The House met at 1330.
PROPOSED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY
Mr Laughren: There was rejoicing in Sudbury recently when this government announced that there would be funding for the Sudbury neutrino observatory to the tune of $7.6 million. The project will observe neutrinos deep underground at the Creighton mine near Sudbury.
The international scientific community is excited because there is a lot we do not know about neutrinos and there is much to learn. What we do know, however, is that this project is going to put Sudbury on the map in the scientific community and will attract scientists to Sudbury from around the world for years to come. It will encourage and stimulate research at Laurentian University and probably at Cambrian College as well.
You can imagine our surprise, however, when we learned that all the money, the $7.6 million, is going to come from the northern Ontario heritage fund, not from the Premier’s technology fund. “Oh no,” Mr Kwinter said. “If it is not cutting down trees or digging up ores, it must not be right for northern Ontario.” I did not come here to bury Caesar. I came here to praise Caesar and to say that it was appropriate the money should come; however, not from the northern Ontario heritage fund because that is going to mean other northern Ontario projects are shortchanged. This money should have come from the Premier’s technology fund, not from the northern Ontario heritage fund.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mr Jackson: Violence against women is emerging as one of the most serious problems ever to confront modern society. A study released yesterday by Linda McLeod to an international urban safety conference indicates that one million Canadian women are abused by their spouses each year, that one in four women in Canada can expect to be sexually assaulted at some time and that 15 per cent of all homicides are murders of women by their husbands.
This study observes that women are responding to the ever real danger in which they often find themselves by imposing restrictions on their actions and those of their children.
Linda McLeod, an expert on battered women, concludes that to reduce violence against women, we must not only encourage nonviolent attitudes, push security-conscious planning and start broad-based community action groups, but in addition, governments must show greater support for community services that deal with violence against women.
Because of government underfunding, the Hamilton and area Sexual Assault Centre recently cancelled important programs that helped to rehabilitate victimized women. To date, the new Solicitor General (Mr Offer) has failed to respond. Linda McLeod’s study should remind the Solicitor General and his government of their responsibilities to the women of this province to fund adequately those services that women depend on.
Women who live in fear and who suffer the consequences of violence need to know that these centres are funded properly and are delivering the full range and care that women need. This government has clearly failed to let the women of Ontario know that their problems are understood and that they are being acted upon.
Mr Chiarelli: One in four people in Ottawa-Carleton benefit in some way from United Way agencies. The volunteer pin I am wearing symbolizes people helping people. I have learned since my election that governments do not touch people. People touch people. The 51 agencies in Ottawa-Carleton reach out in many ways and are the front lines of a large extended family, which is our community of Ottawa-Carleton,
United Way agencies help the blind, the elderly, the disabled and many less fortunate people of all ages. I urge the people of Ottawa-Carleton to become part of the United Way family. Call the United Way and please offer your time and assistance. Help keep Ottawa-Carleton friendly, humane and just a nice place to live. Help the United Way. I know my Ottawa-Carleton colleagues support the United Way directly and trust that all MPPs will get behind United Way campaigns across the province. Together, it helps all of us.
SLOVAK GRADUATION BALL
Mr Kormos: Last Friday, 6 October, the women’s committee of the Canadian Slovak World Congress conducted its fifth annual Slovak graduation ball in Rexdale and I was pleased to be a guest at that event.
Five years ago, the women of the Slovak World Congress set out to establish an event that would strengthen the ties among Slovak Canadian youth with their ethnic community. They initiated the annual graduation ball, both to recognize the achievements of Slovak youth and to provide an opportunity for them to meet with each other and to renew old acquaintances.
The unflagging dedication and hard work of volunteers like Mary Biason of Bolton, the secretary of the women’s committee, has resulted in an annual function that is outstanding. Every year, Slovak Canadian youth who have excelled are honoured. Young Slovak Canadians from across Ontario participate.
This year, I am proud to tell members that seven young Canadians from Welland-Thorold were among those young people. These are Natalie Vasko from Centennial Secondary School; Marla Ivan, graduate of Notre Dame College; Veronica Vasko, graduating from Brock University; Shelley Kiss, also graduating from Brock University; Mark Csele, a graduate of the University of Waterloo; Kevin Kiss, a graduate of Brock University, and Tom Pastirik, a graduate of the University of Western Ontario.
These young people are proud of their Slovak heritage. The Slovak Canadian community, as is the whole province, is proud of them. I know this Legislature joins me in wishing every one of them the very best for the future.
Mr McLean: My statement concerns my private member’s Bill 8, the Motor Boat Operators’ Licensing Act, which received first reading on 8 May 1989.
This bill would require those wishing to operate motor boats larger than 25 horsepower to either have some form of driver’s licence, written examination or complete a motor boat operation course. As well, this bill sets age limits for licensing, makes it an offence to operate a boat carelessly or while impaired, and it gives police the authority to enforce the same operation of motor boats in as much as the Highway Traffic Act regulates the safe operation of vehicles on roads and highways in Ontario.
Boating mishaps have occurred with more than 300 deaths over the last five years. I am a boater myself and I really do not like the necessity of imposing tough regulations on our waterways, but stupidity and carelessness have made this type of legislation inevitable.
Increased congestion on our waterways and a new breed of damn-the-consequences boaters have brought it on themselves by demonstrating that they either do not care or do not know the fundamentals and courtesies of safe boating in Ontario.
It was interesting to see a newspaper article this summer in which the Premier (Mr Peterson) expressed his concern about the growing number of boating accidents and the mounting death toll on our waterways. I look forward to receiving the support of all members of the Legislature to ensure that Bill 8 receives speedy passage.
ROLLING THUNDER THEATRE COMPANY
Mr Neumann: I am pleased to rise today to invite all members to a very special event, the first performance at Queen’s Park of the Rolling Thunder Theatre Company from Brantford. Tomorrow, at 1215 in the Ontario Room, this group of talented actors will be putting on a show which I encourage all members to attend. Along with the Minister without Portfolio responsible for disabled persons (Ms Collins), I am proud to co-sponsor this event.
Rolling Thunder is a group of actors who operate out of Participation House in Brantford and is composed of both disabled and, as they would say, the “normals.” The group has performed right across Ontario, in the United States and elsewhere in Canada. Their productions are intended to entertain and raise awareness about challenges faced by the disabled. I have been fortunate enough to see their past couple of performances and I can attest to the fact that they succeed in achieving both goals.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to live without the physical and attitudinal challenges faced by the disabled, the performances of Rolling Thunder provide an opportunity to gain insight into what it is like to face these difficulties day in and day out.
I am delighted that Rolling Thunder is coming to do this special performance tomorrow. All members will find their show to be both entertaining and enlightening.
The minister and I viewed their debut performance in Brantford last week and I can assure members it is a performance they will not forget.
See you tomorrow at 1215.
ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Mr Wildman: Last week the provincial government approved a $3-million flood relief program for farmers in Essex county and the regions of Niagara and Haldimand-Norfolk. This relief program would help farmers offset interest charges as a result of delayed payments on operating loans.
There is no question that severe weather conditions last spring and summer required additional government assistance to compensate farmers for losses over and above amounts available to them through the crop insurance programs. However, the estimated losses from the extensive rains in July in Essex county alone were between $15 million and $17 million, particularly to soybean and tobacco crops.
Initially, the former Minister of Agriculture and Food argued that farmers should have crop insurance to cover their total losses and that thus no additional assistance was necessary. He was overruled by the cabinet. This led farmers in southwestern Ontario to believe that there would be substantial financial assistance from the provincial government, only to discover that now the provincial Liberal government is not prepared to give anything like the amount of compensation they need. At least the member for Huron (Mr Riddell) was honest about his unwillingness to help them.
This announcement last week betrays the deceit of his successor once again and unfortunately signals the kinds of difficulties farmers face in dealing with him.
Mrs Marland: I would like to congratulate the present and former residents of McClure Crescent in Scarborough for persevering on the side of justice. They have won their battle for compensation from the province for living in houses built on provincially owned land that was contaminated with radioactive soil.
The province will pay between $17,000 and $48,000 to each of the 48 families to compensate for the loss of their deferred mortgages. They deserve this and even more. These families have experienced financial and emotional hardships like no others. They live with the knowledge that their children have been exposed to radioactive soil in their very own backyards.
I was more than pleased to see that the Attorney General (Mr Scott) will not appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision upholding a 1987 Supreme Court of Ontario ruling in favour of the 48 McClure Crescent families. I am also pleased to see the Premier (Mr Peterson) has at least partially lived up to one of his 1985 election promises.
There is still, however, the matter of the soil removal. As we know, the provincial government purchased a number of the homes on McClure Crescent in 1986, but it then turned around and rented these homes to people desperate for a place to live and forced them to sign waivers acknowledging the presence of radioactive soil.
If the Premier were serious about his promise to clean up the McClure Crescent site, he would take steps to remove the tainted soil immediately and to ensure all future housing projects approved by this government are free and clear of any hazardous contamination.
CHILDREN HELPING CHILDREN
Mr Velshi: I want to bring to the attention of the House a most worthwhile charity walkathon organized by the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario called Children Helping Children. For the third consecutive year, this Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario is sponsoring this walkathon for sick kids. The participants will be the children of the various day care centres in Ontario, who will walk around their centre’s playground or neighbourhood to raise funds,
Last year, ADCO raised approximately $70,000, with 15,000 children participating. This year their goal is $100,000 with a participation of about 20,000 children.
Due to the overwhelming support from centres outside Toronto during the past two years, the association has decided that the proceeds from this year’s walkathon will be presented to two more hospitals, Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London and Chedoke McMaster Hospitals in Hamilton, in addition to the original beneficiary, the Hospital for Sick Children here in Toronto.
The walkathon will take place on Thursday 12 October, with a rain date of Friday 13 October. I encourage all members to get out and help the Children Helping Children in their area.
The Speaker: I know all members will want to join me in welcoming a former member of this Legislature and this parliament, Mel Swan.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am pleased to be able to inform the Legislature today that my ministry will be providing a total of $10 million in funding for at least five hospital-in-the-home projects. They are expected to provide more intensive acute care services than are now available in home care programs.
This method of providing care at home enables patients to stay with their families and will be of most benefit to senior citizens and children. It will also enable some of those in hospital to shorten their length of stay and go home earlier. The specific type of acute care provided in each hospital-in-the-home project will differ according to local needs.
I am announcing today a call for proposals with a deadline for receiving them of 29 December. The ministry will review the proposals and the successful applicants will be announced by next April.
The hospital-in-the-home concept is in keeping with this government’s commitment to innovative health strategies. As the Premier (Mr Peterson) has said, “We are building a new system of health care for the 21st century, one that emphasizes innovation, community services and illness prevention.”
To qualify, a hospital-in-the-home program must include guaranteed admission to the program within 24 hours upon referral by a physician, the ongoing monitoring of patients by doctors and nurses, and availability of the same basic medical technology as hospitals.
Ontario has very good hospital-based medical care services with highly sophisticated technology to support critical care patients, and we are committed to maintaining and enhancing it while at the same time making a wider range of services available to people in their communities and as close to home as possible.
Mr Reville: We have heard again today from the minister the Liberal wish chant about quality care as close to home as possible. Clearly, the facts show that quality care in Ontario may be as close as Detroit or Nova Scotia or may not exist at all, as in the case of the woman who tried to go to 14 hospitals and could not get into any hospital. Obviously, this party welcomes hospital-in-the-home kinds of programs, which would begin to fulfil the promise the government has made over and over again to deliver care to people in their homes. The need, on the other hand, is so great in the province that I do not believe this $10 million will cause one person to be discharged from hospital earlier, nor do I believe that one blocked hospital bed will be freed up, because in fact the response of government to home care needs has been so inadequate that this program will vanish within a moment.
It is also important, I think, to realize that although $10 million, Mr Speaker, is to you and to me a great deal of money, in terms of the health care budget it is a picayune amount of money and represents one tenth of one per cent of the kind of health care budget that is yearly expended.
Rather than a hospital in a home, we see that there is a very great need for a hospital in a hospital in this province, where we are seeing increasing problems with cardiovascular surgery, cancer treatment, perinatal and neonatal treatment, and clearly in emergency services in hospitals. It is hard to say that we do not want to see hospitals in the home, It is very hard to get really excited about this little project.
Mr B. Rae: I just want to emphasize what the member for Riverdale has said. The minister had the gall to quote her leader who said, “We are building a new system of health care for the 21st century, one that emphasizes innovation, community services and illness prevention.”
What the Premier (Mr Peterson) should have said, if he had a modicum of understanding of the health care system that now confronts us, is that Ontario is building a health care system that emphasizes waiting lists, people dying while on waiting lists, a decline in quality of service in hospital after hospital, phone calls that are not answered and people unable to get at the kind of care they need.
It involves people having to travel not just a few miles for care, but thanks to the way in which cancer care has been allowed to deteriorate under the Liberal government since 1985, it involves people being asked and expected to travel hundreds of miles away from their loved ones in order to receive treatment that five years ago was regarded as basic and fundamental in Ontario.
That is what has been allowed to happen under this government; none of this falderal and nonsense and flim-flammery about innovation, community service and all this prevention. There is not one basic service that has been improved. There is not one aspect of access to service for patients that has been improved under this government, and that is the record of mismanagement and bad planning and incredible neglect that has been allowed to build up under the Liberal government of Ontario.
The Speaker: Order. Further responses?
Mr Eves: I am rising today to comment also on the statement by the Minister of Health. As the Leader of the Opposition was talking, several government members opposite were saying, “What are you yelling for?” We are yelling on this side of the House, very simply, because we happen to be concerned about people who die when their physician tries to get them into 15 different hospitals in the province and cannot get into a hospital and end up dying.
If the members are not concerned about that, I would suggest they have a serious problem over there, a very serious problem. We have some serious problems in health care in this province and it is about time the minister started doing something about it.
How does the minister have the gall to rise in the House this afternoon and make this flimflam, nicey-goosey statement when people are dying because they cannot get into a hospital because the minister is cutting back beds in the province? She has cut back 700 in Metropolitan Toronto alone; she promised an additional 4,000.
Her leader was out there in two election campaigns promising to improve health care, to provide more beds. The minister is cutting beds out of the system, she will not provide hospitals with the funding they need, and people end up dying because of it. The people who are lucky, who do not end up dying, end up getting to go to Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and all kinds of places, the United States of America, for treatment because the minister’s world-class health care system that she inherited in 1985 she is running into the ground in 1989.
Mr Jackson: I was not going to comment until I heard the minister say in her statement today that this was an announcement of particular benefit to seniors, to allow them to live independently in their homes for longer periods of time. I want to apprise her and her leader that it was only a few weeks ago during hearings of the select committee on education that we wanted to ask this government if it had done any analysis of the impact of property tax increases for senior citizens and their ability to live in their homes longer and afford their taxes.
In fact, we checked with the Minister without Portfolio responsible for senior citizens’ affairs (Mr Morin), and there was, no tracking of the Ontario property tax rebate program and its impact on senior citizens. All the minister’s announcements about the health needs for senior citizens will not benefit them one bit if they cannot afford the rents in their apartments and they cannot afford to pay the taxes in the homes they are living in.
Especially in light of all the programs which the minister and her government have offloaded on to property taxpayers, it is our senior citizens on fixed incomes who are hurting the most, and it is they who have their disposable income reduced nearly to nothing. Until the minister understands that when she says, “We’re going to provide hospitals in the home,” when she puts in place programs for senior citizens to allow them to live in their homes, she must remember that they must also be able to afford to live there. It is property taxes, because of her government passing on increases, which are driving them out of their homes.
That is what the minister should be sensitive to, that is what she should be understanding. And that is the information the Minister of Revenue (Mr Mancini) should have had, and he, too, did not have it.
The Speaker: I might now draw the attention of the members to another visitor in the lower east gallery, Patrick Reid, I believe he was the former leader of the Liberal-Labour Party?
Mr B. Rae: Yesterday afternoon while we were debating various issues in the House, a human tragedy was unfolding in a hospital in this province. The minister, I know, is acquainted with the facts of this case as much as I am; at least I suspect that she is. I have just gotten off the phone with the administrator of the Huronia District Hospital in Midland, who told me that he and his colleagues on the medical staff spent well over three hours trying to find a bed and emergency care for a woman who had just swallowed a lot of acid and whose life was in danger.
I wonder if the minister can explain to the House, when she makes a statement just this very day saying, and I am quoting from her statement, “Ontario has a very good hospital-based medical care system with highly sophisticated technology to support critical-care patients” -- those are her words -- how it is possible that a patient would arrive at an emergency room in Midland at 1:57 and that she would not be able to be discharged until 7:22 that evening and would not, in fact, find her way to another hospital until far later than that.
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, I asked those very same questions myself when I heard of this incident and read about it this morning. For the information of the Leader of the Opposition as well as for all members of this House, this is the subject of a coroner’s investigation and a possible inquest, and I have therefore been advised that it would be inappropriate for me to comment. I cannot.
Mr B. Rae: That is an even more major copout than the one that is exemplified by the phantom of the Legislature, her leader. What I would like to ask the minister, if she is not prepared to comment on that particular -- I do not understand why she cannot comment on what has taken place, but I wonder if she can perhaps explain why it would be that the administrator told me that he was quite prepared to talk and he was quite prepared to say how he saw it from his perspective. He told me very directly that they phoned 14 hospitals and that they also phoned the emergency trauma line which was announced with much fanfare in this House by the minister as the way to solve the problems which I have raised in this House and which other members in other parties have raised in this House over the last couple of years.
Can the minister explain why it would take from two o’clock until nearly 7:30 in the evening before a woman was even on her way to any hospital which could provide her with the care which was necessary to save her life?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I was very distressed when I read the account of this particular incident. I asked the ministry to investigate. I understand that this is the subject of a coroner’s investigation and could result in an inquest, and because of those facts not only is it inappropriate but it would prejudge, I believe, the findings of that inquest if information, which may or may not be accurate and leading to the facts, was discussed in this House. So I have been told that in fact I cannot comment on this situation at this time.
Mr B. Rae: I hope the minister is not suggesting for a moment that Dr Nesdoly, who is a well-regarded emergency physician, and that Mr Key, who is the administrator of the hospital, would be providing information to the House or to the public which is incorrect. The facts are as I have expressed them. I have tried to be as absolutely accurate as I can. At 1:57 a patient arrives, having driven herself to this hospital; she tells them that she has just swallowed this stuff and she understands the urgent nature of this crisis. It takes until 7:22 before this woman is discharged from the hospital. The doctors knew almost as soon as she had admitted herself that they were not able to perform the surgery which might have saved her life. They then spent over three hours phoning hospital after hospital all over southern Ontario --
The Speaker: Your question?
Mr B. Rae: -- including that emergency line, and got nowhere. Can the minister give us any guarantee that the same situation will not be repeated this afternoon at 1:57?
Hon Mrs Caplan: What I can say to the Leader of the Opposition and to everyone in this House is that I believe everyone in this province cares as much as I do to ensure that people have access to the services that they need when they need them. I believe that the facts must come out in the most appropriate form. I have been told that this particular case is under investigation by the coroner’s office. I believe that all the questions that must be answered will be answered and should be answered so that this kind of situation hopefully can be avoided in the future.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Minister of Financial Institutions. I want to begin to take the minister down to cases in terms of what he is proposing to do with car insurance, and I want him to justify what he is proposing. The language of the proposed act which the minister has put forward limits the right to sue by people who are affected by an accident to death or “permanent serious disfigurement; or permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature.”
