 beds that have been proposed, many of which are in the acute care area, seven projects, is the minister prepared to commit to this House that she is going to proceed with those projects as she indicated two years ago; or, alternatively, is she saying that some community-based facilities are going to be used as an option to replace that very good plan she announced two years ago?
Either she is going ahead with the plan of two years ago or she has another plan now as a result of alternatives, technological changes, new innovative measures. I would like to hear what those are. It is going to be one or the other. The Ottawa-Carleton area wants to know.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I have been to Ottawa on a number of occasions and met with the district health council, leadership of the health care community. They know how important it is that we assess the needs today to make sure that before we put a shovel in the ground we are planning for the future. I want to assure the honourable member that this is exactly what we are doing.
Mr Jackson: I have a question of the Premier. This morning at around eight o’clock, a large number of members of this Legislative Assembly from all sides of this House met at the Royal York Hotel for the 20th anniversary Ontario Prayer Breakfast. We met in a nonpartisan way. We met for fellowship and prayer for this province and its political leaders. At that time the Premier made a welcoming statement on behalf of this province and he stated a rather unusual comment. I would like to quote directly from his statement. He indicated that “discrimination against minority groups is all too common in our schools.”
Could the Premier please substantiate these serious allegations and, if not, would he please withdraw the charges?
Hon Mr Peterson: My friend raises a serious question in a most inappropriate way, in my opinion. I think my honourable friend opposite says it best when he calls it cheap. I agree with that, but I am used to that.
My honourable friend will be aware that we have seen examples of discrimination in this community and across this province. I and others have talked about the mood in this country right now that tends to be less tolerant of minorities. I am sure my honourable friend has seen that. Some of my colleagues and other premiers talk about the atmosphere in their own provinces.
Those of us who care about nation-building and believe -- and I am sure my honourable friend opposite does care about the traditions of tolerance and understanding, charity and indeed love that we have in this country, which are the founding principles -- that it is important to constantly restate those on a nonpartisan basis. This not a partisan issue, as my honourable friend says, it is an issue that transcends partisanship. But I think it would be naïve to sit here and pretend that everything is in perfect working order.
We are all striving towards ideals and one is racial tolerance in all of our institutions -- in our governments, in our schools, in our businesses and every governing institution that we have. To pretend it does not exist I think is naïve. At the same time I think we can collectively articulate a sense of purpose with hope and can build a better community. [Applause]
Mr Jackson: All members of this House would agree that this is a sensitive issue and it should be handled with the utmost delicacy in terms of any comments and public statements that are made.
I would ask the Premier specifically if he is able to make such sweeping generalizations about the fact that discrimination may be on the rise. His exact words were, “on the increase in this province, and specifically in our schools.” If he is able to make that statement, would he please substantiate and give evidence as to where specifically this is happening; and if it is, to his knowledge, what are we doing about it?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think my honourable friend makes a mistake of judgement in trying to turn this into a partisan issue or trying to embarrass me or someone else. Believe me, he cannot embarrass me on this. This is beyond individual embarrassment. This is something that all society has to be involved in.
I think my honourable friend the Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara) and others talked yesterday about the increases for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, something we all believe in. The Minister of Education (Mr Ward) has talked about programs in our schools. We have talked about programs in the civil service and many others that try to build the ideal of fairness that we all value so very much.
I am not going to answer your next supplementary. Let us leave this on a high note, not on a low note. I want to invite my friend to assist all the other members of this Legislature in trying to achieve that goal together. Let us not cheapen it.
Mr Jackson: Thank you. The fact of the matter remains that we have had some appropriate and necessary improvements on this sensitive issue of race relations. This month the Toronto Board of Education is celebrating 10 years of its commitment to outstanding race relation policies. What we are finding unusual is a comment that, in fact, we have a discriminatory attitude growing in our schools. That is what the Premier has indicated.
My point to the Premier is, quite frankly, that unsubstantiated comments about discrimination in this province only breed the very kind of intolerance that we are trying to overcome.
Will the Premier please indicate to this House whether or not there has been -- and he can substantiate it -- an increase in the incidence of discrimination in our school system? Is it the trustees’ problem or the teachers’ problem? What is --
The Speaker: Order. Mr Premier? No response.
Mr Breaugh: I have a question for the Minister of Housing. I know the minister is aware of a project in London, Ontario, called Country Lane Gardens. I know her staff is aware there is a proposal by Kippslane Co-operative to solve a pretty vexing problem.
The minister may know that this particular project is one of those hidden condominiums. The tenants have been given notice to vacate the premises by 1 June. They formed their own co-operative and read all of the ministry’s directives. For example, they see that they qualify clearly under the Homes Now program for funding. They can bring the project in at $300,000, under the maximum approved limit. They can provide affordable housing now, but they need an answer by 10 May.
They have an owner of the development who is prepared to co-operate and to sell. They have a co-operative in place and operative now. They need financing from the ministry. They are told they would get money if they would build a new project, but they cannot get funding for the existing project. Can the minister explain to them why she refuses to help them make that a viable, affordable housing proposition now?
Hon Ms Hošek: The member opposite will know that in our nonprofit housing program, what we have done is indicate that we are prepared both to build new nonprofit housing and also to allow groups to buy existing housing. But in order to do that, we have to believe that the capital costs are reasonable and, in fact, make sense. Our analysis of that particular project is that the cost of acquisition plus the cost of repair to bring the building up to adequate standards is very high. It is for that reason that we are looking seriously at it, but are also concerned about the costs involved.
There are many opportunities we are involved with right now in building nonprofit housing all over the province and in acquiring buildings, but in order to do that we have to be convinced that it makes economic as well as social sense to balance those two, in some cases, conflicting issues. That is what we are discussing right now.
Mr Breaugh: Perhaps the ministry can build a new unit in a city like London for less than $69,500, but I doubt it. Perhaps the minister can put together a proposal that is $300,000 less than her own approved limit, but I doubt it.
Could the minister not use a little bit of common sense and give them an answer by their deadline, which is 10 May, that their proposal -- which is sensible, rational, in place, ready to go and would resolve an affordable housing crisis now -- can proceed; or would she really rather see those tenants evicted by 1 June? What is the minister’s choice?
Hon Ms Hošek: I like to take the advice of the member opposite and so I will take his advice. We will be using our common sense and our rationality to make the best decision we know how. Let me say that we already have about 17,600 units out there allocated for being built. We have greatly increased the number of units. There are many homes out there that this province has been involved in building, as the member opposite knows because he goes to the openings of the buildings in his own riding and he knows there are people living in them right now.
We are building more and there have been many allocated in London. We will use our common sense to make the best decision possible in this case, with all the information available to us about the costs and the benefits in this case.
Mr Runciman: My question is for the Minister of Financial Institutions and it has to do with auto insurance. It is really a repeat of a question I asked last week which he declined to answer. It has to do with how his ministry is prepared to deal with the possibility of a significant increase in referrals from insurance companies in the Metropolitan Toronto area to the Facility Association. He has had a week to reflect upon it or to develop one of his infamous instant policies. I wonder if he could respond to it today.
Hon Mr Elston: We do not develop instant policies in the fashion that a would-be leadership hopeful for the Progressive Conservative Party would. I can tell the honourable member for Leeds-Grenville that I am not prepared to develop instant policies. That is why we have on reference now issues concerning the new product reform opportunities that are in front of us with respect to insurance for all Ontario consumers.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that if he has particular cases, I am prepared to receive them and review them. If that is his supplementary, I am prepared to accept his supplementary and look into it as best I can if he can give me the details.
Mr Runciman: My instant policies do not cost the taxpayers of this province $7 million or the insurance companies $250 million.
Obviously, again, the minister does not have a plan. He is continually flying by the seat of his pants with respect to auto insurance in this province. I want to give him some statistics which he apparently is unaware of. In the first three months of 1988, versus the first three months of 1989 -- this is prior to his flip-flop of a couple of weeks ago -- the facility has seen a 95 per cent increase in applications. Just to name a few, CIGNA, Advocate General, Upper Canada, Economical, Eaton’s, Co-operators and Lloyd’s of London are now no longer writing automobile insurance policies for Metropolitan Toronto.
The minister could be faced with a very serious problem. Obviously he has no plan; no way to deal with this. If he does, tell us about it.
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman indicates that there has been about a 95 per cent increase. I can tell the honourable gentleman that represents less than three per cent of the Ontario automobile insurance marketplace. In relation to what he is trying to do, which is to create out of this issue a very serious, huge and insurmountable problem, it is not that way at all.
What I am trying to do is not a patchwork sort of dealing with instances like this but looking at it from an overall approach where we take a peek at what is being provided and what is required by the consumers in relation to automobile insurance and addressing it in that instance.
I agree with the honourable gentleman that there has been some increase in the use of the facility and that continues to be of interest to us, but I can tell the honourable gentleman that in terms of insurance product services throughout Ontario, we are working very hard on the product reform which will provide the fair and proper product for the people of the province, as he, I am sure, wants to join me in providing to the people of Ontario.
Ms Collins: My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Recently I received a letter from a constituent who is extremely upset about solicitations mailed to her son from American Express. Her son is a full-time university student with no income.
The letter from American Express states: “Right now, as a university student you are in a special position... With this offer you can get the American Express right now...”
It goes on to say: “You need to show funds from one of several verifiable income sources. It could be a full-time summer or part-time job, a savings account or trust fund, a student grant or from your parents.”
There is not one indication as to the amount of interest which is charged by the company when someone fails to pay unpaid balances. My question is, why are credit card companies such as American Express allowed to solicit students who have no visible means of income, suggesting that parents’ income or government grants be used?
Hon Mr Wrye: I thank the honourable member for the question and also for sending across to me a copy of the letter that she has just read a portion of into the record.
Certainly the whole area of solicitation, whether it is by mail, such as in this case, or telemarketing -- telephone solicitation -- is one which we are examining very closely as we begin to review consumer protection laws in this province. Certainly the member speaks to an area of particular sensitivity in raising the issue of credit. It will be one area that we are looking at and seeing whether we should be, at least, at a very minimum, moving to optimum levels of disclosure.
The member should be aware of two things: first of all, there is a federal-provincial group which is now working on the issue of cost of credit and developing regulations in that regard; second, we already have taken some initiatives. In the past, the issue of unsolicited credit cards arriving at one’s home was a major issue, and in amendments to the Consumer Protection Act some years ago that issue was dealt with. So it is certainly within our power to take some action and we are looking at what appropriate measure of intervention is necessary.
Ms Collins: Given the debt load of the average citizen and the difficulties that some people have when they are uninformed and go into debt, would the minister consider eliminating this kind of misleading advertising by making it mandatory that solicitations by credit card companies clearly state all costs associated with using their services?
Hon Mr Wrye: Really, I guess there are two issues here. First of all, I think we have to ask ourselves what the policy initiatives should be, and that is the issue I dealt with in answer to the first question: whether one ought to have disclosure or simply take even stronger measures. But the second issue is one of whether this is actually misleading.
I appreciate receiving this letter. It will be given to the registrar, who will have a look at it to see whether it is misleading. There is a possibility, and it often turns out that rather than being misleading, one would simply say that this letter is incomplete in that it does not disclose to the potential credit card user that there are fees and that there are, in effect, fines through interest charges for unpaid bills.
But we will take a look at this specific American Express initiative for students and see whether there is something that goes beyond being incomplete and gets into the realm of being misleading.
Mr Wildman: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment in relation to the answer he gave yesterday in this House to the question from the member for Port Arthur (Mr Kozyra) regarding the class environmental assessment hearings in Thunder Bay into timber management.
In that answer, the minister indicated the hearings were going on much longer than anticipated because many people wanted to make presentations. Is the minister not aware that the reason the hearings have gone on so long now is because of the extensive amount of evidence presented by the Ministry of Natural Resources, and that they have now covered only about 11 panels of the anticipated 17 and have taken up the total amount of time the board expected to go for the full hearing?
If that is the case, can he confirm the government will be allocating more money for interveners, to the extent of $300,000 to $350,000 at least, by the end of this month so they will not have to withdraw from the hearings before they can present their own evidence?
Hon Mr Bradley: As I indicated in my response to the member for Port Arthur yesterday, it is my anticipation this matter will be finalized in the very near future. Both the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) and I have identified the fact that a number of people who have made representations believe that further funding will be necessary to continue the case.
The member is correct in noting that much of the evidence provided has been by the Ministry of Natural Resources which, I understand from the minister, wishes to present as much information as possible so that people will be aware of what the ministry is doing and will be able to critique it or compliment it, whatever they see fit, in the hearing.
I want to assure the member that I anticipate there will be continued intervener funding. I am not in a position to say the amount in the House at this time, but we do recognize that there have been a number of submissions made to both Natural Resources and Environment in that regard.
Mr Wildman: If the minister is not at this point able to confirm the $350,000 figure, can he assure the House that the amount allocated will be commensurate with the additional funding the Ministry of Natural Resources itself has spent? Is he not aware that by the end of this fiscal year, the ministry will have spent somewhere in the neighbourhood of $8 million alone on these hearings? If that is the case, how can the minister not provide enough intervener funding, similar to what has been provided for the Ontario Waste Management Corp. hearings where 10 times as much has been allocated for interveners as in this case?
Hon Mr Bradley: I think we are talking about separate and different kinds of hearings, and I know one will draw conclusions or comparisons as one sees fit.
I think the member, along with a number of other members, is concerned that those who wish to intervene will be able to do so with adequate expert assistance, not that they do not have some of that themselves but certainly there are costs to be incurred. The Minister of Natural Resources wanted to ensure that as much information was put out as possible, and yes, that does require an allocation of funds from that ministry to ensure that happens. I think the minister would say that if he did not provide this kind of information, there might be criticism.
I want to assure the member that both the Minister of Natural Resources and I are aware of the needs that have been brought to our attention. We want to ensure people have sufficient funds to carry out the responsibilities. Of course, the Environmental Assessment Board itself, through a separate panel, will allocate how much goes to each group. I want to assure him, as I did the member for Port Arthur, that we will have a decision in the very near future. I do not like to make announcements before my colleagues have had the opportunity to process these matters.
ONTARIO HOME RENEWAL PROGRAM FOR DISABLED PERSONS
Mr McLean: I have a question that is directed to the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons. I have a letter from him dated 17 April in which he indicates that funding is no longer available under the Ontario home renewal program for disabled persons. As he knows, this program is supposed to provide the necessary financial means to enable disabled individuals to live comfortably in their homes.
A constituent of mine applied under this program so he could add a special shower and toilet unit as well as a sink to his room at home. This constituent will be released from the Lyndhurst Hospital at the end of May and the best the minister can offer is to tell him to wait: “We’re out of funds. They’ll become available next year.” How can the minister be out of funds 17 days into the new year?
Hon Mr Mancini: I want to let the honourable member know that I was speaking about the last fiscal year, which ended 31 March. If the letter conveyed any other view, then I apologize to the member. The member will have to wait, as will all other members of the Legislature, until the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) brings down his budget. Then the budget will be expanded upon by other ministers as to how their programs will be operated.
The member may recall that yesterday or the day before the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek) indicated to the House the large number of people who have been assisted over the past year or two. The program has had a very serious uptake, and yes, there is a waiting list.
Mr McLean: I have a supplementary. The minister dated the letter he wrote to me 17 April, which was well into the new year. I do not know why he would indicate to me on that day that he was out of funds, when it was 17 days into the new year.
I also got a letter from the minister just this week with regard to National Access Awareness Week. How can the ministry possibly afford to spend money on advertising and making this awareness week when it has no funds to help the disabled? I understand the situation with regard to the people, that the ministry has helped some 750 across the province, but I understand there are also about another 700 on the waiting list. What are we going to do to get help for these people who are disabled and need help now?
Hon Mr Mancini: I feel very bad that the honourable member opposite is not supportive of National Access Awareness Week, which is supported by the government of Canada, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and 23 national organizations of and for disabled people. These groups feel National Access Awareness Week is very important. We need the support of all members of the Legislature to make Rick Hansen’s dream and the dream of many thousands of persons with disabilities a reality. It is our job to try to eliminate both attitudinal and physical barriers.
Mr D. R. Cooke: My question is for the Minister of Health. The recently released report by the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy sets out a vision of health for Ontario. It sees an Ontario where people live longer and disease and disability are progressively reduced. The report establishes five goals necessary to achieve that vision, the first of which is to shift the emphasis of health care in Ontario to health promotion and disease prevention.
Philosophically, a good example of this is naturopathy, which seeks to promote lifestyle and preventive measures against disease, but the recently released health professions legislation review has caused a degree of confusion in the field of naturopathy, some being concerned that they will be charged with practising medicine without a licence. I would like to be able to assure them that is not the case.
Can the minister update the House on the impact of the health professions legislation review and what it will be on the future of naturopathy in the province?
Hon Mrs Caplan: For the information of the member, the health professions legislation review was tabled in this House and is currently under review. I have made a commitment to meet with all those groups affected by the legislative proposals. The position I have taken is that I will be asking the questions, what is in the public interest and what will offer protection to the public?
