The House met at 1000.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
NORTHERN HEALTH SERVICES
Mr Laughren moved resolution 7:
That, in the opinion of this House, recognizing that northern Ontario faces particular problems in the delivery of health care due in large part to the sparse population spread over great distances and the nature of the resource-based economy, the government of Ontario should immediately take special measures to provide needed health care to northerners, including but not limited to:
the creation of a medical school in the north providing training for a wide range of health professionals and with a focus on community and preventive care as a key way of dealing with the problems of recruitment and retention;
the provision of more community-based care and more nonphysician health care providers as a key way to deal with the problems of delivery of services;
more home care and chronic care resources to meet the challenge of an ageing population;
culturally appropriate delivery of services, particularly for francophones and natives; and
improvements to the medically necessary travel grants.
The Deputy Speaker: The member has up to 20 minutes to make his presentation and may reserve any portion of that 20 minutes for the windup.
Mr Laughren: I will indeed reserve some time to conclude when other members have had a chance to speak.
This resolution really comes from a task force the New Democratic Party caucus established about a year ago. In three different trips we travelled throughout all of northern Ontario. We had one trip in the northwest, one in the northeast through the corridor from North Bay up to Timmins and then another trip up through the Sault Ste Marie, Chapleau, Wawa and Sudbury part of the province. We did not go to just the large communities; we went to the small communities as well.
We know, and even knew before we went there, that there is inadequate service in the north. We know that in Ontario as a whole costs are skyrocketing in health care and we also know that most of the health care dollars go to doctors and hospitals. We all demand more, all of us. There are no exceptions to that. We are all after more for our institutions and for a better health care system, but in this year, in the budget that was tabled just a week ago, the health budget is $13.7 billion. That is fully one third of the entire provincial budget, up 10 per cent from a year ago.
In northern Ontario there are particular problems and there is a chronic crisis of lack of services, lack of doctors and lack of institutions. We not only have the problems that the south has; we have more problems than the south has in terms of health care. That is why we established our task force and visited all those communities. There were 200 groups and individuals that told us 200 different stories about their problems with health care in the north.
The hospitals are underfunded. There are entire communities without any doctors whatsoever. There are physicians in the larger centres, but they are carrying too heavy a workload. There is a lack of specialists all throughout the north: psychiatrists, speech pathologists, paediatricians, orthopaedic surgeons, gynaecologists. Quite frankly, the government has an underserviced area program, but that is not working very well either. We all know that. The recruiting and retaining of doctors and all health professionals has been a problem in northern Ontario.
The Ontario Medical Association’s special committee on northern affairs -- by the way, I commend the association for striking that committee -- identified the following shortages in northern Ontario as of the fall of 1987: no geriatricians, no rheumatologists except for one in Sudbury, only one haematologist, no specialist obstetrical services for 40,000 people in the Timiskaming area, no child and adolescent psychiatric inpatient services except in Sudbury and serious shortages of resident psychiatrists, general practitioner anaesthetists and family doctors in towns that can support only one to three physicians. That was the report tabled by the OMA’s special committee on northern affairs about a year ago.
There is also, all across the north, a marked lack of services for francophones in their language. I can recall someone coming before us and telling us about how difficult it is if you are a mental health worker, for example, or a psychiatrist and you are trying to counsel someone who is having very severe personal problems. How do you counsel that someone in a language other than his mother tongue? It puts an unbearable burden both on the patient and the person who is trying to deliver the service. That is not just with the francophones either, of course. That applies as well to our first citizens, the native people.
There are particular problems, and I am glad that my leader, the member for York South (Mr B. Rae), is here this morning, because he took part in the task force whenever he could and indeed made a special trip up to the James Bay communities and can tell members stories about the problems up there.
For example, at Fort Albany and Attawapiskat, both communities have hospitals but no resident physician. Each has a hospital but no doctor in those two communities. Doctors do come and visit, I think about every month or so, but there is no continuity. It is not always the same doctor. The health care delivery is not in the Cree language. That must put an unbearable burden on both parties. There is no ambulance service in those communities. Of course, all of this is in communities where the health of the people is poor to start with. There is much to be done for our first citizens in the delivery of health care.
In general, the northern health care problems are truly serious. This government has an option here. They can either continue to try, to put out brushfires wherever they occur, where there is a doctor desperately needed in a community. They can crank up the underserviced area program and put some pressure on and try to get somebody to go in for a while, but then in another community the same problem happens and the problem is not resolved, it is still there.
The province has to take a different look at the way it delivers health care. I think there is an opportunity to use northern Ontario as a kind of model for the delivery of preventive health care and community-based health care. The population of northern Ontario is such that it could be done, it could be used as a model.
I know there are no simple, easy solutions to changing the health care system from one based on illness to one based on wellness. That is not an easy task, and anybody who thinks he can snap his fingers and turn that system around is kidding himself and whomever he is talking to as well.
We do know that at the present time the preventive health care budget, I think, is about 1.4 per cent of the total budget of the Ministry of Health, so we are really not putting enough into preventive health care. That simply has to change or we will for ever be throwing money into a bottomless pit. We will all be there demanding it as well, no exceptions. So that means we have to spend more money on preventive health care and on community-based health care, if in the long run we are going to turn the system around.
I would suggest that we start with a northern medical school. For a long time people have been talking about a northern medical school, but there has been resistance, both from the previous government and from the present government. As a matter of’ fact, it is just in the last year or so that the Ontario Medical Association has come around to supporting this concept, and now the association’s special committee on northern affairs recommends as well that there be a medical school in northern Ontario.
I think there is growing recognition that this is what is needed. I cannot remember how many groups, but almost every group that came before us talked about the need for a northern medical school. There is a growing feeling in the north that this is necessary if we are going to attract doctors to the north and, just as important, keep them once they get there. That is not going to happen -- it certainly has not happened and we have no reason to believe that it is going to happen -- if we train all our doctors in southern Ontario.
There are, I believe, five medical schools in southern Ontario and none in northern Ontario. I do not think one is being parochial to argue that is fundamentally wrong in this province. There should be a medical school in northern Ontario. I would argue that the population of northern Ontario is roughly 750,000 people. That is a substantial population and can justify a medical school. For example, Saskatchewan has a medical school and Saskatchewan’s population is just over one million. Newfoundland has a medical school and its population is not much over 500,000. It is not as big as northern Ontario in population.
We have those two jurisdictions and certainly nobody questions the need for a medical school in those two provinces. Why then do we question the need for a medical school in northern Ontario? Is it cost? The doctors are going to be trained somewhere. Sure, it is expensive to build a medical school, but the people we would be training in the north we would not be training here, so it makes a great deal of sense to establish a medical school in northern Ontario.
I would argue as strongly as I could that if there is a medical school in northern Ontario, it should not be a carbon copy of the medical schools in southern Ontario. We do not want a carbon copy of what we have down in southern Ontario. I do not think that would make any sense whatsoever. I would urge that a medical school in the north have a different kind of curriculum, that it be a curriculum based on emphasizing preventive health care and community-based delivery of health care in northern Ontario.
Let’s face it, the communities are spread farther apart and they are much smaller. It makes much more sense to have community-based health care in northern Ontario and it would make no sense to build a medical school in the north that was the same as the ones in the south. There is an opportunity here.
I talked earlier about a model for health care that was different from what we presently have, and if we use northern Ontario with its own medical school to help build the model based on community delivery of health care as well as preventive care, then I think we would be making a big step forward to building the kind of health care system we want for all of the province.
I know it is very difficult just to revamp the entire medical health care system in the province, but here is an opportunity to use the north as a model and strike out in some new areas in the delivery of health care. I suggest that the curriculum should emphasize not only community-based care and preventive care, but also the training of paramedics and paraprofessionals, nurse practitioners, for example, and community volunteers, and that we approach the delivery of health care differently than we have historically.
In such a northern medical school there would of course be emphasis on the delivery of services to francophones and natives, because that is a very serious gap in the health care system in this province. We should no longer tolerate inadequate services for our francophone population and for our first citizens. That is fundamentally wrong. I do not think it is going to change if we continue to train all of our doctors and other professionals in southern Ontario.
I also, as a result of our task force travelling in the north, want to say a few words about the travel grants. Members may recall that one of our colleagues, Jim Foulds from Port Arthur, fought a long and courageous battle to get travel grants. Then when the accord was struck between this party and the Liberals in 1985, the travel grants were part of that accord. That is why we have travel grants now.
It started out being travel expenses for 300 kilometres and now it is down to 250, but that does not solve a lot of the problems with people getting to regional health care centres. It gets some people to Toronto but it does not get people to health centres like Sudbury, the Sault or Thunder Bay, or even from northwestern Ontario to Winnipeg. That needs to be corrected; the 250 kilometres is too great a distance.
Second, travel companions’ expenses are not covered if the patient is over the age of 18. Even if that person is terribly ill, blind or whatever, the travel grant does not cover an attendant going with him. I think that needs to be corrected.
Finally, the actual costs of travel and accommodation are not covered, just the travel costs based on a formula. Those three corrections need to be made to the northern Ontario travel grant.
We in northern Ontario do need an improved health care system. I am, and we are as a caucus, encouraging the government to look at it differently and to make it a different kind of health care system based on prevention, based on community-based delivery of health care and with culturally and linguistically appropriate services and, finally, more nonphysician health care providers.
Mr Speaker, I would like to reserve the balance of my time for after other members have had an opportunity to speak on this resolution.
Mr Harris: I am pleased to rise in support of the resolution put forward by the member for Nickel Belt (Mr Laughren). What I particularly like about the resolution is that he has given us some things to think about as legislators and individuals. I am certain that not everybody will agree 100 percent with some of the methods the member might propose to solve what I think all of us would agree is a problem. On the other hand, I think there are a number of areas that the member has incorporated into the resolution that are difficult to find fault with, certainly in principle and in direction.
I am particularly pleased that it is not a resolution saying: “We need more of the same in northern Ontario. You’ve got this in Toronto, you’ve got this in London. We want one of those in northern Ontario.” I want to say I congratulate the member for really thinking about what some of the problems are in northern Ontario and looking at not the “me too” syndrome, which is very often a cry we hear, not just from northern Ontario but from those who feel for one reason or another that they are slightly out of the mainstream, but indeed taking an approach to say we need something in northern Ontario to solve different problems. He has given us a number of areas and food for thought, and I appreciate that.
Having said that, I want to comment on a couple of them, particularly the medical school in the north. I could not agree with the member more that it would be an important step for us to have a medical school somewhere in northern Ontario. When the member was talking about the medical school in the north, he was talking about a different school, not paralleling one from southern Ontario but indeed focusing in that school on the particular areas of concern that we face in the north.
I want to expand on that and say that one of the difficulties I have had in dealing with our universities in northern Ontario is what I have always felt to be a rather narrow vision, saying, “We want to provide here what the University of Western Ontario provides so that our kids do not have to go to London. They can stay here. We want to be able to provide what Queen’s University provides. We want to provide what the University of Toronto provides,” whether that is North Bay, Nipissing University College, Laurentian University in Sudbury or the university in Thunder Bay talking.
I have always felt, and this is why I am intrigued with the member’s comments as well, we ought not to be shooting for some form of education in northern Ontario that is exactly the same as what you can get somewhere else, with the sole reason being that our children will not have to leave home to get these programs.
I have looked at example after example in other jurisdictions, including examples in the United States. One of the things they do well is they have not felt that major universities have to be in major cities. Indeed, some of their most prestigious universities and campuses are totally off in an area that may be hundreds or thousands of miles from what one would consider to be mainstream communities. Yet we seem to have this narrow focus that if the institution is any good, if it is going to be excellent, if it is going to be doing something that is unique, world-class or Canadian-class, it has to be in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
I disagree with that and I think our institutions in the north should set their sights a little higher. I think this government has to have a view that there is no reason at all why northern Ontario university programs, and in this case the medical school, have to be limited to provide just for the needs of the north. In my view, that is the wrong approach. I think it sends out a signal about the north, how we feel about ourselves and how we are looked at and approached by big governments in Ottawa and Toronto.
I know I have digressed a tad, but I think it is important and it is something I believe strongly in. So I would expand on what the member has said in that, yes, we should be looking at a medical program in the north that would help solve some of our problems in the north, but we should be looking at it as well with a view to being the best and the most innovative medical school that would apply worldwide, that would not just train people to practise and stay in northern Ontario but that would indeed be the type of institution that would be recognized, so that if in Australia one faces similar situations with major centres and then some of the smaller areas and distances and what not, people would say: “Well, gee, you know, there is a school in northern Ontario that is absolutely the best in the world. That’s where we should be going.”
That part is important to me as well. I would suggest that we ought not to be limiting it to the medical school and just providing those services, but of course they would indeed be very beneficial to helping us in northern Ontario.
When the member talks about provision of more community-based care, I am delighted to hear him talk about preventive health care and the paraprofessionals, paramedics, nurse practitioners, which in my view are all areas that we should be promoting in northern Ontario, and being critical of some of us in the north, placing a little less emphasis on saying there are such-and-such specialists now in Toronto, Ottawa and London, so we want those specialists in Iroquois Falls, Sturgeon Falls, Sudbury and various areas.
Quite frankly, to me that is very expensive, impractical and not a good use of resources. In some very high specialty areas I would be content to make sure that northerners have equal access to those specialists, to that equipment and to those programs in other areas, but I would say to members that there is absolutely no reason why some of those specialty areas ought not to be in northern Ontario. When we look at the heart program that is in Sudbury, to me there is no reason why patients in Toronto ought not to consider Sudbury as one of the premier locations where they ought to be looking at bypass surgery or specialties in those areas.
Our focus ought not to be -- and we suffer from this in the north ourselves and, gosh knows, government from the political level on right through the entire bureaucracy suffers from it -- that feeling of, “Well, that is sort of the outpost area, and sure, we will have a little bit of something there where they can prep them and send them to where the real medicine is practised.”
It is that type of philosophy and thinking that in my view must be broken if all of the people of this province are going to have an understanding of all the regions of the province, our area of northern Ontario and indeed other areas of this province, many of the rural areas of this province, where I understand they feel the same type of alienation from and lack of understanding of the major centres.
I wanted to add those thoughts, which will probably be a little different from some that others will add, put my perspective on to the motion and say to the member that I agree and wholeheartedly support the motion that he has put forward. I congratulate him obviously on francophones, on natives, on home care, chronic care, preventive medicine, but particularly for encouraging us to think a little bit in different areas.
Mr Keyes: It is a pleasure to speak on this resolution as well. The only problem I have is the lack of time to put forward all views that I would like to. I have also agreed even to share some of my time with the honourable member for Sudbury (Mr Campbell).
But I must mention that the crafting of the resolution is of course one that attempts to entrap members of the government side, because he puts so much in the resolution that is so excellent in its emphasis of francophone affairs, home care and community health care facilities, and all of that ends up coming forth with the one particular point of view that is very difficult for me to accept. That, of course, is the suggestion of providing a medical school in northern Ontario as a way of resolving some of the health care issues of the province.
I want to just address that particular issue today: the medical school in the north. If we look at the World Health Organization, which is a recognized organization for setting some of the health care standards, it suggests that there should be approximately one physician for every 600 residents in a jurisdiction. Just looking at Canada, we know we have about one physician for every 542 residents. That was back in 1987, and the ratio has decreased ever since. So we have more than met the standards of the World Health Organization.
Here in Ontario the ratio is one physician for every 469 people. So once again we have far exceeded any of the criteria established by the World Health Organization. Also, we know that the growth of physicians in Ontario is approximately five per cent a year, far in excess of population growth, which is about one per cent. We have some 19,000 doctors in Ontario today, so we know there are sufficient doctors being trained in Ontario medical schools to meet our requirements. The problem today, as it has been for many years, is one of distribution. We have to find a way to encourage more general practitioners to practise in rural and northern communities.
I want to review very quickly in my brief time the five programs that have worked fairly successfully in our ministry in this regard.
The first one is the northern medical specialist incentive program, which encourages medical specialists to establish practices in northern Ontario communities. These medical specialists are being recruited mainly for the five major northern areas: Timmins, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Sudbury and North Bay.
The second program, which is perhaps the most important of all, is the underserviced area program, which is committed to attracting physicians to the north. More than 800 doctors, dentists and other health care professionals now work in some 218 communities in the north which have been designated as underserviced areas since 1969. Of those 800 doctors, 195 are specialists who have been recruited through the program I referred to earlier.
I think we must look at the attrition rate in the province. The attrition rate is less than five per cent a year, and that is excellent by any measure of standards. Many people stay some six years beyond their four years of incentive grants, which is quite significant indeed.
The third area, of course, is physician training in the north. Any statistic will show you that it is not the location of the school that matters; where the residency training takes place really determines where that person will want to practise. The ministry recognizes the need for residency training in order to practise in rural and remote Ontario. Currently, we know that residency training in the north is carried out in Sioux Lookout by the University of Toronto; in Moose Factory by Queen’s University, whose program I am very familiar with; in Sudbury by the University of Ottawa; and through McMaster University’s northwestern Ontario medical program, based in Thunder Bay.
I know the Ministry of Health, in consultation with medical schools and associations, is examining other ways of trying to increase the exposure of medical school students and postgraduate clinical trainees to northern and rural practice. That is the significant part: not the location of the school but where they get their residency training. Therefore, it is the one I wish to emphasize.
We know that the northern health travel grant program does allow a lot of our residents to travel for treatment out of the province into Manitoba, southern Ontario or to other centres within the north by paying their travel costs. The air and land ambulance program transports patients from remote communities to northern health centres and to urban hospitals.
I wish I could take the time, but I promised it to the member for Sudbury, to talk about native issues, francophone issues and the many other incentives of this government to meet the very obvious need of adequate medical health care in the north. I urge the members to think seriously about the fact, as I said, that we do have enough doctors. We must continue to provide the innovative programs that will attract them to practise in northern Ontario.
I leave the rest of my time to the honourable member for Sudbury.
Mr Morin-Strom: I am pleased to be able to speak to this resolution, which deals with a most critical issue of concern to northerners: the health care system and the deficiencies we face with respect to it right across northern Ontario.
The lack of services and the lack of accessibility to existing health care in the north make Toronto, with all its problems of waiting lists for surgery, look like a health care paradise. This is not to diminish the crisis proportions of the problems in the health care system here in the south. It is to highlight the chronic seriousness of the difficulties faced by northerners.
Health care is a basic right. New Democrats have fought to ensure that Canadians had the best affordable and accessible system of care in the world. It was New Democrats, under the leadership of Tommy Douglas, who first established medicare in this country and Saskatchewan’s example was a shining beacon that could not for ever be ignored.
Finally, 20 years later, in the 1960s, the federal government set up a country-wide medicare system. New Democrats in Ontario have persistently pressured the provincial government to provide health care to all its citizens. When we negotiated the accord with the Liberals in 1985 that ended 43 years of Tory rule here in Ontario, health care concerns were high on our list. A ban on extra billing by doctors was essential to our support of the new government. We finally achieved that ban in June 1986.
In that accord, the particular health care needs of northerners were also high on the list. New Democrats had worked for more services in the north, particularly community-based and paramedical, that would respond to the difficulties inherent in a small population dispersed over thousands of miles. Tory governments had failed to respond.
We were determined that if services were not coming to the people, then people should be able to go to those services. Jim Foulds, who was our member for Port Arthur, put forward a resolution in the Legislature in 1984 that medically necessary travel for northerners should be covered by the Ontario health insurance plan. That resolution had the support of 70 northern municipalities, but it did not have the support of the Tory government.
Again, in 1985, we drew up the accord with the Liberals, including the OHIP coverage of medically necessary travel. Northerners now have this coverage. However, moving people who required medical attention to the overcrowded southern -- usually Toronto -- facilities was never seen as more than a stopgap measure. One can plug the hole in the dam for only so long before the pressure causes it to burst.
New Democrats toured northern Ontario in 1984 and turned up a litany of problems caused by years of government neglect. The Liberal government has now had four years to come to grips with the problems. Northerners have yet to see marked change.
Northerners still need medical attention and treatment, just as those living in the more prosperous southern region of this province, and they are tired of being treated as second-class citizens. This is the message we are receiving and we have received on the tour of the north we have conducted over the past nine months. We have talked to the people and asked them how this government could possibly best meet their needs.
Our task force on northern health care has been a déjà vu experience: we have seen it before. We travelled through the northwest in June 1988, In September, we started in North Bay and continued along communities on Highway 11 to Kapuskasing. Earlier this year, we visited people in communities along Highway 17, from Terrace Bay to Sudbury, with detours to smaller towns like Wawa, Chapleau and Little Current.
Finally, in April, we visited native communities in the far north along the shores of James Bay. Northerners do have the ingenuity and the willingness to deal with problems in health care caused by a sparse population spread over long distances. What they do not have from this government are the necessary resources to deal with the matter effectively.
The New Democrats’ northern health care task force heard many variations on this theme in the approximately 200 submissions we received in hearings right across the north. Native people want control of the administration of health care on their reserves. Franco-Ontarians need services to be provided in their own language.
Health care professionals, including specialists, general practitioners and therapists, could be attracted and retained in the north if there was a medical school in the north. Nurses, particularly nurse practitioners, could provide much-needed care in small communities. Many dedicated people are ready to deliver mental health services, home care and drug and alcohol treatment in the community, but are handcuffed by a lack of funds.
To free up the resources needed, there must be a change in the Liberals’ attitude to health care. Priorities must shift from treatment of illness to promotion of wellness. Presenters to our task force underlined the millions of dollars that could be saved if people received care and help in their community, in their home and with their family.
The Ministry of Health’s budget reflects the Liberals’ lack of attention to community and preventive health care programs. In the latest fiscal year, expenditures on community health services were only five per cent of the health care budget. Despite major moves to deinstitutionalization, moneys spent on community mental health have not significantly increased and make up only two per cent of the total. Spending on public health care, which covers AIDS awareness programs, immunization and health promotion, was a paltry 1.5 per cent of the total. Even a small shift in spending would mean a large increase in community and public health programs. In travelling the great distances between communities across northern Ontario, it is obvious that community-based and preventive care are essential to the care of northerners.
Our task force also met with professionals, hospital staff, ambulance attendants, social service workers and volunteers, who do an incredible job on scant resources and would be the backbone of a delivery system that could meet the needs of northerners.
The government spends thousands of dollars in incentive grants to get medical professionals to practise in the north, but experience shows that few stay beyond their initial commitment. Using examples and statistics from Minnesota, Sweden and Finland, many presenters argued that the way to attract and keep medical professionals in the north is to train them there. Bob Rosehart, president of Lakehead University, and many others argued for a medical school and a full complement of training facilities in the north to train doctors and other specialists like speech/ language pathologists and others.
The health task force heard over and over that the Ministry of Health’s underserviced area program is not getting the job done. Small communities end up competing with each other, one offering a free car, another a free house. Towns of 2,400 to 10,000 people cannot afford to subsidize physicians, who in many cases become the best-paid residents in their communities.
Whether in the field of mental health, speech/language pathology, audiology, midwifery, treatment of the multidisabled, age education or care for seniors, the task force was told that services had to be provided locally. Many creative community-based groups appeared before the task force. We are convinced that they could provide more cost-effective and appropriate service than delivery vehicles developed in the rarefied atmosphere of downtown Toronto offices of Health ministry officials,
The system of grants for medically necessary travel has not solved the problem of lack of services, particularly in small communities. For instance, most towns in the northwest are too close to Thunder Bay for residents to be eligible. More to the point, people do not want to be forced to travel when service could be provided in their own community.
Community health care would significantly reduce costs. Doctors appearing before our committee estimated that it costs $400 a day to keep someone in a hospital. At every stop, the task force was impressed by the dedication of health care givers. However dedication does not put food on the table or pay the rent. There is something askew when a society cannot afford to pay more for those professionals who provide the care in the north.
Right across the north, we have heard expressions of concern and support for the recommendations that we have put forward in this resolution. I would call on all members of the Legislature to support us in the call for better health care facilities, training of health care professionals in northern Ontario and a community-based, local approach to solve our real health care needs right across northern Ontario.
Mr J. M. Johnson: The member for Cochrane South (Mr Pope) had intended to speak on this resolution, but in his absence, I would like to make a few comments.
First of all, I would like to start by congratulating the member for Nickel Belt for bringing forward this resolution. While I cannot speak of the major concerns they have in health care delivery in the north, I certainly can share many of the concerns that the member expresses about the vast distances, sparse population and problems relating to rural Ontario.
As I mentioned, they are not as great as the problems in the north, but we do have similar problems. We have hospitals that are several miles -- 15, 20 or 30 miles -- from the needs of the people they serve, so there are problems that rural Ontario has that they do not have in the city. There are concerns that the member has expressed that we should address and I certainly can support many of those concerns.
I would certainly like to just highlight the one area that he mentions in his resolution: “More home care and chronic care resources to meet the challenge of an ageing population.” In my part of the province, we also have an ageing population and we also have a tremendous need for home care and chronic care resources. Unfortunately, this government has been very slow in recognizing this major problem. The Victorian Order of Nurses and the Red Cross both appealed for assistance to be able to carry on to continue to serve the people they have served so well in the past.
In my riding of Wellington, the VON has provided an excellent service for many years. In fact, they are the only people who do provide that service and it keeps many of our seniors out of more costly institutional care such as nursing homes and certainly hospitals. That need is there in my part of the province and I am sure it must exist in the north, as well.
If we do nothing else by supporting this resolution, we zero in on that very aspect of it and encourage this government to continue its support for the VON and the Red Cross. Instead of waiting for the opposition to force them into doing something to assist these organizations, they should be upfront and support them in the early part of the year and not wait until they are facing a deficit position. In fact, it would be my feeling that they should be putting more dollars into funding the home care program because it certainly will save money on much more costly care in the hospital environment. It would just make sense to spend pennies to save dollars. This government has not learned that yet. Hopefully, it will learn it very shortly or will pay the price for not learning it.
I hate to belabour a point, but I am offended by the government’s insistence in calling our health care system accessible, quality health care. It is not.
Mr Fleet: Nonsense, Jack.
Mr Callahan: That doesn’t sound like a speech that Alan Pope would make.
Mr J. M. Johnson: Then I will ask the members who follow me to address an issue that I will raise once more. At the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital just across on Wellesley Street, the waiting list has grown from a matter of months to a matter of years since this government has taken power. The waiting list is now three years. If that is accessible, then I do not think the government members understand the meaning of the term.
Quality means individuals should have the opportunity to go to the doctor or hospital of their choice. When I raise this question of a three-year wait, I am told that the individuals, my constituents in the province, can go to another hospital. They have mentioned several. They have not quite started mentioning the hospitals in the United States, but I imagine that is their next suggestion.
If it is quality and it is accessible, then surely three years is not reasonable. Would anyone here deliberately place an individual in the position of having to wait three years for a hospital operation, for an operation for a knee replacement or a hip replacement, to let people suffer in pain? Is that accessible health care? I hate to be negative, but unfortunately this government needs a kick in the seat of its pants.
Having said that, I will stand down and allow other members from the north to participate in this very meaningful resolution presented by my good friend and colleague the member for Nickel Belt. Thank you.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): Are there other participants? The member for Sudbury.
The Acting Speaker: Or do the government members not wish to listen to one of their own?