It is interesting that that is precisely the language which the insurance industry asked the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board for. The insurance board said it could not go that far, it could not recommend it. It is the language which the minister bought. But what I want to ask the minister is this: Why is he saying that emotional trauma, psychological trauma, the psychological and emotional devastation caused by an accident is no longer worthy of compensation by right to sue in Ontario? Why is he saying that?
Hon Mr Elston: The honourable gentleman knows that is not what is being said. He knows that in situations where there are serious injuries that are accompanied by that type of trauma, they in fact will be compensated. But even more than that, he is aware that what we have put in place is a system that can reply quickly and respond quickly to the needs of those psychological difficulties created by trauma.
In fact, what we have done is provided a release of pressure from those people, because we have increased the wage replacement that is available within a week of the accident. We have put in place supplementary medical and rehabilitation services immediately upon the accident having occurred. We have put in place another $500,000 in long-term care to assist those people as they deal with those traumas.
So what the gentleman has failed to indicate to the people is that we have a much more comprehensive way of assisting those people in the early days; in fact, for those people who have suffered a trauma that causes them problems as a result of an accident, they will be sustained in their ability to come back into the community, go back into the workplace, at a much better level and will be able to undertake litigation at a time which, under our current system, they are prevented from doing because they get no release at all.
Mr B. Rae: Let me again try to be as specific as I can. Let me give the minister an example. A mother and her young daughter are crossing the street. The young daughter is killed. The mother sees this. She is working; maybe she is making $20,000, $25,000 a year. The minister knows perfectly well that under the definitions in his legislation, that woman is not able to sue the driver who killed her daughter. She is not able to sue because she does not have a “permanent serious impairment of an important bodily function caused by continuing injury which is physical in nature.” Those are the minister’s words. They are not my words; they are his words.
What this woman has is an emotional trauma. Let’s say that emotional trauma stops her from working for two or three years. What I am saying to the minister is: Can he deny that that woman is prevented, by the wording in this act, from suing a careless driver who killed her daughter, and she is prevented from receiving payment from that driver for the pain and suffering --
The Speaker: Order. The question has been asked.
Hon Mr Elston: What the honourable gentleman has prevented himself from acknowledging is that under the circumstances, there is a death benefit payable. Right?
Mr D. S. Cooke: That is not what he is asking.
Hon Mr Elston: The fact of the matter is that the estate can sue. It is not very much consolation to have a death compensated by money; I appreciate that, but that is in fact what can occur. The estate of the child is able to sue the driver. There are other things that take effect when a litigation is instituted on behalf of the estate of the deceased. Through that process there will be some compensation -- not nearly enough; I know it is not nearly enough when somebody loses a child. But the litigation that comes by the result of the death will be able to be prosecuted.
The other thing that occurs is that where there is a requirement that she is off work, she will receive no-fault, she will receive no-fault benefits when she is working, she will receive the rehab, she will receive the medical, she will receive long-term care. She will receive all of those things to allow her to be supported as she goes through those difficult times.
The system, like every other one, of course, is not perfect. I am sure the member will be able to contrive some scheme of facts that he might believe will preclude a recovery.
But let’s look at what we have now. We have a tort system now where almost one third of the seriously injured people in this province are unable to recover anything at all. I would say that this is a substantial improvement over that; in fact, in some of the grey areas the member will obviously try to point out, we will be able to respond much more effectively.
Mr B. Rae: If I can refer again to my example, I say to the minister that what the woman would receive under a system in which she could sue for her own damages and what she will get under the system of income replacement, benefits up to a maximum of $450 which the minister has set out -- that difference runs into the tens of thousands of dollars.
If the minister wants to go over the facts with me or go over any other hypothetical case which I am going to be raising with him over the next several weeks, I can go over with him clearly. What I am telling him is that what he is doing is taking money out of the pockets of innocent victims and putting it into the pockets of the insurance companies. That is precisely what he is doing. That is exactly what he is doing. He has a law here which is restricting the right to sue, which is taking rights away from citizens and from innocent victims and putting it into the pockets of the insurance companies, and that is the only way in which he says he is going to be saving people money.
The Speaker: What is the question?
Mr B. Rae: The only reason he is saving people money is because he is shafting people who are getting hit and who are getting hurt in Ontario today. Can the minister confirm that?
Hon Mr Elston: No. In fact, I can confirm that the honourable gentleman from the second party is wrong, and I do not mind confirming that he is in error. He is right when he contends that there will be areas of discussion about how the application of the threshold will take place. That is why we have in the serious situations allowed the continuation of a very impartial system, the tort system, to make judgements on those injuries and how far they are compensated.
I do not have a problem in having areas deliberated upon by the judicial system of this province. The member does not, either. None of us do. But let’s look at what this system does accomplish. This system does intervene within a week to provide income replacement for those people who are off work. It does intervene right away, within 10 to 30 days, to provide the supplementary medical and rehab services. It does intervene and give up to $500,000 for long-term care. It does provide the basis for people to come back into the workplace, back into their own homes. It provides child care expenses, for the first time. It provides an unemployed person with a weekly income supplement. It provides a homemaker who is unpaid with weekly income repayments.
So I can tell the honourable gentleman that this is a far superior social system than we have now, and I am pleased to provide this as a redistribution of the benefits that we are making available for insurance.
Mr Brandt: My question is to the Minister of Health as well. The Minister of Health has already had relayed to her the facts surrounding the unfortunate case that occurred in the death at the Midland hospital. The minister will recognize that there were some 14 hospitals that were contacted and no services were available in those hospitals. Some of the major communities in this province, including Toronto, London, Barrie, Hamilton, all rejected this particular patient because of the unavailability of service.
Now the minister is indicating to the leader of the New Democrats that she cannot respond to questions with respect to this matter, based on the argument that there could be an inquest. I would like to ask the minister in regard to this which coroner has in fact ordered an inquest? When was that done? Could the minister share with this House the terms of reference of that suggested inquest?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As I have said to the leader of the third party, and as I say to him now, when I became aware of this particular case I asked the ministry to gather the information and the facts. I have been informed that this is the subject of an investigation by the coroner’s office and that an inquest may be called. I will undertake, to the leader of the third party, that as we gather the information and the facts are available, if I am advised that I can report to the House I will be pleased to do that.
I share with him and all members the concerns that people have access to the services that they need when they need them. I want to see that the questions are answered in the appropriate forum, and I undertake to respond, if I can, in this forum.
Mr Brandt: I would suggest that the minister is quite able to respond. There is no inquest. There is a study, an investigation with respect to the possibility of an inquest being called. The circumstances at this point in time, now that the minister is getting advice from the Attorney General (Mr Scott), are such that she can respond to questions in regard to this case.
I want to know, since the minister is now free to answer questions -- the coroner has not ordered an inquest -- how is it that this particular patient would be allowed to be in a circumstance where her life was threatened for over three hours while calls were being made to various hospitals and there was no response under the minister’s system, which is supposedly a system that is world-class and is quickly becoming third- and fourth-class in terms of health care?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am very concerned about having all of those questions answered. I will say to the leader of the third party that the ministry is investigating and, as appropriate, I will make that information available.
Mr Brandt: I am not sure from what the minister says who is investigating what in this case, Now she is saying the ministry is investigating. I want to get, if I could, to a question, which I believe she is free to answer in connection with this particular case.
There were 14 hospitals that were contacted in regard to the availability of the type of emergency response that would be needed to perform the operation on this unfortunate lady. Since in this House we have on numerous occasions brought to her attention the catastrophic situation that is being set up with many hospitals across the province in regard to cutbacks in services, could the minister indicate which of the 14 hospitals have suffered bed reductions, reductions in their required operating moneys, and what is the status of those particular 14 hospitals in total economic and financial terms? Could she indicate that?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the leader of the third party that in fact no budget of any hospital in this province has been reduced. There have only been increases.
Mr Brandt: I asked about beds. Answer the question.
Hon Mrs Caplan: What we have been acknowledging is that in fact beds are no longer the benchmark of services across the board and that many services do not require inpatient care. Emergency and trauma and highly specialized services do, but there are many, many services which can now be provided in alternative ways.
I would say to the member, for example, that outpatient services, particularly in Metropolitan Toronto since 1982-83 to present, have increased by some 82 per cent, So when we look at this particular situation, it is important for us to get the facts, to understand the situation. I will undertake to do that, but no hospital budget in this province has been decreased. There have only been increases.
Mr Brandt: And beds cut. Why don’t you mention beds? The beds have been cut.
The Speaker: Order. New question, the member for Parry Sound.
Mr Eves: On the same subject to the Minister of Health: The minister is not answering the question that has been asked of her by either the leader of our party or the leader of the official opposition.
The fact that an investigation is going on by the coroner does not mean that the minister can abdicate her responsibility as Minister of Health for providing health care to the people of the province of Ontario. I would suggest to her that we have a very serious situation here. When a physician and a hospital try from 2 pm to 7:22 pm to find through her integrated trauma number that is supposed to resolve all these difficulties and individually to 14 different hospitals in four major centres in the province and cannot find one single hospital that can admit this woman because of either no beds or no qualified surgeon to do this appropriate procedure --
The Speaker: Question?
Mr Eves: -- or both, I would suggest to the minister that her health care system is in serious disarray and we are entitled to receive an explanation. What is the explanation?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I will say to the critic from the third party that I am very concerned about ensuring that the details of this specific case are addressed. I have undertaken to gather all of the facts and to ensure that they are made available to the coroner’s office, which is investigating, and to members of this House.
I would say to the member that it is very important that we have all of the information and the facts in the appropriate forum so that we can ensure that we do everything we can within the province to see to it that people have access to the services they need and when they need them.
Mr Eves: If we could save 10 lives for every time the minister stood in this House and said, “I am always concerned when I hear about cases like this,” she would have literally saved thousands of lives just standing up and making that quote.
If the minister is so concerned, then why does she not get off her seat and solve some of the problems in the health care system so those people do not die, so she will not have to come in here day after day and say she is always so concerned? I think that would be the answer to that problem.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mrs Caplan: We have identified a number of areas of specialty care. Trauma and emergency are but one. We are moving both to enhance and to strengthen the services that are available within the province. I would say that when we look at individual cases, it is very important that we have all of the facts but that we not damn the whole system.
We know there are very dedicated physicians and nurses and allied health professionals, hospital trustees working together to provide service to the people in this province, and I will undertake to gather the information and make it available to the coroner and to members of this House so that we can look at the structural changes which may be necessary to see that this does not occur in the future.
Mr Eves: Nobody is questioning the dedication of physicians or hospitals in this province. What we are questioning is the dedication of the Minister of Health and the government in this instance.
Dr Nesdoly, who is a very well respected physician in Midland and has done some volunteer work very recently as a matter of fact in Africa, talked to me this afternoon on the phone and said, “I would expect this in a Third World country but I would not expect this to happen in Ontario in 1989.” He also indicated, and this is a quote from Dr Nesdoly, that he is “tired of seeing Elinor’s smiling face on TV every day telling the people of Ontario not to worry, everything is all right, when I am the one who has to talk to the family and explain to them that this woman died because of Elinor’s system that could not get this woman into 15 different hospitals in the province of Ontario.”
The Speaker: Did you have a question?
Mr Eves: The Ontario Medical Association, as I am sure the minister --
The Speaker: Order. Do you have a question? Please place it briefly.
Mr Eves: I wish you would time the responses as well as you time the questions.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Eves: I withdraw that comment.
The Speaker: Thank you.
Mr Eves: My question to the minister is the same one that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr B. Rae) asked earlier in these proceedings. That is, very simply, can the minister assure this House that this will not happen again in the province of Ontario under any circumstances?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I can assure the critic from the third party and all the members of this House that we are working with all of our partners in health care to ensure, as best we can, that people have access to the services they need, effective quality services and as close to home as possible. I can say to him that we have undertaken to do that co-operatively with the professionals and with the hospitals who deliver the programs in this province.
The Speaker: New question, the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the minister can explain this case. I have just been advised that John Jagger, who was a hockey coach in Sault Ste Marie, hit his head on the ice at Memorial Gardens at around 6:30 pm on 1 October. Upon his arrival at the General Hospital in the Sault, the decision was made immediately to transfer him to the unit at Victoria Hospital in London which is the hospital with which the General Hospital has had a relationship for many years.
I understand, according to the Sault Star of today, Wednesday 11 October, the hospital in the Sault was advised by the Victoria Hospital that he could not be moved and that they would not be able to send a team up to the Sault because of a shortage of intensive care staff. I am also told that there was a considerable delay in his transfer then to St Michael’s Hospital and he died on the morning of 2 October.
I wonder if the minister can explain. The incident involving the lady in Midland does not appear to be an isolated incident. Can the minister explain why it would be that again we would have doctors in the middle of the night chasing around the province trying to find the appropriate place for patients in this kind of difficulty?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I am not familiar with the details of the specific case. If the Leader of the Opposition would send me over the article to which he refers, I would be happy to ask the ministry to investigate.
I am always concerned when there are any kinds of problems or identified situations such as the one he has articulated. There are highly specialized services provided in centres across the province and I can tell the member that I know they are working together, probably for the first time, co-operatively with each other and with the ministry to try and resolve the kinds of issues, the human resourcing challenges as well as changing demographics that we face right across this province.
I would be pleased to look specifically into the situation the member has raised.
Mr B. Rae: According to Dr Frank Rutledge -- again, this is quoting directly from today’s Sault Star -- who is associate co-ordinator of the critical care trauma centre at Victoria Hospital, he said, “The lack of staff and extreme demand are the reasons why the trauma team couldn’t respond to Sault Ste Marie. ‘When the call came on October 1, the trauma unit was short of staff and could not make the run,’ he said. ‘The hospital wouldn’t jeopardize the safety of its own trauma unit patients by sending members of its reduced staff to the Sault.’”
I have no way of knowing, and neither does the minister, whether this period of time, whether the passage of a few hours, was the difference between life and death or not. What we do know is that up until this time, there was an established relationship between the Sault hospital and the hospital in London. It was there and the system broke down.
The Speaker: And the question?
Mr B. Rae: What is also clear is that it is going to be breaking down in future because of the shortage of staff and because of the shortage of funding, and that is the reality in the Ontario health care system today.
Hon Mrs Caplan: In response to the Leader of the Opposition, I think it is important to note that trauma services are provided in a number of different centres and that referral patterns can vary according to need. These are highly specialized services.
I would be pleased to investigate the specific case he brings forward, but I point out to him that Sudbury also provides trauma services and that is closer in fact to the Sault. I would have to find out why in fact the referral was not made, but I would not question medical judgement as to how those determinations are made.
The Speaker: New question, the member for Sarnia.
Mr Brandt: To the Minister of Health: The minister will be aware that this circumstance that occurred in Midland is not in fact a unique situation in Ontario. Charles Coleman, whom she will recall from Mississauga, died under similar circumstances, the problem of the availability of beds. We had Mrs Gaccioli of Sarnia who was released, because of being on a long waiting list for heart surgery, from London Victoria Hospital, sent back to her home community in Sarnia and died later that day. Now we have this other case that has come to our attention as a result of the events that took place yesterday. Still another death has occurred, in addition to many more that are occurring across the province.
How can the minister sit in her place and respond by saying that there have been no cuts in budgets? We recognize that she did not cut budgets in hospitals. What she has cut is beds, and the benchmark for service in this province relative to health care is, not totally but in great part, the availability of beds. Now we have 14 hospitals that were contacted for one available bed and one service for an emergency case. How is it possible in the Ontario of 1989 that this woman could not find any place to have the surgery performed?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I would say to the leader of the third party in his preamble that in fact the situations of individual cases are very different. That is why we must look at what the facts are as we determine what action can be taken, or should be taken or is appropriate to be taken, to ensure that people have access to the services they need when they need them.
A waiting time for elective surgery is not new in this province, and I would say to the member that availability of certain procedures in Ontario is better than in other parts of Canada. In fact, we have one of the highest rates of institutionalization in this province and our use of inpatient services is very high when you compare it with the opportunities, for example, that the Independent Health Facilities Act offers, to provide services in alternative locations of equally high quality. That is why we are looking at how our system is structured, to make sure that we can respond to these changing times when new technologies are allowing services to be provided in alternative ways.
Mr Eves: The minister will be aware of an OMA survey that was done and released on 29 June of this past year. More than 600 physicians in the province were surveyed and over half the physicians found that they were experiencing more difficulty, not less, in admitting patients to hospitals compared to just one year ago. The specific areas that are singled out here are Metropolitan Toronto and central Ontario, and their rates are that 55 per cent and 56 per cent of physicians are finding this.
A very independent Hospital Council of Metropolitan Toronto report, which l am sure the minister will also be aware of, clearly shows that more bed closings have taken place as hospitals attempt to meet government funding limitations. The reality of the matter is that, because of these limitations that the minister is placing on hospitals, people such as this Midland woman cannot get admitted to hospitals and in some unfortunate cases, like hers, they die because there are not sufficient beds or services to provide the care that is required.
Yesterday we talked about cancer clinics --
The Speaker: Question.
Mr Eves: There is another case. Jim Hunter who had a brain tumour --
The Speaker: Order. This, I am afraid I will have to say, is too lengthy. Do you have a one-sentence question?
Mr Eves: I have a one-sentence question.
The Speaker: Make it.
Mr Eves: Why would Mr Hunter have to wait for seven weeks to get radiation treatment at Princess Margaret for a brain tumour when the minister told us yesterday --
The Speaker: Minister.
Mr Eves: -- they can get treatment as soon as they need it as close to home as possible.
The Speaker: Order. Minister.
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think the information that the critic for the third party raises allows me to once again state that we rely on physicians in this province to ensure that people receive the care they need on a priority basis. We know that they are working very hard with the ministry and the hospitals to ensure that we have a system in place that people receive priority on the basis of needs.
We established at Princess Margaret a patient referral centre because we acknowledged that 50 per cent of the people coming to Princess Margaret come from outside of the Metro Toronto area and the hope of the referral centre is that they can be referred for service as close to home as possible.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES
Mr Adams: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Last week the federal Minister of Transport announced drastic cuts to Via Rail service. These will seriously affect intercity rail transportation across Ontario and Canada. The people of Peterborough were devastated to learn that the Havelock-Peterborough-Toronto route will be completely eliminated in three short months’ time.
Can the minister tell the House what discussions he has had with Mr Bouchard on the Toronto-Peterborough-Havelock route?
Hon Mr Wrye: I regret to tell the honourable member that I have not had a chance to talk to Mr Bouchard about that specific route, any more than I have had an opportunity to discuss any route in Ontario with my federal colleague. The very first I read about the minister’s view, and it is not one that I endorse, that the Toronto-Peterborough-Havelock run has gone from being an intercity run to a commuter run was when I read that in the minister’s statement last Wednesday afternoon.
I must say that when I was in Calgary in September of this year, along with my other provincial colleagues I pressed (a) for a moratorium and (b) for a round of what I would call true consultation, which includes the area that the honourable member is so rightly concerned about and, regrettably, Mr Bouchard did not indicate any interest in consulting with the province.
We find it very difficult on this side in the government to see, after rejecting consultation, the federal minister then turning around and arbitrarily and unilaterally announcing that certain runs that have been intercity runs are now, in his view, commuter runs. It would have been nice if he had shared that view with us over the last six months or so.
Mr Adams: I am grateful for that response. This is a matter which is of enormous concern for both the county council and the city council in Peterborough, and I would ask the minister if he is willing to meet with community leaders on this important matter.
Mr Wildman: What a tough question.
Hon Mr Wrye: My friend the member for Algoma (Mr Wildman) made the comment, “What a tough question.” I guess it is tough because the federal Minister of Transport has been requested to hold meetings with provinces, with municipalities and with community groups for over six months and has answered no to that question.