I would say to the member that the health professions legislation review has not recommended a legislative framework or self-governance for naturopathy. However, even without a legislative framework or regulatory status, naturopaths would be able to continue practising their profession in Ontario.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I take it then the minister will be meeting with the Ontario Naturopathic Association. Will she be discussing these matters and the proposed deregulation with them at that time?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Yes. For the information of the member, there are a number of professions not currently regulated or within the legislative framework, for example, marriage and family therapy, shiatsu therapy, acupuncture and psychoanalysis, just to name a few. As I have said, I will be meeting with all those groups affected by the legislation and have committed to meet with the representatives of the naturopathic profession as well, to hear from them their response to the legislative proposals of Mr Schwartz and the HPLR.
Miss Martel: I have a question for the Minister of Labour concerning Bill 162. On 18 April, the standing committee on resources development finished its last public hearing on the bill. Over 330 groups and individuals came before us to talk about the bill. Many more would have come before us, but the Liberal members on the committee blocked every motion we put forward to extend the hearings.
I would recall that the Liberal government insisted that every doctor who wanted to be heard on Bill 94 would be heard, and that did occur. The overwhelming majority of the groups that came before us said the bill could not be fixed or amended, but should be scrapped. I want to ask the minister if it is his intention now to do the decent thing and withdraw Bill 162.
Hon Mr Sorbara: I am interested in the statistics the member for Sudbury East has provided to the House in her question. My own understanding is that the hearings were very successful. A wide variety of views were expressed and indeed, notwithstanding the motions she or others apparently made every day for extension of the hearings, virtually all members of the committee felt that notwithstanding that the briefs were good, solid and well researched, by the time the hearings were coming to an end the submissions were getting somewhat repetitive.
We will be looking at and analysing those submissions within the ministry, as I am sure all the members of the resources development committee will be doing and have been doing, as the bill moves to its next phase, which is clause-by-clause in the committee.
Miss Martel: I am sorry if the Liberal members of that committee found it repetitive, but I guess they did not want to hear what the good people had to say, which was to scrap the bill. The ministry spent some $46,000 of taxpayers’ money producing a pamphlet entitled Reforming Workers’ Compensation in Ontario, wherein it said: “These changes” -- that is, Bill 162 -- ”are the result of a great deal of study. The government talked to representatives of labour, business and injured workers themselves to put together a plan for a better, fairer system of workers’ compensation. All of the changes are included in Bill 162.”
In fact, not one employer, labourer, injured workers’ group or legal clinic could say when they were before us that they had in any way been consulted by his ministry before this bill was introduced. There was no consultation, and in fact this pamphlet is grossly misleading. I want to ask the minister, given that there was no consultation, will he withdraw the bill and begin a process of real consultation with all of the stakeholders involved in this important issue?
Hon Mr Sorbara: I do not know about the use of the word “misleading” by the member for Sudbury East, but let me tell her just how inconsistent her position has been over the course of the last several months. She is the one who at one and the same time has argued in this place that the bill must be immediately scrapped, and almost in the same breath, has argued that the public hearings must go on ad infinitum. I do not see how those two positions can ever be resolved.
Let me tell the member for Sudbury East about consultation. The issue of the permanent partial disability system under the Workers’ Compensation Act has been the subject of debate in this House and the subject of three reports to government, each of which has had the broadest base of consultation imaginable, culminating in a third report prepared by Dr Paul Weiler on the whole question of permanent partial disability. Similarly, the issue of rehabilitation, and vocational rehabilitation in particular, has been the subject in this province of a very extensive consultation process culminating in the report of Maria Minna and Wally Majesky.
The consultation continued through the public hearings. I am satisfied that as a result of that --
The Speaker: Thank you.
ASSISTANCE FOR THE DISABLED
Mrs Cunningham: My question today is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. We have all heard the minister’s government on numerous occasions publicly state that it is committed to deinstitutionalization. If the minister is really committed to fulfilling this promise, why are so many families with disabled children being forced to consider placing their children in institutions because the necessary home support program is simply not available?
Hon Mr Sweeney: The honourable member will be well aware of the fact that we have a number of programs out there to assist parents who have made a personal decision to keep their children at home. The additional sums of money and resources we have made available have gone up every single year. We are now at close to -- I cannot remember the exact figure, but the number is fairly significant.
As the member will realize, the difficulty is that we have also indicated we want to broaden that support, not only to families that have developmentally handicapped children but also to those same families whose handicapped children become adults and to families who have physically handicapped children. We are not going to take away in any way from the first group, but obviously we cannot keep adding to that one and not do anything for the other two.
Therefore, we have said to the first group of families: “We will continue to provide service for you. We ask you to continue to access a whole range of services that are out in the community above and beyond what we are able to provide, but also to recognize that if physically handicapped --
The Speaker: Thank you. Order.
Mrs Cunningham: We certainly commend the minister’s record. The number he was looking for, quite frankly, is $111 million. It is substantial --
Hon Mr Bradley: Mike Harris says, “Save money.”
Mrs Cunningham: -- but it is a very difficult thing, I say to the Minister of the Environment, for parents to have to go to area offices and to ask for support so that they can stay home with their children or keep their children in their own homes.
During the estimates we realized the government withdrew funding that amounted to some $2.5 million from this program. It is not a lot but it would help. What we would like the minister to do today is to assure us that at least $2.5 million will be put back into the program, plus the regular inflationary increase. Would he commit in this House today to do that?
Hon Mr Sweeney: I can assure the honourable member the budget for the program for the three groups I have just identified will be significantly higher than that again.
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment will know that the Detroit incinerator is a matter of continuing concern to the residents of my city, the city of Windsor. The Detroit incinerator is the largest incinerator in North America and when fully operational will handle 2,000 tons of garbage per day and dump emissions upon our city which we are not pleased with.
The incinerator is now fully constructed and residents of the city of Windsor would like some assurance from the minister that he has not given up in his pursuit of the best available technology for this plant. What can the minister tell the residents of Windsor in this regard?
Hon Mr Bradley: The member may recall that on 15 April 1987, the Ministry of the Environment filed suit in the Michigan state court to force Detroit to install what we call state-of-the-art pollution control technology on the proposed incinerator. As the member has pointed out, the Detroit incinerator is being built with only electrostatic precipitators. We believe the scrubber baghouse technology is far superior to that and I certainly indicated that to the mayor of Detroit in a meeting with him.
As the member may be aware, the suit was moved to federal district court and was dismissed by a Reagan-appointed judge on 25 February 1988. The ministry went through the procedure of appealing the federal court judge’s decision to dismiss the case and sought leave to return the case to the Michigan state court.
Mr M. C. Ray: Can the minister, therefore, please now tell us what is the status of that lawsuit by the Ontario government against Michigan authorities?
Hon Mr Bradley: We have just learned that the appeal court has found in our favour. In a strongly worded two-to-one decision, the appeal court, I am informed, reversed the federal district judge’s ruling that the Michigan court did not have jurisdiction, as Ontario had asked. The appeal court vacated the judge’s dismissal of our original suit, as Ontario had asked, and the appeal court instructed Judge Hackett to send our suit back to state court which, of course, is where Ontario originally filed the suit.
This, in my view, is an important step in the right direction in this battle to ensure that the people of Essex county and Windsor are not subjected to the kinds of emissions we believe they would be if only an electrostatic precipitator were used in that incinerator.
ST PETER’S HOSPITAL
Mr Charlton: I have a question for the Minister of Health regarding St Peter’s Hospital in Hamilton. The minister will be aware that St Peter’s is the only chronic care hospital in the Hamilton-Wentworth region. Some 24 months ago, the hospital made submissions to her ministry regarding the need for enhanced funding requirements to bring St Peter’s Hospital up to the same level as other chronic hospitals in the province.
The minister will be aware that during the 24 months since that original submission, there have been various contacts with her ministry, including the ministry having sent in patient care consultants. The recommendations made by those patient care consultants strongly supported the position of the hospital in terms of its requirements for enhanced funding. The ministry directed the hospital to submit a budget and a critical path to implement the recommendations of the patient care consultants.
On 27 April, the minister informed the hospital that it would be receiving only 19 per cent of the money it requires in each of the next two years. Can the minister explain to the House, when she has said here on a consistent basis that her prime concern is patient care, how she can so blatantly ignore the recommendations of her patient care consultants?
Hon Mrs Caplan: For the information of the member for Hamilton Mountain, he would be interested to know that St Peter’s Hospital, which provides quality care to patients and residents in the Hamilton area, received a three-year accreditation in April 1989, along with praise from the independent accreditation surveyors. I would quote that they were “a model geriatric and teaching unit.”
I would say to him that some time ago the ministry received a request from the hospital for approximately $1 million. That request, over the course of time, had increased. I spoke directly with the board chairman and told him they would be receiving slightly over a $1-million base increase over the next two years. While everyone would like to have more, we believe this will go a significant way in expanding its services in the areas of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, as well as nursing clinical specialists.
St Peter’s plays an important role in Hamilton, and the member would do it a disservice by suggesting that it provides other than quality patient care, because it provides fine care to the residents in its charge.
Mr Allen: The minister is weaving and dodging her way through the statistics. The simple fact is that the gap between that hospital and its peer hospitals in other communities is such that St Peter’s can offer, in comparison to them, 60 minutes less of services and care per day. What the minister has provided by a 19 per cent add-on is only 10 minutes’ makeup of that 60-minute gap.
How does the minister really expect St Peter’s and Hamiltonians to accept that kind of discriminatory response from the Minister of Health?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think the question by the member opposite does a disservice to the quality care provided by St Peter’s Hospital. I would repeat again that an independent accreditation team suggested it was a model geriatric facility and teaching unit and gave it a three-year accreditation.
We are working with the hospital to provide for additional staffing and additional programming, given available resources. We are making progress in working together. Yes, I would say to him that we have worked co-operatively and will continue to do so.
Mr Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The Paudash Lake Cottage Association is concerned about uranium pilings. They have asked both the federal Minister of the Environment and the provincial minister about these pilings.
The federal government has committed its money for this particular study. When is the minister going to commit the money for this particular study?
Hon Mr Bradley: It seems to me that we funded the first phase of this particular project, if my recollection is correct, and that we have been involved and have been providing assistance in terms of ministry staff expertise and so on.
The member would be aware that the preeminent responsibility, when dealing with radioactive waste, is in fact with the federal government. We have, as I say, for some period of time attempted to work with them to assess the degree of the problem. I have communicated directly by letter with some of the member’s constituents in this matter. We are there to help out in whatever way we can and I anticipate we will continue to help out in that way.
Mr Pollock: The information I have is that they have got no funding at all for any particular study. That is a major concern to me. I do not know how dangerous these pilings are. I would hope the ministry would do everything it could to relieve the fears of the Paudash Lake Cottage Association.
If the minister has any information I certainly hope he would forward it to me and keep me informed about this particular situation. Has the ministry never been involved in any of these studies in regard to uranium tailings and that sort of thing?
Hon Mr Bradley: We have on an ongoing basis been involved. As I say, we have a good degree of co-operation with the federal government in matters of these kinds. The member may know that because of the different jurisdictions, sometimes it is not the federal Department of the Environment with which we deal.
There is a department which is responsible federally for radioactive materials, the department which deals with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. for instance. I think the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources is often involved in these, as well as the Department of the Environment, which, of course, has an interest.
Provincially, in terms of mine tailings, for instance, the Ministry of Mines, the Ministry of Labour, through occupational health and safety, and the Ministry of the Environment have an interest. We have all been contributing to try, first, to determine, as the member would like, the extent of the problem that exists there and then to look at potential remedial action.
The member would like to know that I was at the meeting of resource and environment ministers in Montreal a couple of weeks ago, where matters of this kind, of cleanups, through a combined federal-provincial fund could be effected. I think that would be one we would look at as potential use of a provincial-federal program, a superfund in other words, to deal with matters of that kind; as well, of course, as finding those who would be originally responsible to make sure they look after their obligations. I will keep the member informed on that.
Mrs Grier: My question is to the Minister of Housing. The minister will be aware of my concern about proposals for the waterfront in my riding, in an area known as the motel strip, where the city of Etobicoke proposes to allow 2,700 units of luxury condominiums on a 50-acre site.
In response to an earlier inquiry of mine, the minister assured me that her ministry was working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to make sure there was a better distribution of housing types within the area and that the 25 per cent affordable might apply.
I am now concerned to find, in a report to the Crombie commission, that Mr Crombie’s work group states, “The city has indicated that the nonprofit component -- ” on the motel strip “ -- may be built offsite.”
Does the minister consider that her requirement that 25 per cent of all new development be affordable housing is satisfied if that affordable housing is built offsite?
Hon Ms Hošek: I am glad to respond to the question from the member. The concern we have and the kind of message we have been giving to all municipalities, as the member will know, is that we expect them to plan for making sure that when new development happens, at least a quarter of the units will be affordable.
It is up to the municipalities to indicate the neighbourhoods within which planning of this sort will take place. The issue is how to define a neighbourhood so that within a new neighbourhood or new development process, 25 per cent of the housing units will be affordable.
Mrs Grier: This particular neighbourhood is 50 acres between Lakeshore Boulevard and the water; no housing yet built, 2,700 units planned. The first developer on the site is a company called Camrost Developments Inc., which also happens to own an industrial site bounded by the Queen Elizabeth Way and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and close to the sewage treatment plant. That is where it wants to put its affordable housing.
Can the minister give us a commitment that she will not allow the waterfront to be used for luxury condominiums and the affordable housing to be on an inland industrial site next to the sewage treatment plant?
Hon Ms Hošek: The member opposite knows that Mr Crombie’s report is in the form of advice to Metropolitan Toronto council. I know that she will work with us to achieve our goal of making sure that an appropriate mix of affordable housing is there in all new development on the lakeshore and all new development in Etobicoke.
Mr McLean: I have a question of the Minister of Health. She will no doubt remember that on 8 February of this year I presented a copy of a petition signed by 870 people calling for the expansion of heart bypass surgery services. This petition resulted from a series of delays and postponements of heart bypass for Lloyd Crawford of Oro Station.
This man cannot work. He has been waiting for a heart bypass. It was set for 20 June; now it is postponed until 26 June. This man and his family are very upset. What are we going to do to get these people in for their heart bypass operations?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, I would say to the member opposite that we are working co-operatively with cardiovascular specialists right across this province to build the kind of network we need to ensure that the appropriate definitions are in place and are consistent so that people can be referred to the location which has services available in a timely manner.
I would say to him also that we are in the process of expanding capacity in Hamilton. He knows that is coming on stream. We have already expanded capacity in both Sudbury and Ottawa and we are working in downtown Toronto, in fact, to bring up the Sunnybrook Medical Centre proposal as quickly as possible.
If the member would send to me the details of this particular case, I will make sure they are directed to the appropriate people to make sure they are properly assessed. But I would say to him that it is a question of medical judgement to determine whether an individual is considered emergency, urgent or elective. We do not interfere with medical judgements in these matters.
The Speaker: That completes the allotted time for oral questions and responses and, hopefully, the end of the time for the private conversations.
Mr Mackenzie: I have a petition: “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:
“We urge the Liberal government not to proceed with Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1980, chapter 539 as amended by Statutes of Ontario, 1981, chapter 30; Statutes of Ontario, 1982, chapter 61; Statutes of Ontario, 1983, chapter 45; Statutes of Ontario, 1984, chapter 38; Statutes of Ontario, 1984, chapter 58; Statutes of Ontario, 1985, chapter 3; Statutes of Ontario, 1985, chapter 17; and Statutes of Ontario, 1986, chapter 64, section 69,
“Because Bill 162 contains the most significant changes to the Ontario system of workers’ compensation contemplated for many years, and yet the Minister of Labour, as reported in the media, wants the bill passed and implemented by the end of 1988 -- in other words, without an adequate process for public consultation, debate and discussion; and
“Because Bill 162 represents an attack on injured workers and their families and all of those people who have fought over the years to achieve fairness and justice for injured workers and their families; and
“Because Bill 162 will eliminate the current lifetime pension for lifetime disability and replace it with a dual award system combining a lump sum and actual wage-loss award benefits that has been rejected by injured workers, their advocacy groups, community legal workers and lawyers working on their behalf and by the trade union movement since it was first proposed for implementation in Ontario in the 1980 Weiler report and the Conservative government’s 1981 white paper; and
“Because Bill 162 virtually ignores the devastating critique and recommendations of the Majesky-Minna task force report on vocational rehabilitation that was submitted to the Minister of Labour and suppressed by the Liberal government until April 1988; and
“Because Bill 162 gives legislative form to the unacceptable and reactionary policy of restricting access to supplement awards announced by the Workers’ Compensation Board in 1987; and
“Because Bill 162 rejects an injured worker’s right to appeal decisions within the adjudication process and elsewhere, notably the percentage ‘impairment rating’ and reinstatement; and
“Because throughout Bill 162 injured workers are made subject to increased discretionary power at the hands of Workers’ Compensation Board functionaries and made subject to even more intrusive, invasive and demeaning assaults on their dignity, their privacy and their right to fair and just treatment.”