Mr Campbell: Mr Speaker, I am tempted with a line like that to temper my comments. I am, of course, as a northerner and as a Sudburian, pleased to rise to participate in the debate because I feel very strongly that we must, through a number of programs, deal with the particular health care issues in northern Ontario. I was particularly interested when my friend the member for Wellington (Mr J. M. Johnson) mentioned the Wellesley Hospital in the context of northern health. I think that for the previous government, in some ways, that was the solution. I recall, as a member of the community in Sudbury, when there was a choice between Laurentian University in Sudbury and McMaster University for the last medical school that was built or operated in Ontario. Members know what the result was. The medical school went to McMaster. I would hope that is not perpetuated today by the third party.
I know my friend the member for Nickel Belt has a number of very excellent proposals in his resolution. The only problem I have specifically with the motion is the traditional concept of a medical school, because I think that, as my friend the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr Keyes) pointed out, it is not the same situation with a medical school as with residency programs, because residency programs in place in a community are the ones that very much deal with where the resident, then doctor, practises medicine. I can tell members by personal experience in Sudbury that that is, in fact, the evolution that is taking place.
I would like to take members back to 1979 when the Sudbury region faced a critical shortage of specialists in every single specialty; there were a number of specialist shortages. In 1979 we were also facing the ageing of specialists. The average age of specialists in 1979 was 55 years of age, which meant that we really only had a decade to plan before the specialists started to retire. We embarked on a program using the underserviced areas grant and putting it together with a region of Sudbury program, in co-operation with the community and the hospitals, called the physician recruitment program.
All three sectors of the community, recognizing the kinds of things we had to do to attract more specialists to the medical community in Sudbury, put together this program. The program dealt with visiting the medical schools to recruit those doctors who were general practitioners, but hopefully we were also able to speak to those people training to be specialists in the medical schools. The program was fairly simple in that we were able to contact those medical schools, set up appointments and I, as chairman of regional health and social services at the time, was pleased to participate in that recruitment program. I was also pleased last year, in my new capacity, to visit again and help out in the physician recruitment program that is coordinated by the province but in which the regional municipality of Sudbury participates.
The situation in Sudbury has dramatically changed because we were able to get out and speak to individual physicians and specialists who were welcomed into the Sudbury community. We were able to put together the underserviced program grants for parts of our region that qualify, and we were able to put together the critical mass of a number of hospitals that can co-ordinate and work within a system of having the base of medical knowledge that those doctors require and the research facilities that they can gain access to, whether in Sudbury or building up linkages with other medical schools in the province.
It is an unfortunate fact that the previous government built all of its five medical schools in southern Ontario. It is one that I think is unfortunate, for as I said before, the last choice was made between a northern and a southern university to be part of that. But circumstances are changing to the point where we can and must develop, not only in Sudbury but in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Timmins and all of the other hospital areas that we have, to build that critical mass of research capability, of excellent facilities, so we can attract and keep those physicians and specialists that we are looking for.
The next items that I would like to deal with briefly, in the time my good friend the member for Kingston and The Islands has allowed me to speak, are two areas that I am particularly concerned about that are mentioned in the resolution; that is, the present work that is being done for francophone services, the recruitment program particularly for francophone physicians and other health care professionals in the north. This is a major priority of the underserviced area program of the Ministry of Health, so within the underserviced area program, we have a further enhancement.
The new program will address long-term needs for francophone professionals. We know that in Sudbury again, this system is starting to work. We are starting to attract those francophone specialists, not only medical doctors but other specialists.
The purchase of seats in Quebec, for example: The first students of this program entered the courses in 1987 and will graduate in 1991, so there is a fuller development of this program. I am reminded of the other initiative that generally speaks to manpower needs in northern Ontario, and that is the northern health manpower committee and northern co-ordination. If you recall, the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) announced on 17 November 1988 the establishment of the northern health manpower committee to help attract and retain health professionals in the north.
I think the committee, which is composed of northern representatives from health care associations, agencies and other professionals, should identify the need for doctors, allied health care professionals and health care services across northern Ontario, listing the specific requirements on a priority basis; identify geographical areas of greatest need for health care services; develop and maintain co-operative working relationships among doctors and allied health professionals, health care institutions, district health councils and health teaching facilities, and develop innovative approaches to retain health care professionals in the north.
The Acting Speaker: The time remaining will permit only the wrapup by the member for Nickel Belt.
Mr Laughren: First, I would like to express my appreciation to those members who have engaged in this debate, particularly my colleague from Sault Ste Marie, and also the two members from the Conservative caucus, the member for Wellington and the member for Nipissing (Mr Harris). I appreciate not only their support but their kind remarks regarding the resolution.
I was somewhat taken aback by the comment of the member for Kingston and The Islands that this was a resolution designed to entrap government members. I cannot think of a more paranoid comment to come out of private members’ hour than that.
For him to say that we have enough doctors in Ontario indicates a total lack of comprehension of the problem of health care in northern Ontario. It is a little frightening to think that member is, I believe, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health. If that is the attitude that permeates the Ministry of Health, then it is going to be a long time before we get improvements to the delivery of health care in northern Ontario. I was very saddened to hear that member’s comments.
Besides, he says the programs in the north which they have put in place or which were already there are working well. If those programs are working well, why did we, when we had our task force across northern Ontario, have 200 submissions to us telling us in very graphic terms that it is bloody well not working well in northern Ontario? If members were more honest to themselves in this chamber, they would admit that as well.
I was very surprised to hear the member for Sudbury get up and parrot the views of the Ministry of Health, Surely to goodness, the member for Sudbury knows that northern Ontario boundaries are not totally enclosed within the regional municipality of Sudbury. Because Sudbury has a regional health centre, that does not mean all of northern Ontario has the kind of health service that the regional municipality of Sudbury has. I would have hoped the member for Sudbury understood that better than he apparently does.
We cannot compare services in a community like Chapleau or Wawa or Attawapiskat with the services in the regional municipality of Sudbury. There is no comparison. It is like comparing Sudbury to Toronto. It makes no sense at all to make that argument.
The argument that it is not important where the medical school is is ridiculous. Of course, if the medical school is in the north, then more people will be trained in the north, will take residency in the north and will practise in the north. That is common sense.
My colleague the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) was in Sweden and saw the model there where they built a medical school in the north. The member for Carleton East (Mr Morin) was there as well. I was wishing he would have spoken to the resolution, but I know there was a lot of competition for a limited amount of time.
It really makes no sense whatsoever to argue that because there are medical schools in southern Ontario, that means the problem of the distribution of doctors in northern Ontario is resolved. That is a ridiculous assumption. If it were that simple, the problem would have been resolved by now.
To argue that the travel grant program is working well is also to ignore the reality. Fine, maybe the member for Sudbury’s constituents are happy with the travel grant. That does not mean that people all across northern Ontario are happy with the travel grant. It is not servicing them well, and there need to be improvements. For the member for Sudbury and the member for Kingston and The Islands to get up and comment that everything is going just fine, that there is no problem with delivery of health care in the north, is downright silly.
I still have hopes that members of the government will think seriously when it comes time to vote on this resolution. There is nothing radical in the resolution. It is not designed to entrap any members of the assembly. All it is is a resolution calling for improvement in the delivery of health care to northern Ontario; suggesting that we use more community-based delivery systems and that we put a medical school in the north, based on a different model than those in the south, so that we train people who are paraprofessionals, who are trained in community-based and preventive care.
That is all it does. It is not something that is designed to embarrass the government. For members to think that if they vote for this resolution, they are going to embarrass their government, is downright silly.
I do not think there is anything in here that the Minister of Health would not agree with. I bet the Minister of Health would say, “Yes, those are appropriate goals for the delivery of health care in northern Ontario.” If she would not say that, I wonder why. I have heard many of her pronouncements, and she agrees with a lot of this.
All I am saying to the members of the assembly is: Join with us in supporting this resolution.
HERITAGE DAY ACT, 1989
Mr McLean moved second reading of Bill 7, An Act respecting Heritage Day.
Mr McLean: The explanatory note to this bill is, “The purpose of the bill is to name the third Monday in the month of February ‘Heritage Day’ and to designate this day as a holiday in the province of Ontario.”
“An Act respecting Heritage Day...
“1. Where the third Monday in the month of February in any year is proclaimed a public holiday in a municipality, the name of the holiday shall be Heritage Day.
“2. Any act, regulation, proclamation, contract or document that refers to a public holiday on the third Monday in the month of February shall be deemed to refer to Heritage Day.
“3. This comes into force on the day it receives royal assent.”
I welcome this opportunity to outline my private member’s bill, Bill 7, An Act respecting Heritage Day. As members are no doubt aware, the purpose of this bill is to name the third Monday in the month of February Heritage Day and to designate it as a public holiday in Ontario.
Ontario’s heritage is about our past, our present and our future, and that means it is about the kind of province and the quality of life we will all have in the future. We are a community in Ontario. It is a community of people from many generations, many countries and many cultures. This is a community of people we should deeply appreciate and celebrate on the third Monday of February each and every year. It is a legacy we must improve and enhance for our future.
When I speak of the community of people who make up this great province, I am referring to people whose roots lie in virtually every country on the face of the globe. For all our diverse origins, we have learned to act as a community, as a multicultural society where different people from different beliefs and from different cultures live, work and play together.
Heritage Day, the third Monday in February, is already widely celebrated across Canada unofficially since 1974. To give these celebrations a higher profile and greater visibility, Ontario Heritage Week was first introduced in 1986 and this has grown steadily in popularity over the past three years.
I believe that the third Monday in February should be designated Heritage Day and proclaimed a public holiday to increase awareness and appreciation of the social and economic importance of Ontario’s multifaceted heritage resources. This day could be used to encourage a broad public participation in heritage preservation, protection and promotion. It could also be a day to support and recognize the efforts of groups, individuals, and the many organizations involved in heritage activities in Ontario.
The current Heritage Week is largely a community-based celebration with the majority of events and activities organized by local groups such as historical societies, architectural conservation advisory committees, community museums, archives, heritage organizations, schools and libraries, to name but a few. These groups deserve our appreciation, support and recognition for their efforts to keep our heritage in the public eye, for giving our heritage a higher profile and for making us all aware of our roots.
When I talk about designating the third Monday in February as Heritage Day and designating it as a public holiday, lam not saying we would be recognizing the same heritage in each and every community in Ontario; far from it. As I said earlier, we are a community in Ontario of many people, many generations and many cultures. Remember that our roots lie in virtually every country in the world, which means that different communities would be celebrating a different heritage and diverse origins that have brought us all together to act as a common community in Ontario.
Some communities could celebrate their Mennonite heritage, some communities could celebrate their Scottish heritage, other communities could celebrate their French heritage, others could celebrate their English heritage, while still others could celebrate their native heritage. The list goes on and on with too many heritage roots to mention in the limited time I have here today to discuss my private member’s bill, Bill 7.
How would we celebrate our roots if members join with me in passing Bill 7? How could we make proper use of the third Monday in February if it is designated as Heritage Day and proclaimed a public holiday in Ontario?
Some communities might wish to stage heritage walks to enable the public to view historical buildings, sites or documents that have played such a vital role in our past. There could be heritage displays and seminars. Bus tours of historical routes and military establishments could be organized. Heritage arts, crafts and folk displays could be staged. Schools could organize heritage quizzes and poster contests. Businesses could become involved by having window displays in their establishments. Once again, the list is endless.
Events like these I have mentioned would involve everybody in the community, whether they are young or elderly, whether they are involved in business, industry, education or government. All of us could play a role in celebrating our heritage in Ontario.
The fair, equitable climate we now know in Ontario is a direct result of the leadership and role models given by all levels of government and the sincerity and common decency of all citizens of this great province, but it would certainly be naïve of me to suggest that our multicultural society has progressed in constant harmony or to ignore the blemishes that exist today.
I believe that if we celebrate a Heritage Day on the third Monday in February as a public holiday, we will be providing our citizens with an ideal opportunity to learn about their brothers and sisters who live next door, in the nearby community and adjoining townships who may have a different culture or heritage than themselves.
I cannot think of a better method of improving the multicultural composition of our society, of ending discrimination in employment practices or in renting affordable housing. Can members think of a better method for making each and every one of us more sensitive to the different traditions and values of our immigrant, ethnic or native brothers and sisters in this province?
But Heritage Day celebrations would not be restricted to only recognizing the role and accomplishments of the many diverse cultural groups in this province. The day could be used in a particular community to focus increased public attention on the role and many accomplishments of the many individuals in the history of Ontario.
For example, some communities may wish to acknowledge the many accomplishments and contributions of a man who was elected to the House of Commons in 1790 and appointed, on 12 September 1791, as the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Of course, I am referring to John Graves Simcoe who convened the first Legislative Assembly in our province and established York, which we now call Toronto, as the capital of Ontario.
That is only one example of a person who left his or her mark on our history. There are many more we could recognize on Heritage Day, such as Samuel de Champlain, Joseph Brain, Laura Secord, Alexander Graham Bell, Chief Pontiac, Chief Tecumseh and Dr Norman Bethune. As members can see from this extremely short list of men and women who played a role in society or history within or outside the boundaries of Ontario, there are numerous individuals as well as cultural groups that deserve our attention on Heritage Day.
I believe it is important for us to set aside, as I said, that third Monday in February as a day for all of us to reflect on our heritage. We should share with and communicate to groups and individuals a new vision of heritage in Ontario which emphasizes broadened definitions and new processes.
We must support and encourage groups and individuals in promoting their heritage activities and interests throughout Ontario. We must increase public awareness and involvement in heritage conservation and development of activities among nontraditional supporters in the private sector.
The story of Ontario is one of growth and change. It is a story of the coming together of peoples of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and customs, of the effects of this encounter on them and on the land where they choose to anchor their dream of a better life. Because the land was here long before the people who came to settle it, it is with the land that the province’s story begins, but it is with the people of Ontario that this province’s story continues.
If we stand back and view events in their larger context, the seemingly haphazard course of history begins to take shape and to take on form and coherence. From this wider perspective, the province can be seen as an edifice built by the various groups whose presence today gives it its unique and vital character. This edifice rests on the cultural traditions of Ontario’s native peoples. They were the original guardians of this land and its riches.
At the base of this edifice and interspersed throughout its structure are the building blocks of the province’s other two founding peoples, the French and the British. Their presence is acknowledged in many of our laws and customs, political and cultural institutions and the province’s two dominant languages.
The British and French also constitute the two largest groups in this province. Today almost 53 per cent of Ontario’s population is of British origin. Close to 10 per cent claims French ancestry. The building blocks of the edifice that we call Ontario continue onward and upward with German, Dutch and black immigrants, Ukrainians, Poles, Hungarians, Russians and Jews from central and eastern Europe, and continue on with Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Czechs, Estonians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Asians and groups of immigrants from the West Indies and Latin America.
We all know that building blocks piled one on top of another will sooner or later tumble to the ground unless they are cemented together in a harmonious and cohesive manner. That cement is a common vision of a society founded on the principles of freedom, peace and order.
In conclusion, I believe that an annual Heritage Day on the third Monday of February would increase awareness of the scope and value of our heritage and cultural resources and encourage participants to preserve, promote, protect and develop their diverse heritage and cultures. As I said earlier, Ontario’s heritage is about our past, our present and our future. That means it is about the kind of province and the quality of life we will all have in the future. The community of many people from many generations, countries and cultures that we are so fortunate to have in Ontario is a legacy we must improve and enhance for the benefit of our future and the future of our children.
I will reserve the balance of my time for the wrapup.
Mr Fleet: I would first like to congratulate the member for Simcoe East on this bill. I am obviously going to support it. I think it is an excellent advance. In fact, as the member well knows, I have introduced legislation in this House of a similar nature which goes rather further in terms of a Heritage Day.
I will refer both to Bill 7, which is what we are debating today, and Bill 9, which I had introduced. I had actually introduced Bill 6 originally, immediately prior to the member for Simcoe East, but I subsequently introduced Bill 9, which has a technical improvement on a point not particularly relevant to today’s proceedings. I am sure that will assist members as we go through.
The provision in Bill 7 -- and there are some rather important differences between the two bills -- really seeks to take advantage of a provision in the Municipal Act, section 211, which permits municipalities to declare a public holiday. It permits the declaration of a holiday, in essence without any restriction.
This Bill 7 would provide that that would become Heritage Day, and as the member for Simcoe East has already related, this is further to an earlier proposal he had calling it Simcoe Day. I think the reasons for expanding to a Heritage Day have been expanded upon in an excellent fashion in terms of the heritage of many different people across all of Ontario. An opportunity to celebrate is really the heart of the proposal of Heritage Day.
What Bill 9 would do, quite frankly, is provide a holiday, a public holiday for people and a true reward for the working men and women of this province.
I would like to quote from a draft paper of the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues:
“Public holidays are a basic standard which improve working and living conditions, contribute to improved family life and may lead to increased productivity.”
I submit that is entirely accurate, it is well put and it is exactly why a new public holiday is an appropriate advancement in our society. For a variety of reasons, the most logical time for that to occur is in the third week of February. That is already Heritage Week in Ontario and the first Monday is in fact an appropriate time.
As I indicated when I introduced my legislation, a public holiday to celebrate our heritage is an idea whose time has come. In fact, this is a matter which has been the subject of public discussion since at least 1973. At that time, the Heritage Canada Foundation was advancing this as an idea to Ottawa, as a matter of fact. When asked why this was being proposed -- and I will quote because I do not think I can provide a better or more succinct explanation -- they replied:
“Because a holiday makes people sit up and take notice. It also provides a chance for celebration; in this case, for a celebration of our history. Our country has a rich cultural past. Our homes, buildings and streetscapes are living history lessons, symbols of that past. Their preservation contributes to the feeling of identity and continuity in this diverse nation. It tells us something about our roots. It reminds us of who we are.”
I think that is exactly the kind of feeling we would wish to evoke on a new public holiday in February, a time when people frequently experience the midwinter blahs. It is an opportunity to turn a negative feeling into a very positive feeling.
The experience in terms of other legislation has been primarily directed, actually, in the Parliament of Canada. In 1973, following the submissions by the Heritage Canada Foundation, there was a standing committee on justice and legal affairs which studied the issue, proposed a Heritage Day and suggested in particular that the focal points for the first three years of celebration of Heritage Day be the Canadian flag, which as all members would be aware, was proclaimed on 15 February 1965; in the second year Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and in the third year, to celebrate the importance and the contribution of Canada’s native peoples, the first citizens of our country.
I would suggest that in the fourth year, if not earlier, we would now want to celebrate the development and installation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, another very important element of our heritage.
In fact, the bill I propose, Bill 9, would permit the government of Ontario by a proclamation to determine which theme of heritage would be celebrated in each year, and there are a variety of other appropriate themes, a number of which were touched on with eloquence by the member for Simcoe East.
The kinds of support and the rationale for a public holiday at this time are not limited to simply the cultural considerations. Again, I would like to return to a draft discussion paper on changes to the Employment Standards Act from April 1989 from the Ontario Advisory Council on Women’s Issues. It indicates that in 1984, almost 56 per cent of private sector employees and over 76 per cent of unionized employees had 11 or more paid holidays each year.
Currently, as members will be aware, there are eight public holidays in Ontario: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day -- which of course we have just celebrated -- Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. This government has added Boxing Day as a public holiday and that again assists workers across Ontario. I think it also improves the life of the people in management. It confirms their right to have a public holiday, but it is only eight days. It is quite clear that the standard now ought to be more. This is also why, in my bill, I proposed that the Civic Holiday be a public holiday. It is not one currently, which I found quite surprising, and members of the public would be quite surprised to learn it is not a public holiday.
The problem with having both the Civic Holiday as a municipal option, and in essence Bill 7 that we are now debating also really only perpetuating a civic option, is that if a proclamation is provided by the municipality, it provides a holiday only for civic employees. If the municipality goes further and passes a bylaw, it gives the shops, as defined by the municipality, the obligation to close, but it does not entitle those workers in those shops to get paid for a paid holiday. That surely is not an adequate resolution to the problem and it does not deal with the reality that the holidays are being established by collective agreements or that this is what is setting the standard. I think it is an appropriate time for this Legislature to move forward to set a standard to provide a holiday, a Heritage Day.
I would also like to point out that there is support in other areas for having a holiday in mid-February. In 1982, a committee of the Ministry of Education in Ontario indicated that a break was needed for students. I am quoting again from the report. It said, referring to the period between January and the midwinter break in March, “This period is the most difficult and demanding for pupils and teachers.” They recommended that it either be called Heritage Day or Constitution Day, on the third Monday in February.
There is good reason, for educational purposes; by reason of our employment standards, in terms of working and living conditions and of enjoying the richness of life in Ontario; and for the purpose of advancing the celebration of our diversity but also the things that we share in common. That, indeed, will make us a stronger nation, and in a world which is global in its nature, it is important that we focus on our links to the past, because they are also links to our future and to our present neighbours around the world.
I think any member of this Legislature would agree with me that this would be a significant advance. I encourage all members to support Bill 7. Again, I congratulate the member for Simcoe East. It is an excellent initiative. It is something that would help the people of our province and again I urge all members to support this, and also Bill 9 when we get the chance.
Mr R. F. Johnston: I am pleased to join in this debate on the continuing saga of Heritage Day, which is an idea whose time has come and gone and never really found its way into law, for some reason or other. It has been such an obvious thing that Canadians, of all people, should have a holiday in February to help us survive our winters. It is one of the greatest gaps in social policy that I can imagine any society having. So any move in that direction is welcome and I support it.
However, I cannot believe that the methodology used by the member for Simcoe East is one that does not move it along faster. I read the explanatory note and I noticed that it is to name the third Monday of the month of February Heritage Day. It says it is to designate this day as a holiday in Ontario. Then I read the lengthy bill that is before us here, in the 10 or 12 lines that we have, and all it does is say that it will be called Heritage Day if a municipality proclaims it Heritage Day. It does not make it a public holiday at all, but says that when a public holiday is made, if it is ever made in Ontario, as I gather Bill 9 would do, at that point it shall be called Heritage Day.
I say to myself, what we have here is a philosophical treatise on the importance of the name. The name is the thing rather than the reality of actually having a holiday. I would much rather the member had come forward with a bill which had actually given us the holiday and we will name the thing later, rather than giving me the name today and still not giving me that third Monday in February as a break from those late winter blahs that afflict so many of us. For the members from the north beside me here, they know they are at that point halfway through the winter; it is an important date to recognize the fact that summer may come some day again to northern Ontario.
I would love to hear, in the response time by the member, why he has chosen this particular route to deal with Heritage Day. Is it his intention that we delay our movement towards having this extra public holiday even longer, or what was his reason?
I just want to talk a little about why we need the holiday, other than the obvious winter break. The member for High Park-Swansea (Mr Fleet), who spoke previously, has referred to some of the issues. Presently, organized workers and managerial types in the province get 11 or 12 days of holidays recognized throughout the year in addition to paid vacations of, on average, approximately four weeks in Ontario at this stage. But if you look at our laws for the general public, and there are a lot of those unorganized workers in our province, they are limited to two weeks of holidays under the Employment Standards Act. That is all an employer in our society has to provide. Then they get approximately eight days of recognized statutory holidays in Ontario,
If you compare that with jurisdictions like France, where the argument now is whether they shall move from five weeks to six weeks of paid holidays as law for all their citizens -- in France, of course, the month of August is the month of holidays -- you say to yourself, “Here we are, an advanced society, and this is the best we can do for our average working people?” especially those people who do not have power mechanisms, whether it is a professional society or a union, to work for them. Are we not a little bit in the Dark Ages? The idea of adding one extra day of paid holiday in the winter as a leave for people is something I think we can all recognize as important.
Mr Fleet: Bill 9 proposes two holidays.
Mr R. F. Johnston: Yes, I notice that Bill 9 proposes two holidays. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to debate Bill 9 or I would be happy to move on to why I would love to see other things appended to it in terms of employment standards amendments.
However, I think it is important as well to talk about the importance of the name and the importance of the reason in terms of the nature of the celebration we would have on this holiday, that is, calling it Heritage Day. As the member rightfully says, heritage speaks to our past. I think that is accurate. It also speaks to the roots for our future and the nature of our country as it grows.
I would like to speak about the importance of that celebration from a number of aspects. The multicultural aspect is one I would like to come to later, as with the other cultural issues that are around it. I would rather speak a little more precisely as well to some issues of the economy of Canada and our particular heritage, which I see in great danger of erosion these days, and some real need of celebration.
I would like to refer, if I might, to a few things my colleague the member for Hamilton West (Mr Allen) wrote late last year in a column in the Hamilton Journal and Hamilton Mountain News about his views of our cultural heritage as it relates to our economy. He made the remarkable point, of course, that we are so different from the United States in the nature of how our economies developed and the linkages between government and private enterprise to make our country function because of its enormity and yet its sparse population. He rightfully alludes in his article to the fact that we had the only transcontinental railway in all of North America that actually did not go bankrupt, because it was done in co-operation with our federal government at the time. The national dream, as we know, was based around that link that was forged.
As a person who comes from western Canada, the member for Hamilton West wrote very movingly as well, I thought, about our development of co-operative traditions in our country in terms of the development of the wheat co-ops, of course, in the west, but also here in Ontario where our agricultural communities especially developed this methodology of coming together as a community as part of our heritage of working together in a very tough country in which to survive economically and as a result developing some very different approaches to working economically as part of our economic culture than did our neighbours to the south.
I think it is important to say that has grown into food co-operatives, housing co-operatives and other kinds of notions which are very much the fabric of what we do now. Whether it goes into health care and the idea of community clinics that are run by community boards or others, that ethic of co-operation is incredibly important to us. I hope when we start talking about culture, we do not restrict ourselves just to the notions of songs and dances and traditions of that sort from various ethnic communities, but rather that we look at some of the other fundamental fabric of our country.
I think it is a wonderful time and a desperate time for us to celebrate that, because of what is happening with free trade and what I see as a move at the national level to ignore what we have accomplished, to say that we should sell off every crown corporation we have that symbolizes that heritage of connection between business and government in terms of the development of this country, that talks in sort of American republican terms about what the economy is and denies so much of what is our fabric.
I would also say that this day will provide us with the opportunity in this province to celebrate, I hope, our native people’s role in our society in very profound ways. The member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) was saying that he wondered if maybe we should call this Tecumseh-Brant Day rather than Heritage Day and make a major statement about the importance of that community to us and our society. It is so undervalued in social and economic policy, as it has been in a very unfortunate way in our country over the years, that if we start to talk about heritage, let’s talk about that central nature of our province and country which is so different from other countries.
Then of course there is the bilingual nature of our founding communities in this province. I say so, although the member for Markham (Mr Cousens) is not here to jump on me for such a notion. I think it gives us a real time and place to focus our celebration of the French fact in Ontario, as it does the multicultural community. I am reminded that in the city of Toronto there are some 26 languages recognized and used in publication in that place. That is the new reality of our nation. This would be a wonderful day to be able to celebrate that reality in our future, not just our past, as a country.
I wish we could move along to actually having the day established as a holiday. Then this member’s bill to name it Heritage Day would be the appropriate vehicle and we could start to set up the mechanisms to make sure those various communities and our economic philosophy are well established and well presented on that Heritage Day for the years to come.
Mrs Marland: I am happy to rise today and speak in support of Bill 7, the private bill of my colleague the member for Simcoe East. I may just say at the outset that I am happy to be able to stand and support a bill with this number. I certainly was not able to vote in favour of the last Bill 7 that came before this Legislature.