However, over on this side, we will do that kind of consultation. I can inform the honourable member that I am currently finalizing arrangements for meetings with the affected parties, which will include the mayor of Peterborough and the reeve of the county. I expect that meeting will take place on Thursday of next week and we have every expectation --
The Speaker: Thank you.
DARLINGTON NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION
Mrs Grier: My question is for the Minister of Health. Last February I asked the minister if she would conduct a base-line health study of the population surrounding the Darlington nuclear generating station. The minister undertook to look into the issue. Such a request has now been made by the Newcastle town council, the Whitby town council, the Scugog township council, Oshawa city council, Durham regional council and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Can the minister explain why no base-line health study has been conducted of the population surrounding the Darlington station?
Hon Mrs Caplan: In fact, I am not familiar with the specifics of the reason a study has or has not been conducted. I would be happy to look into it.
Mrs Grier: That is precisely the answer the minister gave me on 27 February this year when I asked the question for the first time. In June I asked the former Minister of Energy, the member for Fort York (Mr Wong), and he said he would look into it. The fact remains that nothing has happened.
A base-line health study is a study that will provide data on the state of the health of the population before a nuclear generating station is opened. That means that if there are concerns in later years, there is a database with which the population can be compared. It is critical that such a study be done before the plant opens. There is now a brief interval of opportunity because the plant has not been licensed by the Atomic Energy Control Board.
Can the minister give me any commitment that she will move with some urgency on this issue and respond to the concerns of local residents, town councils and this party by making sure that some analysis of that population is done now before Darlington starts operating?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Let me share with the member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore that in fact a health status survey is being conducted in this province under the auspices of the Premier’s Council on Health Strategy. We have already begun to initiate the planning for that health status survey. I believe it will provide the kind of information so that in fact we will be able to meet the needs of our future populations in this province and do the kind of measurement of health status which will prove invaluable in the gathering of information.
ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Citizenship. I am sending over two documents. Yesterday the minister said that the standing committee on government agencies had more than enough information. One of the two items I have sent over is a signed statement by the former commission secretary, Lynn Dowling, and the other is a letter from the former commission director of compliance, Jim Stratton. The Lynn Dowling statement was given by Mr Stratton’s legal counsel to the authors of the interministerial report, Mr Amin and Mr Gordon, prior to their writing their report.
Last week I asked Mr Amin and Mr Gordon about Lynn Dowling and they said, “We were not aware of Lynn Dowling.” My question to the minister is, does he now agree that these former employees should be heard by the committee since the government staff has failed to acknowledge that they even exist?
Hon Mr Wong: I thank the honourable member for providing me with this information. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to digest it. What l do believe is that what the standing committee should be doing is making sure that it has sufficient information in order to determine what the situation was in the past and, as I indicated yesterday, I believe that another part of the mandate of the committee is to determine and make sure that the commission is operating on a strong and independent basis for the future.
I say to the honourable member that because she is a member of that standing committee, and it is the responsibility of that committee, I am sure that if she voiced her specific opinion to the chairperson of that committee, her opinion would be heard.
Mrs Marland: I have tried to use my position as a member of that committee, and the Liberal members vote down my motions. The minister cannot stand in this House today and say that it is up to the committee to get sufficient information. In fact, he said yesterday they had sufficient information.
The Speaker: The supplementary?
Mrs Marland: This morning I spoke to the solicitor who gave Lynn Dowling’s statement to Mr Amin and Mr Gordon. The minister’s judgement in this matter is critical to the future of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He does not seem to understand what is at stake here. My question is, what is it that he is afraid of? Does he not want these allegations dealt with once and for all and to clean up the controversy by having the individuals named in those documents come to give their testimony to the committee?
Hon Mr Scott: Would you like to run the committee all by yourself, all alone? That would probably suit you.
The Speaker: I do not believe that question was addressed to the Attorney General. I think it was to the Minister of Citizenship.
Hon Mr Wong: In response to the honourable member, let me suggest again, I do not know what the substance is of the information that she has transferred over to me, but I believe it would be important for the committee members to have the information so they could make that judgement. I will undertake, if the honourable member has not already done so, to make sure that this information is handed over to the chairperson of that committee.
PASSENGER RAIL SERVICES
Mr Neumann: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. In his answer to the member for Peterborough (Mr Adams), he made reference to meetings with community leaders on the Via Rail cutbacks. I assume that the mayor of Brantford and other local representatives will also be invited to attend such a meeting, as our community has lost 50 per cent of its trains, including the very popular early morning run which carries many local residents to work in Toronto and other communities.
Last week the federal standing committee on transport of the House of Commons, against the wishes of the Prime Minister and the minister, voted to hold public hearings on this very important matter of Via cuts. I would like to ask today whether the minister is prepared to attend before that federal committee and represent the interests of communities like Brantford and the interests of Ontario to that committee.
Hon Mr Wrye: It will not come as a surprise to the honourable member to know that in the past and in the present case it would be the view of the government of Ontario to involve itself really on a government-to-government basis, that is, as one minister to another.
But that being said, one of the reasons we are having the meeting with the affected mayors next week, and the member’s mayor will of course be one of those who will be invited, is to develop a co-ordinated attack or response for the communities across Ontario, to these very severe cutbacks, to share with communities such as the member’s and our colleague the member for Peterborough the information we have gathered about the impact of those cuts and to see how, working together, we can get the federal government to alleviate the impact of those cutbacks.
We expect that the meeting will only be the first of a series of discussions, and I can assure the honourable member that my staff will be monitoring very carefully the work of the committee as it travels, we expect, throughout Ontario looking at the impact of these very serious cutbacks.
Mr Neumann: That is welcome news. Besides the impact on communities, the cuts have a national implication, and I wonder whether the minister is prepared to contact Mr Bouchard and ask him to convene a meeting of all ministers of transportation to address this very important issue of national unity on transportation.
Hon Mr Wrye: In a letter that Mr Bouchard sent me, which accompanied the announcement, there was the suggestion of meetings in the future. I am preparing a reply which indicates very clearly that we are prepared to meet with the minister and indeed involve ourselves in a federal-provincial undertaking if there is some progress we can make together.
As the member may know, there has been some particular suggestion emanating from western Canada, from the provinces of Manitoba and Alberta, about having a meeting of provincial ministers. We indicated in a round of phone calls last week to our provincial counterparts that Ontario was prepared to play a role in any provincial initiative that would be taken.
We attempted to put a very firm position, one which I am sure has the support of all parties in this Legislature, to the minister when we had the meeting in Calgary. We are prepared to continue to reiterate the view that rail transportation in Ontario and across the country is an integral part of a balanced transportation that will take us into the 1990s.
Mr Allen: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services, whom I want to congratulate on his recent appointment, but it is time to put him to work in this House.
Those who so generously supported the recent Thanksgiving food bank drives, in Ontario and Toronto in particular, will be surprised to learn that their provincial government has given notice that it will be withdrawing support for the food banks in the near future. Several hundred thousand dollars will be disappearing with the end of the emergency support, shelter and assistance program which the past minister announced on 13 July.
Will the present minister please tell us whether he really intends to implement this perverse decision without any evidence whatsoever that the number of those patronizing food banks is or will be declining?
Hon Mr Beer: I look forward to working with the critics from the two opposition parties and other members as we try to wrestle through a number of very serious issues, of which this is one, which affect people who are on social assistance.
I want to make clear at the beginning in terms of the amount of money going into this program, which by the end of March would be something in the order of $1.4 million, that many more dollars are going to be directed into providing help to these people.
I think as the honourable member knows we do not directly fund the food banks. What we have tried to do with the changes that were brought in by my predecessor in the spring is to try to get at the roots of many of the problems which cause people to have to use the food banks. That is not going to happen overnight, and I do not think my predecessor or I would say that those changes, which have started this month, will by themselves alone produce that impact.
But when you do look at the amount of money we put into the social assistance reform plan -- some $415 million -- we are convinced that will begin to provide more cash in the hands of people, whether in terms of helping them with their basic shelter or with their basic food and clothing needs, and that will begin to have an impact on the numbers who have to make use of food banks.
I can assure the honourable member that we will be continuing to work with those groups around the shelters and around those who have been using this program to ensure their needs are met.
Mr Allen: I heard no hard evidence of declining need or declining patronage, only speculation about possible transfers and the shiftings of dollars within the programs in other directions. Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto tells us its patronage has gone up 35 per cent in the last year and it is still climbing. Only four per cent of the users of its services are able to work, so the relaxed employment rules will not help them. An average $57 per month in shelter allowances in the way of increases is not going to top up the rent that much to make much difference for those people.
A mere inflation-level increase for those who are among the working poor in terms of minimum wages is not going to keep them from the doors of food banks. I suspect the minister is calculating on a lot of very speculative effects which are not in place at this point in time. I wonder whether it would not be wise for the minister to suspend the decision until he knows fully and clearly that the patronage of food banks is on the way down. The statistics will show it, and then there will be some justification in moving this program dollar around.
Hon Mr Beer: I want to reiterate that in making the decision to end this program, we are not ending the kind of support it was providing. What we are trying to do is make more stable what has been an emergency, year-to-year approach. We are going to be looking very carefully at this as we move through to the end of March. It is our belief at this time that the programs we are putting in place will more than meet that particular need.
I think it is interesting to point out to honourable members that over the past three years there have been some seven major increases in benefits. When we work out the inflationary factor, we see that this has brought about a real increase in terms of benefits of some 10.7 per cent. When we then factor in the $415-million change that came through with the social assistance reforms, it is some 11.5 per cent.
I recognize that when we get into talking about dollars and percentages, we still have to deal with the specific human dilemma that people face. But I think it is very clear that the commitment of this government has been to try to increase the benefits and to get to those who are in need so we can make a much more effective attack on the reasons why people need food banks.
Mrs Cunningham: I have a question for the minister of all education. It relates to the apprenticeship program and it concerns the number of women being trained in nontraditional occupations. The September 1989 issue of Skills Letter states that his ministry will increase the number of women being trained in nontraditional skilled occupations by 3,000 by the year 1992.
I want to tell the minister that women entering nontraditional occupations through his ministry’s apprenticeship program actually decreased in relative terms during the past year. How can he expect to increase the number of women in nontraditional occupations by 1,000 per year when his ministry had trouble increasing the number last year by a mere 103?
Hon Mr Conway: I want to thank my colleague from London North for her question and for her interest. I do not know where I have heard that introductory phrase before, but I simply want to say to my friend that the government does recognize that we have a very significant challenge that we are very anxious to address.
Apprenticeship, like skills training generally, will be very important for this community and this economy as we face the 1990s. We are determined to overcome a number of the obstacles and barriers that have been in the community and in the society that have prevented women from proceeding along this course of educational endeavour.
While we recognize that we have not yet met all of the challenge, we are determined, as I said earlier and, as my colleague the Premier has indicated on previous occasions, very anxious in the coming years to improve the record. We have announced a number of goals which, with the help and support of this Legislature, we believe we can meet.
Mrs Cunningham: The ministry’s newly launched community-based campaign to attract women in nontraditional skilled occupations is another fine example of his government’s ready, fire, aim. It just does not have any pizzazz. It is the same old thing.
The minister has set a lofty goal of some 5,000 in nontraditional apprenticeship programs -- only 103 last year; 1,000 next year? With declining percentages of female program participants and no mechanisms in place to effect change, how can his ministry justify calling its programs “effective springboards of opportunity”?
Hon Mr Conway: I am happy to leave pizzazz to my friend the member for London North. I will be more concerned with results, and I recognize that there is a significant challenge.
As minister, as she says, of all education, l am determined to ensure that throughout elementary and secondary education -- for example, through our teaching and our curriculum and through our learning materials and our examples -- we will provide role models for young girls and for women to understand the opportunities that are out there.
There is a great deal to be done, I appreciate, as my honourable friend does, but we have set goals. I am determined, with the support of this Legislature and quite frankly with the support of parents, labour, business, and others in the community, to change some of the past practice to improve the performance and reach those objectives.
Mr Owen: I too have a question for the Minister of Education. I would like to point out to the minister that his deputy minister several weeks ago was addressing a conference in eastern Ontario, and when he was doing that, he spelled out that the requirement of the ministry with regard to junior and senior kindergarten in a five-year time frame was going to lead to “an improvement in language and social skills, an improvement in discipline and an improvement in health practices of disadvantaged children.”
Now, all of us are for all of these things, but I would point out to the minister that we now have kindergarten and we also have day care in many of these communities. I would like to know how the ministry thinks these changes of combining junior and senior kindergarten are going to make such a difference over what we presently have, and why.
Hon Mr Conway: I think it is important for me to tell my honourable friend and the House that in the speech from the throne read by His Honour earlier this year, the government of Ontario, led by my friend our leader, the member for London Centre (Mr Peterson), made very clear that reforming the elementary and secondary educational curriculum was going to be a first-order priority and, as my friend will know, one of the very key elements of that educational reform is that we are going to be putting more emphasis on those early years.
Why? He will know that many groups, including the early primary education project that reported three or four years ago, one of the most consultative and constructive groups ever to advise on education, indicated that a greater investment in those early childhood years was enormously important. With these initiatives, we are going to improve access to junior and senior kindergarten because we know that improving the investment, improving the access there will pay very significant social, educational and economic dividends down the stream, later on.
Mr Owen: In the same address, Mr Shapiro indicated that there would be more time spent on reading, writing and arithmetic and less time on subjects such as gym or history, and that science was going to be offered as early as grades 1 or 2. He indicated in his speech that these changes will bring about a will to learn so that opportunities to learn will be embraced by students rather than tolerated or ignored as we sometimes see. I would like to know how it is perceived these particular changes will lead to this change in outlook and approach to education by the children of this age.
Hon Mr Conway: My friend will know, and certainly the research is very strong on this point, that we know young children at ages four and five can learn a great deal in an educational environment and that is why we are doing what we are doing with the emphasis particularly on the early childhood years.
Yes, there are, as my friend from Halton or London or others would want me to observe, many other very important aspects of the educational reforms undertaken by this government in this most recent speech from the throne, but as my friend the member for Simcoe will know, we have indicated as well that we are going to be substantially reducing class sizes at grades 1 and 2 because we want to provide the best possible learning environment in those early years because of the good results we know it will provide in Simcoe and everywhere across Ontario.
CHAIRMAN OF ONTARIO SECURITIES COMMISSION
Mr Hampton: My question is for the Attorney General. Earlier this year, the Law Society of Upper Canada had a situation where professional misconduct complaints were recommended against a solicitor who has now been appointed by the government as chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission. The Attorney General has special authority under section 13 of the Law Society Act to inquire into this, to order the production of any documents and to basically conduct a full-scale inquiry as to the situation surrounding the recommendation of professional misconduct complaints and why those complaints were not proceeded with. Has he used his authority to make such an investigation? If so, what has he found? If he has not used his authority to make such an investigation, why has he not when this is such a --
The Speaker: That is three questions.
Hon Mr Scott: As the honourable member, being a member of the law society and having his own authority to act, properly knows, the discipline of members of the profession is in the hands of the discipline committee under its chairman and the chairman of the discipline committee made a decision in this particular case.
Mr Hampton: You have special authority and the Attorney General is in charge of public interest.
Hon Mr Scott: Perhaps he can just key down for a minute while I try to answer the question. The honourable member will be glad to know that one of the lay benchers of the law society appointed by the government, June Callwood, supported by other benchers, has taken steps with the law society to make the kinds of inquiries the honourable member would make himself. I am pleased she has done so and we will await events.
The Speaker: Order. I would like to remind all members that I have called for petitions and the members with petitions would like to be heard.
Mr Breaugh: I have a petition and I will just read it in part. It is addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
It is signed by some 86 teachers who live in and around the riding of Oshawa.
Mr MacDonald: I have a petition addressed to the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The petition deals with the French Language Services Act and requests that the government refrain from further implementation.
It is signed by 41 people and I have affixed my signature.
Mr Furlong: I have a petition addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It reads as follows:
“Whereas the government of Ontario in its discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation on amendments to the Teachers’ Superannuation Act has refused to allow an equal partnership between teachers and government in management of the pension fund, establishment of an acceptable contribution increase, benefit adjustments, equitable treatment of future surpluses and a satisfactory dispute resolution process,
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly to insist that the Treasurer of Ontario negotiate with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation towards an equitable settlement.”
I have affixed my name to this petition as required by the rules.
The Speaker: Petitions? Committee reports? If no one has a report, I have a report.
REPORT BY COMMITTEE
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
The Speaker: Yesterday there was an error in the report received and adopted by the House from the standing committee on administration of justice with respect to Bill 3, An Act to amend certain statutes of Ontario consequent upon amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, 1984. The committee report indicated that the bill was being reported without amendment, whereas in fact the committee had ordered the bill to be reported as amended by the committee. I must therefore ask the House whether the bill shall be received and adopted by the House as amended by the standing committee on administration of justice.
The Speaker: Therefore, yesterday, the House agreed to refer the bill to committee of the whole House, so shall the bill continue to go to committee of the whole House?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Mancini moved first reading of Bill 60, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act.
Motion agreed to.
TORONTO BAPTIST SEMINARY AND BIBLE COLLEGE ACT, 1989
Mr Kanter moved first reading of Bill Pr29, An Act to amend the Toronto Baptist Seminary Act, 1982.
Motion agreed to.
GRAND VALLEY RAILWAY CO INC ACT, 1989
Mr McClelland moved first reading of Bill Pr33, An Act respecting Grand Valley Railway Co Inc.
Motion agreed to.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr Ward moved resolution 20:
That the membership on the select and standing committees be as follows:
Select committee on education: Messrs Campbell, D. S. Cooke, Furlong, Jackson, R. F. Johnston, Keyes, Mahoney, Miclash, Mrs O’Neill, Ms Poole and Mr Villeneuve;
Standing committee on administration of justice: Messrs Chiarelli, Hampton, Kanter, Kormos, McClelland, McGuinty, Miss Nicholas, Messrs Polsinelli, Runciman, D. W. Smith and Sterling;
Standing committee on estimates: Messrs Charlton, Cleary, D. R. Cooke, Eves, Matrundola, McCague, Miclash, Neumann, Philip, Miss Roberts and Mr Villeneuve;
Standing committee on finance and economic affairs: Mr Carrothers, Mrs Cunningham, Messrs Daigeler, Ferraro, Haggerty, Ms Hošek, Messrs Mackenzie, Mahoney, Morin-Strom, Reycraft and Runciman;
Standing committee on general government: Ms Bryden, Messrs Charlton, Cureatz, Furlong, Mrs LeBourdais, Messrs McLean, J. B. Nixon, Ms Oddie Munro, Messrs Pelissero, Sola and Velshi;
Standing committee on government agencies: Messrs Breaugh, Farnan, Fulton, Kozyra, Lupusella, Mrs Marland, Messrs McLean, J. B. Nixon, Owen, Pope and South;
Standing committee on the Legislative Assembly: Messrs Breaugh, Brown, Campbell, Epp, Eakins, Farnan, Faubert, J. M. Johnson, Kerrio, Sterling and Mrs Sullivan;
Standing committee on the Ombudsman: Mr Bossy, Ms Bryden, Messrs Carrothers, D. R. Cooke, Cousens, Henderson, MacDonald, Philip, Pollock, Mrs E. J. Smith and Mr Velshi;
Standing committee on public accounts: Messrs Adams, Ballinger, Charlton, Cordiano, Cousens, Curling, Leone, Miss Martel, Mr Philip, Ms Poole and Mr Villeneuve;
Standing committee on regulations and private bills: Messrs Callahan, Bossy, Jackson, Kanter, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Morin-Strom, Pollock, M. C. Ray, Ruprecht and Tatham;
Standing committee on resources development: Messrs Dietsch, Fleet, Laughren, Lipsett, Mrs Marland, Messrs McGuigan, Miller, Pouliot, Riddell, Wildman and Wiseman;
Standing committee on social development: Mr Allen, Mrs Cunningham, Mr Elliot, Mrs Fawcett, Messrs Grandmaître, Henderson, Jackson, R. F. Johnston, Keyes, Mrs O’Neill and Mrs Stoner.