It is signed by nine residents working with the Simcoe County Injured Workers Association. I have affixed my signature and I support it.
Mrs Cunningham: I have a petition with regard to Bill 119 that has been signed by 442 residents of London, to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:
“We, the undersigned, believe the windfall profits received from all lotteries should be used to offset underfunding to our Ontario hospitals. This will allow our hospitals to serve us in a manner we so rightfully deserve. Not to channel these funds under Bill 119 would be a disgrace undermining our intelligence.”
I have signed that one and I have another as well, if I could read it in at this point in time.
SCHOOL OPENING AND CLOSING EXERCISES
Mrs Cunningham: This one has to do with the issue of the Lord’s Prayer. I have two sets of petitions, composed of more than 1,000 signatures each, from residents of Middlesex county and Elgin county, to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We, concerned citizens of Middlesex and Elgin counties, are expressing our extreme concern over the removal of the Lord’s Prayer and scripture reading from our school system.
“We strongly recommend that it be reinstated and the basics of the Christian faith be taught to our children.
“The Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God, and we want to go on record that we will not tolerate the removal of those principles.
“We find the Toronto book of prayers and readings very unacceptable in our area.”
I have added my signature to that.
Miss Martel: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and it reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We urge the Liberal government not to proceed with Bill 162, An Act to amend the Workers’ Compensation Act,
“Because Bill 162 contains the most significant changes to the Ontario system of workers’ compensation contemplated for many years, and yet the Minister of Labour, as reported in the media, wants the bill passed and implemented by the end of 1988 -- in other words, without an adequate process for public consultation, debate and discussion; and
“Because Bill 162 represents an attack on injured workers and their families and all of those people who have fought over the years to achieve fairness and justice for injured workers and their families; and
“Because Bill 162 will eliminate the current lifetime pension for lifetime disability and replace it with a dual award system combining a lump sum and actual wage-loss award benefits that has been rejected by injured workers, their advocacy groups, community legal workers and lawyers working on their behalf and by the trade union movement since it was first proposed for implementation in Ontario by the 1980 Weiler report and the Conservative government’s 1981 white paper; and
“Because Bill 162 virtually ignores the devastating critique and recommendations of the Majesky-Minna task force report on vocational rehabilitation that was submitted to the Minister of Labour and suppressed by the Liberal government until April 1988; and
“Because Bill 162 gives legislative form to the unacceptable and reactionary policy of restricting access to supplement awards announced by the Workers’ Compensation Board in 1987; and
“Because Bill 162 restricts an injured worker’s right to appeal decisions within the adjudication process and elsewhere, notably the percentage ‘impairment rating’ and reinstatement; and
“Because throughout Bill 162, injured workers are made subject to increased discretionary power at the hands of Workers’ Compensation Board functionaries and made subject to ever more intrusive, invasive and demeaning assaults on their dignity, their privacy and their right to fair and just treatment.”
This is signed by 41 people in Simcoe. I agree with them entirely and I have affixed my signature to the petition.
Mr Keyes: “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 May 31, 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.”
The petition contains 96 signatures and an endorsement of the proposed amendment. I have also affixed my signature hereto.
PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION PLANS
Mr Runciman: I have a petition signed by approximately 400 residents of my riding:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned employees of the Ontario public service, demand a fully negotiable and jointly managed pension plan without any reductions in our salary.”
Mr Villeneuve: I too have a petition, signed by 361 residents in the riding that I represent. It is addressed:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Cigarette taxes have increased 300 per cent over eight years. Ontario imposes the highest tax on fine-cut tobacco in Canada.
“We, the undersigned taxpayers aged 18 years and over, call upon the government of Ontario to maintain tobacco taxes at their present level and not increase them in the upcoming budget.”
I have endorsed and signed this petition.
Mr Pope: I have a petition of a similar form, signed by 1,230 residents of the city of Timmins:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Hold the line on tobacco taxes. Cigarette taxes have gone up 300 per cent over eight years. Ontario imposes the highest tax on fine-cut tobacco in Canada.
“We, the undersigned taxpayers aged 18 years and over, call upon the government of Ontario to maintain tobacco taxes at their present level and not increase them again this year.”
I have affixed my signature to that petition.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
THRONE SPEECH DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to 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 Mahoney: I am delighted to have the member for London North (Mrs Cunningham) join me. As a matter of fact, I was going to open my comments today by telling the member for London North that I think her mother-in-law has excellent taste and judgement. Apparently, the member’s mother-in-law was watching the debate last night and thought I looked like a very friendly individual. I can assure Mrs Cunningham at home that I am indeed a friendly individual and delighted to be a friend of the member for London North.
Just to give equal time, I should also ensure that I say hello to my mother-in-law, or there will be no living with her. Edna, how are you? I will be in big trouble if I do not do that.
I know that members would be disappointed, particularly those opposite, if I did not continue with my comments, particularly with regard to the economic leadership that has been shown by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, and indeed by this government and particularly by the formation of the Premier’s Council in 1986.
When the clock ran out last evening, I was partway through a description of the Premier’s Council, its function and some of the things that it has accomplished. Just to ensure that the honourable members, particularly those opposite, do not miss a thing, I am going to go back a little bit in my comments, to the beginning.
I will not take members all the way back to the points about the small business advocacy role or about what great leadership this government is showing in the area of small business, being of course the economic engine that drives this province very substantially. I will not do that, I am sure much to the relief of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr Faubert) and others.
But I would like to go back a little bit to the points about the Premier’s Council because I think it is extremely important that we realize that in 1986, as a result of a feeling that the economic stability of this province was so vital to our future and our children’s future, the Premier (Mr Peterson) created the Premier’s Council because he recognized that our industrial and social infrastructures are coming under unprecedented pressure.
In fact, since its inception the Premier’s Council has developed seven centres of excellence to improve Ontario’s research and development capabilities in key areas of technological opportunity such as space, and I would note to my colleague the member for Mississauga North (Mr Offer) the great success in our city in the aerospace industry with new materials, telecommunications and information technology.
The council has also designated six centres of entrepreneurship in Ontario colleges and universities, to help instil in students an awareness of the opportunities and challenges involved in running their own businesses. As I stressed earlier, it is another example of the leadership in showing young people what entrepreneurship is all about and helping them to look towards a positive future.
The council has also developed a program to provide matching grants to industrial research projects involving promising new processes and technologies. Further, it has developed a program to encourage universities, once again, and the private sector to collaborate in various research projects.
The council has participated in a major review of competitiveness in the Ontario economy. It was particularly necessary to do that in light of the free trade agreement and the implications to all of our businesses in this community of doing business in the United States, and I heard an interesting analogy from my friends at Carassauga today that I think I will share with members. They said that they felt the difference between the United States and Canada is that in the United States they have President Bush, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. After last week’s budget, we have Brian Mulroney, no hope and no cash.
Mr Mahoney: Members did not like that one? It was not mine. I borrowed it from the fellows from Carassauga, but it really does point out the serious impact of the federal budget on this government.
We have heard the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) talk in terms of losing substantial revenues that will not be coming in because the damage to the economy created by the Wilson budget will leave us in a position where our revenues will be down. I think it is vitally important that we recognize that and work with bodies like the Premier’s Council in an attempt to show encouragement to the private sector in our business communities and make them successful.
The result of these deliberations, which by the way went through over 1,000 consultations with people in the private sector, was the report that has been referred to on numerous occasions, Competing in the New Global Economy, published approximately a 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 and beef up their infrastructure; it outlined policies to help new industries grow and prosper; it recommended ways to foster a more entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurial culture in this province, and it suggested ways to improve our science and technology infrastructure.
This government, which has been accused by members of the opposition of failing to translate words into action, has implemented a new direction for industrial restructuring by establishing the office of the industrial restructuring commissioner. He will assess competitive factors facing selected industries in order to avoid, wherever possible, plant closures and job losses -- once again, I say plant closures and job losses primarily as a result of the implementation of the free trade agreement.
But we are going beyond that and we are moving out to find other markets for our businesses. As I mentioned, in 1992 there will be the creation of a new common market in Europe, close to 350 million people without any tariffs or barriers, and we believe that the Ontario business community can actively be involved in taking its products to Europe, perhaps using the United Kingdom as a launching pad but with the assistance of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology.
The government has also acted to improve assistance for research and development by introducing the R and D superallowance in the last provincial budget and the government has announced the establishment of the technical personnel assistance program to subsidize the cost to small firms of hiring technical personnel.
We have also announced the strategic procurement plan, which will provide $25 million to companies towards contracts that will allow them to develop new products that the government is likely to need in the future.
This government is also proceeding with the recommendation to refocus the activities of the Ontario Development Corp, in line with the Premier’s Council recommendation.
The council’s report also stated that the ultimate challenge facing this province is the development of our most fundamental natural resource, the minds and the skill of our workforce. This ranges from education through training through labour adjustment. Clearly that is an area that this throne speech is addressing, along with the Premier’s Council.
In the future the council will be looking at the skill requirements in the new global economy, adjustment issues in declining industries, the management and implementation of new technology, training, apprenticeship and the assurance of technical skills, demographic and educational trends in this province, the role of organized labour in meeting new skill requirements and the potential for business, labour and institutional linkages.
I think the Premier’s Council has really sent a message to the private sector that says this government has confidence in the private sector. Be it through working with the boards of trade, chambers of commerce and the industrial associations around the province or be it through working with the small business community, which I have the privilege of doing as the advocate, or working with the larger industries through the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter), we are sending a united message through the throne speech that this Liberal government truly does believe that we must continue to provide the leadership to build on our economic strengths to ensure tomorrow’s growth for our children.
There are other items in the throne speech I did not get a chance to get to yesterday and I would just like to take a moment, if I might, to comment on some of them. Members opposite have made the remark that this government has some difficulty translating words into action. Let me share with them some of the words that have been translated into action in the social assistance area.
We are all well familiar with the Thomson report. As the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr Black) enters the room, he will recall that approximately two weeks ago, I was in his riding speaking to a group on small business. I was particularly interested when I asked the members of the group when we were in the workshop session what the main problems were that they had as a small business community.
They identified the first problem as not having good representation -- no, they did not say that.
Mr Faubert: It’s on the record.
Mr Mahoney: Is it on the record? Well, I did not say that.
They identified the first problem as the shortage of skilled and trained workers. Interestingly enough, they identified the second problem as difficulties in the areas of social assistance and, in fact, not unlike comments by Conrad Black and others, the business community in that riding felt that the government should create incentives for people to go to work and get off welfare or unemployment insurance or family benefits. They felt it was -- I found the terminology they used was quite interesting --
Mr Wildman: Are you quoting Conrad Black?
Mr Mahoney: No, it was not Conrad Black, it was Ken Black’s constituents who were saying that it was important to tighten up the social net. In fact, one of the men said that if you tighten up a net, you make a trampoline. I thought that was a very appropriate comment, and indeed I think that is the philosophy of this government, the philosophy of giving a hand up and not a handout, which would be advocated by some of our illustrious and not-so-illustrious colleagues opposite on the far left, who of course would think that just giving a handout is indeed the solution. We believe in giving a hand up and we believe in, as the constituent in Muskoka-Georgian Bay said, tightening up that net and turning it into a trampoline.
To prove that and to prove that this government, through the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney), has indeed translated words into action, let me just give members some information from a briefing note from that ministry.
There have been six announcements of major improvements since 1985 in the family benefits assistance program and the general welfare assistance program. These are primarily for the disabled and single parents under the family benefits assistance program. Under general welfare, it is delivered by the municipalities, primarily for the unemployed and those waiting for other types of income. The total cost of these six announcements since the Liberal Party took office is $337 million. This represents an increase of 23.9 per cent in benefit levels over a three-year period.
In January 1986, $81.6 million was made available to allow for a four per cent increase in the general rate, and a special increase, for example, in new family benefits assistance: child’s winter clothing, $50 for two-adult families on GWA; seven per cent on basic allowances earmarked for children. Recognizing that around 41 per cent of the people on welfare have been identified by Mr Thomson as being children, I think it is vitally important that we recognize that this government, and particularly that ministry, is doing something to help those children who cannot help themselves.
In September 1986, $25 million was made available for the special improvements in shelter subsidy program; in January 1987, $72.7 million, a general rate increase again, plus special increases of $16 for older children and the extension of child’s winter clothing to GWA; in June 1987, $54 million, a special $50 increase in the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled allowance and a $1.8-million increase in comfort allowance for the nonelderly in institutions; in January 1988, $82.6 million, a general rate increase of five per cent, plus an eight per cent increase in maximum shelter subsidy; in June 1988, $20 million, permits utility costs paid separately from rent to be included in the definition of shelter costs.
These are not just words. These are words translated into action.
We are all familiar with the fact that George Thomson was appointed in July 1986 to conduct the independent public review. Fourteen communities were visited for public hearings; there were 1,500 briefs and submissions, proof that this government is an open, accessible government looking for input from the public. The report was received in September 1988, outlining a blueprint for reform of outdated features. This is a government especially interested in improving those work incentives that were identified by the business community in the Muskoka-Georgian Bay area and, quite clearly, in the rest of the province.
In July 1987, there was a signing of a four-cornered agreement that is the first example representing a new era of federal-provincial co-operation regarding employment programs for social assistance recipients. This was a $100-million program over two years, with $50 million being provincial dollars, to assist 20,000 social recipients prepare for and find employment.
In the area of dealing with poverty, which is the third item referred to in the throne speech, it is very clear that the Minister of Community and Social Services and this government are showing tremendous leadership in this area, in translating those words into dollars and those dollars into community programs to benefit those who are at a particular time in their lives when they are having some difficulty and to provide incentives for those people to find other jobs and other ways of life that will build a better future for them and their children.
Mr Black: Action, not just talking.
Mr Mahoney: That is exactly right. The proof is there. I find it somewhat comical actually when people stand up and say that we do not translate words into action, when they attack this throne speech, because there is proof of what we have done in every area of social concern, social care, social policy, in every area of providing economic leadership.
Let me touch on just a few of the concepts in health. No one will argue, I think, that our health budget has reached a proportion, 33 per cent, that is unacceptable: $1 out of every $3 that come into the provincial Treasury goes out to pay for our health care services. The parties opposite can stand up and accuse the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) of not doing this or not doing that, when in reality our Health minister is facing a crisis, one that any responsible legislative authority would recognize as a serious crisis.
There are things that we must do to get the message out to the people. I would suggest that there are in the recent program put out by the Minister of Health, Deciding the Future of our Health Care, a number of things the ministry is undertaking that will be addressed as a result of the statements in the throne speech.
The first is that we must enhance the role and the responsibility of the health consumers. In evolving the system to more effectively address consumers’ needs and to encourage their participation, the Ministry of Health aims to provide consumers with as much information as possible on both their personal health and the health care system.
I spoke some months ago on a private member’s resolution on a Thursday morning.
Mr R. F. Johnston: That’s when he started his speech.
Mr Mahoney: I may be speaking some months from now on the same thing, I say to my friend. One never knows. I hope the member will be patient with me; I am new at this.
I spoke some time ago on that private member’s resolution which called for the government to move towards the establishment of more of what I call community health centres. There are different buzzwords and names for them all, but I referred to the one in Sault Ste Marie.
The one in Sault Ste Marie is clearly a model that can and should be followed in other parts of this province, and many members in this House are quite familiar with it. It was built primarily through the blood, sweat and tears of the members of the United Steelworkers of America local at Algoma and with their money and contributions.
In my view it has accomplished exactly the very first point the ministry makes, and that is it has provided those consumers in Sault Ste Marie with as much information as possible on their personal health and the health care system. It has created a sense of ownership for the people in that city.
If you think of that city -- it happens to be my home town, so I know a little bit about it -- you have got a population base of roughly 82,000 or 83,000 people. Yet they have two general hospitals within a hundred yards of each other downtown and one of the most dynamic health care centres in this country and in this province. They would appear, on the surface, to be overburdened with facilities for health care, but in reality they have a sense of ownership of their health care system and do not abuse it. We must work towards that in every area of this province.
We must also help consumers to enable them to make informed choices on lifestyle issues affecting their health and the kinds of treatments they receive, to encourage them to use the services that are available in this province wisely, to provide opportunities for consumers to participate in effective health care delivery decisions in their community, to safeguard patients’ rights and to provide more vehicles for consumer participation in decision-making and review of complaints, malpractice and abuse of the system.
The second point the Health ministry has embarked on, which is outlined in this paper, Deciding the Future of Our Health Care, really comes under the fifth item, “accessibility to quality health care for every Ontarian regardless of ability to pay,” as a fundamental value of the Liberal Party. I say that no one could argue that: it clearly is a fundamental value.
The second point is strengthening community-based health care. The ministry’s future directions focus on developing more community-based services, so that consumers can receive care as close to home as possible. It is very important that we decentralize, that we go out into those communities and provide health care as close to home as possible. That has not been the case in the past 50 years in this province. People who live in northern Ontario will tell you that for the slightest problem in the old days they used to have to fly down to Toronto or drive or take a bus to go to a hospital to get the care.
