The House met at 1330.
Mr Pouliot: I would like to inform the House of a situation in the riding of Lake Nipigon, more specifically the very small and isolated reserve of Pic Mobert located a few kilometres west of White River, where 225 people were evacuated yesterday due to flooding.
I understand from the Ministry of Natural Resources that free camping space has been made available for the residents at White Lake Provincial Park. Chief Stan Sabourin informs me today that there are 33 families in White Lake Provincial Park, 14 elders are lodged in the White River Continental Motel and three elders are presently in hospital.
Several people have complained of diarrhoea and sick stomach. In fact, the chief also stated that two dogs which drank the water yesterday died; it had to be contaminated.
The Ministry of Natural Resources in Wawa informs us that it is monitoring the situation with the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Thunder Bay is sending two staff members to monitor the situation.
The chief also stated that he had contacted Ontario today for financial assistance and was denied.
Mr Pope: I think it is important to note that the budget gives the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the government of Ontario a once-a-year opportunity to make a statement as to the financial state of affairs of the provincial government and some comment on the economy of the province.
In order for people to understand the budget, they should be assured of sound and consistently applied, generally accepted accounting principles. The Treasurer is aware, as others are now becoming aware, that in fact over $823 million was preflowed by this government in March of this year on account of obligations of this government for the financial year 1989-90, but this money was put into the expenditures of the 1988-89 fiscal year and not the 1989-90 fiscal year. The effect of this is to increase expenditures from $35. I billion in 1988-89 to $38.5 billion in 1989-90; not a seven per cent increase in expenditures, as the Treasurer has said, but 10 per cent.
In fact, in the face of a situation where we are getting more tax revenues in this province than ever before in the hands of the provincial government, more expansion of services in some sectors in the hands of the provincial government, the deficit position of this government is not improving. The deficit last year was $700 million. If you take into account generally accepted accounting principles, this year it is over $1 billion. The situation is worse.
Mr Ballinger: Later this afternoon I will be introducing a private member’s bill, the Avian Emblem Act, a bill to adopt the common loon, Gavia immer, as Ontario’s official bird. In a contest sponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources, more than 5,000 children aged nine to 11 wrote about the birds they thought would best represent this great province of ours. By an overwhelming margin, their choice was the common loon.
The winning entry was by Matthew Conroy of Walden, Ontario. Matthew is a student at George Vanier School in the nearby town of Lively, just west of Sudbury, in the riding of Nickel Belt. His eloquent explanation of the loon’s unique attributes won him top honours in the contest for best entry. In his winning submission he said: “I looked up some interesting things about loons that would make it perfect for Ontario’s official bird. It is the most ancient of Canadian birds. The loon is deliberately designed as a fish-catching machine and Ontario has lots of lakes and fish.”
Matthew concluded his submission by adding the loon “could be killed by acid rain, since the pollution kills the fish that they eat. Maybe if we use the loon as our bird, it will help fight the pollution.”
I think Matthew’s entry aptly describes the reasons for singling out this species in the rationale behind the motion put forward in the bill. Once the loon is adopted as Ontario’s avian emblem, all provinces in Canada will have official birds.
Mr Wildman: I want to bring to the attention of the House the situation at the Hornepayne Community Hospital. That hospital cannot now accommodate deliveries, births, because of a shortage of nurses. The mothers-to-be have to travel a few days before their due dates to Hearst, at least 75 miles away, if not to Thunder Bay or another centre, to deliver their children. The infants then must be cared for during the days at the hospital and the mother is away from her family.
The Ministry of Northern Development is funding a new hospital facility for Hornepayne, a much needed one, one for which we have been working for some time. This new facility will have a delivery room, but unless the Ministry of Health recognizes that the nursing shortage is not just a Toronto phenomenon but one that affects even very small communities like Hornepayne, we are not going to be able to staff the delivery room, so people will not be able to use it. Mothers will continue to have to travel outside of the community at great inconvenience to them and their families, despite the fact that there will be a new, shiny facility available, with state-of-the-art equipment, that could be used but would be vacant.
It would be a shame if the ministry could not allow the deliveries to take place in Hornepayne because of a shortage of nurses.
Mr McCague: I am sure the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek) will have noted in today’s Toronto Sun the column by Richard Rohmer, one of my constituents, in which he talks about the urgency of housing in Toronto and in particular the development of the Downsview lands. He points out that the federal member is all in favour of it. He points out that Alan Redway, the new and knowledgeable Minister of State (Housing), should be in favour of it, and he also suggests that our Minister of Housing should be fully behind the project.
I am particularly interested in this because there is a tremendous amount of traffic on Highway 400, which I have to use periodically. I think if there was 25 per cent or 50 per cent of affordable housing in this general area, it would keep some of the traffic off the highways, because it is right at the end of the subway.
I urge the Minister of Housing to work with her federal counterparts to look towards the development of those lands for affordable housing.
EASTER SEAL RUN/WALKATHON
Mr Beer: It is a pleasure for me to remind the House that this Sunday, 28 May, is the 13th annual Persechini/Easter Seal 10K Run/ Walkathon for Easter Seals in Newmarket. Since its inception, over $500,000 has been raised for Easter Seals, and this year’s target is between $60,000 and $70,000.
With us today in the east gallery is Joe Persechini, the founder of the run, and this year’s co-chairman, David Blackwell, program manager of Newmarket’s Rogers cable station. I think we should give them a warm welcome here to the House. Later today, they will be presenting these handsome running shoes to Ontario’s top jogger, the Premier (Mr Peterson).
I urge everyone in the greater Toronto area to come to Newmarket on Sunday morning at 9:30 am, at the old Davis Tannery to help Timmy and Tammy and Joe and Dave make this the best run ever.
Mr Reville: The Wandering Spirit Survival School in Riverdale is the only native way school in Toronto. The program includes regular school subjects, plus native culture and Ojibway language classes.
The school has a parent council called the Ahkinomagai Kemik Education Council. Four years ago, the Ministry of Education agreed to provide three years of funding to help build the parent council, yet the funding for the third and final year, 1988-89, did not arrive.
After a complicated runaround, the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) met with Ahkinomagai last September and in a recent, undated letter the ministry has offered not the $80,000 originally expected, nor the $53,000 under more recent negotiations, but $25,000. Is that the value of the ministry’s commitment to native way education or is this just one more example of white justice?
Mr Ruprecht: I rise to ask for unanimous consent to speak on the Federal Republic of Germany Day.
The Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY DAY
Mr Ruprecht: On behalf of the government of Ontario, I rise for the purpose of recognizing an important event that took place on this day 40 years ago -- 23 May 1949, to be correct -- the establishment of a free and democratic republic in the western part of Germany. Due to the division of Europe, which we and all Europeans hope will be overcome one day, the Federal Republic of Germany can, until now, offer freedom and justice only to Germans living in the western part of the country.
The promulgation of the federal Constitution on 23 May 1949 is of great historic significance, as this date marks the inclusion of Germany in the community of free and democratic nations. Since then, the Federal Republic of Germany has become a trusted friend and ally of Canada and the other nations of the free world. It has grown to be one of the most important trading nations of this planet and, as such, has become a reliable trading partner of Canada. On many occasions it has shown that it is a committed supporter of democratic and civil rights all over the world.
Of course, we recognize the important contributions German Canadians have made to the cultural and economic development of Ontario for more than 300 years. Our province has become enriched because German compatriots have brought with them their love of music, art and architecture. Moreover, they have contributed to our flourishing economy by bringing with them their sense of accuracy and punctuality in working, as well as their experience with an excellent system of professional training. We have also profited greatly from the participation of German Canadians in all the parts of our cultural, professional and public life.
In appreciation of this contribution and in recognition of the close bond of friendship that unites the people of Ontario, Canada and the German nation, the government of Ontario has proclaimed 23 May 1989 as the Federal Republic of Germany Day.
I am delighted to introduce to the House the consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr von Hassell, and 15 presidents of German-Canadian organizations.
[Remarks in German]
Mr Farnan: On behalf of the Ontario New Democratic Party, I welcome this opportunity to extend our best wishes on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since its founding, the German nation has developed into one of the most stable democracies in the world and is a valued friend and ally of the community of free nations. This 40th anniversary celebration is meaningful and is a joyous reminder of the ability of a nation’s people to recover in spite of adversity and to embrace and protect the ideals of democracy.
Cambridge, like so many other communities across Canada, is proud of our multicultural makeup and grateful for the presence and contribution to our community life of the German Club of Cambridge. Waterloo county has benefited significantly from the skills, talents, work ethic and zest for life the German immigrants have contributed.
Indeed, our region recognizes this influence by means of our annual Oktoberfest celebration and I would like to take this opportunity to invite all members of the House to visit Waterloo county to experience for themselves the warmth of Canadian hospitality, German style, at any time of the year.
As in the Waterloo region, the same is true of Ontario and Canada. The German community has contributed tremendously to the growth and development of Canada, and the influence of Canadians of German origin can be seen across the country, enhancing and enriching our multicultural mosaic. In addition to being involved in all aspects of Canada’s labour, business and cultural sectors, the German community has worked to preserve its unique heritage, encouraging the continuance of centuries of customs and traditions by passing them along from one generation to another.
Again, on behalf of the Ontario New Democratic Party, please allow me to add our very best wishes on this occasion, the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Mr Brandt: On behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus, it is my pleasure to join with my colleagues from the other two parties in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Much has been achieved since 1949. After the devastation of the Second World War, West Germans began the task of reconstruction. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, an economic miracle took place over the next 10 years and a prosperous society was reborn. However, there remains regret over the division of Germany and the continued separation of the German people.
There are presently more than 500,000 people of German descent living here in our own province. In fact, they make up the third-largest ethnic group in Ontario and have made enormous contributions to our province. One of the most visible and enjoyable aspects of German culture, already commented upon by my friend the member for Cambridge (Mr Farnan), is the annual Oktoberfest celebration in the Kitchener-Cambridge area which attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Today we join all Ontarians of German descent in commemorating this important anniversary and take the opportunity to pay tribute to the people of West Germany for their tremendous efforts in building a free and open democratic society.
Germany has become a leading industrial nation and a close and important trading partner of both Ontario and Canada. It is my wish that the next 40 years prove to be equally successful for the Federal Republic of Germany, and may our Canadian-German relations continue to strengthen in the months and years ahead.
My very best wishes and congratulations.
Hon Mr Kerrio: I rise to ask unanimous consent to give notice of the passing of Bill Foster.
WILLIAM T. FOSTER
Hon Mr Kerrio: I regret to inform the House that William Foster, the chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto and Region conservation Authority and Deputy Minister of Natural Resources from 1981 to 1983, passed away on Saturday here in Toronto. Bill Foster was a dedicated conservationist and an innovative manager. He leaves an impressive legacy of accomplishment in the resource management field.
Bill joined the Ministry of Natural Resources as a forester in 1948, when the ministry was the Department of Lands and Forests. As head of the ministry’s forest protection branch and provincial air service during the 1960s, Bill introduced many important features of our modern forest fire protection system. These include aircraft surveillance, water bombers, a fire danger rating system and a fire control training program.
In 1971-72, Bill was implementation director for organizing the new Ministry of Natural Resources, which replaced the Department of Lands and Forests. In 1972, he was named the Ministry of Natural Resources assistant deputy minister, southern Ontario, a post he held for eight years. During his term as deputy minister, the ministry established forest management agreements between the province and the forest companies, implemented the system of district land use guidelines and laid the groundwork for our current approach of integrated resource management.
On a national level, through the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers, Bill helped develop a national air tanker fleet for forest protection. He was also active in establishing the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg.
After retiring from the ministry, he became chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. There Bill pursued the authority’s plan for conserving green space in urbanized areas. He also took an active interest in the city’s waterfront planning.
Bill was most co-operative when I came in as the Minister of Natural Resources, and in a very personal way showed me the commitment that he had to the setting aside of areas that would be of great interest to future generations. I was very pleased to have had personal involvement with Bill.
Conservation in Ontario has lost a dear friend in Bill Foster. I express the condolences of my ministry as well as my personal sympathy to his wife, Vivian, and their three children.
Mr Wildman: On behalf of our party, I would like to express our condolences to Mrs Foster, her children and Bill’s grandchildren on the passing of the chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
When I was first elected, I came to know Mr Foster, who at that time was serving in his position as assistant deputy minister for southern Ontario. As a northern member, of course, I had less to do with him than I did with his colleague for the north, but I always found Mr Foster, as well as his other colleagues, to be very forthright and helpful to new members in serving their constituents, particularly in those parts of the province that are directly involved with resource development and conservation.
I found Mr Foster to be forthright and helpful, particularly in estimates debates, when we used to do estimates around this place, and when he was given the opportunity to express his views on ministry programs and ways to respond to the need to develop our resources in a sensible and self-sustaining way. As has been indicated by the minister, Mr Foster had a long, distinguished career with the Ministry of Natural Resources and its predecessors the Department of Lands and Forests. Those of us from the Sault Ste Marie area owe him a great debt for his development of the fire protection service and aviation service, which is now centred in the Sault, when he was serving in the forest protection branch.
When Mr Foster succeeded Dr Reynolds as deputy minister, he served with distinction in a time of great change in regard to the management of the forest resource in Ontario; the change to the forest management agreements and the emphasis on regeneration and trying to catch up on the backlog that we have experienced in this province for failing to manage our resources as well as we should have over the past years.
After his retirement, as was indicated, Mr Foster served with the conservation authority and was very concerned with preserving green space. He was recently most concerned about inadequate controls on urban growth in this region, and was quoted recently as saying that he felt there were three to four years left to save the Oakridge moraine, which he believed was threatened by urban development.
Certainly, it would be a great tribute to Mr Foster and his work over the years in the service of the people of Ontario if this Legislature and the government of Ontario were to recognize the need for proper green-space conservation in the Metropolitan Toronto area.
Again, on behalf of our party, I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to Mr Foster’s wife, Vivian, his children and grandchildren, and to acknowledge the great debt the people of Ontario have to this public servant.
Mr Pope: First, I would like to thank the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr Pollock) for allowing me to rise and give the tribute on behalf of our party. It is tough to say goodbye to a friend. Bill Foster had been appointed Deputy Minister of Natural Resources a few months before I arrived on the scene as Minister of Natural Resources. But, as a member of cabinet, I remember the positive response his appointment as deputy minister received from the staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources, who felt that one of their own was now their deputy minister.
Bill Foster, upon becoming deputy minister, almost immediately was embroiled in a problem with respect to parks policy and the Provincial Parks Council. It was a very political issue fought on a very political level and Bill Foster was very worried and frustrated by it. but as we later came to expect of Bill Foster, he worked through it. As a result of his hard work we had a new parks policy announced in Ontario that created 154 new parks and these parks were generally acceptable to all interests.
He was the author of the multiple-use concept, which invaded virtually every aspect of Ministry of Natural Resources policy. He was really the architect of a rapidly expanding reforestation program that did start to catch upon the backlog. He was the author of the community fisheries involvement program. He, along with Mike Klugman, created the short-term and long-term work programs, in concert with the federal government, which allowed for retraining and for some financial assistance to over 7,000 laid-off resource workers on an annual basis in 1982-83.
Through his hard work, Bill Foster created a whole new system of nonlegalistic, nonformal public consultations, whether it was with the strategic land-use planning process or forest management agreements, with advertised open houses and public forums being held throughout the province. He was responsible for Ontario obtaining the CL-215 water bombers. Many other initiatives that the government of the day took credit for were all the result of the hard work, commitment and dedication of Bill Foster.
I will miss the 7 am meetings. I miss the question: “What does ‘no’ mean?” I miss the discussions about what we used to call “the other level,” namely political considerations that must play a role in every government decision. And I miss Vivian’s chocolate-chip cookies. But most of all, Grandpa Bill, Ontario will miss you.
The Speaker: I will, of course, when the official Hansard is printed, make certain that a copy is received by Mrs Foster so that your words of sympathy are received.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
FUNDING OF SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES
Hon Mr Sweeney: About two months ago I believe the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) asked me what the two priorities of my ministry were for the coming fiscal year. I indicated that they were social assistance reform and beginning to deal with the community wage problem. I announced the one last Thursday.
Our government is committed to strengthening and improving the quality of services delivered by community-based social agencies.
Low wages contribute to high staff turnover which threatens the stability, continuity and effectiveness of these important community services. I am committed to helping those workers who are among the lowest paid in the social service system.
Effective this September we will improve the wages of more than 15,000 workers in our community agencies.
The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), in his recent budget, earmarked funding for social service employees who are working directly with children, adults and families in our communities. In support of their vital roles I am announcing the following initiative.
We will target $88.8 million on an annual basis in new resources to improve the rates for visiting homemakers and increase the incomes of workers who assist people with developmental disabilities, workers providing attendant care to people with severe physical disabilities, community staff working with young offenders and individuals who assist victims of family violence.
My ministry will direct this additional funding to support agencies where wages are lowest, or staffing resources need supplementation.
Our efforts will be concentrated on front-line workers.
This additional funding will allow community agencies to retain experienced employees and, as a result, these agencies should be able to deliver their essential services more effectively.
We are developing a process and framework for the equitable distribution of funds in each service sector. To achieve this it is critical to actively engage provincial and community organizations in planning.
Increasing the compensation level for visiting homemakers will be achieved through a rate reform process, building on the recommendations of the interministerial advisory committee on visiting homemakers.
Community agencies working with young offenders will receive funds to hire additional staff and to improve salaries.
Increased compensation will make community agency jobs more attractive to those students considering career opportunities.
We are well aware that these funds do not address all of the compensation issues that we have in our community agencies. However, this is a major step in a process that we began three years ago.
It is a continuing process.
We will maintain the momentum to continue our government’s investment in the stability and the expansion of Ontario’s community social services.
FUNDING OF SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES
Mr Allen: One is tempted to claim two victories within two weeks. Quite clearly, what the minister says with respect to moving in the right direction is certainly true of this statement. But I want to reserve any undeserved accolades until I can work out a little bit of the mathematics and see exactly how this is spread across a very important field of community services which touches, as the minister indicated, everything from correctional officers to visiting homemakers to developmental centre community living attendant care workers.
The gap that has existed in many of those instances between the work they perform, the compensation they get and the compensation they get in equivalent government ministries, has come pretty close to about $5,000 on the average in many of the schedules of compensation, so there is a lot of ground to be made up.
What concerns me most of all about the announcement, I think, is that the ministry has a habit now of plunging into this issue every three or four years with a major grant announcement to top things up for the community workers, and then things sort of slide back into the old game plan again. We begin to lose ground all over again: we find ourselves in a crisis with homemakers, the Red Cross or the Victorian Order of Nurses, problems escalate and then we do it all over again.