Motion agreed to.
TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION DISPUTES SETTLEMENT ACT, 1989
Mr Phillips moved second reading of Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes.
Hon Mr Phillips: As members know, the purpose of the bill is to provide for settlement of the dispute that we see between the Toronto Transit Commission and its employees, as represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Lodge 235, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2.
The legislation refers all matters for a new collective agreement between the parties except for one to binding arbitration. An arbitrator will be appointed by an order in council soon after the bill is approved.
The bill provides for a wage increase of five per cent retroactive to the expiry dates of the respective collective agreements. However, this award may be increased by the arbitrator.
The one matter that will not be subject to arbitration is the issue of staffing, including the part-time issue. This issue will be investigated by an independent fact-finder appointed by the government. The fact-finder will inquire into this matter, gather evidence, hear submissions and make a report, together with any recommendations, to the minister. That report will also be available to the parties.
The fact-finder will decide on the procedures that will be followed in the conduct of the inquiry. He or she will, with the parties involved, have 30 days after the appointment to set out the issues involved in this dispute. If they cannot define the issues together, the fact-finder will have an additional 14 days at least to determine the issues.
The fact-finder is free to mediate a settlement on the issues under investigation. Should the parties agree on a settlement, the fact-finder’s investigation will be terminated and no report will be required. If the fact-finder does issue a report, that report will not constitute a binding decision. It will still be up to the parties to bargain the part-time issue and to bargain in good faith.
Frankly, I am hopeful the fact-finder’s report will provide the assistance both parties need to help solve the outstanding issue that has really been central to this entire dispute. This is an issue that should be resolved through mutual agreement by the parties concerned. It is not one that should be resolved by a solution that is imposed by an outside party.
The use of this fact-finder’s report provides for really a fresh approach that involves only the principal parties. That is as it should be. The bill states that the fact-finder’s report is to be submitted to the minister, the employer and the local by 30 June 1990. In the meantime, the bill does provide for the settlement of the current labour dispute and a resumption of normal services and it requires two-year agreements to follow the expiry of the most recent agreements.
Pursuant to the Labour Relations Act, no strike and no lockout is permitted for the duration of the collective agreements.
The TTC serves people from throughout Metropolitan Toronto and the surrounding regions. Close to one million passengers use the TTC each day. All of them have been greatly inconvenienced by the recent disruptions in transit service. Through the bill, the government is seeking to provide a means to end this dispute and its widespread adverse affect on the public. At the same time, importantly, the act respects the principles of the Labour Relations Act and the collective bargaining process.
The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments on the minister’s statement?
Mr Cousens: When did you decide to become involved in this dispute and when did the Premier (Mr Peterson) decide to become involved?
The Deputy Speaker: Through the Speaker. Anybody else? Any more comments? If not, the minister.
Hon Mr Phillips: At the request, actually, of the chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, I met with both parties. Frankly, I have to admit that I was reluctant to step in, that I was reluctant to become involved in it. It was only because of a direct request from the chairperson of the TTC to meet and discuss the issue. I told him at that time that in our judgement, this was an issue that must be resolved between the two parties. So we only really became involved as a ministry in the dispute when we brought forward this bill. I did meet with the parties at the request of the TTC, however.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Mackenzie: There are a few things I want to say on this bill and there are a few things I think should clearly be put on the record. The real issue in this dispute was part-timers and whether or not our society is moving -- there is certainly ample evidence, when you look at the jobs created, or the jobs that exist, over the last year or two that we are seeing more and more part-time work in society.
If you take a look at the cost of living today in a city like Toronto or even in my own city of Hamilton or many of the cities in the Golden Horseshoe area, part-timers cannot make it. If there are two in a family, maybe, but part-time work will not pay your rent or buy the food that is needed or the education for your kids today. It is a dangerous slope to go down. It is also a direction that the TTC has been promoting for some time. I think their decision was that this was the contract and this was the year to get it.
A couple of things in the news release that came out on 5 October from the minister disturbed me a little bit. Halfway through his release, he says:
“On the part-time issue, the bill will provide for a fact-finder to investigate and report. Mr Phillips said the appointment of a fact-finder is necessary for two reasons. ‘First, it is vital that a lasting solution to an issue as complex as the part-time employment issue be found. Lasting solutions to complicated collective bargaining problems are solutions that the parties themselves must negotiate. They are not solutions that can be imposed.’” I think I agree with him on that.
“‘Second, labour and management are obliged to solve their own problems. While l am prepared to prevent further public inconvenience, I do not wish to reinforce the belief that labour and management can bargain to a stalemate on issues like this one and then leave it to the government to provide the solution. This bill will get the parties back to work and give them the tools to solve the one remaining issue.’”
I was interested, and noticed that he said -- I think I heard him say in response to one of my colleague’s questions a moment ago -- that the commission initiated the first meeting and wanted this issue resolved, wanted the government involvement. Sure they did. That is very clear in this particular case. Members of the House, I am sure, by now are aware that, depending on which side you talk to, the argument ranges that probably 80 to 85 per cent of the issues were resolved, and there did not seem to be that much of a problem in resolving the remaining issues in terms of the collective agreement.
The issue was very clearly the part-time issue, and it is an issue that should bother all of us, given what is happening in our society today. I think it is one of the prices we are going to pay, increasingly, for the whole free trade arrangement. But that is another argument we will have as this session continues, I am sure.
What was going on in terms of the part-time issue? I submit to you that the commission wanted the government involvement in this particular case, because it had forced the issue on part-timers and was not prepared to look at the proposals that were put there by the union; that this issue, as I said yesterday, could have been settled four or five weeks ago, clearly, if free collective bargaining was really the norm, but as long as the commission felt that maybe it could entice the government in on this particular issue then it was going to hold out, even though as good a deal or a better deal may have been on the table in terms of the part-timers.
For the record, I think it would be a mistake if we did not have on record the arguments made by the local union in the course of the negotiations and the proposals it actually made and tried to negotiate with the commission. First, I would like to quote a letter that went out to the members of the local and to members of Parliament -- I am sure a number of the members got it -- which came from Ray Hutchinson, the president of Local 113, Amalgamated Transit Union, and it reads as follows:
“Our union is well aware that there has been much information bandied about, both publicly and privately, on what the issue of ‘part-timers’ is all about. Our concern is that there is all kinds of information, and particularly misinformation, being circulated, both in the media and probably at Metro council, as well as at the provincial level.
“The issue without question is the provision of quality (TTC) transit service to the residents of Metro Toronto.
“Mr Leach supposedly says it’s a question of providing TTC service; though we have some reservations concerning his public posture because we think the TTC management’s real agenda is cost containment as opposed to providing service. Be that as it may, ATU Local 113, also believes the issue is one of providing quality transit service to the residents of Metro Toronto.
“The problem is that our version of providing quality transit service is entirely different than the TTC version of provision of service. What we would like to do is summarize our position and explain, in some clear and precise manner, what the union has proposed in the current set of negotiations which is set out in the current document, The Real Issues in the Current Transit Dispute.”
That is the covering letter. But I think we would be remiss in this House if we did not understand the kind of pressures that are exerted when a major management group thinks that this is the time to cut some of the power of its organized workers. This is not the first time this issue has arisen in negotiations; it has arisen over a number of sets of negotiations with the transit workers in Toronto.
They have been able to hold off, but there are a lot of changes and fear in our society today. We are certainly seeing a growth in part-timers. We are certainly being bombarded with what we have to do to cut back. We are unfortunately seeing that in some of the health services. If it is not a cutback, it is certainly not keeping up the number of legitimate beds. We are seeing it in some of the part-time work that is going into the service sector. We are seeing it right across our society today, and we are not doing anything in terms of protecting those better-paying jobs we have.
So why should a major and proud union like 113 decide that this is the time it is going to let the commission bluff it, let the commission knock down some of the benefits and rights it has gained, let the commission move on the slippery slope down of part-timers, which is exactly what it was trying to do? They knew this was going to be a key issue, but they knew also that they had to deal with it, they knew also that there were some criticisms and they went into the sessions with a number of proposals; three, actually.
Let me go over them, because I think it is worth putting on the record why I said yesterday that this issue, if you had good-faith bargaining on the part of the commission, would have been resolved four weeks ago, and we would not once again have been into compulsory back-to-work legislation. As I said yesterday, and I will admit, this is once when it is benefiting the workers. But let me tell you, the vast majority of times compulsory arbitration is used to hurt organized workers. It is not a good approach and it is one I hope I never see myself supporting in any principled way.
The information from the transit union -- and a lot of people are aware of this, but not the general public and I suspect not most members of this House: “During the negotiations, and subsequently since our job action has been initiated, there is a public perception that the union’s position is simply ‘no part-timers.’”
Incidentally, just for the record, I want to correct a statement I had made yesterday referring to the strike. You get used to that kind of situation. It was never a strike, it was job action, and probably we would have seen the management team locking them out before we would have seen a formal strike in this situation, because it was not in the interests of the workers. That is just to correct the record, that there was never an actual strike involved.
To continue with Mr Hutchinson’s letter:
“The reality is that the union recognizes that there is a problem of scheduling TTC vehicles during peak (am and pm) time slots in the transit system. To address the problem of scheduling and the cancellation of scheduled routes, Local 113 was willing to agree to major concessions that would give the TTC maximum flexibility to address this problem of scheduling and cancellation of regular scheduled routes.
“What the union was willing to agree to was reform of the rules governing the administration of the ‘spare board scheduling concept’ or, in technical terms, ‘rotating slip format,’ and the terms of that proposal were as follows:
“(1) No fixed report time will allow maximum flexibility within spread restrictions; (2) all known crews can be predetailed; (3) maximized productivity of signed slip persons; (4) reduction of ‘guaranteed costs’ to a minimum; (5) increased availability of day volunteers for rush-hour unmanned runs; (6) reduction in ‘overtime costs’; (7) minimum cancellations.”
I am not going to try to explain in detail all of these steps. I understand them basically, but they are the headlines or highlights of the steps the union put forward in a long and hard attempt to reach a negotiated settlement in this particular slowdown and potential lockout or strike situation.
“This spare board proposal or rotating slip format will allow TTC management complete flexibility in detailing all open work, which would result in the following:
“(1) The TTC management would have greater latitude and substantive rights to assign work; (2) the TTC management would have greater flexibility to schedule any and all work during a 12 1/2-hour shift, which would ensure that all scheduled runs are covered; (3) the TTC would have far less liability in terms of paying overtime on all open full shifts; (4) the union’s proposal would result in annual savings to the TTC of between $3 million and $4 million, which is a very significant financial saving.”
“Secondly, the union tabled a second proposal called ‘eight-hour combine worker proposal,’ which in essence would: (1) eliminate unproductive time; (2) provide more flexible scheduling of (am and pm) shifts at straight time.”
“And lastly, the union tabled a very innovative proposal, ‘utilization of maintenance workers as vehicle operators,’ which in practical terms would allow maintenance workers to be utilized as vehicle operators during peak periods. These maintenance personnel are now fully qualified to run and operate system vehicles, so this approach would allow the TTC another flexible scheduling option.”
I hope the members are paying attention, because there were some very definite proposals that were laid out on the table here, and the current investigation in effect was always part of a possible solution.
“These three proposals, together with the union’s agreement that they would work with TTC management in ensuring that these proposals came into operational fruition, would provide the TTC with the necessary solutions to come to grips with the scheduling problems” in Metro Toronto.
“In summary, the union’s concession and offer of innovative proposals would go a long way to addressing the problem of cancelling prearranged routes.
“The union is totally convinced that if the TTC hired an additional 40 full-time drivers, plus the proposals agreed to by the union, that the TTC could address the whole problem of 660 route cancellations as well as the problem of staffing shifts during the peak am (morning) and pm (afternoon) periods.
“Why the addition of 40 full-time operators? According to the TTC report, Back to Basics -- A TTC Strategy for the 1990s, the TTC ridership is up 96,100,000 riders from the period 1980-88. This is a percentage increase of 24.7 per cent. In addition, TTC mileage is up 19,628,000 miles, an increase of 19 per cent. There has also been an increased demand in the utilization of the fleet for the same period, 1980-88, which has required the addition of 364 new vehicles or an increased growth in the system fleet of 15 per cent.
“What brings this whole period into perspective is the glaring staff shortage, which should have dovetailed the TTC’s service growth. But what the system experienced instead was the hiring of only 229 new operators between 1982-89 or a 5.5 per cent increase in the workforce complement. I go back: riders 24.7 per cent; mileage 19 per cent; new vehicles 15 per cent; a staff increase in that same period of 5.5 per cent.” And really they wanted to do away with -- if not do away with that, see that the future emphasis was on part-timers.
“What has also exacerbated the current staffing problem is that since 1982 the TTC has experienced tremendous growth by adding two new divisions, (1) Arrow Road and (2) Malvern, which required in total 716 new operators. But in the same period the TTC has downsized eight established divisions through downsizing the staff complement by 487 full-time operators. So in the final analysis, staff complement for the years 1982-89 has only increased by 229 operators or 5.5 per cent.
“In summary, over the last seven years: (1) ridership has increased by 24.7 per cent; (2) mileage has increased due to new routes and route extensions by 19 per cent; (3) the number of additional system vehicles (new) has increased by 15 per cent; but the staff complement of operators has increased by only 5.5 per cent and clearly indicates that the system is understaffed and that the union’s position of hiring 40 additional full-time people is totally justified.
“The union has done an analysis of one division, namely, the Danforth Road transportation division, and looked at the hypothetical use of 28 full-time operators versus 28 part-time operators (18 part-timers in the am and 10 part-timers in the pm). The union has concluded that the cost or savings to the TTC in hiring part-timers would amount to $389 per day for the Danforth Road transportation division or $101,233 a year.
“If one extrapolates this cost saving and applies it across the whole system, encompassing 11 traffic divisions, the annual savings to the TTC would be in the vicinity of $1 million per year. This is a far cry from the supposed inflation figures being bandied about by TTC management (see attached analysis).”
There are attached analyses accompanying all of these pages and I am sure the minister or his staff must have looked at it. I know he had a very good negotiator-arbitrator in the person of Vic Pathe doing his darnedest to reach an agreement in this particular situation. I wish the heck we had the right in this House to put some of the people who are involved in these kinds of talks on the stand -- which, of course, we cannot -- to ask a few questions about where the intransigence was in terms of the issue we were dealing with.
“As a matter of fact,” to continue, “the union’s agreement to the spare board proposal would save the TTC substantially more money than the hiring of part-time operators, ie, $3.5 million versus approximately $1 million.
“The union has made major concessions and put forward alternative proposals” -- three of them, if you will recall, that I mentioned, but dealing in detail with the one – “to address the scheduling problems which are currently plaguing the TTC.
“One final key point is that the TTC commission and especially TTC management never intended to bargain in good faith, and the current negotiations subsequently proved this point – and in the final analysis, TTC management were not interested in a negotiated settlement because in reality the TTC wants the Ontario government to impose a political settlement on Local 113 giving the TTC the right to hire part-timers. Thus the rationale for the lockout and complete shutdown of the system on 8 October 1989.
“We feel confident that all the union’s suggestions and proposals would eliminate the problem of cancellations and in the process strengthen the present transit system by ensuring that residents of Metro Toronto have a world-class transit system.”
I took the trouble to read that into the record because I thought it was important, and because before the situation developed to the point where we were facing some kind of union action to enforce its demands, the union people met with us and told us that they understood that the arguments that would be made would be having to keep workers on hand for split runs and all the rest of it, that the arguments would be made that there was a waste in the system. They thought the figures -- and I think the figures do shoot that right out the window -- in terms of the increase in mileage, vehicles and passengers as against the increase in staff -- but they understood that this would be the kind of an argument that would be made by the commission.
They also pointed out -- as I knew and some of my colleagues did, as well, from sitting down with them prior to the last couple of labour disputes and contract negotiations -- that the TTC had made a major effort in the past two sets of negotiations to be given the right, almost unlimited -- they finally backed off this time around to say: “Well, we limit it to 400” -- or whatever the number is – “part-timers.” But they wanted the right to move to the part-time route. Once you allow a major company to move in the part-time direction, you are undermining and threatening the security and wages of all of your full-time workers in that unit, or of a good number of them, because it will not stop once it has established the principle.
That is why you saw such an overwhelming support, probably more for this labour dispute than any they have had previously: The workers understood it was D-Day for them; that this time, given the general atmosphere in our society and the bit of fear that is there in terms of some of the economic future, that the TTC better run with it. They threatened, they ran with it and backed off the part-time issue in the last couple of sets of negotiations, but this time was the time that they got it.
We had no idea, and the workers in Local 113 and in the other two locals that are involved, had no idea of how far it would go once the principle was established. The workers clearly said: “No way. We’ve got to stand up.” I hope more and more workers in more and more plants across this province take the same kind of position: “We’re going to have to fight like hell to protect what we’ve got. We’d better do it, and we’d also better take a look at what’s bothering people or some of the weaknesses in the system and come up with alternatives.”
I have never found a responsible trade union unwilling to take a look at ideas if they are good ones. Maybe there are some arguments against some of the proposals that I have outlined here, but they are in detail. They have put the sheets with them and the backup sheets and the figures and the costs, and they thought they would work, and they really were not demolished -- that is one of the reasons I would like to have the arbitrator here, to see just what all went on in the negotiations -- but I am told that they were in no way demolished by the commission. The commission simply wanted to establish that this was the time: “We’re going to take these guys on and we’re going to win the right to run the system the way we want to run it.”
I hope we will never have a government that says, “Hey, that’s a good way to go.” We have now in effect compulsory arbitration, which I do not like. The reason that it is probably a little easier to take this time, as I said at the beginning, is that about 80 per cent of issues were resolved. The usual process, unless we are going to get euchred some other way, is that when you go to compulsory arbitration, they accept what has been resolved by the two parties; any decisions they make are on those few items that are not resolved.
We sent out for a study, which I understand will take nine months, which in effect really is two years because it does not have to be implemented when it comes back, but which will take a look at the arguments that have been made and the necessity of or lack thereof of part-time workers. I would hope and I would expect -- I cannot see any responsible investigator doing otherwise than taking a close look at the arguments that were made by the union, taking a look at the arguments that were made by management, but I think they are going to be found wanting, and making some recommendations which then are not going to be compulsory.
That is why I say once again that this time the workers have benefited from a piece of legislation that I personally do find abhorrent. But then the two parties are going to have to sit down with one additional bit of information, and that is the study that has been done in some detail as to whether or not the alternatives suggested are answers and whether or not the route we should be going in society today is to push for more and more part-timers with all of the problems that really does bring us in our society.
I think that if there was a clear understanding -- I have some information already that the commission is not very happy with this proposal -- if it had been made very, very clear that we were not going to order them back, they are going to have to resolve it, we may have had discomfort, and none of us like it for the residents that have problems in getting to work with the system, but we would not have had the government step in.
The only thing that saved this doggone thing is that they have not. This time, and to this extent I commend this government, they have not bowed to -- maybe it will be a Tory amendment or something, I do not know, I hope not, that we should have also instructed that we are going to bring in a compulsory report in terms of the part-timers.