In speaking in support of this act regarding Heritage Day, I want at the outset to congratulate the member for Simcoe East. I also want to say that I am somewhat astounded to hear the comments this morning about why we should support this bill, those comments particularly that pertain to perhaps no better reason than that of having a vacation day, an official statutory holiday to beat the midwinter blahs.
I think it is kind of ridiculous for members in this Legislature to stand and say that we should have a holiday in the midwinter in order to deal with our climate, and that is the reason to support this bill. I am quite sure that the integrity and the intent behind the private bill of the member for Simcoe East to establish a Heritage Day officially in this province has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Ontario needs another statutory day, nor that the holiday should happen to take place in the winter when the climate is a little unacceptable for some people.
I want to set aside any association of my comments with the remarks from the member for High Park-Swansea or the member for Scarborough West (Mr R. F. Johnston) who think that is a pretty good reason to have a Heritage Day. In fact, all the wonderful reasons that we should have an official Heritage Day in Canada and, indeed, in Ontario are the reasons that I know the three parties in this Legislature today will support this bill.
The fact that we have the kind of province that we have in Ontario, the fact that we are indeed the premier province in Canada has everything to do with our heritage and nothing to do with the winter climate. I cannot help but refer to what I believe is the very essence of our heritage in Ontario; it is an essence that transcends all ethnic background and all ethnic heritage because it is the essence of religion.
Fortunately for Ontario and indeed our country, the people who came 100 and 200 years ago to this country brought with them a religion. It did not matter what country they came from; they brought with them a Christian heritage. If there is one area of major concern that I have about the future direction of this province, it is indeed the fact that our Christian heritage seems to be going out the window. Since those people with a Christian heritage in Ontario built this province, and indeed this country, because of the strong roots they had in their faith, I have a very real concern. Whether they were Catholics or Protestants who came to this country and had the courage and the faith to work hard and to build what we now have inherited, they were Christians.
I think that today we experience in Ontario what is, in particular, a double standard. I can quote as an example this Legislature, in which every day that the House is sitting we recite the Lord’s Prayer. The double standard develops when the schools of this province, which the Liberal government directs from this Legislature, are now told by the Liberal Minister of Education (Mr Ward) not to solely use the Lord’s Prayer anymore. It begs the question of what our heritage is and what we believe and see as our heritage in this Legislature --
Mr Fleet: It was the court that ordered us to do it, the Supreme Court of Ontario.
Mr Carrothers: You’re distorting the issues. Ridiculous. Useless discussion.
Mr Dietsch: You’re being misleading. That’s disgusting.
Mrs Marland: The fact remains that we do have different standards within this Legislature and without. Because it hits a nerve to make that comment and because I am now having interjections, particularly from the member for Oakville South (Mr Carrothers), who is suggesting that what I am saying is not true, I simply said that the Minister of Education directed that the Lord’s Prayer not solely be used in our schools,
Mr Fleet: The Supreme Court of Ontario made the order. They’re complying with the court order.
Mr Dietsch: Tell the whole story.
Mrs Marland: That is a fact. The reason for that direction is one that could also be challenged, but that is fine. If the Liberal members, including the member for High Park-Swansea, who is also arguing against that fact, are defending their positions, that is fine. They can be accountable to the people who elect them.
I am simply free to speak in this House and say that I happen to believe that as we will move forward to celebrate a Heritage Day in this province, that Heritage Day should have regard for our Christian heritage as well as our multicultural heritage.
As I speak on behalf of the people in Mississauga South, I want to tell members that those people whom I support who have very rich cultural backgrounds, whether it is Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, whatever background the people who live in Mississauga represent -- it is through their strength, collectively, that this province will move forward.
We must remember that heritage and culture are more than dances and costumes. When we talk about the heritage and culture of the people of Ontario, we are talking about the people who live here. It is those people, their beliefs, their morals, their standards and their ethics that we would celebrate with a Heritage Day in this province, not the fact, as has been suggested by the member for Scarborough West and the member for High Park-Swansea, that we have a vacation to deal with the winter blahs.
When we salute the prospect of having an official Heritage Day, we should salute also the number of volunteers who are involved in those heritage organizations throughout this province and work hard all year round to maintain heritage through those volunteer organizations.
In closing, I want to repeat something I said in February 1988 at the outset of Heritage Week. I said then, “To emphasize the fact that our heritage is the most important aspect of where we are today, I would suggest that each one of us looks into the past as we reach for the future and benefit from the legacy of the people who have left for us a very rich cultural heritage in this province.”
The motto of the city of Mississauga is “Pride in Our Past and Faith in Our Future,” and I share that with the members of this Legislature.
Mr Owen: I too want to endorse the bill proposed by the member for Simcoe East. I also have a little concern with the wording of the bill. This has already been pointed out to the Legislature by the member for Scarborough West. I am happy to support the wording of the bill, but I would be even happier to have supported what is spelled out in the explanatory note accompanying the bill. They seem to contradict one another.
The explanatory note says there will be a holiday on the third Monday of February and it will be called Heritage Day. Unfortunately, the bill itself says that a municipality can proclaim a public holiday and that it will be called Heritage Day. In other words, I note that it does not achieve what I think it was intended to do.
Back in 1973, the Heritage Canada Foundation endorsed the idea of a Heritage Day and spelled out that there were no other holidays at that time, that it was close to the anniversary of the adoption of our Canadian flag, which, if I recall, was February 15, and that it did not favour any particular group or single person to be recognized, but felt that it would recognize the heritage of the entire country.
I would point out that there are some objections to the idea of having a Heritage Day, in that it would mean we would be less productive in this country, but I would point out that the United States has 12 statutory holidays, five of which are devoted to heritage; Finland has 12 holidays devoted to persons and events of national significance; Canada currently has only nine statutory holidays; the United Kingdom has 11; Spain has 10; Japan, which we regard as a very productive country -- in fact, it is the only major industrialized country which records stronger growth than Ontario -- has 13 statutory holidays annually; Australia has 10. So with our nine you can see that we are certainly lagging behind what other countries are doing.
I would also point out that Mexico has a holiday on February 5; Japan has a holiday on February 11 which is called Constitution Day; in the United States the third Monday in February is Washington’s Birthday and the third Monday in January is Martin Luther King Day. Both are statutory holidays in that country.
Already in our country there are companies which recognize the need for a holiday in February. For example, Sperry instruments and Procter and Gamble provide their employees with a midwinter holiday, basically to boost the morale of their employees.
I think it is important that we think of Heritage Day so we can observe the importance of our native people and what they have contributed to our culture, so that we can recognize the founding roots of French and English and what other people have brought to our country. I think we could recognize the various nationalities in my riding, for example. The south end of my riding has a large segment of Portuguese and they have brought their contributions of respect for family life, for their traditions, their ability to work hard and to be frugal.
I would also point out that with a Heritage Day we could recognize local events of history, the accomplishments of various people and individuals in our local history and traditions. I would submit that while I support this particular bill, I would hope that it would go further on some occasion and recognize the need for a Heritage Day not only in this province, but across the country, for the reasons that I have spelled out.
I would also point out that there is some confusion in Alberta, because I understand it has already named the third Monday in February as a holiday and is calling it Family Day, and that the civic holiday in August in Alberta is now being called Heritage Day. I would ask that the federal government intervene, to try to bring a consistency across the country in establishing the importance and the need for a statutory holiday in February, on the third Monday of February, establish it and call it Heritage Day.
Mr McLean: I will use part of that time to wrap up. I would like to comment briefly on some of the remarks that were made by the member for High Park-Swansea. As he indicated, we had introduced our bills on the same day and he had amended his later on. I think the time has come for this type of legislation to be enacted. I have had many people say to me and encourage me, over the period of years that I have been trying to bring in a Simcoe Day and some different wordings, to try to get the third Monday in February designated as Heritage Day.
There is some confusion in some people’s minds over whether we are talking about Heritage Day as a holiday or as a holiday across Ontario, and that is really not the intent of the bill. The intent of the bill is to make sure that the third Monday is designated as Heritage Day. I understand that the bill would be referred to committee. That could be determined, then, by a committee of this Legislature, however it may want to amend it. It would be able to include that in it, if the committee so wished.
When the select committee on education recommended the same back in about 1982, as the member for High Park-Swansea had indicated, there was a lot of discussion at that time with regard to the March break period. But when we go from 1 January to almost the end of March, there are a lot of people who are looking for a holiday in that time. If that is what the members of the Legislature wish, then so be it.
I compliment the member for High Park-Swansea for bringing in very similar legislation, and I hope that some action will be taken by this Legislature to have a Heritage Day in this province acknowledged.
I want to thank the member for Scarborough West for support of the bill and aspects of the multicultural aspect that he had discussed with regards to the importance of it. I believe that some day it will not be uncommon for people in this province to be speaking several languages; not one or two, but several. I think young people today will have the opportunity to do just that.
When we look at the population of Metropolitan Toronto and the large ethnic population here, I think it is important that we do acknowledge Heritage Day and the heritage of every member in society.
I want to thank the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland) for her support of this bill and my colleague the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr Owen) for discussing the various holidays that are taking place in different parts of the world. I think it is good to have that on the record, so that people will be able to see it and realize what is taking place in other countries.
I compliment him on his brief presentation, because I know his background and heritage and how interested he is within his local community and his riding with regards to what we have worked over the years to maintain for the future and to make sure that our heritage is not forgotten.
When we look at what takes place in other countries with regard to the holidays, I would be very prepared to have the bill referred to committee and have it discussed in committee, as I am sure the member for High Park-Swansea would want to be part of those discussions to make sure that if this bill does not finally come to fruition, then perhaps his bills will. I am not particular about where it comes from, as long as it happens. I think it is important that all members of the Legislature support it, because we do realize that it is needed.
With those few words, I will conclude my remarks. I would hope that every member of the Legislature would see fit to support the bill.
The Speaker: It appears that completes the discussion on ballot item 5 and ballot item 6. The standing order does state that the vote shall be taken at 1200. Is there agreement that we are close enough to 1200?
NORTHERN HEALTH SERVICES
The Speaker: Mr Laughren has moved resolution 7.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
HERITAGE DAY ACT, 1989
The Speaker: Mr McLean has moved second reading of Bill 7.
All those in favour will please say “aye.”
All those opposed will please say “nay.”
In my opinion the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mr McLean: I would like the bill referred to the standing committee on general government.
Mr Reycraft: Under standing order 71(1) I note that these bills should be referred to committee of the whole House, unless referred to a standing or select committee by a majority of the whole House. It would be my advice that the bill be referred to committee of the whole House.
The Speaker: The standing order is very clear that any bill given second reading shall be referred to committee of the whole House unless a majority wishes otherwise. In the past we have discussed this matter and there have been occasions when unanimous consent has been given. I would have to feel that unanimous consent is not available. Therefore, would the House be willing to allow it to go to committee of the whole House?
Mr McLean: I would like to request that it be referred to the standing committee on general government.
The Speaker: Therefore, I will have to ask:
All those in favour of the bill going to standing committee will please rise.
All those opposed will please rise.
There is not a majority in favour of it going to standing committee. It will be referred to committee of the whole House.
The House recessed at 1204.
The House resumed at 1330.
TEACHERS’ LABOUR DISPUTE
Mr R. F. Johnston: There are a number of people in the gallery here today from the English Catholic Teachers’ Association and l’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants francoOntariens from the Kirkland Lake district who exemplify a problem that often happens for northern Ontarians: They and their problems are ignored.
Can members imagine a strike taking place in education in the city of Toronto and affecting five communities in which for six weeks none of the elementary school students were able to go to class because of the intransigence of the board and that the matter would be ignored? Well, that has been the case in Kirkland Lake and surrounding communities.
Since the strike started on 18 April, 1,200 students have been out of school. Only one day of mediation has taken place since that time. All the teachers are asking for is comparable working conditions to those in neighbouring jurisdictions. For some reason or other, the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) has not seen fit to put his weight behind getting the board to the bargaining table, especially after the announcement that has been made around pooling changes, which takes away the major argument of the board that it cannot afford to meet the demands of the teachers.
That could never have happened in southern Ontario, but it is happening on a day-to-day basis there and those children are in danger of having their school year grossly affected.
Mr Jackson: I wish to bring to this government’s attention the case of Franca Capretta, who was viciously beaten with a baseball bat by her husband on the front lawn of their home on 4 June 1987. The victim spent three months in hospital. She underwent surgery to remove skull fragments that were lodged in her brain and must still undergo reconstructive surgery.
However, this week in Ottawa, Justice Houston sentenced her assailant to only 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends, for the reduced charge of aggravated assault, because according to Justice Houston, “the beating was an aberration in the life of a hardworking family man.”
I submit to members of this House that both the reduction of the original charge of attempted murder and the sentence itself are outrageous and unjust. The victim will have spent more time in hospital than the assailant will spend in jail. This case is another indication of the crying need for the removal of the false distinction between wife assault and common assault in the minds of our society and apparently our judiciary.
I call upon the Attorney General (Mr Scott) to take immediate action on behalf of this woman and direct appeal of the sentence for the assault causing bodily harm. I renew my calls to the Attorney General to review the existing sentencing procedures in current use by Ontario judges. The women of this province, and indeed all Ontarians concerned for the cause of justice, depend on the government’s swift action.
Mr Adams: I am pleased that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is moving to rejuvenate the 4-H program. 4-H began in Canada in 1913 with potato, livestock, sewing and gardening clubs for young people. More recently, its emphasis has been a broad approach to personal development of youth in rural Ontario.
It now aims to develop self-reliance, leadership and career-related skills. The 4-H motto is still “Learn by Doing,” so that the hands-on approach of club projects is greatly emphasized. Today, 4-H activities are attractive to rural and urban youth. They include computer work, landscaping and recreational projects as well as the traditional agricultural topics. Urban participation is high in veterinary science, recreation and canine projects. All projects, from home science to large-animal husbandry, now attract both boys and girls.
The Peterborough 4-H Club is thriving at a time when the movement has encountered slack times elsewhere. Membership has increased over each of the past three years, an increase of 14 per cent since 1987. The Peterborough club now serves young people from 11 to 21 years of age. It draws from the rural and urban sectors of the community. 4-H is alive and well in Peterborough.
Mr Allen: The strikes in the children’s aid societies in Hamilton have been going on now for seven weeks, and the potential for tragedy grows. Early this week Maria Cabral, a 16-year-old foster child, had no one to talk to. Her foster parents are not people she can relate to. Her worker was unavailable because of the strike. She took three bottles of pills and almost died. Foster parents, in turn, are feeling helpless as the strike continues and they have no support workers to relate to.
The impasse continues because the society workers cannot be expected to work in the intolerable case-load situations, the extensive overtime, the periodic 24-hour availability routine in this highly stressed work, and they deserve at least inflation-level wage increases in salaries.
The announcement that the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) made earlier this week with respect to topping up low wages in social agencies pointedly excluded the children’s aid societies. He missed an opportunity.
Now a solution can only be found, it seems to me, if the minister will move to assure these two societies that if they substantially relieve the case loads and provide inflation-level increases over the term of a multi-year contract, he will not see the agencies suffer financially as a result. I ask him to give those assurances today so that Maria Cabral and her friends can talk to their workers again and tragedy may be avoided.
Mr Harris: After reading the headlines in the Huntsville Herald News last week about a 64 per cent increase in municipal taxes, and comments as well from the local Liberal member calling for a cut in local education spending, I came across an interesting letter to the editor. I would like to read it to members today. It says:
“The Peterson Liberals in their throne speech announced a new initiative for the rescue of our environment. Rather than a substantive program with funds being committed, the Premier has introduced a new lottery called Cleantario, which will allow the provincial government to avoid its responsibilities for positive action.
“The public relations guys who suggest these ideas seem to be suffering from the same bankruptcy of ideas as the government. Incredible, eh?
“At no expense to the taxpayer, I suggest the following lotteries to raise funds for those programs that the Liberals have neglected: For hospitals and health care services, You Bet Your Life, or perhaps the I Wish Sweepstakes; for transportation, Pothole Poker, and for education, Scratch Your Future.
“Many of your readers may have even better proposals. If they would like to send me their ideas at Box 1825, Gravenhurst, the best suggestion will be rewarded with a one-year membership in the Muskoka-Georgian Bay PC Association. And it will be sent to the Premier at absolutely no charge.”
It is signed “George Beatty,” obviously a concerned citizen, one who is not prepared to gamble on Ontario’s future.
ARMENIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
Mr. B. Nixon: I rise today to acknowledge a day of significance for the Armenian members of our multicultural society in Ontario. This Sunday, 28 May, marks Armenian Independence Day. At the end of the First World War, the people of Armenia celebrated their independence.
The chairman of the Armenian National Council commemorated the day with the following words: “Yes, our republic is small and its bounds are narrow. It is deprived of its best lands and there is not enough room for all the people.... But I feel that the boundaries of the state cannot remain inflexible for ever.”
History has removed the independence of Armenia, but not the spirit of the people.
I would remind the members of the House that the ties between Ontario and Armenia go back to 1886, when the Armenian people first settled in this province in the St Catharines area. Those ties were made stronger last year when the tragic earthquake struck and the people of Ontario rallied to the aid of the Armenian victims. This kind of mutual support is a reflection of the true spirit of muiticulturalism that we celebrate here in Ontario.
I would also like to acknowledge the presence in the House today of Sarkis Assadourian, manager and executive director of the Armenian Community Centre in North York. I extend good wishes to the Armenian people in Ontario, to Mr Assadourian and all around the world on Armenian Independence Day.
The Speaker: The member for Riverdale for 33 seconds.
Mr Reville: I would like to bring to the attention of the Legislature inquests into the deaths of two women, one of whom lived in the Kitchener area and one of whom lived in the Guelph area. In both cases, the women, suffering either from injuries sustained in car accidents or from heart attacks, had to be moved around the province to find a hospital that had enough nurses to take care of them. Regrettably, both women died. The government had better pay careful attention to the inquest recommendations.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Kormos: I have a question of the Solicitor General referring once again to the sequence of events that occurred in April in Lucan at the Ontario Provincial Police detachment.
The Solicitor General has told us that her motive in attending at the police station was “to assure myself that he” -- referring to Whalen and, I presume, to the “crippled friend” who has been spoken of -- ”was indeed safe and then reassure the daughter.” She said that on more than one occasion.
The minister has also indicated that when she arrived at the police station, and we know this to be fact now, she met the Whalen father and realized she had been misled about two things: one, about the parents not being in town, and two, about the young man being abused.
The question to be asked then is why at that point the minister did not discontinue her attendance. Rather, at that point the question is, why did she carry on into the police station and spend some 10 minutes there identifying herself, among other things --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Kormos: -- she did not have to identify herself as Solicitor General -- but identifying herself as a friend of the family?
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon Mrs Smith: I would like to say to the member for Welland-Thorold, as I have said before, that I received the call and I went up for the reasons stated, to make sure that indeed I could reassure the daughter that her brother was in safe hands. Two of the police officers went by me as I was talking to the father in the parking lot. I therefore considered it a courtesy to go into the station and let them know why I had come and to assure them that I had no interest whatsoever in affecting anything in the course of justice; I had simply come as a result of the call, for that reason. It was to make sure that the police fully understood this, that I felt it necessary to explain to them that that was the reason for my going.
Mr Kormos: That is an incredible period of time, 10 minutes, in which to relay what would appear to have been a very brief message.
It remains that the Solicitor General did not speak to the Whalen boy -- and that would appear to have been one of her motives in attending -- addressed no concern about the “crippled friend” who had similarly been arrested, then failed to reassure the daughter, as she told us the motive for her mission was, because we have not heard anything about her calling back the daughter. Rather, it was a matter of receiving a phone call from the daughter subsequently and then making her own phone call back to the OPP detachment.
Under those circumstances, how can the community not perceive her conduct as anything other than trying to use her influence as Solicitor General to aid or to mitigate the circumstances of a very close friend of the Smith family?
Hon Mrs Smith: There are all kinds of assumptions here that are not true: for one thing, the “very close friend” is not true at all; for another, the business about the other party. I found I had been completely misled about the safety of John Whalen, so I took for granted that I was misled about anybody’s danger. That was why I simply told them I had been misled. Actually, I discussed with them summer’s advent and some casual things and left.
Mr Kormos: The Solicitor General would have us and the community believe that there was a sense of urgency about all of this and that she was certainly alarmed. Why then, as she tells us, upon being awakened at 1:30 in the morning or just a little bit earlier --
Mr Reycraft: You’ve said she was alarmed. She didn’t.
Mr Kormos: The Solicitor General said that and it is in Hansard. She was awakened by a phone call. If there was this sense of urgency, concern about the family friend and his abuse by the police, why would there not have been a phone call made to the police station? Why would there be a personal attendance by the Solicitor General to come to the aid of this close family friend?
Hon Mrs Smith: I repeat, as I repeated before, that I was wakened in the middle of the night by the sister, who was very alarmed. Has the member got that? I wished to reassure her. I felt confident that when I got to the police station I would be quickly reassured about her brother’s safety and would reassure her.
Mr B. Rae: Perhaps the Solicitor General is familiar with the Police Act and the regulations that are passed under the Police Act. The regulations under section 31 of the Police Act say this to the Solicitor General, “No chief of police, constable or other police officer shall take or act upon any order, direction or instruction of a member of a board or council.” That would apply to any member of a police commission.
For example, if a member of the local police commission or the Ontario Police Commission had received a call similar to the one the Solicitor General received, not only would it have been entirely improper but clearly it would have been against the regulations, and against the Police Act itself, for a member of the police commission to turn up at a police station and do anything that would even be perceived as giving an instruction or advice to a member of the police force.
The Speaker: Question.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Solicitor General can tell us why she feels she is not subject to the same principles and the same requirements of the Police Act and its regulations as members of the Ontario Police Commission and any local board of police commissioners.
Hon Mrs Smith: certainly accept that I am. I did not act, instruct or otherwise involve myself in the case or interfere in any way in the processes of justice.
Mr B. Rae: I thought that is what the Solicitor General might say. I wonder if she can contrast her statement with the statement made yesterday by one of the spokesmen for the OPP, Mr Guay, who is listed in the Ontario phone book as responsible for media relations for the OPP. He stated yesterday, “It’s unusual that a minister show up at a detachment and it is perceived as pressure by investigating officers when she’s on the scene.”
That perception of pressure is there. It is very real. It is clearly felt by members of the police force, as members of the Police Association of Ontario have stated, and that is why it is set out clearly in the regulations. Does the minister feel she is bound by the same principles of the Police Act and its regulations as any member of a local board of commissioners of police or of the Ontario Police Commission itself?
Hon Mrs Smith: I do indeed believe that, and that is why I wanted to make certain that in this case the police did not perceive any instruction, threat or pressure. That is why I made clear to them that I had come strictly at the request of a young lady who was very disturbed and had no interest in putting on any pressure. This is all reported.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Solicitor General has now had time to reflect on the events of the last week. She has heard, I am sure, from many members of the OPP force. She heard from a spokesman of the police association yesterday and she heard from a spokesman for the OPP yesterday in terms of how they perceive and how they feel about a minister of the crown showing up at a police station at 1:30 in the morning and phoning again at four o’clock in the morning with respect to somebody who is being held in detention.
Is the Solicitor General not now prepared to stand up and admit what she should have admitted as soon as these facts became public: that she made a mistake, that she recognizes it was a mistake, that it is perceived as pressure by the police and that anything a minister of the crown does that even appears to interfere with a police investigation is utterly and completely improper?
Hon Mrs Smith: Any attempt to interfere with the course of justice would be completely wrong and I would not do it. Any attempt to influence a court case would be completely wrong and I would not do it. That is why I took the time to assure the police that I had no interest in any change, that I had come simply as a result of the phone call, was happy with the results and wanted to go back and reassure the daughter, although I did not need to do that since the father had already acted in that capacity.
Mr Brandt: I would like to ask the Solicitor General if in fact she believes she can serve in the capacity as the Solicitor General of Ontario, and therefore directly in charge of the Ontario Provincial Police, and at the same time have another role as a private citizen while serving in that primary capacity?
Hon Mrs Smith: It was to make clear that I understood the difference in the roles that I went in and explained to them that I wanted no role in the justice of the case. That was strictly theirs and I recognized this. I was there strictly to find out that the boy was safe.
Mr Brandt: Obviously the OPP did not understand the minister’s instructions to them, because they are now saying that by her very presence, without uttering a word, without in any way interfering with the actual activities of the OPP in their handling of this particular matter, she, by showing up and subsequently calling back, applies subtle influence to a case of this kind. Does the minister not see that distinction in her responsibility?
Hon Mrs Smith: I would say that by that very question the member is admitting that it was a good thing I went and reassured them I was there on only the one purpose, that I had no interest in interfering with justice.
Mr Brandt: It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand how the minister can justify showing up at an OPP detachment at 1:30 in the morning and in some way offering some instructions. Of course, the detail of that is not available to the members of the opposition, because she is now hiding behind a police report as being the only information that is available with respect to any kind of arm’s-length, independent study.
I ask the minister again: Even if as a lack of judgement, even if her judgement call in the first instance was absolutely wrong, which it was, by showing up at 1:30, why then -- and while this question has in fact been answered before, it has never been responded to accurately, correctly or directly -- would she call back, knowing she had already committed an error by being in the parking lot, talking to the father, going into the detachment, speaking to the police in whatever manner --
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Brandt: -- which is still a mystery, then going home, having time to think about it --
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Brandt: My question, Mr Speaker, is, why did she call back?
The Speaker: You placed that previously. Minister.
Hon Mrs Smith: I find under the circumstances of calling back that I cannot understand the question being raised in the way it is. I received yet a second phone call that conveyed more concern about the safety of the young man, which of course was completely uncalled for. I phoned the police station, simply reported the conversation to the police and asked strictly that they put on record, in case it was ever inquired about, that I had got a second call and that indeed I had told the daughter to follow normal processes. I told the police, “I have no interest in this whatsoever.”
Mr Runciman: My question is to the Premier, again dealing with the Solicitor General’s misconduct. The Premier will know that all members of cabinet are expected to act in a highly distinguished and dignified manner as ministers of the crown. I am wondering if the Premier would advise us of what guidelines his cabinet operates under with respect to contacts between cabinet officers and police.
Hon Mr Peterson: There are guidelines that have been issued. They were issued some years ago, I think in the Davis regime, and they are the operative guidelines.
Mr Runciman: Based on the Premier’s conclusion that he has reached and expressed to this House and to the public, that the Solicitor General’s conduct in the early morning hours of 9 April does not justify her removal from office, would the Premier indicate to us whether or not he has reviewed the guidelines as established by former Premier Davis and if indeed his Solicitor General conformed to those guidelines?
Hon Mr Peterson: Yes, I have reviewed them; and yes, she has, in my judgement.
Mr Runciman: For the record, this was dated 8 November 1978 and it deals with the policy of communication between members of executive council and key officials in the judicial system: “With the exception of the Attorney General in the performance of his duties as chief law officer of the crown and the Solicitor General in the performance of his duties as the minister responsible for the police, no member of cabinet may communicate with police officials concerning the decision by the police to lay a charge or charges.”
Is the Premier saying to this House and to the people of this province that his minister did not violate that guideline? It seems quite clear to me and it seems quite clear to members of this party that the minister did indeed violate that guideline.