Surely the minister and the government need to be addressing the whole question of the systematic way in which collective bargaining with the voluntary sector takes place. The minister is a hidden member of the bargaining team in the community sector, but he is a direct member when it comes to the government agencies, and the result is there are two different collective bargaining regimes that exist there and that is what keeps generating the big gap.
So what I would like to hear from the minister at some point in time on this very subject -- and perhaps from other members of the government, like the Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara), who would also be involved -- is some resolution of the collective bargaining impasse which keeps on generating this gap that creeps up on us after we have made a big effort to close it.
Some thanks to the minister for moving in the right direction -- let me go back to my calculator and see how he has made out -- and will he please tackle the other problem, because it is the basic one that generates this problem for us.
Mrs Cunningham: Once again, we are in a position to say congratulations and we hope it will make a real difference. I am not one to say that throwing money at problems solves them, but I think in this instance we have in fact picked a good one in which to increase wages. In my very quick mathematics, people out there working in the profession -- and I am now talking about homemakers and people who work in special agencies with the developmentally handicapped, people who are working with young people who have been in difficulty with the court system -- were probably looking off the top at some $5,000 improvement to base salaries, and I hope that is exactly where it goes.
The minister talked about something that is very important to the workers out there, “Our efforts will be concentrated on front-line workers.” That is not to say we do not understand that we have to improve ratios at the same time. I think our position really is that we hope the minister will communicate with the agencies and with the staff who are working in the field, so that this program can be implemented so it helps the people we are there to assist, and that is young people and their families.
Second, as I said before, my job is to keep an eye on how the process moves along and the results of the implementation. We will be looking at more people going into the colleges to get proper training, we will be looking at people who work in that field staying in it and staying with the agencies, so that we can have some continuity, and we will also be looking at the families so they can report back and say, “Yes, it has made a difference.” We will be watching carefully and we thank the minister for his efforts with regard to special families and special children.
Mr Jackson: I wish to respond to the minister’s brief announcement as well, because my phone has been ringing all weekend with the implications for social services in the Burlington and Halton area.
Unfortunately, we have a government whose theme is very clearly that it will take first and then hand out a smaller portion, a few days subsequent to a budget. The fact of the matter is that the VON services in Burlington and Halton alone will be charged an additional $40,000 as a direct result of the payroll tax increase. The Red Cross has to come up with an additional $15,000. Halton Helping Hands, a group that has never had to cope with these kinds of budgetary deficits, is now going to be driven into a deficit position, because of the five types of taxes that have been put on those groups that deliver their services to seniors and shut-ins in the Halton region, and specifically in Burlington, because they are so dependent on their automobiles.
The fact of the matter is that announcements like these today should be put in clear perspective about the impact they have on the bottom-line operation of these services in a community. That is a Band-Aid approach to a serious underfunding problem that is occurring all too frequently with social services, not only in Burlington but across this province.
The Speaker: Order.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Reville: I return with regret to the question that has been bothering people over the weekend, ever since the news broke on Thursday about the Solicitor General’s involvement. I say “with regret,” because the questioning in the Legislature and outside afforded the Solicitor General a number of opportunities to indicate that she realized she had made an error in judgement, but she did not take advantage of those opportunities.
She said in response to one of my questions, “I went strictly to make sure and to reassure that these accusations were unfounded, as I expected they would be and as indeed they were.” That does not explain why the Solicitor General made the telephone call some two hours later, and I wonder if she would explain that to the Legislature now.
Hon Mrs Smith: Yes, I wish to do that. As the member has said, I had been misled in the early instance. When I received a second phone call, I certainly was, by this point, not happy with the person by whom I had been misled. Unfortunately, I had answered the phone and had to speak to her. I simply wanted to record exactly what I said to her, so that if the matter were ever questioned, it would be there available for anyone to see.
That is all I did, repeat my conversation, that the person who had previously misled me had indeed phoned back, had indeed suggested she might be laying complaints. I had told her to do so but that she would do it independently on her own. I had no interest and was no part of it. This is what I recorded.
Mr B. Rae: I share with my colleague the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville), and I am sure many other members, a very troubled sense about not only what the Solicitor General did, but also her response on Thursday. She has been given many opportunities to reflect on the appropriateness of her conduct and she has chosen to simply say that she did what she had to do and has not indicated in any way that she feels she has acted inappropriately.
I wonder if the Solicitor General would comment or perhaps reflect on events which took place in this province some 10 years ago, events which also took place federally some 10 years ago, where there was extensive public discussion of the question of contact by various ministers of the crown with members of the judiciary and also with crown attorneys who were involved in the prosecution of a particular case.
In each one of those instances --
The Speaker: Question.
Mr B. Rae: -- whether it was the conduct of Mr Drury, whether it was the conduct of Mr Ouellet, whether it was the conduct of Mr Munro, who resigned and whose resignation was accepted, or whether it was the conduct of Mr Kerr, whose resignation was offered, initially refused and then accepted by the then Premier, Mr Davis -- the question was very clear: Conflict of interest between a minister’s public obligations and private sentiments with regard to a particular case and the question of involvement with the --
The Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr B. Rae: If I may, sir.
The Speaker: Please put it.
Mr B. Rae: As Leader of the Opposition, I will put my question. My question specifically to the minister is this: Has she had a chance since Thursday to reflect on the appropriateness of her presence in a police station in a case involving a personal friend?
Hon Mrs Smith: I will repeat that I received a call in the middle of the night, in which the caller in fact said to me that she was in very dire distress over the safety of her brother. I wanted, in an open and forthright way, to respond and reassure her and to do it in such a way that there were witnesses to the fact that I had in no way involved myself in the case, which I in no way did.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the minister does not understand that simply by being there, simply by stating what she was there for and why she was there, and by making a further phone call two hours later -- does she not realize that in doing each of those things, in fact, she was involving herself in the case and she did make an impression on the people who were involved in the case, so that they made a report to that effect? Does she not therefore realize that her conduct as Solicitor General for this province, in involving herself in a private matter, was completely and utterly inappropriate?
Hon Mrs Smith: I could repeat again that I went up. I said nothing whatsoever about the case. I assured the police who where present that I wanted no involvement in the case whatsoever. They were reassured, and that is absolutely all. The police were not alarmed in any way. They laid charges, as they had planned. The young man has had his case set down, I believe, but I inquired about the case neither then nor after.
Mr B. Rae: It is a little like saying, “I went to the ball game but didn’t watch.” It does not make sense.
The Speaker: Your question is to which minister?
EMPLOYER HEALTH LEVY
Mr B. Rae: My question is to the Treasurer. Last night on Global television, the Treasurer said that for businesses that presently pay Ontario health insurance plan premiums, the amount of money committed is almost exactly the same with the payroll tax. Is that also the position the Treasurer is taking with respect to the amount of payroll tax being paid by universities, by boards of education and by our municipalities?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Some of the organizations the honourable member refers to pay 100 per cent of the present OHIP premiums and some pay only a part. Naturally, the organizations that pay only part of the premium will be paying more upon payment of the two per cent employer health levy.
Mr B. Rae: I would like to give the Treasurer some estimates of how much some of these public bodies, supported by public tax dollars, will in fact be spending.
At the University of Toronto the new payroll tax will add an additional $4.6 million over what it currently pays. At the University of Ottawa the OHIP costs will jump eightfold, from $270,000 to an additional $2.1 million. That is just an example of two universities that are going to be asked to pay this much extra.
I would like to ask the Treasurer: Just what is the logic of introducing a tax on many large, publicly supported employers, who get their money from the Ontario government? What is the logic of giving to them with one hand, then taking away with the other, and forcing them to cut back on other services while he introduces this new tax?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Mr Speaker, I think you are aware that it is one of my duties each fall to announce to the Legislature the level of support for all of these transfer agencies. Obviously, when this money is announced, let’s say the responsibilities of the agencies will be taken into consideration, and I hope that the universities and other transfer agencies will see that this announcement will properly respond to that requirement.
I think we also have to be aware that all of the people working at universities have the advantage of access to our medicare system and the universities will be paying the same share as any other employers. The fact that their budget dates do not correspond in any precise way with our own is something that will have to be taken into consideration at the same time.
Mr B. Rae: if the Treasurer is saying that he is guaranteeing in this House that no university, board of education, hospital or municipality will end up suffering as a result of the new payroll tax, let him stand up and say in the House that that is the kind of guarantee.
Can the Treasurer guarantee that the over $100 million that he is exacting as tribute from all of these publicly supported bodies will in fact be rebated to those institutions so that we do not have more hospital cutbacks, more difficulties in our universities and higher property tax forced on us because of what municipalities are going through?
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon R. F. Nixon: The short answer is no. The honourable member may want some additional information. He will be aware that this year the grants for the partners in these responsibilities, including the colleges, universities, municipalities, school boards, hospitals and so on, are substantial, in the case of universities 7.5 per cent or a bit more.
Mr D. S. Cooke: How much are you taking back? You give seven per cent and take two per cent back.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I have already indicated to the honourable member who is interrupting, if he was listening, that in the grants that are announced year by year, all of these matters will have to be taken into consideration. But in response to the honourable member’s question, the answer is no.
Mr Brandt: Before I ask my first question, I wonder if we could get some clarification from the government House leader as to whether the Premier (Mr Peterson) is expected to be here this afternoon so that we can set up the agenda for our questions.
Hon Mr Conway: As I have indicated in a note to the House leader for the third party, the Premier will not be at question period today.
Mr Brandt: I want to raise my first question with the Chairman of Management Board. I would like to remind the Chairman of Management Board that back in 1986, when he served in the position of Minister of Health, he made a commitment that there would be more than 4,000 new hospital beds constructed in Ontario at a cost of some $850 million. We now have the report of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy which indicates that this in fact could be the wrong way to go in relation to the construction of those hospital beds.
I wonder if the Chairman of Management Board could advise this House whether he stands by his original commitment of 1986 for the construction of more than 4,000 hospital beds or whether he has a changed position relative to the report of the Premier’s health council which indicates that they are not needed.
Hon Mr Elston: The report has just been made public and obviously is part of the overall government policy development. It will be reviewed in appropriate fashion by cabinet.
Mr Brandt: I might remind the minister that back in 1986 he indicated that there was a two-year wait for chronic care. He also pointed out some of the extremely astonishing numbers with respect to the increased percentage of elderly in our population and said that there would be a very critical need for the expansion of the number of beds that he identified in 1986, if not beds over and above the amount he outlined at that time.
I wonder if the minister could indicate whether he intends to keep that commitment as it relates to the construction of those particular beds. As he served previously in that ministry and is now the holder of the purse-strings of the province to a certain extent, what is it his intention to do with respect to hospital construction?
Hon Mr Elston: I, along with my cabinet colleagues, will consider in due course the report which has just been made available. As the member has indicated, at particular times the needs were expressed by me in the sense of waiting lists and otherwise.
Since 1986, it is remarkable to note the increase in activity in community services and the activities being carried on between the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) currently and the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney), and in relationship to those, the support role played by the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr Mancini) and the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs Wilson). It has become clear that the time to examine is now.
In light of this report and otherwise, we will be looking at all of the questions which are raised as a result of the filing of the report. It is a very good report. There is a lot of excellent consideration being given by people who have a very clear interest and a new perspective on the way things are being done.
From my point of view, I am very pleased to be able to participate in the examination of all of the funding issues, as all of my cabinet colleagues do when we come to making decisions with respect to delivery of programs in the province.
Mr Brandt: I gather the message is that the minister is going to break his commitment, because he has indicated that he now has a new revelation with respect to the future for hospitals in this province.
I would like to remind the minister that back in 1986 on 15 August, when he was speaking as Minister of Health, he made a commitment for some 201 chronic care beds and 105 acute care beds to the region of Durham; some 380 acute and 200 chronic care beds to Peel; 111 chronic care beds to Chedoke McMaster Hospitals; 40 chronic care beds to Willett Hospital; 175 acute and 156 chronic care beds to Halton; a total of 176 new chronic care beds for the north, and some 300 beds for the Ottawa regional area.
I would like to ask the minister, recognizing if I might that these communities have gone out on fund-raising drives to raise the necessary supplementary funding required in order to construct these particular facilities whether he is now saying that those efforts are for naught, that they are wasted. What are these communities to do, as he has now broken his commitment?
Hon Mr Elston: I have not broken my commitment. The member should know that what we are asking in this particular government is that people actually develop a much stronger partnership and delivery of care and services, not only in the community but also with respect to community hospitals.
I can tell the honourable gentleman that the report which is made from a group of people with a perspective expressed well in the statement by Mr Aitken and otherwise allows us to examine the manner in which we deliver services to the population in the province. From that point of view, I think we are looking at providing first-rate care and good-quality care to the people of Ontario.
That is our commitment. It is the commitment of the current Minister of Health and it is the commitment of the current Minister of Community and Social Services. This report is another basis upon which we can make informed decisions with respect to delivery of services, whether they be in hospitals, communities or otherwise.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Runciman: My question is to the Solicitor General. Most of us on this side of the House are mystified and somewhat alarmed about the Solicitor General’s reaction to the events in Lucan that were revealed last week. When we take a look at the London Free Press, the minister is quoted on the weekend as saying that she denied making an error in judgement: “In retrospect, I don’t think I’d do anything differently.”
That is an amazing response. When asked about this last week, the Premier (Mr Peterson) said that after seeing the OPP report, he agonized over whether or not to remove the minister from her responsibilities. Is the minister suggesting that the Premier has not discussed the results of the OPP report with her? How can she continue to stand in this House and say she did nothing wrong? How could she say in her own community that she would do the same thing again?
Hon Mrs Smith: I do not know what the particular report is that the member for Leeds-Grenville has, but if he had been watching television on Thursday he would have heard my response, which at the time was that indeed I believed I had done nothing wrong. I acted under difficult circumstances, but I would undoubtedly weigh into the matter the grief I had caused the Premier -- those were the words I used -- and probably would not go out again.
Mr Runciman: This whole business reeks of favouritism and special treatment, not only in respect to the minister’s friends and the friends of the Liberal Party of Ontario, but also in respect to the treatment by the Premier of the province of this particular minister, this wife of Don Smith, the chief fund-raiser of the Liberal Party, the former president of the Liberal Party of Ontario. Those are the facts.
Does the minister not appreciate the messages that her conduct and actions and her leader’s conduct and actions are sending out the people of this province? Will she not do the right thing and submit her resignation?
Hon Mrs Smith: The answer is no.
Mr Runciman: The minister does not want to deal with that very serious question and request. I will take a different tack. This minister has on numerous occasions, as has her leader, spoken about policy in reference to the police in this province. We have seen a recommendation of the Race Relations and Policing Task Force that also calls for even stronger views in respect to the investigation of police officers charged with serious offences.
Does the minister, I assume, continue to support that policy? If indeed she does, how can she advocate an investigation of her, the results of which have been kept secret? it is a totally different standard for her from the one that she is putting in place for the cops on the beat. How can she support that? How can she stand in the House and say that is all right?
Hon Mrs Smith: The report was ordered by the Premier to be doubly certain for political reasons. He has probably satisfied himself thoroughly that there was absolutely nothing there, so he did not ask for my resignation.
The Speaker: Order. New question, the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr B. Rae: I would ask the minister to clearly answer this question. Is she now admitting that she made a mistake, yes or no?
Hon Mrs Smith: The answer is simple; the answer is no. I said I did not and I have remained with that. I said I have discomfited the president -- the Premier.
Mr B. Rae: He is not yet the president.
I would like to ask the minister this simple question. Since she is not prepared to admit that she made a mistake -- and personally I cannot believe my ears when I hear the minister saying that -- I will then ask the minister this question: What happens to those thousands of other people out there who do not know the minister’s phone number, who do not know the minister’s family and who feel they are being abused, potentially possibly, or they do not belong to the same country club or whatever it may be and feel they are being abused?
I want to ask the minister quite directly, what is the standard of conduct here that we are applying? What happens to all those people who do not know the Solicitor General and who cannot get in touch with her at two o’clock in the morning?
Hon Mrs Smith: The member will be interested to know that as of today my phone number is in the phone book with “MPP” beside it for anyone to phone. I very much question whether I would have done much different if it had been someone else’s child in the same distress.
Mr Pope: I cannot believe that. I just cannot believe that answer.
Mr Pope: I have a question for the Treasurer. Hidden deep in page 59 of the budget statement are two numbers with respect to advance payments: the first with respect to advance payments on capital account of $410 million, the second to advance payments on municipal affairs in the amount of $413 million.
Will the Treasurer confirm that on 30 March and 31 March, with respect to the 1989-90 fiscal year, one day before that fiscal year started he had automatically deposited by automatic deposit system in the accounts of municipalities across this province $413 million on account of 1989-90 obligations of this government?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I think it is appropriate that the payment was made as soon as it possibly could have been, because it was as a result of revenues coming from the government of Canada that had not been predicted by it or expected by us. It seems to me that, rather than simply putting it in the sock, so to speak, the sooner I could pay it to the municipalities and the school boards on account of their requirements the better.
The honourable member will be aware that similar advance payments have been listed for this particular year for next year. Although they do not exactly balance in number, the concept is the same: that the money should be paid when the money is available. I believe that was a considerable benefit to school boards and municipalities.
Mr Pope: And it just happened that this miraculous occurrence was on the last day of the fiscal year just passed. It just happened that it was on 31 March, the last possible day, that $413 million to municipal transfers and $410 million in capital advances were made. It just happened that it was the last possible day.
Will the Treasurer admit that the effect of this transfer is that in fact we have a 10 per cent increase in expenditures in 1989-90 over 1988-89, a 10 per cent increase in expenditures in reality, from $35.1 billion to $38.5 billion, and in reality the deficit position of this province is deteriorating at the very time when he is getting more revenue than ever before?
Hon R. F. Nixon: The budget critic for the third party has as one of his responsibilities, I suppose, to make the budget look different from what it is. But in fact the numbers are presented here, put forward by the officials of the Treasury, that the expenditure increase is approximately seven per cent. As far as the honourable member is concerned, he will know that advance payments have been made well back into the dim and distant history of the Progressive Conservative days.
Mr Neumann: My question is for the Minister of Culture and Communications. I recently heard that the Canada Development Investment Corp has purchased majority interest in two Canadian textbook publishing firms from Gulf and Western (Canada) Ltd. I am speaking specifically about Ginn and Co and GLC Publishers Ltd. Given the importance of textbook publishing to Canadian culture, would the minister indicate how this purchase relates to the Baie Comeau policy announced in 1985?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: In July 1985, the then and now minister, Marcel Masse, made an announcement indicating what the cultural policy would be, reflective of the Investment Canada Act, on book publishing and distribution. In effect, the statement indicated that Canadians would like to own and control this particular lucrative sector and that Mr Masse would be monitoring any indirect acquisitions or takeovers from foreign investors.