The fact that it is open, that it is not compulsory even after the investigation is done, I think means that two years from now you are going to have a very good talk in terms of the collective bargaining with a lot more information available to all of the parties and with one party not being able to hide behind a decision that we want to be able to run the show our way, which is exactly what was at stake in this particular dispute.
I would hope that this may signal a firming up of the position of workers right across this province in terms of the trend to part-time employees and also in terms of the trend to takebacks, which I think I mentioned a few months ago. One of the things that is disturbing me in talking to my union colleagues, even though it is an effort to break out of some of the percentage guidelines in terms of actual wages that they have had imposed on them over the last two or three years, is that there are other subtle and sometimes not too subtle ways that most managements are presenting, something they never used to do, a list of takebacks they want at the beginning of almost every set of negotiations.
I guess the principle is, “Well, if we do this, whether we win it or not, at least we are going to knock down any demands you have got and we are going to in this way undermine or reduce the effective bargaining strength of the workers’ representatives.”
I would remind all members, as I have done a good many times, that I would suggest they do take a look at the preamble to the Labour Relations Act in the province of Ontario where it states clearly, if it is meant, that it is in the interest of the province of Ontario that workers have the right to free collective bargaining. I think that is an important principle. It is one that is under fire now. I do not think you can talk to a negotiator or a union rep in the province of Ontario who will not tell you that that principle is under fire with the takebacks and the kind of approach that management is using.
In effect, that is exactly what we had here from the TTC, and this issue should not have required this kind of legislation. Our party will not be carrying out the kind of a fight we have done many times in the past over back-to-work legislation. I still will not support it. I have never voted for it in my life and I doubt that I will, but I think we have to understand what this particular dispute was all about and the fact that those TTC workers, God bless them, decided that they were not going to be put down by the commission this time around and they were not going to back off. They were not going to be required to undermine whatever security they had been able to build up in the jobs they have had through, I think, positive union action.
I think it is important that that information be clearly put on the record, Mr Speaker, and I thank you for the opportunity.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement? If not, do other members wish to participate? The member for Markham.
Mr Cousens: It is a serious bill and it has caused a serious inconvenience and problems to the greater Toronto area for an extended period of time. The government has brought forward a bill which we will be supporting and which we will have amendments to.
But I have a number of questions and issues surrounding the process and I challenge the Minister of Labour (Mr Phillips) to reconsider and rethink some of the comments he has already made this afternoon in response to the first question and the only questions that I asked him when he made his introductory remarks. I will be coming to that and I trust the minister will comment on it in his wrapup statement.
I am not thrilled and not pleased, and neither are the people of Toronto, with what has gone on. It has been not just a minor inconvenience. In fact, when I looked at the press clippings of the minister, it would appear as if it is just a passing incident in a big city, as if just another little rattling of chain or something. It is far more than that.
I happen to believe that unless this government and unless this province begins to work in a concerted way with the TTC, GO Transit and all the commuter services and integrated commuter service around the greater Toronto area, what we saw in the last five weeks is a prelude to what is going to go on in the province of Ontario in the mid-1990s and beyond, because we have to come up with a long-term answer to commuter services so that people will use commuter services.
The fact of the matter is that the inconvenience that was caused, the tremendous impact on the economy to the greater Toronto area because of the transportation crisis we had, the tremendous inconvenience to homes and households during that period of time, we look at all these factors and bring them together and what do we have? We have a sign of trouble. It portends of what the future could look like in the greater Toronto area unless this government takes seriously its responsibility of providing for long-term commuter services.
The fact of the matter is the fact that this was allowed to drag out as long as it was seemed as if it was part of a political agenda of the Ontario Liberal Party to just let it drag out and wait until the day came when we came back to this House on 10 October, so therefore let it twiddle around and play with it until, finally, it just came up to that weekend, late last week, when some action was taken.
I go back to a statement made by the Premier when on 6 September he said this: “It is not the government’s responsibility to get involved. We are not planning on interfering. They are both over 21. They are both mature groups.” The Premier said that on 6 September.
The Minister of Labour was making the same kinds of utterings during the strike when he was saying: “No, we are not going to get involved. We are just going to stay clear of it.” I wonder when it all happened, when the Premier said on 6 September: “It is not the government’s responsibility to get involved. We are not planning on interfering. They are both over 21. They are both mature groups.”
When I asked the minister just a few moments ago when he had his first meeting with the people involved, he did not answer the question. He said, “Well, it was management that was giving me a call and therefore I began to get involved.” I challenge the honourable minister on who called whom. I happen to believe that there is far more involved with the minister’s involvement in this whole situation than he is willing to let on.
He is pretending to this House that he was dragged into it. I have to say he chose to get involved and when he said in the House here just a few moments ago that it was just a matter of someone calling, I know Alan Tonks gave him a call. I know there has been some involvement but I would hope that right from the very beginning the minister was involved.
I think there is something urgently important to the services of our whole community, that transportation is not something that the minister and the Premier are going to take lightly. That is really what he is trying to tell us. He is trying to tell us, as the honourable Minister of Labour, that it is just something that will be looked after.
I would like to have the minister come clean and lay out on the table of this House in the forum that we have for debate or when we get into committee when he had meetings with both sides.
Mr Cousens: If the honourable member wants to get up and speak, we would be glad to listen to him. If he is just going to sit in his chair and carp away and have nothing to do with what is going on in the place, I would ask the honourable Speaker to do what he should do when there is this kind of outburst from unruly mobsters sitting in the back seat in the Liberal Party, move from one side to the other. But if they are going to start making comments, then I would be more than pleased to sit down and allow them to add what they have to say. I would be most interested in listening to them.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please.
Mr Cousens: I would like to ask the honourable Minister of Labour just who called whom to the meeting. It was as if, when I asked him when he had his first meeting, they called him. Who called whom? He is the one who called both sides to a meeting last Thursday. Where did that meeting take place? It was in his office. Why is he acting in the way that he is when the Premier said there was no room for government involvement?
I have to say it is an issue that has to do with the credibility of the government, when on the one hand you have a strike that is in progress, and then during the early part of September, I was saying: “Let’s get something going. Let’s have some action taken. Is there no way in which the government can become involved?” and what you were seeing then and hearing now is sort of, “Oh, it will solve itself.”
I know of a chap by the name of Bourassa who tried to handle the nurses that way and the nurses came back to haunt him in the middle of the election. The only sad part to that story is that he still won a massive majority, but the fact is he allowed the whole problem with the nurses, their salaries and their compensation problems to fester over a long period of time because he did not know how to deal with it. He did not know how to grapple with it and come up with a solution to it.
What we are seeing with this government today, with this bill, is another example of another Liberal government doing the same kind of thing that Bourassa was so good at or bad at, depending on which side you are looking. I think it was a horror show the way Mr Bourassa handled the nurses and the medical help in the province of Quebec, and I think it is going to be an equally bad horror show when you see what this government is doing with its transit services, with the unions, with everybody who is involved.
The losers to this kind of horror show are everybody. It is the union that loses, it is the management of the TTC that loses, and never let us forget it is the commuters who lose. They are the ones who end up taking their lives in their hands when they are standing on those small little sections to get a streetcar, the traffic is whizzing by and there are almost too many people standing there. You have long lineups waiting to go to work. There they are in the rain. How many times did we see that during the last few weeks? Probably the honourable members of the Liberal Party were so busy hiding in their bunkers during the strike that they did not have any understanding of how serious it was in the greater Toronto area.
People were extremely exasperated by the problems we had during that strike. It was not just a slowdown; it was a deliberate strike and it had an impact on our community. Just to come along and say, “Oh, it is going to solve itself,” that is the problem the Liberals are facing here in Ontario. They are doing the same thing Bourassa did, rather than deal with it honestly, cleanly, openly.
We have situations where I know there is a certain innuendo coming from the minister, “Oh, they forced me to get involved.” Get off that. Then there is this almost sanctimonious spirit that I am sensing in regard to the legislation, that the government has all the answers. I do not think they have the answers, and we will bring forward amendments to this bill that hopefully will address some of the concerns we have.
The fact of the matter is that this bill, as we have it before the House today, is so open-ended that one cannot have a sense of confidence that we are not going to have a strike in the not-too-distant future. “Aha,” you are going to say, “not-too-distant future.” What can happen is you do not call it a strike, you call it a slowdown. If after 30 June 1990 things just are not resolved, the union is unhappy, they do not see a resolution forthcoming, then what do they do? You are faced with a possible year of bitterness and unhappiness by the union. Who are the losers? I think the union members are the losers and so is the TTC, but I reiterate, so are the people who use the services that are so essential to the movement of people, the movement of services, the movement of a great city such as we have in the greater Toronto area.
So what do we do? We are looking at a piece of legislation which to me has very serious holes in it. It is a matter of looking at those holes and seeing how we can plug them and how we, as responsible members of the Legislature are able to sort of bring forward some kind of resolution that is not going to cause this to just reopen itself the same way the issue of the nurses did in Quebec during Mr Bourassa’s re-election campaign.
I have to believe that by virtue of the way this legislation has been crafted, or the lack of crafting that went into it, you are seeing no real hook at the end of the time when there has been a fact-finder that has looked at all the issues that are going to cause any decision to be made and that in fact, when all these data come back, then the whole process can start over again. That is part of the reason I am very upset by the minister’s failure to deal with all the issues on this.
What we are talking about is where we have got an independent, third-party fact-finder. The terms of reference include both management and union proposals to resolve the full service issue. I think that can happen, but the fact-finder, by our amendment, would have full access to all data pertaining to the issue and such data would be provided to both parties for verification. I think that is implicit in what is really in the bill that we are considering today.
The fact-finder would investigate and release his report in a given period of time. He would have to bring it forward and have it tabled by 30 June 1990. As it stands, I do not know whether the minister realizes, but under section 5, it gives the minister opportunity to extend the time limit of this whole process on into the future. The one time limit that is secure is the fact that the members of the TTC will not be able to strike until 30 June 1991. Am I right on that date?
The NDP members are obviously very pleased at that one, and I think that there is a sense that things can be at peace, but when the minister says they are not allowed to strike, does he really say at that point they are not allowed to have a slowdown during that period of time? Is he saying that there is no possibility of a slowdown should there be other issues that come to the fore or should the issues that are being referred to the fact-finder in fact not be dealt with to their satisfaction, and therefore in order to deal with it, they are going to express their unhappiness by having another slowdown, which is not a strike, but being a slowdown is outside the terms of reference of this bill and the people of Metro Toronto and the greater Toronto area will then be suffering the same kinds of problems that we went through for the last five weeks?
I would ask the honourable minister, is his legislation going to prevent a slowdown such as the one we had? I do not see how it can; I really do not see how it can. If the minister is going to start defining, I will look forward to seeing the definition he has that can prevent some kind of slowdown, which otherwise I think is going to be a possibility and a fairly large possibility if the concerns that are being sent out to the fact-finder are not resolved.
The time frame is so open-ended that the minister has within his bill -- under section 5, “Scope of investigation,” it says that the fact-finder shall have “such longer period as the Minister of Labour may permit,” and “shall decide the issues to be investigated.” So there is an openness within the legislation that means even the dates that I would like to see crisp and clear so that we know how things are going to go in the future -- there is going to be that chance for the minister to allow it to just go on and on and on, probably to time it just after the next provincial election. Who knows?
What I am looking for is something that can be clear and straightforward and allows both parties to understand what is expected of them. The fact-finder, once he has gathered all his information, puts it together and then tables it for them. He would have to have that in a given period of time, and I am going to suggest in my amendments that it would be by 30 June 1990. That is the definite cutoff date that we would have. Then you would know that the fact-finder is working towards a deadline. We all have deadlines in our work, and he would have one as well and both parties could then look forward to the next stage following that.
Following the fact-finder’s tabled report, parties would be given 90 days to negotiate the fact-finder’s recommendations. Then we come to 30 September. During that period of time there could be the kinds of negotiations that take place when both sides are sitting down and they have got all the facts on the table. They will have had enough time away from the issue that we have been in the middle of now and hopefully the emotions will have subsided and we will be into the possibility of a negotiated settlement.
There is no better resolution to a labour dispute than a negotiated settlement. On that point, I agree with the member for Hamilton East (Mr Mackenzie). I would hope that all members of this House understand the importance of a negotiated settlement. It is important for both sides to have that long-term trusting, working relationship. When a settlement is forced on a side, then one is seen as a winner or one as a loser, or both sides go away feeling they have lost important battle lines because of the way in which the arbitration had been brought about.
Therefore, inasmuch as this has dragged on as long as it has and inasmuch as the people of the greater Toronto area have gone through a five-week slowdown which in my books is as close to a strike as you are ever going to get without calling it that -- and I do not want to see another kind of slowdown like that because we do not need it; we do not want it -- let’s have a government that is prepared to bring forward a bill that is going to prevent that from happening.
I am saying that the fact-finder would complete his report by 30 June, and then there would be 90 days for both sides to try to work out that negotiated settlement. Three cheers for both sides to try and another super cheer, or whatever you call that, if they are able to succeed and we all go away and feel we have done something. But that is the first stage. You have had the fact-finder’s report. You have had a chance for deliberation. What happens at that point?
As it stands now with the government legislation, you are going to be faced with a year of possible heartache and disruption and loss of economy. When I look at the dollars that were lost in Toronto, the TTC itself lost $160,000 a day. How much did commerce lose, and everyone else? Those are concerns that have long-term implications to the people in the province of Ontario.
At that point, if no agreement has been arrived at by 30 September, after a 90-day period, then and only then would the issue be sent to binding arbitration for resolution within a further 60 days. In that way, you have allowed key time zones to be followed through, and then the people of the greater Toronto area are not going to be inconvenienced or face the kind of turmoil and problems we have had. I think the government likes to play it down. Maybe they are so busy driving in their limos and their big cars that they do not understand what public transit is all about.
The people of the greater Toronto area are not happy with what they have gone through for the last month. They are not happy with the way it dragged out so long. I am not happy because I happen to believe the government’s agenda was to just drag it along, so long, until the House reconvened on 10 October, and then it could bring forward its bill by announcing it the week before and not call the House back to special session, as we could have been done earlier, or not to have personal involvement with it.
I have real trouble with the minister when he is saying on the one hand, “Oh, they called me to get involved,” when in fact the Premier said: “It is not the government’s responsibility to get involved. We are not planning on interfering. They are both over 21. They are both mature groups.”
That may all be true, but the government has a responsibility to become involved. Maybe we are seeing the problem of government involvement in many other subjects. When Chuck Magwood, the head of SkyDome, was present in the standing committee on public accounts to talk about the SkyDome and its activities, one thing came out in response to a question that I asked him about transportation and about the failure to build some kind of infrastructure around the SkyDome and the fact that we have had enough people using public transit. It has not been as bad as many people thought it would be. I was asking him how he perceived the whole transportation strategy being controlled around the heart of downtown Toronto. He said it was a mess; there was just no one in charge, no one seems to know what he is doing. I have to say, the same is true with the government on so many of the issues that it should be touching and should be involved with; they just say, “Oh well, someone else will look after it” -- and I see that someone else looking after it.
Is this government willing to step up and say, “Hey, we’re going to be accountable and responsible for making sure that the transportation services in the greater Toronto area are not going to be disrupted again over this issue for the foreseeable future”? They cannot say that. They cannot say that because it is not possible to say it by virtue of the bill we are considering today. The bill leaves it so open-ended that what will happen now is that the fact-finder, whose report does not have to be in at any particular time -- and who reports through the Minister of Labour anyway -- will be able to just sort of stall along and stall along, take more time, gather more thoughts, maybe take a trip to check out another area to see what they should be doing and then talk some more and meet some more, and then in his own fullness of time come forward with his recommendations. I am saying not to do it that way.
The Minister of Labour has a chance to rethink and reconsider his bill, All these honourable Liberals, ex-cabinet ministers -- I look at my good friends who are now sitting on the front bench -- are capable of giving this man advice. They are the senior statesmen of this House, and I would hope that they will give him wise counsel and suggest that there are times when they do not have all the answers and this is one of them.
This is one of those times when the government should have time periods within the bill, and those time periods will give the fact-finder ample opportunity to complete his study and his evaluation. Then we have another 90-day period to give both parties ample opportunity to try to come up with a resolution to the outstanding difference and then, failing that, a 60-day time period for binding arbitration.
We are talking about how this government does things just almost by accident. All the major issues have been agreed to in principle. The issue of split shifts on the weekends has been handled. The issue of extra holidays for summer months for workers has been handled. The wage increase, which was never really a factor in this negotiation, has also been agreed in principle.
The government is able to show great leadership, just magnificent leadership, by referring all these soft, dealt-with issues to an arbitrator for resolution. I mean, is that not showing great strength? Then the one issue that is really the nut you have to crack, the one outstanding, remaining issue, which is the whole problem of part-time overtime, or however you want to do it, they have left it so open-ended that it could drag on and on and on.
I have to believe that the Minister of Labour has not had a chance to think about his. He is so new in his job he has not had a chance to come along and just consider that he might be in the job long enough to be seeing these same people again, and instead of saying that would involve him, he will be calling him into the office again and saying, “Hey guys, sorry we have to do it.” Why not do it now? Why have to spread out the agony for yourself and everybody else? The honourable Minister of Labour is in a fine position to make it all a signed, sealed and deliverable package.
Mr Mackenzie: That is what the transit commission wanted. That is the side you are on, is it not?
Mr Cousens: I am on the side of the people. The honourable member for Hamilton East, when he tries to come along with who is going to benefit from this the most, I think will see that at this time the most important person is the man, woman or young person who needs to rely on the TTC for commuter services. It is in their best interests that I want to see that there is a longevity to the agreement and that it is not just going to be something we are going to have to come back in this House for in the not-too-distant future.
There is a considerable amount to be dealt with in this bill. It is highly unlikely that I am going to be successful in convincing the honourable Minister of Labour. He has not been rattling his head in the affirmative as I have been making my remarks, although I really appreciate the fact that he is in the House for the bill. There have been occasions recently when that has not happened. I am talking about the Attorney General (Mr Scott), who seldom comes to the House except for the glory time of question period and seldom even answers the questions; he has never been around to carry a bill as far as I have seen.
The fact that the minister is here shows his personal interest in it and I think the minister needs to be commended for that. I want to take away that compliment and just wish that while he is here he would be thinking about the issue that he might have to readdress several months from now when both parties come back. Why not get the thing in order now? Why not allow himself the pleasure of knowing he has done a job and he has done it well and he closed the loop?
Right now the minister is dealing with an issue that has no sense of completeness to it. I do not think that the people in the province of Ontario at this point are as concerned as maybe I am expressing it. There was a great picture in one of the Toronto papers where a TIC driver was just fixing his tie and getting ready to hop on his bus or vehicle and head off to carry on the service. I mean, everybody just heaved a great sigh of relief and said, “Thank goodness.” They were just delighted and I am delighted. I want to see that we do everything possible to keep them rolling, keep them going and know that we want to keep them happy. Therefore, why did the minister not put within his bill the sense that we are not going to have to face up to this same kind of thing just a short time from now?
I wish as well that the minister had not played the game of just saying in the early part of September, “Oh well, we are not going to get involved.” The fact of the matter is, I asked the minister these questions -- and I hope the minister will answer them because I am anxious to know the details of his meetings with Local 113, and I also want to know the details of his meetings with management over the last week. I asked the minister when he had his first meetings with them; I am very interested in knowing that. I would also like to know under what authority he was acting when, in fact, the Premier was saying back on 6 September, “It is not the government’s responsibility to get involved,” and yet the government did get involved.