There are still certain specialty areas where that is required, but it is very important that on a general basis in health care, we provide that care as close to home as possible. These objectives include: creating a stronger network of community programs; integrating services and promoting equitable access, and providing alternatives to institutional care. I think that this country institutionalizes our senior citizens on a per capita basis more than any country, certainly in North America and probably in the world.
That really is, to a certain degree, a little bit of a condemnation. There are some members here who are not far away from requiring such ambulatory care. There are not many, but there are some who are not far away. I would hope that members might have an opportunity to grow old with grace, living within their communities and not being put into an institution where it becomes very impersonal.
I think it is very important that we do that and that we also create a balance of long-term care services, including home care, community care and extended care. We must emphasize health promotion and disease prevention. Again, this is the minister’s program. We must create incentives for hospitals to develop outreach and ambulatory care programs.
The third area where the ministry is working is in maintaining the role of public hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals and university teaching hospitals. In addressing the area of public hospitals, the ministry’s initiatives and future directions are developing a fair and equitable funding process for all hospitals and planning capital spending on a regional basis with hospitals working together as part of a co-ordinated plan.
Something I am not convinced has happened in this province is working together on a co-ordinated plan: not competing with each other for the hospital or for the health care dollar that might be available from the ministry, but getting together to best serve the community on a co-operative basis. We want to create incentives for management efficiencies and cost-effective care delivery, to create incentives for outreach and ambulatory care programs as alternatives to hospital care and to link the hospital to the community care network more effectively.
In the area of psychiatric hospitals, the ministry aims to develop a strategic planning process for the future of the psychiatric hospital system. In the area of university teaching hospitals, the objective is to strengthen its commitment to a stable and rationalized funding system for clinical research, sophisticated teaching services and quality patient care.
Once again, I think that any statements by members opposite that this throne speech lacks direction needs to be really tempered and followed up with the documentation which clearly proves that if we take each point and examine what the ministry is doing, they clearly do have a plan.
The fourth item by the Minister of Health is integrating private sector strengths and resources. That is a theme that runs through the entire government. Whether we are talking about the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology, which I will admit is more geared toward the private sector than perhaps some of the social ministries, or whether we are talking about even the Ministry of Labour, which I think deals very effectively with the business community, or whatever ministry it is, it is a common thread throughout this government that we are looking at ways of forming new partnerships to create new ways of doing things as we move toward the end of the century.
The Ministry of Health is committed to carefully evaluating all aspects of private sector involvement in health care in terms of quality and accountability. The ministry intends to work to encourage all providers of health care products and services, public and private, to inform consumers and give them opportunities to exercise good judgement; to examine private sector management techniques for delivering more effective services; to ensure public accountability, regardless of who delivers the service; to develop policies in the area of existing private sector ownership on issues such as rate of return, financial accountability and quality control, and to encourage the development of technology and manufacture of health care services.
How many glasses of water would one need to remain healthy in this wonderful province? I know that my colleagues are sending the page over here with water in an attempt to distract me and it is not going to work, but I will take a water break. The member for York Mills (Mr J. B. Nixon) can be the custodian. That was not water, actually. What are they sending me? What is going on here?
Hon Mr Wrye: Oh they didn’t.
Mr Mahoney: No, they did not. It is water. Trust me. The members can trust me, I am from the government.
The next item under the ministry’s program is to improve the quality assurance and treatment effectiveness. This area represents another crucial issue for examination that affects both the quality and cost of health care, including actual treatments, laboratory testing and use of pharmaceuticals.
The ministry’s objectives in this area will be to improve and transmit knowledge on treatment outcomes and validation and to encourage all health professions to take an active role in implementing outcome review by using methods of technology assessment to evaluate new high-technology equipment, drugs and medical procedures.
This actually ties very nicely, in my view, into the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology as well, because we are very clearly in the forefront in helping develop new technologies and we are interested in encouraging industry, be it in the medical field, the scientific field or any other area developing new products. We are interested in providing an atmosphere in this province that will help them to achieve their goals.
The final item on the strategy of deciding the future of our health care by the Minister of Health is strengthening the team of physicians, nurses and other health professionals. The wide range of health professionals in Ontario provides an important diversity of services and public choice in approaches to health care. The primary challenge in this area is to develop an appropriate system that allows the various professionals to perform their specific functions within a comprehensive health care team and a comprehensive health care strategy.
With regard to the role of the physicians on the health care team, the ministry’s direction will be to provide them with choices and alternatives in how they want to practice, how they want to be paid and, I should stress once again, to provide them with choices and alternatives in those areas; to encourage, through incentives, better distribution of physician services to underserviced areas and groups in this province, and to encourage physicians to evaluate effectiveness of treatment provided.
In examining the role of nurses, the ministry’s objective is to enhance the overall status of nurses in the health care delivery system, widen their range of responsibilities and improve their working conditions. Our surveys would indicate, very interestingly, that the most respected sector in all of society is the nursing profession, followed second by the doctors, but the nurses are actually generally held in the highest regard of all by the public. I think they must be commended for that.
The ministry will work to foster teamwork among all health professions to serve the best interests of the consumer through a number of objectives; to promote effective teamwork among health professionals; to promote accountability to the public; to foster a team of health professionals to effectively serve needs both inside institutions and outside them within the community; to enhance the professional status of all health professionals, and to enact new health professions legislation so as to better protect the public.
These are just a number of things that have been announced by the Ministry of Health. This document, of course, has received -- I will show members once again -- fairly wide circulation throughout the province. It is very important that all members of this Legislative Assembly from all parties read the document and understand the direction of the Ministry of Health.
I know there are others who wish to participate, so I may change my plans and not continue through the rest of the day and into tomorrow. I may, but I may not. I will decide that. I would like to discuss this government’s commitment to education.
Hon Mr Wrye: That is worth a couple of hours.
Mr Mahoney: I would think it is worth a couple of hours, but it can probably be very succinctly put forward. Let’s just talk about capital. Prior to 1985, in the last year of the Conservative government, the entire commitment to capital in the entire province of Ontario was about $72.7 million.
Mr Carrothers: That little. Shameful. How much?
Mr Mahoney: Ask me how much: $72.7 million.
Hon Mr Wrye: You’re spilling more than that.
Mr Mahoney: I am afraid we are spilling more than that. We have to do something about that with all this water around here.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member will address his remarks through the Speaker.
Mr Mahoney: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I will. They are just being a little disruptive. We will try to get things moving along.
Mr Mahoney: As I said yesterday, I appreciate the support of the seals and I particularly am proud to be one of them.
The commitment to education by this government has been quadrupled in fact in the capital area. We have seen our Minister of Education (Mr Ward) make announcements of $900 million over three years for capital.
Is it enough? All you have to do is talk to someone in a growth region, to my colleague the member for Mississauga East (Mr Sola), who will know that all you have to do is talk to someone from the region of Peel and ask him, “Is that enough?” or from York or from Durham or from Halton, I say to the member for Halton North (Mr Elliot), and the answer is that it is obviously not enough.
Mr Mahoney: All right, I will mention the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan), the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour, as well.
Any member living in a growth community, I say to the member for Oakville South (Mr Carrothers) -- I have to get through all of this here -- will recognize that it is clearly not enough. But what can we do other than make additional commitments to the boards of education to fund their needs as quickly as we can to come up with new ways of building new schools?
I started talking the other day about my speech in Sarnia to the large urban section of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario last Thursday when I spoke about lot levies. I find it rather interesting that people would oppose lot levies to be used as part of a fund to build schools.
As I mentioned yesterday, the lot levy revenue in my city -- and it is something I am quite proud of, because as a member of council for almost 10 years I was one of the people involved in designing the lot levy policy, so I do not think it is anything we have to be ashamed of -- our revenue from lot levies in 1988 in the region of Peel, city of Mississauga and Mississauga Hydro was over $56 million.
Not one cent of that went towards schools. It went for hydro, it went for sewers, it went for infrastructure, it went for arenas, for swimming pools, for fire stations, for fire trucks, for all the things that are necessary in a fast-growing community.
Mr Pouliot: Nothing for the north.
Mr Mahoney: We are not going to give money from Mississauga to the north, with due respect, but if the member wants to charge lot levies, this new green paper will allow --
Mr R. F. Johnston: You don’t believe in pooling?
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Pouliot: You ought to be ashamed.
Mr Mahoney: I am sure that Hazel McCallion would probably have some difficulty in supporting the member’s municipality, but I am sure she would be delighted to share with him the lot levy policy that has been developed in the city of Mississauga and that has formed the basis of many policies around the entire province.
Growth must pay its own way. It is a statement that is in our official plan and it should be in every official plan in this province; indeed, it should be an official position of the government of Ontario. I am hopeful that if the green paper comes through the current deliberations, there will be a policy put in place that will allow municipalities to make the choice.
Time and time again we have demonstrated our desire to work with the local municipalities in understanding the needs that they have within their own communities, in understanding that someone from northern Ontario may have different needs and requirements than someone from southwestern Ontario in a municipality, whether it be Sunday shopping or whether it be lot levies.
We do not feel that we should be sitting here in some ivory tower in the city of Toronto, or indeed in the city of Mississauga, dictating to someone in Sault Ste Marie or Muskoka-Georgian Bay or Sudbury. We do not believe we should be dictating to them whether or not they can open on Sunday or whether or not they are allowed to charge a lot levy, or indeed, if they do charge a lot levy, what it should go for.
Think about what we have been building in the high-growth communities for some time with the lot levies.
Would someone just give the member for Durham Centre (Mr Furlong) a nudge?
Mr Furlong: Give me another glass of water,
Mr Mahoney: He wants another glass of water.
We have been building the arenas and the swimming pools. In fact, I do not believe that in my municipality in the past 12 years there has been one cent of taxpayers’ money go towards amenities such as swimming pools, arenas, soccer pitches, baseball diamonds, playground equipment for young children, passive parks, walkways. All of those kinds of things are paid for by the development that generates the requirement and the need for the facilities to be put in place.
What could be more fair, what could be more understanding and more clear-cut? What the green paper is saying is that aside from putting in place a lot levy policy that would be adaptable to each municipality in whatever way it chose, we are now being so radical as a government, so outrageous as a government as to suggest the new development should help pay for the cost of a school.
It is absolutely revolutionary. The new development generates the children and the children walk around. Under ministry policy, there must be 50 per cent of the bodies walking the street before a school can be approved. That will not change, but at least the dollars will be available for a board once it has met the criteria and once it has negotiated the acquisition of the site.
Not only has this government shown four times the commitment to capital funding that the previous Progressive Conservative government showed in its last term in office and in its last year in office, in fact I should tell the members that my region alone last year received $96 million and that is more than the $72 million the entire province got the last time the Tories had a chance to pass out education dollars.
I do not know how we can make our commitment to education more clear, but we obviously cannot solve the problems overnight. We have obviously been saddled with a serious problem from the fathers of underfunding who have left us with a legacy we have to try to solve, to find ways to do it. One of the ways to do it, aside from our commitment to the capital infrastructure in education of $900 million over three years, is that we have come up with an innovative new concept of using developer lot levy funds to build schools.
Let me address the issue of affordable housing on that. The developers will argue we are driving up the price of a house. Do the members know that I have seen a house go up $20,000 in a new subdivision in one weekend? In fact, I can remember a time when, by the time the last person in the lineup got into the sales trailer, the price had gone up $5,000.
Was that because mysteriously somebody came along and put a lot levy on it, or was that because the price of the house increased? The cost of the house has very little to do with the price of the house. The price of the house will be determined by the marketplace. It will be determined by those three long-standing concepts in the real estate market: location, location, location.
The supply of and demand for the housing units will determine the price. The market will determine the price. Even though some of our colleagues on the left of the political spectrum, who are standing to my right, would rather have government interference in that marketplace to have us tax speculators who they do not think pay tax -- if they understood, you must either live in the house for a period of time or own it and rent it out. If you flip it, you pay tax and it is a pretty heavy tax you pay.
This speculation tax is pure nonsense. They do not understand it and I do not expect them to understand it, because that is not exactly the area in which they have any expertise, even though they dress well and are very intelligent and well-educated. So it does not affect the cost of housing or affordable housing and I think they know that.
Let me get off the capital issue and talk a little bit about the select committee on education. I have had the pleasure and the privilege of being its vice-chairman, along with our chairman, the member for Eglinton (Ms Poole). I think the establishment of the select committee indicates this government’s interest in hearing from the professionals in the education field about how we can improve the quality of education for our children.
I sat through seven weeks of hearings last summer and I listened to people, along with the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston) who is a very helpful member of that committee, come in and talk about the issues of streaming and about the issues of special education and some of the really unfortunate things that have gone on in this province, particularly in the area of special education.
Having some personal experience within my own family in the learning disabled area, I have found that the treatment of young students in this area has been disgraceful and I think our government is committed to seeing changes, along with the boards. They should not be isolated. They should not be segregated. They must be mainstreamed and brought into the full system so they can take full advantage of this wonderful education system.
I would add, and I think the member for Scarborough West would agree, that if there is one conclusion we came to, aside from the fact that there may be a few problem areas within our system, we indeed do have an excellent education system. The old story of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and the concept of too often pulling up the roots to look at the shape of the tree were brought forward on numerous occasions.
But I think it became very clear to us that indeed we do have an excellent education system. It cannot be doubted in any way in this province that the Minister of Education is truly committed to improvements in that education system, as can be recognized right in the throne speech when we realize that they listened to the first report of the select committee by working towards the elimination of streaming in grade 9 and pushing it forward to grade 10.
Think about a youngster who would be 13 years old in grade 8 sitting down to make a decision about what level of education he wants to take in high school, trying to determine where he wants to go in his future, because if he makes the wrong decision it could inhibit his ability to enter the university program or the college program. When they have to make that decision, particularly in the case of a first child where the parents may not have that much experience with the education system, I have maintained all along, and did so in the select committee hearings, that streaming out of grade 8 into grade 9 is way too early.
They are too young to make those decisions, and once they make them, under the present system it is virtually irrevocable. They will tell you it is not, but the reality is that the difficulties of moving from a basic level to an advanced level in our secondary system is an extremely difficult move for a young person to make.
I would like to conclude my comments by generally saying that I believe --
Mr Pouliot: Oh no.
Mr Mahoney: I will not if you do not want me to. I am happy, but I think the member for Scarborough West is next and I am always delighted to hear his rather lucid, intelligent, well-thought-out comments, even though I do not agree with most of them. But they are entertaining and well-thought-out.
In closing, I would like to say that I was just delighted when I finally saw the throne speech, because I think too often governments think they have to use a million words when perhaps a thousand will do. I guess politicians can be accused of the same thing. Sometimes we feel we have to write volumes to be credible.
In reality, what we have done is identify six major areas in this throne speech that I believe reach out to all the various ministries and address the various problems, be they in the area of providing leadership to build on our economic strengths; in the area of a relevant education system; in the area of transforming welfare cheques into paycheques and creating incentive in our welfare system; in the area of a safe and secure society; in the area of accessibility to our health care system and a better understanding of how we can deliver a more effective, more affordable system of health care; and also in the area of a safe, clean environment.
I would say finally, in closing, that I do not think anyone can argue with the fact that this government has had better leadership out of the Honourable James Bradley and the Ministry of the Environment than any Minister of the Environment in the history of this province, or at least in recent memory.
He is a man who is clearly the Minister of the Environment. He is not the minister of special interest groups, he is not the minister of garbage. He is the Minister of the Environment and his interests and concerns, along with those of his parliamentary assistant, my friend Mr McClelland -- Mr Bradley and Carman have shown a dedication to the environment that Ontarians can indeed be proud of.
The Deputy Speaker: May I remind the member that we should refer to members only by their titles and not by their names.
Mr Mahoney: Thank you very much. If I could remember the riding, I would be delighted to do that. I was referring to the minister, but in any event, thank you, Mr Speaker.
In closing, I think this government has outlined a very dynamic agenda, a program of true Liberal reform, a program that will see us move towards the turn of the century with economic strength and leadership and dynamic attitudes through our ministry, through the leadership of the Premier and his cabinet and through the support -- I wish the member for Oshawa (Mr Breaugh) was here, because when he speaks he constantly waves his papers around and refers to “those Liberal backbenchers over there.” I want to tell the members opposite that I have never been associated with a stronger group of men and women who are completely dedicated to providing leadership in this province through the philosophies of our great Liberal Party and the philosophies of the Premier.
The fact is there are 94 of us, and we have been here since September 1987 and there has not been one murder. I think that proves that we are getting along.
Mr Mahoney: Well, you have to do a little bit of that. The member for Brampton North (Mr McClelland) knows that.
It also shows the leadership we are getting and that we are really pulling together, because right here in our throne speech -- there are six items within this document that show the agenda for this government and the future for this province.
Le Vice-Président : Est-ce qu’il y a des questions et commentaires au sujet du discours du depute ?