Hon Mr Peterson: I am glad the member read it into the record because it is very clear she did not. She did not discuss the laying of charges. I think the member has answered his own question. He is quite right, she did not violate them.
Mr B. Rae: I want to put to the Premier the question that I put to the Solicitor General that she was unable to answer. What is the Premier’s response to the statement by an official of the OPP that the very fact the minister was at the detachment was “perceived as pressure by investigating officers when she’s on the scene”? What is his response to that?
Hon Mr Peterson: That was one of the subjects of the report. It said there was very clearly no influence on the course of justice, that there was nothing untoward that happened. There was no attempt to influence the course of justice. Very clearly, the member may have that perception and others may have that perception but it was not, in fact, the case.
Mr B. Rae: The Premier -- I choose my words very carefully -- cannot hide behind a police report which, in fact, dealt with the question of a criminal charge against someone; that is to say, the possibility of criminal charges. It was a criminal investigation with respect to the potential criminality of the actions of the Solicitor General.
Does the Premier not realize that, short of criminal behaviour, it is also possible for ministers of the crown to act improperly, and that he should stop using the language about “untoward” and all this other language which he is inventing, that he should deal with the perception which is felt very strongly by members of the OPP that the presence of a minister of the crown, a Solicitor General in this instance, at 1:30 in the morning, after which there is a phone call at four o’clock, is “unusual” and is “perceived as pressure by investigating officers when she’s on the scene”? Does the Premier not understand that you do not have to be a crook in order to do something wrong?
Hon Mr Peterson: I understand that absolutely. Let me tell the member that the report went into all the facts surrounding the circumstances. I told the member about the police report. It mentions the accused and there is an accused in this particular case. I say to the member, and I think most people who are aware of this appreciate the fact, that there has been a full, independent investigation. Their conclusion was that there was no interference in the carriage of justice.
Mr Runciman: Again to the Premier, the Premier has indicated that based on the results of the OPP investigation of the actions of the Solicitor General on the morning of 9 April, he is satisfied that she did not do anything that would justify her removal from office, Did the police report that the Premier based his decision on spell out what the Solicitor General said to the police officers and what they said to her?
Hon Mr Peterson: It dealt with all of the facts of the situation in the eyes of the police. I did not ask them how to conduct their investigation. They came back with their assessment of the facts and that is where it sits.
Mr Runciman: I think that tells it all right there. Obviously, the Premier is telling us that his minister conformed to the guidelines. He does not know what she said. He does not know what the police officer said to her. There is a very clear indication in this memo from Mr Davis with respect to the conduct expected of ministers. Yet, the Premier has the effrontery to get up in the House and say that she did not violate the guidelines and that her actions justify her staying in office --
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Runciman: I really do not know how we can proceed with respect to this Premier dealing with this.
The Speaker: Do you have a question?
Mr Runciman: He is not answering these questions in a forthright manner. Obviously, he does not have the information --
The Speaker: Order, order. There is no question. New question.
Mr Owen: I have a question for the Minister of Culture and Communications. Upper Canada, the predecessor of Ontario, came into existence when the British Parliament passed the Constitutional Act of 1791. It divided the old province of Quebec into Lower Canada in the east and Upper Canada in the west, along our present Ontario-Quebec boundaries.
After the American Revolution of 1783, many British subjects came into this country by way of being what were later identified as United Empire Loyalists. The Quebec Act of 1774 gave the French both religious and political concessions, but the Loyalists did not want to live under French civil law and without the representative assembly to which they had become accustomed. So London, in its wisdom, passed the Constitutional Act on 8 June 1791.
My question to the minister is, what will Ontario be doing to remember our 200th birthday in 1991?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: The Minister of Culture and Communications, and indeed I think every member in this House, is aware of the significant events that occurred between 1791 and 1793 and the impact of those events on the development of our province. Indeed, we as a province will be celebrating those events between 1991 and 1993.
My ministry, and I as minister, have taken the lead role right now in co-ordinating an infrastructure whereby we might celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries. I think it is important for every member of the House to understand and accept my invitation to let me know of their suggestions.
I will of course be taking it through cabinet and cabinet committee and then opening up to local communities and members to get their suggestions on how we might celebrate. I do thank the member for his interest.
Mr Owen: As I have mentioned, the British House enacted the legislation on 8 June 1791. Royal assent, or a form thereof, was given on 10 June 1791. Under the Constitutional Act, our province was given a Lieutenant Governor, an executive council to advise him, a legislative council to act as an upper House and a representative assembly.
What I would like to ask the minister is, what opportunities of involvement will be given to the people of this province, our communities and schools to participate in 1991 to honour this important event?
Hon Ms Oddie Munro: As I indicated, the framework or the plan has not yet been approved, but certainly it is our intention, since all citizens of Ontario are part of the celebration, to ask local communities and members of the House for their suggestions. I anticipate that some of the guidelines will simply leave it up to local communities, with our assistance, to celebrate. I do invite the member, because of his interest in heritage, to also work with members of the Legislature to make sure that his feelings are known to me and others.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Kormos: The Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) tells the Legislature that she had no intention of interfering with police action, but rather that she made the trip and drove some distance rather than making a phone call. In view of the fact that she would have us believe there was a sense of urgency, that she made the trip out of concern about undue force and that she wanted to make sure that young Whalen was fine, she tells us that she did not think her appearance would make any impression on the police officers in the handling of the case.
In view of the fact that she addressed her concerns only to young Whalen, that she persisted in talking to the police and that she persisted in identifying herself as a friend of the family, how can we now expect the community to believe it did not have any influence and that it could not have had any influence? How can the Solicitor General excuse her conduct in view of the fact that there is very special treatment being given to very special people?
Hon Mrs Smith: Obviously, the young man was being treated in a proper way. I was able to find that out from the father. The father left him there overnight. I therefore had no concern about him, but I had been identified in the driveway by the police officer, so I wanted to assure them that I had no interest in the case, did not want to interfere in any way with justice, and did not even inquire if charges were being laid or not laid. I found that out much later, after the whole thing was over.
Mr Kormos: What she assured them was that she was a good friend of the family and was not just conducting herself in the role of MPP or even Solicitor General. If the Solicitor General was so concerned and cautious after that attendance, why did she make the subsequent phone call to the police station? Why did she not simply tell the Whalen daughter: “Enough of this nonsense. You have misled me once already. Talk to your father, he is the one who has already been there”? No, she did not say that. She called the police station once again as a close friend of the family and Solicitor General.
The Speaker: Order. There were two questions.
Hon Mrs Smith: Indeed, as stated before, that is precisely what I said to the young girl, and I simply reported the call to the police, because I thought if it came up in the House, as it has come up, I would want everything on the record, including that call and the fact that indeed I had told her that I had no intention of involvement.
Mr Runciman: As a follow-up to my last commentary, I have a question of the Premier. He has indicated that the report gives no details of the comments made by his Solicitor General or the response of the police officers in the early morning hours of 9 April. Yet he has advised us that she should remain in office and that she did not violate the guidelines set down by Premier Davis. Could he advise us how he reached those conclusions, based on the fact that he did not have this information before him?
Hon Mr Peterson: I had the complete independent police review in front of me and all the facts. The police involved were interviewed and they were allowed to make their statements and we had all the facts the investigating officers thought were relevant. It was on that basis that I made the decision. I can understand my honourable friend wishing there was something more there. I hate to disappoint him, but there is not.
Mr Runciman: I would suggest that the Premier did not want to receive that sort of information. I think he owes it to the House to explain why he does not believe it is relevant with respect to this matter that the Ontario Provincial Police did not sit down with the Solicitor General, why it did not determine what she said on both instances that she approached the Lucan OPP. I believe it is crucial. We are talking about the top cop in the province possibly intimidating police officers under her jurisdiction, obstructing the course of justice in this province. It is very important.
Why did the Premier not feel this was crucial? Why did he not feel this was very important in terms of reaching a determination?
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not mean to be unkind, but I think my honourable friend -- I understand his point in this House -- undermines his own credibility when he draws some of the conclusions he would like to draw. I say that I do not agree with that. I think the investigating officers talked to the officers in the circumstances, and had there been any suggestions that influence was used, obviously that would have come back in the report. I say the definitive conclusion was that there was no influence brought to bear in the laying of charges in this matter. Now, my honourable friend will refuse to believe that, and I understand that, but I say those are the facts.
RENTAL HOUSING PROTECTION
Mr Kanter: I have a question of the Minister of Housing. I know the Minister of Housing has taken a number of steps to protect our stock of rental housing. However, I recently became aware of a scheme known as a limited partnership, whereby rights to specific apartment units with tenants living in them are sold to other purchasers. Can the minister advise if she is generally aware of such limited partnership schemes, and furthermore, if she has sought a legal opinion as to whether they contravene the Rental Housing Protection Act?
Hon Ms Hosek: I would like to thank the member for his question, for his continuing interest in this issue and also for the help he has given the ministry in dealing with this problem.
As the member knows, limited partnerships refer to the selling of rental housing under a scheme that offers the purchaser a long-term lease. We have indeed asked the Attorney General (Mr Scott), and he has made a legal ruling in this regard which states that such arrangements are indeed a violation of the Rental Housing Protection Act. In our view, this is a contravention of the Rental Housing Protection Act, and those who are involved in it are liable to a $50,000 fine and/or a year in prison.
Mr Kanter: I appreciate the minister’s reply, particularly the indication that those who are in contravention of the Rental Housing Protection Act are subject to very serious fines or possibly imprisonment.
However, I would like to further ask the minister about two specific locations in my riding, 191 St George Street and 660 Eglinton Avenue West. They have contacted my office, in some cases after seeing newspaper ads that would sell out the units they are living in right from under them. They are, naturally, extremely concerned. They have also heard from prospective purchasers of those units.
Can the minister advise whether she is aware of the concerns of the tenants in those specific buildings and, furthermore, whether her ministry has actually launched a prosecution under the Rental Housing Protection Act in order to protect these tenants in my riding?
Hon Ms Hosek: We have indeed been conducting an investigation into a number of buildings, including 191 St George. We hold the view that there is clearly a flagrant contravention of the Rental Housing Protection Act in this case, and we are in the process of laying charges.
I also want to add a warning to the people in the province who may be approached to take part in a scheme like this one. Let me just tell them that they are really playing with fire. There is a serious risk for them of getting involved in an economic transaction that is not going to work, that could come to grief, and I hope they will stay away from any scheme like this one.
Legal action is being taken in the case of 191 St George. It is a clear indication that we are not going to tolerate abuses of the Rental Housing Protection Act. Wherever there are violations of this sort, we will act.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr B. Rae: I want to go back to the Premier. I want to clear up, if I may, and try to get to the bottom of this question of exactly what the Ontario Provincial Police investigation was.
I am sure the Premier will appreciate that it is very unusual for the Premier of the province to order an OPP investigation into the conduct of one of his ministers. I can think of very few instances where this has happened in our recent history.
There seems to be some confusion about exactly what this report was. It was a report into the potential criminal behaviour of one of his own cabinet colleagues. Presumably, that is what the police were asked to inquire into and that is what they did in fact inquire into.
I would like to ask the Premier, first of all, to confirm that the report he has in front of him, which none of the rest of us have seen, was confined to the question of the potential criminal liability of the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith). Second, can he confirm that in fact the Solicitor General was not herself interviewed by the officer conducting the investigation?
Hon Mr Peterson: It was not into that question; it was into all the facts surrounding her attendance. Had criminal culpability grown out of that, obviously that would have been an offshoot, but that was not the preliminary sense. There was a desire to get all of the facts in front of us so that we could make judgements that ultimately were political. So that is the situation.
The investigating officer went and talked to all the people he felt were appropriate, as he is an expert in carrying out these kinds of investigations to determine all of the facts. I did not tell him whom to investigate. I do not even know, frankly, which officer did it. I did not ask them to talk to any particular people or investigate any particular line. They conducted it, to the best of their ability, independently.
Mr B. Rae: The OPP is not a private investigative operation for one person, no matter how esteemed and well known that person may be -- the president, the Premier or whatever title he may have. The OPP has public responsibilities.
If the Premier is saying that the report was not about the criminal liability of one of his cabinet colleagues, but rather it was an investigation into the facts surrounding the appropriateness or the untowardness of the conduct of his colleague the Solicitor General, then perhaps the Premier should, since he has quoted from the report in several instances, at least do us the common courtesy of allowing all of us to see the report.
He himself is now saying that it was not a report confined to criminality; it was not a police investigation conducted at the instigation of the Attorney General (Mr Scott) or by the police themselves; it was conducted at the personal request of the Premier of this province. Since the OPP is not a private police force belonging to the Premier, why does he not make the report public?
Hon Mr Peterson: Interestingly enough, let me just clear that up for my honourable friend. When I was informed about this by the Secretary of the Management Board of Cabinet, I said that I wanted to get all of the facts pertaining to this. He put the message back down the line and already the police had ordered their own investigation of the matter.
It is the same report. They got the report and I got the report. I gather that the commissioner had ordered this to make sure that he was aware of all the facts, and the commissioner had the same report that I have. I think that is the first thing my honourable friend may want to understand.
Second, I think the member understands, as a lawyer, that police reports are not made public. He understands as well as I do that criminal charges have been laid in this matter against a particular accused and --
Mr B. Rae: That was not the report. The subject of the report was not Mr Whalen. The subject of the report was the Solicitor General.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Peterson: My honourable friend, I think, would understand that Mr Whalen’s behaviour was part of the report and why the Solicitor General attended and how she attended and what happened in those instances. Obviously, the name of the accused is mentioned. The member would not want to do anything to prejudice a particular criminal proceeding.
Mr Brandt: The Premier may have cleared up a question that I was going to raise. As I now understand it, if my understanding is correct, there was one report that was requested by both him and the OPP, which resulted in one report.
If that is correct, I wonder if the Premier could share with us whether the instructions that flowed from his office with respect to the area to be investigated within the context of that report was a mirror image of what the OPP had with respect to their request in terms of the investigation that they carried out. Were they one and the same in terms of the area that they covered?
Hon Mr Peterson: I just said to the secretary of cabinet that I wanted all the facts on this. He conveyed it down the line. I was told that a police investigation had already been ordered by, I gather, the OPP in this matter, and I waited to get the results of that. So there is one report ordered almost simultaneously by two groups. It started with them.
Mr Brandt: I am having continued problems with respect to how this whole matter unfolded. The understanding I have is that the Solicitor General did in fact visit the OPP detachment at approximately 1:30 am, spoke to the father in the parking lot and subsequently went into the building. What was exchanged by way of conversation we know nothing about because that ostensibly is in the police report. We understand that the Solicitor General then left and went home and, subsequent to that visit, made a phone call to the OPP.
I want to ask the Premier: If the report covered the fact that the Solicitor General was in contact with the father and knew that the family was secure in the sense that someone in that senior capacity relative to the family was in charge, what justification can the Premier give for the Solicitor General making still a second contact, knowing full well that the first contact was highly questionable and wrong and, therefore, that the second contact was simply aggravating an already difficult situation? What did the report have to say about that second call?
Hon Mr Peterson: The report covered all of those matters and came to exactly the conclusion I told the member. It said that there was no political interference.
TOURISM REDEVELOPMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAM
Mr Dietsch: My question is to the Minister of Tourism and Recreation. All members were pleased last week when he announced the reinstatement of the tourism redevelopment incentive program, otherwise known as TRIP. Would the minister please inform this House whether those applications -- and there were a number of applications that were made last year -- which were not processed will be dealt with on a priority basis, or whether operators must submit new applications to fit in with this program?
Hon Mr O’Neil: I would like to thank the member for St Catharines-Brock for his question, because I know of his interest in the tourism business in Ontario.
During the review of the tourism redevelopment incentive program, my ministry staff were able to assist many of the tourism operators with some of the other programs that we have in existence, those being mainly the tourism term loans, the Destinations East and the Destinations North programs. The TRIP applications which were not looked after are being reviewed this year by my staff on a priority basis, and the operators will be contacted by the staff of my ministry to update all of those files.
Mr Dietsch: I am sure that tourism operators will be very pleased to hear the minister’s answer today, particularly tourism operators in my riding of St Catharines-Brock. Would the minister please advise this House and those viewing of the total value of the TRIP loans available under this program that was announced last week?
Hon Mr O’Neil: Under the previous TRIP, the total value of the TRIP loan guarantees provided in a full year was approximately $25 million. Under the new TRIP I announced a couple of weeks ago, that has now been raised to a loan guarantee level of $30 million, an increase of $5 million. I think the industry is quite pleased with that increased level.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr Kormos: I have a question for the Premier. The Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) told the Legislature on Tuesday, 23 May, that in her view the police were not alarmed in any way by her visit to the parking lot and then to the police station, as a good friend of the Whalen family. Yet it is the Ontario Provincial Police which initiated the investigation by reporting the Solicitor General’s attendance to the deputy minister, by obviously commencing their own investigation prior to the Premier’s contacting them.
How is it that the Solicitor General can tell us that the police were not alarmed, yet the alarm was clearly rung, loud and clear, by the police? They are the ones who initiated an investigation. Indeed, now the Police Association of Ontario, through its spokesmen, representing 17,000 police officers, says only a full investigation can bring out all of the facts. How can the Premier say that the police were not alarmed?
Hon Mr Peterson: First, as I said in the report, there was no indication that they were alarmed. I think the police association will tell the member that that is not the view of the police association. I received a letter from them this morning which I will read to my honourable friend. It says:
“It has come to our attention that the Toronto Star has indicated that our executive manager, Mr Richard Houston, has asked for an independent investigation into the conduct of the Solicitor General, Mrs Joan Smith, at a recent police occurrence in Lucan, Ontario.
“In fact, Mr Houston is only quoted as saying, ‘I don’t think there was any intent to influence a system of justice, but there was certainly poor judgement involved in her going down there.’ The article goes on to say that Mr Houston expects a full investigation into the matter. We are assured, at this point, that a full investigation has been accomplished.
“The Toronto Star, through its headline, would lead us to believe that Mr Houston asked for an independent investigation, and I have spoken to him personally and he denies at any time that he ever suggested an independent investigation was necessary.”
That is signed by Neal Jessop, the president of the Police Association of Ontario.
Mr Kormos: The investigation that was conducted by the OPP with a view to determining whether there was any criminal contact did not, among other things, include any interviews with the Solicitor General. Nor does it appear that the Solicitor General offered to assist the OPP by providing any comments or by providing her record of the conversation with the young lady at 3:51 in the morning and, presumably, then with the police station OPP at the same time.
The Premier is quoted on CBC radio this morning as suggesting that if there are more facts made available, his position in this matter may well change. The question is, have we heard all the facts? Indeed, are there other things that are going to leak out next week or the week after? Are there other facts that are going to be determined only as a result of a full investigation of the type suggested in the Toronto Star?
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Kormos: Have we got it all, because there has been no contribution by the --
The Speaker: Thank you. That is three questions.
Mr Kormos: When are we going to --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Peterson: I say to my honourable friend that, to the best of my knowledge, he has all of the facts. He said in this House that he talked to the police force and that the police shared the information with him. He would look for some things that are not there, and perhaps that is his role and responsibility, but I say to him that the facts are there and they are quite clear. Judgements have to be made on the basis of those facts.
Mr Brandt: The facts are there. You’ve seen them; no one else has.
Hon Mr Peterson: I understand my honour-able friend’s disagreeing with my judgement on this matter. He is entirely entitled to do that, and we do have our disagreements from time to time on a number of matters. I have to accept the responsibility for the judgements I make, but the facts are all there. I say to my honourable friend that one has to be very careful about determining what the facts are, because sometimes these things get misreported and misconstrued.
Mr Runciman: A question to the Solicitor General: She has indicated on numerous occasions that her visit and her subsequent phone call did not intimidate or influence the police officers in the Lucan detachment. Police tell us that in a situation similar to that of the Solicitor General’s visit to the Lucan OPP station, any information regarding the arrest of an individual would not be given to a third party. It would only be given to the family of the arrested person or his solicitor.
We know the Solicitor General was given information in response to her inquiries about the welfare of John Whalen Jr. The Lucan police did not perceive the Solicitor General as a third party, but gave her the information because she was the Solicitor General. Is it not obvious that the police were influenced by the minister’s presence to the point that they did not treat her as a private citizen?
Hon Mrs Smith: Let me reiterate, as I have before, that the father reassured me of the wellbeing of his son. I was well aware then that I had been misled. It was answered before. I did not inquire into the case and I did not learn that charges were laid, nor inquire into whether charges were laid. That came out much later. I believe I heard that first from my deputy after the police report was in.
Mr Runciman: That did not deal at all with my question. I guess the Solicitor General is suggesting by her actions that if anyone happens to wander into a police station and says, “Hey, who have you got back there? What is he charged with? Are you beating him up?” the police are going to respond to those kinds of inquiries.
That is what the Solicitor General apparently did with respect to her visit in the early morning hours in Lucan. Is that the kind of standard that she, as the top cop, the senior law enforcement officer in this province, is saying is the appropriate response that police forces across this province should have?
Hon Mrs Smith: Once again, if it were not a matter of personal privilege, it would be. I repeat, I have never said that I asked what he was charged with or whether he was charged or any such thing. I intended only to ask if his wellbeing was in good hands. I did not need to do that, because I had met with the father, so I simply told the police about the phone call which had prompted me to come, about my concern for the young lady’s anxiety and about my sense of responsibility to ensure that I could tell her that everything was all right, and that was not necessary because the father had been there. At no time did I inquire about the charge. I did not know if charges were laid and I never even suggested that they should tell me about that.
Mr Callahan: My question is to the Minister of Correctional Services. In Toronto Press Today it was reported, in an article by Maureen Murray, that the deadliest drug of all for kids is alcohol. The article, although it does not deal directly with what I am going to ask the minister, did go on to say: “‘Drugs like crack and cocaine get more public attention. But booze is undoubtedly killing more kids than any of the other drugs,’ said Norman Panzica, a senior consultant to the Council on Drug Abuse.”
Can the Minister of Correctional Services describe or indicate what programs are available in the correctional system to deal with people who arrive there with observable or obvious alcohol problems at the present time?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would like to thank the member for his interest in the treatment and rehabilitation programs that we do have in the ministry.
As the member properly notes, a great percentage of the people who come under our care in the correctional system of this province are in some sort of need of substance abuse programming, and we have that treatment and rehabilitation programming provided by the ministry; but also I would like to note, and I think it is very interesting, that among the 5,000 people who volunteer their time with the Ministry of Correctional Services throughout this province. Alcoholics Anonymous is a very strong group that contributes greatly to the rehabilitation. They do a fantastic job, and if you would allow me, Mr Speaker, I think it is a good opportunity to thank them for the work that they do in our ministry.
Mr Callahan: Some time ago, I attended a conference in the United States at which they indicated that the forced --
Mr Callahan: If the member for Sarnia is not interested in this, I am.
Forced treatment is being used by correctional institutions in the United States. At first, I had thought that forced treatment would not help people who were addicted to alcohol. Apparently in the studies that they have conducted in the United States, the results they have seem to indicate that while people are incarcerated, in fact you can use a requirement or a forced treatment program.
I would ask the minister, if he has not already looked at that, would he look at the information that is available on that and consider whether or not that is an appropriate course of action to take?
Hon Mr Ramsay: I would say to the member that the people in our ministry are on top of all the latest techniques and procedures that are adopted throughout the correctional systems of the world. As a matter of fact, our people in the Ontario correctional system are among the foremost in doing progressive research into programming and into treatment.
My comment to the member, though, would be that in problems such as this I do not think forced treatment is the way to go, because I think in problems such as this the person involved has to admit that there is a problem and be receptive to treatment.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if I might ask a question of the Premier, since he has quoted in the House a letter which relates to the poor judgement of the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith). Certainly that to me is the critical question. I think to all of us the question is the judgement of the Solicitor General.
When she was asked on 11 January 1989 about a case involving someone she did not know, who was not a friend of her family, and she was asked it in this House, what did she say? She said: “I would remind the member that there is a certain process. First, a crime is investigated by the police, as it should be.... The investigation is then taken to the crown attorney to advise the police...as to whether the evidence that has been collected would substantiate a court case of a certain nature.”
She then goes on to say, “It would be most improper for me to rush the police.”
The question here is judgement and standards; and, I might add, double standards. Can the Premier explain why, when the Solicitor General got the phone call at one o’clock in the morning, she would not have given a similar answer to a family friend as she has given to members of this House when we raise questions about justice in this province?
Hon Mr Peterson: I think we have gone through all the facts of this on a number of occasions. I think you have asked the Solicitor General about her actions and why she did it. She has been forthcoming about that.
As I said, I understand my honourable friend drawing a different conclusion with respect to the appropriateness of the action, and lots of other people agree with you. I have to make judgements on the bottom line with respect to this matter and I have made that judgement.
It is like a lot of other situations. I think honourable people can have different points of view. I respect it, but I have to take the responsibility ultimately.
Mr B. Rae: With great respect, we all have to take responsibility, not just the Premier. The people of this whole province are going to bear some responsibility for having a Solicitor General who, in a moment of crisis, cannot distinguish between the right thing to do and what I think the vast majority of members of this House in a private judgement would say was clearly the wrong thing to do in terms of a private response to a particular issue.
I want to ask the Premier again this question of judgement, since he himself has quoted with great pride from the president of the Police Association of Ontario and he does not dissociate himself from the comments of the executive manager of the police association, who talks directly about the poor judgement of the Solicitor General.
I am asking the Premier, just what is the standard of judgement? When I have asked her questions in this House and other members have asked her about the Donaldson case, about the Wade Lawson case, she says, “I can’t interfere; I can’t get involved; I can’t rush the police; it’s not my business; there’s a process out there.” When she gets a call from a family friend she gives an entirely different answer and she behaves in an entirely different way. I want to ask the Premier --
The Speaker: The question?
Mr B. Rae: Does the Premier not realize that sets a double standard and is an example of judgement that just is not acceptable in a senior law officer of this province?
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Peterson: I do not agree with my honourable friend’s analysis of the situation. There have been a number of people, including himself, trying to draw parallels. One way or the other, judgement is exhibited on a daily basis. Sometimes, it is better than others. There are lots of judgements that in retrospect could have been better; certainly, in my particular case, maybe not in my honourable friend’s case. The question for me is: Does this warrant dismissal as a minister of the crown?
Mr B. Rae: She does not even think she has made a mistake. That is not what she says. She does not even think she has made a mistake.
Hon Mr Peterson: He disagrees with that, and that is fair enough. But I had to make those judgements, and I have made them.
Mr Runciman: My question is to the Solicitor General. Earlier this week, it may have been yesterday, the Premier, in reference to the situation of the member for Kingston and The Islands (Mr Keyes) and the police report by the Metropolitan Toronto Police force, indicated that one of the reasons that report was made public was that the member for Kingston and The Islands himself consented to it being released.
Mr Brandt: An honourable gentleman.
Mr Runciman: An honourable gentleman indeed.
I would like to ask the minister, considering the position she has placed her leader, her government and her party in, would she also give consent to the release of this report?
Hon Mrs Smith: The report, as any report dealing with a case that is before the courts, should be kept confidential to the police. In any case, as has often been pointed out, police reports include many names and areas that have nothing that should be exposed. Therefore, as the general rule, police reports are not given away.
In the case of the member for Kingston and The Islands, because one person was involved and criminal charges were laid, it was the decision to voluntarily put forward that one report.