This was not to say that he was not encouraging foreign investment, but that 51 per cent of any indirect takeovers or acquisitions should be Canadian-owned and Canadian-controlled. The recent purchase by the Canada Development Investment Corp is a reflection of that policy, and we, as a province which houses many of the important partners in book publishing and distribution, welcome Mr Masse’s action.
Mr Neumann: Now that the Canada Development Investment Corp has controlling interest in these companies, there may be some concern over the future of the textbook publishing industry in Canada. Does the minister know whether the federal government intends to manage and operate the publishing company itself?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: It is my understanding, since Gulf and Western was unable to find a purchaser, that the federal government felt obliged to purchase, for an interim period, both of those companies. What it will do now, I understand, will be to find appropriate purchasers. Again we, as a province that has much to benefit from offering a home to both Ginn and GLC through other publishers, are currently negotiating and offering our advice to Mr Masse as to the infrastructure and the terms and conditions of any partnership which might follow. I anticipate that Mr Masse and CDIC would welcome the opportunity of selling both of those particular acquisitions.
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services on the subject of the child care cost deduction he announced last week in the context of a budget which failed to announce dollars for an expansion of subsidized day care spaces. On the one hand, the minister has single parents in low-income brackets giving up work and going on family benefits because they cannot find subsidized day care spaces. On the other hand, under his Social Assistance Review Committee reforms he is allowing those on family benefits a day care cost deduction from earnings, but there are no subsidized spaces for them to go to in Toronto and none at all of any kind elsewhere.
Can the minister explain how, on balance, this contradictory pattern of policy facilitates an overall movement from dependence to self-support on the part of those on family benefits or how it benefits the children or advances day care in Ontario?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Although there was not a specific reference to expansion of day care subsidies, in fact there is an increase of 4,200 spaces built into my budget. That will be taking place this fiscal year.
The honourable member will be well aware, however, that there has been some disagreement between this minister and some municipalities in this province as to how those spaces are allocated. Therefore, rather than putting more subsidized spaces into the general pool -- in other words, adding to the 4,200 -- we have chosen to go the social assistance route, and that is to allocate those spaces directly to those single parents who want to get back into the workforce. As a matter of fact, the total number of subsidized spaces this year, using the two sources, will be considerably in excess of the 4,200 I just announced.
Mr Allen: Let me get some further clarification from the minister, If he is saying that he is allowing access to specifically designated spaces for those who are on social assistance, on the one hand we are obviously moving the day care system backwards towards a welfare-oriented system and away from social services, as was intended.
On the other hand, if that is not what he is saying, one has a situation where, in fact, he is expanding the likelihood of those family benefits recipients accessing the informal day care system because there are no other avenues to pursue, and it is cheaper to do it that way if a person has to pay up front and then get the deduction later.
There are cash-flow problems. A number of factors are pushing these mothers, these single parents, in the direction of accessing ready, handy, quick and cheap day care. Which is it and what is it?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Not quite. The honourable member will be aware of the fact that when we announced New Directions for Child Care -- I guess it is three years ago; this is the third year of that first three-year cycle -- I indicated that the growth in subsidized spaces would be approximately 13,000 over the three years. This year, with the additional 4,200, we will in fact exceed those 13,000. So in terms of the projected growth in the regular day care system, we are meeting and exceeding the target we had set for ourselves.
Apart from that, what we are saying to single parents who have young children and who wish to go back into the workforce is: “We will allow you to deduct from your net earnings your actual cost of child care. Whether you get it in the informal system, whether you get it in the commercial system or whether you get it in the nonprofit system, that’s your choice to make.” We will set those recognized ceilings sufficiently high so that they can choose any one of those three elements.
Some of them may choose the informal system. Some of them may do that, as they do now, I would suggest to the honourable member, under our employment support initiatives which are currently part of our agreement with many municipalities, I think 23 in the province at the present time.
NORTH BAY HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Harris: To the Minister of Health: I would ask the minister if she supports the proposal by the Hospital Corp of America to introduce a health care system in North Bay which would limit accessibility, reduce the quality of care and restrict patients’ rights to see the doctor of their choice?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the member for Nipissing that, in fact, the ministry has not yet received a proposal from the community in North Bay which has achieved the objectives he has articulated. I would say, as well, that I know the community is looking at innovative approaches. I would say that I would expect any proposal which would come from the community would have to have community support and consensus before it would be considered by the ministry.
Mr Harris: The minister has reneged on a commitment for a joint hospital in North Bay. She talks about a proposal coming from the community, after she wrote a letter to the community and Dr Barkin wrote a letter to the community which said, “Play ball my way, accept this proposal that we’re going to have developed for you by an American consultant which will come in and we will pay for, or you don’t get, a new hospital.” This is the minister’s consultant that she recommended, that she paid for. Her ministry people sat on the committee. It has been available for two or three weeks.
I would ask the minister once again not what the community wants, but whether she accepts the proposal, which surely she has had a copy of now for a number of weeks, which the medical association in North Bay clearly indicates encourages saving money at the expense of access to quality health care, encourages capitation of services, encourages doctors to save money by not --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member for Nipissing raises a couple of points that I think should be clarified because I know that he would not want to misrepresent the discussions that are ongoing in his community or the innovative proposals which are being undertaken in a number of different communities to ensure equity and access to effective, quality health care as close to home as possible for the people of those communities. He knows that is my priority and my vision.
I would say to the member that in fact North Bay is not labouring under any misunderstanding. He knows there was a political announcement made in North Bay some time ago; that North Bay has never been included formally in the Ministry of Health planning process for capital development; that I visited North Bay; that I discussed that with John Hobbs, the chairman of the board, and that we said to them we could assist with some planning dollars for innovation. The community selected the consultants and is now discussing the proposals that have been developed under the auspices of a steering committee in the community.
I would say to him that it is very important that he allow the community consultation to move forward. I will be very interested in the results of those discussions and deliberations to ensure that the people of North Bay have equity of access.
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Education. I have been pursuing the minister with questions about the health and fitness of students In Ontario and I have appreciated his answers on health and exercise. I would now like to ask: Are we doing enough to tackle problems associated with the use of legal and illegal drugs by students in our schools?
Hon Mr Ward: I would like to compliment the member for Peterborough for his ongoing interest in this very important matter. He will know that quite some time ago, I believe last October, I announced my ministry’s response to the report of the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay (Mr Black) on the issue of substance abuse in this province. I indicated that this coming September, drug education would be mandatory in every school in Ontario and that I expected the validation process for the new health and physical education guideline would be amended so that drug education could start earlier, for example in kindergarten.
He will know that we set up an advisory committee under the chairmanship of Karl Kinzinger, former director of education of the North York Board of Education, to look at drug abuse policies in schools throughout the province. We have a teacher training component.
In summary, I believe my ministry has been very aggressive in pursuing the very important recommendations made by my colleague the member for Muskoka-Georgian Bay. It is hoped that these interventions will go a long way in tackling this very serious problem for many young people in this province.
Mr Adams: As I said, I have appreciated the minister’s replies to this and my previous questions. Programs are all well and good, but without monitoring, what do we have to show that they are effective? Do we assess the impact of our programs by testing our students’ health?
Hon Mr Ward: It is a very important question and, again, it reflects just how seriously we take this issue --
Hon Mr Ward: -- and it surprises me very much that members of the official opposition take very lightly the issue of drug abuse in this province. I think that is very unfortunate, because it is indeed a very serious problem.
The point the member has raised is in terms of the extent to which we measure the effectiveness of these programs. We do in fact benefit from biannual reports by the Addiction Research Foundation, which does a survey of substance abuse in this province. He will also know that the new guidelines for health and physical education envision the establishment of a student health and fitness profile beginning with students in grade 7 and following those students through the balance of their academic careers.
All of this, I believe, will go some distance in ensuring that we are able to monitor the effectiveness of these programs. However, I do have to say that I do not think anything can replace the fact that we need to do as much as we can to involve parents in this issue as well, because clearly they, too, can have a very dramatic impact.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Wildman: Now that we have gone from one member asking if we are doing enough, we will go to one where we know we are not.
I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. Will the minister acknowledge that the recent budget indicates a drop of $39 million in expenditures for his ministry from the 1987-88 budget? For the third year in a row, that agriculture budget has been dropping. Can the minister, if he acknowledges this, explain where the cuts will be made, and can he assure the farm community that the amount spent in agriculture in this province will not be lowered by redefining the definition of full-time farmer eligible for the Ontario farm tax rebates?
Hon Mr Riddell: I just happen to have the facts and figures with me in response to the honourable member’s question. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food budgetary spending for 1988-89 is currently forecast at $527.6 million. This is $38.9 million below the budget plan of $566.5 million, mainly due to in-year savings in the farm tax rebate program and in farm income stabilization. At that level, OMAF’s budgetary expenditure forecast of $527.6 million is $222 million or 72.6 per cent higher than the ministry’s 1984-85 spending level.
This growth rate is substantially above the 44 per cent growth rate for total government budgetary spending since 1984-85, and even stronger growth can be seen in direct spending on priority programs --
The Speaker: Order. Perhaps you should save the second page for the supplementary.
Mr Wildman: Since the minister has admitted that his budget has saved, to use his term, $39 million from last year, can he explain why there is no commitment in this budget for the extension of the Ontario family farm interest rate reduction program, so that farmers in this province will be at a better competitive situation with their counterparts in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, where they pay between seven and nine per cent interest on borrowed money, instead of the current situation with increasing interest rates in Ontario?
Hon Mr Riddell: Part of our provincial strategy is to provide long-term programs whereby all farmers can participate. The day has come when we have to cease trying to implement what we call Band-Aid programs to target just a few farmers. We want programs that all farmers can participate in. That is the reason we have spent so much time on tripartite stabilization, which has been a good program for farmers. That is the reason that we are spending so much time on enriching the crop insurance program, which has been a good program for farmers. All farmers can participate.
Furthermore, under the national agricultural strategy, all provinces are going to have to look at their subsidy program. They have got to cap their subsidy program. So we are really in the forefront of helping our farmers without having to do it with Band-Aid programs, which is a contravention of the national agricultural strategy. Our farmers will compete with the rest of them any day. They have been doing it and they will continue to do it.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Runciman: This is to the Solicitor General again, in respect to her visit to Lucan and some of the nonanswers we have received in the past.
I wonder if she would elaborate, perhaps in greater detail than she has up to this point, in respect to why she felt it necessary to discuss the situation with the police in Lucan, and why she later phoned back at approximately four in the morning? She has told us, up to this point, that she did it because the parents were out of town. She subsequently met the parents, yet still proceeded to discuss the situation with the police and then phoned back at a later hour. Can she explain her reasons for doing that?
Hon Mrs Smith: When I made the decision to go to Lucan, I believed the parents to be out of town and I was responding to very serious accusations, concerns and anxieties of their daughter, who was concerned about the safety of her brother. I went up there, as the member pointed out, and found out that indeed the father was there. I was also aware that the police were aware of my presence, so I wanted, in an open and forthright way, in the presence of witnesses, to tell them that I had never and would not in any way discuss the case. I had come because of the complaints about police brutality, and having found the father there, would withdraw.
Mr Runciman: That is an asinine response, to be about as polite as I can be.
The Speaker: Order. Perhaps questions without comments would be helpful.
Mr Runciman: Perhaps the minister will not want to respond to this, but I would certainly like to hear her views with respect to the resignation of her colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr Keyes) approximately two years ago. He resigned pending an investigation. The investigation was made public. That was a situation where there was no question that anyone had benefited or could have benefited from the accusations with respect to the member for Kingston and The Islands. Will the minister stand in the House today and indicate whether she felt the action of the member for Kingston and The Islands in that situation was appropriate?
Hon Mrs Smith: In my case it was the Premier (Mr Peterson) who got the report, as he requested, and made the decision as to what I should or should not do.
Mr Tatham: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As he is aware, I represent Oxford, the dairy capital of Canada. In Oxford, we have 680 dairy farms supporting 1,708 families. The present system of milk marketing in this province allows these families to maintain a standard of living and a quality of life comparable to other segments of society.
I would like to strongly emphasize that milk receipts received at the farm gate contribute $100 million annually to Oxford county. One must also recognize that the dairy industry in Oxford has a very significant impact on local businesses such as farm suppliers, service industries, financial and professional services and retail outlets.
In view of the importance of the milk industry to my county and this province, I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food what his response has been to the federal Minister of Agriculture regarding a request to cap the fluid milk price paid to producers until 1 January 1991.
Hon Mr Riddell: Last 12 May, the provincial and federal ministers of agriculture had a long, serious discussion about the ramifications of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade signed 7 April of this year, particularly as it pertained to the freezing of commodity prices under the supply management system. The federal minister did not specifically ask that we, as provincial ministers, encourage marketing boards to freeze prices under their jurisdiction, but he did ask for general support to back his efforts in the 7 April agreement.
I have always supported global liberalized trade, but I just fail to see how capping the prices of commodities under the supply management system achieves that goal, because those commodities contribute very little, if at all, to the trade-distorting practices that are going on within this great world of ours.
Mr Tatham: Could the minister also state if he is aware of the request to cap prices paid to other sectors of society.
Hon Mr Riddell: As I have indicated, the federal minister did not specifically ask that we in the provinces cap commodity prices. He simply asked that we give him general support about what he is endeavouring to do with the GATT and the --
Mr Wildman: What are you going to do?
Hon Mr Riddell: I am certainly in favour of trade liberalization, but let’s look at those commodities that are contributing to the trade-distorting practices. Let’s not simply focus on commodities under supply management, which contribute nothing to the trade-distorting practices.
Mr Reville: My question is for the Minister of Health. The Premier’s Council on Health Strategy issued another instalment today. It did not say anything about the nursing shortage in there.
I wonder if the minister has had a chance to review a case that was reported in the Toronto Star under the headline “Thirty-year Nurse Blames Dad’s Death on Nursing Shortages at Hospital.” That was on 9 May 1989 and the nurse in question was Mavis Mackenzie. Her father’s name was Arnold. According to Mavis, he was restrained after surgery in a way that contributed to his death.
I wonder if the minister would comment on whether or not it would now be appropriate to do something about the nursing shortage.
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member knows, our hospitals are run by independent boards of trustees. When I receive any complaints by anyone who is dissatisfied with the service, I am always distressed. In the case of hospitals, I forward their request to the hospital for the hospital’s investigation.
If at any time the member opposite or any member receives those kinds of complaints, I am always happy to ask the hospital administration or board of trustees to investigate any specific allegations of inappropriate care, because the hospitals have a responsibility to provide the kind of quality patient care at a standard which we expect, and in fact we hold the boards accountable for the decisions they make in this province.
Mr Reville: Given the severity of the charges that are being made in this case, I think it would probably be appropriate for the minister to ask her colleague the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) to order an inquest.
This is not the only case, and I know a number of them have been brought to the minister’s attention. There was one involving a Mr Thompson at the Wellesley Hospital where the fact situation was very similar; an elderly gentleman in restraints for several days following surgery. There was another case about which the minister should know, because it was brought to her attention, at the North York Branson Hospital. It was almost the same fact situation but, thankfully, without the fatal result.
I would like the minister to undertake to get back to me with a detailed response in this connection.
Hon Mrs Caplan: As the member opposite knows, I am always willing to ask the hospitals to investigate the circumstances fully if he would give me the specific details of any of the specific cases.
He makes very serious allegations. I can tell him I believe that the public hospitals in this province deliver very fine care. That is their charge under the Public Hospitals Act. I know the trustees who run those hospitals take their responsibilities very seriously and stand accountable for the performance of their hospitals.
If he will send me any specific details, I would be pleased to look into them, but I would point out that in fact we have made great strides in this province in involving nurses and giving them a greater say in the decision-making and the running of our hospitals. The new nursing regulations have been heralded as a significant step, in fact the most significant advance for nurses since they were registered in 1923, to quote the leader of the Ontario Nurses’ Association.
I say to the member that I am always pleased to investigate specific instances.
Mrs Cunningham: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services. There are some 4,500 families in Metropolitan Toronto alone who are waiting for subsidized child care spaces. if his response to the member for Hamilton West (Mr Mackenzie) is that he is going to add to his plan some 4,200 new spaces, we are hardly beginning to meet the needs of those people we are trying to help get back into the world of work by supporting them at home with child care.
How can the minister’s plan change now, given the statements he made in the House this afternoon, to meet this tremendous need out there?
Hon Mr Sweeney: Of those 4,200 new spaces this year, I believe about 1,000 are going to Metro. That will boost their total subsidized spaces to something in excess of 19,000. They are there and they are going to remain there.
Prior to my announcement of last Thursday, single parents wishing to go back into the workforce would have to compete for those spaces with everyone else. What I am saying is that all of those spaces are still there and they can continue to compete for them should they choose to do so, or they can take advantage of the second option that I am giving them, and that is to get their day care from any other centre or informally, however they choose. We will cover the cost of that through reducing their net income and therefore impacting on their welfare cheque. So it is in addition to, not in place of.
Mrs Cunningham: We should know that in spite of the wonderful numbers of the government -- and of course we congratulate it -- in this province we should look at the real need. Some three years ago we were looking at 20 per cent of the children whose parents work. They are the only children whom we can provide child care to, only 20 per cent of the children of parents who work.
Today that number has not changed very much at all. We are probably looking at some 23 per cent. This is getting ahead of us, quite frankly, because more parents are choosing to work. We have a tremendous problem. In meeting the need of these other people, the minister mentioned meeting a certain ceiling and he said that $7,000 is really what it is going to cost the family for child care. What formula will the minister be using to help these people? What is the ceiling that he is talking about? What should they expect if they do not qualify for a subsidized space? What can they expect from his government?
Hon Mr Sweeney: We are still in the process of arriving at those ceilings, but I can tell the member that what we have done is in addition to Metropolitan Toronto, we have acquired from all areas across the province the actual subsidized cost of a space in various places in the province right now and we will be gearing our ceilings to roughly about the midrange of those actual subsidized costs that are out there right now. In other words, they will not be mythical figures. They will relate directly to what the costs are. They will not be the high end. I think I can clearly indicate to the member -- let’s say, for example, that a space in a Metro-run day care, one of its directly run ones, is about the highest in the province -- that our allocation will not allow him to buy that space, but it will allow him to buy spaces in every community in this province.