I was saying that before the minister said it and before he began to get involved. I happen to remember being called into the Legislature for a special sitting in August 1984 prior to the arrival of His Holiness the Pope, who was coming to Toronto and before he was going to be -- was it 1984? I am pretty sure it was. We had the House in special session, and I happen to recall that the Liberals and the Conservatives voted together on that bill in order to make sure there was not going to be a strike to inconvenience not only His Holiness but also the people of the greater Toronto area. There was a sense of decisiveness then. What I have seen with this government over the past five weeks is no decisiveness and then when they have a chance to make a decision, they still cannot make a decision because they put together an incomplete package.
I know I am repeating myself and sometimes you try to come at it from different angles in order to get these guys to be alert to it. I know when people are looking on TV and they say, “Oh, they’re at it again.” The House is back in session; I wish we had come back even sooner if it had meant that we could have done something to address the concerns of both sides in this dispute and that, therefore, the people of the greater Toronto area would not have been as seriously affected.
What are we faced with? We are faced with a government which has got 94 seats. Because we are committed to having transportation run, we will be supporting the bill. We will be making reasoned amendments that we believe will improve the bill and will give it certain time areas that will make the bill more for the long term and complete this set of negotiations for both sides.
I have been involved in negotiations on school boards, and I know how painful it is and how difficult it is. I happen to believe that the Minister of Labour has one of the very difficult portfolios. He is a person I personally like and is capable of doing a good job of handling it. I do believe there is an opportunity here for the minister to carve out some differences in that bill. Do not just believe because it is written in ink that it is carved in stone. The minister still has a chance to consider the points that we are making.
There are so many things that we could be saying on this. I have to say that I have a sense of disgust with the fact that it had to go on for five weeks, five long weeks where people were up early in the morning, home late at night, giving them a taste of what transportation is going to be like in the future in the greater Toronto area.
The pace this government is moving to improve transit services and the pace it is expanding and improving any of the services that affect commuters and roads for this area really leaves me concerned that we have gone through four years of unprecedented economic boom at a time in which there has been an opportunity to do some of the long-term planning and we are dealing with a government that is still sort of letting it all happen, without establishing a focus and a set of priorities and putting the money behind those priorities and showing that it really has a plan for the future.
I see the forebodings of what happened to Bourassa during his election campaign when the nurses went out on strike. I just hope those forebodings do not end up with the same result where government members end up getting re-elected with a massive majority for the kind of mistakes they are making.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Breaugh): Are there any comments or questions? If not, is there further debate?
Mr Philip: Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your new post and your chair and on future posts that you may have in this House.
I also congratulate the Minister of Labour on his new post. I had extensive dealings with him in his previous portfolio, and I know he is a sincere individual who has been open to members of the opposition and to their suggestions.
Mr Cousens: Which one has he taken from you?
Mr Philip: He has taken quite a few from me from time to time -- I guess maybe it is just the member for Markham’s that he has rejected -- because he does have some ability to accept some suggestions. Indeed, it was this minister in a previous incarnation who did initiate an internal review that I have said publicly I thought was a good review of one of the agencies under his jurisdiction. I think that should stand.
I guess it is unfortunate that we are now facing this problem. No one wanted the inconvenience experienced by the TTC users, by my constituents and indeed by the employees of the TTC over the last few weeks. But I guess if you had looked at the situation at the TTC as I have done over a period of years, being a Metro member and being Transportation critic at one time for a number of years -- from 1975 to 1979, I guess it was, or maybe later than that -- I think we have seen a management at TTC that in fact has not been what one could call the most enlightened of managements.
Indeed, I had a number of informal conversations with one of the employees of the TTC who later left that commission out of frustration. He happened to have been a neighbour of mine, and over a period of years I had an opportunity to listen to some of the horror stories of what can only be described as inappropriate management decisions, decisions which I do not think any management consultant would have advocated and indeed decisions which did nothing to improve the morale of the workers and could only lead to confrontation between the union and management. These stories I later confirmed in talking to other employees.
I guess I have to say that I am not terribly surprised, but as a former management consultant and as somebody who has worked with both unions and management, I have to say -- and the minister, I think, from his own personal experience will know this -- that if you are going to introduce change and that change is going to have a significant impact on the lives of your workers, then you have to do it in consultation and with some sensitivity, and you do not simply impose it without having consequences to pay for that imposition.
The consequences are particularly true if your product happens to be a product that is in service of the public and indeed where it relies on your employees to be your front guard in dealing with the public. That holds true whether it is a police force, a grocery chain operation or anything in which you are providing a service where your employees are the contact with the public. You have to be very careful to make sure that changes are done with consultation and that the morale of those employees is at such a level that they take pride in their job and do not feel they are being put upon. If you do not, then the service suffers in some way, not because the employees deliberately go out and sabotage the service but simply because the psychological effects on individuals, the unhappiness that is created has to have an effect on their work, as well as on their family life.
We have seen this in study after study of various types of companies, some of which have operated with an enlightened management style and some of which have operated with a more authoritarian style.
We have seen that the use of part-time workers has met with really questionable results wherever it has been tried. Whenever part-time workers have been introduced in any industry in the name of efficiency, it has invariably posed a threat to the job security of the full-time workers. I guess one has to ask why the TTC situation should be any different and why the employees of the TTC should feel any less threatened when they look at the experiences of their counterparts in industry, or indeed even their counterparts in United States jurisdictions or even their counterparts in the municipal public service.
We have the statement by Ray Hutchinson, the president of the union, who showed that his negotiators were willing to be flexible. He was ready to provide the means of slashing overtime bills, of giving management greater powers in scheduling of workers and of providing better service to the public. The union, we understand, was prepared to cut overtime bills by roughly $3.5 million annually by creating a permanent category of workers whose sole assignment would be to fill in for absent workers. If we look at the models that have been used in other systems that are serving the public, we see that this kind of model has been used elsewhere.
There are serious questions about the use of part-time drivers that have created real problems in the US. One can only hope that some of these problems that have been raised, problems of security of jobs, problems of the service in terms of the consumer and indeed problems in terms of safety, will be looked at by the fact-finder and that he will make a serious study and do research into what has happened in US jurisdictions before he brings in his report.
It is really questionable whether or not there have been any substantial savings through the use of part-time workers in other jurisdictions. One of the factors one has to look at -- over the years as chairman of the standing committee on public accounts and as our party’s critic on government spending, I have become particularly attuned to hidden costs that sometimes do not show. If you look at the use of part-time workers in various industries, you have to look at some of these so-called hidden costs: the cost of personnel turnover that invariably goes up with the use of part-time workers is a cost that you have to measure and take into account before you that you have any savings, and there is the cost of the morale on the end product that you are producing or that you are providing through the use of part-time workers.
All of these are hidden costs, particularly the cost of training, which in turn is very, very expensive whenever you have a higher turnover or whenever you have the use of part-time employees. We have seen that in some of the other service industries here in this province.
At one of the organizations that provides home support services to seniors, where I am on the board of governors, we are having a major problem as a result of underfunding by this province. The underfunding means less attractive salaries, and less attractive salaries, among other things, means high turnover and also means extremely high training costs to our organization.
You have to take into account all of these hidden costs when you are examining whether or not you are actually saving money by your so-called system. You have to look at other models to meet the same objective. I mentioned earlier, as has my colleague from Hamilton, the fact that the union did make other proposals that might well satisfy the concerns of management, for which they are trying to justify the use of part-time employees.
Employees of the Toronto Transit Commission have shown that they are very concerned about high productivity. If you look at the last seven to eight years, ridership has increased by 24.7 per cent, mileage has increased due to new routes and route expansions by 19 per cent and the number of additional system vehicles has increased by 15 per cent, all of these increases, and yet the staff complement of operators has increased by only 5.5 per cent. That suggests to me that there is a high productivity in terms of the TTC employees and that they are pulling their load in trying to produce a quality service at a reasonable cost.
I have visited several United States jurisdictions, usually on holiday, where large numbers of workers are part-time. I have talked to these part-time workers as they rush from one part-time job to another part-time job and, in some instances, I have talked to people who have as many as three part-time jobs. We are starting to see the same phenomenon in Canada to some degree as a result of the free trade agreement and the influence of the US market system on our economy.
It seems to me Canada has provided a more sensitive, a more caring type of society than that of our US counterpart. It seems to me that we have cared about families, that we have cared about what industry is doing and the kinds of problems it may be creating for its workers.
Although by and large we have had, not perfect laws and not perhaps as enlightened as some in the European jurisdictions, in comparison to many of the American jurisdictions, I think that our labour laws have provided more support for families and for the kinds of qualities this society stands for.
I suggest that the influx of the part-time worker system is really an importation of something that I think is traditionally alien to many of the values many of us hold, values of the importance of the family, values of the importance of people having a job where they can at least have regular or somewhat regular hours, where they can have a predictable schedule and where they have some job security so they can take care of those concerns and those things that make life worth while and make our families worth while and make our society a more sensitive, caring society.
I hope that when the fact-finder looks at all of these things, he will look not just at the bottom line but also at the effect of part-time workers on our society and on the families of those people who are directly affected.
If you look at what we have in Metropolitan Toronto, we have a system in which 68 per cent of the cost of a TTC ride is paid for out of the cash box. It is paid for by the riders themselves. We have to look at whether or not this is adequate. Certainly, if we look at other jurisdictions, indeed, even other jurisdictions in Canada, we see that it does not compare favourably.
I hope the Minister of Labour will take these views into account. I hope the fact-finder will take these views into account. We look forward to further developments as they arise.
It seems to me that the kinds of intervention that are advocated by my colleagues to my left are not the kinds of constructive interventions I would advocate. I think what is clearly needed is leadership by the government, but there is a difference between leadership and direct intervention and I think this distinction must be made.
The Acting Speaker: Any comments or questions? Any further debate? The member for Don Mills.
Mr Velshi: Thank you, Mr Speaker. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate and wish you well on your appointment.
It gives me great pleasure to respond to the introduction of this bill. The role played by an efficient, award-winning transit system in a city the size of Metropolitan Toronto is vital. I received more calls from persons in my riding on this one issue, on the slowdown, than I have had on any other issue in a long time.
Mr Cousens: And what did you do about it?
Mr Velshi: This is what we did: My minister took action.
Mr Cousens: He didn’t take calls on it. He wasn’t going to get involved.
Mr Velshi: This is the very same member for Markham who objected to interjections from members from my side. If he wants to say something, I am prepared to sit, just like he offered.
We, the elected representatives, go to great lengths to tout the advantage of a modern, safe and efficient transit system. We say that taking the car into the downtown core is both unnecessary and inefficient, and then this happens to the elderly, the disabled, the schoolchildren and those who heeded our advice and got rid of their automobiles.
Nothing brought home more the vital role played by the management and the employees, who are the transit system, than the recent reduction in service and the looming threat of a complete and utter shutdown of the entire transportation network. To these groups of people and many others, the transit system is regarded as an essential service. Since 1849 when a single horse-drawn omnibus inaugurated the service at the corner of King and Yonge streets, public transportation has grown with and has been a catalyst to economic development in the greater Toronto area.
Nowhere is there a more outstanding example of the role of an efficient transportation system’s place in the economic prosperity of an urban centre than the opening of Toronto’s first subway line in May 1954, and nowhere is there a better example of how we rely on the men and women of the TTC than in the summer of 1974 when Toronto almost ground to a halt with a three-week, system-wide strike.
As legislators, we have the responsibility to ensure that the inconvenience of 1974 will not be repeated in 1989, but this must be achieved in a manner that is fair to those who run, to those who operate and to those who use North America’s finest public transportation system. I applaud the steps taken in this regard by my colleague the Minister of Labour. He has recognized the government’s duty to end the public inconvenience without taking the easy route of imposing a solution on the disputing parties. The government, through the minister, has displayed its respect for the right, and I might add the obligation, of the two parties to arrive at a solution themselves.
The outstanding issue of part-time workers has not come to a resolution with the passage of time. As a result, I see the provision of a neutral fact-finder’s report as a very positive move. In this way, the government will encourage the resolution of the issue without imposing its own solution. This is very important, as the Labour Relations Act and the collective bargaining process are supported and respected, and it places the onus exactly where it was originally intended to be to resolve the issues, on the parties, not the government.
It is vital in all situations such as this, where a stalemate has been reached, that the government not be forced into what amounts to bailing out the disputing parties with a quick-fix solution. The act introduced yesterday by my colleague offers the parties an opportunity to resolve their own unique issue in their own unique way.
I want to close by tipping my hat to the innocent third party in this dispute, the citizens of not only my riding of Don Mills but of all Metropolitan Toronto, who throughout these trying past few weeks have shown patience and understanding not to be found in many cities the size of ours. I acknowledge and applaud their goodwill, and I know I speak for all those who use the TTC when I say I wholeheartedly support this bill.
The Acting Speaker: Any comments or questions? Further debate? The member for Beaches-Woodbine.
Ms Bryden: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and may I congratulate you on being raised to your position of First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House and also Acting Speaker at times.
As a Metro Toronto member, I have been following with great interest the collective bargaining process between the Amalgamated Transit workers, Local 113, and the Toronto Transit Commission. We in the New Democratic Party caucus have met with both sides in order to be fully informed on the issues. I may say that we received more concrete documentation from the union than from management.
As a Metro member and a public transit user on many occasions, I am acutely aware of the serious hardships suffered by literally thousands of transit riders in this greater Toronto region. Motorists also suffered because they were forced to use overly congested streets due to the slowdown, and the workers were certainly seriously disadvantaged by the fact that they had to put on some sort of job action in order to bring attention to the issues, because collective bargaining, which had been going on for a number of months for a new contract, was not being proceeded with in good faith.
I really sympathize with those who stood in long lines waiting for buses and streetcars, often in inclement weather. I recognize the patience of many in those lines and I was thankful we did not have a full shutdown, as has happened in past years, but I do not think we should have had to put up with all that hardship and disruption of our daily schedules and daily lives for such a long time. It appears to me management deliberately prolonged the collective bargaining process by refusing to negotiate about the part-time issue. That is where the blame should be put.
The union tells us it was ready to accept proposals in the working conditions field a week or 10 days ago. If they had been offered a fact-finder’s study of the part-time issue, which is what we are actually getting under this legislation -- a study that would be thorough and exhaustive on the issue but would not be binding at the end and would simply give us a planned resolution -- if the union had been offered a fact-finder’s study of that sort in order to get the part-time issue off the table, the whole issue could have been resolved 10 days ago.
I think you have to put the finger on the Toronto Transit Commission and its bosses, you may say, in the Metro council, who appoint that commission. Many of them were new this year and I think inexperienced in collective bargaining, but even the Metro council refused to give them any direction. A motion was moved at Metro council that the council should ask the two parties to meet with it so that they could find out what the issues were. That motion was defeated. So Metro council has to bear some responsibility for the long delay in settling this very difficult dispute and for not helping people get back to normal more quickly.
The Minister of Labour also stayed out of the picture for far too long. In none of his press releases did he offer the proposed fact-finder’s study as a possible resolution that the two parties might start looking at. It may have been done behind closed doors by some of the conciliators, but it certainly was not brought forward to the public to let them know that there was a possible solution to the problem that would allow for an exhaustive examination of the part-time issue. That only came out when the minister decided to drop the axe, as it were, and put in compulsory, binding legislation to settle the issue.
New Democrats have generally been opposed to compulsory binding legislation. One of the problems with it is that in labour-management situations which may be difficult to settle it encourages management to wait for the axe to fall. It encourages management to wait for the government to intervene. It seems a real shame that when the two parties were in agreement on practically everything else besides the part-time, that the government, if it was going to intervene, did not come in quickly with that kind of suggestion which is in the legislation before us.
So I hold the government responsible also for this, what appeared to be a breakdown in collective bargaining and which inconvenienced a great many people in this city and which inconvenienced the whole area. We lost a lot a money, actually, in the operation of the system and the efficiency of our economy in this area.
I know the union had worked out a proposal which had permitted full operation of the system without part-time workers. My colleague the member for Hamilton East went through this proposal in great detail and showed that it would have saved a minimum of $1 million a year and probably a great deal more, if you started to count the improvement in productivity that would come from it. All it would have required was the hiring of 40 additional full-time TTC employees. This was long overdue, because the system had been greatly expanded, new routes had been opened up, but they were trying to operate those new routes with the same complement of staff they had I think it was five or 10 years ago, and rely on part-timers or other arrangements to service those new routes and to keep the old ones operating at full efficiency.
They were relying on an inadequate workforce, and the management now was telling them, “We’ll solve these difficulties of staffing and operating your new routes as well as your old ones if you let us hire part-timers.” Management also tried to sweeten the pill by saying: “We’ll pay the part-timers full rates if they work a full eight-hour day. We’ll pay them benefits.” Of course, it would only be prorated if they did not work a full eight-hour day, and really what it would be, it would be the thin edge of the wedge to hiring more and more part-timers. That is what the issue was all about.
Because once you say, “Well, you can have so many part-timers in this contract,” next year, management will come back and say, “We need more part-timers, because we can cut the cost by so much that way.” It is cutting costs by reducing wages. It would be cutting costs by busting unions, really, because instead of a labour force fully organized and able to bargain its conditions collectively with strength, the union would be weakened and the part-timers would multiply at management’s whim and we would be into a situation in this metropolitan area where the TTC was one of the many industries that has become the victim of job loss and has become the haven for part-timers. It is not really a haven, but management is beginning to put the whole retail trade on to part-timers, the supermarkets on to part-timers, and even many of the downtown services. Even in the stockbroking offices and various service offices, you will find part-timers are replacing full-timers.
That means we have a less mature community and a place that is less desirable in which to work, because part-timers do not buy houses, part-timers do not build families; they cannot look far enough ahead. Part-timers do not keep unions strong so they can have proper collective bargaining when it comes to settling their wages and working conditions. Part-timers do not do any of those things. In many cases, they are not organized or they are very difficult to organize, and the whole commercial sector of this city is being taken over by part-timers. So I do congratulate the Amalgamated Transit Union and its locals, which have been supporting it in many ways. I do congratulate them on fighting the part-time issue, because it is not only going to affect transit workers, it is going to affect almost everybody who works in this city if we do not fight that trend.
So there was a reasonable proposal before the group, and unfortunately management exercised its rights to not look at it. I think the management rights question is something that we also have to look at very carefully. It used to be in the old days that whatever the boss said went, and then unions gradually got organized and some of them were able to get a share of management rights and say: “You can decide the scheduling here, but you cannot decide how many vacation days we are going to have. We will write that into the contract.”
The kind of management rights that have been coming out of this new TTC board, I would say, puts them back into the days of King John at Runnymede and the barons when Magna Carta was brought in. You may remember that Magna Carta was considered a defence, a protection against the arbitrary rule of a despot king. What that said was: “If any of our English liberties are curtailed by his dictatorial decisions, we have to have a say in it, he has to consult us. Probably if you do not you will have a civil war.” That was the threat. So Magna Carta became the great charter of English liberties and it now still applies to any need for protecting the equal rights of citizens in any nation-state, shall we say, or anywhere in the world.
So we have to insist that employers start sharing their management rights more fully. It is only a legitimate request for workers to have a say in their scheduling and in how many full-time employees they have to meet the needs, how they improve services. I think if members look and if the minister looks at the proposal from the amalgamated transit workers they will find that their proposal is a very well-thought-out and very useful alternative to the use of part-time workers, and it will provide more full-time jobs. It will provide more people in our community who can become part of the community which develops families and develops a working pattern that will keep our community alive and well.