Mr Runciman: Accepting the Solicitor General’s reservations in respect to the matters being before the courts, I think that members of this House would be interested in hearing her reaction if indeed the areas that may have impact on the court deliberations were deleted, so that only the aspects of the report dealing with her conduct on the morning of 9 April are made available to the members of this House or to members of the public.
Is the Solicitor General agreeable to that, at least, occurring? Would she consent to that?
Hon Mrs Smith: I have often heard the Attorney General (Mr Scott) speak to the fact that he feels very strongly about this, in other cases, as precedent setting and, therefore, I would want to speak with him. I believe it would be too precedent setting.
Mr Tatham: To the Minister of Agriculture and Food: In view of the recent remark by the United States Secretary of Agriculture Yeutter on the United States defence subsidies and farm sales, where he stated, “The United States will continue to subsidize sales of farm products under its export enhancement program,” does the minister not feel that this action is inconsistent with the freeze on industrial milk prices imposed on our dairy producers by the federal government?
Hon Mr Riddell: The member for Oxford has certainly hit upon a critical concern in these General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations. Indeed, when I met with my federal counterpart on 12 May, I expressed these very same concerns on behalf of all Ontario farmers. In my view, Secretary Yeutter and his comments certainly seem to contradict the spirit of the April GATT agreement.
I can assure my colleague that I will continue to press the federal government to ensure fair and equitable treatment for our producers and I will be raising this issue again at the agriculture ministers’ conference, which will be held in Saskatchewan in late July-early August.
Mr Tatham: In this Globe and Mail issue of 24 May, Mr Mazankowski “said he told Mr Yeutter that the basis of the decision to slap a duty of 6.6 cents a kilogram on shipments of Canadian fresh, chilled and frozen pork goes against GATT principles. If the duty is not dropped, Canada will take the case to GATT, according to Mr Mazankowski.”
What took place in other countervailing duties against the pork industry?
Hon Mr Riddell: In the case of the countervail, which was initially levied on hogs and pork, only to have pork withdrawn, the countervailing duties were reimbursed to the hog producers’ marketing board. But the real concern is the obvious harassment that our farmers are going to be subjected to as the Americans have made it obviously plain that they are going to apply their trade laws, particularly under the new omnibus trade bill that they passed in the House of Representatives.
Their activities are continuing just as much, if not more than they did before the free trade agreement was signed. Yet I look across at my Tory friends over here who supported their colleagues in having this free trade agreement signed at the expense of the farmers in this province.
SOLICITOR GENERAL’S VISIT TO POLICE STATION
Mr B. Rae: I want to go back to the Premier again and say to him that we have clear evidence from what the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) has said on a number of occasions, in response to the Wade Lawson affair and in response to the Lester Donaldson shooting. She stated very emphatically how she was not going to be involved with a police investigation, was not going to touch it in any way, was not going to have anything to do with it and that had to be the clear message that went out to the people of the province.
I want to ask the Premier: He knows, as we all know, that the Police Act is coming up for major review and major revision, that it is enormously important legislation, as well as extraordinarily sensitive legislation with respect to the relationship between the police commissioners -- a new role for police commissioners. It is going to be very challenging legislation to handle in this Legislature. Does he not realize the extent to which the judgement of his own Solicitor General has now been called into question and the impact that this is going to have on the Police Act discussions which we expect to have this summer and well into the fall?
Hon Mr Peterson: This government has done a great deal in improving policing in this province. It is working very hard on a new Police Act and it will be brought forward reasonably shortly for full public discussion. I think at that point people will put their minds to the substance of that new legislation and be quite happy about it. I think we are quite capable of doing those things and I think there is lots of credibility.
Mr Pollock: I have a petition to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We the undersigned beg leave to petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows: We 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.”
It is signed by 13 people and I have affixed my signature to this petition.
Mr Sola: I have two petitions. I have one for the Victorian Order of Nurses identical to the one that was just read, with 21 signatures.
Mr Sola: I also have another one which reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned, petition our government on the following problem:
“We are employed by Sunwheel Bicycle Couriers Ltd either full- or part-time as bicycle couriers and support staff. We have been informed by Hilda and Barbara, the operators of the company, that Workers’ Compensation Board has changed our job classification from 709 to 656, which means from taxi to trucking, with the effect that the company’s Workers’ Compensation Board payments will double. We understand that our operation will have to close down if this is enforced.”
There are four other points to it and there are about 170 signatures.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BUSINESS
Hon Mr Conway moved that the order of precedence for private members’ public business be amended as follows: ballot item 7, Mrs Sullivan for Mr Cleary; ballot item 10, Mr Ballinger for Mrs Sullivan; ballot item 16, Ms Collins for Mr Campbell; ballot item 78, Mr Cleary for Mr Ballinger, and ballot item 92, Mr Campbell for Ms Collins.
The Speaker: I know some of you were paying attention to the motion.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Conway moved that the membership for the special committee on the parliamentary precinct shall be: the Speaker and the chairman of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly as co-chairmen, and Mr Breaugh, Mr Reycraft and Mr Sterling.
Motion agreed to.
Hon Mr Conway moved that the provisional standing orders be extended to remain in effect until 12 midnight on Monday, 31 July 1989.
Motion agreed to.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr R. F. Johnston moved first reading of Bill 28, An Act to amend the Employment Standards
Motion agreed to.
Mr R. F. Johnston: What it intends to do is change the employment standards regulations around pregnancy leave to deal with parental leave in Ontario. It would adjust the qualifying period, which is now at 63 weeks of employment, down to six months; it would also extend the period in which one could draw unemployment insurance benefits from 15 weeks to 25 weeks, and it would provide for leave for adoptive parents and for fathers as well.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Mr Pouliot: Members who were present at the House yesterday will recall that I did indeed welcome the opportunity to highlight the good deeds which represented the government at its best: some breakthroughs, some relief for the less fortunate.
I again took the opportunity to point out the tax grab, the Wilson-Nixon tax bash, that resulted in more than $1 billion for the second consecutive year -- not a one-shot deal -- being extracted systematically from the pockets of the middle class in Ontario at a time when there was no need; when minor readjustment would have resulted in the status quo and given the taxpayers a chance to breathe; a chance to recover from last year’s provincial budget; a chance to believe and again recover from the latest, on 17 May, provincial budget.
I had the opportunity yesterday to focus on specific needs for the special part of Ontario which represents nine tenths of the land mass, because it is the people of the north more than anyone else --
The Deputy Speaker: There are many private conversations. Please, I would like to hear the member for Lake Nipigon. You may proceed.
Mr Pouliot: At a time when Ontario is enjoying the experience for the seventh or eighth consecutive year of what has been an unprecedented period of recovery or prosperity, the measures introduced by the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) as part of his budget only serve to fuel suspicion. For two consecutive years, an extra $1 billion has been taken from the pockets of the taxpayers of Ontario. Expenditures are being lessened.
It brings one to follow the actions of previous governments or previous Treasurers, when they are in a situation where a majority government is the rule of the day. Traditionally it has been reported that one socks it to the taxpayers in the first year of a majority government, whether the economic climate demands it or not. One never underestimates the ability of the taxpayers to fork over more money. Then one deliberately punishes them in the second year of a four-year term, whether we need it or not.
The reason is quite simple. The government seems to be telling the taxpayers: “You as taxpayers have a good memory but it is rather short. We will take the surplus. We will hide it left and right and when election time comes and we need your vote, then we are really nice people. We will use your own money and we will go back to bribing you.” This is what this document tells us. The document of last year, almost to the day -- if there is any such terminology -- tells us again that when one goes back to the well, then one socks it to the taxpayers.
I just happen to have a headline from one of the papers in Thunder Bay, a community of some 115,000 people, some 900 miles north of Toronto. “The Tax-Go-Round: How Much Longer?” This is not the Toronto Star. We do not get verbal pats on the back or accolades of six or seven columns. These people are talking in terms of the north. It is their responsibility to report what is happening to the north and offer editorials and suggestions. They are saying: “You have gone too far, Bob Nixon. Enough is enough.” We are enjoying good prosperity. It is time to share and share alike. The north has not benefited.
This headline is in the same paper on the day after, “Budget Hits Drivers in the North Harder.” It would not be so bad if the Treasurer had a plan in the expenditure part of the budget, not in the part that takes taxes. He does that very well, better than any other government has ever done it before.
But it says on the other side of the ledger: “This is what we will be spending. We will be four-laning Highway 17. We have been talking about that for years. It will help people go to work. They have no alternative but to use the highways up north. We will offer better maintenance. It will attract tourism. It will attract industry. But it is very costly, so we will be realistic. We will not use the word ‘vision.’ We are going to use ‘planning.’ Vision will take care of itself. We are going to tell them that on a step-by-step basis, we will do 10 or 15 miles a year. We will commit, let’s say, $20 million.”
One heck of a lot of money came out of the north; very little -- the words are not too strong -- is coming back in tangible measures. There is no such thing.
When we talk about doctors, dentists, audiologists, speech pathologists, physiotherapists and the whole gamut of health services, what is the government doing, in terms of universities in the north, to train people? There are five in southern Ontario. Is it asking for too much, while there are all those services that are taken for granted within a subway ride -- and they do excellent things in southern Ontario -- we hardly have access to a referral system in many cases, and when we do, we consider ourselves less privileged?
But we are also filled with fear and anxiety that it will be shortlived and that tomorrow we will go back to the well trying again to end the cycle of attracting and then retaining essential services.
Unconditional grants: Again, at a time when the economy of Ontario has never been better, unconditional grants to municipalities in southern Ontario do not mean quite the same as they do up north. They do not represent the same percentage of total revenue, because we do not have that commercial tax base to nearly the same magnitude as they have, for instance, on University Avenue. We have very little, so we rely on the unconditional grants to provide essential services.
They represent some 20.8 per cent, on the average, of the communities in northern Ontario. Why does the Treasurer not increase that part of the budget, at least to cover the rate of inflation? We will not be any further ahead, but at least we could begin to breathe, to keep pace, and the straitjacket would loosen a bit.
That is how one does things for the north. Those are the opportunities that were given to the Treasurer; to stop, as I mentioned yesterday, the kind of double-digit attack for general and school purposes that he has placed on the people who really have less in terms of average. The budget does very little to recognize the special needs of northern Ontario, a region that contributes so much to the welfare of all Ontarians with its natural resources and the talents of its people.
The Treasurer is paying us the compliment of his presence, which is not unusual; the Treasurer has an outstanding record of attendance in this House. I spoke yesterday about what appeared to be an important anomaly, and other members joined in their collective surprise. I would like to draw the attention of the Treasurer to page 29 of his creation, the budget document. Under “Summary Tables,” it says “Taxation changes.” I want to go back to that, because the style being employed here bothers me a great deal.
“Vehicles for physically disabled,” $1 million expected revenue in the full year. I would hope we would be privileged with information, because when I read this document with no explaining memo -- and I know it is not meant that way; it is not presented that way; I can well accept that -- it is little wonder that one would ask the question. I think it is a normal reaction and that the Treasurer will privilege the House with his answer.
While we have the attention of the Treasurer, perhaps he could have an assistant take down another page number. The first one was page 29; the second one is page 18. It deals with “Schedule of Tax Levels on Fuel Inefficient Cars.” Then again, it gives us the tax on highway fuel consumption ratings for guzzlers, cars that use a lot of gas.
I am just wondering, since I come from a region where the families are somewhat larger than those in southern Ontario, what we are talking about. It does not talk about words that I have difficulty reading, like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and the like, those cars for the rich people. I am concerned about a Chevrolet station wagon. If you have three or four children --
Hon R. F. Nixon: Where is that list?
Mr Pouliot: On page 18, it says “Highway fuel consumption ratings.”
Hon R. F. Nixon: Where is that list of a Chevrolet station wagon?
Mr Pouliot: This is what I am asking the Treasurer, to make sure that if I have four or five children at home, I will not pay an extra $3,500.
Hon R. F. Nixon: You will not, unless it is a Mercedes station wagon or a Porsche station wagon.
Mr Pouliot: The Treasurer will be given an opportunity. It does not tell me that. It tells me that it is so many kilometres per gallon.
Hon R. F. Nixon: That information is readily available.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One member at a time.
Mr Pouliot: The people of our riding have asked me to convey their concern, with respect, of course, to the Treasurer, because they will be paying fully eight per cent tax on those vehicles to start with. They will be paying higher prices for licences, higher prices for gas, higher prices for tires, and now they are wondering if they are going to be paying, on top of all those taxes -- and I am forgetting some -- an additional $3,000 should they fail to meet the ratio because they need a bigger car to transport the family. I am just wondering. That and the $1 million of anticipated revenue on wheelchairs. Well, it does not say wheelchairs; it says vehicles for the disabled.
I would like to ask one last question, if I may, of the Treasurer, and again I am sure he would like to favour the House. It has to do with Ontario Hydro, the utility company responsible for more than 50 percent of the debt in Ontario; the second Ontario government, if you wish.
Those people have a lot of clout. I am sure the Treasurer has had some discussion with Ontario Hydro. In fact, as I read the papers, I am told he knows them rather well. Since he does know them rather well, the Treasurer must not burn bridges, but he talks about making sure that Ontario Hydro will accelerate its payment or its obligation towards the provincial debt, or its debt, which is guaranteed by the province, by the resources and the people of Ontario.
I would like to know from the Treasurer, how much will that direction, that obligation, mean when I get my Hydro bill in a place where it is anywhere from 20 per cent to 30 per cent higher than the rest of Ontario? What is it going to do to me when I get my bill at the end of the month? Is it going to mean two per cent? Is it going to mean extra for my water rental tax? What is the projection there?
There again, the people of the north, who use more electricity and who pay more for the electricity, their essential service, want to know what it means in their pockets at the end of the month, because there is not much left and it is an important utility. We pay a high percentage indeed just to stay alive.
I have insisted on being positive, on being complimentary on the measures that were introduced by the government. I spent a rather good deal of time yesterday talking about the fundamentals, about what needed to be done so we would at long last have tax fairness.
I want to tell the Treasurer of Ontario that he has missed an opportunity, perhaps like never before, an opportunity that does not present itself too often. By virtue of economic cycles, he does not always have the chance to seize that opportunity when it passes.
The people of the north were watching. They were watching with apprehension and fear because the saturation point has been reached, and it was more vivid with the last provincial budget when $1 billion was taken out of the economy. With the Wilson-Nixon combined tax bash, we are very close to saturation.
I want to convey to the Treasurer that some members of the opposition, with respect, feel that this document was nothing short of gluttonous, that this document represents the proverbial straw, that we really cannot take it any more, that our lifestyle is being jeopardized and essential services are being restricted by virtue of inability to pay, for we have less and less money available.
The Treasurer, or another Treasurer with the same government, before the next provincial election will be given the chance to release the thrust that is needed to make northern Ontario a better place to live, and just as important, so that the people, one more time, at long last, will be the partners of planning, of systematic economic development, and will not have to literally be dealing with anxieties and be left at the mercy of some other people down south who seem to care very little and represent our aspirations very little.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I always appreciate hearing the remarks of the honourable member for Lake Nipigon, who is a sensible person indeed and always has something worthwhile to say, and I appreciate that, other than some of his negative stuff.
He says it is his birthday today, and when one gets to be 39, no wonder he feels so good.
He mentioned the item having to do with what appears to be revenue from the disabled. As a matter of fact, this is a reduction in the amount of money that is being allocated to assist the disabled in providing themselves with transportation. Up until this budget, there was no limit on the sales tax rebate. We now have put a limit of sales tax rebate on $20,000 worth of car and $30,000 worth of van. We felt it was a bit much when we were asked to pay the full sales tax rebate on a Mercedes Benz, for example, and on other types of super-expensive sports cars. There is no reason why handicapped people should not have those, but we feel it is inappropriate that we pay the sales tax on all but the part I am referring to.
The honourable member made some sort of reference to the fact that northern families are larger than families in the south. If I had said that, it might be a matter for an adjournment for a debate on a matter of special importance while we determine what it is about the north that makes the honourable member and his friends so fecund. Perhaps he will tell me about that.
Mr Breaugh: That is not a problem you have to deal with, at any rate.
Hon R. F. Nixon: No.
I think the honourable member should set his troubled mind at rest that the list of so-called gas guzzlers does not include family station wagons.
Unfortunately, I do not have time to deal definitively with the Ontario Hydro guaranteed fee.
Mr Philip: People have to live in their cars because you have not provided them with accommodation.
Hon R. F. Nixon: That is not right.
Mr Pollock: Does the member for Lake Nipigon want to respond? I am not on the two minutes.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): There are some who do not want to participate within the rules.
Mr Pouliot: I have a lot of respect for the Treasurer and I, too, appreciate the answers given to specific questions as well as the good wishes on the small event and his kindness in treating me gently when we were seeking information.
I want to answer the minister on what is really not a joke or a laughing matter. I was stating a fact. We know of the need of the people of northern Ontario. It is a fact that it is indeed a very good place to bring up a family. The water is good to drink, we have fresh air and we do not have the choice to make, at times, between a first, second or in some cases other financial arrangements under the auspices of mortgages. We do not have to make those difficult choices. For us, they are not difficult. It is a matter of conscience and it is the way we see the essence of life, for instance.
What we are saying, though, is that we share the same needs as other people. The government must fund our schools in a better way. It must hear our voices when we turn towards the south and say, “Give us an equal share.” The government’s job, its duty, its obligation, its mandate is to say that there are people who are past Steles Avenue or Parry Sound -- with respect to Parry Sound, the real north -- the near north, the real north and the far north, and those people deserve special attention. Their needs are special. They do not have that much of a tax base. They do not have a huge population. More than anyone else, when it comes to basic and essential services, their voices should be heard.
Mr Pollock: I am certainly pleased to take part in this debate; there are certainly a few things I would like to put on the record in regard to this budget. Of course, one of the main things is the fact that the budget of the Ministry of Natural Resources actually got cut. I do not mean “cut” in the sense that it just did not keep pace with inflation; it actually is down from last year’s budget.
That is a major concern to me because I have a letter from a person who stated that the Ministry of Natural Resources last year planted well over half a million trees less than it did the year before. Also, at estimates when we were discussing conservation authorities -- and, of course, conservation authorities plant trees too -- it was mentioned that 60 per cent of the trees planted by conservation authorities died last year because of the drought. No doubt some of the trees that were planted by the Ministry of Natural Resources died too. So we have a major reduction in the trees that actually should have been growing here in Ontario.
I also have some concerns about the fact that our forest firefighting crews have been cut. We have had some major fires in the past three years: just to name two of them, Red 7 and Kenora 14. Of course, the minister has retaliated by saying that municipal volunteer firefighters should pick up the slack; they should be the ones to help out in fighting forest fires. I think we all realize that these volunteer firefighters do not have the infrastructure to fight forest fires. They have not been trained. They do not have the all-terrain vehicles, the helicopters and water bombers to fight forest fires. I believe that the Ministry of Natural Resources should be providing forest firefighting crews to protect our forests because these major forest fires have burned over a lot of our timberland.
In the estimates of the Ministry of Natural Resources, we mentioned the particular fire known as Kenora 14. It started in a garbage dump on a Saturday night a little over a year ago. To start with, there should have been a barricade around that garbage dump so that, even if it did catch fire, it could not spread into the forest. When it did spread into the forest, the forest fire moved north, and as it moved north it went up into a kind of bottleneck in between two lakes. There is also a railroad line going across there. Just looking at that map, one would naturally expect that that fire should have been cut off at that particular point in time. However, it got through that bottleneck and burned a large section of timber on the other side of those lakes.
I mentioned to the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr Kerrio) at estimates that it could well be beneficial to have an independent group study that particular fire to see why it was not cut off at that particular point and also to have the critics for both of the opposition parties sit down and listen to what they have to say. Maybe this independent group would agree with everything that the Ministry of Natural Resources fire crews had done, but I think it would have been very beneficial to have a meeting like that and an independent group study that particular fire. I did not expect the Minister of Natural Resources to jump up and say he would go for it, but I really expected he would come back with a reply. But as of yet I have received no reply on that particular request.
Also, we have some major concerns all over Ontario about deer harming our orchards. It costs approximately $10,000 an acre to set out an orchard. In certain areas of this province the deer are really affecting those orchards. For instance, in Prince Edward county, and I am sure the member for Prince Edward-Lennox (Mr MacDonald) would back me up on this, they are causing a lot of damage. The county council of Prince Edward county has recommended that farmers have the right to protect their property against predators. Deer and animals like that are excluded, but they feel that even deer should be shot if they are destroying orchards.
The ministry staff at Napanee have investigated this and they claim that 89.7 per cent of the trees in an orchard there are damaged by deer. Only 10.3 per cent of all those trees in this one person’s particular orchard have not been damaged, and 20 per cent of these trees are referred to as being mutilated, meaning that they have been more or less completely destroyed. The bucks go out there and they break the branches off the trees, and once that happens, those trees are pretty well lost for ever. They either die or are of very little value as far as producing apples is concerned.
We should have money in the Ministry of Natural Resources to compensate these farmers, or the minister should be prepared to do something in that regard. We also are falling behind on our fish stocking programs. As I mentioned, there is not money in the budget for some of these particular items.
The budget of the Minister of Natural Resources should have been keeping pace with inflation, plus having that $10 million in his budget that he receives out of the annual fishing licences to do some of these particular things that would help out as far as protecting our natural resources is concerned.
My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr Pouliot) was talking about gas guzzlers in the budget. I have a list here of some of the cars that are classified as gas guzzlers. It mentions Volvo, Chevrolet Corvette, Chrysler Fifth Avenue, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche; it also mentions Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Marquis and, of course, going down the list, Jaguar, Rolls Royce and some of these very expensive cars.
In one way, I agree with having an extra tax on these cars, but the strange thing about this list that I have is that there are 54 makes of cars on this list and only two of these cars are made in Ontario. That is fine. It all sounds good, but I can tell the members a little story.
When we were the government, we tried a situation like this. We wanted to protect our grape industry, so we put a handling charge on any foreign wines coming into this country. That went along for a while until some of our foreign friends caught on to it, and they told us to get that handling tax off foreign wines or they would retaliate.
I have a feeling that when all these foreign car manufacturers find out that we are putting an extra tax on their cars, they will retaliate, because the people who work in these foreign countries making these cars are not likely making any more money than the people at Ford or General Motors. Nor are the companies that make these cars likely making nearly as much as Ford, General Motors or Chrysler. So I am a little afraid that we are leaving ourselves wide open for some retaliation in this regard.
I also have some concerns about our agricultural industry.
We do not seem to have all the information, in fact, very little of the information, right at the present time on the farm tax rebate. In a recent question by, I believe, the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr Riddell), he was asking about what percentage of assistance there was for farmers. The minister got up and said that since 1984 he had upped his budget about 70 per cent. Well, since 1984 we have upped taxes over a hundred per cent. So the farm community is actually losing when we use those figures.
That is a major concern of mine and, as I mentioned, I would like to hear more. I want to know the criteria that are going to be used for the farm tax rebate.
I know there is a lot of dissatisfaction out there in regard to our 4-H clubs. They do not seem to be getting the direction from the ministry. They are leaving it up to local volunteers to more or less handle our 4-H clubs. There is a major concern that 4-H clubs are actually falling behind and not getting the direction and the assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food that they should have. After all, they are our future farmers and our future citizens and we should pay a lot more attention to 4-H clubs and give them all the assistance we possibly can.
We know also that production of a lot of agricultural products is down. That possibly is because of the drought last year, but we also should be assisting our farmers far more than we are.
These are some of the things I wanted to put on the record, concerns of mine about my riding and some of the problems that we have right across Ontario in regard to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Hon Mr Conway: First of all, I want to say that it is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to listen to my friend from Stirling address his comments to the budget. As always, he did so with a directness and with a candour that make him so very attractive in Hastings and in the Legislature. His friends tell me that in political terms he is almost as sweet as Stirling butter, but I do not know whether that is true or not.
I want simply to address a concern he did raise, which has to do with the funding of the Ministry of Natural Resources, because. I think the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) has quite rightly recognized the importance of the forest sector in the province generally, and certainly my friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr Pollock) would agree with me that in our part of eastern Ontario it plays a very important role.
The point the honourable member made in his comments had to do with the fact that in the tables attached to the budget document it appears that the overall totals allocated to the Ministry of Natural Resources this year are lower than they were last year. In this respect, the numbers are a little misleading. I myself have taken this up with the Treasurer. The reason that there is the difference of which the honourable member makes mention is simply that last year there was added an extraordinary figure of some $50 million, arising out of the very dry summer that we had with a very, very high firefighting bill. We hope that is not reincurred this year.
In fact, I say to my friend the member for Hastings-Peterborough, the overall commitment to the Ministry of Natural Resources, apart from the firefighting account, I believe, is up. It may be that we are going to see that total increase, because we do not know now what the firefighting commitments will be this year as compared to last year.
I repeat, one of the things that was built into last year’s figure but was not really budgeted for in the first instance was the cost of preventing fires in the forests of Ontario, and that incurred expense, which was an extraordinary expense, was something of a total of $50 million.
Mr J. M. Johnson: I would just like to make a few comments in support of the concerns expressed by the member for Hastings-Peterborough about the cutback in funding for the Ministry of Natural Resources.
It is my understanding that there will be a straightlining or indeed a reduction in the funding for the Ministry of Natural Resources, yet a commitment was made to the sport fishing community in this province that if its members would buy $10 licences, supposedly $10 million would go into programs of the Ministry of Natural Resources for fish restocking and for the benefit of the sport fishing industry.
It does not seem to make much sense if the ministry’s budget is reduced by $2 million instead of increasing it by the inflation factor; there will not be the same amount of dollars in it. If the $10 million were taken out, there would be a substantial reduction of about $12 million.
The minister has simply taken the sport fishing licence fee and used it to pay for some of the other areas in his ministry. This is completely contrary to the promise that was made to the sport fishing people. They were promised by the minister that every dollar taken in would be used to benefit their sports field and not used for other purposes.
The member for Hastings-Peterborough has raised this question and it is one that the ministry should consider. Certainly the minister who has just responded, the government House leader and the member for Renfrew North (Mr Conway), should take this message to his Treasurer and say that the sport fishing people are very tired of seeing their dollars squandered.
Mr Pollock: In answer to my friend the member for Renfrew North, it was my understanding that the budget of the Ministry of Natural Resources was cut approximately $2 million. As he said, that was because of a big bill last year for firefighting. But let’s face it, on a down year, we should build up our equipment.
We should buy more water bombers and have more equipment on hand to fight these forest fires and be more prepared. When a forest fire starts, you just cannot start making the water bombers then. You have to have the equipment ahead of time. You have to have the trained crews out there. You have to have all this equipment ready to go at that particular point in time. You cannot just wait for that, once a forest fire starts.
It certainly is a major concern of mine, and I know there are people in the northern part of my riding who have expressed their concerns about the cutback in fire crews. They have not only cut back on the number that is in a fire crew, but they have cut back on the number of firefighters.
As I say, this is a concern not just in my riding but all across the province of Ontario. We should protect our forests. We are continually talking about preserving areas like the Amazon jungle and that sort of thing, yet we are not planting trees and preserving our own forests right here in the province of Ontario. It is a major concern right across the province. As I say, the severe drought affected a lot of trees last year, but we should be prepared to make that up this year if it happens to be a good growing year.