Mr Callahan: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Over the weekend I had occasion to visit my hospital for an illness and, while I was there, I was informed by one of our local resident doctors that the Toronto Sun had indicated that Ontario had capped Ontario health insurance plan funds. I do not read the Sun on Sunday; I do not read it that often any other day of the week, either. Would the minister perhaps, for the benefit of my constituent, indicate whether that article, as he explained it to me, is correct.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I believe that the article that the member was referring to is the report which in fact was released today by the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. As the member would know, the government has just released this report, and I think it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the recommendations with all of our partners in health care.
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Minister of Community and Social Services with respect to the impact of the Social Assistance Review Committee reforms on a single disabled person who secures subsidized housing and who will get no benefit unti1 January, and then only the cost-of-living increase, which the six per cent announcement really amounts to. Was it really intended that those reforms would provide so little for that person under the SARC reforms?
Hon Mr Sweeney: There are two things. The honourable member will be well aware of the fact that it is over two years ago, I guess, that I made a commitment that I would close the gap between Gains-A and Gains-D, the guaranteed annual income systems for the aged and the disabled. This initiative does that for those disabled people living in the private sector with maximum rent. It closes that gap. They would both be getting the same amount of money. As a matter of fact, I think the Gains-D might get even a little bit more. However, if they are already living in subsidized housing, as the honourable member realizes, that is another form of shelter subsidy. You get two choices. You are either in Ontario Housing Corp subsidized housing or you get a shelter subsidy from my ministry; you do not get both.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I have a petition with nine names on it, petitioning the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.
Mr McCague: I have a petition which reads:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We support the expansion of home care and visiting nurses services as the most cost-efficient mode of health care delivery. We therefore want our government to adequately fund the Victorian Order of Nurses.”
This contains 133 signatures, and I have affixed mine.
Mr Morin-Strom: I have a petition signed by 600 people in Ontario, many of them from the community of North Bay. The signatures have been collected by a resident, Genisio Paciocco, who is in the members’ gallery right now. The petition reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and in particular, the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Labour:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“That the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of Labour resign for not implementing in a more expeditious manner the recommendations of the Social Assistance Review Committee report, in particular, the increasing of the minimum wage to a level above the poverty line for the working poor.”
I have signed and endorsed this petition and present it for serious consideration by this government.
The Speaker: I am waiting until the private conversations get down a little lower.
HOMES FOR THE AGED
Mr Adams: I have a petition from more than 130 people associated with the Fairhaven Home for Senior Citizens, which is a home of the county and city of Peterborough. It is properly addressed and it begins:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas the four per cent capping of the 1989 budget for Fairhaven Home for Senior Citizens will threaten the quality of life for present and future residents, and
“Whereas with such budget capping the home cannot initiate the ministry-advocated respite and outreach services for seniors within the county, which will limit much-needed extended care services available to seniors in the future, and
“Whereas budget capping threatens our home’s ability to staff so as to ensure the safe and consistent level of care that our seniors deserve,
“Therefore we support the motions of the city and county councils of Peterborough to review the funding formula for homes for the aged.
“Further, we recommend that the cabinet reconsider its decision to cap the budget for homes for the aged and provide appropriate levels of funding.”
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a petition with 263 signatures of residents of the city of Windsor which reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“We support the expansion of home care and visiting nurses services as the most cost-efficient mode of health care delivery. We therefore want our government to adequately fund the Victorian Order of Nurses.”
I have affixed my signature to that petition, with which I heartily agree.
BLOOMFIELD ROAD CENTRE
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a second petition, signed by 152 residents of Windsor, and it reads:
“We, the undersigned, petition the Lieutenant Governor to reinstate the residents of Bloomfield/St Joseph and Essex Court area of Windsor as the principal tenants of the provincially owned property located at 3440 Bloomfield Road.
“The Bloomfield Road centre was built to be used and operated by the tenants and residents living within the area through association, namely, the Windsor West Citizens Organization.
“We do not support any attempt or decision by the Windsor Housing Authority or any such association that would surrender our rights and privileges vested in the aforementioned property.”
I have affixed my signature as well to that.
Mr Wildman: I have a petition signed by 117 residents of Ontario, which was circulated by the Simcoe County Injured Workers Association. Many of the people are from Simcoe county.
“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.”
I have signed my signature to the petition and I am in support of it.
Mr Pollock: I have a petition signed by 42 people which reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Gentlemen: I am a proud Canadian and proud of my heritage. I am also very aware of the part religious freedom has played in the freedom we as Americans and Canadians now enjoy. Therefore, I protest any human effort to remove from radio or television any program designed to show faith in God, or the removal of Christian songs or carols from the public school system.”
I have affixed my signature to this.
SCHOOL OPENING AND CLOSING EXERCISES
Mr Reycraft: I have four petitions. The first is signed by 12 individuals from the riding of Renfrew North. It reads as follows:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas we believe the amendments to regulation 262 relating to the collective recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in opening or closing exercises in public schools deprive many Ontario citizens of their established freedoms, we therefore object to this loss of freedom.”
I have affixed my signature.
Mr Reycraft: I have another petition signed by one other individual from the riding of Renfrew North and addressed 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:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to 31 May 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.”
I have again affixed my signature.
Mr Reycraft: The third petition is signed by 21 individuals from the riding from Renfrew North and addressed 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 support the expansion of home care and visiting nurses services as the most cost-efficient mode of health care delivery. We therefore want our government to adequately fund the Victorian Order of Nurses.”
SCHOOL OPENING AND CLOSING EXERCISES
Mr Reycraft: The fourth petition is signed by 55 individuals from the riding of Quinte and addressed 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:”
It is a lengthy petition and I will not read the entire text of it, but it calls for the school boards to be allowed their choice on the use of prayers in opening and closing exercises in schools.
Mr Miller: I too have a petition addressed 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:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to 31 May 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.”
It is signed by T. J. Miranda, and there are eight other signatures plus my own.
Mr Polsinelli: I have a petition signed by 50 individuals and addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads:
“We petition the Ontario Legislature to call on the government to --
“Introduce legislation that would guarantee naturopaths the right to practise their art and science to the fullest without prejudice or harassment.”
I have also subscribed my name to it.
Mr D. S. Cooke: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“I/we, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to reform the workers’ compensation system in Ontario so that people injured at work get decent pensions, rehabilitation, and jobs when they are able.”
I have signed the petition as well.
Mr Elliot: I have six petitions here that all read the same way. They read:
“To the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“Whereas we support the expansion of home care and visiting nurses services as the most cost-efficient mode of health care delivery and whereas the Victorian Order of Nurses will incur a further deficit of $3 million provincially in the 1989-90 fiscal year if the government of Ontario fails to fulfil its promise to adequately fund home care services and therefore the VON may be forced to alter their home care services -- we petition the Minister of Health to revise the funding formula for 1989-90 so that a secure funding base be established to reflect the increasing complex care needs in the community case load and to provide adequate compensation for the service providers working in the community setting so that citizens of Ontario are not forced to seek more expensive health care in an institutional setting.”
As I said at the opening, this is a six-part petition. It has about 187 signatures on it and I have affixed my own signature to it as well.
Mr Kormos: I have a petition signed by Linda Esposito of Welland, eight others and myself and addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:
“To amend the Teachers’ Superannuation Act, 1983, in order that all teachers who retired prior to 31 May 1982 have their pensions recalculated on the best five years rather than at the present seven or 10 years.
“This proposed amendment would make the five-year criteria applicable to all retired teachers and would eliminate the present inequitable treatment.”
Mrs Fawcett: “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:
I have affixed my signature.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Mr Ballinger: I have two motions.
The Speaker: You have two motions.
Mr Ballinger: Yes, I do. Two bills, I am sorry.
The Speaker: Therefore, you do have two motions. Now the member for Sarnia got in ahead of you there.
SARNIA GENERAL HOSPITAL ACT, 1989
Mr Brandt moved first reading of Bill Pr3, An Act respecting Sarnia General Hospital.
Motion agreed to.
Mr Ballinger: I would just like to say it’s all the fault of the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell), because I was trying to speak and listen at the same time.
AVIAN EMBLEM ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved first reading of Bill 27, An Act to designate an Avian Emblem for Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPAL TAX COLLECTORS ACT, 1989
Mr Ballinger moved first reading of Bill Pr25, An Act respecting the Association of Municipal Tax Collectors of Ontario.
Motion agreed to.
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS ACT, 1989
Ms Collins moved first reading of Bill Pr7, An Act respecting the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Motion agreed to.
USE OF PRIVATE MEMBERS’ TIME
Mr Harris: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Standing order 27(a) states: “A member, other than a leader of a recognized party in the House or a minister of the crown, may be recognized to make a statement for not more than one and one-half minutes.” That is the quote from the standing orders.
Today, the member for Durham-York (Mr Ballinger) made a minute-and-a half-long member’s statement, which I had thought was a ministry statement concerning the bill that he was introducing today. This concerned the official designation of the loon as the bird of Ontario. He is the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio). I understand the Ministry of Natural Resources spent some money having a contest to determine what ought to be the official bird of Ontario.
I was surprised that there was no explanation when the member introduced the bill. Clearly, one of two things has happened: It is government policy, that is, it is MNR money in the contest and the intent is to proceed with the naming of the loon as the official bird, in which case the member is acting in his capacity as parliamentary assistant and obviously ought not to have made a member’s statement today. The only other explanation is that indeed the minister has said no and the parliamentary assistant as a private member is saying: “The heck with you guys, I am going ahead on my own.”
I realize that puts you in a predicament, Mr Speaker, as it does all of us, to determine which it is, as far as this direction goes. I would indicate to you, though, that if in fact it is government policy and the parliamentary assistant is acting in that capacity, I think it is inappropriate that we take up private members’ time doing that.
Hon Mr Conway: The member is bringing this matter forward in his capacity as a private member, though he is right to point out that it is also a matter of some interest to the government. Having checked this matter, because I anticipated the honourable member’s likely intervention, it is my understanding that this is not an unacceptable practice. I feel very strongly that an honourable member should be allowed to participate in the private members’ ballot process in any way, shape or form that he or she chooses, as long as it is within the framework of our rules and practices.
Certainly, I will be very interested in the involvement of my honourable friend the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris) in the discussions here whenever that ballot item is called, and certainly we will be interested to see how the matter proceeds.
The Speaker: On the point of order raised by the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris), I have looked at the standing order very clearly, and it states, “A member, other than a leader of a recognized party...or a minister of the crown,” may rise and make a statement. That is what took place. I guess we will have to see what happens in due course.
Mr Harris: I understand, but a parliamentary assistant, when he is speaking on a matter of that ministry, has been ruled by you and by others to be deemed to be a minister for the sake of the rules. That is the point I wanted to make and I hope that is clear.
The Speaker: I believe we have something in our standing orders that a parliamentary assistant cannot ask his or her minister a question during question period.
Mr Harris: I will bring all the documentation.
The Speaker: Thank you. I will be glad to look at it.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr Pope: I intend to be rather restrained in my comments today, on pain of swift justice from the Sergeant at Arms, but I do want to start by saying that obviously the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), by virtue of his years of service in the Legislature and his abilities, merits our respect. To the member for St Catharines-Brock (Mr Dietsch): I am told, in fact by the House leader, that he is a fairly friendly guy over a bottle of French red wine.
I also want to indicate to the Treasurer that I am aware, and so are members of this Legislature, that the staff in the Ministry of Treasury and Economics serving the minister are very competent and dedicated public servants who have worked hard and long on this budget and in the service of the people of Ontario.
But my role today is to comment upon the general direction of this government, the policies contained in the budget this particular Treasurer brought down last week and to make some comment on where I see the government heading and some of the problems and benefits of the direction the Treasurer, in his wisdom, has chosen to embark upon.
First, I think for all of us in this province the budget is a unique, once-a-year opportunity to make a comprehensive statement on the finances and administration of the government of Ontario. It is an opportunity that resides initially in the Treasurer and then reflects upon our opportunities in this Legislature to comment on what the Treasurer has said.
As well, it is an opportunity for the Treasurer to reflect upon the state of the Ontario economy. In my submission, contained in that opportunity is an obligation on the Treasurer to produce the books, the financial records of the government, for public scrutiny and comment. I believe that in order to meet the obligation that resides in the Treasurer, the books of our government must be capable of interpretation by not only anyone in this Legislature but also the residents of this province generally.
They must embody consistent accounting principles. The Treasurer must use generally applied accounting principles and must be straightforward in his production of the numbers. In other words, he cannot cook the books. If the budget is to have any integrity and any usefulness whatsoever in this province with respect to interpreting where we are in government expenditures, government revenues and where the economy of this province stands, it has to be capable of ready understanding and interpretation by commentators.
I have to comment, in the context of those principles, on this particular budget. When we as a party asked, in the lockup that preceded the budget, what accounting principles were used in the preparation of this budget -- and I took notes at the time -- Treasury staff indicated that they were not a company, were not producing corporate financial statements and therefore had no obligation to use “generally accepted accounting principles.”
By the time the Treasurer appeared before the standing committee on finance and economic affairs the morning after the budget was presented, the answer was that they were using “a modified cash basis accounting.” During the course of the proceedings of the finance committee, the Treasurer intervened at that point to comment on what he termed a “policy” matter. I take this to mean that he was personally involved and that he considered it to be a matter of policy as opposed to routine accounting.
What I am referring to is the prepayment on account of 1989-90 financial obligations of this government, prepaying by automatic deposit on 31 March 1989, the very last day of the financial year. Not when the money was received from the federal government or any other source, not in response to an immediate demand by municipalities but as a conscious decision of the government on 31 March 1989, $413 million was deposited by automatic deposit to the accounts of municipalities across this province with respect to unconditional transfer payments. In addition, $410 million of capital requests were preflowed for the 1989-90 financial year at the end of March 1989, during the 1988-89 financial year.
More important than the flowing of those funds was a “policy” decision to include these sums flowed on account of 1989-90 obligations in the 1988-89 expenditure statements released by this government. There is nothing per se wrong with that, if the Treasurer wishes to do it as a policy decision that he makes and wishes to explain it to the accountants and others who analyse provincial government statements, who are mystified by the extent and timing of these payments of $823 million; but we have to analyse, then, the consequences of that policy decision by the Treasurer on the books of the province.
I think it is clear -- and it was confirmed, I might say to the Treasurer, by Treasury staff in the lockup and afterwards -- that the consequences of that preflow of $413 million on the very last day of March and its inclusion in the previous year’s expenditures were that the expenditure total was $35.5 billion and that the budget plan 1989-90 expenditure was $38.1 billion. The reality is, if you consider the $413-million payment on the last day of the financial year, 31 March, on account of 1989-90 obligations to be part of the 1989-90 expenditure commitments of this government, it presents a totally different picture of operating expenditures and in fact a rather important variation from what was presented in the budget.
The expenditures for 1988-89 fiscal year are not $35.5 billion but $35.1 billion; the expenditures under the budget plan 1989-90 are not $38.1 billion but $38.5 billion. The effect, I say to the people of this province, is that this government will not have increased its expenditures by seven per cent this year over last, as was presented in the budget, but by almost 10 per cent. An expenditure increase of almost 10 per cent is the net effect.
If we net through the capital advances which were offered with respect to the 1989-90 financial year, because the Treasurer has said that not only did he pay the $410-million advance in respect of 1989-90 but also that he was going to preflow for next year $400-some million, if he decides to do so -- as the Treasurer said last Thursday in reply to questions from the member for Simcoe West (Mr McCague), if he decides to do so he will do it -- if we net out that $400 million in the capital investment figures of the budget, the deficit to finance capital changes dramatically, from $1.5 billion In 1988-89 to $700 million, a difference of $800 million; and the deficit to finance capital deteriorates in 1989-90 to just over $1 billion. That is a pretty important difference, in terms of interpretation or perspective of the health of Ontario finances.
It makes a major difference, a double-digit increase in expenditures, a deteriorating deficit position in times of significant revenue increases in the hands of the government of Ontario. It makes a very big difference in the perspective that independent financial analysts and economists will have of this government’s ability to keep the records straight and this government’s ability to keep the books of the province in proper working order.
The Treasurer was asked in question period today -- he had time to reflect upon my statement prior to question period. He had time to reflect upon the questions raised in the budget lockup and in the proceedings last week of the finance committee. Quite frankly, he has decided that this was a policy decision he was responsible for. I acknowledge that it is a policy decision not made by accountants but that he made and has to answer for.
I think it is important to reflect, as my leader did last Thursday, upon the finances of this province since this government came to office in 1985. The Treasurer, in his statement to the Legislature on 11 July 1985, in which, by the way, he indicated that the finances of the province had been relatively well maintained -- I think his words were “relatively well managed” -- prior to his arrival as Treasurer of this great province, in the summary of revenues attached to the Treasurer’s statement of 11 July 1985, we see taxation revenue of $15.092 billion. This coming financial year, this government will take, from the people of Ontario in tax revenues, over $30 billion.
Since the government came to office in 1985, they have doubled the taxes received from the men and women of Ontario. At the same time, we have seen an increase in expenditures of some 56 per cent. It is very important that the people of this province, the working men and women who are paying their taxes, understand that they are paying 100 per cent more taxes now to the province than they were when the Liberals came to office.
When pressed last Thursday for an explanation for this phenomenal tax grab by a greedy Liberal government, the Treasurer indicated that he needed the additional revenue to resolve the problems that the previous administration had left for him. Yet this is the same Treasurer who in 1985, when he was analysing the books of the province, said they had been relatively well managed.
In this budget, we also have sort of hints that really the Treasurer’s problem is federal transfer payments and the policies of the federal government, yet we see on page 58 that payments from the federal government are actually going to increase this year, to 40.713 from 37.222. That is not a decline in federal transfer payments; that is an increase. I put that in the context of the Treasurer’s penchant for blaming his problems on the federal government.
The fact of the matter is that this government has made a policy decision that has doubled the tax burden for all Ontarians. This government has made a decision for the second consecutive year to increase taxes that Ontarians must pay by $1.3 billion. In the 1988 budget presented by the Treasurer, he increased the rate of tax on gasoline by one cent per litre effective on the budget night, and indicated it would generate $100 million in that fiscal year. The Treasurer then indicated a one percentage point adjustment in the rate of personal income tax for 1988 and another one percentage point of personal income tax increase for the year 1989, generating an estimated $265 million in the current fiscal year; and increased the Ontario surtax rate for 1988 to 10 per cent, raising an additional $52 million this fiscal year.
He further indicates in his 1988 budget an increase in the retail sales tax rate by one percentage point to eight percent effective 2 May 1988, yielding an estimated $750 million in that year; a one cent per cigarette and a 0.6 cents per gram of cut tobacco increase in the tobacco tax effective midnight the night of the budget to raise an additional $158 million; and an increase in the tax on spirits, wine and beer effective 24 May 1988 to generate an additional $62 million this fiscal year.