I think these are the reasons why our caucus looked very carefully at whether we should support this bill. We know it is accepted by the union as a very reasonable solution to their fight, but the main reason it accepts it is because it puts the whole part-time issue into another category and it will be treated in a different way, a way that until we go through the process we do not know how acceptable that method will be, but at least we will have the facts looked at and a report brought out on the issue.
So it is acceptable, I understand, to most of the union people. So why should we vote against it? Mainly because once you start voting for compulsory arbitration of any kind you may find that you are being asked to vote for other kinds of compulsory arbitration that may not be as acceptable, either to the union or to your principles of promoting collective bargaining in good faith.
That is why we feel that in order to signal our displeasure with the way this dispute is being settled, through legislative fiat, really, through Bill 58, we will vote against this, but we are looking forward to the establishment of that fact-finding commission, which I think could go ahead under other legislation if the other members of the House voted with us and we defeated this bill, Also, I am sure that the union and the TTC have pretty well agreed on what their next contract should be, so there will be no reopening of the slowdown or any strike. We are in that situation that the system is operating, but I think it just could be done in a different way to make sure we get the fact-finding study and the conditions that have been worked out through so much hard work and disputation.
I think that is the main reason that the member for Hamilton East also indicated that he would be voting against compulsory arbitration, that it is part of our principles and we do not want to set any precedents for future disputes. We hope most future disputes do not come here to this Legislature and we hope the Minister of Labour will learn from this particular process and this particular situation in probably the most important city in the province, but the process will go on elsewhere too. So we hope the Minister of Labour will learn from this situation that efforts to improve collective bargaining in good faith are what he should be working at.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions and comments on the member’s statement?
Mr Mackenzie: The member once again outlined some of the threats to workers in the part-time route. There is one other small threat I would like the minister to take note of; not a threat, but one other concern I did not put on the record. That is that with 8,500 workers, there are a handful, about 10 or less, who are hourly but are on mileage. I am wondering, when he responds to the various speeches, if he could tell us whether they are included in the five per cent wage increase.
The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments on the member’s statement? Does the member for Beaches-Woodbine wish to respond?
Ms Bryden: I would certainly underline what my colleague said about rectifying that lack of clarity in the bill regarding the people who are on mileage rates. I think we should make sure that the legislation and the administration of it goes through with the intent of the people who have been engaged in the collective bargaining; make sure it is a contract that will not come back to us, and that we will go ahead from this one to new contracts.
The Deputy Speaker: Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mrs Marland: In rising to speak to Bill 58, the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Settlement Act, I want to say at the outset that what has happened here has been quite a revelation for those of us who have been watching it go on, I think particularly on behalf of those of us who represent ridings where our constituents depend on the relationship between our local transit companies, as in the city of Mississauga, where Mississauga Transit integrates with the Toronto transit system.
It is like so many things this Liberal government does. They simply have done it all backwards. Actually, I would like the minister, when he gets an opportunity to respond, to elaborate on the nature of the meetings that took place in his office last Thursday. I understand the minister had a meeting at 10 o’clock with management and he had another meeting with labour at 11, and that his press release was given out at noon. I further understand that the press release said he would be introducing this back-to-work legislation today. So I really have to wonder what the point of his meeting was. Did he have management come in at 10 o’clock and labour at 11 and say, “Look folks, this is what we’re going to do”?
Obviously, the minister did not intend for them to have any successful use of time over the weekend. If he told them on Thursday morning that he was issuing the press release right after those meetings, that he was going to introduce this back-to-work legislation, then he was telling them that after everything he has said about hands off, that the government must not interfere, that it cannot be resolved by a third party -- after saying all of that, from what we hear about those meetings Thursday morning, he was finally saying, “Look folks, this is what we’re going to do.”
I think that is really quite an interesting approach, especially when the Premier has said all along that there is no role for government in these negotiations, that it must be settled by themselves. In fact, the Premier said on 6 September: “It is not the government’s responsibility to get involved. We are not planning on interfering. They are both over 21. They are both mature groups.”
That is a very casual, offhand comment by the Premier, and I think this slapstick approach to government is something the people of Ontario can see through, this approach to government where the government does not feel it is responsible for anything. It has been demonstrated so many times to us in the past four years, but particularly in the past two years with the arrogance of the 94-seat majority the Liberal government has in Ontario, that it really does not have to listen to anybody, nor does it have to take responsibility for anything. When something gets a little dicey, a little touchy, maybe a subject like Sunday shopping, they dump it off on to the municipalities.
Other major issues that should be decision-making time for the Ontario Liberal government are passed off to other levels of government for their administration. We are certainly seeing that indication with the rumoured changes in the administration of our environmental protection in this province and our housing policies. This government really does not want to make a decision on anything.
I think this statement by the Premier about the TTC strike is another indication that -- when he said that it is not the government’s responsibility to get involved, that it was not planning on interfering, then what is he actually saying? Is he saying it is okay when people cannot get to work? Is he saying it is okay when people spend two hours instead of one hour on public transit in Toronto, if people cannot get comfortably to a medical appointment because the transit system is so clogged and crowded that they cannot get a seat and they are not strong enough to be in a position where they have to stand for their whole transit ride’? Is he saying that is okay? When students are late for classes, does education not matter either?
I think the unfortunate thing is that the government does not seem to know when is the time to step in and when is the time to make a decision. I think the whole approach of this government, particularly in this situation, is one of “Well, we won’t do anything until we absolutely have to,” and now there are parts of this bill that I think are almost humorous. I mean the fact that the bill refers all the easy issues to the arbitrator; in fact it refers all those issues that management and labour already have an agreement on in principle. I mean the fact that they are saying that they will refer the issues that deal with -- let me just find the list of the issues because I think this is quite significant.
They deal with the issues of -- I cannot find the list unfortunately of the actual issues; oh, here they are. These are the issues that they have referred to the arbitrator, although there is already an agreement in principle. I mean this is what is so great. They have referred the issues of the wage increase, the split shifts on weekends, vacation time in summer. All those are easy issues. They are really already resolved, so they refer those to the arbitrator. The one issue which is outstanding goes to the fact-finder, and it goes to the fact-finder for a report on or before 30 June next year.
What do we think is going to happen in June next year? We are going to be in the same position that we are in now because, for sure, when the fact-finder’s report comes out, it is going to please either management or the union; it is certainly not going to please both. So we are going to be back in exactly the same position that we are today. Management and labour will still not agree.
What the government should have done was, first of all, develop a term of reference to include both the management and the union proposals to resolve the full service issue. They should have had the fact-finder to ensure that he or she would have full access to all data pertaining to the issue and such data would be provided to both parties for verification. They should have had the fact-finder to investigate and release the report in a given period of time and not wait necessarily till 30 June 1990.
What is going to happen, I understand, is that the parties would be then given another 90 days to negotiate the fact-finder’s recommendations. So then already it is going to be September 1990, and if there is still no agreement, it only then would be sent to binding arbitration for resolution within a further 60 days. So on and on it goes.
Now I know under the labour laws and the union agreements there is a certain process, but all I am saying is that I think it is really interesting when the government sits back and in its hands-off way says this situation is not its responsibility. They do not want to get involved. In fact, I think the minister said today when he started that he wanted to say no government involvement. Maybe the minister still says no government involvement, but what is this if it is not government involvement? I mean what is a piece of legislation that legislates people back to work but government involvement?
I happen to agree that this is where we should be at, but how can they say one thing two or three days ago, and I understand it has been their position all along that the government should not be involved, and then finally after all of this time it is involved? I mean at what point do they decide that they are going to take the responsibility and be involved so that people are not inconvenienced?
The fact that the daily riders dropped by over 100,000 people during this job action is very significant and it should be of very real concern, I think, to the minister. I understand that the money, the loss of revenue, is something like $160,000 a day, something like $7.6 million lost to the transit system. We know the fares will go up next year anyway, but maybe the fares are going to have to go up more to recover the loss because this strike was allowed to continue for so long.
I think it is also significant when we look at where we are today that there are real flaws in what has happened. Frankly, I think the government is hunting mice with an elephant gun in appointing an arbitrator to settle those issues upon which both parties already agree in principle. I really have to wonder what it is the minister is doing by referring those issues to an arbitrator.
I think too that when the minister looks at what the TTC and the union have agreed upon and where his legislation takes them today, I have to say, what was it that he was waiting for? I think the whole issue of the Toronto transit strike has been mishandled by the Liberal government. I just feel that it is a further statement about it when they say, “We do not want to be involved, we want to keep our hands clean,” and they do that until far too much time passed and far too many people were inconvenienced at far too great a loss in terms of revenue for the largest transit system in Ontario.
Bear in mind, I do not know what the subsidy currently is of the Toronto transit system by the provincial government but I can remember a few years ago when we were trying to get a subsidy for the Mississauga transit that was the year the Ontario government subsidized the Toronto transit system $120 million. I am sure by now perhaps it is close to $200 million. Maybe the minister has those figures.
The fact is that the Ontario taxpayers, wherever they live in Ontario today, subsidize this Toronto transit system, and what do we have? We have a loss of revenue of $7.6 million because this strike has been allowed to continue, and so those Ontario taxpayers who already subsidize the system are going to have to subsidize it at least $7.6 million more because that is the loss of revenue due to this Liberal government’s inaction in solving and resolving the transit strike until this late date, in spite of the fact that the government said it did not want to get involved, but wanted to leave it to management and union.
It is how the government has handled all of the strike situations in the last four years, and I think it is time the people of Ontario had a government that was accountable, did make decisions and did take action in the best interests of the people of this province.
The Deputy Speaker: Any questions or comments on the member’s statement? Do other members wish to participate in the debate?
Mr Reville: I rise to participate in the debate concerning Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes. As I rise, my gorge rises with me because I have just heard my colleague in the third party, the member for Mississauga South (Mrs Marland), comment somewhat crossly about the incredible subsidies that must be being paid to the TTC by the people of Ontario in the right of the government of Ontario. That is like waving a red flag in front of a male bovine creature.
One of the things that Metro members of this Legislature have been whining about -- let me not mince words; we have been mewling and puking about this issue lo these many years -- is the mingy subsidy that the province of Ontario provides to the transit riders of Metro Toronto. Lest there should be any doubt in the minds of members of this Legislature, lest they be not able to interpret the fine old Scottish adjective “mingy,” what that means is cheap, cheap, cheap: 16 cents on the dollar.
The fare box in a Toronto transit vehicle is required to produce 68 per cent of the cost of running the system; 16 cents is provided by Metro and 16 cents out of the goodness of the heart of the government of Ontario. Lest the member for Mississauga South need any more information, this is the smallest subsidy to any major transit system in the free world. It may even be the smallest subsidy to any transit system anywhere in the world, free or not free. That is cheap.
One of the reasons why workers at the TTC are always being pressed up against the wall by management of the TTC is because this government and governments before it for lo these many years have been unwilling to subsidize what is, in my view, one of the finest transit systems anywhere in the world, free or not. Although I have not had a chance to ride on all of them, I have had a chance to ride extensively on the Metro system and on systems in other major cities in the western world.
The people of Metropolitan Toronto -- dare I say it, management and workers -- should be proud of the system they have developed and maintained, which in the main delivers people to their destination without a lot of muss and fuss, including some routes which other transit systems would not sustain because in fact they are not routes that are designed on profitability; they are designed on service to people, and that is the way it should be.
I think the government of Ontario’s refusal to recognize the contribution that the TTC makes to the wellbeing of the economy of Metro and the emotional wellbeing of people trying to get to work and trying to get to places they need to get to in a very big metropolis is not well enough recognized by this government. Quite often, when that situation obtains, it is the workers who are held to ransom by their managements, and economies attempted to be realized on the backs of workers who require their salaries to live.
So we see in other endeavours that are undertaken by workers in this province. I guess the most obvious of those endeavours would be neighbourhood support services, where people in fact are paid ridiculously low wages to do the good work that they do because various governments refuse to acknowledge the value of that work. So you have child care workers doing what I think is perhaps the most important job in our society, labouring for $15,000, $18,000, $20,000, $22,000 a year, and that is a shocking situation. Home care workers out there are working at five bucks an hour because this government and the federal government refuse to acknowledge the value of that work by putting their money where their mouths are.
It has always been a good place to work, the TTC. There are some problems with working conditions and there always have been, because of the nature of the kind of work that is done there, but in fact you can earn a pretty good living there. The reason you can earn a good living working for the TTC, in my view, is because labour has organized and because collective bargaining is generally possible in this province. So the workers have gone and sold their labour for the best bargain that they could achieve. That is a system that my party is particularly interested in maintaining without intervention by governments.
There is no question in the mind of anybody who has looked at this situation carefully but that the management of the TTC and the TTC commissioners wanted the government of Ontario to intervene. Why would they not? The government has intervened in this particular collective bargaining arrangement time after time after time throughout the history of aborted collective bargaining in the province of Ontario around transit matters. The Pope is about to visit Ontario and before there is any work stoppage, a previous government brings down legislation saying, “There shall be no collective bargaining.” Imagine that. It has happened over and over again. It is happening again here today.
As my colleague the member for Hamilton East, a person from whom I have to take lessons in respect to labour matters, points out, this may be a very unusual case in which a government intervention does not shaft the workers. But what does it do? It gets the general manager of the TTC off the hook. It means that he does not have to cut the mustard; he does not have to confront the very real issues that were raised in the collective bargaining process. It gets off the hook the TTC commissioners, who were unprepared to cut the mustard.
I find that particularly regrettable because this is the first time we have had collective bargaining going on between management and workers at the TTC when the commission has been made up of people who are technically accountable. It is a cruel irony that the concern expressed at Metro council was that, “Well, you got these citizen appointments to the TTC” -- and these were various big shots around the town, various development lawyers and what not, and they really did not have a constituency – “so we had better replace them with politicians because they are accountable people.” Of course, we did replace them with those of us who have a Metro kind of base. What our Metropolitan government did was replace them with politicians. Alas, we replaced them with politicians who are accountable to management, not to workers. Would you not know that is the way we would do it.
So a former colleague of mine, Lois Griffin, who is now the chair of the TTC and a Metro politician, who makes so bold as to allow as how she has never ridden on the TTC, is unprepared to come to terms with the concern of the workers that future jobs available to people in Ontario would not be jobs that would provide them with a decent living. No, they would be jobs that would provide them with part of a decent living.
As New Democrats, we stand in this House to support workers in a lot of situations. In fact, we see it as our job to stand and speak up on behalf of workers in all situations because we are pretty clear about whose side we are on. Sometimes those situations are a little more difficult than others, but this one is an easy situation for us because what the members of the various unions representing the bargaining units in this connection are trying to protect is decent jobs for people who are not even employed today.
They are not under any threat. No one has suggested to them that their jobs were at risk. What they are doing is investing in future jobs. What they are doing is speaking out now, at considerable inconvenience to themselves, because they have all taken home smaller pay-cheques, they have all been subject to various kinds of irritation that have been expressed by people who use the TTC, they have been harassed unmercifully in the media by the management of TTC, but what they have been doing is saying, “We think that if you live around Metro Toronto you had better have a full-time job, because you can’t make it if you don’t.”
We are going to take a stand today to try to protect those full-time jobs. We have seen other transit systems in North America that have gone the part-time route, and we have seen what it means to those part-timers who have to have two, three and four jobs in order to put enough bread on the table in economies that are not very friendly -- as none of them are in the major urban centres in North America to people of low income, where housing prices are going up through the ceiling, where they have to face the hostility of this and other governments which decide thereon on the side of, say, insurance companies, where the family car costs you more to drive because insurance rates keep going up.
The TTC workers are not just imagining things. They knew quite well that the trophy or award for Transit Person of the Year was going to be bestowed on the general manager of the TTC if in fact he could shove part-time into the contract. It is very curious what drives some of these things sometimes. There are various kinds of executive directors and general managers of major transit companies throughout North America; they were all kind of holding their breath to see if the general manager of the TTC could somehow ram part-time work down the throats of the workers who deliver the service to us here in Metropolitan Toronto.
There is no question that my constituents and the constituents of anybody who represents a Metro riding, and those people who represent ridings adjacent to Metro, people who transferred to the TTC, were inconvenienced by the job action taken by the TTC workers. The TTC workers were absolutely conscious and concerned about that fact. It is one of the dilemmas for a group of workers, when they provide what is a very important service, to try to figure out just what they should do to let management know they are not going to knuckle under to unfair management demands.
The TTC workers looked at the past history of being legislated back to work, sometimes before they even said, “Boo,” sometimes after they had said, “Boo” for a while. They knew that approach was a no-win situation because, in fact, they were absolutely certain that this government would step in and butt in where it has no business belonging in collective bargaining.
I think they came up with a courageous and appropriate strategy. I had lots of calls, and I am sure my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine had calls too, from people who get on the 5:05 or the 5:04 or the 5:01, or the subway or the Coxwell bus, so they can get to work and get home again, or so they can get to places they have to go to. I guess it is a pretty hard sell to say to people, “You have to put up with some inconvenience because this is an important struggle.” Yet there were people who said, “Yes, I will put up with it.” Indeed, there were people who said, “I won’t put up with any inconvenience at all.” That is part of the urban reality as well.
Quite frankly, I think this government has significant responsibility for that urban reality, a government that has allowed housing prices to go through the roof so that ordinary people cannot even dream of buying a house in Metropolitan Toronto and tenants are subjected to inadequate living conditions and exponential increases in rents in spite of having been promised by this government to be protected from consumer ripoffs, where we have an escalating drug crisis in this city that make people kind of afraid to go out of doors in case they run into a drug deal and catch a .38 in the back of the head.
These urban breakdown symptoms relate to the inappropriate response of this government and create a climate where a few weeks’ inconvenience, half an hour or an hour more to get to work and back, becomes an intolerable burden to bear. I think it is an interconnected web of urban despair and urban nervousness that I feel every time I talk to my constituents, and I lay that at the doorstep of this government as well. I am not saying these problems are easy to solve. We will have an opportunity to discuss many of these problems in greater detail, and I hope soon, in this House.
In closing, I just want to reiterate my personal distaste and that of my party for government intervention in the process of collective bargaining. I want to reiterate my party’s long-standing plaint that this government has to support the TTC network more adequately than it has up until now, so that savings are not realized on the backs of workers. Those of us who live in Metro or in the area surrounding Metro know how expensive it is to live here, and even on my vast salary I do not see a lot of dollars left in my pocket towards the end of the month, and I make a lot more than a TTC operator makes, so I understand very personally why they are so concerned about those who will have to make do on half of what they make or a quarter of what they make. It just cannot be done, and that is no way to treat economic needs of people, by saying, “Okay, we will make it possible for you to have half a job or a quarter of a job.” We are not going to stand for that.
We are not going to support this bill, although we do have the qualifications that have been already mentioned, that strangely in this case, I think the workers are getting shafted less than they normally do. I am looking forward to the fact-finder’s report. I suspect what the fact-tinder will say is that part-time may be good for management but it sure as hell is poor for workers.
Mr Runciman: I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important debate. It is regrettable that more members of the government side of the House are not taking this opportunity to express views on this kind of legislation and the initiative undertaken by their Minister of Labour. I thought it was interesting to as well hear the member for Riverdale (Mr Reville), whose comments I frequently enjoy. I am making reference to his party’s distaste for government intervention. In respect to labour disputes, of course, he did qualify it. I guess that is perhaps the only area in which that particular party would have any sense of distaste in terms of government intervention.