M. Pouliot : C’est toujours un plaisir d’écouter, malgré que ce soit seulement de temps à autre, from time to time, the words of our good friend and I think humour does become him. It is perhaps his forte, for substance is not something the member chooses to dwell with, but it is quite understandable when we talk about the subject matter to be addressed, namely, the speech from the throne: It had this unique quality about it, that it was short. I wish to commend the member, because words will do that: You can go at some length and omit what should be mentioned in terms of fairness.
This party I belong to -- I say this without any bias or prejudice, of course -- represents a social conscience. It can tell members about the great free enterpriser Brascan: $174 million in 1987, no taxes; Xerox: $64 million profit, no taxes; Hees International: $151 million, no taxes. A family of two with an income -- I am talking here in terms of family income -- of $29,000: $6,500 in taxes per annum.
I do not have to ask members whether this is fair. This is what it is all about, and I hope the budget that will be tabled by the Treasurer will address what is really the focus, what is really fairness in our society.
Le Vice-Président : Désolé, le temps est écoulé. Are there other questions and comments? If not, does the member wish to respond?
Mr Mahoney: Very briefly, just to thank the honourable gentleman for his, I think, compliment. I will have to read Hansard to find out if indeed there was any substance to it, but I felt a sense of warmth coming across.
I also find it interesting how that party tends to want to claim to be the party of social justice, to be the only party that cares. Let me tell the member that neither he nor his party has a monopoly on caring. Just because our party shows the leadership to work within the industrial sector and the business community in creating an atmosphere -- if he had been here yesterday, he would have heard about the creation of 127,000 new small businesses within this province, and that translates into 30,000 new jobs, perhaps to help those individuals he is referring to.
Anybody, any time, can pull out an individual example and wave it in the air as being a terrible tragedy, “It’s all the government’s fault.” But in reality it is our responsibility as a government to show leadership. It is extremely easy to criticize when they know they will never be the government. I think it is very clear to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) and the members of the opposition party that never will they have the responsibility of carrying the mantle of power. Never will they have the responsibility of making a decision. I think they are well aware of that, so it is easy for them to draw up individual examples.
In the meantime, we must work on creating within this province an atmosphere of economic prosperity and managing that economic prosperity. I suggest that in the last four years this province has increased tremendously in those areas and that we are helping to manage the economy in a very positive way.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Without doubt, there are many problems inherent in having a 94-member caucus. I would not understand them and the nuances that go with them, but one of them must be that when your own -- let’s start differently.
It is hard to get on the agenda here as a backbencher for the Liberals these days, is it not? It is hard to get a question on in question period. It is hard to get a speech on, especially when one of their own members is filibustering. That is difficult.
It is bad enough when one of us on the other side can be seen to be trying to take away the time of individual members of the Liberal back bench and rump in the House, but when one of their own members calls them seals and then says he is happy to be a seal as well, one really has to say that perhaps the lack of physical violence and murder that has been alleged by the member -- perhaps those days are going to end shortly. If I were to predict a by-election caused by such an effect, Mississauga West would be the probable area where we would see it take place.
It is a pent-up frustration, I understand, when you do not get the chance to express yourself, so that a member like the member for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney) wants to go on at some length and, as the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot) has said, with a certain vapidity, if that is a word -- if not, it is now, and that will give the translators a lot of trouble -- with a lack of substance that is a little disconcerting, but it has never bothered most of us as we have risen from our seats over time. Since I have been here 10 years with those same attributes, I should say it does not guarantee that he will not be back, unfortunately.
Hon Mr Conway: Is it 10 years?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Yes, indeed, 5 April 1979 and counting.
Hon Mr Conway: Colin lsaacs is long gone.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Yes, indeed.
Shall we turn instead to the throne speech? I have prepared my remarks after great consultation with the Sergeant at Arms, who is so seldom mentioned now by members as they rise to talk about the throne speech, and of course I have conferred continually with members of the table here, but not as much as I have with Hansard correctors who have saved me from many a gaffe over the years.
But principally I base my remarks today, because they are on education, on information given to me by the pages, who although they have been here only a few short days, have already summed up just how this place operates, I think, and have been of great assistance to me.
One of the things I think they agree with me about is that the government chose a very interesting tactic in terms of a throne speech. Perhaps members opposite will disagree, but there are some of us, and even some members of the media who are not known to be necessarily New Democrats, who thought perhaps the government was in some disarray at the end of the last session. As it dragged on interminably, much like the last speech we just heard, with little effect and little action in those last few weeks, people started to say: “Maybe this government has no Liberal reform agenda. Maybe the only ideas they had were those that came out of the accord and everything else is pretty much without substance.”
What did the Liberal government try to do? They looked back at how they had been so successful in the last election in promoting the idea of being Liberal reformers. They picked at that time, as members may recall in that election, a couple of issues to focus on as symbols of reformism. One of the key areas was education, as the past Minister of Education, now government House leader, will well know.
During that election, to the surprise of everyone, including probably the Deputy Minister of Education, several announcements were made which had not exactly been thought out but were good symbols of reform. If you look at education and all the conflicting viewpoints that are out there about education, there are some few numbers of things which most people agree on, and one of them is that reduced class size is a good thing. As a result, the government announced it was going to reduce class sizes in two grades of the primary division in the next year and it was going to spend $300 million -- may I round out the $297-million promise to $300 million? That would not seem to be too excessive -- for the first year of government.
Oh, yes, 11 August, the quote is specific. I would be glad to remind the member for Renfrew North (Mr Conway) that on 6 August when the announcement was made it was not clear as to whether this was going to be in the first year, but the Premier (Mr Peterson) cleared that up four days later and specifically said “$297 million in the first year of our mandate.”
Many people thought: “This is progressive. This is dynamic. This is reform.” How surprised they were when in fact the amount of money that went into, for instance, reduction of class size was not $197 million as had been promised but was $22 million for that first year. Now we are told just recently by the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) that perhaps by 1990 the figure will have reached that full $197 million that had been promised -- three years later.
Hon Mr Conway: You just said $297 million, then you said $197 million.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Let me go back. I will not be badgered. I will instead go back and find the specific figure for the member who is not clear about it either.
Hon Mr Conway: I might just make the point that sometimes people can get confused.
Mr R. F. Johnston: More than confused, I am sure.
Hon Mr Conway: That was the election where you at least proclaimed yourself a socialist.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am a socialist and have been a socialist and will continue to be a socialist.
It is $170 million a year as announced on 6 August by the government of Ontario leader at that time, the member for London Centre (Mr Peterson).
But the total figure for the entire package was $297 million. It included other items, which I am glad the member raised because none of them has been fully funded since that time either, and I know the government House leader would want me to make sure that the people of Ontario knew it was not just the class-size promise that the Liberals reneged on but it was in fact a whole series of other things as well.
For instance, they provided about one third of the money for increasing access to computers. Computer software was divided by a substantial amount. The intermediate science figures that were provided were about half of what was promised. The new textbooks announcements were again just a tiny fraction of what had been promised and announced as specifically going to be paid for in that year 1987, which we will all remember so fondly as the year of the great Liberal majority and Liberal reformism. This was just one of the things that started to fall apart for the Liberal government.
We also know about the automobile insurance fiasco and how that looked, like that specific promise, about a very special plan the Premier had for us in terms of how he was going to reduce auto insurance rates, somehow fell apart. In fact the legislation that the Liberals have now brought forward to not implement what they said they were going to implement is still not even workable and we are going to have to get new legislation soon, I gather, to make it even possible to roll back the figures to 7.6 per cent --
Mr D. S. Cooke: By 1 June.
Mr R. F. Johnston: -- by 1 June. This kind of competence that just emanated from the government over this last little while was in fact starting to really erode the notion that its members were anything but new Tories. I think if members listened to the speech today by the member for Mississauga West, I would have to say that I have heard the same kind of language from Tories since I was elected here, a defensive attack back on people who attack their lack of progressivity.
That we do not have the sole hold on the conscience of Ontario is a Frank Drea line, and government members should be very happy to associate themselves with Frank Drea, who used to throw that to me on a continual basis when I told him about how he was not dealing with social assistance programs as he should he. To listen to the defensive language of the member for Mississauga West today is just to bring back that kind of notion that all is well, a very smug, Toryish kind of attitude that I do not think behooves the notion of Liberal reform.
So what did the government have to do? I will tell members what the government had to do. It had to come up with new symbols of reform to show now that, “We are again the reformers.” They came out, not with the usual long shopping list of vagaries that one finds in a throne speech, and for that we were all pleased --
Mr D. S. Cooke: Now a short list of vagaries.
Mr R. F. Johnston: It was good that it was short, but as my House leader says, it was a short list of vagaries. Some of them looked more precise than they are. Unfortunately, the government has rushed into explaining a couple of its major premises and new symbols of reform afterwards, and they have fallen apart like a terrible little house of cards. Let’s deal with them.
Education has again been chosen as one of the great symbols of Liberal reform. What do we have? We have a government that comes forward and in the context of the throne speech tells us it is going to increase the quality of education by allowing children to come in at four years of age, is going to encourage that, so that all parents in the province can have their children in junior kindergarten, if they so choose, because this will be good for the quality of education. It also came through with another major promise on destreaming. I will come back to that one, but let’s first deal with the kindergarten stuff, because this sounded very like the kind of announcement that had been made on class size.
It sounded so simplistic and so avoiding of all the realities that are out there in terms of the costs to local boards, especially the notion that full-day senior kindergarten was now going to be proposed province-wide, except the government would not put in money where space was a problem, which I thought was an interesting point. But the expectation put upon parents that they would now be able to get their kids into senior kindergarten across the province is part of this throne speech. The symbol is out there, that this will be available to people, even though it defies the reality of what is possible for boards in Ontario today.
But the problem of the government was even worse than just sort of not thinking about the problems of making a major change in policy of this sort. They were as follows: all of a sudden, the Premier started talking about this as a child care policy. I heard this from his press conference about the throne speech and I thought: “This does not jibe. This is supposed to be quality of education. This is not child care, this is not custodial care we are talking about.” It was not until later that the penny dropped: the government was looking for a cheap way to expand day care spaces.
I said: “How can they do this? I do not understand.” Under the Canada assistance plan, day care moneys passed through from the federal government are all geared on a welfare basis. The education system is a universal system and does not operate that way. How are they going to do this? I could not figure it out until the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) confirmed it for me after the unfortunate leak in Ottawa of the reality of the Wilson budget, which we all hate. I am sure we can all say that with equanimity here. We discovered that in point of fact he had been planning to pay for this new quality education program through the new proposed federal child care plan that was being proposed by the Tories before the last election.
This is amazing, from two perspectives. One is he actually thought that the child care plan was going to survive the budget and did not understand that there was going to be a quid pro quo for the loss of the subs, and that was that child care was going down the tubes as well in that budget. Putting that aside, the very idea that this government would start to mix child care and education policy and foist a lot of extra costs on to the taxpayer and the education system locally is, in my view, just a wrongheaded kind of concept.
The government really does have to make up its mind. Does it want day care as a whole in the education system or does it want an enhanced junior kindergarten system and a full-day senior kindergarten system for educational, pedagogical reasons? If it is saying that it is going to slip child care into the education system, then I suppose it had better clear up with the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) and the Minister of Education who is going to have responsibility for this, because the mess that is out there now, as we expand day care into the education system without knowing who is in charge of it, is causing us all sorts of difficult problems.
But now, of course, the reality has hit, the other shoe has dropped; and that is that Wilson’s money
-- sorry, the federal Minister of Finance’s money -- is not going to be forthcoming and the government’s expectations of junior kindergarten everywhere and of increases in senior kindergarten across the province in the next few years are going to have to be paid for out of this Treasury. I suggest to the government that if it is now going to hoist on Ontario a large increase in taxes to bring in a plan which is wrongly thought out in terms of the rationale behind it, I think it has some serious problems.
Members of the select committee -- and there are only three of us in the room at the moment, but there are others in and out -- will understand that when we talked about the problem of early identification of problems for kids, which was alluded to in the throne speech as one of the reasons for expanding junior kindergarten, when we talked about the difficulties some children in the system had in adapting earlier on, the problem was not having a flexible entry time. Right?
We had kids who had to come into the system based on their birthday. Therefore, as they enter in September -- all kids have to enter in September -- some kids would naturally have a developmental delay, because they are younger, by as much as six months. Those children, because they were so young, would have an amazing amount of catch-up to do, would often get a very negative view of the education system to start off with and, with ratios of 25 to one, at least in junior kindergartens and most places around the province, were not getting the kind of identification assistance that was required. So what people talked to us about was:
“Deal somehow with that question of when you enter. Don’t just drop it down a year and exacerbate the problems, because the differences in age proportionately will be even that much more severe for those kids. Talk about maybe moving to a semestered system at the entry point so that children can enter in January and you will not have the kind of developmental delays we now see.”
This is what we were talking about. We were not talking in the committee about a total expansion of junior kindergarten as a notion that pedagogically was better than children being in day care. I think it is important to remember children in day care today who are four years of age have an eight-to-one ratio with their instructor. In a stimulating early childhood education environment, like a good day care can be, with that kind of a ratio there can be early identification of problems, there can be real understanding of the development of cognitive skills that children have at that stage. I would suggest to members it can be done better in some instances than doing it in JK when you have got 25 to one.
We come to the next point, which is this destreaming thing. I was at a conference this morning in Scarborough talking about transition, the transition in that case from grades 7 and 8 into high school, how traumatic that is for a lot of kids in the system and how in fact, as Radwanski pointed out in his report, the grade 9 transition problem was identified by more dropouts than any other issue as the serious reason why they left.
I was talking to them today. I said, “It’s fascinating that we as a committee even concentrated so much on that transition period in the intermediate section and weren’t looking back at that transition period that comes much earlier.” Think of what it is like for a child nowadays in our society who moves from the home -- the average age might be two or two and a half now to go into kindergarten, something like that -- into a circumstance where they have a child care arrangement of some sort or other, then moves from that to a 25 to 1 ratio in junior kindergarten with no support systems.
There is no concept in our educational system at this moment for counsellors at that early level. We talk about guidance counselling in high schools; as a select committee, we talked a lot about enhancing the role of guidance counsellors in grades 7 and 8. But we have no concept at this point of having people who are really well trained in identifying problems of kids in their development in those early stages and we have very large class sizes.
The thing that struck me about that first announcement -- going back again to the election, which the government is now trying to get back to, this notion of symbols that are important to it -- was that the government said it was going to reduce class sizes in grades 1 and 2. I want the members to think about that. We divide up our education system, supposedly rationally, between divisions in our system at the moment because of what we know about childhood development. That is the essential reason for it, and that is a good pedagogical reason for having divisions, if you know about doing it on the basis of the development of the child.
Instead, for political reasons -- not pedagogical reasons, but the push of an election, the demand to come up with a symbol -- the government came through with the idea of reducing grades 1 and 2. What about kindergarten and what about grade 3? If you really want to look at our system in an honest kind of way and say that class size should be reduced, then my view would be that you start in kindergarten, put in extra resources in kindergarten, because that is the transition period, that is the tough time for kids entering the system, in terms of their cognitive development; then you do it in grades 1, 2 and 3, and you do it for the division.
What we have done instead is something which, as I say, makes very little sense to our organizational structure. What do we have in this budget -- I am sorry. We will see it in the budget as well, but what do we have in this throne speech? We have the government suggesting that we should be destreaming grade 9, the pilot projects, by 1992. It is one of those really powerful symbols. You know: Lead with all your might and take two steps backwards and say, “We’ll think about this in the morning and come back to you.”
What bothered me about this, again, is that the reality of our intermediate division and the problems with it when it is divided between two panels, between the high school panel and the elementary panel, were being ignored by the government. The select committee, an all-party committee, dealt with this at length. What we decided was that destreaming to grade 9 would be a good idea in terms of slowing down the career choice, but it should not be done out of context with a number of other major changes which would make sure that there was some sort of continuum within the intermediate section. We suggested a range of things.
We suggested that if you were going to do that, you would have to reduce the class size at the secondary level where you did this. Why? Because teachers now at the secondary level, perhaps dealing with a class of 30 students, are used to dealing with them in a fairly homogeneous fashion; that is to say, they are dealing with basic-level kids or they are dealing with general-level kids or they are dealing with advanced-level kids. If you move to a heterogeneous class in which you have 30 kids, some of whom are basic level, some of whom are general level, some of whom are advanced level and some of whom have learning disabilities or are special-education kids for other reasons, the teachers will not be able to cope with it. It is destined to fail.
We also said that you have to retrain these teachers, because they do not know how to deal with a heterogeneous class. They have not had the kind of training that a lot of our elementary panel teachers have in dealing with co-operative education models and breaking the class down into various kinds of groups and getting them all to work together and that kind of thing. That does not happen as much at the secondary level. The training is not there for it. We said that was an important component that should be included.
We also said that a vital thing is to increase the status of counsellors and guidance counsellors in the elementary panel. At present, we have a situation in the province where a given school might have adequate counselling given in an elementary school and the next neighbouring one may not even have a counsellor in it. You may have a counsellor from the feeder school who has an excellent relationship to the high school guidance counsellor, whom the children will go to as they go on to the secondary panel. In the next school, they may not have that relationship. There is no uniformity around Ontario; there is no continuity.