Not to be outdone by that monstrous tax grab last year, our friend the Treasurer decided to duplicate the effort this year and go for another $1.3 billion. Having a tremendous appetite and being responsible for those in his cabinet who have these tremendous appetites, we see an additional $1.3 billion. How do we see it? Another increase in personal income tax rates, the third time since the Liberals took office, to 53 per cent of the base federal rate. We see the gasoline tax hike for the second year in a row, one cent a litre effective midnight the night of the budget, and another cent a litre, in case you still want to drive in this province, on 1 January 1990. On unleaded gasoline the tax went up to 13.3 cents the day after the budget and another cent a litre on 1 January 1990. If you still want to drive in Ontario, you are going to pay $5 a tire additional tax for every tire you purchase effective 1 June 1989.
As well, if you still want to drive after that, vehicle registration fees and driver’s licence fees will be increased, with a special new punitive rate for the greater Toronto area. Registration fees will go up 22 per cent in southern and northern Ontario and will be increased by an additional $24 on top of that in the greater Toronto area, going from $54 to a total of $90 to renew your vehicle registration.
Not to be outdone, if you want to buy what the Treasurer terms to be a gas guzzler, you will pay a new gas guzzler tax on fuel-inefficient cars. The tax will range from $600 to $3,500, depending on the vehicle’s fuel consumption rating. So if you operate or want to buy a gas guzzler, you are going to pay more money to the revenue-guzzling Treasurer and his Liberal government in the province of Ontario.
Then we have a 1.95 per cent payroll tax, which I also call a tax on employment. We now have a tax on employment in this province, a positive disincentive to employ people and maintain them on a payroll.
As Treasury officials indicated last Thursday morning in the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, those who are not on a payroll, of course, will pay no payroll tax. So lawyers, accountants, the self-employed and the professionals will not contribute to replace the Ontario health insurance plan premiums they were paying. But a small businessman who did not have an automatic payment system for OHIP premiums will be penalized and will pay an additional 1.96 per cent as a payroll tax to this provincial government. No wonder it has been called by small business representatives a tax on employment, a disincentive to do business in Ontario, another gouging of the small businessman.
Not to be outdone by the stomping to its knees of Toronto by virtue of the tax and fiscal policies of this Treasurer, we then have something called a commercial concentration levy, where for the first time in organized territories, this provincial government will send out tax bills. It is going to get into the land or municipal tax bill business.
Now land owners in Metropolitan Toronto or the greater Toronto area will be sent a tax bill not only from their municipal government, but also from their friendly Minister of Revenue (Mr Grandmaître), who will levy an additional property tax of $1 per square foot on all commercial property and associated parking with gross areas exceeding 200,000 square feet.
If the Treasurer and his cabinet ministers think that that increase is not going to be passed on to small businessmen, who are the tenants of these major facilities, directly through the provisions of their leases, as they know it will be, and if they do not think it is then going to be passed on to the consumer by way of price increases to cover their fixed costs, they are living in a dream world.
In housing, in taxation of direct and indirect land and income, in sales tax policies and in driving a vehicle, this Treasurer and this government have selected the greater Toronto area for special cruel and unusual treatment on which they intend to follow through, and while they are at it, they are going to stomp the rest of the province for good measure.
For the second straight year, $1.3 billion in additional tax revenues have been generated from this Treasurer and from this government, which is a doubling of tax revenues since they came to office. That is not the kind of performance we can support or the kind of budget the people of this province need. It has caused other jurisdictions to openly and publicly brag to other capital investors, potential investors, businessmen and residents that their provinces are better places to live than Ontario because of the tax regime that the Liberal government has put into place.
All one has to do is look at the Saskatchewan budget that was just presented, with its tables of comparative loading of tax on the people of Ontario, compared to Saskatchewan and other jurisdictions. All one has to do is look at the boasts of the Quebec government in its last budget, where it indicates that Quebec is now competitive with Ontario in terms of tax policy, tax load, business regime policies, encouragement to growth and impact on individual small businessmen, working men and women.
These other provincial governments are now saying: “Come and do business with us. Come and reside within our boundaries. We are competitive with, if not better than, the attitude and atmosphere generated by the tax policies of the Treasurer of Ontario.” They are boasting about it, and this Treasurer and this government are the architects of this kind of pressure on Ontario development for the future.
Not only is the impact of this budget and this Treasurer’s policy decisions reflected in tax increases that working men and women will have to pay, not only is it reflected in the general economic climate that is beginning to pervade Ontario vis-à-vis its provincial government and the propensity of its Treasurer and its Premier (Mr Peterson) to tax and increase the tax load, but also we see a reflection of additional financial burdens on the people of this province emanating from decisions that this Treasurer and this government made before the budget was introduced.
I am referring to the flat-lining of transfer payments and unconditional grants to municipalities. I am talking about the freezing of transportation subsidies for municipal roads. I am talking about a decline in transfers to boards of education across this province that has reflected itself in massive, double-digit property tax increases across this province, for which this Treasurer and this government have to bear some responsibility.
I heard someone from Sudbury saying that there were no decreases in transfer payments to boards of education. I have to say that there is a $10-million shortfall to the Carleton Board of Education this year over last year; there is a $57.6-million difference in the transfer payments to the Metropolitan Toronto School Board this year over last year; there is a $17.9-million shortfall to the Ottawa Board of Education this year over last year, and there is a $10-million shortfall in the Peel Board of Education this year over last year. Every single school board and municipal administration in this province has publicly stated that the reduction of transfer payments from the Treasurer and this Liberal government has forced it to increase taxes.
Many of the news stories over the past month and a half have talked about a 23 percent increase in education taxes in Muskoka, 12 per cent and 15 per cent increases in the municipal property taxes attributable to the boards of education in Timmins, and the list goes on and on. There are double-digit tax increases for property taxpayers in this province because of the decisions that have been made by this government on transfer payments.
These decisions have led directly to tax increases for men and women who are already having more difficulty meeting the financial imperatives of buying and maintaining a home in this province under the Liberal regime than they have ever had before, and those municipal tax increases are going to continue because of the policies of this Treasurer.
I remind the Treasurer that it was in February 1987 that our then leader, the former member for St Andrew-St Patrick, voiced his concern in the budget debate about the treatment of transfer payments during that 1987 budget with respect to municipalities and boards of education. It was true in 1987, it was true in 1988 and it is true again in 1989. It is this government that is responsible for those tax increases and the squeeze that is being placed on municipalities.
If anyone feels that there is not a problem in the hands of the municipalities, perhaps he can explain why the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, in its presentation to the cabinet, talked about salvaging the partnership. It has put out The Hidden Agenda: Provincial Priorities at Local Costs. AMO has gone on record with this cabinet and this Treasurer as voicing its concerns about the offloading of responsibilities on to municipalities and municipal councils, responsibilities that should be the province’s and always have been the province’s, with no revenue base from which to operate these programs mandated by the provincial government except for property tax increases.
We talk about the whole range from policing and security in the courtrooms to the requirement of maintaining our road system; to the requirement of installing water and sewage facilities for our citizens, our residents of these municipalities; to Sunday shopping and the imperatives that provides.
We can go through a whole list: housing now, where the Minister of Housing (Ms Hošek) is saying: “I give up. I’ve got money but I don’t know how to spend it and I don’t know how to tell people to access it, so I am going to force the municipalities to take over housing in this province. I’ll give them a provincial housing policy statement that they have to adhere to. They can cover the costs and small private developers can cover the costs.”
We go from there to the boards of education, which are being told now that in spite of the lack of funding for special education, they are going to have to take even more money out of their expenditure base and fund some part of the kindergarten or early school provisions that this government has mandated. All this additional offloading of responsibilities has to reflect itself in tax increases, in payments that property owners, men and women in their own homes, have to meet every year. These kinds of tax increases are the responsibility of this government, and no one should underestimate the effects of these additional taxes on the daily lives of Ontarians.
There are some initiatives that we have applauded this government for, but we have also indicated there are some ways that it could be saving money. We have yet to hear a response from the Chairman of the Management Board of Cabinet (Mr Elston) or the Treasurer. We have yet to hear their response to our ongoing concern about a 47 per cent increase in administrative costs in the three years after this government came to power. We have yet to see them note any progress in cutting down a 47 per cent increase in costs of administering the programs of the province.
We have yet to see any indication that the Premier himself, reflecting on the 60 per cent increase in the costs of administering the Office of the Premier and the Cabinet Office, stand up and say: “I agree that the 60 per cent increase we put in in three years was too much. We are going to cut it down. We are going to reduce costs”; not “We are going to slow the rate of growth,” but “We are going to reduce these costs.”
We have yet to hear the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell), with his 40 per cent increase in administrative costs in three years after the government came to office, say, “We are going to cut down some of that growth in administrative costs and flow the money to the farmers.”
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mrs McLeod), whose administrative budget went up 90 per cent in three years, that she is going to cut down on the staff and the costs of administration, not slow the rate of growth but cut down on the costs of administration and flow that money through the Ontario student assistance program or flow that money to increase the number of positions available to young men and women who want to get an education, who are now, for the first time in our history, being turned away from postgraduate studies because there are no spaces or courses are being cancelled.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr Wrye) an explanation of a 70 per cent increase in administrative costs in the three years since the Liberals came to office.
We have yet to hear from the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Mr Mancini) an explanation of the 90 per cent increase in administrative costs and how he is going to reduce the costs of that administration so that the money can flow to the disabled people of this province who need it.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Financial Institutions about a 100 per cent increase.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Government Services (Mr Patten) when we are facing a deficit in capital structure in this province and a need for additional government offices, which the government itself has announced, in northern and eastern Ontario, when that money could be going to those needy projects, why the main office of’ Government Services increased by 200 per cent in three years. We have yet to get that explanation.
We have yet to get an explanation from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr Kwinter), in his fight for free trade, of how he could let the administrative costs of his ministry rise by 60 per cent in three years while that government came to office.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr Peterson) some explanation of a 74 per cent increase in the costs of administration of that particular ministry since the Liberals came to office.
We have yet to hear, in the face of statements by the opposition party, the New Democrats, about the accelerating rate of deaths in the workplace and accidents in the workplace and, last year, about the lowest number of workplace inspectors than in 10 previous years, or an explanation of the 110 per cent increase in the administrative expenses of the Ministry of Labour while this carnage was going on in the workplace. We have yet to understand why that money was not flowed out of administration to hire more inspectors for the workplace to maintain the laws and the regulations that protect working men and women in this province.
At the same time as the Ministry of Municipal Affairs was flat-lining municipalities this year and giving the city of Timmins a 1.2 per cent increase in transfer payments only last year and was reducing the transfer payments in-year, in the face of that constraint loaded off by that minister on to the municipalities of this province, which reflected itself in less services and less ability to provide for the residents in the municipalities, we have yet to hear from that selfsame minister an explanation of why his administrative expenses increased by 100 per cent while he was cutting down the municipal transfers.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Northern Development (Mr Fontaine) -- who has spent virtually nothing out of the northern heritage fund and who has dismantled the BILD programs, any incentive for the private sector to continue to operate and expand in northern Ontario -- why he allowed his administrative expenses in the three years that he held that position to increase by 300 per cent. We have yet to hear that explanation.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Revenue, who socks it every chance he gets to the people of Ontario, the working men and women, why his main office expenses have increased by 86 per cent in three years since the Liberals came to office. He will sock it to the taxpayers but he sure has got a lot of increase in his own main office expenses.
An hon member: The Treasurer even did that.
Mr Pope: I know the Treasurer is happy that I am dealing with these subjects, because he no doubt says the same thing in the confines of the cabinet room.
We have yet to hear from the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mrs Wilson) as to why her main office expenses increased by 150 per cent since the Liberals came to office.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling), at a time when skills development programs are in a shambles, improperly administered, improperly conveyed to people who need them, why at the same time that minister increased administrative expenses by 220 per cent.
We have yet to hear an explanation from the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) at the same time that OPP detachments are being reduced across this province, particularly in rural areas; at the same time that the OPP services are not being provided on weekends any more to help the people of northern Ontario and eastern Ontario. The Solicitor General herself, in administration expenses, increased her budget by 90 per cent over three years while she was cutting back basic services to the people of Ontario, and no explanation whatsoever is forthcoming. Her main office expenses increased by 64 per cent.
We have yet to hear from the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr O’Neil) in the face of concerns voiced by the tourist industry over Ontario’s role and northern Ontario’s role in getting the tourist dollar here in this province, an explanation for his increase of 50 percent in three years of his administrative budget.
The Treasurer, in his wisdom, limited his administrative expense increases to 20 per cent over three years, but where is the restraint? Where is the utilization of administrative personnel in the other ministries at the same time that these basic services are being cut back?
I say that the attitude necessary in their constraint is not there. I say there is no sense of proper management and financial responsibility in some of the line ministers and it is up to the Treasurer and the Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet to crack the whip over there, get us some explanation for these increases and start cutting back to the same degree that they have cut back on basic services to the people of Ontario.
A 47 per cent increase in administrative expenses of this government in three years is a shameful waste of public money. The money should have been put into programs if that is where the need existed; and if the need did not. exist, it should have been used to pay down the deficit even further.
I heard the Treasurer say, “But, yes, we met our target of $500 million in in-year constraints.” He produced a table in the budget -- I forget what page it is on, but it is there -- and said, “These savings are permanent and we will add to them next year.”
I say to the Treasurer’s officials that the canvassing of that list contained in the budget will reveal that not all of those constraints are ongoing, permanent constraints, but rather some of them were a withholding of capital funds, others were a withholding or delay of projects. Just an analysis of the numbers themselves and the grouping of those numbers indicates that to be the case.
In any event, how can we claim that there is a successful $500-million in-year constraint program when the Treasurer’s expenditures have risen by 10 per cent? How can he claim constraint on one hand and a 10 per cent increase in expenditures on the other? Only the Treasurer could do that, and he hoped to get away with it.
In fact, there is no constraint program in place. Even the guise or the publicity of this program is starting to fade. Now the in-year constraint target is $200 million. With all of this additional revenue, $1.3 billion, coming in, with all of this pride over the $540 million being met, with all of this pride over the moderate growth of expenditures, which we think is a major growth of expenditures, there is a $200-million constraint program.
It is not good enough. We have a right to expect more from our Treasurer. We have a right to expect more from the Chairman of Management Board. We have a right to expect sound, prudent and careful administration of our tax dollars, not only on new programs which may be needed but also on day-to-day operations of the government.
It is not good enough to be a parsimonious farmer. It is not good enough to sock it to the taxpayers. We have to look at the consequences of the budgetary policies on the people of Ontario, not only for this year but also for previous years. We have seen these increases in expenditures, particularly administrative expenditures, but we have also seen increases in program expenditures.
But for many people in Ontario, what is the legacy of those increased tax dollars they have paid out of their pockets to our friend the Treasurer and his administration? What are the consequences they see in their day-to-day lives?
As I said earlier, if you live in rural Ontario, northern Ontario or eastern Ontario, the Ontario Provincial Police detachments are closed on the weekends. You have to call long-distance if you have an emergency requiring the presence of the OPP and just pray they get there within two hours -- or if you want instant action, call the Solicitor General at her home in London. But otherwise, if you call the OPP detachments you are going to wait for some period of time for the message to get through the circuitous system we now have in place; and if you really have a situation requiring additional OPP personnel, you had better wait for reinforcements, because detachments across northern and eastern Ontario have been reduced.
That is part of the legacy of the Liberal government to the people of this province. For the second straight year, $1.3 billion more in taxes is coming out of the pockets of working men and women in Ontario, but they have less police protection now than ever before; they have more reason for concern than ever before.
When it comes to the Metropolitan Toronto police, they feel they do not have a spokesman in government, they feel they do not have a friend who is speaking for them. They see themselves under siege from the Attorney General (Mr Scott) and the Solicitor General, with no one who will talk to them or will speak for them in the confines of cabinet. That is the reality of the morale right now in the Metropolitan Toronto Police department. It affects the ability of these dedicated men and women to serve and protect the residents of this great city, and it reflects itself in the attitudes of other municipal police departments across this province towards this government.
What do we see with our $1.3 billion in additional taxes out of the pockets of the working men and women of this province for the second year running? We see waiting lists for heart surgery now stretching into years. We see the number of procedures of heart surgery performed in our hospitals flat-lined or reduced since the Liberals came to power.
As the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) pointed out in this Legislature some two years ago, we see someone in need of a hip replacement having to wait for more than a year to two years to get into the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital in Toronto. I believe the man’s name was Mr Elgie, and the reply of the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) was, “Well, maybe you’d better shop around.” There were other examples of exactly the same problem with respect to hip replacement raised by the New Democrats, and the same answer. The waiting lists have never been longer. They are now three years long. There never have been more people concerned with the state of the health care system and the hospital system in the history of this province, and yet the Liberals are grabbing more tax dollars.
Our health care system was a source of pride. It was built on co-operation and on the commitment of dedicated professionals: men, women and staff. It was a source of pride for everyone in Ontario. Senator Ted Kennedy came here to examine our health care system. Others from across the world came to examine the benefits of this system, how it was administered and how it was a co-operative system serving the needs of the people of this province. People were coming from other nations around the world to the Hospital for Sick Children and to the Toronto General Hospital to have state-of-the-art surgery and life-saving surgery performed here.
Now the legacy of this Liberal administration is that Ontario residents have to go elsewhere to get needed heart surgery or hip replacements. Cleveland, Ohio, is now the place to look to, as are Alabama, Buffalo and Rochester. People are searching out other sources and other jurisdictions, because this health care system has failed them.
That is the reality for men and women across this province who are concerned about the health of their spouse, parents or grandparents. The reality is that the Liberals have presided over declining public confidence at best, and declining administrative capacities at worst, of the health care system for the people of Ontario.
Sure, the government grabs more of our tax dollars and sure, it has spent them on itself. But even more tragic still are the consequences for the men, women, families and communities of this province.
We now have the spectacle of a newspaper advertisement, a paid ad, in the Timmins Daily Press on Saturday saying to the people of South Porcupine and Porcupine for the first time in history: “We don’t have doctors to serve you in South Porcupine. The hospital, on an emergency standby basis, is going to try to serve your health care needs.” What a stinging indictment, in one ad, of the commitment of this province to maintaining high-quality health care throughout Ontario, from one end to the other.
We have had stories over the past two years of people from Atikokan having to travel to Thunder Bay to have an appendix removed. We have had the example of our air ambulance system being overworked and failing its residents in northern Ontario, because the basics of hospital care are no longer available in our home communities.