I want to extend my congratulations to the new minister for his elevation, I guess, to that particular portfolio. I know it is perhaps the toughest in cabinet, and certainly not one that I would or will aspire to when we form the government in 1990 or 1991. I would much rather be, perhaps, Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, tour the world like the incumbent is currently doing in a very effective and frequent manner. But certainly it is a tough job and in many ways a thankless one.
Even though we do not agree with all elements of the bill that the minister has brought forward, I again commend the minister for taking action. It could have been a very serious situation -- a crisis situation, I think, is not going overboard -- if the minister had not intervened in this labour dispute.
I also want to take a couple of minutes to make reference to the role of the member for Markham (Mr Cousens). He made comments early in September with respect to encouraging government intervention at that time, and I think the pressure which he applied on the ministry and on the government was important with respect to the government finally determining that it had to take action on this critical matter affecting the greater Toronto area.
The member for Markham is someone who over the years has exhibited great leadership abilities in this Legislature and outside this House. I have known him since he was elected in 1981. During his tenure as Chairman of the Committees of the Whole House and later as a member of the executive council as the Minister of Correctional Services, he again exhibited in a very forthright manner the talents that all members of this House recognize that he possesses.
I just wanted to put those views on the record so that listeners and viewers would know that other members of this Legislature appreciate the efforts and the commitment to the task by the member for Markham.
The member for Markham, as members know, and this is a related matter, is also making a significant effort to try and deal with the transportation problems related to the greater Toronto area. Unlike the government, he is once again trying to show the way with respect to how this government could deal with some very important and critical concerns facing residents of the greater Toronto area.
I am not speaking on behalf of my party, but I do want to express some personal views with respect to this labour dispute and the fact that this sort of thing has been occurring for a great many years. The most recent one we have read about in the paper, and of course I was a member of the House at the time, was the legislation passed in 1984 to preclude any labour dispute that might arise during the visit of the Pope. We can go back to other times when we had the House recalled during the summer months to deal with a labour dispute involving the TTC.
I think it is time that perhaps at least the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party took a look at dealing with legislation that would declare the TTC an essential service. In my view, it is an essential service and it is going to become increasingly so in the years ahead. We have witnessed over the past four years, in any event, a very significant deterioration in the GTA infrastructure and a commitment from this government that has been lacking with respect to dealing with that problem.
We are going to see increases in population of a significant variety in this area and again an increasing emphasis on improving and increasing the carrying capacities of the transit systems in the GTA. I think it is well beyond time where we as legislators took the bull by the horns with respect to this issue. It is a difficult one, and certainly there are going to be those who will object to the concept of declaring it an essential service and mandating binding arbitration for future resolutions of labour disputes within the TTC.
As someone who served on a municipal council, I know that binding arbitration is certainly not a panacea. I know most of us felt that with respect to police matters, fire matters, nursing homes, etc, that were referred to binding arbitration or were, faced with compulsory arbitration; in many instances the municipal governments were faced with settlements that did not reflect the economic reality of the community.
I think those kinds of things can be dealt with in the government through the Ministry of Labour or through Treasury or whatever. Perhaps Management Board can lay down guidelines with respect to arbitration that do very clearly recognize the economic realities of a given municipality.
Of course, with the TTC situation, we know that in terms of the cost of living in the greater Toronto area it is a very unique situation indeed. Hopefully, any binding arbitration requirements would very clearly recognize that special status in terms of the economic situation.
I want to talk about the bill briefly with respect to the requirements that the minister has placed upon the two parties. I have some difficulty, and my party has some difficulty, with the fact that the government is referring all issues other than the part-time issue to binding arbitration, and the part-time issue, the most contentious one, it has left in the hands of a fact-finder.
As someone who has had considerable experience in organized labour as the contract negotiator with the International Federation of Chemical, Energy and General Workers’ Unions and as a former union president -- I always like to say that when we are talking about labour matters, because it tends to rankle my friends over here. But in any event, as someone who has dealt with a number of contract negotiations, I have difficulty with this concept.
I have to wonder about the people within the ministry who arrive at these kinds of conclusions. How many of them have had hands-on experience within the labour movement? How many of the people who design these kinds of proposals for the minister have really been out there on the plant floor? How many are people who have been involved in tough negotiations, tough bargaining? I think in many instances these are people residing in bureaucratic ivory towers who do not have any recognition of the reality out there, whether it be on the plant floor or out within the TTC, and the kinds of difficulties that the workers and management face in trying to deal with some very onerous, difficult and significant problems.
What strikes me very clearly is the fact that, as I have said, the minister has set this most contentious issue aside from binding arbitration. Any time I was involved in negotiations, you look at your negotiations as a total package. I think it is extremely difficult and it puts both parties in a difficult position when you take one particular issue and set it aside and place it in a separate forum in which to reach an agreement on. When you are negotiating, you are taking a look at the total picture; there are tradeoffs on both sides of the table, and those tradeoffs have to do with the total picture.
If you are talking about part-time workers, which is the most contentious issue, a very important issue to both parties, and you are taking it out of the context of the remaining points that are going to be discussed, negotiated and agreed upon at the bargaining level, that just does not make any sense to me, because all of those have to relate to each other. If you are going to make a concession in one area, you are looking for a concession from the other party in another area.
What the minister has done with this initiative is take the most contentious issue out of that bargaining package. I think it places everyone in a difficult position. I think it places the arbitrator in a somewhat difficult position as well. I do not think it is a reflection of the reality of current-day collective bargaining. I think, again, it reflects badly upon the minister’s officials, the people who designed this concept and put it forward.
Perhaps it reflects upon the minister’s newness to this portfolio and perhaps his own -- I do not know his background, but perhaps it is quite limited in terms of his exposure to collective bargaining and organized labour from the management or labour side. I do not know. Perhaps the minister will have an opportunity to elaborate on that if he wishes to at some point later on.
That strikes me as perhaps the major flaw, the major weakness in what the minister has proposed in this legislation. I want to put that on record. I do not think it is too late. I am not sure how far the process has evolved or whether anything has transpired up to this point or whether we are waiting until the legislation is passed. I assume that is the process and that is why we are expediting this process, so that nothing can be undertaken until such time as the legislation is passed. If that is indeed the case, I would urge him to reconsider the separation of this major issue from the remaining points of dispute and discussion. I think it is something that perhaps he should take back to his officials and try and get some objective advice with respect to whether indeed this is workable and whether it is going to place both parties in very difficult positions, and the arbitrator as well.
Mr Charlton: I think the comments that have been made on Bill 58 by my colleagues have clearly set out our party’s position in terms of government intervention in the collective bargaining process, but I think it is useful, since this process keeps happening over and over again, if we talk somewhat about some of the reasons we oppose this kind of intervention.
The new minister I think tried to play the game appropriately by denying right up to the last minute that he intended to intervene, and his staff obviously to some extent understand what an indication of intervention does to the collective bargaining process. But I guess that speaks to the very heart of the issue itself, and I think if we stop and think just for a moment about what the officials at the TTC are saying to themselves this week and what those people perhaps as well in the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 are saying to themselves is: “They’ve done it again. They lived up to the expectation that the province would intervene and not allow a strike to occur or, at the very worst, not allow it to go on very long. We didn’t have to reach a settlement because they did intervene at the last minute.”
At some point, if we really want the collective bargaining process to work, we have to say no, there will be no intervention, and for one round at least we have to stick to that commitment that there will be no intervention; and let the consequences for that one round fall on the heads of those who refuse to settle.
In the specific case we have before us here in this Bill 58, we have the classic case whereon the one key outstanding issue there was no movement for two solid months. There was no negotiation. There was no discussion. There was no compromise. There was no attempt to try and step that issue down to a closer and settleable range.
Again, we have given both the parties in this strike -- in this negotiating situation, rather, and potential strike, lockout, whatever -- and we have given the other parties in this province who have been subjected to government intervention in the past the belief that when push comes to shove and when the crisis is imminent, the government will intervene and cause a settlement to occur in one way, shape or form. it may not always take exactly the same shape and form but, “The government will resolve it for us somehow and we don’t have to sit down and settle now.” That is essentially the psychology that develops out there.
I may not be unique in very many ways but I am one of those fortunate people who has had the opportunity, on a good number of occasions, for many long hours, to sit on both sides of the negotiating fable. For 10 years prior to my election, I was a president in the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the union which the government negotiates with representing its employees, and I spent an extensive number of hours behind negotiating tables on behalf of my fellow members of the union. Since my election and more specifically for the last eight years, I have spent my time on the other side of the bargaining table, on the management side.
I have seen both sides. I have seen how both sides develop strategy, not how they deal with specific nitty-gritty issues but how they develop strategy, and how they approach the question of the overall negotiation that confronts them, what the key issues are that they want to achieve or avoid, and how any tool that happens to exist becomes part of that bargaining strategy.
Bill 58, even though it had not been written and had not been named, became part of the bargaining strategy in the negotiations around the TTC issues this year. It became a part of that strategy because, on the other occasions over the course of the last 12 or 14 years when the negotiations with the TTC were apparently coming to a stalemate, an impasse, the government has intervened. It has intervened to stop a strike that had been going on for a short time; it has intervened to prevent a strike from occurring.
Now we have done it again, and we have ensured that this lever, this tool, will therefore be part of the strategy in the next set of negotiations between the TTC and its union and the planning around the next difficult set of negotiations that those parties commence.
That is the kind of lesson we are teaching to at least those parties and to probably some others who have been or fear or expect that they could be legislated back to work.
There are a number of other reasons why the kind of intervention that is set out in this bill specifically is objectionable, aside from the pure, free collective bargaining philosophical discussion, about how free collective bargaining should operate and the responsibilities that should lie with both parties to a collective bargaining process, responsibilities which get diminished by this kind of legislation.
There are the specific issues of the circumstance we have before us here, and some of my colleagues have mentioned them, I want to mention the part-time issue specifically and to address what I view is a major failure on the part of this government. I am not reflecting this failure on the current minister, because he is new in his position as Minister of Labour, but it is a failure of this government because the part-time issue is not a new issue in Ontario. It has been an issue that has grown by leaps and bounds throughout the period of economic recovery since 1983.
We have seen the growth of part-time employment in Ontario mushroom over the course of the last six years and it will continue to mushroom until, as a society, and as a government that is supposed to provide leadership for our society, it takes a position and starts to put in place the mechanisms to help and protect working people. It will continue to mushroom.
We all understand the kind of economic chaos that the recession itself caused, the hundreds and thousands of people who lost jobs and subsequently lost homes, the marriages that broke up as a result, the impact that had on families and children. Fifteen years from now, unfortunately, we will still be studying the economic and social consequences of that recession; and I believe, even more unfortunately, because we are going to spend the next 15 years studying the economic and social consequences of the recession, it will be 25 to 30 years before we start to deal with the economic and social consequences of the recovery, which on far too many occasions we have taken the time to boast about.
On a weekly basis, I have people come into my constituency office to see me, people who used to work at Firestone or at Canadian Porcelain or at Westinghouse in extremely solid, high-paying industrial jobs; people who made financial commitments in our community; people who made social and family commitments to their spouses and to their children; people who bought homes, because they wanted to be part of a better and growing community; people who now at 55, 56, 57, 58 years old have lost their homes; some of them have even lost their marriages. Some of them have found work. Some of them have found full-time work, and where they used to earn $15 an hour, they are now working for $7.50 an hour. They are not going to survive very long in that kind of scenario. Some of them have not even been able to find full-time work. Some of them are the people who are stuck in the part-time jobs that have been mushrooming throughout our society.
The key stumbling-block issue in this labour dispute was the part-time issue. And what are we doing? Hands off; fact-finder; and then we will see what the fact-finder has to say. If the union and management can come to agreement in terms of the fact-finder’s findings, they may settle this dispute, but it is all a part of what is going on right across Ontario.
The minister can find in his own ministry -- again, he has not been there long enough to wade through all the paper reports that exist, but if he were to take a look he could find statistical reports on what has been happening in the retail sector, for example, the devastation of the jobs in the retail sector that has gone on over the course of the last six or seven years by the move from full-time employment to part-time employment.
The department store where I shop in Hamilton is now down to about 10 full-time employees -- 10 on the floor anyway; there may be a few more in the back rooms, in the offices, that I am not aware of because they are not the ones I talk to when I am in the store every week. But we are down to about 10 full-time employees in the huge department store. Everybody else is now part-time. That store provided probably 100 full-time jobs.
If we allow that kind of change, if we allow that kind of degradation of the employment opportunities in Ontario to continue, this government down the road will be crying in its beer because of the huge demands for social assistance from part-time workers who cannot find full-time employment, who do not now exist. But what do we do? We continue to avoid the issue. We come in with legislation like this that says, “We don’t want to deal with the issue.” It is the major item of dispute in this labour relations exercise between the TTC and the ATU, but: “We don’t want to deal with the issue. We don’t want to comment on the issue. We don’t want to view the consequences of the issue. We want to send it out to a fact-finder and let the two parties, based on the fact-finder’s report, somehow resolve the issue.” That is not good enough.
The part-time issue in Ontario is an issue that we in this Legislature have to come to terms with, because if we do not, nobody else will be able to, and it is an issue that holds huge consequences down the road for the economy and the social life of Ontario. Bill 58 is not the way to approach that issue; Bill 58 is the way to avoid that issue.
I plead, Mr Speaker, through you to the government, to the minister, to start to do the work that is required of us here in this province to start to come to terms with what is really happening in our economy so that just a few short years down the road we do not get hit with the biggest surprise of our lives, as the society that we have known in the most prosperous province of Canada crumples around our ears and the demands for social assistance overwhelm us in a huge tidal wave.
We have a responsibility to understand what is happening in our society and to work in the best interests of all the average people in this province. They are the people who are being impacted by the move to part-time, not just at the TTC, not just in the retail industry, because it will spread wherever anybody can find a benefit from the use of part-time employment, as one success will beget another.
Unions in large part will fight the issue all the way down the line, but unless there is some leadership, as has happened in the retail sector, it is an issue that ultimately the unions will lose. Even if they win round one, round two, round three, round four and round five, ultimately it is an issue the unions will lose, without the leadership and direction that the government can provide in Ontario.
Bill 58 is not a bill that deals with the dispute between the TTC and amalgamated transit Local 113. It is a piece of legislation that on one hand, as I have said and I repeat, has just reiterated a negotiating strategy element which those parties have used in the past, and reaffirmed that it will likely be there for the future; second, it is a piece of legislation that avoids one of the real battles in the labour relations context that is happening out there in Ontario: the part-time issue.
It is time that we see from this government, instead of legislation like this, some leadership in trying to address the very serious economic and social consequences that are associated with a major shift in this province from full-time to part-time employment, at the same time as we see the other economic things happening like the price of housing, specifically here in Metro but across the province as well. Even in my own community, even though we do not have the kinds of prices you have here, we have seen a doubling, 100 per cent increases, in the value of homes over the course of the last decade.
Whose income has gone up by 100 per cent? Nobody’s in Hamilton. Nobody’s. I should not say nobody’s: nobody who works for just below or just above the average wage, certainly. There may be some company presidents and the like -- I am not aware of them if there are -- who have got those kinds of increases, but the average people in our communities have not seen those kinds of increases.
But sooner or later, those demands will be there and when we put that mix all into a pot with this move by industry, by the retail sector, by even some public agencies like the TTC to part-time employment, the writing is on the wall and it is time we started to take the warning seriously and work to come to terms with this problem in a way that provides some leadership. To say: “For them to bargain the answer, we don’t want anything to do with it. We just want to make sure the people of Toronto aren’t inconvenienced by a transit strike. Bring in a bill, send them back to work and solve their problem for them,” is not an adequate approach.
Again, I plead to the minister to start doing some serious looking at what is really happening out there, so we can start to get on with addressing the problems in real terms, not in back-to-work legislation.
Hon Mr Phillips: I do want to make a few comments. I think, as we look at this bill, we are indeed following the fundamental principles that I, as the Minister of Labour, believe in. First, I very much support the collective bargaining process. I think it is extremely important that we recognize that it works well and this bill does the best we can to ensure that happens in the future.
The second thing is that as a provincial government, I think we must be very reluctant to involve ourselves in disputes. Reluctantly, we are involved in this, but I suggest to all of us that the result of the bill is minimal involvement by the province.
The member for Markham, I think, raised what he thought were three holes in the bill. I want to put his mind at ease, because they are not there. The first thing he was concerned about was the 30 June report of the fact-finder, 30 June 1990; it will be out on 30 June or earlier. There is a provision in there that if for some reason it cannot be done, the Minister of Labour has the discretion to give him or her more time, but it is the clear intent of the bill to be out 30 June 1990 or earlier.
I think the second thing he raised is the possibility that during the term of this collective agreement, which is two years, to 30 June 1991, there could be another slowdown. That is not possible, because the Labour Relations Act says that a strike includes a slowdown or “a concerted activity on the part of employees designed to restrict or limit output.” The bill prohibits strikes during the term of this agreement, so that we will not see a slowdown or a lockout in the dispute.
The third thing he was concerned about, I gather, was that the part-time issue is not going to be sent to binding arbitration. Of course, that is central and fundamental to the bill. What he was proposing is another approach, whereby the fact-finder’s report might become binding on the parties 90 days after it came out.
We think that is wrong. We think that on an issue like this, clearly the best solution is to lay all the facts out between the parties -- the fact-finder’s report will do that -- and then to compel both sides to bargain in good faith, which the bill does. If we put a gun to one party or the other’s head by imposing binding arbitration following the issuance of the fact-finder’s report, I submit we violate the fundamental principle we are trying to adhere to here; that is, to take this issue and to have both sides bargain in good faith around it and reach a collective agreement on their own.
There were a few specific questions members asked that I might be able to respond to. I think one of the members of the official opposition raised an issue about whether individuals who are on mileage contracts were included. I say I assume that they are part of one of the three bargaining units here, so they would be included. People included in this bill are Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 235 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2. So I make the assumption that those individuals are one of the three bargaining units.
Also there was a concern raised by I guess the member for Leeds-Grenville (Mr Runciman) about the feasibility of separating these issues. I can just say that both parties felt that a very helpful resolution of this dispute would be sending it to a fact-finder and having the fact-finder develop all the facts around the part-time issue. Where the two sides disagreed was whether that report would be binding or not, but both sides agreed that that would be helpful to the resolution of the issue. So in answer to the member for Leeds-Grenville, I think there was acceptance that this is an issue that could be separated and dealt with in the form we are proposing.
Another member questioned why, if both parties are essentially in agreement with the issues except the part-time, we need an arbitrator. It is clear that those issues need to be finally brought to a resolution. If essentially both sides are in full agreement, the arbitrator has a very simple job. It will not take long and it will get done, but we need to have in place a mechanism that ensures a resolution of it.
I think the member for Leeds-Grenville asked a specific question also around some of the ministry staff. Just as a matter of interest, I am pleased to say that in our industrial relations group -- it would be interesting, I think, to all members -- the individuals involved in our mediation are, almost without exception, experienced individuals who have been either on the employee side as a bargaining agent or on the employer side as a personnel agent; by the way, they split about 50-50, so within our mediation group about half would come from management side, about half from labour side; all experienced individuals. I want to point that out, because the advice we get from that group I think reflects the kind of hands-on, practical experience.
I am very pleased to move on the bill, pleased in the sense that it resolves the issue, not pleased in the sense that the province is involved in these issues, because I think our success is avoiding becoming involved in these issues. But on this one, I felt we must become involved. I think the solution we have proposed here is clearly the best long-term issue. It allows both sides to look at the part-time issue, look at the fact-finder’s report, and reach a collective decision by themselves.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Phillips has moved second reading of Bill 58, An Act respecting the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
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.
Bill ordered for committee of the whole House.
The House adjourned at 1800.