I do not know if members remember back to their days of making the switch to grade 9. That is why I was talking with some of the pages about this; some of them have to worry about this in the not-too-distant future. I remember what it was like for me. Grade 8 was the high point of my academic career. I think I need to confess that at this point. In grades 6 and 7, Norman Walls came first and I came second. We were in Salem Public School, a three-room public school in southern Ontario, and darn it, Norman would beat me every time.
My father was very competitive and I am convinced paid his family to leave town in grade 8, and I became the valedictorian in that year. But the next year we moved to Peterborough and I went to a city high school, busing in an hour and a half each morning.
The transition was very tough and very hard to deal with. I knew nobody in the community. I knew nobody in the school. For a lot of students, that is not much different than it is for a student within an elementary school going into a high school. They do not know the teachers and they are not used to dealing with as many teachers as they come across. So we suggested there should be a core curriculum and a home room kind of concept developed in grade 9.
The government accepted that in the throne speech, but what it did not accept was the idea that we should develop a model where counsellors could follow a child from grade 7 right through to grade 10, that the boards of education should start to look at that and start to deal with the teachers’ federations about how that could be accommodated.
We also talked about the idea of mentoring; that is to say, that a home room teacher might stay with a class from grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 and cross panels and that those kinds of things really needed to be looked at if you were going to move into destreaming in a sensible way.
Again, I would point out that even I was a minority on the committee when I started to talk about the notion of divisions. If you are going to have an intermediate division, what sense does it make to have this end at grade 9 rather than grade 10? It does not make sense to me, if you accept that this is a specific group that needs to be organized in this fashion, that you would end destreaming in grade 9.
My sense of what has happened with this announcement, when I look at the two major educational planks, is that two easy symbols were put up. One was the response to Radwanski, destreaming, which is going to be done in a way that I think dooms it to failure even as pilot projects. Therefore, we will go back to the status quo and never really look at whether or not the system could have been appropriately destreamed.
The other is kindergarten for day care, and now I think that is in disrepute, for many reasons, and I think people should know this. The Toronto Board of Education which has senior kindergarten estimates the cost of moving to full-day senior kindergarten throughout its system -- they think that expectation now is going to be laid out there for people -- is going to cost millions of dollars even for a board that has moved in that direction. The Peel Board of Education indicated to me that it thought the cost would be $77.5 million to move to it.
I say the expectation that has been raised and the lack of bucks which are going to be moved on are really unjust. A point was made by people from the York region to me, that one out of five of their elementary schools had so many portables that there was no space to put new portables on.
They asked me: “What are we supposed to do as a board now that junior kindergarten is going to be accepted as the norm across the province of Ontario? Are we going to tell our electors that we will hold JK classes in the south end, the developed end of our jurisdiction, but not in the developing end where all the full schools are? Are we going to live with that political reality? No, obviously we can’t do that. Are we going to tell parents that in order to get to those schools, they’re going to have to bus four-year-olds? Clearly, busing four-year-olds is not anything we would accept as sound educational practice in Ontario.”
“So what are we going to do?” they asked. There is only one option for us in those kinds of schools; that is, we will take the grade 7s and grade 8s and shift them to other schools, away from their community. We will bus them now. Then we will have to renovate their classrooms to make sure they have the kinds of facilities we need for junior kindergarten, because as members may know, it is everything from eensie, little, teeny toilets to other kinds of facilities that are required. It is a major job and a major cost.
I just say that the thinking on this has really not been worked out very well. The anger out there in the community at the way the government has unilaterally thrown out this kind of notion, because it needed symbols to refurbish its tarnished image, is going to cause the government an awful lot of problems.
There are two matters that were not in the throne speech which will be in the budget, one would presume. They come down to capital funding questions of lot levies and pooling. The member for Mississauga West went on about, “How can anybody be against lot levies?” I think there are lots of ways in which you could be against a lot levy. If you are in an existing area that has no major room for growth, and lot levies are now going to be the answer to construction or renovation of local schools, then you are out of luck because you are not going to get those bucks.
Mr D. S. Cooke: The Speaker understands that.
Mr Pouliot: The Speaker agrees with us.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I think the Acting Speaker would possibly understand that, coming from the riding of Windsor-Walkerville.
If you are in another area where you have amazing growth, the kind of money you are going to get from lot levies is not going to touch your problems. The government did a very nasty thing just before the throne speech. In announcing its capital grants, much lauded by the member for Mississauga West, and I am sure concurred in by all the members opposite, it reduced the percentage of bucks that are coming from the province from 75 per cent to 60 per cent. This was in effect the signal that lot levies are coming.
What this essentially means is that not only is that local taxpayer going to get hit for the normal amount of construction costs that he had in the past, but now an even higher percentage will be expected because of the lot levy phenomenon. Where you have the possibility of having great growth, perhaps you will get that levy in, but where it is not so exponential in its growth, you are going to see the problem of boards having to go to their taxpayers for more and more money to get the schools, while the expectation for those schools has been generated by this government saying the lot levy is going to be the solution.
The other that this government is about to announce is pooling of commercial and industrial assessments between the separate and public boards. It is strange but this was not announced in the throne speech, as if this, the single most important issue in education -- that is, the adequate funding of education -- was not important enough to even mention in the throne speech. It said to me that either the Minister of Education has not won the battle on this one yet, or they really want to downplay this and as a government want to wait a while for this to come through.
I want to hear that the solution is -- Mr Speaker, just for your information, because this will be of interest to you -- that there will be a local, municipality-based, if I can put it that way, pooling of assessments.
The net effect on most of the public boards will be a loss of approximately three per cent. The options, if they went farther abroad than that, to larger regional kinds of pooling, would mean there would be a 15 percent loss to public boards. That is just going to be too much of an insult to public educators at this stage, who have taken it really very much on the chin since Bill 30. That has certainly been their attitude about it. If you went province-wide, you would be talking about a shift of as much as 30 per cent.
As I hear it, the option is going to be for local pooling and it is going to be a three per cent difference. The way the government is going to make this acceptable is by finally raising the ceilings for the grants that are passed on to the boards. The ceilings that this government has said are adequate -- it has been saying boards are being irresponsible because they are having to spend substantially more than that these days -- are now going to be raised so that the public boards will get back approximately what they are losing in the assessment. The Catholic boards will say, “Look, that localized pooling isn’t enough; it’s not going to give us the amount of money we need,” and they will also get their ceilings raised so that the total amount will keep everybody quiet for now.
What it will not do is deal with the issue of just what has happened to funding in general in the province in this last little while. We are now down to 42 per cent of the operating costs of our system of education being assumed by the province.
Mr D. S. Cooke: But they add teachers’ superannuation.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Yes, my House leader reminds me about superannuation, but let me come to another point first, if I might.
If one looks back to 1973, provincial support at that time was 60 per cent; it has been as high as 61 per cent, in 1975. Since this government has come to power, provincial support has been dropping year by year and is now down to 42 per cent, even though this government promised in the 1985 election and reiterated in 1987 that it was in favour of assuming 60 per cent of the costs.
Mr Pouliot: People are being misled.
Mr R. F. Johnston: The government has changed its language, I say to the member for Lake Nipigon. It has now said that it is of the approved costs; this is where we come into this gamesmanship around the notion of ceilings.
Then there is the latest wrinkle my House leader refers to; that is, the government now saying that somehow its costs in terms of the teachers’ pension plan can be rolled into these figures to explain that it is actually paying 60 per cent. They have been talking with Conrad Black too long. They have been following the Dominion Stores story, perhaps, on who pensions belong to, and Mr Black’s version of that. Now they seem to believe the public of Ontario is going to accept that fact.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Which Tory Minister of Education used to say that?
Mr R. F. Johnston: As I recall, and I am sure the present House leader for the government and the past critic for Education during the days of Bette Stephenson -- no, he was just always there in committee harassing her. That is right. But he will remember that it was Bette Stephenson who used to talk in these terms and be chastised by those of us in the opposition, including the odd Liberal, and I say that advisedly.
Hon Mr Conway: You’re calling Bradley odd? I’ll tell him.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Exactly; I think the member can pass that along.
Even the Premier, as I recall, maybe had a word or two to say about how nefarious that kind of inclusion in the 60 per cent figure really was.
I would just say that what the government has not done and does not have in its plan around pooling is the real change about the adequacy of funding, the question that is out there these days, “Who should pay?” Should it be the person who happens to own a home in Ontario, whether that is a senior on a fixed income or a very wealthy person, or should it be a progressive tax paid for out of the provincial budget? Who should be paying for education?
When this government now says that 42.7 per cent is appropriate to come from the provincial share, I say something has gone wrong. I look forward to the public hearings this fall. I look forward to those hearings about who should pay when we discuss the pooling solution this government has not put into its throne speech, which we all hear is soon coming down the pipes.
Hon Mr Conway: I hope your hearing is better than your analysis.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I think it is important these quips be put on the record. I know it is always difficult for Hansard to catch them all when the member opposite decides he is going to pay attention to my speech and not to his colleague’s, but I think it is important that my analysis --
Hon Mr Conway: I am paying a great deal of attention. Is it your view that 60 per cent is an open-ended total expenditure?
Mr R. F. Johnston: I think the rhetorical question being asked now by the minister, who clearly wants the floor and is unwilling to wait his turn or perhaps to take as much time as the member for Mississauga West did in terms of taking time from members opposite, is to try to provoke me into saying, “Just what was your position prior to 1987 when you used to talk about this?”
Hon Mr Conway: I would just like to get your view on specific expenditure and taxation --
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): Order, please. Let us not turn this into a private conversation.
Mr R. F. Johnston: You are right, Mr Speaker. It is strange, though, you must agree, that the House leader would have so quickly forgotten what the role of opposition is. The role of the opposition is to call a government to account, because as government it has the tools to take action and it is the government which has slipped. That is why it is so busy and desperate, reaching for these other symbols that are crumbling two or three days after the throne speech.
Hon Mr Conway: It sounds like a paid opposition to me.
Mr R. F. Johnston: We are paid, but underpaid, as members will know by my resolution, Mr Speaker.
Let me come to a couple of other issues. The first is on the quality-of-education issue. In these last couple of months we have had two major studies. One was an international study of 12 jurisdictions looking at the levels in maths and science of 13-year-olds in the province, and the other was a recent study of students at the senior high school level around chemistry and physics.
Two things need to be said. The first is that in reading both studies, one can say there is adequacy in terms of the assimilation of fact and that our English-speaking students in the province have done better in that area than our francophone students. But when one looks at the analysis of how the young students in the province, in these two studies, are using the tools they have been given by the teachers in terms of critical analysis and use of the information they have been given, we have done dismally.
I would just remind members that the English-speaking students in this province ranked about halfway in the international study, and the francophone students ranked last or second to last in these jurisdictions.
The Minister of Education used a euphemism in his first announcement about the international study, which said something about the francophone students not doing as well as their English colleagues.
In the second study, in which francophone children -- senior students at this stage -- again did very badly, in terms of critical skills developed around chemistry and physics, the government basically tried to deep-six that report as well. It did not include any of the background information in its press release, in which there were comments that indicated what the problem was, that the teachers they had were not appropriately trained and that the kind of resource materials needed to teach those subjects in French were not available in the province.
In neither case has the Minister of Education spoken with any emotion at all in this House about what should be done about this. Most of us in this House happen to be anglophones. I suggest that if the roles were reversed and one was now a francophone parent in Ontario learning that his children were being failed by the system so dramatically in 1989, as they have been for 50 years in this province, he would expect of a government some kind of statement of action. He would expect, in a throne speech, some kind of statement that there was going to be an investigation and that there was a specific plan to be implemented to help the francophone community improve its scores. This province is either for all of us, or I would suggest, it is for none of us.
The Premier’s Council says the future is science and math. It cannot be a future that is available just to anglophone students in this province. The government, with two serious reports, twice ducks dealing with this straight on. It says to francophone parents in Ontario: “We are going to do something on this. We are going to throw our resources behind it. We think this is as important as some of the other educational matters we have raised in this throne speech,” which turns out to be puffery.
I just say that this is not a Liberal reform government, when it can just sit back and let this kind of thing take place.
Mr Pouliot: Puffery?
Mr R. F. Johnston: Puffery.
L’hon. M. Fontaine : Il faut lire le discours du trône.
M. Pouliot : Il n’y a rien là.
M. R. F. Johnston : Il n’y a rien là. Il n’y a rien dans le discours du trône. Je demande au ministre : O -- ce problème est-il énuméré dans le discours du trône ? Il n’est pas là.
M. Pouliot : C’est une déclaration de platitudes.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Another item which is not addressed in terms of education in this throne speech is the teacher shortage. This government again wishes to look at this issue with its head in the sand to say that there is no specific problem at the moment.
But we now have identified the fact that this year alone we are going to have 1,500 to 2,000 fewer teachers than we need; that in some parts of the province there will not be a supply teacher who is capable of teaching mathematics; that there will not be a supply teacher who is capable of teaching French; that we have a system which is absolutely uncoordinated between the needs of the school board and who is going into the faculties of education to come out into the system the next year.
It is incredible to me that we would know, from boards of education across the province, that we need hundreds of technical teachers, even though those programs are in some difficulty in the province, and yet we have a known deficit this year in the schools of education of --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. There are a number of private conversations here that are making it difficult to hear the member.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Mr Speaker, I would not presume to demand of the ministers and others that they listen to the speech. I know from time to time my attention wavers in the House as well. I appreciate your kindness in trying to protect my interests.
I would just say, though, that this whole area is mind-bogglingly out of control. We know that the number of graduates this year will be 4,435 if they all graduate and are all suitable candidates to be teachers in a board. That, of course, is unlikely. We also now know that there will be at least that many retirements this year, and perhaps even more.
The overall deficit over the next few years could be as many as 1,500 to 2,000 per year. The government of Ontario has added 385 new positions this year to the colleges that teach education at this point in Ontario. This is an acceptance of the deficit. This is an acceptance of the inappropriate allocation of the people who go into the colleges in the first place.
Mr Speaker, did you know that at least half of the people who applied to colleges last year did not even get in; that there were as many as 12,000 people applying to get into colleges last year to become teachers, yet our capacity was only 4,435? You may say that some of those people were not appropriately qualified. I have some letters here, which I will not read into the record at this point but at some point in this House I am going to do so, of people who are eminently qualified to go to these schools of education who are needed in specific areas of deficit at this point and who cannot get in at this stage.
I have people who are writing to me who have been doing practice teaching, supply teaching and upgrading their courses in boards for five to 10 years and whose academic qualifications do not happen to be 85 per cent and over when they were in the college system in the old days, but whose practical experience and letters of reference from boards are exemplary. Yet they have not been accepted into the schools of education when we know we have the deficit that we have now.
This is not the time to go into enormous detail about the problems that are there. I have done that in the past and will continue to do so in places like estimates where one can ferret out more information than one is able to deal with in a response to a throne speech. But why, if this government really means it is going to do anything on education, was there nothing in here about the nature of the education of our teachers and the shortage of those teachers? If people do not understand that a system makes it or breaks it on the quality of its teachers, I think they misunderstand what education is all about.
Just in passing, I wonder why the government has not introduced in this throne speech some kind of comment about the Bill 82 revisions. For several years now we have been waiting to see what is going to happen with special-education legislation in the province. All the rumours are that finally this spring, after years of it being indicated that it was coming, it is in fact going to come down the pike. If the government is going to do anything in terms of dealing with the philosophy of integration, why was that not in fact integrated into the throne speech?
We have the situation in this province at the moment where neighbouring boards and coterminous boards in the two different systems have absolutely opposite policies around integrating or segregating students with learning disabilities and other kinds of problems. We have the incredible situation where people are changing their religious affiliation, are actually joining the Catholic church, not for reasons that one would come to in terms of a normal philosophical quest for some answers but because they want to get their kids mainstreamed and the only board in a region around them that actually mainstreams disabled children is the Catholic board in their case.
If we want to talk about education and looking forward to the future of our children -- and there is this wonderful line at the end of this speech, « Nous voulons qu’en envisageant l’avenir nos enfants aient confiance en leurs aptitudes, soient fiers de leur diversité et n’éprouvent aucune inquiétude quant à leur qualité de vie » -- and if we mean that we want that kind of equality and that kind of sense of power that children will have about their future, then we cannot say that the notion of whether those children are going to continue to be segregated or will be integrated in the mainstream should be left out of a throne speech.
I am now of great concern that all we are going to see is some tinkering with the regulations around Bill 82 and we are not going to see that principle joined, much as we have seen with heritage languages. Merely the Scarborough amendment has been brought in so that that recalcitrant board will finally accept what all the other boards of the province have accepted, much to my personal concern and shame over the years. But we are not dealing with what the substance of language education should be all about and I will save that for another speech on the subject, because I will have the occasion this spring.