Those are some of the concerns I have.
Mr Adams: It is a pleasure for me to join this debate on the recent budget.
If a child in junior kindergarten were to come up to you and say that our entire economy depends on the existence of his or her school, I suspect that your first reaction would be one of amusement or at least bemusement. If a patient in a hospital, perhaps a senior, asserted that the success of businesses in Ontario depends on the existence of his or her hospital, most people would dismiss the suggestion as preposterous. Yet we often hear and accept without second thought the assertion that our social system depends on the economy.
The fact is that all of these assertions are wrong. The kindergarten student and the hospital patient are wrong because the economy is not some sort of a parasite living on our social support system. But neither is the social system that we have developed some sort of a parasite living off the economy. The relationship between the economy and our social system is one of mutual dependence; each depends on the other.
The fact is that in the middle and long terms it is impossible to sustain a sound business environment without an effective social system. Similarly, it is not possible to have an effective social system without a healthy business or economic base.
It is very important that we all be very conscious of the true nature of relationships between what we think of as the social and business sides of our society. If we forget that they are mutually dependent, there is a danger that we can overemphasize one at the expense of the other.
If we go back to the very origins of human society as we know it, we discover that things economic and social have been mutually dependent from the start. Only when human beings developed a social structure which sustained peace and provided time for the exercise of creativity did the creation of wealth through what we think of as business become possible.
Farming, for example, was not possible without a stable way of life in which ideas and property could be passed from one generation to another. Time and time again, new farming communities with villages in which skills were passed from one generation to another must have fallen back to a more primitive economic condition or been wiped completely because of the failure of their social system.
Yet there is a sort of catch in this: a certain amount of wealth, creativity and, if you like, business acumen was necessary before any one of those early farming communities could come into existence. Also, if they ceased to be efficient and productive, they could not sustain the social system upon which their way of life depended.
It is sort of a chicken-and-egg conundrum. No one can say which came first, the chicken or the egg; the economy or the social structure. All we know is that some groups succeeded in solving this conundrum and produced great civilizations. Other groups did not solve the problem and they simply disappeared.
In some cases, the failures of a community may have been the result of a failure of what we think of as business. The groups concerned simply were not productive enough to survive. In other cases, no doubt, the failures were the result of social collapse. Highly productive groups just simply could not develop stable, creative social structures.
It is not possible to separate the social policies of a government from its economic policies. They are simply different sides of the same coin. Good governments know this and are constantly aware that without effective social policies the economy will fail, and that without a sound economic base, social policies cannot be sustained.
Most developing countries today are still struggling with the chicken-and-egg problem which some of our ancestors solved. They cannot get their business and industries going because of social chaos, yet they cannot come to grips with the social chaos because they lack the wealth which businesses and industry provide.
Mr Speaker, I apologize for speaking at such length on what I know, to you personally and to my colleagues on this side of the House, is a self-evident truth. We know that the social and business sides of our society are interdependent, that each depends on the other. I felt compelled to explain these simple facts again, because of the reactions of both opposition parties and some sections of the media to this government’s speech from the throne and budget.
I think these reactions were coloured by the fact that our speech from the throne, which preceded the budget, by complete coincidence was delivered within a couple of days of the federal budget. As a result, there has been a tendency to compare the two budgets and the policies they reflect. In making this comparison, some have tried to characterize the Ontario budget as a social document and the federal budget as a business document.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that our budget contains a great deal which will influence our social systems for generations to come. It is in many ways a remarkable and memorable social document.
Illustrations of this include the emphasis on improved and relevant education and training; the emphasis on the Transitions approach to social security, turning welfare cheques into pay cheques and otherwise allowing all members of society to be productive; the emphasis on promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness, rather than allowing people to become sick and then trying to cure them; the emphasis on a clean and safe environment, in part so we do not poison ourselves, in part so we develop an economy which is sustainable; the emphasis on community safety and security is another example of this.
I would suggest that all of these thrusts of the budget are sound business practices, as well as being humane and creative social policies.
Think back again to the early farming communities in which our civilization began. They depended on their ability to pass on ideas and skills between generations. We call that education and training. They looked after their sick and unfortunate, trying to maintain them as producing members of the community. We call this health care and social assistance. They looked after the old, because they knew that the experience of their elders represented a treasure upon which the community depended. We are not the first information society. They were concerned about safety and security, because without it, village life collapsed. They were concerned about a clean and safe environment, because if the village well became poisoned, they all died.
The early community that solved these problems was, members will recall, the successful community. It thrived and became rich and part of the foundation of our great and productive modern civilization. The village which did not deal with these problems, the problems addressed so forcefully in our budget, collapsed and disappeared.
That brings me to what some characterize as the business budget, presented by the federal Tories. This is a savage, short-sighted social document, which slashes social programs which affect the lives of children, workers and seniors. It undermines the confidence of those who are sick and of all the rest of us who will one day be sick.
I do not want to talk about humanity or morality here; I simply want to point out that this sort of thing is simply not businesslike in a modern economy.
We all receive social assistance at one time or another. As children, we receive children’s allowance. As students, we receive educational support. When we are sick, we receive health care and when we are old, we receive pensions that we have earned in our lifetimes.
This support is not provided as charity. It is of course something we all pay for. It is provided to make us as productive as possible. We support children so that they will grow up as stable, happy, creative and productive adults. We educate students so that they can contribute to and sustain our complex society. We support hospitals and other health care systems to get people through periods of sickness or to allow them to remain productive by avoiding illness. We support seniors so they can continue to contribute to society after retirement while reaping some of the rewards for productive lives.
There is nothing businesslike about neglecting such things. The federal government has forgotten that the economy and the social system depend on one another. If you savage the one, you inevitably savage the other. But the federal document is not a sound economic document, even if we take a narrow view of the business sector of our society. The federal budget reads to me as a panicky attempt by the Tory government to catch up after four years of mismanagement. Any good business person knows a sound business must have a long-range plan. It cannot afford simply to react to the whims of the day.
The federal government has at last begun to move on the huge debt it has allowed to develop. Do members realize that the annual deficit of the federal government is in the same order of magnitude, over $30 billion, as the entire debt of this great province? The federal payments on its debt this year alone would virtually pay off the entire debt of Ontario. Further, the increase in the annual federal deficit that was reported in their last budget was over $2 billion. That increase alone is four times greater than this province’s entire annual deficit.
I suggest that the only businesslike approach to problems as large as the federal debt, and indeed to the problems of debt which affect so many levels of our society, is that of consistent long-term policies. The government of Ontario, for example, has cut its annual deficit to 20 per cent of what it was when the Liberal government took over only three years ago. It has lowered the cost of servicing its debt to the lowest level in 20 or more years.
Since coming to power, the Liberal government has adopted a firm policy that all programs must pay their way. In all program areas, we operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, not only in this budget but in each budget since we came to power. True, we have benefited from a thriving economy, but we have deliberately invested surplus funds in long-neglected infrastructure such as roads, hospitals and schools; in this budget, 80 per cent of such capital spending is covered from cash flow.
As is proper, we have a long-range plan for these investments. In education, for example, the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) has announced a multi-year program involving hundreds of millions of dollars in school construction and repair each year over the next several years. These schools are of enormous importance socially, but from a strict business point of view, this long-term investment plan has to be considered as being as important as the investments themselves. This long-range strategy allows school boards to plan ahead and make best possible use of funds and allows the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon), too, to plan ahead in terms of financing these and other projects.
This is an example of social policy at its business best. Yet some people claim that the federal budget is a business document and the Ontario budget is a social document. They claim that the Peterson government is a social government and the Mulroney government is a business government. How can a federal government be viewed as businesslike when it is drowning in debt, when it lacks long-term strategy and vision, when it shows no understanding of the simple and fundamental fact that the role of government is to sustain both the social and economic aspects of our society? Because neither one can thrive without the other. The government of Ontario is the social government in Canada, possibly in the world, simply because it is businesslike. The government of Ontario is the business government today because it has a social conscience and a social plan.
I have to apologize once again for going on at some length about relationships between social policy and business policy, but I think these things should be discussed publicly from time to time, as good government depends on an understanding of them. These are relationships which are well understood within the progressive business community, and the only businesses that last are those which are progressive in one way or another.
The Canadian task force on business recently concluded that the cost of illiteracy in this country is $4 billion every year. This is a matter which is addressed in our speech from the throne and budget. Would it be businesslike not to address something which drains $4 billion each year from the economy? Conversely, if the lack of literacy costs us so much, would it be businesslike not to sustain, through a renewed emphasis on education, that portion of the population which is literate? If the illiterate cost us billions of dollars, it is the literate who earn us hundreds of billions of dollars.
Businesses and industries in Peterborough riding know that our social system is an essential part of our economic system. Management and labour devoted large sums of money and effort to the founding of Trent University and continue to support it and Sir Sandford Fleming College. The entire community supports the fund-raising efforts of the hospitals.
Industries such as the Outboard Marine Corporation support the arts and recreation in Peterborough, knowing that our society depends on creativity of all kinds. A large number of businesses in Peterborough riding support apprenticeships and other forms of training which are supported by this budget. Fisher Gauge Ltd, a high-tech company founded and developed in Peterborough which now exports 90 per cent of its products, has a deliberate policy of what it calls investing in social policies and projects of all kinds. For example, it recently seconded a person full time to reorganize apprenticeship programs in the community.
The Quaker Oats Co, Ethicon Ltd and Surgikos Canada Inc, among others, have been leaders in employee health and training programs. They know that in health matters, prevention is better than cure and that in these times of rapid technological change, training is a continuous process, a sensible investment for businesses in the future.
The Canadian General Electric Co and its workers in Peterborough have a similar record of social service and concern. They have, for example, been leaders in the Participaction Challenge, a fitness event every year in the community, which now involves almost 50 local employers.
Many Peterborough employers and union personnel are also leaders in environmental activity. They know that development is sustainable only if it is environmentally sound. In the past it has been possible for an individual or a company to take a quick personal profit at the expense of the environment but at enormous eventual cost to society. Peterborough has two members on the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy, which is addressing these matters at the provincial level. But the community also has its own round table on sustainable development, and this has been in operation for some time.
Those in business and industry, management and workers, know the matters addressed in the Ontario budget are basic to good business in this province, just as they are basic to real quality of life in Ontario. In my list of the social activities of business and labour groups in Peterborough, Mr Speaker, did you notice an echo of the themes of our speech from the throne and budget -- a concern for sound education and training, a concern for quality health care, a concern for a clean and safe environment and a concern for retraining of those who are unemployed, all based on a concern for a sound economy?
In Peterborough riding we know that social policy is good economic policy and vice versa. I would like to return to my point about infrastructure spending by this government. I pointed out that we are spending heavily on roads, schools, hospitals and so on and that we have a long-term strategy for that spending.
When the Liberal government came into power in 1985, it discovered that the provincial infrastructure had been neglected for years, if not decades. We all know that in some years, there is simply no money or energy to fix up such things as roads, schools or hospitals, but we also know that sooner or later, one way or another, we have to fix them or the infrastructure system will collapse. In 1985, the government faced the task of catching up on neglected roads, schools, colleges and hospitals.
We have found the money, including in this budget, and we have developed a plan which extends over many years to counteract that neglect. I point out again that this is a pay-as-you-go policy, borrowing as little as possible for those long-range expenditures.
It happens that I cannot at the moment recite the provincial figures on infrastructure spending, but I do know how those expenditures are affecting Peterborough riding.
For the first time in almost 20 years, there is construction going on at Trent University, to the tune of over $10 million. This is largely for an environmental science building, which will be a great asset to our region, including the Kawartha Lakes.
At Sir Sandford Fleming College, an advanced manufacturing centre is being completed, at a cost to the province of over $7 million. This will serve students and businesses in our area.
Civic Hospital will at last have its new emergency facility, at a cost of over $10 million in provincial funds. This will complement the new ambulance centre that has already been built.
Our schools received $36 million this year alone for new buildings and repairs. That is an unprecedented total.
Tens of millions of dollars are being spent on Highway 115 alone. Combined with moneys spent on Highway 28, this example of local infrastructure spending may well represent over $50 million before the Highway 115 project is completed on schedule in 1992.
The impact of this budget and its associated policies on infrastructure spending is reflected in my riding alone, Peterborough riding, to the tune of over $120 million.
I have stressed infrastructure spending, spending on concrete, mortar, bricks and steel, but I could make similar points about the social side of the budget. Its emphasis on the environment is supported by those involved with the Scott’s Plains Recycling Centre, by the elementary school students who have supported the environmental movement in Peterborough, by the seniors who have supported recycling in Peterborough, by the townships of Peterborough county which have moved to put in recycling projects.
The health care portions of this budget are reflected in Peterborough riding through the new base-line health survey, which is being conducted there at this very moment. It is reflected in the projects against smoking in the schools, against alcohol use in the schools, which are being conducted this very day.
The concerns of the budget for health care are also reflected, as I have mentioned, in the industries and unions which are involved in employee health care programs. Further, the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Hospice Peterborough, the Peterborough Red Cross and the homemaker groups all appreciate the support they have received in this budget.
When we are calm, most of us recognize that diversity is one of the greatest strengths of the human species. Only by maintaining diversity do we maximize creativity. Only by nurturing diversity do we provide a reasonable hedge against whatever the future may hold. If I might use the analogy of the importance of diversity for the entire global ecosystem, of which we human beings are one small part, why is it that we become so concerned when there is a danger of one species, say a species of whale or eagle, becoming extinct? There are millions of life forms on the planet, so why worry about one?
We all have our reasons for worrying.
However, in this case, the fundamental reason is that we wish to maintain as diverse a gene pool as possible on the globe. We have no way of predicting the long-term future of the global ecosystem so we must be prepared for every possible eventuality. Who could have predicted during the millennia whent the highly successful dinosaurs dominated that mammals and specifically human beings would succeed them?
The best hedge for our ecosystem for the future is a diverse gene pool, is diversity itself. So it is, culturally speaking, in society. Diversity is a strength. The never-ending task of government is to nurture that diversity, maximizing its advantages and minimizing the social stresses which inevitably accompany it. I was delighted that the speech from the throne and the budget addressed this vital matter. We can have a safe and secure, diverse community, as long as most of us most of the time bear in mind the value, indeed the basic importance of that diversity.
If I had to pick out one key difference between the western bloc and the eastern bloc, I would say that it is our recognition of and development of diversity in our society. Behind the Iron Curtain, there is a push towards uniformity, a push against individuality. We recognize that every individual can and should contribute to society. The ultimate minority is the individual. He or she deserves respect and support not only on humanitarian grounds, but also because of the hard business fact that a creative, productive society cannot afford to waste the talents of even a single individual. All forms of stereotyping are not only socially unacceptable, they are inefficient and counterproductive as they stifle individual talent and creativity.
That, of course, is the message of Transitions, which speaks to certain aspects of our social system. That is the message of the principles of health care set out in A Vision of Health: Health Goals for Ontario. That, indeed, is the message of the entire speech from the throne and budget that we are discussing here. It is a pleasure for me to speak in support of this budget.
Mr Pollock: I can appreciate the fact that they are spending $10 million on Trent University. I am glad to see those kinds of dollars flowing into that particular area. I have students from my area going to Trent. I would just like to remind the member for Peterborough (Mr Adams), though, that the former government built Trent University and the former government also built Sir Sandford Fleming College of Applied Arts and Technology in Peterborough. So we were not without a hands-on approach in trying to do something for Peterborough and that whole part of eastern Ontario.
I have heard some municipalities in that area, though, claim that as far as transfer payments to their municipalities are concerned, they did not even keep pace with inflation. In fact, one municipality reported to me that they were getting less than what they got a year ago in transfer payments. Nevertheless, I appreciated the remarks of the member for Peterborough and his concerns for that particular area of eastern Ontario.
Mr Adams: I am grateful to my colleague and neighbour the member for Hastings-Peterborough (Mr Pollock) for his remarks. If I could just pick up on one point, though, I would like it to be known for the record that I did not claim that this government built Trent University or Sir Sandford Fleming College.
If you listened to my remarks, Mr Speaker, and I know that you did, I very carefully stressed the provincial contribution in those various areas. I actually used that phrase: “the provincial contribution” was so-and-so. I did that quite deliberately, because I think of the university, the college, the hospitals and the schools as community institutions. They are not institutions of this government.
If I could use the example of the emergency facility at Civic Hospital, I cited the provincial contribution to that, but of course it is not the entire cost. There was a tremendous fund-raising drive in the community which raised well over $1 million so that the people could contribute to their emergency department.
It is the same when I stressed the origins of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College. There was a remarkable outpouring of community support and community funds for those institutions, and the community can rightly say that they are its institutions. As the member for Peterborough, it is my privilege to see that our community receives its share of provincial support to help with those community institutions.
Again, I thank my colleague the member for Hastings-Peterborough for his remarks.
Mr Philip: I would like to start off my contribution to this debate by quoting from an interesting book that I had an opportunity to read only recently, a book written by Father Bob Ogle. As many members will know, Father Bob Ogle is a Roman Catholic priest who was elected as a federal member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party and recently has been suffering from some illness. Nonetheless, on his sickbed, despite all of his other problems, he wrote a book which I think is sensitive and which all members of the House should read.
On the second page of the book he says: “Whenever I have to talk about aid, I think of the story” -- and he tells the story that people can read, but his conclusion is: “Giving aid is the most difficult, most delicate human act, as far as I am concerned. A person who does not have the money to buy the basic necessities for himself and his family is in an extremely vulnerable position. It is so easy to destroy his dignity. If we are going to give aid to another person or another country, we have to remember that we are stepping into a crucial, sensitive area. If providing aid is the only solution in the short run, it must be done in the way that preserves self-respect.”
He goes on to talk about foreign aid, but also the way in which we deal with people who are particularly vulnerable. The whole theme that one has to get is that the value in dealing with the vulnerable is that we must always give charity in a way that is not paternalistic and that our aim has to be to help someone up to become self-reliant and self-respecting, rather than always obligated to the donor.
One of the things I would like to say is that over the years I think we in the New Democratic Party have stood for that kind of principle that it is better to work than receive handouts, that dignity comes from work, that a majority of people want to work rather than have handouts and that a majority of people who are in an unfortunate situation of requiring assistance do not want to be there and would rather have the kind of assistance that makes them independent.
We have been very supportive of the Thomson report, and I want to say that one of the proudest days was to listen to the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr Sweeney) announce that he had persuaded his cabinet and was making some major advances in that.
On a very positive note in this budget speech, I want to congratulate the Minister of Community and Social Services for the work he has done, but also congratulate the various coalitions, the numerous groups that came to see me, that met with government members as well as opposition members: the church groups, the community groups, the people who were vulnerable themselves and who said that the Thomson report must be implemented.
To the minister and to all those who helped him to persuade his colleagues that we have to move to a more humane treatment of the poor and indeed, in the long run, to a less expensive way of handling poverty by helping people to help themselves, I say congratulations.
I have had an opportunity to participate in a number of budget debates, and in most instances I could predict what the main thrust of the budget would be. Even Larry Grossman’s budgets had very few surprises, although he often tried to surprise people by giving leaks that were quite different from what he eventually delivered.
I never would have predicted, however, what I consider a significant thrust in this budget, a departure from all previous budgets that I have experienced and debated, and that is that this Treasurer, a Treasurer of this province, would introduce a budget that would single out by geography one area of the province for more taxes than others.
Never would I have predicted that this or any other Treasurer would create in the budget a form of discrimination, a form of economic apartheid, which says that my constituents and I, who happen to live in Metropolitan Toronto, the most expensive city in Canada to live in, should have our expenses compounded by being charged more taxes, not because we are wealthier than other individuals, but rather because we happen to live in one part of the province rather than another.
This budget increases car registration fees for Metro area motorists from $54 to $90 next year while motorists in the rest of the province will pay substantially less. It imposes a new levy on commercial properties in greater Metro, including parking lots, likely leading to increased costs for our citizens. It has raised the land transfer taxes on higher-priced homes, most of which, of course, are in the Metro area, while providing refunds for the lower-priced homes, most of which are in other parts of the province.
The Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) tries to justify this tax discrimination against Metro residents by stating that he needs to raise money for the residents of Metro to deal with the traffic bottlenecks. It is interesting, though, that in the same breath he admits that he is one of the people creating those travel bottlenecks by driving into Metropolitan Toronto and making use of all of its facilities.
One of my colleagues to the south of me in Etobicoke justified the discrimination in terms of taxes on Metropolitan Toronto and area residents by saying, “After all, we have facilities. Look at the Hospital for Sick Children,” as though the Hospital for Sick Children were there only to serve our children and not all of the province. Indeed, we know that it serves people from all parts of the world who come in to that hospital.
A senior citizen said to me last night: “I can’t understand what the Treasurer is doing. You know, he says that somehow it is a privilege to live in Toronto because it’s a great city, it’s a world-class city, and therefore we should somehow pay more taxes for the privilege of living here. But I don’t have the money left over to go and see Les Miserables. I don’t have the money left over after I’ve paid my taxes to put my name on the waiting list for The Phantom of the Opera. I don’t even have the money to go to a good restaurant in Metropolitan Toronto. Why not tax the people who can enjoy these things and who have the funds to enjoy these things? Tax the people by income, and not by the fact that they happen to live in a particular geographical area.”
No less a person than Metro Chairman Alan Tonks had this to say in the 18 May edition of the Toronto Star: “Metro Chairman Alan Tonks said last night that he doesn’t see much in the budget to help Metro solve its traffic woes -- most of the transportation improvements are outside Metro.”
This is the former Liberal candidate, the unsuccessful Liberal candidate in York South who is now Metro chairman, saying that he basically disagrees with the premise of the Treasurer that somehow the people in Metropolitan Toronto have to be taxed because we are going to have all of these extra transportation facilities as a result of this additional taxation. Of course, if one looks at the transportation he intends to implement with this, one sees that most of those items were already in previous budgets, were already planned for, even by previous governments, and, furthermore, that the budget contains almost no new money for the expansion of Toronto transit.
Congestion in Metro cannot be overcome, as my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms Bryden) has pointed out, without providing more inexpensive, efficient, public transportation to make it a truly world-class city. If we look at some of the major cities in the world, we see that it is an effective public transportation system which helps to deal with an overwhelming problem of other-vehicle transportation.
The Treasurer boasted of a $2-billion program for both roads and transit, but he is mainly recycling the old promises to close a few road transportation gaps. He says $1.2 billion of the $2 billion will go to the greater Toronto area. However, there is no new subway construction beyond one station extension in the much underused Spadina subway. No funds are allocated to construction of the Sheppard line, which is urgently needed in the city. Instead, the Toronto Transit Commission riders in Metro could face very much larger fare increases in the next couple of years.
Taxes on fuel and tires, which this budget imposes, and new taxes and new levies on parking lots, will dramatically increase the TTC's operating costs next year. Who will pay for all of these increased costs? Certainly, the TTC riders will, if we look at this budget. TTC patrons already pay a larger share of transit costs through the fare box than transit riders in other Ontario cities. Under the current cost-sharing formula, riders pay 68 per cent of the TTC cost. This budget really does not come to grips with that problem.
In the area that I live in and represent, cars are not a luxury; they are essential if you do not have the money to live in downtown Toronto, if you live in the suburbs. Rexdale is a suburb, and as we start developing further and further suburbs some people in Rexdale might argue that it is no longer a suburb, but people who live in our area are basically middle-income people. Many of them are immigrants to Canada and some of them will even have two and three jobs just to pay that mortgage. They use their automobiles to travel to work in Mississauga, Peel, Brampton and Vaughan where there is inadequate public transportation or, indeed, due to the nature of their shift work, because they have to use a car.
This Treasurer decides to impose a gasoline tax increase by one cent a litre on all grades, to 10.3 cents a litre on unleaded and 13.3 cents a litre on leaded gas. Gas tax will increase another one cent a litre across the board next 1 January. Propane fuel will be taxed at 2.3 cents a litre in July, which is not a big thing in my area but in some municipalities it is. Motor vehicle registration fees for annual licence stickers will shoot up to $90 from $54 in our area. Driver’s licence fees will go to $30 from $21. There will be a $5 tax on each new tire, starting 1 June. Parking will likely cost us more due to the new levy that I talked about earlier.
The Canadian Automobile Association argues that levies against drivers are really regressive, because if you look at who is hit, lower- and middle-income earners are hit the hardest. They are the ones who have small trucks because they are craftsmen and small business people. They are the ones who must drive to work because they are shift workers. They are the ones who cannot afford to live along the subway lines, where housing is more expensive, but in the suburbs, where many of them have found an opportunity or are forced to live in order to find either rental accommodation or a house they might be able to afford.
The Treasurer boasts that this budget keeps a long-overdue Liberal promise of eliminating Ontario health insurance plan premiums. But instead of paying for this promise through a progressive tax -- and I want to deal with a progressive tax later -- we see that he is passing on the costs to the home owner, through higher property taxes, and to tenants, through higher property taxes passed on through rent review, because their landlord will have to ask for higher rents as a result of the property taxes. These property taxes come, to a large extent, from the very way he is paying for the OHIP premiums.
The Etobicoke Board of Education, for example, says that the so-called OHIP premium saving to each of us will cost the local taxpayers $1.3 million, since they are the ones who will be paying for the money saved by the board employees. Metro council says it will be spending another $1.4 million to cover this government gift and will be passing that bill along to the local taxpayers. Etobicoke expects to pay another $200,000, which will be funded through increases in property taxes. That is the only place they can get it. The hospitals, community colleges and universities will also be searching for ways to cover the increased costs passed on to them by the Treasurer, without any kind of subsidy, as a result of eliminating OHIP premiums.
It is the municipal politician, be he or she a member of the school board or the council, who has no further source to go to but the local ratepayer. This government announces proposals that sound good for the government, and the local elected representative, be it on the school board or the council, takes the flak.
This is not new with this Liberal government. We have legislation before a committee of this House at the moment that municipalities have all been opposed to. Without any consultation with the municipalities, the government decided that the security of courthouses -- I thought justice was a provincial matter -- is going to be taken over by the municipalities. In Metropolitan Toronto, that means an extra cost of $14 million. I have talked to some of the people in Sudbury. It is a lesser amount up there, but proportionately it is a large amount of money from their tax base. Various other municipalities have said similar things. The people of Metropolitan Toronto are going to pay $14 million for the security of their courthouses to deal with cases of accused criminals from all kinds of municipalities throughout Ontario.
We have a system of gradually passing the buck to the municipalities on those items that are expensive while taking credit for announcing some of the programs. The municipality has to pick up the bill and the municipal councillors take the flak for raising municipal taxes, which is a regressive, not a progressive, form of taxation.
Recently, my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mrs Grier) and I met with staff of the Etobicoke Board of Education. The staff of the Etobicoke board and the trustees are -- and I can say this as someone whose wife was a one-time member of that board -- people who are genuinely interested in the children, in the community and in developing progressive, innovative programs.
We only have to look at some of the programs, be they some of the excellent arts programs or other innovative programs, to see that the people have kept up to date on the literature and they have tried their best to have a progressive, dynamic educational system and I think they deserve some credit.
What they expressed concern about is that this government loves to announce new programs without consulting them first and without asking them: “Do you have the space in which to run the programs? Do you have the staff? Who is going to pay for them?” The government tries to get credit for announcing new educational programs, but the local taxpayer ends up paying, through the most regressive form of taxation, property taxes, for these programs. The local school trustees and the local administration of the school board have to find ways of trying to implement these programs.