The response of this government has not been acceptable. A few more pilot projects in the teaching hospitals of southern Ontario, the university hospitals, is not good enough. More specialty research for the university hospitals is not the only answer. There has to be a commitment to our community hospitals. There has to be a commitment to equality of access across this province. In fact, any objective review, as the New Democrats have done and we have done, of the quality of hospital and health care in this province shows a deterioration in rural Ontario, northern Ontario and eastern Ontario since the Liberal government came to power in 1985, a clear deterioration.
We now see today the Minister of Health, in her wisdom, starting the slow but inevitable process of reneging on the commitments for hospital capital improvements that the Liberals made in 1986; 4,000 beds are affected. They are starting the slow but inevitable process of reneging, not on their commitment to the university hospitals in Toronto. London, Hamilton, Kingston and Ottawa, but on their commitment to the community hospitals, the community hospitals up the coast at Attawapiskat, the community hospital perhaps in Manitouwadge, the community hospital in Timmins, the community hospital in Atikokan.
We have a shortage of manpower in nursing as we have never had before. We have specialty doctors leaving this jurisdiction because of the attitude of this government of confrontation, of socking it to them, and now even a discussion of capping of incomes. More doctors are going to leave. We have an outflow of these world-renowned surgeons, these world-class specialists, these badly needed nurses, an outflow from this jurisdiction. Slowly but surely, the Liberals have presided over the decline of our health care system and we are all going to pay the price.
While working men and women are paying another $1.3 billion this year to the Treasurer and his Liberal administration on top of the $1.3 billion in additional revenues they paid last year, what do we see with respect to our education system? Again, we see an attitude of confrontation, of this cabinet knowing best and no one else knowing what they are talking about. The same attitude of confrontation with respect to the doctors, hospital administrators, hospital boards, nurses, chiropractors and optometrists that we saw in the health care field is starting to pervade the education field.
Mandated programs of the Minister of Education (Mr Ward): There is very little consultation with the professional groups that have to implement this mandated program in the classroom. There is a lack of commitment to special education, particularly in northern Ontario. There are 200,000 pupils in portables, as my leader said eight days ago, more than twice what there was when the Liberals came to power. What a stinging indictment of the failure of this government to meet the needs of our children in the education system.
In the face of those kinds of problems in the education system, we have unilateral decision-making with respect to teachers’ pensions, where the Treasurer said, “Like it or lump it,” and the Premier in Peterborough said, “You’re being silly in your comments.” That is exactly what he said. We see unilateral decisions affecting the quality of education in the class that teachers have to live with, with no consultation.
When we pay our $1.3 billion in additional taxes this year on top of the $1.3 billion last year; when we view the prospect of this Treasurer and this government receiving twice as much tax revenue now as they did when they came to office; when we see deterioration in the basic water and sewage facilities in our municipalities because of a lack of upgrading grants, lack of transfer payments, lack of priority attached to that need by the province; when we see deteriorating municipal roads because of flat-lining and in fact a reduction this coming year over last year in the transfer payments with respect to municipal roads -- the numbers in the Treasurer’s own budget document show that -- we see, in terms of needed upgrading of roads in northern Ontario --
Mr Wiseman: And eastern Ontario.
Mr Pope: -- and eastern Ontario, my friend the member for Lanark-Renfrew reminds me -- a lack of commitment of this government to meet those needs.
When the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was in Timmins addressing the chamber of commerce at a breakfast meeting, the very first question he was asked by someone in the audience was if he is going to four-lane Highway 11. Is he going to make it a true Trans-Canada Highway? Is he going to resolve safety concerns on these isolated stretches of road? The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, to give him credit, had to admit that, no, there were no plans to do that; that he hoped that there would be some priority attached to it, but he was not in a position, certainly, to announce it.
I think that is a fair reflection of what he said. And we do not see any improvement in that situation emanating from this government, this Treasurer or from the Minister of Northern Development, certainly not from him.
When we are paying our $1.3 billion out of our pockets in additional taxes this year, and working men and women are meeting that obligation on top of the additional $1.3 billion they paid last year, noting that the tax revenues of this government have doubled out of our pockets since the Liberals came to office, we have to ask ourselves: Are our children any better able today to get into colleges and universities than they were when the Liberals came to office?
The answer clearly is no. There is less opportunity now for our young people to get into post-secondary education courses of their choice now than at any time I can recall. I have more complaints in my constituency office about total frustration of scholars with 85, 90 or 93 per cent averages being turned down for post-graduate courses or for particular training courses in our college and university system. I have never seen that kind of frustration from brilliant young minds and on the faces of parents who come in to deal with these problems.
It is well known, as we said last fall, that the Treasurer’s announcement of transfer payments to universities and colleges would result in a reduction of numbers of courses and result in a reduction in the number of positions in some courses in community colleges across this province. As a result of this decision of this government and its attitude towards the administration of our colleges and universities, we now have lost opportunities for young people to make their place in Ontario’s society.
We have kids from Timmins, whom we desperately need to be our doctors and dentists, our professionals up north, who are going out of this province, because they cannot get into university and college in this province. Again it is a stinging indictment of the priorities of this government.
What about the natural resource sector? The natural resource sector was the subject of the BILD program which the Treasurer in July 1985 was so proud to wind up in his very first statement. We had BILD programs which provided some incentive for the expenditure of private funds in forest management, mill modernization, mineral exploration, mine development and tourism development. It was wound up and replaced with what?
We now see the Ministry of Natural Resources with a reduction in its budget this year over last year. We see $5 million in a special allocation to the mining sector of this province, seven times less than the film industry of this city received -- $34 million to the film industry, $5 million to the mining industry -- at a time when this province uniquely has failed to move in to take up some of the slack left by the collapse, the cancellation, of the flow-through share funding for mineral exploration and development.
This is one of the last jurisdictions to move into that field, to try to provide some positive incentive for new mine development and exploration. They still have not done it in this budget.
This is one of the last jurisdictions with a major mining industry to refuse to react, and the consequences are there. We are starting to see a slowdown in mine development. New mines are not coming on stream. Projects are being mothballed. Workers are being laid off. It is not just the iron ore mines at Temagami or Wawa; it is the precious metals sector in around Matheson and east of Timmins where projects are being mothballed.
We see layoffs now at Pamour Porcupine Mines Ltd in Timmins. We see concern spreading in mining communities from one end of the province to the other. We see pessimism where there should be optimism. We see Canada declining in its comparative place for precious metal production in the world. In gold production we are now fifth; we used to be second. This decline has happened in the last four years and I hasten to add that the Liberals have been in power in Ontario for four years, although it does not necessarily correspond.
What do we see with respect to the softwood lumber industry and the forest products industry? We see that 1,700 people have lost their jobs. In the standing committee on finance and economic affairs, the Treasurer was wont to say that, of course, it was a federal decision to implement the 15 per cent surtax, The Treasurer knows, because the Treasurer’s deputy minister signed the letter, that in 1986 this government agreed to financially contribute to a settlement with the Americans with respect to the countervail application on softwood lumber. The Treasurer knows that the letter was signed by his deputy minister and was delivered to the federal government at least 10 days before the federal announcement was made in Washington, DC.
Let’s not skirt around the issue. The Minister of Northern Development has spent three years trying to deny the truth. That is exactly what happened. At a federal-provincial meeting, the Treasurer decided to participate in this system. Not only that, he fixed his contribution, on a national basis, to the consequences of this surtax. What has the response of this government been to the plight of the softwood lumber industry and the forest products industry? Benign neglect.
In Cochrane North we have a net outflow of population in the last three years of over 2,500 people. That is not my riding, that is the riding of the Minister of Northern Development. We have seen these layoffs, at least 1,700 in total, in the softwood lumber sector since the surtax came into place. Has this government moved, as we wanted it to in the 1985 speech from the throne, towards a mill modernization program which would allow potential customers to place orders for unique dimensions and have them sawn by more up-to-date, modern, computer-oriented sawmill equipment, automatically packaged and delivered to customers? We have seen no such project, no such program in place.
Have we seen an expansion of the forest management program? No, we have not. In fact, the orders placed by this government with the private tree nursery operators have declined for the last two consecutive years. Fewer trees and fewer seedlings are being purchased for reforestation than were last year or the year before. We see less money being spent than we have ever seen before on access roads for forest management agreements so people can get in to plant the trees. In fact, some forest management agreement holders, some of these companies this year, will do no work on reforestation programs. And the Ministry of Natural Resources is having its budget reduced.
It is important to understand that not only do we have no new programs, but no ongoing commitments to the forest products industry, no aeromagnetic survey programs to develop new ore deposits, no ongoing incentives for core storage, no ongoing incentives for custom mills across this province for base metals and precious metals. Not only do we see none of this, but we see the Ministry of Natural Resources actually having a cut in its budget and we see a concern reflected in northern Ontario communities over the future prospects for these communities themselves, over a lack of opportunity to diversify economically. All we get is conferences, glossy brochures, meetings of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Cap Board and nothing else.
As the Treasurer noted in his budgets of 1986, 1987 and 1988, but did not note in his budget this year, the economic problems of northern Ontario and eastern Ontario merit special attention.
This year, the Treasurer even took the casual reference out of his budget statement. In fact, there is no indication of a priority for eastern Ontario, either in the budget or in the speech from the throne. The words “eastern Ontario” were not even in the speech from the throne. We see no indication of a priority for northern Ontario at all. In fact, faced with these daunting economic prospects of reduction of economic activity in northern Ontario and massive layoffs, the Treasurer has dropped all pretext and dropped all reference to northern Ontario in his budget statement.
The only excuse I have heard -- and people should reflect upon this when they are paying their $1.3 billion in additional taxes this year on top of the $1.3 billion in additional taxes out of their pockets last year, realizing that this government has doubled its tax revenue since it came to power, from $15 billion to $30 billion -- the only explanation I have been given for the massive increase in the Ministry of Labour administrative expenses, of 110 per cent over three years, is that a former Minister of Labour said, “But we have established a policy department.”
Why the minister cannot make policy decisions is something I do not understand, but he obviously did not want to, so he set up a policy department. With respect to Bill 208 and Bill 162, never have we seen clearer examples of failure to communicate policy ideas to client groups and to the people of Ontario than we have seen with this current Minister of Labour (Mr Sorbara). Never have we seen such a policy failure, if this represents the results of this so-called policy group, as we see with this Minister of Labour.
With respect, the people of this great municipality and all municipalities across Ontario, when they are paying their additional $1.3 billion in taxes this year over the like amount last year and reflecting upon the greed of this Liberal administration, should reflect upon the abject failure of this Liberal administration to deliver affordable housing to the people of Ontario.
They have turned off the private sector. They have not got proper programs in place to encourage home ownership. In fact, they discourage it by their tax revenues and policy measures, they discourage private ownership of homes like never before and their answer is public housing programs which they cannot explain and people cannot access. You now need to pay a consultant to tell you what programs exist in the Ministry of Housing and to get you the application forms. You now need a consultant -- and preferably a Liberal consultant -- in order to get money for a public housing program. The reaction to this failure by the Minister of Housing has been:
“I guess I will lay it all in the hands of the municipalities. You’re now going to have to preservice land, you’re now going to have to adhere to a provincial policy statement on housing, you’re now going to have to do mandatory things under your jurisdiction. You’re going to take the flak for it. Because I can’t do it, I don’t want to do it any more, municipalities are going to do it.”
Those are the consequences of the housing policies entered into by this administration. Not only have the moneys that have been allocated not gone to providing affordable housing, not only have they gone to suspect projects at best -- and we have had some investigations in the standing committee on public accounts over the years on that nonsense -- but the government has not solved the housing crisis in Metropolitan Toronto, nor in virtually every other major centre in Ontario. The policies have been a failure. By every single commentary, every single client group, every single interest group, they have been a failure.
I think it was the member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell) or one of the members -- if it was not the member for Sudbury, I apologize -- who indicated that the north had been well treated by this government. If that is the case, why did the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities meet in Blind River 10 days ago and talk, for the second straight meeting, about setting up an embassy in southern Ontario, in Toronto, so that they could have their say in Queen’s Park? Why did they feel that they are so alienated and isolated from this Liberal administration that they have to set up an embassy?
Do members want to know what the answer of the Minister of Municipal Affairs (Mr Eakins) on television was? “We have other priorities. You’re not our only priority, and that’s the way it is.”
In my 20 years of involvement in politics in northern Ontario, I have never heard the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities talk about setting up an embassy in southern Ontario. I have never heard them say that, and that the Treasurer and the Premier and the cabinet have failed northern Ontario and northern Ontario municipalities. They know it, we know it, and all of the province knows it -- and the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) --
Hon R. F. Nixon: Hear, hear.
Mr Pope: Only the Treasurer applauded.
The Minister of the Environment -- I say to the men and women of Ontario, they probably do not know him. He is generally in Detroit, taking on the city council. He is generally in Buffalo, New York, filing a writ with the federal Superior Court. He is generally in Washington, trying to find someone to talk to with a camera crew. He is generally in Ottawa posing for the cameras and attacking the federal government.
But when it comes to importing tainted fuel, fuel tainted with polychlorinated biphenyls, he is nowhere to be seen, hiding the reports for four months and not telling the people of Ontario what is going on. That is the priority of this Minister of the Environment. It is a disgrace that is his priority. He should stick to protecting the health and safety of the people of this province.
We have enunciated, I think, the problems that we see, that are endemic in the financial policies of this government, revealed by the budgetary policies of this Treasurer and this Premier. We have tried to indicate the consequences of these decisions on the people of Ontario, both in terms of paying more money out of their pockets to the provincial government and also in terms of the payments that they have to make by way of property taxes.
I think it is important to indicate that the personal income tax rates have gone up, in the last five years, from 48 per cent, I believe, to 53 per cent. This Treasurer, in the past 14 months, has himself announced three percentage increases, from 50 per cent to 53 per cent, in personal income tax rates. That is in the past 14 months.
He has announced the surtax. He has announced three separate increases in gasoline taxes. He has announced a new five-dollar-a-tire tax. He has announced a one per cent increase in the sales tax. He has announced a five-cent-a-bottle tax on disposable bottles. He has announced significant increases in the vehicle permit registration fees. He has announced increases in the price of beer, wine and spirits in the 1988 budget. There is no tax that this Treasurer has not taken a run at, not to reduce -- he has never reduced a tax -- but to increase, to increase the taxes, increase the tax rates, increase the tax burden.
The tax burden has been increased, any way we cut it. The Treasurer can say it is a result of remarkable economic revival or strength in Ontario. Some of that is true, but that did not lead this Treasurer to reduce the tax rates that the working men and women of this province pay to him, to his government. That did not lead him to consider reduction in taxes to stimulate further economic growth, particularly in other regions of the province that have not benefited from this economic growth in the Golden Horseshoe over the past five years. That did not lead him to pay down the deficit any more than he has. In fact, I maintain the deficit position is worsening this year over last.
No, he was not stirred by this economic strength in Ontario; he was not moved by economic growth to ease that burden. In spite of these significant economic factors he has increased the tax burden. There is no other way to state it. We have not seen the recognition in this government and this Treasurer of the fact that it is working men and women who are paying.
We have the startling revelation on the payroll tax, according to the Treasurer’s own officials last Thursday, that the self-employed will not contribute to replace Ontario health insurance plan premiums. They are not on a payroll; therefore, no payroll tax; therefore, no payment. Today we have the remarkable situation indicated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) that the burden will fall most squarely on public institutions already financed by the province, so that what is taken in with one hand is given out with the other and there is no net difference to the people of Ontario or to the Treasury.
Mr Fleet: What about the federal government?
Mr Pope: What about the federal government? As I indicated earlier, on page 58, the Treasurer’s own tables show that the transfer payments have increased this year over last year. So we have had an increase in transfer payments, not a reduction, and in 1988 we had a further increase in transfer payments over the previous year. I say to the member for Kitchener (Mr D. R. Cooke) -- it is the bottom table on page 58 -- that it shows an increase two years running in federal transfer payments.
The fact of the matter is that this Treasurer has no excuse for these tax increases. There is no rationale this year and there was none last year. it is hurting the people of Ontario; it is going to impact on northern Ontario and eastern Ontario more than other regions of the province; it is going to hurt the resource sector more than ever before and there is no help in sight for those poor people; it is going to lead to Ontario’s not being as attractive an investment jurisdiction or a jurisdiction for economic activity, if we can believe what the Saskatchewan and Quebec budgets trumpeted for all who wanted to listen.
I do not believe it is going to enhance the competitive position of our small businesses that are going to have to look at international competition and additional imports. I think it is going to create problems that are unnecessary, for those people, given the economic strength of this province.
There should not only be social justice through administration of government programs; there should be economic justice for peoples’ keeping more in their own pockets. We think that should be a priority of the Treasurer, allowing the taxpayers and small business people to keep more in their own pockets so that they can decide how it is going to be used, not an all-knowing Liberal administration. We have seen enough of this dramatic increase in government expenditures -- 10 per cent this year over last year. It was endemic in the Trudeau years in Ottawa.
Hon R. F. Nixon: It is 6.7 per cent.
Mr Pope: No, it is 10 per cent; I am sorry, it is a 9.98 per cent increase in expenditures. We have had enough of that. It is time for this Treasurer to reflect upon the economic needs of average individual taxpayers -- the men and women who work every day; who have families to raise, homes to pay for and mortgages to meet; who have financing payments to make and want to save a little bit of money for the future of their children because it is going to cost more to get into university to get them educated.
We think the Treasurer should have spent more time reflecting on those needs and not the needs of some of the greedy ministers over there, who have let administrative costs get out of control. We think that should be the proper attitude that the Treasurer should bring to the budget-making process. Upon reflection, I believe the Treasurer will agree and amend his budget, because we cannot support the budget we have.
Mr D. R. Cooke: I am always interested in listening to the member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope). He approaches these issues with a sense of concern and sincerity, although sometimes a little misguided. I did look up page 58 in the budget and I do note that he is correct. For established programs, financing interim 1988-89, we are expecting to receive from the federal government $2,674,000,000. Next year we can budget for $2,676,000,000, which I think is pretty well what you would call flat-lining.
The speech from the throne on 25 April gave us a focused commitment on behalf of the government in serving the people of this province.
A focused commitment is important, but it is not enough. If we are to truly succeed in serving this province, we must have more than focus, we must in fact have commitment and we must possess a vision that allows us to be innovative in our approach and that takes a positive response to a growing, dynamic society. I believe this government does have a vision of what Ontario can be and it seems to me that that vision is in fact reflected in this budget.
This budget goes beyond recognizing the problems we face. It transcends pinpointing them and looks for viable solutions to them. It was incredibly innovative to read. It dares to innovate. It recognizes that we need to accommodate growth. it outlines ways in which we can best use our resources to create opportunities for our children and for our future, and it was done, again I would say, with an incredible sense of innovation.