Regrettably for the members perhaps, I have four portfolios and I have only touched on one of them at this point. The others are Colleges and Universities, women’s issues and Skills Development. Let me deal with the one that is supposedly in the speech and then deal with the others, which are not dealt with.
The first one I would like to deal with is women’s issues. The government is very big on the question of safety and security in our society and, as a result, the first announcement given out by the government since the throne speech happened to concern battered women in our society and an augmentation of $5.4 million for services to those women as a symbol of what the throne speech was really all about.
I say thank you for the increase. Depending on how you want to look at it, to be generous, it is as much as 17 per cent on certain lines in the budgets involved, but it misses the point about what the essential problem is now around the problems of battered women.
In 1982, I referred out to the standing committee on social development this issue of wife battering. We produced in that summer of 1982 one of the best reports, in my view, that has been produced by any committee. Many of the recommendations were picked up in 1983 by the Conservative government at the time. Some of them were picked up in 1986 by the Attorney General (Mr Scott) and the Minister of Community and Social Services, as they recognized the problems in the court system, on the one hand, and the need to get to the kids of violent families if they wanted to break the cycles involved. There are fundamental aspects of this report that still have not been touched. The situation today is as tragic for many women as it was then.
What I think bothered me most about the announcement, which is the substance of the government’s move for women and security, was that it seemed to be taking credit for a major expansion in the number of spaces available to women in shelters around Ontario. The problem with having been here for 10 years and having dealt with this issue for so long is that I happen to know that that is not true.
I was disappointed to see them picking a figure from 1981 and comparing it with today and saying, “Isn’t it wonderful what we as Liberals have done since that time in the increasing of spaces?” In point of fact, the spaces were increased from 1982, when we started dealing with this report, to 1985 when this government came in. In point of fact, the last minister under the Tories who dealt with this matter, Mr Elgie, increased the number of locations and shelters to a proposed 81 in 1984.
In August 1985, there were already 742 beds available in the 48 transition houses in the province. This government has not added any new spaces. The minister admitted that the figure today was around 770 spaces that were available in Ontario. In 1985, we produced information that showed that individual centres were turning away 700, 1,000, 800, 600 women per year who were coming in in an emergency fashion and demanding shelter from a violent spouse.
The latest information that has been collected is that what we presumed was a problem of one out of 10 -- that is, that one woman in 10 would be physically abused at some point during her life -- is now being adjusted to one out of eight, by the latest in statistical information developed. The shelters are still turning away people in the same fashion now as they were in 1985.
Some shelters have actually closed because they just could not handle the financial problems that they were facing, and I use the example of Sault Ste. Marie as a prime example. What the government did was improve the working conditions for women in these homes, and for that I am very pleased. But it did nothing to make it more accessible to abused women in the community.
The second thing that annoyed me enormously about that statement by the minister was that an announcement was made for a study of the rate of abuse and the kind of abuse that physically disabled women were facing in Ontario. The Disabled Women’s Network of Toronto held a news conference in our media studio two years ago at which they showed with, as I said the other day, horrifying common sense the fact that disabled women are the most abused group in our society because we know that abusers use their physical power to show their power and control over somebody, because that is all they have and they are feeling very insecure in themselves for other reasons.
If you happen to be physically weak because you are disabled, as well as being a woman who may not be as strong as your spouse anyway, you can understand why you are more likely to be victimized. To have the government announce a study after we have already had this information for years, when it knows that most of the transition homes in the province -- and I would suggest almost all of the transition houses in the province -- are not accessible to disabled people, is an affront to the group that did the work. The $100,000 that it claims is going to go to that study -- $50,000 or so from this government -- could easily have gone to try to help some of these homes become accessible. It would have been much more useful.
Again, I am used to these throne speeches having very little substance. One would have hoped, when it was short and pithy -- and I do not have a speech impediment -- that it might have had some meat to it for the small amount of things it was actually dealing with. In point of fact, each announcement that has come out subsequent to the throne speech, based on the throne speech, that has been in an area of my responsibility, has been a sham; or, in this case, has been insulting to some groups and not meeting the real problems that are out there.
I just say to the honourable member, for whom I have great respect, that if he wants to talk about protection of women in our society and their economic status, then let him announce things like moving faster on the pay equity legislation than he has done to this point. Let him talk about bringing in some changes to the pregnancy leave policies of Ontario, because at the moment we are in the worst shape of any province in the country in terms of the time it takes to be eligible to get leave.
I see the Speaker looking quizzical. I will be glad to explain it for him.
In our province, unless you happen to have negotiated a contract which says differently, it takes 63 weeks of straight-through, consistent employment to be eligible to take a pregnancy leave. That is longer than any other jurisdiction in this country. The way we are so rigid in terms of when you can take it means that if you have a premature child in hospital for a month, you have to take your pregnancy leave at that point and you can only take it for the 15 weeks that are available to you under unemployment insurance.
Even the Tories in Ottawa have changed the amount of time you can get; now we can get up to 25 weeks for women. Why that was not in this throne speech rather than some of the fatuous things we have been talking about today, I just have no idea.
When I talk about what could have been done about the safety of women in our community, I would remind members -- who I know do not read all my press releases; I try to send them to certain members because I know they read, but I know they all do not get them -- that recently I pointed out a wonderful example of what has been done about women’s security on the Toronto Transit Commission here in Toronto, a study that was done with women’s groups going around all the stations on the TTC, most of the bus routes, to try to make them more safe for people.
If this government were really serious about dealing with women’s sense of security in the public places of our province at this point, it would have put money forward and committed money to the various transit authorities across Ontario to do exactly the same kind of study involving women in the way the Metro example has done, and to help them make those kind of circumstances safer.
In the days of swarming -- as that now becomes unfortunately in vogue, I am afraid, by some youth groups within our community here in Metropolitan Toronto and is likely, therefore, to be exported because of the profile it is being given -- it is women who are going to be the victims. It seems to me that that would have been a very major way the government could have made an effort without a huge amount of cost.
Just to deal with the two other portfolios, if I might: The first is Colleges and Universities. I regret that none of the ministers of whom I am critic happen to be here today. I understand that we all have our different schedules and I am not complaining that they should be here; I did not give them notice that I was going to be speaking or I am sure they would have loved to have come. But I must say that in dealing in concepts of education, I am really concerned about where this conservative government -- and I say this advisedly: small-c conservative government -- is going in terms of access to universities.
This is a government which seems to think that tuition rates should rise. It thinks that changes to the Ontario student assistance program can be minor and deal with the fact somehow that many people do not go on to university or do not stay in university because of the eligibility criteria, because of the amount of loan they are going to end up carrying.
I am sure the Speaker knows that people on average now are coming out of university, just a four-year program, with a $12,000 deficit, a $12,000 debt they have to pay back. That is something for which we need major redress, and we have not seen it in this budget. In fact, the announcement we had the other day from the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs McLeod) was very disappointing. I am not sure if members even understand it.
Can I tell members about a couple of the things that have been done here? They will be happy to know that there has been an increase in the amount of child care allowance for sole-support mothers under the Ontario student assistance program; it has now gone from $73 a week to $76 a week. I do not know how many members have children in child care, but if they can find child care at $76 a week these days, I need to hear about it quickly on a personal basis. It is very disconcerting that this is the kind of adjustment we get.
To look at a couple of the other matters in terms of the lack of reflection of the real costs to people, this government has not surveyed students to find out why they do not go on to university. We know children from poor families are still much less likely to go on to post-secondary education than are children from other families. Children from the French community have a much lower chance, about a 40 per cent chance, of going to college or university in comparison with an anglophone. If you happen to be an Indian, especially these days with our federal colleagues doing what they happen to be doing on university access for native people, you have got virtually no chance of going to a university at all. Again, I hoped we might have seen some symbols which are a little stronger than this kind of tinkering, Tory tinkering that we have seen.
I would like to ignore the Ministry of Skills Development at the moment, if I might, because I think that on the whole it has been such a pathetic performance by that ministry. As I said in the past, it really needs to be disbanded. I hope at some point or other that is politically possible for the government to do, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its terrible sense of priorities around funding for literacy and other kinds of matters. Again, this is not the time for that speech: I will give that on another day and take it apart piece by piece.
I would like to conclude my remarks on one final matter which members who have been here any length of time know is of supreme importance to me, and that is the issue of poverty in the province. Although I am not the critic for that area any more, my heart is still there. I am really delighted by the way my successor, the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen), has taken on that particular portfolio for our party.
It was in 1981 that I became the critic for Community and Social Services and decided to make poverty my major issue. We were just going into a recession at that time, and I was really concerned that the middle class, which was already feeling quite strapped financially, was not going to be very open to more money going to the poor. Yet in the statistics I had in my hand it was clear that our poor had fallen way behind under the Tory regime of the time and were going to be desperately hit by that recession, if we did not do something.
Over the years I did a number of things to try to bring the point home and to get people to focus on it, from outrageous gimmicks like the welfare diet to producing reports on poverty in Ontario to finding, as some members will recall, people sleeping in the stairwells at city hall garage in Toronto. It has been a frustrating number of years because when we see what governments have done, there has been no major change that has happened. It was therefore in January 1986 that I asked that we establish something like a Social Assistance Review Committee.
I was pleased that a number of months later that committee was established and by the kind of people who were on it and the kind of process that was established under George Thomson at that time. Quite frankly, when I saw the report come out late last year, I could not believe that finally somebody was actually moving so comprehensively on this issue area. I was trying not to be too Pollyannaish in my response to it in saying this is the blueprint for change, this is the salvation for a lot of the poor we have, but I was tremendously pleased by what had taken place.
When I listened to the member for Mississauga West just before me talking about increases of seven per cent that had been given in January in spite of the recommendations of the Thomson committee, and speaking of this in some positive terms, I started to get nervous; I started, frankly, to get a bit of a chill that the government has not understood what Thomson’s report is all about and the scope it says this must be tackled on.
When I read the throne speech, and I have read it over several times now, I tried not to get myself too sceptical or too excited; it was a kind of funny emotional position here in terms of where I wanted to be, but I read it and did not see anything precise referring to Thomson. I did not see anything precise saying, “We’ll do the first stage.” I did not see anything precise saying, “As part of this, we are going to understand that the social assistance rates as a base have to be increased enormously.”
I did not see that. I saw the language of the retraining. I saw the speechwriters’ jargon of “paycheques, not welfare cheques.” I ask, is this real or is this some kind of easy moving of the easy people off welfare and maybe of some of those who should not be moved off? I cannot tell if this is progressive or not. I have been waiting for this budget with bated breath.
I hear some of the things the Treasurer has been saying. My experience has been that signals are given from time to time by treasurers leading up to budgets and one must have one’s ears attuned. I hear him saying that if the federal finance minister’s budget is too hard and people who are on unemployment insurance now are likely to drop off more quickly on to welfare and our rolls are to increase, maybe he cannot do what he wants to do.
I say to myself, and I have felt this for the past three to four years when we have had the affluence we have had, if we cannot help the poor at this stage, when can we possibly do it?
I wish the language had been more forthright in the speech. I just wish it had been more precise, more congratulatory of that commission, more accepting of the principle that had talked about the holistic approach it wanted to take to the poverty issue and had not used the traditional throne speech vagaries.
Members opposite might be surprised, but I would be up today applauding the government unreservedly, if it had done that. If it had indicated that stage 1 of Thomson was acceptable -- quite frankly, as an individual I do not necessarily agree with the steps he and the commission wanted to take; I, as members know, have a different analysis if they have read any of the literature I produced on this -- I would have been up here today possibly attacking the puffery of its education initiatives as I have just done, but I would be unreservedly thanking it for being the only government in North America at this point that had a progressive vision of welfare and welfare reform, because that is how important the Thomson report is.
The only thing that comes close was what Dukakis did a number of years ago in Boston, and it was a very limited kind of initiative, which is just a tiny part of what Thomson is talking about. There is nothing like this kind of philosophical framework anywhere in North America at this point. In fact, everything is going in the other direction. What an opportunity, when we talk about Liberal symbols, to be a beacon of hope and progressivity for the rest of what is a fairly right-wing and reactionary world around welfare politics at this point.
I hope that the Treasurer makes me the elated individual I would like to be and that I will be able to stand up and say that kind of thank you. But at this stage, I am having to pull my punches and I am still willing to wait; but he is making me very nervous.
Mr Speaker, I just conclude by thanking you for your patience and the members opposite for the modicum of heckling that was involved today and by saying that this was at least the shortest speech from the throne that I have witnessed, and for most members this was probably the shortest response I have made; so both of these things are good things.
Mr McLean: I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide a few thoughts on the throne speech, which I believe was filled with motherhood remarks repeated previously and promises that were never kept, and which lacked substance in some pretty important areas that must be addressed if the government seriously wants to build a better future for our children, as it claims it does.
One promise contained in the extremely short, 11-page throne speech is the promise to make people live longer. The government may be successful in making people live longer, but this same government is certainly not giving people much to live for.
What the people got on Tuesday, 25 April 1989, with this throne speech was a pie-in-the-sky vision of the future, a rehash of broken promises from the past and a failure to address many important issues that are facing the people of Ontario.
The government has also resorted again to blaming the federal government for the lacklustre performance of the provincial government, and in some cases this government has decided to retreat in the face of adversity by looking to the federal government to solve its problems.
This government continues to drift aimlessly and to look elsewhere for direction; this government continues with its policy of “hurry up and do nothing.” It continues to make promises that it cannot keep; it continues to make promises it never intends to keep; and the government continues to make promises it apparently does not want to keep.
I would like to spend a few moments addressing some of the areas -- and they are very few -- mentioned in the throne speech and I am particularly concerned about. These areas include education, social assistance, health care and the environment. Then I would like to turn my attention to areas that were never even mentioned in the throne speech. These include agriculture, tourism, northern Ontario, the housing crisis and senior citizens.
The throne speech outlined a long-term vision for education in Ontario by promising to reduce class size and requiring all school boards to offer junior kindergarten classes for four-year-olds. The promise to reduce class size was actually announced about three years ago as part of an 11-point program, which included a $297-million commitment in the first year. In fact, two years later the government has met only about one half of this commitment.
The proposal to provide a junior kindergarten for four-year-olds looks to me like a sneaky way of getting around the issue of providing more day care spaces in Ontario. The government is telling teachers they will now have to wear two hats in the classroom. They will have to become highly paid babysitters while retaining their roles as teachers.
I think the government should take a serious look at the day care issue rather than dumping our children into the laps of teachers in our already overcrowded school system.
The throne speech made a watered-down reference about implementing some of the recommendations contained in the Social Assistance Review Committee report without making any direct statement about this extremely important document.
The government decided instead to point out that social reforms are a shared responsibility with the federal government, and noted with glee that federal spending restraints may limit the province’s ability to achieve any major revamping of this province’s social assistance system.
The government must make immediate moves to introduce new incentives to work, to begin the move to equate the rates, particularly in the area of shelter and to eliminate a host of unfair rules and procedures.
The recent march against poverty from Sudbury, Ottawa and Windsor did a great deal to focus public attention on the need to reform Ontario’s social assistance system. It appears that the provincial government failed to take any notice.
It is apparently very difficult for the government to realize that about one sixth of the people in Ontario live in poverty. By actual count, about 552,000 people receive social assistance in one form or another, and they represent only 42 per cent of the people who live in poverty.
Another 58 per cent of our poor belong to the working poor: those who have a worker in the family but cannot earn enough to pay the bills. For example, about 30 per cent of our farmers -- who by the way were completely ignored in the throne speech -- live in financially strained circumstances.
The government fails to realize that poverty is just as rural as it is urban. Farmers may not be unemployed, but no matter how hard or how long they work, they just cannot make ends meet, and so they fall into debt and lose hope.
Our farmers were not included in the government’s long-term vision of the future. Our cheap food policy is neither kind nor just to our farmers. In a nutshell, they are part of an economic system that does not treat them fairly. They earn less than the minimum wage even though they produce what we cannot live without, and yet our farmers would make a decent living if only paid fair prices. Others in the food chain prosper well, but not farmers. That is what I call injustice.
Hon Mr Conway: Allan, tell us what they really think in Oro township. Pretend you’re on county council -- none of this prepared speech business.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr McLean: The government should realize that it becomes the responsibility of any society to collaborate with its farming community to ensure productivity and fair distribution. This implies that we do do our bit to ensure that the inheritors of the good earth can stay on it, work it profitably and preserve it for future generations.
Any modern province like Ontario that fails to protect and promote its farming community is heading for trouble. A province that cannot be reasonably self-sufficient and secure in its production of food risks losing a precious measure of independence, security and prosperity.
My great hope is that this government wakes up and becomes more aware and more ashamed of existing poverty, whether it is rural or urban. Social change should attempt to help people work, be properly paid and become self-reliant. Dependency on social assistance is not an ideal and far from it.
Mr Black: There are more people working now than worked in this province for years, and you know it. What do you mean by people working? Look at the unemployment rates. Get serious.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr McLean: In the area of health care the government tosses around motherhood phrases about health promotion, disease prevention, providing accessible, affordable and appropriate health services for all and helping people to live longer lives. These types of platitudes look good on paper, sound good when spoken, and there is certainly no way anyone can take issue with such motherhood statements.