I think this government could learn a lot, particularly the Premier (Mr Peterson), from a fellow by the name of Gunther Gable Williams. I see the pages attentively paying attention to this speech of mine, and I am sure that if members of the House do not know Gunther Gable Williams, some of the pages will.
Gunther Gable Williams has developed one of the most progressive, innovative styles of leadership of anybody I have experienced in a long time. When you see Gunther Gable Williams in a leadership role, you see consultation. You see leadership, but you also see consultation.
Gunther Gable Williams is one of the most successful, probably the world’s greatest, animal trainers and he runs two of the largest circuses in the world. They probably are the largest circuses in the world. He does not have one animal act; he has dozens of animal acts and all kinds of variety in animals.
I think the thing that distinguishes him from the old-time lion tamers and people who banged whips and shouted and screamed and beat animals is that there is a certain amount of communication between the people who are part of his team. He recognizes he does not have a business unless those animals respond to him; unless he consults with them; unless he consults with the other trainers and the other performers. That is probably why he has a successful circus.
He has a successful circus where the animals look happy, where the people look happy and where everybody seems to have a good time. I think that is a style of leadership which the Premier could probably adopt.
When I talk to the Liberal backbenchers, I see the surprise on their faces. I am sure it came as a complete surprise to the Metro members of the Liberal caucus, that great number of members who were elected to this very large majority Liberal government -- I look at two of the members from Scarborough at opposite ends of the House nodding their heads -- that this government would single out Metro for particularly punitive taxes over the rest of the province. I am sure they were not consulted.
Miss Nicholas: Where are your glasses to see that I was nodding?
Mr Philip: if they were consulted, then I challenge the member for Scarborough-whatever to stand up when I am finished and say that she was consulted and that she agrees with this punitive taxation on her constituents and on herself.
We see that the Premier and the honchos in his office do not consult with his backbenchers. I know, by talking to them, the great surprise that they had when the Sunday shopping legislation was introduced, for example. They had --
Miss Nicholas: I was not nodding. I know what nodding is.
Mr Philip: These one-term members like to interject, but they do not like to interject in a way that can be heard. If she wants to interject and cut me off --
Miss Nicholas: I was not nodding.
Mr Philip: Well, she goes back not to the Gunther Gable Williams style of circus but rather to the old style of circus, the trained seals. She bounces up when the Premier tells her, she sits down when the Premier tells her and she tries to interrupt the opposition members when they score points against the government and tell the truth in this House.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One member at a time. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has the floor and only the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. Please continue.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. You may proceed.
Mr Philip: It is interesting how quiet the members opposite are when it comes to getting on their feet and speaking up for their constituents but how noisy they are when they like to interrupt members of the opposition who are speaking for their constituents.
When this government introduced its Sunday shopping legislation, the Solicitor General (Mrs Smith) stated that it was a method of enforcing the “principle of a common pause day.” Indeed, that was the argument that was made throughout by the Liberal backbenchers, who were told how to vote despite the fact that their constituents told them to vote differently and despite the fact that their conscience told them to vote differently.
Now we see the results. In the bill that was introduced, we see a clause that requires that if a municipality is going to change its law it has to publish a notice of public meetings in the newspaper. Of course, the Liberals tried to say that it would not happen, that they would not be trying to change the law. Well, we have the first notice. York region has advertised that on 22 June it is going to have a public meeting to decide whether or not to expand Sunday shopping.
I had predicted at the time of the Sunday shopping legislation -- and I am looking at one of the members of the committee now; he is sitting there nodding his head and I am sure he will agree with me -- that York region would probably be one of the first to go and that if Woodbridge opened up, it would be impossible for areas such as my area of Rexdale to stay closed. So we see that York region, sure enough, is the first to start the ball rolling. When do they democratically hold a meeting? At two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon. That is a good time to get the citizens who are concerned about Sunday shopping out: hold a meeting at two o’clock on a Thursday afternoon.
Numerous people have written to the Solicitor General and the Attorney General (Mr Scott) pointing out the constant abuses of the present legislation. There are stores that are remaining open, many of them up in York region, and this Solicitor General refuses to enforce the law. Indeed, she does not even answer their letters.
I want to read just a couple of the letters that were written to the Attorney General. He rarely answers anybody’s letter. He does not answer the letters of people in his own riding, as I have pointed out before when I read some of these letters. Let me read members a letter signed by Les Kingdon, who wrote to him:
“Undoubtedly it has been brought to your attention that Loblaws supermarkets at Warden and Highway 7 are open for business on Sunday, April 30, 1989. Loblaws have been one of the staunch supporters of the Retail Business Holidays Act. With the continuing violation of the act by Sunkist Farms at 7155 Woodbine Avenue without any action by your department in seeking an injunction, Loblaws cannot afford the loss of business to this violator.
“There is not a level playing field here, for Loblaws’ normal hourly rates are two or three times higher than that of Sunkist. Added to this, Loblaws will pay their employees double time for Sunday work. We are completely at a loss to understand what we must do to get your department activated into taking action available to you to close down these continuing violators of the Retail Business Holidays Act.
“The situation, as my many previous letters have indicated, has reached a critical stage. There are many, many violations in addition to those which have been brought to your attention. Where is the improved enforcement procedure promised at all levels by your government?”
It is signed by Les Kingdon, the executive director of the People for Sunday Association of Canada.
He adds a footnote: “We have been informed in all probability that A&P-Dominion will open up their Unionville store on Sunday, May 7.” I have not had a chance to check whether that in fact did happen, but that was his comment.
What we have is a series of letters here, and I would be happy to share them with any member, written both to the Solicitor General and to the Attorney General all the way back from February, pointing out numerous violations and asking what the Solicitor General intends to do as the chief police enforcement officer and what the Attorney General intends to do.
Neither of these has had the courtesy to reply to these people. They have not had the courtesy to even say, “We’re going to see what’s happening.” When you talk to people out there, the police are saying: “We are not receiving any directions from the Solicitor General. We’re not receiving any directions that this act is to be strongly enforced. Why should we stick out our necks when we have so many other things to do?”
This government is clearly not showing any leadership. They are breaking their election promises which they broke with the introduction of Sunday shopping legislation, but they are clearly also breaking their promise made at the time they introduced this legislation and argued in favour of it, in which they said this legislation would stop the flagrant abuses of the store hours legislation.
What we are seeing is more abuses and we are seeing a Solicitor General who is not enforcing the present act. I say this just goes to show that not only is this government insensitive in not listening to the public, it is not even doing the job it said it would or keeping the promises it said it would deal with when it introduced its horrible Sunday shopping legislation.
That legislation will come back to haunt them. We will remind them about their broken promises from the last election and we will remind them about their lack of respect for the law and for the laws of this province.
On another topic, not only is this Liberal government --
Mr Sola: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I thought we were debating the budget, The member has been referring to the Solicitor General and the Attorney General. The last I knew, neither one was wearing the mantle of the Treasurer.
The Deputy Speaker: It is all part of the budget. The member may proceed. It is not a point of order.
Mr Philip: I am glad you were able to explain the rules to the member, as various chairmen of committees could not seem to get him to understand the rules in committee.
Not only is this Liberal government creating increased problems for injured workers, again, by not consulting and listening to the workers and introducing Bill 162, but it is failing miserably to provide adequate community legal services for those injured workers wishing assistance in fighting for their rights under the present act.
At present, Community Information and Legal Services in Rexdale, with a case load of 330 cases, has been told it will have an increase of funding at less than the rate of inflation. Many of the residents in Rexdale are moving to areas such as Brampton because of the scarcity of affordable housing in our own area and Brampton has no legal aid service whatsoever to service injured workers. Because of the heavy case load of the CID, and in my own case a case load in the vicinity of 300 active workers’ compensation cases, neither I nor the Community Information and Legal Services office in Rexdale can accept cases from outside our geographical area.
It remains to be seen whether the small increase announced for new clinics in this budget will actually place a legal aid clinic in Brampton -- because there is enough funding for one, if we look at the amount -- and find out whether they will service their constituents, who seem to be coming into our area because they cannot get help in their own area.
The situation is also complicated by cutbacks under the Ontario legal aid plan, resulting in legal aid clinics such as the Kensington-Bellwoods, Parkdale and Kingston legal aid services having to reduce the number of law-student case workers normally hired during the summer in an effort to deal with the backlogs.
What we have is a government that has introduced legislation which the legal aid clinics have opposed, which every advocacy group that has assisted injured workers has opposed, and which is bound to increase the amount of case work for those legal aid services and MPPs, those of us who do handle workers’ compensation. At the same time, it is cutting back in providing those legal aid clinics with the resources to handle the cases.
When we look at this budget, there is nothing in the budget to expand day care over the regular three-year program that was previously announced. We have over 4,000 on the waiting list in Metropolitan Toronto, but what we are talking about is 4,000 new subsidized spaces for all of Ontario.
I have a constant number of people coming to my office saying they want to become self-supporting. They need child care services and day care services to get back into the job market or to get the kind of educational training that will enable them to, and they simply are not getting them.
There are 575 children on the waiting list for subsidy in Etobicoke alone, and at this time the province has not indicated any new funds to increase the number of subsidized spaces.
I think there are fairly clearly a number of things that need to be done. If members believe, as the Minister of Community and Social Services has indicated and I believe he believes in, the principle that people should have the dignity of being independent, then we have to increase the funds to cover all children on the waiting list for subsidy in Ontario. We have to increase the amount of direct operating grants to 30 per cent of the operating cost and therefore be able to raise wages and attract people into this profession and reduce the fees, and we have to strictly enforce the Day Nurseries Act to ensure that there is quality care.
There is a recent press release from Norman Gardner, who is not a New Democrat, but is a member of the Metro Toronto council and a member of the executive committee.
Mr Faubert: He is a Liberal.
Mr Philip: He is a Liberal. Another Liberal attacking the government, in the same way, as I pointed out, that Alan Tonks, the Metro chairman, had attacked this government over this budget. Obviously, Norman Gardner, another Liberal, I am informed by one of the Liberal backbenchers, is also attacking.
I would urge the members to look at what Norman Gardner says about the way in which this government is treating the people who are waiting for adequate day care spaces in this province.
All of us have received --
Mr D. R. Cooke: What did he say?
Mr Philip: If you want a copy of the letter, I will give it to you.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. One member at a time, and the member should address his remarks through the Speaker. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale may proceed.
Mr Philip: All of the members, I am sure, have received letters from the Victorian Order of Nurses of Canada. I have received a letter that reads:
“I am a director of the Metropolitan Toronto branch of the Victorian Order of Nurses of Canada. The purpose of this letter is to alert as many political representatives as possible to the plight of the health care service industry and the VON in particular.”
It was summed up very nicely in the Toronto Star on 22 April in an article about the elderly, and I quote: “The reality is that the home care sector is about to go bankrupt from chronic underfunding.”
What has this government done? It has topped up the immediate situation, but it is not dealing with the ongoing problem that this organization and indeed all home care services are facing. We are going to be back here next year with another bankruptcy, another impending financial crisis for all of these organizations because this government refuses to deal with the issue that people are better provided for in their own homes but people have to be paid properly to provide service in their own homes.
The member for Scarborough-wherever is shaking his head. Perhaps he should travel to Quebec. I know he has a travel agent’s licence. He would probably get a discount if he would go to Quebec to see what they pay home care workers there and see exactly the problem we are having. I am on the board of directors of a home care and support service --
Mr Faubert: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: The member alluded to a member from Scarborough with a travel agent’s licence. There is no member from Scarborough with a travel agent’s licence. Perhaps he means the member for Don Mills (Mr Velshi).
Mr Philip: The member for Don Mills has a travel agent’s licence.
Mr Velshi: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Just like everything else this member has been talking about, he has mistaken my riding and he has also mistaken the business I am in. I do not have a travel agency business.
The Acting Speaker (Mr M. C. Ray): If I may, these are --
Mr Philip: I am sure the people who travel to South Africa know what kind of business he is in because they buy tickets from him.
Mr Velshi: Mr Speaker --
The Acting Speaker: Excuse me, please. Order. I am trying to indicate to the House that these are not points of order. They may be points of valid information, but they are not points of order. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale has the floor.
Mr Philip: If the Liberal group of seals would not interrupt me, I would not address them and would say nice things about them.
I want to deal with the whole theme of this budget. Basically, what we have is a very conservative budget. We have a budget that passes on the main brunt to one group of people, namely, middle-income Ontario citizens. The rich people in this province have been getting richer and richer with less and less tax while the poor and middle-income earners get stuck with more and more. This budget carries on that tradition.
Property tax is the most regressive form of taxation, yet this government in this budget creates an even greater tax burden on the home owner and indirectly on the tenants by increasing property taxes on the owners of apartment buildings.
On the other side, we notice that only two of the 24 countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development impose no taxes whatsoever on capital in the form of either an annual net wealth tax or a state tax. Of course, the Treasurer is proud to be part of those two countries.
There is more than $7 billion worth of untaxed corporate profits in Ontario and in order that the corporations start to pay their fair share, it is incumbent that the Treasurer follow the lead, I believe, of no more progressive administration than the United States government, and at least have a minimum corporate income tax.
If we had seen some movement in that direction instead of a movement towards putting an increasing burden on middle-income people in this province, one would have said there was an attempt by this Treasurer to move towards some kind of fairness. Instead, what we see is a constant movement by this government to pass more and more of the costs of operating government on to the middle-income earners, while allowing the very rich and the very affluent corporations to get off.
When we look at this budget we have a basically unfair budget. The government had an opportunity to show some leadership. It failed. The municipalities have said that this government has been an abominable failure with this budget and they have expressed themselves openly. Even prominent liberals like Metropolitan Toronto Chairman Tonks have expressed their disappointment with this government. Various other groups that are concerned about fairness and about the need for progressive taxation have expressed their concern to the Treasurer. I say to the Treasurer to carry on; he is helping Mr Wilson in his regressive stand on the part of the rich, while ignoring middle-income earners.
Mr Faubert: I just have a couple of quick comments. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale alluded to an attack on the government regarding day care by Councillor Norm Gardner of the Metropolitan Toronto council, yet he failed to read into the record this letter; even in context he failed to read it. He did not even selectively read the letter.
The letter would show that Mr Gardner is making a reasoned request of the government for increased funding for subsidized day care and to support the day care program of Metropolitan Toronto, as is his responsibility and his right. But no one, I think, except the most biased of people, could interpret that as an attack upon this government and upon its financing of day care in this province.
I have one further comment. He states that the Victorian Order of Nurses has somehow taken on this government. He quoted from a letter. That letter is, I think, about two weeks old. My colleague the member for Scarborough Centre (Miss Nicholas) and I -- and I am sure, other members of this House -- have read and have received today in the mail a letter of appreciation from the executive director of the VON, saying, the nurses appreciate what the government has done on their behalf, and indeed, they look forward to working out, in a reasonable and amiable manner, other future issues related to funding of the VON and its services.
Miss Nicholas: I just wanted to make a few comments on the honourable member’s speech. Although not much was directed to the budget, I will concentrate on that part. One thing the member did mention was that there were two members from Scarborough here nodding their heads in agreement when he said that the backbenchers of this Liberal government are not consulted at all, in any way, in any manner whatsoever -- words to that effect -- and that we were nodding in agreement with him.
I can tell the member that I was not nodding my head. I am nodding it now, but I was not nodding it in agreement with the member’s comments at that time. I do not think the member for Don Mills was nodding either, but I am not quite sure about that. He is from Don Mills, and I am sure his constituents would not be happy to hear that they are living in Scarborough and not Don Mills, although we would be happy to include them in our part as well.
The other thing the honourable member was talking about was day care. While I will agree that there are a lot of people who need to be serviced by the subsidized day care spaces, I think this budget goes a long way in helping out those who are on social assistance and have intentions of going back to work or school; providing day care for all those people who cannot obtain subsidized day care and trying to find another way of providing the service for them by paying them directly to go to alternatives other than subsidized day care, and that includes informal and formal day care. I think this is a great step forward. It encourages people to get out to work, to go back to school and to become self-reliant.
I think this is a great budget and I concur with the comments of the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere about the VON letters. I received one as well.
Mr Sola: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale (Mr Philip) raised the issue of the fairness of this budget, and I just want to read a quote from the Toronto Star of 21 May, where it says:
“And even if you aren’t” -- better off because of this budget, and the writer did conclude that we would be better off as individuals -- ”there’s an element of fairness in this financial blueprint for the next 12 months that may make the pill easier to swallow.” I would like to point that out.
Then the member raises the question: “Why Metro? Why pick on Metro?” I think he should be listening to some of his own members from the north, who use the same argument: “Why Metro? Why give everything to Metro?” I think if we balance things out, Metro gets more and therefore it pays more.
When we take a look at just the transportation issue, we are getting Highway 403, Highway 410, Highway 427, the Queen Elizabeth Way and Highway 407; a transit link to Pearson International Airport; gateways that speed up commuter traffic, and there are 15 gateways in the greater Toronto area; more GO Transit; an improvement of the Toronto Transit Commission; the Harbourfront light rapid transit line. Anything we look at is pointing at Metro, so that is one of the reasons that Metro is paying more.
Mrs Marland: I am not standing to respond, of course, to the last speaker. I am standing to respond to the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale. I think the subject areas that he has addressed are some of those which I will be addressing very shortly when I have the opportunity to speak.
I do find it interesting to listen very carefully to the responses of other people in this House. I guess what is really significant is that obviously some of those responses were made to my colleague the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale without having really heard what he has said.
The Acting Speaker: Does the member for Etobicoke-Rexdale wish to reply?
Mr Philip: I do, in reverse order. I thank the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland). She, of course, is correct and she responded very adequately to the member for Mississauga East (Mr Sola), because he really did not understand what I said. He gave a whole litany of things that are on tap in terms of transportation for this area. In fact, what I said was that those were already on tap even long before this government, let alone this budget. There is absolutely nothing new, and he would have been better off if he had spent his time saying what his constituents are saying, which is “Why tax us more than the rest of the province?” If he had really represented his constituents, that is what he would have been saying.
With regard to the member for Scarborough Centre on the matter of day care, of course she again failed to listen to the matter that I brought up, namely, that there are no new day care spaces under this budget other than what was in the long, three-year term plan. In fact, if we look at those who are on the list, there are more in Metro than are going to be provided with spaces in all of Ontario this year.
She says that she is one who is consulted, and yet she chairs the standing committee on the Ombudsman and, in any other jurisdiction, the chairman of the Ombudsman’s committee and the members of the Legislature are consulted as to whom the Ombudsman will be. She has not been consulted even on that matter, which is so directly of concern to her. One wonders how she could be consulted on any other matter.
The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere talks about the letter from Norm Gardner. Indeed I will be happy to read part of the --
Mr Faubert: Read the whole letter.
Mr Philip: With unanimous consent, I would be glad to read all of --
The Acting Speaker: Order. The time allotted has expired and the next speaker in the budgetary debate is the member for Mississauga South.
Mrs Marland: I am happy to rise today, today being 25 May, and take part in this debate on the budget and to comment on the budget of the Treasurer of Ontario which was presented on 17 May, last week.
I am particularly flattered and encouraged that the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) is present in the House at the moment. Also, the Minister of Tourism and Recreation (Mr O’Neil) is here and the Minister of Skills Development (Mr Curling). I think it is very impressive for a Thursday afternoon to have three ministers who are forfeiting their Thursday afternoon in order to hear my comments on the budget on behalf of the people of Mississauga South.
I just want to say something at the outset, because I did not say this last year. When the budget was printed last year, it was printed with the same cover as was presented this year. Those members who have accurate colour interpretation will notice that the 1989 Ontario budget has a red trillium on it. The budget of 1988 also had a red trillium on it, and I think when that happened last year, there were a large number of people in this province who asked why. Why, when the official floral emblem for Ontario is the white trillium, was this Liberal government being so partisan as to change the colour of the trillium to match the official colour of its party?
I think what is really significant, of course, apart from the fact that it is sad that we now have red trilliums on an official document of the Ontario government, is that the official floral emblem of Ontario is still the white trillium, and the fact that this one is red perhaps is an indication of how the people of Ontario feel when they see this budget and understand it. They do see red, I say to the Treasurer.
The budget presented to this House and the people of Ontario last week by the provincial Liberal government, in my opinion, is nothing more than another billion-dollar tax grab designed to add further inflation to our economy and erode the buying power of the public.
The Treasurer spoke of many new taxes: environment taxes and transportation taxes and tire taxes. However, none of these revenues will be directly channelled into spending in those areas the taxes are affiliated with in the budget paper, because we have learned that all of those taxes flow directly into the general revenue fund.
This budget has attacked the pockets of the residents of Ontario, but very specifically targets the already stretched budgets of those living in Metro and the neighbouring areas like the city of Mississauga. This open tax discrimination against the people of the GTA, the greater Toronto area, is going to affect the very economy that is supporting the boom in Ontario today. In fact, the GTA might well be called the greater taxation area.
Rather than encourage growth and development in our economy, this government is tightening its grip on taxpayers and shifting provincial funding responsibilities on to municipal governments, thereby on to the backs of the residential property taxpayers. The municipal governments have no choice. If they do not receive the money that is needed, they have no choice but to go to the property taxpayers for it.
Let me take this House through some of the budgetary priorities being expressed by residents, business, school boards, local governments and community groups in Mississauga alone. A steady decline in provincial funding to our education system, along with a host of unfunded provincial programs, has resulted in an education system in crisis.
Rather than plan in a responsible manner, the Liberal government continues to announce new programs with no intentions of providing the money to pay for them after the initial year of introduction. This is called the carrot method. The government holds out the carrot, it sounds like a wonderful vote-getting new program, the municipalities and the school boards have no choice but to accept the carrot, and then in subsequent years those programs are paid for by the residents through their property taxes.
Class size reduction and sending more children to school sooner and for more hours are two very clear examples. In Peel, we continue to have a growing student population. The Peel Board of Education, with over 160 schools and 90,400 elementary and secondary students, is currently the largest public school board in Canada, and rapidly growing. It is the most rapidly growing school board in the province, and will continue to be, with Mississauga predicting sustained growth for many years to come.
This population explosion has resulted in some very serious problems. Schools are housing more students than they were ever designed to hold and more children are being bused to schools miles away, because the school next door is just too full or has simply not been built. The Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board has undergone sustained growth in enrolment for the past 15 years, with every indication that it will continue until the end of the century.
One of the problems facing both these boards is the declining share of capital funds from the province. The Liberal commitment of 1985 was to restore provincial funding to a level of 60 per cent. Instead, we have seen a continued decline in provincial funding. I think it is very significant to look particularly at the Dufferin-Peel separate school board, because through that board there has to be one of the saddest commentaries about education in our province today.
There are students now in portables in that board today whose parents were in portables. We have children who graduated from the Dufferin-Peel separate school board who never went to school in a regular classroom. All of their school years they were in portables, and now indeed their children are in the same school system and they too are in portables. You have to wonder whether that is equality of education.
While I am talking about the Dufferin-Peel separate school board, I want to give members an example of one school in my riding. It happens to be a school that I was invited to visit this morning.
When we talk about this budget and the effect this budget has on the school populations in Peel, I think it is significant to mention that the Liberal members of this House who are responsible to the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board and the Peel Board of Education, as I am, have met with both those boards, their trustees and staff, and have been pleaded with to persuade the Treasurer and the Minister of Education (Mr Ward) to fund their boards so that the incredible accommodation problems can be alleviated somewhat.
Having been at those meetings with the Peel Board of Education, its staff and trustees, and with the Dufferin-Peel separate school board, its staff and trustees, together with the member for Mississauga East, the member for Mississauga West (Mr Mahoney) and the member for Mississauga North (Mr Offer), and having heard the discussion, members can appreciate how disappointed I was last week to see those same members in this House applauding this budget. I do not know how those members on the one hand can listen to the concerns of the people they represent in terms of school accommodation in the city of Mississauga alone and then come into this House and applaud this budget. However, that is the case.
I want to talk for a moment about St James school in Mississauga South. I want to outline the kind of situation that school endures day in and day out. First of all, members should understand that it is a junior-kindergarten-to-grade-8 school. It does not have a gymnasium. it does have two portables joined together, which of course have low roofs; they do not have a high ceiling. This gives a double-sized space, as two portables joined together would. However, it does not give a provision for physical education in the proper form.
What happens with the St James school students is that once a week they get bused out of their school to go for phys ed. In the summer they can play baseball outside and perhaps have some other activities outside, but in the winter there is nothing those students can do in the form of physical activity within the school because there is simply no space whatsoever. Once it gets wet, muddy, snowy and messy outside and they cannot play baseball or have other activities, they have nowhere to go for their physical activities because they simply do not have a regular auditorium or gymnasium.
I would like to tell members about the speech therapist who comes to that school. When the speech therapist is at that school trying to give equality of opportunity and education for the children who need her services, where does she have her classes with her special children and special needs? In the hallway. Is that not great? A speech therapist, where the sound and listening and repetition are so critical, is working in the hallway of an elementary school.
Members might like to hear about the English-as-a-second-language teacher who comes to that school. She works in the principal’s office. Is that not great? I do not know where the principal goes. He is bumped out of his office. I sat in his office this morning, as a matter of fact, and it is very small. But is it not great that the ESL teacher has nowhere else but the principal’s office to give that special instruction to those students who need it?
Hon R. F. Nixon: Is this in the Mississauga board?
Mrs Marland: in answer to the Treasurer’s question, it is in the Dufferin-Peel separate school board, which is the Roman Catholic board for Mississauga. I think what is significant, in response to his question, is that the capital improvements that are needed for this school are $1.1 million. They actually were the ninth priority of the school board in its submissions to the Ministry of Education, and the Minister of Education arbitrarily chose to fund the 15th priority and not to fund this ninth priority.
Somebody would have to explain to me how the Minister of Education and his staff know more about the priorities than a local school board. Why ask local school boards to prioritize their needs when they make their budget requests if they are going to ignore them? They might as well go out and just play a game of pin the tail on the donkey and throw the drawing pins at the blackboard.
Mr Mahoney: Four times the money you guys put into it.
Mrs Marland: The interruptions that I am now receiving from the member for Mississauga West are also significant because he obviously thinks this kind of accommodation is okay. I would like to see him have his students in this kind of accommodation.
Mr Epp: Margaret, don’t mislead.
Mrs Marland: I am always flattered by the number of interjections I get when I speak because obviously, I say again, the points that I make must hit home. It is interesting and significant that earlier this afternoon when the member for Peterborough (Mr Adams) was speaking in this House, I had some difficulty with some of the things that he said, but I showed him the courtesy of not interjecting during his speech. I really wish the Liberal members would extend the same courtesy to me. They will have their two minutes of rebuttal, if they wish to wait that long.
In any case, I think it is absurd for the Minister of Education to ask a school board to give its priorities in terms of its requests for funding and then to arbitrarily pick a 15th item in the list of priorities ahead of the ninth. The ninth is St James school and it is not funded.
I want to continue to describe St James school for the members. When the psychologist comes into that school to help the children who need that kind of counselling and service, there is nowhere for the psychologist to meet with those students except in this double portable, which is supposedly called their gymnasium. Now you have this great huge room with a low ceiling; no desks, no chairs, nothing in it. That is where the psychologist interviews the young students who obviously have problems. What a wonderful, conducive atmosphere for those students. I mean that in the most sarcastic way that I can say it.