The commitment to social assistance reform which was outlined in the budget is one of the clearest examples of a recognition for a need to change. It is curious that the debate in this regard has existed primarily in this province. I would hope it would extend -- it must extend, of course -- to the rest of Canada if all of the things we wish to have occur can occur.
Our system of social assistance in Ontario holds within it many inequities at the moment. These are inequities which need to be addressed and which this budget has addressed in a positive way.
This is not only a victory for the people of the province, but it is very much an investment for the future of the province. It is a concept that has been supported by members of all parties, but it is a concept that is going to have to be sold as well by members of all parties.
We have no resource in this province that is more precious and more valuable than our people. To recognize that much of this resource has been neglected or placed in a situation of dependence rather than being given the opportunity to live lives of self-sufficiency is definitely an indisputably positive move.
The money earmarked for the implementation of the STEP program, as we are now calling it, or support to employment, will enable people to gain work skills without facing disincentives; it will allow people to seek decent, affordable housing; it will give children better benefits, and it will provide a better remuneration through what will in October be the highest minimum wage in Canada.
Of the recipients of social services, 40 per cent are children, and most people do not realize or grasp that. By making their lives better and giving them the opportunities by removing barriers to them, we build for the future. By allocating an additional $37 million over two years to combat drug abuse, we are making sure that these children get a chance to live.
The $10 million allocated to the Ontario home renewal program for disabled persons, the $38.4 million allocated to making government buildings accessible and the $5 million allocated to improve transportation services for the disabled, all of these things, will enable disabled persons and senior citizens alike to live fuller and more complete lives.
But perhaps the most important reform in this budget is the reform which springs from some of the submissions of the Ontario Public Health Association to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs and the Thomson report and others concerning the health care system.
Opposition members endorse the Social Assistance Review Committee report, and as far as I can grasp, opposition members endorse the reforms which have been announced by the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney). In doing so, unless they believe there is a bottomless pit, they have to endorse something else: They have to endorse a change in the thrust of our health care system.
Here is a book I have been coming to swear by very recently. It was referred to me initially by the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan). If I am carried away by this book, Second Opinion, by Michael Rachlis and Carol Kushner, to the point that I perhaps am disagreeing in some cases with some of the things the ministry is saying, I have to lay the blame on the minister, because she is the one who brought the book to my attention.
I was so entranced by this book that I brought it into the House during the throne speech to read it. I left the House for about five minutes and it disappeared. That copy of it has never been seen since. I am not laying any blame, because it would be unparliamentary of me, about where it went and why it went. In any event, I hope whoever has my original copy is reading it very thoroughly.
The book does a number of things. First, with very clear statistics it lays to rest a number of myths I have had about the health care system. I come from a family with a number of doctors and dentists on both sides of the family in the generation ahead of me, and I suppose I just accepted a lot of the thoughts without ever putting my mind to them. But I am now taking a second look at a lot of this.
Perhaps I can sum up some of the things in this book by referring to examples of two different approaches to problems, essentially medical problems, or health care problems, shall we say, which occurred with a problem starting in January 1978 and continuing to January 1988. The case studies in this book refer to two particular people who had the same thing happen to them starting in 1978 and continuing through to their unfortunate deaths in January 1988.
In case A, it was a gentleman who had a heart attack in January 1978. He spent 20 days in the hospital. Over the next 10 years his health continued to deteriorate. A lot of it was attributed to his refusal to quit smoking, his refusal to change his eating habits, and his sedentary lifestyle. He had a another serious heart attack in 1981 and a further one in 1984, which made it impossible for him to walk even a few blocks; in 1986, he had a fourth heart attack, and he was eventually consumed by a stroke in 1988, with doctors doing everything they could to assist him in the meantime. It is estimated that it cost about $100,000 to care for him over that period of time. About 95 per cent of that money was public money.
The second example is of a woman, 23 years old, a housewife with two children, who was beaten by her husband in January 1978 and went to an emergency department, received some help, looked for a women’s shelter -- in 1978, two out of three women looking for shelter were unable to find any, because they were not available -- and eventually returned home to her husband and lived with him, with continued beatings occurring. She finally left him in 1987 and found another place to live. Unfortunately, in January 1988 he attacked her in a drunken rage and killed her, In the interim, other things happened, including the alleged sexual assault on her children by the husband. The cost of her health care is estimated at somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000.
Why did we choose to spend so much more money on the first situation, when the person concerned perhaps could have been of more help to himself than he was ready to be, than we did on the second?
I quote from the book: “The way we allocate our health dollars reflects these attitudes. Fear of disease, along with the mistaken idea that health care is totally responsible for our wellbeing, has fuelled the development of a hugely expensive sickness treatment system. When contrasted with a high profile of curative medicine, prevention seems very low-key and undramatic. It just isn’t sexy.
“That is why, when it comes to funding, prevention programs lose out to those for sickness treatment time after time. Medical research is a good example. Most research resources are spent looking for cures in the laboratory. This emphasis on germs and genes makes it unlikely that medicine will be able to shed much light on the true underlying causes of illness, the social and environmental context in which diseases flourish.
“In saying this, we are not dismissing the importance of treatment. We are simply arguing that the more emphasis on prevention would obviate the need for treatment in the first place, and in so doing, the argument progresses to the argument...” and they go through, pointing out that, for instance, smallpox is the only disease that has been completely cured in modern times and it was done basically by prevention rather than by treatment or cure. It is something that perhaps we should be taking a close look at as we look at our major causes of concern today, perhaps heart attacks and cancer. They come to the conclusion that:
“A health care system should be one in which the patients come first; planning, administration and delivery of health care should be decentralized; quality assistance mechanisms must be deployed and implemented; the number of doctors entering our system must be reduced; the financing and financial incentives must be changed to encourage efficiency and quality; and the needs must be community-based.”
The member for Cochrane South has just indicated that we do not have enough doctors, but we have more doctors in our community at present than most health economists feel we need. As I recall, Larry Grossman, when he was Minister of Health, quoted figures to the effect that the number of doctors in the community per person did not need to be as high as it is today.
This book argues that one of the greatest causes of poor health is poverty. Poor health starts before birth and continues with the single-parent mother becoming overweight, perhaps because her scanty food budget means she saves fruit and vegetables for the children and eats starchy food herself. Children in poor families are much more likely to have low birth weight, and there are attending problems with that.
Dr Henry Dunne, a professor of paediatrics at the University of British Columbia, says that data from 125,000 births over a five-year period in Montreal showed that unwed mothers had a more than 60 per cent chance of being poor, and more than half were very poor indeed, with incomes 30 per cent or more below the poverty level. Single women with the lowest levels of education were three times more likely to deliver underweight babies. Poor nutrition, smoking and inadequate prenatal care all contribute to this syndrome. All are common characteristics, unfortunately, of the poor.
Workplace accidents are common characteristics of the poor. A lack of social support, perhaps loneliness, might be as well. Tests show that poorer children are more likely to have psychiatric as well as physical illnesses.
The problem, then, is that our attitude is treatment oriented. To some extent, it is a doctor-driven system. In Ontario today a doctor is told that if he treats four extra common head colds a day he can earn himself an extra $20,000 a year. In Ontario today a nurse is prohibited by law from diagnosing a common head cold, let alone treating it. We must reassess the limits of the nursing profession and other professions which can be of assistance in the health care system so that these professions can play a greater role and a more responsible role.
Let us start with this budget to allocate our resources and to deal with the problems and not the results. This is of course a very major financial concern we have, with the health care system taking now in excess of a third of the budget of the province. The budget signals a start to defining health care much more broadly than has been done in the past.
I understand the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy has released a report on these matters, and I just received it as I was listening to the member for Cochrane South. I am not sure of everything that is in it, but I rather expect, as I look at the goals on the frontispiece, that they are not that different from what we are saying here. The goals should be to “shift the emphasis...to health promotion and disease prevention; foster strong and supportive families and communities; ensure a safe and high-quality physical environment;” increase the number of years of good health for the citizens of Ontario, “by reducing illness, disability and premature death, and provide accessible, affordable and appropriate health services for all.”
Basically, what I am saying is that if we are going to do this as responsible members of the Legislature, then we have to refrain from taking the sexy, high-profile situation where an operation may not be available at the moment when it is desired and realize that we have to limit some of those procedures in order to provide better health care, better preventive health care, to all.
Dr K. J. Fyke of the University of Victoria indicates: “Focusing our attention away from illness treatment models to health promotion initiatives which promote healthy lifestyles, environment and standards of living is what needs to be done. There is strong and convincing evidence that, for example, an individual’s level of income, housing and education are important determinants of health.
“As well, providing quality health care requires the government to take initiatives which are designed to achieve three goals. They are: (a) to redirect funding towards research which measures outcomes, including quality-of-life indices from current hospital procedures and technologies, and which provides a framework for evaluating the impact of new technologies and medical procedures before they are introduced; (b) encouraging innovative ways to restructure the health system towards a health orientation; and (c) to ensure that current and future public policies, whether they pertain to highways, forests, social services or agriculture, are made in the light of their impact on health.
“Finally, providing high-quality health care requires consumer involvement in the decision-making process relating to his or her own health care. This means informing the consumer of his or her own capacity to achieve better health and encouraging him or her to become the primary decision-maker in regard to his or her own health care.”
This government has recognized that health care is an ongoing and effective preventive and community-based service. This government has accepted that concept, and I think that is the cause of a lot of the friction that sometimes occurs in this House.
This budget recognizes the need for funding of community and personal health programs. While overall spending is increased by 10.7 per cent on health care, to $13.9 billion this year, community-based programs have increased by significantly higher percentages. Home care assistance received a 24.9 per cent increase, to $349 million. Community mental health programs have increased 30 per cent, to $108 million. Alcohol and drug dependency programs have received a 17.8 per cent increase, to $43 million. These allocations show that this government recognizes the need for a noninstitutional approach to health and health care.
The standing committee on finance and economic affairs recommended, after hearing submissions from health care groups, that health care costs be contained through reorganizing the priorities and the use of cost-effective programs. I would now recommend that this is not only a cost-saving recommendation, but one that may lead to a healthier Ontario.
Community-based and preventive health care measures deal with people as people rather than foreign elements of a huge system. Authors Rachlis and Kushner have been concerned that they do not wish this book to be used by politicians as a crutch, and I think we have to be careful not to do so. We have to use it for a careful restructuring of our social system. The throne speech clearly links the management of the environment to health and to a healthy society. Indeed, the two should be linked, for if you live in a polluted environment you cannot be healthy. Everywhere today we are faced with tough environmental choices, choices that have to be made and enforced in order for Ontario to be healthy.
The Ministry of the Environment’s allocation in this year’s budget is $528 million, an increase of 20 per cent from last year. I see two positive trends in environmental management and this government is committed to progressing with both of them. We will approach challenges both old and new in innovative ways. Last Wednesday’s budget committed much time and effort to user-oriented environmental levies and preventive environment initiatives. The support for established and new programs shows this government’s commitment to the ongoing management of an ecologically fragile environment.
At a town hail meeting that I recently facilitated, we grappled with the issue of growth and there were five separate individuals who made five separate submissions concerning the implications of growth on the environment. We had concerns that ranged from the impact of the ozone deterioration to the shortage of landfill sites, the shortage of water we face in Waterloo region and the need for increased industrial and residential recycling programs. But these five individuals did share a common belief: that we must think globally and act locally, by making the users of environmentally detrimental products or services pay for them.
That concept was coming back time and time again and I am delighted to see it in this budget. This government has embodied that sentiment with initiatives like the gas-guzzler tax, the nonreturnable alcohol container disposal fee and the end to retail sales tax exemptions for fertilizers and pesticides. But we have gone beyond penalties, we have gone beyond taking punitive measures against those who pollute, with programs such as the environmental technologies program which will provide grants to private firms to help reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of pollution control.
Complementing this is the expansion of the cost adjustment program, the continuation of the EnerSearch program and the implementation of loans for environmental defence. These programs will provide research capital for private firms and money for companies to ease them in the transition to safer and stricter environmental standards. Protecting the environment from further damage, working realistically to prevent harm, is what we must do, both for today and for the future.
In the area of education, our initiatives will build for our children by increasing operating grants by 6.1 percent, to $4.1 billion in 1989-90. As well, the three-year, $900-million capital grant for new school construction will be extended to $1.2 billion over four years. Both of these initiatives will help ease the pressures that our public and separate school systems face today. They need to provide quality education to growing numbers of young Ontarians.
This education has increased pressures for us to be technologically advanced. The $60 million allocated for our technological fund between 1990 and 1995 will help to meet the demands of a more highly skilled labour force. If we want to stay competitive, and we must, we need to ensure that we are offering relevant education to the residents of this province.
Education does not begin when you begin school and end when you finish school. Education is a continuous process, of course, throughout life. The extension of the Transitions program and the increased commitment on behalf of this government to adult literacy programs are this budget’s acknowledgements of this fact. Workers who either lack the skills or have obsolete skills must have the opportunity to be re-educated, to be retrained and to be given new lives. What took brawn then, takes brains now. The people of Ontario are willing to make the adjustments if we continue to provide the opportunities that we have.
Colleges and universities are expected to fulfil many roles. They teach the young and the old, they both train and educate. They are to be universal in that they are to serve any student who fulfils the entrance requirements. We are going in the right direction with our university funding, but we need to continue to give as many Ontarians the best possible education we can. This year our government has continued the $10-million commitment to capital projects. We have increased operating grants by 7.5 per cent for universities and 5.6 per cent for colleges. As well, the government has continued to be committed to making campuses more accessible and increasing Ontario student assistance program assistance to $196 million. Incidentally, that has gone up 55 per cent since 1984-85.
Centres of excellence, located since 1987 around the province, will receive $42 million in funding this year. Since 1987, when these centres were established, they have provided vital research in various high-technology areas to compete and to succeed in our growing global economic community. Ontario needs to remain committed to this development.
Development in this province includes transportation. As our population centres around urban areas, we must provide for people needing to transport themselves from one place to another. Whether it is for work or for pleasure, a world-class transportation system is essential if we are to remain competitive. It also tends to make people’s lives easier and more fulfilled. The government’s initiatives in this area are commendable, and if this government had not put forth these initiatives now, Toronto might have been known in the future as the city that never moves. I might indicate that, roughly speaking, the new tax revenues the government intends to receive will approximate the amount of money that will be expended on transportation, according to the Treasurer.
This government can claim victory in its taxation provisions regarding transportation because many of the roads and highways that need to be built and improved are, in fact, in the greater Toronto area. This government has shown a commitment to equity in making Toronto the source of revenue for many of those roads and highways. From the annual levy on parking and commercial property in the greater Toronto area to the differentiated licence renewal fees, this government has shown fairness in commitment to generating revenue from those who use the service.
The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article which points out that Toronto, unlike other communities in North America, has basically a real estate oligopoly which owns and controls a great deal of the real estate in downtown Toronto. That oligopoly will probably be the loser with regard to the taxation on commercial development. It points out that a report on Toronto’s property market by Salomon Brothers, a New York-based investments firm, says that the downtown Toronto office market is one of the only ones in North America that is dominated by such a cartel. It names Olympia and York, the Big Five banks and Cadillac Fairview. I will come back to that in a minute.
Ontario Budget 1989 has also given us a chance to expand upon and improve upon providing decent and affordable living to every Ontarian. The Homes Now program devotes an additional $1 billion, which brings our total commitment to $3 billion. Seventy per cent of the homes produced under this program will provide rent-geared-to-income housing.
Also, this government has shown its commitment to new home buyers by refunding the land transfer tax to those first-time buyers registered in the Ontario home ownership savings plan who purchase houses worth up to $150,000. It will also partially renew if those first-time home buyers now purchase and pay under $200,000.
I would just like to say how much we have done in the area of housing. In a growing and dynamic society, housing becomes scarce. Since I came here in 1985, I have watched the solutions and options we have for the future of housing grow. We must constantly look at new means, tirelessly look at new ways and ceaselessly look at new options.
The member for Guelph (Mr Ferraro) will know as well as I do how tense the housing market has been in our area.
We must continue to work towards every individual being housed affordably and properly. I will support the minister and her ministry in any way I can, in order that we may explore new ways to create housing, be innovative in our approach and be fair in our assessment of what is needed. This government has brought to life the reality that housing is not a privilege, but some sort of housing is basically a right. We have to continue in this positive direction.
We have made significant and vital changes and announced new initiatives in the areas of social assistance, education, health, the environment, transportation and housing.
We have also made a new commitment to culture. In total, the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has allocated $25 million in increased support to cultural agencies and institutions. The Ontario Arts Council, TVOntario, capital funding of the Royal Ontario Museum, Science North, the Royal Botanical Gardens, the International Telecommunications Discovery Centre and the McMichael Gallery will all receive capital improvement grants. This will allow Ontario further to establish itself as a cultural centre and it will respond to the recent federal cuts with a $34-million apportionment over the next two years to the film industry.
These two initiatives, combined with the continued commitment to the tourism redevelopment incentive program, which the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr O’Neil) announced just the day before the budget, and the Canada-Ontario tourism development agreement will continue to make Ontario the tourist focus for those both inside and outside the province.
Once again, the standing committee on finance and economic affairs may have had -- we will never know for sure, but I think it has -- some effect on the budget. If we exclude item 5 from our recommendations, which is revenue sources, and look at the other 21 recommendations, we will note that three of them are not really budgetary matters and hopefully will be addressed in another manner.
The establishment of a socioeconomic round table is a very important one, if I may talk about that for just a moment. The concept is that the Social Assistance Review Committee’s work was basically new work. It was work that we had never really done in this province. In the whole history of social assistance in this province, we had never looked at the needs of the poor. When the look took place, apparently -- they report to us -- they found a number of things, a number of concepts, which were outmoded and which had never really been addressed; some going back to the First World War, when our approaches to this sort of thing were very different.
This is the third prebudget report which our committee has produced to the Legislature. I recall we received at least one submission last year on this issue, and we may have had more, but we certainly did not have enough to press us on it and we certainly did not really address it in our deliberations. The chances are, the poor being as they are, not being articulate, this could occur again down the road in the future. The chances are that we could go another 70 years before the problem becomes so big, so gigantic, that we would be forced once again to look at it.
What is needed in these circumstances, in my submission, is a round table, a council to be set up to look constantly and to remind us constantly of the need that we have in this province to be aware of social concerns and social problems when we are addressing the economy.
The Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, which is an excellent document which is produced in the fall of the year by the Treasury and on which we base a lot of our deliberations, does not include a section on social impact. Perhaps it should, but then again, they have asked us for our submissions and we have not ever said to them, in the last two years, that it should. This year I am saying it should and that should be a preface to the work of that round table.