The government has chosen to speak in sweeping generalities rather than providing specifics on putting an end to heart surgery delays, such as Lloyd Crawford of Oro township continues to experience; expanding our health care delivery system by telling hospital boards whether or not they can proceed with new construction, as is the case of Orillia’s Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital; and solving Ontario’s critical shortage of nursing personnel.
Ontario’s health care system has suffered from a series of crises lately. Unfortunately, the people who are caught in the crunch are the little guys: the weak, the old and the helpless. It was only a few months ago that a massive show of public support pressured the government to save the Red Cross homemakers’ program. Today the Victorian Order of Nurses home care program is threatened by a $2.5-million deficit.
The VON made more than three million visits to patients in their own homes last year. A visit cost $28.61. The Ministry of Health paid the organization only $27.73 per visit. The accumulated deficit now threatens the very existence of the program. Comparing the cost of home care with institutional care, it is approximately $300 per day. It is obvious the VON service is a tremendous bargain.
A report by Price Waterhouse commissioned by the Ministry of Health last year estimated that the home care program saves the government over $500 million a year in operational funding and saved about $1.8 billion last year in capital funding, yet the financial arrangements with the current government are nickel-and-diming the agency to death.
The concept of government support for home care was introduced over 20 years ago by the Ontario Progressive Conservatives under John Robarts. Their objectives in keeping patients at home were both humanitarian and economic. Patients are happier and recover more quickly and the cost is minimal compared to institutional care. The need for home care has never been greater and that need will continue to increase as our population ages.
The VON branch in Simcoe East is an important part of our community, providing vital services. As their representative, I will continue to press the government to support these services so the home care program can continue its excellent work: to help people at home and to keep them at home rather than in institutions. These nurses offer generous care and are to be commended for a job well done.
The government continues to ignore our deteriorating environment and our growing garbage crisis in Ontario. By introducing the so-called Cleantario lottery fund, the government has clearly indicated that it does not share public concern over the protection of our environment. The government is gambling that a game of chance will save and protect our environment. I am afraid that our environment will end up crapping out.
As well, the government says it will establish a comprehensive waste reduction strategy aimed at reducing solid waste by 50 per cent by the year 2000. This is only a reannouncement of a recent recycling strategy which included mandatory recycling.
It should be noted that mandatory recycling was something this same government voted against when my colleague the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) proposed it in her private member’s bill last fall.
I think I should make note of areas that were not even mentioned in the throne speech. Along with ignoring agriculture and farmers, there was also no reference to northern Ontario. Apparently our people in the north are second-class citizens in the eyes of this government.
Tourism generates unparalleled economic and employment opportunity, substantially reduces our provincial travel deficit and attracts our rightful share of world travel and tourism revenues. It did not even rate one mention in the throne speech.
The lack of housing initiatives in the throne speech indicates to me that the government believes the affordable housing crisis has ended, and the government is sadly and completely wrong.
The throne speech also shows that the government has chosen to ignore the role of the senior citizens in our society, their achievements and their active involvement in our communities. Seniors deserve more than this government offered them, because everything we all enjoy so much in this province today is a direct result of the hard work and efforts of our senior citizens in the past. This government’s lack of support for our senior population is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this province. Apparently senior citizens do not fit into the long-term vision.
I would like to spend a few minutes to focus the attention of my colleagues here in the Legislature on the riding of Simcoe East and how I believe the throne speech fails to address many of the issues facing the people in my riding.
One of the long-term directions mentioned in the throne speech includes maintaining a sense of safety and security in our communities to ensure Ontario’s wellbeing and development. Again, we have a case of government talking in generalities with no specifics involved at a time when it is freezing or reducing its share of funding.
This government has continued to operate under the misguided impression that the taxpayers’ pockets are lined with gold. After raising the sales tax last spring, the government then arbitrarily froze transfer payments to all of the municipalities in Ontario. This likely means there will be substantial mill rate increases across the province. Day care, sewers, roads, transit for disabled people and social assistance are among the services associated with the grant freeze. The government has now forced municipalities into the position of having to decide whether it is best to cut back on these services or increase taxes. That is a no-win situation if I ever heard of one.
Historically, the general support grant from the province to the municipality is based on the previous year’s municipal levy, with an inflationary increment built in. This year, however, the government chose to freeze grants at the 1988 level at a cost of millions of dollars to Ontario’s municipalities. The government’s action will result in a cost of approximately $150,000 to the city of Orillia, while the cost to the town of Penetanguishene will be about $34,000. For communities throughout Simcoe county, the impact of the government’s freeze will be dramatic and devastating.
The provincial government must get its own fiscal house in order, and municipal governments are struggling to provide local services with shrinking municipal dollars. The provincial government must stop implementing new municipal service levels without the necessary accompanying provincial funds.
In Simcoe county there are 734 kilometres of country roads, including 33.5 kilometres of the Orillia Suburban Roads Commission and 59 kilometres of Barrie Suburban Roads Commission. In 1988, the Simcoe county road budget amounted to more than $5.9 million, and the levy for road purposes in the townships topped the $3.1 million level.
In the larger context of Ontario, 60 per cent of municipal roads are in only fair condition, and 38,000 kilometres of paved roads require resurfacing or rebuilding within the next five years.
Statistics report that nearly 1,500 bridges are deficient and quite possibly even dangerous. At least 30 per cent of the bridges in Ontario need to be replaced or rehabilitated within the next five years.
The 133,000-kilometre road network in Ontario is worth $40 billion. It is the largest capital asset municipal and provincial governments have to manage, yet this government allows cracks to develop in these roads and these cracks develop into potholes and then it costs three times as much to repair the damage.
The government’s decision to freeze unconditional grants and to flat-line road funding is forcing the municipal governments of such communities as Orillia, Penetanguishene, Coldwater, Elmvale and such townships as Rama, Mara, Orillia, Flos, Tiny, Oro and Medonte into becoming the poor cousins in the government family.
They are being forced to take on more and more of the Ontario government’s responsibilities. We are now seeing property taxes rising at an unacceptable rate to fund what should be provincial government responsibility. That is just not fair, nor is it an acceptable state of affairs.
In the throne speech, the government said its long-term direction is to provide accessibility to quality health care for every resident of Ontario. I believe that should include those residents in Simcoe East regardless of ability to pay.
Accessibility to health care in the Midland, Penetanguishene and Orillia area is a prime concern to the public. In these communities, accessibility is declining because Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital is bursting at the seams and services are stretched to the limit. Granted this government made a $30-million commitment towards renovations of the existing hospital building fund more than one year ago, but since then hospital officials have determined that the existing site is not large enough to support any renovation or expansion and consultants have recommended a $75-million proposal to renovate the existing facility into a chronic care unit and the construction of a second campus for acute care.
Officials from the Ministry of Health met with hospital officials more than a month ago to discuss this proposal and indicated that the minister would make a decision about the proposal within the next few weeks. In fact, the Minister of Health was aware of this proposal and the consultants’ report in January 1988, and she promised to make a final decision on whether or not construction could proceed by March of that year. The minister has been and continues to be strangely silent about this matter.
Local hospital fund-raisers have surpassed the $5-million goal towards a share of the original expansion proposal. In fact, more than $5.5 million has been raised towards the $7 million the hospital needs for its share of the second $75-million construction and renovation project.
By responding wholeheartedly to this fund-raising campaign the public has shown its commitment to the project, and now it is time for the Minister of Health to show her commitment by indicating to the hospital board if construction can finally begin. If the Minister of Health’s response is no, then I would like to suggest another way of freeing up hospital beds for acute care patients and for relieving the strain on hospital services in Orillia.
In the past, I have told the Minister of Community and Social Services that he should find alternative uses for the Huronia Regional Centre in Orillia as he proceeds with his policy of moving residents out of such institutions and into the community if they are able to live on their own. In the past, I have asked the minister to consider using the Huronia Regional Centre as a facility to house and treat Alzheimer’s patients. As well, I have suggested that Huronia Regional Centre could be converted into a Workers’ Compensation Board facility to research work-related injuries and rehabilitation problems and for therapy designed to reintroduce injured workers back into the workplace gradually.
In both cases, my suggestions would not require the construction of an expensive new building because one already exists. In both cases, my suggestions could mean retraining for those already employed at the centre rather than forcing them on to the unemployment rolls as developmentally handicapped residents are gradually moved into the community. In both cases, my suggestions have fallen on deaf ears.
But if I am anything, I am determined, so I will try again. Why does the Minister of Health not consider taking over part or all of the Huronia Regional Centre, renovating the existing facilities on that site and then using them to house and treat chronic care patients? If that should happen, then the existing Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital could be used for acute care.
Another area of concern to the people of Simcoe East, and an area that the provincial government has failed to address, is the garbage crisis in Simcoe county and throughout all Ontario. The Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) decided in 1987 to close the Pauzé landfill site which serves six north Simcoe municipalities: Midland, Penetanguishene, the villages of Port McNicoll and Victoria Harbour and the townships of Tiny and Tay. These same municipalities are now forced to transport their garbage to the Keele Valley landfill site north of Toronto, at an enormous cost to the ratepayers.
The Minister of the Environment claims this is his solution to the garbage crisis, but I believe he is only engaging in a game of musical landfill sites with this province’s garbage.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr McLean: The minister fails to realize that it demeans the people of this province to have their garbage transported from one municipality to another. Americans can burn our garbage and send it back north to us in the form of air pollution. Even today, a member was speaking about its coming from Detroit. Rather than offering platitudes in the throne speech about providing a clean and safe environment or setting up a lottery to get the people to do his job for him, I think the Minister of the Environment should take the environment and the garbage crisis a little more seriously than he has in the past.
Enough talk. More action is what the people of Ontario want, require and deserve. This government continues to abdicate its responsibilities for solving Ontario’s frightening solid waste disposal crisis. Ontario’s environmental integrity could be severely compromised by the government’s short-term contingency plans. The 1989 Liberal throne speech is clearly an attempt to give the public perceptions of action without any realistic forethought or planning as to how programs are to be implemented. Clearly the ship of state in Ontario continues to drift aimlessly.
It is interesting to note that in the last 28 months this government has added approximately 8,300 new employees to the government payroll. Responsible management is what we should be accounting for. This government has failed to provide responsible management to lower the debt in good times, because you never know when you may have to pay it. I think the throne speech proves my point.
Thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker, to put a few words on the record with regard to the throne speech.
Mr Offer: I am very pleased to rise in this debate on the speech from the throne. I am particularly pleased because it gives one a real opportunity to comment on the very precise, clear and focused priorities of this government. I say that they are at once focused, but also that they apply to a wide range of ministries of the government.
I think the priorities we have seen through this throne speech clearly indicate where this government is going to be moving in the next while. It clearly indicates what this government has determined to be the priorities, not only for it but also for the people of this province.
We have heard from members of the opposition that there is no focus, that there is no agenda. When one looks at the throne speech, one says, “How can they possibly say that?” If there is anything that is as clear in this throne speech as ever before, it is the focus, it is the direction and it is the concern this government places on the issues that are important to the people of this province.
I would like to recite those very clear, focused priorities as indicated in the throne speech:
“1. Building on our economic strengths ....”
In the time permitted, I am going to deal with that particular priority in some detail in the time ahead.
“2. ...making our education system a more effective springboard to opportunity;
“3. Reforming social assistance to help people move from dependence to self-reliance;
“4. Keeping our communities and neighbourhoods safe and secure;
“5. Promoting healthy lifestyles and preserving quality health care;
“6. Providing leadership in environmental protection.”
This is indeed a clear and precise agenda. It is a clear and precise agenda for this province, for this government and for all the ministries contained within it. It is an agenda that meets the specific concerns of many persons within the province.
We know that this province, and indeed this country, is undergoing great change, a change of almost a daily nature. We are a much different province from that of years ago. We do not have what I think is in many ways a luxury: slow and methodical change. That is, or was, a luxury of many years ago. The province of Ontario, and in fact the country of Canada, and the communities in the cities that make up this province do not have that luxury.
There is a technological type of change going on that presents challenges and opportunities, but unless we are ready to grab at those challenges and meet those opportunities, we will fall behind. It is important that the first priority in this throne speech states, “Building on our economic strengths.” I believe the clear message to this province, to the communities, to our industrial and manufacturing base, and to all the persons in the workforce who make up this province is that this government has a clear message, a clear agenda to make certain we are able to meet that technological change and to grab at the opportunity that presents itself to make this province move forward and be a leader in many different sectors.
As I have indicated, today there is ongoing and intense technological change and this change foists upon our workplace a challenge to meet that type of change, not to be pulled along by the change but to be a leader in change, to be a leader in the workforce and to be a leader in this global type of economy.
When we talk about this type of ongoing intense change, governments rely on their workforce. We rely on our workforce to be able to meet such change. The challenges come not just from within this province or indeed this country, but from countries outside. We will have to be able to compete in a real and meaningful way. Not to do so will make many persons across this province suffer, but to be able to meet such a challenge will be of benefit to all. It will be of benefit to our communities, to our cities and to this province. We will become stronger, we will become a leader and we will be able to move forward in the years ahead in a real and meaningful way.
In dealing with the competition, not to do so is something that can impact in a most drastic fashion, impact in such a way that it can truly affect our very quality of life, impact upon our communities and upon how we are able to meet the changing marketplace, not only of this province but of this world. It is important that a government realize this is important and realize it must be of the highest priority. That is why it is important that we have seen in this throne speech, as the first priority, “Building on our economic strengths.” To do that is to make this province strong. It is to make the workforce able to react, to lead and to meet the change and challenge of the future.
We are fortunate in this province to have what may be called a broad economic and manufacturing base. Such a base provides an opportunity for us. It provides an opportunity for many persons. But it is necessary, as I indicated earlier, that this opportunity exist for us to take hold of, for us to grab. We have to have a government able to provide the mechanism to permit our workforce and our industries to attain those goals in a clear, precise, focused and meaningful way.
We can no longer content ourselves just to do well. We have the ability and we have the base. I believe that through our workforce and through this government and the leadership of the Premier (Mr Peterson), we have the courage to go and say, “Yes, we can compete in the world economy, in the global market, and yes, we will compete in the world economy and the global market.”
In this province we have a Premier’s Council which has provided a blueprint for competing in the international marketplace. In meeting this challenge and opportunity, we are aggressively pursuing new markets for our goods and services. In addition, this government is supporting the growth of Ontario-based companies as they compete in this global economy, because as they compete and as they prosper, so do many other persons in this province, so do many other businesses. The spinoff is such that all benefit in the province.
Our economy must remain strong. When that happens, many persons benefit, both directly and indirectly. However, when it does not, when it fails, we all suffer. So it is important that it not fail. This throne speech, with the priority that this government places on our economic wellbeing, is clear and it is direct and it is something which will benefit the people, the manufacturers, the workforce, the industries, both directly and indirectly. It is something which is extremely important in being, and indicated as the first priority.
We have to keep in mind that as we compete, as we prosper, we must also, as a caring government, realize that not all prosper, that there are those less fortunate, and this presents a challenge for many persons to meet. It presents a challenge for this government, a challenge which we see in the throne speech as a priority of this government, because, as I have indicated, we are, as indicated through this throne speech, reforming social assistance to help people move from dependence to self-reliance.
In a province as rich and as talented as this province is, in a province where so many prosper, we have to always keep in mind that it is not all who prosper. There are those who need help. There is the necessity for government to help those. This government, in terms of its priorities, as indicated in the throne speech, clearly says that we are caring, that we are ready to move, that we are ready to build on the programs which we have already introduced, that we are ready to not only do that but to take a look at the social assistance program in itself to see improvements, in a fundamental way, which can be achieved.
Over the years our record demonstrates a commitment for helping those less fortunate. I have noted just some of the accomplishments from the Ministry of Community and Social Services since 1985. There are three broad issues, such as --
Mr Reycraft: Tell us what they are.
Mr Offer: I have been asked to tell you what they are. One type of issue is major improvements in the family benefits allowance and the general welfare assistance benefits. A second deals with the appointment of the independent public review under George Thomson, which I will deal with in the future; and third, the expansion of employment programs for social assistance recipients.
If I might go back to the improvements which we have announced in the Family Benefits Act and the General Welfare Assistance Act, yes, they are improvements in terms of financial assistance over the years, and that is important, because the needs continue, the needs grow, the demands continue and the obligation and responsibility on government continues to grow. It is important that the government be there to respond, and let it be said, and make no mistake about it, that the record of this government shows that it has been there to respond, it has improved the programs, it has conducted a study in terms of a fundamental change to social assistance.
I see I have a few seconds left, and in terms of the adjournment I will be asking to continue tomorrow, but I just take a look from January 1986. There was an announcement of $81.6 million as a general rate increase of four percent, special increases in terms of winter clothing and seven per cent on basic allowances earmarked for children.
In September 1986 a further $25 million was announced in terms of special improvements in the shelter subsidy program.
I see that you are motioning my attention to the clock, Mr Speaker.
On motion by Mr Offer, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1801.