Perhaps members would like to know about the French teacher at this school. The French teacher at St James school teaches where? Just guess where; I will tell the members -- in the staff room. The French teacher keeps half of her materials in her car; there is no storage in this school for that French teacher’s materials. Every time she comes in to take her class, she carries box loads of material into the staff room which is her classroom for those children who are learning French. Then when she is finished, she carts them back out again to her car.
In the meantime, when this French teacher is using the staff room for teaching French, where do you think the staff are? The staff have nowhere else to go if the staff happen to be on a planning period. Those members who have had anything to do with education know very well that planning time is negotiated into the contract in order that teachers can plan and prepare for classes. But not at St James school; there is nowhere for the teachers to go to prepare.
This morning as I came out of the staff room with the French teacher, I may add, who had just held her class in there, I met the grade 8 religion class going into the staff room. So here we have a grade 8 class being taught their religion in the staff room because there is no other space in the school. Obviously there is no space for the staff to eat and, as I said a few moments ago, there is no space for their planning time.
This school must be marginal in its overall function in terms of the safety of the children in that school. There are cupboards in the hallways. I am quite confident that the Mississauga Fire Department has approved them. However, members should know that there are cupboards in the hallways because there is no storage anywhere else for cupboards. There is no health room for the nurse. When a child is sick, there is no room, no space anywhere in that school for a child who is ill to go and lie down or have the local nurse see him or her.
Let’s talk about something that is important to every school, the school musical. Members must be concerned to know, as I was, that the only place that this school could hold its school musical was in a local church hall. Of course, the local church hall was not close enough for them to walk to, so the children had to be bused to the local church hall for their rehearsals and, of course, the cost of busing had to be borne by the local school.
So, what happened? The school musical had one rehearsal in the church and then gave the performance in the church hall. Do members really think that is fair to the student body of St James Elementary School, of the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board, that they do not have any of these facilities which are standard in schools around this province?
I have to tell members that when I walked around that school and I visited all the portable classrooms this morning and saw the overcrowding and the total lack of accommodation, as I have just outlined, I really felt that I was in northern Ontario, at some temporary settlement perhaps, where a temporary school might be put up for the summer months. I really felt that we would not expect to see school accommodation such as that in a densely populated southern Ontario location.
The greater irony of all, I feel, on this subject of St James Elementary School, is the fact that the parents live in the GTA, the new little catchphrase of this budget. They live in the greater Toronto area, or as I call it, the greater taxation area. The parents whose children have that inferior accommodation are now the parents who live in the communities around Toronto which have all the added tax burdens.
I am going to invite the Minister of Education to visit this school. I am going to ask him to walk through that school with me and see the programs that take place in the staff room, and nowhere for the staff to go, and all the other items that I have outlined for the minister. I am going to ask him, as Minister of Education, if he thinks this is equality of education in 1989 in this prosperous province.
I know that the parents of St James Elementary School are going to be very interested, first, to see if the Minister of Education has the courage to go and visit their school, and second, when he sees it, if he believes it is acceptable in Ontario in 1989 for these students to have that kind of total lack of accommodation compared to other school populations.
The education policy of the Liberal government has sparked outcries from trustees, teachers, parents and students. Let me read to members a recent letter from a teacher to the Minister of Education. The teacher’s name is M. Biasutti, a grade 1 teacher at St Brigid Elementary School, 81 Torrance Woods, Brampton.
“Dear Honourable Chris Ward:
“I am writing on behalf of all teachers concerning overcrowding and a lack of proper accommodation in St Brigid school. The present situation influences the quality of education by affecting staff morale and school spirit. During the past two years, the school has experienced the many effects of being crowded. Having had my classroom placed in the gymnasium, the library loft, a regular classroom and in a portable, I can describe the impact on students and staff.
“In a portable classroom, students must deal with fluctuating temperatures, dusty and extremely dry conditions, lack of accessibility to water and washrooms and receive inadequate area for storage of coats and lunches. Due to the obstruction of vision between the portable area, more staff members are required for supervision, the space in the schoolyard is reduced and the number of injuries has increased dramatically.
“The washroom facilities were designed for approximately 350 students. With this limited access, hallways are constantly noisy and washrooms are overused. We are unable to accommodate all our gym classes, and the number of extracurricular activities is reduced. The library focus of Partners in Action cannot be successfully implemented because of the large number of students using the material. The availability of computers and many other resources are restricted due to the large demand.
“The Ministry of Education assigned the board with the responsibility of organizing space and facilities and providing the resources that allow scope for imaginative and varied activities. Mr Ward, where is the ministry’s support?”
That letter is from a very frustrated teacher who is simply saying, “If you are going to mandate programs, will you please give us the resources to fulfil them?”
I also have a letter from a grade 3 student of St Rose of Lima school. Her name is Denise Dorges. It is handwritten, as a grade 3 student would write her letter:
“Dear Mr Ward:
“In the summer, it is very hot. We don’t have any air conditioner. We don’t have any pencil sharpener. We have a small classroom. We have to run to the washroom when it’s raining and cold and snowy. In the winter, it is very cold in the portable. We have two doors, and when we move our desks and chairs, it makes a lot of noise. We have no rug. The door slams when it is very windy. We have no shelves. We have steps that get slippery. We get hurt when the door slams on the porch. It’s very messy for our coats. It takes a long time to get to the school, but not that long. Everyone else is inside, and we have no sinks.
When a grade 3 student is writing because of her school accommodation, one would have hoped that this Liberal government would have listened.
I am not saying that Queen’s Park is a money tree. All I am saying is if we only have so much money, then why do we not spend it on our existing programs? If the Treasurer had not announced the new programs, I would not be standing here making these criticisms. I am simply saying that if he has money to reduce class sizes around this province in grades 1 and 2, if he has money to add junior kindergarten and mandate all-day kindergarten, then why does he not first ask the school boards whether they want to use the money for those programs, or even ask the parents?
It is amazing how many parents do not support the direction of the Liberal government in terms of education today. He should ask the parents whose children have been in portables all through their education whether they think the money he is spending on these new education initiatives should be a priority ahead of the kind of accommodation and conditions I have outlined at St James school.
These are just two of hundreds of letters I have received from pupils, students, teachers, parents and the boards of education making the point that the province’s capital funding does not nearly meet the needs of the school boards.
The Peel Board of Education was granted $70 million in capital allocation approvals over the next three years to construct new schools in the region of Peel. The board had requested $67 million for new school construction in 1989, $82.3 million in 1990 and $101 million in 1991.
The Peel Board of Education had also called upon the Liberal government to work with the board to revise the capital grant plan to ensure that approved costs more accurately reflect the real and constantly increasing costs of construction. Their report to the ministry, as the member for Mississauga East (Mr Sola) and the member for Mississauga West know full well, said that classroom loading factors should also be revised to reflect the impact of current class sizes on the true cost of school construction.
On the subject of portables, I would just like to say that those students who have never received their education in anything but a portable classroom think it is a disgrace. We have well over 100,000 students in thousands of portables this year in this province. On top of all these problems, we cannot find enough teachers to teach in our schools, primarily because of the lack of funding for teacher education spaces in our teachers’ colleges.
Some major budgetary and physical planning has to be completed soon -- unless this Liberal government is satisfied with seeing our education system erode.
When I look at the Peel Board of Education in terms of its operating grants -- and we always get into this argument about capital grants versus operating grants -- just before I leave the subject of education I think we should put into the record that the Peel Board of Education’s operating funding, and that means the money the Peel Board of Education received from the province, in 1988 was $100 million. In 1989 it was $90 million, a reduction of $10 million in the fastest-growing school board and the largest public school board in Canada.
That means that now the Peel Board of Education pays 81 per cent for the cost of education in Peel. Out of every dollar spent on education in the region of Peel today, 81 cents is raised at the local level and the province pays 18.9 per cent.
When you look at the capital funding for the Peel Board of Education, in 1989 it requested $70 million over three years. Correction: In 1989 the Peel Board of Education received $70.7 million over three years. They had requested $2 billion over five years.
At the moment, the Peel Board of Education has 558 portables and will add 30 more in this coming year. They have approximately 16,000 students in portables, and that is an estimate of 27 children per portable.
Just for the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board alone, this year, in 1989, it received $87.9 million over three years. They had requested $395 million over five years. The Dufferin-Peel board has 25,205 students in temporary accommodation and what is really significant with the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board is that over half its students -- half its students -- are in portable accommodation.
If we think that is fair in our so-called greater taxation area, then we have to come up with some kind of explanation by this Liberal government about why these school boards’ requests are not being met, at the same time that the government keeps adding on a greater financial burden to those school boards by introducing additional programs.
Take reduction in class size, for example. They reduced the class size in grades 1 and 2 and right away the impact on the Peel Board of Education was 140 classrooms. They needed 140 classrooms and 140 teachers at a time when they do not have enough classrooms for their existing student body. What kind of formula and what kind of philosophy that is, God only knows. It just does not make sense, it is totally irresponsible and it is totally unfair to those students and their parents.
I would like to speak for a moment on health. It is very difficult to talk about the issue of health in the province today without pleading to this Liberal government to decide once and for all that it is going to prioritize its spending in terms of human need.
I am not going to repeat what I have said before in this House over the past six months by giving examples such as Charles Coleman, the heart patient who waited nine months for surgery and then died as a result of a heart attack on the operating room table, or, as another example, a three-month-old little girl in my riding, Jessica Godman, who waited for her third open-heart operation. These people are only names to the people in this Legislature, but to their families they are their loved ones.
As I have said before, if the people in this Legislature are not affected by what is going on in the health care system in Ontario today, they are fortunate. I sincerely hope they will not be affected, that they will not be placed in the position Mrs Coleman is in today, with a husband who died unnecessarily. Because he was a good candidate for surgery was the only reason the doctors recommended he have heart surgery, but it came too late.
The agony of parents, not only Jessica Godman’s parents, but all parents who have children on waiting lists -- and the number of times we have heard the Minister of Health (Mrs Caplan) in this House say: “Those are medical decisions. They’re not political decisions. It’s up to the doctors.” The fact of the matter is that when those people, those little three-month-old babies or adults of any age get on a waiting list, the medical decision has already been made. The medical decision made by the physicians and specialists is that they need the surgery. The political decision and the political will of this Liberal government are not to flow through the money that eliminates those waiting lists.
I can hardly believe that there can be any pride in any government which says: “We have three kinds of waiting lists. We have urgent, emergent and the regular waiting lists. We talk about whether it is an emergency or is it just urgent or is it just that they need to have it done?” How can the government be proud of having waiting lists for babies for life-sustaining surgery?
All I am saying is let’s eliminate the waiting lists and give the facilities and the money that are needed, so that we do not have waiting lists for life-sustaining surgery. Furthermore, there is the irony that we will pay for patients to go out of this province for that surgery if we cannot do it in Ontario. What kind of financial logic is that?
Some people will be fooled by the Liberal government’s decision to rid the province of OHIP premiums paid by individuals. The Premier (Mr Peterson) has tried to make it sound like a free ride for consumers of the system. Let us not kid ourselves. The new scheme which will introduce an employer health levy on 1 January 1990 will not even be dedicated to the Health Ministry. We have no guarantee that the money netted from such plans will ever see its way to providing better health care. We know that money will, in effect, be at least $400 million.
Let us not kid ourselves about the bottom line. The government took in $1.8 billion from OHIP premiums last year. This new employer health levy scheme is expected to raise $2.1 billion. The other reality is that passing the buck to business to foot the bill for health care is just an indirect way of taking it from the pockets of you and me. In the end, we pay for these schemes and we also pay for the added bureaucratic costs to business and government for collecting the money this way.
Glen Hunter of the department store Marks and Spencer wrote to me to tell me: “The budget has not only immediate effect, but long-term inflationary ramifications. Our company alone will incur $500,000 just in payroll tax alone.” When a company incurs those kinds of costs, you know the consumers and the employees are going to pay in the end. I want to tell the members that I have just learned that the Peel Board of Education bill for this employee health levy is over $3 million this year. Of course, it is a figure they have not budgeted for. They did not know it was coming.
Let me deal for a moment with something I touched upon earlier, that being the continued strain this Liberal government is placing on the municipal tax basis of the province. In addition to the fact that unconditional grants to municipalities have been frozen at the 1988 levels, we have a Ministry of Transportation which wants to spend $19.5 million on a traffic management system, including a radio station and electronic signs along the Queen Elizabeth Way, while major road work throughout the city remains to be done. Ask the city if it would rather have its major roadwork done or would we rather have this traffic management system?
I still have to hear from the Minister of Transportation (Mr Fulton) about that system. I read about it in the Mississauga News. They did not even have the courtesy to let me know about a system that is going to be introduced, at a cost of $19.5 million, in my riding. Oh no, they just go to the council and ask if it wants it. The council told them what it thought of it. They do not want it. They would rather have the $19 million for their road subsidy that they need very badly in the city of Mississauga and the region of Peel.
I travel the Queen Elizabeth Way almost every day and I do not need a radio to tell me that the traffic is a mess. Rush hour is now about 18 hours of the day. There are only a couple of optional routes in and out of Toronto and they are a mess as well.
The provincial road subsidy has also become a serious concern. The province is supposed to contribute 50 per cent of the cost of roadwork in the region of Peel. However, in reality, the province is only contributing 12 per cent towards the actual needs of the region, because if the work has to be done and the province will not finance it, the region has to absorb 100 per cent of the cost, and that means the taxpayers of Mississauga.
The region of Peel also spends about $5 million on sewage and $5 million on water. While the province is contributing a little over $1 million towards these expenses, it is not near the one-third share that the government promised to dedicate at the time of my private member’s bill, which was supported in this House, for rusty water line replacement in Lakeview, as an example for infrastructure replacement around the province.
Finally, the waste management crisis in Peel: The region estimated the cost of a new dump site to run about $500 million in 1988; 10 years ago the same dump site would have cost $20 million. With the province sending the region back to the drawing board after spending millions to develop a new site in Peel, we can only speculate more inflated costs down the road.
Municipalities get a bad rap again when we realize they will still be responsible for implementing provincially initiated programs like the employer health levy with no additional financial assistance from the province.
As an example is the fact that this budget has no funding to help with the provision of court security, which is another new Liberal government program. I always thought the provincial courts were a responsibility of the province. Now they have decided they are going to put the responsibility of keeping those courts safe at the feet of the local taxpayers.
There is nothing to assist with meeting the stricter standards for soil waste landfills, there is nothing to implement pay equity, and the list goes on.
Then we have the plight of an organization like the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. The authority’s general manager, Vicky Barron, says:
“The trend of the province to pass costs down to the local level of government continues to be reflected in the budget, as a diminishing share of our revenue is coming from provincial transfer payments. This lack of provincial funding requires the municipality to absorb a majority of the increases in the operation of the conservation authority.”
Then we got the final blow, the lot levy scheme to fund our education system. True, some of the school boards like the idea, but let’s hear what others are saying about it.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is opposed to lot levies for educational purposes. The Ontario Home Builders’ Association is against the idea. Joining them are the Urban Development Institute and the Fair Rental Policy Organization of Ontario.
The person who should be opposed is the Minister of Housing (Ms Hosek). In fact, the Minister of Housing should be outraged because of the impact this has on the affordability of housing. Here the left hand tries to make housing more affordable and now the right hand slaps an additional $5,000 on to the price of a new home for the new home buyer. There is an obvious lack of communication between the Treasurer (Mr R. F. Nixon) and the Housing minister on this one.
One of my residents also suggested that, since we are now going to single out taxpayers in the greater Toronto area, GTA, possibly land transfer tax refunds on homes under $150,000 should be amended to include homes in the GTA selling at $250,000 or less. As the Treasurer is still here in the Legislature, I hope he may consider that adjustment in that figure for the GTA home cost.
As our communities grow, there is in turn a growing demand for social services, services such as Interim Place in Mississauga, which provides shelter for abused women and their children; Community Living Mississauga, which runs a wide range of programs for both the menially and physically disabled; Our Place (Peel), a nonprofit social service agency, and the children’s aid society, to name a few.
All of these organizations are having greater stress put upon them as less assistance is available and, in turn, waiting lists for their services grow. I know too that the members for Mississauga have been approached by the Children’s Aid Society of the Region of Peel about the shortage of foster parents. There will continue to be a shortage of foster parents and foster homes while the remuneration they receive is so inadequate.
We have parents on the verge of breakdown, because they are unable to care for their mentally handicapped child alone. We have women who are encouraged by provincial advertising dollars to report abusive incidents but have nowhere to go because of a lack of space. We have homeless youths in need of crisis counselling and shelter, but they have nowhere to turn to.
We have the Red Cross homemakers and the Victorian Order of Nurses providing help to those who would otherwise have to be hospitalized or institutionalized. Their crisis has been temporarily dealt with, but what about the future? This Liberal government took the Red Cross to the wall, to the midnight hour last year, at the point it was going to be forced to cancel that homemaker service. With all the heavy persuasion of the lobbying by the people of Ontario, and indeed by the two opposition parties, the Liberal government finally came through with the funding, but that is no way for the Red Cross to be able to fund their programs.
Without those programs, the health care bill would escalate drastically, because instead of people who are frail and elderly, disabled or ill being able to stay in their home with the support from the groups such as Red Cross homemakers or the Victorian Order of Nurses, those people would immediately be in an institution or a hospital at $500-plus a day.
It is irresponsible for the Liberal government to ignore the needs of those agencies which are nonprofit providing those services. The truth of the matter is that the philosophy is to have earlier discharge from hospitals, and you cannot discharge patients earlier unless you have that professional help available to them at their home in the community.
Let me turn just for a moment to the issue of our environment. The Ministry of the Environment has done a commendable public relations job in the last year: lots of flashy announcements, the minister in a trench coat stopping trucks at the border for the television cameras. These are all part of a great campaign designed to give a perception of accomplishment, but the real test comes when we assess the quality of the environment today.
The minister has boasted about recycling and the blue box program. While it is true that we recycle more today than last year, it is also true that we produce more garbage than last year. Is our recycling ability moving more quickly than our production of garbage? Of course not.
Last summer, during some of the worst smog that the city of Toronto, the city of Mississauga and the town of Oakville had ever experienced, the Minister of the Environment (Mr Bradley) went on the airwaves and promised that he would take drastic measures if this kind of pollution were persistent. What measures are in place for this summer? The city of Toronto has already recorded unacceptable levels of pollution, and the green-brown haze that circles us here is visible proof of the work that needs to be done.
Last year our beaches were closed again. Again, the minister made a lot of promises about cleaning up our beaches. Will our beaches be closed again this year?
The problems are real and we recognize them as waste, acid gas emission, water pollution and tainted fuel problems. Let us not wait until the media break a story or the air becomes impossible to breathe before we do something. Why wait until the beaches are closed and then make hollow promises?
I do not see much of a vision from this Liberal government; I do not see a positive future for our children in the schools of tomorrow; I do not see a society that will benefit from the many advances in health care and medical research that some Canadian doctors and scientists have been part of. There are no opportunities for patients to benefit from those advances while they are dying on waiting lists. I do not see an effective solution to our housing crisis.
The solution for providing a better Ontario is not found on paper or on a television clip. No, it should be found in the action of the government and the public. What Ontario wants is action. What Ontario needs is a progressive government that is not afraid to implement the ideals of the people it represents, a government that is not afraid to act and that has human priorities above all others.
It is on that final note of human priorities that I plead to the Premier and the Liberal government to look very closely at the kind of spending initiatives they are making. It has doubled taxation in the last four years. It has increased the civil service by almost nine per cent. The taxation increase of 101 per cent has come, while in the same period our economic growth has been 56 per cent. How can we go on increasing taxation in the good times and not be prepared with that money and prioritize in terms of human need?
I plead to this government to decide that it cannot please everyone. It cannot have these vote-getting schemes, such as new programs in education, while it does not fund existing programs in education or the life-sustaining programs that are needed in health today. The public will support this government if it stands up and says, “We can’t afford to do everything, but we will prioritize in terms of human need.”
I simply ask, on behalf of the people in Mississauga South and the members of our Progressive Conservative caucus, that this government once and for all start to listen to what the people of Ontario are asking for, and not arbitrarily make announcements and design new programs without consultation with those people who have to implement those programs, and I give as examples the school boards of this province.
Mr Mahoney: I hope the member for Mississauga South noticed that I managed to restrain myself from making interjections, because she quite appropriately pointed out that we should give her the respect and the opportunity to put a viewpoint across. But I must admit that I have such difficulty in restraining myself, because I find the viewpoint so unfavourably biased and misinformed. I particularly take strong exception to the comments with regard to capital funding for schools.
Clearly, no matter how much money it seems we pour into the capital side of education, we are not going to solve the problem. When we have increases in requests from the school boards across the province going from $1.6 billion last year up to $6 billion this year, virtually overnight going to that level of funding, we have to ask ourselves, “How in the world did this happen?”
I do not know how many times we have to remind the honourable members opposite that the reason we are in this mess is because of the decade, literally, of neglect, prior to the election in 1985 of this Liberal government, by the past Conservative government. They totally ignored the pleas of the growing communities like Mississauga which were constantly coming to the ministers of education and asking them for more money. In the last year of the Conservative Party’s stint in office at Queen’s Park, these communities received $72 million across the entire province. We got more than that in our region alone in only one board last year.
I just have such difficulty in listening to the nonsense that tries to pin the blame for underfunding on this Liberal government when in fact we have committed over $1.2 billion to try to rectify the problems of neglect of past governments.
Mr Wildman: I want to say first that I always enjoy listening to my friend the member for Mississauga South in her comments. I must say that I often do not agree completely with what she has to say, but I do enjoy her approach to representing her constituents.
I do take exception to one comment that she made. I know she perhaps did not mean it the way it sounded. That was when she was saying that the capital construction needs of the Roman Catholic separate school board in her area were such that the schools were without facilities and that they might appear to be in some small, temporary settlement in northern Ontario rather than a large, urban centre in southern Ontario.
While I certainly agree that there is a tremendous need and demand for capital construction for education across the province, and particularly in the high growth rate of this area, I am sure that we in the north believe and demand that we receive the same kind of services and the same kind of facilities that people in urban southern Ontario receive, because we believe that the wealth of this area is largely dependent upon the development of the resources of the north.
Frankly, it is our view that if this government were to take the actions needed in terms of planning, then it would perhaps limit the growth in the so-called greater Toronto area and direct planning into parts of northern and eastern Ontario. Then we might not have all of the problems that we find we are having now because of the tremendous growth in this area.
Mr Pollock: I just wanted to compliment the member for Mississauga South on her remarks. It showed that she is deep.
Mr D. R. Cooke: You were not here for it.
Mr Pollock: I was too here for it. Sorry to just interject like that, but I would like to point out to the member who is interjecting that I was here.
I listened to the member for Mississauga South’s remarks and I am sure she is deeply concerned about those students who are in portables. I hope the Minister of Education will work with that particular school board and try to alleviate that particular situation.
I certainly agree with the member’s comments in regard to the payroll tax. It is going to be a real burden to small businessmen. I find it a little surprising that professional people like lawyers will not have to pay towards their health care and yet the average working man will have to pick up part of that bill. That is a real concern to me. This payroll tax is a real burden on the small businessman, and in the long run I am sure it is going to cost jobs.
Mr Sola: I would also like to focus in on school capital funding. In the first year of Liberal government, $150 million, or double the amount the last Progressive Conservative government spent, was allocated to capital funding; in the second year of Liberal government, $225 million, or triple PC spending; in the third year, $300 million, or quadruple PC spending, and in the fourth year, $300 million, again quadruple.
In the region of Peel alone, in 1988, $96 million was allocated to school capital, and in 1989, it was over $150 million for school capital, as compared to $72 million under the PCs.
Regarding second-generation portables, which is a repetition from the throne speech remarks, if we are talking about rabbits, then this government is to blame. However, if we are talking about children, then the member for Mississauga South should look in the mirror and say “Mea culpa,” because it takes more than four years to create two generations of portables.
Also, I am surprised at her new-found concern for school funding. All one has to do is refer to her throne speech remarks: “I have often said that any member of this Legislature could stand on any public platform in Ontario and defend not spending money on anything except health.”
Turning to health, I would like to take a quote from the Mississauga News of Friday, 12 May, regarding three-month-old Jessica Godman. She says, “They were hoping she was now strong enough to undergo her third open-heart operation since her birth January 20, but doctors told the Godmans Jessica still is not strong enough for it.”
The Deputy Speaker: There is no more time. Does the member wish to respond?
Mrs Marland: I do not choose to respond to the comments of the member for Mississauga East, because his comments are not accurate. I am not about to waste my time responding to them, simply to say that it will be very interesting for me to send his comments to the Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic Separate School Board and the Peel Board of Education, because when he stands up and quotes those figures, obviously, he is happy with them. If he is happy with them and he is ignoring the requests of the people who elected him, that is his choice.
I do want to comment, however, on the comments of the member for Mississauga West. I knew that he would certainly get up and puff himself up with all his indignation and talk about the fact that the reason there is a problem today in funding for the two school boards in my region --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mrs Marland: The member for Mississauga West keeps sending it back to the fact of the previous government. I want to say that in the last four years, the natural increase in revenue through a 56 per cent growth in the economic strength of this province alone would have carried additional funding to these boards.
The whole point that is missed totally here, of course, is that it is not solving the problem while the government keeps adding additional programs to the school system, which means schools have to have additional space, accommodation and teachers.
Most of all, while the Mississauga West representative is so indignant about the school funding, I wonder how he feels as the small business advocate who sat in this chamber and applauded all the business taxes that went on in this budget last week. As the small business advocate, I would have thought that he would have held his head with shame and concern that his Liberal government was penalizing small business in this province to the extent that this budget does.
Mr Sola: Mr Speaker, on a point of privilege: The honourable member said that my remarks were not accurate. I took her quote from page L-44 of Instant Hansard the day that she made the remarks.
The Deputy Speaker: That is a point of information.
Mr Sola: The other quote was from the Mississauga News of Friday, 12 May 1989.
The Deputy Speaker: Thank you. That is not a point of order.
On motion by Mr Faubert, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon Mr Conway: Pursuant to standing order 13, I would like to indicate the business of the House for the coming week.
On Monday, 29 May, we will consider second reading of Bill 10, An Act to control Automobile Insurance Rates.
On Tuesday, 30 May, we will deal with interim supply and, concluding that, second reading of Bill 5, the Education Amendment Act, concerning heritage languages.
On Wednesday, 31 May, we will continue with second reading of the insurance bill.
On Thursday, 1 June, we will consider private members’ business standing in the names of the member for Halton Centre (Mrs Sullivan) and the member for Sudbury East (Miss Martel). In the afternoon, we will continue with budget responses.
Hon Mr Conway: I am sure all members would want me, as is becoming a custom, to observe that tomorrow this group of pages will leave us after a very stellar service over the last four or five weeks. On your behalf, Mr Speaker, and on behalf of the members of the assembly, I want to thank all of those wonderful young men and women most sincerely for their wonderful camaraderie and service over the weeks they have been here. Since their summer recess is likely to be longer than ours, certainly they might want to come on holiday and join us. We wish them well in their future endeavours.
The House adjourned at 1801.