The other two things really are not budgetary matters, because a round table is not something that really can be addressed in a budget but should be addressed elsewhere. We did suggest a need for improved consultations concerning native affairs and multiculturalism.
If you take those things out and look at the 18 items remaining, 17 of them have been addressed in this budget.
We asked unanimously, all parties, for complete social assistance reform and we got it. We asked unanimously for a cross-ministry cost-benefit analysis of what is now being called STEP -- STEP, incidentally, is the support to employment program -- and we are getting, according to this budget, an independent review of the effectiveness of our reforms.
I am delighted to hear that. I think we need to continue the debate as to just what that should involve. There has been some feeling in the committee, frankly, that maybe that would involve the government assessing itself. I frankly think the word “independent” in the budget may be a response to us that it needs to be done outside the government so that the natural inclination, I suppose, of civil servants to protect their own turf will not result in it being less valuable than it should be.
We asked for an introduction of lot levies as a source of revenue for boards of education and we got the Development Charges Act. We asked for additional funds for research, capital and operating grants to post-secondary education. I have already reviewed the results of that. We asked, we got it, and we also got new funding for the Ontario student assistance program.
We asked for containment of health care costs through a reorganizing of priorities and a using of cost-effective programs and an emphasis on preventive health care models and we got it.
We asked for improved salaries and working conditions in community service organizations. I feel that is not something that is a big public issue, and if it occurs -- and it would look as if it will by this budget -- it may well be that it is principally because of our plea.
We asked for more funding for child care programs and spending. Despite federal cutbacks, which will continue to grow in this area, the funding will continue to grow as it has since 1985. If you count the funding from 1985 to the present time, it has grown at a rate of 31 per cent per annum.
Finally, we asked for increased funding for programs for the disabled and we got it.
Once again, for a third straight year, we have played some role -- and this time, I like to feel, a fairly major role -- in shaping a budget.
This year, however, for the first time, we did seriously look at the more sensitive issue of revenues. I think we discovered that it was a much more difficult chore to look at that area, and I am proud of the members of the committee for the strong stands that were taken in this regard. It is much easier, especially for government members I suppose, to try and hide behind certain anonymity and allow the Treasurer to take the flak for that area. We did not. We took a stand.
Some of our ideas, such as a further increase in personal income tax and a further increase in the liquor tax, have been adopted. Other of our ideas, such as looking at a net wealth tax, increasing a surtax on high-income earners and introducing a minimum corporate tax, were rejected, for the time being at least, but they were rejected in favour of what I would call some very innovative and user-sensitive levies.
We asked that the Treasurer work toward eliminating net cash requirements and reducing the deficit. Of course, what we got was a net cash surplus of $478 million, a deficit lower, in absolute dollars, than it has been in the last 15 years and an operating surplus of $2.6 billion, so 82 per cent of new capital programs will be financed out of current revenues, a concept which surely any industry would be proud to be able to do.
We now have a total debt which apparently takes about 12.6 months to pay, according to the budget. When this government came into office, that was 15.9 months. Interest payments are about 10.5 per cent of our current revenue, compared to the federal government’s 35 per cent.
We do have innovative and user-sensitive levies. I refer to the tax on fuel-inefficient passenger cars; the end of the retail sales tax exemption on fertilizers and pesticides; the enhancement of the Ontario tax reduction program, which in essence creates more progressivity in the tax situation, and assistance for first-time home buyers, along with sensible adjustments in the land transfer tax.
The budget includes an incredibly interesting documentation of what assists people and what assists business and where moneys come from. People will pay more in gasoline and fuel tax, business vehicle registration, personal income tax, beverage alcohol, environmental taxes and drivers’ licence fees, but they will in fact gain a total of $1 billion in not having to pay OHIP premiums at, I think it is, $714 a year per family. The total impact on people is, in fact, reduced taxes in the amount of $400 million.
On business, the total impact is increased taxes in the amount of $762 million, but when you look at perhaps the most significant part of that, the employer health levy, you realize that the greatest payer of increased tax in that regard is the federal government, and we are, I suppose, simply innovatively replacing moneys which were removed from us a few weeks earlier by Mr Wilson.
Then we have the commercial construction levy. I was speaking earlier of the significance of that particular tax and the companies that may have, in the end, to pay large proportions of that, Olympia and York, Cadillac Fairview, banks and other companies that seem to have a lot of money to invest in that sort of thing. As well, it is user-sensitive in that it will hopefully help to control the use of automobiles in the congested parts of cities.
In the circumstances of the extent to which the finance committee has gone somewhere in looking at revenues, it might be valuable and the committee might be able to serve this Legislature and the Treasurer well if we commence a thoughtful and thorough review of all revenue-generating possibilities and their impact, including the province’s appropriate response to the national sales tax, which we know will have a major inflationary impact on the province. A lot of other things about it we do not know.
I listened very carefully to the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren) on Thursday. He is right when he says that some of our large corporate conglomerates are not paying their fair share of taxes. In fairness, I think the Treasurer challenged the finance committee on that back in 1986 when he asked us to come up with a solution. We did hear a lot of evidence but did not come up with a solution. He has now, in essence, come up with a partial solution.
I was interested in reading in this morning’s Globe and Mail an article in the business section under the title “Worth Repeating” by John Raymond, written apparently by the chairman of Trilon Corp, Melvin Hawkrigg, in which Mr Hawkrigg says:
“In Ontario, one third of all students drop out before grade 12. Only 50 per cent of those who reach grade 12 are considered as having a ‘high school education.’ Of the 33 who go to university, 20 to 40 per cent fail in the first year.”
He goes on to say:
“In spite of our continuing rising education costs, it is estimated that more than 22 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 are functionally illiterate. What an appalling indictment of our education system.”
Unfortunately, he is probably accurate in so far as functional illiteracy is concerned. I am happy to see that there is budget money appropriated for relieving that problem and there is budget money that we have talked about with regard to the improvement of education. The opposition may say there is not enough.
I was interested in trying to determine what the Trilon Corp is. I note that in the Financial Post silver anniversary edition of the top 500 companies, the Trilon Corp ranked seventh behind the Big Five banks and caisses populaires in assets of financial institutions in Canada and it ranked sixth in revenue. It has $31.8 billion in assets and had $3.9 billion in revenue last year.
What does it contribute to the tax system? The 1987 annual report of Trilon indicates:
“Income taxes which include $1 million deferred income expense reflect an effective tax rate which is lower than the statutory rate. The difference between the approximate 50 per cent statutory rate in 1986 and 1987 and the effective rate is accounted for principally by nontaxable investment income and also by lower foreign tax rates.”
If we look back, we see that they have a tax rate of $31 million they paid in income tax on $181 million of income, which means a tax rate of 17 per cent. This is not exactly the going corporate rate that one would have expected.
I also note that the Hees International Corp is a little further down in the Financial Post top 500. They have deferred taxes on a net income of $150 million and they are not paying any taxes this year.
By and large, these companies are paper shufflers. I do not know to what extent. There may be some extent to which they contribute, but I do not see a great extent to which they contribute to our productivity. Perhaps we should investigate them and perhaps we should investigate the extent of taxation that can be given to the banks.
But in this area, we have had a very good start. Then when we do that, we can put even more money into the apprenticeship programs as Mr Hawkrigg requests. In other words, we have very serious work to do to make certain that we break down the barriers to training and employment. We have very serious work to do to make certain that we can compete with the global economy by having skilled workers and by aggressively pursuing new markets, to make certain that our health care system works and our environment is clean and to make sure that everyone in our society has a chance. That is why I intend to vote for this budget. Let’s get started.
Mr Morin-Strom: I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this year’s budget debate and to be our second speaker following the Treasury critic, who made an excellent address on our behalf late last week.
Hon Mr Conway: I read the Sault Ste Marie Star last week and found some very interesting comments.
Mr Morin-Strom: I am sure the member is going to find many more interesting comments today.
Hon Mr Conway: I see Bud Wildman favours province-wide pooling. I didn’t know that.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The member will address his remarks through the chair and ignore all the interjections.
Mr Morin-Strom: We will get to these and many other issues as the debate goes on.
In summary, for the average taxpayer this budget is really one that indicates a Liberal drift on policy, and particularly the important issue of tax fairness. For the average taxpayer, the Ontario Liberals have just finished the job Michael Wilson started.
Stripped of all the self-congratulatory rhetoric, the government has made a tax grab of over $1 billion in new tax dollars for the second year in a row: another jump in the income tax rate, a series of tax increases on everything from beer to gas to licence plates and another kick in the teeth for municipalities and school boards with the inevitable round of property tax increases to follow.
The greatest deception is the abject failure of the Liberal government to make the tax system any fairer for ordinary working people. The wealthy do not have to worry about an inheritance tax or a wealth tax from this government. Banks and financial institutions are unscathed. There is nothing new on the capital tax and nothing new on corporate tax rates. In fact, there is a $5-million giveaway. The Treasurer continues to piggyback on every unfair tax increase the federal Tories have brought in. This is a government without the courage to set its own direction.
That tax grab is in the face of a dramatically slowing economy, from 4.8 per cent growth in gross domestic product in 1989 to a projected 2.8 per cent next year. Only half as many new jobs will be created next year as this and unemployment will rise in Ontario. Inflation will jump by more than a percentage point, to 5.8 per cent.
There is nothing on child care and nothing to improve the job prospects of working people apart from a tiny increase in the minimum wage, token expenditures on literacy and training and just $10 million to address labour market needs. That does not begin to address the needs of 1,700 workers in northern Ontario who have lost their jobs because of the export tax on softwood lumber, let alone the thousands of Ontarians out of work because of the free trade agreement.
There is no serious change in environmental spending or programs to reflect the crying need to deal with garbage and the reduction of waste production.
With more than $40 billion in revenue, the government could have done lots of things to make taxes fairer, improve services and raise the quality of life for the citizens of Ontario. They did not, and that is too bad. The drift from this government continues, and nowhere is that drift more serious than when it deals with the issues facing northern Ontario.
We can look in vain for programs or new funding for northern Ontario in last week’s provincial budget from the Liberals; we will not find them. Laid-off workers get nothing. Those with innovative ideas who thought there might be an infusion of capital into the northern Ontario heritage fund can forget it: there are no new funds. Municipalities that thought much-needed northern road construction would get a boast are disappointed.
Let’s start with job loss. The Ontario government has talked a lot about helping those in the north who have lost or will lose their work because of the free trade agreement or the 15 per cent tax on softwood lumber exports to the United States. There is nothing specific for these northern Ontarians.
For example, government revenues from the softwood lumber tax will be $18 million in the next year but none of it is going to help those who have lost their jobs because of it, despite previous promises to that effect. There is no industry in Ontario that is under more severe strain than the lumber industry in northern Ontario.
The government has come up with $19 million for labour adjustment for the whole province, $9 million of which will go for the federal program for older worker adjustment for laid-off employees over 55. Government officials estimate this will help about 1,000 workers. That is small solace, for there are already 1,700 jobless in the lumber industry alone and 700 will be out of work when the iron mines in Kirkland Lake and Temagami close.
Instead of significant new money to help with needed economic development and diversification, the northern Ontario heritage fund gets no new money.
A communique accompanying the budget quotes the provincial Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) as saying, “Our improvement of roads and highways in the north continues at a steady pace.” It would be quite a funny statement if he did not actually mean it. Northern roads and highways need significant improvement immediately but there is no new money from the province. That is bad news and there is more bad news for municipalities in the north. The freeze on unconditional grants continues. An average of 20 per cent of northern municipalities’ budgets comes from these unconditional grants, a hardship that is inflicted far more on northern communities than others in the province.
By not increasing taxes on mining companies despite the record-breaking profits they continue to make, the government has missed a glorious opportunity to increase revenues. Ironically, Just last week in the Quebec budget, an increase in corporate tax was announced that would take additional revenues of $138 million. To add insult to injury, the only government ministry to have had its budget reduced is the Ministry of Natural Resources, which will have to provide services, particularly in the forest sector, with three per cent less money than the year before.
This budget has been a travesty in terms of the opportunities that have been lost to Ontario. At a time when the economy remains strong, when budget revenues are exceeding expectations, this government and this Treasurer had the opportunity to take forceful steps that could have meant an improved economy, particularly in those regions which still have levels of unemployment that are far too high and which need action with respect to diversification of the economy and a more balanced industrial structure.
I would like to look through some of the subjects the Treasurer has brought up, particularly in his budget address. I think it is appropriate that I have this early opportunity to address the budget, because two of the first sections in the Treasurer’s address are on areas of critic responsibility for which I am the New Democratic Party’s critic: Industry, Trade and Technology and Transportation.
In both of these areas, the government has been seriously remiss in the action that is needed to build on the strength of this province and to ensure there is fairer distribution of the economic wealth in the future and security for workers for years to come.
Hon Mr Conway: Can we have your sketch plans for the new Jerusalem at a tax rate that does not suffocate everyone?
Mr Morin-Strom: I think we are getting a lot of interruptions, which I do not believe happened during the previous speaker.
The budget starts with the subject of keeping Ontario competitive. I agree with the statement that “Ontario must secure and support its competitive position to keep the economy growing and to maintain our quality of life.” However, after this government had spent more than two years fighting a free trade initiative from the federal Conservatives, we have no response in this major document to the most important economic issue that our province and our country has faced in the past several years.
This government has done nothing and has proposed nothing to deal with the dislocation that this government knows is going to happen as a result of that agreement.
The government could have taken steps to ensure that the adjustments would occur with sensitivity to the working people of this province and to ensure that we can maintain some control on our corporate sector, particularly when it comes to the contradictions between lack of initiatives in the government and the direction that the Premier’s Council on technology has been recommending to the government.
The Premier (Mr Peterson) formed the council more than two years ago and it has now printed at least two major studies on where industry should be going in Ontario. I think it is unfortunate that this government has ignored these studies and has not taken some of the progressive steps that are in these studies in terms of competing in the new global environment. There are recommendations in here, but the government has continued to take a stand emphasizing a high-tech future for the province, emphasizing certain industries at the expense of many critical industries that have been of greatest importance to the province and will continue to be for many years to come.
With respect to the allocations that are referred to in the budget statement, the budget says that this year over $132 million will be provided out of the $1-billion, 10-year technology fund, but where are these funds going? The largest single amount is $47 million that is going in tax support available through the research and development superallowance; and that is not going to particular new initiatives that are going to develop industry in Ontario. These are further tax write-offs, opportunities for industries to eliminate their tax liability to Ontario, not for developments which are going to occur here in Ontario, but rather, the emphasis is on the purchase of equipment and machinery for industries in the province.
We know that the vast majority of equipment and machinery purchases occur not here in Ontario but outside of the country. We are a net importer of machinery and equipment, but what does this government do? It does not encourage the development of that industry in Ontario and ensure that those funds go to the development of strong machinery and equipment industries that make sense for the kinds of major industries we have in Ontario, Instead, those secondary industries are being encouraged outside the province and we are going to give tax write-offs for the purchase of that equipment from suppliers in Japan, Germany, the United States and elsewhere. Surely that is a nonsense allocation.
The second major source of funds is the $40 million going to the Ontario centres of excellence. This program is funding major centres at universities throughout southern Ontario. None of these centres of excellence, which involve consortia of industry and universities in the province, involves any industries or universities in northern Ontario.
This program has been totally discriminatory in terms of its approach. It has not addressed major industries such as the forest industry, such as the mining industry, such as the transportation industry, which is so critical to a province the size of Ontario. Instead, a few selected university departments in southern Ontario are getting some additional funds, which they do desperately need because the province is unwilling to provide ongoing capital and operating funds for the major universities of this province. Instead of adequate base and regular operating funds to our universities and our research capability on an ongoing basis, the province’s approach is to pick and select a few university departments at the bigger universities in the province and target them for special selection and they do get some funds to maintain their programs. But meanwhile, other university departments continue to be starved by the province.
Hon Mr Conway: Last week the Sault Star wrote that Dr Morin-Strom was having some good news to say about this budget.
Mr Morin-Strom: We will get to the good things in a short while.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Morin-Strom: The members who have sat on the standing committee on finance and economic affairs know full well that during the process of public hearings that we have held on this budget for the past three years, universities have been one of the areas which have consistently lobbied and have consistently come forward with their prime needs to maintain quality university programs. They have told us directly -- whether it is the faculty associations, the Council of Ontario Universities or the Ontario Federation of Students -- they have all told us that the quality is not up to the standards that it should be, because the funding has been starved by the province.
When it comes to research capabilities, our province is not on the forefront of research in the world university setting; and unless this government realizes that it cannot just pick and choose and provide some additional funding to an occasional department in a university through programs such as this centres of excellence program, this province is not going to go anywhere when it comes to research.
The funding from this province has been an embarrassment, when it comes to our universities and our capability to be able to provide quality, competitive research facilities and equipment for the students that we are trying to train in Ontario.
In terms of university funding, one area that is particularly discriminatory is the funding for northern Ontario. As taxpayers from the north, we fund our universities. We provide between eight and nine per cent of the population of this province and the tax revenues of this province, but we get less than half of that back in terms of university places and university funds in northern Ontario. The total budget of all the universities in northern Ontario is smaller than any one of the major universities in southern Ontario.
One could take a university such as the University of Waterloo, which is an excellent university, one of two serving a relatively small population area, and that budget for that one university is approximately double the total university budget of all of the universities in northern Ontario combined.
This government has continued to lack an economic direction and has lacked --
Hon Mr O’Neil: Somebody from the Sault saying that!
Mr Morin-Strom: We know the needs in northern Ontario, in terms of diversifying our economy, in building on our base. The next topic in the budget has to deal with the transportation infrastructure and the transportation investment in this province, and if there is ever an area that has been starved for funds, it is transportation in Ontario.
The Ministry of Transportation has not received increases in its funds to keep up with inflation. Expenditures on roads have not kept up with needs. Road budgets have fallen in comparison with other expenditures in the province and in the last 17 years, the slice of Ontario’s budgetary expenditures to the Ministry of Transportation has shrunk from 13.5 per cent to 5.2 per cent. On the other hand, there has been a tremendous increase in road usage.
In northern Ontario particularly, the need for highways is critical to the economic future of our area and this province has done nothing, this government has done nothing, in the last two years, about the development of a major trans-Canada highway that would link the major centres in northern Ontario with their markets in southern Ontario and elsewhere.
Until this government addresses the problems in northern Ontario, budgets like these are not going to have any acceptance from the people of the north. I would suggest that this government look again at why northern Ontario was ignored in this budget.
At this time, it being six o’clock, I move that the debate be adjourned. I will continue tomorrow.
On motion by Mr Morin-Strom, the debate was adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1801.